Australian news, and some related international items

Australia is part of USA’s increased market for exporting weapons to this region


The Obama administration has pushed through a streamlining of the licensing process in order to facilitate an increase in military exports – in part to compensate U.S. arms manufacturers for a decline in orders from the Pentagon…..

The more advanced weaponry U.S. allies purchase, the more they are locked into future acquisitions. The United States emphasises “interoperability” among its allies. Not only are purchasers dependent on the United States for spare parts and upgrades, but they must consider the overall system of command and control (which is now C5I — Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Combat systems and Intelligence).

World Cuts Back Military Spending, But Not Asia, Inter Press Service Analysis by John Feffer WASHINGTON, Apr 14 2014 (IPS) - For the second year in a row, the world is spending a little less on the military. Asia, however, has failed to get the memo. The region is spending more at a time when many others are spending less. Continue reading

April 15, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia will have to come clean on nuclear weapons policy

Australian policy on nuclear weapons hopelessly conflicted  April 10, 2014   At a meeting in Hiroshima of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), a group of 12 countries led by Australia and Japan, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop made much of Australia’s supposed commitment to ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

But Australian policy on nuclear weapons is hopelessly conflicted. With one hand, it promotes nuclear disarmament, yet with the other, it clings anxiously to US nuclear weapons for national security. Australia wants to get rid of nuclear weapons and keep them too.
There is no secret about this: Bishop wrote in February that Australia “has long and actively supported nuclear disarmament … and worked tirelessly toward the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons” and also that Australia “will continue to rely on nuclear deterrence” for its security as long as nuclear weapons exist. She is the latest custodian of a bipartisan policy that has been passed down through consecutive governments for decades.
As long as nothing much was happening with nuclear disarmament, Australia could safely advocate it. But the emergence of a global movement to examine the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, and a related push for a treaty banning them, has put Australia on the spot.

International conferences held in Oslo last year and in Nayarit, Mexico, in February concluded that any nuclear detonation would completely overwhelm humanitarian and disaster response capabilities, and cause unacceptable long-term harm worldwide.

Australia cautiously participated in these meetings, but clearly with misgiving. And at the United Nations last October, when 125 countries, including Japan and five other NPDI members, made a joint statement on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, Australia baulked – and weaselled out.

Pressed to explain why Australia could not join the statement, officials said the sentence, “It is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances,” was incompatible with Australia’s reliance on nuclear deterrence.

Calls for a new treaty to ban nuclear weapons have further exposed the contradictions in Australia’s policy. There is no legal reason Australia could not join such a treaty tomorrow: Australia has no nuclear weapons. As a member of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) it has sworn off them.

The official response, however, has been to oppose such a ban because it would not “guarantee” nuclear disarmament. This is a ludicrous excuse, given that none of the approaches Australia and the NPDI advocate will “guarantee” disarmament either (in fact most of them are hopelessly bogged down).

That a polished performer like Bishop would field such a flimsy rationalisation only shows how bare the intellectual cupboard at the Foreign Ministry is. They can’t find a better argument, because there isn’t one.

Despite the increasing visibility of its inherently contradictory policy, the government blithely continues to seek a high profile on nuclear disarmament.

The people of Hiroshima will surely welcome Bishop’s earnest undertakings to address the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and pursue nuclear disarmament. They will be less impressed by her extraordinary statement that “the horrendous humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are precisely why deterrence has worked” – in other words, that Australia depends for its security on the very humanitarian consequences it claims to be working to avoid.The contradictions emerge even within the NPDI. The purpose of the NPDI is to support implementation of the 64-point “action plan” on non-proliferation and disarmament agreed by the 189 members of the NPT. Australia is a prominent proponent of the plan. But the very first of these 64 actions requires Australia to “pursue policies that are fully compatible with the treaty and the objective of achieving a world without nuclear weapons”. How is relying on nuclear weapons compatible with the objective of achieving a world without nuclear weapons?
The circle simply cannot be squared. Follow the tortuous reasoning to its conclusion and it reduces to “Australia supports nuclear disarmament, just as soon as it has happened”.
As the humanitarian initiative gathers momentum, and as a ban treaty looms closer, Australia’s policy will become increasingly untenable. It will soon have to choose: nuclear weapons – yes or no. If the answer is yes, the only honest course is to drop the pretence of working towards a world free of nuclear weapons and leave the NPT. If the answer is no, then there are policy challenges ahead – but overcoming them would put Australia on the right side of history.
Richard Lennane is a former United Nations disarmament official and Australian diplomat.

