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June 18, 2024

Dutton doubles down on nuclear

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Would you trust a nuclear power policy with this man? Cloudcatcher Media.

Despite clear evidence that the Coalition’s nuclear power policy is untenable, Peter Dutton and friends are sticking with this industrial-level distraction, forcing us all to talk about it instead of focusing on real solutions to Australia’s future energy needs.

The CSIRO’s latest GenCost Report makes it obvious that renewables, particularly solar and wind, remain the least expensive new electricity technology to build. The report says any electricity generated by nuclear energy would be at least 50 per cent more expensive than renewable power. Nuclear power would also take at least fifteen years to develop.

A single 1,000MW nuclear plant is estimated by the CSIRO to cost at least $8.6bn in 2024 money – and Peter Dutton has been talking about multiple plants.

These numbers don’t even try to factor in the unfathomable additional costs if anything goes wrong, or to deal with the waste for centuries, or to pay for the PR campaigns to convince electorates to host this technology.

One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts. Photo Joshue Ryan, Wikipedia CC.

Shoot the messenger

The Coalition has responded to the CSIRO’s report by shooting the messenger, and claiming the national science organisation has been politicised by the ALP.

In the past, this sort of thing was the domain of fringe players like One Nation’s coal enthusiast Malcolm Roberts, who said in 2020 (regarding climate data) that ‘there’s a lot of group think in the CSIRO and they follow the political agenda… the CSIRO has been corrupted in its prosecution of science’.

More recently, prominent members of the Coalition have also been taking up the charge against science that doesn’t suit them, just like their fellow travellers in the US and UK, all influenced by the same thinktanks and shadowy players, mostly with strong links to the fossil fuel industries, who will benefit the longer the inevitable transition to renewables is delayed.

The fact is that there’s very little scientific expertise among Australia’s federal political class – only 9 per cent have any qualifications in science or engineering.

Ex-cop Peter Dutton has no science credentials at all, but dipped his toe in the murky waters of scientific doubt-mongering back in March when he said without justification that a previous CSIRO energy report was ‘discredited’ and ‘not a genuine piece of work’.

He has suggested that the latest report is ‘based on the current government settings, which are against the use of nuclear.’

Independent?

The CSIRO is Australia’s leading scientific organisation, producing peer-reviewed science to support government as it develops policy. It is designed to be at arms length from the political maneuvering of the day. The organisation’s independence has been somewhat eroded in recent years, but not in the way the current group of political detractors suggest.

The clearest example of this is GISERA, the Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance, created in 2011 as a collaboration between the CSIRO, governments and the gas industry in order to give a pseudo-scientific backbone to the unconventional gas rush as it engulfed the country, by providing money for favourable research.

Following the blueprint of similar organisations in the USA, GISERA provides a veneer of scientific respectability for what is fundamentally a destructive extractive industry, extremely damaging to climate, air and water. The long term rewards of this strategy can be clearly seen in the gas policies of the current federal government, as well as Labor state governments across the country.

CSIRO CEO Douglas Hilton. Wikipedia/CC.

Alternative facts

Gas and nuclear aside though, the growing anti-science trend in politics has implications way beyond the Australian energy debate. It’s about cutting politics entirely adrift from reality.

Trump appointee Kellyanne Conway can be thanked for introducing the delightful concept of ‘alternative facts’ into the political lexicon in 2017, but current political actors here and around the world are carrying this concept into increasingly dangerous territory.

As CSIRO CEO Doug Hilton puts it, ‘We need to avoid a situation where, as a nation, we have 50 or 60 per cent of our population that are broadly distrustful of science. We’ve seen how desperately difficult it was for countries that thought like that to deal with things like the pandemic. It’ll be just as difficult for them to deal with net zero.

‘We need really good debate around science, but we don’t want a country that disparages science, scientists and scientific organisations. I think that would be a disaster for Australia.’


David Lowe
David Lowe. Photo Tree Faerie.

Originally from Canberra, David Lowe is an award-winning film-maker, writer and photographer with particular interests in the environment and politics. He’s known for his campaigning work with Cloudcatcher Media.

Long ago, he did work experience in Parliament House with Mungo MacCallum.


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31 COMMENTS

  1. It is indeed dangerous territory to attack our premier scientific bodies because they don’t suit one’s political agenda.

    “The organisation’s independence has been somewhat eroded in recent years, but not in the way the current group of political detractors suggest”. Just in the way political detractor D Lowe suggests?

    If there is need for transition fuel, (do you deny it?) , gas has many things going for it. It’s interesting that the Greens have suggested no alternative source. Adam Bandt gave somewhat of a train wreck interview on Insiders saying that Labor could have been concentrating, over the last two years, on putting solar panels and batteries on every roof, including renters.

    What gratis? More government largesse to property investors? At the expense of the grid capacity projects that are steaming ahead across the country? Australia already has the highest take-up of roof-top solar – rightly so – but this is not the most efficient or environmental way to transition.

    • Lizardbreath, Adam Bandt gave one of the great interviews on ABC Insiders show 26/5/24.
      We get it, it does make for painful listening for you and old mate Keith, whenever the ALP is called out.
      The Adam was 100% spot on, correctly highlighting the ALP’s failure.

      The hapless and hopeless ALP, can’t do both household and grid renewables at the same time you moan. That’s what happens when as the Adam quite rightly pointed out, ALP wasting precious time and spending precious money expanding fossil fuel exploration, production and consumption, sends out all the wrong signals to would be renewable energy project developers.

      If it really is beyond the wit of the ALP do tackle household and grid renewables at the one time, then just hand over the government reins to the Adam / Greens and they’ll show you how it is done.
      Election25, time to get this country back on track, Vote 1 Greens, and the Adam for PM!

      • Basically Bandt was trying to suggest that this Government should have been able, in two years, to have managed a complete transition to renewables. To reverse the 20 out of the last 28 years of a climate change denying Coaltion government in just two.

        Of course it’s not beyond them to do grid scale projects and rooftop solar – it’s why both are happening simultaneously. The factors holding back faster large scale projects however are materials and labor shortages. If the pressure’s on (and it is) diverting resources to some large scale scheme to put free panels and a battery on every investment property might not be the most strategic move.

        Remember, being in government means, not just making background noise, but having a plan to get there.

        But tell me Joachim, surely you’re not proposing handouts for – even BILLIONAIREs’ investment properties?

        tried the normal tactic of responding to every question (whether about climate or Gaza) by a a monologue about how bad everything is. When Spears kept bringing him back with questions about what to do about any of it, he dodged and weaved. But I’m not surprised you loved it!

        • Lizardbreath, “The factors holding back faster large scale projects however are materials and labor shortages.”, being diverted away to Fossil Fuel projects that the ALP keeps boosting along.
          This free panels and a battery business of yours, please help us out, please tell us who is providing the freebies and who is getting these freebies.

          • Different materials and expertise so no diverting to fossil fuels. Governments do have to manage both though simultaneously – both transition and base load maintenance.

            Who’s giving out the freebies? Did you listen to Bandt’s interview? How else could you get roof top solar and batteries on every house, including for every renter? Ideas? What’s the plan?

          • Lizardbreath, “Who’s giving out the freebies? Did you listen to Bandt’s interview?”, well nice that you asked, yes I have, but did you listen to Adam’s interview, there was no mention of freebies, you are just making stuff up.
            You need to help yourself, get onto ABC Iview and re watch the interview.

            Lizardbreath,as to your query, “Ideas? What’s the plan?’, great that you should ask, a masterstroke of timing on your behalf, to once again expose the big talking but little actioning when it counts ALP.
            Wind back 12 months to Budget23, your man Treasurer Jim announces a $’s1Billions household electrification package. Now fast forward 12 months, how much of that $’s1Billions has been spent …. drum roll please….Senator Jenny McAllister 28/5/24 in senate budget hearings reveals ….$’sZERO spent!
            Thank you once again to the useless ALP government that is more concerned with urgently giving Gina, Clive etc their $300 helper handouts, rather than urgently helping electrify homes that will deliver ongoing lower power bills.

            Happy to help, again.

          • Politicians don’t use words like “freebies”, but tell me my friend: how will they get there? Will fairies conjure and install them in the night?

      • The Adam Bandt is a non-event, he wheels out this exaggerated claim about these so-called “fossil fuel subsidies the ALP Govt is paying big multinational fossil fuel companies” every time he needs to appear relevant and inspire his indoctrinated Greens disciples. The truth about this misinformed bullshit is that the big fossil fuel companies get much the same tax breaks as do the big mineral mining companies, and the vast majority of that is the diesel rebate subsidy that is available to any company that is operating heavy machinery off of public roads, including primary producers. The Adam Bandt and the Greens in general are A grade bullshit artists in the same vain as the corrupt Coalition, they deserve each other. If you want honesty in Govt vote Labor and avoid the Greens like the plague, they would be an absolute disaster.

        • So when someone receives a tax benefit that others don’t receive, it somehow isn’t a subsidy. No Siree, lol!
          The only bull faeces artist here is our Keithy.

        • What did Keith write Joachim? “… the vast majority of that is the diesel rebate SUBSIDY that is available to any company that is operating heavy machinery off of public roads, including primary producers.

          Best for you to avoid the intricacies of taxation – it’s way above your pay grade.

          • Lizardbreath and Keithy, ah yes, the old ‘off road’ justification again. It is redundant and irrelevant these days. You do ( don’t?) understand where ‘S’sfuel tax’ goes.
            The revenue collection and expenditure system is apparently above your pay grade.

          • Oh I see you have upped the anti again old son, you and the Greens just keep getting belted out of the park on this one my man, but that’s fine if you want to keep making a fool of yourself, I’ll keep helping out as always.

          • Keith, you’ve come back with a couple of lines of scribble but you’ve come back with nothing.
            That’s the work of a fool alright.

  2. Dutton’s nuclear plan is such a winner he keeps it all under wraps, no one is getting told the details about this winner of an energy policy. Sigh.

  3. The anti nuclear lobby has been anti science for decades. The unecessary fear and distrust the anti nuclear lobby (probably funded by big coal) have sown in Australia for decades now makes this zero emission, base load power generating resource politically untenable here while it’s being successfully exploited all over the world.

    • Yeah, no James – that’s not why people are rejecting nuclear. 1. It will take 15 years at least – we need to reduce emissions way before then. We have much cheaper sources of renewable energy available to us in Australia. Read what CSIRO actually said.

    • Nuclear power is the way to go. Because of the waste problems generated by fission, a fusion reactor is the way forward. To further allay fears we could put the fusion reactor deep in space and beam the energy to earth in some fashion. I’m sure the scientists could find an answer.

  4. So here are the facts, Mutton and his ilk may not like them..
    1/. A nuclear power plant/s in Australia will be a first for the nation and the estimate of $8 billion per plant will be grossly over budget due to being a “first one off” design and build.
    2/. In relation with point 1/. above..being a one off first design and build, the “lead in” and “build time” of 15 years for a nuclear power plant is..”yeh right”..come back to me in 20 and tell me then it’s built…until then..there are fairies at the bottom of my garden even Blind Freddie can see….
    3/. The cost of nuclear power per kWh will be 2x MORE the “cost at present day prices” of renewables and natural gas per kWh whilst not factoring in inflation in 15 years..
    So in 15years time..the cost of nuclear power per kWh could be many times more expensive, whilst renewable power could be even cheaper and quicker to build coupled with the development and commercializtion of “mini grids” in city suburbs, regional and remote towns.
    Then there is the “elephant in the room”..Mutton and his mates do not dare speak…
    What is going to happen to the nuclear waste?.

    • Snowy 2.0 renewable power project facts.

      Plan – initial estimated cost $2 billion and completion date 2024.

      Reality – costs now estimated to be $13 billion and completion date of December 2028

      Conclusion – They (political parties) are all hopeless when it comes to costings and spending our money. Look at the wasteful travel rorts from all sides of politics.

      Name one economists or political commentator that calls out their outrageous wasteful spending?

  5. It’s the same scenario (almost) of NBN. Decision made to install obsolete solution for internet that has turned out to be a dud, and hey – Telstra putting costs up AGAIN (that’s an 11% increase in the past 12 months) for a service that is getting worse and worse. Nuclear is known to be the industry that goes way over budget (in the installation etc.) and we are on the verge of renewables being able to fill the void for future transitions. But Dutton is such a dork, I hardy understand why anyone would give him credibility anor the space of time. Yet he lingers on like a bad smell …

  6. Has anybody asked page federal member Kevin where he wants the nuclear reactor to go or does he want nuclear power but not near the electorate he represents( ?), ie a typical Nat position.

  7. France powers the Nation with 75%
    Nuclear.. Zero emissions.. ask the Germans how the
    Transition is going for that Nation ..one of those
    Reliable coal fired power plants just received
    a extension.. extension in NSW ..had nothing to do with the Feds apparently…yeah right Keith ..

  8. Barrow, your concern for Germany is noted.
    Germany’s getting out of Coal is going very well – the Plan to shutdown the Coal by 2038 is in place and progressing.
    Coal fired power plants have been shutdown this year, as the proportion of coal fired power in Germany’s electricity grid keeps falling away – 2023, its down to 26.1%.

    Happy to help, again.

  9. Many see the Dutton nuclear distraction for exactly what it is. An orchestrated LNP/Media distraction, desperately controlling the media narrative at all cost. The corrupted LNP/Media actually has 99% of the media and servile docile people talking about the complete ridiculous nonsense that nuclear power in Australia is and keeping the rest of the media and everyone else silent on what a great job Labor is doing delivering a second budget surplus and repairing the last 9 years of devastating LNP economic catastrophe.
    “At least Laura Tingle called Dutton out, where are the rest of you”?
    Albanese and Labor, science experts, can hold a press conference in this country, detailing the latest legislations and science initiatives and the media refuse point blank to even show a minute of it.
    Only drowning the media narrative in a sea of Duttonistic LNPee/Media zero detail nuclear distractions.
    So whens Duttons next contrived “Conspiracy nutter LNPee/Media”, organised coastal town meeting to save whales from exploding and catching on fire from offshore wind turbines?
    The Australian LNP/media is so ridiculous, it has reduced itself to a Monty Python sketch comedy!

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