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Time for Australia to have a conversation about nuclear energy

By Ted O'Brien - posted Wednesday, 7 December 2022

When Prime Minister Anthony Albanese delivered the keynote address at last Friday night's Gough Whitlam Dinner, he missed a golden opportunity to tell the Labor Party faithful about the role of nuclear energy in Mr Whitlam's platform to win office 50 years ago.

If the PM's speech had started with Whitlam's plan for uranium enrichment and nuclear power, it could have seamlessly transitioned into comments from Labor's longest-serving leader, Bob Hawke, who said that nuclear energy would "be a win for the global environment and a win for Australia".

Ironically enough, last Friday wasn't just the anniversary of Whitlam's election win but also World Nuclear Energy Day.


It's a pity the PM is opposed to a mature national conversation about nuclear energy, but the voices of the Australian people still want to be heard. Although there are no nuclear power plants in Australia, nuclear technology isn't new to our country.

We possess the world's largest reserves of uranium and we're the world's fourth-largest supplier.

Just 30km from Sydney's CBD is a nuclear reactor that has been safely producing nuclear medicines for over 60 years, including diagnostics and cancer treatments.

Only last year, Australia turned to nuclear-propelled submarines as part of our solution to address future strategic challenges.

And yet, despite 33 countries currently operating nuclear power plants and another 50 looking at doing so, our government can't understand why many Australians want nuclear energy at least considered.

Here are three reasons why it should be.


First, we're amid an energy crisis and electricity prices are set to rise another 56 per cent by the end of next year.

Households are hurting and businesses are on their knees.

About 800,000 manufacturing jobs are under threat, supply shortages could lead to blackouts and regional communities worry they'll be steamrolled by the government's rush to install 22,000 solar panels a day, 40 new wind turbines a month and tens of thousands of kilometres of transmission lines.

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This article was first published in The Australian.

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About the Author

Ted O'Brien is the Federal Member for Fairfax, and the Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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