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Uranium policy in the Draft ALP Conference Platform

May 19, 2015

Re: Uranium policy in the Draft ALP Platform for National Conference 2015

The 2015 Australian Labor Party (ALP) National Conference will be held from July 24/26 in Melbourne. Ahead of Conference the federal ALP has circulated draft policy documents for consultation and comment.

The full draft policy document can be found here with comments accepted from the general public as well as ALP members until Friday 29 May.

The draft uranium policy as presented poses both unreasonable reductions in transparency and unacceptable increases in risk.

The draft policy seeks to remove:

· health, safety and monitoring protections for workers

· public accountability and industry transparency mechanisms

· a long standing veto on the importation and storage of international nuclear waste

The draft policy proposes to facilitate:

· the importation, storage and disposal of international nuclear waste

· all aspects of the nuclear industry except domestic nuclear power (ie- uranium enrichment/fuel fabrication/reprocessing/waste conditioning)

Against the backdrop of the continuing Fukushima crisis, directly fuelled by Australian uranium, it is important that the ALP does not further erode an already deficient policy.

Key national and state environmental groups will be making submissions in response to the above points, but we encourage anyone concerned about this backwards policy step to also contribute via the online comment process.

A little effort from us now might help stop a big set back at the national conference in July.

Some suggested points to include in your submission are listed below- please feel free to adapt and expand on these.

If you would like further information or to discuss the draft policy and response please contact: Dave Sweeney, Australian Conservation Foundation, d.sweeney [at] acfonline.org.au or Natalie Wasley, Beyond Nuclear Initiative, beyondnuclearinitiative [at] gmail.com.

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Platform Chapter Reference: CHAPTER 3: Building Australia’s Future

Subject of Submission:  Weakening of uranium and nuclear policy

Submission:

I am greatly concerned that the 2015 ALP Policy Platform:

– Removes the references in the current (2011) platform to health, safety and monitoring protections for workers in the uranium industry and public scrutiny of the uranium sector.

– Opens the door to importation of high-level nuclear waste, overturning a long-held and widely supported position to oppose international waste storage/disposal.

This contradicts point 65 in Chapter 4: Building a Clean Energy Future (A cleaner Environment for Living) that states: Labor believes nations have a responsibility for the appropriate disposal of hazardous wastes generated within their boundaries. Labor is committed to fulfilling Australia’s obligations in the control of trans-boundary movements of hazardous waste.

– Considers the expansion of Australian involvement in the nuclear chain, including uranium enrichment, fuel fabrication for nuclear power reactors and reprocessing. These processes are prohibited in Australia by federal law and would also undermine efforts stated in Chapter 3 (points 151-153) calling for monitoring and control of materials used for nuclear proliferation.

I would like the 2015 ALP Policy Platform to:

-Reinstate the commitments from the 2011 platform that Labor will ensure the safety of workers in the uranium industry is given priority and support public accountability of the uranium sector.

– Maintain the current and long-standing opposition to importation of international nuclear waste under any circumstances

– Delete the final point in 154: Seek to fully understand the future role Australia can play in global nuclear safety and sustainability including taking back for storage and management materials generated from Australian exported uranium.

The 2015 Policy Platform is an opportunity to strengthen the case for moving away from high impact and hazardous industries like uranium mining toward a future that creates long term, sustainable and regional job opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

In the shadow of Fukushima the words of Labor stalwart Tom Uren continue to ring true: Uranium was always guilty until proven innocent, and no one yet has proved uranium innocent. At the 2015 National Conference it is important that nuclear protections for the community, workers, health and the environment are strengthened rather than reduced.