Parliamentary Speeches

This page provides key excerpts and phrases from the House of Representatives, Australian Senate and Federation Chamber since 2017.

 It includes speeches, questions and motions by members and senators in favour of nuclear disarmament, participation in the TPNW, as well as comments that refer to or congratulate ICAN. Links to Hansard (the Australian parliamentary record) are supplied.

NOVEMBER 2023 - Senator David Pocock and the Foreign Minister

Senate, 28 November 2023

Senator David Pocock (Independent – ACT)

Questions without notice.

Nuclear weapons

Senator DAVID POCOCK (Australian Capital Territory) (14:32): My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Wong. In October, at the UN General Assembly First Committee, Australia abstained on a resolution on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. Instead of voting yes, Australia voted no due to an apparent concern with the line:

… it is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons never be used again, under any circumstances.

One hundred and thirty-six nations voted in favour of this resolution, which also notes that the only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons will never be used again is their total elimination. If the government is as strongly committed to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament as it claims, why did it vote against this resolution?

Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Foreign Affairs and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:33): First, I’ll make a point about the elimination of nuclear weapons. I know that those who advocate for the TPNW, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons—and Senator Pocock did so in that question—construe the argument as if that is the only way one can demonstrate a commitment to nuclear disarmament. We disagree. We believe that the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime is the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

I make the point that we already, as a country, have made a very clear commitment internationally that we do not have and will not seek nuclear weapons. We have legally binding commitments not to acquire, possess or have control over nuclear weapons under both the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the Treaty of Rarotonga. There’s no question that we recognise the devastating consequences for humanity of any use of nuclear weapons. What we do say is that we need to work with others to strengthen the NPT. We need to join with others, as we have, for a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty. We need to work with the IAEA—the International Atomic Energy Agency—to ensure the peaceful use of technology to combat proliferation and nuclear security risks.

The government shares the TPNW’s ambition for a world without nuclear weapons. We’re committed to engage constructively to identify possible pathways to disarmament. As the senator will know, under this government we have determined to attend the two meetings of state parties under the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as an observer. We have chosen to abstain rather than vote against the UN General Assembly resolution—which I think is the reference the senator made—unlike the previous government. And we will continue to engage both with the UN process and with civil society, and we’ll take a considered approach to the treaty.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Pocock, a first supplementary?

Senator DAVID POCOCK (Australian Capital Territory) (14:35): Thank you, Minister. There are many Australians who were puzzled by the abstention. I’m interested in knowing in what circumstances the government would consider the use of nuclear weapons and the ensuing humanitarian consequences acceptable?

Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Foreign Affairs and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:35): We all understand the horror of the use of nuclear weapons. The way you posited the question, Senator Pocock, suggested that that’s the basis on which we made the decision we made. I have explained to you the framework that we’re operating under. I think it’s problematic that people choose not to put impetus behind the nuclear non-proliferation treaty; that is the treaty that has the nuclear parties as part of it, and we all know that nuclear armed states must be part of any nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime.

I understand why there are advocates, including from civil society, who want the TPNW. We all share that aspiration. But we also know that there has to be verification and there has to be— (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Pocock, a second supplementary?

Senator DAVID POCOCK (Australian Capital Territory) (14:36): Thank you, Minister. I note that Japan supported that motion. Given that Labor has committed and, indeed, recommitted to signing and ratifying the TPNW, I’m interested in knowing when it will actually follow through with this?

Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Foreign Affairs and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:37): What we have said is that we will consider the treaty, including questions about its universality, its interaction with the non-proliferation treaty and the need to ensure effective verification and enforcement architecture. Those are reasonable propositions if you actually want a world that is free of nuclear weapons—if you actually want a world where we progress towards disarmament. You have to have universality and you have to have an eye to the NPT, which is the only treaty to which the nuclear parties are party. And you have to have verification and enforcement architecture. That is the logic of making sure you have progress on disarmament: you have to have verification and enforcement. That’s a reasonable position.

I understand the concern that people have, and I would point you to the work that the government is doing, whether that’s on the NPT, our attendance at the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons conferences or the— (Time expired)

OCTOBER 2023 - Senator Jordon Steele-John and Senator Louise Pratt

Senate, 17 October 2023

Senator Jordon Steele-John (Australian Greens – WA)


Nuclear weapons

The fifteenth of October marked 70 years since the first mainland nuclear testing conducted in Australia. Emu Field in South Australia was the site of Operation Totem, a pair of nuclear tests conducted by the British government. Totem 1 was detonated on 15 October, followed by Totem 2 on the 27th. The radioactive fallout, dubbed ‘black mist’, unleashed horror and death and environmental effects that persist to this day. This testing was done with no consultation with or care for First Nations people living on the land and with no acknowledgement that their communities have had to endure the effects that have come from the radioactive fallout.

Earlier this year, I met with survivors of Australia’s nuclear testing and with their family members. Their stories were powerful and their ask simple and clear: it is time for Australia to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Articles 6 and 7 of the treaty provide for victim assistance and environmental remediation and repair in relation to nuclear weapons use and testing. There is no place in society for nuclear weapons. There can be no acceptance of nuclear weapons in a modern society.

The ALP government came to power with a promise to sign the TPNW. It is right there in their policy platform. But here we are now, 18 months into the Albanese government’s life, and there is nothing to show for it. The Greens are calling on the government to commit to signing and ratifying the TPNW in this term of government without dither or delay. Nuclear weapons have no place in a modern society.

Senate, 16 October 2023

Senator Louise Pratt (Australian Labor Party – WA)


Nuclear weapons

Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of the first mainland nuclear test at Emu Field, South Australia. This test—Totem 1—spread fallout across vast areas of land and it brought illness and death to people who were over 150 kilometres away. Karina Lester, a Yankunytjatjara Anangu woman whose late father, Yami Lester, was blinded by this test, has explained the intergenerational impacts of this testing. No consent was ever sought or given by any Anangu in the region for the use of their lands.

I take this time today to acknowledge the deep and ongoing consequences of nuclear testing in Australia, which have disproportionately impacted First Nations people. I also acknowledge the impact of nuclear testing on the first peoples of the Pacific. In the 1990s I recall attending marches with thousands of others calling on the world to stop nuclear testing in the Pacific. The harm done by Australia’s testing programs is still being felt by Australian people, along with calls from survivors and the general community for Australia to join the nuclear weapons ban treaty. This call is real and present. A core part of that call is due to the treaty containing provisions for victim assistance, environmental remediation and international cooperation under articles 6 and 7. 

AUGUST 2023 - Sam Lim MP

House of Representatives, 9 August 2023

Sam Lim MP (Australian Labor Party – Tangney, WA)


Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki: 78th anniversary

This week, 78 years ago, one of the most atrocious acts was committed. A second atomic bomb was dropped on Japan from a B-29 bomber from America, destroying the Urakami Valley within the port city of Nagasaki. The 22-kiloton explosion killed nearly 150 Japanese soldiers, but it killed more than 40,000 civilians and injured at least 60,000 more. Afterwards, thousands more died of radiation burns, poisoning and cancer in later years.

Nuclear weapons are wrong. They are catastrophic, indiscriminate and cruel. We should commit to putting an end to proliferation of nuclear arsenals. International cooperation should play a crucial role in achieving this. There is a better role nuclear technology can play in our futures—a great example is nuclear medicine—but today we remember the awful act of 1945. We can only honour the memory of the victims and ensure that these weapons are never used again.

