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Dutton announces shadow cabinet reshuffle,

Eleanor Campbell NCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

Peter Dutton has doubled down on the Coalition’s decision to push ahead with a nuclear power policy, saying it’s the only ‘credible pathway’ to net zero.

The Opposition Leader has unveiled a draft of his energy policy to take to the next election that proposes to replace existing coal-fired power generators with a mix of small and large scale nuclear reactors to use for net-zero power sources.

He also indicated where the nuclear reactors could be located.

“If there’s a retiring coal fired generator that’s already got an existing distribution network, the wires and poles are already there to distribute the energy across the network into homes and businesses, that’s really what we’re interested in,” Mr Dutton said

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Camera IconOpposition Leader Peter Dutton says nuclear power is the ‘only credible’ way to net zero. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

Mr Dutton said nuclear reactors would provide a more reliable and cheaper source of clean energy.

“The Prime Minister’s had an opportunity to put forward a plan,” the Opposition Leader said.

“He doesn’t have the guts to stand up and make the decision that our country needs made and we do need to look at the best technology, zero emissions.

“I think it's the only credible pathway we have to our international commitment to net zero by 2050.

But his plans have been ridiculed by the Albanese government, which argues it would take “decades” to build and delay Australia’s transition to clean energy.

“I look forward as well to [Mr Dutton] arguing where the financing will come for such reactors, whether taxpayers will be expected to pay for this, because we know the cheapest form of energy in Australia is renewables,” Mr Albanese said.

“Every ten years there are these proposals … what never comes is any investment, because it simply doesn’t stack up commercially.”

The Coalition is pushing ahead with its nuclear energy policy.
Camera IconThe Coalition is pushing ahead with its nuclear energy policy. Credit: Supplied

Treasurer Jim Chalmers blasted Mr Dutton’s “nuclear fantasy”, saying his plans to overturn laws to build nuclear module reactors would cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars and set the country back in its efforts to reach net zero.

“It’s no surprise to anyone that Peter Dutton has gone for the most expensive option, the most divisive option and longest to build,” the Treasurer said on Tuesday.

“That’s because he’s more interested in cheap and divisive politics than cheap and reliable power. We see that in this more or less culture war over nuclear energy. This a nuclear fantasy.”

Mr Dutton said the technology was “unbelievable” compared with the 1950s and said rerouting the nation’s net-zero path towards nuclear would lead to greater financial relief for households.

Nuclear energy has been banned in Australia since laws were introduced in 1983.

A senate committee was told last year that if a ban on nuclear energy were to be overturned, it would take at least 10 to 15 years to have an operational nuclear power plant in Australia.

Nationals MP Bridget McKenzie said the opposition had anticipated pushback ahead of the announcement.

Independent MP Monique Ryan said the Coalition’s nuclear plan was unrealistic.

“Basically, what the Liberal National Party is doing is kicking the can down the road on the transition because they want to keep in with their friends. The big, you know, coal and gas suppliers because there is not a small functional small modular reactor in the world,” she said.

“I think it’s time that we acknowledge the fact that this is not a realistic plan.”

Angus Taylor
Camera IconLuke Howarth. Matthew Poon Credit: News Corp Australia

Meanwhile, Mr Dutton has announced a minor reshuffle of his front bench.

Queensland MP Luke Howarth will be the new assistant shadow treasurer and financial services spokesman to replace former MP Stuart Robert who resigned last year.

“He has previously run a family business before entering parliament and has a strong understanding of the financial pressures many Australians are currently experiencing, he wrote in a statesmen

Sydney Liberal MP Melissa McIntosh will be appointed to opposition spokeswoman for Western Sydney.

NSW senator Andrew Bragg will be given a new role as assistant opposition spokesman for homeownership.

PETER DUTTON
Camera IconPeter Dutton said he was eyeing off suburbs with an existing coal-fired power generator. NCA NewsWire / David Crosling Credit: News Corp Australia

Opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson has been allocated the role of cabinet secretary, which was left vacant by Marise Payne in September.

On top of his existing role as opposition spokesperson for defence, Andrew Hastie will assume the additional portfolio as the shadow minister for defence industry and defence personnel.

NSW Senator Hollie Hughes will become the opposition assistant spokesperson for mental health and suicide prevention, as well as the opposition assistant spokesperson for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Mr Dutton’s reshuffle follows his loss at Saturday’s by-election in the Victorian seat of Dunkley, where the Liberal Party managed to secure a two-party preferred swing of 3.7 per cent.

Originally published as Dutton announces shadow cabinet reshuffle,

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