Fight over nuclear energy plan heats up

Matt Kean Valedictory Speech
Former NSW Treasurer Matt Kean resigned from state parliament just last week. Picture: NewsWire/Tim Hunter.

Labor MP Julian Hill has been ejected from question time on Monday just seconds after the first question was lobbed by Opposition Leader Peter Dutton.

Amid heated criticism from Labor over the Coalition’s proposal to construct seven nuclear power plants by 2050, Mr Dutton asked Prime Minister Albanese what the cost of the government’s proposed rollout of renewables alongside firming from gas, batteries and hydroelectricity would be incurred by the taxpayer.

QUESTION TIME
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: NewsWire / Martin Ollman

“Prime Minister, what is the total cost of the government’s energy plan and what will the capacity investment scheme cost taxpayers?” Mr Dutton said.

The Prime Minister took the opportunity to attack the Coalition’s nuclear energy plan, which was announced last week without costings or other details.

“At a time when the rest of us are working to get power bills down, he has picked the one option guaranteed to push power prices up,” Mr Albanese said

“The economics of nuclear do not stack up. That doesn’t worry those opposite.

“They spent a decade in power without a single surplus and left Australia with a trillion dollars of debt.

“The Leader of the Opposition is offering a blank piece of paper, demanding a

blank cheque to pay for it.”

Albanese rubbishes trillion dollar price tag for Labor energy plan

Anthony Albanese has rubbished accusations Labor’s plan to transition to net-zero will cost between $1.3 and $1.5 trillion, following questioning the opposition energy spokesperson Ted O’Brien.

The figures cited by Mr O’Brien are found in a report authored by academics at the universities of Melbourne, Queensland and Princeton which estimates the capital costs of the transition to net-zero emissions rather than the among incurred by taxpayers.

QUESTION TIME
Opposition energy spokesman Ted O'Brien said the government’s energy policy would cost up to $1.5 trillion. Picture: NewsWire / Martin Ollman
QUESTION TIME
The Prime Minister said the report Mr O’Brien cited found nuclear energy was unsuitable for Australia. Picture: NewsWire / Martin Ollman

Rather, estimates released by the Australian Energy Market Operator forecast the cost of Labor’s energy transition at approximately $121bn.

Using the Opposition’s ammunition against them, Mr Albanese pointed to the findings of the same academic report which showed nuclear energy was unsuited to Australia.

“I note the report that the member refers to … It also makes comments about nuclear energy,” Mr Albanese told the House.

“They say that it doesn’t stack up. It should be ruled out. It says: ‘Don’t do it’.

“As any rational person who has looked at what Australia’s energy needs and what the opportunities we have are, because as I said, we have these great renewable energy resources.”

“We have solar, we have wind, we have the anger of the leader of the opposition who made an announcement last Wednesday and then had a meltdown on Saturday,” Mr Albanese said, referring to particularly personal attacks levelled by Mr Dutton at him.

AUKUS subs, nuclear reactors ‘couldn’t be more different’: Marles

Defence Minister Richard Marles has criticised the Coalition for trying to equate its proposed tilt at nuclear power with the AUKUS submarine program.

Since proposing to develop seven nuclear power plants by 2050, the Coalition has frequently cited the AUKUS program as evidence of nuclear power’s safety in an attempt to wedge Labor.

“What we have is a set of questions which are trying to draw an equivalence between how we operate eight nuclear reactors in respect of eight submarines, and how those opposite might seek to establish a civil nuclear industry with power stations which are intended to power cities,” Mr Marles told question time.

QUESTION TIME
Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles (left) has lashed the Oppositionn for using the AUKUS nuclear subs deal to back up its energy policy. Picture: NewsWire / Martin Ollman

“It is like comparing a car engine with a coal-fired power station because they both burn hydrocarbons.

“That is the silliness of the comparison that they are engaging in.”

Electricity generated by nuclear power plants would create significantly more radioactive waste than the AUKUS submarines, Mr Marles said, while the hazardous material would also be generated sooner, he said.

“To establish power stations in any kind of time frame which would have any dent on getting to zero net emissions by 2050 would see tonnes of high level nuclear waste needing to be disposed of in the 2030s and the 2040s,” Mr Marles said.

“The first nuclear reactor under AUKUS that we will need to dispose of will be in the early 2050s.”

Mr Marles then took aim at the Coalition over its refusal to name the cost, capacity and number of reactors which would form its nuclear power policy.

“In the absence of those questions, all they have for the Australian people is a lemon,” he said.

Protesters try to drown out MPs

Pro-Palestinian protesters have attempted to interrupt question time, shouting across the chamber to demand the Albanese government stop exporting military parts which are used in Israeli armaments.

Security immediately moved to remove the small number of demonstrators, some of whom were dressed in keffiyehs while others wore t-shirts emblazoned with pro-Palestinian slogans.

