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Chalcopyrite uranium-bearing ore from Olympic Dam mine, South Australia
Chalcopyrite uranium-bearing ore from Olympic Dam mine, South Australia

The prospect of nuclear power in Australia has been a topic of public debate since the 1950s. Australia has one nuclear plant in Lucas Heights, Sydney, but is not used to produce nuclear power, but instead is used to produce medical radioisotopes. It also produces material or carries out analyses for the mining industry, for forensic purposes and for research. Australia hosts 33% of the world's uranium deposits and is the world's third largest producer of uranium after Kazakhstan and Canada.[1]

Australia's extensive low-cost coal and natural gas reserves have historically been used as strong arguments for avoiding nuclear power.[2] The Liberal Party has advocated for the development of nuclear power and nuclear industries in Australia since the 1950s. An anti-nuclear movement developed in Australia in the 1970s, initially focusing on prohibiting nuclear weapons testing and limiting the development of uranium mining and export. The movement also challenged the environmental and economic costs of developing nuclear power and the possibility of fissile material being diverted into nuclear weapons production.[citation needed]

A resurgence of interest in nuclear power was prompted by Prime Minister John Howard in 2007 in response to the need to move to low-carbon methods of power generation in order to reduce the effects of global warming on Australia. In 2015, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill initiated a Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission to investigate the state's future role in the nuclear fuel cycle. As of 2018 there are three active uranium mines, Ranger in Northern Territory, Olympic Dam in South Australia, and Beverley with Four Mile in South Australia. The Royal Commission determined that there was no case for the introduction of nuclear power to the electricity grid in South Australia, but it did not consider its potential interstate. In its final report of May 2016, the Royal Commission recommended that prohibitions preventing the development of nuclear power plants nationally should be repealed.

In 2017, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott advocated for legislation to be changed to allow the construction of nuclear power plants in Australia.[3] The former Deputy Premier of New South Wales, John Barilaro, has also been urging for debate on the prospect of nuclear power in Australia, including the revisiting of Jervis Bay as a prospective site for a nuclear power plant.[4][5] In November 2017, Senator Cory Bernardi presented the Nuclear Fuel Cycle (Facilitation) Bill 2017 in the Senate, with the intention of repealing existing prohibitions preventing the establishment of nuclear power in Australia.[6]

Unsuccessful nuclear power station concepts and proposals

1952 Upper Spencer Gulf, South Australia

In 1952, South Australian Premier Thomas Playford expressed with confidence that the first location for a nuclear power station in Australia would be on the shores of Spencer Gulf.[7] In July of that year, it was announced more specifically that Backy Bay (later renamed Fitzgerald Bay), located between Whyalla and Port Augusta would be the site.[8][9] The station was never constructed, though the region reemerged again in 2007 as a prospect for a nuclear power station during the Federal leadership of Prime Minister John Howard.[10]

1969 Jervis Bay, New South Wales

Part of the Murrays Beach Car Park in the Jervis Bay Territory in 2020; the car park occupies part of the site cleared for the nuclear power plant

In 1969, a 500 MW nuclear power station was proposed for the Jervis Bay Territory, 200 km south of Sydney.[11] A local opposition campaign began, and the South Coast Trades and Labour Council (covering workers in the region) announced that it would refuse to build the reactor.[12] Some environmental studies and site works were completed, and two rounds of tenders were called and evaluated, but in 1971 the Australian government decided not to proceed with the project, citing economic reasons.[11][13]

1979 Perth, Western Australia

In 1977–78, the Western Australian Government, under the leadership of Charles Court, announced plans for a nuclear power reactor near Perth. 1977 was seen as the year of mass mobilisation in WA, with 300 at the first anti-nuclear demonstration to 9,000 at the third protest in the inner city of Perth. Despite public protest, the WA Government selected a first site for a nuclear reactor in 1979 at Wilbinga, 70 kilometres north of Perth. Court predicted that at least another 20 nuclear power stations would be needed by the end of the century to meet rapidly growing power demand, but none of this came to pass.[14]

1980s and 2007 Portland, Victoria

In 2007 it was reported that businessman Ron Walker, director of the company Australian Nuclear Energy had considered Portland as a possible location for a future nuclear power station. Glenelg Mayor Gilbert Wilson said that he thought it was unlikely that such a project would receive community support. He added that he believed any community in Victoria would oppose it, were it to be located in their area.[15] A concept to develop a 2,400 MW nuclear power station at Portland at a cost of $3 billion was previously raised and abandoned in the early 1980s.[16] In 1983, nuclear power development became prohibited under the Nuclear Activities (Prohibitions) Act 1983 in the state of Victoria and the law remains in place in 2020. Section 8 of the Act also prohibits uranium milling, enriching, fuel production, fuel reprocessing and waste storage.[17]

2007 Upper Spencer Gulf, South Australia

While a nuclear power station in South Australia's Upper Spencer Gulf region was discussed intermittently from 2007, no formal proposal to construct a plant was ever made.

