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Thursday, 11 October 1984
Page: 1651

Senator CROWLEY —My question is to the Minister for Resources and Energy, possibly in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Trade. Has the Minister seen the report in today's Age headed 'Australia delays N-fuel for ''unsafe'' Philippines reactor'? The article states that the Age believes the Australian Government is withholding approval of administrative arrangements that would clear the way for the sale of Australian uranium to fuel the Bataan nuclear plant because of doubts about its safety. Can the Minister indicate whether there is any substance to the claims of the Australian delay and/or of the unsafeness of the plant in the Philippines?

Senator WALSH —I have not read the article in question but I am aware of its existence and that it is of the type outlined by Senator Crowley. The fact is that in August 1978 an agreement was drawn up between Australia and the Philippines regarding co-operation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and the transfer of nuclear material. That agreement came into force on 11 May 1982. I stress that that agreement was not an agreement to supply Australian uranium. Therefore, no Australian company has negotiated a contract to supply uranium to the Philippines, which is believed to have purchased its requirements to date on the international spot market. No government approval for a contract has been sought.

Australian uranium cannot be transferred to the Philippines until an administrative arrangement is established pursuant to article IX (3) of the agreement. In March last year the Philippines advised of its willingness to sign a text. The signature, however, has been postponed because of nuclear safeguards policy reviews which this Government has undertaken and which involve issues that the Government currently has under consideration. There is no immediate requirements for such a signature.