– My question is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and may also bring some response from the Minister representing the Minister for Health. What plans has the Government for initiating inquiries into the deaths and illnesses of Aboriginals and white people who were exposed to the fall-out of the Maralinga atomic tests? According to reports received by Dr T. Cutter, who is heading an Alice Springs based Aboriginal health service team, many Aboriginals died immediately after the tests. Will the Minister consider holding a full inquiry into the short and long term effects on the health of the people living in the north of South Australia at the time of the atomic tests and check on the reports of mass burials of Aboriginals?

Senator CHANEY – Needless to say, this matter has been of concern to me. The concern predates the recent spate of publicity which related to Dr Cutter’s visit to northern South Australia and, of course, to a series of articles in, I think, the Advertiser in South Australia. At present the Commonwealth is seeking information on the matters which have been raised. Perhaps it is worth quoting Mr Toyne, one of the people who has been interviewed in this area and who is an employee of the Pitjantjatjara Council. I refer to his comment on radio the other morning.. When asked about possible deaths he said: all I can say is that it is quite speculative. We are still in the area of speculation. We are still seeking information. Over the past month or so l have written on a couple of occasions to the Minister of Health in South Australia seeking information from the South Australian Health Commission. I am not in a position to give a final response but I think my colleague Senator Carrick has something to say because the question also impinges on his area of responsibility.

Senator CARRICK – The atom testing events at Maralinga over the period involved a series of departments. My department was asked recently whether it would co-ordinate a review by a series of departments ranging over possible threats to any people, be they Aborigines or non Aborigines. An interdepartmental committee has been collecting evidence on the matter. I hope that I will be able to make a statement here tomorrow indicating the direction that the Government wishes to take in this matter. If any people in the community feel that they have direct evidence or believe that they have been affected in any way, they should come forward. They will certainly be given sympathetic examination. My understanding is that something like 2,000 Service people were involved throughout the period. I understood also that the area was patrolled during the tests to ensure that nomadic Aborigines did not come within something like 270 kilometres of the tests. As far as is known, and this information could be imperfect, only one incident of Aborigines coming within the test area was known and that involved four persons who did suffer some mild contamination. Expert attention was given to them immediately, and by the simple process of bathing the contamination was removed. That is not to say that that is the definitive answer. I hope to add something more to that tomorrow.


– Minister for National Development and Energy) – by leave – The Government has given careful consideration to recent expressions of concern that Australian personnel were exposed to high levels of radiation during the atomic weapons test programs conducted by British authorities at Maralinga, Emu and Monte Bello, and to calls for an Inquiry into the current health of the Australian personnel involved. To date eight known compensation claims have been received for consideration under Commonwealth compensation legislation in connection with the Maralinga, Emu and Monte Bello tests. Three of these claims are presently under investigation and compensation has been granted in respect of two of the five which have been considered. In one case compensation was granted for a psychological disorder resulting from the aggravation of a pre-existing condition, and in the other case compensation was granted on the grounds that there could have been a connection between an officer’s death from cancer and his exposure to radioactive dust during his duty in connection with the Emu atomic tests in 1953.1 also understand that during the past decade about six claims attributing the onset of cancer to atomic weapons tests in Australia have been examined by British authorities. In none of those cases have the authorities found evidence of exposure to nuclear radiation significantly above the natural background level or that cancer arose from other than natural causes. The Government is satisfied on the basis of reports submitted at the time that all personnel working at Maralinga were subject to stringent health procedures and that their activities in the field were strictly controlled and monitored to ensure that they were not exposed to dangerous radiation. On the basis of evidence presently available, the Government is not convinced that the need has been established at this time for a full survey of the health of those Australians who were involved. However, we fully appreciate the concern and uncertainty of many of the Australian personnel who believe that they may have been exposed to dangerous levels of radiation and may now or in the future suffer resulting injury or disability.

