Australia and uranium: the ‘three mines’ debate


Richard Moore

Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2007 02:48:57 -0700 (PDT)
From: jeff wefferson <•••@••.•••>
To: Richard Moore <•••@••.•••>

[Please help with] raising awareness about the 
global significance of the vote soon to happen in 
the Australian parliament on whether or not to 
abandon the years-old "three mines" policy...from 
what I hear it's already a done deal to forge 
ahead with "Saudi Australia"...but it's truly a 
stake in the heart of life as we know it.  You 
could mention 
...Bradbury's concert happening at Rockhampton in 
June when the Talisman Sabre Operation is in full 


Thanks Jeff. Here's an article for our readers, found by Google:


       "...the possibility of Australia becoming the world's
         biggest exporter of uranium has divided Labor."

Original source URL:

ABC Online

PM - Labor divided over 'three mines' policy

[This is the print version of story]

PM - Monday, 3 April , 2006  18:10:53
Reporter: Alexandra Kirk

MARK COLVIN: Australia's and China's foreign 
ministers have signed agreements that will let 
Australia export uranium to China for nuclear 
power generation.

The Federal Government insists that stringent 
safeguards will be in place to ensure the uranium 
is only used for peaceful purposes, and cannot 
find its way to the Chinese military.

The deal could be worth billions of dollars.

It's raised the ire of some conservationists, and 
critics of China's human rights record.

At the same time, the possibility of Australia 
becoming the world's biggest exporter of uranium 
has divided Labor.

Some in the party are urging an end to the 
party's "no new mines" or "three mines" policy, 
to pave the way for state Labor governments to be 
able to open a number of new mines.

From Canberra, Alexandra Kirk reports.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Prime Minister John Howard and 
Premier Wen Jiabao started the day together, with 
an early morning circuit of Lake Burley Griffin.

Mr Howard's a fast walker. The Chinese leader thinks it was more than a walk.

WEN JIABAO (translated): Former Australian prime 
minister Robert Gordon Menzies said that we need 
"to strive to seek to find and not to yield", and 
I came across the statute of prime minister 
Menzies in the morning, when I jogged together 
with Prime Minister John Howard.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: After signing the Prime 
Minister's visitor's book, Premier Wen 
disappeared from the glare of the cameras into Mr 
Howard's office, to discuss the serious business 
of buying Australian uranium for China's nuclear 
power program.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and his Chinese 
counterpart signed a nuclear transfer agreement 
and a nuclear cooperation agreement, which 
establish safeguards and conditions to ensure 
Australian uranium and any collaborative nuclear 
technology programs are used exclusively for 
peaceful purposes.

The uranium deal could be worth billions of 
dollars. China also wants to invest in Australian 
mining companies.

Both leaders are keen to stress the strong ties between their two countries.

JOHN HOWARD: Of all of the relationships that 
Australia hasŠ major relationships that Australia 
has with other countries, none has been more 
completely transformed than the relationship with 
China over the last 10 years.

WEN JIABAO (translated): I'm firm in the belief 
that with considered efforts by bot countries, 
China-Australia relations of all round 
cooperation will yield rich fruits. Thankyou.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The most contentious issue has 
been that of the safeguards underpinning future 
uranium sales.

Mr Howard and Mr Wen, speaking through an 
interpreter, want to reassure critics the 
safeguards are strict and enforceable.

WEN JIABAO (translated): The agreement that we 
enter today has provided safeguards, for the 
peaceful purposes of our nuclear cooperation, We 
must proceed with our cooperation in this field 
on the basis of mutual respect, mutual benefit 
and equality.

JOHN HOWARD: I am satisfied that the safeguards 
that are there will be enforced, and it's on that 
basis that the agreements are being signed.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But the critics are not convinced.

Greens Senator Christine Milne says the 
Government has put dollars before human rights 
and global security.

CHRISTINE MILNE: Alexander Downer today said that 
nuclear waste can be disposed of safely. He is 
wrong. Alexander Downer said today, that the 
safeguards are strict. They are not.

For China, it is a voluntary arrangement with the 
International Atomic Energy Agency.

There's no doubt that what we signed up to today 
is an arrangement which cannot guarantee that 
Australian uranium will not end up in a weapons 
program in a totalitarian dictatorship.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: And Chen Yonglin, the former 
diplomat based at China's consulate in Sydney, 
who was granted an Australian visa last year, is 
also against the deal.

CHEN YONGLIN: This is short-sighted and a 
suicidal action actually, and the Chinese 
communist dictatorship can never be trusted, they 
has been told lies to the world.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: On a broader front, John Howard 
says he reaffirmed Australia's One-China policy 
to Premier Wen.

JOHN HOWARD: Australia has never played down, or 
in any sense apologised for the closeness of our 
relationship with the United States. That 
relationship is deep, it's based on history and 
shared values, and it's arguable stronger now 
than ever before.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: And Labor's Kim Beazley offered his bipartisan support.

KIM BEAZLEY: It is also been gratifying for all 
of us here in this country that we have not been 
involved in choices, between old commitments in 
relation to our strong alliance relationship with 
the United States, and new commitments related to 
our engaged status as an engaged dialogue partner.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Despite the strong bilateral 
ties, China's aware of US and regional suspicion 
about its military build-up, with Premier Wen 
offering this reassurance.

WEN JIABAO (translated): China has reduced its 
military forces by more than 1.7 million over the 
past two decades and more. The share of China's 
military spending, in its GDP and government 
budget, is fairly low by international standard. 
The modest increase in China's military 
expenditure is mainly for improving the welfare 
of its servicemen, strengthening its defence 
capabilities, and safeguarding national 

Thus, China will not pose a threat on anyone. 
China's defence policy is transparent.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The uranium deal could see mining 
increase threefold. Further down the track that 
would mean new mines need to open.

Labor's resources spokesman Martin Ferguson, 
thinks it's time his party ditched its no new 
mines policy, giving state Labor governments the 
freedom to cash in on the massive export boost.

But the environment spokesman Anthony Albanese 
says there's no mood for change in the ALP.

The Prime Minister's watching closely.

JOHN HOWARD: There are signs that the three mine 
policy is already crumbling. And we'll examine 
that, and watch developments in that area with 
great interest and the Government will also, in 
the fullness of time, examine what other 
capacities the national Government has, if that 
becomes necessary.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Kim Beazley won't say whether 
he'll push for a policy change. He's hedging his 
bets, saying Labor doesn't have to make a 
decision any time soon. But he does want to see 
Australia capitalise on the impending boom.

KIM BEAZLEY: We are about to become the world's 
largest supplier of uranium. The arrangement with 
yourselves guarantees that. And therefore, we are 
the world's nation, most devoted to an effective 
non-proliferation regime. To make that regime 
effective is of vital importance to this nation.

MARK COLVIN: Kim Beazley ending Alexandra Kirk's report.

© 2007 Australian Broadcasting Corporation
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