TRANSCRIPT: INTERVIEW WITH WENDY KINGSTON, NATIONAL NINE MORNING NEWS
TRANSCRIPTION: PROOF COPY E & OE
DATE: 15 NOVEMBER 2011
TOPICS: Uranium Exports; Marriage Equality; President Obama.
WENDY KINGSTON: Let's go live to Cabinet Minister, Stephen Smith. Mr Smith, thank you very much for your time this morning.
STEPHEN SMITH: Pleasure.
WENDY KINGSTON: Now at this stage there really is no real way of guaranteeing that India won't use uranium to make nuclear weapons. So the big question that everyone wants answered is, why risk it?
STEPHEN SMITH: Well that's not right. India has a very good track record of not proliferating its uranium or its nuclear materials. It gave an undertaking in 2008-2009 that it wouldn't continue with any nuclear testing, that it would keep its civilian and military use of uranium separate, and it agreed to the International Atomic Energy Agency Oversight, so far as the tracking of uranium delivered to it for civil purposes was concerned.
The world has changed here in the sense that in 2008-2009, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the two effective international nuclear regulators agreed to the United States - India Nuclear Civil Arrangement, which effectively put in place arrangements comparable to those arrangements under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
India is the world's largest democracy, and there's no reason why it shouldn't be accorded the status of having uranium exported to it by Australia under our strict bilateral arrangement safeguards that we require. And that's what the Prime Minister is proposing.
WENDY KINGSTON: So how do you govern those safeguards though?
STEPHEN SMITH: Well what the Prime Minister is saying is that India, because of the changed arrangements that it has entered into after the approval by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group, of its arrangement with the United States which other countries are now entering into similar arrangements - and Canada is a classic example - that subject to India entering into with Australia of a standard Australian bilateral safeguard arrangement for the use of uranium, there's no reason why we should export uranium to India.
India is a rising power. It's the world's largest democracy and there's absolutely no evidence of proliferation having occurred from India's civil nuclear industry.
WENDY KINGSTON: If we could just move on to another issue - the PM also wants this ALP conference to support a conscience vote on gay marriage. Now the Greens are angry. They're saying it's her tactic to block the vote itself. What do you say to that?
STEPHEN SMITH: Well I think the Prime Minister is right. This is an issue where there are different views, very strongly held, very emotionally held, and I think the starting point for the ALP, and a view I support is that this should be a matter where it's open to any member of the Australian Labor Party, whether a Member of Parliament or otherwise, to form his or her own view about it.
Currently, the party policy and the Government's policy is only to allow the Marriage Act to reflect the union between a man and a woman. I think the community has moved beyond that. And so it's entirely appropriate that the National Conference and the Australian Labor Party platform make its starting point, this should be a matter of conscience, a matter of deep and personally held view by individuals, and I certainly think that on this front again the Prime Minister is right.
WENDY KINGSTON: Okay now just finally, just quickly, of course, you are the Defence Minister. What is Barack Obama's military announcement for Darwin - can you give us a Nine exclusive at all?
STEPHEN SMITH: Well I've been around long enough and seen enough visits by United States Presidents to know that the only time you know precisely what they're going to say is when the plane lands and you see the Prime Minister and the President jointly making various announcements. So we'll need to wait patiently for another few days, but I've made it clear that we're looking at enhancing the training arrangements that we have with the United States, access to our facilities, and the like.
We are not talking about United States bases; we don't have US bases in Australia.
We have joint facilities, but we also have extensive training and exercises. That's a good thing. And the fact that the United States is contemplating enhancing those is a very good thing for Australia and a very good thing for our region.
WENDY KINGSTON: All right. Defence Minister Stephen Smith thanks very much for your time this morning.
STEPHEN SMITH: Thanks. Thanks Wendy, thanks very much.