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Monday, 30 November 1998
Page: 908

Senator MARGETTS (5:31 PM) —I really think what we have seen, especially in this last response, would indicate that the minister is not taking a lot of these concerns terribly seriously. Australia is already involved in the space industry. We have indicated that there is actually a growing amount of debris and objects within space. It would not be the first time space debris has hit space objects with someone on board. Apparently in 1988 the Russian Mir space station was damaged by a high velocity particle. Collisions are accepted as inevitable.

Senator Schacht —That's the risk you take in having a space station up there.

Senator MARGETTS —I do not really know why Senator Schacht has seen in this whole debate the necessity to try to poke fun at or to put nonsense on those people from the Greens and the Democrats who are seeking to express real concerns. These things are real, they are not just in our imagination. There are space objects there. We have liabilities. Australia should be operating as a responsible international citizen. The only kind of response Senator Schacht can come up with is to make silly jokes and to support and act like the minister.

This is your responsibility, Senator Schacht, not just the government's. You think those things that the community is concerned about are a joke. Fine! But this is not really a joke, it is serious. The liabilities are serious. The community health concerns are serious. Putting this kind of stuff, including fissionable material, into space and accepting no real liability or implementing no real checks and balances is not funny. We have to not just follow on the tails of those people who want to make lots of money in the United States; we have to, on one thing in this universe, act as responsible international citizens. But, no, it is a joke according to Senator Schacht. That is the way he has conducted this debate. Unfortunately, the consequences are no joke. He is playing with people's lives and with people's futures. As long as someone can make money out of that, that is fine by him.