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Australian Uranium Exports: Nuclear Issues and the Policy Process

  • Russell B. Trood

Abstract

Over the past decade the controversy which has surrounded nuclear power and technology since the end of the second world war has increased in intensity. The changing tempo of the international debate over the issue has been most noticeable in the nuclear consuming countries of western Europe, North America and in Japan where the expansion of commercial nuclear facilities to meet the rising demand has attracted considerable domestic opposition. However, the debate over nuclear power has not just been confined to these countries. It is perhaps one further indication of the growing interdependence of states in the international system that during the 1970s a debate over the safety and utility of nuclear power developed in Australia which was equal in intensity to any of those taking place around the world. Yet in contrast to those other debates Australia’s did not emerge from the process of formulating national defence or energy policies; rather it arose in conjunction with policy decisions regarding resource development and more particularly the exploitation of Australia’s uranium reserves. Put another way, Australia approached the dilemmas posed by the use of nuclear power from the standpoint of being a supplier of nuclear material rather than as a consumer of nuclear energy.

Keywords

Nuclear Export Uranium Mining World Politics Uranium Enrichment Enrichment Facility 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    For details of the first phase of Australian uranium development, see: R. K. Warner, “The Australian Uranium Industry”, Atomic Energy in Australia, 19 (2), (Apr. 1976) pp. 19–31;Google Scholar
  2. William Wright, “Historical Background to Uranium Development in Australia”, paper delivered to the Edlow International Inc. symposium in Washington, D.C., 5 Mar. 1981.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    For instance, see the studies on the influence of bureaucratic politics on the making of foreign policy, for example, Graham T. Allison, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1971 );Google Scholar
  4. Morton H. Halperin and Arnold Kanter (eds), Readings in American Foreign Policy: A Bureaucratic Perspective ( Boston: Little, Brown, 1973 ).Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    Allan Patience and Brian Head (eds), From Whitlam to Fraser: Reform and Reaction in Australian Politics ( Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1979 ).Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    In an effort to de-fuse uranium mining as an issue in the trade union movement, the union’s umbrella organisation, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), adopted a policy of calling for a national referendum on the matter. The government found little merit in the idea and refused to agree to it. See Judith Walker, “The Trade Unions and the Uranium Issue”, Current Affairs Bulletin, July 1978, pp. 18–30;Google Scholar
  7. R. M. Martin, “The ACTU Congress of 1977”, Journal of Industrial Relations, Dec. 1977, pp. 424–34.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Thomas Smith, “Framing a Uranium Policy: Why the Controversy?” Australian Quarterly, vol. 51, no. 4, (Dec. 1979) pp. 32–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 19.
    During its three years in office the ALP government established numerous enquiries to examine different areas of policy. Unlike the Ranger Enquiry they were not generally established pursuant to specific legislation but rather by ministerial fiat. For a discussion of environmental impact legislation in Australia, see: J. Formby, “Environmental Policy Review and Project Appraisal - The Australian Experience,” in T. O’Riordan and D. D. Sewell (eds), Environmental Policy Review and Project Appraisal ( London: John Wiley, 1980 ).Google Scholar
  10. 42.
    Ranger Uranium Environmental Enquiry, Second Report (Canberra: AGPS, 1977), ch. 8 and appendices V and VI. Also see Stuart Harris, “Economics of Uranium Mining in Australia”, Current Affairs Bulletin, Apr. 1978, pp. 18–30.Google Scholar
  11. 47.
    see Martin Indyk, “Australian Uranium and the Non-Proliferation Regime”, Australian Quarterly, vol. 49, no. 4 (Dec. 1977) pp. 4–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 52.
    Press Release, “Conditions for Australian Consent to Reprocessing”, 27 Nov. 1980, Department of Foreign Affairs, Canberra.Google Scholar
  13. 54.
    See News Release, “Nuclear Safeguards Policy, Control Arrangements”, 18 July 1979, Department of Foreign Affairs, Canberra.Google Scholar
  14. 69.
    Media Release, “Uranium Enrichment”, 23 Jan. 1979, Department of Trade and Resources, Canberra. At the end of 1978 it was reported that a Japanese study had recommended the establishment of a uranium enrichment facility in Northern Australia. See CR vol. 4, no. 1, p. 25.Google Scholar
  15. 75.
    Media Release, 1 Feb. 1976, Department of Trade and Resources, Canberra.Google Scholar
  16. 81.
    Also see Media Release, “Australian Uranium Export Office”, 12 Oct. 1978, Department of Trade and Resources, Canberra; Sydney Morning Herald, 2 June 1978.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Robert Boardman and James F. Keeley 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Russell B. Trood

There are no affiliations available

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