New nuclear debate driven by spill fallout

NUCLEAR power will have a strong voice in Cabinet with Queenslander and advocate Keith Pitt elevated to the frontbench.

Mr Pitt has been campaigning for Australia to look at nuclear power as an option since the election, while Senator Matt Canavan whom he replaces has long talked down the prospects.

It comes as a government-led energy committee recommended a partial lifting of the ban on nuclear power in Australian to allow the latest generation plants to be considered.

 

Queensland Keith Pitt has been rocketed to Cabinet from the backbench. Picture: Gary Ramage
Queensland Keith Pitt has been rocketed to Cabinet from the backbench. Picture: Gary Ramage

Recently-appointed deputy Nationals leader and Maranoa MP David Littleproud will keep drought and emergency management, gain the senior appointment of agriculture.

Mr Pitt has been rocketed from the backbench to holding senior and complex portfolio's of Resources, Northern Australia and Water.

Another Queenslander Michelle Landry will assist Mr Pitt on Northern Australia while retaining her own portfolio of children and families.

The reshuffle saw many supporters of Michael McCormack during spill receive a promotion with Darren Chester keeping Veterans and Defence Personnel, but the portfolio has been moved back into Cabinet for the first time since 1993.

One government member who has been backing a push to investigate nuclear power said Mr Pitt's elevation would help put it on the agenda.

"Having someone in Cabinet who will present the case is a good thing," they said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there was no change to the government's position on nuclear power.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says his government’s position on nuclear power has not changed. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says his government’s position on nuclear power has not changed. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

"The arrangements around nuclear are well known and the government's policy has been clear there about the need for there to be bipartisanship to be able to move forward," he said.

Labor's energy spokesman Mark Butler said the government should "come clean … let Australians know which regions are in his nuclear firing line.".

Other Nationals receiving new ministry positions were NSW MP Mark Coulton as minister for regional health, regional communications and local government and Andrew Gee for regional education, decentralisation and assistant minister for trade and investment. Kevin Hogan is promoted to the frontbench as assistant minister to the Deputy Prime Minister.


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