Bundaberg councillors' nuclear neutrality
NUCLEAR power has never been discussed in the Bundaberg Regional Council, and labelling the local government area as a possible power plant site is "premature”.
The 10 regional councillors were directly reached for comment about nuclear power after Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd said in Federal Parliament he had no problem with his electorate being chosen as the site for a power plant.
Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey said it was not a local government issue but a matter for state and federal governments.
"If they wish to start a community discussion or investigate nuclear power in Queensland or elsewhere in Australia, that's up to them,” Cr Dempsey said.
Six councillors responded with their personal views on the subject and generally supported the move for a broader and balanced inquiry into the feasibility of nuclear power being used at a national level.
They supported an inquiry at a national level rather than one that targeted a specific location.
Cr Steve Cooper said he was open minded about the feasibility nuclear power at a national level, but that Mr O'Dowd's comment was "far too premature” to consider the local government area as a site option.
"Ken's opinion is Ken's opinion and it's not mine,” Cr Cooper said.
"The council has certainly not been on that path..
"It's not our decision in the end.
"The decision is made by greater powers than us.”
Cr Greg Barnes said the subject has never been discussed in council, but wanted to hear both sides of the argument about nuclear power.
"I certainly believe it may have merit but I would like to hear from detractors,” Cr Barnes said.
"I need exact advice before making offhand comments.
"I support the idea of an inquiry as long as it is bipartisan and as long as we're talking to someone who knows what they are talking about.
"If council is going to have a position on it then it needs to discuss it in council rather than individually.”
Cr Wayne Honor said he was "really neutral” on the subject but supported a federal inquiry that considered scientific input.
"My main concern is always the environment point of view. It would have to be environmentally friendly,” Cr Honor said.
"It would have to be scientifically proven that a new power source brought to the area is safe to human beings and the environment.
"It's far beyond me as a layperson to make a firm decision.”
Cr Scott Rowleson said he did not know enough about nuclear energy to have a personal opinion and that he preferred to let the state and federal governments formulate their areas of policy.
"If the federal or state governments decide that it is something that should happen across Australia, then I believe sensible well informed debate, with local governments and residents should be at the forefront of their approach before any project proceeds,” Cr Rowleson said.
Last week State Development Minister Cameron Dick wrote a letter to Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey, along with other mayors, urging him to oppose the push to investigate nuclear power.
Cr Dempsey said there had been no opportunity to discuss the matter with councillors.
"However, in the meantime, I will be writing to the minister and requesting a meeting to address some of the opportunities that he has identified for the Bundaberg Region in Queensland's pipeline of clean energy projects.”
Crs Jason Bartels and Ross Sommerfeld said they preferred not to comment.
Cr Bill Trevor, Cr Helen Blackburn, Cr Judy Peters, and Cr John Learmonth were reached for comment.