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Wednesday, 12 April 1989
Page: 1492

(Question No. 851)

Senator Jones asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, upon notice, on 6 March 1989:

(1) With regard to the article headlined `Nuclear power revival' published in the Financial Review on 20 February 1989, is President Bush laying the groundwork for a nation-wide revival of nuclear power.

(2) Does President Bush appear to have the numbers in Congress to achieve this aim.

(3) What information is available to the Australian Government on the extent of any proposed nuclear expansion in the United States of America (USA) and for what purpose is any such expansion intended.

(4) Can the Minister outline if the Government will have some or no dealings with the American proposals, if they are to go ahead, and in particular, is there any suggestion that no new nuclear installations, backed by USA will be allowed to commence operations in any form on Australian soil.

Senator Gareth Evans —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) There have been no major nuclear power initiatives launched to date by President Bush. President Bush has made it clear however that he supports the continued use of clean, safe nuclear power in the United States.

(2) Whether President Bush would have the numbers in Congress for any initiative to promote nuclear power would depend on the nature of the Bill proposed.

(3) According to information published in 1988 by the United States Energy Information Administration it is projected that, on the basis of their more optimistic scenario, there will be a steady increase in operable nuclear capacity from the late 1980's through to the year 2020. As at 31 December 1987 there were 107 operable nuclear reactors in the United States totalling 94 gigawatts of net electrical capacity (GWe). It is projected that by 1990 there will be 103 GWe of operable nuclear capacity, 107 GWe in the year 2000 and 189 GWe in 2020. This expansion is designed to meet an expected increased demand for electricity in the United States.

(4) The policy of the Government is to prohibit the development of further stages of the nuclear fuel cycle in Australia.