‘Nightmare scenario’: states slam Dutton’s nuclear plan

Callum Godde and Fraser Barton |

Loy Yang in Victoria has been earmarked by the federal coalition as a site for a nuclear power plant
Loy Yang in Victoria has been earmarked by the federal coalition as a site for a nuclear power plant

Peter Dutton’s much-hyped nuclear energy policy has proved radioactive among Labor premiers, who have universally lashed the proposal.

NSW Premier Chris Minns said his state’s nuclear prohibition would not be removed under his watch and suggested the proposal would stymie investment in solar and wind.

“We’ve got $30-odd billion of private capital invested in renewable energy,” he said on Wednesday.

“If all of a sudden you were to introduce nuclear power, that investment is at real risk.”

NSW Premier Chris Minns
NSW Premier Chris Minns has dismissed Peter Dutton’s nuclear energy plan. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan said her government would not allow the federal opposition to add nuclear to the state’s energy mix.

“They want to bring more expensive, more risky, more toxic energy solutions to the people of this country,” she said.

“We won’t stand for that.”

Queensland Premier Steven Miles claimed the prohibitive cost of establishing nuclear energy in Australia would push up power bills.

“That is not to mention how future generations, my kids, your kids will need to manage dangerous radioactive nuclear waste forever,” he said.

WA Energy Minister Reece Whitby said it was a “crazy” plan and a “wolf-whistle to extremists” that makes no sense given the nation had the ingredients for affordable, renewable green energy.

“This is a nightmare scenario (and) this is the worst possible case you can imagine, to meet our energy needs of the future,” he said.

“Nuclear is hugely expensive (and) Peter Dutton is talking about massive taxpayer subsidies of billions of dollars will go on and on and on.”

SA Premier Peter Malinauskas said Mr Dutton should tell the nation how much the seven power stations would cost to build.

“Why isn’t he telling people, presumably because he knows it will make power more expensive,” he said.

South Australia Peter Malinauskas
Peter Malinauskas says the coalition’s nuclear energy plan would make power more expensive. (Michael Eerey/AAP PHOTOS)

The federal opposition leader wants to set up seven plants at coal-fired power stations if the coalition wins the next election, due before May 2025.

Plants would be built at Loy Yang in Victoria’s Gippsland region, Callide and Tarong in Queensland, Mount Piper at Lithgow in central west NSW and Liddell in NSW’s Hunter region.

Small modular reactors would be located at Port Augusta in South Australia and Muja, in WA’s South West region.

The policy has also failed to garner the backing of state Liberal leaders.

Victorian Liberal Leader John Pesutto said the state coalition had no plans for nuclear, but hasn’t ruled out changing his mind.

He would not be drawn on whether he would lift Victoria’s nuclear energy moratorium or if he would stand in the way of Mr Dutton’s plan if elected premier in 2026.

Queensland Liberal National Party leader David Crisafulli ruled out nuclear energy should his party win the state election in October.

“It’s not part of our plan … Peter knows my position on it and there’s no secret about that,” he said.

WA Liberal Leader Libby Mettam said the party’s energy policy of using gas to support renewables would not change.

“We do not believe that nuclear power would stack up in the short term,” she said.