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Wednesday, 21 September 2011
Page: 6728

Senator BERNARDI (South Australia) (17:13): In rising to make a contribution to this debate I acknowledge that Senator Ludlam has had a longstanding and serious interest in, and opposition to, nuclear energy. He has not yet succumbed to the hysteria and hyperbole that we just heard from Senator Milne. Senator Milne was on about how nuclear was unreliable, and I can only presume that her endorsement of renewable energy has conveniently overlooked the fact that the recent high winds in the UK forced them to close down the wind farms there because they were at risk of collapse and catching on fire and actually overpowering the electricity grid. I also note that Senator Milne criticised Dr Switkowski for not standing in front of the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan to make his announce­ments about the safety of nuclear energy. I also note that Senator Milne has not been standing in front of the geothermal tech­nology company in South Australia, where one exploded recently. Let us call this for what it is. It is another scaremongering tactic by an extreme green movement that is seeking to exploit a tragic circumstance and a very dangerous circumstance—I will acknowledge that—for their own base ends. There is no doubt that what happened in Japan was bad. It was a disaster for the Japanese people but we have to look at the fact that this reactor was built on old technology—40-year-old technology. Clear­ly it was built in the wrong place and without due consideration of the earthquake risk and the tsunami risk that it was placed under. All of these things can be overcome if you can overcome an irrational fear of nuclear energy. But, of course, the Greens specialise in irrational fear to pursue equally irrational policy agendas. Senator Ludlam, as I said, has not quite succumbed to that as yet.

But the Greens clearly want a baseload power system built on the most unreliable of technologies, which is renewable energy technology. We know it is prohibitively expensive. We know that it will not provide for Australia's base power needs. And it is startling to hear Senator Milne defend the provision of electricity to people all over the world when the Greens and Senator Milne herself want to basically shut down our baseload power generation capacity in Australia. Make no mistake: this is part of the Greens policy agenda. They do not want to see any new coalmines. They do not want to see any more coal fired power stations. But this is only part of their extreme policy agenda.

Might I remind this Senate that Senator Bob Brown, the Leader of the Greens, actually wanted and has previously called for a registration system for businesses based on the religious belief of their owners. This was rapidly removed from the Greens website, but I still have the press release. Senator Bob Brown wanted to have a register of businesses based on the religious belief of the owners. This is the same organisation that promotes and supports boycotts of businesses that do business with Israel or that are owned by Jewish business owners. This is an extreme agenda that is very damaging to Australia because it does not confront the reality.

We know that the hypocrisy of the Greens has been demonstrated over and over again. I remember when Senator Bob Brown was quoted as saying: 'People do not make large donations to political parties without having in mind favour in return.' I wonder what you get when you take the largest corporate political donation in the history of this country. There have been some suggest­ions—it is just a coincidence, we know—that when Senator Bob Brown rose and asked a number of questions in this place that were directly relevant to the business interests of that $1.6 million donor to the Greens, accusations of hypocrisy and accusations of conflict of interest could have been levelled. But, of course, the Greens washed their hands of it.

I mention these things because we need to put it in perspective: the Greens are an alarmist movement that will seek to trade and profit from human misery because that will suit their political agenda. Their agenda is, quite frankly, one that wants to reduce human kind to just another species amongst species. We are the same as rabbits and monkeys and anything else. Once again, that is in the Greens manifesto, which was written by Bob Brown and that man, Peter Singer, in 1996. It effectively equates humans with just about every other animal species. Little wonder they want to shut down the embracement of technology that can actually supply Australia's and the world's electricity needs in a manner that is consistent with the global desire to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. They make no bones about that, notwithstanding what Senator Milne said.

Nuclear energy is one of the few low-emissions technologies that can provide baseload power. We know that. It has worked elsewhere in the world. Senator Milne in her rush to criticise nuclear power all over the world conveniently overlooked the fact that the nuclear industry in somewhere like France supplies a lot of western Europe with their electricity needs. Indeed, you would not have the opportunity to use as much electricity in places like Italy without France's provisions.

We need to be aware of what the real agenda is here. It is not about the national interest. It is not about Australia's interest or about provisioning, protecting, defending or preparing ourselves for the requirements of future generations. This is about pursuing an ideological agenda. The tragedy in Japan is simply part of that. It is no doubt a tragedy. It is something that we will have to learn from, but it is not the reason that we should shut the door to examining the application of nuclear energy and its respective benefits right around the world, and that includes here, in Australia.

Contrary to what the Senate has been told, it is not coalition policy to build nuclear power plants. We acknowledge that nuclear should be examined as a potential solution that is consistent with our desire to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but we cannot pursue this policy agenda without bipartisan agreement. Everyone acknowledges that. We know also that the Labor Party is not party to that agreement yet, because clearly the Greens tail is wagging the dog. Although, I do note that clear thinkers like Martin Ferguson MP have tried to put this on the ALP policy agenda. So I say to Australians: they should not succumb to this green— (Time expired)