Australian news, and some related international items

1984 Royal Commission concluded that Australian servicemen were nuclear guinea pigs

Maralinga signTODAY IN HISTORY - Bendigo Advertiser 12 Sept 14

1984 – Australian Royal Commission starts an investigation into whether servicemen were deliberately exposed to radiation in British nuclear tests at Maralinga in 1956-57. It will conclude that they were.

September 13, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Radioactive Strontium-90 was found in secret testing of over 20,000 Australian corpses

strontium 90British scientists tested dead Australians for nuclear radiation, Australian  Startling evidence that British scientists secretly tested up to 21,830 dead young Australians, without the knowledge of their parents, for radiation contamination following nuclear weapons tests in the 1950s. By  on 1 September, 2014 Dead Australians were tested for nuclear radiation contamination following nuclear tests, according to a new book.

The author of Maralinga, Frank Walker, laid his hands on minutes of a top secret UK Atomic Energy Research Establishment meeting in England on 24 May 1957 approving a program to determine the long-term effects of the tests on Australia and its citizens.

In his book, Walker describes how officials at the meeting, chaired by Professor Ernest Titterton, decided to first obtain soil samples from pasture regions near Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth to check for fallout from the nine nuclear bombs detonated at Maralinga in the Australian Outback and the Monte Bello Islands, off WA.

The group also sought to collect animal bones from the regions around where the nuclear explosions were carried out.

In the document, the professor says that the final phase of testing would be to determine if Strontium-90 was being absorbed by the Australian population – most likely through the food chain.

“We have to find out if Strontium-90 is entering the food chain and getting into humans,” says the document. The scientists then agreed to start testing the bones of dead Australian infants and children for radiation contamination.

Acting on these orders, hundreds of bones from the bodies of 21,830 dead babies, infants, children, teenagers and young adults across Australia were collected without the knowledge of their parents, according to Adelaide newspaper, The Advertiser.

In a 2001 report to then federal health minister, Michael Wooldridge, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency said it had detected varying levels of Strontium-90 in the bone ash samples it had collected from hospitals in Adelaide, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne………..

September 1, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, history, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia was deliberately used as Britain’s radiation test experiment, at Maralinga!


As The Advertiser has previously reported, hundreds of bones were subsequently collected from the bodies of 21,830 dead babies, infants, children, teenagers and young adults across Australia without the knowledge of their parents.

The Strontium-90 testing program in Australia was the longest of its kind in the world, finally ending in 1978.

In September, 2001, following an extensive investigation by The Advertiser, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency revealed it had kept ash samples from bones collected from hospitals in Adelaide, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne.

In a report to the then federal health minister, Michael Wooldridge, the agency said it had detected varying levels of Strontium-90 in all Australian capital cities.

British scientists secretly used Australian population to test for radiation contamination after nuclear tests at Maralinga  (includes copies of documents from British National Archives),.au 29 Aug 14 scientists secretly used the Australian population to test for radiation contamination after the nuclear tests at Maralinga in the 1950s, a new book confirms.

Its author, Frank Walker, has obtained the minutes of a top secret meeting in England where the UK Atomic Energy Research Establishment approved a program to determine the long-term effects of the tests on Australia and its citizens. Continue reading

August 31, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Dr Helen Caldicott- a brief outline of Australia’s anti-nuclear movement

Caldicott-2013Australia – uranium and nuclear power, Online opinion By Helen Caldicott -, 26 August 2014  The Australian anti-nuclear movement started in Adelaide in 1971 when fallout from French atmospheric nuclear tests polluted Adelaide’s water supply. People were warned that strontium 90 concentrating in milk would further concentrate in childrens’ teeth and bones and years later could cause leukemia or bone cancer. Australians in general were not enamoured of the French, and were so incensed that they were polluting the southern hemisphere with their tests that a huge movement erupted. Spontaneous marches occurred in Adelaide streets, people stopped buying French wine and cheese, postal workers refused to deliver French mail and whole pages were devoted to indignant letters to the editor.

