Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 14:59 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 14:59 | SYDNEY

Uranium to India: Game on


Rory Medcalf


16 February 2011 12:38

So, the game is on. With these remarks, it appears that Resources Minister Martin Ferguson is heralding a concerted bid by multiple pragmatic elements within the Australian Labor Party to change policy on uranium exports, to allow safeguarded sales to India for civilian use.

The moment of truth will come at the Party's national conference later this year, and it will be a test of, among other things, Julia Gillard's ability to show leadership on a major foreign policy issue.

This has been a long time coming. Some of us have been urging a policy review for years, and have begun to sound like a broken record. At one level, it is a shame that Labor did not change its stance when the idea was new. This would have sent a signal to India that Australia was serious, and ahead of the curve globally, on engaging it as a strategic partner. Instead, a change of policy now will appear a reluctant acceptance of the inevitable.

Still, it is a necessary policy choice, for many reasons: strategic, economic, developmental, diplomatic, and because it is consistent with Australia's stance on climate change. An in-principle decision to join the rest of the nuclear exporting world – including Canada and Japan — in recognising India as a special case will remove the major political obstacle to closer Australia-India relations. And if our safeguards are too much for Delhi, then the problem of diplomatic obstruction becomes theirs, not ours.

Photo by Flickr user Tjflex2.