Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australian War Memorial needs to own Australian frontier wars

Pearls and Irritations, By David Stephens Aug 7, 2022 Proper recognition and commemoration of the Australian Frontier Wars at the Australian War Memorial would be a practical expression of the Spirit of Uluru. As the Albanese government begins the lengthy process of enshrining the Voice in the Australian Constitution, having the Memorial commit to Australian Frontier Wars recognition and commemoration could happen soon – provided the will exists in both the Memorial and the government.

…………………………………… What is needed?

First, the Memorial should have an Australian Frontier Wars Gallery as part of the 2.5 hectares of additional space being built in the current extensions project. Professor Henry Reynolds has described the Frontier Wars as Australia’s most important war. The Frontier Wars deserve equal status at the Memorial with the First and Second World Wars, which each have designated galleries. The extensions should never have proceeded but, now that they seem inevitable, reserving space in them for an Australian Frontier Wars Gallery would reduce the area available for a military Disneyland full of Large Technology Objects and machines that go ‘bang!’

Secondly, the Memorial needs to add a prominent panel to its Roll of Honour to commemorate the dead of the Frontier Wars, both First Nations and non-First Nations. It will be impossible to include individual First Nations names, beyond perhaps those of leaders like Jandamarra, Pemulwuy, and Tongerlongeter – that White Australians do not know the names is poignantly significant – but the depth of the commitment of these First Nations warriors (and the suffering of their families, who often died with them) should be recorded in words like those used elsewhere in the Memorial. Lest We Forget.

Thirdly, the words ‘Australian Frontier Wars’ should be carved into the walls of the Memorial surrounding the Pool of Reflection. These words would stand alongside places like Gallipoli, Palestine, France, North Africa, Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan, but would go first, reflecting the fact that the Frontier Wars were our first wars, without which Australia would not be what it is today.

These forms of recognition and commemoration are much more decisive and less devious than what the Memorial has done previously: finding and publicising examples of Indigenous men and women who have worn the King’s/Queen’s uniform since 1901; buying and commissioning expensive paintings of massacres of First Nations people; a John Schumann ballad; a sculpture in the grounds; the special exhibition For Country, For Nation……………………………………….

Three options

How would these changes at the Memorial be made? There are three options, not mutually exclusive……………………………

Whichever option or options are used, we need, on the government side, courage to pull aside the ‘Anzac cloak’ that has for so long protected the Memorial from proper accountability and full responsiveness to modern Australia. On the Memorial side, we need willingness to make the place less a military mausoleum and trophy house – run mostly by white blokes with a military background and catering primarily for uniformed service people (particularly recent ones) – and more the possession of all Australians, First Nations and non-First Nations.

David Stephens is editor of the Honest History website (honesthistory.net.au) and joint editor with Alison Broinowski of The Honest History Book (2017). He has been convener of the Heritage Guardians group campaigning against the $548m extensions to the Australian War Memorial.  https://johnmenadue.com/australian-war-memorial-needs-to-own-australian-frontier-wars/

August 8, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Time to speak up: water apartheid is Australia’s dirty secret

Canberra Times By Erin O’Donnell, Kirsty Howey, July 4 2022

Imagine, in Australia, having to buy bottled water just so you can have clean water to drink. Imagine in 2022, in Australia, Aboriginal communities still have to do that, because they don’t have access to safe drinking water supplies.

While the 2022 NAIDOC week theme is get up, stand up, and show up, that’s an instruction for all of us.

All Australians need to get up, stand up, show up and speak up about this national shame.

In the Northern Territory, drinking water in remote communities regularly breaches guidelines for uranium, and heavy metals. It makes people sick. In Western Australia, the Auditor-General found 24 communities still require the government to truck in bottled water, as local supplies contain harmful contaminants, including uranium. In Queensland, remote, largely Indigenous, townships have faced ongoing water quality issues. Further south, NSW communities also struggled with water quality during the recent drought, and a 2022 study found towns and communities with higher Aboriginal populations and lower income levels were less likely to have access to free sources of filtered water within the community.

In the NT, predominantly white towns such as Darwin, Alice Springs and Katherine have a regulated and safe drinking water supply, but in Indigenous communities drinking water supply is unregulated, with many residents needing to resort to buying bottled water. And far from being an unavoidable consequence of life in remote communities, this is the result of ongoing failure by successive NT governments to plug gaps in water regulation.

