The nuclear debate continues to progress in Australia, with recent opinion polls indicating a shift in perception of the technology, especially when its nearly zero emission nature is linked to a contribution to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
According to a March 6, 2007 article published on News.com.au titled Australians warm to nuclear future the portion of Australians reporting that they are in favor of nuclear energy has risen from 35% to 45% during the past four months. John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister is credited with having frequently repeated that nuclear power is “clean and green”, and of significant value in a fight against greenhouse gases.
Women, labor and voters between the ages of 35 and 49 are the groups with the strongest continued opposition to nuclear energy.
As in the US, I fear that nuclear power is going to be handicapped by an ill advised linking of the technology with an unpopular national leader. The support for the technology should cut across many political boundaries; it produces good jobs for organized labor, plenty of low cost energy for industrial and service industries, reliable electricity for suburbanites, concentrated electricity for city dwellers, and zero emission power for people that care about clean air and water. The plant properties often become wildlife preserves and the communities surrounding the plants often benefit from the enormous addition to their property tax base.
The debate should never break out as one between liberals and conservatives – it is far more likely to break along regional lines between those that currently make a lot of money supplying fossil fuels and those that spend a lot of money buying them.