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Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating has entered the nuclear debate, with a vitriolic attack describing Peter Dutton “a charlatan”, “wicked and cynical” and “an inveterate climate change denialist”.

In a Sunday statement Keating accused Dutton of “seeking to camouflage his long held denialism in an industrial
fantasy”. He was resorting “to the most dangerous and expensive energy source on the face of the earth – nuclear power”.

While the debate unleashed by last week’s Coalition release of its nuclear policy – still lacking crucial detail – involves claims and counter claims about a host of technical and economic issues, at another level it has descended into abuse and silly memes.

Speaking at the Liberal federal council on Saturday, Dutton launched a highly personal attack on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

“He’s a man with a mind still captured in his university years. He’s a child in a man’s body,” Dutton said.

“Our jet-setting prime minister is more interested in appeasing the international climate lobby than sticking up for the interests of everyday Australians.”

Last week senior Labor figures, including federal frontbencher Andrew Leigh and Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan, took to social media with posts of three-eyed fish. When Albanese was challenged about this he repeatedly told an ABC interviewer to “lighten up”.

In his statement Keating said Dutton was continuing “his party’s manic denialism, first articulated by Tony Abbott over a decade ago – turning his back on the most debated, most discussed problem of the Industrial Age – carbon and carbon sequestration.

“Dutton, like Abbott, will do everything he can to de-legitimise renewables and stand in the way of their use as the remedy nature has given us to underwrite our life on earth.

“Only the most wicked and cynical of individuals would foist such a blight on an earnest community like Australia,” Keating said.

“Dutton, in his low rent opportunism, mocks the decency and earnestness which recognises that carbon must be abated and with all urgency.”

Keating said that “by his blatant opposition to renewables, Dutton calls into question and deprecates all the government has done to provide Australian business with a reliable and dependable framework for investment in renewables” – what the country needed “to rely upon to lift the carbon menace off its back”.

“No person interested in public policy – regardless of their affiliations or beliefs, should consider, let alone endorse Dutton’s backwardness, his unreal world view that the most lethal technology of another age is a contemporary substitute for nature’s own remedy.”

Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

ref. View from The Hill: Paul Keating labels Dutton a ‘charlatan’ as nuclear debate gets down and dirty –