JUNE 2023 - Josh Wilson MP and Senator Jordon Steele-John

House of Representatives, 15 June 2023

Josh Wilson MP (Australian Labor Party – Fremantle, WA)

Adjournment speech

British nuclear tests in Australia: 70th anniversary

On 15 October this year we will mark the 70th anniversary of the first onshore detonation of a nuclear weapon in Australia. That test, called Totem 1, at Emu Field in South Australia was a 10-kilotonne bomb. In the following years there were seven further nuclear detonations at Maralinga and two at the Montebello Islands, off the coast of Western Australia. Several of the atomic bombs that were effectively self-inflicted on Australian soil were more powerful than the weapons that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. On 27 September 1956 a 15-kilotonne bomb of the type called Red Beard was exploded from the tower at Maralinga. The mushroom cloud rose 11,400 metres, and radiation was detected in the Northern Territory, New South Wales and Queensland.

Those tests occurred without proper parliamentary consideration or approval. They occurred with callous disregard for the rights and wellbeing of Aboriginal people in the APY Lands. The truth about the damage and contamination they wreaked upon community and country was hidden from the Australian public. At the time, Prime Minister Robert Menzies told parliament:

“… that no conceivable injury to life, limb or property could emerge from the test …”

What a ridiculous and baseless thing to have said.

The truth is that today Maralinga is one of the most toxic places on planet Earth. In 2021 a Monash University study found that, despite numerous multimillion dollar clean-ups, the presence of residual hot particles dispersed in the soil mean that in 24,000 years time there will still be almost two Nagasaki bombs worth of plutonium spread around the test site.

A study in 1999 for the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association found that 30 per cent of those involved in the British nuclear tests died of cancer, most in their 50s. The outcome for Australian veterans and affected civilians has been the same: high rates of cancer, bowel disease, hip and spine deformities, miscarriages, PTSD, crippling anxiety and depression. Karina Lester’s father, Yumi Lester, a Yankunytjatjara man, was blinded. He was 10 years old at the time of the Totem 1 test. Maxine Goodwin’s father, a Royal Australian Air Force servicemen tasked with flying through one of the mushroom clouds, died of cancer at the age of 49. Douglas Brooks, who was made to stand in the blinding flash and blast wave of one of the Montebello tests as an 18-year-old on HMS Alert, has an untreatable bone disease and PTSD to this day. June Lennon was just four months old when her sister hid her from the aftermath of a nuclear explosion under a tarpaulin as the black mist rolled through.

Karina, Maxine, Douglas and June, who are here, have been in the parliament these last couple of days as ICAN ambassadors and atomic survivors. Their message is a clear one: ‘Never again. Nuclear weapons are wrong and unacceptable. They shouldn’t exist. They shouldn’t be tested. They can never be used.’ But we can’t just say these words. We must keep finding ways to change the status quo, because the status quo is a drift towards the increasing likelihood that nuclear weapons will be used again. The sharp lesson of the British nuclear tests is that we should never accept the bland assurances that nuclear technology is safe.

As the convener of the Parliamentary Friends of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, it was a privilege that we could host and hear from Karina, Maxine, Douglas and June this week. It takes incredible courage and fortitude to tell their stories, which are understandably drenched in pain. But they’re determined that Australians should understand the truth. We’ve already experienced the self-inflicted harm of nuclear weapons in this country, and of course we exist in a region that was wrongly and immorally used as a testing ground for other countries’ worst and darkest weapons.

There is strong support in the Australian community for signing and ratifying the nuclear weapons ban treaty, and there is strong support in this parliament. Indeed, 108 parliamentarians have signed the ICAN pledge. It was a remarkable achievement—against the grain, against the cynical status quo—to see the treaty come into force, and that occurred in no small part thanks to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, ICAN, which began life here in Australia. Australia should sign and ratify the TPNW and join the 68 nations that are already state parties to the treaty.

Once upon a time, people doubted it would be possible to ban mining in Antarctica, but Australia believed it could be done, and that’s what happened. People questioned whether Australia could be part of a convention that bans cluster munitions, because of our alliance relationships, but we were one of the first countries to sign that treaty in 2008. If we can’t find the resolve to be part of new and even radical global cooperation to shift the dial on nuclear weapons, we can only expect that nothing will change. We simply cannot allow that to be the case.

Senate, 14 June 2023


Senator Jordon Steele-John (Australian Greens – WA)


Nuclear weapons

Today is 28,457 days since the detonation of the world’s first nuclear weapon in a New Mexico desert. Since that day there have been no less than 2,058 detonations, as part of either testing or warfare, as was seen so clearly and horrifically in the case of Nagasaki and the bombing of Hiroshima. On average, that is a detonation every two weeks.

There are a lot of philosophical questions that can be asked about the type of society that brought into being the nuclear bomb, saw its effects and then continued to detonate such weapons over 2,000 times. There is no such philosophical question, however, about the dangers these weapons continue to have for our entire planet and everything that lives upon it. They are very practical, real dangers. We can make no mistake about it. The continued existence of these weapons poses a threat of the most urgent nature to the continuation of life upon this planet.

If we take the entirety of human history and look at it as one year, the human race invented the nuclear weapon just three hours ago. That’s how long these weapons have been with us. Yet in those three hours what terrible destruction they have wrought upon this planet and upon people, whether it be the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, whether it be the terrible disasters of Chernobyl, Fukushima or Three Mile Island, or whether it be the continual reality that every single person on this planet lives mere moments away from a decision, made and held overwhelmingly within the hands of a powerful man, to at the push of a button or at the issuance of a command end millions of lives and condemn millions more to death. The question is not whether these weapons will be used on people again. The fact is that while they exist it is guaranteed that they will be, by the active intent of an individual or individuals, through a miscalculation or the making of a mistake as to the intention of another, or in the case of an accident.

Instruments like the TPNW are an important first step not just in ridding the world of these weapons but also in showing that so many countries, like Australia, are indeed serious about disarmament and are prepared to be leaders that other nations can follow. This treaty, championed, created and collaborated upon by the fantastic ICAN campaign, is an incredible contribution to the world’s store of international law and humanitarian practice. It is something of which we as a country should be proud, particularly to see that that campaign was the recipient of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for their work. It is far past time for the government to sign and ratify the TPNW. There can be no more dither, there can be no more delay and there can be no hiding behind the absence of global unanimity when no UN treaty has ever achieved such unanimity.

There is a massive cost to the continuing existence of nuclear weapons, but it is not an economic cost. It’s not even an opportunity cost. The cost is created by the continuation of the risk—the reality that while these weapons exist everything is but moments from destruction. We cannot let a mushroom cloud be the symbol of our failure.

MARCH 2023 - Zoe Daniel MP

House of Representatives, 22 March 2023

Zoe Daniel MP (Independent member for Goldstein, VIC)

Questions without notice.

Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Ms Daniel (Goldstein) (15:05): My question is to the Prime Minister. In your AUKUS speech you referred to Australia’s proud leadership in nonproliferation, but constituents tell me they fear a nuclear arms race because of AUKUS. Does the government plan to merely meet safeguards or now join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in line with the motion you successfully proposed at the Labor national conference in 2018, seconded by the now defence minister and reaffirmed in 2021?

