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Wednesday, 18 February 1987
Page: 214

Senator DURACK(7.27) -That will not be a great help to an individual scientist who is not part of a big government institution, such as the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation or the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, but who is a pure researcher in nuclear science in some Australian university who may or may not have heard of this legislation. The question will arise whether he will be given some indication as to whether he will have to apply for a permit. It is all very well for the Minister to say that if he applies he will be given one in accordance with the benign attitude of this Government which does not believe in book burning. I do not believe that that will be of great encouragement to scientists in view of the Government's policies in relation to the development of the nuclear fuel cycle in Australia. This researcher will not even know whether he has to apply for a permit. The answer that Senator Evans has given certainly does not indicate to him whether or not he has to apply. I would have thought that at least the Minister would have had a view on such a simple, practical issue. It is not theoretical; it is a very possible situation. Pure research into the methods of enriching uranium for peaceful purposes could be conducted by some nuclear physicist in an Australian university. There have been great developments in enrichment technology around the world. There has been the development of a centrifuge process which the Uranium Enrichment Group of Australia had decided--

Senator Sanders —There he is, talking the clock out.

Senator DURACK —We have wasted this amount of time only because of the honourable senator's ridiculous and offensive interjections.

Senator Sanders —You supporters of nuclear power are all the same. You have nothing to say.

The CHAIRMAN —Order! Senator Sanders should cease interjecting. Senator Durack has the floor.

Senator DURACK —Thank you, Mr Chairman. As I have said, as far as the Opposition is concerned, these people would certainly be encouraged to pursue enrichment research for peaceful purposes. Of course, there are new technologies, much more sophisticated technologies, for enrichment that have been developed since the centrifuge process. Very respected scientists throughout the world are engaged in it. As I have said, hopefully they would be engaged in it in Australia. If they are not, hopefully that situation will change. I simply want the Government to tell me, and hopefully those who might be interested in the answer, whether or not a person in such a position should apply for a permit for the work he is doing.