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Thursday, 21 September 1972
Page: 1747


Mr MacKELLAR (WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I preface it by referring to the disquiet in Australia shown over recent French nuclear tests. I ask the Minister: Was the subject of French nuclear testing discussed at the recent South Pacific

Forum which he attended? If it was discussed, what was the result of this discussion and will the Minister be stating Australia's position with respect to atmospheric nuclear testing when he addresses the United Nations?


Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The South Pacific Forum consisting of the 5 South Pacific island leaders and representatives from Australia and New Zealand naturally was particularly concerned. I have already referred to the fact that there was a discussion on the French nuclear tests at a recent meeting of the South Pacific Forum. Perhaps for the information of honourable members I could add - and I think it is worth mentioning this to put the matter into perspective - that in having this discussion the Forum had before it the results formulated by New Zealand scientists of the fallout in relation to the last test. Here I want to draw a distinction between the actual position and the potential position in regard to fallout. This distinction is not always drawn. Fears are created because of discussion of potentialities which ought not to flow from a discussion of actualities.

The scientific advice to the Forum on the recent tests was based on 3 conparisons. Firstly it was said that the level of fallout was equivalent to that given off when a man wore an illuminated wristlet watch. Secondly the level was equivalent to a person spending a day in a brick or stone house. Thirdly it was equivalent to someone spending 30 hours over a period of a year in a jet aircraft. These examples represent the equivalent effect that a human being would be subjected to as a result of the recent fallout according to New Zealand scientists in the Pacific.

This advice did not lead the Forum to say that in any way we would moderate the great strength of our opposition to these tests being conducted in the Pacific. The basis on which this protest is persisted in is that we are opposed to the increase of nuclear weapons of war wherever they are; we are opposed to the cumulative effect of fallout as pollution in the atmosphere of the Earth; and we are opposed to the cumulative effect which may ultimately become a hazard to health. For these reasons we intend to persist in our protest. This was the common view of all at the Forum. The Forum supported, as I said in my previous answer, the initiative which Australia and New Zealand proposed to take at the United Nations on this matter. A meeting of interested Pacific nations is listed for next Tuesday when I will be in New York.







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