July 25, 2006 | Graham

Beazley bombs on uranium

Just when Labor appeared to be getting its act together Beazley decides to run off on an extraneous excursion on uranium mining. John Howard must be happy.
Howard has elevated the debate on nuclear power for a number of reasons, one of which is undoubtedly that it raises strong passions amongst the paranoid left. It’s the left that guarantees Labor stays out of power by villifying it anytime it tries to move to the centre. This has two results – it makes centrist Labor policies suspect to a large body of mainstream opinion, and it frequently sees Labor shifting its position towards the left (think Tasmanian forests), thus re-inforcing the first.
Hence, Beazley’s policy shift on uranium won’t win him any new supporters (even if there are any uncommitted Australians who will decide their vote in the next election on uranium mining anyway). It will also bring out those in his own party who will want him to revoke the policy. The resulting dust-up will take everyone’s attention away from the one issue where Beazley can win – industrial relations.
Howard’s a master of the sucker punch, and you can see that on this issue, but then, to play that gambit properly, you need a sucker. There was no need for Labor to play along.

Posted by Graham at 1:48 pm | Comments (6) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. So do you suggest that Labor should keep the three mines policy? How could Beazley announce his preference for that without taking heavy political damage for being half-pregnant?

    Comment by Benno — July 25, 2006 @ 6:53 pm

  2. Benno, I haven’t noticed any rioting in the streets by average citizens calling on Beazley to change the policy. It might not be a rational policy, but that doesn’t make it unique. I can think of a whole slew of irrational policies implemented by the government that keep people happy nevertheless. Politics isn’t about the absolutely perfect solution, but about the acceptable one. Three mines is acceptable, and has stood the test of time. If Beazley wanted to fiddle with it,then after he wins the next election (if he does) would be a good time, not before.

    Comment by Graham Young — July 26, 2006 @ 9:42 am

  3. Its amazing how public perceptions fail to change even after they’ve been told several thousand times that its now a no new mines policy not a three mines policy but if anyone is to blame, its whoever spoke about the policy discussion with the press.

    Comment by vee — July 26, 2006 @ 11:10 am

  4. Alas, I think that Beasley’s “change of heart” on uranium policy has been a pretty clever ploy. Since economic rationalism started it off properly, the culture of Midas-like adoration of corporate profit has become Australia’s dominant theme.
    Australians by and large would want the huge profits from selling uranium, but without the uneconomic reactors, or the unsolvakble wastes. Beasley will promise us our yellowcake, but pretend that we won’t have to eat it.

    Comment by Christina Macpherson — July 26, 2006 @ 11:12 am

  5. Vee, I’m not sure what the difference is between a “no new mines” policy and a “three mines policy” when you have three mines, except that I suppose it could become a “two mines” policy if one of the mines becomes exhausted.
    Anyway, the link to the official press release is http://alp.org.au/media/0706/mspi240.php. Interesting that he doesn’t mention expanding uranium exports per se although that is obviously one effect of what he is proposing, and that effect has been reacted to by his colleagues as well as the media.

    Comment by Graham Young — July 26, 2006 @ 11:26 am

  6. Ok that makes sense, I was thinking with my ‘sensible public policy’ brain on, not my normal one. It must be all this university that I am doing.
    No sarcasm or piss taking tags have been used in the production of this comment.

    Comment by Benno — July 27, 2006 @ 7:00 pm

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