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Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Page: 13688


Dr JENSEN (Tangney) (19:51): I wish to congratulate the Prime Minister on her decision to pursue sales of uranium to India. Welcome to the 21st century, Prime Minister, and to a policy that was introduced by the Howard government years ago, only to be rescinded by the member for Griffith. Naysayers from the Left of the Labor Party and, unsurprisingly, all of the Greens Party, reject the sales because India is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NNPT.

But, if they continue to proffer the merits of a clean energy future, Labor and the Greens cannot afford to cross the Prime Minister on this issue. India needs electricity to liberate some 400 million of its citizens from poverty. If the Greens have the trillions need to build solar farms and wind turbines, I am sure Delhi officials will be on the first carbon-neutral plane available to meet with Senator Brown and his brigade. As it stands, coal is the only other viable energy source for India. If we continue to block uranium supplies to India, they will simply pump more of that supposedly climate-changing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Perhaps it is an opportune time to examine the history of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the implications that holds for Australia today and into the future. The NNPT came into effect in 1970, in a simpler time with regard to nuclear diplomacy. Signatories included the nuclear weapon states, the US, the USSR—which is now Russia—China, France and the UK, who also happen to be the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, harking back to the end of the Second World War.

The NNPT addresses three major areas. The first is non-proliferation, which is the part of the treaty most often referred to. This provision means signatories agree that the only nations allowed to possess nuclear weapons are the five nuclear weapon states. No other states can procure nuclear weapons capabilities or sell any material to a nation attempting to procure such a capability. The second and third parts of the NNPT are not as well known and are often conveniently forgotten for the benefit of ideological arguments used to prevent sales to nations such as India.

The second part relates to disarmament, where signatories agree to reduce and eventually eradicate their weapons capability. With China expanding and modernising its nuclear arsenal, one would question the commitment of the nuclear weapon states to their own treaty. Additionally, Iran, also a signatory, is working very closely with another rogue state, North Korea, on the development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology. Yet Iran is a nation that many on Labor's Left would apparently be prepared to sell uranium to simply because they are a signatory to the NNPT. China and Iran proliferate despite having signed the non-proliferation treaty; India abides by the treaty but is not a signatory. Australia rewards dishonest states and punishes a democracy that plays by the rules.

The third part relates to the peaceful use of nuclear power, and the sale of nuclear-power-generation technology to signatory states. China and Russia have a highly questionable record when it comes to the sale of nuclear weapon capabilities to other nations. This is in stark contrast to India, who, by all accounts, has an exemplary record in this regard, apart from the acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability for its own defence needs. In addition, of all known nuclear-weapons-capable nations, India stands alone in explicitly ruling out the first use of nuclear weapons.

The left hand of the Labor Party does not know what its far-left hand is doing. It is irresponsible for the Prime Minister to workshop this foreign affairs decision in the public sphere to see whether it will float or sink with voting Australia. If the Prime Minister manages to push this policy through Labor's conference she has the legislative get-out-of-jail-free card of no nuclear power in Australia. But, if uranium is too dangerous for personal consumption, how can we morally sell it to anyone else?