Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

UK “reviewing” files on nuclear bomb tests in Australia- this smacks of a cover-up

“To now withdraw previously available documents is extremely unfortunate and hints at an attempted cover-up.”

“worrying that properly released records can suddenly be removed from public access without notice or explanation.”

Review or ‘cover up’? Mystery as Australia nuclear weapons tests files withdrawn https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/11/australia/uk-australia-nuclear-archives-intl/index.html, By James Griffiths, CNN

More than 65 years since the UK began conducting secret nuclear weapons testing in the Australian Outback, scores of files about the program have been withdrawn from the country’s National Archives without explanation.

The unannounced move came as a shock to many researchers and historians who rely on the files and have been campaigning to unseal the small number which remain classified.

“Many relevant UK documents have remained secret since the time of the tests, well past the conventional 30 years that government documents are normally withheld,” said expert Elizabeth Tynan, author of “Atomic Thunder: The Maralinga Story”.

“To now withdraw previously available documents is extremely unfortunate and hints at an attempted cover-up.”

Withdrawal of the files was first noted in late December. Access to them has remained closed in the new year.

Dark legacy   The UK conducted 12 nuclear weapons tests in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s, mostly in the sparsely populated Outback of South Australia.

Information about the tests remained a tightly held secret for decades. It wasn’t until a Royal Commission was formed in 1984 — in the wake of several damning press reports — that the damage done to indigenous people and the Australian servicemen and women who worked on the testing grounds became widely known.

Indigenous people living nearby had long complained of the effects they suffered, including after a “black mist” settled over one camp near Maralinga in the wake of the Totem I test in October 1953. The mist caused stinging eyes and skin rashes. Others vomited and suffered from diarrhea.

These claims were dismissed and ridiculed by officials for decades — until, in the wake of the Royal Commission report, the UK agreed to pay the Australian government and the traditional owners of the Maralinga lands about AU$46 million ($30 million). The Australian authorities also paid indigenous Maralinga communities a settlement of AU$13.5 million ($9 million).

While the damage done to indigenous communities was acknowledged, much about the Totem I test — and other tests at Maralinga and later at Emu Field — remained secret, even before the recent withdrawal of archive documents.

“The British atomic tests in Australia did considerable harm to indigenous populations, to military and other personnel and to large parts of the country’s territory. This country has every right to know exactly what the tests entailed,” Tynan said. “Mysteries remain about the British nuclear tests in Australia, and these mysteries have become harder to bring to light with the closure of files by the British government.”

Alan Owen, chairman of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association, which campaigns on behalf of former servicemen, said “the removal of these documents affects not only our campaign, but affects the many academic organizations that rely on this material.”

“We are very concerned that the documents will not be republished and the (Ministry of Defense) will again deny any responsibility for the effects the tests have had on our membership,” Owen told CNN.

Unclear motives Responding to a request for comment from CNN, a spokeswoman for the National Archives said the withdrawal of the Australian nuclear test files was done at the request of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which has ultimate responsibility over them.

The NDA said that “a collection of records has been temporarily withdrawn from general access via The National Archive at Kew as part of a review process.”

“It is unclear, at this time, how long the review will take, however NDA anticipates that many of the documents will be restored to the public archive in due course,” a spokeswoman said.

Jon Agar, a professor of science and technology at University College London, said the withdrawal “is not just several records but two whole classes of files, many of which had previously been open to researchers at the National Archives.”

“These files are essential to any historian of the UK nuclear projects — which of course included tests in Australia. They have been closed without proper communication or consultation,” he added.

Agar shared correspondence he had with the NDA in which a spokeswoman said some files would be moved to a new archive — Nucleus — in the far north of Scotland. Howevethe Nucleus archives focus on the British civil nuclear industry, and it is unclear why files on military testing would be moved there, or why those files would need to be withdrawn to do so.

Nucleus also does not offer the type of online access to its records as the National Archives does.

“Why not just copy the files if the nuclear industry needs them at Nucleus for administrative reasons? Why take them all out of public view?” Agar wrote on Twitter.

Information freedom In correspondence with both CNN and Agar, the NDA suggested those interested in the files could file freedom of information (FOI) requests for them.

Under the 2000 Freedom of Information Act, British citizens and concerned parties are granted the “right to access recorded information held by public sector organizations.”

FOI requests can be turned down if the government deems the information too sensitive or the request too expensive to process. Under a separate rule, the UK government should also declassify documents between 20 and 30 years after they were created.

According to the BBC, multiple UK government departments — including the Home Office and Cabinet Office — have been repeatedly condemned by auditors for their “poor,” “disappointing” and “unacceptable” treatment of FOI applications.

Commenting on the nuclear documents, Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, a UK-based NGO, said it was “worrying that properly released records can suddenly be removed from public access without notice or explanation.”

“It suggests that the historical record is fragile and transient and liable to be snatched away at any time, with or without good reason,” he added.

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January 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, history, secrets and lies, weapons and war | 2 Comments

Why did Sir Mark Oliphant not speak out about nuclear bombs radioactively contaminating Maralinga?

Hiding Britain’s H-bomb secrets https://www.theguardian.com/global/2018/dec/27/hiding-britains-h-bomb-secrets   Sue Rabbitt Roff is alarmed at files being withdrawn by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority That the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has withdrawn files relating to the development of the British H-bomb in Australia 70 years ago (Nuclear weapons and energy files removed from archives, 24 December) is indeed alarming to those of us trying to get behind the smokescreens already set up by the Ministry of Defence’s closing access to files over the past decades.

