Australian news, and some related international items

Virtual reality film “Collisions” tells one Aboriginal man’s story of Maralinga nuclear bombing

Aboriginal man’s story of Maralinga nuclear bomb survival told with virtual reality By Alex Mann  ABC News, 7 Oct 16 In an unlikely collision of cultures, state-of-the-art 3D film technology is bringing an Aboriginal man’s unique tale of nuclear bomb survival to audiences across Australia.

In the 1950s Nyarri Morgan was a young man, walking and hunting in South Australia’s northern deserts. His dramatic first contact with whites came when he witnessed a nuclear bomb explosion at the British testing site at Maralinga.

Now, as an old man, and with the help of director Lynette Wallworth and some technology, he is sharing his story in a film called Collisions that is screening in selected venues around Australia.

“It happened in a desert where people assumed there were very few people [and] there was not much life and not much to be lost,” Wallworth said.

“Every one of those assumptions was wrong.”

‘People still have that poison today’  As the radioactive dust fell, Mr Morgan walked an ancient trade route at the edge of the test site. He had no idea of what he was witnessing.

In making the film, Wallworth asked Mr Morgan what he thought he was seeing. “He said, ‘We thought it was the spirit of our gods rising up to speak with us’,” she said. “[He said] ‘then we saw the spirit had made all the kangaroos fall down on the ground as a gift to us of easy hunting so we took those kangaroos and we ate them and people were sick and then the spirit left’.”

Mr Morgan is sharing his story, in his words, so it won’t ever be forgotten. “After the explosion the fallout went north,” Mr Morgan said. “Powder, white powder killed a lot of kangaroos [and] spinifex [grass]. Water was on fire, that’s what we saw.”

Mr Morgan said water “died” but that he and the two men he was with drank the water, even though it was still hot. “The smoke went into our noses, and other people still have that poison today,” he said.

“We all poisoned, in the heart, in the blood and other people that were much closer they didn’t live very long, they died, a whole lot of them.”     ‘In virtual reality everything becomes personal’………..

October 8, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, culture, history, South Australia | Leave a comment

PM Robert Menzies ‘ approval of Maraling nuclear bombing, without consulting Parlaiment

Fallout from British atomic tests at Maralinga continues, Liz Tynan – The West Australian on September 27, 2016  “……… the most damaging chapter in the history of British nuclear weapons testing in Australia. The British had carried out atomic tests in 1952 and 1956 at the Montebello Islands off WA and in 1953 at Emu Field north of Maralinga.

The British had requested and were granted a huge chunk of South Australia to create a “permanent” atomic weapons test site, after finding the conditions at Montebello and Emu Field too remote and unworkable.

Australia’s then prime minister, Robert Menzies, was all too happy to oblige. Back in September 1950 in a phone call with his British counterpart, Clement Attlee, he had said yes to nuclear testing without even referring the issue to his Cabinet…… Continue reading

September 28, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Cover-up of Australia’s Hiroshima -like story – Maralinga

This March, documents obtained exclusively by revealed that hundreds of children and grandchildren of veterans exposed to radiation were born with shocking illnesses including tumours, Down syndrome, cleft palates, cerebral palsy, autism, missing bones and heart disease.

Other veterans posted to the Maralinga nuclear test site blamed the British Nuclear Test for an unusually high number of stillbirths and miscarriages among the group.

“The rest of the Aboriginal people in this country need to know the story as well,”    “This one’s been kept very quiet.”

Nuclear will be on show at the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute in Adelaide, South Australia from 17 September to 12 November.

secret-agent-AustThe secret destruction of Australia’s Hiroshima,, SEPTEMBER 17, 2016 WHEN nuclear explosions tore through Australia’s vast, arid centre, some people living there didn’t even know it was coming.

It devastated the country for miles around, annihilating every bird, tree and animal in its path.

Even today, the effects of our very own Hiroshima are still felt by the families it ripped apart, and those suffering horrific health problems as a result.