The Government will ensure that full consideration continues to be given to all claims for compensation put to it under the Compensation ( Commonwealth Government Employees) Act. To facilitate this consideration, persons who are concerned about the possibility of injury having been suffered as a result of involvement in the tests are invited to come forward for interview and, if appropriate, medical examination. In the first instance inquiries should be addressed to the Secretary of the Department of National Development and Energy in Canberra who will direct inquiries to appropriate authorities in the Department of Health, the Department of Defence, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and the Department of Social Security. Our inquiries to date have identified only one recorded instance of Aboriginals entering a contaminated area. This occurred at Maralinga in May 1957, involving four persons. After appropriate washing procedures were implemented. radiation safety officials concluded that there was no possibility of any radiation injury having occurred. Nevertheless the Government is investigating allegations that other Aboriginals may have been exposed to radiation in the test areas. Information is being sought on any radiation associated health problems amongst those Aboriginals. We are also aware that investigations are being conducted by Aboriginal organisations into reports of Aboriginals in the north of South Australia being affected by radiation following the Emu atomic tests in October 1953. These investigations will complement our own inquiries and the Government invites those conducting investigations to advise the Government of any evidence of radiation injury they might find. The Government for its part is conducting a specific review of contemporary records to see what evidence there might be of the incidents reported. The Government is concerned at suggestions that some Australian personnel who believe that they may have been exposed to dangerous radiation, or believe they know of others who may have been so exposed, may be inhibited in coming forward because of uncertainty as to the present security significance of their involvement in the atomic weapons tests. Their continuing sense of responsibility in this master does them credit but the particular circumstances of any possible exposure – as distinct from information about the tests themselves – should not be of any security significance. If these persons remain in any doubt, however, they are urged to contact the Department of Defence for advice. In pursuing its investigations into this matter, the Government will seek the expert advice and experience of the Australian Ionising Radiation Advisory Council and of the National Health and Medical Research Council. I commend the statement to the Senate. I move: That the Senate take note of the statement

Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) ( 12. 56pm)- I wish to speak to the motion that the Senate take note of the statement because I think it is necessary to say one or two things. I commend the Government for its policy at this stage of payment of compensation to those people who can prove some ill effects as a result of exposure to radiation during their service at Maralinga. But there is a much bigger question which arises in relation to this payment of compensation. These people are paid under the Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees) Act, which means that the onus of proof is on the applicant. The figures to date indicate that there is a greater incidence of cancer among those people who worked at Maralinga than in people in other sections of the community. How one proves that the cancer that one may have has resulted from employment at Maralinga I do not know. But it is reasonable to accept, I think, that if the incidence of cancer is out of all proportion there is some significant connection between the employment and the disease. I think greater consideration should be given to the fact that these people were employed at Maralinga and that as a result of their employment there they have had diseases which could arise from an over-exposure to radiation. Although the Minister’s statement deals with those who were employed at Maralinga and who were on the site at the time, there are other considerations to be taken into account. There may be other people who were outside Maralinga who could have been affected. The question then arises whether they have been suitably compensated or whether compensation should be paid.

Even now the Government is considering the situation of a group of Aboriginals at Ernabella in relation to this question. In Queensland a body known as the Atomic Veterans Association has been set up by exservicemen. This body has been formed by the members of the Queensland branch of the Returned Services League and is now requesting a full government inquiry into the tests. This request is supported by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Public Service unions, the Australian Council of Churches, Aboriginal groups and politicians. I ask the Government whether, rather than paying compensation to a person who can prove a connection with exposure to radiation, there should not be a full investigation into the possible ramifications of this exposure and who may be affected by it. The Adelaide Advertiser has published a series of articles in relation to this matter. It has received much information from a resident of South Australia who has always claimed that he was injured as a result of his occupation at Maralinga. He could never get recognition from Federal Government departments until his case was taken up by the Advertiser. I believe he is now receiving a pension from the Department of Veterans ‘ Affairs. As a result of this publicity, letters have been received by the advertiser from many people throughout Australia who were at Maralinga.

