Farcical secrecy – asylum boats and nuclear disaster.

Why I oppose nuclear industry.


Adrian d’Hage
(former chief of Defence public relations)
The Australian
November 15, 2013 12:00AM

“THE government and the military’s weekly media conference on boats and asylum-seekers has descended into farce. Is the military justified in refusing to discuss supposedly secret “on-water matters”? Or is this obfuscation of an unnecessarily high order?

The military and the media have long been at odds when it comes to agreeing what should be released in the public interest. In 1853, the Crimean War was one of the earliest conflicts to be covered by the mass media of the day.

The information (the media) obtained from those involved in the fighting shocked the British public, which, for the first time, was able to read about conditions on the battlefield. The resultant backlash embarrassed the government of the day and infuriated commanders…who ordered the blacklisting of the reporter(s).

..Vietnam, the first first “televised” war, and the military attempted to control the media with daily briefings. The notorious “Five O’clock Follies” as they became known, were held at the Rex Hotel in Saigon. The fourth estate was right to be wary as they were treated to charts of “dazzling numerical progress”, which often hid the truth behind incidents the military would rather not have reported.

The weekly media conference on asylum seekers – which, not surprisingly, has become known as the Friday Follies – is unnecessarily confrontational, unnecessarily secretive, and already is considered by many journalists to be a waste of time. The aggressive responses from Scott Morrison and Agnus Campbell (who is a very capable general, although handling the media is not one of his strong suits) and a nonsensical refusal “to discuss on-water matters” has no military justification.

…In the days of mobile phones, satellites, and the internet, what Tony Abbott has termed “the shipping news” is already out there….non Australian news outlets, such as the Jakarta Post, have reported in depth on these secret “on water” issues.

In this case the Australian public has a right to know the broad details of naval operations (as they do for any other service- witness journalists reporting on operations in Afghanistan and Iraq) and our young men and women in the Defence Force deserve public recognition for difficult and sometimes hazardous duty.

Instead, we’ve gone back to the 19th century, speaking in hushed tones to convince the average Australian that the navy’s role in assisting with leaking boats is “above TOP SECRET” and that “loose lips sinks ships”. Lord Kitchener would be please. end quote.

Members of the Armed Forces are subject to two sets of law – Military Law and Civilian Law. Military Law over rides many of the freedoms civilians take for granted. It is a dumb civilian who allows themselves to be subjected to Military Law when that civilian has not been told they have been conscripted and in the absence of a declaration of Martial Law or in the absence of the declaration of war. The current POLICE ACTION (for that is what it is, using Naval vessels etc in an aid to the CIVIL POWER) of course has internal restrictions on information flows.

The basis of the Ministers power is CIVIL, not Military. Unless he declares Martial Law. He is not a soldier. He has not event told us whether or not he has invoked the relevant law.

It is up to the government to explain to the people of Australia any legal basis for the with holding of information which would allow the people to judge the performance of the Minister in his attempts to carry out his duties.

What legislation has been invoked by the Minister which allows him to disregard his duties as a Minister in a democracy and which allows him to deny people the right to assess the performance of the military and to assess the fate of the targets of the military operation now underway in the waters to Australia’s north?

Don’t we have the usual right to know? If not, why not?

If it is my duty as an Australian to stay ignorant and to keep my mouth shut, that is, if I have been conscripted by the Government into this operation, well, where’s my Army breakfast Mr Morrison. I want my uniform back, my rank back and my pay.

Mr Morrison has NOT replaced relevant sections of the Consitution by Military Law in my case. By denying me the right to know, he has denied me the right to speak.

Stopping the boats – which most people voted for last election – is not carte blanche for shutting up the voices of review and dissent.

One of the duties of civilians in a democracy is maintain an awareness of government and its actions. To be suspicious of government so that citizens may supervise, assess and induce government to act according to the will of the people.

When government disallows the means by which the study of government might take place, the government thwarts open assessment.

In the matter of the stopping of the boats, one must remember the boats are not empty. They contain people. The manner in which a government treats the most vulnerable is baseline against it is to be judged. By both voters of the day and by history.


“The Department of Defence has confirmed an investigation has been launched into potential allegations of rape carried out on young male sailors, including anal penetration using writing implements and drink containers.

The navy frigate, HMAS Ballarat, an Anzac-class guided missile frigate that is currently in use to intercept and rescue asylum-seeker vessels to Australia’s north, is at the centre of a military investigation into bizarre hazing rituals carried out by about a dozen sailors, all men.

The bastardisation ritual included acts in which sailors were smacked and anally penetrated with pens and other objects on their birthdays.”

Fix it up Morrison, ALL of it. You have sent at least one gang of thugs up there, to the Indonesian Search and Rescue Zone.

If I were a soldier still, this piece would be enough, perhaps, to earn me time in the brigg, or worse. But I am no longer subject to military law. My rights are not so compromised and reduced. Mr Morrison may not like it, but, as of today there is nothing he can do. I have committed no offence under the civil law. Will this change? If so, when? What feeble excuse will be the supposed reason for the extention of the limitations of the right to know and to speak?

