PREMIER Gladys Berejiklian welcomed a NSW Nationals idea to bring nuclear power to NSW, but she says the jury’s out as far as her personal views go.
In Broken Hill for the 2017 NSW Nationals conference, Mr Barilaro used his address this morning to float the idea of bringing nuclear energy to the state, and also expanding the state’s gas reservation “in the right parts of the state”.
The Premier said she welcomed debate on nuclear energy but would hold off on outright support, for now.
“(The National party) are willing to talk about issues that we should all consider,” she said.
“I think for me, my view is that science and safety have to stack up on anything. I’m in the camp of the jury’s still out, but I am willing to discuss anything.”
The Premier said she was looking forward to discussing gas, energy security and household bills at the June COAG meeting.
Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham challenged the Premier and Deputy Premier “to name which electorate, which suburb and which town in NSW they think a nuclear power plant should be built in.”
Shooters, Fishers, and Farmers, and One Nation
The Premier was also asked about the threat of the Shooters, Fishers, and Farmers Party and One Nation to regional seats.
Earlier, Deputy Premier John Barilaro said “there were seven seats between us and a Labor government”, and that a vote for parties such as the Shooters or One Nation was a vote for Labor and Luke Foley.
When asked if her presence at Broken Hill demonstrated government’s fear of minor parties – particularly after the Orange by-election loss – the Premier said it was important for government to listen to and respect all communities.
“Communities want to know they’re being listened to, they’re being appreciated, and they’re being respected, and that’s why I’m here,” she said.
“This is my own way of doing things, it’s the way I’ve always done things. I’m always someone who gets out and about.”
Pipe dream for Australian steel
State leaders at Broken Hill also unveiled a short-list of steel providers to bid for the $500 million Broken Hill Pipeline.
Premier Berejiklian countered questions over the pipeline’s popularity in the Silver City and Menindee region, claiming the 270-kilometre Murray River to Broken Hill project would provide better water security for business owners and tourism operators.
The four shortlisted Australian based consortia are Downer Spiecapag Joint Venture, John Holland Joint Venture, McConnell Dowell, and UGL/Veolia.
The pipeline will replace the Menindee Lakes as the main source of drinking water for Broken Hill.
Water is a sensitive issue at Broken Hill and some locals have questioned the necessity of the pipeline.
In recent years the 19,000-strong community has endured water shortages as a result of lower-than-expected flows down the Darling River.
NSW Minister for Regional Water Niall Blair said the pipeline was a big part of the NSW Government’s broader regional water security agenda.
“In 2015, we committed to addressing Broken Hill’s water challenges, both short-term and for future generations, but we are also delivering unprecedented water infrastructure investment for all of NSW.
“From Wilcannia to Bourke, and Tamworth to the Upper Hunter and Oberon, this Government is delivering drought back-up systems, new drinking water treatment plants, dams and regional pipeline linkages for the future of NSW regions.”
Deputy Premier Barilaro said local companies of all sizes would have the opportunity to compete on a level playing field for work on this pipeline.
“(The) pipeline is not just about strengthening our regional economies, it is about ensuring that people and families who choose to live in regional NSW have the same access to the services and vital infrastructure as those that live in the city.”
“The people of Broken Hill will be able to turn on their taps and water the garden, wash the dishes and have clean drinking water, which is often taken for granted by those living in metropolitan areas.”
Member for Barwon, Kevin Humphries, said Water NSW was working with Wentworth and Broken Hill Councils, local Aboriginal representatives and the broader community through the planning and delivery stages of the project.