These people complain that they have suffered illness as a result of their employment there. There were seven tests carried out at Maralinga, two at Emu and three at Monte Bello off the Western Australian coast. Nine of those explosions were in the kiloton area, equivalent to the detonation of tens of thousands of tons of TNT. The survey done by the Advertiser on this matter discovered that among those at Maralinga who could have been endangered were Australian and British military personnel, Commonwealth police, civil workers and Aboriginals. They could have been exposed to high levels of radiation Although it is said that there were only four Aboriginals in the area of Maralinga, I do not know how anyone could police the miles and miles of gibber desert and know who was in the area. Aboriginals periodically go walkabout on tribal land and return to their home country. As this is tribal land, I would say that it would be impossible to police. . Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m. ( Quorum reformed)

Senator CAVANAGH – Before the suspension of the sitting, I was discussing the Government’s attitude to the Maralinga incident. I was referring to the personnel employed at Maralinga. I stated -and I said this generously – that the Government is prepared to pay compensation to anyone who can prove that his present bad state of health is associated with the Maralinga incident. I take it that it would accept proof not on the basis of beyond reasonable doubt but on the basis of probability. But the compensation payments are small. They are not sufficient. This matter is something about which we know little and it needs full investigation. I lend my support to the Returned Services League in Queensland which has set up the Radioactive Defence Force, with the support of many bodies to seek a full inquiry into the ramifications of the Maralinga testing and into suitable payment to anyone whose health may have suffered as a result of those tests. But we do know from the Adelaide Advertiser reports of evidence stated and names given that at least 52 of the 2,000 Australians who took part in the Maralinga tests died of cancer and that seven others are living with the disease at the present time. Is this a higher proportion than the normal death rate among Australians from cancer? If it is should we not have an investigation to establish the incidence of cancer? It may have spread to a further area than the actual area of Maralinga. I state the truth when I say that the cost to Australia and the health of Australians of the development of the British nuclear arsenal is still obscure and that is for reasons relating to security in Australia. If the Government is sincere, it should release all information so that people are not afraid to speak because of security arrangements. The statement by the Minister for National Development and Energy (Senator Carrick) today was that, unless security was involved, there was no reason why people could not disclose to the authorities their sickness and their belief that their sickness was due to the Maralinga test. If there were any doubt, they should contact the Army. I think that there should be an investigation with a guarantee of immunity, to anyone who knows anything about Maralinga and the dangers to people’s lives to state that information publicly. The Adelaide Advertiser published the statement of an Royal Australian Air Force corporal who was at the test site between 1962 and 1965. He alleged that Australian Security Intelligence Organisation officers had warned him not to talk about what he had seen after he had said in a newspaper interview that he had helped to bury large amounts of radioactive waste. The same person stated that Aboriginals had wandered freely through the test site. He further stated that there were six radioactive sites within a kilometre of the Maralinga camp where 800 to 900 personnel were living. Should honourable senators not have the facts on this matter? The Government states that there was only one known incident. Four Aboriginals were cured by bathing and washing off the radioactive material. Here is a man who, for security reasons is afraid and who would be prepared to say that there was a large number of people wandering freely through the area. There were 800 to 900 people living in the area affected by radioactivity at Maralinga. Why can he not be given the freedom in the Minister’s statement to state these beliefs publicly and give details of where the incidents occurred. The radioactive material was not confined to Maralinga. There were many mistakes in the observations, and many mistakes in the forecasts as to where the winds would blow the radioactive clouds that resulted from the explosion. In one Incident associated with the Emu test in October 1953, 45 Aboriginals were enveloped in a rolling black mist for several hours, following an atomic bomb explosion. Within 48 hours. they had uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhoea. Soon after, a skin rash like measles covered their bodies. The Aboriginals were left too sick even to gather food for themselves and almost starved. This is the incident which Dr T. M. Cutter is now examining.

There is not only the Aboriginals’ statement regarding what they term ‘the grey mist’, which they thought was a god ‘s punishment set down upon them, but also the statement of Mrs E. L. Giles, a former owner of the Melbourne Hills Station in the far north of South Australia which verifies this. She states that her husband and two Aboriginal employees at the station died of cancer some years later. Is this not justification for investigation? While Dr Cutter has gone to investigate and report, there is nothing in the Minister’s statement to say that there is a claim for them because they never worked on the Maralinga site. I think most people in the Senate chamber will know Jim Lester, from Alice Springs, who has been interested in Aboriginal affairs very well. He is the blind interpreter for the Pitjantjatjara community. He has been blind for many years. We saw the interview with him – he was a pathetic sight – in which he made a statement regarding the time when he was a child, when his people were in hiding from the grey mist and how he looked at it. In fact, he stared at it. He is totally blind today. Whether his blindness is because of exposure to radiation, I do not know. Another mishap – the third test at Maralinga – resulted in widespread fallout over Adelaide and nearby countryside increasing previous radiation levels in the area by 900 times. In Adelaide, the radioactive increase was 900 times the usual level of radioactivity. Should this not be investigated? The Commonwealth, whilst not disclosing the facts, is not ignorant of the facts which are only becoming apparent some 20 years later. The matter was disclosed at the time in a suppressed report on the tests. The public does not have any knowledge of that report, it was written in 1957 by Dr Hedley Marston, a former director of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s Division of Biochemistry and a general nutritionist. Apparently the original report by Dr Marston was censored when it was first published in a limited circulation scientific journal in 1958. The original copy which is held at the Academy of Science in Canberra contains his full findings. Dr Marston died in 1965. What was his full report? Although it was censored it was suppressed and we cannot see it. We cannot see its comments on security, the effect of the radioactive material and the effect of the passage of this material across South Australian, Victoria and New South Wales; we are not permitted to see the report. The official statement from the Government was issued at the time in the names of either Professor L. H. Martin or Professor E. W. Titterton, both members of the Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee, or in the name of the then Minister for Supply. It stressed that there was no danger to mainland Australia. If that is so and there was no danger. why is Dr Hedley Marston’s report still being suppressed today? Senator Jessop – Who was the doctor who made the comment about Maralinga the other day?

Senator CAVANAGH – I do not know to whom you are referring. I do know Miss Shirley Allen, a former CSIRO researcher and personal assistant to Dr Marston, stated that the news of the fallout over Adelaide was deliberately suppressed. ln 1958 the Australian Weapons Safely Committee released a paper which admitted that there had been radioactive fallout over Adelaide and which said that only a small quantity of low activity material settled over South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. That statement was published in the Adelaide Advertiser, but we cannot get Dr Marston’s report. This is the very important aspect. There are still facts which this statement of the Minister does not permit us to view. In another incident it is alleged that scientists lost a radioactive cloud after the fourth .Maralinga atomic bomb explosion on 22 October 1956. The bomb was detonated at five minutes past midnight so as not to offend South Australians by exploding it on a Sunday. Despite immense efforts by Royal Australian Air Force Canberra bombers to track radioactive dust clouds the missing cloud was not located until several hours after daylight. The cloud which was supposed to travel east from Maralinga and pass away from Adelaide over the Tasman Sea was found moving towards Darwin. That is the incident which the Aboriginals at Ernabella say could have affected them. In another report about 30 Australian soldiers and a small band of technicians were exposed to highly radio active cobalt 60 radiation while cleaning up Maralinga after the bomb tests of 1957. The soldiers had been equipped with only the basic protective gear, respirator overalls, cloth gloves and metal scoops for the clean-up operation and had not been made fully aware of the task. These are some of the matters that have been brought to light. I am relying on newspaper reports for these details. The newspaper reports published the names of the 52 people who died of cancer. They published the names of the seven people who are now living, who have cancer and who worked in that area. Only now it has come to light that radioactive material was found to be over Adelaide at 900 times more than the normal dose of radiation. For the Minister to say that there was no further danger resulting from that incident than the radiation we absorb from the earth’s surface at present is not correct. Therefore, we must have some clear investigation. The Aboriginals are deserving of consideration. We must find out whether that incident is the cause of the blindness that one can track from Emu through to the north of Australia and to Darwin. There is more incidence of blindness among Aboriginals – what the medical profession is treating as trachoma – in that area than there is outside that passage way. That is the position.. Should not this be investigated? The Aboriginal tribes from the area have since been shifted to Yalata on the west coast of South Australia. When the Commonwealth made the decision to revert control of the site to the State Government it moved the Aboriginals in the area to Yalata. The mission at Yalata dismantled the materials on the site and took them to Yalata to build sheds and homes and so on at Yalata. The British took the radioactive material back to Britain for disposal. On investigation they found that Maralinga was still a radioactive area. Watchmen still live in that area. Security guards see that no one enters the area. There is still some danger there. The danger is in the material on the property that is now at Yalata where Aboriginals are living. I suppose that Britain’s ability to survive in the future was more important than the lives of a few Aboriginals and the suffering they may go through. This matter involves not only Maralinga, it is also a question of how careful we should be in the future of atomic explosions and the mining of Mineral elements that are radioactive. It is a question of how careful we should be in protecting the shores of Australia. We should have no defence installations and we should take no action that would warrant an adversary’s s attack upon Australia with the use of radioactive material. We do not know the damage that could be caused. These are the questions I am raising. It is not a matter of the Government saying to someone that if they can prove their case the Government will pay them compensation. That is the cheap was out. Let us see who suffered as a result of Maralinga and let us see that it does not happen again

