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Opposition leader Peter Dutton has defended his call for Australia to consider small, modular nuclear reactors, arguing that the country “needs to have a discussion” about exactly how it will move to net-zero emissions.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton.Recognition:Alex Ellinghausen

If you’ve been paying close attention to the news over the past 24 hours, you know that Dutton has hit back at Labor’s argument that renewable energy is the cheapest form of energy. It’s not that easy, he says, and the technology for storing energy doesn’t yet exist.

This is why Radio National presenter Patricia Karvelas asked:

They propose small, modular nuclear reactors as a possible solution to the energy crisis. Can you tell me if these are currently being used on a commercial scale anywhere in the world?

Here was Dutton’s answer:

Well, what I was saying is that we should have an intelligent conversation and that we shouldn’t be banned from having a conversation about what politics we have and what we’re going to the next elections with. And we will make that announcement in due course.

“If you look around the world, there are many developed countries – countries comparable to ours – that cannot achieve their emission reductions [without additional technology]. Well, if you don’t like coal or gas, hydroelectric power in our country is probably a decade away. You have very few options. I mean, hydro is a very important part of the mix, though [has a] restricted use in some parts of the country. And I’d like to tell you that the battery in Victoria lasts more than 30 minutes, but it doesn’t.

“I hope that we are on the cusp of a technology that can give us the streamlining that we need [in terms of energy supply], but if you don’t have it, prices will keep going up. And all I said is that as a nation we should have a discussion about zero-emissions, new technology, small modular reactors, which Canada has ordered, France has ordered in the almost 10 years before these small modular nuclear reactors exist.

David Crowe has more details on last night’s budget response speech and what the opposition leader had to say about the energy supply here.


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