SENATOR'S STATEMENTS - Dutton's Unicorn Nuclear Plan

SENATOR'S STATEMENTS - Dutton's Unicorn Nuclear Plan Main Image

26 June 2024

We have recently seen the opposition's announcement of their unicorn plan to establish nuclear reactors in communities right around Australia. They've always had this on their agenda, but they have always been devoid of any real work and planning when it comes to our energy systems and networks. In particular, when it comes to nuclear, there's been no community engagement. It's just a big time-wasting distraction from the real work that's already being done on energy transformations in communities right around the country.

Take, for example, the community of Collie, in my home state of WA, which is one of the proposed sites for a so-called small modular reactor. A nuclear power plant is proposed for the Muja Power Station site. Mr Dutton is subjecting Collie to this risky and expensive fantasy. The coalition knows that more than two-thirds of the coal generators in our country will retire in the next decade due to age. These retirements were announced on their watch while they were in government, and yet we saw no sign of any real plan, even for nuclear, in their time in government. Their current plan will cost far more than renewable energy—renewable energy that can and must be built from today and is already being built.

The Muja Power Station is set to close by October 2029, and yet the earliest reactors to be built under the most ambitious construction timeline—these unimaginably expensive replacement nuclear reactors—would not be up and running until the early 2040s. Common sense would tell you that the state of Western Australia, including Collie, needs replacement power transformation now, not when it will be far too late. The 2023-24 GenCost report released in May confirmed what we already know, which is that renewable energy is the cheapest form of energy available. It's plentiful in WA, and we must keep implementing it now.