21 April 2017
The evolution of and influences on public opinion about nuclear fuel use in Australia need to be revisited, according to a review of the South Australian nuclear fuel issue in Canberra last week.
The Canberra meeting, a symposium organised by the Energy Change Institute of the Australian
National University in collaboration with the Academy of Science, ATSE and Engineers Australia,
reviewed the report of the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission.
The Royal Commissioner, the former Governor of South Australia, Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce, framed
the symposium with a summary of the Royal Commission’s findings, followed by a series of panel
discussions on topics involving key stakeholders in industry, government, research and relevant
Given that social licence to operate was a key theme in all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle, the
symposium recommended that expertise in the humanities and social sciences be engaged to study
the evolution and determining factors for public opinion on nuclear issues in Australia.
This could be facilitated, it said, by conducting an Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA)
research project on the ‘social licence to operate’ on nuclear fuel use.
ACOLA’s predecessor organisation, the National Academies Forum, published a major report
Understanding the Formation of Attitudes to Nuclear Power in Australia, in 2010. That report
recommended a national, longitudinal program of research on attitudes to energy and climate change
ATSE participants in the Canberra symposium included Dr Ian Duncan FTSE, Dr Vanessa Guthrie
FTSE, Professor Ian Lowe AO FTSE, Mr Barry Murphy FTSE, Dr Adi Paterson FTSE, Dr Erica Smyth
FTSE, Mr Martin Thomas AM FTSE and Dr John Soderbaum FTSE.
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