As I reported recently, nuclear energy is emerging as yet another issue on which the Labor party is moving further and further from its blue-collar base. One of Australia’s biggest unions, the Australian Worker’s Union is advocating that Australia drop its sanctions and adopt nuclear power.

A new survey shows that a majority of Australians agree.

A narrow majority of 51% (up 16% since July 2011) of respondents say Australia should develop nuclear power to reduce Australia’s carbon dioxide emissions. Just over a third 34% (down 24%) say no, Australia shouldn’t, while 15% (up 8%) can’t say.

Much of this support is specifically down to the issue of climate change. Many Australians realise that “renewable” energy just isn’t up to the task of powering a modern, affluent society. If Australians want to go carbon-neutral and still remain a modern society, nuclear is the only viable present option.

However, without the reference to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, only 45% (up 11% since March 2011) of respondents say Australia should develop nuclear power plants to supply electricity to Australians while 40% (down 21%) say no, Australia shouldn’t, and 15% (up 10%) can’t say.

The NIMBY factor is also coming into play.

If Australia were to develop nuclear power plants a majority of 58% (down 17% since March 2011) of respondents would oppose a nuclear power plant being built in their area while 42% (up 17%) wouldn’t oppose. Of those who wouldn’t oppose 23% (up 10%) would be anxious about the nuclear power plant being built and 19% (up 7%) would agree to it being built in their area.

What really stands out, though, is the gender divide. It’s no surprise, perhaps, that protest groups so often seem to be dominated by frightbats and nosey-nannas.

Support [for nuclear power] is driven by men (65% support) rather than women (38% support).

This same gender split is replicated on all the questions asked as part of this survey…

Gary Morgan, Executive Chairman, Roy Morgan says:

“Australian views on nuclear power have changed significantly over the last eight years with a majority of 51% now supporting the development of nuclear power in Australia to reduce carbon dioxide emissions – up a significant 16ppts from July 2011…[The] stark divide between the two sexes indicates the difficulty facing any policy-maker attempting to develop an on-shore nuclear power industry in Australia. The issues surrounding nuclear power are incredibly divisive – even within households.”

At the same time, other surveys show that women are more likely than men to fret about climate change. Which begs the question: why won’t they support the one energy generation technology we have which can keep the lights on and emissions low?

Far easier to glue yourself to a road and frighten a few schoolchildren, I guess.


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