Peter Garrett welcomes NT government decision to put Jabiluka uranium site on hold (The Gaurdian)

Former environment minister and Midnight Oil frontman calls on government to add site to Kakadu national park.

Mirarr traditional owners protest uranium mining on their country in Kakadu outside Energy Resources of Australia’s annual general meeting in Darwin in April. Photograph: Kirsten Blair/PR IMAGE


Former federal environment minister and Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett has welcomed the Northern Territory’s decision to make a temporary reservation order over the Jabiluka uranium mine site and called on his former Labor colleagues to go further and add it to Kakadu national park.

The Northern Territory government has issued a two-year order to prevent mining and exploration at Jabiluka, while a decision is pending on whether to grant the leaseholder a 10-year extension.

The reservation order under the NT Minerals Titles Act was gazetted on Wednesday and while in force it also prevents Energy Resources Australia (ERA) from applying for the grant of any mineral title over the land, which is the site of a large uranium deposit.

Garrett called for the territory and federal governments to confirm they will reject the ERA application and give the area heritage protection instead.

“Now for the final step after decades of waiting,” Garrett posted on social media site X on Wednesday. “C’wealth & NT please don’t renew existing lease, instead commit to Jabiluka going into Kakadu National Park.”

The order giving the area temporary reserve status will be reviewed within two years, if no decision is made by then. The Northern Territory government has issued a two-year order to prevent mining and exploration at Jabiluka, while a decision is pending on whether to grant the leaseholder a 10-year extension.

The reservation order will be reviewed every two years if the lease application remains unresolved.

The move is a preliminary win for the local traditional owners, the Mirrar people, and limits what ERA can do with the lease until the NT government resolves its extension application.

The NT can seek advice from the commonwealth government in making its determination but the lease decision will be made by the territory government.

The reservation order by the NT Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade, on behalf of the NT minister for mining, will take effect on the day the existing lease expires – 11 August – and remain for two years unless it is cancelled in the meantime.

That date falls 13 days before the NT election on 24 August and the reservation order potentially pushes a decision out beyond the poll.

Jabiluka is the site of one of the world’s biggest uranium deposits and ERA, which is majority owned by Rio Tinto, has held the mining lease since 1991. The mine is surrounded by Kakadu national park and the Mirrar people want the land incorporated into the park.

The granting of the original lease was hugely controversial at the time.

In the 1990s, the Mirrar people led a blockade of the mine site and applied persistent pressure to stop development.

Before the August lease expiry, ERA lodged an application in March to have it extended for a decade. ERA also operated the Ranger uranium mine, 250km east of Darwin, from 1981 until it was closed in 2021. It is now rehabilitating that land at an estimated cost of more than $2bn.

In lodging its extension application for Jabiluka, ERA argued that an extension was the best way to protect the mine site’s cultural heritage and highlighted the long-term agreement it had reached with the Mirrar people which affords them a veto right over future development. The company vowed to keep that in place if the lease was renewed.

But the Mirrar people have objected to the extension. The traditional owners have long said they do not want mining on the land.

In late 2022, when ERA commissioned a report which suggested they might reverse their opposition, the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which represents the Mirrar people, said generations had opposed mining and that would not change.

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for ERA described the reservation order as “an administrative measure” taken when leases are expiring.

“The NT government has advised it will have no effect on their consideration of the extension of the mining lease at Jabiluka,” the spokesperson said.

“The extension of ERA’s mining lease at Jabiluka is the best mechanism to protect the cultural heritage at Jabiluka. Under ERA’s agreement with the Mirarr Traditional Owners, which has been in place for almost 20 years, Jabiluka cannot be developed without their consent. This right of veto expires if the lease is not renewed.”

The Mirrar traditional owners welcomed the decision as providing certainty about the future and protecting the Jabiluka site from new mine proposals.

“Mirarr have always said we will never agree to mining at Jabiluka,” next-generation traditional owner Corben Mudjandi said on Wednesday. “This is sacred country and needs protection.”

