The Adelaide Advertiser led with a
beautiful yarn yesterday. More than 90% of Australians have investments
in uranium mining though their superannuation, it claimed.
So, most of us are close to nuclear industries, it appears.

Poor Ziggy Switkowski, though, seems to
have to go to pains to show his independence.

Anything nuclear, it seems, sparks
hysteria, and the former Telstra boss and nuclear scientist has decided to step
down from the board of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology
Organisation (ANSTO), given his new role as head of the Prime Ministerial
Taskforce undertaking the review into uranium mining, processing and the longer term
contribution of nuclear energy in Australia.

Switkowski told Channel Nine today that his membership of the ANSTO board only dated back to the beginning of the
year and he had attended just three board meetings. “I think membership of the ANSTO board
simply confirms that I’m relatively competent in the whole area of nuclear
physics and I think that’s going to be valuable for the next few months,” he

Well, exactly. ANSTO has a single, small research reactor. Its facilities produce radioisotopes for
nuclear medicine, radioactive material for industry and are used for research.

Examining nuclear power requires a rare
skill set. The biggest question mark over the issue doesn’t ask if it is
possible. It asks if it is economically viable – if the creation of a nuclear
power industry in Australia is feasible. A nuclear physicist actively involved with Australia’s
nuclear science community, who has run a fiercely competitive consumer driven
business, is in a perfect position to make recommendations

Yet Green groups and Labor have accused
Switkowski of bias because of his position on the board. Here’s hoping they’ll
also remove themselves from the whole sordid business and publicly promise to
eschew x-rays from now on.

Peter Fray

A lot can happen in 3 months.

3 months is a long time in 2020. Join us to make sense of it all.

Get you first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12. Cancel anytime.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

12 weeks for $12