Popular support for nuclear power welcome, reform of the EPBC act should follow

Australian people show the way on nuclear

The Australian Institute for Progress has welcomed a Newspoll finding that 55% of Australians support using small modular reactors in Australia, while only 31% oppose it and called on the federal government to change course.

Executive Director Graham Young said the nuclear option ought to be on the table, and it was time the federal government took steps to make it legally possible to establish a nuclear power plant.

“Two acts ban nuclear power generation in Australia – the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998 (the ARPANS Act), and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act).

“One of those, the EPBC Act was the subject of a review, the recommendations of which are currently before the environment minister.

“The review recommends retention, and even strengthening, of the current ban on nuclear power generation. The minister should reject this in the interests of the environment.”

Mr Young said that the AIP’s own polling, conducted in 2021, found that around 47% supported nuclear while 39% opposed it.

“Much of the support three years ago was because thinking Australians had come to the conclusion that it was impossible to run a grid on wind and solar energy, and therefore impossible to meet NetZero, or anything like it, without nuclear energy in the mix.”

Mr Young said that it was also time for Labor to ditch Energy Minister Chris Bowen’s irrational opposition to nuclear.

Minister Bowen derides nuclear power as being part of a ‘culture war’.

“Yet at the COP28 conference held this year in Dubai, 25 countries signed-up to the Declaration of Triple Nuclear because their engineers are telling them it is impossible to reach NetZero at anything like a reasonable cost without nuclear in the mix.

“These countries include the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Finland, France, Japan and South Korea. Is the minister suggesting we are  in a culture war with some of our most important allies and trading partners?”

Minister Bowen claims nuclear is too expensive and spruiks various theoretical estimates to prove his point, yet France, whose electricity grid is powered 70% by nuclear, has electricity prices below the average for Europe.

The facts speak for themselves. France knows more about building and running nuclear power than almost any other country on earth. If it is planning to build new nuclear power plants that proves not only that they are viable, but they are economic.

Australia needs to get on board – for the economy, and for the environment.