The British military detonated seven nuclear bombs in remote Maralinga, around 800km north-west of Adelaide, plus two at Emu Fields and three off the coast near Karratha, Western Australia.

They also staged hundreds of minor trials investigating the impact of non-nuclear explosions on atomic weapons, involving tanks, gun, mannequins in uniforms and even tethered goats. In many ways, these smaller tests were equally dangerous, spraying plutonium in all directions.

Yet most Australians know very little about the blasts that shattered communities, and the dramatic story now buried under layers of dust. Continue reading

September 17, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, health, history, secrets and lies, South Australia | Leave a comment

History of Cameco’s Yeelirrie uranium mining plan

text-historyWA EPA rejects proposed Yeelirrie uranium mine, Online Opinion,  By Mara Bonacci – posted Tuesday, 16 August 2016 “…….Yeelirrie is located 420 km north of Kalgoorlie in the mid-west region of WA, the land of the Wongutha people. Yeelirrie is the name of a local sheep station and, in the local Aboriginal language, means “place of death”.

In 1973 Western Mining Corporation (WMC) found a uranium deposit there. The Yeelirrie Mine Proposal was submitted to the WA Department of Conservation and Environment in 1979. The proposal was for the development of an open cut mine, ore treatment plant, town and ancillary services and 850 employees. Environmental approval was given by both state and federal governments.

Trial mines were dug in the 1980s, which found the first large scale calcrete orebody in the world. It is estimated that around 195 tonnes of yellowcake were mined in these trials. WMC spent $35 million preparing to develop the mine until the 1983 federal election and subsequent implementation of the ALPs “three mines policy” in 1984, limiting Australia’s number of uranium mines to three.

In 2005, the mine was acquired from WMC by BHP Billiton, who concluded one stage of exploration mining. Then in 2012, Canadian mining company Cameco bought the deposit from BHP for $430 million….


Cameco’s Yeelirrie mine proposal includes:

  • A 9 km long, 1.5 km wide and 10 m deep open pit mine
  • 14 million tonnes of overburden
  • Using 8.7 million litres of water a day
  • Producing 7,500 tonnes per year of uranium (10 percent of annual world demand)
  • To be transported by four road trains a week
  • It would produce 126,000 tonnes per year of CO2 emissions
  • 36 million tonnes of tailings stored in the open pit2,421 hectares would be cleared
  • 22 years of operation
  • Highly variable work force – average of 300………

August 17, 2016 Posted by | history, reference, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Australia knew about global warming in 1968

US firms knew about global warming in 1968 – what about Australia?, The Conversation, , April 18, 2016  “……..In 1974, the Australian Conservation Foundation established its Habitatmagazine. An early issue included an article about global warming.

The following year, the economist and bureaucrat Herbert Cole “Nugget” Coombs persuaded the Whitlam government to commission research on the issue. This gave rise to an Australian Academy of Science (AAS) report that concluded it was too early to tell.

By the late 1970s, The Canberra Times began running prominent stories about the possibility of sea-level rise and other climate impacts. One that presumably caught the coal industry’s attention was a November 1977 article in which a US physicist warned that relying only on coal-fired power would flood US cities.

In 1981, the AAS followed up on its earlier work, releasing a report on “The CO₂-Climate Connection: A Global Problem from an Australian Perspective”. At this time, pro-nuclear Liberal politicians were invoking climate change as a reason for Australia to pursue nuclear energy.

The same year, the Office of National Assessment wrote a report for the Fraser government titled “Fossil Fuels and the Greenhouse Effect”. Clive Hamilton, who uncovered it, described how the report urged the government to consider moving away from fossil fuels…….

