An Australian nuclear industry still on the table for Malcolm Turnbull
29th Oct 2015
Malcolm Turnbull has left open the prospect of a ground-to-ground nuclear industry cycle in Australia with uranium mined and processed in Australia, converted to fuel rods for use abroad in reactors, and then returned to Australia for safe storage.
The comments, which also included in-principle support for increasing the 10 per cent Goods and Services Tax, came in wide-ranging interviews on Adelaide radio during which he aired the first signs of impatience at being grilled on the way he replaced Tony Abbott as Prime Minister in mid-September.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Dr Alan Finkel. Photo: Andrew Meares
Advertisement”On nuclear power, I commend Jay Weatherill for having the royal commission, I think it’s good that he has done that,” Mr Turnbull told 5AA.
He said many Australians had a view which he described as “perfectly reasonable” that said “we have got the uranium, we mine it, why don’t we process it, turn it into the fuel rods, lease it to people overseas, when they are done, we bring them back and we have got stable, very stable geology in remote locations and a stable political environment”.
“That is a business that you could well imagine here,” Mr Turnbull said.
“Would we ever have a nuclear power station in Australia or like the French do, dozens of nuclear power stations? I would be a bit sceptical about that and I am not talking about the politics … we have so much other affordable sources of energy, … but playing that part in the nuclear fuel cycle I think, is something that is worth looking at closely.”
On the GST, Mr Turnbull confirmed an increase was likely to form part of his government’s re-election pitch to voters in 2016 but that it would come with strings attached, including new obligations for state governments to find savings and improve service delivery.
“Changes to the GST should be on the table but the idea that state governments can just say we’re not going to do anything about making our hospitals more efficient or our schools more efficient, we just want to put our hand up for more money … ” he said.
With the narrow South Australian economy under threat from the closure of Holden and related automotive sector jobs, Mr Turnbull was keen to talk about his favourite subject while on the road: innovation.
Which is why he expressed frustration at the end of his 891-ABC interview for what he said was too much focus on political intrigue and not enough attention on policy.
“And we’re almost out of time Prime Minister, I’m sorry, I apologise,” said one of the two morning hosts.
“Well, you shouldn’t have spent so much time asking me about leadership matters and (Nick) Xenophon, we could’ve talked about innovation and jobs,” replied a clearly annoyed Mr Turnbull.
Host: “Well, come back on after 8.30?”.
Mr Turnbull: “Your listeners are saying, ‘Matt and Dave, wasting your time on politics’ – I want to know about the jobs of the future. The Prime Minister is here to talk about it and all you want to do is talk about politics.”