In 2007, The Australian newspaper revealed that a location near Port Augusta in the Upper Spencer Gulf region of South Australia was being considered for a future nuclear power station. A company called Australian Nuclear Energy had been registered on 1 June 2006 with three prominent Australian businessmen as major shareholders: Robert Champion de Crespigny (former Chancellor of the University of Adelaide), Ron Walker (former Lord Mayor of Melbourne) and Hugh Morgan (former director of Western Mining Corporation). Prime Minister John Howard supported the formation of the company, describing it as a "great idea".[10]

Five days after the company was registered, the Federal Government established the Switkowski review into nuclear energy. The company examined the viability of building a 20-50 megawatt pilot station in the Upper Spencer Gulf area, at a cost of $70 million-$150 million, and had spoken to American company GE about supplying a nuclear reactor.[18]

South Australian Premier Mike Rann responded to news of the investigation by saying:

It won't be built in this state while I am the Premier or Labor is in power ... read my lips, no nuclear power station in South Australia.[18]

On 7 April 2011, former Australian politician Alexander Downer addressed the students of UCL's Adelaide campus, discussing nuclear power. A long term advocate for nuclear power, he told The Australian that the South Australian town of Whyalla (also on Upper Spencer Gulf) would be ideal for a nuclear power station to serve the interests of BHP, South Australia and the eastern states. He stated:

You could attach it to a desalination plant, so you could solve the problem of Olympic Dam and Roxby Downs ... The Upper Spencer Gulf cities, instead of using Murray River water, they could use desalinated water. And we would have a nuclear power station that would create power for the eastern states' grid.[19]

The Olympic Dam project was expected to use about 400 MWh of electricity per day if the proposed mine expansion went ahead. In 2011, the Olympic Dam mine expansion received State and Federal environmental approval, but in 2012, the BHP board decided not to proceed with the mine expansion as planned citing weakened economic conditions as the reason.[18]

In 2012 a first-of-a-kind study was undertaken in which a combination of solar and wind technology, proposed as a replacement for the ageing Northern coal power station, was comprehensively compared with a reference nuclear reactor. Assuming equal public confidence and an established regulatory framework, the nuclear energy option compared favourably on cost, reliability, commercial availability, plant lifetime and greenhouse gas abatement, among other criteria.[20]

Nuclear-powered submarines

See also: Attack-class submarine

In April 2016, Australia committed to purchasing French-designed Barracuda-class attack submarines with customised diesel propulsion systems, despite the existing French fleet being wholly nuclear-powered. On 15 September 2021, following the signing of a security partnership named AUKUS between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, it was announced that Australia would develop nuclear-powered submarines, using US and British technology.[21] This sparked outrage in France which lost the contract for what was to become the most expensive defence acquisition in Australia's history. France withdrew their ambassadors in the US and Australia in protest of the deal.[22] The surprise termination of the agreement by Australia under the Morrison government was settled with a payment of €555 million from Australia to France.[23] Anthony Albanese stated that the failed agreement would cost Australia 3.4 billion dollars with "almost nothing to show for it".[23]

Nuclear power politics

See also: Anti-nuclear movement in Australia

Prime Minister John Howard, 1997
Prime Minister John Howard, 1997

As uranium prices began rising from about 2003, proponents of nuclear power advocated it as a solution to global warming and the Australian government began taking an interest. In late 2006 and early 2007, then Prime Minister John Howard made widely reported statements in favour of nuclear power, on environmental grounds.[24] Faced with these proposals to examine nuclear power as a possible response to climate change, anti-nuclear campaigners and scientists in Australia claimed that nuclear power could not significantly substitute for other power sources, and that uranium mining itself could become a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions.[25][26]

In 2006, the Howard government commissioned the Switkowski report, an investigation into the merits of Nuclear power in Australia. The report concluded that nuclear power would be competitive with coal power stations if carbon credit sanctions were implemented upon Australia. The Industry would have been able to produce its first station in 10 years and could have delivered 25 stations by 2050 supplying Australia with a third of its base load power.[27]

