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Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
Monday, 24 July 2006
Perth Domestic Airport
Minister, firstly what's your reaction to Kim Beazley's decision and Labor's decision to dump the three-mines policy?
Well it was a stupid policy. But what it really says is that Mr Beazley's name is now totally synonymous with the word 'back flip'; it's another Beazley back flip. It shows weak leadership. He has a Party that is deeply divided on this issue at a time when Australia needs a policy to deliver secure energy for the future as well as a policy that will deliver greenhouse gas reductions; and Labor is in total confusion over this issue.
Labor first introduced that policy decades ago, is that to say that a political party can't change their mind on an issue?
Well they should change their mind but they need to change their entire energy policy. This puts all of the other parts of their energy policy into disarray as well. Australia needs an energy policy that delivers secure energy for secure jobs, but also greenhouse gas reductions. Mr Beazley defended the no new mines policy for 20 years, he's just done a monumental back flip. What he's really saying now is you can mine uranium in Australia but you can't use it for anything else. So he's raised more questions than he's answered with this back flip.
Well what is the problem then with allowing more than three uranium mines in Australia?
It's always been the Coalition's policy to allow uranium mining to export it to the world. It's a very great, job-creating mines policy for Australia; it's also very good for reducing greenhouse gas emissions for the world. It's always been a good policy. It's taken Mr Beazley 20 years to wake up to it; it's another classic Beazley back flip.
So, are you also critical saying it's not a good energy policy, you're saying that supporting uranium is a good thing?
No, supporting uranium mining has always been a good thing. What Australia needs is a comprehensive energy and environment policy. Mr Beazley has failed to deliver that; he's just delivered a Beazley back flip.
You could say that after two decades though, public opinion, society changes. Some would argue it's a responsible thing to do after two decades of a policy.
It's a back flip; it's a long overdue back flip. But what's missing is a policy to deliver Australia energy security and greenhouse gas reductions. It's just a back flip on its own. What we need to see for Australia is a secure energy policy with lower greenhouse gas emissions.