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Wednesday, 24 August 1994
Page: 246

Senator COULTER (4.29 p.m.) —in reply—I can only say that we heard a lot of rhetoric but no factual argument whatsoever from the opposition. The opposition totally ignored the fact that under the US-Russian disarmament agreement there will be enough enriched uranium available in the world to meet all the nuclear needs to the year 2010. The opposition is holding out before workers in the Northern Territory and the Aboriginal people the possibility of jobs which simply do not exist, thus perpetuating a very cruel joke on Aboriginal people.

  Why does Senator Tambling not object to the fact that Ranger has now signed a five-year contract to get one-third of its uranium from Kazakhstan? Why is the Ranger company getting it there when it could be mining it in the Northern Territory? The reason is that it is not economic.

Senator Tambling —You won't let them.

Senator COULTER —Ranger is working only 50 per cent of the time and importing it because the price is lower than its cost of production. As far as Senator Collins is concerned, he knows full well why this motion was introduced in these terms. When we met back in the 1970s Senator Collins took a very different position from the one he is taking now. I certainly have not changed my position. Senator Collins knows full well that had I put up a motion calling for a no mines policy there would have been no support either from the government or the opposition in this chamber.

Senator Collins —What has that got to do with your position?

Senator COULTER —I prefer to have the support of the government on this particular motion. This is an urgency motion coming weeks before the government deliberates on whether it will open this thing up for open slather. The dangers of uranium mining have been mentioned by a number of people. I will give a few more facts. Since the collapse of communist Germany there have been 241 cases of attempted smuggling of nuclear material, 123 of them in the past year.

(Time expired)

  Question put:

  That the motion (Senator Coulter's) be agreed to.