Australia’s rocky nuclear past and uncertain future

By Tanya Ogilvie-White | September 1, 2015

Australia’s pro-nuclear lobby is calling for a major expansion of the country’s nuclear infrastructure, including an ambitious and controversial proposal to dispose of some of the world’s high-level nuclear waste on Australian territory. These calls have recently attracted the support of the premier of the state of South Australia, who launched a royal commission to explore the economic opportunities offered by the nuclear fuel cycle—even though Australian federal law forbids the development of nuclear energy. But due to a series of tragic blunders and abuses over the past 60 years, a serious lack of trust has been created between the nuclear industry and the Australian people—for which successive federal governments must share some of the responsibility. This has bred widespread public cynicism toward all things nuclear, which is likely to prevent bipartisan consensus on all but the most modest nuclear proposals.

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