Have your say on nuclear power

- Citizens Party Media Release

Participate in the Senate inquiry into lifting the world’s only ban on developing nuclear power (details below).

With energy prices out of control, South Australia’s Labor Premier Peter Malinauskas has pulled the rug out from under Energy Minister Chris Bowen and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese by proposing an open-minded approach to nuclear power.

Bowen and Albanese have sought to suppress a proper energy debate by ruling out the nuclear power option, repeating the false claim that nuclear is the most expensive form of power, and resorting to emotive, nimby alarmism—“do you want it in your backyard?”

They have to use alarmism, because they don’t have any scientific arguments; in fact, taken literally these two Australian Sydney-based career politicians are actually saying they think the biggest nations in the world, including Australia’s major allies, are all idiots.

Malinauskas effectively called out their propaganda by pointing out the inherent contradiction between embracing nuclear-powered submarines, and opposing domestic nuclear power (certainly domestic nuclear power would at least be one benefit from the submarines, which otherwise will only be unnecessary, destabilising provocations to our region).

The SA Premier said he hoped the construction of nuclear submarines, which are effectively small modular reactors (SMRs), will dispel the myths around nuclear energy. “It will go a long way to allaying some of the fears that exist around safety”, he said. “I think it’ll demonstrate that the safety concerns are more based on things from decades and decades ago. That’ll be good in terms of community sentiment, and help bust a few myths. In respect of my position on nuclear power for civil consumption, or use, I’ve always thought that the ideological opposition that exists in some quarters to nuclear power is ill-founded. Nuclear power is a source of baseload energy with zero carbon emissions. So, for someone like myself, who is dedicated to a decarbonisation effort, I think we should be open-minded to those technologies and I think it would be foolhardy to have a different approach.”

Importantly, Malinauskas took aim at the nature of the nuclear debate in Australia, which he said “has been consumed by the culture wars, rather than an evidence-based discussion”.

Nuclear ban

Australia is the only nation in the world with a legislated ban on nuclear power, going back to a Howard government deal with the Democrats in the late 1990s. Albanese and Bowen may be understandably frustrated at having to debate nuclear power, given the way Peter Dutton’s Liberals have started promoting nuclear power since losing the election in May, despite doing nothing for the nine years they were in government. However, Albanese and Bowen would prefer a politicised argument with hypocritical Liberals over a proper scientific discussion, which they would lose.

Unlike the opportunistic Liberals, the Australian Citizens Party has promoted peaceful nuclear power for decades, long before the emergence of concerns over carbon dioxide emissions. That is because the virtue of nuclear power is its enormous energy density, which is far greater than coal, gas and oil. The history of human progress has been driven by the development and mastery of energy sources of ever-higher density: from wood to coal to oil to now nuclear fission to possibly nuclear fusion. This ever-increasing energy density supports more people living at higher living standards, with a decreasing depletion of overall resources per capita. The very high energy density of nuclear power lends itself to secondary industrial processes such as water desalination, and industrial heating. Construction uses far fewer materials and resources than constructing the equivalent capacity of every other form of power, especially low-energy density renewables, which require far more land, concrete, steel, and minerals used in the production of the batteries needed to make them workable.

The Citizens Party explained all of the issues relating to nuclear power, including safety and waste disposal, in a six-minute video posted in March this year: It’s time to lift the ban on nuclear power in Australia!

Make a submission

The Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into the Environment and Other Legislation Amendment (Removing Nuclear Energy Prohibitions) Bill 2022, which was introduced into Parliament by Queensland Nationals Senator Matt Canavan and South Australia Liberal Senator Alex Antic.

The inquiry is receiving submissions until 16 January 2023, and is due to report by 31 March 2023.

The inquiry website explains: “The bill would amend the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998 to remove the prohibition on the construction or operation of certain nuclear installations; and Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 to remove the prohibition on the Minister for Environment and Water declaring, approving or considering actions relating to the construction or operation of certain nuclear installations.”

It’s time for Australia to grow up and have a mature discussion on nuclear power, especially given that Australia is so rich in reserves of both of the main elements needed for nuclear power generation—uranium and thorium.

To have that mature discussion, politicians need to see growing support for nuclear power in the population; without public support, the politicians will run from the debate and it will remain mired in the culture wars.

There’s no doubt public support is growing, so the ACP is calling on all citizens who support nuclear power to convey that support by making a submission to the inquiry. Before 16 January, write a submission as short or as long as you like, expressing at minimum your personal support for the bill and the inquiry.

Submissions can be made through the upload portal on the inquiry website, or by writing or emailing to the Committee at the details below:

Committee Secretary
Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
Phone: +61 2 6277 3526

Click here to join the Citizens Party as a member.

Energy & Resources