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FIRB changes needed if Woomera exploitation goes ahead

Media Release
Scott Ludlam 4 May 2011

The Australian Greens have urged the Federal Government to take a strong stand on any proposed mining exploration in the Woomera Prohibited Area.

Greens spokesperson for mining Senator Scott Ludlam said the plan to open up the zone would demand changes to the way the Foreign Investment Review Board operates.

"This will require a review of the way we define what is in the national interest. It is long past time the Government strengthened the guidelines the Foreign Investment Review Board uses to asses the national interest."

Senator for South Australia Sarah Hanson-Young said the plan to loosen restrictions on the zone must include the stringent application of strong environmental and cultural guidelines.

"We are not opposed outright to mineral exploration in the Woomera Prohibited Area, we believe it is critical that the State environmental guidelines for exploration should be strictly applied inside the Commonwealth area as well," she said.

Senator Ludlam asked if the Traditional Owners of the site had been consulted on the plan.

"If the Traditional Owners have been left out of the planning process, it's a bad start and one for which the Federal Government must make amends soon. The rights of Traditional Owners must be respected," he said. "Also, this area has an estimated 78% of the country's known uranium reserves - we know that Minister Ferguson is a keen supporter of uranium mining and nuclear power. We are absolutely opposed to mining uranium anywhere in Australia."

Senator Hanson-Young said the reported mineral wealth of the zone was another reminder of the need for mining tax reform.

"Our mineral resources are finite and the wealth generated from exploiting these resources needs to be shared appropriately among the community while the opportunity remains. The mineral wealth potential of the area, estimated by the Resources Minister at up to $35 billion, should be subject to a reconfigured mining tax, similar to that originally proposed by Treasury, to fund investments to benefit Australians for generations."

Media Contacts:
Paris Lord - 0427 604 760
Giovanni Torre - 0417 174 302



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