Dutton's nuclear announcement? Cooked.

Today in Parliament, Abigail roasted the Coalition on their spurious and dangerous national nuclear plans.

Abigail said:

This nuclear debate is a dangerous distraction. Peter Dutton's brain‑fart announcement of seven supposed locations for new nuclear power plants consists of a one‑pager and a 20‑minute press conference. There are no details, no plans, no consultation, no support from the local communities and no support from industry. The Liberal‑Nationals Coalition is attempting to wage a campaign based on deception, delay and bluster. The majority of locations announced by the Coalition in this supposed plan are sites already committed for major renewable or battery projects. Others are on top of existing and still‑operating coal power stations. In New South Wales, the proposed site at Liddell Power Station already has works underway to construct a $750 million, 500‑megawatt grid‑scale battery. But Peter Dutton thinks the best deal for Australia will be to compulsorily acquire this site for untold billions of dollars, against the wishes of the current owners and local community. That is before the first sod is even turned in construction.

It is self-evident that the plan here is not to actually deliver nuclear energy as much as it is to disrupt and delay the rollout of committed and planned future renewable energy development. If this was a serious plan, it would have more than just a list of names. Absent is any information at all on how much it would cost; what reactors would be used; a plan for how they would purchase the privately owned power stations and sites; or a plan for overcoming the States' objections, which have come swiftly and definitively. There is no plan for where the waste will go, of which there will be a lot. We do not know how on earth the Coalition plans on building two of the reactors within the supposed 2035‑37 timeline. We do not know where the funding would come from. There is no explanation of how it will manage the astronomical amount of water that would be required to operate these reactors—not a great look for regional communities already struggling with water security in Australia, the driest continent on earth. There is no plan, because the truth is the Coalition is perfectly happy with the fossil fuel status quo.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing of all about this renewed debate about nuclear is just how beneficial it is for the two major parties and their fossil fuel donors. While Labor and the Coalition publicly squabble about something that has no realistic prospect of actually happening anyway, the public is distracted from the fact that both of these major parties support the active expansion of coal and gas in Australia, with Labor still approving new coal and gas projects. That is not to mention how setting up yet another so-called climate election drowns out the conversations about other important issues like housing and the cost of living, for which neither major party appears to have any real policy ideas to take to the next election.

Nuclear energy is slow to build and uses vast quantities of water. It is expensive, dangerous and not a useful part of a modern energy mix. The debate about nuclear is a deliberately placed red herring in a sea of real and pressing challenges that deserve our attention. Thankfully, the renewables revolution has finally taken hold in Australia. It is time the Coalition just got out of the way and let the rest of us get on with economically and environmentally responsible energy policy.


Read the full debate in Hansard here.


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