SA Premier Peter Malinauskas enters nuclear debate

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Peter Malinauskas says the nuclear debate has been hindered by “unpragmatic ideology” as he warned adopting nuclear power would be a “burden” on consumers.

As the federal opposition ramps up plans to release details of the nuclear energy plan it intends to put to voters at the next election, the federal Labor Party has doubled down, criticising it as too expensive.

Given the central role the state will play in developing Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines, the South Australian Premier on Thursday said there was a need for “nuclear power globally to decarbonise”.

Clarifying his position on Friday morning, Mr Malinauskas said it was a “good thing” that nuclear power would contribute to the global decarbonisation of the energy mix but on a consumer level it was hard to swallow.

“Every single objective, independent analysis that has looked at this has said nuclear power would make power more expensive in Australia rather than cheaper,” he told ABC News.

“Why we would impose that burden on power consumers in our country is completely beyond me. Maybe one day in a hundred years time nuclear technology might evolve.

“We have to stick to pragmatic solutions, and for us that is renewables and with gas-fired generation firming it.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton this week used a speech to the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia to promote the Coalition’s nuclear plan, saying it was the only technology “proven” to emit zero emissions and was cheap, consistent and clean.

He told the summit that the government couldn’t credibly meet its 2050 net zero emissions target under its current approach.

“And that is why we want Australia to move towards adopting the latest nuclear power technologies,” he said.

“With nuclear, we can maximise the highest yield of energy per square metre and minimise our environmental footprint.”

A CSIRO report from December said nuclear power “does not currently provide an economically competitive solution in Australia” and last month warned Mr Dutton against undermining the agency.

Mr Malinauskas said he had “strong views” on nuclear but hated how it had been “utterly captured by ideology on both the left and the right”.

“The reason why we have got ourselves into such an awful mess in the national electricity market is because we have seen too many decisions driven by unpragmatic ideology,” he said.