Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear bomb tests at Emu Field remain obscured by Maralinga and the mists of time

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-08-24/nuclear-testing-at-emu-field-featured-in-new-book/101329172 ABC Radio Adelaide / By Daniel Keane, 22 Aug 22,

In hindsight, Michael Parkinson’s TV talk show hardly seems the likeliest forum for sober reflection on nuclear annihilation. 

But in 1971, the celebrity interviewer welcomed onto his celebrated stage journalist James Cameron, a man who had, 18 years earlier, witnessed the first atomic blast at Emu Field in outback South Australia.

Nuclear weapons, he told Parkinson, were “the ultimate punctuation mark” in humanity’s “progress towards perdition”.

The words echoed his front-page report for The Age on October 16, 1953 — the day after the test:

“The familiar mushroom column climbed unsteadily for 15,000 feet, leaned and dropped, and the world stumbled one more step towards the twilight.”

Codenamed Totem, the two Emu Field bomb tests have, in the view of James Cook University author Elizabeth Tynan, been regarded for too long as mere precursors to the more notorious detonations at Maralinga.

Her new book seeks to correct this by establishing Operation Totem as a portentous episode in its own right.

“The tests there pre-dated Maralinga by three years and they caused enormous difficulty and disruption and tragedy to the Aboriginal people of the Western Desert,” Dr Tynan said.

The Secret of Emu Field is the product of extensive archival excavation, including in the United Kingdom.

Amid Cold War hardships and anxieties, British officials were desperate to develop an affordable nuclear arsenal for their new fleet of jet bombers.

“They were looking to create a workable weapon; I call it the austerity bomb,” Dr Tynan said.

“They wanted to do it quickly because they had the V bombers coming, they had a number of political pressures and geopolitical pressures as well.”

Among several remarkable occurrences at Emu Field was the flight of a Royal Air Force Canberra bomber through the Totem 1 mushroom cloud barely six minutes after detonation.

“In colour it was a dark red-brown,” Wing Commander Geoffrey Dhenin, who enthusiastically piloted the plane, later wrote.

“Until just before we emerged, the forces on the elevators increased to such an extent that I thought I might lose control.”

One of the aims of that mission was to determine the threat from fallout in atmospheric testing to commercial airline traffic.

In an unforeseen irony, the atomic cloud from Totem 1 — which kept its mushroom shape “for 24 hours because of wind conditions” — was spotted by airline passengers passing over Oodnadatta.

The black mist

Today, it isn’t a cloud but a mist that remains one of the few aspects of the Totem tests to endure in the collective consciousness.

The so-called “black mist” was reported by nearby Aboriginal communities, but it wasn’t until a 1980 report by The Advertiser that it came to public attention.

The 1985 royal commission into British nuclear tests was equivocal on the health effects, but concluded that “Aboriginal people experienced radioactive fallout from Totem 1 in the form of a black mist or cloud at and near Wallatinna”.

Bruce Lennon was a young boy at the time and likened the impact to “having a really bad flu”.

“We were close to Emu Field; dad was a contractor, we did a lot of moving around,” he said.

Also in the area, at Mabel Creek station, was the family of Sister Kenise Neill.

“My father at the time of the Emu Field [tests] would have been 22. There’s a story that my grandmother used to tell about him,” she recalled.

“He was out fencing with Aboriginal people around the station and came home covered in a black, slimy, greasy stuff.”

Murray Neill was 24 when he died in 1956.

His daughter said it was now almost impossible to know whether the story told by her grandmother was an account of fallout.

“I didn’t really know about Emu Fields … and because our family had left before the [later] Maralinga testing, it didn’t make sense,” Sister Neill said.

“I presumed the black fallout with my dad wasn’t nuclear.

“It’s really only through reading Elizabeth Tynan’s book that I thought that my dad could have actually died from radiation.”

The persistence of secrets

The black mist may have dissipated, but other mists still cloud the Totem tests.

Dr Tynan said British files she inspected during her research had since been “withdrawn from public view”, and that there were unanswered questions about the second test and the plutonium fuel.

“The Operation Totem tests at Emu Field were intended as a comparative trial to test two different kinds of nuclear fuel,” Dr Tynan said.

I can’t say that I ever got to the bottom of what was happening with Totem 2. From the documents I’ve seen, [it] was a very, very secret weapon.”

By the time of the second test on October 27, James Cameron and the rest of the press pack had long since departed.

But the bomb had left its mark on Cameron’s mind.

In a piece published the day after he died, in the same year as the royal commission into British tests, Cameron reflected on the nuclear age with typical grace and resignation:

“I personally witnessed the explosion of atom bombs, and did nothing about it, and could do nothing except protest, tiresomely and uselessly.”

This article is the second in a two-part series, the first of which focused on the tests at Maralinga.

August 25, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, history, reference, South Australia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

‘Reject the deadly logic of nuclear deterrence’

So, who is on board? More than 100 federal MPs and another 150 in state and territory parliaments, the Australian Greens, Labor and most other cross-benchers, including most of the new independents.

Two dozen unions, including the Australian Council of Trade Unions, more than 60 faith-based organizations, including the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, the Australian Medical Association, dozens of civil society organisations and three quarters of the general public.

Fifty five former Australian Ambassadors and High Commissioners signed an open letter urging PM Albanese to fulfill Labor’s commitment.

Gem Romuld, August 21, 2022, Gem Romuld, the Australian Director at International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Australia, delivered this speech to the Sydney Hiroshima Day rally on August 8.

I want to acknowledge that First Nations people suffer the worst of nuclear technologies, not just nuclear weapons’ testing but all aspects of the nuclear chain, including uranium mining and radioactive waste dumping.

These struggles are ongoing today with threats of uranium mining at Mulga Rock in Western Australia, a radioactive waste dump planned for Barngarla land at Kimba, South Australia and the ongoing un-remedied impacts of 12 major nuclear explosions at Monte Bello in WA, Emu Field and Maralinga in SA, followed by hundreds of radioactive experiments — “the minor trials” —at Maralinga.

Today is a really important marker in time, one that we are keeping alive by gathering here.

What happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is why the vast majority of sensible people totally abhor nuclear weapons and want to see every last one decommissioned and dismantled.

Five years ago, the treaty banning nuclear weapons was created and last year it entered into force. It is something that experts, governments, diplomats and, even some activists, said could and would not happen.

But with strategy and persistence it did. Now, it has permanently altered the international legal architecture on nuclear weapons: it has raised the bar and all nations are measured against this powerful new standard.

Right now, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has 86 signatories and 66 states parties, with those numbers going out of date regularly as more nations sign on.

Every new signature and ratification is a rejection of the deadly logic of nuclear deterrence and a bold expression of the alternative — human security without nuclear weapons.

The first meeting of states parties in Vienna in June was a big success that culminated in a Declaration and Action Plan, including 50 Points outlining practical ways members of the TPNW can “facilitate effective and timely implementation” of the Treaty articles and the Vienna Declaration commitments.

The second meeting of states parties will be in November-December 2023 at the United Nations in New York City. It will come around quickly. We need Australia to be at that meeting at least as a signatory, if not a state party.

Why is this treaty important?

It’s the first treaty to make illegal everything to do with nuclear weapons.

It completes the triad of bans on the three weapons of mass destruction: nuclear weapons; biological weapons and chemical weapons.

It is a powerful instrument of international law, as well as humanitarian law: it not only prohibits, but it also compels states’ parties to seek nuclear justice by assisting victims and remediating environments impacted by nuclear weapons.

In force as of January last year it is the ultimate test for all nations, including Australia. You are either against nuclear weapons or complicit with them.

Any nations that profess commitment to nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation but haven’t yet joined this treaty are exposed for their double-speak.

Under the previous federal government, prospects for this treaty were dire.

But Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party have committed to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons since 2018. Further, three quarters of all Labor MPs have personally pledged their commitment.

We all know that MPs make and break promises. But this is one we won’t let them break, will we?

Our efforts right now are critically important. We cannot for a minute drop the expectation that the government will do what it has promised. We have to be involved and keep up the pressure with MPs, councils, superannuation funds, unions and civil society organisations.

Like most meaningful change, it will take time and be hard won but we are well and truly on the way.

So, who is on board? More than 100 federal MPs and another 150 in state and territory parliaments, the Australian Greens, Labor and most other cross-benchers, including most of the new independents.

Two dozen unions, including the Australian Council of Trade Unions, more than 60 faith-based organizations, including the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, the Australian Medical Association, dozens of civil society organisations and three quarters of the general public.

Fifty five former Australian Ambassadors and High Commissioners signed an open letter urging PM Albanese to fulfill Labor’s commitment.

We have all the right ingredients: the moment is ripe. We can get Australia to join the nuclear weapon ban treaty in this term of government.

Doing that will help other nuclear endorsing states resist the pressure of the nuclear-armed bullies. Slowly, they will be isolated and, eventually, one of them will begin the process of disarming.

August 22, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga triggered Hedley Marston to study fallout over Australia

ABC Radio Adelaide / By Daniel Keane 10 Aug 22,

Hedley Marston could be charming, genial and witty but he was not above fulmination, especially where fulminations of a different kind were concerned.

In the mid-1950s, the CSIRO biochemist emerged as arguably the most significant contemporary critic of Britain’s nuclear weapons testing program, which was launched on Australia’s Montebello Islands almost 70 years ago in October 1952.

Despite the imminent anniversary Marston remains an obscure figure, but his biographer Roger Cross believes that should change.

“He appears to be totally unknown to the Australian public and, of course, to South Australians — he was a South Australian after all,” Dr Cross said.

Marston’s reservations about the nuclear program were far from spontaneous; indeed, his strongest concerns weren’t voiced until several years after the first test, when he recorded a radioactive plume passing over Adelaide.

The source of that plume was Operation Buffalo, a series of four nuclear blasts in 1956, and Marston was especially outraged by the fact that the general population was not warned.

“Sooner or later the public will demand a commission of enquiry on the ‘fall out’ in Australia,” he wrote to nuclear physicist and weapons advocate Sir Mark Oliphant.

“When this happens some of the boys will qualify for the hangman’s noose.”