My own research has been into why Sir Mark Oliphant, Australia’s premier nuclear physicist and a prime mover in the Tube Alloys group that showed the Americans how to build atomic bombs in time to use in the second world war, never spoke out about the contamination (from H-bomb tests) of his beloved home state of South Australia and further eastward just weeks before the 1956 Olympic Games took place in Melbourne.

He told me in 1993: “The Brits thought they could ensure any fallout or contamination was not too big. They were very pigheaded about it. The people in control were very haphazard about the estimates.” Why didn’t he speak out about the residual radioactive contamination at Monte Bello, Maralinga and Emu Field, even when he was governor of South Australia? He replied: “You can really decontaminate Maralinga by leaving it alone. Plutonium alpha particles contamination, I think, is grossly overplayed. The Aborigines are using it to the full. At the same time it was very naughty of the British to leave it, and to think of spreading it that way in the first place was very nasty. The British people were very reticent about revealing contamination, especially regarding food contamination. They hugged that to their chests very closely.”

I suggest that Sir Mark Oliphant was Australia’s – and Britain’s – J Robert Oppenheimer. The evidence is set out on my website www.rabbittreview.com and was mostly found in the files I accessed in the UK National Archives.

December 28, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The choice of Maralinga as nuclear bomb site – and the effects on Aboriginal people

Aboriginal people were still living close to the test sites and were told nothing about radiation. 

‘High rates of cancer were eventually documented in the 16,000 test workers, but no studies were done on Aboriginal people and others living in areas of fallout. It’s been called the cancer capital of Australia.’

Although many Aboriginal people were forcibly removed from their land, more than a thousand were directly affected by the bombs.

Vomiting, skin rashes, diarrhoea, fevers and, later, blood diseases and cancer were among the common conditions caused by the testing.

December 10, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

British scientists secretly used Australian population to test for radiation contamination after nuclear tests at Maralinga

November 17, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment

“Project Sunshine” tested dead babies for radioactive fallout

Only baby bones used in nuke tests https://www.news24.com/xArchive/Archive/Only-baby-bones-used-in-nuke-tests-20010607 2001-06-0 Sydney, Australia – Bone samples from dead babies were shipped to the United States and Britain to be tested for radioactive fallout as part of an Australian government programme, officials said on Thursday.

The government’s Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) said from 1957 to 1978 Australia operated a programme to measure levels of “strontium 90” radioactive fallout in humans by testing corpses. Nuclear weapons tests were conducted in Australia and there was concern about radioactive fallout building up in the atmosphere.

In the early years of the study, known as Project Sunshine, hundreds of human bone samples from corpses of babies, children and adults aged up to 40 years were reduced to ash and sent to the United States and Britain for tests on radioactivity levels. Facilities were later constructed for the tests to be carried out in Australia.

ARPANSA chief executive officer Dr. John Loy said on Thursday that it was unlikely scientists sought consent to do the tests from relatives of the deceased.

Loy said the studies were “part of an overall programme to measure the impact on Australians of atmospheric nuclear testing throughout the world.”

“In the 1950s and 60s there were hundreds of nuclear explosions throughout the world and this led to contamination,” Loy told The Associated Press. “There were measurements of activity in water, air, food and … bone tissue,” he said.

Loy said human bone absorbs strontium 90 from the atmosphere. “So it was important to get a handle on what sort of exposure was resulting from these tests,” he added.

Project Sunshine was not kept secret by the government and reports on the study were published in scientific journals, Loy said.

Interest in the project was renewed this month by media reports that the bodies of stillborn babies from Britain and Australia were also used in the research.

The reports quoted documents from a meeting of the project’s scientists in 1955, during which project leader Dr Willard Libby said the supply of stillborn babies had been “cut off”.

“If anyone knows how to do a good job of body snatching, they will really be serving their country,” said Libby, a Nobel Prize laureate, according to The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

State governments across Australia have announced that they will hold inquiries into the reported export of stillborn babies for nuclear testing.

Loy said on Thursday that ARPANSA has “no evidence whatsoever” that stillborn babies’ bodies were used in tests, but only of bones.

“Conceivably it happened in some other way, I have no idea, but certainly we have no indication that it did happen,” he said.

Loy welcomed the inquiries as a chance to set standards for future nuclear testing. Currently, nuclear tests in Australia focus on radioactivity in plants, food and air only, he said.

“It’s a legacy of a bad time of nuclear testing in the atmosphere and I guess we’ve got to learn from that and the need to make sure that if these programmes are needed they are done with people’s proper consent,” Loy said.

November 17, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The horror legacy of Britain’s nuclear bomb tests

Britain’s nuclear bomb test legacy of early deaths and deformed children, Mirror, By

Susie Boniface 14 NOV 2018

The horrific story behind the UK’s nuclear experiments have been told in full for the first time. After the horrors of the Second World War, it was deemed necessary for Britain to have a weapon that could unleash hell.

When atom bombs were dropped on Japan in 1945, LIFE magazine reported: “People’s bodies were terribly squeezed, then their internal organs ruptured…….

Of the 22,000 scientists and servicemen who took part in radioactive experiments in Australia and the South Pacific, just a handful are alive.

