Press Club debate: Yes to solar thermal, maybe to nuclear, and how Coalition saved planet | RenewEconomy

Press Club debate: Yes to solar thermal, maybe to nuclear, and how Coalition saved planet

Greg Hunt and Mark Butler debated climate, renewables and environment policy at the National Press Club. Here’s what you need to know…


Emissions reduction, renewable energy and the Paris climate pact were just some of the topics du jour at the National Press Club on Wednesday, as federal environment minister Greg Hunt and Opposition climate spokesman Mark Butler duked it out over climate and environment policies past, present and future.

On policies future – we’re trying to focus on tangibles here – it looks like both the Coalition and the ALP are planning to prioritise the development of solar thermal power generation in Port Augusta, where South Australia’s last coal power plant was recently shut down.

In response to a question about making funds available for such a project, Hunt said it would be the first order of business for the Coalition’s shiny new Clean Energy Innovation Fund, while Butler said the project would have a high priority in Labor’s proposed ARENA solar thermal funding round.

On the subject of nuclear power, Hunt said he was open to the idea for Australia, while Butler – who didn’t categorically rule it out – noted that the recent Royal Commission into the subject had found that it would not be economic.

On past policies, Hunt seems prepared to take a good sum of credit for the success of the December 2015 Paris climate talks, and the global pact they resulted in.

Hunt told the Press Club audience that Australia had played a “key brokering role, under Malcolm Turnbull, on his watch, in Paris.”

Not only that, he added, but the Turnbull government had also played an important role fostering the interests of the “small island states” in that agreement.

Presumably he’s not referring to that one time that the federal immigration minister Peter Dutton joked about rising sea levels just after the Pacific Islands Forum at which then-PM Tony Abbott rejected the pleas of low-lying Pacific island nations for a stronger stance on emissions and temperature rises.

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Here is Greg Foyster’s cartoon take on the debate ….


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  1. howardpatr 4 years ago

    After listening to the dreaded Hunt it is clear no one can break through with Turnbull, the LNP and him.

    The man is always right and just keeps on spewing out largely meaningless figures to confuse the masses.

    The return of the LNP will just see more of the Mad Monk Abbott driven policies.

  2. Jimbo 4 years ago

    Someone should analyse Hunts many statements which are dodgy to say the least. He may be a good debater but he relies on constantly repeated lies to sound credible. Figures can’t lie but liars can figure.

  3. Ken Dyer 4 years ago

    Hunt is a liar. Full stop.

  4. Steven Zilm 4 years ago

    I’m still looking for one of Greg Hunt’s 1,000,000 Solar roofs from the last election campaign!…. He promised 1,000,000 and delivered 0…. Thanks Greg!

  5. Robert Comerford 4 years ago

    I was bit disappointed in the ABC leaving the debate before it was over.
    Why Hunt not pulled up and called a liar on so many subjects. Obviously not many journalists there with knowledge of the subject.
    The crap about the SA pricing and unreliability due to solar is one obvious one that should have been laughed down. The Labor candidate should have nailed him on that one but let it pass; perhaps he is not well informed either.

  6. Jonathan Symons 4 years ago

    I was disappointed to read that Butler had misreported the SA Royal Commission (the commission did not find nuclear was uneconomic – it recommended its legalisation and suggested it would very likely be economic in many Australian markets), so I listened to the debate and was pleased to see Butler made no such claim. He does discuss a CO2CRC report.

    • Giles 4 years ago

      From the commission’s report: “the Commission has found it would not be commercially viable to develop a nuclear power plant in South Australia beyond 2030 under current market rules.”

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