Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, the Honourable Richard Marles has announced the Albanese government has introduced the Australian Naval Nuclear Power Safety Bill 2023 to support the delivery of Australia’s fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.
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This new legislation will establish a new, independent regulator to ensure Australia applies the highest standards of nuclear safety across its nuclear-powered submarine enterprise and can continue to implement AUKUS without delay.
The Deputy Prime Minister said: “This robust and comprehensive approach to regulating Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine program recognises the Albanese government’s commitment to nuclear stewardship and upholding the highest standards for nuclear safety and security.”
The new legislation represents the second legislative package introduced to support the implementation of the AUKUS pathway. This new Australian Naval Nuclear Power Safety Regulator will draw on the experience of the US and the UK to deliver international best practice in nuclear safety, as the government delivers Australia’s conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarine capability.
The ANNPS Bill, when enacted, will enable the establishment of a new fit-for-purpose regulatory framework to ensure nuclear safety within Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine enterprise and capability lifecycle.
This legislation is reflective of the Australian Government’s recognised need to:
- Protect the health and safety of people, and the environment, from the harmful effects of radiation;
- Implement proper operating conditions for regulated activities;
- Prevent accidents; and
- Mitigate the consequences of accidents if they occur.
“The new regulator will have access to relevant expertise and experience, allowing it to cooperate effectively with other Australian regulators and those of our international partners,” the Deputy Prime Minister explained.
The regulator will be an independent, statutory agency within the Defence portfolio and operate within Australia’s existing system of regulation. Additionally, the government’s legislation will also establish a fit-for-purpose regulatory framework that imposes strict nuclear safety duties and licensing requirements for activities related to nuclear-powered submarines.
As part of this, the Albanese government states that "The ANNPS Bill was introduced to Parliament alongside the Australian Naval Nuclear Power Safety (Transitional Provisions) Bill 2023, which will enable the transition of any licences issued by the CEO of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, where they correspond to regulated activities under the ANNPS Bill."
The government is also introducing the Australian Naval Nuclear Power Safety (Transitional Provisions) Bill 2023 as accompanying legislation. This separate bill will allow the transition of certain licences issued by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency to the new regulator.
The Deputy Prime Minister said: “Today is an important step towards ensuring we employ the highest standards of nuclear safety and protection across the life cycle of this historic capability.”