Mr Albanese (GrayndlerPrime Minister) (15:05): I thank the member for her question and for her commitment on these issues, including to nuclear nonproliferation. The Labor Party has a proud history of championing practical, international nonproliferation and disarmament efforts, going back to the work that Gareth Evans and the Hawke government did, going through to the work that was undertaken under the Rudd and Gillard governments. That will continue to occur under a government that I am proud to lead.

We are steadfast in our support for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, as the cornerstone of the global nonproliferation and disarmament regime. There is no question that Australia recognises the devastating consequences for humanity of any use of nuclear weapons. Tragically, we have seen that authoritarian tinpot dictator Vladimir Putin threaten the use of nuclear weapons against the people of Ukraine. So we know the consequences of proliferation. We are redoubling our efforts to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons, including by helping others to meet that same high standard to which we hold ourselves.

On the issue of nuclear propulsion for submarines: it’s important to draw the distinction. They have nuclear propulsion but they will not have nuclear weapons. We are not acquiring nuclear weapons.

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will pause. I’ll hear from the member for Goldstein on a point of order.

Ms Daniel: On relevance. The question was: does the government plan to sign the treaty?

The SPEAKER: The question, for part of it, is asking about a decision of a national conference, which, under the standing orders, is not applicable to the Prime Minister. That part of the question, he can delete. I’ll ask him to continue.

Mr Albanese: In the lead-up—it seems like a long time ago, I’ve got to say—to the San Diego announcement, we said publicly that myself and the defence minister and the foreign minister spoke to more than 60 world leaders and briefed them. We also had the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, secretary-general Grossi, in close liaison with us, the political leadership of this country, as well as our defence leadership to make sure that everything we were doing was completely in compliance with our commitments on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the NPT, but also that everything we had done was completely in accord with the Treaty of Rarotonga, which is very important for our Pacific island friends. We made sure that we got that right.

On the issue of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: Australia certainly has a view, very clearly, that a world without nuclear weapons would be a very good thing. We don’t acquire them ourselves. We wish that they weren’t there. What we will do, though, is work systematically and methodically through the issues in accordance with the commitments that were made in the national platform. (Time expired)


OCTOBER 2022 - Senator David Shoebridge, Senator Nita Green, Senator David Pocock and Senator Jordon Steele-John

Senate, 25 October 2022

Senator David Shoebridge (Australian Greens – NSW)

We need to ban the bomb. One thing is certain: the longer we permit nuclear weapons stockpiling by governments, the risk of a catastrophic nuclear strike grows ever more imminent. Amid growing global instability, we need no reminders of the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons. These weapons ignore borders. They ignore humanity. They inflict lasting suffering on people and the planet, which it is impossible to mitigate. They are war crimes.

Australia itself has played an appalling part, an immoral part, in the nuclear weapons industry. We need to remember in this debate the complicity of the Australian government in the testing of nuclear weapons on the lands of the Pitjantjatjara people in Maralinga, and the ongoing damage and pain, the poisoning of land and water and the destruction of First Nations culture that Australia was part of in the nuclear weapons industry.

As Russian bombs hit Ukrainian cities and Saudi bombs destroy Yemen, peace has never been so urgent. One important step that Australia could take right now to signal that we are true advocates for peace would be to sign and ratify this treaty. There are no safe levels of nuclear weapons, and that is why the Australian government needs to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Complete elimination of nuclear weapons is the only way to guarantee that they are never used again. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons brings nuclear weapons into the ranks of chemical and biological weapons, as they should be, as weapons of indiscriminate mass destruction, proscribed by international law. The fact that the Australian government is still refusing to sign and ratify this treaty, despite the change of government and despite the promises in opposition, puts us all at increasing risk.

I note that Prime Minister Albanese has been a vocal supporter of the treaty. Labor made pre-election pledges, and I recall the now Prime Minister being photographed holding and endorsing the treaty, alongside ICAN. Good on him in opposition, but what is happening now? In this debate, the position of Labor is that they will not sign this until there is universal endorsement. That is the Saint Augustine line, isn’t it—’Oh, Lord, give me chastity and continence but not yet’? ‘Not ever’ is the test for Labor, because no international treaty has universal endorsement. Labor needs to stand up and make good on the promise that it took to the election—the promise it made to future generations; the promise it made to peace—and make Australia a global leader. That would make Australia the first country under the United States’s so-called nuclear umbrella to become a state party of the treaty.

As the Greens and as my colleague Senator Steele-John pointed out, we are part of a proud history of people-powered resistance to the nuclear industry and peace activism. Together there is a powerful and growing anti-nuclear movement. I want to recognise the advocacy and the activism of those staunch campaigners who fought for decades to bring this treaty into action and who continue to stand up for peace and against the nuclear industry. That includes the amazing work of ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. People said it could not be done, and then they did it. That is the lesson the Australian government needs to understand. People said to ICAN, ‘You cannot do this,’ and they did it. Now we need Australia to do its part and to join with Wage Peace and the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance.

At this point I want to recognise the courage, the strength and the advocacy of the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who have come to Australia countless times to tell us about the indiscriminate violence of nuclear weapons. The Australian public has listened. Why won’t the Australian government? We all now need to join together to build the most powerful anti-war movement in history. We need to stand together against the warmongers and the profiteers who want to endorse a nuclear industry. We know this: in any given year, there is a small but, tragically, growing risk that nuclear weapons will be used, the stockpile will be fired and our planet, our civilisation, will be destroyed. If we hold nuclear weapons for an indefinite amount of time, that small statistical risk in any given year means it’s a certainty, over the arc of history, that they will be used.

We need to ban the bomb. We need to keep fighting for peace like our lives depend on it, because, in fact, they do.

Senator Nita Green (Australian Labor Party – QLD)

I’m very pleased to be speaking on this motion today. I want to begin by joining with other senators in acknowledging the work of ICAN and the advocates who have worked tirelessly for many years and stomped the halls of this parliament many times. I’ve had the chance to meet with them to talk about this important work and acknowledge the work that they did, which did receive a Nobel prize. I know that it is work that the Labor Party sees as incredibly important, and that’s why we are participating in this conversation and taking steps towards moving to nuclear disarmament. We know that it is a most important struggle that we are dealing with today.

There’s no question about the consequences and effects of the use of nuclear weapons not only on peace and stability. We have seen the devastating impacts in Japan. Just this weekend, Prime Minister Albanese and his Japanese counterpart condemned Russia’s threat to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine as a serious and unacceptable menace to the peace and security of the international community. They stressed that any use of nuclear weapons would be met with unequivocal international opprobrium and resolute responses. They also condemned North Korea’s ongoing development of nuclear weapons, reiterating their commitment to achieving the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges in North Korea.

We understand very acutely that the existence of these weapons makes our region less safe. In the past months, Russia’s weak and desperate nuclear threats over its unprovoked, immoral war on Ukraine have underlined the danger of nuclear weapons that’s still posed to all of us around the world. A lot of work has been done by this government, particularly by Minister Wong—and I commend her for her work in this area—and also by Assistant Minister for Trade, Senator Tim Ayres. Senator Ayres led an Australian delegation to work with other NPT states’ parties in his capacity as a minister in this portfolio. He was able to deliver Australia’s national statement, which affirmed our strong commitment to the NPT and underscored the need to preserve and strengthen the tangible benefits the treaty delivers for all of us.