That decade climate change slowly but surely climbed the political agenda, thanks largely to the work of then federal science minister Barry Jones. In 1987 his Commission for the Future worked with CSIRO under the banner of the “Greenhouse Project” to stage a series of workshops, to be followed – with exquisite timing – by conferences across Australia in late 1988………

the first mention of climate change I found in the now-defunct Australian Journal of Mining was a November 1988 article titled “Physicist claims CO₂ will actually benefit biosphere”………

April 20, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, history | Leave a comment

Michele Madigan remembers Bob Ellis and that other nuclear royal commission

handsoffIn July 2004, a six-year anti-nuclear campaign spearheaded by Aboriginal women, who themselves had suffered in the British nuclear tests, was successfully concluded with the federal government’s announcement: ‘No national radioactive dump for SA.’

who could have imagined that just 11 years later, a new and far more dangerous plan would be launched by another royal commission, perhaps the first royal commission to plan a future scheme rather than examine one past?

Since this royal commission’s ‘tentative findings’ in February for South Australia to import international high-level nuclear waste, which it actually names as radioactive for ‘many hundreds of thousands of years’, the scepticism among South Australians is growing.

Bob Ellis and the other nuclear royal commission, Micheleaeid=47194#.VwrLvtR97Gg Michele Madigan |  07 April 2016 

The passing of Bob Ellis recalls his faithful accompanying of the 1984–1985 royal commission into the British nuclear tests conducted in South Australia in the 1950s and 1960s. He went ‘to England and back’ and, as he described it, ‘to each black polis’ of the royal commission hearings.

Ellis’ article on the Wallatina hearings (The National Times, 3–9 May 1985), described what he named as the commission’s ‘worst story of all’ — Edie Milpudie’s telling of herself and her family camping, in May 1957, on the Marcoo bomb crater.

She told of being ‘captured by men in white uniforms … forcibly and obscenely washed down, miscarrying twice and losing her husband who to prove to the soldiers he knew English, sang, “Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so.”

‘And how the soldiers shot their beloved irradiated dogs.’

‘The bad parts of the story,’ Ellis went on, ‘the miscarriage and afterward, were communicated to Jim (Commissioner McClelland) in secret session, in the distance in the bush, with Edie’s women friends giving her comfort, and prompting with giggles and nudges her reminiscence of a story they knew by heart, already an old legend.

‘Jim called these women the best in the world, unstinting comforters, inextinguishable friends”

Five years later I had the privilege myself of meeting Edie Milpudie at her Oak Valley camp in the SA Maralinga lands. Many of the Yalata elders had prepared me in a way with the constant mantra: ‘Milpudie — she went through the bomb.’ Continue reading

April 11, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | Leave a comment

Maralinga nuclear toxicity continues

Mr Kerin and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Robert Tickner, told the cabinet that the Commonwealth would plead the Statute of Limitations if any Aboriginal initiated a common law Lester, Yamiaction against Canberra.

Further, the ministers stipulated that if Yami Lester, a Yankunytjatjara man blinded by a “black mist from the south in the 1950s”, rejected the offer and proceeded with his common law action the Commonwealth should also plead the Statute of Limitations.

Hawke,-Bob-relevantIn a coda, Bob Hawke [at left] told journalists attending a National Archives briefing on the cabinet papers last month that Australia should take the world’s nuclear waste as a way to raise new revenue as an alternative to raising the GST or reducing expenditure.

Cabinet papers: Fallout continues from British atomic tests January 1, 2016  Damien Murphy  The cabinet papers reveal how ignorant various Australian governments had remained about contamination at the British atomic test sites in Maralinga in South Australia.

They also erroneously believed that British clean-up operations were effective in removing plutonium contamination.  Continue reading

January 1, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, politics, politics international | 1 Comment

Sorry history of the inadequate clean-up of radioactive Maralinga nuclear bomb test site

Maralinga sign“By ploughing soil at Taranaki without first removing contaminated fragments the British failed to achieve a significant reduction in radiological hazard and made the situation more difficult to remedy,”

Under a 1956 agreement, the UK accepted responsibility for cleaning up the site.  In a subsequent agreement in 1968, Australia released the UK from that responsibility. 

