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Tuesday, 2 December 1986
Page: 3161


Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Resources and Energy)(3.53) —I think perhaps one further point ought to be made in reinforcement of what Senator Georges said about the way in which this amendment comes before us. It is cast in such a fashion that anyone who votes for it is thereby necessarily condemning the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty Bill to going into some kind of limbo zone until some unspecified future date at which further legislation is passed by the Parliament along the lines that the Australian Democrats have sought as far as uranium sales to France are concerned. This amendment squarely will have the effect of delaying the coming into force of the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty Bill and accordingly the Treaty itself until such time as the Parliament addresses the question that the Australian Democrats want us to address. That is the bottom line reason why Australian Labor Party senators will be voting unanimously on this issue.

It is the case that a number of my colleagues feel quite acutely-I acknowledge the force of their concern-the existence of competing obligations under our present formally stated and approved policy. On the one hand, that policy does talk in terms of a continuing prohibition on uranium sales to France but, on the other hand, there is a very clear cut commitment to the South Pacific nuclear free zone concept, endorsed in very resounding terms by the National Conference of the ALP at the same time last June.

The immediate matter before us today is the passage of the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty Bill. If the amendment of the Democrats on the other matter were to be passed it would have the result of delaying, perhaps permanently, the passage into effect of that legislation. Quite apart from any other consideration-I referred earlier to a number of considerations that were moving the Cabinet-it is important that it be understood that the reason why there will be unanimous opposition to this rather tawdry little ploy of the Democrats on this occasion is that the effect of it, as I say, would be to put at risk the very Treaty which we all on this side of the chamber are very firmly committed to support.