The Australian Conservation Foundation said the decision to bestow special reserve status on the Jabiluka site was a fitting tribute to the Mirrar people’s long-running campaign, especially on World Environment Day.

“While very welcome, today’s development is not the final chapter in the Jabiluka uranium story and struggle,” ACF nuclear-free campaigner Dave Sweeney said.

“It is imperative now that the intent expressed in the special reserve declaration is matched in reality with no extension of the current Jabiluka mining lease.”


Peter Garrett finally drops his new solo album The True North today. Recorded in his hometown of Sydney with producer Tony Buchen and featuring artwork by daughter, Grace Garrett the songs span infectious rockers like ‘Permaglow’, the atmospheric title track and a new focus track called ‘Paddo’ – a rap paean to the SCG (among many other things!).

To coincide with this release Peter and his band the Alter Egos kicked off their national tour with a special “Great Southern Nights” performance at Newcastle City Hall this week that included new tunes, some highlights from his 2016 solo debut, and more than a few Midnight Oil classics featuring the signature guitar work of the Oil’s Martin Rotsey. The True North Tour includes a sold-out show at Sydney’s The Factory Theatre tonight and will then visit the other mainland capitals plus Cairns before hitting its apex at Bluesfest over Easter. For the full list of dates click here.

Meanwhile, Peter will feature in a special episode of ABC TV’s Australian Story at 8pm AEDT on Monday March 18 (and thereafter on iView) when he will be interviewed by Leigh Sales. The in-depth chat about life, activism and music was inspired by the reflective tone that runs through Peter’s new album which has already lead critics to gush:

“Musically intrepid and lyrically striking, The True North is a joy” (Jeff Jenkins, Stack Magazine)

“The True North has a sonic footprint similar to the 2016 solo debut A Version Of Now: firmly rock ‘n’ roll, but more gentle than an Oils album, tinged with folk, country and pop ….  The lyrics on this album are as powerful and urgent as ever, and Garrett somehow finds new gears to sing them.” (Andrew McMillen, The Weekend Australian)

Far-right forces threaten progress for Indigenous peoples in Australia and Aotearoa

Far-right forces threaten progress for Indigenous peoples in Australia and Aotearoa

Originally published in the NZ Listener.

From the very first time I visited New Zealand, as it was then called, on Midnight Oil’s first, exhaustive tour of Aotearoa’s towns and cities some 40 years ago, the omnipresence of Maori culture was palpable albeit still peripheral to the casual eye.

This was in stark contrast to the situation across the ditch, where Australia’s Indigenous peoples were then rarely sighted, other than on the sporting field.

Fast forward to today and in both countries much has changed: Indigenous issues are mainstream, the contribution of Indigenous people is substantial.

To the regular visitor from Australia the ‘land of the long white cloud’ is notable as a place where Maori stand at the core of the nation; central to to it’s identity, prominent in sport, politics, arts and community and clearly referenced in language and the cultural expression of the successful, tolerant nation that New Zealand is widely acknowledged to be.

For many Australians, including the six million who voted in favour of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament last year, there has been an uncomfortable awareness that in comparison, the progress of recognition and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – with the indices of health and well being significantly below the national average – has been painfully slow.

It is true that for Maori and Pacifika there remains similar gaps, and that this situation ought to be successfully bridged.

Yet in your country, partly due to the existence of a treaty between the original occupants and the British crown who attempted to take control, you are further down the track towards embedding Indigenous rights and aspirations.

Add to this the absence of states within a federation – anyone watched our State of Origin rugby league competition recently? – which renders national initiatives easier to implement, and the impediments to political progress are not as great in NZ as in Australia.

In the recent unsuccessful referendum on the Voice in Australia the far flung states of Queensland and WA were significantly opposed. And the politics of localism, alongside the emergence of a dishonest, far right social media push financed by business elites, likely played a role in the failure of the proposal.

This is not to excuse the obvious lack of progress in Australia, and whilst it might not seem apparent for Kiwis when there is now discussion about rolling back some initiatives that support Maori, the analysis above rings still true for me.

