Embrace the nuclear way, urges MP

Michael TraillAlbany Advertiser
Liberal Member for O'Connor Rick Wilson during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, February 13, 2019. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
Camera IconLiberal Member for O'Connor Rick Wilson during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, February 13, 2019. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING Credit: AAPIMAGE

Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson has thrown his support behind nuclear power and pushed for Australia to lift its moratorium on nuclear electricity generation.

The Federal Government’s bi-partisan Environment and Energy Committee, which Mr Wilson is part of, tabled its report in Canberra’s Federation Chamber last Wednesday on the prospect of lifting the moratorium.

The eight-MP committee, chaired by Liberal National Party MP Ted O’Brien, recommended that the Government lift the moratorium to meet international commitments on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Titled Not Without Your Approval: A Way Forward For Nuclear Technology in Australia, the report suggests that the Federal Government gain a deeper understanding of nuclear energy while respecting the will of Australians before any nuclear power or waste disposal facilities are approved.

Speaking in the Federal chamber last Wednesday, Mr Wilson said considering the introduction of nuclear energy into the market was a sensible recommendation.

He drew comparisons between those who opposed the technology and “anti-science Luddites” who were against genetically modified crops.

“In terms of emissions reduction, one golf ball-sized piece of uranium represents a lifetime’s energy for an individual,” Mr Wilson said.

“That compares with 1000kg of coal, a tonne of coal, 564 litres of oil or 481cum of gas. The technology that we're talking about here, that would possibly be installed if we ever got to that stage, would be the small modular nuclear reactors with the thorium salt as their main power source, and those small reactors, three of them could power 1.08 million households in Australia.

“In overseas countries it is difficult to extrapolate the figures exactly, but the estimated plant cost is around $4 billion, which would represent an electricity generation cost of around $60 per megawatt hour... that's very competitive with the current price.”

The committee’s recommendation was not without opposition, even from its own members.

Fremantle Labor MP and the committee’s deputy chairman, Josh Wilson, said there was no testimony or evidence to the inquiry that supported a change to Australia's moratorium. “More than 10 years on from the Switkowski review, nuclear energy continues to be expensive, slow, inflexible, uninsurable, toxic and dangerous,” he said.

“In evidence to our inquiry, Dr Switkowski, who conducted the review for the Howard government, said there is no coherent business case to finance an Australian nuclear industry.”

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