The majority of Australians oppose the building of nuclear reactors and only slightly less are in favour of expanding uranium mining according to a new poll, which signals problems for both the federal government and opposition. The poll taken by Green pulse at the end of last month found that;
• only 29 per cent of Australians were in favour of nuclear power, 51 per cent were opposed to it; and
• 20 per cent were undecided.
This is in contrast to a recent Newspoll that found 45 per cent of Australians were in favour of building nuclear reactors, although they were asked in the context of combating global warming. The new poll is a blow to Prime Minister John Howard who has consistently argued that nuclear power should be a central plank of the energy mix over the next 100 years, as it is the only baseload power source that generates almost no greenhouse gases.
"Six out of 10 Australians are concerned or very concerned about the country adopting nuclear power," Green Pulse found. The poll of 1000 voting age Australians will be welcome news for green groups and the Labor Party, who say nuclear power is too expensive and is at least 15 years away. They argue the country would be better to focus on wind, solar and geothermal power which can be installed almost immediately and would produce no harmful waste, which must then be stored for hundreds of years.
The poll also found that 46 per cent were opposed to expanding the local uranium mining industry, 27 per cent were in favour and the same number were undecided.
This is a potential problem for the Labor Party which will vote whether to scrap its "no new mines" policy at next month’s national conference. Despite the opposition of many on the party’s left, including frontbencher Anthony Albanese and environment spokesman Peter Carrett, most expect the motion to succeed. This would allow new mines in South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory to begin the production and export of uranium, which is becoming an increasingly popular energy source in China, India and Europe.
Not surprisingly the poll found coalition voters were significantly more likely to support the expansion of uranium mining. Green Pulse found that 73 per cent were opposed to storing waste in Australia, while only 18 per cent were in favour of it.
The Australian Financial Review, 12/3/2007, p. 9
Source: Erisk Net