Politics Analysis

Dutton’s nuclear lights are out and no one’s home

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(Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons)

Dutton's alternative facts on nuclear energy demonstrate that the Coalition is no longer fit for purpose as a credible opposition, let alone a serious government contender. Michelle Pini reports.

APART from frequently changing leaders, nothing has changed about the Liberal-National Party Opposition for a very long time, certainly not since the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison retrograde regime.

Put simply, since the whole point of an opposition party in a two-party system is to provide credible alternative policies – not to recycle the ideas and innovations of a bygone era – today’s Coalition is simply no longer fit for purpose.

This is perhaps best illustrated by Dutton's most recent set of alternative facts masquerading as policies, the recycled 1950s nuclear power plan.

Sure, the Liberals/Nationals are the parties of the status quo but the fact is, they have taken this concept well past its natural use-by date. Basically, if this was the age of the telephone invention, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and his band of unmerry naysayers would be advocating to keep tin cans and string because phones would put can and string manufacturers out of business — not to mention the plight of carrier pigeon trainers.

Wait, that is actually the same reasoning that led to over a decade of third-world-standard NBN, but we digress.

Carrier pigeons and tin cans notwithstanding, today, the Coalition want us to get behind a leader who, if elected, would catapult us back to an age before science, before technology and before we worked out the Earth wasn’t flat — in every facet of our lives.

A word is needed about the role of the entire mainstream media, here, including the national broadcaster – yet again – in providing a framework where Dutton’s idiotic ramblings are given prominence — nay, are exalted as if they came from the Heavens.

There are so many subtle ways in which his party’s every brain fart is reported in the media as a credible idea and Alan Austin’s latest analysis provides a more detailed explanation of how the ABC’s news coverage, in particular, subtly facilitates this Liberal Party agenda. (You can read more here.)  

So, to summarise the Dutton Coalition "policy platform", it goes something like this:

Finding it hard to keep up with the changing world? Need a scapegoat for your woes?
Then, has Dutton got an idiotic plan, a minority group and a few gaslights, courtesy of the establishment media, for you?!

It is the exploitation of these core fears – the primal fears of change and of "others" – that form the basis of Dutton’s Coalition "policy structure”. It is the reason he does not provide any substantial “detail” in support of his claims. And it provides ongoing ammunition for the climate and culture wars he favours. It’s really no more complicated than that.

Let’s take a close look at Dutton's banal nuclear "power plan", which has been presented as a legitimate argument in the legacy media.


Dutton – or at least the Coalition’s expert advisers, assuming they still have any – is abundantly aware of the following:

  • nuclear energy is not safe by any stretch of the imagination;
  • it is not clean;
  • it is prohibitively expensive; and
  • a nuclear energy industry is unachievable, certainly in the foreseeable future.

But none of this matters to Dutton. The reason he is pushing for nuclear is plain: since any nuclear energy plan is unattainable for at least 20 years, it ensures his coal and gas mining mates can continue destroying our natural environment for a long, long time to come.

With the main game already established, it is only necessary to deflect and obfuscate, providing no "details", such as properly calculated costs or a realistic timeline. Even his claim that the first seven reactors would be built in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland was debunked by the state premiers, who have unanimously rejected the idea. According to one ABC report, even some state Liberal and National MPs have 'distanced themselves from nuclear'

It's fine, though, according to Dutton, who may eventually give us the details after his party is elected.


Because the efficiency of renewable energies poses a real and imminent threat to fossil fuels, Dutton also plans to ensure any further great strides in this sector will die a quick and unceremonious death by imposing a cap on renewable energy investment.

And because Dutton’s plan is only about fear, he harnesses the fear of running out of power, or of exorbitant energy prices with idiotic statements like, “We can’t allow the lights to go out.”

There is no informed debate. No detail (of which he was once so fond). Not even an attempt to appear informed.

A point proved, yet again, by one of Dutton’s unmerry naysayers, Keith Pitt, who told RN Breakfast yesterday (19 June) that nuclear is needed because:

[Electricity] grids can’t handle more than ten per cent wind and solar.”

Um… Keith, as the latest report from the Clean Energy Council points out, wind and solar already constitute almost 40 per cent of the national electricity market in Australia.

Oh, those pesky details!

Then there are all the Indigenous and other community groups, environmental groups and scientific experts – occasionally consulted in the mainstream media and then summarily ignored – who have voiced their opposition to nuclear en masse.

Such as Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie who described Dutton's plan as:

'A sickening smokescreen for its commitment to coal and gas...

Dutton’s scheme is: let the climate burn, let the mega fires burn, let the sea levels rise, let the heat become unbearable. Let’s send our children towards climate disaster.'

But not to worry, said Nationals Leader and would-be deputy prime minister, David Littleproud, confirming on Afternoon Briefing that the Coalition's nuclear plans would go ahead anyway:

"As part of a Coalition government [we] are prepared to make the tough decisions in the national interest." 

That's right, bothersome particulars like scientific advice, environmental consequences, community consultation and possible atomic annihilation be damned! Oh, and we'll give you the details after we're elected.

Today's Coalition is aptly headed by Peter Dutton, a climate-denying fossil, who would take us back to tin cans and string if this would appease his coal and gas mining mates.

As long as the Coalition remains mired in backward thinking such as this latest nuclear "policy plan", we will continue to put all its "policies" in inverted commas to indicate the absence of any credibility.

Today's Liberal-National Party Coalition under Peter Dutton is simply not fit for purpose as a credible opposition party, let alone a serious government contender.

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Follow managing editor Michelle Pini on Twitter @vmp9. Follow Independent Australia on Twitter/X @independentaus and Facebook HERE.

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