Yet, having recently returned from playing a well attended Waitangi Day concert in Auckland, where there was much contention around the issue of Maori rights, and reflecting on the failure of the Yes campaign in Australia, notwithstanding the large numbers of people who ticked that Yes box, it seems clear that our joint journey toward a better shared future is in danger of being interrupted by extreme politics, and the utilisation of social media to introduce scare campaigns and racist commentary.

One of the greatest inheritances both nations possess is the relative absence of religious, sectarian or ethnic rivalries imported from the histories of countries in distant lands.

Indeed many people flee ‘trouble spots’, as they are called, to start new, peaceful lives in peace on the basis that the commitment to equality and opportunity, free of rancour and stigmatising is genuinely held down under.

What a tragedy it would be if in both countries we allowed those voices of envy and stereotyping to drown out the calmer voices wanting to continue our joint forward movement toward greater equity and national harmony.

May reason, compassion and clear headed conversations guide our path. And may we continue to value and promote Indigenous

culture and aspirations that so fundamentally embodies our national identities.


Peter Garrett drops a new single with the accompanying video today called ‘Permaglow’ – it’s a trenchant rallying cry for screenagers ‘wasting away in paradise’. “George Orwell was right, we had to wait a bit longer” proclaims Garrett as the singular guitar of Midnight Oil’s Martin Rostsey slashes across the anthemic rock track.

‘Permaglow’ is the lead single from Peter’s March 15 release The True North which featured on most critics’ lists of 2024’s Most Anticipated Albums. Recorded with his band The Alter Egos – the new songs are already getting some live airings with appearances at Victoria’s Riverboats Festival and a special Waitangi Day performance in New Zealand over the coming weeks.

Says Peter: “When walking late at night you often see a single light blinking out of apartment blocks and houses. People watching a screen by themselves, maybe lonely, and it was this scene I was trying to tune into with ‘Permaglow’. There’s a massive contradiction between the cult of the successful individual celebrated in the media and the reality many people face.  Community should prevail over Marvel heroes every time.” 

Peter’s March theatre tour will then see him and his band showcasing their new work alongside some Oils classics and tickets are on sale now (see full list below). The tour kicks off in Newcastle on March 12 before looping around most Australian capital cities for some intimate shows, then ending with a bang at Bluesfest in Byron Bay.

Special guests in Newcastle and Sydney will be NSW indie band, Raintalker. Joining Peter on all other dates except Perth will be one of his favourite singer/songwriters – the ARIA Award nominated, Olympia.


To hear ‘Permaglow’ and pre-order The True North click HERE


For full dates and ticket information please see below:

Tuesday 6 February – Waitangi @ Waititi Concert on Marae, Auckland 

Saturday 17 February – Riverboats Music Festival, Echuca

Tuesday 12 March – Newcastle Civic Hall, Newcastle

Thursday 14 March – Canberra Theatre, Canberra

Friday 15 March – The Factory Theatre, Sydney

Wed 20 Mar – Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne SOLD OUT

Thursday 21 March – Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne

Friday 22 March – Hindley Street Music Hall, Adelaide

Saturday 23 March – Regal Theatre, Perth

Thursday 28 March – Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns

Saturday 30 March – The Tivoli, Brisbane

Sunday 31 March – Bluesfest, Byron Bay

CLICK HERE for tickets

Détente Statement: Towards a balance of power between the US and the China

2024 will be a big year on many, crucial fronts – none more so than the cause of peace. So I’m pleased to be joining colleagues in supporting this push. Check it out. ‘China and the US must agree to peace’ | Bob Carr and Gareth Evans.
We, the undersigned, call for Australia to support the goal of détente – a genuine balance of power between the United States and China, designed to avert the horror of great power conflict and secure a lasting peace for our people, our region, and the world.


Legendary Midnight Oil frontman, Peter Garrett, has announced two extra shows to round out next year’s tour in support of his forthcoming solo album, The True North. The True North is out March 15, 2024 and is available to pre-order now HERE.