Their families report cancers, rare medical problems, high rates of miscarriage – and deformities, disability and death for their children – and their grandchildren.

Now, the full story of Britain’s nuclear experiments has been told for the first time in a new Mirror website that details not only the scientific, military and political battles, but the human fallout.

DAMNED features top-secret documents, eyewitness accounts and searing testimonies.

The site takes its name from an editorial written in 2002 by Mirror editor Richard Stott, who thundered: “How many more generations of the damned will our politicians allow to suffer before they accept the calamities of their predecessors and the consequences of their own cowardice?”

In May, the Mirror called for an award for the veterans and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has ordered a medal review.

DAMNED begins with Operation Hurricane in 1952, when Britain exploded its first atomic bomb, covers the Minor Trials in South Australia, which left the landscape littered with plutonium debris for decades, and reports on Operation Grapple in 1958 when the UK detonated its biggest weapon.

It also details the human cost and shows how every other nuclear nation on Earth came to accept and recognise their nuclear heroes – leaving Britain the only one to deny a duty of care………

In May, the Mirror called for an award for the veterans and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has ordered a medal review……….

DAMNED has a memorial section with the pictures and health problems of every veteran from our archives. Some of their stories can be read here: …… https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/britains-nuclear-bomb-test-legacy-13590455

November 15, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Aboriginal Rights: Michael Anderson: No treaty or contract valid if the parties are at war

Ghillar, Michael Anderson, Convenor of Sovereign Union of First Nations and Peoples in Australia, and Head of State of the Euahlayi Peoples Republic www.sovereignunion.mobi Under international law and domestic contractual law–no treaty or contract can be classified as legal if we are under the ‘rules and disciplines of war’. If our First Nations Peoples are not fully aware of these facts, then any contract entered into, treaty or otherwise, can be argued to be invalid.

Ghillar, Michael Anderson, Convener of the Sovereign Union, last surviving member of the founding four of the Aboriginal Embassy and Leader of the Euahlayi Nation said from Goodooga today:

The upcoming Sovereign Union Gathering of Nations sponsored by the Yorta Yorta Nation will focus on key rights that we have as First Nations Peoples of this continent. These rights are now supported by international laws and developing international customary legal norms, for example, as collated inHuman Rights at Your Fingertips published by the Federal Attorney-General’s department: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/hrayf_2012.pdf

One international legal norm is the progressive recognition of redress for past wrongdoings perpetrated by ambitious French, Portuguese, English, Dutch, Spanish and German colonialists.

What is interesting, however, is understanding that the Pope in Rome was instrumental in instigating invasions of other countries. In order to settle the Spanish, Portuguese, French and English wars across the English Channel/La Manche, the key warring parties had to find a third party to mediate an end to their violent clashes against each other in the 1400s and 1500s. History shows that they turned to God’s representative on earth, the Pope, seen as the ‘divine ruler’.

It should be remembered that during the internal wars over land titles in England, the key players also turned to God’s representative, the Pope (Innocent III) and his ‘disciples’, and that to break the tyranny of King John of England, it was a Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, who drafted the Magna Carta that King John agreed to on 15 June 1215.

Having mediated European struggles over land and resources, the Pope then issued new decrees which divided the world up for the warring parties to rape, pillage and plunder in order to end the wars in Europe. Thus began the flow of Papal Bulls (seals) whereby an order of the Pope, supposedly representing the biblical Judeo-Christian God on earth, divided the world up for kingdoms such as Portugal, Spain, England and France to invade under the Doctrine of Discovery, which became deeply entrenched. This alleged Christian right to usurp the lands and the usufructuary rights of the native inhabitants, ‘pagans’ and ‘infidels’ was decreed in The Bull Romanus Pontifex (Nicholas V), January 8, 1455 and The Bull Inter Caetera (Alexander VI), May 4, 1493 which instructed the invaders to ‘overthrow’ and ‘vanquish’ ‘barbarous’ nations, ‘and all other infidels whatsoever’ and ‘enemies of Christ wheresoever placed’ and ‘subdue certain gentile or pagan peoples living between, who are entirely free from infection by the sect of the most impious Mahomet and to preach and cause to be preached to them the unknown most sacred name of Christ’. In order ‘more zealously to pursue … this most pious and noble work’ ‘to conserve their right and possession’ it is ‘supported by … the Apostolic See with favors and graces’. The ‘Christian rule’ acquired ‘by the right of conquest’ ‘from the lands of infidels or pagans’ ‘all those provinces, islands, harbours, and seas whatsoever’. First Nations Peoples were also decreed to remain unarmed by preventing trade in ‘iron instruments, wood to be used for construction, cordage, ships and any kinds of armor’.[1]

The Doctrine of Discovery had its origin in the biblical text, which was articulated by the Papacy in Rome and circulated as supreme authority by the Papal Bulls. These Judeo-Christian decrees were the basis for the right of ‘First Discoverers’ to plunder and enslave, and in so doing asserted that the word of God had superior force over pre-existing claims and right of occupation.

Therefore, the zealous taking of lands during the imperial colonial expansion was promoted as a God-given right. The justification was that lands would be classified as terra nullius (nobody’s land)and uncivilised, if populated by those who did not believe in Jesus Christ or an equivalent.

