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Government Records about the Australian Capital Territory

Jervis Bay nuclear power station

In September 1969, the government gave in-principle support for the construction of a 500H megawatt nuclear power station at Murrays Beach, Jervis Bay, connected to the NSW electricity grid. The station would cost $131.3 million to construct and it was hoped that it would be operational by 1975. An interdepartmental committee was established to further develop the proposal and negotiations with the NSW Government began.111

Expressions of interest to build the station were sent to a number of organisations. Tender documents were issued in February 1970 and closed on 15 June 1970. Four tenders were shortlisted for further consideration – one each from Canada, United Kingdom, West Germany and United States. After reviewing the bids, the most favoured was that from the United Kingdom.

By now, William McMahon had replaced John Gorton as Prime Minister. McMahon was not as supportive of the project as Gorton. In June 1971, a Cabinet submission noted that the cost had escalated to $208 million and that the government would need to subsidise the station by $6 million a year. The submission also noted that Cabinet's original decision to approve the station was based on national considerations, not economic ones. Given that a coal-operated station would only cost $87 million to construct, Cabinet decided to defer the matter for 12 months.112

One year later, another Cabinet submission recommended that the project again be deferred pending a review of overseas reactors and associated technical problems, and Australia's fuel and power-generating policies (gas and coal). Cabinet supported the recommendation and the matter was not considered again.113

Jervis Bay – surveys of proposed site for nuclear power station 69/1979
National Archives
Jervis Bay nuclear station, establishment of a seismograph station, 1965–71 A431, 1970/2806
Possible site for the construction of a nuclear power station, Jervis Bay, 1969 A976, 1969/469
Development of nuclear power Commonwealth proposals, Jervis Bay, 1969–70 A432, 1969/3138
John Gorton – personal papers, 1969–70 M3787
John Gorton – personal papers, 1969–70 M62, 11 part 1
Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation consulting services, 1969–70 A7192, A70/28
William McMahon – personal papers, 1970 M4251
Parliamentary question, radioactive water from Jervis Bay nuclear station, 1970 A463, 1970/3132
National Radiation Advisory Committee, Jervis Bay nuclear station, 1970–75 A463, 1971/1792
Jervis Bay nuclear station progress report, 1971–73 A1209, 1971/9436
National Archives Sydney
Films: Australia's first nuclear station, Jervis Bay project, 1969 C5542, 261–262
Project files, Jervis Bay, 1969–74 C99
Miscellaneous records, Jervis Bay nuclear power project, 1969–74 NA1981/16
Nuclear Safety Bureau general correspondence files, 1974–77 C3136, multiple items


Chapter notes | All notes

111 NAA: A5868, 772, 9 September 1969.

112 NAA: A5908, 121, 4 June 1971.

113 NAA: A5908, 668, 15 June 1972.


Chapter 5
Suburbs still searching for a city, 1957–72