Archive for the ‘National’ Category

Australian Aborigines made ill by nuclear bomb tests, never recognised, never compensated

November 6, 2014

Backgrounder: Why was Maralinga used for secret nuclear tests?SBS News 5 Nov 14  “…….

What happened to the people who lived there?

The nuclear testings lead to widespread dispersion of radioactive material in the local environment. The Anangu Aboriginal people who lived the area called it “puyu” or “black mist”.

UK servicemen, Australian soldiers and civilians, including Indigenous people, were all exposed to radiation. Illnesses reportedly included cancer, blood diseases, eye problems, skin rashes, blindness, vomitting, which are all symptoms of radioactive poisoning.

Between 1953 and 1957, two nuclear devices were detonated at Emu and seven at Maralinga, the Department of Industry reported. According to the Australian Radiationn Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) these “major trials” have largely decayed and are “no longer a significant health risk” as these nuclear devices were conducted at higher altitudes (from balloons).

However, the biggest cause of contamination was from “minor trials”, which were weapons development trials that investigated the performance of various components of a nuclear device. Although minor trials didn’t involve nuclear explosions, they did contain radioactive material.

Since contamination remains on or close to the ground surface, there is a significant health risk for locals. Three sites, Taranaki, TM100/101 (TMs), and Wewak remained highly contaminated with plutonium 40 years later……..

Were victims compensated by the British government?

Aboriginal people exposed to British nuclear tests in South Australia during the 1950s are being told they have no hope of compensation. British firm Hickman and Rose had hoped to represent more than 150 civilians, if a huge class action by 1,000 British veterans had succeeded.

But the class action was blocked – the UK Supreme Court ruling that 60 years after the event their claims were too late, the causes of their illnesses apparently unprovable. (Read the full judgment here)

The Australian Greens’ nuclear spokesman Scott Ludlam said the dangers of radiation are well known and it’s unfair to ask Aboriginal people with scant medical records to prove a direct link between exposure to fallout and subsequent sickness.

“The British courts have blocked the application from Defence personnel and Aboriginal people in central Australia by saying you can’t prove those radiations exposures are what caused your illness,” he said. “Now, we know that ionising radiation is harmful for health – we know that for a fact. The right thing for the British Government to do is make an Act of Grace payment to the people who they injured in their nuclear weapons tests.”

In response, UK Defence Personnel Welfare and Veterans Minister of State Mark Francois said: “[The] Ministry of Defence’s position with respect to paying compensation is unchanged. I am sorry to have to send a disappointing reply, but I hope I have explained the reasons for doing so.”……http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/11/05/backgrounder-why-was-maralinga-used-secret-nuclear-tests

Gathering information on health effects of Maralinga atomic bomb tests

November 6, 2014

  http://www.pozible.com/project/187985   The story of the project   At the ANFA (Australia
Nuclear Free Alliance) meeting in Oct 2014 Indigenous Elders called for documentation of the health effects from the Maralinga and other atomic bomb tests in the 1950’s and 1960’s.   See https://ausnukefreealliance.wordpress.com for the meeting statement.

First Nations people along with the rest of the population from the southern regions of Australia were subject to horrific fallout from atomic testing carried out in these remote areas.
Permission was never sort from the Aboriginal nations.
“Just remember that the fallout at Maralinga affected the whole lot of us. Black, white, brindle; we all breathe the same air, and we’re all being affected in various ways, even though that happened a long time ago. It’s still around.” Sue Coleman-Haseldine (Kokatha Mula – Ceduna)
From 1952 to 1963 atomic testing covered vast areas of South Australia including Maralinga and Emu Fields test sites.
In November 2014 there will be a 3 week road trip to archive the stories of the people from Arabuna, Walitina, Ceduna, and Yalata country to produce film, audio and digital documentaries. We will begin a data base of the families affected, the geographical distributions of fall out and detrimental health repercussions of these unconsented tests.

The project will meet with people and family members who remained in the vicinity of the testing who were exposed to the immediate effects of radiological poison; people who were transmigrated from their homelands under duress to missions including Yalata in the south west of the state and people who suffer intergenerational impacts first hand at the expense of the atomic tests.

Nuclear weapons are the most destructive, inhumane and indiscriminate weapons ever created. Both in the scale of the devastation they cause, and in their uniquely persistent, spreading, genetically damaging radioactive fallout, they are unlike any other weapons.