Then comes the Mabo High Court case in 1992Limited though the questions were, the High Court took a giant step to firstly overturn existing legal precedents and to recognise the continuing proprietary interests and usufruct rights of the First Nations Peoples in Australia. But the conviction of those who made the decision was counteracted by their cowardice in refusing to recognise the decision of Chief Justice Willis in the NSW Supreme Court caseR v Bonjon 1841, in which Willis held that the colonists are the intruders and Aboriginal Peoples are the ‘sovereigns of the soil’. Willis CJ is also reported as ruling:

But the frequent conflicts that have occurred between the colonists and the Aborigines within the limits of the colony of New South Wales make it, I think, sufficiently manifest that the Aboriginal tribes are neither a conquered people, nor have tacitly acquiesced in the supremacy of the settlers. …

I repeat that I am not aware of any express enactment or treaty subjecting the Aborigines of this colony to the English colonial law, and I have shown that the Aborigines cannot be considered as Foreigners in a Kingdom which is their own.

This cowardice of the High Court judges that I speak of, is where the High Court realised that they were between a rock and a hard place with the Mabo case. At paragraph 29 they lamented:

… It is not possible, a priori, to distinguish between cases that express a skeletal principle and those which do not …

In other words, had the High Court known where this case would lead, they may not have agreed to hear the case in the first place.

So the judges in Mabo had to stretch a very long bow when they ruled that Australia was ‘settled’ on an ancient English legal foundation, which was the feudal land system. The irony of this decision falls into two categories:

·      the concept of terra nullius (or land belonging to no-one)

·      the law of feudalism and its legal impacts which are null and void, because feudalism disappeared from the English legal system in 1660.

In order to justify the alleged Crown Land ownership in Australia, the High Court resurrected a non-existent ancient land law system belonging to Britain, while feudalism has no legal authority in common law anywhere in the world, except in Australia.

The end of feudalism in England, permitted private ownership of land throughout the United Kingdom and destroyed the King’s or Queen’s right to own all the land. But by the High Court ruling that land tenure in Australia is based on feudalism, the judges could find that the king came and claimed all the land as his. This ties in with Governor Darling denouncing the Batman Treaty in Victoria, because no other person but the king could sign away land.

The related legal question is: Does ‘feudalism’ have any legal validity today?

Like the justices of the High Court, lawyers who are committed to the Bar and the Bar Association of Australia, are just big cowards and fear challenging what needs to be challenged and what is justly correct. This cowardice is represented by the lawyers following black letter law, e.g. in the Native Title Act. Don’t rock the boat!

The question that we, as First Nations People, must ask next is: Are we happy with the current situation and, if not, what is our next move?

Having asked this question, I put it to all our First Nations Peoples, who are proposing to come to our Gathering of Nations to give thought to the following:

In Native Title applications, the question that the lawyers ask the applicant group is: ‘Do you have the ability to prove your connection to Country under your Law and customs at the time of ‘British Sovereignty’. (N.B. should state alleged British Sovereignty). If we are to prove our connection to Country at the time of alleged ‘British Sovereignty’, we need to go back to Justice Willis’s New South Wales Supreme Court decision in R v Bonjon 1841, which has never been overturned. The High Court in Mabo indirectly observed R v Bonjon 1841 (without it being mentioned) by ruling that our proprietary law rights have their authoritative origins in our own pre-existing and continuing Law and customs. As the Mabo decision ruled at paragraph 65, these rights under our Law and custom are inalienable and no foreign parliament, such as Australia and its federated States and its two mainland Territories, have the legal capacity to take them from us:

65. … Native title, though recognized by the common law, is not an institution of the common law and is not alienable by the common law..

In other words, the High Court in Mabo ruled that they are inalienable rights and that the Commonwealth Parliament and its State and Territory counterparts cannot legislate to take them away, because they are inherent sovereign rights that belong to another authoritative jurisdiction, independent of the colonial occupying power. This is why the expert on the Australian Constitution, Professor George Williams, says Aboriginal people need not ask for sovereignty, they should simply assert it under their Law and customs.

So, the next question is: How does the Australian authority maintain its power over us? The answer is very simple. What gives this answer its fluency and authority comes from the Orders issued to Governor Phillip, in which the Colonial Secretary’s Office and the British Admiralty, now known as the War Office, instructed him on 12 August 1786 to apply the ‘rules and disciplines of war’ when establishing the colony of New South Wales:

… you are to observe and follow such orders and directions from time to time as you shall receive from us, or any other of your superior officers according to the Rules and Disciplines of War … [2]

There is no evidence that this lawful instruction from England was ever repealed and the history of Australia thereafter clearly demonstrates that the State police are used as their military wing to crush Aboriginal resistance, which is made to look like acts of civil disobedience that is dealt with under the criminal law. Conversely, the Howard government did use the military to enforce the Northern Territory Intervention.

Politicians, through their propaganda and electioneering, argue for and on behalf of the public that ‘law and order’ is a key policy objective, but the electorate does not realise that the act of war is being perpetrated against our First Nations Peoples and is written into these pretended ‘law and order’ control mechanisms. This is evidenced by the fact that First Nations people sit in jails around this country in large numbers, including our youth and children, for alleged offences that non-First Nations People would never go to jail for. The colonial administrators argue this when they use the term ‘recidivism’ (the tendency of a convicted person to reoffend) and they catch our people in these nets of incarceration with the three-strike rule principle and ‘paperless arrests’, but these only apply to First Nations people, because this is who they are targeting.

