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Australia Nuclear Update

Aussie Prime Minister John Howard was in Washington this week to talk nuclear energy with top officials of the U.S. Government:
"It may be desirable that Australia in the future builds nuclear power plants," Mr Howard told reporters in Washington, after meetings with US Energy Secretary Sam Bodman and the chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke.

Mr Howard's enthusiasm for a possible nuclear future came after he told Mr Bodman that Australia wanted to be fully consulted over plans for the big six nuclear-power countries - the US, France, China, Britain, Russia and Japan - to forge a new informal trading bloc.

But Mr Howard poured cold water on suggestions Australia could become a waste dump for nuclear material from other countries, arguing that this was never contemplated.

"What I indicated to (Mr Bodman) is that we would want to be kept fully informed of how this proposal developed. At this stage, Australia is a willing seller of uranium subject to the provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and our own separate safeguards," he said.

"We would continue to want to be in that position, but we would want to be kept informed of any progress towards formation of what could be regarded as a fuel reprocessing group."
Of course, Prime Minister Howard is referring to the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, and it only makes sense that a nation that is the world's second leading supplier of uranium ought to be part of that conversation.

Meanwhile, back home, an official with WWF-Australia is challenging a recent report that claimed their top man was urging his WWF compatriots to change their minds about nuclear energy.

UPDATE: Australia's own, Tim Blair, is asking some questions too.

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Matthew66 said…
As an expat Australian, I can tell you there will not, unfortunately in my opinion, be any nuclear power stations built in Australia in the near future. Whilst the federal Liberal Party-National Party coaliton government in Australia may be leaning towards nuclear, it is the state governments, who are responsible for electrical generation. The state governments are currently all formed by the Australian Labor Party, which still has a definite no-nukes policy, which is unlikely to change anytime soon. Further, the two largest states, New South Wales and Victoria, both have statutes prohibiting the construction of nuclear power stations. There would have to be some pretty fundamental political shifts for there to be nuclear power stations in Australia.

The ALP is in the strange juxtaposition of being pro-Kyoto, pro-coal, and anti-nuclear. How they think they can generate the electricity Australia needs without creating greenhouse gases, and without fission, is beyond me. I believe that Australia emits more greenhouse gases per capita than any other nation on earth.

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