This week I'll elaborate on an issue for which I had only space to mention in passing last week, which is the worrying new campaign to introduce nuclear power to Australia.
Many have no doubt thought that this issue had been firmly rejected many years ago, but two recent developments have brought it back into contention.
The first was the AUKUS deal to equip our armed forces with nuclear submarines, which many experts have pointed out would lead to a nuclear industry here.
More recently, and of much greater significance is that Peter Dutton, the newly installed Liberal Party leader, has said that he is not afraid "to talk about nuclear energy as an alternative to coal and gas". But Greenpeace says nuclear energy generates huge amounts of toxic radioactive waste while being very slow and expensive, while nuclear plants are dangerous and vulnerable, as Crikey reported.
Dutton's shadow front bench, unveiled on Sunday, included two proponents of nuclear energy in key roles: Ted O'Brien, the spokesman on climate and energy, and Hollie Hughes, the junior spokeswoman on climate.
The appointments signal an intent to take an aggressive tack on emissions. His seemingly new willingness to flirt with nuclear power is perhaps a means of bridging Liberal climate divisions. It could, of course, also stoke further divisions within the party.
Advocacy of nuclear power has advanced much further in that party room.
Mr O'Brien chaired a parliamentary inquiry that recommended provisionally lifting a ban on generating power from nuclear material and considering its future use. Meanwhile, Senator Hughes also backs dropping the ban.
The regular Sky News panellist told The New Daily that "we absolutely should be having the discussion".
The new leader of the Nationals, David Littleproud, is also on board with calls to kickstart a nuclear debate. Advocacy of nuclear power has advanced much further in that party room. Several Nationals MPs backed a nuclear push last Parliament.
The balance of opinion among Liberal MPs has been tilted in favour of nuclear power for some time, a party source said, but had been deemed a nonstarter because of deep fears of an electoral backlash.
Former prime minister Scott Morrison noted that a change of direction on an issue needing such long-term investment could only come with bipartisan support.
In the meantime, Mr Dutton's shift could revive an issue that has sharply divided Australians.
The new government is projecting more progress towards net zero by the decade's end and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has pledged $20 billion for upgrading the grid to integrate renewables.
Energy Minister Chris Bowen has described the case against nuclear power as "open and shut" on the basis that it is uneconomic. Two pieces of federal legislation and many state laws prohibit nuclear power, and opposition within the states appears bipartisan.
Former prime minister John Howard has predicted that Australia will be moving towards a nuclear future within a decade. However, in government Mr Howard backed away from taking up the policy. That was after he commissioned the Switkowski report, which sketched out a future in which up to one-third of power was generated by nuclear facilities, including some close to population centres. A submission to Mr O'Brien's 2019 parliamentary inquiry made on behalf of the Queensland Liberal National Party opposition noted major concerns about the political and commercial risks of any nuclear industry.
In 2016, former premier Jay Weatherill instituted a Royal Commission into a nuclear industry for South Australia that found power production would not be commercially viable and could only operate with community approval.
Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull once called nuclear power a "loopy current fad" prone to distracting the Coalition backbench.
To conclude where I began, Greenpeace has provided detailed analysis of why nuclear power should not be developed in Australia. It examined "six reasons why nuclear energy is not the way to a green and peaceful world". Space limitations only allow me to list them, without any details.
It will not deliver enough power to make any difference to our carbon emissions. Nuclear power plants are dangerous and vulnerable. Nuclear energy is too expensive. It is too slow to help combat global warming in the time we have left. It generates huge amounts of toxic waste. And finally, nuclear energy falls short on its promises.
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