Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Nuclear Naïvity

By Ian Lowe

Political posturing over the nuclear industry and higher education reveal scant regard for science.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The proposed Royal Commission into South Australia’s role in the nuclear industry has predictably elicited some naïve assertions. I was particularly struck by announcements to the local media by a Coalition Senator, Sean Edwards, who showed a gullibility that is rare in elected politicians during the run-up to the federal leadership spill motion.

Senator Edwards agreed to oppose the motion when the Prime Minister assured him that the government would honour its election promise to build submarines in South Australia. Of course, once the PM’s position was endorsed, the assurance rapidly submerged beneath the waves.

It first became an assertion that the local company could tender for the work, but then that idea was replaced by a mysterious “competitive evaluation process” that the responsible Minister was unable – or unwilling – to explain.

Senator Edwards added to his unwelcome reputation by telling South Australian media that the State would have free electricity and also could abolish local taxes if it built nuclear power stations and set up a repository for the world’s radio­active waste.

I had not heard the claim of nuclear power being “too cheap to meter” since the height of technological optimism 50 years ago. The Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy Review chaired by Dr Ziggy Switkowski, who was at the time chair of the...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.