First Published in 1999

24 March 1999: Greens Senator Bob Brown said in the Senate today that it was difficult to believe that newly-appointed Federal Minister for Forestry and Conservation, Mr Wilson Tuckey, had - for five months - not informed Prime Minister John Howard that he had talks with Pangea Resources, the company wanting to create a nuclear waste dump Australia, with Tuckey's home state of Western Australia, a likely site.

Following a correction to the Senate record by the Australian Government's Minister for Industry science and Resources, Senator Nick Minchin, Senator Brown asked how it was possible that Mr Tuckey had been to several meetings with the Prime Minister and not raised the matter with Mr Howard.

On December 1, 1998 Senator Minchin told the Senate that there had been no ministerial level meetings with the U.S. based company. He was forced to correct that answer when it emerged on March 23 1999, that Mr Tuckey had met company official Mr James Voss on November 5, 1998.

"I cannot believe that this matter was not reported to the Prime Minister," Senator Brown told the Senate.

"If Mr Tuckey did not report to the Prime Minister he has been derelict in his duty. It is a matter which the Prime Minister has to decide on," Senator Brown said.

Senator Brown further said that Pangea wanted to make Australia a "global nuclear waste dump" and if Mr Tuckey did not report his meeting with the company, Senator Brown said it called "for instant dismissal if that is the case".

"I believe that he [MrTuckey] has reported to the Prime Minister," Senator Brown said, further adding that he believed there had been consequent contacts between Pangea and the government.

Pangea Resources has proposed that Australia is a suitable location for an underground deep repository for nuclear waste. Although Australia exports uranium, the use of radioactive materials is generally regarded as low level for scientific purposes at the Lucas Heights reactor site and for medical scientific purposes.

Senator Minchin in his statement to the Senate correcting his December 1, 1998 answer, said theGovernment opposed the dumping of nuclear waste in Australia.

"We will not take any other country's nuclear waste," Senator Minchin told the Senate.

Senator Minchin restated the government's policy as set out in a letter to Pangea of March 5, 1998: "Regardless of Pangea's views as to the suitability of Australia to host an international nuclear waste repository, the Government has no intention of considering Pangea's proposals for such a project."

He said that his statement of December 1, 1998 that "there have been no ministerial level discussions with that company," should be corrected and that the recently-appointed Forestry and Conservation minister, Mr Tuckey, had met Mr James Voss of Pangea in his Perth electoral office on November 5, 1998.

Senator Minchin said that any repository for domestic low level radioactive waste would "almost inevitably be a government run repository."

Mr Tuckey told the House of Representatives March 24 that he had only become aware of the error of Senator Minchin's December 1, 1998 statement on March 23, 1999 and had sought to correct the record immediately.

As for the questions raised by Senator Bob Brown on Mr Tuckey's reporting of the meeting with Mr Voss to the Prime Minister, Mr Tuckey told the House of Representatives that he (Tuckey) "did not support the proposition that he [Voss] put to me."

"It was not my responsibility as a minister. I therefore considered the matter closed," Mr Tuckey said.

A spokesman for Mr Howard was unable to comment on whether Mr Tuckey had raised the meeting with the Prime Minister.