While reading the Second Book of General Ignorance from the TV show 'Q.I.' , I was shocked and alarmed to read that the British military conducted
SEVEN nuclear tests on Australian soil in the fifties and onward. As if this was not terrible enough, the book claims that the British government has
only in recent times, provided ANY affected party with some sort of restitution or aid.
Being an enquiring sort of a chap, I decided that I ought to look these events up for myself, and I found a Wiki on the subject, and a whole host of
places where the actual McClelland Royal Commission report (in three volumes I believe) can be found and down loaded. I will not be downloading the
report, simply because I have not the space on this ancient hunk of junk. So I resorted to a few Wiki pages:
Summary points will follow, detailing the things that jump out at me, and make me sick to my guts.
Essentially the bones of the issue are that between 1955 and 1963, at a place called Maralinga (in the central south of Australia), seven major
nuclear events occured, with the co-operation of the Australian government of the time, under the management of the British military. These
detonations ranged in yeild from one to twenty seven kilotons of TNT. This is of course all fine and dandy, until you look hard at the detail.
1)The area concerned was culturally important to the local aboriginal population, being home to two tribes of indigenous peoples, and was not properly
secured after being taken from these people, who returned to the site barefoot, and were merely allowed to walk around in the radiological nightmare
that remained, more often than not oblivious to the danger it represented.
This makes me want to vomit up the nostrils of those responsible, and makes me determined to see my government make a decent apology and if possible
a package of restitutionary measures. It is one thing to use another nations land to test a bomb that you are afraid to test on your own land, but it
is quite another to take a culturally relevant location, and turn it into a lethal wasteland, whose very soil is anathema to human life. How much
blood would have been shed in retaliation, if the west had tested such things in Jerusalem in Israel? Or maybe at Mecca? Or Vatican city? On top of
the vile action of actually causing this contamination, the joint operation between the British and Australian governments never actually properly
secured the site, meaning that
unaware indigenous peoples trickled back to the area, only to become very gravely ill, and die quite often, from the exposure to dangerous levels of
radiation in the place they had called home. This level of irresponsibility is of course par for the course, but none the less utterly unacceptable.
It is now, and it was then.
2)Fallout from the tests was often higher than was predicted, both in terms of concentration, and in terms of how high into the atmosphere the
fallout cloud reached. Reports of radiation increases came in from South Australia, the Northern Territories, New South Wales and Queensland.
According to one report, a certain detonation caused a large cloud of deadly radioactive trash to float over highly populated areas, causing an
Australian official of the time, to call the British government to ask "What the bloody hells going on? The clouds travelling over towns and
If you are about the business of testing a nuclear device, then surely you have no business doing it on a nations soveriegn soil, if you cannot
GARUNDAMNTEE that the device will not, in any way threaten the lives of anyone living there? Even in the early days of nuclear testing, this is surely
an enormous gaffe, and not something one could excuse in the same way that one excuses the Model T Ford for having a "slightly uncomfortable
3) British servicemen, serving in the area, were told to march, crawl and generaly operate in the area in the days immediately after the tests,
PURELY to assess the affects of the radioactivity on them over time, which although later admitted by the British government, goes directly against
all available comments by them, that it is not and has never been British military policy to use thier personel as test subjects, something most of us
know to be a bunch of words and little else.
This is thoroughly disgusting, but not as sick as the fact that it took until 1988 for the British government to compensate its own personel for the
suffering caused by its appalling behaviour, AND for the Australian government to compensate its personel also. Worse than any of this, is that the
people who had no choice in the matter, who did not sign up to be ordered around, who had thier homeland taken from them and raped in this way, were
not compensated one iota until 1994, despite suffering blindness, cancers of every stripe, and christ knows what other ailments, doubtlessly caused by
the continued presence of radioactive elements left over from the testing. The clean up only finished officially in the year 2000, and there are still
areas within the affected zone, which are only fit to be accessed, not settled.
Now, anyone can see that most of my information comes from the linked wiki, however there are other sources, including the actual report itself,
available as a download here:
And here is a link to volume two, although I am sure that other volumes are available from the same source, should you wish to delve further.
I did search the site for previous mentions of these incidents, and found nothing. If there is something, I would love to know why a quick search did
not reveal this to me before I posted this thread.
So, the questions posed by this are, how can the British government speak with a straight face about the affects of the behavior of other nations and
thier leaders, on thier people, and people from other lands, without biting the apple of hypocrisy? How can the Australian government be confused
about the reason for aboriginal angst toward the government? How can any of us support our nations, if they are prepared to do this to innocent
people, without cause or provocation?