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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 96


Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Resources and Energy)(8.19) —On that specific question about the importation of cobalt 60 and caesium 137-and the isotopes themselves-I am advised that the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, ANSTO, is the Commonwealth agency which is responsible for the approval of the importation, based simply on the safety of the importation arrangements and in advising the Australian Customs Service on the application of its regulations affecting this material because, as I have said, it is the resident body of expertise on these matters. It is not a matter of the Organisation having the power to ban this material itself for the kinds of reasons that have been suggested by Senator Macklin. To do so would be quite at odds with its whole approach to this issue and its understanding of the safety issues involved with it. If the Government wanted to ban the importation of these isotopes pending the outcome of some inquiry, no doubt it could do so under the exercise of its general trade and commerce power by promulgating appropriate amendments to the Customs and importation regulations. The power is there; Customs operates it.


Senator Macklin —It is Customs and not ANSTO.


Senator GARETH EVANS —Customs is the organisation that is physically responsible for import regulations; ANSTO happens to be the body which, in effect, advises Customs on the way in which those regulations should be applied in this instance.