Bar­i­laro to push the nu­clear power but­ton

The Australian - - THE NATION - ADAM CREIGHTON

Act­ing NSW Premier John Bar­i­laro will de­clare nu­clear power “in­evitable” in a speech to­day that slams “ig­no­rant, 1970s” think­ing for pre­vent­ing de­vel­op­ment of the na­tion’s ura­nium re­serves and con­demn­ing res­i­dents to black­outs.

The speech by the state Na­tion­als party leader, seen by The Aus­tralian yes­ter­day and to be de­liv­ered tonight at an en­ergy pol­icy fo­rum in Syd­ney, calls for small mod­u­lar re­ac­tors, likely im­ported from the US, to re­duce de­pen­dence on high-emis­sion coal and gas-fired power over the next five to 10 years.

“Re­new­able en­ergy is very wel­come, and should re­main part of the ‘mix’, how­ever it is in­ter­mit- tent, has its lim­its and can’t de­liver en­ergy se­cu­rity on its own,” the speech says. “There has never been a bet­ter mo­ment to in­clude nu­clear en­ergy in Aus­tralia’s en­ergy fu­ture,” it adds, just days be­fore the Coun­cil of Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ments’ En­ergy Coun­cil is to meet in Mel­bourne to bed down de­tails of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s Na­tional En­ergy Guar­an­tee.

“More and more peo­ple un­der­stand the hypocrisy of Aus­tralia be­ing the world’s third-largest ex­porter of ura­nium, but ban­ning its use at home,” Mr Bar­i­laro will say. Aus­tralia ex­ported ura­nium worth more than $900 mil­lion in 2016.

Mr Bar­i­laro, who re­cently re­turned from an Ad­vanced Re­ac­tor Sum­mit in At­lanta, Ge­or­gia, spoke out in favour of nu­clear power a year ago, prompt­ing Premier Gla­dys Bere­jik­lian, cur­rently in In­dia on a trade mis­sion, to de­clare she was open-minded on the is­sue. “I’m in the camp of the jury’s still out,” she told the ABC then.

“Aus­tralia is head­ing in the same di­rec­tion as South Aus­tralia — with no clear plan or pol­icy on how to rem­edy the sit­u­a­tion,” Mr Bar­i­laro will say, sug­gest­ing Aus­tralia will be at “con­stant risk of statewide black­outs”.

Re­new­able en­ergy pro­po­nents are push­ing for higher re­new­able en­ergy tar­gets as a way to re­duce de­pen­dence on high-emis­sion coal and gas power sta­tions, which make up the bulk of the coun­try’s en­ergy sup­ply.

“While ac­cep­tance of nu­clear as a so­lu­tion is in­creas­ing among the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion, the po­lit­i­cal classes have con­tin­ued to avoid the is­sue bizarrely on en­vi­ron­men­tal grounds, based on ig­no­rance and lack of po­lit­i­cal courage,” the Bar­i­laro speech will say.

Aus­tralia is the only G20 coun­try with a fed­eral ban on nu­clear en­ergy, leg­is­lated in 1998 by the Howard gov­ern­ment.

The Min­er­als Coun­cil of Aus­tralia, a pro­po­nent of nu­clear power, said the fed­eral nu­clear ban could be re­versed “with a sin­gle amend­ment to the En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion and Bio­di­ver­sity Con­ser­va­tion Act. “The re­moval of four words — ‘ a nu­clear power plant’ — would al­low nu­clear in­dus­tries to be con­sid­ered for de­vel­op­ment in Aus­tralia,” it said.

Bar­i­laro

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