Australia's Opposition parties rake up uranium issue in Parliament

PTI Melbourne | Updated on March 12, 2018

Australia’s Opposition parties today questioned the Prime Minister Ms Julia Gillard’s plans to reverse a ban on uranium exports to India and her snubbing of Foreign Minister, Mr Kevin Rudd, on the matter.

The Opposition raised the issue during question time in Parliament, asking both Ms Gillard and Mr Rudd to speak on the matter.

Responding to the Opposition’s call, the Prime Minister, Ms Gillard, said she believed it was a leader’s call to raise the need to change the party’s platform on an issue.

Ms Gillard had announced her plans to raise a debate at the Australian Labor Party national conference in December to change the party’s long-time ban on uranium sales to India.

Her announcement was criticised after Mr Rudd disclosed that he wasn’t consulted on the decision before it was made public.

“Our rules are that any member of the party from the prime minister to your local branch member ... can put forward proposals for the party’s national conference,” Mr Rudd told Parliament.

He said: “It’s what the Prime Minister’s done, I support her right to do so.”

Meanwhile, Defence Minister, Mr Stephen Smith, has defended the change in policy.

“If India signs up a separate standard bilateral arrangement with Australia on nuclear safeguards, then there’s no reason why we shouldn’t export uranium to India,” he said.

“If we can export uranium to China and Russia, we can export uranium to the largest democracy in the world. There is no evidence whatsoever of proliferation of nuclear materials,” he said.

However, Labor Senator, Mr Doug Cameron, said the party will be a “sell-out” if it overturns the ban.

Mr Cameron, according to ABC report, said the Left will not give in on anything yet.

“On selling uranium to India I think it’s a breach of the (Nuclear) Non-Proliferation Treaty and is a sell-out for everything we’ve stood for as a party over the last 40 years,” he said.

Victorian Senator, Mr Gavin Marshall, also warned the federal government against changing its uranium export policy, saying it would risk in ‘contributing to the India-Pakistan Nuclear arms race’.

Published on November 21, 2011

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