Queensland introduced legislation to ban nuclear power development on 20 February 2007.[28] Tasmania attempted a ban on nuclear power facilities[29] but later did not pass the bill.[30] Both bills were formulated in response to the pro-nuclear position of John Howard,[31] and the release of the Switkowski report.[32]

Anti-nuclear campaigns were given added impetus by public concern about the sites for possible reactors: fears exploited by anti-nuclear power political parties in the lead-up to a national election in 2007.[33][34] The Rudd Labor government was elected in November 2007 and was opposed to nuclear power for Australia.[35][36] The anti-nuclear movement continues to be active in Australia, opposing expansion of existing uranium mines, lobbying against the development of nuclear power in Australia, and criticising proposals for nuclear waste disposal sites.[37]

At the same time, a number of Australian politicians have argued that the development of nuclear power is in the country's best interests. Notably, on 13 June 2008, the annual New South Wales state conference of the National Party passed the resolution, proposed by the delegates from Dubbo, supporting research into the development of a nuclear power industry and the establishment of an international nuclear waste storage facility in Australia. The resolution was opposed by the delegates from NSW's north coast and by the party's state leader, Andrew Stoner.[38][39]

In 2005, the Australian government threatened to use its constitutional powers to take control of the approval process for new uranium mines from the anti-nuclear Northern Territory government. Also, the government is negotiating with China to weaken safeguard terms to allow uranium exports there.[citation needed] States controlled by the Australian Labor Party were blocking the development of new mines in their jurisdictions while the ALP's "No New Mines policy" was in force.

In April 2007, the Labor party, under the new leadership of Kevin Rudd voted at their national conference to abandon the policy. The vote was only won by a narrow margin- 205 to 190, and heavy internal criticism resulted. Ministers Peter Garrett and Anthony Albanese remained outspokenly opposed to the decision due to the unresolved problems of nuclear waste storage and nuclear weapons proliferation.

The John Howard-led Coalition government went to the November 2007 federal election with a pro-nuclear power platform. The Labor Party won the election, and maintained its opposition to nuclear power in Australia.[40][41]

Nuclear debate in Australia increased after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.[42] Some protesters[who?] demanded a halt to uranium mining and nuclear power generation in their country and throughout the world.[43]

During the Labor-led Rudd-Gillard government the party's opposition to nuclear power was upheld, while Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson demonstrated his support for the uranium mining sector. Ferguson retired in 2013 and was replaced by Gary Gray who subsequently indicated support for future nuclear industrial development in Australia. At a South Australian mining and energy sector conference he stated "I am optimistic that we will get (power) generation issues attended to and that it will be done in a timely fashion".[44]

In 2013, the Liberal party, led by Tony Abbott, resumed power and reopened discussions about the future of nuclear power in Australia. Since Abbott's appointment, former Prime Minister John Howard, former foreign minister Alexander Downer, and several members of the Abbott government have openly advocated for the consideration of nuclear power development, including then Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.[45]

In November 2013, University of Adelaide Professor of climatology Tom Wigley co-authored an open letter calling for an expansion of nuclear energy as a tool against climate change.[46] Further calls for the consideration of nuclear power came from academics,[47][48] Australian media[49][50] and The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.[51]

In 2014 the federal government released an energy green paper which articulated the potential for Australia in modern nuclear capacity, including small modular reactors, generation IV reactor technology and the role of thorium as nuclear fuel,[52] though industry minister Ian MacFarlane opined that "there is no need to have a debate in regard to nuclear energy in Australia but we should focus on the opportunities that nuclear energy presents in other countries and build our uranium industry to take advantage of that."[53] In contrast, foreign minister Julie Bishop declared support for nuclear energy, saying "It's an obvious conclusion that if you want to bring down your greenhouse gas emissions dramatically you have to embrace a form of low or zero-emissions energy and that's nuclear, the only known 24/7 baseload power supply with zero emissions."[54] The call for sensible discussion was publicly welcomed by economists and at least one member of the federal opposition.[55] The CEO of Origin Energy spoke in support of the prospect[56] and BusinessSA demanded the lifting of federal prohibitions so that debate on specific designs could proceed.[57]

In the lead-up to the 2014 South Australian election, Business SA proposed the establishment of a nuclear industry to enhance the state's economic growth.[58]

In December 2014, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told the ABC that he was open to considering a proposal for a nuclear power project for Australia should one be made. He said that proponents of such a project should not expect to receive a government subsidy and that "if it's going to happen, it's going to happen because it's economically feasible." He also described nuclear energy as "the one absolutely proven way of generating emissions-free baseload power."[59]