Our government is deeply committed to strengthening the non-proliferation regime, which is why we were deeply disappointed that the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons did not reach a consensus outcome despite the urgency of the international security environment. After four weeks of negotiations in New York, all state parties were ready to agree to a meaningful and balanced outcome across the treaty’s three pillars: disarmament, nonproliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Russia deliberately obstructed progress by refusing to compromise on the proposed text. Its actions directly challenge the core tenets of the non-proliferation treaty. Russia’s obstruction made an already difficult job unachievable and hindered progress towards a safer world free of nuclear weapons.

Despite Russia’s opposition and the challenges we face, Australia is committed to fulfilling all of our obligations as a non-nuclear weapons state under the NPT, including with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The government shares the ambition of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and is committed to engaging constructively to identify possible pathways towards nuclear disarmament. In our 2021 national platform—a platform which has evolved over many years of activism within the Labor Party from people who care deeply about this issue and have worked incredibly hard to reach consensus—Labor committed to signing and ratifying the treaty, after taking into account the need to ensure effective verification and enforcement architecture. It is incredibly important that Australia is part of this conversation and we continue to lead— (Time expired)

Senator David Pocock (Independent – ACT)

It’s an incredibly timely point in history to reflect on the importance of nuclear disarmament, as we look to Putin’s war on Ukraine and his threats of nuclear action. As recently as last month, Putin confronted the world with the grim prospect of nuclear war. His threat was intended for the West and was as plain as it was ugly: move out of his way or risk nuclear retaliation. This is the power of weapons of mass destruction. They allow the world to be held to ransom while innocent people are murdered. In the wrong hands, or in the right hands—in anyone’s hands—they’re an unwanted blight upon our planet and our shared life together, serving no other purpose than to inspire fear and destroy life.

We have only to look at the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to understand the consequences of their use—an estimated 80,000 innocent people murdered in mere seconds, with many more to die from radiation in the decades thereafter. This event alone should have led to disarmament. Yet, sadly, there are still almost 13,000 warheads in existence, with some 90 per cent of them concentrated in the hands of just two countries. Nuclear disarmament is needed now more than ever, which is why I wrote to Minister Wong a month ago urging her to sign and ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This weekend Australia has the opportunity to vote in support of the treaty at the UN General Assembly, consistent with commitments made in Labor’s national platform.

The importance of this treaty cannot be underestimated. It is a comprehensive set of prohibitions on participating in any form of nuclear weaponisation. And it’s not every day that Australians win Nobel Peace Prizes, but the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, or ICAN, won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for their work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and their groundbreaking efforts to achieve a treaty based prohibition of such weapons.

This award was largely unheralded, and it’s no surprise, given the excuses we’re hearing today from the major parties about why this can’t be done. Developing, testing, producing, acquiring, possessing, stockpiling, using or even threatening to use nuclear weapons would become prohibited—and it should become prohibited. There is no downside to signing and ratifying this agreement. Doing so is in our nation’s interest. It is in everyone’s interest. (Time expired)

Senator Jordon Steele-John (Australian Greens – WA)

At the request of Senator McKim, I move:

“That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:

That the government should instruct Australia’s representatives at the United Nations to vote in the affirmative during the upcoming UN First Committee vote on the Treaty on the Total Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and signal the government’s intent to sign and ratify the treaty.”

I want to begin with a simple statement that makes me extraordinarily proud: the Australian Greens, from the moment of our inception as a political party, from the moment communities came together to combine their efforts in a common purpose called the Australian Greens, have wholeheartedly and without reservation supported the goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons and prohibiting forever their use. As a Western Australian senator, I’m particularly proud to say, in speaking today, that I come from a political party, the Greens WA, which has the honour of being that party under whose name Josephine Vallentine, the very first senator to be elected anywhere in the world on an explicit platform of nuclear disarmament, served in the Senate.

For these 30-plus years, the Greens have worked with the antinuclear proliferation movement in Australia and across the world to advance the cause of forever eliminating the potential of a nuclear exchange ending all life on this planet. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is the best international tool we currently have for achieving that urgently needed goal. It is thanks to the tireless work of campaigners since its creation that many MPs in this parliament and many MPs across the world have proudly put their names to supporting that treaty’s ratification and to their nations’ signing up to that treaty. I am extraordinarily proud to say that every single one of my 16 Greens colleagues are open about their support and championing of the treaty.

This campaign work was so effective that the Prime Minister, then opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, championed the ALP’s election platform, including an explicit commitment to Australia signing and ratifying the treaty. He said in 2018:

“Nuclear weapons are the most destructive, inhumane and indiscriminate weapons ever created.

Today we have an opportunity to take a step towards their elimination.

…   …   …

… Labor in government will sign and ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.”

That position has been re-endorsed at each and every subsequent Labor conference.

On 28 October, as part of the world Disarmament Week, the Australian government will have the opportunity to instruct our representatives at the United Nations to vote yes in a General Assembly vote on the question of support for the treaty. This motion before the chamber urges the government to take that position, consistent with its party policy, consistent with the views of its leader and consistent with the views of the foreign minister, which she expressed in New York recently. In speaking of the situation in Ukraine, the foreign minister said:

“Mr Putin’s weak and desperate nuclear threats underline the danger that nuclear weapons pose to us all, and the urgent need for progress on nuclear disarmament.”

Well, the opportunity is about to come before this government for them to vote yes at the General Assembly on 28 October.

Since coming into office, they have taken only one step towards the ratification of the treaty: the sending of an observer to the first meeting of the parties in Vienna. That was a useful step, but more action is needed in light of the urgency of the issue. Australia must vote yes at the United Nations, and this government must—in line with its policy and platform—sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The motion introduced by the Australian Greens was defeated 32 to 14. The full transcript is available here.

SEPTEMBER 2022 - Josh Wilson MP

House of Reresentatives, 26 September 2022

Josh Wilson MP (Australian Labor Party – Fremantle, WA)

Today is not only my wife, Georgia’s, birthday; it’s also the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, and I care about both very much. In recent years we’ve been given more and more reasons to be concerned about the existence of nuclear weapons and the potential for their use. This year the Russian President has made multiple references to the use of such weapons, which without doubt present a serious threat to human existence. Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons states:

“Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

Unfortunately, very little has occurred on this front and in fact there has been a general deterioration in the existing architecture on arms control and disarmament. The exception, of course, has been the emergence of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, an achievement built on an extraordinary global civil society effort through ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, born in Melbourne. It is very welcome that under this government Australia sent an observer, the member for Macquarie, to the first meeting of the TPNW state parties, in Vienna in June.

We cannot tell ourselves that eliminating nuclear weapons is impossible. We must instead continue to wholeheartedly pursue all opportunities to achieve exactly that.

AUGUST 2022 - Senator Jordon Steele-John

Senate, 2 August 2022


Senator Jordon Steele-John (Australian Greens – WA)

Adjournment speech

Nuclear weapons

The denuclearisation imperative has rarely been more urgent than it is right now, and it is incumbent upon the government to make all possible efforts towards its achievement. One of the best instruments we have against the ever-present threat of nuclear weapons is the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The former coalition government resisted signing on to the TPNW for years, but while in opposition Anthony Albanese committed Labor to signing the treaty. Indeed, in 2018 the Labor Party even adopted a resolution that committed to signing and ratifying the TPNW in government. This is what the opposition leader at the time then said:

“Nuclear weapons are the most destructive, inhumane and indiscriminate weapons ever created.

Today we have an opportunity to take a step towards their elimination.

…   …   …

… Labor in government will sign and ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.”