What made Marston’s fury difficult to dismiss, especially for those inclined to deride opposition to nuclear testing as the exclusive preserve of ‘commies’ and ‘conchies’, was the fact that he was no peacenik.

Detractors might have damned him as an arriviste, but never as an activist: his cordial relations with Oliphant and other scientific grandees demonstrate that Marston was, in many respects, an establishment man.

Dr Cross has described Marston’s elegant prose as “Churchillian”, and the adjective is apposite in other ways.

While the roguish Marston might not have gone as far as the British wartime leader’s assertion that, during conflict, truth is so precious “that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies”, he had, in a 1947 letter to the editor, publicly defended scientific secrecy:

Under present conditions of fear and mistrust among nations it is obvious that military technology must be kept secret; and to achieve this end it should be conducted in special military laboratories where strictest security measures may be observed.”

But by late 1956, Marston’s alarm at radioactive fallout across parts of Australia was such that he was privately demanding greater disclosures to the general public.

Much of his ire was aimed at the Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee — a body established before the Maralinga tests, but after blasts had already occurred at Emu Fields* and the Montebello Islands.

“He was the only senior Australian scientist to express concerns and, because of his character, the concerns that he expressed were very forthright,” said Dr Cross, whose biography of Marston, aptly entitled Fallout, inspired the documentary Silent Storm.

“When the safety committee after each explosion said there was absolutely no effect on Australians, he believed that they were lying.”

‘If the wind changes, we need to go’

The experiments that led Marston, whose reputation largely rested on his expertise in sheep nutrition, to reach this conclusion were two-fold.

In the more protracted one, he analysed the presence of radioactive iodine-131 — a common component of nuclear fallout — in the thyroids of sheep.

“One group he kept penned up under cover eating dried hay, which had been cut some time before. The other group, he put outside eating the grass,” Dr Cross said.

“He tested the thyroids in each group – the ones on the hay only had background amounts of iodine-131.

“But the ones in the fields had a tremendously high concentration of this radioactive isotope, both north and south of the city.”

A fallout map from the 1985 royal commission, which stated that while fallout at Maralinga Village from the October 11, 1956,  test was “considered to be ‘negligible from a biological point of view’ it does suggest difficulties with the forecast prior to the test”.(Royal Commission into British Nuclear Tests in Australia)

For the other experiment, Marston conducted air monitoring in Adelaide.

He was especially alarmed by what he found for the period following the Maralinga test of October 11, 1956.

“There was a wind shear and at least part, maybe the major part, of that cloud, blew in a south-easterly direction and that took it towards Adelaide and the country towns in between,” Dr Cross said.

“The safety committee — who must have known of the wind shear — had done nothing about warning Adelaide people perhaps to stay indoors.”……………………………………………………

Despite Marston’s reservations, the nuclear program carried on regardless.

Less than a year after the Operation Buffalo tests, Maralinga was hosting Operation Antler.

In September 1957, newspapers around Australia reported on an upcoming “second test” that would, weather permitting, proceed as part of a “spring series”.

If it hadn’t been for the presence of the words “atomic” and “radioactive”, a reader might easily have inferred that what was being described was as commonplace as a game of cricket.

 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-08-10/hedley-marston-maralinga-nuclear-bomb-tests-and-fallout/101310032

August 11, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, media, politics, reference, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Hard-Wired for Corruption -The arms trade and Australia’s lax monitoring regimes

Chris Douglas concludes that from an anti-bribery/corruption risk perspective, Naval Group should not have been put on the shortlist for the Future Submarines program, let alone selected to partner with Australia to build the submarines. The ‘contract of the century’ was mired in unacceptable risk from the outset due to Defence’s poor risk-management processes and non-existent specific anti-bribery/corruption measures. A formal inquiry is needed both to examine how this deeply flawed decision was reached and to help prevent the situation recurring in future major defence procurement projects.

‘In the arms business, it’s always a time of war’, wrote Roeber. Without war, there is no revenue, no profit, no growth. Countries with established arms manufacturing industries therefore have a perpetual economic driver towards conflict and warfare.

To give just one example, there is no visibility around what or how much weaponry Australia has exported to Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates during the years of the Yemen war.

 https://undueinfluence.substack.com/p/hard-wired-for-corruption?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email Michelle Fahy 1 Aug 22, The international arms trade, worth around US$200 billion a year, represents less than 1 per cent of world trade yet is said to account for about 40 per cent of its corruption. While estimates vary, there is little dispute amongst long-term arms industry researchers that it is the most corrupt industry on the planet. Indeed, it is said to be hard-wired for corruption.

The World Peace Foundation (WPF), housed at Tufts University in America, produces extensive research on the global arms trade, including a compendium of corrupt arms deals. It says that ‘Corruption within the industry is often treated in terms of isolated incidents, when it is, in fact, representative of the business model for the industry’.

This finding is supported by research for Transparency International’s (TI) Government Defence Integrity (GDI) index, which assesses the quality of controls for managing corruption risk in defence and security institutions. The GDI shows that 86 per cent of global arms exports between 2016 and 2020 originated from countries at moderate to very high risk of corruption in their defence sectors, while 49 per cent of global arms imports went to countries at high to critical risk of defence corruption. Australia is rated as a moderate corruption risk in the GDI, with two key areas of concern being the lack of transparency in defence procurement and weak anti-corruption safeguards on military operations.

The legal trade in arms has long been known for its susceptibility to corruption. This is due to the high value and complexity of arms deals, the close association between the arms industry and political power, and the secrecy claimed necessary for national security, all of which shield arms-related activities from scrutiny. As arms industry expert Joe Roeber pointed out, ‘Defence goods are complex and each contract contains a mix of special requirements. Comparison is remarkably difficult and effective monitoring by public watchdogs is all but impossible. An unknowable price can be manipulated to accommodate any amount of covert payments’. Further, there are very few major arms deals on offer globally each year—usually less than 10 in the range of tens of billions each meaning competition is intense—while only a small number of people make the decision on what to buy…

‘In the arms business, it’s always a time of war’, wrote Roeber. Without war, there is no revenue, no profit, no growth. Countries with established arms manufacturing industries therefore have a perpetual economic driver towards conflict and warfare.

For example, in the month leading up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and just days after a horrific attack in Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition using a Raytheon missile that killed 90 people and injured 200, Raytheon’s CEO told investors that global tensions represented ‘opportunities for international sales’, and that he expected to ‘see some benefit’ from ‘the tensions in Eastern Europe [and] in the South China Sea’. Meanwhile, Just Security has noted that the ‘well-documented risks of corruption in the arms industry and the potential for profiteering from an arms race in the Ukraine war’ are risk factors embedded in the massive flow of lethal weaponry from the West into Ukraine…

Blanket secrecy

All countries justify secrecy around arms-related activity with claims of protecting ‘national security’. The Australian government, for example, imposes a high level of secrecy over its arms procurement, sustainment and export deals, with politicians and the Department of Defence resisting demands for greater transparency…

Australia also relies on ‘commercial-in-confidence’ justifications to protect arms industry interests. This, in combination with national security claims, has led to almost blanket secrecy around Australia’s arms exports. To give just one example, there is no visibility around what or how much weaponry Australia has exported to Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates during the years of the Yemen war. The government has only released information about the number of export permits it has approved or declined (by March 2021 Australian approvals to these two nations topped 100). However, permit numbers are not useful, as not all permit approvals translate into actual exports, and permits can cover numerous types of equipment, small or large quantities, extend for varying time periods, and even cover multiple destinations.

This is significant because the decades-long UK Campaign Against the Arms Trade has amassed a ‘mountain of evidence of corruption in arms sales to Saudi’ showing that bribery is central to the Saudi government’s approach to arms deals. Andrew Feinstein, author of the exhaustively researched 600-page book The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade, told ABC radio in 2018 that he had never seen a Saudi arms deal that didn’t involve ‘massive amounts’ of corruption, and that the percentage of a Saudi contract paid in bribes could be up to ‘about 35 per cent of the contract price’. The United Arab Emirates is also known for its secrecy, corruption, and money laundering links.

Australia’s decreasing commitment to anti-corruption measures

Australia’s extraordinary current spending on military capability—$270 billion in a decade, on top of the usual defence budget—means the domestic arms industry is awash with cash. At the same time, the public’s limited ability to scrutinise this spending has been eroded further by a defence minister, Peter Dutton, who has restricted Defence’s engagement with the media. The combination of record sums of money and little scrutiny provides fertile ground for corruption.

Australia’s performance on anti-corruption measures has nose-dived in recent years:

  • It recorded its worst ever score on a global anti-corruption index in 2022, dropping four points (from 77 to 73) and falling to 18th place. Australia has now dropped 12 points in a decade, from a high of 7th (85 points) in 2012.
  • Its membership status at the Open Government Partnership risks being put under review because it has ‘acted contrary to the OGP process’ and failed to submit its latest national action plan.
  • Its negligible attempts to investigate and prosecute cases of foreign bribery have been criticised by the Working Group for the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention (it expressed concern over ‘the continued low level of foreign bribery enforcement… given the size of Australia’s economy and the high-risk regions and sectors in which its companies operate’ and ‘its long-standing challenges in attributing wrongdoing to corporate entities’).
  • It has been named an ‘international laggard’ in expanding anti-money-laundering laws in line with recommendations by the G7’s Financial Action Task Force, one of only three countries, alongside Haiti and Madagascar, to have failed to do so. Australia now risks being put on a grey list of countries that don’t meet international money-laundering standards. (Australia has been resisting anti-money-laundering regulation for fifteen years.)
  • A dedicated federal anti-corruption body still has not been established…

Red flags

‘The biggest corruption risk in an arms deal is a company’s decision to pay bribes to secure the deal’, says Sam Perlo-Freeman, former Program Manager for Global Arms and Corruption, World Peace Foundation, Tufts University. Decisions to pay significant bribes are made at a company’s highest levels, and while no amount of technical anti-corruption measures will eliminate high-level corrupt behaviour, strong whistleblower protection mechanisms can increase the probability of exposure. Other anti-corruption measures are also important, particularly at lower levels where zealous company employees might be tempted to cut corners to advance their careers. However, such technical measures do not tackle the underlying political and economic drivers of high-level corruption in the arms industry, where winning large deals is necessary for corporate survival and price is not the primary concern. As Joe Roeber noted incisively, bribery in this context ‘is not just a simple add-on to the procurement process, but distorts the decisions. What would the equilibrium level of trade be without the stimulus of corruption?’ …

No evidence has emerged of…extensive corrupt practices in Australia, but there are regular red flags of possible arms industry corruption. Chris Douglas, a 31-year veteran of financial crime investigation for the Australian Federal Police, who now runs his own consultancy, is an Australian expert in anti-bribery and corruption measures. He says that such compliance programs are a necessary component of good corporate and public governance—essential for preventing corruption in the defence industry. Although he has lodged numerous Freedom of Information requests (FOIs) with the Defence Department about anti-bribery/corruption measures on major procurements, he says, ‘I have not detected an ABC [anti-bribery/corruption] program being used in any of the major defence projects I have examined’.

