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Monday, 3 November 2003
Page: 21900

Mr McClelland asked the Minister for Education, Science and Training, upon notice, on 18 September 2003:

What steps has he taken since 11 September 2001 to ensure (a) the safety of Australia's nuclear infrastructure, and (b) that all staff and officials working at Australia's nuclear facilities are not a threat to the security of those facilities.

Dr Nelson (Minister for Education, Science and Training) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(a) The Government appreciates that security of Commonwealth sites such as the Lucas Heights Science and Technology Centre is an important element in Australia's national security arrangements. Operating on advice from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), ANSTO has been maintaining enhanced security awareness since September 11 2001. Some details of these measures must necessarily remain confidential to ensure their effectiveness, but they include both strengthened physical security measures and enhanced guarding arrangements by the Australian Protective Service (APS). Security plans for the Lucas Heights Science and Technology Centre also provide for support from the NSW Police and use of the Australian Defence Force in appropriate circumstances.

All ANSTO's nuclear facilities and materials are protected in accordance with stringent national and international physical protection obligations. The HIFAR reactor itself is enclosed within a separate high security area on the Lucas Heights site. Security arrangements for the Lucas Heights site will continue to be reviewed in the light of current assessments of the security situation.

A full Protective Security Risk Review of the site was undertaken by ASIO in 2002. The findings of this review, including the need for a new front gate complex, have been taken into account by ANSTO in its security arrangements. The Government provided $17.9 million in the 2003-04 budget for enhanced security at ANSTO, including the new front gate. The proposal for the new front gate is currently subject to consideration by the Public Works Committee.

(b) All persons that have regular access to the Lucas Heights Science and Technology Centre including people who work at Lucas Heights, regular contractors and frequent visitors are subject to a scaled security check and subsequent issue of a photo identification pass, in accordance with Commonwealth Government security standards. This approach is designed to ensure that unsupervised access to secure areas is confined to trusted workers whose employment requires access to these areas.

All visitors are escorted at all times. Some contractors required for urgent unplanned or emergency work are issued with day passes but are subject to close supervision.