For Adults Only: High Time Australia Embraced Ever-Reliable Nuclear Power

With adults around, there’s no need to cover it up.

 

There’s no rational explanation as to why Australia exports uranium to the world, but bans its use for power generation on home soil. Cognitive dissonance, might do it. Although STT thinks it’s because Australia’s run by infants and intellectual pygmies.

And then there are the just plain gutless, who are too timid to even mention the dreaded ‘N’ word, without fear of being pilloried in the press by the anti-nuke crowd which, these days, lines up pretty closely with the rent-seekers drawing obscene profits through subsidies to wind and solar.

Few issues demonstrate how childish the level of political discourse is in Australia than nuclear power. Its mere mention drives the loony-left into apoplexy and moderates into hiding.

Australia holds the world’s largest uranium reserves and, despite its limited three mines policy, is the world’s third-largest uranium exporter.

So, it generally surprises other members of the first world that Australia not only doesn’t benefit itself from nuclear power generation, but acted years ago to ban it.

Try getting an Australian politician to explain why Australia, as a major uranium exporter, is the only G20 Nation without nuclear power, going so far as to legislate to prohibit the processing of uranium and its use as a fuel for power generation.

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act, specifically prohibit nuclear fuel fabrication, power, enrichment or reprocessing facilities.

So far, so ridiculous.

Sure enough, coal-fired plant will continue to power Australians for the foreseeable future. But, for as long as politicians on both sides of the fence remain wedded to the concept that carbon dioxide gas is ‘pollution’, responsible for killing the planet (rather than greening it), energy sources that emit CO2 will have plenty of ill-informed enemies.

A week or so into the Federal election campaign, the PM, Scott Morrison almost (almost) put nuclear power generation on the table as a topic for adult discussion.

No sooner had he done so, than he was forced to retreat as if he had uttered some unspeakable heresy, proving him to be as spineless and unprincipled as Australians have come to expect from the recent crop of Liberal (here, notionally ‘conservative’) MPs.

The debate (if that’s what it might be called?) has been left to a few Liberal backbenchers (Liberal candidate, Warren Mundine has been promoting nuclear for years) and the Australian Conservatives, headed up by former Liberal Senator, Cory Bernardi.

Now a National MP from Queensland, Keith Pitt, has broken cover; and he too is brazenly using the ‘N’ word in public.

We should ‘investigate’ nuclear technology
Sky News
Keith Pitt
6 June 2019

Nationals backbencher Keith Pitt says Australians should be able to have an ‘adult conversation’ when it comes to nuclear energy. Mr Pitt is urging his colleagues to hold an inquiry into lifting Australia’s nuclear power ban, with advocates claiming it can both reduce emissions and be a reliable source of power.

The idea has been dismissed by the Greens, with Senator Sarah Hanson-Young calling the inquiry ‘a crackpot idea.’ He told Sky News that the parliament should hold a bipartisan hearing to ‘investigate’ the possible use of the technology.
Sky News

 

Transcription

Keith Pitt:  Well, Gleeson, the point that I want to make is that no one is suggesting we’re building nuclear reactors in the middle of Melbourne but this is the about the Parliament having the opportunity to go and have the discussion and have the conversation with the Australian people, who I think a couple of weeks ago made a very common sense decision.

It was a victory for common sense at the last election. Nuclear power is utilised by more than 30 countries around the world. We are the only major economy that doesn’t make use of this technology and it is moved very rapidly in recent years. So I think there is value in looking at that technology and what opportunities there may be for Australia. This is a process that could take up to two decades.

Peter Gleeson: Okay, so take us through how it would work and what are the advantages that nuclear power would bring to a country like Australia?

Keith Pitt:  Well, firstly the Senate select committee, the Senate sets its own agenda. So that the Senate would have a motion put before it which would be debated. There would then be a vote, a ballot and then depending of course on who has the majority whether that motion gets up.

If the Senate select committee is formed with its terms of references as debated, then they will investigate nuclear energy and certainly new nuclear technology which is being utilised right across the world.

