Flat White

Don’t dismiss John Barilaro

4 December 2017

6:01 PM

4 December 2017

6:01 PM

The ancient Greeks had a saying, “Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad’. Political madness seemed to have descended on the country along with torrential monsoonal rain at the end of last week, making one wonder if the Second Coming is presaged by a flood.

There was a little ray of sunshine, a small window of fleeting happiness for the government of Malcolm Turnbull when Barnaby Joyce romped home, winning a primary vote of 65 per cent of the primary vote. At the last general election, Joyce won 52 per cent of the primary vote. That New England voters had chosen to send a message to Canberra – ‘We’ll keep Barnaby’ put a big smile on the Prime Minister’s face.

But one man outside Canberra spoke out, daring the skies to fall in and crush him for his temerity. John Barilaro, New South Wales Deputy Premier and leader of the state Nationals launched a verbal missile, saying that the Prime Minister should resign by Christmas. He was promptly shouted down by both his own federal leader and John Howard, who declared ‘madness’ had descended. Well, sort of. It didn’t stop Barilaro from repeating the call on AM today.

Barilaro may have taken things a step too far, trying to differentiate Nats from Libs but he seemed to be voicing what many across the country were saying, “this simply can’t continue.’

Yet, politics being in the parlous state we face, it has to. Voters don’t like what they’ve had to put up with, but they can’t – and won’t – stomach another election. For the time being, despite the frustration, things won’t change.

And Barilaro seems to like stirring. Previously he has come out with the ‘N’ word. Yes, nuclear.

‘The truth is there hasn’t been a proper discussion about nuclear for decades… small modular reactors are now designed so they can be produced in factories in the US… then shipped to countries at a fraction of the price of the old, conventional reactors that we know from the 1970s. They are infinitely safer than the old models,’ he has said.

Wow. Fighting words!

Everyone knows ‘nuclear’ to devout dark Greens – and most of the ALP – is like ‘spells and incantations’ to the Witchfinder General. It’s a good thing Barilaro was speaking from across the border. In Canberra, the Green-Labor government would demand his arrest for sedition.

And the heresy John Barilaro speaks makes sense. He told the media “We export coal, gas and uranium to all parts of the globe… but for some strange reason never found nuclear power palatable at home except for nuclear medicine and research. Australia is a big country with incredible resources. Energy supply should be our strong suit. Yet here we are facing our own power crisis.

“We should be investing in a new High Energy Low Emissions coal-fired plant in the Hunter. Together with Snowy Hydro 2.0 and a pilot modular reactor in NSW, we’d achieve an energy mix that delivers improved security, increased supply, and in turn, lower energy bills… a mix of HELE coal, nuclear, hydro and renewables also moves us closer to meeting our CO2 targets. Importantly, this mix creates jobs in regional NSW. Mt Piper and Springvale Coal supply some 15 per cent of electricity in NSW. Both are now under threat of closure from legal action by Green groups.”

He went on, “Building HELE coal-powered plants and developing natural gas and CSG and yes, nuclear would be approximately the same as the $3 billion a year now spent subsidising renewables, two, experts agree, of the most unreliable and expensive forms of energy around.”

The government should listen to John Barilaro. At least on the nuclear option.

Or maybe by 2030 we’ll all be sitting in the dark

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