Interview with Chris Smith, 2GB

Chris Smith
Nuclear power, hydrogen, Minister Christian Porter's resignation from the Cabinet, Australia's submarine contract

CHRIS SMITH:    Well, how about this. The Federal Government is going to spend an extra $150 million building seven hydrogen hubs across Australia. This is part of a wider $1.2 billion hydrogen push. We read today, the Government wants Australia to be a global player in hydrogen production and exports by 2030. One of the prospective hub locations is in the Hunter Valley. Now that's all well and good, but why are we going all in on hydrogen and ignoring nuclear given what has just happened? We've taken a major step towards nuclear, and I got to say, I don't see any of the city streets filled with protesters. Do you? And they're not floating Chernobyls. The technology has changed incredibly since the 1950s, so go figure. Isn't it time to have a conversation about nuclear power? Angus Taylor is the Energy Minister. He's on the line. Minister, a very good morning. 

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Good morning, Chris, thanks for having me. 

CHRIS SMITH:    Why can't we change those Commonwealth laws and the necessary state laws and develop what the Prime Minister calls a civil nuclear industry?

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Well, look, the first point I'd make, Chris, is that the technology is changing but it's early days for the small modular reactors, which are the ones I think you're referring to. Three have been built in developing countries, none completed in the developed world, so we're watching very closely. We see it as something to keep a good eye on. We don't need a civil nuclear capability for these subs, as you know of course, and that's an important point but if ultimately we're going to have nuclear in this country, it will need to be bipartisan. There's no doubt about that. It is too easy to run a scare campaign, particularly at a local level.

CHRIS SMITH:    Well, this rubbish from Adam Bandt about floating Chernobyls. He tried to scare as many people as he could last week, didn't he?

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Well, of course. I mean, that's what you'd expect from the Greens. They've been campaigning against nuclear and lots of other things for a long, long time. Albo is pretty aligned with the Green left of Australian politics and he's not so far from that either. I mean, he came out very, very clearly in principle supporting the subs. We'll see how that holds. The left of the Labor Party, I think, are not as convinced as some about that, but in principle at least he's supporting them.

CHRIS SMITH:    We've got a third of the world's uranium. A third of the world's uranium and I just don't get it. Thirty countries around the world are using nuclear power to keep the lights on. Seventy-one per cent of the power into France is supplied by nuclear power.

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Well, you should get Albo onto the program to talk about his position. 


ANGUS TAYLOR:    Can I say though, your comment about hydrogen. Hydrogen can do things that nuclear could never do anyway.

CHRIS SMITH:    Sell it to us. Sell it to us. 

ANGUS TAYLOR:    The important point about hydrogen is it's not only a source of energy, it's a feedstock. So for those of you, your listeners, eating their cornflakes, or their breakfast this morning, it is made possible because of the role hydrogen plays in producing our fertiliser. It's not a new industry. It's been with us for over 100 years. It's an important industry. What's happening, though, is it's expanding in its use. So we're seeing the Japanese starting to feed hydrogen into their coal and gas-fired generators. We're seeing it being used in transport. We're seeing it used much more broadly in manufacturing. This is a big new opportunity for Australia. 

CHRIS SMITH:    Will it drive prices down on our power bills?

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Yeah. It absolutely has the potential to drive prices down on lots of different goods, for food as well, of course. 

CHRIS SMITH:    Alright. What's your reaction to Christian Porter's resignation from Cabinet?

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Well it’s obviously really disappointing outcome. He's a good friend, he's a good man, and he's been through hell but, you know, he had to make the decision he did. He wasn't prepared to out those who had contributed to, or funded at least, his litigation. Sadly, of course, he was up against the ABC who is very well funded by taxpayers so he was caught in a position where he had no choice and he actually did the honourable thing to say, I am not going to out those people. I'm not going to ask him to out them.

CHRIS SMITH:    And what about France's overreaction to our cancelled sub deal?

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Well, you can expect them to be disappointed Chris, but at the end of the day we've got to do what's for Australia, and the decision we made is the right one for Australia. As I've said to you before, very proud to have been part of that, Cabinet making that decision. It was the right one for Australia and that's who's interest I have to act in every day. 

CHRIS SMITH:    I appreciate your time this morning, Angus. Thank you.

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Good on you, Chris.