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#Premier told: Push to end ALP mines policy

Posted: Thu Mar 30, 2006 12:39 am
by Howie
The Advertiser 30/03/2006

Premier told: Push to end ALP mines policy

LABOR Premier Mike Rann is being urged to "show some leadership" by initiating the push to abolish the national party's no-new-mines uranium policy.

Mining lobby groups and the State Opposition yesterday called on him to lead the process for change ahead of the national ALP conference next year, following his comments on Tuesday that the policy was "anachronistic".

However, Mr Rann kept a low profile, a spokeswoman saying he would not comment further.

Federal Labor leader Kim Beazley acknowledged there could be a push to change the policy, saying ALP members had the opportunity to do so at next year's conference.

South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy chief executive Phil Sutherland said he would "absolutely" expect Mr Rann to lead the case for change.

"Obviously we would be looking to the Premier to follow up his comments and to seek to change the policy, as he has indicated he is going to do," he said.

Mineral Resources Development Minister Paul Holloway said the Government had "made it clear we would like to see the ALP's no-new-mines policy changed" but stopped short of committing the Government to leading the reform.

With the next party national convention around 12 months away, there would "be much policy discussion taking place".

"We intend to be active in that policy discussion process," Mr Holloway said.

But Opposition mineral resources spokesman Mitch Williams lashed out at Mr Rann, saying he needed to "show some leadership" on the matter.

"Unless he can get out there and really fight this cause and get the support of Beazley and the other premiers, it won't happen," he said.

The Federal Government is expected to sign an agreement to export uranium to China during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabo's visit from this weekend.

Treasurer Peter Costello yesterday said it was time for the Labor state governments to reconsider the three-mines policy, but Trade Minister Mark Vaile warned China not to believe the uranium agreement will give it carte blanche to explore for nuclear fuel in Australia.

He said negotiations did not extend to exploration or access.

Meanwhile, WA company Redport announced yesterday it would search for uranium near Olympic Dam. "It is the Government's pro-active support for mineral exploration that makes SA one of the most attractive locations in the world for mineral exploration, which will hopefully lead to the discovery of the next Olympic Dam," Redport chairman Richard Homsany said.

PAGE 18: Editorial, Atchison's view

PAGE 33: Uranium stocks hot