For more information on nuclear weapons, including an article on Yami Lester, one of the survivors of the nuclear tests in South Australia, see http://www.icanw.org/au/

Many Aboriginal people in South Australia still rely on bush foods – plants and animals sourced from land that still is contaminated. The possibility of bioaccumulation is very real. Certainly the stories of early death from cancer, thyroid disease and congenital deformities are continuing.

“I’ve lost a lot of my family members through early death – and a lot of it was through cancer, and I do blame the Maralinga fallout.”
Aunty Martha – Arabana (Lake Eyre) Contact us at:  uraniumthesilentkiller@gmail.com

Many organisations, including church groups join in Alternative G20 Summit, call for Climate Change to be on G20 Agenda

November 6, 2014

Australia: Alternative G20 ‘People’s Summit’ planned for Brisbane, Asian Correspondent, By  Nov 04, 2014  BrisCAN-G20 will stage Visioning Another World: The G20 Peoples Summit, a three-day festival packed with events. Programs include conversations, symposiums, creative activities, cultural performances, education, and peaceful demonstrations. It will take place in various locations in Brisbane, aiming to bring together local and international thinkers to collaborate on broad themes such as the economy, growth vs sustainability, environment, climate change, earth rights, dispossession decolonisation, and other issues of social justice. BrisCAN–G20 is concerned about social and economic disparities perpetuated by G20 and the systems it represents.

Various groups and NGOs will join the summit including the Friends of the Earth, OXFAM,  National Congress of Australia’s First People, International Trade Union Confederation, Australian Greens and Palm Island Community.

Church Communities call for stewardship

Church groups have also been pressing for environment to be included in the G20 summit.Eleven Brisbane ministers from five churches have formed alliance to call for the Abbott government to pay attention to one of the most pressing issues of the time.

The dean of St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Reverend Peter Catt, who also serves as the group’s spokesperson, said the government did not understand how the economy and the environment are deeply linked, and how the economy operates and how it depends on the environment. Dr Catt views the environment as the foundation of economic growth, prosperity, and “human flourishing”. Noting Christianity’s principle of stewardship, he said, “the Earth is a precious gift and that humans are called to act as stewards.” He added:

Climate change is a deep concern. The G20 leaders should be showing leadership and discussing it at the top of their agenda when they meet in our city.“It would be wonderful if a meeting held in our city led the way to sustainable life and a healthy economy.

The ministers call on the Australian Government, which has control of the agenda, to deal with climate change as a priority.  http://asiancorrespondent.com/127944/australia-alternative-g20-peoples-summit-set-in-brisbane/

Nuclear lobby attacks Australia’s Environmental Protection Law

November 4, 2014

a-cat-CANAs the intergovernmental panel on climate change comes out with a compelling new report, Australia’s nuclear lobby renews its pressure for nuclear power.   Of course, Michael Angwin and the nuclear lobby are a bit handicapped in this. Australia’s Prime Minister, puppet of both the fossil fuel and nuclear lobbies, has gone all out to please Big Coal, by promoting climate change denialism.

It wouldn’t be good form for Angwin and co to now promote nu clear power as the cure for climate change – they wouldn’t want to naysay their puppet P.M. (They’ll keep the climate change argument for later, when they feel that it has become “politically correct” – that is – when Abbott has safely destroyed renewable energy and any real climate change action.)

Still, they can lay the groundwork, with  a lot of nonsense talk about Australia’s future energy needs. (Never mind that Australians are using less electricity, not more)

Part of the groundwork will be their goal to remove environmental protection – as evidenced in today’s call from Gary Johns in THE AUSTRALIAN, (strangely worded almost exactly as Michael Angwin’s letter in The Age today) : -

“……...The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, for example, states that the minister must not approve the construction or operation of a ­nuclear power plant. Such prohibition is unwarranted.

In its green paper, the Abbott government has promised to “review the current regulatory framework that governs nuclear and waste facilities to remove any duplication and streamline regulations”. This is not good enough. The ban on nuclear power must be lifted. These laws are based on old politics and old science. It is time that prohibition was repealed so all sources of power are on the table and assessed according o commercial and environmental risks..…”

Note the pretense here, that nuclear power’s environmental and commercial risks are no different from any other industries’

Tell that to the Japanese, and to the world’s insurance companies!

Stifling calls for climate change on theG20 agenda – Tony doesn’t want it

November 4, 2014

Abbott-fiddling-global-warmBrisbane G20: Airport vetoes #onmyagenda climate change billboard, Brisbane Times November 3, 2014  brisbanetimes.com.au senior reporter Brisbane Airport Corporation has vetoed a “political” billboard asking for climate change to be added to this month’s G20 conference.

