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Byron Shire
July 16, 2024

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Dutton’s Going Nuclear

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The end of coal and gas has always signalled a philosophical conundrum for the capitalist monsters who fund governments and have kept us dependent on their supply. We have been plugged in and disempowered.

Peter Dutton’s going nuclear.

When you set aside his proposed intention to build actual reactors on our landscape, there is a figurative meaning which I feel underpins the spirit of the man and his political approach.

Going nuclear can also mean ‘to become furious; to resort to drastic measures in an attempt to undermine an opponent.’

Yep, drastic measures. Nuclear isn’t a solution. It’s a threat. And it’s being used to undermine the conversation about renewables.

It’s straight from the seven-second messaging playbook they used for the ‘No’ campaign.

If you don’t know, vote ‘No-clear’.

Seven reactors in seven seconds.

When it comes to community safety, nuclear power makes climate-destroying coal mines look like a trip to Disneyland.

Is that the intention? It feels like a crazy bluff.

It’s a show of strength. It’s the big guns. It’s an attempt to capture the renewables narrative, and put it in the shadow of a giant reactor. All over my newsfeed I have pictures of Peter Dutton with a nuclear reactor. It’s power porn. It’s not something you want to look at before you fall asleep.

This is not a pathway to hope. It is however, quite literally, a pathway to power.

Good old-fashioned, trickle-down capitalist power. Not power sharing. The renewable model threatens to destabilise the core values of a system that keeps us hooked in like dependent energy junkies. Dutton is never going to be a fan of a system that delivers power sharing. He’s not into sharing power. He’s into taking power. He’s a big reactor.

The end of coal and gas has always signalled a philosophical conundrum for the capitalist monsters who fund governments and have kept us dependent on their supply. We have been plugged in and disempowered. They don’t want us to unplug. They don’t want small community micro-grids. They don’t want energy sovereignty. They don’t want us to create our own energy – because quite literally we’d be powered from the ground up. That’s scary. How do you have power over people who make their own power? Think about it. Billionaires don’t get to make more billions when we unplug.

The renewable economy has the potential to create a viable alternative to the trickle-down capitalist model. If communities are able to set up self-sustaining micro-grids where they control the flow of energy, they’re no longer plugged into the giant ‘grid’. There is no longer one ring to rule them all. It’s a decentralised model. There are no giant ‘power plants’ as there would be with Dutton’s plan for seven nuclear reactors, to be put, by the way, in someone’s backyard. Would you want it in yours? Give me a solar panel, a windmill and a battery any day. Shit, I’d be happy with a candle.

And before we get into the dialogue about nuclear providing ‘safe, clean’ energy, let’s reflect on the risk. And there is MASSIVE risk. We’ve seen it play out. In 1986 after a reactor meltdown and a giant blast at Chernoybyl something like 40 operators were killed. More have died from radioactivity-related cancers since. The site is still radioactive today.

And Fukishima. There are over 2,000 disaster-related deaths from the 2011 nuclear disaster. This was caused by a 15-metre tsunami that disabled the power supply and cooling of the three reactors, causing a nuclear accident that saw all three cores melted in the first three days. 160,000 people who lived near the plant were displaced. Many are still fighting for compensation. Female infants affected by the worst fallout have a 70% chance of developing thyroid cancer. And may I remind you, children are more at risk from radiation than adults and more likely to develop cancers. And this is the energy solution?

Oh, and we live in a world where the climate has been destabilised to the point where catastrophic disasters are on the increase. Awesome environment for nuclear! Fire, floods, cyclones. We got it all.

If Dutton is such a nuclear fan then let’s start with a reactor in Vaucluse. Maybe Gucci can sponsor it.