Now, obviously it’s a difficult issue but I think we need to be adult enough to have the conversation. Now, down the track if we look at what’s happening in other places, we know that nuclear technology is utilised, particularly in defence, whether that is in submarines or ships or other manners.

We need to ensure that in the future and particularly in the long term that Australia can source what it needs. So I think this needs to be a very holistic approach.

We need to be very clear eyed and open minded but straight away we had the Labor party out screaming about which electric will you build a reactor in. I think we’re adult enough to have this conversation. I’ve been really surprised at the level of support that is out there for us to start having this conversation with the Australian people and there’s any number of organisations which are 100% supportive.

Peter Gleeson: And of course the mere mention of the word nuclear conjures up images that a lot of people react very emotionally to. I guess a big part of this debate will be about the education process and educating Australians on what it brings to the table. And I mean, you know, you’ve also get the PR war that you have to wage because, as I said, that whole issue around nuclear energy creates all these emotions. How will you get past that?

Keith Pitt:  Well, I think firstly we do need bipartisan support. You know, it’s easy to run a scare campaign. It’s much more difficult to deliver solutions for Australia in the long term.

And this is not just about nuclear reactors that could potentially provide energy which is clean, green, and efficient. It is about the opportunity for more advanced manufacturing. It is about the opportunity for our universities and education.

We would need to build an entire new sector of the economy, which does take time. It takes planning. It takes commitment. And I think we just need to be able to have the conversation. So, it takes a bit of moral fortitude, I’ve got to say, Gleeson, there’s occasions where people throw all sorts of things our way and my way, in terms of Senator McGrath but you know, if you want to have a difficult conversation the best time to start is today and certainly the Parliament has yet to be formed.

So I think it’s a debate we have to have. We haven’t looked at this issue, in my view, properly, since about 2006 under John Howard and the technology has shifted. We now have thorium reactors as an option. Prism reactors, gen four. Sodium cooling, so it is a very very different technology to what it was 20 and 30 years ago.

Peter Gleeson: Do you believe it will lower electricity prices?

Keith Pitt:  Well, I think everything is about a balance. You know, as an engineer, mate, you’ve got to look at cost-effectiveness. That comes down to fuel sources and locations and what ancillary devices you need and connections into the network. So it’s not a single point of selection. You need to look at all of those issues.

I’ve always been technology agnostic. I think we need to look at every opportunity to drive down the cost of electricity and let’s face facts, we are losing manufacturing businesses.

I have foundry in Bundaberg which has been there for more than 125 years. They are at real risk of closure because their electricity bill next year will go up by a million dollars. Now they have trained literally thousands of people across that hundred years of operation. I don’t want to see them go.

I don’t want us to be reliant on overseas manufacturing for everything we need in this country and if we want them to stay, and if we want to continue to have high wages in this country, well, we need to do something about the cost of energy.

Peter Gleeson: And of course, power prices, I think, are the hip pocket issue of our times, of our generation. And you just mentioned an example there. We know the Rock Hampton Bowls Club had to recently close because it’s power bill was doubled in the preceding three years. I mean, it is a major, major issue. I think, certainly, we need to have this debate.

Keith Pitt:  Well, and this is the point. We are talking about having a conversation with the Australian people. I think they are adult enough to have that discussion and I think the better informed they are the better decisions they will make.

We’ve seen them reject Labor’s ideology at the last election. They have rejected 50% renewable targets. I mean, they get it. They know what drives up power prices. They know what makes the network less reliable. And I think we need to look at every avenue that’s available to help them, to help our economy, and to drive jobs into our economy.
Sky News

Keith Pitt: adult enough to use the ‘N’ word in public.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. C. Paul Barreira says:

    I did not say, or imply, that “the climate scam is over”. Rather that, given the standard of argument now prevailing hither and thither and the absurdities passing as predictions, the “science” that allegedly grounds “climate change” has passed its peak. As I have observed here and there in recent months science as method is following the humanities into near-oblivion.

    Governments certainly will among the last to know the collapse of “climate change”. For their investment in it has been and will continue to be great. Unless and until the humanities recover some of their fundamental qualities, not least scholarly enquiry as the pursuit of truth, then the sciences cannot recover from the crisis of replicability. How any of this is to happen I have no idea (it’s not even clear that this is a purpose of the Ramsay Centre). Even less do I feel confident that the public will come to appreciate the same priorities.

