Output 1.8 – Advice to Government

Provision of high-quality, timely, relevant and professional advice to Government.

Performance Measures

  • Provide policy advice, analysis and briefings that meet the needs of Ministers and other key stakeholders.
  • Contribute to the development of Australia's policies by DFAT in the area of WMD arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.
  • Cooperate on technical issues of common interest with departments and agencies such as ANSTO, ARPANSA, Department of Defence, Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, and the Australian Intelligence Community.

Performance Assessment

ASNO's role in providing independent expert advice

ASNO continues to provide independent expert advice on various non-proliferation policy and regulatory issues. In this regard, ASNO's remit is supported by section 43(d) of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation (Safeguards) Act 1987, which states that one of the functions of the Director General is ‘to undertake, co-ordinate and facilitate research and development in relation to nuclear safeguards'.

ASNO continued its work on providing advice to the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources' National Radioactive Waste Management Facility detailed business case; licensing process; design of a waste information management system; and, safeguards by design support to the work of ANSTO on the detailed engineering design for the facility.27

On 12 March 2020, Dr John Kalish, Assistant Secretary ASNO, appeared before the Victorian Government's Environment and Planning Committee to provide input to the Inquiry into Nuclear Prohibition.28 The objective of the inquiry is to consider the potential benefits to Victoria in removing prohibitions enacted by the Nuclear Activities (Prohibitions) Act 1983. Presentation of the final report was scheduled for 14 August 2020, but has been extended to 20 November 2020 due to disruption resulting from COVID–19.

The Australian Government's House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy completed an Inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia in December 2019. ASNO provided a written submission29 to the inquiry focussed on nuclear security and safeguards and their application to nuclear power plants. Dr John Kalish, Assistant Secretary ASNO appeared before the Committee on 18 October 2019 to answer questions on ASNO's current role and the likely implications of a nuclear power industry, in particular the deployment of Small Modular Reactors (SMR), on nuclear regulation in Australia.

Over the reporting period ASNO continued working closely with ARPANSA on best practices for the security of nuclear material, including:

  • Spent fuel management
  • Periodic Safety and Security Review of ANSTO's OPAL Research Reactor

ASNO has also provided advice to the Australian Government in relation to the DPRK's discussions with the United States on denuclearisation, including on how Australia might support international efforts to verify any new commitments by the DPRK.

Booster and degas station with wellfields in the distance, at the Beverley uranium mine (Credit: Heathgate Resources).

Booster and degas station with wellfields in the distance, at the Beverley uranium mine (Credit: Heathgate Resources).

27 ASNO is working with ANSTO to ensure the engineering designs for the facility can meet requirements to facilitate ongoing IAEA verification while seeking to minimise costs associated with verification.

28 Inquiry into Nuclear Prohibition, Parliament of Victoria.

29 Inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia, Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office, Submission No. 153.