………………………………………… The new Labor government’s commitment to restoring a National Water Commission must end water apartheid in Australia. The commission cannot come too soon for northern Australia, where this disaster is unfolding.  https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7804335/time-to-speak-up-water-apartheid-is-australias-dirty-secret/

July 7, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment | Leave a comment

Nuclear test survivors’ plea for Australia to sign treaty, as they speak at UN meeting

ABC North and West SA / 21 June 22, By Bethanie Alderson  Three generations of First Nations survivors of historic nuclear tests have told the United Nations that Australia must do more to address the devastating impact the tests have had on their families. 

Key points:

  • Three First Nations survivors of nuclear testing share their stories at a United Nations meeting
  • They are calling on the Australian government to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
  • The survivors say they are facing intergenerational trauma from nuclear tests carried out in the 1950s in outback South Australia

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) invited survivors to address a conference in Vienna, more than 60 years after nuclear bombs were detonated in the South Australian outback.

Yankunytjatjara woman Karina Lester, Kokatha elder Sue Coleman-Haseldine and her granddaughter, Mia Haseldine, shared their experiences via video link from Port Augusta.

The women told the conference how the tests conducted by the British government at Maralinga and Emu Field in the 1950s had affected the health of successive generations of Aboriginal families from the region.

They called on the Australian government to sign the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which came into force in January last year.

Intergenerational toll

Survivor June Lennon, who was in the audience, said she was only a week old when her father covered her with a tarp to protect her from a nuclear blast at Emu Field.

She told the ABC her family would continue to suffer physical and mental trauma from the testing for generations to come.

“Most of our grandchildren have got pretty bad eyesight, and we were born basically with epilepsy,” Ms Lennon said.

“It’s quite likely that I’m going to die because I’ve got bleeding from my kidneys.

“We want to live. We want our children to live after us. We’re losing them at really young ages now and some of that is mental health issues.”………………

‘We still eat the bush tucker’ in test zone

Ms Haseldine outlined gaps she believed the government needed to address to support the next generation of survivors, including a commitment to greater research and education with Aboriginal communities on the impact of the testing.

“If we can somehow link those scientists or researchers studying DNA into people that live on community, eat food from this community,” Ms Haseldine said.

“We still eat the bush tucker that’s out there where fallout probably landed.”

Last year, Australian researchers found that radioactive particles released during the nuclear tests remained highly reactive.

Second-generation survivor Karina Lester noted in her presentation the importance of language for Aboriginal communities who never gave consent to the testing.

Our mob were not informed of those tests that were about to take place on their traditional lands,” Ms Lester said.

“It’s important for information to be in traditional language so they know of the impacts it has on our bodies and our environment.”…………………………….    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-06-20/nuclear-test-survivors-plea-for-australia-to-sign-treaty/101167332

June 21, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Earthworks approved for nuclear waste dump despite opposition from traditional owners, court hears

Barngarla traditional owners vie to overturn federal government’s decision to develop site near Kimba in South Australia

Australian Associated Press, Wed 15 Jun 2022 

Traditional owners attempting to block the construction of a nuclear waste dump in South Australia have told a court the federal government has already approved plans to begin earthworks, despite an active legal challenge.

The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation applied for a judicial review of the project in December, and a directions hearing was held in the federal court in Adelaide on Wednesday.

Legal argument will be heard in July ahead of a substantive hearing, most likely before the end of this year. The court was told that there were plans to begin earthworks at the Napandee site, near Kimba on SA’s Eyre Peninsula, before September…….

Justice Natalie Charlesworth asked that sufficient notice be provided to allow time for the court to hear applications to halt the works. Charlesworth said such notice would avoid the need for an urgent hearing.

“What I would like to avoid is what I might call a pyjama hearing where it’s called at midnight and we all come in here in our pyjamas and we have an unnecessarily urgent argument,” she said.

The Barngarla are seeking to overturn the Coalition government’s decision to develop the site by quashing the declaration of former resources minister Keith Pitt.

The corporation also wrote to the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, and the resources minister, Madeleine King, a week after the federal election, urging them to scrap plans for the dump.

It said the previous federal government had tried to silence the traditional owners at every turn, denying their right to participate in a community ballot to gauge local support for the site.

The corporation said the Coalition also refused access to the land to undertake a proper heritage survey and tried to remove its right to judicial review.

“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,” it wrote in its letter to Albanese.

