ETU Reaffirms its opposition to nuclear power – calling on unions, superfunds to back the ban

Nicholas McCallum

'Nuclear power is an inter-generational crime against humanity and our planet.'

When radio shock-jock Steve Price hung up on Allen Hicks and called him a liar, the ETU National Secretary got right back in front and called out the blowhard’s wilful ignorance.

Price is among a small number of loud and prominent members of the Australian public pushing nuclear power as the answer to Australia’s energy policy crisis.

However, Hicks came back swinging. He called out Price’s hollow arguments in favour of the deadly and unstable energy source, saying the “nuclear pushers have short memories”.

“The people who are pushing for nuclear power won’t be affected at first because they aren’t the people who will have to dig up radioactive material and work around it every day at work,” he said.

Queensland Senator Larissa Waters said the Greens' position on nuclear almost mirrors the ETU's policy.

“It’s the workers, their families and the communities around nuclear power that suffer the deadly consequences first.  

“These nuclear pushers have short memories. They can’t see that nuclear power is exactly like asbestos mining that vested interests pushed for so long while saying it was totally safe.

“The workers suffered and died in the first phase. Then wives and families who breathed it in at home then got sick.

“Now there are asbestos time-bombs sitting in every suburb and there is not one clear answer or plan for dealing with them.

“It’s not safe, it’s not cheap and the parallels between asbestos and nuclear power, and what to do with the nuclear waste, are undeniable.”

ALP MP Pat Conroy fronted the debate.

National Secretary Hicks’ on-air stoush came days before the ETU kicked off its 100 Years of Power conference on the Gold Coast. One highlight of the week was the debate on Australia’s energy future that put the reckless pursuit of nuclear power on trial.

ETU members heard from Professor Ian Lowe, AO, of Griffith University, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Dave Sweeney, Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters and Shadow Assistant Climate and Energy Minister Pat Conroy, from the ALP – all speaking broadly against the need to take Australia down the dark path to nuclear power.

Julian Tapp, Chief Nuclear Officer at Vimy Resources spoke in favour of setting up a nuclear industry, but his points of view were not well received.

After the debate, the floor was opened to union members to express their views on nuclear power and Australia’s future energy needs. No one spoke in favour of the reckless pursuit of atomic energy.

A motion for the ETU to reaffirm its opposition to nuclear energy, calling on all Australian unions and industry superfunds to back the union, was carried unanimously.

ACF's Dave Sweeney at the 100 Years of Power nuclear debate.

Following the vote, ETU National Secretary Allen Hicks called on “our comrades in the Australian union movement stand with us in our opposition to nuclear power, uranium mining and export”.

“Today the ETU has reaffirmed its long-held opposition to nuclear power and uranium because the same dangers that surrounded the industry more than 60 years ago remain,” he said.

“And we demand Industry Super Australia remember who it represents and stop pushing their retirement savings into this expensive and destructive fuel source.

In the pro camp, Vimy Resources' Chief Nuclear Officer Julian Tapp.

“Nuclear power is an inter-generational crime against humanity and our planet… It’s a dangerous fuel source because an accident will kill workers and the environment for eons.

“And you cannot store it anywhere safely with any certainty. When it goes wrong it goes very wrong. It kills entire communities and poisons the survivors and future generations.”

ETU National President Troy Gray said the ETU would stand firm against the push on nuclear power and warned that amid the Morrison Government’s continued failure on energy policy there were dark forces aligning to push “lies about cheap” nuclear power.

“Coal power stations will come offline in the near future because business refuses to waste money to keep funding them to remain open,” he said.

Griffith University's Professor Ian Lowe, AO.

“Conservative governments want to use taxpayer dollars to keep them open while pushing lies about cheap nuclear, when they should be assisting with the inevitable and necessary Just Transition away from fossil fuels.”

Since then, the nuclear pushers have continued in their game of trying to wish Australia’s nuclear energy industry into existence – something that will never happen without the massive injection of taxpayer dollars.

Of course, that will never happen because the ETU will not back down from its long-held opposition to nuclear energy and the ETU is not going anywhere.

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