Could this be Australia’s future? Picture: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds
Could this be Australia’s future? Picture: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds

Nuclear power on Australia’s agenda

AUSTRALIA could lift its ban on nuclear energy after the government's Federal Energy Minister asked the Environment and Energy Committee to look into the use of nuclear power in Australia.

Nuclear is banned as a source of power and while Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor has confirmed Australia's embargo on nuclear energy will remain, a parliamentary inquiry will revisit the issue and investigate "any future government's consideration" into the topic.

According to the ABC, a 2006 report on nuclear power claimed Australia "could have up to 25 reactors providing over a third of the country's electricity by 2050".

"This will be the first inquiry into the use of nuclear power in Australia in more than a decade and is designed to consider the economic, environmental and safety implications of nuclear power," Mr Taylor said in a letter to Environment and Energy Committee and Queensland LNP member Ted O'Brien on Friday.

"I am confident that your committee - involving all sides of politics - is the best way to consider this issue in a sensible way."

The ABC reports "several Coalition backbenchers" supported the idea of nuclear energy, including Barnaby Joyce who suggested residents living near reactors could be offered free power.

"Clearly there are very passionate views on either side of this debate," Mr O'Brien said.

"There are new and emerging forms of nuclear energy technology that are very different from the old smokestack reactors people tend to picture when they think nuclear energy and it's on these newer technologies that we'll focus."

"Our job will be to determine the circumstances under which future Coalition or Labor governments might consider nuclear energy generation."

Last month Queensland Nationals MP Keith Pitt and his Senate colleague James McGrath were reportedly behind the push, The Sunday Telegraph reports.

"I am not saying that there is a nuclear reactor coming to a shopping centre near you but we have to be able to investigate all options," Mr Pitt told the newspaper.

"All I am calling for is an inquiry as to whether it's a feasible option to ensure we are up to date with the latest information."

During the federal election campaign Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had no plans to reverse the ban on nuclear energy, after earlier saying he'd be open to it if the sector paid its own way.

The inquiry is due to be completed by the end of the year.