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Tuesday, 9 October 1984
Page: 1443


Senator CHANEY —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. I note the Prime Minister's confirmation that the Federal Government will not issue an export licence to Queensland Mines Ltd to permit a shipment of 200 tonnes of uranium to France, due this month, and that the Australian Labor Party has banned uranium shipments to France until France ceases testing nuclear weapons. I ask the Minister: Has the Government made any decision to compensate the mining company concerned for the loss of the sale, both immediate sales and future shipments, which are due under contract? Can the Minister provide details of any compensation agreement or arrangement made by the Government with the company and the cost of such agreement or arrangement to taxpayers? I further ask: What action has the Government taken to guard against retaliatory action such as the dumping of subsidised products into Australian export markets or other retaliatory actions by the European Economic Community?


Senator WALSH —I did not get down all of the first three or four parts of the question that Senator Chaney asked. He asked similar questions some weeks ago; I do not remember exactly when. I do not at this stage have anything to add to the essential answer I gave then; that is, that negotiations have been under way but a final decision has not yet been made. I undertake to make public within a short time, a matter of days rather than weeks, once a final decision is made, the details of the arrangement made.

The latter part of the question referred to retaliatory action. I will refer that to Mr Bowen but, to the best of my knowledge, there has been no suggestion that the French intend to take retaliatory action of the nature suggested by Senator Chaney. While Mr Bowen may have some contingency plans, there is, in my view, no need to have any plans to deal with such action because it is not likely to be taken.


Senator CHANEY —Mr President, I have a supplementary question. Arising from that answer, I ask the Minister: Are the negotiations which are under way as to whether or not compensation should be paid or as to the quantum of compensation to be paid? Do the negotiations cover the immediate contract, that is, the immediate shipment, or do they cover shipments in the future which may be barred by this Government?


Senator WALSH —They cover the immediate future, that is, the shipment that was due this month, and for some time into the future. The financial details I will not disclose at this stage, other than to say that they are of a nature which would protect the cash flow of Queensland Mines.