Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s very awkward nuclear embrace

The very awkward nuclear embrace, Jon Faine,

https://www.smh.com.au/national/the-very-awkward-nuclear-embrace-20211105-p5969l.html   November 7, 2021 How can Scott Morrison just decide and announce – with no mandate or national debate whatsoever – that Australia is going to embrace nuclear technology?

One of the most impassioned and torrid domestic policy tussles of the last 50 years has suddenly been gazumped – after extensive secret discussions with top Americans and Brits but not a word with Australians. A fleet of Australian Navy nuclear-powered submarines, unimaginable just a few weeks ago, have been declared as integral to our future with barely a murmur.

The transition to and adoption of nuclear technology may well be the right call – my quibble is that we have not even had the courtesy of a national debate about the biggest technology shift in a generation.

Our Prime Minister no more readily engages in discussion about underwater matters than he did with “on water” matters as immigration minister. He has again stopped the boats – stopped the making of boats. The decades of policy paralysis on climate change has been matched by nearly 20 years of flip-flopping on replacing our vintage Collins Class subs.

We have long been a people committed to keeping nuclear technology at arms length. The British military in the 1950s used the Montebello islands off WA and the Pitjantjatjara lands of Maralinga in the South Australian outback to experiment with and test nuclear bombs.

It took a royal commission in 1985 to establish the causal link to an otherwise inexplicable rise in the rate of birth defects and cancers among the service personnel and local Indigenous communities impacted

The British soldiers involved were issued protective gear, but the Aussies were not. The authorities were indifferent – to say the least – to the safety of First Nations people, many of whom suffered terribly. Widespread community outrage followed.

Around the same time as that royal commission, regular huge street protests expressed our collective anger with – yes – France over their years of nuclear explosions at Mururoa Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.

When French secret service agents bombed the Greenpeace flagship the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbour in 1985 and killed Portuguese volunteer photographer Fernando Pereira, anti-French sentiment across Australia and NZ was palpable.

Sales of Citroens, Peugeots and Renaults suffered – while croissant and Camembert sales barely dipped.

Vigorous discussion has centred on whether PM Morrison ought to be apologising to President Macron. But what about an apology to the Australian people for ignoring our legitimate role in making one of the most significant decisions any government of this country will ever make? It is astonishing that any PM can make such a momentous decision without asking us first.

The ALP has pragmatically supported the new commitment to the AUKUS alliance and its essential ingredient of a commitment to nuclear-powered subs from either the USA or the UK instead of the French alternative.

Anthony Albanese is determined to deny the PM a “khaki election” and consistent with his small-target strategy, has all but ensured that the numbers are there in the Parliament to vote through the legislative changes required to embrace a technology that we have consistently rejected.

We have long embraced laws that prohibit nuclear proliferation. There are many on the left of the ALP who have profound disquiet about “going nuclear” but dare not say anything controversial as a federal poll approaches.

Has the Australian public changed their mind about embracing nuclear technology? The only real test has been in South Australia, which recently abandoned a plan for a lucrative nuclear waste program amid overwhelming opposition.

Germany and Japan are retreating from decades of relying on nuclear power, and post-Fukushima and Chernobyl, nuclear industry boosters have had to accept the commercial reality that their technology is uninsurable and unwelcome.

Defence insiders despair as the original submarine proposal for a German design to be built here for $20 billion morphed to Japanese-designed subs for $40 billion, then French designed but locally assembled subs for $50 billion and now $90 billion for subs that decades from now will be made in the USA or the UK. And this is supposed to be a better outcome?

Naval planners concede that the future use for submarines is as underwater mother-ships for a range of satellite autonomous submersible drones.

What Morrison has announced is no more than an idea for a plan for a proposal for a contract to splurge vast amounts of Australian taxpayer’s money overseas for technology that almost surely will be redundant by the time anything is delivered.

Naval planners concede that the future use for submarines is as underwater mother-ships for a range of satellite autonomous submersible drones.

What Morrison has announced is no more than an idea for a plan for a proposal for a contract to splurge vast amounts of Australian taxpayer’s money overseas for technology that almost surely will be redundant by the time anything is delivered.

November 8, 2021 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international

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