By 2022, Germany has committed to closing all seven of its nuclear reactors. Picture: Getty Images
By 2022, Germany has committed to closing all seven of its nuclear reactors. Picture: Getty Images

'Not convinced': Mixed response to calls for nuclear plant

FLYNN MP Ken O'Dowd's suggestion a nuclear power plant should be built in his electorate has been labelled as "rubbish".

Mr O'Dowd said in Parliament on Monday that the electorate would "accept" a nuclear power plant, as he threw his support behind an inquiry into the feasibility of introducing nuclear power to Australia's energy mix.

He said nuclear power plants were "by far the best and safest way" to make reliable electricity.

The fourth-term member was heckled by Labor MPs who questioned him on where in Australia a nuclear power plant could be built.

"Put it anywhere you like. My area would accept it. Not a problem," he said.

The Flynn electorate includes Gladstone, Gin Gin, parts of the North Burnett and South Burnett, and Emerald.

Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said it was a "rubbish" suggestion.

Mayor Matt Burnett and Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher.
Mayor Matt Burnett and Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher. Mike Richards GLA131218PRES

"One minute it's a new coal-fired power station and the next it's nuclear. What he (Mr O'Dowd) needs to concentrate on is an energy policy for Australia," Mr Butcher said.

"He shouldn't be making comments like this without talking to the people of Gladstone, because I don't know too many people who would want a nuclear power plant in the region."

Gladstone Regional Council mayor Matt Burnett said he was "not convinced" nuclear was the best way to achieve energy reliability and affordability.

An advocate for renewable energy and hydrogen, Cr Burnett said the region should go in the "same direction as the rest of the world".

"We're talking with Japanese companies that are really keen to invest in our hydrogen economy," he said.

"I have not heard any of them suggest nuclear.

"There might be somewhere else in Flynn that wants it ... our region likes investment and industry, but I'm not convinced that's the best way forward."

In The Observer's online subscriber poll yesterday, 46 per cent of respondents agreed with Mr O'Dowd, 48 per cent said they did not want a nuclear plant in the electorate and four per cent were uncertain.

Production of nuclear energy in Australia has been banned since 1998 by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act, as well as the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Last month, Industry Super Australia released a report that insisted there was a need to look at nuclear power in Australia.

The paper, Modernising Electricity Sectors, said the authors were not "pro nuclear" but questioned the capability of renewable options and said nuclear must be considered as part of the energy investment mix.

A recent study from DIW Berlin, a leading German economic think tank, found nuclear power had never been viable.

It found most 1000-megawatt nuclear plants built since 1951 had been heavily subsidised by governments, often motivated by military purposes, and that nuclear was not a good approach to tackling climate change.

The report found nuclear power was amongst the most expensive, as a result of the upfront costs to build a plant.

The debate follows the recent release of the popular HBO mini-series Chernobyl.

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which happened in 1986, was rated a seven (maximum severity) on the International Nuclear Event Scale - a ranking shared by the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan.