The Guardian • Issue #2091


Nuke the distractions

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2091

Opposition leader Peter Dutton has been in the news again. He says we should have nuclear to bolster our efforts to reduce carbon emissions. He’s called nuclear “safe,” as well as “feasible and proven,” adding that “small modular reactors, (SMRs) can be plonked onto coal-fired power plants.”

Dutton is either seriously deluded, or (more likely) doesn’t mean this. Nuclear would be exorbitantly expensive, and the safety can’t be taken for granted. Just ask the people of Fukushima. Small Modular Reactors sound good, but the only working one in the US has just been shut down after massive cost blowouts and delivering far less power than promised. It might be 30 years before working SMRs are available. So when Dutton says that new nuclear technologies “can be plugged into existing grids and work immediately,” he is lying, unless ‘immediately’ means three decades.

As for the cost, the nuclear power Dutton is after would cost the nation at least $367 billion, about the same as the AUKUS nuclear-powered submarines. Dutton isn’t about to ditch AUKUS, and he won’t say where we should get our $367 billion from, or where the reactors should go.

If this gives you déjà vu, that’s because we’ve been through this charade many times. John Howard called for a “rational debate” on nuclear power in 2006. Since then, Dutton had eleven years in power. The government he was in did nothing about the nuclear wonderland Dutton is suddenly so keen on. They received a number of expert reports telling then that nuclear would be too expensive and unsafe.

What the Liberal/National Coalition did do was to actively campaign against lowering carbon emissions. They’re still doing it.

All lucky PM Albanese has to do is stand next to Peter Dutton to make himself look like a rational person who cares about real-world solutions to the ongoing Climate Crisis.

Albanese has more in common with Dutton than he lets on. True, Labor doesn’t call for nuclear they know will never be built but Albanese marches to the tune of fossil fuel extraction donors just as efficiently as the Coalition. The ALP takes credit for increases in renewables while waving through new fossil fuel projects at a frantic pace. They are better than the Coalition, but the climate emergency is about physics. The atmosphere doesn’t give you any points for being not as bad as Dutton. All that matters is how much extra carbon we put into the atmosphere. Labor is making that worse.

Time is running out on the climate emergency. Temperature records are only being broken in one direction.

Australia needs to ignore Dutton’s distractions, and hold Albanese to account. The Guardian has been reporting on Labor’s inadequacy for some time. We will keep doing that. If you appreciate our efforts, support them.

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