Selling uranium to India is back on the political agenda in the Australian Houses of Parliament again, overturning a decision by Kevin Rudd’s cabinet not to do any radioactive business with the sub continent. On the back of a 6% rebound in the Nielsen polls Julia Gillard is using the issue as a policy weapon to assert her hold on the top job while at the same time making it clear to the Greens that they are minor shareholders in the Gillard empire.
Making the announcement in on 15th in The Age, Gillard used all of the usual rhetoric to launch her drive for the policy change to be carved in stone at the Labor Party conference next month, and at the same time to make it clear that she will be setting the agenda for the meeting and for the party’s policies that will be decided there. Overturning her predecessor Kevin Rudd’s policy send a clear message to both Rudd and to his close connections in China that Australia intends to deal with China and India equally. It is also a message to Kevin that she has her eye on him and that if he wants his old job he will have to fight her for it. Julia’s statement that it is ”time for Labor to modernise our platform and enable us to strengthen our connection with dynamic, democratic India” was also timed to incur the approval of visiting US President Obama who is widely known to support selling uranium to India.
Bob Brown has been dealt a double blow as Gillard has definitely relegated him to the role of small fish and at the same time directly contravened the Greens agenda to reduce uranium sales across the board. In a radio interview with Alexandra Kirk Bob Brown defined the announcement by saying “Well this is a clear plan by Julia Gillard to reverse Kevin Rudd’s decision and to go along with the George W Bush decision to supply nuclear materials to India despite the fact it hasn’t signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It’s going to be pretty horrifying for many Australians.” as he tries ineffectually to rally some support from the Australian people by appealing to their collective conscience, an appeal of last resort for any political and a sure sign that Brown’s star has waned. He was quick to try and point out that the move wasn’t aimed specifically at the Greens but not very convincingly and ended with the feeble and well worn comparison of “Julia Gillard [is] in favour of sending uranium to India but not in favour of equal marriage” trotting out the gay debate like a drowning man thrashing around to stay afloat.
So the real issues are all about internal politics and showing the boys who’s the boss but what are the issues that the mainstream media will feed to the media swallowing masses? The first issue will be that India haven’t signed the International Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the second issue that the tree hugging left will throw at Julia is that Nuclear stuff is bad. As for the first issue Christopher Kremmer of the Sydney Morning Herald sums it up in the fewest words:
Why can’t India sign the treaty? Because doing so would require it to abandon its nuclear weapons. Why won’t it abandon them? Because with more than a billion people to defend, and unresolved border disputes with China and Pakistan – both nuclear-armed – any Indian government that did so would be rejected by its people. http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/selling-uranium-to-india-is-a-mature-act-that-banishes-hypocrisy-20111115-1nh1p.html
If China and Pakistan both keep a large nuclear arsenal then India certainly can’t be expected to disarm itself and they won’t. At the same time India is the world’s largest population and the fastest growing economy and Gillard and her government need some of that business to make the money to pay for Rudd’s 2009 economic stimulus spending spree and which, not ironically, he borrowed a great deal of the money for from the Chinese.
Even the left wing media recognizes the political clout that the uranium gambit has given Gillard and Kremmer even begins his SMH colum saying, “No one likes uranium, but this volatile substance may turn into a political, economic and security trump card for Julia Gillard.” But the move is certain to arouse the passions of the protesting element of the radical Green movement and it doesn’t take any powers of prophecy to see the television images of kids and hippies throwing themselves in front of trucks laden with the uranium that is bound for India and its unregulated arsenal of evil nukes. In spite of the fact that nuclear power is India’s only hope of sustaining its huge middle class economy into the future and that the incidences of nuclear accidents is mind bogglingly low and much cleaner than the rabid environmental publicity machine would have us believe, Bob Brown’s appeal to the green resistance will probably rate a fair amount of media time for him but in reality it poses little more than a pothole in the road for Gillard’s scheme.
While the mainstream media have focused on the side issue of actually selling India some uranium Julia Gillard has proven once again what a clever and potent political animal that she really is. Not since she carved up Kevin Rudd in a night of the long knives has our Prime Minister managed a stroke of political manipulation so adroit and articulate as this one which may even mark the nadir in her long descent into the political Hades of unpopularity. It remains to be seen if she can manage to escape from purgatory to emerge redeemed into the good graces of the electorate but she has about a year left to work on it. Paying the nation’s bills might be a good place to start.
For more on the sustainability and safety record of nuclear energy go to:
Channeling the Strong Force