Letters to the Editor

Issue 

Nuclear power I

In the May-June 2007 edition of New Left Review, George Monbiot wrote: "I am less hostile to nuclear power than I used to be. I no longer believe that uranium is about to run out or that the safe disposal of nuclear waste is impossible." I was some what taken aback when I came across this statement by Monbiot. He led into this statement by saying, "Like other environmentalists, I would be happiest if all the electricity on the grid were supplied by means of renewable energy. But the wind does not blow, the waves do not rise and the sun does not shine on demand... Unless we discover a magical new source of fuel, it comes down to an unfortunate choice between nuclear power and burning fossil fuel with capture and storage."

Monbiot's argument about a limit of the potential of renewable sources supplying a full power grid seems unduly pessimistic. He might have a point about sunshine in Britain, but when do the waves drop in the North and Irish Seas and the Atlantic Ocean? And there's some pretty windy areas in Britain as there are here in Australia.

Monbiot has written some excellent material about climate change but in posing nuclear power as an answer for energy needs, he's really asking the wrong questions. A flaw with Monbiot's work is that he never puts forward any argument for nationalising the polluters and having a massive public works campaign to develop renewable energy sources.

John Tognolini

Katoomba, NSW [Abridged]

Nuclear power II

The proponents of nuclear power stations are fond of quoting "peak oil" — the point where the consumption of economically accessible oil exceeds the supply — as an argument for moving to nuclear power generation.

It is high time that they gave us some figures on "peak uranium" so that the public knows how limited that metal is in economically accessible amounts against its projected consumption.

As for those politicians who are going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by some marvellous amount by 2050, just tell us what the plans are for 2007-08, if you have any. Most of us can't wait for 2050.

Col Friel

Alawa, NT

Anti-Bush protest

The anti-Bush demonstration on September 8 was an inspiring and resounding success. The fact that, in the face of unprecedented intimidation and excessive police powers, more than 10,000 ordinary, everyday, concerned citizens turned out in protest was a triumph over the state's attempts to repress dissent and curtail democratic rights.

The extraordinary police powers was reason enough for people who respect democracy, freedom of speech and civil rights to take a stand. The presence of the right-wing, war-mongering, pro-corporate, neoconservative George Bush motivated peace and social justice advocates to turn up and make their voices heard. The issue of climate change and Australia's failure to sign the Kyoto protocol and adhere to a regime of emissions targets prompted environmentalists to gather in defiance.

It was great to see the variety of social movement and environment groups concerned with these issues all visibly and vocally represented. However, industrial relations under the Work Choices legislation enacted by the Howard government and supported in essence by the federal ALP impelled only three unions to mobilise their memberships. The MUA and the FBEU endorsed the demonstration and formed an alliance encouraging all their members to attend to express their opposition to Work Choices.

The PSA also sent out an email to its members encouraging them to be present. How fantastic it was when the PSA's contingent (along with other individual unionists) marched up from Trades Hall in a procession of over 500, proudly brandishing their union banners and anti-Work Choices placards were jubilantly greeted by the 10,000 strong crowd.

As a NSW Teachers federal councillor I was very disappointed that not a single Teachers Federation flag was among the array of trade union signs and banners. How could the Teachers Federation be so inconsistent with its policies of standing up in the face of injustice? How could the Teachers Federation fail to seize an opportunity to publicly stand tall with other unions? How could it not take advantage of such a big, public protest which captured the world media's attention? How could it not use the chance to highlight the industrial issues for teachers and students in the last public mobilisation in NSW before the federal election?

The very least the Teachers Federation can do is to extend its congratulations on behalf of all teachers to those unions who did make an effort to capitalise on the situation, raising the concerns of their members.

Noreen Navin

Via email

Indigenous rights

Thank you for your ongoing excellent coverage of the growing resistance to the NT emergency intervention legislation.

The Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA)-Melbourne is an activist group campaigning to stop Aboriginal deaths in custody. Our website is at <http://www.isja-msg.org>. Week after week we demand that the recommendations of the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC), including the recommendation that imprisonment be a last resort, be implemented in full. If these recommendations had been fully implemented in Queensland, Mulrunji would not have even been in a Palm Island police cell and would still be with us today.

We also have a significant problem in Victoria with the failure to implement these recommendations. Fitzroy is a traditional Indigenous meeting place and many locals get together and socialise on busy Smith Street. They often enjoy a drink together, just as other locals sitting in ritzy cafes do. Sometimes they get drunk.

A group of backward traders concerned about their ability to make a profit is demanding a repressive law and order "clean-up Smith Street" response that targets Indigenous drinkers in the area.

Indigenous rights campaigners, the more enlightened traders, many local residents and the Yarra Council have a very different vision. We are demanding the establishment and ongoing funding of a community bus and a culturally appropriate sobering up centre both under Indigenous community control.

The Yarra Council is prepared to help fund this service, but the State ALP Government has so far refused to follow the council's lead and fund the rest.

ISJA Melbourne supported a rally and march on Smith Street called by socialist councillor Stephen Jolly. We marched on the office of state Aboriginal affairs minister Dick Wynne to raise our demands. We have also sent letters to the minister and to the premier urging that funding been found for this critically important service.

The Little Children Are Sacred report, the recommendations of the RCIADIC and all the other excellent reports produced over the last two decades must not be allowed to sit on the shelf and gather dust. Governments — federal, state and local — must listen and work with Indigenous communities.

Culturally appropriate services must be funded. Send the troops back to their barracks, stop harassing and locking up Indigenous people. Hands off Indigenous land and let's get serious about a treaty now.

Mary Merkenich

for ISJA Melb

West Brunswick

Vic

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