Energy policy is again taking centre stage during question time

Jack Quail and Jessica WangNewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

Anthony Albanese has threatened a union campaign against the Opposition’s nuclear power policy in the lead up to the next election, which would focus on the cost and effects on jobs.

Since unveiling its tilt to nuclear energy, the Coalition has cited support for the policy within segments of the union movement, including comments made by former Australian Workers’ Union secretary Dan Walton.

Camera IconPrime Minister Anthony Albanese said the union movement would campaign against the Opposition’s nuclear policy. NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

Mr Walton had previously said small modular reactors, which are yet to prove commercially viable, should be included in Australia’s future energy mix.

But Mr Albanese told the chamber that Mr Walton’s comments were not representative of the broader union movement, which would campaign against the Coalition’s proposal.

“A business leader who he says speaks on behalf of the entire trade union movement,” Mr Albanese said

“I’ll give you the big tip here: the union movement campaign will be very strong against your nuclear-powered plan,” he said, a comment which was met with jeers from the Coalition benches.

“What they know is that your plan will destroy jobs, your plan will lead to higher power prices, your plan will undermine manufacturing in this country.”

PM’s jibe at Opposition’s costings

At the start of question time, opposition energy spokesman Ted O’Brien quizzed Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on the cost of Labor’s proposed rollout of energy generation, largely reliant on renewables.

Labor MPs have frequently cited estimates released by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) which has placed construction costs at approximately $121bn.

In response, the prime minister pointed to the detail outlined in the energy market operator’s estimates, while accusing the Coalition of failing to release key details of its plans to construct seven nuclear power plants by mid-century.

“Here’s the plan,” Mr Albanese said, brandishing the AEMO report.

Camera IconPrime Minister Anthony Albanese during Question Time at Parliament House. NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

“What you have is that. What you have is that - a blank page, no costings,” he said pointing to a plain piece of paper.

“You can’t say how many gigawatts, you can’t say how many reactors will be there, you can’t say what you’ll do with the six of the seven owners of the land who’ve said no to it.”

Albanese exposes Coalition division on nuclear

Mr Albanse also pointed to division within the Coalition on nuclear energy policy between the federal parliamentary caucus and its state parliamentary leaders.

Speaking in question time, the prime minister rattled off comments made by state Liberal and National Party leaders who opposed nuclear power for their state when the federal caucus had proposed to build seven nuclear power plants by mid-century.

“NSW Opposition Leader (Mark Speakman): ‘We can’t wait for nuclear’. Victorian Opposition Leader (John Persutto): ‘There are prohibitions in place, so I’m not racing along the nuclear path’.” Mr Albanese said.

Camera IconPrime Minister Anthony Albanese has amped up his attack on the Opposition’s nuclear policy in Question Time. NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia
Camera IconMr Albanese said no coalition state leader backed Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s nuclear policy. NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

“Victorian Nats leader (Peter Walsh): ‘You wouldn’t be surprised that our view is exactly the same as John Pesutto’. Queensland LNP leader (David Crisafulli): ‘I’ve been very consistent with it, nuclear is not a part of planning in Queensland’.

“(The Coalition’s) plan is friendless amongst their own people, amongst the business community, and amongst anyone in the energy sector.”

Alongside the exorbitant cost and lengthy time frame required to construct nuclear reactors, a future Coalition government would also have to overcome state bans which prohibit nuclear power generation.

Threat to new GG’s salary bump

The Australian Greens will vote against legislation to give incoming governor-general Samantha Mostyn a salary more than $200,000 more than her predecessor’s.

The Albanese government on Monday introduced a Bill into parliament to make her salary $709,017 – $214,000 more than General Hurley’s $495,000 a year pay packet.

The salary for governors-general is calculated to the estimated average salary of the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia over the notional five-year term of the appointment.

“Where, in the past, a Governor-General has been the recipient of other Commonwealth entitlements – such as a judicial pension – the annual salary has been adjusted accordingly,” the Bill says.

“Ms Mostyn is not a recipient of any such entitlements.”

03/04/2024: Samantha Mostyn has been announced as the next Governor General of Australia - here with partner Simeon Beckett. PIC: PMO
Camera Icon03/04/2024: Samantha Mostyn has been announced as the next Governor General of Australia - here with partner Simeon Beckett. PIC: PMO Credit: Supplied

The decision has caused a stir, with many MPs saying it fails the “pub test” in a cost-of-living crisis.

“Whilst the Greens strongly believe we should be a republic, if we have a GG, Sam Mostyn is an inspired choice,” Greens senator Lairissa Waters posted on X.

“However, we will oppose the GG pay rise bill and move amendments in the Senate for wage increases for all low-paid workers. And for Australia to be a Republic.”

The Coalition will vote for the Bill, meaning it will pass, but a Coalition partyroom spokeswoman said it was a “deep embarrassment for the government”.

“The Governor-General starts the new gig on Monday and this has to be passed through parliament and given royal assent before then because this establishes the governor-general’s salary for the next five years,” the spokeswoman said.

“As a convention normally this is done much, much earlier.”

Tanya’s classy response to Dutton photo

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has defended Peter Dutton’s son after a leaked social media photo pictured him holding a bag of “white powder”.

The image, which was first reported by the Herald Sun, made newspaper front pages on Tuesday morning.

Originally shared on Tom’s Snapchat and quickly deleted, the photo of 18-year-old Tom Dutton featured him facing the camera holding the clear bag with the caption: “Birthday day treat. Hello how u goin”.

NewsWire is not suggesting the white substance was drugs.