Peter and his band The Alter Egos (which features the Oils Martin Rotsey on guitar and Heather Shannon from The Jezabels on keys) will perform at Newcastle City Hall on Tuesday March 12 with special guests, Raintalker. The show will form part of the annual Great Southern Nights concert series, presented across the State by Destination NSW and ARIA.

Due to popular demand a second night has been added for Melbourne’s Thornbury Theatre on Thursday March 21. All tickets for the first show at that venue have now sold out.

Tickets for both these brand new shows are onsale now via the links at

These will be the final dates added to this March tour which will coincide with the release of Peter’s second solo album, The True North. Two tracks have already been released from this strikingly introspective collection of songs – the epically moody title track and first single ‘Innocence Part 1’ which is currently one of the most played songs nationally on the Triple M radio network. Watch the official video for ‘Innocence Parts 1 & 2’ HERE.

In addition to his own headlining tour, Peter Garrett and The Alter Egos will also perform special festival sets at Riverboats and Bluesfest plus a one-off show in New Zealand for Waitangi Day. For all the dates, and to pre-order a copy of The True North check out



Peter Garrett has just launched the first music video from his forthcoming album The True North … a seering performance based piece for the lead single “Innocence” which is currently receiving ABC and MMM airplay around Australia.



The clip is an extended work in two parts. Created by video artist and creative director Rachael Johnston and filmed by long-term collaborator Robert Hambling it doubles down on the song’s timely theme of dystopian resistance which Peter explains as follows:

“I was trying to figure out what was missing in my own life. After many years of activism and music and politics, environment and whatever else was going on in the world, I was starting to feel not so much jaded but a slightly heavy feeling. I realised the idea of innocence – openness, anticipation about the possibilities in life – that I had, and that we should have always as a culture, was starting to be taken away from us so I wanted to try and recapture some of that with a song that points out those people, those forces that are leaching our innocence away simply because they’re greedy/shortsighted, and haven’t matured as humans in the evolutionary chain. At the same time proclaiming that there is always space and time to react, to contest, and remake the world in a good way. It’s a big song with melody and words that run right through and so of course it’s got a part one and a part two as well. So you don’t get out lightly when you dip into Innocence but then who ever does?






Peter and the new lineup of his band The Alter Egos (featuring Martin Rotsey from Midnight Oil on guitar) made their live debut at Kiama’s Clearly Festival last weekend on a bill that included SKEGGS, Xavier Rudd, Ruby Fields and Gretta Ray. The band will hit Wangaratta and Melbourne’s Soundbox later this month as part of the “Always Live” program. Early next year they will perform at Victoria’s Riverboats Festival before hitting the road around the March release of True North for their own headline tour which wraps at Bluesfest. For a full list of dates and tickets, as well as pre-order info for True North, go to



Peter Garrett has spent a lifetime exploring the beaten and unbeaten tracks that run through this country and its people. In March 2024 he will release a new solo album called The True North recorded with his band The Alter Egos (which includes Martin Rotsey from the Oils on guitar). It’s a deeply personal reflection on his singular journey, drawing inspiration and sustenance from the living colours of Australia’s natural environment and the sights and sounds of modern Oz.

Today, Peter announced an Australian tour in support of this release. Presale tickets will go on sale to members of the PG mailing list from 10am local time next Tuesday, October 24 with General Public on sale from Thursday October 26. For dates and all other info please (click here/see below).

The first official single from The True North was also revealed today – an uplifting track called ‘Innocence’ which urges, “it’s never too late!” Like the rest of this album the song was produced and mixed by Tony Buchen (Smashing Pumpkins, Montaigne, G-Flip, Tim Finn). The single is Peter’s first solo release since his 2016 debut with The Alter Egos, A Version Of Now, which made the top 3 of the ARIA Album chart.

The True North will be instore on Friday March 15, 2024 but a series of limited edition pre-order bundles were unveiled today featuring evocative artwork by Peter’s daughter, Grace Garrett. To view those items and the album track listing (click here/see below).