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32 COMMENTS

  1. Look it’s not that difficult..Black out Bowen
    Intent to continually lie the Nation ..no doubt
    Renewable energies are the Cheapest ?
    Absolute 💯 PERCENT BS .. not once has this enept
    Labor party fessed up about how much this Net Zero madness going to cost the Taxpayer’s…
    Yet Nuclear the dearest form of energy..another
    Lie .. resent pole…60% of the nation supports
    Nuclear power…..on top of a scare campaign to suggest Nuclear so dangerous..3 eye fish for dinner etc…seriously 36 nation’s use Nuclear energy..the US ..France etc..any serious issues that the world’s
    Media have covered to back up labors scare campaign ? Well of course not ..just big investment
    Corporates..ex politician’s and his son.. and bigtime Forrest in WA just to mention a few who
    Have invested…will not doubt be on the
    Media front ASAP with more scare campaigns..
    Incidentally..David you mentioned reactors in Duttons electorate ? Any wind turbines in any of the teals or Greens or Labor electorate’s ?
    Well of course not..”if it were not for double standards The left would have no standards at all ”
    Can’t believe it ! Bring on Zero emissions energy
    Mix !

    • Really blackout Bowen: more noalition nonsense. Actually wind turbines are proposed in Labor electorates. After listening to obrien what a lot of b……t did he sprout, no answers to anything. The whole nuclear proposal is a lie, they know it won’t happen, just want to divert attention away from their 10 years of chaos energy wise when in government, now want to look like they have a policy. Just muddying the water for their climate change deniers to look like they are proposing something. Obrien blamed Labor for snowy 2 but forgot it was a noalition project then continued on with lies on cost, length of transmission lines and the amount of high level waste to be generated. So barrow did you read anything or just listen to sky after dark fantasy stuff.

      • Rod seriously Man ..have not tuned into Sky
        For years..unfortunately that’s the go to for
        You and ya far left activists..to berate anyone
        With alternative views…Zero emissions
        Nuclear..should be a given ..oh by the way
        The submariners who will be inheriting
        Nuclear Subs .. in danger as well Rod ?
        Comedian you are Rod !

        • Stop repeating fantasies, you do know( I hope) it’s just a thought bubble to confuse the issues. If you listen to obrien even he doesn’t have a clue just waffle to make it look like they have a real policy.

  2. Barrow, what’s with this “Black out Bowen” thing of yours. It is false, Bowen hasn’t caused any blackouts.

    Barrow, on energy generation and the costs of the different sources of energy generation, the recently released CSIRO GenCost Report has laid it all out. And as much as you might dislike reading that report’s results, them’s the facts. Further, if you are truly interested in where The Grid is heading you can dial up AEMO’s ‘2024 Integrated System Plan’ for a reading to glean extra information on affairs.

  3. Enough of the hysterical leftist waffle please!
    You David and all of your readers should educate yourselves regarding the nuclear debate by taking the time and reading the Coalition Dissenting Report to parliament .Whether you like it or not Australia is going to have nuclear powered subs using for power/propulsion SMR’s(small modular reactors)
    In order to facilitate this we will have to have a land based supporting nuclear industry. How is that this stupid government can show bipartisanship support for AUKUS (and all the nuclear infrastructure it requires)yet behave like adolescent
    Idiots,waving around pictures of 3 eyed fish when the idea of using nuclear power domestically is mentioned!!??
    If you do take the time to read the paper David you will find that statistically world wide,injuries/fatalities from nuclear are about on par with solar/wind generated power!
    Please show some maturity and truth with your editorials regarding this issue over hysterical ideology!

    • Bruce, when nuclear goes wrong, it is an irrecoverable situation. The wastelands left in the wake of Chernobyl and Fukushima catastrophies aren’t exactly the best advertisements for going nuclear.
      For the climate, the imperative is to get cracking in this decade to reduce GHG emissions. We can’t afford the time to wait for maybe pre-2040 to land one or two of Dutton’s nuclear power plants.

      • An inconvenient truth.

        Co2 forms 0.04 % of the atmosphere. In the dinosaur error it was 6000 part per million rather than 412 parts per million.

        Not much happening in Fukushima as it was a gas explosion. Pretty much back to normal.

        Re Chernobyl:
        Although it is largely abandoned, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone has become a haven for wildlife over the years.

        “The environment of Chernobyl is a paradox,” Davies said. “Despite its reputation as a wasteland, Chernobyl has become a site of high biodiversity. Around 350,000 people were forced to abandon their homes when the exclusion zone was created in the years following the 1986 nuclear accident, and since then nature has slowly begun to recover.

        “Today, the zone hosts a growing habitat for populations of elk, wolves and even an endangered species of wild horse, which were almost driven to extinction in 20th century. People I have spent time with during my Ph.D. research around Chernobyl regularly enter the zone to forage for wild berries and mushrooms, despite the risks of radiation.”

