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Monday, 30 May 1994
Page: 902

(Question No. 1318)

Senator Coulter asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 14 April 1994:

  (1) On what information did the Minister base the following remark in a letter to the Australian Conservation Foundation in August 1993, that Indonesia's development of its nuclear program is `cautious and responsible'.

  (2) Will the information referred to in (1) be made publicly available; if not, why not.

  (3) Has the Australian Government had access to the feasibility study done by New Japan Engineering Corporation on the first proposed reactor site on the Muria Peninsula on Java; if so, will the study be made publicly available in Australia; if not, why not.

  (4) If the Government has not had access to the feasibility study, what steps is the Australian Government taking to obtain access to that report from the Government of Indonesia.

Senator Gareth Evans —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

  (1) The Indonesian Government has sought to develop its expertise in nuclear technology over many years. Its national atomic energy agency BATAN, began operation in 1958. It has been considering a nuclear power program since the 1970s. The Indonesian Government intends to establish a new regulatory agency to assume the regulation and control functions presently carried out by BATAN. The Indonesian Government has commissioned studies which are being undertaken by international experts into the feasibility of constructing a number of power reactors. These studies are expected to continue through until 1996. The Indonesian Government does not intend to take a final decision on whether or not to proceed with constructing a nuclear power reactor until it has considered the result of the feasibility studies. If the Indonesian Government decides to proceed with a nuclear power program, it is likely to choose from an advanced reactor design available from among those Western sources which have been assisting it with feasibility studies. The first power reactor is not likely to begin commercial operation before 2003.

  (2) This information,including the schedule of feasibility studies, is already on the public record.

  (3) No. The study was commissioned by the Indonesian Government. It is for the Indonesian Government to decide whether or not to make the study publicly available.

  (4) The Australian Government takes a close interest in developments in Indonesia's nuclear power program and will continue to maintain its dialogue with relevant Indonesian authorities as their plans evolve.