For the first time in 40 years, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard officially announced its uranium export to India citing an effort to boost bilateral trade between Australia and “one of the world’s largest democracies.”
Following a heated debate on Sunday, the ruling Labor party headed by Gillard voted to lift its long-standing ban on exporting uranium to India, with 206 against 185 who opposed the ban.
Four cabinet ministers, including Anthony Albanese from the Left faction and Senator Stephen Conroy from the Right, believe the ban should remain, but time has changed and the uranium export is expected to be passed.
Gillard admits it is irrational to sell uranium to China but not to India.
The SBS, a multicultural broadcasting media, citing reports from AAP, said that the Gillard’s Labor faction justifies the sale of uranium to India in an effort to strengthen bilateral trade. Besides India is not a signatory to the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty unlike China, it said.
Environmentalists were expected to oppose the lift. The Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Dave Sweeney told AAP lifting the ban could encourage a regional arms race.
He noted: “This is a 40-year-old policy and we have not seen one piece of paper (from Labor) detailing the reason for change, making a case or outlining the safeguards.”
Sweeney added that this uranium sale would jeopardise Australia’s international credibility in its commitment to peace and reduction of dangerous industry. He also warned that this will create a backlash for Labor in next election.
“Labor is saying dollar signs are far more important to us than danger signs,” AAP quoted him saying.