Opposition leader Peter Dutton sparks controversy with his “nuclear fantasy”

Opposition leader Peter Dutton sparks controversy with his “nuclear fantasy”
Image: Australian Opposition Leader Peter Dutton unveiling the details of proposed nuclear energy plan (AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi)



Opposition leader Peter Dutton has sparked outrage with his proposal to build seven nuclear plants, which would begin in the 2030s if the Coalition is elected.

At the forefront of his critics are the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, as well as the Climate Council, who say Dutton is serving the needs of the fossil fuels industry. 

“The announcement is nothing more than the Federal Coalition pandering to its mates in the fossil fuels industry,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Officer Jacqui Mumford said in a statement.

Both the Climate Council and the Nature Conservation Council addressed the policy as a commitment to climate pollution. The Climate Council was also quick to point out how gas and coal corporations will be the only ones to benefit from this, with the policy to result in a shift away from Australia’s urgent needs for clean energy. 

It is also unclear what other energy options will be used over the next 25 years, as the Opposition has not yet provided such figures. 

For example, the Climate Council said in a statement that “seven standard nuclear reactors would deliver approximately nine gigawatts of energy capacity.”

“With AEMO’s [Australian Energy Market Operator] latest plan indicating Australia will need at least 300 gigawatts by 2050, Peter Dutton must reveal where the rest of the power is coming from in his energy scheme: how much more coal and gas will get burned to support this nuclear fantasy?”

With nuclear energy taking longer (up to 20 years to build reactors) and costing more, NSW households can expect to have higher energy bills once the policy is underway. 

In addition, critics say the Opposition has not been transparent about the total price for building these multi-billion dollar reactors, with Dutton refusing to give a cost for the plan.

“Under Dutton’s scheme Australians will pay twice: untold billions in direct public funding for nuclear reactors, and even more in lives and livelihoods lost because of worsening climate pollution,” said Climate Council Head of Policy and Advocacy Jennifer Rayner.

The locations for these reactors are set to be on former or current coal plants and executed through a two phase program, which will begin with the build of two projects in the 2030s and other establishments through to 2050. New announcements for building sites include Liddell power station in the Hunter Valley and Mount Piper power station near Lithgow.

The Nature Conservation Council referred to these building site announcements as “a dangerous distraction from the renewable energy transition underway in NSW.”

Renewable energy is the most affordable and cheapest energy source option, and the Nature Conservation Council is now urging the state to increase the continuation of this form of energy in order to “deliver a sustainable future and sound economic growth prospects for our state,” the statement continues. 


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