Doug Cameron and Dennis Jensen.

Doug Cameron and Dennis Jensen debate the issue of nuclear energy in Australia.

Doug Cameron, Labor Senator for NSW

Promotion of nuclear power as a way to reduce greenhouse emissions is a complete distraction from the main game of developing affordable low-emissions energy technologies. It is also curious; as it generally comes from people who tend not to accept the science of climate change; much less that its causes are human induced.

Nuclear power is expensive. It does not operate anywhere in the world in the absence of huge taxpayer subsidies. This fact is always missing from the nuclear power as panacea to climate change line. A 2011 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists found these subsidies often exceed the value of the power produced. In many cases it would have been cheaper for taxpayers to buy electricity wholesale from non-nuclear sources and just give it away.

Beyond Australia's research and medical nuclear facilities, we have no nuclear workforce. We don't have a nuclear engineering capability. Not one Australian university offers a course in nuclear engineering at any level. Even if we wanted to, Australia couldn't build a nuclear power plant.

Nuclear power is dirty. It produces large quantities of high level nuclear waste, even larger quantities of low level nuclear waste and plutonium that can be used in nuclear weapons — none of which can be safely disposed of. Apart from earthquake, flood, storm, tempest or war, what could possibly go wrong?

These are the barriers to nuclear power in Australia. They can't simply be wished away on a fast-track fantasy.

Dr Dennis Jensen, federal member for Tangney (WA), Liberal Party.

It strikes me as strange that the solution the Gillard government has enacted to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is simply to impose a tax. The reality is, in order to achieve reductions, real alternatives are required. For baseload power supplies in Australia, the only alternative to fossil fuels is nuclear power.

You need only look at the penetration of renewable energy supplies in the world market to see that these are not genuine alternatives, they are simply wishware. Take away generous subsidies for the renewables sector, and the picture is even worse.

The reality is that, by 2020, by the government's own figures, our carbon dioxide emissions will increase by more than  5 per cent; the ''reductions'' are ''achieved'' by the purchase of carbon credits from overseas. This is simply smoke and mirrors, the reality is that our emissions go up.

Nuclear power is a genuine, economic and technical alternative (if it were not economic, why go to the lengths of applying a legislative ban to its generating electricity, as no generator would go this way on a level playing field?). I also find it strange that the Labor government believes that it is fine to export a fuel for a method of generating electricity that is deemed, by this government, as too dangerous for Australia. This stance is irresponsible, illogical, hypocritical and incredibly unethical and immoral; if nuclear power is that bad, the sale of uranium overseas should be banned.

In conclusion, if this government is to be consistent in a policy sense, it should move to remove the legislative ban on nuclear power.

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