In a startling but not unexpected backflip, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman gave the green light to uranium mining on October 22, lifting a decades-long ban on the destructive industry.
This comes after Newman sent a letter to the Australian Conservation Foundation just two weeks ago on October 11, saying: “I take this opportunity to reaffirm my statements, made before the last election, that the state government has no plans to approve the development of uranium in Queensland.”
No uranium has been mined in Queensland since 1982.
Uranium mining has been consistently shown to be unsafe and damaging to ecosystems and human health. No adequate solutions to the problem of the storage of uranium and nuclear waste have been found. After the disaster at Fukushima last year, it is once again clear that this form of energy is not a safe or viable alternative to coal and gas.
The decision is further evidence that Newman is more interested in looking out for profits of his friends at the big end of town than in the sustainability of our ecosystem and the health and wellbeing of people in Queensland.
One of his first acts as premier was to ditch several green energy schemes set up under the previous Labor government, including the Queensland Climate Change Fund, the Renewable Energy Fund and the Solar Flagships Program.
Newman has pushed for the massive expansion of all forms of mining across Queensland since his election in March.
His government’s conservative agenda has been made much easier by the increasing shift to the right by the federal Labor government on uranium mining. Labor ended its three mines policy in 2007 and has agreed to sell uranium to India, a country that has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Newman’s support for another toxic industry — coal seam gas mining — was preceded by the former Queensland state Labor government’s gung-ho approach to establish the industry. Now, coal seam gas is threatening the water and food security of the state.
In a state internationally famous for its year-round sunshine, Queensland could power its entire economy from solar energy.
The state government should be investing in large-scale solar thermal energy projects, such as the one for which the Port Augusta community is campaigning.
The Socialist Alliance calls for the immediate restitution of the ban on uranium mining in Queensland. Mining of all natural resources should be placed under community control, to manage them in the interests of all Australians. It stands for phasing out fossil fuel use, banning uranium mining and for a transition to 100% renewable energy.