In the week of the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and on the day the UN chief warned the world is ‘one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation,’ opposition leader Peter Dutton’s call for ‘an honest and informed debate on the benefits and costs of nuclear energy’ seems poorly timed at best, the Australian Conservation Foundation said.

“Nuclear power might not have powered a single light globe in Australia, but it has certainly lit up talkback radio switchboards, generated untold column inches and had more reports than most footy clubs,” said ACF’s nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“In recent years we have seen a Royal Commission on nuclear energy in South Australia and dedicated inquires in the federal, NSW and Victorian parliaments.

“There have been numerous conferences, industry lobbying exercises, advertorials and social media initiatives.

“Any claim that Australia hasn’t had a debate on nuclear looks pretty thin.

“Nuclear has direct links with radioactive waste and nuclear weapons proliferation and lacks a social licence.

“Existing nuclear reactor technology has proven prohibitively costly, while the much-promised future reactor technology is simply unproven.

“Nuclear is not emissions free. Mining, fabricating and transporting the fuel is carbon heavy, as is reactor construction and perpetual waste management. 

“Critics of the nuclear option want swift and effective climate action, not more atomic delay and distraction.

“Australia is blessed with extensive renewable resources, good infrastructure and smart people. Our energy future is renewable, not radioactive.

“As we remember the bombing of Hiroshima, as nuclear tensions simmer in Europe and east Asia, and as the UN Secretary General warns the world is ‘one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation,’ now is the time to embrace non-nuclear energy options.”

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