Year 11 Australian Student Advocates for Nuclear Power In Social Media Campaign

By Nina Nguyen
Nina Nguyen
Nina Nguyen
Nina Nguyen is a reporter based in Sydney. She covers Australian news with a focus on social, cultural, and identity issues. She is fluent in Vietnamese. Contact her at
January 31, 2023Updated: February 2, 2023

Teenager Will Shackel is calling for Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to lift the ban on nuclear energy in the country.

A petition launched by Shackel has garnered over 1,400 signatures so far.

“Nuclear energy is one of the safest, cleanest, cheapest and environmentally friendly sources of energy, period,” the petition, which was started in the middle of January, said.

“Yet despite fossil fuels being less safe, less clean, more expensive and significantly worse for the environment, the energy source Australia decides to ban is not fossil fuels but nuclear.”

“The prohibition on nuclear energy in Australia must end if Australia is to realise its climate goals.”

A nuclear technology ban has been in place in Australia since 1998, which prevents the building of nuclear reactors for power generation.

Shackle called the ban a “political compromise” under the Howard government in 1988, which was the result of the “actions of the Australian Democrats at the time.”

“I think at the point at which you ban something, there’s often as a result of that inevitably going to be some stigma attached to it,” he told Sydney’s Radio 2GB.

“What we’ve seen in Australia is that has resulted in huge misinformation around nuclear energy whether in regards to the spent fuel and the waste that’s produced from that.”

“So I think that’s really what has prevented us from having a conversation around nuclear energy. One that is based on facts, and hopefully, through what I’m doing, I’ll be able to promote that.”

Shackle added that Australia is “the only G20 country in the world which is able to justify” the nuclear ban.

“If they’re able to use it and see the potential in it, why can’t Australia see the great benefits that nuclear energy will be able to do it?”

While the government is pushing for a transition to renewable energy, Shackle said nuclear “will have to be part of that energy mix into the future.”

“I would also just like to say that, of course, no energy source is perfect.”

“And you look at the environmental consequences that are often dismissed in terms of renewables, huge landfill, huge amount of materials that have to use, so I think that’s really important to also point out that no energy source is perfect.”

Labor State Premier Advocates For Nuclear

In December, South Australian premier Peter Malinauskas left the door open for the state to develop nuclear power stations on Monday, saying the submarine construction his state would undertake via the AUKUS deal would bust any myths about its safety.

However, Albanese and federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek were quick to shoot down their Labor colleague, each claiming nuclear energy wouldn’t work out financially.

The discussion comes as Australia desperately seeks a fix for soaring power bills, the PM labelling talk around nuclear energy as a distraction.

“I have a great deal of respect for ‘Mali’, but everyone’s entitled to get things wrong,” he told FiveAA radio.

“Every five years or so, we have an economic analysis of whether nuclear power stacks up, and every time it’s rejected.”

Plibersek was similarly strong, saying nuclear power was “slow to build and really expensive”.

“All this nonsense about small-scale nuclear reactors in every suburb, I don’t know if there are people up your street who want a nuclear reactor in the local park … I really don’t think that’s the case,” she told Seven.

To curb the rising energy costs, the federal government in December announced a temporary $12-per-gigajoule (US$8.43) cap on gas prices and a $125-per-tonne cap on coal prices as part of a package including $1.5bn in electricity price relief.

AAP contributed to this article.