31 May 2024

The Hoot: Is CSIRO's nuclear reaction a fusion of fact and fiction, or another sign of the times?

| David Murtagh
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You heard about CSIRO’s analysis of nuclear power, right?

And you remember when the ACT Government told you how great the next stages of light rail would be (although not the cost … which is odd … but we digress).

And you saw the Treasurer deliver the Budget (gee, you really are a sucker for punishment, aren’t you!)

How reliable are the figures and their ‘analysis’?

Do you really trust them?

Is CSIRO right when it says a nuclear reactor would cost $8.6 billion? No. They’re wrong. Nothing against CSIRO, but predictions are hard – especially about the future!

Remember, Snowy 2.0 was meant to cost $2 billion and could now be edging to (if not over) $13 billion. And it’s about four years late.

The truth is, they have no idea. No one does. Yet we place all our faith and make decisions based on what they swear is their reliable crystal ball.

This week on The Hoot, Murtagh takes the reins and tackles the ‘experts’. What could possibly go wrong?

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Capital Retro7:44 pm 03 Jun 24

The current poll on the Riotact is almost 50/50 for and against Australia switching to nuclear.

That means nuclear is a clear winner, nationally.

You really don’t know how polling works do you.

If the anti nuclear clowns hadn’t been holding us back for literally decades, our emissions would already be substantially lower.

@Ken M
One of those clowns was John Howard, who enacted the current legislation prohibiting nuclear power in Australia in the late 90’s. Another of those clowns is our most recent conservative prime minister, Scott Morrison, who in a 2018 interview, told Alan Jones ( a couple of real lefties there!) that when it came to nuclear power, “I don’t have any issues” but the “investment doesn’t stack up”.

If only those two had not been denialists, perhaps the ‘nuclear powered’ train would not have already departed the station.

JS, you seem very focused on which side of politics only 2 of these people were on. Seems very odd. Almost like it’s a paid gig. 🙂

Anybody, regardless of the side of politics they come from, who whines about emissions and ‘climate change’, while also having spent since the 1970s shouting down the only reliable form of clean energy we had, is a hypocrite and fits in the “anti-nuclear clown” basket.

@Ken M
You focus is conservative right wing politics, Ken M. Is that your “paid gig”? Seriously, you really are trite.

I am aware of the Labor party’s and Greens’ continuing objection to nuclear power, rightly or wrongly on philosphical grounds, going back to the 70s.

The fact is that the Coalition had the opportunity during two lengthy periods in government, the latter of which Dutton was a prominent member, to progress it as an energy solution and neglected to do so. For the reasons, many on here (not just me) have cited, the opportunity has passed. So does that now make Dutton a “pro-nuclear clown”.

Are you ok?
Is your blinding rage for the LNP hampering your comprehension skills? Sounds like something you should seek professional help with.

I’ll make it simple for you, so you don’t have to hurt yourself actually thinking…

I don’t see it as an issue along party lines. It’s not partisan. We have been held back by ideology and baseless fear. The people who have done that, regardless of which side of politics they come from, including Howard and Morrison, are clowns who are responsible for a heap of emissions we didn’t have to create. The same people harping on about climate change are disproportionately likely to be the same ones hell bent against nuclear. They are also responsible for those emissions they seem to be against.

@Ken M
What’s not to comprehend?

I accepted your premise that the (non) nuclear issue stems back to the 70s. If you took the time to read before you enter into your blithering diatribe, you will have seen that I wrote “the Labor party’s and Greens’ continuing objection to nuclear power, rightly or wrongly on philosphical grounds” – note “rightly or wrongly” … I took no position just a statement of the circumstances.

As for my “blinding rage for the LNP”? My point is that Dutton, who is now a champion of nuclear, was a part of a government which declined to go down the nuclear path – which, as I pointed out to you, Morrison said in 2019 was that “the “investment doesn’t stack up”.

So Dutton has now decided that ‘the investment does stack up’? Despite the fact that I, and others on here, have demonstrated the economic and delivery problems of the most recent nuclear power plant to come online in Finland – a country with experience at delivering nuclear energy and which is actually proposing to move away from it.

So you are right to criticise past actions but as has been shown that ‘nuclear powered train’ has well and truly left the station.

Public opinion across Australia favours nuclear power, as the 2024 Lowy Poll shows today.

“Australia’s federal opposition has announced that, if elected, it would look to introduce nuclear power generation into Australia’s energy mix, alongside renewables and other sources of energy, as part of its plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
Public opinion towards nuclear power in Australia has shifted over time. This year, in response to a new question, six in ten Australians (61%) say they ‘somewhat’ or ‘strongly’ support Australia using nuclear power to generate electricity, while a significant minority (37%) ‘somewhat’ or ‘strongly’ oppose it. Those who ‘strongly support’ nuclear power generation (27%) outnumber those who ‘strongly oppose’ it (17%).
In contrast, more than a decade ago in 2011, in response to a related question in this Poll, more than six in ten Australians (62%) said they were either ‘strongly against’ (46%) or ‘somewhat against’ (16%) ‘Australia building nuclear power plants as part of its plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions’.” – 2024 Lowy Poll

The question in 2024 around nuclear power was different than it was in 2011, the most recent question being:
“Do you support or oppose Australia using nuclear power to generate electricity, alongside other sources of energy?”

