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Tuesday, 6 September 1983
Page: 369


Mr ANTHONY —I wish to direct my question to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has publicly supported the development of uranium mining and export from Roxby Downs and approval of new contracts for uranium exports from Nabarlek and Ranger mines. I welcome those statements. But I ask the Prime Minister: How does he reconcile his views with the statement by his Minister for Foreign Affairs, reported on 8 June, that he would not support approval of new contracts and the comments yesterday by the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr Dolan, supporting opposition to Roxby Downs and opposing any change to the Government's uranium policy? Further, will the Prime Minister assure the House that the Government will not treat uranium from Roxby Downs, Nabarlek and Ranger any differently from uranium from the proposed mines at Jabiluka, Koongarra and Yeelirrie, which have been given export development approval?


Mr HAWKE —I say at the outset that Mr Dolan will speak for the Australian trade union movement and will express his opinion. He will not be expressing the opinions, views or decisions of the Australian Government.

Let me make clear the position of this Government and the Australian Labor Party on this admittedly vexed issue of uranium mining. The platform of the Labor Party clearly recognises that the Government would be faced with an existing industry, including contracts and agreements with customer countries. The platform also clearly allows for the consideration of projects where uranium would be mined incidentally to the mining of other minerals and where the Government considered the mining of such minerals to be in the national interest .

It is well known that Roxby Downs also has major deposits of copper and gold. It is one of the world's major underdeveloped mineral resources. All honourable members will appreciate that Roxby Downs is of particular significance to the economy of South Australia as well as to the Australian economy as a whole.

In the context of this policy on existing mines-and Roxby Downs-the Government is currently undertaking a review of all aspects of the industry, including the international safeguards aspects. The review will be considered by the parliamentary Party in the near future. Any continuing exports will be on the strictest conditions and will be undertaken in the light of the considerations that I have put forward.

It is known that we have taken action already in respect of exports of uranium to France. I remind the House, so that I can give the complete picture in this matter, that when I was in Paris recently I had discussions with President Mitterrand. Against the desires of the recipient in France and the exporting company in this country, I indicated that there would be no further shipments at this stage. I remind the House that that did not involve an infringement of the contract because there was no requirement under that contract for shipping before October 1984.

With regard to shipments to France, in the period between now and October 1984, when there would be a requirement under the contract, we will be conducting discussions and negotiations with the Government of France with a view to securing a cesssation of nuclear testing in the South Pacific.

That is an accurate statement of the position of this Government. When the review which is being prepared has been considered by the committees of the Government and by the Cabinet, a decision will be made. An announcement will be made accordingly in this House.