Feb. 25, 2013, 11 p.m


NORTH West politicians have thrown their support behind opening up the debate for nuclear energy after recent double-digit hikes to electricity costs.

Energy prices are set to reach an all-time high in Queensland later this year and State Member for Mount Isa Rob Katter and Mount Isa Mayor Tony McGrady agree the newly-unlocked uranium industry could be the saviour.


The pair agree with outspoken senator Barnaby Joyce who said he's found a solution to lower electricity costs while making the most of our new-found uranium industry.

After the LNP ruled out establishing a nuclear energy industry in Queensland late last year, Senator Joyce recently said the state should use uranium mined in Australia to power a nuclear industry to combat rising power costs.

A draft determination for power prices in 2013/14 was released by the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) on Friday, showing households could expect a 21.4 per cent increase by July, while small businesses will be hit by a 15.7 per cent increase.


Mr Katter complimented the senator for looking at ways to develop Queensland's energy industry but said his comments were a little hypocritical considering the coalition has no policies to develop domestic industry.

"They don't want to add up our energy industry with value adding industries that benefit Australians," he said.

"Their policies are focused on exporting and selling our resources to the highest bidder and they've proven that in the gas industry."

Mr Katter said plans to open up Australia's natural gas industry to the international market was putting up prices domestically.


Mr Katter said people in Mount Isa who cared about industry and jobs would need to enter into a serious debate about how the region could stay competitive with electricity prices on the rise.

"I think if it's a way to lower costs and will have a small carbon footprint people would be open-minded about a debate," he said.

"We'll be mining here for the next 100 years so I think it's only a matter of time until we consider taking it up."


Cr McGrady said he would welcome a genuine and honest debate about the benefits of nuclear energy.

"I've never publicly called for domestic nuclear energy but with the forecast of double digit electricity price increases I think the time for a sensible debate on whether or not Australia should get energy from nuclear is here."

Cr McGrady said the North West would need to start looking into alternate forms of energy soon.

"The Greens talk about solar and wind but those are mickey mouse solutions because they will never supply enough power for base demand," he said.

"It has got to be gas, coal or nuclear."


Uranium deposits around the North West and Gulf Country started moving closer towards production this year after a state government ban on uranium mining imposed by the Bligh government was overturned by Premier Campbell Newman.

The closest uranium deposit to Mount Isa is Paladin Energy's Valhalla located 40 kilometres north west of the city. In October last year the Australian Uranium Association predicted it would take at least seven years for uranium prices to recover enough to make a uranium company viable from its Queensland resources.