TED O’BRIEN – SHADOW MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR FAIRFAX
17 August 2023
Topics: Nuclear energy
Steve Price: Are we finally going to have a sensible national discussion about nuclear? Or, as the Prime Minister said in that long interview he did with Neil Mitchell this week, not interested?
Ted O’Brien: Good evening, Steve, great to be with you. I think we all know we need that sensible national discussion. Is the Prime Minister up to it? Well, so far not. And I reckon most of Australia are having a sensible conversation about zero emissions, nuclear energy, the only ones who are not are the socialist left of Australia. It’s Anthony Albanese, and a very left dominated Labor Party and Adam Bandt and the Greens. They are the only ones refusing to engage in what is otherwise a very calm, sensible discussion. It’s a discussion the rest of the world are having, by the way, but we happen to have a Prime Minister and a Government that’s refusing to engage.
Steve Price: So have you got any hope, Ted O’Brien that once Anthony Albanese gets through the next three days of his national labor conference, that he might have to finally sit down, hopefully with the words of someone like a Gina Rinehart in his ear and the other big mining companies in Australia. And say look, Prime Minister, you’ve actually got to have a serious look at this. Forget about your left wing green critics. This is the way Australia has to go because we’re not going to be able to get to the energy we need. From going completely solar and wind. It just won’t work.
Ted O’Brien: Steve, I’m hoping that the Prime Minister does have those sort of conversations. And I think you’re right to talk about the National Conference of the Labor Party. That’s their focus right now. We know that they are dragging the party further to the left, they’re pushing against an open door with a Prime Minister who’s from the left anyway, but unless we do bring some common sense to the energy debate, Australia will get weaker, we will get poorer, and we will be more captive to foreign interests who who aren’t our true allies in these areas. And so the Prime Minister does need to listen to some common sense. There’s a lot of people out there that know the energy game, and all of them are saying that other countries that are making a decarbonisation work well they have nuclear, and not only do they have nuclear in the mix, but they have cheaper power bills as a result. These are the lessons that this government needs to learn. Otherwise they are setting up Australia for failure. And it’s our kids and theirs who will truly truly be paying the price.
Steve Price: What do you say to the Chris Bowens of this world and the Anthony Albanese when they go, Well, nuclear is too expensive. No one wants to build it. They can’t get investors to invest in it. And so it’s not an option. What do you say to that argument?
Ted O’Brien: Can I tell you what I really think about it, firstly, Steve as opposed to what I say about it often. When you have people as left wing as Albanese, Bowen and the Greens, putting forward arguments based on economic rationalism, you can smell a rat. Something isn’t right when the far left of Australia starts talking as though they care about economic analysis. The truth is they’ve never done the economic analysis. They haven’t even done economic analysis on their own policies. So the 43% emissions reduction. No economic analysis by Treasury or the department, the only 82% renewable target, no economic analysis by Treasury or the department. They don’t do economic analysis, but they’re trying to lecture Australia on the impact of nuclear in the grid. Here’s how I do respond to it. Let’s look at those economies that have nuclear in their grid. Let’s look at the province of Ontario in Canada between 50 and 60% Nuclear. Their power prices are less than half of the power prices in Australia. So families in that Province of Canada right now. They’re not paying anything near the power prices Australians do. Why? Because nuclear comprises such a big part of their grid. That’s what their Minister has told me. That’s what their departmental figures tell us. Same in Japan. It’s the same in states in the United States. Look at France and Europe. There’s a reason why so many countries are embracing next generation nuclear energy. It gets power prices down. And it decarbonizes economies without weakening those economies. But Albanese out of bed and the rest. They don’t want to hear that and they making Australia far weaker as a result
Steve Price: It seems like a no brainer to me and it certainly seems to me like an election positive for the Coalition. Can you promise me that you’re rock solid on going down this track? Not just talking about it, but if you had a win at an election, you’d actually do it.
Ted O’Brien: Steve, you’re tempting me there to announce the Coalition’s policy. But all I can say is we’ve been speaking very openly about this. From the day that Peter Dutton took the leadership. We’ve been very open and transparent and that’s for good reason. We are learning the lessons from overseas. We’ve been doing an enormous amount of comprehensive work so that we do have a rock solid climate and energy policy to take to the Australian people.
Steve Price: So sensible Ted O’Brien, a pleasure chatting with you. Thanks for joining us tonight. Good on you.
Ted O’Brien: Thanks very much, Steve. All the best.