National service, nuclear and rates — independent Senate candidate shares vision
Dr Bernardine Atkinson is standing for a Senate seat in the 2022 Federal Election, and her campaign hinges on three key issues.
Those are to reintroduce national service; reduce the rate impost; and to generate electricity cheaply and sustainably through the deployment of modular reactor technology, which she says is the safest and cheapest form of electricity generation yet devised.
"It is critical to rebuild the nation's organisational and technical capacity; in so doing, we can provide security of employment and increased income for all Australians,“ Dr Atkinson said.
“It is critical to arrest climate change, (and) it is critical that all developmental endeavours be genuinely ecologically sustainable.”
On national service
“National service, outside of regular ADF recruitment, to be funded federally, directing money to local governments across Australia to achieve the three Ds” she said.
“Those being home guard defence capacity; disaster relief training and implementation; and ecologically sustainable development.
“Local government will need access to federal and state public servants' expertise to ensure world's best practice.
“National service should be un-conscripted and open to all, from age 16 to 86, for full-time or part-time work.
“This ideal implemented will create jobs, part-time and/or full-time, where no jobs now exist.
“It will enable the experience and knowledge of all pensioners to be gainfully applied for the nation's benefit, enabling them to earn wages to supplement their pensions.
“(It will) help wean long-term unemployed off their dependence on benefits if incentives greater than unemployment relief provisions are created for full-time employment commitments, including waiving training and university fees.
“(It will lead to) more doctors and nurses stationed in rural Australia if their training happens through a national service commitment.
“(And) ensure that employment happens, where it is needed, so relocation and petrol-commuting costs are minimised for participants.
“(It will also) generate phenomenal wealth in the long term if done well.
“For example, beautifying streetscapes, restoring habitat and complex biodiversity and biomass through planting valuable timber trees, building cycling trails, encouraging fitness and low-impact tourism.”
On reducing the rate burden
“Local government is dependent on state government allocations, federal grants or rates,” she said.
“They have been starved for funds and unable to increase local organisational and technical knowledge capacity.
“If the nation's defence, a federal responsibility, is extended to include the ‘three Ds’, federal funding can be unambiguously directed into local government, unhampered by population and state political concerns to allow for genuine redistribution of assets and money, genuine decentralisation and, at long last, provide for rural Australia's development.”
On modular reactor technology
“Deploying modular reactor technology to inexpensively and sustainably generate reliable electricity,” she said.
“Solar and wind power are low-grade, intermittent and very expensive electricity supplements.
“They always require a reliable base-load provider. Hydro and nuclear can do this.
“If wind power is used locally, in situ, where the towers are, it has a use, but thousands of kilometres of transmission lines and poles, squandering valuable finite resources of steel and cement, make this an unsustainable option.
“Making uranium fuel rods, (which) work just like giant batteries, and deploying reactor technology, which powers the US fleet and the world's advanced submarines, can provide potable water and safe electricity.
“They will also provide phenomenal wealth to this nation if we export and recycle fuel rods to our region.
"Educating the public about how very safe reactor technology now is, how sustainable it is, how valuable the resource is, should be a government responsibility.
“The burden should not fall on me, although I am qualified to teach on this subject.
“It is to our shame that this important science, part of the developed world's year 12 curricula, has been omitted for 50 years from our science agenda.
“This has credibility implications for both government departments and our former governments.
“For example, we knew in 1911 that one ounce of this amazing material would provide steam for three battleships for 2000 years.
“By 1913 it was selling for $13,500 per ounce on the London Stock Exchange.
“But then the world war happened and all the young men who could have made something of this technology were either killed or maimed for life in that terrible event.
“The entire known resource, Radium Hill, became acquired under emergency wartime powers by the British and American Development Company.
“Every ounce was exported. It is an invaluable resource and we have been selling it for $20 a pound.
"We can create an entirely new economy, independent of fossil fuels, with the amazing uranium resource, and now we must.
“When we understand why climate change is happening, we can actually address its causes.
“Stopping pollution and reducing CO2 emissions is important.
“Combustion is killing planet Earth. Reducing extrasomatic energy consumption by 75 per cent is important.
“Restoring complex biodiversity and recreating biomass and habitat through sensible afforestation, is also important.
“We can achieve all these aims if we adopt the ‘three Ds’ for national service.
“Then the solutions will happen locally, across all of Australia, exactly where they are needed."