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Thursday, 30 November 2017
Page: 9331


Senator ABETZ (Tasmania) (12:39): The Australian government is seeking to implement the National Energy Guarantee, a policy that is concentrating on affordability, reliability and lowering our emissions. In that context, we as a nation should be embracing every type of energy production available to mankind to ascertain whether or not it can live up to those three criteria of affordability, reliability and potentially lowering our emissions. To deliberately say, for bizarre ideological reasons, that we will not even look at or countenance one particular source of energy is to really put our heads in the sand and potentially deny ourselves the very best source of energy production that science has to offer the world.

We as a country have the benefit of at least 25 per cent or more of the world's uranium resources. We are exporting that resource to many countries around the world. Indeed, France and many other European countries have their energy supplied courtesy of our uranium. In the Western world, nuclear power has been part of the lifeblood of the economy and standard of living. Why should Australia be denied the opportunity of even looking at it and contemplating the potential that it might have for our own country? That is the issue in this debate. It's not about actually establishing a nuclear power station; it's only asking: can we engage in and have a mature discussion about this and ask the fundamental questions.

If we look at how much money we have spent, thus far, on the so-called renewable energy sector in this country and the forward trajectory of that expenditure, and if we were able to wind back the clock and grab all those taxpayer subsidies and put them into a nuclear power station, today—

Senator Bernardi interjecting

Senator ABETZ: and I accept Senator Bernardi's interjection—we could have had 20 of them. I'm not sure if that calculation is correct, but I am more than willing to accept it. Therefore, our fellow Australians could have had affordable and reliable energy, with no emissions at all. It is accepted that nuclear power stations have the lowest emissions footprint of any energy source. Indeed, in my home state of Tasmania, wind farms are being built, and, in conjunction with hydro, that seems to work relatively well. But, as we know in Tasmania—and this is something the Greens will never talk about—the wind farms are responsible for the demise of dozens of wedge-tailed eagles, a threatened species. A little badge that a former senator wears on his lapel all the time, whilst he keeps promoting wind power—

Senator Whish-Wilson interjecting

Senator ABETZ: And talking about wind, it's good to see Senator Whish-Wilson in the chamber. But I say to this chamber and to the Australian people: to deliberately say that you don't want to talk about nuclear power is as foolish and irresponsible as saying you don't want to talk about solar power or hydro power or coal power. This is what this legislation that has been introduced by Senator Bernardi seeks to do. What can be the problem, other than if you've got some bizarre ideological objection to the delivery of affordable, reliable and low-emission energy for the benefit of our nation, with us looking at the options? This is where the Australian Labor Party really needs to come to grips with whether or not they represent the workers of this country, the pensioners of this country, the manufacturers of this country, who are always on the lookout for a reliable energy source.

Sadly, those who live in the state of South Australia, such as Senator Bernardi, know the consequences of an over-reliance on solar and wind power. On one day those two sources can provide over 100 per cent of the need, but on another day only three per cent—I think that is the lowest they've ever produced. What happens when the Greens stop talking and the wind stops blowing, or the sun stops shining when Senator Bernardi stops smiling?

What happens? They are reliant on brown coal power from Victoria. And what happens when too much is required? The whole infrastructure falls apart. Nuclear is potentially an answer. It should be explored and allowed to be given the opportunity to be part of our energy requirements.

The PRESIDENT: Order, Senator Abetz! Pursuant to order, debate is interrupted. You will be in continuation at the resumption.