Douglas says that the Department of Defence ‘has not caught up with modern corporate management practices’ and has no understanding of how to use anti-bribery/corruption risk-based assessments to manage the significant risks posed by bribery and corruption in its projects, particularly major ones. As he puts it: ‘That any department would not undertake an ABC risk assessment when such large sums of money are involved, in an industry that is rated high for corrupt behaviour, speaks volumes about a poor culture within that department’.

Repeated cost blowouts and delays are just two of the red flags for corruption that are regularly found in Australian defence procurement and sustainment projects. The cost of these to the public is substantial.

While there are numerous examples of red flag projects, here are just three.

Naval Group—submarine contract

This contract was abandoned with the arrival of AUKUS, but the original deal with Naval Group requires a public inquiry to examine the full extent of the process by which the internationally lucrative ‘contract of the century’ was awarded. The need for an inquiry has been amplified given the shock shredding of Defence’s largest ever contract, a decision which made international news and may yet cost Australia billions.

Continue reading

August 2, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, reference, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Mr Albanese goes to Madrid: Australia on the alliance path to Global Nato

Albanese’s trip to the leaders’ summit of a US-dominated alliance centred on the other side of the world will prepare the way for deeper Australian integration into a broadened Nato.

Above all, in one respect Mr Albanese’s rush to Madrid is not so different from his predecessor’s cajoling of Washington and London to help out a mate with the anachronistic PR nonsense of AUKUS and the gift horse of a ‘privileged’ offer to allow Australia to buy massively expensive American or conceivably British nuclear-powered submarines.


https://johnmenadue.com/mr-albanese-goes-to-madrid-australia-on-the-alliance-path-to-global-nato/ By Richard TanterJun 30, 2022, While most eyes rest on the remains of Scott Morrison’s failed attempt at a khaki election through last September’s announcement of a backward-looking AUKUS alliance, prime minister Anthony Albanese’s trip to Madrid for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit points to a much more significant shift in Australia’s alliance with the United States – ‘a global alliance of democracies’, aka Global NATO.

 Scott Morrison’s AUKUS centring on agreement with the US and UK to provide Australia with submarine nuclear propulsion evoked derision about its back to the 1950s strategic vision and despair about what promises to be the worst and most consequential of Australia’s numerous recent politically-driven defence procurement choices.

The submarines debacle apart, AUKUS for the most part remains a matter of two or three lines of unpromising promises in media releases, largely dealing with matters already the subject of bilateral agreements or dimly-seen possible futures like quantum computing for defence purposes.

The most recent, if somewhat limp, nudge to keep the Albanese government on the nuclear submarine track came at the National Press Club when the Lowy Institute’s Michael Fullilove mocked an informed questioner concerned about the deal’s implications for the tattered nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This widely-held worry – if first Australia, then serious nuclear weapon-wannabes Brazil and South Korea – was in fact unimportant Fullilove replied, since experts such as former Foreign Minister Gareth Evans have assured us are under control.

At the same time the US has just added its confidence booster to this process with a bill before Congress for an Australia-U.S. Submarine Officer Pipeline Act that would allow two RAN submariners a year to attend a seven-week nuclear reactor training, take the US Navy’s Submarine Officer Basic Course, and then deploy aboard a US nuclear-powered submarine.

This only leaves the imponderables of deciding the strategic rationale of the mission to which the submarines are to be solution, the actual technical requirements that would be entailed by that mission, the design of the submarine, the choice of country and lead contractors for the build, the development of a full-scale naval nuclear-engineering safety and maintenance regime, and a brief discussion of the lifetime costs likely to be more than a couple of multiples of the $100 billion estimate for the French submarines.

What could possibly go wrong?

And that’s before any discussion of opportunity costs – even for alternative contenders for defence spending, let alone meeting non-military requirements for a secure Australia – of the lifetime costs of a commitment to nuclear submarines that are likely to move towards the half trillion dollar mark.

But Albanese’s trip to the leaders’ summit of a US-dominated alliance centred on the other side of the world will prepare the way for deeper Australian integration into a broadened Nato.

For over a decade US and Nato officials and Australian defence advisors have been calling for ‘a global alliance of democracies’. The Australian prime minister, together with the leaders of Nato’s other ‘Asia-Pacific partners’ from JapanNew Zealand and South Korea, will participate in the launch of the first formal iteration of Global Nato with Nato’s Strategic Concept 2022.

Two decades of high tempo deployment of Australian military under Nato auspices in the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East have conditioned the Australian Defence Force to close operational coordination and interoperability with US-led Nato ground, air, and naval forces.

Defence planners have gradually integrated Nato into high-level Australian strategic planning, first as an ‘Asian partner’ Nato along with Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, and recently as an ‘Enhanced Strategic Partner’.

Nato’s centrality to the hyper-multinational International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan provided the first and possibly most important Australian escalator into Nato.

While replete with consequences as lethal for the people of Afghanistan as they were dysfunctional for all of the alliance militaries involved, ISAF, together with the parallel US-orchestrated Combined Maritime Forces in the western Indian Ocean from 2002, provided deep operational experience and ‘learnings’ for a Nato-centred US-led coalition on a scale approaching a multilateral ‘global’ presence.

Nato’s Strategic Concept 2022 is to be formalised at the Madrid Summit, representing a maturation of US post-Cold War planning for a major step towards an integrated global defence alliance after seventy years of US-dominated Nato in Europe and the limitations of bilateral hub-and-spokes alliances in Asia.

Most importantly, apart from integrating its Asian partners more closely, the new Strategic Concept is to prepare Nato ‘against all threats, from all directions’.

Full membership of Nato for any of these Asian partners will be a long way off, not least because the governing institutions of a now 30 member country nuclear alliance will need adjustment, even assuming there is no uncomfortable internal opposition as Turkey has mounted against the admission of Sweden.

For the present, Australia, Japan and Korea – and possibly New Zealand – will be drawn into Nato’s seemingly endless rounds of political, diplomatic, military and civil society consultations (though the last is in practice a most attenuated and selective grouping of actual national and international civil society).

US-led military interoperability drives will be coupled with injunctions for closer political and strategic planning coordination between Canberra and Brussels (aka Washington).

But there can be little doubt of the ultimate goal for Washington in the construction of ‘an alliance of democracies’ with global reach.

The follies of AUKUS distract attention from the scale of the quiet achievement of the United States in rescuing Nato from post-Cold War obsolescence, latterly assisted greatly by the Russian war against Ukraine.

Drawing the line from Kyiv to Taipei, ‘we know’, the Prime Minister said, ‘that there is an alliance that has been reached as well between Russia and China. There are implications for our region, given the strategic competition that is in our region, which is why this Nato summit comes at such a critical time’.

As Mr Albanese rightly put it Russia’s ‘brutal invasion is against the rule of law’, and carries implications for ‘all of those who cherish democracy, who cherish the rule of law, and who cherish the rights of nations to be sovereign’.

Yet Australia needs to tread carefully.

The warm glow of rhetorical solidarity with Ukraine facing World War 2-scale Russian attack tends to veil the fact that multiple US-auspiced Nato interventions in the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan have led, via great destruction, to evident defeat or specious ‘mission accomplished’.

Moreover the list of Nato members and partners does not provide an unsullied list of countries honoured for their respect for democracy, rule of law, or sovereignty.

Mr Albanese might like to chat about the rule of law with Victor Orbán from Hungary or Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from Turkey, or indeed with Boris Johnson – or mull over the battered state of American democracy with Joe Biden.

Perhaps a stopover by his RAAF plane in Diego Garcia might prompt some thoughts about British respect for the rule of law – in certain respects, such as the forced dispossession of the indigenous Chagos Islanders to make way for a giant US military base often used by Australia, more egregious than China’s violations of international law somewhat further east.

Above all, in one respect Mr Albanese’s rush to Madrid is not so different from his predecessor’s cajoling of Washington and London to help out a mate with the anachronistic PR nonsense of AUKUS and the gift horse of a ‘privileged’ offer to allow Australia to buy massively expensive American or conceivably British nuclear-powered submarines.

By all means, let us make common cause with governments we find congenial – when our interests do in fact genuinely align. Defence coordination and cooperation with democratic states in our principal areas of strategic interest is a must for Australia. The problem is that Europe is not such an area, and neither was the Middle East, Afghanistan, nor Nato’s latest fronts in North Africa and the Sahel.

Thinking about an alliance of democracies is not inherently foolish. The problem comes when the form of periodic elections is confused with the substance of democracy. It may seem carping to point to the Orbans and Erdoğans of Nato, but with Marine Le Pen possibly just one more election away from the Elysée, the authoritarian threat in Europe is palpably real.

Remarking on a British prime minister’s announced willingness to trash international agreements for political gain at the risk of re-starting a war in Northern Ireland may seem unoriginal, it is scarcely beside the point with talk of new alliances built on rule of law.

Most seriously of all, we should be talking about the risk of a precipitous decline, or even collapse, of democracy in the United States extremely seriously. Appalling as it is, the Supreme Court decision abolishing US women’s rights to control their bodies is but the latest blow to the unexamined claim for the United States to still be called a global model of democracy.

