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HomeClimate WatchGoing nuclear: The man tearing up Australia’s Net Zero script

Going nuclear: The man tearing up Australia’s Net Zero script


The writer is in Australia

WHILE a number of Western countries are immersed in rather consequential election campaigns right now, down under we are in the electoral off season. Though a bombshell thrown by the leader of the opposition, Peter Dutton, has caused just as much excitement.

Still one year out from the next national election but two years into a shocker of a government, led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese since his Labor Party tossed out the dreadful Liberal (notionally conservative) government of Scott Morrison, politics has suddenly hotted up. The Liberal Party’s new leader Dutton, a former Queensland cop with serious political smarts and some right-wing inclinations, has overnight shifted the Overton window on energy policy. As the ABC tendentiously announced, he broke all the rules of policy-making with a new nuclear energy plan. 

He has torn up the script which in Australia bans nuclear energy and, if you follow the ABC’s thinking, gambled with his party’s chances at the next election. He has set out to convince voters that his blueprint for an Australian nuclear future is feasible and preferable to the green policy madness set out forcefully in these pages on Tuesday by Viv Forbes. It will be the most unorthodox and courageous approach we’ve seen from an opposition leader in recent memory. It is too much to say he is ‘the hope of the side’ just yet, but it marks signs of a conservative revival.

The reigning PM is a leftist, and by leftist, I mean a real one. Albanese is surrounded by leftists. His first-term disasters have been many. The worst, arguably, is his manic drive towards Net Zero. Albo’s government means business, prey to criticisms inside and outside the Parliament for moving too slowly on the climate ‘crisis’. This extremist ideological rubbish is a source of great frustration for our outsider class. Our right-of-centre minor parties are very minor. At our election in 2022 we faced the same situation as the Brits. We chose to punish a shocking government and in doing so invited a worse lot through the door.

But now it looks as if they may not get their own way.  Especially in the world of climate policy. 

Dutton hasn’t got everything right. Not least online censorship. But with this move he has overtaken ‘One-Term Albo’ as the preferred PM in recent Australian opinion polls – unprecedented for a first-term opposition leader. 

His startling U-turn announcement that a future Federal Coalition government would introduce a zero-emissions nuclear energy plan in Australia (one that has been proven to get electricity prices and emissions down all over the world) to work in partnership with renewable energy and gas as part of a balanced energy mix was the reason.

It may not sound dramatic to you but believe me, down under it is. What Dutton’s nuclear play achieves is monumental:

·         It provides our nation with much-needed energy security;

·         It plunges a dagger into the heart of the renewables money-laundering scheme – Ponzi with a capital P;

·         It brings Australian into the 21st-century energy economy;

·         It neutralises, at a stroke, bleating greens and assorted leftists and globalists who endlessly bang on about non-existent climate emergencies;

·         It largely shuts down internal divisions in the opposition parties over climate and energy by simply taking carbon emissions out of play;

·         It places a ceiling over our massive, energy-driven cost of living crisis;

·         It restores hope to our farmers that their land won’t be pillaged in the name of renewables and in the creation of what James Delingpole likes to call ‘bird-chomping eco-crucifixes’;

·         It will save untold numbers of whales;

·         It will restore economic life and hope to seven regional centres which have suffered grievously at the hands of those determined to kill off old power generation and mining;

·         It all but secures the next election for the Coalition.

Recent polling suggests Dutton has tapped into the strong support there is for nuclear energy, 60 per cent, as a matter of fact. And why wouldn’t there be? 

If and when it comes to pass, Australia will join such nations as Canada, the United Kingdom (though Brits are, idiotically, shutting down much of their nuclear power in the mad pursuit of Net Zero),  India, China, South Korea, France, Spain, Russia, Japan, and the US in the sensible nuclear energy club. Most of the G7, in other words. Thirty-two countries, all up. Going nuclear is not a revolutionary act but a mainstream one. Oh and, helpfully, Australia has around a third of the world’s uranium resource. Until now, we have shipped it to other places so they can have reliable energy when we, increasingly, do not.

Dutton even named the proposed sites, showing both substance and further courage.

By contrast, the present PM is planning to subsidise the Australian manufacture of solar panels and wind farms to the tune of 22billion dollars’ worth of corporate welfare. To deliver, he says, a ‘reliable and renewable future’, as if the words ‘reliable’ and ‘renewable’ should ever be used in the same sentence. .

The usual suspects, like the Guardian and the CSIRO (the wildly misnamed and climate-obsessed Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) now have a new game to play: maligning nuclear, at all costs.  

Speaking of costs, critics seem to be blissfully unaware of, or at least are conveniently parking, the likely final bill for renewables, estimated in 2010 at $370billion over (then projected) ten years.

That includes a spend of $47billion over four years to ‘support’ a transition to renewables.

All this on a system that won’t guarantee power and will last only 20 years before it all falls to bits.

Estimates that nuclear power will cost between three hundred and six hundred billion dollars start to look like loose change in comparison.

The term game-changer is a cliché, yet here it approaches appropriateness. Albo is probably going to achieve electoral ignominy all on his own, making Dutton’s move courageous as well as brilliant. He is an energy truth-teller. The word that most comes to mind to describe his nuclear energy policy is ‘elegant’ and it could mark him out to become Australia’s fourth great opposition leader (after Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser and Tony Abbott).

It is providing hope for economically moribund places which have lost their economic raison d’etre as the direct result of malevolent and deliberate government policy. As policy U-turns go, this one has the potential to be one for the ages.

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Paul Collits
Paul Collits
Paul Collits is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Quadrant Online

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