Senate debates

Wednesday, 13 September 2006

Questions without Notice

Nuclear Energy

2:22 pm

Photo of Ian CampbellIan Campbell (WA, Liberal Party, Minister for the Environment and Heritage) Share this | Hansard source

It is absolutely clear, if you analyse the challenge that faces the world—one of the most substantial challenges that has ever faced this world: the challenge, no less, of providing roughly double the amount of energy that the world requires in the next 50 years. That will be required to ensure that people who do not have access to energy get it: the roughly four million people a year who die under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa; the many millions of people in our own region who do not have access to energy. I think we would all hope across the aisle that the world could produce that extra energy. But also, to face up to the massive challenge of addressing the prospects of dangerous climate change, we will need to transform how we produce and use that energy and do so with substantially lower greenhouse gas emissions across the globe over the next few decades.

Across the world, you will need to ensure that all of the known technologies, including nuclear, play a part. You will need to have a substantial increase in the amount of renewable energy produced in the world from solar and wind energy. You will need to use geothermal. You will need to plant more trees. You will need to stop deforestation. You will need to use energy efficiency measures. You will need to capture and store carbon from fossil fuel burning. You will need to clean up fossil fuels and you will need to switch, wherever you can, to gas—but you will also need to significantly expand the use that is made of nuclear energy, which has almost effectively zero emissions in terms of greenhouse gas, across the globe.

There is only one leader of a major political party anywhere in the world who would say that that is wrong, that you have to put your hands over your ears and a blindfold over your eyes and not talk about nuclear policy. That, of course, is Mr Beazley—who leads an opposition and a political party that is absolutely bereft of energy policy and is in all sorts of confusion and division, if not utter disarray, in relation to Australia’s role in the nuclear fuel cycle. The cat has been belled by none other than the opposition spokesman on energy issues and resources, Martin Ferguson, who said in the Financial Review this morning:

I am concerned that the antinuclear campaign in the community has stooped to the low levels of pillorying one of Australia’s iconic research institutions, ANSTO. It is one thing to run an antinuclear campaign—

I think he is talking about his environment spokesman in relation to that—

underpinned by sound science, logic and belief; it is yet another to engage in ludicrously muttering about ANSTO and the Lucas Heights nuclear facility, which is so important to the Australian community for its contributions to nuclear medicine, to industry and to the future of high technology manufacturing in this country.

It is a very erudite article which I recommend to all senators, particularly those opposite. He goes on to say:

To suggest that ANSTO is incompetent, unsafe or highly dangerous is not only misinformed but is disingenuous.

Who was he referring to, to steal another Abetzism? He was referring to none other than Ms Jenny Macklin, the deputy leader of his party, and other Labor Party people who went out and attacked ANSTO, called them incompetent and referred to an issue at ANSTO as recently as 15 June.

It is time that the Labor Party got real on Australia’s future energy needs and the importance of the climate change challenge to the world, left its ideological baggage at the door and realised that nuclear energy does have a role in the future providing clean energy, that Australia has a role in that nuclear fuel cycle and that we should look at it in a modern, sophisticated and well-informed manner.

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