Visualiser created by Rachael Johnston

The core band involved in making the album was Martin Rotsey (Midnight Oil) on guitar with Heather Shannon (The Jezabels) on piano and keys, Evan Mannell on drums and Rowan Lane on bass. Freya Schack-Arnott on cello and Ollie Thorpe on pedal steel joined in too as did two of Peter’s daughters, May and Grace who sang on some of the key tracks.

“With the Oils, and even the first solo record, there was plenty of banging down the doors and speaking out about the things that need to change”, Peter reflects. “There’s still a bit of that in this album too of course but generally these songs are reflective of the special things we need to cherish; the natural world as well as our always spinning internal compass, that helps us navigate the unruly passage of life.



Presented by Select Music & Eleven: A Music Company


CLICK HERE to sign up to the PG mailing list for access to pre-sale tickets.

Pre-sale Runs 24 hours from: Tuesday 24 October (10am local time) or until pre-sale allocation exhausted.

IMPORTANT: An email with pre-sale ticketing access will be sent at 7am AEDT, Tuesday 24 October. Please ensure to check your spam folders, if you do not see a pre-sale email in your inbox shortly after this time.

General public on-sale begins: Thursday 26 October (10am local time)




Thursday 14 March – Canberra Theatre, Canberra

Friday 15 March – The Factory Theatre, Sydney **

Wednesday 20 March– Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne **

Friday 22 March – Hindley Street Music Hall, Adelaide **

Saturday 23 March – The Regal Theatre, Perth

Thursday 28 March – Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns ***

Saturday 30 March – The Tivoli, Brisbane

All ages except ** 18+ and *** 15+



Friday 10 November, 2023

Clearly Music & Arts Festival, Kiama – Keynote Speech

Saturday 11 November, 2023

Clearly Music & Arts Festival, Kiama

Wednesday 29 November, 2023

Always Live: Wangaratta Performing Arts & Convention Centre, Wangaratta

Thursday 30 November, 2023

Always Live: Soundbox Performance, Arts Centre Forecourt Podium, Melbourne

Saturday 17 February, 2024

Riverboats Music Festival, Echuca, Vic

Sunday 31 March, 2024

Bluesfest, Byron Bay

Patrons are advised to purchase tickets only through authorised ticket sellers. 
We cannot guarantee any ticket purchase made through any means other than the official ticketing agents listed on



Track list:

The True North


Innocence Parts 1 & 2

Hey Archetype


Human Playground








Peter Garrett has spent a lifetime exploring the beaten and unbeaten tracks that run through this country and its people. In March 2024 he will release a new solo album called The True North. It’s a deeply personal reflection on his singular journey, drawing inspiration and sustenance from the living colours of Australia’s natural environment and the sights and sounds of modern Oz.
Recorded with his band The Alter Egos (which includes Martin Rotsey from the Oils on guitar) and produced by Tony Buchen (Smashing Pumpkins, Montaigne, G-Flip, Tim Finn) the album will be previewed at a handful of live performances (click here for dates) over coming months. It will be Peter’s second solo release, following 2016’s A Version Of Now which made the top 3 on the ARIA chart.
The first song to be revealed from The True North is the title track; a quietly evocative ode to “kinship and conscience” which was made available last Friday.

With the Oils, and even the first solo record, there was plenty of banging down the doors and speaking out about the things that need to change”, Peter reflects. “There’s still a bit of that in this album too of course but generally these songs are reflective of the special things we need to cherish; the natural world as well as our always spinning internal compass, that helps us navigate the unruly passage of life. That’s why I wanted to share this song first – it sets a different tone.”

“The True North” will be followed this Friday, October 20 by the first ‘official’ single from the album and further details on the project will be revealed at that time.

