John Howard's advisors must be doing their homework well these days. 10 years ago it would have been political suicide to bring up the issue of nuclear power in Australia, but now with oil prices at record levels, the idea of nuclear power seems to be getting some traction with the general public. It seems that hurting wallets really changes people's minds on controversial subjects.
Mr Howard said the broad use of nuclear power in Australia was inevitable and the push for its uptake was gathering momentum.
"It could be closer than some people would have thought a short while ago," he told Southern Cross Broadcasting from the Canadian capital Ottawa.
"I hope that we have an intense debate on the subject over the months ahead.
"And the whole atmosphere in Washington, the atmosphere everywhere I go created by the high level of oil prices is transforming the debate on energy and alternative energy sources."
Asked if the issue could be addressed within a few years, Mr Howard said many countries would increasingly resort to nuclear power.
"And obviously as a major holding of uranium reserves that has potential benefits for Australia, not only here but also through our export sales," he said.
The timing of Australia's uptake of nuclear would be governed by economic considerations, Mr Howard said.
"Clearly the environmental advantages of nuclear power are there for all to see – it's cleaner and greener and therefore some of the people in the past who've opposed it should support it," he said.
When nuclear power stations are being considered, I do hope that Pebble Bed Reactors are the focus of the research. The inherently safe and self limiting design of PBRs will minimise the chance of any Chernobyl type events and nearly eliminate the use of spent fuel in nuclear weapons.