I also wonder what those results would be if you asked the same people around building those nuclear power plants near their houses rather than just a generic position?

In contrast, the question around renewable energy in 2024 was:

“The current federal Labor government has set a national Australian target for 82% of electricity to be generated through renewables by 2030. Do you think Australia’s target to transition to renewable energy is”

25% not ambitious enough
41% about right
33% too ambitious

So two thirds of people also want almost all our electricity to be supplied by renewables in the next 6 years.

Almost like we should leave this to the experts rather than random out of context survey questions to the public.

Yes, Australians want intermittent wind and solar backed up with nuclear to reduce our emissions.

Why would you need backup when renewables are providing all the electricity needs anyway? Which is exactly what the majority of people claimed to want.

It would make absolutely no economic sense to spend tens of billions of dollars on a more expensive backup system when other firming options are far cheaper, less risky and don’t come with a 20 year lead time.

Even using fossil fuels, gas would be far cheaper and reliable for that purpose.

The fuel mix of the National Electricity Market at 12:45pm today is 18% solar, 12% wind, and 6% hydro, so renewables are not even close to supplying all our power needs, as 64% is still coming from fossil fuels.

Yes, gas would be cheaper than nuclear, but not really the long-term solution to reduce emissions.

What you think the specific energy mix at one particular time today relates to long term electricity production I have no idea.

That same figure for the overall amount of renewable generation 7 years ago was half the current level. So amazing growth in the proportion of renewables in only a short time that is continuing and accelerating.

Why would we invest in a more expensive technology that couldn’t be delivered for 20 years? If we were going to invest in nuclear, it should have been 40 years ago. There’s no point in it now.

Brendan Vernon2:19 pm 03 Jun 24

Nobody (John Eales?) How much has the country spent on renewables in the last 10 years and how much more is projected to be spent?

Now is just the right time to invest in nuclear to get emissions down to net-zero by 2050 (26 years time).

Support for nuclear power has shifted massively in the past decade, with only 10% of 18-29 year olds strongly opposed now, plus the strongest support is across the ACT at 73% (24% strongly support and 49% somewhat support), and 48% of Greens voters either strongly support or somewhat support.

Brendan, just accept some people wish to be anonymous, how hard is that?

Once again, why invest in something that is more expensive?

Particularly when the same survey results you’re quoting show two thirds of the population want almost all of our electricity to be produced by renewables within the next 10 years, well before any nuclear plant would be even out of the planning phase.

And it’s really a mistake to claim support for nuclear has fundamentally shifted when the two surveys you are quoting asked different questions and the 2011 survey was given in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

And just on the worth of this type of polling in the first place, the type of questions asked and the actual knowledge of the people being polled makes a massive difference in the results.


Almost like certain people and groups are trying to create some narrative around support that would quickly disappear if more knowledge and facts around what nuclear power in Australia would actually look like and cost.

Can you provide a link to the survey please?

I’d be keen to see the questions that were asked and also the allowable responses.

In many surveys, respondents are offered an even number of choices, which requires them to state an absolute position. For example, I’d say I “somewhat support” nuclear power, as I’m not totally opposed to it as a concept. However, I don’t think the economics / timing stack up, now, as a clean energy solution for Australia. I wonder how many others, who “somewhat support” nuclear power, may have reservations about it as a solution now.

PS The great John Eales was nicknamed “Nobody” because “nobody’s perfect” and to many followers of Australian rugby, he was the perfect rugby player.

This is a Lowy Poll (non-partisan), not a Newspoll (News Corp), finding just 12% in the ACT strongly oppose nuclear.

JustSaying, oh I get it now. https://poll.lowyinstitute.org

So, what’s wrong with the CSIRO figures of 8.6 billion for a nuclear power reactor? That actually agrees fairly closely with AEMO as well. It seems yet another article on nuclear power where the not expressed though quite definitely centre of mind of the writer is left ideology. But when ALL logical argument doesn’t work on zealots (& it never does) their last resort is always some derivative of ideology and personal choice. Support your argument please with actual facts not wishful thinking. Here’s a fact to start with Finland recently opened a large scale power reactor on budget and under time (8 years). That’s also from a start of having NO homegrown nuclear industry to a fully functioning cheap nuclear electricity supply.

Repeating lies doesn’t make them true.

Particularly ironic when you are talking about wanting actual facts over wishful thinking.

The Finland reactor you mention was delivered over 10 years late and cost 3 times the initial estimates, being delivered for $18 billion AUD.

20 years for them to build it from approval.

And that’s your good example….

Your ideological bleating and zealotry doesn’t afford you the right to make stuff up.