The Labor government has given no indication that it would take a different view on the matter than the previous administration.  https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/jun/15/earthworks-approved-for-nuclear-waste-dump-despite-opposition-from-traditional-owners-court-hears

June 16, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, legal | Leave a comment

Nuclear Waste Dispute in Court Wednesday 15 June 

Kimba Radioactive Waste Facility Judicial Review in Federal Court. Wednesday 15 June 2022:
initial directions hearing and hearing on discovery

Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC ICN 8603 
• The first directions hearing will occur in the Federal Court of Australia this Wednesday at
9:00am in Adelaide, with some solicitors and counsel attending by MS Teams.
• The directions hearing will start off the long process of judicial review on the facility.
• An immediate issue is that the former Minister Pitt would not provide the Barngarla
documents Barngarla needed for the judicial review. It is not clear what the new Labor
Minister’s position is now that they have won Government.
• The dispute on discovery includes records of all of the commitments Minister Pitt and
Minister Canavan made that a facility would not be placed on an unwilling community.
Minister Pitt abandoned this requirement in his reasons when he made the declaration to
select Napandee.

The Government is refusing to provide these records and the matter may now need to be
argued as a contested discovery application.
• Any dispute on discovery is likely to take several months.
• Barngarla, Indigenous leaders around Australia, and the environmental movement have all
called for the declaration to be withdrawn now that Labor has won Government.
Barngarla spokesperson quote:
“There were serious failings when the National Party selected Napandee, too many to outline of the area, trying to legislate away judicial review, breaching UNDRIP and abandoning the test ofbroad community support at the last minute without any warning to anyone. The former Ministerwouldn’t provide us the material we need to run our case. Leaving aside these tricks and theseefforts to exhaust us, we remain confident that we will win this if we have to go to Court. However,because of the terrible mishandling by the National Party, we again call upon the new Labor Ministerto quash the declaration. We do not want to spend the next two years in Court against the LaborGovernment. They know what the National Party did and they should do the right thing andwithdraw the declaration.”
For further comment, please contact: barngarlamedia@gmail.comhere.They included, denying the First Peoples the right to vote, not conducting a proper heritage survey

June 14, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, legal | Leave a comment

Indigenous owners call on the Labor government to scrap the nuclear waste dump plan

Bega District News, By Tim Dornin, June 1 2022 Traditional owners have called on the new federal Labor government to scrap plans for a nuclear waste dump in South Australia.

In December the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation launched legal action in the Federal Court to block the dump planned for Napandee, near Kimba.

It was seeking to overturn the Coalition government’s decision to develop the site by quashing the declaration of former resources minister Keith Pitt.

On Wednesday the corporation wrote to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese urging him to step in.

It said the previous government had tried to silence the traditional owners at every turn, denying their right to participate in a community ballot to gauge local support for the site.

The corporation said the coalition also refused access to the land to undertake a proper heritage survey and tried to remove its right to judicial review.

“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,” it wrote in its letter to the PM.

“We call for this to occur at the earliest opportunity possible.”

The Barngarla said if the facility was built it would forever be located on a site where the First People did not get the right to vote.

“For these reasons we think that the government and country that you now lead needs to withdraw the declaration or consent to it being quashed,” the group told Mr Albanese.

“We see no other way.

“These are clearly not your failings or the failings of your government. You inherited them like we did.”

The Barngarla’s action is due to resume in the Federal Court on June 15.

In November last year, the previous government announced it had acquired 211 hectares at Napandee with the proposed facility subject to heritage, design and technical studies……..https://www.begadistrictnews.com.au/story/7763627/labor-urged-to-scrap-nuclear-dump/

June 2, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Stop Deep Yellow: No uranium mining on Upurli Upurli Nguratja country

 https://www.ccwa.org.au/mulga_rock The Mulga Rock uranium project is the only uranium proposal being advanced in WA. The project is uneconomic, unwanted and unnecessary.

Mulga Rock is on Upurli Upurli Nguratja country in the Yellow Sandplain Priority Ecological community in the Great Victoria Desert (GVD) and home to the endangered Sandhill Dunnart – one of three remaining areas where the species is found in Australia. The area is also home to the endangered Southern Marsupial Mole the vulnerable Crest Tailed Mulgara and Desert Skink, the migratory Rainbow Bee-Eater and many other priority species. 

Vimy Resources are seeking to merge with uranium miner Deep Yellow. Deep Yellow’s leadership is a cause for Deep concern. Their Chairperson Chris Salisbury was the Iron Ore boss at Rio Tinto during the Juukan Gorge destruction. Deep Yellow’s Managing Director John Borshoff was the Director of uranium company Paladin. During his leadership there were ongoing reports of industrial disputes worker fatalities and environmental concerns. 

