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Keating weighs in as nuclear debate gets down and dirty

Paul Keating accused Dutton of “seeking to camouflage his long held denialism in an industrial fantasy”. Photo: Darren England

Paul Keating labels Dutton a ‘charlatan’ as nuclear debate gets down and dirty, writes political columnist MICHELLE GRATTAN. 

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating has entered the nuclear debate, with a vitriolic attack describing Peter Dutton as “a charlatan”, “wicked and cynical” and “an inveterate climate change denialist”.

Michelle Grattan.

In a Sunday statement Keating accused Dutton of “seeking to camouflage his long held denialism in an industrial fantasy”. He was resorting “to the most dangerous and expensive energy source on the face of the earth – nuclear power”.

While the debate unleashed by last week’s Coalition release of its nuclear policy – still lacking crucial detail – involves claims and counter claims about a host of technical and economic issues, at another level it has descended into abuse and silly memes.

Speaking at the Liberal federal council on Saturday, Dutton launched a highly personal attack on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

“He’s a man with a mind still captured in his university years. He’s a child in a man’s body,” Dutton said.

“Our jet-setting prime minister is more interested in appeasing the international climate lobby than sticking up for the interests of everyday Australians.”

Last week senior Labor figures, including federal frontbencher Andrew Leigh and Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan, took to social media with posts of three-eyed fish. When Albanese was challenged about this he repeatedly told an ABC interviewer to “lighten up”.

In his statement Keating said Dutton was continuing “his party’s manic denialism, first articulated by Tony Abbott over a decade ago – turning his back on the most debated, most discussed problem of the Industrial Age – carbon and carbon sequestration.

“Dutton, like Abbott, will do everything he can to de-legitimise renewables and stand in the way of their use as the remedy nature has given us to underwrite our life on earth.

“Only the most wicked and cynical of individuals would foist such a blight on an earnest community like Australia,” Keating said.

“Dutton, in his low-rent opportunism, mocks the decency and earnestness which recognises that carbon must be abated and with all urgency.”

Keating said that “by his blatant opposition to renewables, Dutton calls into question and deprecates all the government has done to provide Australian business with a reliable and dependable framework for investment in renewables” – what the country needed “to rely upon to lift the carbon menace off its back”.

“No person interested in public policy – regardless of their affiliations or beliefs, should consider, let alone endorse Dutton’s backwardness, his unreal world view that the most lethal technology of another age is a contemporary substitute for nature’s own remedy.”The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra. Republished from The Conversation.

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Michelle Grattan

Michelle Grattan

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3 Responses to Keating weighs in as nuclear debate gets down and dirty

Mike Dinn says: 24 June 2024 at 1:17 pm

What a miserable quality of “debate”. There needs to be a calm assessment of the engineering practicalities and options. And “Nuclear” and “battery storage” Is not comparing like with like. Then estimating the many dimensions of costs. And, as a retired electrical engineer, I do not consider CSIRO as especially competent in this field. They may have a contribution, but there are many engineering considerations.

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David says: 24 June 2024 at 2:48 pm

Well put. One thing we should be taking note of, it’s not the cost that should worry us, but how long it takes us to develop options. Also to throw into the mix is the need to have our energy strategy resilient (independent) of overseas influences (i.e reduce any reliance on anything critical we need to get from overseas). For those worried about the environment, boats will require really big batteries. What’s the point of having a power solution that may generate clean power but is heavily dependent on fossil fuels the obtain, move, process and dispose of the required components?

Let’s also have some honesty about the role of fossil fuels. For nuclear, fossil fuels are there until we get it up and running. For renewables they are the safety net if renewables don’t plug all the holes, which means we may never actually turn them off.

You can tell you’re an engineer, the CSIRO is a semi-scientific body who knows how to right reports to satisfy the pay master.

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Rusto says: 24 June 2024 at 8:35 pm

Reading Keating’s comments here, it’s like reading random twits on X. Pretty mediocre. But he’s a big name, so his dross gets reported.

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