‘Expensive joke’ – government slams nuclear coast proposal

March 5, 2024 7:01 am in by
Corangamite MP Libby Coker (from left) with Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek in Torquay, beside Surf Coast Mayor Liz Pattison and Surf Coast GM Chris Pyke (GEELONG BROADCASTERS).

The federal government says a proposal to build a nuclear power reactor on the Surf Coast is a costly distraction from its inability to develop a policy on energy.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has questioned why the coalition didn’t come up with a nuclear policy during its ten years in power, and is only now raising it when in opposition.

“If they believed that this was a goer, why didn’t they start on it ten years ago, they were in government for a decade and they didn’t take even the first steps towards nuclear power in Australia,” she said while visiting Torquay yesterday.

Article continues after this ad

“I think it’s a fantasy, I think it’s an expensive joke.

“Peter Dutton is using it as an expensive distraction because he’s so ashamed of the complete failure of the previous government to deal with energy policy in this country.

“They had 22 energy policies, they didn’t land one. The result of that is more expensive power for households and businesses, we’re getting on with fixing it.”

The coalition continues to tease out suggestions of a nuclear policy in Australia, after Liberal leader Peter Dutton floated the idea that current or former coal sites like Alcoa in Anglesea would suit what he’s described as small modular reactors (SMR’s).

“It’s zero emissions, you can put it into an existing brownfield site – so when the coal fired generation comes to an end, you can put the nuclear modular reactors into that facility,” he told Geelong Broadcasters in September.

Article continues after this ad
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek (left) and Libby Coker inspect the threatened Karaaf Wetlands.

A report from the CSIRO in December last year concluded that nuclear power “does not” currently provide an economically competitive solution in Australia.

Noting that nuclear power is not currently legislated in Australia and that large scale reactors would not suit the nations small electricity grids, CSIRO also cast doubt on the viability of SMR’s.

“The time needed for nuclear SMR to prove commercially viable, and overcome other hurdles, rules it out of any major role in the electricity sector emission abatement required for Australia to reach its net-zero emissions target in 2050.”

The agency also put the cost of nuclear power at up to 16 times that of comparable sources like wind and solar, a point repeated by the Environment Minister while in the Surf Coast.

Article continues after this ad

“Australians are having problems paying their power bills today…Peter Dutton is talking about a form of energy that would take decades to build when people need power bill relief now,” Ms Plibersek said.

“This is a slow, expensive and dirty form of energy that would end up creating waste that will remain radioactive for thousands of years.

“Only Peter Dutton could think this is a solution to today’s power price problem.”