Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 4 March 1980
Page: 486

Senator KILGARIFF (NORTHERN TERRITORY) - My question is directed to the Minister for National Development and Energy. A recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development survey suggested that there will be a world surplus of uranium until at least 1 990. Bearing in mind the mining development that is taking place in Australia, particularly in the uranium province of the Northern Territory, what is the present situation in regard to Australia's commitments? What countries have contracted with Australia for the purchase of uranium and what other countries, pending negotiations, are likely to be purchasing uranium from Australia this decade and later? If the report is accurate, is an oversupply of uranium expected or will restraints be introduced to ensure planned and controlled development of uranium and its sale to overseas countries? Can the Minister also advise whether the present price of uranium will increase or decrease with the production of uranium in other places?

Senator CARRICK - Press reports that there will be a surplus in world uranium production until 1990 overstate the situation as set out in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report on which these Press reports are based. The OECD figures refer to the maximum achievable production capacity, based on known resources, and are not projections of actual production. The OECD figures were available to the recently concluded International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation. On the basis of its supply and demand comparison, which assumed the exploitation of all known uranium resources including those of the Northern Territory, that body concluded that further sources of production which will have to be supported by new discoveries are likely to be needed prior to the year 2000. The INFCE also concluded that, subject to the necessary additional exploration and investment, the industry is likely to be able to meet requirements up to the year 2000. The Government intends to ensure, to the extent that it is able, that as far as Australia is concerned the necessary investment and exploration are undertaken. It is therefore misleading to suggest that there will be a surplus of actual production or to draw the inference that relatively low cost producer countries like Australia that are recognised as politically stable will be adversely affected. Under contracts approved prior to -

Senator Georges - Mr President,I raise a point of order. The Minister is giving a very lengthy reply which amounts to a statement. Apparently it is generally accepted now that a Minister can be given prior notice of a question, but surely the answer ought not be of the length of this answer, especially as the Minister is now embarking on a further area of information which is not necessarily related to the question.

Senator CARRICK - Mr President,if you look to the length of the answers that I have given today you will see that I have tried very hard indeed to keep within the limit of something like a minute 's duration for each reply. I think I have observed that so far with this question. Mr President, if I am asked a question, it is necessary to give the details, and I so intended to do. I would be happy to provide Senator Kilgariff with the details of the remainder of my answer that Senator Georges, because of his total disinterest in this subject, does not desire.

Senator Georges - Mr President,I find that highly insulting. The purpose of my intervention was to assist Question Time. I certainly have an interest in this subject and for the Minister to say what he did in rebuttal is quite incorrect.

Suggest corrections