“Jews for a free Palestine, stop arming Israel,” they yelled across the chamber.

Despite the raucous, question time continued unaffected with Mr Albanese continuing to criticise the Coalition’s nuclear energy policy

New GG to get massive pay rise

Australia’s incoming Governor-General Samantha Mostyn is in line to be paid significantly more than her predecessor, David Hurley.

The Albanese government on Monday introduced a Bill into parliament to make her salary $709,017 – $214,000 more than General Hurley’s $495,000 a year pay packet.

The salary for governors-general is calculated to the estimated average salary of the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia over the notional five-year term of the appointment.

“Where, in the past, a Governor-General has been the recipient of other Commonwealth entitlements – such as a judicial pension – the annual salary has been adjusted accordingly,” the Bill says.

“Ms Mostyn is not a recipient of any such entitlements.”

Samantha Mostyn has been announced as the next Governor-General of Australia. PIC: PMO
Samantha Mostyn has been announced as the next Governor-General of Australia. PIC: PMO
PRIME MINISTER PRESSER
Governor-General David Hurley unveiled his official portrait at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday. Picture: NewsWire / Martin Ollman

General Hurley was Chief of the Defence Force between 2011 and 2014, before being serving as NSW Governor.

He was sworn in as Australia’s 27th Governor-General on July 1, 2019.

Ms Mostyn, a prominent businesswoman and gender equality advocate, will be sworn in to the office next Monday.

Albo’s shock pick for key climate job

Former NSW Liberal treasurer Matt Kean has been appointed the chair of the Climate Change Authority.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese made the surprise announcement on Monday, just days after Mr Kean quit state parliament.

“As a former NSW Treasurer and minister for energy and the environment, Matt Kean is uniquely qualified to lead the Climate Change Authority and I am so pleased that he has accepted the government’s invitation to take up the vacancy,” Mr Albanese said.

PRIME MINISTER PRESSER
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Energy Minister Chris Bowen announced former NSW Treasurer and Energy Minister Matt Kean (left) as chair of the Climate Change Authority. Picture: NewsWire / Martin Ollman

“Matt Kean is an outstanding appointment for this job.

“Mr Kean understands the opportunity that the transition to clean energy represents for our nation.

“He understood it as a member of the NSW government and he understands it as someone who has focused his working life in recent years on making a difference, not just today but for generations to come.

“And he also understands the folly that walking away from the renewables transition.”

Matt Kean Valedictory Speech
Former NSW Treasurer Matt Kean resigned from state politics last week. Picture: NewsWire/Tim Hunter.

Mr Kean will replace Grant King who has resigned as chair of the Authority. Mr Albanese thanked Mr King who will finish up in early August.

The decision to appoint Mr Kean puts him at odds with the Liberal Party, which has announced a nuclear-forward approach to provide energy.

“I will let the prime answer questions regards to the politics but I will say this, as the incoming care of the Climate Change Authority, my job is to advise the government based on evidence,” Mr Kean told reporters.

PETER DUTTON
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton announced the Liberal Party’s was going ahead with a nuclear policy, with plants at seven sites. Picture : NewsWire/ Monique Harmer

“That includes engineering evidence, economic evidence and scientific evidence and that’s what I intend to do. We need to make decisions based on facts.

“Te latest scientific engineering and economic advice that has looked at these matters but I’m aware of is from the CSIRO.

“They can very clearly say that the cheapest way to transition our electricity system is to move towards renewables backed up by firming and storage.
“That is what the CSIRO says, that is the evidence available to us. I’m not aware of anything different.”

Senior Liberal frontbencher Anne Ruston wished Mr Kean “all the best”, but said she “respectfully disagreed” with his assessment that the Coalition’s nuclear policy didn’t add up.

“Mr Kean has got to explain the reasoning behind why he has taken this particular job,” she said.

We’ll just keep focusing on what we think is the main game in town, and that is doing whatever we can to try and get a long-term plan to get Australia’s energy prices down.”

Newest Senator takes her seat

Lisa Darmanin has been sworn in as the new Labor Senator for Victoria, following the death of Linda White earlier this year.

Senator Darmanin, a former Australian Services Union branch secretary, was selected by Labor in late April to fill the spot.

FEDERAL PARLIAMENT
Senator Lisa Darmanin is sworn in as a Senator for Victoria at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: NewsWire / Martin Ollman
AustraliaÕs Preparedness to Host Commonwealth Oly
Senator Linda White died in late February. Picture NewsWire / Aaron Francis

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced the death from cancer of his long-time friend and former union colleague on March 1.

“All of our hearts in the Labor family have broken at the passing of senator Linda White last evening,” he said.

“A beloved friend, a valued colleague, a dedicated parliamentarian and through all her efforts in the wider Labor movement, a devout supporter of working Australians.”