The Native Title Act is in itself a law that attacks our inherent rights and, in fact, diminishes these rights to a point where they no longer exist. In short, this is yet again another act of war against First Nations Peoples.

It therefore follows under international law and domestic contractual law–no treaty or contract can be classified as legal if we are under the ‘rules and disciplines of war’.

It further follows that, if our First Nations Peoples are not fully aware of these facts, then any contract entered into, treaty or otherwise, can be argued to be invalid.

These and other issues must be addressed if we are to get the justice due to us.

It is imperative that we as First Nations People know all the wrongdoings, so as to ensure that we have a clear understanding of our legal rights now and going forward. To act in a knee-jerk reaction will cause us all to be in the same boat as the Noongar people in south-west Western Australia now find themselves.

We will be making the call, not the colonists.

Our rights, our future–never forget it.

SovereignUnionSourcewww.nationalunitygovernment.org/content/no-treaty-or-contract-valid-if-parties-are-war

November 15, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, legal, reference | Leave a comment

Toxic effects of Maralinga nuclear bomb testing continue

Menzies “immediately agreed to the proposal,” without consulting any of his cabinet colleagues or the Australian parliament. Indeed, until weeks before the first test was carried out, only three government ministers knew about it.

The most devastating effects were suffered by two groups: Australian and British soldiers working on the tests themselves, and the Indigenous populations local to Emu Field and the later testing site of Maralinga.

One prominent member of the testing team, Sir Ernest Titterton, later said that if Indigenous people had a problem with the government, they should vote it out, ignoring that Indigenous Australians did not have full political rights until 1967.

an Australian defense ministry report was leaked to the press, warning that large amounts of plutonium left at Maralinga could potentially be a target of terrorists.

those wrongs have not been fully addressed. Health problems stemming from the tests continue for those still living, and while the veracity of Lester and other victims’ stories has been acknowledged, what exactly happened to them remains unclear, the details of the nuclear test still kept top secret.
“To this day we don’t know what Totem I did, those records are still classified by the British,

October 15, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, reference | Leave a comment

Coniston Aboriginal massacre descendants reunite  to push for national truth-telling process

Fri 24 Aug 2018  ‘Central Land Council says Australians would be shocked
to hear massacre happened just 10 years after end of WWI’

‘Descendants of the perpetrators and the survivors of the last officially recorded frontier massacre,
90 years ago at Coniston in central Australia, will reunite today
to call for a national truth-telling process, so the nation can move forward “as one mob”.

‘“Too few people know about the massacres,”
the Central Land Council chairman, Francis Tjupurrurla Kelly, told Guardian Australia.
“I think they would be shocked if they knew these murders did not happen
during some distant past but 10 years after the first world war ended.”

‘In August 1928 a white dingo trapper, Fred Brooks, was found
murdered on Coniston station.
Brooks had been living at a waterhole called Yurrkuru,
west of the homestead.

‘In reprisal, groups of men on horseback, led by mounted constable George Murray,
shot and killed more than 50 men, women and children at at least
six sites between August and October 1928, according to historians.

‘But WarlpiriAnmatyerre and Kaytetye people say that up to 170 people died.

No charges were ever laid; a board of inquiry set up to investigate the killings
ruled the party had “acted in self-defence”. …. ‘

Lorena Allam www.theguardian.com/profile/lorena-allam
www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/aug/24/coniston-massacre-descendants-reunite-to-push-for-national-truth-telling-process

August 25, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history | Leave a comment

An end to 34-year saga:  Final stones laid at Aboriginal burial ground  at Moree Cemetery

Aidan Wondracz , 14 Aug 18

‘The Aboriginal burial ground at Moree Cemetery now stands completed,
after the final stones were laid at the site on Tuesday.

‘“I finally feel like it’s a job done. It has taken me nearly 34 years
to see this part of the cemetery come to fruition,”
Aunty Noeline Briggs-Smith OAM said.

‘The sandstone blocks were placed at the foot of the Ngindi Baababili Tubbiabri sign,
followed with a carpet of pebbles. Aunty Noeline said
the sandstone matched the type of rocks at the Tranquility Area.

‘The laying of the stones closes off more than a three-decade saga,
during which time Aunty Noeline has sought to restore identities
to more than 200 previously unmarked Aboriginal grave sites.

‘“It’s a relief to know all are now resting in eternal sleep
and that people from the community can come and visit
their relatives at the final resting places,” Aunty Noeline said. … ‘
www.moreechampion.com.au/story/5584734/final-stones-laid-at-aboriginal-portion-of-cemetery/

August 17, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear testing before the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne should be a red flag for Fukushima in 2020

 Part time tutor in Medical Education, University of Dundee

The scheduling of Tokyo 2020 Olympic events at Fukushima is being seen as a public relations exercise to dampen fears over continuing radioactivity from the reactor explosion that followed the massive earthquake six years ago.

It brings to mind the British atomic bomb tests in Australia that continued until a month before the opening of the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne – despite the known dangers of fallout travelling from the testing site at Maralinga to cities in the east. And it reminds us of the collusion between scientists and politicians – British and Australian – to cover up the flawed decision-making that led to continued testing until the eve of the Games.