Within nine months 75% of Australians fervently opposed the tests. Jim Cairns, deputy Prime Minister, Ken Newcomb, Union of Australian Students, and I then travelled to Paris to inform the French Government of our opposition. Australia and New Zealand took France to the International Court of Justice and they were forced to test underground.

Despite this international victory, three years later Whitlam decided to mine and export uranium. I knew nothing about medical hazards of nuclear power until I read “Poisoned Power” by Gofman and Tamplin who had been commissioned by the US Atomic Energy Commission to research the dangers of nuclear power. I then travelled to Canberra to warn Whitlam of the medical dangers of the enterprise, but to no avail.

A group began in Adelaide called Campaign Against Nuclear Energy CANE and in Melbourne, Movement Against Uranium Mining MAUM. Unions learned of the dangers and became so deeply concerned that when a man refused to shunt a truck containing yellow cake in Brisbane, the Australian Railways Union called a 24 hour nationwide strike. The medical dangers of uranium and nuclear power hit the headlines. Finally in 1978 the ACTU passed a resolution to ban uranium mining, transport and export which lasted for five years until Bob Hawke introduced the Three Mine Policy ending the ban. The antinuclear movement in Australia was very powerful and prevailed for many years…….


August 27, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history | Leave a comment

50 year old mystery “UFO” was in fact government testing for radiation

text-historyWestall ‘UFO’ incident was actually government radiation testing, reports reveal MARK DUNN HERALD SUN  AUGUST 06, 2014  AN almost 50-year-old mystery when more than 200 people believed they had a close encounter with a UFO landing in Clayton may have finally been solved after newly-unearthed government documents revealed a secret radiation-testing program.

Although federal and state government agencies refused to comment about the 1966 ‘Westall’ incident at the time, it is now believed that, rather than a UFO, what landed was an errant high altitude balloon used to monitor radiation levels after the controversial Maralinga nuclear tests.

The HIBAL program was a joint US-Australian initiative to monitor atmospheric radiation levels using large silver balloons equipped with sensors between 1960 and 1969.

Documents held by the National Archives and former Department of Supply indicate one test balloon launched from Mildura may have been blown off course and came down in Clayton South in a paddock near Westall High School, alarming and baffling hundreds of eyewitnesses, including teachers and students.

After hovering over the area, it landed at an area known as The Grange, behind a grove of pine trees, before taking off again and being pursued by several light aircraft in a sighting which lasted 20 minutes from 11am on April 6, 1966.

The event has ever since been shrouded in mystery.

      But researcher Keith Basterfield, who has spent years investigating unexplained phenomenon in Australia, said a “runaway” balloon from the HIBAL (high altitude balloon) project was the likely answer.

Each test balloon lifted a 180kg payload consisting of an air sampling and telemetry unit in a gondola and was followed by a light aircraft tasked with tracking it and triggering its 12mtr parachute via radio signal.

Immediately after the Westall “UFO” sighting, reports emerged of Government men in suits converging on the area and asking school officials and other witnesses to not talk about the event……..

August 8, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history | Leave a comment

Films record the sorry history of Australia’s involvement in the nuclear industry

highly-recommendedFilmSuperpit: Digging for uranium in the Australian cultural imaginary, [ excellent videos and pictures] National Sound and Film Archive, by Adam Broinowski The mining industry has been a central force in shaping Australian history in the 20th century. In fact, as is evident in the policy switch from the ‘Mining Super Profits Tax’ (Rudd/Gillard government) to ‘Open for Business’ (Abbott government)1, mining influence in Australian politics is direct and far-reaching. Any historical discussion of mining, however, should not overlook the historical relations between the Aboriginal owners and settler populations and their transnational partners…….

