Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Maralinga nuclear toxicity continues

Mr Kerin and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Robert Tickner, told the cabinet that the Commonwealth would plead the Statute of Limitations if any Aboriginal initiated a common law Lester, Yamiaction against Canberra.

Further, the ministers stipulated that if Yami Lester, a Yankunytjatjara man blinded by a “black mist from the south in the 1950s”, rejected the offer and proceeded with his common law action the Commonwealth should also plead the Statute of Limitations.

Hawke,-Bob-relevantIn a coda, Bob Hawke [at left] told journalists attending a National Archives briefing on the cabinet papers last month that Australia should take the world’s nuclear waste as a way to raise new revenue as an alternative to raising the GST or reducing expenditure.

Cabinet papers: Fallout continues from British atomic tests http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/cabinet-papers-fallout-continues-from-british-atomic-tests-20151217-glqlmg.html January 1, 2016  Damien Murphy  The cabinet papers reveal how ignorant various Australian governments had remained about contamination at the British atomic test sites in Maralinga in South Australia.

They also erroneously believed that British clean-up operations were effective in removing plutonium contamination.  Continue reading

January 1, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, politics, politics international | 1 Comment

Sorry history of the inadequate clean-up of radioactive Maralinga nuclear bomb test site

Maralinga sign“By ploughing soil at Taranaki without first removing contaminated fragments the British failed to achieve a significant reduction in radiological hazard and made the situation more difficult to remedy,”

Under a 1956 agreement, the UK accepted responsibility for cleaning up the site.  In a subsequent agreement in 1968, Australia released the UK from that responsibility. 

Clean-up work finally started in 1996 and continued to 2000, with the worst-affected area now deemed safe to visit but not for permanent occupancy, including by traditional owners the Maralinga-Tjarutja people who officially got their land back only in 2009.

text-relevanttext-historyAust demands UK pay up for nuclear mess http://www.9news.com.au/national/2016/01/01/00/09/aust-demands-uk-pay-up-for-nuclear-mess  In 1990, [Prime Minister] Bob Hawke faced one of his more challenging missions, demanding British PM Margaret Thatcher pay to clean up the God-awful mess left behind when her predecessors let off A-bombs in the outback. Continue reading

December 31, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, reference | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear history – theme for January 2016

Australia has a secret and scandalous nuclear history. But at the same time, Australia has a fine history of successes by the nuclear free movement. Aboriginals have been at the forefront, but not alone, as Australia also has a proud record of environmental and anti nuclear activism.

Australia history

From the archives. Each week, this site will be reposting items from the past. Lest we forget:

U.S. military bases made Australia a nuclear target

Australia feared nuclear attack over US ties: archives ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) Emma Rodgers 1 Jan 2011, Malcolm Fraser’s cabinet was warned in 1980 that boosting its military ties with the US could put Australia at risk of a nuclear attack and expose it to involvement it in American operations contrary to its national interest, secret cabinet documents show. Continue reading

December 25, 2015 Posted by | Christina themes, history | Leave a comment

The Kakadu Charter led to stopping of uranium mining

kakaduThe 15th anniversary of the Kakadu Charter is a good time for Aboriginal and environmental advocates to re-confirm our shared concern, action and effectiveness for the long awaited total rehabilitation and completion of Kakadu National Park.

The Kakadu Charter Which Helped Stop A Uranium Mine Marks 15 Years Of Shared Values https://newmatilda.com/2015/11/16/the-kakadu-charter-which-helped-stop-a-uranium-mine-marks-15-years-of-shared-values/  Tomorrow marks a significant anniversary in a landmark battle to protect a people, and a place. Justin O’Brien and Dave Sweeney explain.
Continue reading

November 18, 2015 Posted by | history, Northern Territory, Opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Camp Concern: protestors recall and reactivate anti nuclear campaign in Kakadu

“The mining company that has benefited and profited from the use of this area and the mining lease now needs to move towards a comprehensive clean-up.

“We’re still not completely aware of contamination problems that need to be rehabilitated.

“What’s promising is the protest from Aboriginal communities against the mining is as strong as ever. There’s a lesson [from Camp Concern] in partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous activists sharing information together.”

kakaduCamp Concern: Activists reunite for anti-uranium mining protest 40 years later inside Kakadu 105.7 ABC Darwin  By Emilia Terzon and Lisa Pellegrino , 27 Oct 15 As uranium mining near Kakadu faces an uncertain future, activists calling themselves Camp Concern have reunited inside the Northern Territory park to mark 40 years on from the launch of an anti-mining protest. Continue reading

October 28, 2015 Posted by | history, Northern Territory, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear weapons plan, and the connection with NSW nuclear reactor

On Nov. 2, 1956, Australia’s Defense Committee formally recommended the acquisition of kiloton-range tactical nuclear weapons.

In 1969, the government announced plans to construct a 500-megawatt nuclear reactor at Jervis Bay in New South Wales.

The intention was clear — this reactor was to support a nuclear weapons program. The reactor project pushed ahead and preliminary site work commenced.

Atomic-Bomb-SmRevealed: Australia’s Failed Bid for Nuclear WeaponsChris Walsh, The National Interest 16 Sept 15, At 9:00 in the morning on Oct. 3, 1952, a 25-kiloton nuclear explosion vaporized the retired British frigate HMS Plym off Australia’s remote western coast. The Operation Hurricane detonation in the Monte Bello Islands was a seminal moment for Britain and marked its return to the club of great powers.

But for Australia, these tests and others served a murkier purpose – as important and deliberate steps toward Australia’s own acquisition of nuclear weapons. It was in the tense Cold War environment of the late 1950s and early 1960s that these aspirations moved beyond talk and into concrete action.

By the time the Hurricane detonation took place, Australia was already experienced in weapons of mass destruction. From 1943 and in the shadow of a possible Japanese invasion, Australia built extensive stocks of chemical weapons and delivery systems…….

Australia — with its vast coastlines and deserts — emerged as a key player in Britain’s nuclear strategy.

When Britain approached Australia to host nuclear tests, a sympathetic government led by Prime Minister Robert Menzies readily agreed. While Menzies — an Anglophile — focused on his relationship with the United Kingdom, others saw this as an opportunity for Australia to buy membership into the nuclear club. Continue reading

October 7, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s history of trying to get nuclear weapons

text-historyIn 1969, the government announced plans to construct a 500-megawatt nuclear reactor at Jervis Bay in New South Wales. The intention was clear — this reactor was to support a nuclear weapons program.

in 1972, the conservative Gorton government was swept from power and replaced. Gough Whitlam, a longtime advocate of arms control, wasted no time ratifying the NPT and abandoning the Jervis Bay reactor. In a heartbeat, the 40-year quest for Australian nuclear capability was over.

Atomic-Bomb-SmAustralia’s Failed Bid for the Bomb, War Is Boring, Chris Walsh, 15 Sept 15  Canberra was captivated by atomic weapons in the 1950s — then ruined its chances of ever getting them

At 9:00 in the morning on Oct. 3, 1952, a 25-kiloton nuclear explosion vaporized the retired British frigate HMS Plym off Australia’s remote western coast. The Operation Hurricane detonation in the Monte Bello Islands was a seminal moment for Britain and marked its return to the club of great powers.

But for Australia, these tests and others served a murkier purpose – as important and deliberate steps toward Australia’s own acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Continue reading

September 16, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Troubled history of Australia’s Ranger uranium mine – ABC Radio

‘So to Mirarr, I guess what they see is very, very large disturbance, they see mountains of waste rock and low-grade ore, and sometimes that does affect their views of important sites like Djidbidjidbi or just the landscape.

‘It will never look the same again and the site will have to be monitored for decades to come after it is finished being rehabilitated so that we can make sure that it is actually in a stable chemical condition, the biodiversity is doing okay and the ecosystem is functional and so on.’

Ranger 3

According to ERA figures, rehabilitation is expected to cost close to $500 million.

The long and controversial history of uranium mining in Australia, ABC Radio, Rear Vision, 14 July 2015 Keri Phillips Last month’s announcement that Energy Resources Australia will pull the plug on the Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory signals the end of one of the most controversial chapters in Australian mining history. Keri Phillips traces the history of uranium mining in Australia and Ranger’s role in it……. Continue reading

July 15, 2015 Posted by | environment, history, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

1919 – ANZAC Sermon – To Right the Wrongs

Library of Victoria
1919 –  ANZAC Sermon – To Right the Wrongs …
H.M.T. Orsova, nearing Suez, 28th April 1919
Vida Goldstein:

‘The Anzac sermon was preached by an army chaplain;

it was a glorification of the Australians, with some humorous sidelights.

