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A nuclear future for South Australia

The Australian Government has made a submission supporting the Royal Commission’s investigation into South Australia’s further participation in the nuclear fuel cycle.

 Minister for Industry and Science Ian Macfarlane said the submission highlighted Australia’s vast uranium resources and the benefits of Australia’s current nuclear activities.

 “Australia has a strong reputation as a global supplier of uranium for peaceful purposes and we already benefit from our nuclear research and the provision of life saving radiopharmaceuticals that help diagnose and treat serious illnesses,” Mr Macfarlane said.

 “The Royal Commission was an opportunity for an updated independent assessment of SA’s participation in the nuclear fuel cycle.

 “The Government’s submission emphasises the importance of a robust, stable and predictable regulatory system to give the community confidence that risks can be managed effectively at all stages of the nuclear fuel cycle.

 “The submission also underlines the importance of meaningful engagement with communities likely to be impacted by nuclear industry activities, particularly Indigenous communities.

 “Australia already has long-standing expertise and experience in the nuclear fuel cycle. The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and its predecessor have been operating nuclear research reactors for over 60 years.

 “Australia has a robust regulatory framework for existing nuclear activities that protects and promotes health, safety, the environment, non-proliferation and security that is based on our international obligations and international standards.”

 The Commonwealth undertook a similar review in 2006 which identified a range of potential economic opportunities, while also noting that many would be challenging to realise and would require change to key regulatory frameworks. 

 Some of the activities being investigated by the Royal Commission would require change in Commonwealth legislation and the establishment of supporting regulatory and policy frameworks.

While the Government’s submission does not advocate any change in Commonwealth policy, it has committed to seriously consider the Royal Commission’s report in 2016. 

 “This is a chance to look at the long-term future for the industry, and we are realistic about economic opportunities and the timescale for establishing nuclear activities,” Mr Macfarlane said.

 “The expansion of nuclear activities in Australia would require bipartisan support and community confidence.”

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