Fission or fantasy: Dutton’s plan to turn Qld power plants nuclear

Tens of thousands of Australians in five states could be living near nuclear power plants if the coalition wins the next federal election.

Jun 19, 2024, updated Jun 19, 2024
The Callide power station. (Pic: CS Energy)

The Callide power station. (Pic: CS Energy)

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has unveiled details of his much-anticipated nuclear energy policy, which will put nuclear power plants in Australia’s former fossil fuel heartlands.

A coalition government will attempt to build a total of seven plants at existing coal-fired power stations, with the assets owned by the Commonwealth.

This includes Callide and Tarong power stations in the Gladstone and South Burnett regions, Loy Yang in Victoria’s Gippsland area, Port Augusta in South Australia, Collie in West Australia, Mount Piper at Lithgow in central west NSW and Liddell in NSW’s Hunter region.

However, Queensland Opposition leader David Crisafulli – facing an election in October – poured cold water on the policy, saying it was not part of his plan for the state.

“We want to utilise the existing assets that we’ve got, and the poles and wires that are used at the moment on the coal-fired power station sites … to distribute the energy generated from the latest generation nuclear reactors,” Dutton told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

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“We have the ability to do that in a way that renewables can’t.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has slammed the plan and says it overlooks Australia’s renewable energy potential.

“It’ll be a taxpayer funded nuclear fantasy,” he told ABC radio.

“Here in Australia, we have the best solar resources in the world.

“This makes no economic sense, as well as leaving us in a position of energy insecurity because of the time that it will take to roll out a nuclear reactor.”

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