The billboard – backed by nine national and international conservation groups – was planned for Brisbane International Airport.

A second billboard is being unveiled in Peel Street at South Brisbane on Monday.

The groups wanted world leaders and their delegates to see the billboard as they arrived in Brisbane. The #onmyagenda campaign encourages people to tweet G20 leaders asking them to include climate change as a stand-alone item on the G20 agenda.

Climate change issues have been on the agendas at eight previous eight G20 summits.

It is not on the agenda in Brisbane.

G20-censorship

The decision comes as the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Sunday released its most recent report on the impact of climate change.

The report found that the world must stop almost all greenhouse gas emissions through a phased elimination of fossil fuels by 2100 if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged companies to disinvest from fossil fuel-based industries.

In broad terms, the UN IPCC report finds there are “multiple pathways” available to keep global warming below two degrees.

All of these pathways require “substantial” cuts to greenhouse gas emissions over the next few decades, and “near zero” emissions by the end of the century, the report’s authors concluded.

BAC told Fairfax Media the billboards were rejected last Wednesday because they were  deemed to be “political”.http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/brisbane-g20/brisbane-g20-airport-vetoes-onmyagenda-climate-change-billboard-20141103-11fzdm.html#ixzz3I9Xt6bP9

Black Hawk helicopters, commandoes, surveillance planes – welcome to Brisbane’s G20

November 4, 2014

Commandos and Black Hawk helicopters stage operations in Brisbane CBD as G20 security ramps up http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-03/g20-security-ramps-up/5861514

By Francis Tapim G20 security preparations are ramping up in Brisbane, as commandos and Black Hawk helicopters flooded the Eagle Street Pier area in a counter-terrorism training operation last night.

Around 50 personnel dressed like commandos, armed with semi automatic rifles and wearing body armour staged the training exercise on Sunday.

Courier Mail photographer Marc Robertson stumbled on the operation, and said there were four helicopters “only a few feet from the buildings”.

G20-security-1`

“I counted about 50 blokes wearing paramilitary uniforms, combat pants, and wearing body armour carrying full automatic weapons,” he said.

“They are not wearing any insignia at all… there was a lot of action in amongst the buildings.

“There were guys with night vision goggles running around the boardwalk, it was obvious that it was a training exercise and it had been left until after midnight before any of this action took place.”

There was no official information about the operation, but Queensland police confirmed they had been assisting with traffic control for a G20 training exercise in the CBD.

Meanwhile, the RAAF said the public would notice increased activity in the skies over south-east Queensland in the lead-up to the summit.

It said fighter jets, Black Hawk helicopters and surveillance planes would increase patrols, and conduct training exercises. Commander of ADF support to the G20 Major General Stuart Smith said the training period would allow the military to sharpen their response skills.

Military style security in Brisbane for the G20

November 4, 2014

G20 security: Soldiers man checkpoints in inner-Brisbane ahead of summit ABC News 4 Nov 14 By John Taylor Soldiers and police have begun stopping and searching vehicles going into G20 restricted zones in inner-Brisbane.

Checkpoints have been set up at Milton and Spring Hill to search for explosives and weapons, manned by military personnel who have served in war zones.

G20-police-violence

Major General Stuart Smith said the soldiers and police would be involved in the searches over the next fortnight, using high-tech latest equipment.

“You’ve got soldiers here that have got experience in Afghanistan doing high-profile search techniques and they’ve done specific rehearsals to build them up in cooperation with the police over the last few months,” he said………

More than 900 soldiers will be helping with security during G20 and have spent months training for every eventuality.

Barricades to go up as ‘countries take over hotels’

Barricades and fencing will begin appearing around Brisbane city from next week, G20 Assistant Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said………

At the weekend, two people were served with notices prohibiting them from the G20……..

On Sunday night dozens of soldiers with machine guns and body armour took part in an exercise in the CBD…….http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-03/soldiers-to-man-g20-checkpoints-in-brisbane-for-searches/5863054

Christine Milne on theAustralian govt’s latest move against action on Climate Chnage

October 29, 2014

Milne,-Christine-1Christine Milne , 30 Oct 14 Just over 100 days ago, Clive Palmer and Tony Abbott got together to destroy the efficient and effective Emissions Trading Scheme.

Today Mr Palmer and Environment Minister Greg Hunt announced that they’ve reached a deal to create a $2 billion slush fund for polluters. They’re calling it ‘Direct Action’ and they’re trying to convince people that it will reduce pollution, when there is no modelling or other evidence that it will do anything of the sort.

