Melbourne: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Tuesday made a strong pitch for uranium sale to India, saying the time has come to lift the long-standing ban on its exports to the dynamic and democratic country. It came at a time when Australia faced a unique set of opportunities in what she called the "Asian century".
Gillard said she will urge the party faithful at next month's Labor national conference to reverse a ban on uranium exports to India, bringing Australia into line with America's thinking, a newspaper reported.
"India is our fourth biggest export markets, a market worth nearly USD 16 billion to Australia, with enormous potential to grow as India becomes wealthier," Gillard said.
"As India rises and brings hundreds of millions of people out of poverty it will need more energy," she said.
"We are a very big supplier of uranium so having access to this new and growing market is good for Australian jobs," she said
Australia is the world's third largest supplier of uranium, which contributed more than USD 750 million to the economy and created more than 4200 jobs.
India was expected to increase its use of nuclear power from the current 3 per cent of electricity generation to 40 per cent by 2050.
Gillard said lifting the ban was another step forward in Australia's relationship with India.
"India as a rising giant will be part of that strong economic growth," she said.
"Put simply, our best possible partnership with India is also good for Australian jobs."
Time to modernize labour platform: Gillard
The Australian Prime Minister declared that it is "time for Labour to modernise our platform and enable us to strengthen our connection with dynamic, democratic India."
Her remarks indicate a major shift in Australia's policy with regard to uranium sale to a country which is not a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).
She said India was in a class of its own, unlike Israel and Pakistan. The three countries have not signed the treaty.
"As in other areas, broadening our markets will increase jobs. We must, of course, expect of India the same standards we do of all countries for uranium export - strict adherence to International Atomic Energy Agency arrangements and strong bilateral undertakings and transparency measures that will provide assurances our uranium will be used only for peaceful purposes," she said.
"One of our nearest neighbours is India a close partner for a long time.”
The world's biggest democracy. Growing at 8 percent a year. Yet despite the links of language, heritage and democratic values, in one important regard we treat India differently.
We will not sell India uranium for peaceful purposes - though Canada is preparing to - while policy allows us to export it to countries such as China, Japan and the United States," She said.
S-Australian Premier support Gillard plan
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has said South Australia is a substantial uranium exporter so it is in the state's interests to support Gillard's proposal.
"There are significant international issues associated with the proposition, which are principally matters for the Commonwealth Government," Weatherill said, adding "I am prepared to accept the Prime Minister's views on these matters.”
"The Prime Minister declared that sales to India would strengthen relations between the two countries," he said, adding any "export of uranium to India could only occur within an appropriate international framework to be negotiated by the Commonwealth Government."
However, Queensland premier Anna Bligh said her state would not lift its ban on mining uranium, and any federal policy change would not alter that.
Melbourne: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Tuesday made a strong pitch for uranium sale to India, saying the time has come to lift the long-standing ban on its exports to the dynamic and democratic country.
It came at a time when Australia faced a unique set of opportunities in what she called the "Asian century".