Published on Friday February 25 2011
Labor's most successful leader, Bob Hawke, has also backed a full-blooded debate on Uranium and Nuclear Energy at the ALP's national conference this year.
In a blunt challenge to Julia Gillard - who has called 2011 her year of decision - the former prime minister said Labor should never be afraid of passionate debates on tough reform issues.
Former Australian of the Year, Dick Smith, has also come out in favor of nuclear and claims most Aussies he talks with are also supportive.
It is understood senior Left figures in the Gillard Government have been urging people to speak out on nuclear power in an effort to kick-start a public debate.
Breaking his silence, long-standing Left MP Dick Adams said Australia should consider nuclear power, calling it the largest and most promising source of low-carbon energy for most countries.
"We need to think about what will happen if we do not clean the coal that we have in the ground" he said.
The only reason it had not been introduced in Australia was cost, he said. "But there may be a day when we will have to consider it - and that day is getting closer."
Smoking one of his trademark cigars yesterday in a parliamentary courtyard, Mr Hawke urged Labor leaders to put all the passions and prejudices to one side and look at the facts about nuclear power.
"The fact is if we want the cleanest possible environment (then) the generation of electricity by nuclear power stations is going to be an increasingly positive feature of that," he said.
Flanked by Cabinet Minister Simon Crean, the Labor icon said the ALP "should never, in a vibrant democracy like ours, be frightened of debate and discussion".
Mr Smith said: "We should be looking at least in the short term at nuclear because I think it is going to be quite a while before we invent a way of storing solar power. There is something like 5000 times more energy from the sun but we haven't invented a way of storing it, so until then I think we should be using nuclear."
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