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Thursday, 31 May 1984
Page: 2226

Senator BOLKUS —My question is to the Minister for Resources and Energy. I refer the Minister to recent reports in the Canberra Times concerning documentation of the atomic tests at Maralinga and Emu Fields which suggest that some information about the tests has been deliberately withheld and records have been falsified. In light of this, can the Minister given an assurance that all information relating to the atomic tests at Maralinga, Monte Bello and Emu Fields is now available so that any other incidents of falsification of records or conflict of information can be revealed? Can he also say whether there is in existence documents detailing inaccuracies in Australian Ionising Radiation Advisory Council report No. 9? Further, will the Minister now support the request by the South Australian Premier for the British Government to provide to the South Australian Government all records on the atomic tests at Maralinga?

Senator WALSH —There are three questions. The first asks whether I can give an assurance that all information relating to the tests is now available. I cannot give that assurance because I just cannot be certain that all the information is available. I received last week an index of files which was about four inches thick and there would certainly be thousands of files in that index. One cannot be certain that even the index is a comprehensive list of all the files that are relevant to Maralinga. I can give an assurance that any information that can be retrieved will be retrieved but it will take a considerable time. As to the second question, is there a document which details inaccuracies in AIRAC report No. 9, I am not aware of any document in existence at this stage which details inaccuracies but I understand that Professor Kerr's committee, the Expert Committee on Fallout Arising from British Atomic Tests in Australia, which is currently compiling its report-a report which I expect to table next Monday-will question the methodology used by AIRAC in its report No. 9 and I think in previous assessments.

As to the final question about whether I will support the request by the South Australian Government, I answer that that has already been done. We have backed up the request of the South Australian Government and asked the British to make available all the information. I thought I had with me a letter answering some questions which had already been put to the British Government. I was going to seek to table it. As I do not seem to have it with me now, perhaps I can attend to that at the end of Question Time. We will certainly obtain all the information we possibly can from British and Australian sources. My present expectation is that both the Symonds chronological assessment of the United Kingdom files which Dr Symonds and Mr Garran examined earlier this year and the report of Professor Kerr's committee will be tabled on Monday.