Australian news, and some related international items

Australian unions reject Industry Super’s backing of the nuclear industry

Unions revolt over Industry Super’s nuclear backing, Financial Review, David Marin-Guzman 3 July 19  The Electrical Trades Union has condemned a report from Industry Super Australia that backed nuclear energy as an option to confront the energy crisis, sparking a split between unions and industry funds’ own peak body.

ETU national secretary Allen Hicks said industry fund participants were not consulted on the ISA energy paper released last week and called on unions to condemn the paper’s recommendations, which he said promoted a “highly risky investment with deadly consequences”.

While the paper titled Modernising Electricty Sectors stressed it was not “pro nuclear” it said nuclear must be considered as part of the energy investment mix and questioned the capabilities of battery and renewable options.

“The ETU has very strong concerns about this ISA report that broadly spruiks nuclear power while using flawed assumptions and poor modelling to write down the capacity of renewables and battery technology,” Mr Hicks said.

This report has been developed without consulting key industry stakeholders or actual members of ISA that we have been in contact with.”

The comments mark a significant push-back against the industry fund peak body, which is chaired by former Australian Council of Trade Unions chief Greg Combet.

The ETU has representatives on industry funds Cbus and Energy Super and its anti-nuclear position is shared by the maritime union, which opposes shipping nuclear material into ports.

Cbus, whose board members include building unions such as the CFMEU, joined the ETU in disagreeing with the ISA paper’s position.

“The ISA paper raises a number of interesting points for discussion. However, from an investment perspective Cbus doesn’t see nuclear as a part of Australia’s energy mix and we are actively pursuing other energy opportunities,” a spokesman for the fund said.

Mr Hicks said he supported ISA taking the lead on energy investment due to government inaction. But he argued it should focus on maximising returns, not promoting an industry that “would put at risk the very people who industry super represents – union members”.

The ETU has opposed nuclear power and uranium mining since the Second World War due to perceived risks to workers and the public.

Mr Hicks said members had “witnessed first-hand the death and destruction that comes with this form of power” and “more recent disasters in Fukushima and Chernobyl only reinforce this view”.

That’s why it’s so vexing that industry funds our members pay their retirement savings into would offer any support to a report giving the nod to nuclear.”

…….  ETU national industry co-ordinator Matthew Murphy claimed the ISA report “fluffed up” the benefits of nuclear power while including flawed assumptions on renewables “that had no basis in reality”.

This report is biased toward nuclear power and against renewables and that clearly bears out in shoddy maths and assumptions like ‘a battery will only run for one hour’ or that the island nation of Australia is not suitable for offshore wind and tidal power,” he said.

Mr Murphy said the “most glaring” statement in the paper was that 100 to 150 nuclear power plants was enough to power half the country.

Unlike the numbers in the report, we can’t pluck nuclear reactors out of thin air. And there is likely to be huge public opposition from the 150 towns where these deadly power plants would be built.”

July 4, 2019 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, employment

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