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Wednesday, 18 February 1987
Page: 204


Senator JESSOP(6.34) —Before the debate was interrupted I was talking about the Chernobyl accident and its possible effect on the expansion of the industry. Of course, this accident was taken up very vigorously by the anti-nuclear movement when it occurred. I noted that earlier in the debate Senator Sanders mentioned that he had been very happy to talk with the Russians-in fact, he preferred to talk to the Russians-on matters reflecting to nuclear issues. I thought it might be appropriate just to mention the words of General Secretary Gorbachev in his speech to the twenty-seventh Communist Party Congress when he said that the Soviet Union planned to put 40,000 megawatts of new nuclear capacity into service between now and 1990. This is about 2 1/2 times the amount of extra generating capacity of output during the last five-year plan. Currently nuclear power appears to provide about 10 or 11 per cent of the total electricity in the Soviet Union and by 1990 it should reach about 20 per cent. Mr Gorbachev specifically targeted coal and oil for the failure to meet the country's electricity production.

The question must be asked why the left wing of the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Democrats are so totally opposed to the peaceful use of uranium when both the Eastern bloc and the Western democratic countries have embraced nuclear power as a form of electricity production which is economically competitive and far cleaner and safer than oil and coal fired power generation. Perhaps the answer could be found in a statement from Mr Pat Clancy, the former President of the pro-Soviet Socialist Party of Australia and member of the World Peace Council, which he made at the South Pacific and Asian Trade Union Unity Conference in 1979. Mr Clancy explained that nuclear energy could be used for peaceful purposes but he said that it depended on who used it. He went on:

In Australia we are opposed to it. It must be publicly owned. Whenever it is in private hands and for profit, it poses great danger. We support its use in socialist countries, but not in Australia. In Socialist countries it is necessary and safe for the generation of electricity. There has never been a nuclear accident in the USSR and there never will be. Waste is dumped where there is no danger to other countries.

I found that quite an amazing statement. According to this particular well-known communist, nuclear power is necessary and safe for the generation of electricity in socialist countries but not, apparently, in Western democratic societies. It is even more amazing when one considers that nuclear power stations in the Soviet Union, until recently, were built without the massively reinforced structural domes which cover them in the Western world where they are very strictly constructed according to specifications laid down by the International Atomic Energy Commission. I find it very difficult to understand why people such as Mr Clancy can approve the use of nuclear power in Russia but object to it throughout the Western world.

I support the general thrust of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation (Safeguards) Bill 1986, subject of course to the amendment that is being put forward by the Opposition.