Senator MELZER (Victoria) (2.34) – I wish to speak to the statement put down by the Government to take up some of the points Senator CAVANAGH has raised and to raise some other matters. One of the things that terrify me in this report and in so many of the reports we are getting lately is the air of cover-up. We are told to accept assurances that all is well. We are told that everything is under control and that the procedures we are using are quite safe. We have been told that about things like agent orange, Maralinga and nuclear power. When communities showed concern over matters such as 2 4 5-T they were told that there was no problem, that there was no connection with illness and that there was no connection with genetic damage. When we found Australian Forestry Commission workmen using the material and becoming very ill and it was obvious that this was directly resulting from the chemicals they were using the authorities admitted that there could be some problem and that they would look into the matter. When it was alleged here that agent orange was used, especially brewed agent orange was used with lethal quantities of dioxin the Minister said that Australians were not affected. When he was pressed he said: we did not use it . When he was pressed further he said: we only used a little of it . Now we have a full blown inquiry into how much damage has been done to our servicemen by the use of that material. There was strong evidence at the time that it was lethal. Evidence now shows that medical officers knew of the effects at that time and were told to include on the medical records of the men using the material that they had been involved because they expected to find that the men were affected by It. That was 50 years after we knew about dioxin and its cancer causing property. Government members have stood up here and told us that nuclear power was safe. They have followed the Sir Ernest Titterton line that it is the safest, cheapest form of energy the world has ever known. Then we had the Three Mile Island incident and all the world now knows that nuclear power is far from safe and that nuclear engineers just do not know how to cope with the problems and they have not been able to cope with them. We now come back to Maralinga. In 1977 we were told that there were no problems; yet in February 1977 Professor De Bruin in Adelaide was calling on the Department of Defence to give details of any material buried and the possible side effects of the tests. Why was he concerned? He was concerned because he had received an increasing number of reports from people who had worked in the Maralinga area and who were ill. He received an increasing number of reports of contaminated material that had been distributed from the site at Maralinga. But at that time we were told that there were no problems and we were not to worry as the tests had been safe and the people of Australia had nothing to worry about. Then we found that there was plutonium on the site. At that stage Sir Ernest Titterton said that the tests had been monitored and that there was no plutonium there. Nonetheless in October 1978 the British arrived and took the plutonium away. We are told that now we are safe. But now we find that a report written in 1957 showed there was widespread fallout but the report was suppressed.

