Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Nuclear Barnaby

Following is an extract of a speech given by Queensland Liberal-National Party Senator, Barnaby Joyce, on 24 August 2009 to the National Party Federal Council.

"... One of the agendas we must start looking at is nuclear power. We must
be serious about it. ... We export this product all around the world, we obviously think it is philosophically correct to export it to everybody but we don’t believe we should use it ourselves.
Then you have the query that everyone will put up well do you want one in your backyard? That’s the ultimate payback, but do you want one in your backyard? Well I bet we can devise a plan so that I do. You give me my power at half price I’ll take one. I’ll take one tomorrow and if gave every council in Australia the right to have a referendum to ask if you want one we’ll give you your power at half price, that is your choice. And then just let the Australian people make the decision. That would be a nice way to go about doing business. Let the Australian people make the decision about whether they want to do it."

I'm not sure that, as an accountant, he has done his sums properly, nor the politics & practicalities of nuclear electricty management. His solution is simplistic - if we offer cheap electricity, people will approve a nuclear power station in their locality, or a location near other Australians. He hasn't addressed the costs of construction, operation & maintenance, waste disposal, decommissioning and disaster planning. His solution is: "offer cheap, and they'll let you build". But his implied assertion that nuclear-generated electricity will be half the cost of that produced by coal ought to be treated with much cynicism. The 'hip-pocket nerve' of many Australians might look for a cheap way out, as they have done with cars, and they might look to reduce their costs by reducing their use of electricity. An ETS, so opposed by Barnaby, is not so much a tax, but a mechanism of social engineering to change the electricity consumption habits of (all lights ON, ALL night) businesses and individuals.

If Barnaby Joyce wants to debate the merits of nuclear power for Australia, he has hindered his cause by not doing his (accountancy) homework and by simply shooting his mouth off.


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