Businessmen reignite divisive nuclear power debate

 

CRIPPLING power prices in North Queensland would be all but fixed if governments "got off their backsides" and embraced nuclear energy, according to a group of well-known local businessman.

The group, which includes long-time businessman John Honeycombe and the Cox brothers David and Geoff who between them are Australia's largest farmers of sugarcane, are urging the Federal Government to include nuclear energy into the nation's energy mix.

They said nuclear power was a "no-brainer" that would reduce power prices for North Queenslanders, saying the country was lagging behind nuclear energy users like Germany and France, due to "scaremongering".

But the views of the five men aren't shared by either of Queensland's major parties, in a rare show bipartisanship.

Burdekin canefarmer and nuclear power advocate Geoff Cox (centre) discusses the House Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy report into nuclear energy with (from left) agriculture consultants Bryan Granshawf and Allan Parker, engineer Tony Manning and meeting organiser John Honeycombe.
Burdekin canefarmer and nuclear power advocate Geoff Cox (centre) discusses the House Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy report into nuclear energy with (from left) agriculture consultants Bryan Granshawf and Allan Parker, engineer Tony Manning and meeting organiser John Honeycombe.

Nuclear power stations also don't make economic sense, according to the Climate Council, with chief executive Amanda McKenzie saying by the time Australia built its industry from scratch in well over a decade if it started now, nuclear would remain extremely expensive when compared with the declining cost of solar, wind and battery storage. "In a region where large deluges are very frequent, that would (also) complicate things," she said.

Australia has had a federal ban on nuclear power since 1988, though the debate re-emerged after a parliamentary inquiry was ordered into its potential last year after pressure from a breakaway group of Queensland federal LNP parliamentarians.

Climate Council's CEO, Amanda McKenzie Pic Supplied
Climate Council's CEO, Amanda McKenzie Pic Supplied

After 11 public hearings and 309 submissions, the bipartisan committee, in a report released in mid-December, recommended the Government consider nuclear energy technology as part of its future energy mix, though in-depth research by peak scientific authorities would come first, and that nuclear power couldn't happen without the consent of Australians.

The group of five North Queensland businessman "unanimously" supported the report and have asked the Federal Government to commence further study into nuclear power. "It's time our leaders ignore the naysayers and join the rest of the world's developed and developing nations," Geoff Cox said.

The group's view will be delivered to Canberra by Herbert MP Phillip Thompson, though he wouldn't been drawn on his personal stance on nuclear energy.