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Monday, 25 February 1985
Page: 113


Senator DURACK —I refer the Minister for Resources and Energy to a statement he made last Thursday in which he endorsed the approval given by the Minister for Trade for the shipment this week of uranium from Darwin by a West German company to a French trading company. The uranium, of course, may enter France. Senator Evans, in his statement, said:

It is clear from the material available to the Minister that the uranium will not in fact be used in France, and so no question arises of any breach of Australia's present policy.

I ask the Minister: How is his statement to be reconciled with stated Government policy, which has been to refuse to allow the supply of Australian uranium to France? Is this another case of Ministers making policy on the run or is it just another example of the contradictions of the Government's uranium policy?


Senator GARETH EVANS —As I made perfectly clear on Friday, in the answer I gave to a question, it is and remains the Government's policy that so long as the French continue with nuclear tests in the South Pacific the Government will not supply uranium for end use in France.


Senator Durack —That is not the way you put it. That is not the way it has been put.


Senator GARETH EVANS —It is the way in which the policy has been applied and the way in which it has been understood and the way in which it has been endorsed within Party forums, to the extent that that is any of Senator Durack's business, which it is not. The reality of the matter remains that this particular uranium will not be used in France. We have assurances to that effect, as I indicated on Friday, from Electricite de France, the only utility in that country which does engage in peaceful uses of uranium that might, prima facie, be consistent with our bilateral safeguards agreement. That has been further confirmed by subsequent developments over the weekend, which involve, I am afraid, questions of commercial confidentiality, and I cannot fully share with the Senate the information available to me. All I wish to say is that despite Senator Durack's and Mr McVeigh's rather extravagant Press releases of last Friday, the Government remains fully confident in its characterisation of the contract in question as being a ruse or a ploy designed simply to encourage Australian Government action to stop a contract which was commercially embarrassing to the German firm. Every piece of information we have had since this matter became public has confirmed that assessment of the situation. I repeat the terms, without spelling it all out again, of the answer I gave in this place on Friday.