The view in Canberra seems to be that the US alliance has survived the threat of Trump, so it’s back to business as usual, and onward to ever closer union – with the path leading now through Brussels. Yet the dangers to Australia from unconsidered reliance on a country with both systemic dysfunction and deep anti-democratic impulses at its heart should not be ignored.

The common element between the swooning Australian interest in Global Nato and the Morrison fiasco with AUKUS and the manifold problems of its submarine element is that in both cases a considered assessment of whether Australian national interests align with those of the United States – in this case in the guise of Nato – is absent.

The new Australian foreign minister has started a commendable reset of Australian regional relations in an effort to recover, at least as a start, from the wreckage of a decade of coalition policy.

In a series of important statements on foreign policy in recent years Penny Wong eloquently has made the case for understanding that a proper consideration of our national interest cannot be separated from the long and sometimes difficult process of working out who we are.

Interests very largely flow from identity, especially when it comes to reading a map of threats and opportunities. Why then would the first foreign policy ventures of a new prime minister be tied to an alliance with the other side of the world – for Australia, the old world?

July 2, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, reference | Leave a comment

The National Radioactive Waste Management Act is racist and the Act must be amended or repealed and replaced.

Submission to Legal & Constitutional Affairs References Committee
Inquiry into the application of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Australia Friends of the Earth Australia nuclear.foe.org.au/racism nuclear.foe.org.au/waste
June 2022

Article 29 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples:

  1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources. States shall establish and implement assistance programmes for indigenous peoples for such conservation and protection, without discrimination.
  2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent.
  3. States shall also take effective measures to ensure, as needed, that programmes for monitoring, maintaining and restoring the health of indigenous peoples, as developed and implemented by the peoples affected by such materials, are duly implemented.
    https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/wp-
  1. SUMMARY SUMMARY & RECOMMENDATIONS
  2. Friends of the Earth Australia welcomes the opportunity to provide a submission to this inquiry and would be happy to appear at a public hearing.
  3. This submission argues that successive Australian federal governments have repeatedly breached the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in relation to nuclear waste management plans, and that the National Radioactive Waste Management Act contains multiple indefensible clauses designed to disempower Aboriginal Traditional Owners

The recommendations are as follows:

  1. The Committee should recommend revocation of the Morrison Coalition Government’s declaration of a site near Kimba in SA for a national nuclear waste dump. The opposition of Barngarla Traditional Owners is unanimous. It would be unconscionable for the Labor Government to do anything other than to revoke the declaration and abandon the former government’s plan for a nuclear dump on Barngarla Country.
  2. The Committee should recommend that the federal Albanese Labor Government adopt South Australian Labor policy whereby traditional owners have a right of veto over any nuclear waste sites.
  3. The National Radioactive Waste Management Act is racist through and through, it breaches the UNDRIP on multiple counts, and the Act must be amended or repealed and replaced.
  1. THE PROPOSED NATIONAL NUCLEAR WASTE DUMP ON BARNGARLA COUNTRY IN SA
    The Morrison Coalition Government’s plan to establish a national nuclear waste dump on Barngarla Country on SA’s Eyre Peninsula ‒ despite the unanimous opposition of Barngarla Traditional Owners ‒ clearly violates Article 29 of the UNDRIP:
    “States shall take effective measures to ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent”.

In a 2018 submission to the UN OHCHR United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Morrison Coalition Government claimed that “the [radioactive waste] facility will not be forced on an unwilling community, in line with Article 29(2) of the Declaration [on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples].”
Article 29(2) of the UN Declaration stresses free, prior and informed consent:
“States shall take effective measures to ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent.”

The proposed Kimba dump does not have the “free, prior and informed consent” of Barngarla Traditional Owners. They are unanimous in their opposition. There is no consent.
The Morrison Government excluded Barngarla Traditional Owners from a sham ‘community ballot’. So the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC) engaged the Australian Election Company to conduct an independent ballot which revealed unanimous opposition among Traditional Owners. The ballot was ignored by the federal government.
Jason Bilney, Chair of BDAC, noted:
“It is a simple truth that had we, as the first people for the area, been included in the Kimba community ballot rather than unfairly denied the right to vote, then the community ballot would never have returned a yes vote.”

In April 2020, federal parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights Committee concluded that the Morrison government was violating the human rights of Barngarla people. The Committee noted the unanimous opposition of the Barngarla Traditional Owners to the proposed nuclear dump and it concluded that the National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Bill did not sufficiently protect the rights and interests of Traditional Owners and that “there is a significant risk that the specification of this site will not fully protect the right to culture and self-determination.”

Importantly, the Human Rights Committee’s report was unanimous and was endorsed by Liberal and National Party members as well as Labor members. However the Morrison Coalition Government ignored the Human Rights Committee’s report and continued in its efforts to dispossess and disempower Barngarla Traditional Owners.

The National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Bill was the Morrison Government’s attempt to amend federal legislation to prevent Barngarla Traditional Owners from launching a legal challenge against the nomination of the dump site. Thankfully, the attempt to prevent a legal challenge failed due to opposition from Labor and cross-bench Senators.

Barngarla Traditional Owners have launched a legal challenge in the Federal Court against the Morrison Government’s declaration of the Napandee site, near Kimba, for a national nuclear waste dump. It would be unconscionable for the incoming Labor Government to engage in a legal fight in order to allow the government to ignore and override the unanimous opposition of Barngarla Traditional Owners to the proposed nuclear dump.

The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation states:
“It remains shocking and saddening that in the 21st Century, First Nations people would have to fight for the right to vote in Australia and that the Federal Government would deliberately remove judicial oversight of its actions in circumstances where the Human Rights Committee, a bipartisan committee no less, has considered the process to locate the NRWMF flawed.”

A 22 June 2021 joint statement by Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation and No Radioactive Waste on Agricultural Land in Kimba or SA group states:2

“The Government has completely and utterly miscarried the site selection process. There are many examples of this. No proper heritage assessment of the site was ever undertaken, and they have marginalised the voices of the farming community throughout the entire process. However, the most obvious and appalling example of this failed process was when the Government allowed the gerrymandering of the Kimba “community ballot”, in order to manipulate the vote. The simple fact remains that even though the Barngarla hold native title land closer to the proposed facility than the town of Kimba, the First Peoples for the area were not allowed to vote. They prevented Barngarla persons from voting, because native title land is not rateable. Further, they did not allow many farmers to vote, even

though they were within 50km of the proposed facility, because they were not in the Council area. They targeted us, because they knew that if they had a fair vote which included us, then the vote would return a “no” from the community.”
BDAC has written to Prime Minister Albanese calling on the Labor government to scrap Morrison’s plans for a nuclear waste dump in SA.3 The letter states:
“Although we appreciate all that Labor have done in opposition, the Barngarla people unequivocally make it clear that we request that the new Labor minister revoke the declaration or consent to the orders quashing the declaration. We call for this to occur at the earliest opportunity possible.”

The BDAC letter further states:
“Sadly, the former Government at every turn tried to silence us in this process, as the Government did not allow us access to the land to undertake a proper heritage survey, tried to remove our right to judicial review, sought to legislate the location directly, abandoned their commitment to ensure that the facility had broad community support, altered the proposal to include military waste inconsistently with the treaty and tried, through various affiliated organisations, to interfere with our ability to bring judicial review including having parties costs orders against us as a means to blocking the Barngarla people from going to Court.

“Despite this, we stood tall, and we have brought these legal proceedings. They were brought against Minister Pitt, but because you have won the election, the matter now becomes your Governments to deal with.

“Although we appreciate the right to bring these proceedings and all that Labor have done in Opposition, the Barngarla people unequivocally make it clear that we request that the new Labor Minister revoke the declaration or consent to the orders quashing the declaration. We call for this to occur at the earliest opportunity possible in the new Labor Government, because we do not want to fight against your Government in Court which would not only take a number of years, but result in spending our vulnerable community’s resources protecting our people against the contemptuous behaviour of the last Government; nor do we want your Government to be tarnished by these horrible failures of the former Government. …
“The Uluru Statement from the Heart makes clear that our “sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown”. Again, as we said to the new Minister, our spiritual sovereignty has been violated by the former Government, and we hope and believe in your Government that you will not violate it further.”

Right of Veto
The Albanese Labor Government should adopt South Australian Labor’s policy whereby traditional owners have a right of veto over any nuclear waste sites. This is of course consistent with UNDRIP principles regarding free, prior and informed consent.
Susan Close, now Deputy Premier of South Australia, noted in a September 2020 media statement:
“This was a dreadful process from start to finish, resulting in fractures within the local community over the dump. The SA ALP has committed to traditional owners having a right of veto over any nuclear waste sites, yet the federal government has shown no respect to the local Aboriginal people.”
Likewise, in October 2021 SA Labor supported a parliamentary motion stating that in light of the opposition of the Barngarla Traditional Owners, the (since defeated) Marshall Government should oppose the federal government’s attempt to impose a national nuclear waste dump in SA and stands condemned for its failure to do so.4


Labor’s Kyam Maher spoke in favour of the parliamentary motion:5
“We have had since before the last election, and maintained the view since the election, that for a nuclear radioactive storage facility it is fundamental that traditional owners’ views are taken into account. Since Jay Weatherill was Premier we have taken the view ‒ and that has continued in this term while we are in opposition ‒ that for a nuclear radioactive dump or storage facility the traditional owners should have a right of veto, a right of refusal of such a thing on their land. That has not changed and that is why we support this motion, from that one very simple principle which we have had and which remains unchanged.”
The Albanese Labor Government should respect SA legislation banning the import, transport, storage and disposal of nuclear wastes ‒ the SA Nuclear Waste Storage (Prohibition) Act 2000. The Act states:
“The Objects of this Act are to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of South Australia and to protect the environment in which they live by prohibiting the establishment of certain nuclear waste storage facilities in this State.”