As the poisonous modern rituals of atomic testing were carried out (Monte Bello Island, Emu Fields, Maralinga), which included the use of Plutonium 239, both Australian and British officials repeated that the health risks were negligible, despite extensive local radioactive contamination

while some Aboriginal people from Ooldea were moved from their traditional lands to Yalata prior to the 1956–57 series of tests at Maralinga, there were still Aboriginal people using their camping grounds that passed through the Maralinga test site. As found in the Royal Commission (1975), the insufficient caution taken to ensure that all people were removed from the Area prior to tests was based on the false and negligent assumption that there were no longer people living on this land. Members of the Pitjantjantjara, Yakunytjatjara, Tjarutja, and the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta nations are said to have been exposed to radioactive contamination, whether in ‘black mist’ or other forms. Along with many Australian atomic test veterans, they developed chronic illnesses, the complications from which led to many premature deaths.

These ‘side effects’ were largely ignored as officials prioritised the plans to make Australia a ‘great power by 2000’ (such as Philip Baxter, Chair of the Australian Atomic Energy Agency)…….

In 1977, when the bid to mine one of the largest uranium deposits in the world at Ranger 1 and Nabarlek in the middle of the park was approved by the Fraser government, the Fox Report warned that mining waste would have to be stored for a quarter of a million years. Aboriginal elders also warned that mining ‘sickness country’ would lead to disaster…….

Given the ongoing damage caused by the Fukushima nuclear disaster since 11 March 2011, with the Fukushima Daiichi reactor said to have been fuelled by Australian uranium (at least in part), one wonders how many more warnings the authorities and their transnational partners need. The image in Phantom Gold of a lone European settler in the desert who hunts for gold while dying from thirst, may indeed come back to haunt us.

August 4, 2014 Posted by | Audiovisual, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, media | Leave a comment

History of the Aboriginal fight against nuclear waste dumping in South Australia

South-Australia-nuclearhandsoffThe nuclear war against Australia’s Aboriginal people, Ecologist  Jim Green 14th July 2014 Dumping on South Australia “……….The failed attempt to establish a dump at Muckaty followed the failed attempt to establish a dump in South Australia. In 1998, the Howard government announced its intention to build a nuclear waste dump near Woomera in South Australia.

Leading the battle against the dump were the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, a council of senior Aboriginal women from northern SA. Many of the Kungkas personally suffered the impacts of the British nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga and Emu in the 1950s.

The proposed dump generated such controversy in SA that the federal government hired a public relations company. Correspondence between the company and the government was released under Freedom of Information laws.

In one exchange, a government official asked the PR company to remove sand-dunes from a photo to be used in a brochure. The explanation provided by the government official was that: “Dunes are a sensitive area with respect to Aboriginal Heritage”.

The sand-dunes were removed from the photo, only for the government official to ask if the horizon could be straightened up as well. ‘Terra nullius’!

In 2003, the federal government used the Lands Acquisition Act 1989 to seize land for the dump. Native Title rights and interests were extinguished with the stroke of a pen. This took place with no forewarning and no consultation with Aboriginal people.

Victory in the Federal Court

The Kungkas continued to implore the federal government to ‘get their ears out of their pockets’, and after six years the government did just that.

In the lead-up to the 2004 federal election – after a Federal Court ruling that the federal government had acted illegally in stripping Traditional Owners of their native title rights, and with the dump issue biting politically in SA – the Howard government decided to cut its losses and abandon the dump plan.

The Kungkas wrote in an open letter: “People said that you can’t win against the Government. Just a few women. We just kept talking and telling them to get their ears out of their pockets and listen. We never said we were going to give up. Government has big money to buy their way out but we never gave up.”

The Kungkas victory had broader ramifications – it was a set-back for everyone who likes the idea of stripping Aboriginal people of their land and their land rights, and it was a set-back for the nuclear power lobby.

Senator Nick Minchin, one of the Howard government ministers in charge of the failed attempt to impose a nuclear dump in SA, said in 2005:

“My experience with dealing with just low-level radioactive waste from our research reactor tells me it would be impossible to get any sort of consensus in this country around the management of the high-level waste a nuclear [power] reactor would produce.”

