Cory Bernardi has used his party’s SA election campaign launch to push for nuclear energy in South Australia, despite a royal commission rejecting the idea two years ago, and also took aim at tech entrepreneur Elon Musk.
The Australian Conservatives have called for law changes to allow for “all forms of energy production”, including nuclear power generation.
The party also wants to put a nuclear dump back on the agenda, urging state authorities to “complete a full rigorous analysis” of the idea.
A royal commission that handed down its findings in early 2016 found it would not be “commercially viable” to generate nuclear power in the near future.
An associated high-level waste dump proposal was also rejected by a citizens’ jury, and subsequently abandoned by Premier Jay Weatherill following opposition from Senator Bernardi’s former Liberal colleagues.
“They walked away from the business case, and a compelling business case, for the nuclear industry in this state, even though secretly and privately behind the scenes they tell us that’s what we really need,” Senator Bernardi said on Sunday.
During a lengthy speech at his party’s campaign launch at Kent Town in Adelaide’s inner east, Senator Bernardi ridiculed Labor leader Jay Weatherill’s political relationship with Elon Musk.
Senator Bernardi invoked pop culture to describe the billionaire businessman’s involvement in SA’s energy market.
“I’m convinced [he’s] the monorail salesman from The Simpsons,” Senator Bernardi said.
Earlier this month, the Australian Conservatives announced they would run 33 Lower House candidates at the March election.
MP Robert Brokenshire — who is running for re-election in the Upper House and, like Senator Bernardi, is a former Liberal — said a nuclear industry would generate billions of dollars.
Mr Weatherill on Sunday ruled out putting the idea back on the agenda — even attempting to deny his party was ever enthusiastic about the idea.
“That’s dead,” he said.
“Labor Party policy has been opposed to a nuclear waste facility in the past and there’s no prospect of changing that in the future.”
Liberals target volunteer fees, Xenophon strikes a chord
Liberal leader Steven Marshall was also on the campaign trail on Sunday, promising to abolish a screening fee paid by volunteers working with children, the elderly and people with disabilities.
“The screening test is $58.30 — the highest in the nation,” Mr Marshall said.
“We don’t want to be charging them for the wonderful work that they do.”
Standing alongside federal Liberal frontbencher Julie Bishop, Mr Marshall said screening volunteers was essential to protect the vulnerable, but said the fee was too expensive.
“But those checks shouldn’t become a deterrent for genuine volunteers.”
Meanwhile, in its major announcement of the day, SA Best pledged $5 million to boost the local live music scene.
“What SA Best wants to do is have an additional $5 million over four years coming from the backs of the biggest and most profitable pokies venues,” leader Nick Xenophon said.
Mr Xenophon said the money would go towards mentoring and promoting young bands and “ensuring we can have more live gigs in schools”.