Nuclear power on the agenda in NSW as Deputy Premier claims 'we've been led by fear and mistruths'
Summary: New South Wales Deputy Premier John Barilaro has put nuclear energy on the agenda, arguing it would help secure the state's power supply in the future.....
Mr Barilaro, the leader of the NSW Nationals, will address his party's annual conference in Broken Hill today, where he will make the case for a nuclear debate.
"I'm challenging my members to look for exciting solutions and think about the generations to come," he said.
"We live in a resource-rich nation, where energy should be our competitive advantage, but we've had the settings wrong, we've been led by political correctness and unfortunately by fear and mistruths."
Mr Barilaro said those "mistruths" had stifled debate.
"You often hear about the impacts of mining, or fears about a power plant, but you need to start looking at the facts," he said.
"Can you have nuclear power in a day where technology has changed the way those power plants are built, and how they are decommissioned and what we do with the waste material?"
The Nationals leader said a debate about nuclear was crucial, given energy was such a hot-button topic in Australia.
"Look at France, they currently rely heavily on nuclear energy which they import from places next door like the Czech Republic and other European nations," Mr Barilaro said.
"Yet they have made a commitment to build a plant in France. Places like the US and Korea have all decided to look at building nuclear plants."
He said there were around 60 nuclear plants being built around the world.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was not convinced of the merits of nuclear power.
"My view always is that science and safety have to stack up, on anything," she said.
"So I'm in the camp of the jury's still out."
Ms Berejiklian said she was open to discussing the issue, including at the next Council of Australian Governments meeting in June.
"The two things that motivate us in NSW are, number one, energy security, and number two, keeping an eye on household bills," she said.
"What I love about the National Party, what I love about the Deputy Premier, is they are willing to ... raise debate on issues which we should all consider."
The State Opposition's energy spokesman, Adam Searle, has dismissed the comments as a "thought bubble".
"The fact is nuclear energy is enormously expensive, consumes huge amounts of water — and of course Australia doesn't have a lot of spare water — to say nothing of the environmental issues," he said.
"Who's going to build it? Who's going to fund it? It's just ridiculous."