    • Ummm, again, like so many of you supporting nuclear power, you can’t even get your words right, let alone any understanding of the feasibility and affordability of nuclear power. “Dribble” is what comes from your salivary glands, “drivel” is most definitely what comes from your brain via your mouth.

  4. “Nuclear is a threat?” How? So the ALP and this articles argument are identical to the ramblings of the far left Socialist/ Marxist/ Trotskyist university clubs of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and into the new millennium. Albo indeed was a university Trotskyist that held these anti- nuclear opinions 30 years ago. Renewables are NOT Green, NOT clean and NOT cheap. The ALP plans on spending 1.5 trillion dollars on a Renewables only plan. Dutton plans on spending around half that amount for something that lasts around 6 times that of the ALP’s solar and wind.

    • “The ALP plans on spending 1.5 trillion dollars on a Renewables only plan. “, a False regurging of Dutton and Murdoch Media Empire.
      AEMO, the experts – $122billion cost largely paid by private investors for our electricity grid to reach Net Zero 2050

    • Really you do know despite your hysterical denounciation of the left it is the noalition proposing the nationalisation of energy with us tax payers lumbered with the noalition fantasy. Anyway it’s all b……shit and is a distraction put up by the noalition.

  5. Lots of nice puns in there , Mandy . Well done. Of course Dutton has no intention of introducing nuclear power here. He knows it’s too expensive , too far in the future and nobody wants a nearby reactor. He’s just muddying the waters in a rearguard attempt to delay the uptake of renewables. I can’t use the words I’d like to in describing him and his actions. Will have to settle for despicable.

  6. As was made obvious on the ABC’s 7.30 program mid week and Insiders program on Sunday, Peter Dutton has gone full Trump – say anything to own the headlines, positive or negative doesn’t matter, truth and facts don’t matter.
    There is no Coalition nuclear power “plan”. There is a Coalition political strategy to flood the zone with misinformation, mislead voters about the causes of our “cost of living” problems, and fuel uncertainty over energy policy.
    “Drown the media narrative in a sea of LNPee strategy”
    The usual suspect rusted on Duttonhumpers will support the LNP culture war as usual, no matter how ridiculous, anyone with half a brain will see straight through the Duttonheimers contrived lies.
    Let’s make this simple. “Cost of living pressures” require somthing to be done about electricity costs.
    Wasting several hundred billion dollars now, to build nuclear reactors that will not come on line for 25 years, that will provide electricity that will cost 5-10 times more than renewables will not provide cost of living help, now or ever, PERIOD!
    Meanwhile those that have had solar connected to their homes, probably haven’t paid over $100 a quarter for years now?
    Next Monday, “Real cost of living pressure relief will be provided by a real Federal Govt with tax reduction and a $300 energy rebate”.

  7. Many of us are old enough to remember that for electricity, the means of production, distribution and exchange were state controlled. Our coal-fired power stations (CFPSs) however were even then pumping dangerous emissions into the atmosphere (as we were warned since the 50s. We loved it, it was cheap and we thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. In fact it gave us sliced bread!

    Our coal-fired power stations are aging and scheduled to close down. Astute capitalists, companies that own them have plans to use the sites to get into the next generation renewable energy business.

    To present the situation as a capitalists v socialists, goodies v baddies, white hats v black hats Greens western melodrama is insulting in its pontifications and unhelpful. It makes the Coalitions willing dupes on here sound positively cerebral.

    What would be more useful is to point out the impacts on the nation’s bottom line. We have to have a plan for when the CFPSs are closed – and 7 nuclear power plants by how long’s a piece of string, supplying a fraction of our energy needs won’t cut it – until there is sufficient supply from renewables and batteries. Gas must play a part but if you suggest this to the Greens they go hysterical.

    We can hold to the excellent course that’s been started on renewables or we scare off investors, scare up some NIMBYISM, put the whole thing back and end up in real do do.

    We can declare to the world that we don’t care what Parisians think (as if this is all it’s about), abandon targets and have huge tariffs slapped on our goods by more conscientious nations.

