Nuclear’s Time is Now: Australian Voters Demand Nuclear Powered Future

Australia’s politics is bereft of leadership and there’s no better example thereof than the failure to advance nuclear power in this country.

A month back, Australia’s PM, Scott Morrison did a deal with the US and the UK which allows Australia to catch up and join the technological first world – via American or British nuclear-powered submarines.

At present, it’s being dressed up as another make-work scheme for South Australians (as with previous subs programs and other defence-related contracts). But the chances of a country that no longer manufactures something as simple as a motorcar, mastering the rigourous engineering and technical skills required to build a nuclear-powered submarine are pretty slim.

When Morrison announced the deal, he claimed (lamely) that the US/UK subs deal did not mean Australia would embrace nuclear-power generation. However, like or not, the plan to build and deploy nuclear-powered submarines means precisely that.

Defence boffins long ago spelt out the fact that, if Australia was to operate nuclear powered subs, it would not be able to do so in the absence of a civilian nuclear capability; which means nuclear-power plants.

The PM earned the nickname ‘Scotty from Marketing’ for a reason: he’s only ever game to sell the people what he thinks they might buy. As with many among the current crop of so-called ‘Liberals’, he’s long on marketing rhetoric and short on meaningful principles.

The Australian voting public, on the other hand, are all in favour of a nuclear-powered future. And have been for some time.

The Labor/Green Alliance will always run the anti-nuke mantra – they’re far too invested (literally and figuratively) in the mythical ‘transition’ to an all wind and sun powered future.

So, if there was ever an opportunity for some true leadership from a Liberal PM, this has to be it.

Some years ago, Morrison displayed a lump of coal in Parliament; much to the horror of the Labor/Green Alliance. But, since then, he and his party have been thoroughly hostile to coal-fired power and the coal industry: maintaining massive subsidies for wind and solar and waffling about batteries and hydrogen gas, as if they might provide some type of panacea to the former’ hopeless intermittency. Listen to the Liberal’s Energy Minister, Angus Taylor and you’d think they were running on an ALP/Green policy platform.

The results of the recent Newspoll detailed below ought to signal to Morrison, his Liberals and their running-mates, the Nationals, the urgent need to start promoting nuclear power for sound economic, and very obvious political reasons.

Ever the coward, Morrison will not take a policy supporting nuclear-power generation to the electors; the next Federal election is due in April or May next year. And, if the pollsters are right, the failure to do so will be another reason why voters will reject the Liberal/National Coalition.

Over to you Scott.

Newspoll: Civil nuke industry gains voter traction
The Australian
Simon Benson
4 October 2021

Almost two-thirds of voters now either support a civil nuclear ­industry or agree that it should at least be considered as part of Australia’s future energy mix.

An exclusive Newspoll commissioned by The Australian shows only 27 per cent of voters are firmly against the idea of a domestic nuclear industry in line with the long-held bipartisan moratorium on nuclear generation.

The Morrison government has included the potential for ­future nuclear technologies, ­including yet-to-be-developed small modular reactors, in its technology investment road map to meet the country’s energy needs and emissions reduction strategies.

But Scott Morrison has made it clear that the government has no intention of pursuing a nuclear energy industry in Australia until there is bipartisan support for lifting the moratorium.

A condition of Australia’s agreement for the recent announcement of a nuclear-­powered naval submarine fleet was that it would not require a civil nuclear industry to service the boats.

Community attitudes would appear to have shifted in favour of a ­potential future nuclear industry, with 25 per cent of voters saying Australia should “definitely” develop one and a further 36 per cent saying Australia should “consider” doing so.

This compared with 27 per cent opposed to the development of a civil nuclear capability at all and 12 per cent not knowing.

A Newspoll commissioned in 2007 amid the global warming debate before the election of Kevin Rudd showed 45 per cent of voters were in favour of a ­nuclear power industry as part of an energy mix to bring down greenhouse gas emissions. Those against totalled 40 per cent.

When it came to the question of constructing nuclear power plants, 66 per cent of voters in the 2007 poll said they would not ­support one being built in their local area.

The technology now being ­discussed as a potential future ­energy source, however, is based on future small modular reactors rather than the traditional large-scale installations.

The latest Newspoll survey showed strongest support for a civil nuclear industry was among Coalition voters, with 34 per cent definitely agreeing and a further 41 per cent saying it should be ­considered.

Labor voters were less enthusiastic but a majority was still in favour, with 18 per cent definitely agreeing and 38 per cent saying it should be considered, compared with 34 per cent opposed outright.

Greens voters were split on the issue, with 15 per cent actively supportive and 32 per cent agreeing it should be considered compared with 47 per cent opposed.

Men were also more likely than women to strongly support the idea, with 33 per cent of male voters compared to 18 per cent of female voters agreeing that Australia should definitely have a ­nuclear energy industry.

However, about the same number of each – 37 per cent of men and 35 per cent of women – believed Australia should consider doing so.

A 2019 parliamentary inquiry into a potential future nuclear industry in Australia, referred by Energy Minister Angus Taylor, recommended the government “consider the prospect of nuclear energy technology as part of its ­future energy mix”.

Despite divisions within Labor over the issue, and strong support from some quarters of the caucus, Anthony Albanese has signalled that under his leadership of the party, there would be no consideration of a lifting of the nuclear moratorium.

Labor, however, has supported the nuclear submarine deal with the US and the UK on the basis that it did not involve the need for a domestic nuclear industry.

The government’s Technology Investment Road Map, which will act as the framework for Australia meeting a net zero emissions goal by 2050, lists small modular reactors as a “watching brief technology” that could have the potential to be part of a future energy mix.

This, however, would require bipartisan support for a lifting of the nuclear moratorium.

In August, Australia signed a low emissions partnership with Britain that involved research into clean hydrogen and small modular reactors.
The Australian

If you won’t give ’em coal, give ’em nuclear; they’re clearly ready.

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October 6, 2021 at 01:31AM

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