"In France, the people were originally somewhat resistant (to nuclear power), but they became convinced it was the right path," she told The Australian yesterday on the sidelines of the Global Foundation's Australia Unlimited Roundtable.
"The reason was that the debate in France and the process to nuclear power was open, it was transparent, and the people came along."
Asked how quickly the Australian public might be persuaded away from its negative views about nuclear power, she said itcould happen rapidly if the casefor nuclear power proved compelling.
"I think Australians are quick to adapt to changing circumstances. They have proven that in the past, they are proving it at present with their attitudes to climate change," she said.
Dr Switkowski told a sustainable energy conference in Canberra that while the initial serious concerns - such as how to deal with nuclear waste, the possibility of a catastrophic Chernobyl-style accident, and terrorists getting their hands on nuclear material - were still held by the public, other considerations were becoming more prevalent.
He said the biggest concern he now heard was about nuclear power being too expensive.
"Second is the challenge that 15 years out is too long.
"The third is: if you are going to go to nuclear energy, where are you going to put the reactors? To me that's an interesting shift."
Dr Switkowski said commercial concerns moved the issue in the realm of business, which either would or would not proceed on the basis of profitability. "They're frankly the sort of issues that most business cases confront, and therefore are amenable to rational resolution."