Minchin told a Liberal Party council meeting that “we must avoid being lumbered as the party that favours nuclear energy in this country” and that “we would be political mugs if we got sucked into this”……..



July 19, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Maralinga: Australia’s cheap and nasty treatment of Aboriginal people

The nuclear war against Australia’s Aboriginal peopleEcologist  Jim Green 14th July 2014  Australia’s nuclear industry has a shameful history of ‘radioactive racism’ that dates from the British bomb tests in the 1950s, writes Jim Green. The same attitudes have been evident in recent debates over uranium mines and nuclear waste, but Aboriginal peoples are fighting back! The British government conducted 12 nuclear bomb tests in Australia in the 1950s, most of them at Maralinga in South Australia.

Permission was not sought from affected Aboriginal groups such as the Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara, Tjarutja and Kokatha.

Thousands of people were adversely affected and the impact on Aboriginal people was particularly profound.

Many Aboriginal people suffered from radiological poisoning. There are tragic accounts of families sleeping in the bomb craters. So-called ‘Native Patrol Officers’ patrolled thousands of square kilometres to try to ensure that Aboriginal people were removed before nuclear tests took place – with little success.

‘Ignorance, incompetence and cynicism’

The 1985 Royal Commission found that regard for Aboriginal safety was characterised by“ignorance, incompetence and cynicism”. Many Aboriginal people were forcibly removed from their homelands and taken to places such as the Yalata mission in South Australia, which was effectively a prison camp.

In the late-1990s, the Australian government carried out a clean-up of the Maralinga nuclear test site. It was done on the cheap and many tonnes of debris contaminated with kilograms of plutonium remain buried in shallow, unlined pits in totally unsuitable geology.

As nuclear engineer and whistleblower Alan Parkinson said of the ‘clean-up’ on ABC radio in August 2002: “What was done at Maralinga was a cheap and nasty solution that wouldn’t be adopted on white-fellas land.”

Barely a decade after the ‘clean-up’, a survey revealed that 19 of the 85 contaminated debris pits had been subject to erosion or subsidence. The half-life of plutonium-239 is 24,100 years.

Despite the residual contamination, the Australian government off-loaded responsibility for the land onto the Maralinga Tjarutja Traditional Owners.

The government portrayed this land transfer as an act of reconciliation, but the real agenda was spelt out in a 1996 government document which states that the ‘clean-up’ was “aimed at reducing Commonwealth liability arising from residual contamination.” ………..

July 19, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, South Australia | Leave a comment

Radioactive racism, the war to dump nuclear waste on Aboriglnal land in Australia


legal rights and protections are repeatedly stripped away whenever they get in the way of nuclear or mining interests. Thus the Olympic Dam mine is largely exempt from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act. Sub-section 40(6) of the Commonwealth’s Aboriginal Land Rights Act exempts the Ranger uranium mine in the NT from the Act and thus removed the right of veto that Mirarr Traditional Owners would otherwise have enjoyed. NSW legislationexempts uranium mines from provisions of the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act. Native Title rights were extinguished with the stroke of a pen to seize land for a radioactive waste dump in SA, and Aboriginal heritage laws and land rights were repeatedly overridden with the push to dump nuclear waste in the NT

The bipartisan nuclear war against Aboriginal people, Dr Jim Green, Online opinion 11 July 14 The nuclear industry has been responsible for some of the crudest racism in Australia’s history. This radioactive racism dates from the British bomb tests in the 1950s and it has been evident in more recent debates over nuclear waste.

TweedleDum-&-DeeSince 2006 successive federal governments have been attempting to establish a nuclear waste dump at Muckaty, 110 kms north of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. A toxic trade-off of basic services for a radioactive waste dump has been part of this story from the start. The nomination of the Muckaty site was made with the promise of $12 million compensation package comprising roads, houses and scholarships. Muckaty Traditional Owner Kylie Sambo objected to this radioactive ransom: “I think that is a very, very stupid idea for us to sell our land to get better education and scholarships. As an Australian we should be already entitled to that.”

