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Wednesday, 5 September 1984
Page: 473


Senator McINTOSH —I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the Australian Government express its concern to the French Government over the inadequacy of the investigations carried out in October 1983 into the effects of French atomic tests at Muroroa Atoll? Will the Australian Government emphasise that that investigation team had no medical expertise and did not carry out any independent study of the effects of radioactive fallout on the health of the 166,000 inhabitants of the islands of French Polynesia? Will the Australian Government strongly recommend that an independent team of medical and biological experts be given full access to all areas of Muroroa Atoll and be empowered to study the health effects of radioactive fallout on the Polynesian Islanders?


Senator GARETH EVANS —The Government has repeatedly stated its strong opposition to and condemnation of French nuclear testing in the South Pacific and will continue to do so on each occasion a nuclear test takes place and on other appropriate occasions. The report of the group of scientists from New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea that visited Muroroa Atoll in October 1983 was released on 9 July 1984. As the Minister for Foreign Affairs said at the time, the report's conclusions on health and environment aspects did not alter the Government's strong opposition to French nuclear testing which is based primarily on non-proliferation grounds.

French nuclear testing, including the report on Muroroa Atoll, was considered at the recent meeting of the South Pacific Forum in Tuvalu. Forum members reiterated their strong opposition to French nuclear testing in the South Pacific. At Western Samoa's suggestion it was agreed that Forum governments would continue to protest individually and collectively to France. The Forum meeting welcomed the declaration made on 6 July 1984 by the Permanent Commission of the South Pacific representing Chile, Columbia, Ecuador and Peru, opposing French nuclear testing at Muroroa Atoll. The forum also agreed to an Australian proposal-it will be well recalled-for a nuclear-free South Pacific zone, which, among other things, of course, aims to ban all nuclear tests in the South Pacific. The Government believes that there should be an end to all forms of nuclear explosions by all states in all environments. For that reason it has been active in support of a comprehensive test ban treaty. To the extent that I have not picked up, I think, all the precise nuances of Senator McIntosh's question, I will refer it to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and seek answers on anything that remains outstanding.