In January 2015 an open letter[60] was addressed to environmental organisations and signed by seventy-five[61] distinguished climate science experts, including twenty-seven Australian-based academics, endorsing the findings of a peer-reviewed article which quantified the potential climate and biodiversity benefits of nuclear energy.[62]

In February 2015 South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill announced that a Royal Commission would be held to investigate South Australia's future role in the nuclear fuel cycle. Kevin Scarce, former Governor of South Australia, retired Rear Admiral of the Royal Australian Navy and current Chancellor of the University of Adelaide, was appointed Commissioner. A final report of the commission's findings was published in May 2016 which recommended that several currently existing legislative constraints be repealed.

In June 2016 Australia joined the Generation IV International Forum.[63]

In June 2017, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott acknowledged fellow former Prime Minister Bob Hawke's support for expanding the nuclear industry in Australia and asserted that the "Australian Labor government under Premier Jay Weatherill would like to develop new industries to supplement the uranium mine at Roxby Downs. Why not have a nuclear submarine servicing facility in that state – and the industries that would inevitably spin-off?"[64]

In November 2017, Senator Cory Bernardi presented the Nuclear Fuel Cycle (Facilitation) Bill in the Senate. The bill is intended to repeal prohibitions preventing the future establishment of nuclear power in Australia and the further processing of uranium and spent nuclear fuel.[6] It is the 6th oldest bill still currently before the senate as of 10 October 2019.[65]

In 2019 the federal government held an inquiry into nuclear power. It recommended that the ban be removed for advanced nuclear reactors.

On 6 June 2019 the state of NSW began an inquiry on the Uranium Mining and Nuclear Facilities (Prohibitions) Repeal Bill 2019.

On 14 August 2019 the state of Victoria launched an inquiry into Australia's nuclear prohibition.

In September 2021, the governments of Australia, UK and US signed an agreement that would share technology between the three countries for building or acquiring nuclear-powered submarines.[66]

Nuclear waste storage

One of the arguments often made by opponents of nuclear power in Australia is the problem of the management of long-lived and toxic nuclear wastes, including, but not limited to spent nuclear fuel.

A case has been variously made[when?] for Australia to centralise its nuclear wastes, which are held in temporary storage at various locations around the country.

In response to the Northern Land Council's withdrawal of a section of Muckaty Station in the Northern Territory as a potential nuclear waste facility for Australian domestically produced nuclear waste in 2014,[67] it was articulated that the process had suffered from a lack of recognition of the limited hazard posed by existing waste, which is currently stored at over one hundred sites in cities and industrial areas.[68] Furthermore, an open tender process for volunteered sites has attracted interest from pastoralists.[69] Site nominations closed on 5 May 2015, in a process endorsed by Federal MP Rowan Ramsay. Ramsay supports the establishment of a waste storage facility in South Australia, and has said:

Having been to France, Sweden and Finland and looked at their low level repositories I'd be more than happy to have one on my farm.[70]

On 29 April 2015 Josh Frydenberg MP, the Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia, announced the shortlisting of Wallerberdina Station near Barndioota in South Australia's Flinders Ranges as a possible site.[71] This site was ruled out in 2019, however two sites near Kimba are still possibilities at the end of 2019.[72]

Nuclear law

The Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 prohibits certain nuclear actions specified in s.22A unless a federal approval is obtained. It specifically prohibits nuclear power generation in s.140A (an amendment insisted upon by the Australian Democrats). The Act states that the Minister must not approve an action consisting of or involving the construction or operation of a nuclear fuel fabrication plant, or a nuclear power station, or an enrichment plant, or a reprocessing facility.[73]

As of 2018, Australia has one operating nuclear reactor, the OPAL research reactor at Lucas Heights which supplies the vast majority of Australia's nuclear medicine. It replaced the High Flux Australian Reactor which operated from 1958 to 2007 at the same site. These are the only two nuclear reactors to have been used in Australia. Neither of them has been used to generate electricity.

Additional nuclear industrial prohibitions exist under state legislation in South Australia and Victoria.

