New bill unveiled to establish Australia Naval Nuclear Power Safety Regulator

86
Image credit: BAE Systems

The Australian Government is establishing a new independent regulator that will ensure the application of the highest standards of nuclear safety across its nuclear-powered submarine enterprise and the implementation of AUKUS without delay. 

This comes with the introduction of the Australian Naval Nuclear Power Safety Bill 2023 – the second legislative package introduced to support the implementation of the AUKUS pathway. 

The new Australian Naval Nuclear Power Safety Regulator will draw on the experience of the US and the UK to deliver international best practices in nuclear safety as the Government delivers Australia’s conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarine capability. 

The independent regulator will be a statutory agency in the Department of Defence and will operate within Australia’s existing system of regulation. 

“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,” Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said

“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,” he added. 

Aside from the regulatory body, the 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. 

It will also set new offences for breaches of nuclear safety duties, including serious and civil penalties. 

An accompanying legislation, titled the Australian Naval Nuclear Power Safety (Transitional Provisions) Bill 2023, is also expected to be introduced to allow the transition of certain licenses issued by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency to the new regulator. 

For further details on the Australian Naval Nuclear Power Safety Bill 2023, visit defence.gov.au.