The Nuclear Waste Storage (Prohibition) Act is supported by South Australians; the proposed nuclear waste dump is not. A 2018 poll found that 55% agreed that SA should stop the federal government from building a national nuclear dump in SA while 35% disagreed. A 2016 Sunday Mail-commissioned poll found that support in SA for a national dump (39.8%) was well short of a 50% majority and even further short of the Morrison Coalition Government’s own benchmark of 65% to demonstrate ‘broad community support’. A 2015 Advertiser-commissioned poll found just 15.7% support for a nuclear waste dump in SA.
SA Unions, the peak body representing trade unionists in South Australia, unanimously passed a resolution in March 2022 supporting Barngarla Traditional Owners in their struggle

against the Morrison government’s proposed nuclear dump.6 SA Unions Secretary Dale Beasley said the that South Australian labour movement stood shoulder to shoulder with the Barngarla Traditional Owners:
“South Australian unions are completely united in their support of the Barngarla Traditional Owners and their opposition to the proposed nuclear waste site at Kimba. … We have in South Australia a shameful legacy of imposing the impact of nuclear technology on aboriginal communities. Decades after the end of British nuclear tests around Maralinga, radioactive particles containing plutonium and uranium still contaminate the landscape. Given that history, we would have expected Steven Marshall to stand up for the Barngarla Traditional Owners. … South Australian unions join with the Traditional Owners and the South Australian Community in complete opposition to the dangerous proposal.”

Recommendations:

  1. The Committee should recommend revocation of the Morrison Coalition Government’s declaration of a site near Kimba in SA for a national nuclear waste dump. The opposition of Barngarla Traditional Owners is unanimous. It would be unconscionable for the Labor Government to do anything other than to revoke the declaration and abandon the former government’s plan for a nuclear dump on Barngarla Country.
  2. The Committee should recommend that the federal Albanese Labor Government adopt South Australian Labor policy whereby traditional owners have a right of veto over any nuclear waste sites.
  1. THE NATIONAL RADIOACTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT ACT
    The National Radioactive Waste Management Act (NRWMA) is wildly inconsistent with UNDRIP principles.
    The NRWMA gives the federal government the power to extinguish rights and interests in land targeted for a radioactive waste facility.7 In so doing the relevant Minister must “take into account any relevant comments by persons with a right or interest in the land” but there is no requirement to secure consent ‒ or to back off if consent is not forthcoming.
    Aboriginal Traditional Owners, local communities, pastoralists, business owners, local councils and State/Territory Governments are all disadvantaged and disempowered by the NRWMA.
    The NRWMA goes to particular lengths to disempower Traditional Owners. The nomination of a site for a radioactive waste facility is valid even if Aboriginal owners were not consulted and did not give consent. The NRWMA states that consultation should be conducted with

Traditional Owners and consent should be secured ‒ but that the nomination of a site for a radioactive waste facility is valid even in the absence of consultation or consent.
Needless to say, that is in no way, shape or form compliant with UNDRIP clauses regarding free, prior and informed consent.
The NRWMA has sections which nullify State or Territory laws that protect the archaeological or heritage values of land or objects, including those which relate to Indigenous traditions.
The Act curtails the application of Commonwealth laws including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 and the Native Title Act 1993 in the important site-selection stage. The Native Title Act 1993 is expressly overridden in relation to land acquisition for a radioactive waste facility.

The NRWMA has been criticised in both Senate Inquiries and a Federal Court challenge to an earlier federal government attempt to impose a national radioactive waste facility at Muckaty in the Northern Territory.
The NRWMA needs to be radically amended or replaced with legislation that gives local communities and Traditional Owners the right to say ‘no’ to nuclear waste dumps.
Sadly, the only recent attempt to amend the NRWMA was the Morrison Coalition Government’s attempt to strip ever more rights from Traditional Owners, by removing the right for judicial review. Thankfully, that attempt to further weaken the legislation failed.
Recommendation:

  1. The National Radioactive Waste Management Act is racist through and through, it breaches the UNDRIP on multiple counts, and the Act must be amended or repealed and replaced.

June 4, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics, reference | Leave a comment

This black smoke rolling through the mulga’: almost 70 years on, it’s time to remember the atomic tests at Emu Field

 https://theconversation.com/this-black-smoke-rolling-through-the-mulga-almost-70-years-on-its-time-to-remember-the-atomic-tests-at-emu-field-181061

The Convesation, Liz Tynan, Associate professor and co-ordinator of professional development GRS, James Cook University: May 4, 2022 

The name Emu Field does not have the same resonance as Maralinga in Australian history. It is usually a footnote to the much larger atomic test site in South Australia. However, the weapons testing that took place in October 1953 at Emu Field, part of SA’s Woomera Prohibited Area, was at least as damaging as what came three years later at Maralinga.

The Emu Field tests, known as Operation Totem, were an uncontrolled experiment on human populations unleashing a particularly mysterious and dangerous phenomenon – known as “black mist” – which is still being debated.

Operation Totem involved two “mushroom cloud” tests, held 12 days apart, which sought to compare the differences in performance between varying proportions of isotopes of plutonium. The tests were not safe, despite assurances given at the time.

Between 1952 and 1957, Britain used three Australian sites to test 12 “mushroom cloud” bombs: the uninhabited Monte Bello Islands off the Western Australian coast and the two South Australian sites. (An associated program of tests of various weapons components and safety measures continued at Maralinga until 1963.)

The British government, with loyal but uncomprehending support from Australia under Liberal prime minister Robert Menzies, proceeded despite incomplete knowledge of atomic weapons effects or the sites’ meteorological and geographical conditions.

The British government, with loyal but uncomprehending support from Australia under Liberal prime minister Robert Menzies, proceeded despite incomplete knowledge of atomic weapons effects or the sites’ meteorological and geographical conditions.

The first British atomic test, Operation Hurricane, held in 1952, was a maritime test of a 25 kiloton atomic device detonated below the waterline in a ship anchored off part of the Monte Bello Islands.

Operation Totem was designed to test two much smaller devices – 9.1 and 7.1 kilotons respectively – by detonating them on steel towers in the desert.

At the time, Britain was in the process of commissioning a new reactor at Calder Hall in Cumbria (designed to make plutonium for both military and civilian uses) that would produce nuclear fuel containing more plutonium-240 than a previous reactor.

Totem was intended to test “austerity” weapons made from nuclear fuel eked out of this reactor. (Plutonium-240 can potentially make nuclear weapons unstable, in contrast to the fuel of choice for fission weapons, plutonium-239, which is more controllable.)

Totem was a “comparative” test. Its innermost technicalities are still kept secret by the British government.

A greasy black mist

The two tests at Emu Field were fired at 7am, on 15 October and 27 October.

The first test, Totem I, produced a mysterious, greasy “black mist” that rolled over Aboriginal communities around Wallatinna and Mintabie, 170 kilometres to the northeast of Emu Field. The black mist directly harmed Aṉangu people. Because no data was collected at the time, it is impossible to quantify precisely, however, the anecdotal evidence suggests death and sickness occured.

The British meteorologist, Ray Acaster, gave an account of the phenomenon, and its possible causes, in 2002:

The Black Mist was a process of mist or fog formation at or near the ground at various distances from the explosion point … Radioactive particles from the unusually high concentration in the explosion cloud falling into the mist or fog contributed to the condensation process … The radioactive particles in the mist or fog became moist and deposited as a black, sticky, and radioactive dust, particularly dangerous if taken into the body by ingestion or breathing.

The black mist was an horrific experience for all in its path. Survivors gathered at Wallatinna and Marla Bore in 1985 testified to the Royal Commission into the British Atomic Tests in Australia on its effect on individuals and communities.

Among those who testified was Lallie Lennon, who lived at Mintabie with her husband and children in 1953. After breakfast on 15 October they heard a deep rumble, followed by weird smoke that smelt of gunpowder and stuck to the trees. Lallie, her children and the others with her all got sick with diarrhoea, flu-like symptoms, rashes and sore eyes. Lallie’s skin problems were so severe, it looked like she had rolled in fire.

Another witness, the later tireless advocate for the survivors of the British atomic tests, Yami Lester, was a child at the time of Totem and lost his vision after the tests.

He recalled his experiences in testimony to the royal commission, and elsewhere. Interviewed by two London Observer journalists in a story republished in the Bulletin under the title “Forgotten victims of the ‘rolling black mist’”, he said:

I looked up south and saw this black smoke rolling through the mulga. It just came at us through the trees like a big, black mist. The old people started shouting ‘It’s a mamu’ (an evil spirit) … they dug holes in the sand dune and said ‘Get in here, you kids’. We got in and it rolled over and around us and went away.

Contaminated planes
The second test, Totem II, took place on October 27 in completely different meteorological conditions and did not produce a black mist. Its cloud rose quickly into the atmosphere and broke up soon after. However, radioactivity from both Totem I and Totem II travelled east across the continent, crossing the coast near Townsville.
Air force crews from both Britain and Australia flew into the atomic clouds. A British Canberra aircraft with three crew aboard entered the Totem I cloud just six minutes after detonation, far earlier than any of the other cloud sampling aircraft.

For a brief period the radioactivity to which they were exposed was off the scale. The aircraft was flown back to the UK, where it was found to carry extensive residual radioactive dust despite having been cleaned in Australia.

While air crew were exposed to contamination in flight, RAAF ground crew were worse affected, since they were largely unprotected and worked for hours on the contaminated planes. The risk to both air and ground crew was extensively examined by the Royal Commission.

One account by Group Captain David Colquhoun, head of RAAF operations at Emu Field, mentioned a gathering of crew in a hangar at Woomera, where a doctor ran a Geiger counter over those present.

As it reached the hip of one man, “the Geiger gave a very strong number of counts”. The young man then said he had a rag in his hip pocket he had used to wipe grease “off the union between the wing and the fuselage”. This rag was heavily contaminated.

Abrogating responsibility

After America’s McMahon Act of 1946 made it illegal for the US to work with other countries on atomic weaponry, a secret British Cabinet committee made the decision to conduct tests of a British bomb – but not on its own territory.

Britain explicitly abrogated all responsibility for those who lived near the Emu Fields site. Britain maintained through to the royal commission – and in years beyond – that it was not responsible for Aboriginal welfare in the face of atomic weapons tests.

The extent of the huge British atomic weapons testing program here is still largely unknown by Australians. The Australian government forced the British government to contribute to the cost of remediation of Maralinga in the mid-1990s, although Monte Bello and Emu Field were largely left untouched.

