Federal Parliamentary Hansard, ABORIGINES AT MARALINGA : EXPOSURE TO RADIATION (QUESTION NO. 5786….)

ABORIGINES AT MARALINGA : EXPOSURE TO RADIATION (QUESTION NO. 5786)

Mr Uren asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs upon notice on 15 April 1980: ( 1 ) Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to statements reported in the Perth Daily News 27 December 1976 by Mr Patrick Connolly, a former Royal Air Force Corporal who served at Maralinga, SA, that many Aboriginal people walked across restricted areas contaminated by radiation and when found there they wen detained and put through a decontamination process that lasted 2 to 3 days and that R A F. personnel were always bringing them in. (2) Has the Department of Aboriginal Affairs investigated these claims, if so, what are the results of the investigation (3) Is there any evidence which suggests that Aboriginal people have suffered disease or disability as a consequence of exposure to radiation resulting from British atomic weapons tests in South Australia Mr Viner – The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question ( 1 ) I have now read the report in the Perth Daily News of 27 December 1976 (2) See reply of the Minister for National Development and Energy to Question No 5782 (3) No. But I have written to the South Australian Minister for Health asking whether there is any such evidence and the Minister has announced that a review of the medical records for 1973-1979 for people living in the remote reserves, Yalata and the North-West Reserve had shown no abnormal incidence rates for birth deformities or cancer. However the South Australian Health Commission is setting up an investigation in the remote reserves directed at defining any trend of increased incidence of radiation related diseases.

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ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS 22 MAY 1980 REPRESENTATIVES ABORIGINES AT MARALINGA : EXPOSURE TO RADIATION (QUESTION NO 5782)

Mr Uren asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 1 April 1980: (1) Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to statements reported in the Perth Daily News of 27 December 1976 by Mr Patrick Connolly, a former Royal Air Force Corporal who served at Maralinga, SA, that many Aboriginal people walked across restricted areas contaminated by radiation, that when found there, they were detained and put through a decontamination process that lasted 2 to 3 days and that RAF personnel were always bringing them in. (2) Can the Minister say whether Aboriginal people were detained for decontamination at the Maralinga Range; if so, how many persons were detained. (3) Were any measures taken to monitor the subsequent health of these persons; if so, what measures were taken. Mr Anthony- The Minister for National Development and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question: (1) yes I have read the report in the Perth Daily News of 27.12.1976. (2) See reply of the Minister for National Development to Question No 2827 (Hansard, 22.2.1979, page 337). While the Maralinga Range was in operation, Aboriginals approaching the Range were intercepted by ground patrols and arrangements made for their return to their communities. Examination of Commonwealth records to date has identified only one instance of Aboriginals entering a contaminated area during operation of the Maralinga Range. This occurred in May 1957 and involved a group of four Aboriginals camping overnight near one of the test sites. They were discovered the following day and examined by Australian radiation safety officials who detected minor contamination which was removed by washing. It was concluded that there was no possibility of any radiation injury having occurred.

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ATOMIC WEAPONS TESTS AT MARALINGA AND EMU (QUESTION NO. 5783)

Mr Uren asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy upon notice on 1 April 1980: How many Australians participated (1) as members of the armed services; (2) as Commonwealth Police and (3) in other capacities in British atomic weapons tests and subsequent experiments at Maralinga and Emu, South Australia between 1956 and 1967. Mr Anthony – Minister for National Development and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question: I am advised that the number of Australians, Service and civilian, who were employed at Maralinga and Emu between 1953 and 1967 in support of the British test programs and subsequent clean up varied according to whether testing was in progress or the Range was being kept on a care and maintenance basis. At its highest during the 1956 trials the Australian support population at Maralinga was 371. The more typical Australian support population during the test campaigns, 40 to 50 personnel were required to maintain support facilities. It would not be possible to establish the precise overall number of Australians who were employed at Maralinga and Emu without a search of many thousands of individual service records, but on the basis of the above figures it would appear unlikely that the total number of individuals involved reached 2,000.

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OPERATION BRUMBY AT MARALINGA QUESTION NO 5784

Mr Uren asked the Minister representing the Minister of National Development and Energy upon notice, on 1 April 1980: Did any Australian (a) Serviceman or (b) civilians participate in the 1967 Operation Brumby cleanup of areas and facilities contaminated with plutonium and other radioactive isotopes at the Maralinga Range in South Australia Mr Anthony – The Minister for National Development and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question: I am advised that Operation Brumby was carried out by the British Royal Engineers and Australian personnel provided support as they did while the Maralinga Range was in use. See Answer to Question 5783.

end quote. in actual fact Aboriginal people were employed by those in charge of Operation Brumby and it is well established within the families of the people so employed that sickness and premature death resulted. The British in charge of the alleged clean up (discovered in 1984 to be anything but a clean up, more of a ploughing of the desert without dust mitigation which resulted in more danger, not less) did not inform the Aboriginal they engaged of the danger involved nor did they provide protective equipment to the workforce. This can be confirmed by ALRM.


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