Dr Sophie Scamps MP statement on the TPNW

Jul 17, 2023 | News

Statement of Dr Sophie Scamps MP on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons 
4 July 2023 

The world knows only too well that any use of nuclear weapons would be an unmitigated humanitarian catastrophe. As a doctor, it’s clear to me that even a single nuclear explosion would overwhelm emergency health and humanitarian response capacity. What we cannot cure we must prevent.  

With Russia’s repeated nuclear threats in connection with its invasion of Ukraine, simmering regional tensions in the Korean peninsula, over Taiwan, between India and Pakistan and in the Middle East, increasing armed conflict in a climate-stressed world and escalating use of cyberwarfare, the risk of nuclear war today is as great or greater than it has ever been.  

Hard-won nuclear arms control and disarmament treaties have been abrogated, with no disarmament negotiations are currently underway. And all nine nuclear armed states are heavily investing in modernising their nuclear weapons; developing new types of more accurate, stealthy, long-range and dangerous weapons.  

For the first time in 30 years, the number of deployed nuclear weapons and those on high alert, ready to be launched within a few minutes, is increasing.  

The bright light in this darkening landscape is the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted at the United Nations in 2017. The Treaty has now been signed by 92 countries and ratified by 68.  

Not including Australia. 

In September last year, I joined nine other independent members of the Federal Parliament to welcome Labor’s National Policy Platform commitment to sign and ratify the Treaty. 

It is now time for the Albanese government to implement its commitment by signing this historic treaty which seeks to eliminate the worst of all weapons of mass destruction: nuclear weapons.   

Once signed, negotiations can begin with the United States to bring Australia into compliance with the requirements of the Treaty and then ratify it. Other US allies in our region, New Zealand, the Philippines and Thailand have already done so. 

With Australia set to become the first non-nuclear nation to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, signing the Treaty becomes even more important and urgent. Australia must tell the world that its planned acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines is not a prelude to acquiring nuclear weapons. 

Dr Sophie Scamps MP released this statement on the TPNW for a public event on Australia and the nuclear weapons ban treaty, held at the University of Melbourne, School of Population and Global Health, on the 4th of July.