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Reader riposte: Lowy's nuclear debate

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This post is part of the Selling Australian uranium to India debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

COMMENTS

15 December 2011 11:33


This post is part of the Selling Australian uranium to India debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

Richard Broinowski writes:

I was incredulous to read Sam Roggeveen's assertion that Lowy is committed to open and unemotional debate on nuclear issues, and also that it is a non-partisan think tank rather than a lobby group. In a number of important respects it is neither open nor impartial, but I shall confine myself to comment on your 2011 record, namely, the so-called 'nuclear debates' you have hosted this year.

On 20 April, barely a month after Fukushima, you had your own intern, the former notably pro-nuclear advocate, John Carlson, joined by John Borshok (CEO of Paladin), Selena Ng from Areva, and Michael Angwin, CEO of the Australian Uranium Association, at a lunch-time 'debate'. All argued, some of them aggressively, that the nuclear industry was safe and that Fukushima was an aberration. No dissenting voice was heard from the podium. On 9 June you invited Andy Lloyd of Rio Tinto Mining and Warren Mundine to a 'debate', arguing in a similar fashion that nuclear power was the wave of the future.

And on 1 December, you had a panel discussion with Scott Sagan of Stanford, John Carlson (again) and Martine Letts arguing about whether we could have nuclear power without proliferation. The conclusion was, of course, that we could, and that exporting uranium to India was a good thing. Not to be outdone, Rory Medcalf managed to insult both the left-wing of the ALP and Bollywood when he asserted that Stephen Conroy's performance at the ALP national conference would have been a rich source for a Bollywood blockbuster.

The fact is that you can't have an objective debate while leaving out people who oppose nuclear power on various economic, health and environmental grounds, such as Dr Mark Diesendorf of UNSW, prominent radiation physicians Dr Tilman Ruff and Dr Peter Karamaskos, or Dr Sue Wareham of the Medical Association for the Prevention of War (MAPW). By all means have the miners who see Fukushima as a roadblock to profits, but don't delude yourselves into thinking it is some kind of objective debate.

I would also take issue with your view that the future of nuclear power is best debated without emotion. Those who push your nuclear agenda frequently advocate an 'unemotional' or 'objective' debate on nuclear matters, the sub-text being that anti-nukes are perforce emotional and irrational, but we pro-nukes are not. But as the technology is Janus-faced, both immensely destructive and polluting as well as being a sophisticated way to boil water, it is entirely appropriate to inject some emotion without being irrational.

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