Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

New Zealand – the first nuclear free country – inspired by Dr Helen Caldicott

new-zealand-against-nuclearWhose work was the inspiration for the first nuke-free country , Open Democracy,   MARILYN WARING 27 September 2016

New Zealand was the first country in the world to pass national nuclear-free legislation. Marilyn Waring reflects on how Dr. Helen Caldicott’s influence culminated in the Caldicott,H1passage of the cornerstone of New Zealand’s foreign policy.

If you were growing up in New Zealand and Australia post World War II, there’s a chance you knew about the United States using the Marshall Islands as a nuclear testing site from 1947 until 1962. In an agreement signed with the United Nations, the U.S. government held the Marshall Islands as a “trust territory” and detonated nuclear devices in this pristine area of the Pacific Ocean—leading, in some instances, to huge levels of radiation fall-out, health effects, and the permanent displacement of many island people. In all, the U.S. government conducted 105 underwater and atmospheric tests. You would have also known that the British conducted seven atmospheric tests between 1956 and 1963 on traditional Aboriginal land, in Maralinga, Australia……….

France began its series of over 175 nuclear tests at Mururoa, in the South Pacific, in 1966. At least 140 of these tests were above ground. In 1973, the New Zealand and Australian governments took France to the World Court for continued atmospheric testing, and forced the last tests underground. The testing finally came to an end in 1976.

In New Zealand the U.S. Navy made regular visits between 1976 and 1983 with nuclear-powered and, most likely, nuclear-armed, ships. These visits produced spectacular protest fleets in the Auckland and Wellington harbours, when hundreds of New Zealanders—in yachts of all sizes, in motor boats and canoes, even on surf boards—surrounded the vessels and tried to bring them to a complete stop. By 1978, a campaign began in New Zealand to declare borough and city council areas nuclear-free and, by the early 1980s, this symbolic movement had quickly gained momentum, covering more than two-thirds of the New Zealand population……..

Helen [Caldicott]’s tour through New Zealand in 1983 had a huge, and lasting, impact. At one stop, Helen addressed over 2,000 people at a public event in Auckland. The librarian with whom I corresponded looking for old newspaper reports of Helen’s visit, wrote to me: “Her chillingly detailed description of the effects of a nuclear device detonated over the hall in which we were sitting remains rooted in my psyche to this day! …The other message I most recall is the dichotomy she evoked between the destructive drive of ‘old men’ rulers, the instigators of war, versus the procreative energy of mothers most impelled to oppose them—which, however reductive, retains the compelling logic of a truism!”

Helen’s approach was transformative in New Zealand. Helen’s speaking events packed auditoriums, and overflows of audiences had to be accommodated using loud speaker systems. People responded strongly to this woman, whose life work involved caring for children, speaking about medical effects of fallout, and speaking without the use of the clichéd military and defence ideological rhetoric that treated people as if they were simpletons who couldn’t understand. Her speeches inspired people to act. After Helen spoke, the volume of mail delivered to my parliamentary office increased—particularly from women…..

Helen’s tour through New Zealand in 1983 had a huge, and lasting, impact. At one stop, Helen addressed over 2,000 people at a public event in Auckland. The librarian with whom I corresponded looking for old newspaper reports of Helen’s visit, wrote to me: “Her chillingly detailed description of the effects of a nuclear device detonated over the hall in which we were sitting remains rooted in my psyche to this day! …The other message I most recall is the dichotomy she evoked between the destructive drive of ‘old men’ rulers, the instigators of war, versus the procreative energy of mothers most impelled to oppose them—which, however reductive, retains the compelling logic of a truism!”

Helen’s approach was transformative in New Zealand. Helen’s speaking events packed auditoriums, and overflows of audiences had to be accommodated using loud speaker systems. People responded strongly to this woman, whose life work involved caring for children, speaking about medical effects of fallout, and speaking without the use of the clichéd military and defence ideological rhetoric that treated people as if they were simpletons who couldn’t understand. Her speeches inspired people to act. After Helen spoke, the volume of mail delivered to my parliamentary office increased—particularly from women.

On May 24, 1983, 20,000 women wearing white flowers and armbands and holding banners with peace signs marched quietly up a main street in Auckland to hold a huge rally and call for New Zealand to be nuke-free. It was one of the largest women’s demonstrations in New Zealand’s history. In her book, Peace, Power and Politics – How New Zealand Became Nuclear Free, Maire Leadbetter writes: “I am one of many activists who think of Helen Caldicott’s visit as the point when the peace movement began to grow exponentially… Helen had a magical ability to motivate previously passive citizens to become activists.”

Shortly after Helen’s visit to New Zealand, in 1984, I advised that I intended to vote for the opposition-sponsored nuclear-free New Zealand legislation. This prompted conservative Prime Minister Rob Muldoon to call a snap election. Muldoon told media that my “feminist anti-nuclear stance” threatened his ability to govern.

The new Labour Government of 1984 passed the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act in 1987, the world’s first national nuclear-free legislation. Dr. Helen Caldicott’s influence had culminated in the passage of the cornerstone of New Zealand’s foreign policy.

This essay is one of 28 stories by notable women about remarkable women peacemakers brought together in a collection to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Nobel Women’s Initiative. When We Are Bold: Women Who Turn Our Upsidedown World Right! Editor, Rachel Vincent, September 27, Mapalé.

http://www.editorialmapale.com/     country?  https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/marilyn-waring/helen-caldicott-and-first-nuke-free-country

September 28, 2016 - Posted by | Uncategorized

2 Comments »

  1. Reblogged this on The Most Revolutionary Act and commented:
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    New Zealand was the first country in the world to pass national nuclear-free legislation. Marilyn Waring reflects on how Dr. Helen Caldicott’s influence culminated in the Caldicott,H1passage of the cornerstone of New Zealand’s foreign policy.

    Like

    Comment by stuartbramhall | September 30, 2016 | Reply

  2. When Dr. Helen Caldicott wanted to stand for parliament in Australia for the Labor Party the then Prime Minister Bob Hawke refused to endorse her and would not allow her to stand for Labor. Hawke is pro-nuclear and wanted to sell uranium to all comers.

    Like

    Comment by berlioz1935 | October 3, 2016 | Reply


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