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Thursday, 29 March 1984
Page: 876

Senator MAGUIRE —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. What is the Commonwealth's response to the call by the South Australian Government for the release of documentary evidence about the atomic bomb and hydrogen bomb tests at Maralinga in the 1950s and 1960s? Has any information now been supplied to the South Australian Government concerning the tests? Is the Commonwealth Government stalling over the release of information, as claimed by a legal adviser to former ex-servicemen in a recent article in the Adelaide Advertiser?

Senator GARETH EVANS —What can be said about all this is what I have been told by the Minister for Defence and it is as follows: On 21 March the Minister for Defence stated that the Australian Ionising Radiation Advisory Council-AIRAC- advised the Government on the effects of ionising radiation exposure on the population and environment. AIRAC's report No. 9, which was issued in January 1983 and was tabled in the Parliament, reviewed the safety of British nuclear tests in Australia. That report is publicly available together with the Department of Health study on the health of atomic test personnel. Department of Defence documentation was made available to AIRAC and similar access, I am told, could be given to the South Australian Government. I am not sure whether the South Australian Government has asked specifically for such access. No doubt, if it does, the material will be made available.