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Tuesday, 11 February 1986
Page: 118

(Question No. 678)


Senator Sanders asked the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce, upon notice, on 14 November 1985:

(1) Has Tasmanian Smelters Pty Ltd sought an export licence for the export of silicon.

(2) Is Tasmanian Smelters Pty Ltd a joint venture of Messrs Pechiney (40%) and Pioneer Concrete (60%), both of whom have subsidiaries operating in South Africa.

(3) Is Messrs Pechiney owned by the French Government.

(4) Is it in accord with Government policy to grant export licences to companies or joint ventures which operate subsidiaries in South Africa.

(5) Is the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce satisfied with the environmental record of the multinational corporation Pechiney in its Australian operations in the light of public protest in Newcastle (NSW) where water catchment is threatened by toxic wastes, and Electrona (Tas.) where residential amenity is threatened by industrial intrusion.

(6) Will the Minister be calling for an independent Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed silicon smelter at Electrona Tasmania.


Senator Button —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) It is assumed that the question relates to the issuing of restricted goods permits under the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations. As silicon is not covered by those regulations the need to obtain permission does not arise.

(2) Tasmanian Silicon Smelters Pty Ltd is a joint venture of Pechiney Australia Ltd, a subsidiary of Pechiney Asie Pacifique (40%) and Pioneer Concrete (60%). Pechiney advise that they have no subsidiary or activity whatsoever in South Africa.

(3) Pechiney Asie Pacifique was nationalised by the French Government in 1981.

(4) The Government has implemented certain economic and other measures in respect of South Africa and has introduced a code of conduct for Australian companies with commercial interests in that country. As mentioned in (1) above, silicon does not require an export permit but, in cases where such export permits are required, and the goods are not specifically affected by the measures introduced by the Government, normal procedures are followed and trade is permitted to continue whether or not the exporting company has direct commercial interests in South Africa.

(5) With respect to Commonwealth Government environmental requirements I am advised that Pechiney (Australia) Limited has met its obligations. The two projects which are mentioned are both under active consideration by the respective State Governments environment authorities. In New South Wales, the Minister for Environment and Planning has asked his Department to work with Pechiney to find `a satisfactory alternative site in a less environmentally sensitive location for waste disposal'. The silicon smelter proposal in Tasmania is currently before the Tasmanian Environment Protection Appeal Board for examination of environmental control measures which will be mandatory.

(6) No.