Thursday, 22 March 2012
That the Senate—
(i) that a crackdown by over 6 000 police on non-violent anti-nuclear power protestors, including arrests for sedition and the prohibition on people congregating, occurred at the construction site of a nuclear reactor near the fishing village of Koodankulam in south India on 19 March and 20 March 2012,
(ii) that 20 000 people gathered on 20 March 2012 with thousands on an indefinite hunger strike until the non-violent protestors are released,
(iii) a growing mass movement in India opposed to nuclear power includes protests in Jaitapur, Maharashtra and Gorakhpur, Haryana,
(iv) the sale of uranium to India while that country refuses to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) would be illegal under the Treaty of Rarotonga, signed by the Australian Government in 1985,
(v) the 1998 United National Security Council resolution 1172 'encourages all States to prevent the export of equipment, materials or technology that could in any way assist programmes in India or Pakistan for nuclear weapons or for ballistic missiles capable of delivering such weapons, and welcomes national policies adopted and declared in this respect', and
(b) calls on the Government to utilise all diplomatic channels to:
(i) protest the Indian Government's unprecedented deployment of police around Koodankulam and the harassment of peaceful protestors as inconsistent with the democratic right to peaceful protest,
(ii) caution the Indian Government against loading uranium fuel rods into the reactor at Koodankulam without conducting any safety or evacuation drills, mandatory exercises under the Indian Atomic Energy Regulatory Board rules,
(iii) promote the independence of nuclear regulators from industry and government as best international practice, and
(iv) not sell uranium to countries that stand outside the NPT and its associated safeguards system.
Mr President, I seek leave to make a short statement.
I have brought this matter to the Senate because I suspect that the chamber is unaware that in India more than 20,000 people are demonstrating at a small fishing village, Koodankulam, in Tamil Nadu, and that their democratic right to peaceful protest has been severely curtailed by some 6,000 police. There have been hundreds of arrests and thousands of people are conducting an ongoing hunger strike. We may soon have direct responsibility and linkage to this. This is a nuclear power project being built by the Russian nuclear industry against the strong wishes of the local community. It is exactly what would happen if somebody tried to build a nuclear power station near anybody in Australia. There is a huge movement against it.
If we sell uranium to India we will shoulder the same kind of responsibility that we have from the wreckage of the Fukushima plants in Japan. I want to acknowledge, before this is put to the vote, the strength of the Indian antinuclear movement and to let them know that we are with them no matter the outcome of this vote. Our thoughts are with them this afternoon.