Motions – Rewiring The Nation, Thursday 16 November, 2023

Senator BABET (Victoria—United Australia Party Whip) (17:15): I thank Senator Van for his motion and the opportunity to make a contribution on it. We must shine a light on the government’s Rewiring the Nation program. That’s obvious. It’s a program that feels like it was inspired by that ABC show—comedy, documentary, whatever it is—by the name of Utopia.

Senator Davey: Documentary!

Senator BABET: Documentary, I’ve been told. If you haven’t seen that show, it’s about a bunch of bureaucrats who are in charge of big building schemes. That’s what it is. I don’t watch the ABC, and I don’t imagine many on this side of the chamber would, and rightly so. It’s garbage. I’ve just been told about the show, guys.

The government has thrown billions of dollars at this Rewiring the Nation program, a program that stinks to high heaven of desperation and seeks to cover up the massive policy failure that is our nation’s transition to so-called renewable energy. What is renewable, in the name of God, about renewable energy? What is renewable about solar panels that last 15 to 20 years and then go in landfill, or wind turbines that last about the same and then also end up in landfill? The only thing that is renewable about renewable energy is the cost. That is the only thing that is renewable about it. It is not a good technology.

The Albanese government is, at this very moment, attempting to crisscross the nation with a spider web of powerlines as it attempts to retrofit our energy grid. This project is obviously going to impact farmland and it’s going to make power bills unaffordable. You know who’s going to suffer? It’s the poorest in our country who are going to suffer. The inner city teal voters ain’t going to suffer. People in this place here ain’t going to suffer. It’s just the poorest in our nation.

I call it a vanity project, because—and this is the astonishing part—the whole exercise is wholly unnecessary. We don’t need to do it. If the government would just for a moment step back from the cult-like obsession—that’s what it is, a cult-like obsession—with renewables and just for a second consider nuclear power, it would be immediately evident that Rewiring the Nation is just not needed. Why? I’ll tell you why. Because nuclear power plants can be built in the exact same footprint where we have the coal-fired power stations right now. They’ll plug right into the existing transmission line infrastructure and they can start powering the nation straightaway—no need for anything else. Build it, plug it in and we’ll be good to go. There will be no spaghetti network of wires needed, no farmland needing to be usurped, no billions spent for the needless duplication of transmission lines. We already have them. They’re already there. There will be no need for struggling families to be in mortal fear every time they get that bill from the power company.

Speaking of the bill from the power company, you might know what I’m going to say next: where is my $275, Mr Prime Minister? I still haven’t got it. I’m waiting for it. When am I going to get it? The answer is never, because power bills ain’t going down. They’re only going one way, and that’s up, up into the heavens. That’s where they’re going.

System costs are much lower for nuclear than for wind and for solar. There is no need to build a great deal of infrastructure to use this energy source, for which we have an abundant amount of fuel in South Australia. In contrast, as we’ve already heard from some other contributions, wind and solar require around $100 billion of additional funding to meet the 2050 net zero targets. We all know how the government works. We all know how bureaucracies work. It’s not going to be $100 billion—it’s going to be much more than that. Let’s be honest. Let’s not kid ourselves. It will be much more than that—$100 billion is a pipedream; that’s what it is. Future generations will look back at this present government and marvel at the pig-headedness that insisted on torching taxpayer money duplicating transmission lines—not to save the planet, no; there’s nothing about this that’s saving the planet. What’s saving the planet in digging up more minerals? What’s saving the planet in putting in more transmission lines? What’s saving the planet in solar panels and wind turbines that end up in landfill? That’s not saving the planet; that’s killing the planet. More pollution is what it is. It’s no good.

The whole point of this is ideology. It is not practical at all. The bottom line is that Australian families and businesses are being forced to spend money that we don’t have for these transmission lines. We don’t have to solve a climate crisis. Why? A climate crisis does not exist. There is nothing here to save. If you had made an argument and you said to me, ‘We need to cut back on pollution,’ I’d listen to you. If you talked about microplastics in the ocean, if you had talked about run-off from factories and things like that going into estuaries and creeks, if you had said, ‘We need to make companies responsible for the real pollution that they produce when they make goods and services,’ I’d be on board for that. But if you tell me that CO2, a colourless, odourless gas that we need as the very foundation, the building block, for life, is somehow a pollutant, you’re just mad. That’s what you are—you’re mad. This whole thing about ‘the science is settled’—I tell you what: science is never settled. That’s just absolute garbage. In conclusion, I’d like to say we need to look at nuclear energy. It is the best way forward—better yet, more coal and more gas.