The story of Emu Field has been forgotten for nearly 70 years. Bringing it back into our national consciousness reminds us the costs of harmful political decisions are often not borne by the decision-makers but by the most powerless.

The author would like to thank Maralinga Tjarutja Council for allowing access to the Maralinga lands, including Emu Field.

The Secret of Emu Field: Britain’s forgotten atomic tests in Australia, by Elizabeth Tynan, has just been published by NewSouth

May 5, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Weapons corporations infiltrate our schools and charities, promoting war-mongering to our youth

REPUTATION LAUNDERING,

 https://declassifiedaus.org/2022/03/31/reputation-laundering/ DeclassifiedAUS2 The weapons companies spruiking the ‘benefits and opportunities’ of the wars in Ukraine and Yemen and tensions in the South China Sea are infiltrating our schools., MICHELLE FAHY, 31 MARCH 2022

A Lockheed Martin missile blows up a school bus in Yemen, while in Australia the company gains kudos by sponsoring the National Youth Science Forum.

BAE Systems supports the education of kids in Australia, while being complicit in the killing of thousands of children in Yemen.

Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest weapons-maker, is raking in billions from ongoing wars like the four-week Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the eight-year long Saudi-led war in Yemen.

Lockheed Martin laser-guided bomb blew up a bus full of Yemeni school children in 2018, killing 40 children and injuring dozens more.

Meanwhile, in Australia, Lockheed Martin was busy cultivating kudos with kids as major sponsor of the National Youth Science Forum, a registered charity originally set up by Rotary.

Then there’s US missile-making giant Raytheon which now has a significant new manufacturing facility in Australia. It has continued to supply the Saudi-led coalition with weapons for the Yemen war, despite extensive evidence pointing to war crimes arising from its missiles being used to target and kill civilians. 

In January 2022, a Raytheon missile killed at least 80 people and injured over 200 in a so-called precision strike in Sa’adah in Yemen.

Within days of this horrific incident, Raytheon’s CEO was telling investors that rising tensions represented “opportunities for international sales” and he fully expected to “see some benefit” from “the tensions in Eastern Europe [and] the South China Sea”.

There’s no mention in Australia’s media of the big profits Raytheon is making from the Yemen war, which has now entered its eighth year, killed or injured at least 19,000 civilians, and possibly many more, and also caused the deaths of tens of thousands of children through starvation, due to disruption of food supplies and militarily-enforced trade blockade.

Instead, we’ve seen pictures of Aussie school kids having fun with the Australian snowboarding Paralympian who Raytheon Australia hired to front the launch of its Maths Alive! educational exhibition.

And we also heard about Raytheon’s sponsorship of Soldier On and the Invictus Games, despite the irony of a weapons company using its support of injured military personnel as a public relations exercise.

There’s a name for this cynical behaviour by corporations: ‘reputation laundering’.

Weapons companies are now ‘Innovators’

The world’s weapons producers have also taken to promoting themselves as ‘innovators’ in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths, called STEM. 

This enables them to target children and young people as future employees (see, for exampleBAE Systems AustraliaBoeing Defence Australia, and Saab Australia), often with the willing partnership of respected institutions. Many Australian universities now have MOUsjoint venturesstrategic partnerships, or other forms of collaboration with the weapons industry.

This enthusiastic support of STEM serves a double purpose: reputation laundering, and a socially acceptable way to promote the weapons industry as a future employer directly to children and their parents.

Promoting STEM education is essential to creating a well-trained workforce for key industries of the future, particularly those that can tackle the existential risks associated with climate change. The concern with the weapons industry’s activities in this domain is the way it is using STEM to target children as young as primary school age for weapons-making careers, often with the support of government. 

The spin and glamour being associated with Australia’s increased militarism is a concern on several levels, particularly as the marketing omits pertinent information: weapons and warfare aren’t mentioned.

Nor is there information about how children might use their STEM skills to enhance the ‘lethality’ of their employer’s products.

Nor about a future in which the need for human involvement in the ‘kill chain’ is eliminated by creating autonomous robots to make life and death decisions instead. (This is not science fiction, these research and development programs are already happening.)

Working for companies involved with nuclear weapons isn’t discussed, either.

Instead, a world of euphemism has been created: ‘advanced technology systems, products and services’, ‘high end technology company’, ‘leading systems integrator’, ‘security and aerospace company’, ‘defence technology and innovation company’. 

It is also likely to be weapons company marketing material if the phrase ‘solving complex problems’ appears, especially if accompanied by claims of ‘making the world safer.

None of these euphemisms conjures up realistic images of the bloody and brutal destruction the world is witnessing in the world’s latest war in Ukraine.

The ways global weapons giants have cultivated relationships with organisations of good purpose in Australia is highlighted in the following examples.

Lockheed Martin and the National Youth Science Forum

The National Youth Science Forum was created by Rotary, which remains involved. The Forum, now a not-for-profit organisation overseen by a board, has numerous programs, the flagship program being for Year 12 students interested in a career in science.

“The ban treaty embodies the collective moral revulsion of the international community,” according to the Director of the Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament at the Australian National University, Professor Ramesh Thakur.

Lockheed Martin and the Gallipoli Sponsorship Fund

In 2020, Lockheed Martin Australia became the first corporate sponsor of the Gallipoli Scholarship Fund and provides $120,000 to fund 12 Lockheed Martin Australia bursaries for the educational benefit of descendants of Australian military veterans.

Lockheed Martin is providing these Australian educational bursaries through to the end of 2023, with an opportunity to extend.

Referring to Lockheed Martin as a “defence technology and innovation company”, the Gallipoli Sponsorship Fund’s website also does not disclose Lockheed’s status as the world’s dominant weapons-maker nor its position as a major nuclear weapons producer.

BAE Systems and The Smith Family

This example illustrates that public pressure can and does make a difference.

The UK’s largest weapons-maker, BAE Systems, has been working inside Saudi Arabia supporting the Saudi-led coalition’s role in Yemen since the start of the war.

A BAE maintenance employee was quoted in 2019 saying, “If we weren’t there, in 7 to 14 days there wouldn’t be a jet in the sky.” BAE Systems has sold nearly £18 billion worth of weaponry to the Saudis since the war in Yemen started in 2014.

Yet in Australia, BAE Systems started a $100,000 partnership with The Smith Family in August 2020, sponsoring a STEM education program for under-privileged children.

BAE’s role helping the Saudis prolong one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises in Yemen was pointed out numerous times to The Smith Family, a children’s charity, after news broke of its BAE sponsorship.

The Smith Family initially resisted but after increasing pressure and activism from peace organisations and many complaints from the public, The Smith Family soon dropped its controversial ‘partnership’ with BAE Systems Australia, mere months after it had started.

Morally indefensible positions

Benign-sounding sponsorships of Australian school children such as these might appear less self-serving if weapons companies behaved consistently and stopped supplying weapons to those nations known to be serial abusers of human rights. 

Saying they are merely doing the bidding of their governments in supplying the Saudis, and other abusive and repressive regimes, as these companies have, is not a morally defensible position.

It is particularly not defensible in the face of evidence of ongoing war crimes being committed using their weaponry.

MICHELLE FAHY is an independent writer and researcher, specialising in the examination of connections between the weapons industry and government, and has written in various independent publications. She is on twitter @FahyMichelle, and on Substack at UndueInfluence.substack.com  An earlier version of this article was published in Michael West Media in November 2020.

April 1, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, reference, spinbuster, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear testing in Maralinga, sixty years on

Nuclear testing in Maralinga, sixty years on, First Nations communities have borne the brunt of nuclear testing carried out by the British Government in the 1950s. Forced off their land for 30 years, they have since been tasked with monitoring operations as part of their bid for land back. http://honisoit.com/2022/03/nuclear-testing-in-maralinga-sixty-years-on/?fbclid=IwAR3I0PK-6iZhEgsBzkE4ojkVf9PjgS7h0xJ1fLubi2raItB6A bKatarina Butler. March 17, 2022  In the wake of Hiroshima, every major power on Earth scrambled to develop nuclear weapons to maintain military relevance. One such country was Britain, and in a bid to strengthen Australia’s relationship with Brits, the Menzies government offered swathes of land for nuclear testing. The areas chosen were predominantly inhabited by First Nations people.

Testing in Australia was carried out in three locations: Montebello Islands, Emu Field, and Maralinga, between 1952 and 1957. A total of twelve major atomic detonations occurred, creating large fireballs and mushroom clouds that released radioactive debris that is still detectable today. The explosions were similar in size to those seen at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

March 17, 2022  In the wake of Hiroshima, every major power on Earth scrambled to develop nuclear weapons to maintain military relevance. One such country was Britain, and in a bid to strengthen Australia’s relationship with Brits, the Menzies government offered swathes of land for nuclear testing. The areas chosen were predominantly inhabited by First Nations people.

Testing in Australia was carried out in three locations: Montebello Islands, Emu Field, and Maralinga, between 1952 and 1957. A total of twelve major atomic detonations occurred, creating large fireballs and mushroom clouds that released radioactive debris that is still detectable today. The explosions were similar in size to those seen at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

For the surrounding communities, the testing also posed, and poses, significant health risks.

Nuclear fallout is a mix of unfissioned material and radioactive material produced during the explosion (such as cesium-137). Radioactive chemicals do not degrade the way that other explosives byproducts do. Instead, they have ‘half-lives’ which denote the time taken for half of the radioactive material to decay and become inactive (or decay into another lower-weight radioactive compound). Large amounts of plutonium-239 were dispersed during these tests.

Initially, unfissioned plutonium-239 was thought to be relatively harmless. However, recent research from Monash University indicates otherwise. When larger plutonium particles enter the atmosphere, they can release radioactive nanoparticles which spread across the environment attached to dust or rain. As wildlife take up this plutonium from the soil, it is believed to slowly release into other flora and fauna — with dangerous implications for people living on Country. This is particularly concerning considering the 24,100 year half-life of plutonium-239.

In the lead up to the tests, British Armed Forces failed to warn First Nations people of the dangers associated with the program. Only one officer was responsible for covering the thousands of square kilometres to inform whoever he could find. The officer, Walter MacDougall, was then criticised by the Chief Scientists, who wrote that “he is apparently placing the affairs of a handful of natives above those of the British Commonwealth of Nations.”

From 1955 to 1985 the Anangu people of Maralinga Tjarutja were displaced to the nearby Lutheran Mission. While the British’s Operation Brumby attempted to dilute the high concentrations of radioactive material now embedded in the land, concerns about remaining contamination lingered.

In 1985, the McLelland Royal Commission proved that further decontamination efforts were needed. The Royal Commission also criticised the complicity of the Australian Government and its lack of safety concerns. Eight years later, the British Government made a $35 million payment to the $101 million cleanup cost. The process involved the removal and off-site decontamination of hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of soil before its reburial.

The Maralinga Technical Advisory Committee was thus formed to oversee remediation. Decontamination efforts were hindered by the reluctance of the British to accurately disclose the location and extent of testing. Fortunately, only 120 square kilometres of the contaminated 3200 remained unremediated in the year 2000, with clean up and monitoring efforts ongoing today.

Between 2001 and 2009, the South Australian and Federal governments entered negotiations with the Anangu people, ensuring that they would be able to safely return to Country. Anangu people had to prove that they could monitor for erosion, damage or contamination before being officially granted land back.

The disaster of Maralinga is disturbingly familiar. Today, just like in the 1950s, the settler-colonial state of Australia is abusing Country, leaving it victim to climate change-induced fires and floods. We see the deferral of responsibility to Traditional Owners who, yet again, are cleaning up the mess of ongoing colonial violence. In both cases, the struggle for Indigenous land rights must also be a struggle to restore what has been socially and environmentally lost to centuries of colonial damage and abuse.

March 19, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, reference, wastes | Leave a comment

Australia’s Radiation Protection Authority approves Lucas Heights as site for increased storage of nuclear waste returned from overseas

Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, 16 Mar 22,

Today ARPANSA’s CEO issued a licence to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) to prepare a site for the Intermediate Level Waste Capacity Increase facility at Lucas Heights.

The decision is informed by considerations around the #safety and #security of the facility design, advice from #nuclear safety committees, public consultation and international best practices.

ARPANSA is the independent regulator of Commonwealth entities that use or produce radiation and ensure that community safety and wellbeing remain at the core of our work.

Read more on our website: https://www.arpansa.gov.au/…/arpansa-approves-siting…

March 17, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, reference, wastes | Leave a comment

Report to U.S. Congress on AUKUS agreement, allows Australia access to Highly Enriched Uranium and Plutonium

Report to Congress on AUKUS Nuclear Cooperation, News USNI, March 16, 2022 On December 1, 2021, President Joseph Biden submitted to Congress an “Agreement among Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States for the Exchange of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information.” This In Focus explains the agreement’s substance, as well as provisions of the Atomic Energy Act (AEA) of 1954, as amended (P.L. 83-703; 42 U.S.C. §§2153 et seq.), concerning the content and congressional review of such agreements.

An accompanying message to Congress explains that the agreement would permit the three governments to “communicate and exchange Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information and would provide authorization to share certain Restricted Data as may be needed during trilateral discussions” concerning a project to develop Australian nuclear-powered submarines. This project is part of an “enhanced trilateral security partnership” named AUKUS, which the three governments announced on September 15, 2021. The United States has a similar nuclear naval propulsion arrangement only with the United Kingdom pursuant to the bilateral 1958 Mutual Defense Agreement.

The partnership’s first initiative, according to a September 15 Joint Statement, is an 18-month study “to seek an optimal pathway to deliver” this submarine capability to Australia. This study is to include “building on” the U.S. and UK nuclear-powered submarine programs “to bring an Australian capability into service at the earliest achievable date.” The study is “in the early stages,” according to a November 2021 non-paper from Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, which adds that “[m]any of the program specifics have yet to be determined.”

Agreement Details 

The agreement, which the governments signed on November 22, 2021, permits each party to exchange “naval nuclear propulsion information as is determined to be necessary to research, develop, design, manufacture, operate, regulate, and dispose of military reactors.”

As noted, this information includes restricted data; the AEA defines such data to include “all data concerning … the use of special nuclear material in the production of energy.” The AEA and 10 C.F.R. Part 810.3 define special nuclear material as plutonium, uranium-233, or enriched uranium.

The agreement, which entered into force on February 8, 2022, is to remain in force until December 31, 2023, when it will “automatically extend for four additional periods of six months each.” Any party may terminate its participation in the agreement with six months written notice. Should any party abrogate or materially violate the agreement, the other parties may “require the return or destruction” of any transferred data.

The agreement includes provisions to protect transferred data. For example, no party may communicate any information governed by the agreement to any “unauthorized persons or beyond” the party’s “jurisdiction or control.” In addition, a recipient party communicating such information to nationals of a third AUKUS government must obtain permission from the originating party. The agreement includes an appendix detailing “security arrangements” to protect transferred information.  Download the document here.    https://news.usni.org/2022/03/16/report-to-congress-on-aukus-nuclear-cooperation

March 17, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, reference, technology, weapons and war | Leave a comment

How the military-industrial complex has captured Australia’s top strategic advisory body

AUSTRALIA CAPTUREDHow the military-industrial complex has captured Australia’s top strategic advisory body, MICHELLE FAHY, DECLASSIFIED AUSTRALIA 9 DECEMBER 2021

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute has veered away from its founding vision of providing an array of independent diverse views, to now promote an aggressive militaristic solution to the heightened tensions in Australia’s region.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) in Canberra is the government’s primary source of outside-government advice, research and analysis on military and strategic affairs. Since its establishment in mid-2001, it has veered away from its founding vision.

There is a jarring disconnect between the lofty goals of independence expressed in ASPI’s charter, and the infiltration of ASPI by tentacles of the military-industrial complex. This has been barely mentioned in Australia’s mainstream media.

Declassified Australia investigation has uncovered a casebook example of ‘state-capture’, with the development of deep connections between ASPI, and the world’s largest and most powerful military weapons manufacturers.

Australia is a significant participant in the global arms trade at present. Its $270-billion decade-long spending spree upgrading weapons and war machines is large by international standards, and Australia is increasingly becoming an arms seller too. As Australia moves militarily ever closer to the US, even defence insiders say the defence industry is ‘awash with money’.

The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen have made the world’s biggest weapons manufacturers richer, larger, and more influential. At the lesser-known end of the spectrum, the Yemen war is notable for its extensive human rights abuses and war crimes: it has created the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Despite pleas from the UN, the arms still flow and the war continues. The weaponry for this war has been supplied by the world’s top arms manufacturers, including Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Boeing, and missile-maker Raytheon.

ASPI and the Weapons Lobby

The Australian subsidiaries of these and other global weapon-makers have been regular ASPI sponsors for years. Some of them have successfully used the back door to gain access to ASPI’s top table, its governing council. ASPI council members have included former senior military officers, defence ministers, and federal MPs who are also on arms and cyber company boards. It has also included former and current arms industry executives. The challenge to ASPI’s independence is large and real.

ASPI’s founding charter, since it was established in 2001 by then prime minister John Howard with bipartisan support from Labor leader Kim Beazley, declares it must ‘operate independently of Government and of the Defence Organisation’.

Further, it states that ‘the perception, as well as the reality, of that independence would need to be carefully maintained’. Thus, from the outset, the government was acknowledging how such an important think tank would be vulnerable to capture by vested interests, both ideological and commercial………..

Our investigation shows that the ASPI council has numerous members who represent or have close links to the military-industrial complex. Of the 11 non-executive directors on ASPI’s governing council, five sit on the boards or advisory boards of weapons or cybersecurity corporations, while numerous past council members have had similar connections.

The current council includes former Howard defence minister Robert Hill. He’s on the supervisory board of German weapon-maker Rheinmetall’s Australian subsidiary, which is supplying Defence’s $5 billion of Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles, and will soon also produce and export ammunition for the US Joint Strike Fighter program. Hill is also chair of Viva Energy Group, a major supplier of fuel to the Australian Defence Force (ADF)…………………….

Declassified Australia put questions to ASPI and the current council members. Dr Nelson declined to comment. No other council member responded by deadline. ASPI replied saying it manages conflict of interest matters in line with other Australian proprietary limited companies, and that ‘Council members will recuse themselves from discussions which may give rise to the perception of a conflict of interest matter’.

ASPI has a history of council members with interests in the defence industry. Jim McDowell was chief executive of BAE Systems in Australia for a decade, and then ran BAE in Saudi Arabia, where the Saudi military has since used BAE arms in the catastrophic war in Yemen. Returning to Australia, he was engaged by Liberal defence industry minister Christopher Pyne, and Defence, on numerous sensitive defence projects while also on ASPI’s Council. BAE Systems is in the running to provide Australia’s planned nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS pact.

Former Labor senator Stephen Loosley’s Council membership, including seven years as chair, coincided with board roles at French arms multinational Thales Australia, manufacturer of the Austeyr, the service rifle for all the Australian military, as well as armoured vehicles, submarine sonars and munitions. The Thales group has been accused of selling weapons to the Indonesian military who are running a war in West Papua against the independence movement.

Former Labor defence minister Kim Beazley was an ASPI distinguished fellow for two years in 2016-2018. For the majority of that time he was on the board of Lockheed Martin Australia while writing regularly for ASPI, without ASPI disclosing his board position at Lockheed.

………..ASPI’s independence is drawn into question not just by its board appointees but also by some research fellows. One recent example is the former director of cyber, intelligence and security at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, Rajiv Shah, who cowrote a report on collaboration within the intelligence community that was sponsored by BAE Systems. Shah is now an ASPI fellow and a consultant to government and industry. ASPI does not disclose either in the report nor in his website bio Shah’s previous employment with BAE Systems, one of the world’s top 10 arms companies. Dr Shah did not respond to questions.

Declassified Australia does not imply any illegality by any past or present ASPI council members, fellows, or staff. The issue is the deep involvement of people associated with global weapons manufacturers, and the potential for, and perception of, conflicts with ASPI’s charter of independence.

The Reshaping of ASPI

At its foundation, the ASPI Council was instructed by the government to ensure its independence. As set down by the defence minister, it is required not only to be ‘politically non-partisan’ but also, most crucially, to ‘reflect the priority given to both the perception and substance of the Institute’s independence’.