It had none of the dignity and impressiveness that one would have thought the occasion demanded,

and offered no comfort to those present who had lost relatives at Gallipoli and on other battlefields.

He denied absolutely the oft-repeated statement that the Australian soldiers were undisciplined.

They were splendidly disciplined, he said, but their disciplined conduct had no trace of servility.

He spoke feelingly of the social conditions that had killed soldiers before they entered the trenches.

The evidence in the trenches of the terrible results of those social conditions

had roused many men to the sense of their duty to their fellows,

and made them resolve that when they returned to civil life they would

do all in their power to right the wrongs under which their comrades had lived.’

Woman Voter 7 August 1919 State Library of Victoria

First World War Women working for peace 1914-1919
womensweb.com.au

“History is not dead and gone, it lives on in us in the way it shapes our thought, especially our thought about what is possible.”
Daphne Marlatt 2001

April 24, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history | Leave a comment

South Australia’s proud history of the win against nuclear waste, a win led by Aboriginal women

South Australia’s broad-brush nuclear review is meant to sideline opponents, The Conversation, Peter Burdon Senior lecturer at University of Adelaide  27 February 2015
“……..Lessons from history In February 1998, the Howard federal government announced plans to build a national radioactive waste facility in South Australia. Billa Kalina, a 67,000 sq km region in the arid north, was eventually selected as the preferred site. The plan was defeated after a six-year federal campaign.

One media narrative, as espoused in the AFR, is that this defeat was the result of a revolt by SA politicians. But this version of the story ignores the powerful campaign led by the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, the senior aboriginal women’s council of Coober Pedy.

This story has been recorded by movement researchers Nina Brown and Sam Sowerwine and in a book, Talking Straight Out: Stories from the Irati Wanti Campaign.

Many members of the Kunga-Tjuta were survivors of the British government’s atomic testing in the 1950s and 60s, and so understood the devastating history of the nuclear industry. Upon hearing about the waste dump proposal, the group issued this statement:

handsoffWe are the Aboriginal Women. Yankunytjatjara, Antikarinya and Kokatha. We know the country. The poison the Government is talking about will poison the land. We say, “No radioactive dump in our ngura – in our country. It’s strictly poison, we don’t want it.

The traditional residents of this supposedly “benign and sparsely populated geology” fought hard to protect their country using the tools they had available. They explained, demanded, marched and sang. They worked with green activists and wrote passionate letters. They urged politicians to “get your ears out of your pockets”. They won.

As South Australia faces another push from the nuclear industry, we would do well to remind ourselves of these stories. To paraphrase the late historian Howard Zinn, we need to emphasise what is possible by remembering those moments in our recent history when people demonstrated their capacity to resist, come together, and occasionally, to win.http://theconversation.com/south-australias-broad-brush-nuclear-review-is-meant-to-sideline-opponents-38110

February 28, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, history, Opposition to nuclear, South Australia | Leave a comment

Australian governments’ political risks in promoting the really quite marginal uranium industry

Given that Australia’s uranium mining and export accounts for less than 1 percent of its hundred billion dollar mineral export business (iron ore, bauxite, coal, copper, nickel etc),36 however, these decisions by Australian leaders risked significant political capital over what has been a highly contentious issue in Australia’s recent political history

Undermining Nuclear Non-Proliferation: Energy and Security Politics in the Australia-India-Japan-U.S. Nuclear Nexus 核不拡散の土台崩し オーストラリア·インド·日本·米国間におけるエネルギーと安全保障政策 The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 46, No. 2, November 1, 2014 Adam Broinowski   “……Until 2014, along with China, Japan has also seen a boom in mostly solar and wind electricity generation. But this has been stalled by utilities who have refused to take an influx of renewable power into the grid or to reduce electricity prices.10 With fewer nuclear plants scheduled for construction around the world than for shutdown, however, the nuclear industry faces the likely prospect of contraction11 and replacement by rapidly advancing renewable energy options, including solar, wind, tidal, hydro and possibly geothermal power over the longer term.