“Support your argument please with actual facts not wishful thinking.”
Perhaps you should take your own advice, Rob and stop making up the “facts” about Finland’s latest – and fifth, the first having been brought online in Feb-1977 – nuclear power plant. https://world-nuclear.org/Information-Library/Country-Profiles/countries-A-F/Finland

The cost for the Olkiluoto-3 nuclear plant, on which construction started in Aug-2005 and came online in March-2022, ballooned from an initial estimate of €3 billion to around €11 billion, according to the 2019 World Nuclear Industry Report.

Looking forward to your next attempt at spinning Dutton’s narrative. Hopefully though, you won’t apply your definition of “logical argument” but rather you will spice it up with some verifiable facts..

Do you feel sweet with your deceits, Rob?

Would you by any chance, be referring to the Soviet reactors installed in Finland in the 1970s?

Would you be avoiding Finland’s most recent, 2023, experience of being fourteen (14) years late and billions over budget despite experience with four (4) previous nuclear reactors, not zero?

Are they facts you prefer to avoid?

Have you factored in that Australia has over twice the solar radiation per sq m of Finland and more evenly spread across the year over vastly more cpture area?

How’s your derivative ideological zealotry going this week?

Your link is one of the most leftist so-called fact checkers around. They run on a par with RMIT Factcheck lab. Here are the facts again mate with one part you actually did get right. I wasn’t aware Finland had nuclear power going back to 1977 ( yes I did look it up). The rest well here it is started 8 years ago, cost between 10 and 11 bilion Aus. Sure cost estimated before the build started at less money. Once the build started and costings were submitted they were on that budget and stayed there. Here’s the last bit you will absolutely hate, but it’s true and what’s more you know it, Finlands power costs dropped 75% as soon as the reacter OLK3 opened. Deny that Mr Lefty anti-nuke ideolog.

Capital Retro10:25 pm 01 Jun 24

Prepare for massive pile-on from left flank, Rob.

So you keep up the lies despite being provided the correct evidence numerous times.

You don’t just get to choose a different start point because you don’t like the answer.

Finland’s reactor was over a decade later than scheduled and cost 3 times more than estimated at the start of the project.

And no it didn’t cost $11billion AUD, that’s Euros. You do know how exchange rates work yes?


And yes, the power plant has reduced wholesale electricity costs in Finland. Mostly because they had banned energy imports from Russia due to the Ukraine war which caused them massive energy generation shortages and increased costs.

Finland also expects wind power to be their number one electricity generation source within the next 5 years with massive increases in capacity being installed each year.


Nothing to do with left or right, just simple facts.

It’s embarrassing for ideological zealots to keep denying reality, facts don’t care about your feelings.

Oh, wow – why do you continue with falsehoods? The World Nuclear Association is the international organisation that represents the global nuclear industry. Hardly a leftist fact checker.

Yet the lies continue.

“It is started 8 years ago” No. As per the link, construction started in August 2005 and it came online in March 2022. Are you capable of doing the math to work out how far out you are on build duration?

“cost between 10 and 11 bilion Aus” Any number of sites estimate the final build cost at around 11 billion euros. Do you need me to convert that into $A to fully disprove your fallacy on build cost?

“ Finlands power costs dropped 75% as soon as the reacter (sic) OLK3 opened”
Yes that’s true … but apparently not such a good thing. A year after OLK3 came on line, Finland began dealing with the opposite problem of poor energy supply – clean hydro electricity that was so abundant it sent energy prices into the negative. So much so, that nuclear operators are looking to dial back their production to avoid losing money on energy production.
And it’s not only hydro. In March 2023, Jukka Ruusunen, the CEO of Finland’s grid operator, Fingrid, stated that Finland wanted wind to become its primary power source by 2027.
So perhaps the delay in OLK3 coming online led Finland to successfully pursue other additional clean energy solutions.

Nothing “Lefty anti-nuke”, just facts to counter your rabid falsehoods. When you come back, at least make an attempt to be factual, but given your failure thus far, please supply links rather than myths and perjoratives.

Uncanny how presentation of the real facts can result in very similar posts, isn’t it?

I suggested Rob was engaged in deceits about Finland’s reactor program. Sorry about that, because I can see from his response that the problem was merely the usual ignorance of events, inability to count, that sort of thing; nothing special.

Capital Retro, surely you have recognised by now that the so-called “pile-on” was from the right? As in “true, correct, not mistaken” [Australian Oxford].

I have no problem with nuclear power just like I have no problem with trying to supply one’s water by carrying it from the lake in solid gold buckets; just difficult, very expensive and polluted where there are obviously better options. Otherwise I am happy to agree with Ian McLeod, that nuclear is there if we need it, and as it stands we don’t need that singular high-impact target for an enemy of any size.

We’re on track to buy several nuclear reactors. We’re going to have a nuclear industry if we want one or not. We’re going to have reactors. Surely it’s a huge step to save the natural environment by using nuclear power.

“We’re on track to buy several nuclear reactors.”
On what Netflix docu-series did you see that, gooterz?

Perhaps you don’t know that there are currently two pieces of federal legislation in place which prohibit nuclear power in Australia, viz. the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act); and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998 (ARPANS Act) – both of which were enacted by the Howard government.

You do realise it’s the 1st of June, not the 1st of April, don’t you?

Didn’t we sign AUKUS?

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