refreshing electoral politico-speak or merely advantageous posturing?

Even though I am on the other side of the planet I try to keep abreast of what transpires back home. The impacts of the draconian industrial relations legislation the conservative governmment has imposed on everyone, and the hoped-for demise of said conservative fucks (I toned done what I really think) are two of the multitude issues I am interested in. Today, however, in reference to the 20th Anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, provided something I had not expected – it is something I am very happy to see yet I my cynicism leaves me critically questioning its basis and quite sceptical.

The mainstream press in Australia ran an opinion piece written by (on of the staffers of?) Anthony Albanese: the Federal opposition environment spokesperson. I was surprised when he was appointed this position some months ago given my knowledge of him as a politic hack and not having noticed any environmental concerns expressed by him throughout my (ongoing) involvement in activism (grass-roots through to the inter/national level, including on national bodies) that stretches back more than 20 years. This surprise however, is significantly outweighed by the article/opinion piece published in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.

The critical attention given the issue of the entire nuclear cycle (there is a lack of critical comment on mining – I will come back to that) is something I am very pleased to see in the mainstream press. For me this is the most significant aspect of the piece and perhaps may lead to my affording Anthony Albanese some respect (and more critical comments) should he become the minister post the next Federal election – the aim of course being to add to public debate not participate in electoralism per se. As mentioned in the piece

The Treasurer, the Defence Minister, the Industry Minister and the Environment Minister have all said Australia should consider establishing a nuclear power industry.

This direct context of this being a quote from the conservative PM from less than 3-weeks ago:

My philosophy is that if it became economically attractive, I would not oppose [nuclear power] any more than I oppose the export of uranium.

Whilst the attack on such a position is framed economically, that it is being attacked at all in the mainstream press and by a member of parliament in a position of potential sway provides the significance. For someone like myself who rejects economics, I consider the figures cited significant enough to influence public opinion! The attacks go further still. The new defense Minister Brendan Nelson – former education minister and the fucker who drafted recently adopted legislation that is explicitly an ideological attack on student associations directly aimed at destroying them – gets a noteworthy serve. In attempting to deflect the issue of ‘radioactive waste’ as being a matter for future governments, Anthony Albanese hits pretty hard, albeit it politico-speak:

What an abrogation of responsibility

The issue of mining, however, receives little attention. The Labor Party (ALP) made history in 1983 in winning the Federal election based on an environmental issue: promising to save and protect the Franklin River in Tasmania from a hydro-electro scheme. At this time it also proposed a ‘three mine policy’ as in the three uranium mines in Australia that currently existed would be the only ones allowed to operate (or be replaced). Whilst this was not what was wanted at the time, it was a far cry from the open slather approach of the conservatives. The ALP stance has weakened significantly to a ‘no new mines’ policy: perhaps the attack that this opinion piece is centred around indicates that this may be positively reconsidered? With the increasing expansion of uranium sales and potentially a revisit to the issue of the Jabiluka mine which became an international issue and focus of significant actions including a blockade in 1997, it could again force the hand of the ALP.

Part of my cynicism makes it hard to believe this. It also begs the question – is this attack a means to criticise the PM with the context of the Chernobyl disaster and that recent polls indicate a significant majority of people think he is lying on issues including the kickbacks regarding the food for oil program in Iraq – just another in a long history of the government being exposed for mistruths… the significance this time being that people are finally prepared to do something about it (I just wish it was more than at the ballot box).

Whilst terrorism and fear are used to criticise the focus on nuclear technologies, the close of the piece focusing on a shift away from environmentally destructive approaches to energy production and laying the foundations now for the future is a shift in political approach not seen for some time from either tweedledum or tweedledumber.

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