Despite this gloomy prognosis for the uranium sector, confidence began to return to the uranium mining industry in Australia from late 2012. Continue reading

February 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, politics, reference, uranium | Leave a comment

Remembering the Howard government and businessmen’s push for nuclear power

Howard-coffinCall to’unveil nuclear plans’ http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2007/02/27/call-tounveil-nuclear-plans  Labor is demanding the federal government reveal what it knows about plans by three leading businessmen for Australia’s first nuclear reactor. Source:  AAP 27 FEB 2007 –  UPDATED 22 AUG 2013

 News Limited newspapers reported the wealthy businessmen are examining the viability of setting up a power plant in either Victoria or South Australia to generate electricity.

Former federal Liberal Party treasurer Ron Walker, Hugh Morgan and Robert Champion de Crespigny are the key shareholders in Australian Nuclear Energy Pty Ltd, a private company reportedly behind the plan. Continue reading

February 4, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, politics | Leave a comment

Maralinga nuclear compensation cases blocked by Bob Hawke when PM

Hawke government schemed to stymie Maralinga nuclear test compensation, cabinet documents reveal  http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/hawke-government-schemed-to-stymie-maralinga-nuclear-test-compensation-cabinet-documents-reveal/story-fni6uo1m-1227171284110  PETER JEAN POLITICAL REPORTER THE ADVERTISER JAN 1, 2015  THE statute of limitations was invoked by the Hawke Government to prevent hundreds of compensation actions being pursued in court by veterans of British nuclear tests in Australia.

Government documents from 1988 and 1989 released by the National Archives of Australia reveal that cabinet decided to try and invoke time-limit rules to fight court compensation actions launched after 1988. Continue reading

January 2, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, history, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Cabinet papers 1988-89; Bob Hawke and the Aboriginal Treaty that never came

Cabinet papers 1988-89 SMH: Aboriginal Treaty SMH Damien Murphy 1 Jan 15 “……...The treaty that never came Bob Hawke attended the Barunga festival in the Northern Territory in June 1988 and promised an historic treaty with the Aboriginal people.

text-historyThe Hawke government had been promising to improve representation of Aboriginal interests and issues, but by 1985 attempts to frame a “national model” for land rights had stalled in compromise, amid farmer and miner opposition and distrust from Aboriginal groups. So Hawke’s treaty had more than a touch of the sun about it. Continue reading

January 2, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history | Leave a comment

Australian governments’ sorry history of deception over India uranium deal, revealed by Wikileaks

India-uranium1Australia will now contribute to spreading nuclear weaponry as India will be able to use Australian-supplied uranium for civilian purposes and reserve its indigenous supplies for its nuclear weapons program.

Moreover, India has a poor nuclear safety record.

secret-dealsWikiLeaks exposes gov’t lies, shifts on India uranium deal, Green Left  December 8, 2014 By Linda Pearson Prime Minister Tony Abbott signed an agreement in September to allow sales of Australian uranium to India for the first time. Uranium sales were initially approved by then-Coalition PM John Howard in August 2007 but Howard’s successor, Kevin Rudd, reinstated the ban.

Rudd’s action was in accordance with long-standing Labor Party policy that uranium should only be sold to countries that have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). A 2008 Lowy Institute poll found that 88% of Australians supported this policy.

By the end of 2011, however, Labor had switched to the Liberal Party’s position at the behest of Rudd’s successor, Julia Gillard.

As US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks show, both parties were ultimately willing to change Australia’s long-standing nuclear policy to aid the Australian uranium industry and match strategic US objectives…………..

The US Embassy in Canberra regarded Rudd as a strong supporter of the US alliance. But there was concern over whether Labor’s nuclear policy would stop Australia supporting the US position at the NSG.

The cables show that pressure on the Rudd government to back the exemption came from the Australian High Commission in India as well as the US. They reveal how Labor’s official position on nuclear matters differed from the private views of individual members of the government.

This made the government’s support for the exemption and the party’s eventual approval of uranium sales in 2011 all but inevitable……………..

Secret support

The Rudd government’s public position before the NSG meeting in August 2008 was that it would consider the arguments on both sides and then decide whether to support the exemption. On July 24, 2008, Smith stuck to the official line during a joint interview with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, saying “we haven’t made a decision”.

