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Minchin must reveal nature of Lucas Heights fuel.

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Minchin Must Reveal Nature Of Lucas Heights Fuel Nick Bolkus - Shadow Minister for Environment

Media Statement - 20 June 2000

The Senate today adopted a resolution calling on Senator Minchin to produce key documents relating to the nature of fuel in the new reactor at Lucas Heights, which had been kept from public scrutiny by the Minister on the basis of a claim that this information was 'commercial-in-confidence'.

"The decision to conceal the nature of the fuel represents an outrageous attempt by the government to hide the true nature of the preferred tender for the new reactor" said Senator Nick Bolkus, Shadow Minister for the Environment.

"To claim commercial in confidence in these circumstances is beyond the bounds of parliamentary accountability."

For guidance on what can be claimed as 'commercial-in-confidence', one needs only to look at the May 1998 report of the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee on 'contracting out' of government services. The findings on commercial-in-confidence were supported by all parties to the report.

Commercial in confidence normally implies trade secrets, information which would unfairly prejudice the commercial interests of a body and documents of particular commercial sensitivity.

"This is yet another case where the Government is using the excuse of commercial interest to override public interest" said Senator Bolkus. "But there is no commercial interest at stake. The tender has already been awarded"

"Senator Minchin must respond to the Senate's demands and declare what fuel is to be used in the new reactor and what implications this has for waste processing and waste management."

"This is not a state secret - it is vital, essential public information. We are talking about the type of fuel for a research reactor. Just what is the Government trying to hide?"

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.