Prime Minister Julia Gillard says Labor members are welcome to try to reverse the party’s opposition to nuclear power at next year’s national conference but they’ll most likely lose the fight.
A number of MPs and senators have suggested the ALP should reconsider its ban on nuclear power in Australia.
Ms Gillard says she welcomes debate but a change of policy is highly improbable.
“In this area of policy I’d have to say anybody who’s arguing to overturn our long-standing policy is setting themselves up for a pretty tough argument,” she told Fairfax Radio Network.
“But I’m not going to be there saying to people `Don’t come and put your views’.”
Ms Gillard said it remained her view that nuclear power wasn’t needed in Australia because there were other abundant sources of renewable energy.
“In this country … nuclear power doesn’t stack up as an economically efficient source of power for our nation.”
Labor powerbroker Steve Hutchins backed calls on Wednesday for a debate on nuclear energy at the national conference.
“This isn’t a fringe issue,” Senator Hutchins told ABC Radio, referring to calls for a conference debate about same-sex marriage.
“This is one that is going to affect us in the future.
“We indeed need to be adult enough to address all forms of energy.”
The NSW right-wing factional powerbroker said he wasn’t sure if Australians were ready to address nuclear power.
“But are Australians prepared to pay ever increasing electricity prices for their home consumption and their industry consumption?” he said.
“I would think people would ask us to consider all forms of alternative energy to make sure that we can continue to turn on our lights and make sure we have industry to work at.”
Australia had inordinate amounts of uranium that could be turned into nuclear power, Senator Hutchins said.
“Why shouldn’t we consider it as an alternative?”