The great thing about this whole nuclear energy thing, from my selfish point of view, is the prospect of lots of job creation in science and engineering. Only if we are smart, though, I guess, and move on from our 'digging stuff up and selling it' paradigm. I was talking to a colleague the other day who is optimistic that science is on the way up here, thanks to demography: we need about the same number of professionals per capita, whatever happens, and in 2010-2020 all the boomer professionals are going to retire, so we are going to need more. It will not be easy to just import them from India and China, because (a) all the rest of the West will be in the same position, and (b) India and China are likely to be able to retain more and more of their own professionals as the years go by. So there will be no option but to train more here, hurrah! Academics will be paid obscene amounts of money just to sit around and look intelligent, I am sure.
Yes, Jenny, we should take all the waste in the world! We should charge a premium if it wasn't generated by our uranium, to extract maximum economic benefit. There are probably good spots for a repository in the Northern Territory and Western Australia as well, but I was thinking a non-tropical location would be better for the nuclear waste deepwater port. And yes, I was thinking of Pig Iron Bob as well...
As for Australia's capacity to moral leadership, I am of the (sadly cynical) opinion that while our government is primarily composed of lying weasels, moral pygmies, and waxwork dummies accidentally left on the front benches, it is *more* principled than any other government in the world, especially if you include all the valiant civil servants like Dave that are actually doing the work. (1) No other country, except the US and some former American colonies in the Pacific, voted with Israel against the UN security wall resolution. This can only be a matter of principle because all the other relatively decent US allies, like Slovakia and the UK, only abstained. (2) No other country is having a gigantic domestic political fracas about abuses of the Oil for Food programme. Sure, AWB is a big company, but so were the French and German and Russian ones involved. (And I am sure there were Americans involved too, that we don't hear about...)(3) Our much maligned immigration department has precipitated us into what may be a full-blown crisis with our biggest neighbour, possibly destroying seven years of careful post-Timor Leste diplomacy, on pure principle.
So we are the best there is.
Although we suck.