A FEDERAL inquiry into whether Australia should open its doors to nuclear energy is just a manoeuvre to placate die-hard supporters in the Liberal party, says federal Fremantle Labor MP Josh Wilson.
Mr Wilson, who’s electorate was the heart and soul of the anti-nuclear movement from the early 1980s, is deputy chair of the Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy. It’s looking into the “prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia” and is taking public submissions until September 16.
Clearly feeling his time would be better spent elsewhere, Mr Wilson described the debate as a red herring.
“Even at the first public hearing it was made clear by energy market experts that nuclear energy simply isn’t viable as a result of being massively expensive, slow to develop, and inflexible, with serious safety and environmental risks,” Mr Wilson said.
“Currently available renewable energy and storage options are far cheaper, which is why there is a surge of investment in these projects yet no private investment appetite for nuclear projects.”
The Fremantle Anti-Nuclear Group has morphed, rebadged and spun off various entities since its members picketed visiting American warships alongside nuclear disarmament party senator Jo Vallentine in the mid-80s.
But its core remains strong with Nuclear Free WA, who say they’re “gob-smacked” the issue is even back on the agenda.
Long-time member Kerrie-Ann Garlick told the Herald they’d teamed up with groups across the country to ensure the inquiry heard there was still great opposition to nuclear energy in Australia.
“It’s costly and the time to build an industry is slow, and with the climate emergency we’re facing, it’s obvious this is not the solution,” Ms Garlick said.
But she noted that tossing nuclear energy into the mix showed the Morrison government did acknowledge the threat posed by climate change.
But the committee is chaired by Queensland LibNat Ted O’Brien who told Radio National last week that because he hadn’t been inundated by emails he thought opposition to nuclear power was waning.
“Climate change seems to have silenced the critics of the cleanest energy of them all,” Mr O’Brien posted on his official webpage late last month.
“The anti-Adani movement has morphed into the Extinction Rebellion, and this army is busily trying to shut down central business districts around the country.
“So shy hasn’t this highly mobilised movement orchestrated a backlash in response to parliament’s decision to assess nuclear energy?
“The answers, I believe, are climate change and advances in nuclear technology.
“Smaller, safer modular reactor units and their potential to support reliable and affordable electricity will be a big part of the future for nuclear energy, but whether they’re suitable and feasible for Australia is yet to be determined and that’s what this inquiry is about.”
To make a submission, either head to http://www.aph.gov.au and search for the Standing Committee on Environment and Energy or jump aboard Nuclear Free WA’s campaign and sign the petition at http://www.melbournefoe.org.au/federal_inquiry_nuclear_power
by STEVE GRANT