    This is what our sound economic managers in the Coalition are on about because it won’t serve them well for Labor’s transition to succeed and simultaneously bring down prices. Putting a hole in Labor’s support is what this is about. Nuclear is a pipe dream!

    • I see Lizardbreath…pipe dream ? Not a pipe dream
      For the millions of households who were paying the cheapest costs in the world ..now the dearest ? It matters little what either party are putting forward
      Labors push for renewables is a pipedream .
      The coalition is putting forward a alternative
      And rightly so …the resurgence of Nuclear power
      Is well and truly on the rise ..the technology has advanced and how…why would the government order Nuclear subs if our submariners are in danger of being exposed…just another scare campaign
      By labor and the greens..with zero evidence…
      Let’s have a meaningful discussions about all forms of energies…the population is struggling Lizardbreath with a cost of living crisis…
      If labor are not aware of this they should be …
      Dreamers the lot of them ..

      • Barrow, I agree that the concept of emissions free reliable energy is extremely attractive for a world facing huge issues from fossil fuel use at the same time as our lifestyles and economies are built intractably around unlimited power supply.

        I’m cynical about the Coalition plans as they have come out of the proverbial blue. Where were these plans over their previous decade in power and during the multiple iterations of their energy policy?

        The pipe dream is thinking that they will be affordable – with estimates of up to $600 billion dollars to put in place and that they will result in cheaper energy prices. That it’s possible to get enough of them in place by 2035 with no existing nuclear industry in Australia, possible High Court challenges to compulsory acquisitions, CFPs on their last legs and experts – an AEMO report said all coal power stations would shut by 2038 under its most likely scenario – pointing to a subsequent looming gap in our energy supply.

        The predictions I’ve read for the percentage of Australia’s energy needs to be covered by there seven sites ranges from 4%-7%. Renewable energy supplied almost 40% of electricity across the national electricity market (Nem) in 2023, and briefly topped 72% last October. Does it seem economically sensible to put plans to raise this to 82% by 2030 in jeopardy for an uncosted, scantly detailed based based partially around technology that does not as yet exist?

        Some other perspectives – around 10% of the world’s electricity comes from nuclear energy and decreasing. Australia does not pay the highest electricity prices in the world. Not by a long long shot – look it up.

        I’m fine with having a mature, agnostic discussion about a low emissions energy MIX. But that would be one that includes timing, costing and energy output. Maybe, with improved technology in the future, nuclear could be a viable back up to renewables. But to try to put a spanner in investment and progress to date, for the sake of a political distraction and disruption is madness. I would have thought one such as you, so into fiscal reality and responsibility, would be a little more sceptical.

        • Also Lizardbreath..this Labor government
          Has not been truthful with the cost to Taxpayer’s for this renewable energy
          Transition…instead when the coalition
          Puts forward again the alternative..
          Misinformation ! And let’s be real here
          The world as we know would stave / die
          From either cold or heat deaths if
          Hydrocarbon’s were to be eliminated
          Facts not fiction…

          • Barrow, we don’t know what Dutton’s price tag for his 7 nuclear sites hosting multiple reactors is.
            Dutton has said that his nuclear reactors will be built and paid by government, the total $’s??????.
            AEMO ( the experts ) in its just released ‘2024 Integrated System Plan’ have put a price tag of $122billions by 2050 on transforming the energy grid. That $122billions will largely be paid for by private investors.

          • That’s right Barrow just ignore everything I wrote and, schoolyard like, come out with “anyway… ‘this Labor government
            Has (sic) not been truthful …’” without giving any details.

            It’s also hardly possible to have “misinformation” about the Coalition’s policy when there is so little information to work with! 🤔

            My Green comrade has explained AEMO’s figures to you. But have a look at anyone who is actually looking at the maths is concluding. Compare “almost net zero by 2050” at a cost of $122 billion with renewables with up to $600 billion to supply UP TO 12% of energy needs by 2050”

            Even allowing for blowouts – common to nuclear projects also – and exaggeration that’s a hell of a difference.

            As for “The world as we know would stave / die From either cold or heat deaths if
            Hydrocarbon’s were to be eliminated” – I’ve said similar things for an instant flick of the switch. But Barrow we were discussing the merits of renewables v nuclear as a means of doing something about it. Did you forget?

