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June 30th, 2019 by admin

PM won't name nuke locations

Mr Howard said to name possible locations of any nuclear reactors would harm the prospects of a sensible debate on the issue.

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The opposition party meanwhile released a list of government MPs it says have publicly declared they would not want a nuclear reactor in their electorates.

Those listed are Greg Hunt, Kevin Andrews, Peter McGauran, Russell Broadbent (Victoria), Joanna Gash (NSW), Julie Bishop (WA) and Warren Entsch (Queensland).

But Mr Howard says there's no point in the government indicating where power stations might be located.

"I do not intend … to engage in an exercise in saying nuclear power stations won't be here or won't be there," he said.

"I do not intend to engage in the game of ruling out the location of nuclear power stations in any particular part of this country because that will take with us a sensible debate about this issue."

The government says Australia cannot overlook the use of electricity generated by nuclear power because of its low greenhouse gas emissions.

Row over timing of inquiry

As the debate over nuclear energy heated up, the opposition also challenged the government to reveal what talks it had with a company promoting nuclear energy, which was co-founded by a former Liberal Party treasurer.

Labor leader Kevin Rudd says the opposition can be excused for being suspicious about government links with the nuclear energy company.

The prime minister and Treasurer Peter Costello confirmed that Liberal powerbroker Ron Walker told them of his decision to register a company promoting nuclear power in the middle of last year.

That was about the same time that Mr Howard called an inquiry into the feasibility of an Australian nuclear energy industry.

But Industry and Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane yesterday told parliament that he had not held any discussions with anyone involved with Australian Nuclear Energy (ANE) Pty Ltd.

Mr Rudd said the opposition had been trying to establish when the government had conversations with ANE and where that sat with the commissioning of the Switkowski inquiry into the nuclear industry.

Mr Howard earlier denied setting up the inquiry into nuclear power to benefit Liberal Party powerbroker Ron Walker.

Mr Howard conceded that he called the inquiry into nuclear energy's feasibility about the same time that Mr Walker told him he had registered a nuclear energy company.

But he said he had not been influenced by Mr Walker's decision to start Australian Nuclear Energy (ANE) Pty Ltd.

"There was absolutely nothing riding on my conversation with Mr Walker," Mr Howard told Sky News.

"I didn't decide to have an inquiry into nuclear power in Australia because Mr Walker told me that he and a couple of his business associates (were registering a company).

"I decided to have the inquiry because I thought it was in the national interest to do so."

ANE was registered on June 1, 2006 – five days before Mr Howard announced his prime ministerial taskforce to review the feasibility of a nuclear energy industry.

Mr Howard pointed out that then science minister Brendan Nelson had proposed an inquiry in November 2005.

"The idea that I thought gee, let's have an inquiry as a result of my conversation with Ron Walker is just ridiculous," the prime minister said.

"They didn't seek any assistance. They don't need the permission of the prime minister to incorporate a company."

Mr Howard also denied discussing possible government subsidies to make nuclear power economical with Mr Walker.

" Southcott simply repeated that it was too early to discuss that aspect.

Watch a debate on the pros and cons of nuclear energy with anti-nuclear campaigner Helen Caldicott and the head of the government's taskforce on nuclear energy Ziggy Switkowsky.