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Bowen gives Dutton’s nuclear plans a blast as energy sources shape up as an election battle

Oliver LaneSouth Western Times
Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen called on Opposition Leader Peter Dutton to release plans for nuclear power ahead of the next election.
Camera IconClimate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen called on Opposition Leader Peter Dutton to release plans for nuclear power ahead of the next election. Credit: Oliver Lane

Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen has demanded Opposition Leader Peter Dutton release information on his party’s plans to embrace nuclear energy.

Talking to the media in Bunbury, Mr Bowen called out Mr Dutton on what he described as a “fantasy” plan.

“I’d say this, the time for talk is over,” he said.

“If the Liberal Party wants to propose a nuclear reactor for Bunbury we’d let them come out and announce their policy and the people of Bunbury will have their say on it.

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“Come on, come on Mr Dutton, the next election is getting closer, tell us what your policies are, don’t say ‘oh, we’re going to think about nuclear,’ show us where they’re gonna be, show us what the cost is, then we’ll have a debate about it.”

Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, February 6, 2024. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
Camera IconLeader of the Opposition Peter Dutton has long flirted with the idea of utilising nuclear energy. Credit: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Talking to media last week, Mr Dutton gave another indication his party would be taking its nuclear pitch to the polls.

“We need to have a mature conversation about nuclear,” he said.

“It’s the latest technology that has zero emissions and it can firm up renewables in the system.”

Mr Bowen slammed the idea.

“It’s a fantasy, I mean, they might as well issue a Golden Book, that’s how realistic nuclear power is for Australia,” he said.

“We don’t have a nuclear industry in Australia, it will take years to get one up and running, years, decades.

“It’s the most expensive form of energy available in the world, renewable is the cheapest, nuclear is the most expensive, coal and gas come in between.

“Why anybody would propose an answer for Australia which is slow to build, expensive to build and does not have social licence to use is beyond me.”

The idea of embracing nuclear power is not new for Mr Dutton with the Liberal leader having brought it up last year during a speech at the Institute of Public Affairs, a conservative-leaning think tank.

At the July event he said nuclear was the way forward.

“If the Government wants to stop coal-fired power and phase out gas-fired power, the only feasible and proven technology which can firm up renewables and help us achieve the goals of clean cost effective and consistent power is next generation nuclear technologies,” he said.

“My old friend Chris Bowen has burrowed so deeply down the renewable rabbit hole that he refuses to consider these new nuclear technologies to be any part of the solution of our energy problems.”

According to the CSIRO, nuclear power is not an “economically competitive solution” in Australia and by the time costs of small modular reactors improved it would be too late to make a difference for a net zero emissions goal.

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