Clean-up work finally started in 1996 and continued to 2000, with the worst-affected area now deemed safe to visit but not for permanent occupancy, including by traditional owners the Maralinga-Tjarutja people who officially got their land back only in 2009.

text-relevanttext-historyAust demands UK pay up for nuclear mess  In 1990, [Prime Minister] Bob Hawke faced one of his more challenging missions, demanding British PM Margaret Thatcher pay to clean up the God-awful mess left behind when her predecessors let off A-bombs in the outback. Continue reading

December 31, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, reference | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear history – theme for January 2016

Australia has a secret and scandalous nuclear history. But at the same time, Australia has a fine history of successes by the nuclear free movement. Aboriginals have been at the forefront, but not alone, as Australia also has a proud record of environmental and anti nuclear activism.

Australia history

From the archives. Each week, this site will be reposting items from the past. Lest we forget:

U.S. military bases made Australia a nuclear target

Australia feared nuclear attack over US ties: archives ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) Emma Rodgers 1 Jan 2011, Malcolm Fraser’s cabinet was warned in 1980 that boosting its military ties with the US could put Australia at risk of a nuclear attack and expose it to involvement it in American operations contrary to its national interest, secret cabinet documents show. Continue reading

December 25, 2015 Posted by | Christina themes, history | Leave a comment

The Kakadu Charter led to stopping of uranium mining

kakaduThe 15th anniversary of the Kakadu Charter is a good time for Aboriginal and environmental advocates to re-confirm our shared concern, action and effectiveness for the long awaited total rehabilitation and completion of Kakadu National Park.

The Kakadu Charter Which Helped Stop A Uranium Mine Marks 15 Years Of Shared Values  Tomorrow marks a significant anniversary in a landmark battle to protect a people, and a place. Justin O’Brien and Dave Sweeney explain.
Continue reading

November 18, 2015 Posted by | history, Northern Territory, Opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Camp Concern: protestors recall and reactivate anti nuclear campaign in Kakadu

“The mining company that has benefited and profited from the use of this area and the mining lease now needs to move towards a comprehensive clean-up.

“We’re still not completely aware of contamination problems that need to be rehabilitated.

“What’s promising is the protest from Aboriginal communities against the mining is as strong as ever. There’s a lesson [from Camp Concern] in partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous activists sharing information together.”

kakaduCamp Concern: Activists reunite for anti-uranium mining protest 40 years later inside Kakadu 105.7 ABC Darwin  By Emilia Terzon and Lisa Pellegrino , 27 Oct 15 As uranium mining near Kakadu faces an uncertain future, activists calling themselves Camp Concern have reunited inside the Northern Territory park to mark 40 years on from the launch of an anti-mining protest. Continue reading

October 28, 2015 Posted by | history, Northern Territory, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear weapons plan, and the connection with NSW nuclear reactor

On Nov. 2, 1956, Australia’s Defense Committee formally recommended the acquisition of kiloton-range tactical nuclear weapons.

In 1969, the government announced plans to construct a 500-megawatt nuclear reactor at Jervis Bay in New South Wales.

The intention was clear — this reactor was to support a nuclear weapons program. The reactor project pushed ahead and preliminary site work commenced.

Atomic-Bomb-SmRevealed: Australia’s Failed Bid for Nuclear WeaponsChris Walsh, The National Interest 16 Sept 15, At 9:00 in the morning on Oct. 3, 1952, a 25-kiloton nuclear explosion vaporized the retired British frigate HMS Plym off Australia’s remote western coast. The Operation Hurricane detonation in the Monte Bello Islands was a seminal moment for Britain and marked its return to the club of great powers.

But for Australia, these tests and others served a murkier purpose – as important and deliberate steps toward Australia’s own acquisition of nuclear weapons. It was in the tense Cold War environment of the late 1950s and early 1960s that these aspirations moved beyond talk and into concrete action.