I’d like to repeat that for the record. The quote was, ‘Labor will sign and ratify the treaty.’ Former foreign minister Gareth Evans also said that nuclear disarmament is ‘core business of any Labor government worth the name’.

Yet since taking office in May, the Prime Minister’s historic opportunity to follow through on this particular moment in time seems to have gone nowhere. Save for a flimsy statement in June that Australia ‘shares the ambition’ of the TPNW and that state parties of the world should work together for ‘a world without nuclear weapons’, the government has been troublingly quiet. To their credit, the statement was made as the government sent an observer to the first meeting of the state parties to the TPNW. But this is an infuriatingly empty gesture in the broader context of the Albanese government’s unwavering support for AUKUS.

The AUKUS pact is provocative and poses a grave risk to global nuclear nonproliferation. Questions are now even being raised about whether it violates the non-proliferation treaty to which Australia is a party. Just this week, Indonesia voiced their concerns that it may undermine the non-proliferation treaty itself. That doesn’t appear to concern the PM, who has repeatedly affirmed that Labor’s strong backing of AUKUS will continue, as well as affirming an appetite for expanding the US alliance. That is completely antithetical to the principle of denuclearisation. The TPNW and AUKUS are fundamentally incompatible. You either support denuclearisation or you don’t, so I am forced to ask the question of the Prime Minister: which is it? The only workable answer here is to decisively denounce nuclear weapons by signing the very treaty that you yourself have vocally and repeatedly committed to supporting. That is our duty as responsible global citizens.

Australia must play a constructive role towards global disarmament, and we must not delay any longer. Almost 80 per cent of Australians back signing the treaty. The Labor Party’s membership back signing the treaty. The Greens have absolutely and unwaveringly backed the treaty from the beginning. I am calling on the Albanese government to act on the will of the community and the mandate of its own party and sign the treaty as a matter of urgency. We have the overwhelming support of the Australian community, we have the numbers in parliament and we know that it is the right thing to do. Let’s get it done.


JUNE 2021 - Andrew Leigh MP, Ken O'Dowd MP, Josh Wilson MP, Susan Templeman MP

Federation Chamber, 23 June 2021

Dr Andrew Leigh (Australian Labor Party – Fenner, ACT)

Motion on Nuclear Weapons

That this House:

(1) acknowledges that July 2021 marks the 30th anniversary of South Africa’s dismantling of its nuclear arsenal in early July 1991;

(2) notes that:

(a) this represents the only instance in history when a nuclear power has voluntarily renounced nuclear weapons; and

(b) the decision to create nuclear weapons was made in the early 1980s, and the decision to terminate the program (which then included six weapons) was made by President FW de Klerk in 1989, and implemented over the following years;

(3) commends South Africa on this momentous decision, which stands as a proud example to other nuclear weapon states; and

(4) calls on:

(a) all states that possess nuclear weapons to take measures that will lower the chance of nuclear war, including reducing the size of their stockpiles, taking weapons off hair-trigger alert, installing kill switches in all missiles, and committing to a no-first-use policy; and

(b) the Government to work in international forums to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.

“…in terms of a single state, the decision made by South Africa is an extraordinary one, and we should celebrate them for doing that. If the world’s nine nuclear-weapons-owning countries were to become eight or seven or six, it would be a safer world.”

Denuclearisation is no radical peacenik view. Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, William Perry and Sam Nunn have written about the importance of a world free of nuclear weapons. It is a goal to which we should aspire.”

Ken O’Dowd MP (National Party – Flynn, QLD)

“In 1947, 1948 and 1949 Russia and Kazakhstan were part of the USSR. The USSR tested nuclear weapons on Kazakhstan’s soil for something like 40 years. From 1948 to 1992 it tested its nuclear weapons. Similar events happened around the world, whether in the Nevada desert, in Australia at Maralinga or in the atolls controlled by the French. That was when I was only a young lad—a while ago now. In that week in 2012, 105 countries gathered in Kazakhstan, and we learnt the horrors that the people of Semipalatinsk suffered and how they are still suffering. In 1949 the Russians did not tell the Kazakhstanis what they were doing, and when the first explosion went off, all the people could see was this great big mushroom across their land. The animals—cattle, horses and dogs—all took off in fright, never to return to their farms.”

So that is why I congratulate South Africa—the only country that has voluntarily given up nuclear weapons. Places like Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine gave them up after they separated themselves from the USSR. Nevertheless, nuclear weapons are still a scourge on our society. We cannot let happen again what happened in Hiroshima or in Nagasaki. We just can’t contemplate that ever happening again. And God help us if it does.”

Josh Wilson MP (Australian Labor Party – Fremantle, WA)

Mercifully, the nuclear weapons ban treaty is another example of cooperative innovation. It’s no surprise that South Africa signed the TPNW, as it’s known, on the day it opened for signature and then ratified it in 2019. It’s heartening that this week in Canberra the Australian Local Government Association resolved unanimously at their national general assembly to support the TPNW and to call on the Australian government to do likewise. I applaud that decision, and I acknowledge and thank ICAN for their all-day, everyday advocacy and campaign work.

“As someone who in the course of my time as a councillor and deputy mayor in the City of Fremantle was fortunate to participate in the Mayors for Peace initiative and visit Hiroshima, where that powerful antinuclear campaign began, I’m not surprised, but I am quite proud, that the City of Fremantle was one of five movers of the ALGA motion on the ban treaty this week. Right now the nuclear weapons ban treaty has 86 signatories and 54 state parties. It came into force on 22 January this year. I believe the significance of that day will grow and grow in the years to come, and I hope we’re able to mark that anniversary soon for the achievement of the treaty’s purpose. We should all hope so, because, until we achieve the elimination of nuclear weapons, we are, unfortunately, marking time until they are used.”

Susan Templeman MP (Australian Labor Party – Macquarie, NSW)

“The world has enforced multiple treaties, but, from this year, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has not been signed by Australia. The ambition for a world free of nuclear weapons is one that Labor shares. I know it’s an ambition that the students at Kindlehill in Wentworth Falls share, too, and I’ve been pleased to support their call to the government to sign the treaty. Labor is committed to signing and ratifying the treaty”

For Australia, the big question is: what is our role? Australia can and should lead international efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons, and we can do that by calling on all states that possess nuclear weapons to take measures to lower the chance of a nuclear war. That’s something we can be doing.”

Click here for the full Hansard transcript.

DECEMBER 2020 - Anne Aly MP

House of Representatives, 8 December 2020

Dr Anne Aly (Australian Labor Party – Cowan, WA)


“Nuclear weapons are the most destructive, inhumane and indiscriminate weapons ever created, both in the scale of devastation they cause and in their uniquely persistent spreading of genetically damaging radioactive fallout. They are unlike any other weapons. The mere mention of the words ‘nuclear weapons’ is universally understood as holding grave danger. Last week, we saw the 85th state ratification of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. On 22 January next year, the treaty will enter into force and, at that point, nuclear weapons, like chemical and biological weapons, the other weapons of mass destruction, will become illegal under international law. The treaty prohibits nations from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using—or threatening to use—nuclear weapons or allowing nuclear weapons to be stationed on their territory. It also prohibits them from assisting, encouraging or inducing anyone to engage in any of these activities.”

“We can no longer be a proxy to the devastation and threat that nuclear weapons pose. It’s time for the Australian government to reflect the moral position of the Australian people and sign the UN treaty. Our children deserve this.”

