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Tuesday, 13 March 2012
Page: 1497

Senator LUDLAM (Western Australia) (13:36): I come back to where we began—that is, I move Greens amendments (1) and (2) on sheet 7200, concerning clause 4 on the definition of 'controlled material':

(1)   Clause 4, page 3 (line 1), after “1998”, insert “that is of domestic origin”.

(2)   Clause 4, page 3 (line 2), at the end of the definition of controlled material, add “For this purpose, controlled material is of domestic origin if it has been used in Australia, generated by activities in Australia, or sent to Australia under contractual arrangements relating to the conditioning or reprocessing of ANSTO spent nuclear fuel (within the meaning of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation Act 1987).

This amendment is the only piece of good news that I can announce to the chamber this afternoon. The government has apparently agreed with the substance if not the detailed wording of my arguments in the debate before last on importation of international radioactive waste. I am glad Senator Scullion is still here, and I am hoping we can get consensus so this one will not need to go to a vote. Despite some of the more remarkable commentary from some of the more unhinged members in the other place—if that term could be considered parliamentary—proposing that we import radioactive waste from overseas as a commercial proposition, I am glad to have the understanding that the government has agreed with the sentiments that I raised: that we should formally preclude this from occurring, that it should not simply exist in regulation and that it should be in Australian legislation as it is in the instance of building nuclear power plants, recognising that there is a small fringe of people in this parliament who think that that would also be a good idea. We have come back with wording, which I understand the government will be supporting, to more accurately define what we mean by international waste.

For example, if there are fears that we are seeking to legally preclude the return of Australian obligated reprocessing waste from France and the UK, that is not the intention. I think it is still an open question as to whether that material should return and when, but we are not seeking to legally ban it. We are seeking to legally ban a Pangea-style international commercial radioactive waste dump. I have fairly close experience with such a proposition, because that lunatic idea was actually landed upon Western Australians in 1999. I would be very pleased to have the support of the chamber in formally precluding such a proposition.