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Tuesday, 28 August 1973
Page: 420

Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) - I concur, of course, in the support of the Atomic Energy Bill but I think the House should realise the importance of the potential work being done by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. It relates not only to the peaceful use of atomic energy; it also must have some implications in the defence field. I would like to say something briefly about the implications in the defence field. I agree with what my friend the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) said about the rather discreditable way in which the Government has switched around its technical advice on some of these matters. I refer, of course, to the abandonment of the National Radiation Advisory Committee which was dissolved because its members refused to be associated with a campaign of deception which the Government was undertaking in this field. I want to make it quite clear that I regard the question of nuclear disarmament as one of the most important questions facing not only this country but also the world. It is a question intimately bound up with the survival of mankind. I do not want anything I say to derogate from the importance of this situation. I do not think that our standing in this area or the overall success of the world campaign for nuclear disarmament has been furthered by a campaign of lies about the effects of nuclear radiation. I speak particularly of the French tests. I am one who hopes for world disarmament and I believe we should be doing everything to get it. However I do not believe that that campaign is helped by lying, and that is what has happened.

There has been an absolutely ridiculous exaggeration of the radiation effects of the French tests. What has happened is monstrous. It is monstrous that when the Government found that its advisers on the National Radiation Advisory Committee-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order!I suggest to the honourable member for Mackellar that the purpose of the Bill is to appoint a person as Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. The honourable member has been speaking for about 4 minutes. This is not a debate on the use or application of nuclear energy. I suggest that he apply himself to the Bill, which has a very limited ambit.

Mr WENTWORTH - I realise that and I want to talk about the importance of the functions which will reside in the Commission which is the subject of this Bill. As such I think that my remarks, with all due respect, would be in order. I am speaking of the functions that this Commission now has to carry out as a result of what has happened in regard to the National Radiation Advisory Committee.

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