The last sitting weeks of a parliamentary year are a bit like the last week of school. Everyone is keen to finish for the year and get away from class.
So it is no surprise that in the last week of the Senate in 1998, a momentous decision for Australia’s energy security was made in haste.
The then Howard government was trying to get legislation through that would allow the construction of a new nuclear reactor to make medicines.
Greens and Labor senators demanded that the government introduce a ban on nuclear energy as the price for their support.
So Australia’s unique ban on nuclear energy was born.
Australia has the largest reserves of uranium in the world yet we are the only large, developed country to have a legislative ban on nuclear energy.
What was less than a 30 minute debate in 1998 now creates massive costs and restrictions for generations.
Australia has already shut one in every five coal-fired power stations and more closures are due soon. The plan to replace reliable power stations with weather-dependent solar and wind power is failing, demonstrated by electricity shortages, and factories being forced to close, this past winter.
Renewable energy has failed even more spectacularly in Europe. Europeans are becoming so desperate they are denuding age-old forests of timber in a desperate medieval attempt to safely hibernate this winter.
In Spain temperature controls are in place, in France the Eiffel Tower is no longer lit for as long, and in Germany Christmas lights have been cancelled.
There is a reason the Grinch is green.
The European renewable energy experiment is over.
The UK has removed its ban on fracking, France is planning to build 14 new nuclear reactors and Germany this week announced that it may delay the planned closure of its nuclear power plants after gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea were sabotaged.
Despite Europe’s nuclear renaissance it is too late for their people to avoid the pain of energy shortages.
That is why we should remove our nonsensical ban on nuclear energy now. So that we can start the planning now before things completely break.
This week I and eight other Liberal and Nationals senators introduced legislation to remove Australia’s out of step nuclear energy ban. It was the largest parliamentary support for the ban’s removal since its creation a quarter of a century ago.
Our Bill would not remove the robust regulatory hurdles that any proposal for nuclear energy would need to meet.
Indeed, our Bill would not lead to nuclear power being built directly, it would just allow businesses to bring forward proposals which we could then sensibly consider.
If we do not consider nuclear, we risk losing what is left of our manufacturing industry, probably to China.
As we invested more in renewables per person than any country over the last decade, Australian manufacturing declined for the first time.
You cannot smelt aluminium or forge steel in a power plant whose production depends on the weatherman.
Given the geopolitical threats to our nation it is about time that we ignore the cowardly politicians that will tell you fairytales if that is what the polls tell them to say.
To protect the next generation of Australians, we need to tell people the truth, however uncomfortable that might be.
The truth is that the green energy chickens are coming home to roost, and if we keep putting all our energy eggs in one basket, we will not save the environment, we will just destroy Australian jobs.
We used to be a lucky country because we used our abundant natural resources for the good of our people.
But our luck will run out if we think that we can export our coal, gas and uranium to other countries but deny the same resources to ourselves.