Family First senator Bob Day is optimistic despite failing in a bid to remove the ban on nuclear power plants in Australia.

The South Australian senator proposed to amend legislation that bans nuclear power stations and uranium enrichment on Tuesday, but it was defeated in Federal Parliament.

But that will not stop Senator Day, who says he is encouraged by the support he received.

“Any change is always met with resistance, but also by the same token it's met with a lot of support,” Senator Day told reporters on Tuesday.

“In fact I've been very encouraged by the level of support by people both in South Australia and other states, particularly people who are forward looking, future thinking, encouraging the development of a nuclear industry.

“My amendment was not supported yesterday in the Parliament but suffice to say I was encouraged to revisit it, so watch this space.”

The senator said restrictions on the nuclear industry in Australia are stifling meaningful investigations into the industry.

He said no good debate could happen while there is a ban on even considering nuclear power.

“I have a bit of a science background and to sort of make it unlawful to consider one particular aspect of science it goes against the grain,” Senator Day said.

“So I just think we should not rule out any consideration or exploration or investigating of any particular aspect of science.

“Given the pace of change at the moment and leaps and bounds we're seeing in science who knows what might develop.”

He said a lot of people were put off by the poor image of nuclear power – spurred by meltdowns and other catastrophes – and do not see its many uses, such as in nuclear-powered submarines.

“They tend to think of gigantic nuclear power stations the size of the new Adelaide Oval football stadium and they think of Three Mile Island and Fukushima and these sorts of things but that's not the case at all,” he said.

“A nuclear submarine carries a small nuclear reactor, it's a small device that powers a submarine for 30 years, it never has to be refuelled it outlasts the actual submarine itself and I think there's a great future there.

“The best military and defence informed opinion tells us that Australia actually needs 12 submarines, six conventional and six nuclear-powered submarines.

“Nuclear-powered submarines are twice the speed, have much more range, they virtually never need to resurface, they never need to be refuelled unlike diesel-powered submarines.”

Senator Day is understandably encouraged by the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission.

“I think this is a great step forward and it could really transform South Australia to become a scientific and nuclear cycle centre for Australia,” he said.