02/08/2005 - 22:00

No terror to talk of in uranium debate

02/08/2005 - 22:00


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While I would be the last person to agree to the construction of a nuclear power plant in my backyard, I can understand that this form of energy may play a vital role in our future.

While I would be the last person to agree to the construction of a nuclear power plant in my backyard, I can understand that this form of energy may play a vital role in our future.

And if it is going to play a role, we should be supplying the fuel – even if we don’t want this form of power ourselves, due to the abundance of energy in this state.

I don’t buy the arguments that uranium, or its derivatives, could fall into the hands of terrorists. As well placed as we are, WA has no monopoly over this ore and the world has got along with nuclear power so far without us.

An argument like this is akin to suggesting we should stop selling oil, coal or gas – they all create greenhouse gases.

One unnamed extremist – whom I think is a regular contributor to this newspaper – has even suggested that we’d best stop selling Tupperware because terrorists are using that to make bombs.

Some could even argue that by not selling uranium, we are furthering the cause of terrorism.

Nuclear material is more likely to fall into the hands of evil doers if the chain of supply is shifted to less stable countries than Australia.

What if our non-participation in world markets drives up the price of nuclear fuel, making such power plants unviable and their unprofitable owners less responsible when it comes to waste disposal and decommissioning processes.

It’s the same logic, isn’t it?


For more on this matter, take a look at our uranium feature on page 10, and Tim Treadgold’s Briefcase column on page 18.


Flat screens flatten WAN’s Hoyts deal

IT might be good news for consumers but talk of a price war for cinema tickets is swinging the spotlight on to West Australian Newspapers Holdings Ltd’s 50 per cent purchase of Hoyts earlier this year.

While I can’t confirm it is taking place in WA’s cinemas, a report from the Sydney Morning Herald this week claimed that both Hoyts and Greater Union were heavily discounting ticket sales after weeks of flat trade.

There has been a lot of talk about DVD demand hurting movie sales, of late, as the mortgage belt puts to good use those plasma screens and home entertainment packages they have hocked themselves to the eyeballs to acquire.

It will be interesting to watch just how much that starts to affect cinema chains like Hoyts, which is the first major purchase by WAN outside its stranglehold on WA print media.

In the third quarter of the last financial year, Hoyts contributed $1.3 million in earnings before interest, tax and noteworthy items to WAN. Even if that figure had not been impacted by $2.7 million in amortisation costs, it would not have been remarkably bigger than the $1.9 million EBIT contribution from Quokka, the WA classifieds newspaper.

The big difference is the price paid. Quokka cost WAN $16 million a few years back, while it paid $173.5 million for its half share of Hoyts.


Stadium taskforce is just not cricket

SPORT and tradition go hand-in-hand, which always makes it tough when amateur activity becomes more corporate and tradition becomes little more than a marketing tool.

The recent saga over attempts to rename Subiaco Oval is a case in point.

The first attempt, perhaps a dummy effort, involved the colourfully mobile telephony group named Crazy John’s.

More recently, and perhaps unresolved, was a move away from the corporate to Anzac Field, a name which left most, including myself, quite bemused.

In my view, that latter move was very much about what corporate sport does best, attempting to marry cultural traditions with its financial needs.

It is very clever, especially when you look at Western Australia, where every effort is made to link our relatively new government-owned AFL sides with the much richer traditions of local football.

But each time the corporate side of sport plays its traditional cards, it waters down that historical connection with the past that enmeshes it so neatly into our culture.

And, as the sport grows richer on the back of tradition, it also puts some more distance between its modern self and the powerful emotional ties of the past.

It’s just a fact that the more we change, the less we can relate to our beginnings.

The latest debate in sport is another case in point.

There is a government task force looking at whether Perth needs a new sports stadium, not just for the needs of newer growth sports such as soccer and rugby but also for football and cricket.

Here we have a situation where Subiaco Oval and the WACA, despite tens of millions of dollars of redevelopment of these traditional stadiums, might now be replaced by yet another, newer, citadel of sport.


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