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Australia’s nuclear debate heats up with Dutton’s ‘no nuclear, no net zero’ ultimatum

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By Colin Hay - 
Peter Dutton backs nuclear for net zero

Federal opposition leader Peter Dutton has thrown down the gauntlet on the Australian energy debate.

Speaking at an economic forum in Sydney this week, Mr Dutton once again highlighted that nuclear energy will be a major topic in the lead-up to the next Federal election.

He told the large audience he has personally visited and sat down face-to-face with energy experts in eight countries across Europe, Asia and North America to discuss nuclear power in recent years.

“Next month I will be visiting the United Kingdom and the month after that, the United Arab Emirates,” he said.

“A conclusion I have drawn as a result of this work is that Australia cannot reach net-zero without next-generation, zero-emissions nuclear energy.”

“Or, to put it candidly … ‘no nuclear, no net zero’.”

Growing global nuclear interest

According to the opposition leader, 32 countries in the world are currently using nuclear energy and another 50 are set to introduce it for the first time or looking to do so.

“But Australia is left out. In fact, we’re the only country in the G20 with a blanket ban against nuclear energy,” he declared.

“Less than a fortnight ago, energy ministers and heads of delegations from Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Ghana, Hungary, Japan, Korea, Poland, Romania, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Türkiye, Ukraine, The United Kingdom and the United States of America met in Paris to discuss zero-emissions nuclear energy.”

“In their joint communiqué, they commended (and I quote) “… the solidarity expressed by Canada, France, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States during the G7 meeting […] in supporting nuclear energy as a means to provide affordable energy that reduces dependence on fossil fuels, helps address the climate crisis, provides jobs and growth, strengthens global energy security while providing baseload energy and grid flexibility”.

“So, what is it that Anthony Albanese and Chris Bowen know that these countries do not?”

Allies following a nuclear path

Mr Dutton pointed out that Australia’s closest allies are among those nations backing nuclear.

“They are countries that know the engineering and economics of nuclear energy far better than we do here in Australia,” he told the Sydney audience.

“For reasons of geopolitics, energy security, climate change, energy affordability, jobs and economic growth, these countries have […] within the last fortnight issued an international ‘call to action’ for the embrace of zero-emissions nuclear energy.”

“An international ‘call to action’ that, here in Australia, falls on deaf ears. In fact, the Albanese Government mocks the idea”

Lack of government foresight

Mr Dutton said that as Australia’s emissions rise and its energy prices go through the roof, the reliability of its energy supply falls and its manufacturers write down assets, shrink workforces and look to offshore their operations, all the while the government is refusing to even contemplate giving Australia the option to consider zero-emissions nuclear energy.

“This is because Labor has wrongly defined the challenge of net-zero and is wrongly applying a single-dimensional solution.”

“The end-goal for Labor is to maximise the amount of renewables on the grid – and so, in their mind, any alternate technology must be rejected and their preferred political strategy for doing so is to demonise them.”

“Meanwhile, the coalition’s policy work continues. Unlike Labor, we are assessing zero-emissions nuclear energy as part of Australia’s future energy mix, with consideration for new and emerging technologies – specifically, Generation III+ and beyond.”