Church Commission Calls for Uranium Pause

10 July 1977
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The Prime Minister, Mr. Malcolm Fraser, has been asked to postpone any Government decision on the mining and export of Australian Uranium.

A commission of the newly formed Uniting Church in Australia has written to Mr. Fraser after he was reported to have said that the uranium question has been discussed sufficiently.

Spokesman for the Social Responsibility Commission of the Uniting Church, Rev. Dr. Ian Gillman, said in Brisbane today that in spite of discussion on the technological and safety aspects of uranium mining and export, the experts were still divided.

"We plead for the Government to pause further on the decision to mine and export uranium" said Dr. Gillman.

"Following the Fox reports the Australian people are entitled, at the very least, to a full Parliamentary debate and then a Government white paper outlining possible policies on mining and export safeguards, followed by adequate public debate.

For these reasons we support a moratorium on uranium mining and export for at least 2 years."

"We believe there has been insufficient consideration of a fundamental moral question in the debate," Dr. Gillman said.

"We ask the Australian community to consider seriously whether the demands being made by our Western lifestyle are really in the best interests of human welfare".

"In what ways will the development of nuclear power reduce the gap between rich and poor? How does more energy production and consumption give people a sense of dignity? How will it effect our children's children?"

"The community needs to debate whether the consumer style which goes along with nuclear power production really assists the development of a world where there is justice for everyone".

"There is a danger that the decision to mine and export Australian Uranium will be based more on short-term economic interest, rather than consideration of the possible long-term consequences."

"As a small nation Australia can rarely influence events of such consequence to humanity. Australia should not shrink from this opportunity to bring moral pressure on the community of nations with respect to energy use and production."

"In particular, priority should be given to research into alternative forms of energy and to a conscious energy conservation programme by Australians in the immediate future."

"Until we are confident that we need nuclear power, that it can be handled safely, and that there are no reasonable alternatives it would be irresponsible to make profit from the sale of uranium."

Dr. Gillman said that significant bodies within the churches forming the Uniting Church had expressed similar views to those now being made by the Social Responsibility Commission of the Uniting Church.

Dr. Gillman also said that the Uniting Church Commission was approaching other committees within the Uniting Church involved in social responsibility, asking them to consider the mining and export of uranium, and express their views to the Australian Government.