Australian news, and some related international items

ethics and nuclear power – Australia

Today’s Australia is barraged with promotion for nuclear power and uranium mining. Even some so-called “ethical” investments include uranium mining “for peaceful purposes”.   All part of the complex spin to make money out of a supposed uranium ‘boom’ – yet to come.  But somehow, to turn uranium (and perhaps, import of nuclear wastes) into a future wealth boom, the promotion goes on.   Fast, before Australians wake up to the potential of truly clean energy.

Is Australia’s promotion of uranium mining  ethical? No. It’s hypocrisy. A hypocrisy that pretends that Australia’s exports of uranium have nothing to do with nuclear weapons proliferation.

Is the Australian government’s  plan to dump nuclear waste on Aboriginal land disregarding  traditional owners’ wishes ethical?  No, and the choice of Aboriginal land is made, because it’s known that whiteys would have the resources to fight back.

Is Australia’s disregard of justice for soldiers, Aboriginals, and other victims of atomic bomb testing ethical?

What about the ethics of letting miners, mainly BHP Billiton take 345 billion litres of groundwater last year for free, in this water-short country?

Australia’s disregard of the environmental dangers of uranium mining, with apparent complacency as BHP Billiton plans a vast mountain of radioactive tailings from its planned biggest hole in the world – the Olympic Dam uranium mine expansion.

The ethics of Australia’s mainstream media, pretty much ignoring world news items that shed an unfavourable light on the nuclear industry –   anti-nuclear protests in Germany, nuclear waste crises in USA and Europe, the collapse of the nuclear power industry in USA, despite Obama’s financial handouts.


Where to start in this sorry story?   The atomic bomb tests of the 1950’s and the ensuing radioactive contamination of people and country. This history is still kept largely secret.

The secrecy surrounding the USA’s surveillance military base at Pine Gap, part of its nuclear missile system. The history of cover-up of nuclear radiation – with Professor Titterton of the Atomic Energy Commission canceling testing of airborne or rain-borne radiation from French atmospheric tests.

Government disregard of the original Ranger Inquiry – the Fox Report, which recommended against uranium mining.

The Australian Labor Party, in some sense less honest than the Liberals, as they pronounced an anti uranium mining policy, but very quickly finding ways around this, and now a promoter of uranium mining.

On the positive side

Foremost in speaking out, despite huge pressure upon them , are Australia’s Aboriginal people.

Some current examples: Dianne Stokes has persisted in the struggle against the plan to put a nuclear waste dump on her people’s traditional land.

Jeffrey Lee has given his land to Kakadu National Park, to prevent AREVA from setting up uranium mining on this land. Mr Lee, the sole member of the Djok clan and senior custodian of the land, said he grew up hunting and fishing at Koongara and wanted to see it undisturbed for future generations. ”I cry when I go to the country,” he said.

Australia has an outstanding record of people who thought long and hard about nuclear issues, and then courageously spoke out against the industry.

Some came from a medical background – notably, Dr Helen Caldicott. While the medical profession is concerned mainly with treating illness, preventive medicine is a far less glamourous, but also very important area of medicine. Dr Caldicott looked at the health effects of uranium mining and the nuclear industry, and has devoted her life to alerting the world to this.

Dr Tilman  Ruff took his medical viewpoint to the human  disaster of nuclear war, becoming spokesman for Australia’s Medical Association for the Prevention of War

Some from a science background. Dr Mark Diesendorf came from mathematics and science to energy and environmental research – concentrating on sustainable and clean energy development.

Some from a background in social sciences and politics .  Dr Joseph Camilleri developed his interest in peace studies and conflict resolution – to take a leading role in the anti nuclear movement.

Australia can be proud of SIR MARK OLIPHANT(1901 – 2000), a scientist who became Governor of South Australia, and a founder of the Australian National University.  In 1943 he led top secret research in America codenamed ‘the Manhattan Project’. to develop the atomic bomb. But later, Oliphant’s humanitarianism, and care for environment led him to change his views. He condemned nuclear weapons, and nuclear power, and advocated research into solar energy “That sun up there is the best nuclear furnace that exists – why not make use of it.”

There have been many others, including some who paid a price for their principled stand. Like former senator Jean Melzer, who lost popularity with the Labor Party heavies because of her anti-nuclear stand.

Despite the a number of comfortable politicians, geologists, physicists, financial ‘experts’, journalists etc who advocate nuclear power, there are thousands of Australians who see the industry as unethical, and work to close it down.

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons is  lobbying for a Nuclear Weapons Convention  – led by  Dr. Sue Wareham (MAPW Australia President), Associate Professor Tilman Ruff (ICAN Australian Chair), Jessica Morrison (ICAN Australia Director) and Dimity Hawkins (ICAN Australia Committee). ICAN Australia | International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

The Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia) works for the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction and the prevention of armed conflict. Medical Association for Prevention of War

So many other Australian groups – Anti-Nuclear Alliance of Western Australia; Australian Conservation Foundation; Australian Nuclear Free Alliance, Friends of the Earth –  as well as the dedicated members of the Greens party.

Green spokesman Senator Scott Ludlam works hard to keep the Australian government accountable for its policies and actions on nuclear issues

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