Australians support nuclear - but not close to home

06 March 2007

A recent poll shows more support for nuclear power than opposition among Australians, when described as a way to address climate change, but support was notably lacking for plants in respondents' local areas.

The telephone poll of over 1200 adults was compiled by Newspoll for The Australian newspaper between 2 and 4 March. It posed the question: "Are you personally in favour or against the development of a nuclear power industry in Australia, as one of a range of energy solutions to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions?" Overall, some 45% were in favour with 40% against and
 nuclear supporters outnumbered opponents in all ranges except females (38% vs. 42%) and 35-49 year-olds (43% vs. 45%). Among politicians, members of the rulingLiberal coalition showed 61% support, while opposition Labor Partymembers were 52% against.

The results represent a dramatic change from 35% support and 50% opposition expressed in a poll conducted in December 2006, although that poll posed a different question to the public, referring to the Opal research reactor and suggesting nuclear power without mentioning climate concerns.

A Roy Morgan poll conducted at the end of February in the states of New South Wales and Victoria showed 48% support and 36% opposition for nuclear plants "replacing coal, oil and gas power plants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions." Other less surprising findings included that 82% of respondents were "concerned about disposal of radioactive waste."

Newspoll's recent results broadly agree with another Newspoll/Australian survey conducted in February in which 76% agreed that climate change and its effects on Australia would be a "major problem", and 77% said they would be prepared to pay more for electricity if it came from alternative sources that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

However, support dramatically dropped when the respondents were asked in the March poll: "If it was decided that Australia develops a nuclear power industry, would you personally be in favour or against a nuclear power station being built in your local area?" Overall supporters made up just 25%, with opposition of 66%. The most dramatic opposition came from Labor MPs, 76% of whom would be against the idea.

Further information

Roy Morgan Research