            Remember the Coalition’s target is theoretically net zero by 2050.

      • The reason many informed in the energy field treated the Coalition’s plans as a joke was because they were just that – a bit more informed. It was a dangerous folly to think the general population bothers to read much beyond social media.

        There are an untold number of more sober analyses like this one from reneweconomy.com.au: “Australia will not come close to net zero by 2050 under Coalition’s nuclear plan states

        “ In conclusion
        Our analysis shows that the Coalition’s nuclear strategy, if it met its stated aims, would see nuclear plants account for approximately 12 per cent of total electricity generation by 2050.
        “The slowed pace of the renewables roll-out implied or stated by the Coalition would result in renewables supplying 49 per cent of total supply (compared with 98 per cent under Labor’s plan) and gas generation supplying approximately 39 per cent (compared with 2 per cent under Labor’s plan). It would have a severe negative impact on the renewables industries, but would be a major boost to the gas industry.
        “With high continued supply of electricity from gas under the Coalition’s plan, attaining net zero emissions by 2050 would be out of the question. Attaining net zero by 2050 would require four times as many nuclear power plants to be built in the 2040s as the Coalition currently plans.
        “Under Labor’s renewables plan, Australia’s electricity emissions are expected to decline year on year until they reach almost zero on 2050. Under the Coalition’s plan for nuclear power, a declining emphasis on renewables and an unavoidably greater role for fossil fuels means emissions from the electricity sector in 2050 would be nearly 19 times higher than under Labor’s plan.”

  8. Ukraine produces 55% nuclear energy for the electricity grid coming second behind France producing 69% generation. my wife was in Sweden when in 1986, “nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, Ukraine, went out of control during a test at low-power, leading to an explosion and fire that demolished the reactor building and released large amounts of radiation into the atmosphere.” At that time the USSR was in control of media, and it wasn’t until the league of nations belonging to Scandinavia became aware due to radiation levels identified through the countries monitoring process, brought about by the prevailing wind. The USSR was complicit in not identifying a massive radiation leak at the Chernobyl nuclear power station and to this day you have Putin control of the power station and employed by Ukrainians’ forcefully and set explosives surrounding the nuclear plant in case Putin loses control of the war in Ukraine.
    Another consideration is that this war that is being fought is the first war where ‘drones’ are being used in battle extensively. I feel that the idea of the agreement with AUKUS will not go through and if so, stupidity will be not to identify R&D to include submerged drone, packed with a nuclear arsenal to annihilate a foe without the need for human personnel to be onboard. Talk about cost saving.
    Finally, the stupidity of any nation to have above ground nuclear power station is thwart with the four most important strategic vital assets being: communication, energy, water and roads/airfields/bridges etc. the problem with targeting nuclear is that it will emit radiation and the area where you locate will be what Chernobyl is, a wasteland unfits for human habitation. No to any nuclear power plant and if AUKUS does eventuate, AU better have the capacity to protect our vital asset, because it will be a target.

  9. Lizardbreath why are labor & and the greens
    So intent on net zero for Australia ? We are but a drop of water in a bath regarding our total output of emmisions ! Seriously
    One would assume we and that is Australia
    Is a major polluter…
    1.3% Australia contributes… labor / greens
    Teals are one big happy family really.. green on the outside ..red on the inside..madness this push for
    Net Zero ..which in my opinion will not even happen this century… cost of living pressures/ crisis…gifting the GG a 40% payrise ..not to mention all politicians as well payrise…interest rates are about to go up again..can’t keep inflation down..in the meantime Albo was not to concerned about the above ..his full focus was spending 500
    Million on the Voice proposal…the list is not looking good for the socialist party at the next election
    Lizardbreath… Bob Hawke where are you ?

    • Australia can choose to be part of a responsible international cooperative effort to avert global catastrophe or they can become a pariah and be slapped with trade sanctions accordingly.

      Yes larger countries have higher emissions but, a country with huge energy needs for example, “China’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are set to fall in 2024 and could be facing structural decline, due to record growth in the installation of new low-carbon energy sources.” (climate brief.org)

      But Barrow – why is the Coalition so keen on net zero by 2050? So keen they say they’ll invest hundreds of billions of your hard-earned where private investors won’t tread?

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