'Mature' nuclear power debate needed, says MP
THERE was a need for mature debate before any decision on nuclear energy could be made, member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis has stated.
But he believes the concept will go nowhere without first obtaining a "social licence" for the technology.
His comments come in response to NSW Nationals leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro expressing his, and the Nationals' support for a bill introduced by One Nation's Mark Latham to overturn the state's ban on nuclear energy and uranium mining.
Mr Gulaptis said there needed to be a clearer picture of the current state of the science as it related to nuclear energy.
"At the moment the community's perception of nuclear reactors is based on Fukushima, Chernobyl and Homer Simpson working at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant," he said.
"Quite frankly, that's all I understand about the technology.
"I don't know where we are with nuclear technology - I'm just like the rest of the community, and I need to know more before I can make more of a call."
Mr Gulaptis said scientists needed to lead a mature debate based on evidence and not fearmongering so the community could make an informed decision.
"Whenever the question about the possibility of using nuclear energy comes up, it is always shut down by a minority, and I believe that minority is fearmongers who are just pushing that Chernobyl model down our throats," he said.
"Now if that's where the technology is still at, then I certainly don't want it.
"But I believe that they have advanced significantly, just like all other technology has - people are walking around with this year's latest iPhone in their pocket, they're not carrying the bricks of 20 years ago.
"I'd like to know more about what's available now; I'd like to know if it's cost-effective and safe enough."
Mr Gulaptis said despite Mr Barilaro's comments, the issue hadn't been raised in the party room, but said nuclear energy as part of an energy mix had been raised at National Party conferences.
"I think we need to have a social licence," he said.
"I'm not going to say I like it just because my leader likes it - as much as I'd like to take his word for it I'd like to hear first hand, and our community needs to hear the informed debate first hand as well."
A report by the group Nuclear for Climate Science identified Grafton as one of 12 possible sites for a nuclear power station in the future, and Mr Gulaptis said he would always be led by the community's wishes on the issue.
"If the community doesn't support it, why on earth would I ever vote for it," he said.
"The community doesn't believe in it at the moment because there hasn't been this mature debate, and that's where the scientists need to come in and debate the pros and cons using the science, just like they've shown the science on climate change.
"In my opinion we need to have the social licence."
Mr Gulaptis said it was essential to realise that irrespective of what the NSW parliament voted concerning nuclear power, federal legislation overruled the states and a nuclear proposal wouldn't go ahead without overturning or amending of federal legislation.
Mr Barilaro has previously gone on record to say that fear and misinformation was being spread, and nuclear energy was a future solution for the climate change issues of today.