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Uranium Policy



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25 August 197£T-*j

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Uranium Policy B

Australia has large reserves of uranium which are more than adequate for the most liberal estimates of domestic usage in th

The Liberal and Country Parties believe that in principle, uranium mining in Australia should be permitted to proceed to development and export. .

This decision should be implemented by the Government without delay subject to the following safeguards:- lr 1. Realistic export price levels and royalties.

2. Satisfactory environmental assessment and protection procedures including the protection of national parks.

3. Satisfactory negotiations with aboriginal groups in relation to mining on their reserves in accordance with recommendations of Mr. Justice Woodward.

4. The maintenance of the dominant position of Australian ownership and control.

5. International control requirements.

There should be urgent Government/industry discussions to settle the issues involved in removing the present unjustifiable export ban and in planning orderly development.

Known reserves provide adequate capacity to permit exports while still ensuring full protection of Australia's future requirements of this energy source, even to the point of an enrichment plan should this become feasible in Australia in the future.

In the case of the recent decision by the Labor Government to underwrite the further development of the Mary Kathleen Mine, the Opposition will seek full public disclosure of the economics of the costs and the investment involved to ensure proper and

effective use of public money.

Since Labor took office uranium policy in Australia has been in a limbo of frozen uncertainty due to the obstinancy of one man, the Minister for Minerals and Energy, Mr. Connor. He has been constantly supported in the face of other advice by the Prime Minister, whose lack of knowledge of minerals policy matches his

ignorance of economic matters.

future.

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The result has been a vacuum of indecision and uncertainty which

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has threatened the survival of Australian-owned enterprises and jeopardised Australia's opportunity to take its place in uranium marketing.

Mr. Connor has invoked virtually war time powers based on security considerations under regulations of the Atomic Energy Act to enforce his pig-headed and narrow views which will prevent the development of this mining industry.

Senator Peter Durack (Lib. W . A .) has given notice in the Senate on behalf of the Opposition for the disallowance of these regulations.

This will be debated when the Parliament resumes on September 17.

The Prime Minister said publicly, as recently as July 12:-"My colleague, the Minister for Minerals and Energy, has already said that the Government's export control powers will not be employed capriciously or vexatiously. This is a unanimous, attitude among members of the

Cabinet."

That statement is patently untrue. Mr. Connor has applied export controls to uranium in the most capricious and vexatious manner imaginable.

The world uranium market has a limited life span due to projected development in nuclear technology through the introduction of breeder reactors.

Despite our sound reserves situationand strong international demand, Mr. Connor apparently only wants to approve exports of uranium in an enriched form.

He is committed to the idea of a $2 billion enrichment plan in South Australia despite grave doubts about the technology and financing of any such project, doubts about international demand for its output, and doubts about the severe environmental consequences for Spencer's Gulf. .

In addition. the attitude of both Japan and the United States remains cool to enrichment of uranium in Australia.