The Abbott government has warmly applauded a speech by cross-bench Senator Jacqui Lambie, who on Wednesday dismissed the science of climate change, urged a major push to nuclear energy, and called for a bigger army to defend Australia.
The speech from Lambie was made in debate over the proposal to cut the renewable energy target to 33,000GWh from 41,000GWh. Lambie said it was excellent to cut the target, because renewable energy (other than hydro) could not support an industrialised economy.
Instead, she said, the only way for “cheap, decarbonised” power, was to push for nuclear energy. ”We have got to become world leaders in nuclear,” Lambie said.
“You are worse than deluded. You are dangerously deluded … and you should be locked up, for helping enemies destroy our nation – if you think that wind energy will solve problems,” Lambie said.
The Senator, echoing comments she made in her maiden speech to parliament, said there had never been a time in history that the climate had not changed. She said the Earth was warmer on “three occasions” in the last 300,000 years.
“I have never heard so much garbage about energy and climate change. To think a 21st economy can sustainably and affordably run on renewable energy. What a load of rubbish.
“Apart from hydro, the only way to decarbonise energy is to move very quickly to nuclear. And it’s about time we move to that option.”
Lambie appears not to be aware that nuclear energy is proving horrendously expensive. In the UK, attempts to build the first nuclear plant in more than 20 years hang in the balance, despite the government offering a base price of $180/MWh, rising with inflation to nearly $500/MWh in 35 years time; even with $32 billion in loan guarantees, and $12 billion of added infrastructure to be paid for by consumers.
As the IEA noted earlier this week, new nuclear is being built, almost exclusively, only in countries with regulated energy markets and where government-owned utilities build, own and operate plants. The Financial Times reported this week that even the UK Treasury is hoping that the plant is not built, because of its costs.
The Lambie speech was welcomed by the Coalition, whose leader, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, expressed his dislike of wind farms last week and who admitted that his goal was to stop the construction of all wind turbines. For the Coalition, each turbine appears to represent success for The Greens. This is despite even the owner of Australia’s dirtiest power station saying that the future of energy lies in local generation, wind and solar and battery storage.
Queensland Liberal Senator Ian Macdonald said: “What a wonderful speech. It’s been a long time since I have heard a speech so clear on the reality of life.”
“I congratulate you on the way you understand …. on how The Greens are hell-bent on destroying Australia in any way that they can …. You have shortened my speech by about 10 minutes ….it’s a wonderful speech and congratulations.”
Senator David Leyonjhelm, who sits on the Senate inquiry into wind farms, and has said their health impacts are proven, said the RET would “do to manufacturing what wind turbines do to wedge tailed eagles.
“I would prefer that nothing would be done, and penalties would apply, and increased prices would create public backlash against the lunacy of the act.” He said the target should be no more than 27,000GWh.
Another anti-wind Senator, John Madigan, also complained about wind energy. He quoted Origin Energy boss Grant King who had said that billions of dollars of new gas-fired generation would need to be built to support wind energy.
Madigan and his advisors have clearly not caught up with the news that no news gas generation is being built, and much of it closed down.
Ricky Muir, from the Motoring Enthusiast Party, said he supported the RET, and its 41,000GWh target, and was proud to support the retention of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corp.
Any amendments would be an excuse by the government to further delay the legislation, Muir said: “Let’s get the legislation through.” Muir also supported the inclusion of native wood waste in the RET. “We are not speaking of cutting down one extra tree,” he said. A vote was expected later on Wednesday or on Thursday, although it was not clear if any amendments would be presented.