Australians aren’t so easily duped.

Palmer and Abbott have absolute contempt for every Australian who wants strong action on global warming. If Palmer was even remotely serious, he’d get out of the coal business instead of expanding it.

We had a strong and effective set of policies in place to tackle global warming. Clive Palmer and Tony Abbott tore them up. Now they’re pretending to care about our climate, all while making sure that big polluters get a massive taxpayer handout and carry on with business as usual.

poster-Greens-Palmer

Clive Palmer does deal with Australian government to pas its (useless) “Direct Action” Climate Change Policy

October 29, 2014

Direct Action set to pass Senate after Government strikes deal with Clive Palmer ABC News, By political correspondent Emma Griffiths, 29 Oct 14 Tony Abbott’s plan for a $2.5 billion Direct Action emissions reduction fund is set to pass the Senate after the Government made several concessions to win over the support of Palmer United Party and other crossbench senators.

PUP leader Clive Palmer won a Government commitment to salvage the Climate Change Authority and to ask it to conduct an 18-month review of the PUP plan to legislate an emissions trading scheme (ETS) at a zero rate.

“The authority will conduct a review examining whether there are emissions trading arrangements in other countries and what form they take,” Environment Minister Greg Hunt said………

Under the Direct Action plan, polluters would be paid to reduce emissions, in a scheme which has been estimated to cost more than $2.5 billion over four years……..

Greens leader Christine Milne has slammed the direct action policy as “embarrassing”.

“What we have here is no contribution to bringing down emissions, no modelling to backing up the claims, a government and Clive Palmer which tore down an emissions trading scheme which was bringing down emissions,” she said.

In July, the Coalition succeeded in scrapping the carbon tax with PUP support……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-29/direct-action-set-to-pass-senate/5851914

Full parliamentary scrutiny needed on Australia-India nuclear deal – says John Carlson

October 3, 2014

Australia-India nuclear deal: The need for full parliamentary scrutiny, The Interpreter, John Carlson, 1 Oct 14  In a previous post, I pointed out how the Australia-India nuclear cooperation agreement departs from Australia’s longstanding safeguards requirements. In particular, there is a risk that the follow-on ‘administrative arrangement’ could deprive Australia of the ability to track and account for Australian uranium supplied to India.

It is not too late to address this problem in a way that ensures the agreement is meaningful and can command bipartisan support in Australia. There will be a crucial role here for the Australian Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT), which will have the opportunity to scrutinise the agreement and to ask the necessary and difficult questions about the administrative arrangement.

Here there are two practical issues: the administrative arrangement has not yet, as far as we know, been negotiated, so it will not be available when JSCOT commences its review of the agreement; and in any case it is the usual practice to treat administrative arrangements as being confidential.

The Abbott Government should proceed no further with the agreement unless it can give an assurance that all of Australia’s longstanding safeguards requirements will be met. Of course, the Government may try to dismiss any discussion of the administrative arrangement as being merely speculation. The problem is that, in considering the potential impact of such a confidential document, the public and the Parliament may never know the facts. Yet, a way needs to be found to ensure that a confidential document does not negate the effective operation of a treaty-level agreement.

Therefore, when the agreement is brought to JSCOT for review, the Committee should insist on examining the terms of the proposed administrative arrangement. If necessary, given the sensitivities, this can be done in a closed session. The key question for JSCOT will be whether the terms of the administrative arrangement will enable Australia to confirm that its safeguards conditions are fully met and that Australian uranium and other nuclear material subject to the India agreement is properly accounted for.

This may take some time. The Committee may need to withhold its final conclusions on the agreement until the text of the administrative arrangement is available. It would help if the Government were to make the text publicly available.

Both major parties in Australian politics now support the principle that Australia should be able to sell uranium to India to help it meet its energy needs, subject to proper safeguards. However, a nuclear agreement with India should be on the same conditions Australia applies to our other partners, not terms dictated by India.

Even some supporters of closer Australia-India ties have made the point that safeguards should discriminate neither against India nor for it. Australia has demonstrated good faith to India by reversing our longstanding policy with respect to the NPT and signing a civil nuclear agreement. It is up to India to demonstrate good faith by accepting the same safeguards arrangements as all our other nuclear partners.

John Carlson AM is a Nonresident Fellow at the Lowy Institute. He was Director General of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office and its predecessor the Australian Safeguards Office from 1989 to 2010. http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2014/10/01/Australia-India-nuclear-deal-The-need-for-full-parliamentary-scrutiny.aspx


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