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Thursday, 14 November 1974
Page: 2464

Senator Young asked the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy, upon notice:

(   1 ) Has the Minister stated that Australia has fifteen years of petroleum supplies in reserve, based on present known quantities.

(2)   What was the basis of the Minister's calculation.

(3)   Did the Minister take into account the problem of maintaining present production rates when some wells and fields are eighty to eighty-five per cent depleted, and when a similar position applies to the extraction of condensates in gas fields.

(4)   Will the change in the Government's resources policy encourage the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in both on and off-shore areas of Australia.

Senator Wriedt - The Minister for Minerals and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   and (2) The context of my statement on 15 October 1974 was a clear and explicit reference to the publication issued by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Ltd.

(3)   The reserve/consumption ratio stated in the publication related to current production and current consumption and was not concerned with changes in the rate of supply or demand.

(4)   The Government's policy has been clearly stated. There has been no change in that policy.

Radiation Levels in Australia (Question No. 242)

Senator Carrick asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:

(   1 ) What is the current level of radiation in Australia.

(2)   What contribution to that level has been made by (a) natural radiation and (b) nuclear testing.

(3)   Has any measurable fall-out been detected in Australia from (a) the French tests and (b) the Chinese tests; if so, what was the nature and volume of that radiation.

Senator Murphy - The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1)   & (2) The following table gives the radiation doses estimated to have been incurred by the Australian population during the past 12 months from natural sources and from fall-out from nuclear explosions in the atmosphere. The radiation doses are expressed as man-rads, that is the product of the dose estimated for each group of the population and the number of persons in the group. The doses include the contributions made during the 12 month period, from fall-out from all nuclear tests to date. However, fresh fission product fall-out is still reaching Australia from the recent series of nuclear tests by France in Polynesia and fallout over Australia of long-lived radioisotopes will continue for some years from the high yield explosions that both France and China have carried out in the atmosphere.


(3)   (a) & (b) The above table of doses for the past 12 months gives estimates of the doses to the Australian population due separately to nuclear tests conducted by China, by France and by the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States. The doses in the table include the contributions made during the 12 month period by fresh fission product fall-out as well as by the long-lived component of fall-out in Australia. Complex analyses of the data obtained from the Australian Government fall-out monitoring programs and of data published by other countries permit apportionment of these doses between the countries that have conducted nuclear tests in the atmosphere. The apportionment in relation to fresh fission product fall-out in the past 12 months in Australia is as follows:

(a)   Fresh fission product fall-out in Australia has been positively identified with nuclear explosions conducted by France in Polynesia and the French tests are responsible for all of the radiation dose to the Australian population in the past 12 months arising from fresh fission product fall-out;

(b)   No fresh fall-out in Australia has been identified with any nuclear tests by China.

The Australian Government Fall-out Monitoring Programme has assessed the radiation doses to the Australian population to date in 1974 as a result of fresh fall-out from the recent series of nuclear tests by France in Polynesia. These doses are notably higher than those recorded following the series in 1 972 and the series in 1 973.

In addition, I would mention that the South Australian Premier has informed the Prime Minister that the Engineering and Water Supply Department of South Australia assesses routinely the level of radio-activity in rainfall and water supply storages and that the results of radio-activity tests on rainfall over the period 1970 to 1974 indicate that significant increases in levels have been detected following French nuclear testing in the South Pacific Ocean. The levels for 1974 show the highest peak for rainfall precipitation ever recorded by that Department's laboratories ( 1648 picocuries per litre on 13 September 1974). Other readings at the same site were 657 picocuries per litre on 30 July 1974, 868 on 6 August 1974, 742.9 on 4 September, 728 on 19 September 1974 and 738 on 8 October 1 974.

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