It’s time to hit the nuclear switch

September 15, 2018

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has joined Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi in calling on the government to sharpen the political contest with Labor ahead of the election by moving to lift the prohibition on nuclear power.

Labor leader Bill Shorten has left the door open to reviving Malvolm Turnbull’s now “dead” national energy guarantee which is tied to the Paris Climate Agreement which will only serve to drive power prices up.

Speaking on 2GB radio in Sydney yesterday, Mr Abbott said there was “absolutely no reason why, when it’s economic, we shouldn’t have nuclear power generation in Australia”.

“One of the things that we could easily do is go into the parliament (and) seek to change the law here. When you’re seeking a third term, when you’re defending a one-seat majority, when you’ve got a few self-inflicted wounds, when you’ve got the unions and GetUp and the Greens as well as Labor against you, you’ve got to be prepared to create a contest.”

The former chair of the Aus­tralian Nuclear Science and Tech­nology Organisation and current chair of NBN Co, Ziggy Swit­kowski, told The Weekend Australian yesterday it was sensible to clear the regulatory pathway for the next generation of small nuclear reactors.

Dr Switkowski said the future for nuclear power was “likely to be defined by the arrival of small modular reactors (SMRs) of a 100MW scale” that could provide power for up to 100,000 people.

“They will be affordable, low-risk and an investment that business will find attractive,” he said. “That is likely to happen later in the 2020s, but will have special relevance to Australia where we have towns and industries and mines and desalination plants, all of (which) could be served by one of these SMRs.

“The opportunities for … large reactors have now largely disappeared … It is, however, very sensible to clear away the regulatory obstacles to developing business plans and evaluating technologies in order to have an option in the 2020s to adopt these SMRs.”

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