South Australia

The objects of the Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000 are "to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of South Australia and to protect the environment in which they live by prohibiting the establishment of certain nuclear waste storage facilities in this State." As such, the Act prohibits the:

  1. Construction or operation of nuclear waste storage facility
  2. Importation or transportation of nuclear waste for delivery to a nuclear waste storage facility[74]


The objects of the Nuclear Activities (Prohibitions) Act 1983 are:

to protect the health, welfare and safety of the people of Victoria and to limit deterioration of the environment in which they dwell by prohibiting the establishment of nuclear activities and by regulating the possession of certain nuclear materials, in a manner consistent with and conducive to assisting the Commonwealth of Australia in meeting its international nuclear non-proliferation objectives.

As such, the Act prohibits the construction or operation of a nuclear reactor as well as exploration:

  1. for the production of uranium or thorium ore concentrates
  2. for conversion or enrichment of any nuclear material
  3. for the fabrication of fuels for use in nuclear reactors
  4. for reprocessing spent fuel[75]

Nuclear power debate in Australia

In the 2010 book Why vs. Why: Nuclear Power[76] Barry Brook and Ian Lowe discuss and articulate the debate about nuclear power. Brook argues that there are various reasons why people should say "yes" to nuclear power, and these reasons include:[76]

Lowe argues that there are various reasons why people should say "no" to nuclear power:[76]

In 2015, both authors were appointed to the Expert Advisory Committee of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission in South Australia.

Advocates for nuclear power

Active advocates


Our insatiable hunger for fossil fuels has to be tempered going forward and the only alternative for base load grid power, that's the power you need 24/7, other than coal, is nuclear power.[78]


Alexander Downer
Alexander Downer
Sean Edwards
Sean Edwards

One minister who is not only competent but also does have convictions. He is the Resources Minister and often is quoted as supporting the further development of Australia's uranium industry. There is no doubt he also is a supporter of nuclear power in Australia.





Professor Barry Brook
Professor Barry Brook


Political parties

Past and former advocates

Opposition to nuclear power

Main article: Anti-nuclear movement in Australia

Uncle Kevin Buzzacott (2014)
Uncle Kevin Buzzacott (2014)
Australian anti-nuclear campaigner Jim Green at Melbourne's GPO in March 2011
Australian Conservation Foundation anti-nuclear campaigner, Dave Sweeney (2014)
Australian Conservation Foundation anti-nuclear campaigner, Dave Sweeney (2014)

Opposition to the development of nuclear power in Australia originated in the 1970s. The Australian anti-nuclear movement initially lobbied for bans on nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific and on uranium mining in Australia. Dr Helen Caldicott, a pediatrician from Melbourne emerged as a leading voice of the movement as she conducted public talks and informed politicians and trade unions of the health risks of exposure to ionizing radiation.

Western Australia has a significant share of the Australia's uranium reserves, but between 2002 and 2008, a statewide ban on uranium mining was in force. The ban was lifted when the Liberal Party was voted into power in the state and, as of 2010, many companies are exploring for uranium in Western Australia. One of the industry's major players, the mining company BHP Billiton, planned to develop the Yeelirrie uranium project in a 17 billion dollar project.[134] Two other projects in Western Australia are further advanced then BHP's Yeelirrie, these being the Lake Way uranium project, which is pursued by Toro Energy, and the Lake Maitland uranium project, pursued by Mega Uranium.[135][136][137] But it is unlikely that any new projects will enter active development until the market improves. As of 2013 uranium prices are very low.[138]

As of late 2010, there were calls for Australians to debate whether the nation should adopt nuclear power as part of its energy mix. Nuclear power is seen to be "a divisive issue that can arouse deep passions among those for and against".[139]

Following the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear emergency in Japan, where three nuclear reactors were damaged by explosions, Ian Lowe sees the nuclear power option as being risky and unworkable for Australia. Lowe says nuclear power is too expensive, with insurmountable problems associated with waste disposal and weapons proliferation. It is also not a fast enough response to address climate change. Lowe advocates renewable energy which is "quicker, less expensive and less dangerous than nuclear".[140]

Nuclear reactors are banned in Queensland[141] and Tasmania.[142] Uranium mining was previously prohibited in New South Wales under the Uranium Prohibition Act of 1986, however in 2012 Premier Barry O'Farrell amended the legislation to allow prospecting and mining of uranium in that State.[143]

In December 2011, the sale of uranium to India was a contentious issue. MPs clashed over the issue and protesters were marched from Sydney's convention centre before Prime Minister Julia Gillard's motion to remove a party ban on uranium sales to India was narrowly supported 206 votes to 185. Long-time anti-nuclear campaigner Peter Garrett MP spoke against the motion.[144]