Click here for the Hansard transcript.

NOVEMBER 2020 - Josh Wilson MP, Ged Kearney MP, Senator Jordon Steele-John

House of Representatives, 9 November 2020

Josh Wilson MP (Australian Labor Party – Fremantle, WA)


That this House:

(1) notes:

(a) 6 and 9 August 2020 will mark, respectively, the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki;

(b) by the end of 1945, it is estimated that 213,000 people had died in those communities, and the legacy of chronic and terminal illness, stillbirths, birth defects, survivor discrimination, and acute environmental harm and contamination continues to the present day;

(c) 2020 also marks the 50th anniversary of the coming into force of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty;

(d) the ongoing work of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, an initiative founded in Australia that received the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for advancing a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; and

(e) since 2017, 81 countries have signed and 38 have ratified the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which will enter into force after the 50th ratification;

(2) further notes with concern:

(a) a number of recent developments that weaken the international system of weapons monitoring, impair progress towards nuclear disarmament, and undermine agreements to prevent nuclear proliferation and explosive testing;

(b) the fact that the hands of the Doomsday Clock have been moved to within 100 seconds of midnight, representing the greatest yet marked risk of nuclear conflict; and

(c) a 2019 report by the United Kingdom Parliamentary Committee on International Relations that warns the risk of nuclear weapons is now as great as it was during the height of the Cold War; and

(3) calls on the Government to:

(a) voice its concern about the deterioration in the multilateral framework for achieving nuclear disarmament and for minimising the risk of nuclear conflict;

(b) voice its concern at indications the United States:

   (i) intends to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies;

   (ii) may allow the START agreement to expire in February 2021; and

   (iii) has abandoned the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty; and

(c) increase our diplomatic focus and the resources needed to play a greater role in global efforts to reduce conflict, build regional and international cooperation, resist the further proliferation of nuclear weapons, and progress their ultimate elimination.


“In the time since this motion was lodged, the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has received its 50th ratification, which means it will come into force in January. At a time when the multilateral framework for disarmament and nonproliferation has frayed, any prospect of taking normative and practical steps towards the elimination of nuclear weapons should be welcomed with open arms. Australia has a strong tradition of leading work to limit the danger of nuclear weapons. Traditions need to be maintained and renewed. Diplomatic efforts on that front should be more purposeful and better resourced. We should regain our position as a country that is prepared to be out of step with the status quo in the cause of peace.”

“I continue to support the consideration of a war powers act to better shape and constrain how this country decides to be involved in military conflict where Australia is not directly under threat. I am glad that Labor’s position is to sign and ratify the nuclear weapons ban treaty through work to address its interaction with the NPT and to build wider international support.”

Ged Kearney MP (Australian Labor Party – Cooper, VIC)

“The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was concluded in July 2017 with the support of 122 states. Unfortunately, Australia was one of those few countries that did not vote for that treaty. Under this government, we didn’t even participate in the negotiation of the treaty, and we voted against the 2016 UN General Assembly resolution that established the mandate for negotiations.”

“I, for one, argue in this place that Australia should work towards signing and ratifying the treaty. It sends a message to the world, including our powerful friends, that possession of nuclear weapons is not acceptable. I congratulate Nobel Prize winners the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons or ICAN, an Australian-initiated NGO, on the wonderful work they’ve done in initiating this treaty and getting the necessary ratifications to bring it into force.”

Click here for the full Hansard transcript.

Senate, 10 November 2020

Senator Jordon Steele-John (Australian Greens – WA)


“In our world today there are no fewer than 14,000 nuclear weapons in existence, and 1,800 of them are on high alert. This means that, at a moment’s notice, they are able to be used and deployed, which would result in the elimination of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives around the world. The International Committee of the Red Cross tells us clearly that there is no way to effectively support a community through a nuclear detonation. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, created by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, an Australian based organisation, provides us the structure by which we may lay down these immoral and inexcusable weapons. Signing this treaty is a step that Australia must take.”

Click here for the Hansard transcript.

FEBRUARY 2020 - Maria Vamvakinou MP

Federation Chamber, 13 February 2020

Maria Vamvakinou MP (Australian Labor Party – Calwell, VIC)

I am of course very pleased to be the deputy chair of the parliamentary friends of Australia and Japan. On Saturday 18 January, I was invited to board the Peace Boat, which had docked at Port Melbourne’s Station Pier. The Peace Boat is an initiative established in 1983 and is a Japanese based NGO which holds special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It was founded by Yoshioka Tatsuya and I quote the founder in its purpose as ‘a symbol of our message of peace and sustainability’. Inspired by the national memory of the devastating consequences of the atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945, survivors and the people of Japan, through conversation and interaction, wanted to alert the world and raise awareness about the horrors of weapons of mass destruction; the devastation to communities; and the long-lasting consequences and threat to human life, peace and sustainability.

The Peace Ship has a partnership and membership with ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which was founded in Melbourne in 2006. ICAN has been the leading body in the global movement promoting the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The treaty currently has 80 signatory member states, 35 of whom have ratified the treaty. Australia has yet to ratify the treaty. Dave Sweeney is the founder of ICAN and, in 2017, ICAN received the Nobel Peace Prize for their work. It was a great honour for me to be on board the Peace Ship and have the opportunity to hold the Nobel Peace Prize medal. I want to congratulate Dave Sweeney— (Time expired)


SEPTEMBER 2019 - Steve Georganas MP, Katie Allen MP, Libby Coker MP

Federation Chamber, 16 September 2019

Steve Georganas MP (Australian Labor Party – Adelaide, SA)

I move:

“That this House:

1) notes:

(a)the 74th anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki occurred on 6 and 9 August 2019 respectively, causing suffering which continues to this day;

(b)the ongoing impacts of nuclear weapons on survivors of nuclear testing worldwide, including in Australia;

(c)that successive Coalition and Labor Governments have joined all other treaties prohibiting inhumane and indiscriminate weapons;

(d)that nuclear dangers are increasing worldwide, with no significant progress on nuclear disarmament in sight;

(e)the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons is an urgent humanitarian imperative;

(f)the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) outlaws the world’s worst weapons of mass destruction, strengthening the international legal nuclear disarmament framework; and

(g)the TPNW complements and strengthens Australia’s existing commitments under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty; and

(2)urges Australia to work towards signing and ratifying the TPNW.”

A few weeks ago, on the 6 and 9 August, it was the 74th anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which killed approximately 230,000 men, women and children by the end of 1945 and caused disease, suffering and illness for generations and which continues still to this day.

By today’s standards, those atomic bombs were the equivalent of rather small tactical-sized nuclear weapons. They were not targeted directly on people during the war. Nuclear weapons test explosions have caused displacement, ill health and suffering in every region that they have occurred in, including here in our own backyard in Australia. And, more than half a century after British nuclear tests were conducted in Australia, the legacy of suffering continues today and those who were put in harm’s way are still suffering those effects.

Radioactive contamination from nuclear testing is inside every one of us, causing cancer and chronic disease worldwide. Substantial progress has been made in the control of and towards the elimination of other major types of indiscriminate and inhumane weapons. This includes biological and chemical warfare weapons, antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions—all of these weapons are now much less often produced, deployed, traded, used and justified as a result of treaties which ban them.

