Crikey readers were understandably stirred by our question of Australia’s nuclear potential — the topic tends to be divisive after all. While some readers show interest in the technology, the vast majority feel that nuclear plants would do little good for the country even if we somehow got them running. Elsewhere, readers discussed Australia’s fraught position on China and the US.

On a nuclear Australia

Wayne Robinson writes: Nuclear power isn’t a near zero carbon dioxide emissions source. The uranium has to be mined, processed and concentrated to nuclear power plant level, all of which require energy probably obtained by burning fossil fuels. And then to construct the power plants, large amounts of steel and concrete are needed (probably more than other power plants), both of which lead to considerable CO2 emissions (manufacturing cement accounts for around 10% of all CO2 emissions). And then there’s the CO2 emissions involved in decommissioning the nuclear power plant at the end of its lifespan. And safely storing the nuclear waste for tens of thousands of years.

Robert Smith writes: We don’t even know how to manage the small amount of waste produced by the small reactor in NSW after many years of debate. How can we accomplish all the steps required to achieve nuclear energy?

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On China relations

Malcolm Harrison writes: What can we do about our China problem, you ask. In short, stop throwing up a curtain a fear and paranoia which echoes a century of Australia’s worry about China and the “yellow peril”. As things stand right now, and in order to satisfy our barely concealed xenophobia towards a rising China, and also in order to satisfy our American masters we seem eager to shoot ourselves in the foot. Australia’s media reaction to China has lately been so offensive, its little wonder that the Chinese government doesn’t want to talk to us.

Ian Hunt writes: I can only agree that government policy is likely to become contrary to our national interests. US policy towards China is clearly to block the possibility that China will become a global technology leader. China’s growth and technological development is not an attack on the US, so we have absolutely no reason whatsoever to line up with the US in confronting China. Yet the government is clearly preparing for that. We should by now have refused to continue to be a US lap dog or the monkey for a US organ grinder, whichever is your preferred metaphor. This government will let us down by failing to have moved on.

Chris Davis writes: It has been monumental stupidity to lose so much of our technological and manufacturing ability over the past few decades, especially in high tech, industrial and transport areas. Not only has it deskilled young Australians, but the loss of associated manufacturing infrastructure greatly compromises our defence arrangements.

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Peter Fray
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