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Wednesday, 13 June 1984
Page: 2918


Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —I direct my question to the Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister representing the Minister for Trade. I refer to Press reports that the Departments of Trade, Resources and Energy and Foreign Affairs have advised that the Government faces an international legal nightmare if the Australian Labor Party persists with its bans on exports of uranium to France. Has the Minister received advice that not only would such a ban be difficult to enforce but it could also blow apart the frail international consensus that currently gives force to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, invite France to take action against Australia in the International Court of Justice, and incite France to take retaliatory action such as banning the import of Australian steaming coal? Is the Minister concerned at the consequences outlined in the advice? Will he make this advice publicly available before the Australian Labor Party national conference is held to enable an informed debate to take place on this important issue?


Senator WALSH —From the tone of that question, I take it that Senator Crichton- Browne is quite laid back about the fact that the French are testing atomic weapons in the South Pacific. I hope that that is noted. I suppose that, for someone who has his name on the back of Christo Moll's cheques, it is not surprising that he should adopt that sort of attitude.


Senator Crichton-Browne —Wash your mouth out, you grub.


Senator WALSH —Opinions have been sought by the Government preparatory to making decisions on this matter.


Senator Chaney —On a point of order, Mr President. The reference to Senator Crichton-Browne in the Minister's response is a reference to a matter that has been debated in the Senate. It is an attempt to smear Senator Crichton-Browne in a way which has absolutely no substance in fact. It is typical of this Minister. The statement is offensive and it should be withdrawn.


Senator Gareth Evans —On the point of order, Mr President. In the course of this exchange, the interjection was heard from Senator Crichton-Browne: 'Wash your mouth out, you grub'. Whilst that might be appropriate for the less refined atmosphere across King's Hall, I suggest that it is quite unparliamentary when used in the Senate.


The PRESIDENT —I must say I heard Senator Crichton-Browne make a noise but I did not pick up what it was. However, I suggest on the point of order taken by the Leader of the Opposition that the Minister-and I heard his remark-was not out of order in that in the Chair's opinion there was no imputation against Senator Crichton-Browne. Therefore, I rule the Minister's statement in order but I ask him to be careful in his utterances in respect of honourable senators.


Senator Crichton-Browne —Otherwise I'll produce a few cheques with names of the Labor Party on them from Christo Moll, including a very senior member of the judiciary.


Senator WALSH —I gather from Senator Crichton-Browne's latest interjection that he has a deep knowledge of the affairs of Mr Christo Moll.


The PRESIDENT —Order! I ask the Minister to respond to Senator Crichton-Browne's question.


Senator WALSH —Very well, Mr President. Advice has been sought from the three departments cited by the Senate's resident authority on the affairs of Christo Moll. I regard that advice as being confidential advice to the Government, preparatory to making a Government decision. Nevertheless, I will seek the opinion of the other Ministers who are involved, Mr Hayden and Mr Bowen, to see what their views are on making that information available not only to members of the Australian Labor Party but I suppose also to members of the wider public.