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Monday, 23 February 1987
Page: 522

Mr SNOW(4.34) —I will speak only for two or three minutes, because much of what needs to be said about this legislation has been said by previous speakers. I strongly support what my friend and colleague the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Tim Fischer) has said about testing on Kerguelen Island. I strongly support his remarks and his concern about any possible nuclear testing on the Island. I want to know about the environmental effects of what the French are doing and am raising the matter, in response to calls from people who are worried about the French intentions, with the Minister for Science (Mr Barry Jones), the Ambassador for France and the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Hayden). I believe that the issues that he and other are raising at this time are very important. France must be confronted about its intentions.

It is government policy that Australia should not become involved in any stages of the nuclear fuel cycle, other than the mining and milling of uranium and the disposal of waste. This legislation establishes the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. The Organisation will focus on commercial applications of research and development and, at the same time, allow non-commercial work. For example, the investigation of the occurrence of the rare cancer lymphoma among workers in the Huntley Colliery on the New South Wales south coast, is the type of non-commercial work we ought to continue. Some ANSTO programs which are important carry on the work of the former Australian Atomic Energy Commission. Synroc, a well-known Australian initiative, will be persevered with and, I am sure, will return a dividend to Australia and to nuclear safety. There are nuclear physics research programs, including nuclear fusion programs. There are plenty of lay people who see great potential in nuclear power development, yet cannot support it for safety reasons. Those people hold out hope for nuclear fusion as a far safer alternative to nuclear fission.

The honourable member for Phillip (Ms McHugh) pointed out the research and development alternatives for Lucas Heights, the importance of maintaining jobs and the proper use of investment. To that end, full account must be taken of the future of employees in the nuclear industry. I compliment the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Tickner) for his active interest in the employees at Lucas Heights and on his availability and accessibility to the work force.

Research and support for uranium mining and milling activities will also bring improved safety measures, which will reassure those of us who are at present critical of safety. ANSTO will focus its activities on medicine, science, industry and agriculture, all of which could do with nuclear research and development to raise their contribution to the social and economic well- being of Australia. They follow the work of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, which has developed nuclear medicine to a high level, supplying 100,000 patient doses of radiopharmaceuticals each year. ANSTO will expand that number when the national cyclotron facility comes on line, with a larger range of products. It is with pleasure that I support this legislation. It represents a realistic assessment of what Australia can and should do in the area of nuclear research and development.