|Not my problem|
Swinging voters typically shift uneasily when the subject of nuclear waste is
mentioned. Pretending that you are environmentally sensitive while leaving your
great-great-great-great-grandchildren your nuclear waste is a hard thing to
reconcile (though no greater than many other popular forms of self deceit). And if
it means basking in a centrally heated radioactive glow or shivering under
candle-light eating cold porridge, people's true nature will shine through.
The left, normally the source
of the most obvious contradictions in position, are relatively robust on this
issue. Faced with the choice of flooding the world with melting antarctic ice
from burning fossil fuels, or gracefully mutating from radiation exposure their
answer is 'neither!' They would prefer that we all sit in dark and shiver.
For some time, the federal government has been trying to make a decision 'for
the common good'. If we are going to have a nuclear program, we have to do
something with the waste, and if we are going to have a waste-dump, then it has
to be in someone's back yard. Some one (or some state) has to make the
sacrifice for the collective good. South Australia, host to British nuclear
tests in the 1960s, seemed like a good bet (what's a few more kilo-rads between
mutant Aborigines?), but this proposal went south when the federal government's
forcible attempt was foiled in court.
So in another strategic move worthy of a master politician, Johnny
(not-my-problem) Howard has simply announced that each state must look after
their own nuclear waste. Of course every state government is a Labour government at this time,
so he's happy to let the lefties can squabble with each other up to (and
beyond) the coming election.
Most of Australia's nuclear waste is generated at Sydney's Lucas Heights
reactor, and if Bob (true believer) Carr wants to dump it in the just desserts
of South Australia, he will have to negotiate with Mike (also) Rann, and will
have to offer suitable compensation for the inconvenience.
It's not exactly a free
market solution, but it's a lot closer than Johnny (i-know-what's-best)
Howard's solution - or is it?
Johnny also suggested that Australia might .. er .. unsell her nuclear
waste to other island nations. Bob (watermelon) Brown has
suggested that the ecological and economic wasteland Nauru might be willing to give
asylum to Australia's rejects, but he wasn't speaking in glowing terms of
Johnny's Nuclear Pacific Solution. Clearly Green (but-not-glowing) Bob thinks
that the democratically
elected government of Nauru is not capable making a decision in the interests
of their own people.
He does have a point. History is kind of on his side in this case. Nauru is not
a strong advertisement for government control (local,
foreign, democratic or otherwise). But that doesn't mean that turning the
island into nuclear waste-dump wouldn't be a bad thing for the 10,000
impoverished Nauru inhabitants. Dirty little secrets frequently offer
entrepreneurial opportunities and first world nations are
willing to pay quite handsomely to dispose of their dirty little problems. The
Nauru could become a shining beacon of hope in a new clear age.