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Thursday, 29 May 1997
Page: 4058

Senator CONROY(7.48 p.m.) —I rise to discuss the report of the Senate Select Committee on Uranium Mining and Milling. I congratulate the senators involved on the extensive discussions and intercourse they have had with groups all around Australia. It was interesting to see so many different people take such an interest in this.

One of the things that has always concerned me about uranium mining is the question of safety for the workers and safety for the environment around mines in Australia. If we are going to see this government expand uranium mining in this country, it is very important that environmental concerns are taken into account. Particularly, there has to be protection for our native fauna and animals. If we have a situation where uranium run-off into our streams can affect our native fauna, like our platypuses and our kangaroos, then we must have significant safeguards.

My interest in this stems from my family background. I am from the north of England. There is a stretch of coastline in England, around St Bedes, just below the Scottish border. The thing about St Bedes, which is where I grew up, is that it is right next to Sellafield, which used to be called Windscale. In 1957 Windscale had one of the worst nuclear reactor accidents and spillages that has been recorded.

One of the things that has always kept me interested in this issue is the fact that my family worked there and live around that area. There have always been groups of protesters in that area. The tartan armies come across from the Scottish border, and many people have been involved in the protests. I promised Senator Sandy Macdonald I would be finished by 10 to eight. I reserve my right to speak later.