NATALIE BARR: A coal to nuclear transition is firming as the centrepiece of the Coalition's 2025 energy policy in an effort to slash emissions and lower electricity prices the Opposition's plan would see nuclear plants plug into the grid at the sites of retired coal plants, leveraging from existing transmission, transportation and water infrastructure. Let's bring in Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil and Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume Good morning to both of you. Clare, what do you think of the Opposition's plans? They have done this overseas, places like Poland, Wyoming. Does it sound good?
CLARE O’NEIL: Absolutely not Nat. Nuclear energy is not the answer for Australia's problems. It is incredibly expensive to build. It is very slow to roll out. Meanwhile, Australia has all of the assets it needs to become a renewables energy powerhouse. We've got the sun, we've got the wind, we've got the waves and we can power Australia's economic future through clean energy, through renewables. And Jane, I know that the Coalition and Jane and her colleagues have come forward with this particular proposal. Can I just remind your viewers, these people were in government for ten years. They denied that climate change was a problem. They had 22 different energy policies, none of which got implemented. And the cost for Australians has been we have not made that move we need to make to renewables and our energy prices are incredibly high. As a result, Labor has a really clear plan here. It's clean, it builds on our natural assets and we're really confident this is the way to go.
NATALIE BARR: Jane, you were in government for a long time, a decade. Why didn't you come up with this plan sooner if this is a good one?
JANE HUME: The move to nuclear energy is one that the Coalition has embraced because there is no country around the world that has a credible path to net zero emissions that doesn't have nuclear Already, 32 countries have adopted nuclear technology and another 50 are looking at these modern nuclear technologies to get to a net zero emissions future. We're the largest, deposits of uranium in the world. We have 50 coal fired power stations right now that are providing more than 58%, sometimes up to 80% when demand is high, of our energy mix. They're going to retire soon. Why not retire them with a nuclear energy alternative? And we know that even if we retire, just one, replace just one coal fired power station with a small modular nuclear reactor option well then we're going to reduce emissions to the equivalent of taking 900,000 cars off the road. Why would you not consider nuclear in the energy mix if it's going to be a low emissions technology option that's going to provide that baseload power that makes energy reliable and affordable? If you don't, it's either intellectually lazy or it's ideologically belligerent.
NATALIE BARR: Claire It's expensive, obviously, but renewables are expensive too, because of what we've been left with. So there it's years away before we can power the grid by renewables anyway, isn't it?
CLARE O’NEIL: Well what I, so dearly wish, Nat, is that Jane and her colleagues had done something about this urgent problem for the country in the decade that they were in power. We can do it now. we've got Jane saying that not going. Well, Jane's saying not going to nuclear is lazy and intellectually crazy. But a year ago, this wasn't the policy that they were advocating and they had ten years to do something about it. But just moving away from the politics of this, it's not the answer for Australia Nat. It's not the answer for Australia. We've got the biggest economic opportunity staring us in the face and that is the shift to renewables. It's clean and these renewables, once we've built the plants, are almost free to generate electricity. It is crazy for us not to go down this path. Now Jane and her colleagues can answer all the difficult questions about where they are going to build all the nuclear power plants that they are proposing. But can I just say, there's a really obvious answer staring us in the face. It's cheap, it's clean, it's green, and it's renewables. Okay.
NATALIE BARR: This is an interesting one. That's a big topic. But let's go to this one that's put a smile on every Australian. This week, the Prime Minister will push state leaders into granting a snap public holiday when National Cabinet meets next week. Anthony Albanese wants Aussies to be able to celebrate if the Matilda's win the FIFA Women's World Cup. Claire, everyone wants to honour these incredible women, the Matilda's, businesses say they can't afford a public holiday. What do you think?
CLARE O’NEIL: Look I think businesses can't be grumbling about this. If the Matilda's win the World Cup this will be probably the biggest sporting achievement in Australia's history. And I think 26 million people are going to deserve a day off to celebrate so I am 100% with the PM on this one.
NATALIE BARR: Jane?
JANE HUME: Albo’s rolling out Bob Hawke’s greatest hits here but small businesses paying high penalty rates and be the ones that suffer. How about people celebrate the Matilda's victory by going and eating out at a small business, at a pub, at a restaurant and helping small businesses support themselves in a cost of living crisis.
NATALIE BARR: So that's a no Jane. The Coalition’s against a public holiday?
JANE HUME: There are lots of ways to celebrate without taking a public holiday.
CLARE O’NEIL: Pro-nuclear but against public health. Jane, come on.
NATALIE BARR: Jane, a lot of people you know, a record number of people have watched these incredible women do incredible things this week. If they win, that would be enormous. So is this a good way to celebrate, do you think?
JANE HUME: It's extraordinary, what a very Australian thing to do to say we're going to take a day off and have a sleep in so that we can celebrate something when we could be celebrating it at a small business. Let's do that and support our small businesses.
NATALIE BARR: Okay, Claire, would it hurt businesses too much?
CLARE O’NEIL: I can’t say it again, come on. Come on it this would be an amazing victory for our country and something that would be you know, a format day for women's sport. we've got to celebrate these victories and I think Jane’s right, if people have a day off, go out to the pub, support their small businesses. I think it's a very brave thing to be advocating not to have a public holiday to celebrate this amazing thing for the country but I'll leave that to Jane.
NATALIE BARR: Okay, we've got a yes and no. Tell us what you think at home. Thank you very much, see you next week.