These treaties are based on the compelling evidence that each of these weapons can only be used in ways which will inevitably have indiscriminate and inhumane consequences, especially for civilians. The treaties codify that these are unacceptable weapons which no nation should possess and which should not be used under any circumstances. Even though these treaties have not been joined by all nations, they have been a crucial basis in motivation for the progress made towards the elimination of these respective weapons.

Even nations which oppose and have not joined several of these treaties have been influenced by them as the treaties have become part of and have strengthened international law. The treaties that ban biological chemical weapons, landmines and cluster munitions have been joined by successive coalition governments and Labor governments, and each of those treaties now enjoys bipartisan and very wide community support. Yet until two years ago, there was an obvious legal gap in international law with the world’s worst weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons—the only weapons which pose an existential threat to all humanity, being the only weapons of mass destruction not prohibited by international treaty.

This gap has now been filled with the negotiation and adoption by the UN of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2017. So 20 September, this coming Friday, will be the second anniversary of the opening for signature of this historic treaty. With the recent ratification of Kazakhstan, the treaty has passed the halfway mark with 70 signatures and 26 of the 50 ratifications required for it to enter into force.

Next week, during the opening week of this year’s session of the UN General Assembly, on Thursday 26 September, there will be a signing ceremony at which a number of additional nations will sign or deposit their ratification of the treaty with the United Nations. This treaty, which completes the treaties prohibiting weapons of mass destruction, can therefore be expected to enter into force in the next year or two.

For its role in bringing about this treaty, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, the first Nobel Peace Prize born in Australia. This should be a source of pride for all of us. The treaty banning nuclear weapons could not come at a more auspicious time. The good-faith negotiations for nuclear disarmament to which all members of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, including Australia and indeed all states, are legally bound are nowhere in sight. So not only is disarmament failing to progress but hard-won treaties that have constrained nuclear weapons proliferation and development are being progressively torn up, most recently the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between Russia and the US which ushered in the end of the Cold War.

An opinion poll late last year showed that almost 80 per cent of Australians want us to join the treaty. I am proud that at our national conference in Adelaide in December Labor committed to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in government. So it is past time for Australia to begin the process towards signing and ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and I commend the motion to the House.


Katie Allen MP (Liberal Party – Higgins, VIC)


We’re all aware of the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 74 years ago. We know of the immediate devastating effects that caused these cities to be flattened and their inhabitants almost wiped out entirely, such was the force of the atomic bombs. We also know about the long-lasting effects that saw people die weeks, months and years later from radiation poisoning and decades later from consuming irradiated food and water.

I have been to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. It was one of the most profound experiences of my life. I wept as I walked from cabinet to cabinet and story to story, following the harrowing narrative of how the shocking events unfolded. Some cities would respond to such devastation with understandable anger and resentment. Such sentiments could plague a city for generations. Instead, the city of Hiroshima has chosen to be known as a symbol of peace and prosperity, a beacon to all that violence of this dimension should never be repeated. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial is a moving tribute to the victims of the first city to suffer a nuclear attack. The precinct affected by the blast is now an area dedicated to the advocacy of world peace and nuclear nonproliferation.

I commend the Australian government’s longstanding commitment to nuclear nonproliferation, which has been consistent, and with bipartisan support, since signing the non-proliferation treaty. I urge the government to work towards signing and ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. By signing this treaty, we will send a strong message to our international counterparts that the use of nuclear weapons has no place on the global stage and that disarmament and elimination of nuclear weapons is the only course of action. I do not subscribe to the view of mutually assured destruction and that there is safety in having a bomb simply because our neighbour does. That is most certainly a very precarious way to maintain world peace. We in this place have an important job to do. We keep the economy strong and we help our citizens to be educated, healthy and free. But surely it is worth nothing if we are not safe? It may sound simple, but that is at the crux of it.


Libby Coker MP (Australian Labor Party – Corangamite, VIC)

I rise to support the motion of the member for Adelaide. We have just passed the anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear blasts. Hundreds of thousands of people died as a result of those bombs, including Australian prisoners of war and troops sent in immediately after VP Day. Of course, the testing of nuclear weapons, whether in Western Australia, at Woomera or in the Pacific also led to many deaths from radiation induced disease.

Nuclear weapons are weapons of mass destruction, and should not be present on the face of the earth. Australia has a proud history of opposing such weapons, especially those which are used on civilians. Out of the ashes of the war, we led the way, through Dr Evatt and the Labor Party in establishing the United Nations in the 1940s. We led the way in negotiating and ratifying conventions against chemical weapons in 1972, and then landmines and cluster munitions in more recent times.

Gough Whitlam ratified the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in 1973. That treaty is still important in stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. However, the nuclear non-proliferation treaty does not say that possessing nuclear weapons is unacceptable. Its sole purpose is that weapons shouldn’t spread from those already possessing them, the nuclear hub, to those who seek to acquire them.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was concluded in July 2017, with the support of 122 states. Unfortunately, Australia was one of those few countries that did not vote for that treaty. Worse still, under this government, we didn’t even participate in the negotiation of the treaty, and we voted against the 2016 UN General Assembly resolution that established the mandate for the negotiations. Even earlier, our diplomats were instructed to derail a special UN working group on nuclear disarmament in Geneva which recommended that a treaty be negotiated. It isn’t a proud record.

Despite that, the treaty now has many signatories and will hopefully reach the 50 ratifications needed to bring it into force in the near future. I for one argue that Australia should work towards signing and ratifying the treaty. It sends a message to the world that possession of nuclear weapons is not acceptable. I congratulate Nobel Peace Prize winners International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, or ICAN—an Australian-initiated NGO—on the wonderful work they have done in initiating this treaty. The ALP is committed to working towards the ratification of the treaty. The ultimate environmental and human disaster would be a larger scale nuclear war. I’m horrified about the spread of nuclear weapons. I note the ramping up of Cold War rhetoric between the US, Russia, China and other countries—behaviour not seen for several decades. The Morrison government needs to show the leadership that ICAN has shown, and we need to show leadership in a less rational world.

At our national conference last November, Labor committed that Labor in government would sign and ratify the treaty, after taking into account the need to ‘ensure an effective verification and enforcement architecture; ensure the interaction of the ban treaty with the longstanding nuclear non-proliferation treaty; and work to achieve universal support for the ban treaty.’

Critics of the treaty say that ratification will affect our strategic alliances, especially our US alliance. This should not be the case, and any issues should be able to be worked through. The US alliance is very important to Australia and to the Australian Labor Party. We should be able to continue with our military alliances and, at the same time, express our opposition to nuclear weapons.

Support for this treaty will not affect our ability to host or participate in exercises. It will not affect our capacity to host bases, whether listening posts or military bases—these are separate questions. What our support will do is indicate that Australia can stand on its own two feet. We can stand on the right side of history with those who don’t have nuclear weapons and say that possession of nuclear weapons is no longer acceptable.


SEPTEMBER 2018 - Senator Lisa Singh

Senate, 20 September 2018

Senator Lisa Singh (Australian Labor Party – TAS

I, and also on behalf of Senators Wong and McAllister, move:

“The Senate:

(a) welcomes the arrival of the Nobel Peace Ride to Canberra at the end of its 900 km bicycle journey from Melbourne;

(b) notes the ride is touring the Nobel Peace Prize medal awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), and raising awareness of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons;

(c) acknowledges that civil society and non-government organisations in Australia and internationally, who form the global movement to secure a ban on nuclear weapons, including ICAN, do important work; and

(d) recognises that, as a non-nuclear armed nation and a good international citizen, Australia can make a significant contribution to promoting disarmament, the reduction of nuclear stockpiles, and the responsible use of nuclear technology, and has historically done so, including through the Canberra Commission in 1995 and the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND).”