The Howard government had envisaged that ASPI would do this by maintaining a ‘very small’ permanent staff while relying mostly on short-term contracts, secondments and similar arrangements for its research work. It would not publish views in its own name but would provide a forum for the views of a wide variety of outside experts.

20 years on, ASPI has morphed into a very different organisation.

A decision by Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd to make Stephen Loosley the ASPI Council chair in 2009, while Loosley was on the Thales Australia board, tested perceptions of independence. Then, in 2012, the Gillard Labor government appointed the current executive director directly from the senior position of Deputy Secretary of Strategy in the Defence Department. In the late 90s, Peter Jennings had been chief of staff to Liberal defence minister Ian McLachlan when the Howard Government first mooted the idea of creating ASPI.

Under this new leadership, ASPI set about expanding. Staff numbers have quadrupled in nine years from 14 to 60, plus there are now 29 research fellows and nine interns.

ASPI receives its core funding via a grant from the Defence Department. In 2018, the Morrison government approved a $20 million grant to cover five years’ of ASPI operations. In May 2021, this grant was increased by $5 million to cover two years of operations of a new Washington DC office.


Since 2012, ASPI has vigorously pursued additional funding. Within two years, annual income from commissioned research jumped from $37,000 to $1.1 million, and sponsorships were up 235% to $746,000. ASPI’s own-sourced revenue has continued to grow dramatically. In 2011-12, ASPI received less than $500,000 above its base funding, by 2020-21 it had exploded to $6.7 million.

The single largest source of ASPI’s funding in 2020-21, beyond its core funding, was from the US Government’s Departments of Defense and State ($1.58m), followed by additional funding from Defence ($1.44m) and other federal government agencies ($1.18m). The NSW and Northern Territory governments provided $445,000. In the private sector, the largest source was social media, tech and cybersecurity companies ($737,362), with Facebook ($269,574), Amazon ($100,000) and Microsoft ($89,500) being the largest. From the arms industry, ASPI received $316,636, with more than two-thirds of that coming from two of Australia’s largest defence contractors, Thales ($130,000) and BAE Systems ($90,000).

In 2019-20, Twitter gave ASPI $147,319 for its cyber research. Significantly, Twitter last week announced a partnership with ASPI said to be dealing with misinformation from the Chinese communist party that was seeking to counter evidence of human rights abuses in Xinjiang. As a result of ASPI’s research, thousands of “state-linked accounts” were shut down by Twitter.

While the cash from the arms industry may not appear substantial, as we have seen, the arms industry wields its major influence via its representatives finding their way on to seats at the top table.

The substantial extra funding from the US government, Defence and other Australian government departments, as well as corporate interests, provides a real challenge to ASPI’s responsibility to remain independent. It raises serious questions about undue influence, including foreign influence, at ASPI.

ASPI responded to our questions about protecting the perception of its independence by saying it retains ‘complete editorial independence on the material we choose to research’. It said it would not accept funding from parties attempting to constrain its editorial independence.

But just what does the US government get in return for its $1.57 million funding of ASPI, beyond its research projects on human rights violations, disinformation, and cybersecurity in China?

And what might BAE Systems get for its $90,000 grant to ASPI, other than a new report on the need for a ‘collaborative and agile’ intelligence community?

And what about Thales Australia, in return for its $130,000 grant to ASPI, beyond just being lead sponsor of the 2020 ASPI Conference?

The answer for them all, is ‘influence’.

ASPI’s role in advising the Australian government on defence strategy and procurements and cybersecurity would better serve the Australian people if it was to return to its original charter of researching and publishing a diversity of views from a position of uncompromised independence.

MICHELLE FAHY is an independent writer and researcher, specialising in the examination of connections between the weapons industry and government, and has written in various independent publications. She is on twitter @FahyMichelle, and on Substack at undueinfluence.substack.com   https://declassifiedaus.org/2021/12/09/australia-captured/?fbclid=IwAR0_MMo3hIrY7uDHK4d2l5M-nxdsGBFyA_6Xtim8jxjotqPkMXmFheeGNWM

December 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, reference, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Liberal MP Rowan Ramsey has misled South Australia, in greatly minimising the amount of Intermediate Level nuclear waste intended for Napandee farm site.

So on the basis of the above figures the amount of ILW contained in the big canister that Rowan mentioned is actually only 0.1 per cent by volume of the ILW intended for Napandee. (In other words the documented volume of ILW intended for Napandee is about 1000 times more than what he stated).

Andrew Williams, Fight to stop sa nuclear waste dump in South Australia, 1 Dec 21, Rowan Ramsey stated that the TN-81 canister in the Interim Waste Store at Lucas Heights is the only Intermediate Level Waste intended for Napandee. This is not correct.

The large canister that he mentioned contains reprocessed used nuclear fuel from the old decommissioned HIFAR reactor, which ARPANSA notes as having radioactivity at the higher end of the ILW range.

That means it must remain safe from people and the environment for 10,000 years according to International guidelines followed by the Australian regulator. Another load of reprocessed used nuclear fuel from the old HIFAR reactor is due back next year and is intended to end up at Napandee, in the same type of TN-81 container.

Of the waste intended for Napandee, this highly hazardous reprocessed nuclear fuel is the most radioactive. However there is a lot more intermediate level waste (ILW) than what is in these two big containers intended for Napandee. All of the reprocessed highly hazardous used nuclear fuel produced by the existing OPAL reactor over its operating life is intended for Napandee in years to come.

However during the production of radioactive isotopes (some of which are used in nuclear medicine) ILW is produced. The Australian Radioactive Waste Management Framework (2018) reports total ILW at 1770 cubic metres, with 95% by volume as federal gov. wastes. It is intended to produce a further 1,960 cubic metres over the next 40 years (all intended for Napandee), most of which will be produced at Lucas Heights. (This is documented and can be checked).

All of this ILW is intended to go to Napandee for up to 100 years of above ground storage. A TN-81 container can hold up to 28 canisters, each containing 150 litres of vitrified reprocessed fuel waste. 28×150 litres = 4,200 litres = 4.2 cubic metres. So on the basis of the above figures the amount of ILW contained in the big canister that Rowan mentioned is actually only 0.1 per cent by volume of the ILW intended for Napandee. (In other words the documented volume of ILW intended for Napandee is about 1000 times more than what he stated).

December 2, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics, reference, secrets and lies, spinbuster | Leave a comment

New files expose Australian govt’s betrayal of Julian Assange and detail his prison torment

The documents obtained by Tranter and provided to The Grayzone provide an unobstructed view of the Australian junior ally’s betrayal of one of its citizens to the imperial power that has hunted him for years. As Julian Assange’s rights were violated at every turn, Canberra appears to have been complicit. 

New files expose Australian govt’s betrayal of Julian Assange and detail his prison torment https://thegrayzone.com/2021/11/17/files-australian-julian-assange-prison/ KIT KLARENBERG· NOVEMBER 17, 2021

Documents provided exclusively to The Grayzone detail Canberra’s abandonment of Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, and provide shocking details of his prison suffering

Was the government of Australia aware of the US Central Intelligence Agency plot to assassinate Julian Assange, an Australian citizen and journalist arrested and now imprisoned under unrelentingly bleak, harsh conditions in the UK? 

Why have the country’s elected leaders refused to publicly advocate for one of its citizens, who has been held on dubious charges and subjected to torture by a foreign power, according to UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer? What does Canberra know about Julian’s fate and when did it know it?

The Grayzone has obtained documents revealing that the Australian government has since day one been well-aware of Julian’s cruel treatment inside London’s maximum security Belmarsh Prison, and has done little to nothing about it. It has, in fact, turned a cold shoulder to the jailed journalist despite hearing his testimony of conditions “so bad that his mind was shutting down.”

Not only has Canberra failed to effectively challenge the US and UK governments overseeing Assange’s imprisonment and prosecution; as these documents expose in stark detail, it appears to have colluded with them in the flagrant violation of an Australian citizen’s human rights, while doing its best to obscure the reality of his situation from the public. 

Continue reading

November 20, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, reference, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) must be required to fully inform the Kimba community of the safety and financial risks of the nuclear dump

[importance of] the community at Kimba getting their own full and independent assessment and report on the government’s intentions for Napandee assisted by both government funding and by access to all records and information for that purposeAnother issue forThe Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA)

NAPANDEE ASSESSMENT
It is the intention of ANSTO to store intermediate level nuclear waste at the proposed nuclear waste management facility at Napandee near Kimba in South Australia for an indefinite period but suggested to be 30 years

Since it is merely the storage of the intermediate level waste ANSTO is suggesting that it is not necessary to obtain any licences from ARPANSA for that purpose and consequently will not be making any application to ARPANSA in that regard

This is clearly against the concept of the enabling legislation and irrespective of this suggestion ARPANSA as the statutory regulator must insist on ANSTO having an appropriate licences for both the storage of the intermediate waste at Napandee and for the construction of the required facility for the increased storage capacity at Lucas Heights



Should there be any reluctance by ARPANSA in enforcing the licensing compliance by ANSTO then legal action will need to be taken by way of mandamus by interested parties which would be the Kimba community to make certain that the required licences will be sought by ANSTO

In order to ensure that the community position is fully protected ARPANSA should provide adequate funding either directly or by
government grant to the community to enable them to obtain proper and detailed legal advice and to undertake any appropriate actions that may be required or necessary to protect their position


This should be coupled with the community at Kimba getting their own full and independent assessment and report on the government’s intentions for Napandee assisted by both government funding and by access to all records and information for that purpose

This is an essential requirement for enabling the community at Kimba to understand and negotiate with full knowledge of the safety case required for the Napandee facility as the independent assessment will no doubt be critical of the inappropriate and unsuitable site selection and nature of the facility by way of above the ground storage

The special rapporteurs of the United Nations Human Rights Council for the sound management and disposal of hazardous substances including nuclear wastes and for the rights of indigenous peoples are aware of the Kimba community concerns and will monitor the situation and if necessary take appropriate action to ensure protection of their human rights


November 13, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, legal, reference | Leave a comment