Australia’s prime minister Robert Menzies agreed to atomic testing in December 1949. Ten months earlier, Melbourne had secured the 1956 Olympics even though the equestrian events would have to be held in Stockholm because of Australia’s strict horse quarantine regimes.

The equestrians were well out of it. Large areas of grazing land – and therefore the food supplies of major cities such as Melbourne – were covered with a light layer of radiation fallout from the six atomic bombs detonated by Britain during the six months prior to the November 1956 opening of the Games. Four of these were conducted in the eight weeks running up to the big event, 1,000 miles due west of Melbourne at Maralinga.

Bombs and games

In the 25 years I have been researching the British atomic tests in Australia, I have found only two mentions of the proximity of the Games to the atomic tests. Not even the Royal Commission into the tests in 1985 addressed the known hazards of radioactive fallout for the athletes and spectators or those who lived in the wide corridor of the radioactive plumes travelling east.

At the time, the approaching Olympics were referred to only once in the Melbourne press in relation to the atomic tests, in August 1956. It is known that D-notices from the government “requesting” editors to refrain from publishing information about certain defence and security matters were issued.

The official history of the tests by British nuclear historian Lorna Arnold, published by the UK government in 1987 and no longer in print, reports tests director William Penney signalling concern only once, in late September 1956:

Am studying arrangements firings but not easy. Have Olympic Games in mind but still believe weather will not continue bad.

This official history doesn’t comment on the implications. And nowhere in the 1985 Royal Commission report is there any reference to the opening of the Olympics, just one month and a day after the fourth test took place 1,000 miles away.

The 1984 report of the Expert Committee on the review of Data on Atmospheric Fallout Arising from British Nuclear Tests in Australia found that the methodology used to estimate the numbers of people who might have been harmed by this fallout at fewer than 10 was inappropriate. And it concluded that if the dose calculations were confined to the communities in the path of the fallout and not merged with the total Australian population “such an exercise would generate results several orders of magnitude higher than those based on conventional philosophy”. There was no mention of the Olympic Games.

Neither Prime Minister Menzies nor his cabinet ever referred publicly to what had been known from the outset – that the British atomic tests in Australia would almost coincide with the Melbourne Olympics. The tests and the Games were planned simultaneously through the first half of the 1950s.

In May 1955, 18 months before the Olympics were due to start, Howard Beale, the Australian minister for supply, announced the building of “the Los Alamos of the British Commonwealth” (a nuclear test site in New Mexico) at Maralinga, promising that “tests would only take place in meteorological conditions which would carry radioactive clouds harmlessly away into the desert”.

An Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee was formed by the Australians but was closely controlled by physicist Professor Ernest Titterton, the only Englishman on the panel. The 1985 Royal Commission stated explicitly that the AWTSC was complicit in the firing of atomic detonations in weather conditions that they knew could carry radioactive fallout a thousand miles from Maralinga to eastern cities such as Melbourne.

Hazards of radioactivity

Professor Titterton, who had recently been appointed to a chair in nuclear physics at the Australian National University after working on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, and at Aldermaston in England, explained why the atomic devices were being tested in Australia:

Because of the hazards from the radioactivity which follows atomic weapons explosions, the tests are best carried out in isolated regions – usually a desert area … Most of the radioactivity produced in the explosion is carried up in the mushroom cloud and drifts downward under atmospheric airstreams. But particular material in this cloud slowly settles to the ground and may render an area dangerously radioactive out to distances ranging between 50 and several hundred miles … It would therefore be hazardous to explode even the smallest weapons in the UK, and it was natural for the mother country to seek test sites elsewhere in the Commonwealth.

The AWTSC published two scientific papers in 1957 and 1958 which flat out denied that any dangerous levels of radioactivity reached the eastern states. But their measurements relied on a very sparse scattering of sticky paper monitors – rolls of gummed film set out to catch particles of fallout – even though these could be washed off by rain.

Despite their clear denials in these papers, meteorological records show that prior to the Games there was rain in Melbourne which could have deposited radioactivity on the ground.

The AWTSC papers included maps purporting to show the plumes of radioactive fallout travelling north and west from Maralinga in the South Australian desert. The Royal Commission published expanded maps (see page 292) based on the AWTSC’s own data and found the fallout pattern to be much wider and more complex. The Australian scientist Hedley Marston’s study of radioactivity uptake in animals showed a far more significant covering of fallout on a wide swathe of Australian grazing land than indicated by the sticky paper samples of the AWTSC.

The 1985 Royal Commission report into British Nuclear Tests in Australia discussed many of these issues, but never in relation to the proximity and timing of the 1956 Olympic Games. Sixty years later, are we seeing the same denial of known hazards six years after the reactor explosion at Fukushima?

 

July 18, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Maralinga Britain’s guinea pig land for toxic nuclear bomb testing

Australia’s Least Likely Tourist Spot: A Test Site for Atom Bombs, NYT, 

April 18, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, personal stories, reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

20 years’ anniversary of Mirarr traditional Aboriginal owners blockade of Jabiluka

Guardian 2nd April 2018, One of Australia’s proudest land rights struggles is passing an important
anniversary: it is 20 years since the establishment of the blockade camp at
Jabiluka in Kakadu national park.

This was the moment at which push would
come to shove at one of the world’s largest high-grade uranium deposits.
The industry would push, and people power would shove right back.