While a small group of Traditional Owners supported the dump, a large majority were opposed and some initiated legal action in the Federal Court challenging the nomination of the Muckaty site by the federal government and the Northern Land Council (NLC). Continue reading

July 12, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

We must not forget Vincent Lingiari and the struggle for Aboriginal land rights

Lingiari’s legacy lost on the young AMOS AIKMAN THE AUSTRALIAN MAY 20, 2014 
EVERY morning, the last of the Wave Hill Aboriginal stockmen gather at a place not far from where Gough Whitlam poured sand into Vincent Lingiari’s hands. Beside a dusty parking lot outside Kalkarindji store, where camp dogs and stray children eat breakfast, the old men watch passersby.The famous walk-off of ­Gurindji people from Wave Hill station in August 1966, protesting against poor pay and conditions, began the land rights movement that Whitlam’s gesture consummated.

Paddy Doolyak, one of the last surviving stockmen, said they walked off “for money, just for money”. Land rights came a “little bit later”.

From the time of the walk-off in 1966 until Whitlam’s historic land rights declaration in 1975, The Australian devoted prominent coverage to the Gurindji ­demands, commissioning a man who was central to the walk-off, the communist and novelist Frank Hardy, to write feature ­articles.

“The Gurindji people wanted to abandon contact with the white man and revert to their tribal ways,” Hardy wrote in one of those pieces.

He told of the day that the stockmen and their families, led by Lingiari, walked to Wattie Creek where they remained until their land rights victory so many years later…….

A lot has changed since 1966: the dreams of Gurindji today are not those of Gurindji past. Some older people fondly recall the days when traditional law was strong, but few want to return to life in humpies.While the stockmen may stand out in history, their struggles to adjust to overwhelming outside influence, and their desire to have a fair go on land their forefathers inhabited long before it became Australia, are far from unique.

Indeed, they are those of virtually every indigenous group living in the remote bush.

May 20, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history | Leave a comment

Remembering that other war: the war against Australian Aborigines

Lest we forget, wars undeclared Canberra Times April 25, 2014 Although war was never declared, armed conflict between Australia’s indigenous people and Europeans was  widespread. The consequences echo still. In an extract from his book Forgotten War, Henry Reynolds examines the evidence. Anyone acquainted with conditions on the Australian frontier knew that bloody work had been done. Writing in 1880 the pioneer ethnographers Lorimer Fison and Alfred Howitt declared:

”It may be stated broadly that the advance of settlement has, upon the frontier at least, been marked by a line of blood. The actual conflict of the two races has varied in intensity and in duration . . . But the tide of settlement has advanced along an ever-widening line, breaking the native tribes with its first waves and overwhelming their wrecks with its flood.”

We will never know how many Aborigines died directly or indirectly as a result of the conflict, how wide or how deep was the line of blood. Contemporaries often estimated the death rate in particular districts and a few observers attempted to calculate a more general figure. But then as now problems abound with making such estimations.

We are uncertain of the size of the indigenous population when settlement began. We have no idea how many people died in the smallpox epidemic that swept across south-eastern Australia in advance of settlement. We are unsure what the population was in particular regions when the tide of settlement arrived. We are even unsure of the number of indigenous people alive after localised conflict came to an end. There appears to have been no official estimate of those killed in conflict anywhere in Australia.

Even if a government had sought out such information the task would have been immensely difficult. Much of the killing happened on the edge of settlement in regions remote from the reach of authority. Because there was no official recognition of a state of war any killing was technically murder. Frontier communities were notorious for keeping secret their exploits in the war. Killing was referred to using a lexicon of known euphemisms. Punitive parties may often not have known how effective their attacks were, particularly when they operated in the dark or if they shot at groups some distance away. When the bodies of victims were encountered they were almost universally burnt to destroy the evidence. The long career of the Queensland Native Police was cloaked in official secrecy and most of the records were destroyed. If it is difficult to determine how many people died in direct conflict with the settlers. It is even harder to estimate how many more must have subsequently died of wounds or from the fierce rigours of prolonged and uneven warfare.

There was considerable interest in the question in the late 19th century but as the Aborigines themselves disappeared from the historiography of the first half of the 20th century, no one seems to have thought it an important matter for speculation. With the new interest in Aboriginal history that arose in the 1970s and 1980s attempts were made to assess how many people, both white and black, died in the frontier wars.

Historian and author Henry Reynolds: “Much of the killing happened on the edge of settlement in regions remote from the reach of authority. Because there was no official recognition of a state of war, any killing was technically murder.” Photo: Justin McManus

In my book The Other Side of the Frontier (1981), I argued that it was ”reasonable to suppose that at least 20,000 Aborigines were killed as a direct result of conflict with the settlers”…………

A compilation of regional studies does not allow us to assess the overall death rate in Australia’s frontier wars. But some things are clear. Aborigines were killed by settlers every year somewhere in Australia from 1788 to the early years of the 20th century, and died in disproportionate numbers. The research of the last decade has led most engaged scholars to conclude that the controversial 1981 estimate of 20,000 Aboriginal dead needs to be revised not downwards but steeply upwards to 30,000 and beyond, perhaps well beyond. And the dead do matter. They intimidate us. They force us to reassess many other aspects of Australian history. That is the least that can be done.

This is an edited extract from Forgotten War. It is published by NewSouth and won the 2014 Victorian Premier’s award for non-fiction. Henry Reynolds is a Tasmanian historian.

April 25, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history | Leave a comment

Australia deliberately prevented a nuclear-free Pacific treaty, to obey USA’s interests

Declassified documents from the National Archives of Australia, including the 1985 Cabinet minute about the SPNFZ Treaty, show clearly that Australia designed the treaty to protect US interests in the Pacific, including the deployment of nuclear-armed warships and the testing of nuclear missiles.

Aust-two-faced-on-peaceInternational legal experts, including Don Rothwell, professor of international law at the Australian National University, have raised concerns that uranium sales to India would breach Australia’s obligations under the treaty. Rothwell has prepared a legal opinion stating that the SPNFZ Treaty prohibits members from selling uranium to countries that do not accept full-scope nuclear safeguards under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

This is consistent with past Australian government policy. 

Delaying The Nuclear-Free Zone In The Pacific By Nic Maclellan At the height of the nuclear arms race between the United States and Soviet Union, a treaty to create a South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone, or SPNFZ, was opened for signature on Hiroshima Day, 6 August 1985, at the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Rarotonga.

Twenty-eight years after it was signed on that day by Australia, New Zealand and island nations, the United States still hasn’t ratified its protocols, in spite of a request from president Barack Obama to the US Senate more than two years ago.

Next week, as Forum leaders gather in the Marshall Islands – site of sixty-seven US nuclear tests at Bikini and Enewetak Atolls – the US government will be eager to keep nuclear issues off the agenda, as it has been since the Treaty was first mooted. Declassified documents from the National Archives of Australia, and US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks, highlight longstanding opposition in Canberra and Washington to a comprehensive nuclear-free zone that might hamper US nuclear deployments in the Pacific.

The Forum meeting, and the US Senate’s continued stalling, coincide with on-going concerns that Australia’s decision to sell uranium to India threatens to breach Australian treaty obligations. As Conservative Australian governments in the 1960s debated the acquisition of nuclear weapons and purchased aircraft capable of delivering nuclear strikes in Southeast Asia, the labour movement across the region proposed a nuclear free zone designed to ban the bomb in this part of the world. The SPNFZ Treaty was finally negotiated in the 1980s after decades of campaigning by unions, Pacific churches and the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific movement. Continue reading

April 24, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Michael Denborough, medical researcher and anti nuclear activist

Life-saving researcher fought nuclear power April 18, 2014 SMH, David Denborough

Michael Denborough Medical researcher, activist 11-7-1929 — 8-2-2014

On the day of his death, Michael Denborough, Australian medical researcher, activist and founder of the Nuclear Disarmament Party, declared quietly to his loved ones: ”I’ve lived the luckiest life.”……..

