The announcement by National Party leader John Barilaro last week that his party would support the development of nuclear power in NSW came as a surprise to many considering the long lead times for nuclear power development and the abundance of solar and wind power that is ready to be quickly developed.
One Nation’s Mark Latham brought the Uranium Mining and Nuclear Facilities (Prohibitions) Repeal Bill 2019 to parliamentary debate on June 6, 2019 and it’s now working its way towards a vote.
However, local Lismore MP Janelle Saffin has urged North Coast residents to help her kill off the Nationals’ plans to build nuclear power plants in places like Tweed Heads and Coffs Harbour with the same determination shown to defeat Coal Seam Gas (CSG) mining.
Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith points out that ‘While Europe is rapidly phasing out nuclear energy the dinosaurs in the National Party in NSW want to lift the ban and distract us all in an anti-nuclear debate’.
‘The coal barons and their favourite political party are counting on us to repeat the same mistake we made with climate change. We battled to convince the dinosaurs of climate science that was well and truly settled and we lost the war on vested interests in fossil fuel for over a decade.’
Ms Saffin said Mr Barilaro had announced his nuclear policy support on the run on Sky News, blindsiding Premier Berejeklian, who during Question Time on Wednesday (March 4) could not state her government’s true position on nuclear power.
Ms Saffin accused Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro of dangerous behaviour in supporting One Nation Leader Mark Latham’s bill in the Upper House lifting the ban on uranium mining and nuclear energy in New South Wales.
‘By joining forces with Mark Latham, and his former visit overseas to gather information and support for his nuclear cause, John Barilaro has well and truly opened the door to nuclear power plants in coastal communities on the North Coast.
‘The Nats are embracing nuclear power – they keep marching us backwards and have no plans for water protection, no plans for cheap energy that they bang on about, and no plans for country New South Wales,’ she said.
Local National MP responds
Member for Tweed Geoff Provest has responded to questions from Echonetdaily stating that, ‘I have previously stated I am against nuclear power in the Tweed and I have heard nothing during this most recent discussion to change my mind.’
Member for Page, Kevin Hogan (Nationals) and National Party MLC, Ben Franklin have not responded to questions regarding their support for nuclear power development.
Last year the Federal government House of Reps held an inquiry into the pre-requisites for nuclear power in Australia.
‘The release of the report has clearly been done in such a way as to attract the absolute minimum of attention. Its media profile up to now has been zero. That is likely because were it better known, it would have been panned by NGOs Australia-wide,’ said long time anti-nuclear campaigner John Hallam.
‘It’s clear from the recent Federal inquiry, that there is no case whatsoever for a pronuclear about-face in favour of reactors or uranium mining in NSW,’ he said.
‘Ten years ago, the argument would have been that nuclear power was/is uneconomic and potentially dangerous, and that it is uneconomic precisely because it is potentially dangerous. The argument now would be exactly the same, with the added one that in order to be of any relevance to combatting the climate emergency, a source of power must be cheap, problem-free and quickly and easily deployable and nuclear power is the opposite of all those things.
‘Nuclear power, far from solving the climate emergency, diverts needed resources from the real solutions – the deployment of cheap and quickly deployable renewables.
‘Small modular reactors look wonderful on paper but no one has actually succeeded in building even one that works satisfactorily and can be mass-produced, let alone the hundreds that would be needed.’
Local Greens MP Tamara Smith told Echonetdaily that her party requested to be included on the committee looking into nuclear but were ignored. Committee members include two Liberal party MPs, two Labor MPs, a One Nation MP, a Shooters Fishers and Farmers MP and a Nationals MP.