Peter Garrett - The True North (Visualiser)
Peter Garret & The Alter Egos to perform at Clearly Music, Arts and Wellness Festival in Kiama

Peter Garret & The Alter Egos to perform at Clearly Music, Arts and Wellness Festival in Kiama

Today, Clearly Music, Art & Wellness Festival announces its much-anticipated special guest performer, Australian music legend and frontman of Midnight Oil,Peter Garrett. Performing songs from his solo discography alongside his band, The Alter Egos, Peter’s addition to the Clearly Festival lineup follows his appointment as keynote speaker at Clearer Workshop on 10 November. 
From the compelling music of Midnight Oil to the continued brilliance of his solo work, Peter Garrett’s multifaceted legacy as an artist, former federal minister, and activist has not only imprinted itself on the pages of Australian history but also echoes across global landscapes. 
“We are thrilled to welcome the iconic Peter Garrett and The Alter Egos as our special guest for the Clearly Music, Art and Wellness Festival in Kiama”, says Clearly Festival co-founder Dom Furber. From my early days in Gerringong, I have fond memories of my dad blasting Midnight Oil’s incredible music, and I’m still blasting the incredibly important (not just catchy) records today.”
Dom continues, “Peter’s music and dedication to environmental causes align perfectly with the spirit of Clearly Festival and Clearer Workshop, and we anticipate an unforgettable experience for our attendees on November 10th for his keynote address and performance on November 11th”.
As a prelude to his captivating performance, Peter Garrett will ascend the podium at Clearer Workshop on November 10. A lifelong campaigner for environmental sustainability, Garrett’s keynote will address the critical task of tackling the climate crisis. He will discuss how artists, audiences, and society as a whole, can embrace a truly sustainable path as we seek to make the critical transition to clean energy and a sustainable future for our people and our planet.
Peter says, “I’m raring to play again; to talk, sing, perform and connect and The Clearly Music Festival is shaping up as the paramount experience where that can happen.”
Peter Garrett is one of our most prominent living Australians. The renowned activist, former politician, and lead singer of Midnight Oil is a long-time campaigner on a range of local and global issues. He served as president of the Australian Conservation Foundation for two terms, which saw significant additions to natural protected areas, and the ACF grow into Australia’s leading national environment organisation. 
As Minister for the Environment, he instigated the successful historic International Court of Justice case against Japanese whaling. As Minister for School Education, he was responsible for introducing the national curriculum and for legislating a new needs-based funding system for all Australian schools. 
He is the only Australian politician to receive the ‘Leaders for a Living Planet’ award from the World Wildlife Fund and is a member of the Order of Australia for his contributions to the music industry and environment. 
Following the release of Peter’s 2015 memoir “Big Blue Sky”, he turned to making music with his acclaimed debut solo album, “A Version Of Now”. In 2017 he and Midnight Oil regrouped after a 15-year absence for “The Great Circle” tour, playing 77 shows in 16 countries around the world. The band then recorded two new albums–“The Makarrata Project” (with First Nations Collaborators) and “Resist”– which each reached #1 on the ARIA charts. Across 2022, the Oils performed their final concert tour, calling for social justice and environmental sustainability. 
Peter remains a prominent advocate for causes, including ending the climate crisis, opposition to the AUKUS agreement, and the campaign for constitutional recognition and a Voice to parliament for First Nations people. He continues to make new music and will return to live performance this year with a handful of special live appearances.
Urgent that Parliament to have a close look at AUKUS, the stinker deal of the century thus far

Urgent that Parliament to have a close look at AUKUS, the stinker deal of the century thus far

Call for a Parliamentary Inquiry into
the AUKUS Nuclear-Powered Submarine Deal

The Australian Government has announced a four-decades long deal to acquire
American and British nuclear-powered submarines, at an indicative cost of $268 billion to $368 billion.

This is an extraordinary timeframe and an extraordinary cost. The assumptions on which the deal has been constructed are ill-defined, and many of the assertions made to justify the deal are unsupported by argument or evidence.

What can go wrong? Everything.

