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Wednesday, 17 October 1956

Mr WARD (EAST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I desire to ask the Minister for Supply whether it is a fact that the first explosion in connexion with the present series of bomb tests at Maralinga was postponed on some fifteen or sixteen occasions because of unfavorable wind. Is it a fact that, in some instances, the postponements were announced in close proximity to the scheduled time of the explosion? Does this indicate that it is most difficult, if not impossible, to predict with absolute certainty what the prevailing wind direction will be any considerable time ahead or, alternatively, that somebody wilted under continued newspaper and other criticism at the repeated delays and finally gave the order to explode the bomb and hope for the best? Is it not a fact that the prevailing winds on 27th and 28th September, the first bomb having been exploded on the former date, at 5 p.m. Adelaide time, were westerly, veering to the north-west as they moved eastwards across the continent? Is it a fact that Commonwealth meteorological records disclose this to have been so at 10,000 feet, 20,000 feet and 30,000 feet with varying wind velocity? Is it a fact that adverse winds carried the radio-active cloud in an unintended direction, across populated parts of Australia, and led to a panic instruction declaring a prohibited area for all aviation? Is it a fact that such prohibited area extended from South Australia into Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria? If the Minister still adheres to his statement that the atomic cloud proceeded in the anticipated direction, will he explain the reason for the order to aircraft in the area to which I have referred? Finally, to remove all doubt as to what occurred - something which could and may still have disastrous effects on the Australian community - will the Minister table all the relevant reports received by him before and after the explosion of the bomb, the order issued to aviation, and the reports of all Commonwealth meteorologists in a position to have knowledge of wind direction and general weather conditions in the area in which the bomb was exploded?

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