The blockade set up a confrontation between two very different kinds of power:
on the one side, the campaign was grounded in the desire for
self-determination by the Mirarr traditional Aboriginal owners,
particularly the formidable senior traditional owner Yvonne Margarula. They
were supported by a tiny handful of experienced paid staff and backed by an
international network of environment advocates, volunteer activists and
researchers.  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/03/20-years-on-from-the-jabiluka-mine-protest-we-can-find-hope-in-its-success

April 4, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, Opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

AUSTRALIA’S HISTORY OF MISMANAGING RADIOACTIVE WASTE

Friends of the Earth, Australia, www.nuclear.foe.org.au, January 2018
“The disposal of radioactive waste in Australia is ill-considered and irresponsible. Whether it is short-lived waste from Commonwealth facilities, long-lived plutonium waste from an atomic bomb test site on Aboriginal land, or reactor waste from Lucas Heights. The government applies double standards to suit its own agenda; there is no consistency, and little evidence of logic.” ‒ Nuclear engineer Alan Parkinson11 Alan Parkinson, 2002, ‘Double standards with radioactive waste’, Australasian Science, https://nuclear.foe.org.au/flawed-clean-up-of-maralinga/

https://nuclear.foe.org.au/flawed-clean-up-of-maralinga/

RADIUM HILL: A radioactive waste repository at Radium Hill “is not engineered to a standard consistent with current internationally accepted practice” according to a 2003 SA government audit.

PORT PIRIE: The Port Pirie uranium treatment plant is still contaminated over 50 years after its closure. It took a six-year community campaign just to get the site fenced off and to carry out a partial rehabilitation. As of July 2015, the SA government’s website states that “a long-term management strategy for the former site” is being developed.

ARKAROOLA WILDERNESS SANCTUARY: SA regulators failed to detect Marathon Resource’s illegal dumping of low level radioactive waste in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. If not for the detective work of the managers of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, the illegal activities would likely be continuing to this day. The incident represents a serious failure of SA government regulation. The Royal Commission report dealt with this scandal in two sentences and failed to note that the SA government regulator did not detect the illegal dumping of radioactive waste.

MARALINGA: The ‘clean-up’ of nuclear waste at the Maralinga nuclear test site in the late 1990s was a fiasco:2
•                    • Nuclear engineer Alan Parkinson said of the ‘clean-up’: “What was done at Maralinga was a cheap and nasty solution that wouldn’t be adopted on white-fellas land.”

•                    • Scientist Dale Timmons said the government’s technical report was littered with “gross misinformation”.

•                    • Dr Geoff Williams, an officer with the Commonwealth nuclear regulator ARPANSA, said that the ‘clean-up’ was beset by a “host of indiscretions, short-cuts and cover-ups”.

•                    • Nuclear physicist Prof. Peter Johnston (now with ARPANSA) noted that there were “very large expenditures and significant hazards resulting from the deficient management of the project”.

If there was some honesty about the mismanagement of radioactive waste in Australia, coupled with remediation of contaminated sites, we might have some confidence that lessons have been learned and that radioactive waste will be managed more responsibly in future.

But there is no such honesty from the government, and there are no plans to clean up contaminated sites.

More information: Pages 11-15 in Submission to SA Joint Select Committee, https://tinyurl.com/jsc-sub

February 1, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, reference, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear Racism in Australia

Jim Green, Anti-nuclear & Clean Energy (ACE) Campaign, Friends of the Earth, Australia, www.nuclear.foe.org.au  January 2018 

The British government conducted 12 nuclear bomb tests in Australia in the 1950s, most of them at Maralinga in South Australia. Permission was not sought from affected Aboriginal groups such as the Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara, Tjarutja and Kokatha. Thousands of people were adversely affected and the impact on Aboriginal people was particularly profound.

The 1985 Royal Commission found that regard for Aboriginal safety was characterised by “ignorance, incompetence and cynicism”. Many Aboriginal people were forcibly removed from their homelands and taken to places such as the Yalata mission in South Australia, which was effectively a prison camp.

In the late-1990s, the Australian government carried out a clean-up of the Maralinga nuclear test site. It was done on the cheap and many tonnes of debris contaminated with kilograms of plutonium remain buried in shallow, unlined pits in totally unsuitable geology. As nuclear engineer and whistleblower Alan Parkinson said of the ‘clean-up’ on ABC radio in August 2002: “What was done at Maralinga was a cheap and nasty solution that wouldn’t be adopted on white-fellas land.”

Barely a decade after the ‘clean-up’, a survey revealed that 19 of the 85 contaminated debris pits had been subject to erosion or subsidence. The half-life of plutonium-239 is 24,100 years.

Radioactive ransom − dumping on the NT

From 2005−2014 successive federal governments attempted to impose a nuclear waste dump at Muckaty, 110 km north of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. A toxic trade-off of basic services for a radioactive waste dump was part of this story from the start. The nomination of the Muckaty site was made with the promise of $12 million compensation package comprising roads, houses and scholarships. Muckaty Traditional Owner Kylie Sambo objected to this radioactive ransom: “I think that is a very, very stupid idea for us to sell our land to get better education and scholarships. As an Australian we should be already entitled to that.”

The Liberal/National Coalition government led by John Howard passed legislation − the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act 2005 − overriding the Aboriginal Heritage Act, undermining the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, and allowing the imposition of a nuclear dump with no Aboriginal consultation or consent.