However, the cables suggest the government had already decided to support the exemption……………

After several days of deliberation and more intense US lobbying, the NSG approved the exemption on September 6, 2008. A cable reported that Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, Marius Grinius, said “most NSG members ‘gave up’ and ‘joined the bandwagon’ rather than fully supporting a nuclear agreement with India”.http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/05/09USUNNEWYORK497.htmlhttp://wikileaks…

The NSG decision opened the door to uranium sales to India. But while the Rudd government supported this exemption, its public position remained that Australia would not sell uranium to India unless it joined the NPT. On a visit to India shortly after the NSG decision, Smith said this policy “remains unaffected by the NSG decision”.

However, US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks suggest Labor leaders were already preparing to change its policy………………

[2009] According to another cable from Canberra, federal resources minister Martin Ferguson confirmed to US Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich that the ALP’s policy could change.

Bleich wrote in November 2009 that in Ferguson’s view, “the recent expansion in uranium development in Australia reflected a shift in willingness to consider nuclear energy”.

Additionally, according to the cable, Ferguson had said that the Australian government might have to revisit the issue of nuclear energy if other technologies “failed to develop commercially quickly enough” for Australia to meet its “clean” energy goals.

Moreover, Ferguson had told Bleich that he had “personally supported the US-India nuclear agreement” and believed that “a deal to supply India with nuclear fuel could be reached in 3-5 years”.

These comments contradicted his party’s official position at the time, but Ferguson’s support for the uranium industry was no secret. He led efforts to overturn Labor’s three-mines policy at the party’s 2007 conference.

After his comments on India in this cable were divulged by Fairfax in February 2011, Ferguson side-stepped questions and repeated the official line, saying: “We will only supply uranium to countries that are signatories to the NPT and have signed a bilateral agreement with Australia.”

Corporate advice

US diplomats in Australia also consulted representatives of mining giant BHP for their views on the industry and the prospect of uranium sales to India.

In April 2009, a cable from the US Consulate in Melbourne reported that BHP manager for integrated planning Barry Hewlett had told the consul-general that “India represents a potentially massive market” for the uranium in BHP’s Olympic Dam mine.

However, in November 2009, another cable from the consulate in Melbourne reported comments by BHP CEO Marius Kloppers that suggested the renewed international nuclear cooperation with India permitted by the NSG waiver was more important to BHP than the Australian government’s position on uranium exports.

“As long as someone can sell to the Indians,” Klopper said, “the world market will continue to expand, which helps us.”

Ferguson’s prediction in relation to uranium sales turned out to be true. In November 2011, Gillard announced she would push for the ALP to change its policy at its December party conference.

Gillard’s decision was motivated in part by a desire to help the uranium industry recover from the effects of the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Demand dropped in the wake of the disaster and the price of uranium plummeted.

Smith publicly backed Gillard ahead of the vote. Smith said Rudd also supported the policy change. With the help of Ferguson and Australian Workers Union head Paul Howes, Gillard was able to overcome the opposition from the party’s left and the conference voted narrowly to allow uranium sales to India.

The decision was not supported by the Australian public. A 2012 opinion poll by the Lowy institute found that 61% of Australians opposed uranium sales to India, with only 9% strongly in favour.

Nevertheless, the Gillard government began talks with India on a bilateral nuclear safeguards agreement in March last year, which were concluded by Tony Abbott in September.

India’s record

Both Labor and the Coalition claim India has an “impeccable” record on non-proliferation and therefore deserves an exemption from the rules that apply to other states. This is not true.

India’s new status as a “responsible nuclear state” is more a reflection of the power of the US to influence international bodies, like the NSG and the International Atomic Energy Agency, to do favours for its friends and punish its enemies.

India chose to stay outside the NPT so it would be free to develop nuclear weapons. India’s first nuclear test in 1974 was carried out using plutonium from a nuclear reactor supplied by Canada strictly for civilian purposes.

The US and Australia imposed sanctions on India after it carried out another series of nuclear tests during its escalating arms race with Pakistan in 1998.

Australia will now contribute to spreading nuclear weaponry as India will be able to use Australian-supplied uranium for civilian purposes and reserve its indigenous supplies for its nuclear weapons program.

Moreover, India has a poor nuclear safety record. In 2012, the country’s auditor-general warned that a Fukushima-like disaster could result from the absence of effective industry regulation…………..https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/57962

December 10, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

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