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Thursday, 8 June 1989
Page: 3701


Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE(6.13) —I direct the attention of the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce to the Customs Tariff (Uranium Concentrate Export Duty) Amendment Bill 1989. If we can lift ourselves above party politics and launch into the altruism that ought to prevail in these sorts of debates can I ask the Minister: Why is it that Energy Resources of Australia Ltd which owns the Ranger uranium mine is required essentially to carry the full burden of the budget of the Office of the Supervising Scientist to the extent that 75 per cent of its budget is paid for by the industry? I noticed in the second reading speech of the Minister for Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs (Senator Robert Ray) that the cost associated with protecting the environment and also protecting the environment from potential damage ought to be quite properly borne as far as practicable by the industry and not by what the Minister described as ordinary taxpayers.

That is a cute definition that I do not understand. I am sure it means something to somebody. Why is it that the ordinary taxpayers who are shareholders in Energy Resources of Australia Ltd carry the full burden of the $4 billion for the Office of the Supervising Scientist whereas the ordinary taxpayers who are shareholders in the Coronation Hill joint venture project, which now comes within the terms of reference by way of amendment to the legislation because it is located within the conservation zone, do not make a contribution? If my memory serves me correctly in a question asked by Senator Puplick at the Estimates committee Mr Fry, in one of his rare visits to Australia, was able to tell him that 10 per cent-I think he was talking about 10 per cent of his budget; his answer was not clear-is now spent on the conservation zone. Why is it that Ranger should have to pay a proportion of the cost of the activity in that area when the object of the activity for the moment at least is designed to monitor the environment of an area which is being disrupted, modest as it might be, by the Coronation Hill joint venture partners and in no way is associated with the activities of the Ranger uranium mine?