“I worry about that country and what effect uranium mining would have on it, there is no other area like it. Once that’s destroyed and poisoned well how can you replace all that. It’ll be gone forever.” Janice Scott – Nangaanya-ku 

There is a registered Native Title Claim over the area – Upurli Upurli Nguratja. Vimy have routinely undermined Native Title interests in the area and have failed to meet the claim group. The Spinifex people who are descendants of some of Australia’s first environmental refugees who fled South Australia during the British atomic weapons tests between 1956 and 1963 and settled near Mulga Rock first at Cundallee then Coonana and then Tjutjuntjarra. There are strong connections to the area and a strong history of impact and resistance to the nuclear industry.   

“We don’t want uranium mining. We’ve written to government to let them know we the Traditional Owners have not been consulted. The current clearing at the site is disrespectful and shows a total lack of social value, moral and ethical leadership.” Debbie Carmody – Upurli Upurli Nguratja 

The Proposal: 

  • Four open pits, strip mined and backfilled
  • Licensed to take 15 million litres of water per day
  • Would produce 32 million tonnes of radioactive mine waste
  • Would clear 3,709 ha of native vegetation
  • Located in the Yellow Sandplain Priority Ecological Community, known as one of the most pristine areas in the Great Victoria Desert.
  • Home to the endangered Sandhill Dunnart
  • Upstream from the Queen Victoria A Class Nature Reserve

May 28, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, uranium, Western Australia | 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

UNEXPLAINED ORDNANCE: A MISSILE ON ABORIGINAL LAND AND A BREAKTHROUGH LEGAL COMPLAINT

ARENA ONLINE, MICHELLE FAHY, 21 APR 2022

A ground-breaking legal complaint has arisen after First Nation’s elders Andrew and Robert Starkey discovered an unexploded missile on their country. The brothers discovered the missile, manufactured by arms multinational Saab, in Lake Hart West, a registered Indigenous heritage site within the vast Woomera Prohibited Area. The Starkeys are Kokatha Badu (respected senior figures, or lore men) from the Western Desert region of South Australia who have devoted decades to protecting heritage sites on their land.

In a complaint to the OECD, the Starkeys alleged that Saab had breached OECD guidelines by failing to undertake or maintain ‘adequate human rights due diligence which could prevent their product from being used in human rights violations’, and which also resulted in a failure to ‘protect and preserve the integrity of [those] heritage sites’ for which the Starkeys have custodial responsibilities

Michelle Fahy, 4 Feb 2022

Australia hasn’t seen anything like this case before. In fact, in the world of OECD complaints, it’s a first.

The Starkey complaint has resulted in a precedent-setting initial assessment from the OECD that could have ramifications for multinational weapons companies. The OECD’s Australian contact point has decided that arms export permits granted by national governments do not provide weapons companies with immunity from responsibility for human rights violations resulting from the use of their products or services.

This decision overturns earlier OECD precedents set by other countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, which allowed weapons companies  to shelter behind  arms export permits. The initial assessment in the Starkey complaint says that government-issued arms export permits on their own are insufficient protection, and that the OECD guidelines require global arms manufacturers to conduct ongoing due diligence on human rights issues. Manufacturers of weaponry used to commit war crimes against civilians in Yemen, for example, could now be exposed to similar complaints.

The Defence Department, which has long fobbed off the Starkeys’ heritage concerns, took a year to remove the missile. Andrew says they next tried to approach Saab—whose marketing tagline is ‘It’s a human right to feel safe’—but were again brushed off and referred back to Defence. The Starkeys then lodged their complaint with the OECD’s Australian National Contact Point (AusNCP) in September 2021.

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are a comprehensive code of responsible business conduct that governments have committed to promoting. Each country that chooses to adhere to the guidelines must establish a national contact point to promote and implement the guidelines. The complaints procedure is intended to provide a non-adversarial ‘forum for discussion’ to examine and resolve complaints against multinationals.

The OECD covers most of the world’s weapons makers— 80 of the top 100 arms corporations, according to an analysis of data compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. These companies represented 80 per cent (US$425 billion) of the US$531 billion in sales by the top 100 in 2020. Saab, ranked thirty-sixth, had US$3.4 billion in sales in 2020.

Saab responded to the Starkeys’ complaint saying, amongst other things, that its supply of weaponry to Defence was subject to ‘strict export control laws’ aimed at preventing their use in harmful ways and that Swedish export controls ‘require human rights issues to be considered’. This rote argument is parroted across the arms industry and is one that Australia’s Defence Exports Controls Office relies on to justify its continued arms exports to nations engaged in serial human rights abuses, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab EmiratesIsrael and Indonesia.

‘No nation gets to pick and choose which laws to comply with, nor do they get to choose who will or will not be held accountable’, says the Starkeys’ international human rights lawyer John Podgorelec. ‘The international law has to be applied as evenly to the Saudi Yemen conflict as it would to the Russia Ukraine conflict.’

Weapons companies have long benefited from a myopic reliance on one-off export permit approvals. However, the extensive evidence of war crimes and the resultant catastrophe still unfolding in Yemen, fuelled in large part by US– and UK­ supplied weaponry, shows that the so-called strict permit approval system is an abject failure in protecting human rights.

The AusNCP’s initial assessment sounds a warning to the arms industry worldwide. The AusNCP has now offered its ‘good offices’ to facilitate a negotiated resolution between the Starkeys and Saab. The Starkeys are ready to negotiate. Whether the ‘good offices’ phase proceeds depends on Saab, which has so far said it will ‘review the findings, and continue to engage with the AusNCP, to determine any further required actions’.

Andrew Starkey is pleased with the result so far, but his relief is tempered with discontent. ‘The situation is so bad in Australia. The legislation is so weak that we needed to rely on international law to get justice.’

Dr John Pace, who is also advising the Starkeys, is a globally recognised expert in human rights law with more than fifty years’ experience, including at the United Nations. Pace says that the obligation for due diligence on human rights grounds never abandons the equipment. ‘It is an ongoing, responsive and changing process, not a one-off rubber stamp.’

Amnesty International has noted, in Human rights policies in the defence sector, that, ‘There is now a clear global consensus that companies have a responsibility to respect all human rights wherever they operate’. There is also increasing acceptance that good business practices in one area do not offset harm in another. Corporate behaviour must be globally consistent.

A significant factor influencing the handling of the Starkeys’ complaint is the web of conflicting interests in which Saab features strongly. Such conflicts were not disclosed to the Starkeys during the complaint process. It is this inconsistency in its corporate behaviour that has brought Saab undone. As Andrew says, ‘Defence seems more interested in protecting a Swedish company than in protecting Australian culture’………………………………………………………………

The due diligence guidelines are clear about avoiding adverse impacts on human rights and, in particular, the importance of engaging with Indigenous peoples who might be affected by the activities of the business. One adverse impact noted by the OECD in relation to human rights is ‘Failing to identify and appropriately engage with indigenous peoples where they are present and potentially impacted by the enterprise’s activities’.

The Starkeys are concerned that similar problems will recur. Says Andrew, ‘For us this is the same as the British atomic tests. We are the ones left to deal with the mess. They are erasing us one site at a time up there’.

Christina Macpherson <christinamacpherson@gmail.com>Apr 22, 2022, 9:02 PM (11 hours ago)
to me

April 22, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, 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

Uranium miner BHP under criticism for guzzling precious artesian water, and for not keeping its word to Aboriginal native title holders

Environment campaigner and consultant David Noonan, who provided submissions to the Juukan Inquiry, is sceptical of the desalination plant announcement.

Mr Noonan says even if it was built, BHP could be taking GAB water until the end of the decade. He wants to hear a formal commitment about alternative water sources.

Why BHP is facing a minefield, CHRIS MITCHELL, Adelaide Now, 4 Mar 22,

AUSTRALIA’S biggest company and the world’s secondbiggest miner, BHP, may disappoint conservationists and Aboriginal native title holders who had hoped for commitments to reform of heritage issues and underground water use at its Olympic Dam mine before the March 19 state election BHP, the Big Australian, with market capitalisation of $230bn, paid the state government royalties of $136m last year. Its Olympic Dam project 560km north of Adelaide is South Australia’s largest mining venture and the world’s biggest uranium mine, a global top-four copper mine and producer of gold and lead. BHP is powerful in SA.

Premier Steven Marshall is Aboriginal Affairs Minister but it would be fair to say native title holders do not wield the sort of power in Adelaide that big miners do.

Yet BHP has flagged some changes to the way it operates that could reduce its own power over its own asset.

Under the 1982 Roxby Downs (Indenture Ratification) Act signed with former mine owner Western Mining, BHP, which bought the mine in 2005, has almost unprecedented powers over resources and water within its 12,000sq km Stuart Shelf exploration lease.

BHP has been criticised by conservation groups and Aboriginal interests in last year’s report into rival Rio Tinto’s destruction of Juukan Gorge in Western Australia. The report includes criticism from the Arabana tribe of the mine’s heavy reliance on water from the Great Artesian Basin (GAB), and particularly from the so-called “Mound Springs” Aboriginal heritage sites north of the mine.

On February 15, The Advertiser revealed BHP would back a new $15m study, partly funded by state and federal governments, into a Spencer Gulf desalination plant to pump water to SA’s northern mines. But BHP is still far short of publicly committing to end its use of GAB water.

Conservationists say BHP is trying to control the water agenda, to maintain its privileges under the Indenture Act. But some hope it will be pragmatic enough to cut water demand from the GAB if it eventually decides to proceed with its Oak Dam copper-gold-uranium mine 65km southeast of Olympic.

Asked last week if BHP was formally committed to ending GAB water use, a spokesman said: “We continuously monitor and publicly report our water draw under a program approved by the SA government.”

BHP is not just under pressure for environmental reasons.

It is in discussion with three native title groups about the Olympic Dam Agreement it settled in 2008 with the Kokatha, Barngarla and Kuyani.

Of these, only the Kokatha have been granted formal native title over parts of BHP’s Stuart Shelf.

BHP’s problem now is how to balance the very valuable 40-year-old legal rights it has under the indenture with rights found in a native title determination in favour of the Kokatha in 2014……….

The Kokatha fought a long, 18-year battle to win their native title in 2014. Kokatha directors say dealing with BHP on the ODA before and after their native title court win has been challenging.

At this point, they are not receiving mining royalties and are unhappy with employment opportunities for Kokatha people.

Michael Turner, a former Kokatha director and current adviser on the Kokatha Native Title Compensation Settlement and Kokatha Charitable trusts, says he has been dealing with BHP for much of his adult life.

At this point, they are not receiving mining royalties and are unhappy with employment opportunities for Kokatha people………

negotiations on BHP’s Olympic Dam Agreement had been disappointing.

“We have been calling for a review of the ODA for many years and it has constantly been deferred,” he said.

“They’re refusing to move forward. It would be great if BHP could keep to its word and respect the wishes of the Kokatha people and review the ODA for the benefit of generations to come.”…………….

The final report into the May 24, 2020 destruction by Australia’s second-biggest miner, Rio Tinto, of the Juukan Caves in Western Australia’s Pilbara was released in October. In it, Arabana chair Brenda Underwood says: “Unfortunately, our springs are disappearing. The cause … is water taken from the GAB by BHP’s mine at Roxby Downs.”

BHP and the state government believe the springs remain healthy but environmentalists fear a possible expansion to the Oak Dam could take daily GAB water use well beyond 50 million litres a day. BHP says it is averaging 34 million litres a day.

Environment campaigner and consultant David Noonan, who provided submissions to the Juukan Inquiry, is sceptical of the desalination plant announcement.

Mr Noonan says even if it was built, BHP could be taking GAB water until the end of the decade. He wants to hear a formal commitment about alternative water sources.

BHP’s Aboriginal engagement team is mindful expectations have changed across the industry since Juukan and BHP will need to be seen to be engaging seriously with traditional owners. Some believe an ODA negotiated before the Kokatha achieved native title should be written off and a new agreement established………………………………………

more  https://todayspaper.adelaidenow.com.au/infinity/article_popover_share.aspx?guid=23a5b7bd-e6d5-4a82-972e-347f65874b3a&fbclid=IwAR11bzLNHD6mcfZaJkwLcs7cvtfeJQbEhz9btfDFZeFDTsE-BvpWFcuXQnw

March 5, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, environment, South Australia, uranium, water | Leave a comment

Traditional Owners welcome expiry of uranium mine approval, but the fight isn’t over

Traditional Owners welcome expiry of uranium mine approval, but the fight isn’t over, NIT by Giovanni Torre 28 Jan 22,- Yeelirrie area Traditional Owners have welcomed the expiry of the environmental approval to mine uranium on their land.

The approval conditions for mining at Yeelirrie, near Wiluna in central Western Australia, required the proponent, Cameco, to substantially begin mining within five years. On 20 January 2022 the approval expired with that condition unmet.

Traditional Owners have fought against mining at Yeelirrie since the 1970s when the uranium deposit was first identified by Western Mining Corporation.

Kado Muir, Tjiwarl native title holder, Ngalia leader of Walkatjurra Walkabout and Chair of the West Australia Nuclear Free Alliance said that over the past five decades “our community got together, stood up strong and has fought off three major multinational corporations”.

“Today we celebrate that Cameco cannot mine at Yeelirrie,” he said.

Shirley Wonyabong, Tjupan elder and senior Tjiwarl native title holder said: “Our community has come together over this issue and we’ve been clear that mining at Yeelirrie will not happen.”

“That area is important and we have a responsibility to protect that country and keep the uranium where it is. When you stay together and united and you don’t let mining companies push you around you can protect country,” she said.

Mr Muir said Traditional Owners were calling on the state government to not extend approvals to mine at Yeelirrie and to withdraw the approvals entirely.

Lizzie Wonyabong, Tjupan elder and senior Tjiwarl native title holder said the community has “campaigned so long” to stop mining at Yeelirrie “because of the Seven Sisters, the importance of that area, because of the dangers of uranium when you dig it up and because of the risk of extinction of the stygofauna”.

“It’s time now to put an end to the mining threat at Yeelirrie. Withdraw the approval.”

…………Federal level approval for the proposed Yeelirrie project was granted in 2019, before the Federal Election, without key protections repeatedly recommended by the Federal Government’s experts.
…….. A spokesperson for Western Australian Minister for the Environment Reece Whitby confirmed on Tuesday that Cameco has applied to the Minister for an extension on the Yeelirrie uranium project and the Minister is waiting to receive a briefing. https://nit.com.au/traditional-owners-welcome-expiry-of-uranium-mine-approval-but-the-fight-isnt-over/

January 29, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

The Australian government’s Kimba nuclear waste decision rides roughshod over Australia’s obligations under international law

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
The Australian Human Rights Commission advised that Article 29(2) of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states that ‘no storage of hazardous materials shall take place on Indigenous lands without their free, prior and informed consent.’ 265

1.255 The Commission submitted that in order for Indigenous people to make informed consent, adequate resourcing to representative groups needs to be provided to ensure appropriate and informed consultation. 267

EXTRACT FROM REPORT BY FORMER SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR VICTORIA TAULI-CORPUZ IN SEPTEMBER 2017 FOLLOWING HER VISIT TO AUSTRALIA IN MARCH 2017

Self-determination and participation
When Australia officially endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2009, the Government stated its intent was to reset relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and to build trust in order to work together to overcome the legacy of the past and shape the future together. Furthermore, in Australia’s pledge as a candidate to the United Nations Human Rights Council 2018-2010, it committed to give practical effect to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples’ Outcome Document.

Self-determination is a fundamental element of the Declaration whereby indigenous peoples have the right to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development (Art. 3 of UNDRIP) and have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions (Art. 4). The Declaration also sets out that indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which affect their rights (Art. 18).

While Australia has adopted numerous policies aiming to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait socio-economic disadvantage, the failure to respect the right to selfdetermination and the right to full and effective participation in these is alarming. The compounded effect of these policies has contributed to the failure to deliver on the targets in the areas of health, education and employment in the Closing the Gap strategy and has contributed to aggravating the escalating incarceration and child removal rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

LETTERS PATENT
The Letters Patent, long title “Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom erecting and establishing the Province of South Australia and fixing the boundaries thereof”, defined the boundaries
of the Province of South Australia:

Provided Always that nothing in those our Letters Patent contained shall affect or be construed to affect the rights of any Aboriginal Natives of the said Province to the actual occupation or enjoyment in their own Persons or in the Persons of their Descendants of any Lands therein now actually occupied or enjoyed by such Natives


January 3, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment

Traditional owners lodge legal challenge to planned Kimba nuclear waste dump


Traditional owners lodge legal challenge to planned Kimba nuclear waste dump, 
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-12-21/barngarla-challenge-kimba-radioactive-waste-facility-napandee/100717404?fbclid=IwAR3QiztQ5454cuTfmjLaBaCb_nK4usDM43TObZV5R
ABC North and West SA / By Declan GoochPatrick Martin, and Gillian Aeria  Tue 21 Dec 2021 raditional owners on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula have formally lodged a legal challenge to the federal government’s plan to build a nuclear waste dump in the region.

Key points:

  • The Barngarla people have begun legal action against a planned radioactive waste dump
  • The federal government wants to build the facility near Kimba
  • Traditional owners have complained they were not consulted properly

The government wants to store low and intermediate-level waste at a property called Napandee, near the town of Kimba.

The Barngarla people say they were not included in the consultation process, which included a ballot of ratepayers.

“We don’t want it to be at Kimba because we were excluded from the vote under white man’s law,” Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation chairman Jason Bilney said.

The group filed for a judicial review of the site selection process in the Federal Court on Tuesday.

The ballot of Kimba ratepayers, which the government has repeatedly cited as evidence of community support, showed about 60 per cent of voters were in favour of the plan.

“The government says broad community support — well what broad community support did you have, let alone with the native title holders of Kimba or on the Eyre Peninsula?” Mr Bilney said.

The ballot of Kimba ratepayers, which the government has repeatedly cited as evidence of community support, showed about 60 per cent of voters were in favour of the plan.

“The government says broad community support — well what broad community support did you have, let alone with the native title holders of Kimba or on the Eyre Peninsula?” Mr Bilney said.

He said South Australian law required a parliamentary inquiry if nuclear waste was to be brought in and stored.

“We are going to see continual opposition emerge over the next five to 10 years, and this has got a long way to run.”

He expected the court to decide in the Barngarla group’s favour.

“They have a clear and strong case. They were excluded from the community ballot, and they do have native title rights, and it’s essential the Federal Court stands up and protects those rights.” 

The government had initially tried to legislate the location of the facility in a way that would have eliminated the possibility of a judicial review.

It later amended the legislation in response to pressure from Labor so it received the support needed to pass both houses of parliament.

In a statement, resources minister Keith Pitt said the declaration of Kimba as the site for the facility was a “significant step”.

He said his facility was a crucial piece of national infrastructure for Australia’s nuclear medicine industry and nuclear research capabilities. 

December 23, 2021 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

We froze’: What was this 1.3-metre missile doing at an Aboriginal heritage site?

We froze’: What was this 1.3-metre missile doing at an Aboriginal heritage site?
EXCLUSIVE: An unexploded high-tech missile was discovered at a culturally significant Aboriginal heritage site in remote South Australia. Neither the company that is believed to have made it – nor the Department of Defence – have explained how it got there.
SBS,  Tuesday 21 December 2021By Steven Trask, Sarah Collard  A group of Aboriginal Traditional Owners was inspecting a culturally significant site in remote South Australia when they discovered a high-tech anti-aircraft missile, a joint investigation by SBS News and NITV can reveal. 

The 1.32-metre missile is believed to have been built by a subsidiary of Swedish weapons maker Saab and was found at a registered heritage site called Lake Hart West, about 40 kilometres from the small town of Woomera, in January this year.

Woomera is home to one of the largest weapons ranges in the world and the missile appears to be a similar model to those tested by Australia’s Department of Defence near the town in 2019. 

Lake Hart West is important to the Kokatha people of the Western Desert region of South Australia; it is scattered with artefacts, historic shelters and tool-making sites.

“It startled us. There were four of us and we froze about five metres away from it,” says Kokatha man Andrew Starkey, who registered Lake Hart West as a heritage site with the South Australian government in the early 2000s.

“We were worried that there could be other missiles covered by the sand and in the bushes.

“There are over 20 heritage features all within a one-kilometre radius. There are rock engravings only a couple of kilometres away – it’s only through luck that that was not destroyed.”

The conservation of Aboriginal heritage sites has been under intense scrutiny since mining company Rio Tinto blew up the 46,000-year-old Juukan Gorge caves in Western Australia in May 2020.

An inquiry into the disaster found that existing state and Commonwealth laws were failing to protect Aboriginal heritage areas.

The Defence Department maintains it does not test weapons at culturally significant Aboriginal sites. But neither the department nor Saab have addressed questions over why the missile was found at Lake Hart West………………………………………

Human rights lawyer John Podgorelec has been representing the Starkeys as they pursue a complaint under OECD guidelines that govern “responsible business conduct” by foreign companies operating in Australia.

The Australian National Contact Point, which runs the process, said a complaint had been received against an “Australian-based enterprise” in the “defence sector”.

SBS News and NITV have confirmed the complaint relates to Saab.

An entry on the OECD complaint database reads: “Specifically, the issues relate to the discovery of an unexploded ordinance in South Australia by the Starkey Traditional Owners, resulting in risk to personal safety and artefacts of cultural significance.”………… https://www.sbs.com.au/news/we-froze-what-was-this-1-3-metre-missile-doing-at-an-aboriginal-heritage-site/3c67ce10-15ed-442c-b735-cea3673e5caa

December 23, 2021 Posted by | aboriginal issues, South Australia, weapons and war | Leave a comment