- August 19, 2009 - 12:30PM
The federal government should turn to nuclear power if it really wants to reduce Australia's carbon emissions, Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce says.
The Senate has been debating Labor legislation that would make it mandatory for 20 per cent of Australia's energy to come from renewable sources by 2020.
Senator Joyce said the government should look beyond renewable technologies like wind and start prioritising nuclear.
"If we want to reduce carbon emissions ... get with program of bringing about nuclear energy," he told parliament on Wednesday.
"If you don't do that then you look completely and utterly hypercritical ... in the rest of the statements and arguments about being clever, about being carbon effective, about developing jobs, about being a world leader."
It didn't make sense to export Australia's vast uranium reserves without benefiting from the resource ourselves, he said.
"We can be the Middle East in the generation of wealth from nuclear energy," Senator Joyce said.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon says Australia shouldn't rule out nuclear energy as an energy option in the future if no other alternative to fossil fuels is available.
Senator Xenophon said he was with Australian environmentalist Tim Flannery, who has said the nation shouldn't rule out nuclear energy.
"Although I'm very cautious about it, I want to make sure that there is no other option to fossil fuels," he told Sky News.
But if base-load renewable energy such as geothermal power did not become available in the next few years, the nuclear option should be looked at, he said.
"I don't think we should rule it out completely, because it doesn't have the same emissions but there are other risks involved particularly in relation to nuclear waste."