I've been thinking about this great push to nuclear power in
Australia, and wondering why it's happening. Modern politicians
don't push hard on something like this without a reason. They'll
either think it's electorally successful, or have some other motive
for pushing it.
Howard's motives are pretty easy to discern. Nuclear, like the
mythical "clean coal", allows him to effectively do nothing that
changes the status quo while still being able to say he's doing
something. It takes the heat off doing something real like giving
carbon a price. It's also, of course, completely the opposite of his
espoused economic ideals: he's picking the winner, rather than pricing
in the external cost and letting the market decide. Who woulda thunk
that the old anti-Communist would go for a planned economy?
There's another thing Howard knows here, and that's Labor being
hopelessly split about the issue. The conference seems to have
decided to expand uranium mining, which means every argument put
forward by Peter Garrett can be deflected by pointing out how he has
compromised his principles. Easy to attack someone for compromising
his principles when you yourself don't have any to compromise.
Labor's support for nukes is altogether less obvious. The CFMEU is
powerful within Labor, but I can't see that as being the reason.
Do Labor have some kind of polling data that shows Australians
support expansion of the nuclear industry? I seriously doubt it.
Most Australians' understanding of nuclear energy is limited to
Hiroshima and Chernobyl, which aren't exactly positive images. It
just seems really bizarre that Labor would think they're on a winner
with the electorate here. Unless there's marginal seats to be had
around Roxby Downs, Jabiluka and Ranger, which still seems like a lot
of work for a few seats.
Which of course leaves us to the usual corrupting influence:
money. But even there, either the mining companies are getting a
really great deal or the donations have only been made recently. Searching for this
finds that in 2004-2006 (financial years) mining and logging
("resource" being the euphemism) companies donated $368,350 to
political parties. Of this, a large proportion appears to be coal
companies and Gunns (old growth forestry).
Of those with a direct interest in uranium mining: Rio Tinto
(including their coal subsidiary's donations), owner of Ranger and
Jabiluka mines, donated $12,000; BHP (again including their coal
subsidiary's donations), owner of the Olympic Dam mine, gave
So if these electoral donations have resulted in the expansion of
uranium mining and the possible introduction of nuclear power in
Australia, it represents and incredible return on investment
for these companies.
I don't get it. Why the push for nukes Krudd?