The Australian Labor Party (ALP), having won some respect under the new leadership of Kevin Rudd in recent weeks sank back to new lows, in my opinion, with its recent Conference resolution to allow new uranium mines. This is a huge mistake on the part of the ALP because by joining the Government in favouring nuclear power as a solution to reducing reliance on fossil fuels it means that, yet again, it has forgone an opportunity to differentiate itself from the ruling party. Listening to Tim Flannery on ABC radio this week, the ALP would do well to take advice from him. Flannery, author of best-seller, The Weather Makers, makes the point that given the widely acknowledged problems with nuclear power (e.g. dealing with waste, the time and cost involved in constructing nuclear power plants, and the dangers associated with plants becoming targets for terrorist attacks) it makes an inordinate amount of sense to explore this option only as a last resort. Far better, suggests Flannery, to go as far as you can to reduce emissions by increasing the efficiency of energy use and exploring clean and safe renewable energy options. If future demand for energy can be met through these means, the taxpayer can save a whole lot of money, the environment will experience less damage, and the community will be a safer place to live in. The lack of thought by the major political parties regarding climate change is also exemplified by Flannery’s observation that they have yet to identify what increase in temperature they consider to be unacceptably high, and what policies they plan to put in place to ensure this scenario does not eventuate.
Tim Flannery, by the way, is Australian of the Year. I hope he is Australian of the Year next year and the year after too.