Transcript of TV Interview – Seven Morning News
Tuesday, 25 July 2006
E & OE – PROOF ONLY
Subject: Uranium Mining
REPORTER: To other news now and Opposition Leader Kim Beazley is defending his U-turn on uranium mining. Mr Beazley wants to replace the longstanding policy which restricts uranium production to just three mines. Kim Beazley isn’t wasting any time to sell his proposed policy shift on uranium.
KIM BEAZLEY: It’s no longer an issue of who digs it up or whether or not it’s dug up. Frankly, that issue was resolved in the early 1980s.
REPORTER: The Opposition Leader wants Labor to allow new uranium mines but says he won’t support nuclear power or uranium enrichment.
KIM BEAZLEY: You cannot enrich uranium in this day and age without taking it back.
REPORTER: The Prime Minister claims Mr Beazley’s position is confusing.
JOHN HOWARD: It’s either all good or all bad. The stuff in Western Australia and South Australia or the Northern Territory can’t be good, and uranium perhaps discovered in Queensland, bad. That’s just an absurd proposition.
REPORTER: The policy U-turn has split the ALP and the wider Labor movement, although Mr Beazley is playing down the impact of any rift.
KIM BEAZLEY: There won’t be blood on the walls but there will be a serious argument.
REPORTER: Labor’s national conference still has to sign off on the plan which will be a major test of Kim Beazley’s leadership, as he banks on the rest of his party falling behind him. Mr Howard says he predicts the policy will be carried.
JOHN HOWARD: All it does is bring them limping towards basic commonsense.
REPORTER: Not everyone in the Labor Party is happy with this change in policy. Environment spokesman Anthony Albanese says he will fight his leader’s stand on the issue. I spoke to him a short time ago. Good morning, Mr Albanese.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning, Anne.
REPORTER: Firstly, why are you opposed to the lifting of Labor’s ban on new uranium mines?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Uranium is a moderate export earner, but it’s a big principle in the Labor Party. And I believe we’ve got the principle right: an economically responsible position which says we won’t repudiate contracts but one which recognises the environmental and social dangers involved in further involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle.
REPORTER: Was this apparent U-turn by Mr Beazley then not made with the blessing of the party?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: He’s indicated the position that he’ll take to the ALP National conference next April. We’ll have a debate between now and then and it’s up to the delegates to that conference to determine Labor Party policy. The Labor Party is the last of the democratic parties in Australia and we’re seeing that being exercised at the moment.
REPORTER: Mr Beazley said his change of position is aimed at lifting prosperity of the country. How do you argue against economics?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: What you do is you argue that there are values other than economics.
Not just the fact that $500 million of exports from uranium last year pale into insignificance compared with the opportunities that are available particularly with the emerging trillion-dollar renewable energy industry. So we have to put it in perspective.
But secondly, this is a debate about values. The Labor Party’s current policy recognises that society is more than economic transactions between individuals and companies – that we need to recognise the environmental and social consequences of economic activity. And with the issue of uranium mining, we need to recognise that nuclear proliferation and highly toxic nuclear waste remain substantial outstanding issues and until such time as that’s resolved we shouldn’t be further involved in the nuclear fuel cycle.
REPORTER: But are you opposed to this change of policy because your own party, and your own seat, is under pressure from the Greens and you’re trying to look after your own backyard?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, I’ve always held this position, a long time before I was in Parliament. I think the reasons for being cautious about uranium mining are more today then they’ve ever been.
REPORTER: Anthony Albanese, thank you for your time this morning.