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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 2887


Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Resources and Energy)(3.23) —I have already responded to most of those points in the context of the Estimates committee hearing itself on 18 September. The only short point that I would want now to make to even up the record is to say, as I did in fact during the Estimates Committee hearing, that given the total supply and demand situation for uranium now and into the mid-1990s, our policy, I think, remains a perfectly rational and defensible one bearing in mind that there is a capacity to expand Ranger from 3,000 to 6,000 tonnes per annum and there are plans to double that capacity by 1990. Furthermore, there is the 2,000 tones per annum initial production anyway from Roxby Downs with the capability of building up thereafter. Those two mines between them will satisfy all the conceivable demands on and opportunities for Australia until at least well into the 1990s.

It may be that at that time some of the things that Senator Sir John Carrick talks about will come back onto the political agenda of the Australian Labor Party and be discussed again. But, for the moment, the Party's policy is perfectly clear. I certainly do not do other than defend that policy at the moment-the three mines policy, as it has been described-because I believe that it does reflect, for the reasons I have just indicated, present supply and demand realities; on the demand side, bearing in mind very much what the red book of the uranium industry projects and describes. I know that arguments can be had about the feasibility or desirability of domestic enrichment within Australia. This was something that a Labor government in the past was very enthusiastic about. It is not impossible, again in the ebb and flow of events, that it may be something that a Labor government in the future would be prepared to look at again. But I repeat that our policy is clear. Certainly we are not being in any way inhibited in taking advantage of our uranium resources by the application of that policy at the moment.