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Nuclear Power Plant
Natasha WilliamsJune 25, 2024

Nuclear Power Policy Debate Dominates Australian News Cycle

Last week, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton unveiled a controversial policy for nuclear power, proposing it could be operational by the 2030s. This announcement has led to a significant surge in media interest, with mentions of ‘nuclear power’ in Australian news increasing over 1000% - from 3,158 total mentions the previous week to over 35,000 unique media items across Print, Online, TV, and Radio. 

Despite the news breaking on Wednesday, June 19, the Federal Opposition's proposed nuclear policy went on to be the leading news story of the week, surpassing other major news stories such as Chinese Premier Li Qiang's visit to Australia, which received 19,651 mentions, and President Vladimir Putin's visit to North Korea, which was mentioned 13,291 times. 


Media Coverage Analysis

Between June 19th and 20th, ‘nuclear power’ generated over 8,000 mentions per day. To contextualise these coverage volumes, the peak single-day coverage volume for last year's Voice Referendum was just over 6,000 mentions across Online, Print, TV, and Radio platforms. 

These coverage volumes indicate that the Australian media is deeply engaged with the implications of the nuclear policy. If heightened media focus reflects public interest, this suggests that nuclear energy will remain a pivotal issue in Australian politics and public debate in the coming months.

Sentiment analysis of the coverage (calculated by using NLP to assess if the emotional tone of the text is positive, negative, or neutral) is largely trending negative, with minimal coverage registering as trending positive in tone. 


Volumes of Coverage for Proposed Sites for Power Plants - 19-21 June

The proposed plant in SA’s Port Augusta received the most coverage, after the federal member for Grey, Rowan Ramsey, supported the proposal on ABC radio. This comes as the region grapples with previous policy announcements following the closure of the Port Augusta power stations in 2016. 


Breakdown of Media Mentions

The spike in mentions is distributed across different types of media, reflecting the widespread interest surrounding the topic:


Radio Mentions of Nuclear Power

Nuclear power was an enormous topic of discussion on Australian Radio this week, responsible for almost half of the coverage volume when broken down by media type. 

Print and Online Mentions of Nuclear Power:

The Australian leads in most mentions of nuclear power in print, with more evenly distributed volumes across the top 10 online outlets.

Nuclear Online and print charts

TV Mentions of Nuclear Power:

In the past week, Sky News Extra led in mentions of nuclear power with 358 references, indicating a strong focus on Nuclear Power across its programming. Following closely, ABC News Breakfast recorded 138 mentions, less than half as many. 



In Conclusion:

The Coalition’s proposed nuclear energy policy has catalysed a significant uptick in media coverage, surpassing even the extensive attention garnered by the Voice Referendum last year. As discussions continue, media monitoring will remain crucial in tracking Australia's evolving narrative and public discourse on nuclear energy.


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