Dutton lobs a nuclear bomb into future energy debate

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton says nuclear power should be part of the energy debate as Australia seeks to cut emissions and power prices.

Jun 06, 2022, updated Jun 06, 2022
Defence Minister Peter Dutton (left) has denied sidelining key members of the Morrison government.(Photo: AAP).

Defence Minister Peter Dutton (left) has denied sidelining key members of the Morrison government.(Photo: AAP).

Dutton revealed his leadership team on Sunday, which included nuclear power supporter Ted O’Brien as his energy spokesman.

“I’m not afraid to have a discussion on nuclear if we want to have legitimate emission reductions,” Dutton told ABC radio on Monday.

“I don’t think we should be afraid to talk about any technology that’s going to have the ability to reduce emissions and electricity prices.

“That’s something we can consider in time. I don’t think we should rule things out simply because it’s unfashionable to talk about them.”

The Albanese government is weighing up short and long-term measures to take pressure off gas prices.

As part of this, Energy Minister Chris Bowen will meet with his state and territory counterparts on Wednesday to discuss solutions.

Cabinet colleague Tony Burke said the government won’t rule anything out in addressing the nation’s energy crisis amid a perfect storm of factors weighing on prices and supply.

Gas prices have soared following the war in Ukraine and other supply issues, with the national energy regulator allowing more gas to be released to the south-eastern states to help ease the burden.

When asked if more support for people on low incomes facing rising energy prices was needed, Burke said the government was considering its options.

“We’re not ruling anything in or out effectively at the moment,” he said.

“It’s been a decade of no energy policy (under the former government) that has effectively led us to a situation where we’ve ended up with this perfect storm.

“Some of the issues are international, but our capacity to be able to deal with those international issues is very much domestic, so there won’t be a quick knee-jerk response.”

Burke said while Labor had supported relief payments handed down in the last budget, the government was “not putting anything more on the table at the moment”.

Former energy minister Angus Taylor, who is the new shadow treasurer, said the key was working with the big gas producers and not demonising them as some Labor candidates had done at the election.

“We had senior members of the Labor Party wanting to ‘ban the barbecue’ before the election – you can’t work with an industry that you’re demonising,” he told Sky News.

He said the former government’s so-called toolkit – including the Australian Domestic Gas Security Mechanism or gas trigger – had been successfully used to bring gas companies to the table to reduce prices.

“The (mechanism) was put in place as a means of ensuring that the government can work with those gas companies to get prices down and that is exactly what happened.”

Bowen has argued the gas trigger, which allows for exports to be diverted to domestic supply, is a complex process which would not deliver any price relief until January if it was enacted now.

Dutton unveiled his frontbench on Sunday afternoon, and denies former immigration minister Alex Hawke and former employment minister Stuart Robert were demoted.

InQueensland in your inbox. The best local news every workday at lunch time.
By signing up, you agree to our User Agreement andPrivacy Policy & Cookie Statement. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Robert has been appointed shadow assistant treasurer in the outer ministry.

Dutton said Hawke, a Morrison loyalist who was relegated to the backbench, had been a “good minister” but he wanted to bring talent forward.

One of the issues being explored in a review of the coalition’s election loss will be the last-minute endorsement of candidates in NSW, for which Hawke was considered partially to blame.

“One of the hardest parts of this job is the reshuffle where you’ve got an abundance of talent, people have got great capability, and you’ve only got a certain number of spots to fill and so there will be disappointments,” Dutton told ABC radio on Monday.

Key portfolios went to former SAS officer Andrew Hastie as defence spokesman, Angus Taylor as shadow treasurer, and Alan Tudge returning to education after he stood aside following an affair with a staffer.

Ten women were promoted to the shadow cabinet, matching Labor’s numbers in cabinet.

Dutton said the party had “rebuilding to do” after many female MPs lost their seats in the election loss.

He also lamented the loss of Liberal moderates Trent Zimmerman and Tim Wilson.

“I’m pained by the losses of both our female candidates and, and others who really would have been part of the front bench,” he said.

“We’ve got that rebuilding to do but that happens in an election where government loses … you lose people and that’s what happened to us in the election.”

Dutton said key to the rebuilding would also be coming up with “strong policy positions”.

“The reason I bought such a high calibre team together is so that we can work through that policy and have a very clear alternative to the government,” Dutton said.

Local News Matters
Copyright © 2024 InQueensland.
All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy