Senate debates

Tuesday, 17 October 2023

Statements by Senators

Nuclear Weapons

1:55 pm

Photo of Jordon Steele-JohnJordon Steele-John (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

The fifteenth of October marked 70 years since the first mainland nuclear testing conducted in Australia. Emu Field in South Australia was the site of Operation Totem, a pair of nuclear tests conducted by the British government. Totem 1 was detonated on 15 October, followed by Totem 2 on the 27th. The radioactive fallout, dubbed 'black mist', unleashed horror and death and environmental effects that persist to this day. This testing was done with no consultation with or care for First Nations people living on the land and with no acknowledgement that their communities have had to endure the effects that have come from the radioactive fallout.

Earlier this year, I met with survivors of Australia's nuclear testing and with their family members. Their stories were powerful and their ask simple and clear: it is time for Australia to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Articles 6 and 7 of the treaty provide for victim assistance and environmental remediation and repair in relation to nuclear weapons use and testing. There is no place in society for nuclear weapons. There can be no acceptance of nuclear weapons in a modern society.

The ALP government came to power with a promise to sign the TPNW. It is right there in their policy platform. But here we are now, 18 months into the Albanese government's life, and there is nothing to show for it. The Greens are calling on the government to commit to signing and ratifying the TPNW in this term of government without dither or delay. Nuclear weapons have no place in a modern society.