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Thursday, 9 December 1976
Page: 3701

Mr Jacobi asked the Minister for National Resources, upon notice:

(1)   Is the world uranium producers' cartel, which was formed on the initiative of the Rio Tinto Zinc Corporation (RTZ), still in existence following the withdrawal of this company from the cartel earlier this year.

(2)   Is the Uranium Institute, another group formed on the initiative of RTZ, still in existence; if so, does the Institute's charter specifically exclude price negotiations.

(3)   Which Australian companies are, or have been, members of these groups.

(4)   Are any Australian rnining companies members of any other local or international uranium producers' associations; if so, what are these associations, and what is their main function.

(3)   Does the current United States of America inquiry into alleged uranium price fixing or other breaches of United States anti-trust laws relate to the activities of these organisations; if so, which organisations.

(6)   If not, what is the basis for charges which have been made in the United States against Australian uranium companies for alleged price fixing.

(7)   What marketing arrangements exist for the sale of uranium in (a) the United States, (b) the United Kingdom, (c) South Africa and (d) the rest of the world.

Mr Nixon -The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(   1 ) , (5) and (6) It would not be appropriate for me to provide information concerning matters which are, or may be, the subject of legal proceedings. In regard to the current legal proceedings in the United States of America, I refer the honourable Member to the facts set out in the recitals of the Orders made by the Attorney-General on 29 November 1976 under the Foreign Proceedings (Prohibition of Certain Evidence) Act 1976 (Australian Government Gazette No. S2 14 dated 29 November 1976).

(2)   The Uranium Institute was set up in June 1 975 by sixteen of the world's leading uranium producers. The headquarters of the Uranium Institute are in London, United Kingdom, where it is incorporated as a limited company. The Articles of Association of the Uranium Institute were revised in January 1976 to admit consumers of uranium as members.

The Memorandum of Association of the Uranium Institute states that its objects are:

(i)   to promote the development of the use of uranium for peaceful purposes, in order to assist in safeguarding the future availability of world energy supplies.

(ii)   to conduct research and to do investigations concerning the world's requirements of uranium, the world's uranium resources and the productive capacity of uranium producers.

(iii)   to provide a forum for the exchange of information concerning the use of uranium for peaceful purposes, the world's requirements and resources of uranium, the productive capacity of uranium producers and all matters connected therewith.

(iv)   to consult, for the purposes of its research or investigations, with Governments and with other agencies, organisations and entities.

In addition, the Memorandum has always included the following statement:

The activities of the Institute shall not be such as will result in any agreement, understanding, combination or any other form of concerted action to limit production, fix prices, provide, receive or supply information regarding contracts, or interfere with commercial transactions, suppress competition or in any other manner restrain trade or commerce or to monopolise or attempt to monopolise trade or commerce. '

(3)   The Australian companies which are currently members of Uranium Institute are Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australasia Limited, Noranda Australia Limited, Pancontinental Mining Limited, Peko- Wallsend Limited and Western Mining Corporation Limited.

(4)   I am not aware of any Australian mining companies being members of any international uranium producers' associations. However, I am aware that some are members of the Australian Uranium Producers' Forum, the stated objectives of which are:

(i)   To act as a co-ordinating body for the Australian uranium industry as a whole in discussions with, or representations to, various Australian Government Departments or Authorities concerned with the industry;

(ii)   To co-ordinate the participation of member companies in any international organisations or forums for promoting the use of uranium for peaceful purposes;

(iii)   Generally, to promote the development of a viable Australian uranium mining industry including research into uranium production, supply/demand and other statistical data on a world basis.

The companies which are members of the Forum are Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australasia Limited Noranda Australia Limited, Pancontinental Mining Limited, Peko- Wallsend Limited, Queensland Mines Limited, and Western Mining Corporation Limited.

(7)   No marketing arrangements exist for the sale of Austraiian uranium overseas, other than arrangements being put in hand for the export of uranium in respect of contracts the main terms of which were approved prior to December 1972. Apart from the measures announced on 1 1 November 1976 by the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, the Government's attitude is that policy decisions in relation to the further development of the Australian uranium industry will have to await the outcome of the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry.

Working Womens Centre in Melbourne (Question No. 1394)

Mr Garrick asked the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, upon notice:

(1)   Is it a fact that the Working Women's Centre in Melbourne may have to close its doors through lack of financial support.

(2)   Is it also a fact that the initial funding, which it received from the International Women's Year Advisory Committee, was insufficient for continued operation.

(3)   Is it considered that the work done by the Centre, for women of all occupations in the important areas of child care, equal pay and maternity leave, is of value.

(4)   Is it a fact that, at present, there is no other organisation capable of covering these and other related matters efficiently.

(5)   Did the 'Women's Bureau' of his Department undertake an evaluation of the Centre 3 months ago and has it, as yet, not come to him for a decision; if so, when will a decision be made.

Mr Street - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   I understand from representations recently made to me by the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations (ACSPA), which operates this Centre, that financial support has not been forthcoming in adequate amounts from Union sources to cover the on-going operations of the Centre after the initial grant of $40,000, made by the Commonwealth last year through the International Women 's Year (IWY) Appropriation, has been exhausted.

(2)   The initial grant from the Commonwealth through the IWY Appropriation was provided to establish this Centre, and to cover the salaries of staff to run it in its initial period, as well as to pay for equipment and other incidental costs incurred. IWY grants were not designed to pay for the ongoing operations of a facility, such as the Working Women's Centre, beyond those costs incurred in its establishment.

(3)   It is difficult to assess the value of the work done by this Centre in the areas of child care, equal pay and maternity leave. I understand the Centre has endeavoured to have Unions take up these, and other issues of concern to working women, and has also attempted to make working women more aware of such issues and to raise them with their Unions.

(4)   Many women's organisations have, for some years, been concerned with these and other related matters of concern to working women. In addition, there is the N.S.W. Women's Trade Union Commission in Sydney, and the Queensland Women's Trade Union Committee, both of which also received Commonwealth funds made available through the IWY Appropriation, last year. More recently, a Working Women's Centre was established in Footscray in Melbourne with Commonwealth funds provided under the Australian Assistance Plan. There are also Working Women's Centres or Groups in Canberra, Newcastle, Adelaide and Perth.

Further, within my own Department, the Women's Bureau, established first in 1963 as the Women's Section, is concerned with undertaking research into, and providing policy advice on these, and a wide range of other matters, relating to women in employment.

(5)   When representations were originally made to me by ACSPA requesting additional Commonwealth financial support for this Centre, I said that, in the first instance, I would ask my Department to examine its work and make a report to me. I added that the Women's Bureau of my Department would be associated with this examination. In the meantime, this examination has been completed and a report has been forwarded to me.

The question of further Commonwealth financial support for this Centre is currently under consideration by the Government, and a decision will be made as soon as possible.

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