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Motion on uranium sales to non-NPT states

Senator LUDLAM (Western Australia) (15:01): I move:

That the Senate-

(a) congratulates the Government for maintaining Australia's longstanding policy of predicating bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements on the condition of membership to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons; and

(b) calls on the Government to identify the countries to which it will not permit the sale of uranium.

Senator LUDWIG (Queensland-Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Manager of Government Business in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Attorney-General on Queensland Floods Recovery) (15:01): I seek leave to make a very short statement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for a short statement. Two minutes is granted.

Senator LUDWIG: The government does not support this motion. The government's policy is not to export uranium to countries that are not party to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. The government cannot identify countries to which it will not permit the sale of uranium solely on this basis because Australia's uranium export policy is based on a range of criteria which are applied on a case-by-case basis.

Senator LUDLAM (Western Australia) (15:01): I seek leave to make a short statement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for two minutes.

Senator LUDLAM: I would have sought leave for a longer statement but I will keep it brief, as Senator Ludwig has. It is a bit unusual that I would put a motion congratulating the government on its uranium policy but I have done so this afternoon. It is hugely ironic that government senators will in due course be voting against it but that is up to them. The following is so that those of you who have not read the motion, the one that you are about to vote down, are aware. I have proposed:

That the Senate-
(a) congratulates the Government for maintaining Australia's longstanding policy of predicating bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements on the condition of membership to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons ...
It is not a perfect treaty for disarmament and nonproliferation but it is all that the global community has and the Gillard government-and the Rudd government before it-to its credit has held to 30 or 40 years of international precedent and chosen, on that basis, not to sell uranium to India as one of the very few countries-there are three that I am aware of-that have stayed out of the nonproliferation treaty framework and never joined it. It is part (b) that has got the government a bit upset. It says:
(b) calls on the Government to identify the countries to which it will not permit the sale of uranium.

Will the government actually tell us? Would it sell it to Iran? They are a member of the nonproliferation treaty group. Would it sell it to North Korea? They were a longstanding member of the nonproliferation treaty group before they unilaterally withdrew. Are there any other countries to which the government will not sell uranium? That is a very simple proposition. We are just calling on the government to table a list. I am perplexed as to why the opposition would not support part (b). I think it is extremely curious that the opposition is not even interested in what the government's actual policy on this issue is. However, it looks like the Greens will be lining up by ourselves on this side of the chamber to congratulate the government on maintaining its stand on not selling bomb fuel to countries that remain outside the only treaty framework that we have.

 

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