There was another field in which Michael Denborough was influential – activism to prevent nuclear war. In 1970 he learned from a colleague, Roger Melick, that every time an atmospheric French nuclear test was conducted in the Pacific the levels of radioactive iodine in sheep’s thyroid glands across Australia would rise alarmingly. We were all being radiated by these tests.

Michael and Roger penned a letter to national newspapers notifying the public and so began the scientific and political protests which led to the International Court in the Hague forcing nuclear tests underground.In 1983, as acting director of the Centre for Research and Environmental Studies in Canberra, Michael convened a symposium, Consequences of Nuclear War for Australia and its Region. Its aim was to promote international nuclear disarmament. Patrick White and other distinguished speakers accepted his invitation. Physicians and scientists from Eastern and Western countries, including the USSR and the US, came to see what they could do to fix the greatest threat to world health.

In 1984, as a response to the Labor Government’s sell-out on its anti-nuclear platform, Michael Denborough and others founded the Nuclear Disarmament Party. It was a single-issue party with three policies – no uranium mining, no nuclear weapons and no US bases on Australian soil. The NDP was the political voice of a strong grass-roots social movement. People from all walks of life, and of all ages, came together to try to save the planet. Two NDP senators were elected, one in 1984 and one in 1987. The NDP continued to highlight nuclear issues in elections until 2009.

In 2003, Michael set up a lone vigil for 52 days outside Parliament House to protest what almost everybody admits now was going to be an unjust invasion of Iraq. On the day John Howard committed Australian troops Michael was thrown out of Parliament for protesting loudly from the gallery. He was 74 years old.

Michael will be remembered for his passionate opposition to war and the nuclear industry. Lives will continue to be saved as the result of his medical discoveries. ….


April 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history | Leave a comment

Public Health Association concerned about health dangers of planned Ranger uranium mine expansion

safety-symbolProposed Ranger 3 Deeps expansion too risky says PHAA , 7 April 14The Northern Territory Branch of the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA NT) is today launching its submission to the Social Impact Assessment process for the proposed ‘Ranger 3 Deeps’ (R3D) underground expansion at the Ranger uranium mine.  This comes ahead of a public forum about the future of Ranger in Darwin titled “Reconsidering Ranger”.

The PHAA NT submission focusses on the health and safety impacts for the local population, mine workers and the environment as well as the impacts the exported uranium is having overseas.

Ranger-retention-dam“There have been over 200 significant safety incidents at Ranger in its 30 years of operation, including the December 2013 spillage of more than 1 million litres of radioactive and acidic slurry from a storage tank,” said Dr Michael Fonda, PHAA NT Branch Secretary.

“It is of great concern that Energy Resources Australia intends to use the same ageing processing equipment for its proposed R3D expansion,” Dr Fonda said.

PHAA NT is concerned about the health impacts underground mine workers will face from radon exposure.

“Radon inhalation is a particularly dangerous form of radiation exposure and PHAA NT wants reassurances that the R3D design would meet world’s best practice standards.  Evidence has emerged linking Ranger to adverse impacts on the surrounding population and environment,” said Dr Fonda.

A 2006 Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies report investigating cancer rates in the local population found that the number of actual cases of cancer was 90% higher than expected.

“The research findings to date are very alarming.  We believe it is unsafe and unethical to approve this underground expansion before further studies into the health effects in the region have been carried out,” he added.

