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Monday, 31 March 1980
Page: 1232

Senator CHANEY (Western AustraliaMinister for Aboriginal Affairs) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of the Bill now before the Senate is to introduce, from the date of Royal Assent, an export duty on uranium concentrate produced from uranium ore obtained from the Alligator Rivers Region in the Northern Territory. The rate of export duty to be imposed is to be 1 lc per kilogram of anhydrous triuranium octoxide (U3 Os) contained in the uranium concentrate. This duty is to be imposed in recognition of the special costs of environmental monitoring and research activities related to uranium mining in the Alligator Rivers Region.

The Government has already taken special steps to ensure that uranium mining in this region is carried out in such a way as to minimise the impact on the environment, and in particular that the standards and technology being applied in this region are adequate, and consistent with overseas developments. This is achieved through the provisions of the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978 which created a supervising scientist, a co-ordinating committee and an Alligator Rivers Region Research Institute. Special arrangements have also been made with the Northern Territory Government to ensure that the interests of the Commonwealth in the areas affected by uranium mining are appropriately served. The operations of the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service in the Kakadu National Park also contribute significantly to the protection of the environment in that area.

The Government therefore considers that the mining companies involved in uranium mining should contribute to the cost of machinery the Government has established to protect the environment. The objective of the proposed export duty is to obtain that contribution. On current estimates of exports of uranium concentrate it is expected that revenue from this duty will be about $945,000 in the next three years, and as production and export reaches planned levels the revenues will increase accordingly. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.

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