Victorian ALP anti-nuclear bill welcomed

National environment group Friends of the Earth (FoE) will welcome the Bracks' government's move to legislate to force a plebiscite if the Commonwealth attempts to impose a nuclear facility on Victoria. This will provide a timely confirmation of Victoria’ nuclear free status. However FoE will express concern that numerous Victorian delegates to the ALP conference in Sydney on April 27-29 are expected vote to overturn ALP policy of opposition to new uranium mines in Australia.

MEDIA ALERT APRIL 16, 2007

FRIENDS OF THE EARTH AUSTRALIA

VIC ALP NUCLEAR-POWER STANCE WELCOME ... BUT NOT ENOUGH WITHOUT ACTION AT FEDERAL LEVEL

An anti-nuclear vigil will be held in front of the Victorian Parliament House from 12 noon until 1pm, tomorrow, Tuesday May 17.

National environment group Friends of the Earth (FoE) will welcome the Bracks' government's move to legislate to force a plebiscite if the Commonwealth attempts to impose a nuclear facility on Victoria. This will provide a timely confirmation of Victoria’ nuclear free status.
However FoE will express concern that numerous Victorian delegates to the ALP conference in Sydney on April 27-29 are expected vote to overturn ALP policy of opposition to new uranium mines in Australia.

Dr Jim Green, FoE national nuclear campaigner, said: "There is a serious risk that the national ALP conference will overturn the current 'no new mines' policy on the strength of votes from the ALP Right faction along with a small number of ALP Left delegates including Julia Gillard."

"To be consistent with the spirit of this legislation, all Victorian ALP delegates to national conference must vote against any weakening of the current uranium policy. Without supporting the retention of a no new mines policy, the Bracks government's plebiscite legislation risks being
seen as posturing. Any change in policy which allows new mines (and hence exports of uranium overseas) would mean that a significant section of the ALP clearly believes it is acceptable to impose nuclear risks on other communities."

"If this happens, and we expand our uranium exports to new countries, the best-case scenario is that uranium will end up as high-level nuclear waste, for which there is not a single permanent repository anywhere in the world. There is a growing push for high-level nuclear waste arising from Australia's uranium exports to be returned to Australia."

"The worst case scenario is that Australian uranium finds its way into nuclear weapons - the most destructive weapons ever devised. Even the International Atomic Energy Agency concedes serious flaws in the so-called safeguards system which aims to prevent military use of uranium."

Dr Mohamed El Baradei, IAEA Director-General of the IAEA, describes the IAEA's basic safeguards inspection rights as "fairly limited", notes that the system is subject to "vulnerabilities", complains that efforts to improve the system have been "half-hearted" and that the safeguards system operates on a "shoestring budget ... comparable to a local police
department".

A May 2006 Newspoll of 1200 Australians found that 66% of Australians - and 78% of ALP voters - are opposed to new uranium mines anywhere in Australia. An International Atomic Energy Agency survey of 1000 Australians in 2005 found that 56% think the IAEA's safeguards system is ineffective.

Contact: Dr Jim Green 0417 318 368

The vigil will be held outside Parliament House from noon till 1pm, Tuesday April 17th.