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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 96


Senator SANDERS(8.20) —We have heard a number of objections to these amendments, but none of them were well-founded. We heard Senator Gareth Evans, who is a gung ho protector of the uranium miners, say that somehow the development of plutonium pacemakers would be affected. He is frantically trying to find some benign use for this very deadly technology. It puts me in mind of my misguided past when I was given the task by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to find some peaceful use for a microwave radiometer, which basically we were developing as a means of terminal guidance for nuclear missiles. For a year NASA paid me a large sum of money to develop such systems as a device in a satellite to detect snowpack thickness. This was supposed to be a peaceful use of our military hardware. A plutonium pacemaker is a similar example. If one wants to know snowpack thickness, one puts somebody on skis on the ground. It is the sort of think that happens all the time-the development of gee whiz science to do a very simple task which could otherwise be handled with common sense and perhaps even by employing somebody.

Senator Puplick talked about the Sutherland Shire residents who, since they vote Liberal, are wholly in favour of having a nuclear reactor in their front or back yards. I have never yet seen a demonstration for nuclear power in the Sutherland Shire, but I have seen many demonstrations against it. I am sure the honourable senator will agree that, if the people were that happy about it, they would hang wreaths on the gates of Lucas Heights, and I have never seen such a thing. However, I have noted in the Press numbers of incidents of low level radiation spills into the Woronora River and the irradiation of the area-enough to make Sutherland Shire residents quite uneasy about Lucas Heights.

The point was brought up about the development of isotopes and research into the substitution of radioisotopes by cyclotron. If Senator Puplick had taken the trouble to read the amendments instead of just fulminating against the Democrats' position, as he usually does, he would have found that it states:

The Organisation shall undertake research into the substitution of radioisotopes produced by a cyclotron for radioisotopes produced by a nuclear reactor, for the purpose of minimising and removing dependence on the use of nuclear reactors.

This research would lead to the minimising and removal of nuclear reactors. It does not say that it will immediately replace them, but it is a step in that direction. That is what the amendment states, and I think the honourable senator would support it if he understood it.


Senator Puplick —No.


Senator SANDERS —Obviously the honourable senator does not understand it. He also said that somehow this measure would affect the development of synroc-a very apt name for something to do with nuclear energy. The Australian Democrats' amendment (2A) states:

The Organisation shall not undertake research or development into any aspect of the nuclear fuel cycle, except radioactive waste management . . .

Again the honourable senator did not read the amendment. If he had read it, he would have seen that synroc and all of its cognates are specifically exempted. Therefore, research into synroc would not be affected. There was a long discussion about food irradiation. I will not enter into this discussion except to say that I, too, am opposed to food irradiation. I just point out that all food on earth may be instantaneously irradiated if we do not put the nuclear genie back into the bottle. This amendment is a small step towards putting that genie back into the bottle, and we of course support it.

Question put:

That the amendment (Senator Sanders's) be agreed to.