Royal commission is set the debate a proposed plan from SA senator to expand nuclear industry
March 12, 2015
FREE power, no payroll tax and no motor vehicle tax.
Sounds pretty great, right? That is what South Australian Senator, Sean Edwards is touting if the state expands its nuclear energy industry.
According to the Liberal senator, the state would be able to access ten of billions of dollars from the global nuclear industry if they are allowed to store rods and nuclear waste from other countries.
“The science is in. The process is proven and we have a first mover advantage which would see us generate wealth akin to being the Saudis of the South,” he told the Adelaide Advertiser.
The senator believes it would turn South Australia into a “special economic zone” which would further attract business investment.
Mr. Edwards has thrown his weight behind the project. He has reportedly met with countries interested in partnering with the state government and has briefed Trade Minister Andrew Robb and Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane on the details. All while promising huge economic incentives to the people of his state.
Ziggy Switkowski, former CEO of Telstra, is a nuclear physicist who is the former head of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. He told TheAdelaide Advertiser that the program could “represent billions of dollars of revenue each year.”
Mr. Switkowski reviewed the industry for the Howard Government in 2006 and believes the improvements in science and technology have helped convince people of its safety.
A Royal Commission on the matter was announced last month with SA premier saying “it is now time to engage in a mature and robust conversation.”
It’s a debate that WA Greens Senator, Scott Ludlam said we need to have if only to “put the issue to bed once and for all.”
Nuclear energy has consistency proved to be one of the most viscerally divisive issues in politics so it comes as no surprise that the state’s proposal has been met with criticism by some members of the public.
Yesterday marked the fourth anniversary of the Fukishima nuclear disaster and opponents of Mr. Edwards plan took to the steps of the Adelaide parliament to protest the Royal Commission’s inquiry.
Dr. Jim Green, from Friends of the Earth, Australia attended the protest and told ABC radio that he was there to for two reasons. To lend his sympathy to the 160,000 Japanese who remain displaced from the Fukishima disaster and to send a message to the government that they’re “not happy about the terms of reference” of the inquiry.
The inquiry’s terms of reference will focus on uranium enrichment, nuclear generation and waste storage. Opponents of nuclear energy say the focus of the inquiry is disproportionately skewed towards the positive financial benefits without adequately accounting for the dangers.
Dr. Green would like to see uranium mining and previous nuclear programs such as Radium Hill and the Port Perry Uranium processing site included in the inquiry. Both sites sit deserted and serve as a reminder to Dr. Green of the perils of nuclear power.
In the past Prime Minister Tony Abbott has expressed his willingness to have nuclear power play a greater role in providing the energy needs of Australia. Yesterday he said he is “very interested” in the upcoming inquiry.
The inquiry starts next week however the consultation on the draft terms of reference close tomorrow.
So with just a single day left for the public to submit their opinion on the issue, perhaps it’s worth asking the question: At what price should we be willing to become a nuclear dumping ground?