The Guardian • Issue #2105


Nuclear Groundhog Day

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2105

Do you ever get déjà vu, the feeling that you’ve been through something before? Sometimes, that’s because you have been through it before. So it is with Australia and nuclear power. It feels like yesterday that this paper talked about Peter Dutton’s “energy plan.” Here are the facts:

Climate change is happening now. Nuclear power would take too long to set up.

Nuclear would cost around $100 billion. Dutton tries to make nuclear look less expensive by talking of 90 to 100 year time frames. We’d have to pay for it now.

If set up, nuclear power would not be enough to replace coal and gas.

If Australia got into nuclear, the cost would mean that we would have to do less about renewables, and use more coal and gas while the nuclear was being built. It’s almost like that’s what Dutton wants to do!

You’re not having déjà vu – this has all been gone over repeatedly.

A serious side-effect of nuclear right now, is that the Albanese Labor government is getting away with ignoring the same science they say Dutton ignores by cheating on Paris emission reductions targets, and allowing new gas and coal projects to open.

What are the media doing about this? Making it worse. There’s a vicious circle whereby the media turn a non-issue into an issue, then report on that issue as though they had no role in it, because “everybody is talking about it.” That’s what’s happening now. Journalists are reporting on Dutton’s nonsense as if it’s going to happen soon, then congratulating Dutton for being “bold” and for “setting the agenda” with zero admission of their own role.

Albanese and Plibersek are harming us now. Meanwhile the Very Serious People of Australian media are filling our eyes and ears with nuclear power plants that may never happen. Why are they doing this?

The easy answer is that our media are stupid, and that they follow popular narratives like sheep. That’s simplistic and wrong; people who work in the media are, by and large, hard-working and intelligent. So why are they pumping up Peter Dutton’s tyres instead of holding Labor to account?

It’s partly a lack of independence. Murdoch’s News Corp pretends that individual papers are independent, but there’s a management line they stick to. The ABC, which is meant to be impartial and independent, is cowed after a decade of Coalition attacks and funding cuts. From top to bottom, the ABC knows that when they annoy the Coalition, they are annoying a very vindictive future employer.

Another part of the problem is the small pool in which the media swims – many high profile ABC staff got their start keeping quiet about phone hacking and persecution campaigns at News Corp. If they move on, News is one of the largest employers.

What this country needs is media that serves the people by speaking truth to power. We need a fully funded ABC that doesn’t have to look over its shoulder.

Perhaps you’re not so interested in who does what in the media. You should be. If Dutton’s nuclear garbage gets going, we all have to live in a world made hotter by extra coal and gas emissions. If Albanese is off the hook for continuing to open coal and gas projects in the face of the science, everyone gets heatwaves, more bushfires, longer droughts, and massive climate migration.

Anyone who remembers the 2019-2020 bushfires has a reason for wanting a better media.

There is alternative media. We highlight it in this paper, and we recommend radio 3CR, as well as the sources we use.

Donate to 3CR’s radiothon! Donate to this paper’s Press Fund! Let’s not let any of them get away with it.

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