ENDING ENERGY WARFARE –
Essay 1 included the following comments on Australia’s Federal system of government:
“If there is price to protect the planet’s climate, let us spend it by publicly investing in clean reliable nuclear energy. This responds to both sides of argument and offers cheap base-load power for industry.”
Whatever one’s view on climate change, it is time MPs rid us of its political divisiveness. Our past five Prime Ministers (Rudd, Gilliard, Rudd, Abbott, Turnbull) all lost office largely due to ructions over climate change.
Our country has lost 15 years in futile political debate between climate change ‘believers’ and ‘deniers’, all arguing who can best foretell the future. This has been to detriment of national debate focussing on other issues which (unlike global climate) we can control.
Chris Kenny (The Australian, 18 September 2021) has summarised our resulting political situation as well as anyone:
“Whatever individuals might think about global warming, different assessments of the rates of change or the harm and benefits from warming, and the myriad policy options proposed to deal with the issue, there is one fact that seems plain; the world is going to decarbonise. The weight of political, diplomatic, business, shareholder and social pressure is all pushing towards net zero; for good or ill, that is where we are heading, sooner or later.
If it can be done with minimal economic and social harm, there can be little downside – as Margaret Thatcher put it – to giving the planet the benefit of the doubt. The trouble is that the so-called solutions proffered so far, of widespread renewables coupled with storage, are both financially devastating and practically impossible, so that they promise maximum pain with no gain.
The challenge is pretty clear, a global need for more energy, not less, and it needs to be reliable, affordable, and sustainable (or emissions free). There is only one form of energy that meets all three criteria – nuclear.”
If developing countries (eg India and Bangladesh) can afford to build nuclear power plants and France can export nuclear power across a continent, then so can Australia. Our federal politicians should heed this recent outcome, of the problems arising in Europe from efforts to replace fossil fuels with renewables:
“In a shift, the French President on Tuesday night, Paris time (Wednesday morning AEDT) said the country would rededicate itself to atomic power” (The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 November 2021)
If any view in climate debates should be derided as ‘opinion of dinosaurs’, is it ‘scepticism’ as to whether batteries can, in the future, guarantee reliable base-load renewable power, or is it ‘denial’ that nuclear power has, for decades now on a daily basis, safely delivered electricity to homes of people throughout Europe, Asia and America?
Three federal legislative proposals, which all give our planet, the ‘benefit of any doubt’:
(i) Remove just four words ‘a nuclear power plant’ from each of Section 10(1) of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclea Safety Act 1998 (Commonwealth) and Section 140A(1) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (which preclude our nation’s use of nuclear power);
(ii) Ban exports of Australia’s ‘brown coal’;
(iii) Deem exports of Australia’s ‘black coal’ to be a ‘net positive’ (in humanity’s efforts to limit global fossil fuel emissions) in all federal laws applicable to the regulation and approval of mining proposals;
Two federal funding proposals, which both give our planet, the ‘benefit of any doubt’:
(iv) Federal Government commitment to majority funding (80%:20%), of ‘build costs’ of nuclear power plants, to such mainland states as choose to accept it in principle no later than one month after their next election.
(v) Federal Government commitment to fully and immediately fund one (only one) university faculty as the nation’s primary institution for advancement of our nuclear energy industry, in whichever of the mainland states in our National Electricity Market (NSW, QLD, SA and VIC) first agrees (in principle) to the ‘80:20’ proposal.
Nuclear energy is a long term project.
The two funding proposals, (iv) and (v), offer a somewhat radical means of advancing its commencement.
The funding proposals exemplify how Australia can deploy ‘competitive federalism’ for our national advancement.
Brown coal proposals are merely symbolic. (Australia currently uses, but does not export, brown coal).
Black coal proposals require replication in State legislation. (Australia’s mineral wealth is owned by our States and Territories, who accordingly have primary responsibility, for all mining approval processes).
Proposals may merely advance debate, to where the people in each state, must in turn debate, if their state will host generation of nuclear energy. (The logical locations of any major nuclear power plants are sites of closing coal-fired power plants, given the latters’ historical community roles and existing distribution infrastructures).
For and on behalf of Common Sense for Australia Inc
Authorised for publication, 11 November 2021