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Tuesday, 2 December 1986
Page: 3162

Senator SANDERS(3.59) —I would like to take up some points that have been made in this debate. Senator Sir John Carrick is pushing his Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty barrel. Senator Powell very adequately addressed that issue. She pointed out that there are now 50,000 nuclear weapons in the world and that the NPT has failed. South Africa, Israel, India, China, Pakistan and perhaps Iraq have not been deterred by the NPT. I think the point has to be made in relation to Senator Sir John Carrick's gung ho attitude towards the complete exploitation of uranium in all of its forms that as it is used for so-called peaceful purposes more and more gets out into the world. It is well known that, given a decent machine shop, a high school student could easily produce a simple but effective atomic bomb if he could get hold of the uranium or plutonium. Senator Sir John Carrick's support of the open-slather export of uranium would make that uranium and plutonium that much more available. Certainly a lot of this material which is being used now for so-called peaceful purposes is unaccounted for. Hundreds and hundreds of kilograms of uranium are unaccounted for around the world.

I was saddened by the comments of Senator McIntosh, who I am sorry to see is not in the chamber at present. I consider Senator Gordon McIntosh a friend. We were members of a parliamentary delegation which went through Poland and Russia. However, he launched a personal attack on me which I feel was a sad thing to do. I think it was an indication of the fact that he is stung by his own Party's inability to implement its policy in this matter. The honourable senator scathed us for using Australian Labor Party policy and saying that we were supporting the shipment of uranium to France because if in fact France stopped testing in the Pacific the amendment would allow us to ship uranium to France. We are merely trying to implement the legislation. As I pointed out earlier, we have a whole sheaf of Bills which would ban uranium sales anywhere, which would keep uranium in the ground. The Labor Party has consistently opposed our legislation. All right, we are realists; if it will not give us a complete ban on uranium we hope that it will at least give us its own policy, which bans the sale of uranium to France.

Our legislation, my amendment and the techniques I have used have been scathed in this place as amateurish, unknowing--

Senator Georges —Unclear.

Senator SANDERS —And unclear, which in fact they are not at all. I have found that Parliament is a very complicated machine. It takes a long time to learn how to drive it. I do not claim to know how to drive all of it but I do work hard at learning how to use the mechanisms. We have had a lot of difficulty. As may be abundantly clear to all in this chamber, we do not have the numbers in our own right. So in order to get anything up we have to take some perhaps fairly clever-not too clever by half, as Senator Gareth Evans has said-steps. In order to amend the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty Bill we had to have something to hang the amendment on. We could not find anything in this Bill to hang the amendment on so in a sort of boot-strap operation we introduced yet another Bill-a small Bill which is on one piece of paper and which would not take long to pass-entitled the Customs Amendment (Prohibition of the Exportation of Uranium to France) Bill 1986. By adopting the simple machinery of introducing that Bill we are able to move our amendment. I do not know whether the Queen's Counsel Minister for Resources and Energy (Senator Gareth Evans) has heard of this device, but I give him credit because I am sure he has used it himself in the past. He is an astute gentleman and I am sure that he is very aware of this procedure. He has used it in the past because, of course, he does know how to drive this parliamentary machine.

It turned out that the Government did agree-and I give it credit for this-to debate my Bill cognately with the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty Bill. That was excellent-full marks to it.

Senator Gareth Evans —On the understanding that it would be knocked off.

Senator SANDERS —I did not understand that-the Government understood it. It is always knocking off our Bills. But the Opposition, for reasons best known to itself-and I cannot fathom why-decided to oppose the cognate debate. In order for us to suspend Standing Orders to get our Bill up we would have had to have an absolute majority. Because we did not have an absolute majority, I moved a motion which required only a simple majority-and we have a simple majority in this chamber often-to have my Bill dealt with immediately following consideration of the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty Bill. That is the way it works. It is a quite simple and elementary common parliamentary procedure. It is easy to understand. If honourable senators do not understand it-and I am not saying this in any--

Senator Georges —How are you going to achieve that last part, though-that simple majority?

Senator SANDERS —By use of a contingent notice of motion. I suggest that all honourable senators do as I do. I have found the Clerks at the table extremely helpful. If honourable senators do not understand this, I am sure the Clerks will explain it to them as they have explained it to me. I think it is a sham for Government senators to hide behind the claim that the procedure I have followed is somehow illegal, amateurish or whatever. It is not. It is a perfectly valid parliamentary procedure-there is nothing wrong with it-that would not delay the passage of the Bill through the Senate.

Senator Gareth Evans —Very elegant but totally ineffective.

Senator SANDERS —The Minister at least admits that it is elegant. It is only ineffective because he will not support it. He is probably jealous that he did not think of it himself. There was some mention-I cannot remember who brought it up-that we somehow intend to postpone the passage of this legislation indefinitely. That is not correct. We do not want to postpone it indefinitely. In fact, my little Bill could be passed very rapidly along with the amendment. It is true that it would then have to go back to the House of Representatives, but what is the hurry? The South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty has been kicking around for months, for years, and it still has not been signed by all of the nations involved. There is no big hurry. There is only a hurry if in fact the Government wants to look like it is trying to do something to ban nuclear weapons somewhere or if it wants to look like it is actually taking steps. It is a sham.

Senator Gareth Evans —No big hurry to stop testing? No big hurry to stop dumping? You have forgotten your constituency. There is no big hurry to stop testing, to stop dumping?

Senator SANDERS —There is a big hurry but certainly the Government's Bill will not do that. It will not have any teeth at all until our Bill is passed because the Government's Bill allows all of these activities to take place. It tacitly approves of French testing in the Pacific by allowing the sale of raw materials to France. The Government has never said that it can guarantee absolutely that no Australian uranium has ever been used in any part of the French nuclear weapons testing program. It has never made that guarantee. It cannot do so because we have been shipping uranium to France in various forms for years.

Senator Gareth Evans —It has been going to different installations and on a safeguarded basis. Don't talk nonsense.

Senator SANDERS —We have already gone over safeguards. This has been an excellent debate on a real world subject. So often we debate trivia in this place. This chamber is just used for personal diatribes, urgency motions and matters of public importance, which are not important and which no one but the person on his or her feet pays any attention to. This has been a valuable debate on all sides so it has been worth having. I think it will be more valuable if it results in the passage of my amendment. I again urge all Labor Party senators to vote for their own policy. There is nothing wrong with my parliamentary tactics. There is nothing wrong with the amendment or the Bill. The only thing that is wrong is that the Labor Party will not let its members vote for their own policy.