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Tuesday, 2 December 1986
Page: 3162


Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Resources and Energy)(3.58) —The Australian Democrats ought to be aware by now that the Government will determine its own legislative agenda and not have it set for it by anything that the Democrats might choose to present to it. The reason why priority is being given, quite apart from any other consideration-I mentioned a number of other considerations earlier on as to why the Government's policy is as it is on the sale of uranium to France issue-to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty Bill today and why any delay in the effect of that legislation would be very unfortunate indeed can be simply stated. It would be a matter of acute foreign policy embarrassment for the Government in our relationship with our South Pacific Forum partners, a number of whom have moved already to complete ratification at the Australian Government's urging. With the prospective protocol signatory states we have invested a quite major diplomatic effort in putting the case for an early and positive response to the protocols, to the United States of America in particular, and any delay in the ratification by Australia of the Treaty would render quite nugatory that particular diplomatic effort we have put in to date. So, quite apart, as I say, from all the substantive arguments about the uranium sales to France issue, on the one hand, and the substantive arguments about the worth of this Treaty, on the other, there are some very strong reasons why it is very important indeed that this Bill be not only passed today but also passed in a form whereby it can be immediately proclaimed and the Treaty ratified.