Nationals leader David Littleproud reveals nuclear power plants to be built in National Party seats

Ellen Ransley
The Nightly
Anthony Albanese, David Littleproud and Peter Dutton are engaged in a pitched battle over climate change.
Anthony Albanese, David Littleproud and Peter Dutton are engaged in a pitched battle over climate change. Credit: The Nightly

Nationals leader David Littleproud is confident the full details of the Coalition’s nuclear policy will be announced “very soon” with power plants targeted in National Party seats, as the broader political debate over climate, energy and the cost-of-living heats up.

Despite backlash from voters who say they are “disappointed” Australia is likely heading towards yet another climate change election, Opposition leader Peter Dutton on Wednesday doubled down on his pledge to abandon Labor’s legislated 2030 emissions reduction target — mounting an argument built on cost-of-living concerns.

As he defended not taking an alternative target to the next election, Mr Dutton said the legislated 43 per cent was “wrecking the Australian economy”, risked “destroying the country”, and harming Australian families and small businesses.

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“Labor’s ‘renewables only’ policy is a wrecking ball through the Australian economy, and Australian families know it because it’s harder in their own budget,” Mr Dutton said.

“I’m not going to sign up to an arrangement that destroys our economy and sends families and small businesses into bankruptcy. I’m just not going to do that.

“I lived through the 1991 ... recession .... families are struggling under this Government at the moment and I think we have a better way forward and we’re laying that plan out to the public.”

He said the Coalition had a “sensible and measured” energy policy that would get the country “back on track” and work for Australians.

Mr Dutton’s refusal to release an alternative 2030 target, unless the Coalition wins the next election, was lashed by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese again on Wednesday, who accused his political opponent of being “more right-wing, more conservative, and more anti-climate change than Scott Morrison”.

“This is an extraordinary failure of leadership from Peter Dutton. It shows he’s not up to the job of being the alternative Prime Minister of this country,” he said.

Mr Albanese said the lack of details around the Opposition’s energy policies was akin to voters going on a “mystery flight”.

“It’s a bit like someone getting on a plane at the … airport on one of those mystery flights, where you don’t know where you’re going to go, you don’t know what the destination is, you think you’re going to one direction, but you find yourself on the other part of Australia or the other part of the world and you can’t get off your flight until 2040 because that’s when the nuclear fantasy will land,” Mr Albanese said.

“If they can find a location, if they can find someone who will fund a nuclear power plant, until then you’re going to have to parachute out of the plane and take potluck at where you land.”

The Coalition’s long-awaited nuclear policy has yet to be released, but Mr Littleproud on Wednesday said that would come “very soon”.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has refused to release an alternative 2030 emissions reduction target.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has refused to release an alternative 2030 emissions reduction target. Credit: BIANCA DE MARCHI/AAPIMAGE

He confirmed the site of nuclear power plants would be in Nationals electorates.

“We’ve been very clear that they will be limited to where existing coal power stations are, so we don’t need the extra 28,000 of transmission lines to plug the renewables,” Mr Littleproud said.

“We’re clear, there are 12 to 14 existing coal-fired power stations across the country so, we can limit to that. But you’ll know very soon the specific sites. We’ll look you square in the eye and be honest.”

His deputy leader Perin Davey meanwhile wouldn’t be drawn on whether or not she had seen a final copy of the list of the proposed sites.

“I’m not going to pre-empt the announcement,” she said.

Meanwhile, the lack of details about the Coalition’s energy policies has former Liberal voters who turned to teal independents in 2022 because of climate change “shaking their heads” and “dismayed” at the idea the climate wars still hadn’t been put to bed.

Mr Dutton on Wednesday said he believed winning back the teal seats was possible with his energy policy, but North Sydney MP Kylea Tink said the Liberal Party clearly wasn’t listening.

“Rather than take on board the feedback voters gave them in 2022, they’re basically saying they don’t care and they don’t want to listen,” she said.

“It seems to me the Liberal National Party are chasing their own extinction.”

Goldstein MP Zoe Daniel hit back at Mr Dutton’s claims the 2030 target would put further cost-of-living pressures on Australians, saying that was untrue.

“Cost of living is a real issue... I would argue that if successive governments had acted on climate policy more efficiently and sooner, then we would be delivering cleaner, cheaper energy already to people,” she said.

“We’ve had a lot of time to get our heads around the fact that we have to move forward on the renewable energy transition.”

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