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Tuesday, 22 May 1973
Page: 2468

Mr Garland asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

(1)   Did the Government send a 3 man team of Australian scientists to inspect, on behalf of the Government, the French atomic weapons testing site at Mururoa Atoll this year.

(2)   If so, were the men concerned the Director of the Commonwealth Radiation Laboratory, Mr D. J. Stevens, the Director of Meteorology, Dr W. J. Gibbs, and the Reader in Physics at Sydney University, Dr H. D. Ratbgeber; if not, who were they.

(3)   What were the terms of reference or instructions given jointly or severally to the members of the team.

(4)   On what dates were they engaged on their task.

(5)   Who was the leader of the team.

(6)   Are the members to report to him or another Minister.

(7)   Are the members to report separately or will there be a joint report.

(8)   Has the report been received; if so, when.

(9)   What was the content of the report

(10)   Will he have the report tabled in the House; if not, why not.

(11)   Was the appointment of the team announced by him or any Minister in the House, at a press conference, or in any other way; if not, why not.

Mr Whitlam - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Yes.

(2)   Yes.

(3)   The terms of reference can be summarised as follows:

(a)   by discussions with French authorities and with the indigenous population of the area and by inspections of installations and facilities, to assess and evaluate the precautions taken by France with respect to radiological and biological safety in the testing by France of nuclear devices in French Polynesia;

(b)   to ascertain indications of the possible future program of testing by France of nuclear devices in French Polynesia;

(c)   to prepare at the earliest date a report for the

Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, to be classified 'SECRET' and to submit the report through the Secretary, Department for Foreign Affairs.

(4)   25 February- 2 March 1973.

(5)   No leader was specified.

(6)   The members were to report to the Prime Minister.

(7)   Jointly.

(8)   Yes. 8 March 1973.

(9)   See answer to (10).

(10)   I have not yet decided whether to table the report.

(11)   Yes. See my anaswer to a question without notice from Dr Klugman in House of Representatives Hansard of 13 March 1973.

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