The world is embracing nuclear energy — Why isn’t Australia? Take Note of Answers

I also rise to take note of answers to questions from coalition senators to ministers, which today predominantly went to issues around the cost of living.

As a South Australian, I was driving through South Australian country areas recently and hearing from people running businesses about the impact of the rises of electricity prices that they have had to bear. I do note that AGL and origin, as two of the main providers, indicated last year that they would be providing to people increases of 29.8 per cent. And so, whilst there has been a flurry of announcements recently about the wholesale cost perhaps coming down, the reality is that what people pay from their hip pocket, whether they are a residential property owner or a business over, has been going up.

Far from the $275 reduction which was promised by the Albanese government prior to the last election, the lived experience of people is that the cost of living is going up and power is just one of the things going up.

The point that was really telling today was the comments from the minister that the coalition senators should be supporting more of the policies that have been put forward by President Biden.

In this energy space, I would actually say that the government should be supporting more of the policies that were put forward by Mr Biden. For those of you who aren’t aware, under the Inflation Reduction Act, the US is committed to significantly increasing the amount of nuclear power generation they have in the country.


It is because it will provide cheaper and more reliable energy, which they need for both national and economic security and to lower the cost of living and inflationary pressures on the American people.

Just recently, at the start of this month, in Belgium there was a conference where 32 nations from around the world came together to give effect to the pledge that was made in COP 28.

The pledge was to triple the amount of nuclear energy in the world, and the US representative, representing the Biden Administration there, highlighted that, for them, that would mean they would have to increase—and they are planning to increase—the amount of nuclear generation by 200 gigawatts of new capacity.

So Australia is increasingly becoming an outlier in the global scene when it comes to energy, and the rhetoric from Minister Bowen is quite out of step.

World leaders of a range of countries who were there—and I might note that we were actually mentioned at that conference; the Prime Minister of Belgium, who was a co-host of the conference, highlighted that every continent is president except for Australia.

Here we have the energy minister here essentially making up or selectively choosing facts to try to win his argument.

When he recently ridiculed the quite consistent and well-researched plan that the coalition has on this matter, and Mr Ted O’Brien, who is our spokesperson, has been diligently meeting energy ministers and industry around the world in various countries that employ nuclear power, so we can understand why; what the cost basis is; and what the impact is in terms of safety, reliability and cost.

Instead we have Mr Bowen selectively picking facts to try to say that it’s going to take 19 years to build a reactor.

He selectively picked some facts between 1991 and 2022 to come up with that figure, but even the ABC, doing a fact check, said the reality is that, in 2023-24, two reactors have come online that took only 10 years to build, and the long-term average if you didn’t select that particular window, is 8.8 years.

So we have a government that can’t keep their promises on the $275 reduction.

They don’t recognise the cost impact and the fact that there’s been a 60 per cent increase in Australian families who have had to go under hardship provisions because they’re unable to pay their electricity bills.

That’s putting businesses under pressure. For ideological reasons, the government continue to refuse to engage in an open debate about technology that multiple nations around the world have committed to increasing because it’s cheaper, more reliable and good for the environment.