Want nuclear? Stiff cheddar

By Geelong Story Updates
LABOR’S candidate for Corangamite, Darren Cheeseman, has made the case for building a nuclear power station on the Surf Coast.
Amazingly, Mr Cheeseman is opposed to such a facility and is in fact trying to scare voters away from the Howard Government.
But in a press release issued on Wednesday he said it was highly likely Corangamite would be selected host a nuclear reactor if the Coalition was reelected.
He made the conclusion after Prime Minister John Howard revealed his government had sought legal advice on whether the Commonwealth could force states to allow construction of nuclear reactors.
“The public cannot be complacent about this,” Mr Cheeseman warned.
“A vote for John Howard in this election is a vote for a nuclear reactor in our local community.”
But then Mr Cheeseman went on to outline the attributes of the region as a site for a nuclear power plan, basically the argument for a nuclear plant.
“Corangamite has the largest combined bayside and open ocean area of any Victorian electorate,” he said.
“The key criteria for location of nuclear reactor sites are water supply, proximity to the electricity grid and reasonable proximity to port and airport facilities.”
Mr Cheeseman’s release went on to say Corangamite had good access to the power grid, port and airport facilities and suitable land.
He said documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws revealed the Commonwealth could acquire about 100 hectares of freehold land to build a nuclear reactor and operate an exclusion zone.
“That opens up a Pandora’s box for where a nuclear reactor may be located. It doesn’t have to be on Commonwealth land,” Mr Cheeseman said.
Of course Mr Cheeseman wasn’t advocating for a nuclear reactor.
He, in fact, wants a debate with Liberal Member for Corangamite Stewart McArthur.
“Does Mr MrArthur support a nuclear reactor in this region and does he support Mr Howard’s view that he would live next door to one?,” Mr Cheeseman challenged.
Notinmybackyard arguments might win votes in Corangamite but don’t really give voters an indication on either party’s nuclear policy.
The Coalition seems clear. It wants to sell uranium and wants to establish a nuclear industry in Australia.
Labor’s policy is more complicated. Labor is committed to mining Australia’s vast reserves of uranium and selling it to nations with nuclear industries, including China and India.
It’s noble for Mr Cheeseman to oppose a nuclear power station west of Geelong.
But he should be prepared to define Labor’s policy, which presently says the party doesn’t want nuclear energy in Australia but other countries prepared to pay for our raw materials can go for their lives.
The opposition’s national development, resources and energy spokesperson Chris Evans said Labor opposed introduction of nuclear power in Australia on the grounds it did not make economic or environmental sense.
“Labor will encourage the development of a sustainable mix of renewable energy, clean coal and gas fired power,” he said.
But if there’s a local debate, Mr Cheeseman should argue why it’s okay for other nations to develop nuclear power with Australian uranium when it doesn’t make sense to do so here.