“If clean coal turns out to be a cheaper alternative, then we may never build a nuclear power station in Australia,” Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull said yesterday.

It wasn’t a backflip. He actually said something similar back in May:

“It may be that a nuclear power station will never be built in Australia,” he told the National Press Club. “I am not saying that one will be; I certainly am not predicting that one will be.”

And around then, Crikey looked at nuclear nimbyism. We ran through some of the possible places a nuke might be put – easy enough to predict, they need pretty specific circumstances – and how they vote. The replacement research reactor at Lucas Heights hasn’t harmed Dana Vale. She took the seat of Hughes off the ALP in 1996 and now holds it by a margin of 8.55%.

But when we mapped possible locations for a nuclear power plant, we were still expecting a budget bounce. The political landscape has changed. Who mightn’t be sitting all that comfortably in the seats of (nuclear) power?

Queensland

  • Townsville — Herbert, fairly safe Liberal
  • Mackay — Dawson, safe National
  • Rockhampton – Capricornia, marginal Labor
  • Gladstone — the new seat of Flynn, notionally National
  • Bundaberg — Hinkler, marginal National
  • Sunshine Coast, near Maroochydore, Coolum or Noosa — Wide Bay, safe Nationals
  • Bribie Island area — Longman, fairly safe Liberal

Flynn, Herbert and Longman are now all in Labor’s sights.

New South Wales

  • Port Stephens, near Nelson Bay — Paterson, fairly safe Liberal
  • Central Coast, near Tuggerah Lakes — Dobell, marginal Liberal
  • Botany Bay — Cook, safe Liberal
  • Port Kembla — Throsby, safe Labor
  • Sussex Inlet — Gilmore, fairly safe Liberal

Paterson is wobbly.

ACT

  • Jervis Bay — Fraser, safe Labor, Commonwealth Territory surrounded by the seat of fairly safe Liberal seat of Gilmore

No change here, but wonks can jump on Google Earth and check out the foundations laid in the sixties for the abandoned Jervis Bay nuclear plant.

Victoria

  • South Gippsland, near Yarram, Woodside, or Seaspray — Gippsland, fairly safe Nationals
  • Westernport, near Hastings, French Island, Koo Wee Rup, or Coronet Bay — Flinders, safe Liberal
  • Port Phillip, near Newport, Avalon, or Werribee — Corio or Gellibrand, both safe Labor
  • Portland — Wannon, safe Liberal

If a swing’s on, Gippsland could conceivably change hands.

South Australia

  • Coastal area, near Mount Gambier and Millicent — Barker, safe Liberal
  • Port Adelaide — Port Adelaide, safe Labor
  • Port Augusta and Port Pirie — Grey, safe Liberal

The Libs hold Grey by almost 14%, but party insiders were warning last month that it could fall with sitting MP Barry Wakelin retiring at the election.

Rather than straying off-message, Turnbull may have done his colleagues a favour.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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