As Senator Cavanagh says, Dr Marston, a former director of the division of biochemistry of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation who should have known what he was talking about – put out a paper which showed that the fallout from Maralinga and Monte Bello atomic tests was widespread. The report stated: Marston and his co-workers provided one facet of a program to monitor radiation from the tests. They collected the thyroid glands of grazing animals from sites which were considered likely to be traversed by plumes from the Maralinga explosions and analyzed for the presence of Iodine 131. They – “….concluded from results of the complete survey that extensive areas of Australia have been contaminated and some of the more heavy precipitation [of fallout] occurred on terrain situated over 1500 miles from the site of the explosion in areas more or less thickly populated.” Despite that report having been written and despite the fact that it was available to the people who were concerned or connected with the Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee in October 1956 Professor Ernest Titterton deputy head of the Committee was quoted as having advised the Minister for Supply as follows: There is no danger or significant fallout outside the immediate target area. But he had been privy to the report that had been suppressed. At the same time,. following the first of the four Maralinga tests, the chairman of the Safely Committee, Professor Martin – later Sir Leslie Martin – said: “There is no possible risk of danger now or at any future time to any person, stock or property. All dangerous fallout has been deposited and the remaining fallout is completely innocuous. Measurements taken in the afternoon and during the night …. by aircraft and on the ground by mobile units, all confirm the scientists predictions that the operation would be carried out with complete safely….” Dr Marston found that the effects of the explosion could be detected in animals grazing in a pen in a band of terrain about 1,000 miles wide stretching west to east across the continent. Results from his paper differed markedly from the Press reports at the time. As Senator Cavanagh said, the paper showed that fallout over Adelaide was of importance. It stated: Fallout from the secondary cloud is not denied but rather described as a southerly diffusion of slowly settling material of low activity detected over South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.” That is a long way from the area that Professor Titterton told us was the significant fallout area. The paper went on: “Material in the cloud from the fourth Maralinga test was known to diffuse and settle over a very wide front to the east of the trajectory which passed through the Northern Territory. That may have been of some comfort to Dr Marston but in the 20 years since, more and more research has shown that any radioactivity dangerous and that continuing radioactivity is more dangerous. An unknown number of people have been affected by this radioactivity. Other areas in the world have been assured in the same way as Sir Ernest Titterton and Professor Martin and the Committee assured us that we were in no danger.

In Colorado, in the United States of America, down wind from the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Establishment, people have a substantially higher cancer rate than Denver residents, who were not exposed to plutonium emissions from the plant. In a report in 1979 the Director of the Health Department Jeffersen County, Dr Carl Johnson, a physician epidemiologist as well as County Health Director and Assistant Clinical Professor of Preventative Medicine at the at the University of Colorado, said that he found that men living up to 13 miles downwind of the plant had a testicular cancer rate of 140 per cent higher than would be expected on the basis of cancer statistics for Denver area residents. He found that the incidence of throat and liver cancer was 60 per cent higher downwind of the plant. He found that the incidence of leukaemia. lung and colon cancer was 40 per cent higher. In this area he found the overall cancer rate was 24 per cent higher than expected in men and 10 per cent higher than expected in women. In an area 18 to 24 miles downwind, the overall cancer rates were eight per cent higher in men and four per cent higher in women. Dr Johnson said that the higher incidence of testicular cancer in plutonium-exposed men was particularly significant because the scientists employed at Rocky Flats have shown in animal studies that ingested plutonium tends to collect in the testes.

Dr Johnson said that on statistics for testicular cancer in the Denver area he would have expected to find 17 cases of testicular cancer among men living downwind from the plant. Instead he found 40 cases. The higher cancer rate showed a direct relationship to an increasing concentration of plutonium in the soil. Higher rates of cancer of the tongue, stomach, ovary, brain, pancreas and thyroid were also found in this plutonium exposed population. In 1957 afire at that plant resulted in a release of plutonium in amounts 19,000 times the present acceptable maximum set by the Department of Energy. Twenty-two years later cancers are showing up. In 1956 we had major explosions of atomic bombs on Monte Bello Island and at Maralinga. The men who were involved in those experiments were not given special clothing and did not take precautions in any way. On record is the evidence of a man who flew one of the Canberra bombers through the resultant clouds several times without wearing any sort of protective clothing. Three years later he found he had cancer of the thyroid. An engineer who assisted the Canadian engineers on the ground in a radiation detection unit has also given evidence. There was a contamination station. The job of the engineers was to move in and out of the contaminated area bringing materials and vehicles out so that they could be decontaminated or checked. He too found that he was suffering from cancer three years later. He was asked whether he wore protective clothing or breathing apparatus and he said he did not. During an interview he raised an interesting point. He said that when driving about 150 miles from Maralinga he came upon what he described as a fairly large village. His first thought was : “Why the hell are we living in tents when we have got a village here.”

He realised after going into the village and exploring the buildings that there were signs of contamination so he left the village. He was later told that the whole village had been abandoned because all of it was to some extent contaminated. Vehicles and other equipment had been left there because they were contaminated. He was asked how many people went to the village and whether it was known that the village existed. He replied: “Well l never knew until I arrived there and when I got back to roadside with the truck and my offsider, I told a couple of people there about the village and I was told it might be an idea to forget it because it had nothing to do with what we were into. But I know for a fact now that lots of other people the odd Sunday would grab a vehicle and fly up there and bits and pieces were being pilfered out of that area, such as electric radiators and refrigerators, a two way radio and various things I can think of that came down from that area.” The men involved at the time were not the only ones who suffered the effects of radiation and who came down with cancer. We do not know how much of the material that was contaminated went out of the area. We do not know where it went or what sort of effects it might have had. In other parts of the world there is evidence that wind borne contamination can cause cancer. We have evidence that material that has been contaminated cannot be used safely by human beings and that it might cause cancer. The report that was suppressed shows that the contamination from the experiments at Monte Bello and Maralinga had much wider consequences than we were led to believe. Right across the area, in western New South Wales and northern Victoria people have been concerned about the rates of cancer in some very small settlements in those areas. Nobody knew why in small areas of 2,000 or 2,500 people up to 50 people were suffering from cancer at about the same time. The only thing that connected those people was that they liked working in the open air.

They were farmers or gardeners. Some of those people felt six years ago that the cancer from which they were suffering might have had something to do with Maralinga. They pointed out to me personally that the prevailing winds in that area came from Maralinga. When the question was raised with scientists at the time they said they did not think it was possible. They did not think that Maralinga could have caused that sort of contamination. They thought it was more likely to have been caused by chemicals. Now that this report has come to light, now that diagrams show where the material was blown one cannot help wonder why such concentrated numbers of people are suffering from cancer. As Senator Cavanagh said I do not believe it is good enough for the Government to say now that it will have a selective inquiry. It should not say to people: if you feel you have suffered come forward and we will see what we can do about It. We will see whether some compensation might be paid. We will listen to your story. That is not nearly good enough. We want a full wide-ranging inquiry into the matter. For one thing we want to know why the report of the Government’s inquiry into the allegations of health effects resulting from atomic weapon tests was suppressed. What has it got to do with security? Every time a problem such as this arises we are told that we cannot inquire into it and that we cannot be told the facts because of security. What about the security of the people who have lived in the area for so long? What about the people who worked there? We will not uncover any extraordinary secrets now by inquiring into the matter. It is old hat. The world has moved past the sorts of atomic weapons that were tested then. Why can we not have an inquiry to show why the report was suppressed? What other material has been suppressed? What have been the results across the county of the fallout from those experiments? Where did the trucks, shovels and radios go? Who has been working in them and living beside them since because the Federal Government did not care enough to make sure they were buried or taken out of the way. The Government thought that because they were in the outback of South Australia it need not worry about them. What has happened to the Aboriginal people living in the centre of Australia? What has happened to the men and women who were involved in the area? What has happened to the people who lived in the area. I ask the Government to reconsider the matters it has raised in the statement it has put down today. I ask it to conduct a full and far-reaching inquiry for the sake of the health of the people of Australia. I ask it not to hide behind the excuse of security. I ask that there be no more cover-ups in this area. I ask it to get down to the truth once and for all of what really happened when we experimented at Maralinga and Monte Bello. I ask it to tell that to the people of Australia and to look after the health of the people who may have been contaminated. Debate (on motion by Senator Peter Baume) adjourned.

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