Australia does not currently have the design, construction or complex management skills to produce nuclear-powered submarines. The Royal Australian Navy does not have the technical skills to operate nuclear-powered boats.
Indeed, the Navy’s operational submarine skills appear to be in decline. Australia lacks the heavy industry to support such an ambitious deal. Nor does Australia have the range of tertiary educational or technology training institutions
to support the deal.

While the Government claims that sovereignty over the ownership and operation of the nuclear-powered submarines will remain always in Australian hands, there are many questions relating to thelimits on Australian sovereignty that must be addressed.

American and British submarines are powered by reactors that are fuelled by highly enriched uranium (HEU), that is, weapons grade uranium. Even when the reactors reach the end of their operational life, they retain HEU and other high-level radioactive waste which will become Australia’s responsibility. There is no plan for the safe disposal of this waste. The implications for Australia’s NPT obligations are unclear.

This acquisition deal has serious deficiencies.

These deficiencies need to be addressed by a properly constituted Parliamentary Inquiry to reassure the Australian community that this is a reasonable deal with a reasonable chance of success at reasonable cost.

The Inquiry’s Terms of Reference should at a minimum address the following key issues:
1. Are the strategic policy grounds for the deal well-founded? Do the changes in Australia’s strategic environment warrant such

a significant investment in a single defence capability?

2. What are the implications of the apparent re-orientation of Australia’s defence policy from a focus on the enduring features of the direct defence of Australia against any possible adversary to a concentration on the forward defence of Australia against a specific adversary where the grounds for identifying a specific adversary are unclear and unsupported?

3. Does Australia have the industrial, technological and educational capacities to support such a deal?

4. What are the consequences for Australia’s standing in the Indo-Pacific region? How is Australia’s diplomatic capacity to be built up to manage the geo-political consequences of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine deal for South East Asia and the Pacific?

5. What are the consequences for Australia’s Defence force structure and strategic posture? How is Australia’s political and operational sovereignty to be defended and maintained?

6. What are the implications for diversity within Australian industry, especially with respect to the development and maintenance of expertise and skills in a broad range of advanced technologies?

7. How is the deal to be paid for? What opportunity costs arise, both within the Defence budget where inevitably there will need to be trade-offs and in the national budget where other important social policy priorities may need to be postponed or made subject to reduced funding?

8. How are accountability and transparency surrounding the deal to acquire nuclear-powered submarines to be ensured, and how is value for money to be determined?

9. What are the nuclear non-proliferation implications of this deal?

For these reasons, we, the undersigned,
call for a Parliamentary Inquiry into the AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine deal as a matter of urgency.


Former Premier of WA and MP for Fremantle


Greens Senator for New South Wales


Former Senator for NSW


Director, Australia-China Relations Institute, UTS


RMIT University


Executive Director, The Australia Institute


Former MP for Kingsford Smith


Greens Senator for Western Australia


Former MP for Lyne


Former Chief of the Air Force


Secretary, South Coast Labour Council


Director, International & Security Affairs Program, The Australia Institute


Former MP for Fremantle

SENATOR PENNY ALLMAN-PAYNE Greens Senator for Queensland


Former MP for New England


Former Deputy Commander of the UN Peacekeeping Operation in East Timor


also intended to sign this letter.

His death has silenced a calm and gentle voice that contributed so much to Australia’s foreign and security policy and our ability to help shape the world in which we live.


Scott Morrison’s decision to build nuclear submarines in partnership with northern hemisphere former imperial powers was the most costly and risky action ever taken by any Australian government and should not have been allowed to stand.

At the very least, ratifying an undertaking of this magnitude should have been subject to thorough scrutiny and debate through all levels of the Australian Labor Party, and in the public realm.

Instead the original announcement, made in secret by three national leaders, two of whom have already left office, has now been given effect by a Labor government.

As stated previously I do not share the benign view of China advanced this week by former Prime Minister Keating. Neither do I wish to impugn my former colleagues who face difficult decisions as they deal with an increasingly unstable region.

