Dennis Jensen: Honesty is the best policy

25 July 2012

Written by: Stephanie Pradier

Source: APH

In 2006, during a conference in Parliament, Dennis Jensen was described as ‘a victim of nuclear fallout’.

Jensen exposed the Howard Government’s dilemma over the issue of nuclear energy, stating that ‘nuclear reactors actually have to be sited somewhere’. His honest answer embarrassed the government and provided that he will do whatever it takes to supply the public and parliament with the right information.

Jensen, who has held the seat of Tangney in Western Australia since 2006, has always had a voice for the truth. But he brings so much more to parliament than the public may realise.

Dr. Jensen currently holds the highest scientific qualification of all MPs and senators in Australia and his ability to analyse raw scientific data is a great asset to the Liberal Party. But it also has meant that he has many debates with not only the opposition, but with his very own party as well.

‘Unfortunately, we don’t have enough people with scientific or technical training in parliament,’ says Jensen. ‘There are a lot of decisions that need to be made where technological and scientific implications need to be considered. If you’ve got people whose training is elsewhere it’s not particularly helpful, because then the ability to critically analyse those factors that lead to a certain decision cannot really be made. People can make certain statements and its very difficult for them to determine whether those statements are correct or not.’

Before entering parliament, Jensen worked at the CSIRO and pursued his dual passions of science and defence as a research scientist. Moreover, he was an analyst at the Defence Science and Technology Organisation.

But today his main concerns are education, aspects of foreign policy, climate change, defence and technology. Jensen has been particularly vocal on the issue of the Carbon Tax, which is something he says he fails to comprehend properly because the Labor government has spoken in so many different languages about the issue.

‘The Carbon tax won’t have any effect on our environment,’ Jensen points out. He adds: ‘It is just rubbing salt into the wound.’

Jensen says the tax will not only increase the cost of living, but will send jobs overseas, redistribute wealth and will do nothing to affect the earth’s temperature. He suggests exploring nuclear energy options and seeking new ways to save the environment, rather than putting a price on carbon.

‘There are some countries that only dream of one thing and that’s high birth rate and good food, clean water,’ adds Jensen. ‘But when these states don’t have access to these sorts of things, they are hardly going to pay so much attention on how much gas emissions they are using when they cannot even afford to put food on the table for their families.’

And he admits that it will be also a struggle locally to change people’s behaviour: ‘It is quite difficult to get the whole public to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, but we can only do the best we can together.’

What riles him most, however, is ‘the fact that the PM lied about the carbon tax during the campaign election. It clearly shows that this government cannot be trusted with a $9 billion new tax’.

While Jensen has always spoken out on national issues, he says he works hard to know about new issues in his electorate that are important to his people, because what is important to them is important for him.

He says every person has a right to state their concerns and what is important to them. ‘People come in to see you, and these issues are critical to their lives.’


Kathleen O’Connor is a second-year journalism student at La Trobe University.
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