Australia’s PM Turnbull picks a nuclear industry fan as Chief Scientist

Turnbull nuclear

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to appoint nuclear power advocate Dr Alan Finkel as chief scientist October 26, 2015 

Rob HarrisHerald Sun  THE Prime Minister has signalled he is open to reviving a nuclear power debate in Australia by appointing one of the industry’s biggest advocates as his top scientific adviser.

The Herald Sun has learned that Dr Alan Finkel, a respected engineer who has long called for nuclear to be part of the nation’s energy mix, will this week be named as Australia’s chief scientist.

The appointment by Malcolm Turnbull could reignite public and political divisions over a nuclear industry, which has been debated since the mid-1970s and spawned a pol­itical and environment movement in the 1980s.

Dr Finkel, the outgoing chancellor of Monash University, has argued nuclear power is needed for Australia to achieve an “abundant, reliable supply of low-emissions ­electricity”.

The Prime Minister vowed last week to put science “right at the centre” of his Government’s agenda and at the “very heart” of its future.

As president of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, Dr Finkel said Australia had a proud ­record for regulatory oversight and would “without doubt” be able to manage a nuclear electricity system at “very high safety levels” . Dr Finkel’s pending ­appointment comes as Labor leader Bill Shorten yesterday ruled out supporting a switch to nuclear energy, despite a push from state governments.

A divide within the party was reopened at the weekend, when Mr Shorten said he was prepared to assess the outcome of South Australia’s nuclear ­inquiry but federal Labor’s ­priority was renewable energy.

Mr Turnbull, as environment minister in the Howard government, said in order to deal with climate change, a “nuclear option” must be on the table while Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said last year nuclear was an “obvious direction” for Australia as it considered how to cut carbon dioxide emissions after 2020.

Dr Finkel will replace Professor Ian Chubb after his five-year stint as chief scientist.


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