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Labor criticises Coalition energy spokesman Ted )’Brien for filming nuclear power videos at Hiroshima

Guardian, Josh Butler, Tue 7 Feb 2023

A Labor government MP has accused Coalition energy spokesperson Ted O’Brien of “bizarre and disrespectful” behaviour after filming videos discussing Australia’s potential for nuclear energy at the site of the Hiroshima atomic blast and the Fukushima power plant in Japan.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, accused O’Brien of a “frolic” on advocating for nuclear power, but the Liberal MP said he had sought to be respectful on his privately funded trip to study the technology………….

O’Brien, the member for the Queensland seat of Fairfax, recently posted two videos from a trip to Japan on YouTube titled “Time to Talk Nuclear: What can Australia learn from Japan?” and “Time to Talk Nuclear: What can we learn from Hiroshima?”

Guardian Australia previously revealed O’Brien’s “Time To Talk Nuclear” campaign, which he described as a “grassroots” community engagement program, was using a website registered by a business that helps an American small modular reactor company.

he Coalition opposition has consistently advocated for the government to investigate nuclear energy, despite not building such options during its previous nine years in federal office.

O’Brien wrote alongside the videos that he visited Japan as part of “an in-depth analysis into the possibility of including advanced nuclear technology in Australia’s future energy mix”.

“No people have a more complicated relationship with nuclear technology than the Japanese,” he wrote in a caption, saying he had visited Tokyo, Hiroshima, Fukushima and Rokkasho to meet business owners, government officials, nuclear experts and locals.

“We all know the tragedy of war and we all know how Japan certainly suffered at the end of World War II. In some ways, it’s had the ability to turn what has been a tragedy for the nation into a message of hope,” O’Brien said in one video.

“Despite actually having two atomic bombs land on it, it’s firing on all cylinders on nuclear energy.”

O’Brien said Australia should “have the humility to learn from those nations that know about [nuclear] technology far greater than us”. That video says he also visited Fukushima, the region where an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 led to a nuclear disaster at a power plant.

In another video filmed last week, O’Brien went to Hiroshima’s Peace Park, overlooking the famous dome which was devastated when American forces dropped an atomic bomb on the city in August 1945. Up to 140,000 people were estimated to have died from the blast and related radiation effects.

“If we are going to talk about the potential for advanced nuclear energy to be used in Australia, we’ve got to understand the full range of implications of the technology,” O’Brien wrote.

The shadow minister interviewed a man he said was a tour guide from the Hiroshima Museum, named Yukio Yokohama, about how Japanese people viewed nuclear energy. Yokohama answered that nuclear was used for cheap energy to support industry.

O’Brien has been absent from parliament this week as he is in Canada on a study tour.

Labor senator Catryna Bilyk, chair of the Australia-Japan Parliamentary Friendship Group, criticised O’Brien for filming the videos at Hiroshima.

“It’s up to the shadow minister to explain why he chose to travel to Japan, stand at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and spruik nuclear energy,” she told Guardian Australia.

“Using the site of the deaths of tens of thousands of people to cynically push a domestic ideological obsession is bizarre and frankly disrespectful behaviour.”

O’Brien’s spokesperson said the MP’s trip to Japan “was privately funded, not taxpayer funded” and rebuffed those criticisms from Labor…………………………………………

Albanese, in parliament’s question time on Tuesday, noted O’Brien’s absence.

“He’s been researching his solution on a YouTube video that he put up,” Albanese said, to laughter from government benches.

“The shadow minister is off on this frolic of nuclear energy, even though we know it’s the most expensive form possible for Australia.” …………


February 7, 2023 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics

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