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Wednesday, 6 June 1984
Page: 2615

Senator ELSTOB —My question is directed to the Minister for Resources and Energy and it refers to the current investigations into atomic testing at Maralinga. Will the Minister consider the current concerns felt amongst residents of Coober Pedy, Yalata, and particularly Ceduna, that have arisen because large quantities of building materials from Maralinga have been installed in these towns? Will the Minister undertake to have these materials professionally tested for human safety so as to allay any fears felt by the local population? Can the Minister say whether any consideration has been given to surveying the health of all people living in the surrounding region of Maralinga?

Senator WALSH —There are a number of questions. Firstly, on the question of the building materials and whether there is any residual health danger to people who removed and subsequently used building materials from Maralinga, I understand- this is subject to check-that everything officially removed came from the village and therefore the possibility or risk of contamination would be extremely low. However, notwithstanding that, and in recognition of the widespread concern about this matter, I believe it would not be very difficult to do a check of the building materials at the present site for residual radioactivity. I will endeavour to arrange for that to be done, possibly after the present Australian Radiation Laboratory survey of the Maralinga site is finished. On the question of the survey of the health of all people living in the surrounding region of Maralinga, the South Australian Government already is doing or has done a survey which covers some of these people. To go beyond that is one of the matters which ought to be considered by the Government when the decision is made on whether to establish a broader inquiry and what type of inquiry.