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Thursday, 31 May 1984
Page: 2270


Senator CHIPP (Leader of the Australian Democrats)(6.05) —The Australian Democrats believe that the report of the Australian Science and Technology Council into Australia's role in the nuclear fuel cycle is myopic in its scope, flawed in its approach and useless as a thorough consideration of the most urgent issue of nuclear non-proliferation. In fact, we think it is a disaster. As a document it is a scientific disgrace. The document is an affront to intellectual integrity. The ultimate hypocrisy in the document is that while making all recommendations which will lead to the proliferation of the nuclear industry world-wide it then tries to throw in as some cheap sop that there should be a nuclear free zone in the Pacific. I have never known such an ultimate exercise in hypocrisy as that. One would have thought that the persons on the Slayter committee with the scientific knowledge would have known that with the proliferation of the nuclear industry in the Northern Hemisphere, the possibility of a nuclear free zone in the Pacific area in the event of a nuclear holocaust is a matter of mere academia.

I am disappointed and disgusted with this report which is one of the great affronts to scientific integrity ever laid before this Parliament. It can be summarised as a perfect document if one wants a justification for further engaging Australia in nuclear proliferation. It has all but ignored alternative viewpoints that would have got in the way of total support for the Labor Government and its nuclear policies.

I now turn to energy supply and security. The Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) has placed much emphasis on the report's views in this area. The report says that no new energy source is likely to have a significant impact for another 25 years. Thus, it concludes, nuclear power is essential. That is untrue. It is a pity, and a devastating and near criminal omission that ASTEC did not report what role these new energy resources such as solar and wind are playing now in industrialised countries. Did members of the committee not know or were they not told or did they not try to find out that in the United States of America, to take an example, renewable energy resources-that is solar and wind-now supply twice as much energy to consumers as nuclear power? ASTEC continually sees nuclear power in terms of displacing oil and thus increasing energy security. The comparison is misguided, flawed and deliberately misleading. Nuclear power cannot, physically or economically, displace oil. Only 10 per cent of the world' s oil is used for generating electricity. The other 90 per cent runs vehicles, provides heat for industry and is used as petrochemical feedstock. Electricity cannot replace 90 per cent of the world's oil consumption. Nuclear power certainly cannot. Energy security is vital. Nuclear power will do little, if anything, for security. There are cheaper, environmentally safe and proliferation proof resources that are in use now and that must be encouraged.

In respect of non-proliferation and safeguards, ASTEC and the Prime Minister have finally realised that the path to nuclear weapons is slower and more difficult without a civil nuclear industry. In this respect, I refer to page 4 of Mr Hawke's statement. The report then goes on to assert that despite that countries will not use civil nuclear programs. The statement flies in the face of the use of civil nuclear programs by India, Pakistan, South Africa, Iran, Argentina and South Korea, amongst others, to put them on the nuclear weapons path. To justify this view, ASTEC has relied on the International Atomic Energy Agency-for goodness sake!-as an authority to safeguard against diversion.

Let us look at this great protective organisation. Safeguards do not prevent a diversion of nuclear material to weapons; they merely detect it. So when we are talking about safeguards we are not talking about protection agencies; we are talking about detection agencies which come in after the horse has bolted, once it is too late. The IAEA has 132 inspectors to cover 854 facilities. Is there a senator here who genuinely believes that these people can do even more than a semblance of a job? Their visits are irregular and subject to the wishes of the host country. Safeguards themselves allow a one per cent to 1.5 per cent loss of nuclear material without question. That is enough for a nuclear arsenal. ASTEC itself notes that the IAEA's primary role is to spread nuclear technology, not constrain it. ASTEC also notes that it is not a function of safeguards to protect nuclear material from theft or sabotage either within a country or during transit. It is a dangerous agency because it gives a false sense of security.

I refer now to the myth of leverage through supply. ASTEC asserts, as an opinion without any concrete evidence, that we have to be involved in the nuclear industry to avert the consequences of that industry. As I said before, we wait now with trepidation, given this ASTEC line of logic, for the day the Government advocates a heroin and cocaine industry in order to combat drug addiction or that one has to join Murder Incorporated to have any effect on violence in the community. What ASTEC asserts is a myth and is ridiculous. I would have thought that such an assertion would be beyond the level of people of integrity and intelligence who served on this committee.

It is impossible to share ASTEC's confidence that the problem of radioactive waste disposal has been solved. I invite honourable senators to challenge my statement that no permanent method of waste disposal has yet been devised on this planet. Yet, the high level radioactive wastes remain dangerous and remain cancer giving and perchance causing gene mutations in unborn children for hundreds of thousands of years. I challenge anybody in this chamber to deny that . The Council said the enrichment and processing of uranium is dangerous. For Australia to embark on uranium enrichment and/or reprocessing on the grounds of aiding non-proliferation is absurd in the extreme. I would have been happier had the Committee looked for alternatives in a sincere and genuine way.


Senator Harradine —But they are men of integrity.


Senator CHIPP —There is an alternative approach to non-proliferation. It is an approach free of contradiction and unhindered by political flaws. It is summed up by a Stockholm International Peace Research Institute book on uranium enrichment. The book states:

By choosing not to develop or employ a type of technology a nation cannot only help to retard the spread of that technology, but can also serve as an example of the virtues and benefits of getting along without it.

That is the course we advocate in the strongest possible terms. I heard Senator Harradine interject, I say to him that I hope to God I am wrong on this matter. I also hope and pray to God that the day will never come when the holocaust begins in the Northern Hemisphere and that people like Senator Harradine and others who advocate nuclear proliferation at this time will not regret their stand today with the wisdom of hindsight.


Senator Harradine —I ask for that to be withdrawn. I do not advocate nuclear proliferation.


Senator CHIPP —I have absolutely no intention whatsoever of withdrawing that remark because, as I have made clear in logical explanations many times in this Senate, anybody who advocates the extension or uranium mining, enrichment and re -processing is unintentionally adding to nuclear proliferation. The report of Mr Justice Fox also used those very words.