Still this is a marked departure from at least half a century of foreign policy leadership in which the ALP has prioritized engagement with our neighbours over the outdated ‘Big Powers’ approach typically favoured by those who prefer the rear view mirror to the windscreen.
To be clear, Australia will now be the only ‘non nuclear’ nation that is in possession of nuclear submarines.

This raises a series of critical questions in relation to the nuclear non proliferation regime, and the management and disposal of nuclear waste.

AUKUS will produce increasing volumes of high level radioactive waste and this, along with the rotting radioactive submarine hulks (if they ever get built), must be safely disposed of and stored for tens of thousands of years in the Australian environment.

Our policy failure over decades with low and intermediate level waste gives no confidence in the future handling of far worse high level material.

God help future generations, especially if they happen to live in the outback or near an existing – or future – defence facility, or if they consume primary products impacted by radioactive leaks into land or water.

Has this cost been factored into the $368 billion price tag? A figure that will inevitably skyrocket in the years to come.

Where were the scientific reports, assessments, and risk analyses that should precede and inform a decision of this size?

Has Defence ever delivered a major construction or weapons delivery program on time and on budget? Not once in living memory.

Ask any Australian how they would spend this amount of public money to make Australia a fairer, safer, kinder nation and I doubt the answer would be nuclear subs.

As many experts have noted, expecting three nations to effectively co-ordinate and deliver a project of this magnitude and over such a long time period is epic wishful thinking, and flies in the face any relevant past experience.

In one stroke this decision has placed in jeopardy Australia’s previous hard won non-nuclear policies and treaty commitments, including the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and the Treaty of Rarotonga.

At the least Australia should now join nearly 100 other countries and sign the new UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, as promised by Labor in opposition.

It is fanciful to make assurances, however genuine, about any aspect of this deal in relation to existing treaty obligations given that the current administration cannot bind future governments.

The main cheerleaders of AUKUS include the Liberal/National Coalition, who’ve never contemplated anything nuclear they didn’t want to embrace without qualification, and the nuclear industry who see this as a gateway to avoid what they have never earned: social license and community trust.

The fact that the leader of the opposition Mr Dutton, would countenance cutting today’s social welfare programs to ensure nuke subs start prowling the coastlines of other countries decades hence says it all.

Magically an attendant local nuclear industry is meant to somehow appear overnight. But there are no prizes for guessing where the expertise and fees will be sourced from – the US – all subsidised by the taxpayer.

There are prudent alternatives for conventional submarines that can fulfil an appropriate defence role at a time of increasing assertive behaviour by China, without any of the attendant risks to our environment and to the treaties we depend on to help avoid a nuclear apocalypse.

If the aim is to better prepare Australia against future potential threats then significant resources for cyber security and the development of a highly mobile, land based defence force, should be considered.

Alongside belt and braces protection for energy, water and communications systems, and accelerating climate mitigation measures.
AUKUS stank when it was stealthily revealed in the dying days of the former government. It still stinks. This unprecedented commitment deserves proper consideration and debate, not just a rubber stamp.

For now we are doing the time warp again. A vassal state is set to become a nuclear vessel state.

The most expensive undertaking in our history stumbles into the future learning nothing from the experience and mistakes of the past. Astronomic costs, wide ranging risks and hostage to the interests and capacities of others.

‘At last. This is big! ‘From Cape to Kimberley via Madjedbebe’ . World Heritage listing for incredible Cape York regions signed on to by C’wealth & Qld governments. For Cape York traditional owners a fitting recognition of their culture & country. For those like me, who love the…

Wonderful to catch up with a great Australian and dear mate at the Sydney Film Festival premiere of the Oils doco - The Hardest Line. A very big night!

‘Now for the final step after decades of waiting. C’wealth & NT please don’t renew existing lease, instead commit to Jabiluka going into Kakadu National Park. ‘NT government puts Jabiluka uranium site on hold in preliminary win for traditional owners’

Here’s the final instalment of my long form chat with @robbie_buck on ‘The True North’, thanks all for the positive feedback and showing up to the first shows, more to come later in the year - now please enjoy!

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