It was as a result of the Black Mist Incident in the 1950s that some Australians suffered the effects of contact with a nuclear fallout cloud.

Decades latter one victim won a court case against the Australian government. It was proven to the court, on the basis of medical evidence, that the person’s sufferings were caused by that nuclear contact. The Federal government suppressed the court case and all documents relating to it, from the public record. (Source: Andrew Collett, email to me. Collett was the solicitor involved in that court case.) Noone may know that court case.

But people do.

The suppression of that evidence, the suppression of the findings and suppression of the judgment of that court allowed the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Organisation CEO to write to me not long ago. In that letter the CEO of ARPANSA stated that the fallout from the bomb could not have caused any health effects upon any person.

This is a blatant lie, a lie held and promoted by government to the current day. The contrary evidence and contrary proof suppressed by government.

Of course, my initial request for information was put to the relevant Federal Minister. Who farmed it out to ARPANSA.

The matter obviously is still an “operational” one. I am not allowed to know.

But I do know. The government is merely with holding the documents. At the time, the reason for the suppression of this information was in order to prevent a Soviet invasion. The Soviets no longer exist. The reason today I surmise is the protection of nuclear industry.

In 1972 at the Radiac Centre, 4 Base Workshop, Royal Australian Electrical Mechanical Engineers, I witnessed my Captain and Warrant Officer carry a bedside luminous clock, luminous from radium paint, wrapped in a clear plastic bag, into the laboratory calibration room. They donned respirators and withdrew the clock from the bag. They suspected Ra 226 was the isotope concerned and so used a GM meter, held against the glass face of the clock. They obtained a reading which was higher than the permitted reading from the clock. They removed the loose glass from the clock and obtained a very high reading in relation to the permitted reading from both the inside glass face and the clock face. The clock was dangerously illegal, with radium 226 decay products covering both the inside and outside body and glass of the clock. The officers were appalled. The clock was nuclear waste. A report was written. Even though the clock, a “Diamond” brand clock made in China, was a common one at the time, I failed to read of any subsequent recall.

Years later, in the mid 1980s, I wanted to write an article. I thought the clock example would be one could example about lesser known nuclear hazards.

I phoned the Army Censor at Keswick Barracks in South Australia. I told him what I wanted to do with the information. I was informed that if I communicated the information to anyone, I would be subject to legal proceedings and possible fines and incarceration.

In March 2011 3 nuclear reactors in Japan suffered progressive and predicted failure paths, it was known by experts and governments that cooling system failure and reactor failures as described by Ergen, AEC, 1967, would proceed. Eight hours, it was known, was the time from station blackout to catastrophic events including possible explosions and meltdowns.

In the course of events, this foreknowledge was not used to mount an orderly evacuation. The evacuations were delayed and changed, with people eventually guided, by government with holding information, into areas and paths which were actually under the direct path of fallout.

It took weeks for government and industry to admit that meltdown had occurred.

It took more weeks for areas declared safe by government to be declared unsafe. Private and voluntary organisation clearly showed that government and industry were lying about the extent and nature of contamination in several places.

It took months for government to admit that plutonium fallout had descended in places as far as 70 miles from the nuclear plants.

In 1998 Dr Yamashita et al wrote that the latent period for childhood leukemia after nuclear exposure to reactor fallout in Belarus was “surprisingly short” and the rate of growth thyroid cancer in afflicted Belarus was “very rapid”.

In 2013 Dr Yamashita and Fukushima Medical University stated that as the experience of Chernobyl showed that childhood thyroid cancer did not develope for four to five years after the Chernobyl accident, none of the 44 cases of thyroid cancer found in children living in fallout affected areas adjacent to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant could possibly be due to the fallout.

One wonders why, alone of all the world renowned medical institutes and personnel who have reported a latent period for the disease as being being zero years and 2 years, including the 911 Commission, John Hopkins University etc, that it is only Yamashita 2013 and F.M.U which maintain a minimum latent period of 4 – 5 years.

Self interest on the part of government and nuclear industry no doubt.

I could go on. There are many instances of official lies and the with holding of information by government and industry in order to save face and reduce liability.

Until government and industry can be proven to be honest, open and transparent, I will be against nuclear industry.

The US Atomic Energy Act, 1954, as currently amended and related legislation and ordinances prohibt the public discloure of information relating to “special nuclear substances” including reactor produced plutonium and isotopes of uranium.

No other industry is as protected against full disclosure as is nuclear industry.

From mid 2011 until August 2013 government and industry maintained that the Fukushima Diiachi power plants were not emitting any radioactive substances. In September 2013 these powers were forced to admit that they had been lying for over 2 years.

When a minister or industry PR person speaks, they are probably lying. This record from 1945 shows. When a Minister or industry refuses to provide information and validation, there are innumeribal prescedents which show that disbelief is the appropriate response to those statements of claimed fact which do emerge. For the disclosures are universally merely self serving statements.

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