Supporting our Nuclear Free status

The Green Party will be opposing this bill.

It seems clear that it is not really about nuclear energy or nuclear power but, from what Mr Shirley said, about getting a free-trade agreement with the United States. It is about playing up to the Bush administration.

The explanatory note of the bill talks about the strains on the ANZUS relationship over a couple of decades.

That is what the bill is about. It is not about nuclear power. It is about military power and the projection of military power with the use of nuclear weapons.

I quote from an article in this year’s May-June New Zealand International Review by a respected defence-commentator, Dick Gentles, who says: “The only nuclear-propelled ships operated by the US Navy are the Nimitz class aircraft carriers and submarines. The carrier task force groups, including submarines, are the most critical element of American power projection capabilities. Their use depends on access to port facilities around the globe. The US Navy could not accept the precedent that would be set by a New Zealand policy precluding port access for these crucial assets. This is now a more important issue as the United States draws down its forces stationed in foreign countries and relies more on its power-projection capabilities to protect US interests.”

That is what the bill is about, and ACT wants to go down the track of supporting the military power projection of the United States. Those carriers and aircraft carriers are the front forces of that country’s projection, including the invasion of Iraq. Of course, ACT did support the sending of New Zealand combat troops, along with the Americans, to Iraq.

I refer to the question of safety, and of course the chances are not great that we would have a nuclear accident by a visiting nuclear-powered warship, but it is possible. So why take the risk? A nuclear accident could occur with a nuclear-powered warship ending up sitting on our seabed leaking radioactivity that would destroy our future for generations, in terms of fishing and everything else. Why take that risk?

Mr Shirley has portrayed those with nuclear-powered warships as being infallible, virtually. He said there was no chance of accidents in that respect. We know that accident after accident involving nuclear-powered warships has happened.

Members might have seen on their television screens a couple of weeks ago that this year the USS San Francisco, a nuclear-powered submarine, struck an undersea mountain in the Pacific and smashed its front to smithereens. It was very lucky not to stay on the bottom.

So these accidents do happen, and they have happened over the years with nuclear power. There was the big incident in 1979 at the Three Mile Island power plant in the United States. In 1986 the Chemobyl disaster occurred, where between 300 million and 400 million people in 50 nations were put at risk and a nuclear cloud spread right across Europe. There are radiation leaks from nuclear power plants or nuclear reprocessing facilities.

Over the years there has been big controversy about the Sellafield Plant in Britain. The Irish Environment Minister, Martin Cullen, just said a couple of months ago that the plant should be closed down because it is still leaking radiation into the Irish Sea.

Lockwood Smith says there are great Americans. There are. There are great Americans who are fighting nuclear power and nuclear weapons. In fact, just recently a whole combination of native Americans, actors – all sorts of people – have been fighting for an end to nuclear power in the United States, and particularly against the putting of 44,000 tonnes of nuclear waste into one of the Indian reservations in Skull Valley.

There are people in America who are fighting nuclear power and the Bush administration’s policies around the world that have a nuclear spearhead. We should be alongside those Americans. Those are the Americans we are making friends with in order to end the more aggressive policies of the Bush administration and its policies in relation to nuclear energy, too.

Nuclear energy is not an efficient form of energy. It exists around the world only because it is heavily State subsidised. ACT should not be pushing it, because as far as I know it is not in favour of State subsidies.


New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone Disarmament and Arms Control (Nuclear Propulsion R