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Liberals still hanker for nuclear power.



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MEDIA RELEASE The Hon Peter Garrett MP Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

PG/31 29 February 2008

LIBERALS STILL HANKER FOR NUCLEAR POWER

If Liberal Leader Brendan Nelson has really backed away from his party’s nuclear power crusade, he’s forgotten to tell his backbenchers.

Western Australian Liberal backbencher Dennis Jensen told ABC today:

“I think that nuclear power is one of the power generation methods for the future and I’m a little bit concerned that the first that I’ve heard about this change of policy is actually through the media.

“I don't think that there has been an adequate assessment of the way the public actually thinks about nuclear energy. I don't think it is anywhere near as negative an issue as many people believe."

First we have a secret Shadow Cabinet decision last December with no public statement of the changed position.

Then Senator Minchin and Shadow Environment spokesman Greg Hunt claim the Howard nuclear crusade been ditched - but Dr Nelson’s spokeswoman says “Coalition policy is to investigate the possibility of nuclear energy.”

Yesterday Dr Nelson came out of hiding to tell the media he now cannot envisage nuclear power at any time in Australia - but denies Liberal Party policy has changed.

That’s a policy for 25 nuclear reactors in communities around Australia - a policy made clear by the former Prime Minister on 28 April last year:

“The Government’s next step will be to repeal Commonwealth legislation prohibiting nuclear activities, including the relevant provisions of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. This will be addressed soon.”

So has Liberal Party policy changed or not? Dennis Jensen doesn’t know, and from the sound of it, neither does Brendan Nelson.

Media contact: Margot Marshall 0418 624 847