Leave uranium in the ground

Under one of the old anti-nuclear signs on September 9. Photo: Merilyn Fairskye

Residents in Sydney’s Inner West are joining the push back against those wanting to lift the ban on uranium mining in New South Wales.

On September 9, residents joined Greens Newtown MP Jenny Leong under a former Marrickville council “nuclear free zone” sign to express their views.

Sections of the NSW Liberal and National parties want to lift the 33-year-old ban on uranium mining. In 2012, the NSW Coalition government removed the ban on uranium prospecting and exploration.

It is unlikely that uranium mining in NSW would lead to the construction of nuclear reactors; a more likely prospect is that it would be exported — also a bad outcome.

Incredibly, this renewed push to mine uranium comes after the catastrophic Black Summer fires and as interest in sustainable energy grows. It is being driven in part by the Minerals Council of Australia and in parliament by Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party and National Party leader John Barilaro.

Not all government MPs are in favour, however: the Liberal’s environment minister has stated publicly that the economics do not stack up.

Before they were amalgamated, the Marrickville, Leichhardt and Ashfield Councils had taken a stand against uranium mining and nuclear energy — the result of a broad community campaign which, in the 1980s and early 1990s, was also on the streets during the massive Palm Sunday marches.

Residents are asking the Inner West Council, which threw its support behind the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons last June, to affirm its support for clean energy and jobs. Australia is well placed to lead a clean energy revolution and councils can play an important role in rebuilding anti-nuclear awareness.