Australian treasurer enters nuclear debate

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Wikinews Australia has in-depth coverage of this issue: Australian nuclear debate

Peter Costello, Australian treasurer and the man most likely to succeed Prime Minister John Howard as Liberal party leader has thrown his support behind a nuclear power industry in Australia.

Mr Costello said that when nuclear power generation becomes economically viable, Australia should pursue its use. “If it becomes commercial, we should have it. That is, there’s no in-principle objection to nuclear energy” Mr Costello said.

Mr Costello said that nuclear energy was clean and safe, provided waste was dealt with. “Nuclear energy is an efficient form of energy. Provided you deal properly with the waste, then it’s safe,”

“It has much less greenhouse emissions than coal.” Mr Costello said.

Long time environmentalist and Labor party member for Kingsford Smith, Peter Garrett said that the government were only discussing nuclear energy to cover up its inaction on climate change.

“When really, when you look seriously at what is going on here, Australia needs to make a decision about why we are not addressing climate change and find those necessary alternatives that will make up the energy mix” he said.

Mr Garrett said that it was a “farce” that PM Howard leaves the US and suddenly becomes pro-nuclear. “It’s more than hypocritical, it’s a farce for the Prime Minister to come back from America and suddenly become born again for nukes” he said.

Federal Environment Minister, Ian Campbell rejected Mr Garrett’s claims that the government has ignored climate change and renewable energy, but said that nuclear power needed to be considered. He denied that the debate on nuclear power is a cover-up.

“We need to look at all of the options, not have this false debate about renewables versus coal or coal versus nuclear” he said.

“We need everything and we need to do it very well and that’s how we will secure Australia’s future.” Mr Campbell said.

The federal opposition’s environment spokesperson, Anthony Albanese said today that Mr Howard’s viewws were stuck in the past and were not in the best interests of Australia.

However, Mr Albanese said Mr Howard’s views were retrospective and not in Australia’s best interest.

“This is classic John Howard whether it be the GST, whether it be the extreme industrial relations agenda, or whether it be this nuclear fantasy which will become Australia’s nightmare – John Howard always returns to the past” Mr Albanese said.

“For John Howard to say that there hasn’t been a debate on nuclear energy would suggest that he went to sleep in the 50s and he’s just woken up.”

Mr Albanese claims that the high cost and safety concerns surrounding nuclear energy outweighed any benefits. “The problems of cost, safety, waste disposals and nuclear proliferation in the climate of terrorism are more acute today than they’ve ever been.” he said.

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