April 14, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Julie Bishop is out of step with Australian opinion on nuclear weapons

Bishop, Julie cartoonJulie Bishop says banning nuclear weapons impractical  ABC Radio National, Tanya Nolan reported this story on Friday, April 11, 2014  TANYA NOLAN: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is representing Australia at a 12 nation summit in Hiroshima today discussing global efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons.  Disarmament activists in Hiroshima are lobbying hard for agreement to be reached on a global ban on nuclear weapons.

But Australia is one of a group of countries that is unlikely to support any such push: Ms Bishop says banning weapons won’t get rid of them and any global treaty would be impractical without the support of the world’s nuclear armed states – something unlikely to be achieved. 

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons say Australia’s position is out of step with the views of most Australians. logo-ICAN
It’s released a survey of 1,500 Australians who were asked whether they think the Government should support a global ban on nuclear weapons.

Ruff,TilmanI spoke to Dr Tillman Ruff, co-chairman of the campaign who is in Hiroshima for the Non-Proliferation Disarmament Initiative. 

So the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, ICAN has released its poll showing 84 per cent of Australians think the Government should support a global treaty banning nuclear weapons. Don’t you think it would have been more accurate to pose the question would a global ban on nuclear weapons be effective without the support of those countries that have nuclear weapons?

TILLMAN RUFF: Well, that’s a different and rather more complicated question but I think what’s really interesting about this poll is that although this issue hasn’t been front of mind, in front of the media, in front of people’s concerns necessarily, there is still a very strong sentiment of support in Australia for people want the Government to support a global ban on nuclear weapons and it’s interesting to me to look at how widespread that support it. It’s across ages and genders and all parts of the country, all income strata. 

TANYA NOLAN: But Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has a point doesn’t she, that any global ban on nuclear weapons won’t be effective if you can’t get the nuclear armed states on board? 

TILLMAN RUFF: Well, of course the elimination of nuclear weapons is going to require the states that have them to do that. I mean I think that’s obvious, but what we’ve seen essentially over the last 70 years is a failure of the nuclear armed states to live up to their legally binding obligation under the non-proliferation treaty to disarm. 

There are currently no negotiations underway and arguably our, the danger of nuclear weapons being used, many experts are suggesting is actually increasing. Proliferation is certainly not under control so it’s hard to claim that business as usual is getting us very far, very fast. 
So what might break the logjam on this, the idea of a ban, a specific legal prohibition that is something that the states that don’t have the weapons could initiate that could change the landscape very dramatically and we’ve seen that other treaties that have banned indiscriminate and inhumane weapons such as land mines and cluster munitions have in fact had a substantial influence on the major users and producers including many of the nuclear armed states, even though they haven’t signed up to those treaties. So simply the international community setting a firm moral, legal, political position that these weapons have unacceptable consequences and can’t be used for any legitimate purpose that’s consistent with international law has influenced the behaviour of those who have the weapon. ………..
TILLMAN RUFF: I think waiting for the crumbs to fall from the table of the nuclear armed states to continue for the whole world to remain hostage, to the threat, any hour of every day of every year to the risk of nuclear weapons being used and jeopardising the future for all of us and our descendents, is an unacceptable situation. 

So, you know, the states that have the weapons have so far shown really no serious intent to get rid of their nuclear weapons. ……….
TILLMAN RUFF: The fact that the foreign ministers of 12 nations are meeting in Hiroshima and seeing for themselves at first hand evidence of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that were caused by even one, by today’s standards, very small tactical sized nuclear weapon almost 70 years ago, is an important step and it’s because the fundamental evidence base that has to drive policy around nuclear weapons is not abstract notions of deterrence and geopolitics and strategy and balance, it’s about what the weapons actually do and what’s at stake. …….

April 12, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

1000 US marines arrive in Darwin. What a target!

map-Australia-targets-Why are there U.S. marines in Darwin? Independent Australia  Nick Deane 10 April 2014, The recent arrival of over a thousand marines in Darwin provides a risk for Australia, yet absolutely no reward, writes Nick Deane.

IF ONE COUNTRY INVITES the armed forces of another onto its territory, one would expect the government of the host country to have seen strategic benefits in the arrangement.

Furthermore, one would also expect, in a democracy, that this government would be happy to explain these benefits to its people. That should be simple enough.

In the case of Australia playing host to a garrison of more than 1,000 United States marines in Darwin for the next six months, the public has been offered no explanation about the strategic benefits. All we have been told (via a letter to IPAN-NSW from the Minister for Defence on 7 December 2012) is that the marines’ presence is an extension of our existing, long-standing alliance with the U.S. — as though the passage of time alone is sufficient justification for us to willingly accept foreign forces on our territory.

What is missing is any discussion of the strategic advantages to Australia that come from the presence of the U.S. garrison.

It is probably taken for granted that the advantage lies in the supposed ‘protection’ that it brings us. But are the marines really here for our protection?

And who actually benefits, in strategic terms, from this arrangement?

Certainly, the strategic benefits to the U.S. are large.

The marines occupy a ‘forward position’, thousands of kilometres beyond US territory. And, in the words of a report from CSBA (the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment):

‘Australia’s strong ties with America provide it with the means to preserve U.S. influence and military reach across the Indo-Pacific.’

Note: that’s the United States’ influence and military reach……..

 where is the benefit to Australia?

What we get out of it is the certainty that we are now directly involved, if hostilities break out between America and China. That would make parts of Australia potential targets for attack…..,6370

April 11, 2014 Posted by | Northern Territory, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Abbott planning $40 billion defence submarine project, despite known dangers

Flag_AustraliaSubmarines on collision course in busy seaBRENDAN NICHOLSON, THE AUSTRALIAN, APRIL 10, 2014 
AS submarines increasingly become the clandestine weapon of choice in the Asia-Pacific, an ­admiral from the US Pacific Fleet says regional nations must tell each other where their boats are operating or risk a deadly underwater collision.

The head of the US Pacific Command’s submarine force, Rear Admiral Phillip G. Sawyer, told a conference in Canberra yesterday the rapidly increasing number of submarines had created a greater chance of an underwater crash………

A US submarine had already collided with a supertanker in the Strait of Hormuz.

flag-japanIt also emerged yesterday that the Abbott government is about to start negotiating with industry in Australia and with allied nations on how to structure the consortium which is to take on Australia’s biggest ever defence project — the building of new submarines for an estimated $40 billion.


The Australian was told the government will soon issue an “intent to consult” notice to major companies keen to join the submarine project.

A 130-strong expert team is being built up in Adelaide to integrate the best technology available in Australia and internationally into the new submarine.Defence Minister David Johnston and navy Chief Vice Admiral Ray Griggs told the conference they were talking to Japan about the possibility of using some of its technology.

That sparked claims from the opposition that the government was backing away from an election commitment to build 12 submarines in Adelaide.

Premier Jay Weatherill, who will join Tony Abbott in China this week, said yesterday that Senator Johnston appeared to be backing away from a commitment to build the next fleet of submarines in the state.

“Of course when you hear language like this from the federal government it is a cause of concern,” he said. “I think that there is only one solution — to build submarines here in South Australia. Not in South Australia and the nation’s interests in terms of manufacturing, but in terms of our defence needs.”

But Steve Ludlam, chief executive of the Adelaide shipbuilder ASC, said he would not be concerned if the government shifted its focus to a submarine design from overseas.

Additional reporting: Sarah Martin

April 10, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA govt did not like nuclear disarmament statement, so Australia obeyed USA

Nuclear Weapons Ban: Secret Documents Reveal Australia Blocking New Zealand-Led Campaign International Business Times, By Reissa Su | March 10, 2014 The Australian government was reportedly leading secret attempts to block New Zealand’s push for nuclear disarmament based on the released documents under the freedom of information laws. The documents contained declassified information on ministerial communications, cables and emails from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and revealed the efforts of Australian diplomats working in secret. The documents said that the Australian government relies on U.S. nuclear forces to prevent a nuclear attack in the country.

In October 2013, shortly after the Coalition won the seat of power, Australia had refused New Zealand in its request to endorse a joint statement signed by 125 countries at theUnited Nations which highlighted the effects of nuclear weapon use. Australia had reportedly found the statement declaring that it is in the best interest of mankind not to use nuclear weapons “under any circumstances.” Reports said that 16 countries including New Zealand, Malaysia, Mexico andSouth Africa are working together to put the spotlight on the use of nuclear weapons and its humanitarian consequences.

The nuclear disarmament campaign will lay the foundation for negotiating an agreement to ban nuclear weapons. The diplomatic campaign seeks to put nuclear weapons in the same category as chemical and biological weapons which are already considered illegal under international law……..

Among the documents revealed included Foreign Affairs and Trade head Peter Varghese’s statement that New Zealand’s push for nuclear disarmament goes against the security interests of Australia.

The diplomatic image of Australia has been hit with the Japan’s consent to sign the New Zealand-led initiative through Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. Australian diplomats had conferred with the U.S. State Department over the matter. Declassified information revealed the email exchanges between the two parties, including Washington reprimanding Tokyo for its decision to sign the nuclear disarmament statement.

March 12, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment


highly-recommended Nuclear Information Centre, Conservation Council of South Australia   INTRODUCTION   The ways in which a country or state can contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons are many and varied. They include direct and indirect, overt and covert, subtle and not so subtle; the line between contributing and not contributing is fuzzy and elusive. What may be ignored at one time may later be seen to be highly significant.

We will concentrate on the obvious and widely acknowledged contributions.

A successful nuclear weapons program requires:

  • A pool of knowledge
  • A supply of highly trained specialists
  • Research and development
  • A source of fissionable material
  • The facilities for converting the fissionable material into weapons grade
  • Testing of guidance and delivery systems, firing mechanisms, various materials, and complete weapons.

We will limit this article to contributions made in the post-war period 1945 to 1965, which constitutes the first phase of South Australia’s contribution to nuclear weapons proliferation.

History will probably record that the second phase started with the discovery of uranium at Beverly east of Mt. Painter (1969), at Honeymoon about 75 km north-west of Broken Hill (1972), and at Olympic Dam on the Roxby Downs station (1975).

Diagram S Australia nuclear weapons

The Olympic Dam mine at Roxby Downs has been exporting to nuclear weapons states since it began production in 1988. Continue reading

March 4, 2014 Posted by | South Australia, uranium, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Time for Australia’s Future Fund to stop investing in nuclear weapons

In 2011 the Future Fund barred all investments in companies that manufacture anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions, but a loophole remains in the policy allowing the Fund to continue investing in nuclear weapon companies.

logo-ICANCongratulations, Costello – now it’s time to give up the nukes  Gem Romuld Outreach Coordinator International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons- Australia 5 February 2014Following yesterday’s announcement that former federal treasurer Peter Costello has been appointed Chair of the government-owned Future Fund, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) calls for a review the Fund’s investments in nuclear weapons companies.

Campaigners from ICAN visited the Fund’s Melbourne headquarters today to deliver a congratulatory card to the new Chair. “We’ve visited Peter Costello on the first day of his new job, to call on him to use his new Chairmanship as an opportunity to steer the Fund out of the nuclear weapons industry”, said ICAN spokesperson Gem Romuld. Continue reading

February 6, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Radiation contaminated sailors ignored by Australian government

Compensation plea over nuclear test MIKE DUFFY, 7NEWS SYDNEY 21 Jan 14  A veterans’ support group says it is disgusted by the treatment of sailors left sick with cancer after taking part in nuclear tests in the 1950s.

The conscripts claim they’ve been abandoned despite other servicemen receiving healthcare assistance.Over 60 years ago, back in October 1952, an Australian atomic test gave Britain membership to the nuclear club.

‘What no officer wants to face’ The cloud that appeared over the islands of Monte Bello, off Western Australia’s north coast, was proof Britain had the bomb.

Operation Hurricane was a major operation for the Australian Navy, but not everyone involved knew what they were in for.

Michael Rowe was a teenager, a conscripted national serviceman on HMAS Murchison.“When we got there we didn’t know why we were there,” he said.
“Then one morning we were told to assemble on deck we were going to witness the first British atomic bomb explosion. So we did as we were told and assembled on deck in fully protective outfits of sandals and shorts. “Knowing what we know now, they wouldn’t have had us there exposed as we were.”

Since speaking to 7News, Michael has sadly passed away, claimed by a cancer he believed was caused by radiation.

He lobbied for the same healthcare assistance afforded to those veterans judged to be closer to the blast.

Veterans activist Sandy Godfrey said:” These are the forgotten veterans of Australia who have just been ignored by the government.”……..

January 21, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Austrlalian Government colluded with British to deny justice to Maralinga Aborigines and veterans

Independent senator for South Australia Nick Xenophon plans to step up pressure this year to ensure those affected by the nuclear tests can be compensated properly.

Maralinga signUK opposed compensation for Maralinga nuclear victims BRENDAN NICHOLSON DEFENCE EDITOR THE AUSTRALIAN JANUARY 01, 2014  THE Anangu Aboriginal people who inhabited the Maralinga area of South Australia called it ”puyu” or ”black mist” the dirt that rolled across the landscape and sickened, blinded and killed them.

As the Hawke government faced growing pressure for fair compensation for those affected by fallout from the British nuclear bomb test program at Maralinga and Emu fields and the Monte Bello Islands between 1952 and 1963, it ran into strong opposition from United Kingdom officials. Continue reading

January 2, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

How Australia caved in to Britain, in not properly cleaning up Maralinga bomb sites

text-historyWhy cabinet sought only a partial clean-up of British nuclear test site Archives give new insight into Hawke government’s response to royal commission on weapons testing in Maralinga region, Wednesday 1 January 2014 

  • Atomic-Bomb-SmGareth Evans, the energy minister at the time, said ‘a non-confrontational approach’ had been adopted in dealing with the Thatcher government.