Peter Dutton’s 18-year-old son, Tom (pictured), made the front pages of newspapers after he was pictured holding a bag containing white powder. Supplied/ Newscorp Network News
Camera IconPeter Dutton’s 18-year-old son, Tom (pictured), made the front pages of newspapers after he was pictured holding a bag containing white powder. Supplied/ Newscorp Network News Credit: Supplied

The Opposition Leader’s office has also refused to comment on the matter, releasing a one-sentence statement that it is a “private matter for the Dutton family”.

Appearing on Today on Tuesday morning, Ms Plibersek was asked by host Karl Stefanovic what she made of the image, to which she expressed empathy for the families of public figures.

“I’ve got no comment at all. Peter Dutton’s a public figure, but his son’s not,” she said.

Stefanovic continued to press her: “Can you imagine the embarrassment from the poor kid? I mean, already his dad is the Opposition Leader … he’s a former cop … and (Tom) ends up on the front page of the paper.

“Kids have to suffer with high profile parents, don’t they?”

Camera IconEnvironment Minister Tanya Plibersek reframed from commenting on the matter, stating: ‘Peter Dutton’s a public figure, but his son’s not’. NewsWire/ Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

In response, Ms Plibersek, herself a mum of three and formerly served as the Opposition Deputy Leader, conceded it wasn’t “an easy life” for the children of politicians.

“There’s nothing more embarrassing than being out with your mum and being stopped at the shops for people wanting to have a chat,” she said.

“It’s not an easy life. We go into public life and we choose it. Our families don’t choose it, that’s for sure.”

Later appearing on the breakfast program, Victorian Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie said she hadn’t spoken to Mr Dutton since the story broke on Monday night and said it was ”an issue for the Dutton family”.

Labor Social Services Minister Amanda Rishwoth also refrained from commenting, stating: “I think families are conscripts to politics”.

Assange to plead guilty in plea deal with US

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has left the UK after agreeing to a plea deal with the US, where he has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information, and allows him to return to Australia.

For more than a decade, Mr Assange has been attempting to avoid extradition to the US, following the release of thousands of confidential US military records detailing America’s actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Julian Assange boarded a flight at London Stansted Airport after spending 62 months in jail fighting extradition to the US. Credit @wikileaks X
Camera IconJulian Assange boarded a flight at London Stansted Airport after spending 62 months in jail fighting extradition to the US. Credit @wikileaks X Credit: X

Mr Assange is expected to be sentenced at a hearing on Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands, a US territory in the western Pacific, at 9am local time, or 7pm AEDT on Tuesday.

US prosecutors will seek a 62-month sentence which equates to how long Mr Assange has spent in a high-security London prison while fighting extradition to the US.

The US has argued Mr Assange’s actions posed a national security risk, while press freedom advocates celebrated the work of Wikileaks.

According to a statement from WikiLeaks, the 52-year-old left his maximum security cell at London’s Belmarsh Prison on Monday, following his 1901-day stint.

“He was granted bail by the High Court in London and was released at Stansted airport during the afternoon, where he boarded a plane and departed the UK,” the statement said.

“After more than five years in a 2x3 metre cell, isolated 23 hours a day, he will soon reunite with his wife Stella Assange, and their children, who have only known their father from behind bars.

“WikiLeaks published groundbreaking stories of government corruption and human rights abuses, holding the powerful accountable for their actions. As editor-in-chief, Julian paid severely for these principles, and for the people’s right to know.”

Footage uploaded to the WikiLeaks X account shows Mr Assange boarding a flight from London’s Stansted’s Airport.

“This is for everyone who worked for his freedom: thank you,” they captioned the video.

Albo statement on Assange release

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says the government was aware of the proceedings.

“We are aware Australian citizen Mr Julian Assange has legal proceedings scheduled in the United States,” an Australian government spokesperson said in a statement.

“Given those proceedings are ongoing, it is not appropriate to provide further comment.

“The Australian government continues to provide consular assistance to Mr Assange.

“Prime Minister Albanese has been clear – Mr Assange’s case has dragged on for too long and there is nothing to be gained by his continued incarceration.”

PM rallies caucus

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has addressed caucus, with a rallying speech outlining the government’s cost of living actions, including the upcoming stage 3 tax cuts and minimum wage increase.

Camera IconPrime Minister Anthony Albanese addresses the Labor Party caucus at Parliament House on Tuesday. NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia
Camera IconMr Albanese used his address to caucus to spruik the tax cuts and hit out at the Coalition’s nuclear energy plan. NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

He also took another swipe at the Opposition’s nuclear energy plan.

“They’ve come up with an uncosted plan, where they can’t tell you how much it’s cost,” he says.

The tax cuts come into effect from next Monday.

Eyes on Labor senator over Palestine vote

Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi she will be moving a motion in the Senate on Tuesday to recognise the state of Palestine.

“All Labor has to do is have the conviction to stick to their policy and take the most basic act of historical justice,” she posted on X.

“I call on every member of the Labor Party to support this motion.

“Every abstention and every vote against this motion will be recorded firmly and permanently on the wrong side of history. At the heart of recognising Palestinian statehood must be the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.”

The Greens moved a similar motion in the House of Representatives in May which was defeated with both major parties voting against the proposal.

Earlier, Greens leader Adam Bandt would not say if he had spoken to Labor Senator Fatima Payman, who has previously voiced her support for Palestine.

Camera IconLabor Senator Fatima Payman has voiced her support for Palestine. NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

“I won’t be talking about who I have, haven’t spoken to. There’s conversations that happen in parliament all the time,” Mr Bandt said.

“I think what Senator Payman does will be a matter for Senator Payman.

The first-term Western Australian senator has recently been critical of the government’s response to the Israel-Gaza war.

Originally published as Energy policy is again taking centre stage during question time

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