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  • Rikki Lambert

Regionalisation requires energy and water security - and nuclear is part of that: McKenzie

Minister McKenzie (centre) upon her return to federal cabinet in June

The Regionalisation Minister's first landmark speech outlining the Morrison-Joyce government's regionalisation agenda set an ambitious population growth rate for regions, but one landmark position is the potential for small modular nuclear reactors for regional growth.

Speaking with Flow soon after her keynote address, Minister McKenzie acknowledged water and energy security were critical components of the regionalisation vision:

"In our Technology Not Taxes road map to a low emissions future by 2050, we're looking at small nuclear reactors which is something that regional communities will be able to actually examine to get access to affordable and reliable energy sources. We (also) know that gas will be a big part of our future going forward not just in exports but ensuring we have access to reliable energy."

The government's regionalisation vision is to see big population increases in Australia's regional centres and a shift away from cities.

Minister McKenzie told the Regions Rising webinar in Wodonga on Friday: 

"I envision a future Australia that has many regional cities with populations well in excess of 300,000.
"A choice beyond the increasingly unaffordable and congested city limits of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth or Brisbane."  
"In an ideal world, I would like ... 50 per cent of future population growth to occur in the regions."

Senator McKenzie has instructed her department to identify how regional cities could be "future cities of rapid growth," and become "significant economic centres". They include those with populations between 25,000 and 250,000, and are at least 90 minutes from a capital city.

However, the Minister told flow that water insecure regions won't be growing under this vision:

"We're the driest continent on earth, would you be putting cities even capital cities where we've put them if we understood the water security situation better?
"Water security is one of the pieces of my framework, so we won't be developing areas that don't have secure access to water because that's obviously not a sustainable proposition going forward."

The Minister acknowledged there may be concerns about housing growth reaching into prime agricultural land, but said the resolution of those concerns were principally for the states and local goverment.


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