    There is perhaps one alternative to coal (HELE). But while reliable not inexpensive. And that is gas. And you know the attitudes of government in SA towards gas exploration. Here in the South East the opposition is loud and (apparently) effective. Will government allow the importation, especially via pipeline, of Northern Territory gas? Given the political noises generally, one would think not, but hypocrisy is a fundamental attribute of government in South Australia. Anyway, gas would probably only keep the lights on, not bring industrial investment in its wake.

    On nuclear, opponents would have only to mention Fukushima and the field is pretty much theirs (that Fukushima was the only failure—and that for reasons largely of administrative corruption—among about twelve reactors from the pertinent tsunami was always ignored by one and all; the safety systems of the others worked perfectly). Some would recall Chernobyl (hard to refute on any of several grounds) and older persons will know of Three Mile Island. There is, then, Australia’s sole nuclear establishment: Luca Heights. And this must surely provide the model for any future development of a nuclear industry. One aspect is federal control, not any of the states. If a federal government did decide for nuclear or even broach the topic openly, the floodgates of opposition would open, not just in media but unleash some very crude but very well-organised and determined demonstrators on the streets. Defeating them would take what Humphrey Appleby called “courage”. Good luck with that.

    Ergo, I repeat, though reluctantly and not happily, impoverisation deepens. When James Hansen took his tale of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming to the congress in Washington it was but twenty-one years since Kenneth Clark opened his remarkable television programme, “Civilisation”, with “By the Skin of Our Teeth”, telling of civilisation’s survival in the face of the barbarians and others of the north of Europe and Islam from the east.

    Another thirty years have passed. Education systems are largely wrecked. Popular culture (if there is such a thing) is thoroughly debauched and vicious. Infanticide in increasingly legal; opposition to it increasingly penalised and silenced. Progressive intolerance is widespread and deep. The confidence of which Kenneth Clark spoke has dissipated almost entirely. And so on and so forth.

    And so to Venezuela. . . .

    I think it’s roughly two years since STT began to advocate nuclear in earnest. At the time the dollar was good for 80 cents US. It’s now around 68.5. Ergo, cost is a factor to consider. True, probably less than the enormous sums squandered on so-called renewables. Even so, Australia’s external debt now exceeds two trillion dollars. Unless expensive electricity generation can provide a ground for serious production able to compete on world markets the point again becomes largely redundant.

    The problems are numerous, deep-seated and curiously intertwined. No evidence suggests that they can be disengaged one from another.

    One of the features of public-speaking and correspondence during the Great War was the confidence in British civilisation. The people were the heirs of the somewhat unique British Enlightenment as well as the evangelical revival that were both significant elements of the eighteenth century and which by century’s end were, I believe, more than a little intertwined. You can see a remarkable continuity from the works of Adam Smith (notably in the revised editions of “The Theory of Moral Sentiments”) and the purposes of Sir Robert Menzies, especially regarding education. That world, which is the one we would now depend upon for change, has now gone. The confidence in continuity of British civilisation and especially liberty that is so marked a feature of writing and speaking in the years 1914-1919 has disappeared.

    We now have an apocalyptic movement as destructive as the Xhosa cattle killing in 1856–57. And there I write only of “climate change”, not the several other related matters, not least the anti-humanism of our times.

    And so to Venezuela . . . and poverty.

    • If the argument against nuclear is won by mentioning Fukushima, then we are even more pathetic and juvenile than our post suggests. But you still haven’t addressed the penalties on CO2 that currently exist and which will only increase over time, and it’s not about what the majority believe, it’s about politicians pandering to a noisy minority, claiming to act on behalf of all. Coal and gas will be subject to those penalties, nuclear will not.

      • C. Paul Barreira says:

        The penalties latterly associated with—or imposed upon—coal and gas make them unlikely places of investment. They do not change my unhappy argument, some part of which an increasingly infantile electorate. Further, one should not underestimate the apocalyptic ideology of what is much more than a “noisy minority”.