    The complete rehabilitation of areas of Australia used to test British nuclear weapons may not be possible, the Hawke cabinet was advised in 1986.

    Cabinet was warned that a full clean-up may have been more expensive than the British government would be willing to contemplate, according to documents released this week by theNational Archives.

    They provide new insights into the Hawke government’s response to the recommendations of the McClelland royal commission into British nuclear tests in Australia. Continue reading

January 1, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, history, politics international, South Australia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s inadequate decontamination of radioactive nuclear test sites

text-radiationCabinet Papers 1986-87: The struggle for indigenous land rights, SMH, Damien Murphy, 28 Dec 13, “……….. Decontaminating radioactive sites  The McClelland royal commission on British nuclear tests in Australia had recommended that the Maralinga and Emu test sites should be decontaminated to a standard suitable for unrestricted habitation by the traditional owners.

But a technical assessment group found that even the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars would not achieve complete decontamination.

The Resources and Energy Minister, Senator Gareth Evans, recommended that Cabinet consider the lesser option of decontamination sufficient to allow casual access to a larger area than was currently permissible. This option might cost between $20 and $30 million, “much more within the ball park that the UK Government is likely, on present indications, to be prepared to contemplate”.

Cabinet also decided that compensation claims for diseases that might have been caused by radiation would be resisted if the Commonwealth did not believe that a liability existed……….

Traditional owners had been dispersed to Yalata and the Pitjantjatjara lands in South Australia and Coonana in Western Australia. Cabinet allocated an initial $500,000 for projects of lasting and general community benefit……..

January 1, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, employment, South Australia, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New Future Fund acting chair should close loophole on nuclear weapon investments

logo-ICAN18 December 2013  Following today’s announcement that former federal treasurer Peter Costello will become acting chair of the government-owned Future Fund, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has called on the fund to broaden its policy against investments in controversial weapons.

In 2011 the Future Fund barred all investments in companies that manufacture anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions, but a loophole remains in the policy allowing the fund to continue investing in nuclear weapon companies. Although these stocks represent a small portion of the fund’s overall holdings, they pose a significant reputational risk. Continue reading

December 18, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australian Government opposes efforts to ban nuclear weapons.


The bitter reality is that because of its willingness to support and assist deployment, targeting and potential use of US nuclear weapons, Australia is more part of the problem, holding back disarmament, than it is working for the solution”.

NO-NUKE AUSTRALIA THWARTS NUCLEAR FREE WORLD BY NEENA BHANDARI* | IDN-INDEPTH NEWSANALYSIS SYDNEY (IDN) – 17 Dec 13 Australia has been expressing support for a nuclear weapons-free world, but documents obtained by disarmament advocacy group, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), reveal that the Australian Government sees the increasing international focus on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons as “rubbing up against” its reliance on the United States nuclear weapons.

logo-ICANICAN has obtained declassified diplomatic cables, ministerial briefings and emails under freedom-of-information laws, which show that the Australian Government plans to oppose efforts to ban nuclear weapons. Continue reading

December 17, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

AUDIO: Australia’s radiation affected veterans denied justice yet again

Maralinga sign they’ve been treated like second-class citizens.
 “This really is disgusting. How is it that these people, subject to the fury of a nuclear blast, aren’t even entitled to a gold card for their medical treatment as other veterans are?” 

Hear-This-wayAUDIO Aussie nuclear veterans ‘disgusted’ by bid failure  Australian veterans of British nuclear tests say they’re disgusted by the latest setback to their campaign for compensation. (Transcript from World News Australia Radio) Australia’s Human Rights Commission has decided it can’t consider the case of the 300 veterans because the matter is out of its jurisdiction.
The decision has left the veterans’ lawyers saying it’s the end of their campaign.
Murray Silby spoke to some of the veterans, including Avon Hudson “They’ll act with extreme disgust at the government and the Human Rights Commission. I mean we shouldn’t wait on the Human Rights Commission. This should have been addressed by governments of the past, but given the Human Rights heard this I have no time for the Human Rights (Commission) now.”

Avon Hudson says he and his fellow veterans have lost faith in a system that should have protected their rights.”I don’t know anybody that was there when I served there that hasn’t had either cancer or some other illness induced by radiation. Continue reading

December 17, 2013 Posted by | Audiovisual, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, weapons and war | Leave a comment


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