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Comments for The Democrats vs The Greens

By System @system2010-07-28 01:15:03.000Z
  • 5 replies
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    Laurie2010-07-29 18:10:00.000Z

    So when the Greens say that part of their policy for a nuclear-free Australia will be to "close the OPAL nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights", does that mean that ANSTO would be closed too?

    1. JJason Heeris2010-07-29 19:03:00.000Z

      Strictly speaking, they wouldn't have to close, but realistically there would be far less justification for their existence. The OPAL reactor is basically a neutron factory — those neutrons are used to make [radionuclides](http://www.ansto.gov.au/nuc... for medicine (radiopharmaceuticals) and industrial usage (eg. weld gauging and flaw detection). That makes up the majority of OPAL's output (last time I checked), but the neutron beams are also used for materials science and other physics research (eg. [small angle neutron scattering](http://www.ansto.gov.au/res....

      It's possible that they would still be around to coordinate distribution of imported radionuclides. The idea is that for importation, a different set of radionuclides are imported, and then the actual isotopes that are used, like Tc-99m, are generated from them some other way. To my knowledge, most hospitals in Australia already have the facilities to do this directly though, so it's hard to see what role ANSTO might play.

      But as far as what I've written here goes, without the reactor, there would be no more neutron beams for the sort of cutting edge materials research they're doing now. More importantly, it's *really* doubtful that a lot of the scientists would hang around, which means even the non-neutron-beam-related research will suffer. If you've built a career around nuclear physics, and the place you're working at has no more nuclear, there's no reason to stay.

    2. C
      In reply toUnknown [DwE4KFYW2]:
      Carrie2010-08-20 15:01:00.000Z

      Hi, I knew very little about our political parties a few weeks ago. As the election drawing close, I started reading policies and plans of the several major parties, under the help from my husband. We even created a scorecard spreadsheet, in which lists all the policies that we come across for the major parties. (12 of them) We did an exercise to analyze how much we like each of the policies and how important we think for each of them... The result turned out I am more aligned to the Democracts policies, then the Green... In consideration on how the Green has behaved in the parliment in the past, I do agree that we may probably go nowhere with them rejecting each thing that is not "precisely" right.

      Then my husband forwarded me this link. I agree most of your viewpoint, as we (my husband and I) have been discussing late every night recently. That's a well written essay with geniune facts. Thank you.

      A pity that the Demacracts had a bit of tumble in the last ten years. I wonder if they can overpower the Green in the near future, since I can see that they have good and reasonable policies and a sensible way to move towards their ideology in the practical world.
      I am also feeling pathetic about the stupidity of the two current major parties - I find Liberal is worse aligned with my personal value.

      Carrie

      1. E
        In reply toUnknown [DwE4KFYW2]:
        Ewen Laver2010-08-21 09:46:00.000Z

        As a supporter of The Greens I think you overstate the case.

        While one can take issue with the anti-nuclear stance of The Greens (I certainly do), on most issues where policy is in serious dispute, they are on the right side, whereas The Australian Democrats are not.

        I would argue that it was precisely the want of clar policy by your party that has seen their political demise and the concession of most of your support to us. It is no accident that one of your last political acts was to get involved in horsetrading senate preferences in Victoria with the ALP to keep out a Green (whom you knew would be ahead of you) by funnelling preferences to ... Stephen Fielding of FF. As a result, The Democrats ensured that a fundamentalist religious party whose candidate achieved less than 1% held the balance of power in the senate and was given a platform to spruik the most reactrionary of policies, slander scientists and block action on climate change. Yours was the party who helped Howard get elected in 1998 despite achieving less of the vote than the ALP and helped him flig off Telstra, porkbarrell the funds, introduce a GST (which you said you were against) etc. Rather than "keeping the bastards honest" you enabled their dishonesty and double-crossed your own supporters. The Greens will never do that. I don't mourn your party's demise. Most of your people were worthy, but your mission conception led you into a dead end.

        My party stands up for sustainability, for equity and for social justice. Yours did not. It's as simple as that.

        1. JJason Heeris2010-08-23 06:13:00.000Z

          Okay, let's be clear: I don't really hate them like my rant here suggests. Well... on a relative scale. With all the other Senate candidates.

          So it **is** an overstatement if you consider this to be the sum total of my opinion of the Greens. I'm glad that amongst the parties that *do* stand up for equality, there is one as well organised as the Greens. But for me personally, seeing Australia regain some sort of strength in scientific and technological innovation is also a priority.

          It's not *just* a selfish priority (it is in part, because I'd like to be involved), and it's not just out of a sense of general scientific pride. I think that having strong scientific community is an important component of a healthy economy and democracy.

          While the Greens do not represent the kind of threat to that happening like the Libs do, they're still acutely discouraging. It says a lot that only CSIRO is specifically mentioned in their science policies — and ANSTO is under a section largely about nuclear *energy*, despite having nothing to do with the topic of nuclear energy. (Do they have a solution for sourcing nuclear medicine? Or should we all use homeopathy?)

          They basically pay lip service to a vague idea of "science is good!" while displaying nothing but animosity to the realistic elements of building a scientific community. That is not the way to a sustainable future.

          If you want to talk about honesty — in the year I worked at ANSTO, I never once heard a factually correct statement from a Greens party member regarding the place. And I specifically went to the trouble of trawling the media statements from both the Greens and ANSTO for the previous years in my spare time. Some of their claims could have been proven wrong by a high school student with about four lines of algebra.

          They bag the place out to get environmental street cred to get elected. Just like the Libs want everyone to obsess over debt and boats, and Labor are the last defence of the Aussie Battlers(TM), the Greens love to hate anything with the word "nuclear" in it.

          Is it honest or virtuous for them to campaign against the big parties being bankrolled, and then to take a [$300k donation from the ETU](http://www.abc.net.au/news/... Or is it okay, because they have good intentions?

          As much as people blame the Dems for the GST — how good would the GST have been if it had been held off until the Libs had control of the Senate? They made a call to soften it rather than block it because it didn't look likely that Howard was going to get kicked out any time soon, and the next Senate lynchpin may have a nutjob for all they knew.

          The preference call was just plain dumb, I will absolutely agree with you on that. Your use of the word "ensure" is misleading though: the Democrats **plus** the ALP **plus** a handful of voters **plus** the preferential voting system we use **all** ensured Fielding's success. Blaming it all on the Dems is just scapegoating.

          I was so happy to see Fielding out, by the way. And then I saw he was replaced by the DLP (there's an acronym that rhymes with WTF). Aaaah wonderful.

          But apart from all the details, there's an underlying flaw in your comparison: the Greens have never had a chance to make decisions of the magnitude that the Democrats did, and be judged on whether or not they were mistakes. It's easy to say they're a better party when they haven't really been tested in this role.

          I'm optimistic that their presence in both houses now will be for the better in general — I really am. But with the state of Australian universities and research organisations being as bad as it is already, I'm not so sure that I'll be hanging around to see whether the Greens attempt to dismantle the last one.