The Australian Labor Party voted against the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act, with Labor parliamentarians describing it as “extreme”, “arrogant”, “draconian”, “sorry”, “sordid”, and “profoundly shameful”. At its 2007 national conference, Labor voted unanimously to repeal the legislation. Yet after the 2007 election, the Labor government passed legislation − the National Radioactive Waste Management Act (NRWMA) − which was almost as draconian and still permitted the imposition of a nuclear dump with no Aboriginal consultation or consent.

In February 2008, Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd highlighted the life-story of Lorna Fejo − a member of the stolen generation − in the National Apology in Parliament House. At the same time, the Rudd government was stealing her land for a nuclear dump. Fejo said: “I’m very, very disappointed and downhearted about that [NRWMA legislation]. I’m really sad. The thing is − when are we going to have a fair go? Australia is supposed to be the land of the fair go. When are we going to have fair go? I’ve been stolen from my mother and now they’re stealing my land off me.”

Shamefully, the NLC supported legislation disempowering the people it is meant to represent.

The Federal Court trial finally began in June 2014. After two weeks of evidence, the NLC gave up and agreed to recommend to the federal government the withdrawal of the nomination of Muckaty for a nuclear dump. The Coalition government led by Prime Minister Tony Abbott accepted the NLC’s recommendation.

Lorna Fejo said: “I feel ecstatic. I feel free because it was a long struggle to protect my land.”

Owners have won a significant battle for country and culture, but the problems and patterns of radioactive racism persist. Racism in the uranium mining industry involves ignoring the concerns of Traditional Owners; divide-and-rule tactics; radioactive ransom; ‘humbugging’ Traditional Owners (exerting persistent, unwanted pressure); providing Traditional Owners with false information; and threats, including legal threats.

In 1998, the Howard government announced its intention to build a nuclear waste dump near Woomera in South Australia. Leading the battle against the dump were the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, a council of senior Aboriginal women from northern SA. Many of the Kungkas personally suffered the impacts of the British nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga and Emu in the 1950s.

The proposed dump generated such controversy in SA that the federal government hired a public relations company. Correspondence between the company and the government was released under Freedom of Information laws. In one exchange, a government official asked the PR company to remove sand-dunes from a photo to be used in a brochure. The explanation provided by the government official was that: “Dunes are a sensitive area with respect to Aboriginal Heritage”. The sand-dunes were removed from the photo, only for the government official to ask if the horizon could be straightened up as well. Terra nullius.

In 2003, the federal government used the Lands Acquisition Act 1989 to seize land for the dump. Native Title rights and interests were extinguished with the stroke of a pen. This took place with no forewarning and no consultation with Aboriginal people.

The Kungkas continued to implore the federal government to ‘get their ears out of their pockets’, and after six years the government did just that. In the lead-up to the 2004 federal election − after a Federal Court ruling that the federal government had acted illegally in stripping Traditional Owners of their native title rights, and with the dump issue biting politically in SA − the Howard government decided to cut its losses and abandon the dump plan.

The Kungkas wrote in an open letter: “People said that you can’t win against the Government. Just a few women. We just kept talking and telling them to get their ears out of their pockets and listen. We never said we were going to give up. Government has big money to buy their way out but we never gave up.”

Nuclear War
One example concerns the 1982 South Australian Roxby Downs Indenture Act, which sets the legal framework for the operation of BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam uranium mine in SA. The Act was amended in 2011 but it retains exemptions from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act. Traditional Owners were not even consulted. The SA government’s spokesperson in Parliament said: “BHP were satisfied with the current arrangements and insisted on the continuation of these arrangements, and the government did not consult further than that.”

That disgraceful performance illustrates a broader pattern. Aboriginal land rights and heritage protections are feeble at the best of times. But the legal rights and protections are repeatedly stripped away whenever they get in the way of nuclear or mining interests.

Thus the Olympic Dam mine is largely exempt from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act. Sub-section 40(6) of the Commonwealth’s Aboriginal Land Rights Act exempts the Ranger uranium mine in the NT from the Act and thus removed the right of veto that Mirarr Traditional Owners would otherwise have enjoyed. New South Wales legislation exempts uranium mines from provisions of the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act. The Western Australian government is in the process of gutting the WA Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 at the behest of the mining industry. Native Title rights were extinguished with the stroke of a pen to seize land for a radioactive waste dump in SA, and Aboriginal heritage laws and land rights were repeatedly overridden with the push to dump nuclear waste in the NT.

While a small group of Traditional Owners supported the dump, a large majority were opposed and some initiated legal action in the Federal Court challenging the nomination of the Muckaty site by the federal government and the Northern Land Council (NLC).

Muckaty Traditional Owners have won a famous victory, but the nuclear war against Aboriginal people continues − and it will continue to be resisted, with the Aboriginal-led Australian Nuclear Free Alliance playing a leading role.

More information:  • Australian Nuclear Free Alliance www.anfa.org.au Friends of the Earth 
The greatest minds in the nuclear establishment have been searching for an answer to the radioactive waste problem for fifty years, and they’ve finally got one: haul it down a dirt road and dump it on an Indian reservation.” −− Winona LaDuke, Indigenous World Uranium Summit, 2006

January 29, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, reference | Leave a comment