House of Assembly: Wednesday, April 10, 2024


Nuclear Energy

The Hon. D.J. SPEIRS (Black—Leader of the Opposition) (14:17): My question is to the Premier. Has the Premier spoken to the Prime Minister in relation to nuclear energy in Australia?

The Hon. P.B. MALINAUSKAS (Croydon—Premier) (14:17): Yes; and the most recent conversation I have had with the Prime Minister about this was on stage, in front of the public, in front of the media—

The Hon. A. Koutsantonis: And the Leader of the Opposition.

The Hon. P.B. MALINAUSKAS: And the Leader of the Opposition. It was a suite of public comments and remarks at the—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. P.B. MALINAUSKAS: —Building a Bigger, Better South Australia forum held by the Adelaide Advertiser, a forum that I think is a good one and one that I very much hope continues into the future with the Prime Minister's presence, as he committed to that day. But my remarks have been consistent in this regard.

Now, for those who are arguing for nuclear power, we have seen this come up at a federal level more recently with the federal Leader of the Opposition arguing for nuclear power. The Leader of the Opposition here is suitably consistent in his inconsistent position on this, but in regard to the federal Leader of the Opposition, Mr Dutton has articulated his desire to have nuclear power but, again, what we haven't seen is any form of substance or cogent policy around what they are proposing to do in that regard. What we need when we think about interventions into the energy market is—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Hartley is warned.

The Hon. P.B. MALINAUSKAS: What we need in this country when it comes to energy policy is thoughtful, considered analysis to underpin thoughtful, considered interventions.

An honourable member interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. P.B. MALINAUSKAS: What we have lacked—

The Hon. V.A. Tarzia: Maybe start with the unemployment rate.

The SPEAKER: The member for Hartley is warned for a second time.

The Hon. P.B. MALINAUSKAS: —at a federal level is a policy and a set of conditions for people to invest, knowing what the rules of the game are. The simple fact is this: Australia needs to be committed to the decarbonisation of our energy sector. We have had a federal Coalition government that had been operating in some parallel universe where they believed climate change is not real. On this side of the house, we fervently believe it is. On this side of the house, we believe that decarbonisation needs to happen in a considered way, and in South Australia we are very proud to be part of a government that is leading on a national stage in that endeavour.

We believe, on this side of the house, that in order to be able to cede to a greater penetration of renewables, over and above what is already the case, we need to see more firming capacity in the market. In the long term, we like the idea of that being green firming capacity, and that's why this government is so aggressively pursuing the hydrogen opportunity. In the interim, we see there being a role for gas-fired generation as a firming service to actually unlock yet more renewable investment.

Federally, what we are seeing happen on the conservative side of politics is, yet again, some culture-war-driven debate trying to persuade Australians somehow that the most expensive form of power that we could think of in an Australian context would somehow be a good intervention. I reject the insertion of the culture wars in the energy debate, particularly at a federal level, because that is what has led to a set of disastrous policy decisions being made over a substantial period of time.

Here in South Australia, we have a big opportunity to continue to show leadership to the rest of the country about what thoughtful leadership and decarbonisation looks like in such a way that delivers better outcomes for people in our state, and that's what we will continue to pursue.