WA Liberals reject Peter Dutton’s nuclear plan in the short term

The WA Liberals support coal and gas-fired power stations until renewables can supply energy needs.

The WA Liberals support coal and gas-fired power stations until renewables can supply energy needs. Photo: Getty

The Western Australia Liberal Party has poured cold water on the federal Coalition’s plan for nuclear power in the state, while backing coal to keep the lights on.

Energy spokesman Steve Thomas says federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s plan for nuclear power won’t work in WA.

“To get approvals and construction happening on a nuclear power plant, whatever the size is, is probably a 15-to-20-year timeframe,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“In the meantime, we have to keep the lights on we have to keep the air conditioners running and we have to do it at a cost that the community can afford.”

WA’s power system was small and a large cost-effective nuclear power plant wouldn’t work, Mr Thomas said.

“The size of the unit would matter significantly because as CSIRO has said, the small ones which will fit into our marketplace are more than two-to-three times as expensive per unit of electricity as the large ones,” he said.

“There might one day be room for a small one when the time is right and the business case steps up and the community accepts it.”

A CSIRO report released last week found building a large-scale nuclear power plant in Australia would take 15 years, cost at least $8.5 billion and produce electricity about twice the cost of renewables.

Any nuclear plant in WA would need significant federal government investment and Mr Thomas said he was happy to look at Mr Dutton’s business case and continue talks.

“This is a long, ongoing discussion and we the state Liberals are not afraid of nuclear energy … but it has to stack up and it has to have support,” he said.

Under the WA Liberals’ energy policy, coal and gas-fired power stations would continue to be used until renewables can supply the state’s energy needs.

‘The current plan the (WA Labor) government has will not keep the lights on, will not keep the air conditioners running as we transition to a low emissions future,” he said.

“The Liberal plan will keep the lights on whilst we reach that low emissions.”

The WA Liberals have three of 59 seats in the lower house of the state parliament after losing 11 seats in the  2021 election.

The next election is expected to be held in March 2025.


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