More than 400 people joined a "Lizard's Revenge march" to the Olympic Dam site in July 2012. The anti-nuclear activists, including Elder Kevin Buzzacott, protested against the mine expansion and the uranium industry. They say the company and the government have put short-term economic gain ahead of environmental and health concerns. Organiser Nectaria Calan said police harassed protesters, demanding identification and controlling access to and from their campsite.[145]

In March 2012, hundreds of anti-nuclear demonstrators converged on the Australian headquarters of global mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto. The 500-strong march through southern Melbourne called for an end to uranium mining in Australia, and included speeches and performances by representatives of the expatriate Japanese community as well as Australia's Indigenous communities, who are concerned about the effects of uranium mining near tribal lands. There were also events in Sydney.[146]

A site within Muckaty Station was being considered for Australia's low-level and intermediate-level radioactive waste storage and disposal facility. The plan was subject to a Federal Court challenge.[147] The nomination of Muckaty was withdrawn in June 2014.[67]

Historically, many prospective Australian uranium mines have been constrained by active antinuclear opposition, but state governments have now approved mine development in Western Australia and Queensland. But it is unlikely that any new projects will enter active development until the market improves. As of 2013 uranium prices are very low. Cameco placed the Kintyre project on hold until market prices improve and Paladin has stated that its project proposals (Bigrlyi, Angela/Pamela, Manyingee, Oobagooma, and Valhalla/Skal) need higher uranium market prices before they can proceed. Toro wants to take the Wiluna proposal to the development phase, but has not been successful in attracting equity investors. When market prices go up again, so that mine development is justified, most projects would need at least five years to proceed to production.[138]

As of 2015, nuclear power remains opposed by a number of not-for-profit and environmental organizations, political parties and their members, renewable energy advocates, and anti-nuclear campaigners. There are several prominent Australians who have publicly expressed anti-nuclear views:

Selected anti-nuclear groups

Political parties

Opinion polls

This article needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (March 2023)

A McNair Gallup poll on the construction of nuclear power stations in Australia was carried out in 1979. The same poll was conducted again 28 years later in 2007 on 1,000 randomly selected people throughout Australia. A new poll was asked in 2009 which marked the first time that more people support nuclear power than oppose it. The support for nuclear power is still in a plurality not an outright majority. [1] Respondents were asked the following question:

"Do you favour or oppose the construction of nuclear power stations in Australia?" 1979 2007 2009
Favour 34% 41% 49%
Oppose 56% 53% 43%
Don't Know 10% 6% 8%

The 1979 poll was conducted soon after the Three Mile Island Unit 2 (TMI-2) nuclear power plant accident located near Pennsylvania USA where a sequence of events lead to the partial meltdown of the TMI-2 reactor core.[160]

Opposition to the construction of nuclear power stations in the 2007 poll was strongest amongst females, Greens supporters and Australians aged 18–29 and 40–49.[161]

Do you favour or oppose the construction of nuclear power stations in Australia? TOTAL ALP Coalition Greens
Favour 41% 30% 59% 22%
Oppose 53% 66% 34% 78%
Don't Know 6% 4% 7% 0%

The McNair Gallup Poll showed a significant difference in opinion between ALP, Coalition and Green supporters, and moderate differences by gender. Men were more likely to favour the construction of nuclear power stations (55%), with twice as many males in favour of the construction of nuclear power stations in Australia than women. 41% of men were more likely to oppose the construction of nuclear power stations in Australia. In contrast, 65% of women were more likely to oppose the construction of nuclear power stations in Australia, while 28% favour the construction of nuclear power stations.

A 2014 independent survey, commissioned by SACOME, of 1,214 South Australians revealed a distinct trend in the community towards supporting consideration of nuclear energy.[162]

Please rate your level of support for Nuclear Power? TOTAL Female Male 18-34 35-50 51-65 65+
Total Support 48.0% 44.5% 64.4% 52.3% 53.8% 52.3% 59.8%
Neutral 19.5% 26.2% 16.9% 22.9% 20.6% 21.6% 21.8%
Total Oppose 32.6% 29.3% 18.6% 24.7% 25.6% 26.0% 18.4%

The proportion of neutral respondents was at around 20-25% in all categories, with qualitative feedback largely indicating conditional support given the satisfactory addressing of concerns, or a requirement for further information. Positive responses outnumbered the negative, most dramatically men and the elderly, with less dramatic support from women.

A Morgan poll in September 2019 found support for Australian nuclear power had attained a narrow majority, with 51% in favour when reduction of carbon emissions was cited. This was an increase of 16 percentage points from July 2011.[163]

See also


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