Wednesday, 12 February 2020
Environment and Energy Committee; Report
The member for Fremantle and I may share the same surname and I may occasionally joke that he is my cousin—since apparently you can now go back to just about any generation and claim cousins, which the member has accused me of at times in the past—but I can, sure as hell, tell you that we do not share the same views on the future of our great country. I say that because I have never heard so much rubbish as we just heard from the member for Fremantle. Why are the Australian Labor Party opposed to the future? Why are they so anti science, so anti technology and so anti the potential of what we can do for this great country?
We have an enormous challenge in confronting the transition of our energy market. Why would they close down viable technologies—even a discussion, even a consultation, even a pathway about what we could do to deliver a lower carbon future? They are so anti science that they would shut down a pathway or a discussion around one energy generation model. It is simply absurd. But it's what we've come to expect from the Australian Labor Party, because they're anti science and they're not interested in technological solutions. The only thing they're interested in—and, of course, the minister made this point in question time today—are new taxes. They love new taxes. They don't see the solution to our challenges around climate change, around reducing our emissions or around transitioning our energy grid through the prism of what we can build for the future; they put it on the basis of how they can tax it for themselves. No answers; no solutions. That's why they sit on the other side of this chamber.
What we got from this report, expertly led by the wonderful member for Fairfax, was a good and serious consideration of the important issues that we need to discuss if we are to consider nuclear energy. Labor's answer is simply to dissent and say, 'No go.' We're working with the community to make sure that we can have viable options to consider the future generation challenge that Australia needs. It actually came back with a series of expert recommendations. I think that is an excellent consideration and should be fully supported and endorsed.
Mr Josh Wilson interjecting—
The member for Fremantle again indulges himself by throwing out propositions in his antiscience crusade and antiscience agenda. Some of us are going to stand by the science, stand by the technology and stand by the ideas that will help build the future of this country. If you want to stay, member of Fremantle, on your continued antiscience, antitechnology and antifuture agenda, then I just hope that the good people of the electorate of Fremantle know the consequences of your antiscience, antitechnology and antifuture agenda. We on this side of the chamber are about the future. So, what are we doing? We're looking at making sure that there is serious consideration of different options of lower emissions technology to generate future energy investment. Of course, it has to be done strategically to make sure that we take the Australian community with us.
We agree, fundamentally, that old-school reactors that created problems in the past—with low-grade technology, with low-grade regulations, and with serious challenges regarding environmental factors or human health—should not be considered. We start from that very basic proposition. That's what this report proposes as well. But, when it comes to new technology and innovation, the merits of proposals should be properly considered and not just ruled out by the anti-science, anti-technology, anti-future member for Fremantle and many other members of the Labor Party on the other side of the chamber—and the Greens, mind you. If they really believe a lot of their rhetoric then they should be having a proper discussion about technology solutions and they should not be having closed minds.
Mr Josh Wilson interjecting—
The member for Fremantle's asking what it is I'm calling him. I'm calling you technology bigots. You have closed minds. You are technology bigots about the future of this country and what can be achieved through things like a discussion around nuclear power.
We need to make sure we have the regulations in place so that we can fully consider it. We need to make sure we have in place assistance for and development of proposals by ANSTO to make sure that they can fully consider it and so there's a proper assessment about the viability, if we're going to go down the pathway to nuclear power. We had a discussion, and the committee made a particular recommendation, around commissioning the Productivity Commission or other equivalent expert reviewer to undertake an independent assessment to inform the discussion on things like the contribution that can be made by nuclear power. Of course, we also have to make sure that, if there is any consideration in the future, it maintains a moratorium on old, outdated technology that won't have any value in the future of the energy grid in this country.
But the approach of the member for Fairfax and the committee that he led—open-minded, forward-looking and interested in the power of technology to contribute to the future building of this country—is such an important part of this discussion. The technology bigotry that we hear from the opposition benches is so disappointing but completely unsurprising. So rarely have we seen an example of a solution from them when there are serious challenges we face. The Labor Party like to talk about the challenge of climate change, as I do, but, when it comes down to it, I look for answers and solutions. That's because I actually take it seriously. No-one can look at the challenge of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, while trying to deliver reliable and affordable power to households, and then take whole options off the table without any proper consideration of the technological changes that make them viable. This is the big part—
Mr Josh Wilson interjecting—