A coalition of community groups including Friends of the Earth, the National Union of Students, the Stop the War Coalition, the Australian Student Environment Network, and the Australian Youth Climate Change Coalition have initiated a public lobby outside the ALP national conference beginning on April 27 to support delegates who are standing up to the proposed changes to the ALP's long-standing policy on uranium mining.
Dr Jim Green of Friends of the Earth and Michael Nguyen of the National Union of Students will address delegates on April 27 and at a larger public lobby the next day.
The vast majority of Australians do not want Australia to go further down the nuclear path. There is overwhelming support from ALP voters and unions for the three-mine policy to be retained. Unions, including the mining division of
the CFMEU, LHMU, ACTU, AMWU, Victorian Trades Hall Council, ASU and the Australian Education Union, support the existing policy.
The no new mines policy recognises the legal problems posed by an immediate shutdown of the three existing commercial operations — Beverley, Ranger and Olympic Dam — while acknowledging community concerns around radioactive waste management, nuclear weapons links and radiation health issues.
Howard's argument to expand Australia's nuclear industry to combat climate change is not credible. Nuclear power is too slow, too expensive and too dangerous. Any nuclear power program in Australia would take over two decades to turn on a single net new light bulb, with at least 15 years to first operations, and a further period of six years to pay back the energy debt in nuclear power construction.
In the unlikely event of a global doubling of nuclear power output, greenhouse emissions would only be reduced by about 5%, according to Green. The mining of uranium, construction and decommissioning of power plants and storage of waste all produce greenhouse gases.
The ALP should continue to be part of the broad opposition to Howard's nuclear push. Any changes to the current policy would create more similarities between the Coalition and the ALP. Australian people deserve a genuine alternative and strong leadership in the face of climate change.
To endorse the public lobby, speak on the day, help to publicise the event, or support in any other way, contact Holly on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0417