We here at the Scrap Trident Coalition are immensely proud to have received the above message of support from Arabunna Nation elder Kevin Buzzacott. Kevin, affectionately known as ‘Uncle Kev’ by all who know him, is a much respected figure in anti-nuclear circles and, indeed, is a former recipient of the prestigious Nuclear-Free Future Award. As well as his anti-nuclear campaigning work, Uncle Kev has campaigned widely for cultural recognition, justice and land rights for Aboriginal people, and has initiated and led numerous campaigns including against uranium mining and exploitation of the water from the Great Artesian Basin.
The Arabunna people live in the area around Lake Eyre in Southern Australia (pictured below).
This area has a desert climate and has also recorded the highest reliably measured maximum temperature in Australia: 50.7°C in the town of Oodnadatta on 2 January 1960. It was in this region, between 1955 and 1963, that the UK government carried out seven major nuclear tests, with approximate yields ranging from 1 to 27 kilotonnes of TNT (4.2 to 110 TJ), as well as hundreds of minor trials. Inevitably, hundreds of kilometres of traditional Aboriginal land was contaminated with radioactive materials. Decades later, The McClelland Royal Commission found that significant radiation hazards still existed at many of the test areas.
Sadly, the scandalous devastation and exploitation of land which carries great spiritual significance for the Aboriginal people did not end there. Almost 50% of the world’s estimated stocks of Uranium ore occur in Australia, the vast majority of which are to be found on Aboriginal land. These are minerals which are much coveted by large mining companies who wish to remove them despite the costs to workers, the natural landscape and the safety of the globe. Despite the fact that Aboriginal Australians continue to endure standards of living and health far below those of non-indigenous Australians, the indigenous communities in general remain steadfastly opposed to the exploitation of their traditional lands for these poisons. Having already once endured the ravages of radioactive contamination, they have taken a moral decision that raises concern for the environment above economic considerations.
It seems that we here in the Western world could learn much from the wisdom of this ancient and proud culture. That is why we at the Scrap Trident Coalition are so proud to count Uncle Kev amongst our many friends and supporters from across the world. The eyes of the nations of the world are now upon the people of Scotland. Can we, like the Arabunna people make the right decision? At this momentous time in our history can we stand up, be brave and lead the way to a nuclear free world?