Malcolm Turnbull’s pragmatic comments to the National Press Club yesterday about nuclear power suggest that the PM’s nuclear solution might be a brilliant political wedge, but it’s not really a serious proposition:

Prime Minister John Howard, December 2006:

I believe very strongly that I’d be failing Australia if I didn’t factor in nuclear power as part of the solution (to global warming)…It is foolish and backward-looking and old-fashioned of people to say we will always oppose the use of nuclear power.

Prime Minister John Howard at the opening of the new $400 million nuclear science research reactor at Lucas Heights, April 20:

Nuclear energy, nuclear science, nuclear power is part of Australia’s future … Nuclear power is cleaner than power from coal or from gas, and as coal gets dearer as we apply technologies which produce fewer Greenhouse gas emissions, then inevitably it will become more economic to use nuclear power.

Prime Minister John Howard addresses the Victorian Liberal Conference, April 28:

If we’re fair dinkum about this climate change debate we have to open our minds to the use of nuclear power… We need to take action now to prepare the way for the contribution that nuclear power can make to challenging the problem of Greenhouse gas emissions.

 Prime Minister John Howard, April 28:

I am announcing today a new strategy for the future development of uranium mining and nuclear power in Australia… Policies or political platforms that seek to constrain the development of a safe and reliable Australian uranium industry — and which rule out the possibility of climate-friendly nuclear energy — are not really serious about addressing climate change.

Prime Minister John Howard, April 29, Sunday program:

It’s not political suicide to tell the truth … There are only two ways that you can run power stations … in this country. You can do it on fossil fuel or you can do it with nuclear power. It’ll be years before we have any nuclear reactors, probably 10 years, and where they will go will be determined by commercial decisions and they’ll be governed by the normal processes of environment and other approval, but we at least have to start contemplating it, and it will come.

Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s address to the National Press Club May 2:

Maybe a nuclear power station will never be built in Australia… I’m not saying that one will be, I’m certainly not predicting that one will be… Whether it stacks up economically or financially remains to be seen.

Turnbull may be staying on the fence, but the Prime Minister really nailed his colours to the mast when he donned a yellow raincoat and went all aglow on his recent Lucas Heights tour. Click here for all the uncomfortable Springfield, or as Rudd calls it, Smithfield, parallels.