A royal commission will look at the future role South Australia should play in the nuclear industry, Premier Jay Weatherill says.
The SA Premier called a news conference to make the surprise announcement, telling reporters the inquiry would be a first for Australia.
He said the inquiry would look at SA's involvement in the mining, enrichment, energy and storage phases in the life cycle of nuclear fuel.
"We believe South Australians should be given the opportunity to explore the practical, financial and ethical issues raised by a deeper involvement in the nuclear industries," he said.
"We need a clearer understanding about the nature of energy demands around the world and indeed in this country.
"We need to understand the technological advances which are allowing there to be very different offerings in both the nuclear energy space but also solar energy and in wind power, all of these matters will bear on the considerations that South Australians need to make."
Mr Weatherill said SA had one of the world's biggest uranium deposits and had been involved in uranium production for more than 25 years.
"It is now the time to engage in a mature and robust conversation about SA's future role in the nuclear industry," he said.
Terms of reference yet to be set
The Premier said consultation would start in the coming day on the terms of reference.
"The truth is we are already in the nuclear fuel cycle. I mean we are selling uranium to the world," he said.
"The question is whether we should deepen our involvement for our benefit and we need to understand what those benefits look like, lets perhaps look at what the opportunities are and lets understand the risks so we can make a considered judgment."
A number of independent experts would be engaged to support the royal commission's work, Mr Weatherill said.
The Australian Youth Climate Coalition was swift to condemn the Government's announcement.
It said the state needed to focus on its renewable energy potential rather than nuclear potential.
Greens leader Mark Parnell questioned if the State Government was paving the way for power generation at Port Augusta to be upgraded from coal to nuclear, rather than the current upgrade plan for solar thermal generation.
ABC political reporter Nick Harmsen said it put the proposition of a nuclear waste dump in South Australia back on the political agenda, after a previous Labor administration fought federal moves.
Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said he supported holding an inquiry but the Premier was trying to distract South Australians from more pressing issues, such as the problems of the public health sector.
An interesting move. Certainly not a slow news week given the goings-on in Canberra at present, so it surely it may not be a distraction. It will be very interesting to see who Mr Weatherill appoints as Commissioner, as well as the Terms of Reference.