People living near power stations would be ‘mostly receptive’ to nuclear plants: Dutton

People living near proposed nuclear power sites would mostly be receptive to their introduction, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton claims.

May 24, 2024, updated May 24, 2024
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton says those living near existing power stations would be amenable to nuclear plants, as well.. (file image)

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton says those living near existing power stations would be amenable to nuclear plants, as well.. (file image)

The coalition has announced plans to add nuclear to Australia’s energy grid by building several reactors, should it win the next election.

While the opposition has come under pressure to reveal their proposal’s locations and costings, reports suggest the nuclear plants could be built in areas that already have coal or gas-fired power stations.

Speculated sites include the NSW Hunter Valley, Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, Collie in WA, Port Augusta in SA and parts of Queensland.

People in locations where there are already coal power stations would support nuclear energy, Mr Dutton said.

“When you look at the communities where there is a high energy IQ, that is where they’ve got a coal-fired power station now, people are in favour (of nuclear) because they understand the technology,” he told Nine’s Today program on Friday.

“They understand that it’s zero emissions, that it is latest generation, it’s the same technology the government signed up to for the nuclear submarines, so it’s safe for our sailors.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has rubbished the proposal, saying the cost of setting up nuclear energy would be significant.

“The truth is that it doesn’t stack up, it would cost an enormous amount, many billions of dollars,” he told Brisbane radio 4BC.

“In addition to that, it will be more than a decade before they can be built. The estimations are that it’ll be six times more expensive than renewables.”

A CSIRO report released on Wednesday showed a nuclear power plant would cost at least $8.5 billion.

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Mr Dutton said nuclear would allow other forms of energy, such as batteries and renewables, to be a greater part of the mix.

“I want to believe that the battery power can provide the baseline, it just can’t can’t. The technology is not that advanced, wind and solar, as we know is intermittent, so you need to firm it up,” he said.

“We’ve got to get serious about a new energy system as we decarbonise and modernise and nuclear is a key part of that.”

Government Services Minister Bill Shorten said the debate on nuclear was the wrong one in terms of the energy transition.

“If we were going to have nuclear power, that was a conversation for the 1960s, not the 2020s,” he told Today.

“We’ve got the opportunity to invest in renewables and use gas as our baseload transition till we get there.”

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