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New legislation clears the way for AUKUS n-submarines

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The federal government has introduced the Australian Naval Nuclear Power Safety Bill 2023, which 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.

This is the second legislative package introduced to support implementation of the AUKUS pathway, according to the government.

“The 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 Regulator will be an independent, statutory agency within the Defence portfolio and operate within Australia’s existing system of regulation.”

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 impose new offences for breaches of nuclear safety duties, including serious criminal and civil penalties.

The government is also introducing a Australian Naval Nuclear Power Safety (Transitional Provisions) Bill 2023 as accompanying legislation to allow the transition of licences issued by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency to the new regulator.

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said: “This robust and comprehensive approach to regulating Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine programme recognises the Albanese Government’s commitment to nuclear stewardship and upholding the highest standards for nuclear safety and security.

“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.

“Today is an important step towards ensuring we employ the highest standards of nuclear safety and protection across the lifecycle of this historic capability.”

Picture: Virginia class nuclear submarine

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