Dutton’s surprising hint on nuclear cost

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton announced the nuclear energy plan during a joint press conference with Angus Taylor, Sussan Ley, Ted O’Brien and David Littleproud on Wednesday. Picture: NewsWire / Nikki Short

Peter Dutton says people will be “pleasantly surprised” when they finally see the price tag for the Coalition’s nuclear energy plan.

The Opposition Leader on Wednesday released some details of the plan the Coalition had been flagging for months but did not put a price on it.

He said again that would happen “very soon”.

“I think I think people will be pleasantly surprised,” Mr Dutton told the Today show on Friday.

Federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the price of his nuclear energy policy would be worth it over the years. Picture: NewsWire / Nikki Short

“It’s a lot of money, there’s no question about that, but this is an investment for 80 years.”

He said the Coalition was “happy” to have the debate on the costs.

“It will be a fraction of the cost of Anthony Albanese’s $1.2 trillion (renewables) plan, which is going to drive up the cost of electricity.”

In this explainer video, we explore Australia's bold new vision for nuclear energy. The Coalition proposes building seven nuclear reactors by 2050 to provide reliable, low-carbon electricity and help achieve net zero emissions. This plan faces strong opposition from Labor and state leaders, who cite risks and high costs. We delve into how nuclear energy works, its benefits, concerns about radioactive waste, and the financial challenges illustrated by the Hinkley C project in the UK. Plus, we consider the potential implications of Australia becoming a nuclear power.

Cabinet minister Bill Shorten slammed the Coalition’s “nuclear fantasy”.

“The economics of Peter Dutton’s proposal just don’t stack up at all. That’s why he hasn’t revealed his costs,” Mr Shorten told Today.

Cabinet Minister Bill Shorten joined the government attack on the Coalition’s nuclear plan. Picture: NewsWire / Martin Ollman

“The cost of nuclear is way over the top. And to be honest, I’m a bit surprised that Pete’s going down this path.

“I mean, hats off to him for being bold, but being crazy brave with a silly idea which you’ll never be around to have to account for the cost overruns.

“It’s just smoke and mirrors, mate.”

On Wednesday, the Coalition unveiled plans to build seven nuclear power plants by 2050 with the first reactor slated to be operational in just over a decade in a move designed to deliver cheaper, zero-emissions and reliable power supply.

The large-scale and small modular generators would be Commonwealth-owned, similar to arrangements governing the Snowy Hydro 2.0 scheme, requiring a multibillion-dollar funding commitment from taxpayers. The reactors will be located in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.

Mr Dutton and senior coalition leaders held a press conference to release the policy. Picture: NewsWire / Nikki Short

Contrasting with Labor’s approach that will be largely reliant on renewable energy, Mr Dutton called for Australians to have an “adult conversation” on the merits of nuclear energy.

The premiers of the states earmarked for reactors have denounced the plans.

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan lashed Mr Dutton’s nuclear policy.

“This is the Liberal Party solutions to the challenges of transitioning our energy mix in this country,” he said.

“They want to bring more expensive, more risky, more toxic energy solutions to the people of this country. We won’t stand for that. We absolutely will not stand for that.”