Yesterday, Queensland Premier Peter Beattie announced his government would introduce the Nuclear Facilities Prohibition Bill 2006 into Parliament this week. If passed, the Bill would prohibit nuclear facilities, including uranium enrichment plants, nuclear power stations and nuclear waste sites.
Then this morning, Western Australian Premier Alan Carpenter said he was considering a similar move.
“We already have laws in WA banning the importing, transporting and storage of nuclear waste,” he said.
“However given the Howard Government’s commitment to establishing a nuclear industry in Australia, I think it is now time to go one step further and explicitly ban the construction of nuclear power plants and uranium enrichment in our state.
“Like Mr Beattie, I also think a referendum on the issue would be warranted.”
Carpenter expects WA would watch the passage of the Queensland legislation with interest.
“It may be possible to use the Queensland legislation as a template for our own use with a view to introducing legislation next year or amending the current laws relating to nuclear waste storage,” he said.
“A far better option is to promote the use of our clean natural gas reserves and increase the use of renewable energy sources such as wind power, bio-fuels and solar.”
This is not the first time the Queensland Government has opposed nuclear reactors or waste dumps in the state, after a motion was passed in Parliament on June 7 to prevent it from happening.
As part of the legislation, Beattie said the State Government would encourage community input on the issue.
“[The Australian Government has also] given no consideration to the impact of this decision on Queensland’s multi-billion dollar coal and mineral industry – the backbone of our state’s booming economy.”
Sydney Ideas forum debates nuclear energy
A debate over whether Australia should adopt nuclear energy as a solution to climate change will take place at the upcoming Sydney Ideas nuclear energy forum.
The public forum, co-presented by the Science Foundation for Physics, will focus on the environmental, fiscal and security impacts of the possible introduction of nuclear energy plants in Australia as an alternative to carbon dioxide-emitting fossil fuels.
The forum follows the release of the Australian Government's Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy Review draft report compiled by the Government's nuclear energy taskforce, chaired by former Telstra boss and nuclear physicist Ziggy Switkowski.
The report argued that as many as 25 nuclear power plants could be built and sustained in Australia by 2050 at a cost of more than $75 billion.
"Is Australia's future nuclear?" will be facilitated by journalist, commentator and presenter of ABC Radio National's Late Night Live Phillip Adams, and will bring together expert voices to debate whether or not a nuclear future is a safe and viable one for Australia.
Other speakers include:
# Sustainability Research Group research physicists Professor Manfred Lenzen and Dr Chris Day from the School of Physics, University of Sydney. Both were contributors to the Switkowski report;
# Operation and Capability Program director Dr Andrew Davies, Australian Strategic Policy Institute;
# Bob Fry, long-time leader on nuclear and health physics with the Australian Energy Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency; and
# Julie Macken, journalist/commentator and author of articles on the nuclear debate for the Australian Financial Review and NewMatilda.com.
"Is Australia's future nuclear?" is being held at the University of Sydney's Seymour Theatre from 6.30pm on Tuesday, December 5.
Contact (02) 9351 7940 for bookings.