Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australian government didn’t want to know about Aborigines affected by atomic tests

Cabinet rejected the royal commission’s recommendation for the creation of a new register of persons who may have been exposed to “black mist” or radiation at the tests. 

 The actions of previous Australian government [sic] in shepherding Aboriginal people from their traditional lands for the purpose of conducting atomic tests were both immoral and appallingly executed.

text-historyWhy cabinet sought only a partial clean-up of British nuclear test site    theguardian.com, Wednesday 1 January 2014 “…………An aerial survey of radioactivity around the test sites would be followed by a more detailed ground survey. Five studies would “define the areas – hopefully quite small – which must remain surrounded by fences, and further outer areas in which activities such as food gathering and excavation should not occur”.

A report by technical experts attached to the cabinet submission states: “Aboriginals living and gathering food on the Maralinga lands may be exposed [to contaminants] … in three major ways – by inhalation, by ingestion and by entry of contaminated material through open flesh wounds and abrasions.”

The experts considered options for burial of contaminated soil. They noted that since one of the contaminants had a half life of 24,000 years it was a prerequisite to make a prediction about the sort of changes in the earth expected to occur in the Maralinga area in the timeframe.

Cabinet rejected the royal commission’s recommendation for the creation of a new register of persons who may have been exposed to “black mist” or radiation at the tests. It reasoned that two substantial lists of persons involved in the tests and potentially exposed to radiation already existed and that obtainable information would add nothing of significance.

The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Clyde Holding, presented cabinet with a submission in response to the royal commission’s recommendation that Aboriginal people be compensated for dispossession of the lands used for testing.

Holding was blunt and evocative: “… we have no option but to accept the principle of compensation for dispossession. The actions of previous Australian government [sic] in shepherding Aboriginal people from their traditional lands for the purpose of conducting atomic tests were both immoral and appallingly executed. The resultant disruption to Aboriginal life has been catastrophic; Yalata, where many were resettled, is testimony to that. If we deny compensation we shall stand condemned as surely as those who committed the outrage of dispossession in the first place.”

Cabinet accepted Holding’s recommendation that $500,000 be provided in 1986-87 for services, such as roads and water, for Indigenous communities with a traditional interest in sites at Maralinga affected by the atomic test program, with future amounts to be subject to further consideration.

Holding advised: “This would in effect be a down payment on an unspecified overall sum, which would need to be calculated at a later stage when more information is available on needs and on the extent of continuing restrictions on use and enjoyment of areas of the Maralinga lands. It will be seen as a low figure and will be criticised for that; we can counter such criticism by pointing out that it is the first instalment, and that there needs first to be consultation with the traditional owners on what is to be done.”http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/31/why-cabinet-sought-only-partial-clean-up-of-british-nuclear-test-site

January 1, 2014 - Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, South Australia

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