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Thursday, 19 October 2006
Page: 110

Mr SLIPPER (9:33 AM) —Today I rise in the Main Committee to talk about the issue of nuclear energy and about suggestions that a nuclear power station could possibly be built on the Sunshine Coast, an area I am privileged to represent in the Australian parliament. I have to say I think that, as traditional sources of fuels become less available—we appreciate that they are finite—as a responsible nation we clearly have to look at all of the alternatives to make sure that, as we go further into the 21st century, we are able to meet our nation’s energy needs but in a way, of course, that is clean and green and environmentally responsible. I am advised that some 16 per cent of the world’s power is currently provided by nuclear power stations and that Australia has the largest supply in the world of uranium—obviously something that is essential for the use of power stations. I suppose in a sense there is also a slight lack of logic in that we insist that overseas countries buying our uranium ought to have safeguards in place—and I support that policy—but we ourselves say that nuclear power is so unsafe that we will not use it on our own shores.

It is unfortunate that this resurgent debate has immediately been hijacked and injected with comments and arguments that are designed to inflame hysteria and cause fear rather than being genuinely focused on the debate that we have to have. Nuclear power has not been rubber-stamped by this government as a sure thing, but the government is prepared to look at nuclear power along with other options. We also support renewable energy and bioenergy and we support, in a responsible way, whatever is necessary to make sure that we are able to meet our nation’s energy needs.

When one looks at some of the disasters that have taken place in the area of nuclear power stations, one could wrongly, in my view, assume that nuclear power is not a safe form of energy production. I just think that we cannot rule out any options as we are facing the end of finite traditional sources.

I have to say, though, that I would be totally opposed to a nuclear power station being constructed on the Sunshine Coast—which, of course, as the member for Moncrieff would probably agree, is the most desirable holiday destination anywhere in the nation; his own area comes a close second. It really is important to make sure that people are not diverted from coming to the Sunshine Coast as a result of wrong perceptions over nuclear power stations. This is an important debate and it is a debate that we have to have. I support the debate. I support the possibility of nuclear power. But I am resolutely opposed to a nuclear power station being constructed in this most beautiful part of the nation. (Time expired)