        I could probably agree with you on nuclear were it a just a question of technique in an environment that has demonized so-called fossil fuels. But we do not live in such an environment. With the passage of time, likely to be a good few years, the demons may be exorcised. Perhaps not. What seems unavoidable, for the reasons I have offered and others again, is deepening impoverization. I don’t like the idea one little bit. Bit the decisions made, not least in South Australia, over the past fifty years—not just the last few—make any other outcome extremely unlikely.

        I wish very much that it were otherwise, even though my own time is nearly done.

        That said, there is one voice that I should like to hear on these questions: former (Liberal) Senator Nick Minchin.

  2. C. Paul Barreira says:

    Just by the by, how many years would all this take? Ten? Fifteen?

    How will help people struggling with power bills in the present?

    • OK, so what’s your solution, and it must assume an ETS, or tax on CO2?

      • C. Paul Barreira says:

        Coal. HELE. Without it the outlook is self-defined.

        The tax on CO2—absurd as it is—exists already. It is but one of the legacies of Malcolm Turnbull’s time as Prime Minister.

        The public appears, still, to want things both ways. The recent federal election proved little, except that most of the electorate continue to determine their vote by the likely effects of any decisions on the hip pocket.

        Hence coal remains the only real option for relatively inexpensive electricity. The climate change scam appears to be running out of puff. So-called predictions have become ever more absurd. It’s thirty years since James Hansen opened the account. Still, with so many institutions in on the scam perhaps the way down—back some sort of good sense, even genuine science—is slow, too.

        The Xhosa cattle killing movement was relatively quick (1856-57) but the destruction was and remains breath-taking. But it provides the best guide to the effects of the climate scam. The current apocalyptic enthusiasm may yet take many years to pass given the general condition of science and the current crisis of replicability.

        The economic and social destruction that implies is appalling but, frankly, unremarkable and nothing new—except in Oz, except for short periods, say, around 1890 and 1930. Perhaps the electorate will react with immense anger as living standards continue to deteriorate significantly and very noticeably. Yet what effect can anger have on the generation of electricity? Let alone inexpensive electricity. Unreliable, so-called renewables have failed utterly and do so by definition. Nuclear will not, at least not with current technology. If only because the public will not buy it—nor its very extended timetable of construction. Perhaps in later decades some one or other of today’s interesting developments may reach a commercial form but it be a long wait.

        For the time being there is but one option in order to provide relatively inexpensive electricity and perhaps rebuild something of the industrial base that has been lost in recent decades. What that requires is an argument from at least one major political party. It means finding some means to take a political initiative. It also implies finding the vocabulary with which to convince the public of the merits of the initiative. It’s a very tall order—and extremely unlikely to happen. Result: impoverization.

      • We do not share your optimism that the climate scam is over, far from it. Labor policy has not changed and, at some point, they will govern with the Greens. State Liberal govts in NSW and SA are pushing wind and solar harder than ever, SA’s wants 100% by 2030. Coal was driven out of SA, in 2016.

        There is no fixed carbon tax, yet. But there will be. The only way HELEs will be built, is by the Coalition underwriting the risk of an ETS or CO2 tax being imposed.

        Nuclear avoids that impost. Coal generation is the cheapest, of course, but only in the absence of punitive carbon taxes. The climate cult want to kill it, and have still got the high moral ground.

  3. A moral case for zero emission electricity for all that would reduce the 11 million children that die every year from preventable causes. https://www.cfact.org/2019/05/21/a-moral-case-for-zero-emission-electricity-for-all/

  4. Nuclear is the only logical way to go. I think if it was put to a vote there may well be a majority vote for nuclear.

    • C. Paul Barreira says:

      This seems highly unlikely. If nothing else, South Australia might prove to be the decisive negative vote in a plebiscite, much as occurred in 1916 and 1917 regarding conscription for overseas military service.

      Note, too, that no government in SA has erected no statue for Norm Foster, MLC, whose decisive vote ended legislative impediments to the Olympic Dam project.

  5. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  6. Reblogged this on Climate- Science.

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