8 February 2015
The West Australian
South Australia will hold a Royal Commission to investigate the state’s possible role in the production of nuclear power.
Premier Jay Weatherill said South Australians should be given the opportunity to consider the practical, financial and ethical issues raised by a deeper involvement in the nuclear industries.
“We are home to one of the largest uranium deposits in the world and after more than 25 years of uranium production, it is now time to engage in a mature and robust conversation about South Australia’s future role in the nuclear industry,” he said on Sunday.
He said the Royal Commission was the first of its kind in Australia, as they usually looked backwards at things that had gone wrong.
It will explore the opportunities and risks of the state’s involvement in the mining, enrichment, energy and storage phases for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
“Royal Commissions are a trusted and reliable means to establish the facts with which the people of South Australia can engage in this important debate.”
Independent experts would also be engaged to help in the commission’s work.
“We need a clearer understanding of the world’s demand and use of nuclear energy,” he said.
“We also need a deeper understanding of our state’s and the nation’s energy needs and how they are likely to develop in the future.
“This Royal Commission will also look at the opportunities and risks associated with this sector.
“Some people describe the potential economic benefits as enormous while others describe the risks as unacceptable.”
Consultation on the form of the Terms of Reference will begin on Monday and the Royal Commissioner will be appointed soon.
Liberal leader Steven Marshall said the premier’s announcement was a distraction, although the opposition supported the inquiry which was in line with its stated position before last year’s SA election.
“He has had more positions on the nuclear industry in South Australia than the Kama Sutra,” he told reporters.
Only a year ago, the premier had completely ruled out the Liberal proposition saying it was a “dangerous distraction”, Mr Marshall said.
The announcement, just like Friday’s about consulting on a time zone change for SA, was a distraction from the crisis in the state’s health system and government plans to close emergency departments and the Repatriation General Hospital.
“Next week he will probably talk about launching a rocket to put a man on the moon from Victoria Square.”
Business SA welcomed the Royal Commission, saying the organisation had previously called for a “mature debate” of the nuclear energy industry in SA.
“WE have almost 25 per cent of the world’s uranium so there is a huge economic potential for SA that could be a ‘game changer’,” said CEO Nigel McBride.
Courtesy of the West Australian
8 February 2015