Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Call to Premier Gladys Berejiklian to stand up for a nuclear-free New South Wales

Premier must stand up to Barilaro on nuclear power,  https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/premier-must-stand-up-to-barilaro-on-nuclear-power-20200310-p548k3.html  10 Mar, 20,    Deputy Premier John Barilaro has issued another ultimatum to the NSW government, this time over his obsession with starting a nuclear industry, but it is high time Premier Gladys Berejiklian called his bluff. Mr Barilaro is demanding that cabinet endorse a report by an upper house parliamentary committee backed by One Nation which recommends lifting the ban on uranium mining and nuclear power generation that has been in place since 1986. If cabinet refuses, he is threatening that he and perhaps the whole National Party will go their own way and vote in favour of a bill to that effect.

The Herald reported on Monday that some cabinet ministers who oppose nuclear power are threatening to respond by quitting if Ms Berejiklian caves in. The question of whether NSW can or should develop a nuclear industry is complicated. In theory, mining uranium could earn money and nuclear power generation could help reduce emissions. In fact, both face huge practical problems.
Of course, the Northern Territory and South Australia already mine uranium. But there is little reason for NSW to follow them now because, quite apart from concerns over waste storage, safety and proliferation, the business case is very weak. As the upper house report says, the state does not have any proven commercial deposits of uranium and, since the Fukushima disaster in Japan, the global market for uranium has been depressed. The conservative government in Western Australia ended its ban on uranium mining in 2010 but no new mines have opened.

Similarly, the prospects are also poor for nuclear power generation here any time soon. Nuclear reactors are very expensive and would take decades to build. By most reckonings, they cannot compete on cost with renewables – backed up by battery storage – or pumped hydro. Private companies will not build them without subsidies from taxpayers.

Given those practical issues, it is hard to understand why Mr Barilaro has joined One Nation’s crusade for nuclear power. Cynics would argue that his main goal is shielding the coal industry by delaying other more immediate and practical forms of action to reduce carbon emissions. And for Mr Barilaro, it might be a political winner. He might steal One Nation’s thunder and win the support of older regional voters and radio shock jocks who have a vendetta against those they see as renewables-loving green hippies.
But Mr Barilaro’s nuclear adventure risks doing damage to the government including a repeat of what happened to the Howard government in 2007 when it campaigned on nuclear power. The ALP pointed out that because plants require enormous amounts of water, they would have to be located on the coast. That went down like a lead balloon with voters and that was before Fukushima.
With a two-seat majority, Ms Berejiklian is more than usually dependent on her Coalition partner. Over the past year, Mr Barilaro has been able to extract some questionable concessions from her on water policy and regional jobs in the energy sector.

But she must not allow policy on such an important issue to be driven by a minority of Nationals MPs and the whims of One Nation backbenchers. As Premier, it should be Ms Berejiklian who sets the priorities of the state’s energy policy.

This is a good chance for Ms Berejiklian to stamp her authority on the government. Mr Barilaro has backed down in the past. He knows how much he and his party need to be in government. His bark is often worse than his bite.

March 12, 2020 - Posted by | New South Wales, politics

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