Portal:Australia/Australian nuclear debate

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This article contains an overview of Wikinews Australia coverage for a particular issue. For other issues, see in-depth coverage.

In the midst of the nuclear stand-off in Iran, Australian government officials have been discussing the merits of nuclear energy and uranium enrichment in Australia. This has been met with criticism from the opposition and minor parties.

Wikinews Coverage[edit]

December 22, 2005[edit]

A group of Melbourne scientists has released a study of the energy problems confronting Australia in the future. The study endorses the use of nuclear energy and attacks some of the data used by anti-nuclear campaigners. The scientists from the University of Melbourne say their research shows that the benefits of nuclear energy have been underestimated and concerns about nuclear waste overplayed.

May 20, 2006[edit]

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has told media in Canada that he wants "a full-blooded debate" in Australia about the issue of nuclear power. "I have a very open mind on the development of nuclear energy in my own country," he said. "That includes an open mind on whether or not Australia should in fact process uranium for the purposes of providing fuel for nuclear power in the future in Australia."

May 22, 2006[edit]

Australia's foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer has given his support for a serious debate on nuclear energy in Australia. Mr Downer's comments follow similar comments made by Australian Prime Minister John Howard in Canada last week.
Mr Downer said that climate change has strongly influenced many to change their position on nuclear power and to encourage debate. He encouraged people to keep an open mind on nuclear power within the context of reducing greenhouse gases. The production of nuclear energy produces far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than coal and oil power stations.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard has announced he wants a "full-scale nuclear debate", and three of his senior federal government frontbenchers - Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, Resources Minister, Ian Macfarlane, and Environment Minister Ian Campbell - have all suggested Australia, which has around 40 per cent of the world's known uranium reserves, should consider enriching uranium - a step in processing that would allow it to be used as reactor fuel as well as for nuclear weapons.
However there is strong opposition for nuclear power in the Australian community. The Australian Greens have rejected the Prime Minister's assumption that nuclear power might be 'desirable' for Australia. The Greens say they challenge Mr Howard to show "true leadership on climate change and nuclear non-proliferation."

May 23, 2006[edit]

Peter Costello, Australian treasurer and the man most likely to succeed Prime Minister John Howard as Liberal party leader has thrown his support behind a nuclear power industry in Australia.
Mr Costello said that when nuclear power generation becomes economically viable, Australia should pursue it's use. "If it becomes commercial, we should have it. That is, there's no in-principle objection to nuclear energy" Mr Costello said.

May 24, 2006[edit]

The Australia Institute, an Australian research organisation considered to be aligned to the political left has released it's analysis of ideal locations for a nuclear power plant in Australia.
According to the institute, they consulted with a number or nuclear energy experts and determined the best possible sites for a nuclear power reactor in Australia. These sites include the popular holiday destinations of Port Stephens in New South Wales and Westernport Bay in Victoria.

May 25, 2006[edit]

The Australian Labor Party has placed pressure on the federal government to reveal potential sites for nuclear power plants. The pressure comes after the release of a report by The Australia Institute which identified several locations on the East Coast of Australia as "ideal" nuclear power sites.
Speaking in the Australian House of Representatives on Wednesday, opposition leader Kim Beazley (Brand, Labor) asked Australian treasurer and acting Prime Minister Peter Costello (Higgins, Liberal) to name potential nuclear sites.
"As part of the government’s intention to consider nuclear power in Australia, will it nominate the proposed sites of its nuclear reactors and their associated high-level nuclear waste dumps?" Mr Beazley asked.
Dr Frank Cain, a political expert and Lecturer in Defence and Australian Political and Economic History at the University of New South Wales has told Wikinews that many political commentators are finding Prime Minister John Howard's revival of the nuclear debate "surprising".
Australia came close to building a nuclear power reactor in the Jervis Bay Territory in the late 1960s but was later abandoned in 1971 after massive anti-nuclear demonstrations. The fear that Australia would produce nuclear weapons as a by-product of its nuclear energy programs killed the plans and a change in government ended the plans.

May 26, 2006[edit]

Bishop lowres.jpg
Australian Minister for Education, Science and Training, Julie Bishop visited the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation in Lucas Heights, New South Wales today. The purpose of her visit was to inspect progress on Australia's newest nuclear research reactor - OPAL. Whilst at the facility, she received a report on the economics and safety of a nuclear power industry in Australia.

June 4, 2006[edit]

Australian media reports that Prime Minister John Howard is expected to push a nuclear energy inquiry through federal cabinet this week. Meanwhile, a list of possible sites for nuclear reactors has been leaked by the Opposition to media. The locations, listed in 1997, include Adelaide, Darwin, Perth, Lucas Heights, Goulburn, Holsworthy, and Broken Hill in New South Wales and other sites.

June 7, 2006[edit]

As expected by media sources, Australian Prime Minister, John Howard announced on Tuesday that he will be setting up a "Prime Ministerial taskforce" to investigate uranium mining, processing and nuclear energy in Australia.

June 11, 2006[edit]

Australia's justice minister, Chris Ellison has said that the Australian federal cabinet did not consider security issues when it decided to setup an inquiry into nuclear power.
Speaking to the Nine Network, Senator Ellison said when considering energy, security concerns are not an issue. "When you look at sources of energy you don't look at any potential terrorist threat," he said.

June 16, 2006[edit]

The Australian federal opposition has attacked the Howard government following four incidents in a week at the HIFAR nuclear research reactor in Lucas Heights, South of Sydney. The incidents come just a week after the Australian government announced an inquiry into the feasibility of nuclear power.