In the wake of the 2011 Fukushima reactor disaster, which was fuelled in part by Australian uranium, the United Nations called for an urgent review into the health and environmental impacts of uranium mining in Australia.  “This review still has not been initiated by the Australian Government.  We believe Australia needs an inquiry into its entire nuclear industry before proceeding with any further expansions and PHAA have repeatedly called for this,” Dr Fonda said.

Dr Fonda will be talking about these issues along with other speakers at the “Reconsidering Ranger” public forum being held at the Hilton Hotel in Darwin on Tuesday 8 April 2014.  Entry is free and doors open at 6:30pm.

For further information/comment:

Dr Michael Fonda, NT Branch Secretary, Public Health Association of Australia                                                     0429 435 595

 This media release – and the related submission – will be available on the PHAA website at:


April 7, 2014 Posted by | history, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Aboriginal victims of Maralinga atomic bomb testing

Australian atomic massacre still ignored By David T. Rowlands from Green Left Weekly  issue 971 June 29, 2013

Lennon,-Lallie-2006Lallie Lennon provided convincing testimony of the injuries suffered from the fall-out.
Nearly 60 years have passed since Totem 1, a British nuclear test in the Australian desert, was recklessly conducted in unfavourable meteorological conditions.

Nuclear testing of any sort, even in the most “controlled” of circumstances, is inherently abusive, a crime against the environment and humanity for countless generations to come. Yet the effects of Totem 1 were particularly bad, even by the warped standards of the era.

The mushroom cloud did not behave in the way it was supposed to. Instead of rising uniformly, part of it spread laterally, causing fallout to roll menacingly at ground level over a remote yet still populated corner of South Australia, sowing injury, illness and death in its wake.

The number of casualties is unknown because the secretive and unaccountable nuclear establishment has always declined to investigate the full impact of its own criminal negligence. But it has been suggested by investigators that perhaps 50 short-term Aboriginal fatalities resulted.

In addition to those who died, many others were exposed to harmful levels of radiation. The long-term health effects on these individuals have never been charted — but anecdotal reports of high cancer rates and horrendous birth defects in isolated “downwinder” communities have circulated.

At the time of the tests, it was well known by authorities that communities of Aboriginal people were close by. Yet the official attitude was that the concerns of a “handful of natives” could not be allowed to interfere with the “interests” of the British Commonwealth.

Imagine you are out with your family one morning when suddenly a loud explosion issues from the distant horizon. The ground rumbles and shakes, as though it were about to open up. Minutes later, a thick, churning dark dust cloud engulfs the surrounding desert countryside.

Terrified, with all your senses in recoil from these unnatural developments, you wonder if an event of apocalyptic proportions is taking place. And your troubles are only just beginning.

This is what happened to 22-year-old Yankunytjatjara woman Lallie Lennon and her three young children at Mintabie on October 15, 1953. A 10-kiloton device (roughly two-thirds the yield of the Hiroshima bomb) was detonated 180 kilometres away at Emu Field, near Maralinga.

Lallie and her son Bruce, aged 3, were covered in the gunpowder-smelling dust and smoke that came rushing through the trees with such intensity that it apparently created eclipse-like visibility conditions. “It went dark and dark,” recalled Lallie in 2006. “Dark — we couldn’t see anything. The place was black, you couldn’t see nothing.”

The levels of beta radiation contained in this toxic plume were so great that it felt like being “rolled in a fire”. The “kids were [ing] … it was terrible … We was glad we was alive but we got sick. We were sicker and sicker.”

About a year later, both Lallie and her son Bruce developed a debilitating skin condition that involves the periodic eruption of oozing, agonising sores all over the body.

Lallie said: “It went away and then came back and the sores were getting bigger and bigger every time … I was in a mess after the sores.” Her two daughters, who were in a tent at the time the mist swept through, were spared the beta burns, but developed other symptoms consistent with radiological contamination.

Lallie’s story first achieved public recognition when she spoke about her experiences for a 1981 documentary, “Backs to the Blast”.

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March 28, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, South Australia | Leave a comment


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