The NSW Labor Party made its opposition to Premier Bob Carr’s interest in nuclear energy at its conference on the weekend, voting to oppose the construction of nuclear power plants.

Federal MPs Peter Garrett and Anthony Albanese successfully moved a motion opposing the construction of domestic nuclear power plants. The high profile environmentalist and former Nuclear Disarmament Party candidate Garrett said the nuclear power debate was a “no brainer,” calling it the most dangerous and most expensive form of electricity.

But just what sort of power generating is good? Coal seems to be a no-no. And while the bruvvers were debating last weekend, a very different sort of conference was taking place in Wagga, where a Riverina Greens forum on climate change unanimously condemned the decision of the state government to fast track a new gas-fired power plant at Uranquinty near Wagga.

Local Greens spokesperson Ray Goodlass said in a statement: “The state government’s own Commission of Inquiry has already rejected this proposal. It is bad news for the local region because it threatens the clean green agriculture which is a big part of the Riverina’s economic future. It’s also bad news for tourism and for local air quality. We urge everyone dismayed by the Premier’s overruling of the Commission’s recommendation to speak up and let the government know that this is not on.”

Together, both meetings demonstrate the poverty of the debate over Australia’s energy needs.

The Riverina Greens’ release read: “About 20 members of the Greens and the broader community met on the afternoon of Saturday 11th June at the Wagga Senior Citizens’ Centre to discuss ways in which we can avert climate chaos, looking at solutions in the home and the workplace and in the community.”

They called for “an avalanche of meetings, petitions, letter writing and other actions” – but had no ideas for power generation beyond calling for investment in “energy efficiency, demand management and renewable energy, recognising that the gas plant is at best a bandaid solution to the state’s energy needs.”

Carr’s already made some characteristically NSW Right comments on wind power. Covering half the state with solar panels probably isn’t much of an option, either.

Coal mightn’t be PC – but we’re obviously going to keep on digging it. Reserve Bank Governor Ian Macfarlane mentioned China’s demand for iron ore and coal in a major speech on global influences on the Australian economy earlier this week. “We estimate it has increased our real income by an amount equivalent to about 1.5% of gross domestic product on average in each of the last two years and more is to come,” he said.

We’re getting a benefit from the coal – and it’s still going to be burnt. But are we going to be left in the dark – literally – because of Green platitudes and bullying on energy policy?