By the time the Hurricane detonation took place, Australia was already experienced in weapons of mass destruction. From 1943 and in the shadow of a possible Japanese invasion, Australia built extensive stocks of chemical weapons and delivery systems…….

Australia — with its vast coastlines and deserts — emerged as a key player in Britain’s nuclear strategy.

When Britain approached Australia to host nuclear tests, a sympathetic government led by Prime Minister Robert Menzies readily agreed. While Menzies — an Anglophile — focused on his relationship with the United Kingdom, others saw this as an opportunity for Australia to buy membership into the nuclear club. Continue reading

October 7, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s history of trying to get nuclear weapons

text-historyIn 1969, the government announced plans to construct a 500-megawatt nuclear reactor at Jervis Bay in New South Wales. The intention was clear — this reactor was to support a nuclear weapons program.

in 1972, the conservative Gorton government was swept from power and replaced. Gough Whitlam, a longtime advocate of arms control, wasted no time ratifying the NPT and abandoning the Jervis Bay reactor. In a heartbeat, the 40-year quest for Australian nuclear capability was over.

Atomic-Bomb-SmAustralia’s Failed Bid for the Bomb, War Is Boring, Chris Walsh, 15 Sept 15  Canberra was captivated by atomic weapons in the 1950s — then ruined its chances of ever getting them

At 9:00 in the morning on Oct. 3, 1952, a 25-kiloton nuclear explosion vaporized the retired British frigate HMS Plym off Australia’s remote western coast. The Operation Hurricane detonation in the Monte Bello Islands was a seminal moment for Britain and marked its return to the club of great powers.

But for Australia, these tests and others served a murkier purpose – as important and deliberate steps toward Australia’s own acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Continue reading

September 16, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Troubled history of Australia’s Ranger uranium mine – ABC Radio

‘So to Mirarr, I guess what they see is very, very large disturbance, they see mountains of waste rock and low-grade ore, and sometimes that does affect their views of important sites like Djidbidjidbi or just the landscape.

‘It will never look the same again and the site will have to be monitored for decades to come after it is finished being rehabilitated so that we can make sure that it is actually in a stable chemical condition, the biodiversity is doing okay and the ecosystem is functional and so on.’

Ranger 3

According to ERA figures, rehabilitation is expected to cost close to $500 million.

The long and controversial history of uranium mining in Australia, ABC Radio, Rear Vision, 14 July 2015 Keri Phillips Last month’s announcement that Energy Resources Australia will pull the plug on the Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory signals the end of one of the most controversial chapters in Australian mining history. Keri Phillips traces the history of uranium mining in Australia and Ranger’s role in it……. Continue reading

July 15, 2015 Posted by | environment, history, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

1919 – ANZAC Sermon – To Right the Wrongs

Library of Victoria
1919 –  ANZAC Sermon – To Right the Wrongs …
H.M.T. Orsova, nearing Suez, 28th April 1919
Vida Goldstein:

‘The Anzac sermon was preached by an army chaplain;

it was a glorification of the Australians, with some humorous sidelights.

It had none of the dignity and impressiveness that one would have thought the occasion demanded,

and offered no comfort to those present who had lost relatives at Gallipoli and on other battlefields.

He denied absolutely the oft-repeated statement that the Australian soldiers were undisciplined.

They were splendidly disciplined, he said, but their disciplined conduct had no trace of servility.

He spoke feelingly of the social conditions that had killed soldiers before they entered the trenches.

The evidence in the trenches of the terrible results of those social conditions

had roused many men to the sense of their duty to their fellows,

and made them resolve that when they returned to civil life they would

do all in their power to right the wrongs under which their comrades had lived.’

Woman Voter 7 August 1919 State Library of Victoria

First World War Women working for peace 1914-1919

“History is not dead and gone, it lives on in us in the way it shapes our thought, especially our thought about what is possible.”
Daphne Marlatt 2001

April 24, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history | Leave a comment