JUNE 2018 - Andrew Wilkie MP

Federation Chamber, 18 June 2018

Andrew Wilkie MP (Independent – Denison, TAS)

Statements by members

Australia continues to refuse to sign the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, even though over 50 nations have signed so far and close to 100 more are expected to. Australia, along with the US, has even tried to derail the treaty’s progress. This is an historic treaty—one that’s being led by countries without nuclear weapons and that bans the production, stockpiling, testing, possession, hosting, use and threat of such weapons. It recognises that any use of nuclear weapons would have catastrophic consequences for our planet.

When we see the posturing by the leaders of the US and North Korea in recent months, it’s easy to see why so many Australians care about this. That’s why I was proud to sign the ICAN Parliamentary Pledge, which is a commitment of parliamentarians around the world to support the treaty and urge their governments to sign up.

Australia needs a more independent foreign and security policy and shouldn’t keep blindly following the US. If we were more independent, we’d realise that this treaty is essential, because nuclear weapons, regardless of whose hands they’re in, are a threat to everyone. The government must listen to the community and sign up to this treaty, because a complete abolition of nuclear weapons is the only option for us. 


DECEMBER 2017 - Senator Jenny McAllister, Adam Bandt MP

Senate, 6 December 2017

Senator Jenny McAllister (Australian Labor Party – NSW)

Statements by Senators – Nuclear weapons

A decade ago, a handful of activists sat down in the Melbourne suburbs. They were inspired by the success of the international campaign to ban landmines, which had played a major role in the negotiation of the anti-personnel mine ban convention. They wondered if a similar campaign could achieve progress in banning nuclear weapons. Ten years later that small room of activists is now a network of hundreds of NGOs and their aspiration for a nuclear-free world is now the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which had been signed by 122 countries as of July this year. And a month ago, their organisation, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, ICAN, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. It is an amazing achievement. I congratulate them and I want to spend some time today talking about their project.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has a long history in Australia. It is a history that is inextricably bound up in the political tradition of the Labor left, which I am proud to be a part of. At the heart of that history is Tom Uren. He was a giant of the Labor left, and I am grateful to have received Tom’s support and advice over many years. At the close of World War II, Tom was a prisoner of war in a camp 80 kilometres away from Nagasaki, and he witnessed the dropping of the atomic bomb. He later said, ‘It reminded me of those beautiful crimson skies of sunsets in Central Australia, but magnified about 10 times stronger, and it’s vividly—it’s never left me.’

The events of that day left Tom with convictions that he took with him into the parliament, into cabinet and into his advocacy. As he said when he retired from parliament, the struggle for nuclear disarmament is the most important struggle in the human race. It’s a struggle that the activists of ICAN stepped into when they organised in their Carlton room 10 years ago. It is also a struggle that has grown no less urgent since Tom retired from parliament in 1990. Any hope that the post Cold War world would be nuclear free has been well and truly dashed. We’ve seen the nuclear-armed states grow. We’ve seen weapons appear in the hands of nations that position themselves deliberately outside of the international order. Just last week, there were reports of another test of an intercontinental ballistic missile by North Korea.

Against that backdrop, the work that ICAN has done in driving a treaty against nuclear weapons is more important than ever. I’m not naive about this; the treaty is only able to achieve so much in the absence of agreement from nuclear powers. There is still a lot to be done. In noting this, I want to point to the thoughtful and persistent work undertaken by people like Gareth Evans with the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament in getting to zero. The international consensus that ICAN has managed to drive and document through the treaty process is remarkable, and the fact that it has been awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize endorses the scale of the vision shared by those activists years ago. There’s something very powerful about the idea that ICAN represents.

Quite often, the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to an individual—someone who has used their power or their platform to achieve a worthy end. However, ICAN is something very different. It didn’t inherit any pre-existing platform; it willed it into existence through a gradual accretion of individuals and organisations to its cause. At its heart, ICAN is a coalition of people who care. It represents one of the best manifestations of civil society. In many ways, the Nobel Peace Prize committee has done more than just recognise ICAN as an organisation; it has recognised the contribution that determined people can make when they take concerted and collective action. Nuclear disarmament sits at the crossroads of very complex political, diplomatic and military issues. This is far from being low-hanging fruit, but the success that ICAN has had in marshalling support for the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons demonstrates the real power that civil society can have in achieving change.

ICAN, of course, is not the only example of civil society, and here in Australia there are countless groups dedicated to driving change in how we care for the environment or animals, how we address climate change or how we care for vulnerable people. As a senator, it is one of my great privileges to meet with representatives of those groups. I am always impressed by how passionate they are about making a difference.

I want to reflect on the contribution that they make to our political discourse in Australia because, unfortunately, civil society is under threat from the government. First, under Prime Minister Abbott, and now under Prime Minister Turnbull, the coalition government has exhibited relentless hostility towards civil society. Some years ago, there was a push to strip environmental groups of their standing, to intervene in court matters. More recently, there has been talk of denying charitable status to organisations that engage in advocacy and try to change the government position on crucial issues. This government has forced social services charities that deliver government services to sign gag clauses that prevent them from speaking out on policy issues. Only this week, we’ve seen charities warn of the chilling effect that mooted changes to donation laws will have on their ability to speak out, to advocate and to argue for vulnerable people. This is frightening.

This government seems to think that the only role for charities should be to provide services that the government can’t be bothered to provide. From that perspective, if people have a political view, their option should be to join the local Liberal Party branch, where, from everything I’ve heard, any ideas are promptly ignored. I think this view of charities and NGOs is wrongheaded and dangerous. Civil society plays a unique and important role in public debate, and we should distinguish charities from some of the other advocates in the political system.

Our public debate is often populated by actors who represent particular interest groups—industry associations, peak bodies, business organisations, employer organisations and things like that. These organisations are important. They have an important voice in public policy, but they are not constituted to advance the public interest. Very explicitly, their role is to advance their members’ interests. In principle, there’s nothing wrong with that; nothing at all. It’s very important that we hear the voices of those who may be affected by a particular decision or policy, and I appreciate greatly the interactions that I have with bodies of this kind. But we can distinguish between this and NGOs and other kinds of organisations.

There should be a place in our public discourse for people who aren’t motivated by self-interest but are instead motivated by their vision for what we can and should be. There is a role for civil society. The work of these organisations can and should be more than just stunts and gesture politics. Like ICAN, these organisations are at their best when they build a coalition for change through the hard grind of advocacy and through the hard grind of those meetings that change one mind at a time. As the Nobel prize committee recognised, that work can make a real difference. It can create change.

Federation Chamber, 7 December 2017

Adam Bandt MP (Australian Greens – Melbourne, VIC)

Adjournment speech


I also stand in parliament today to congratulate the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. ICAN representatives, including a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing, will soon be in Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its groundbreaking efforts to achieve a treaty based prohibition of such weapons. ICAN is a global coalition active in 100 countries, but it opened its first office in Carlton in my electorate of Melbourne in 2006. I’m so proud to know that an organisation dedicated to the abolition of nuclear weapons was launched in my electorate. I congratulate all of my constituents and others around the world who’ve worked so hard and who richly deserve this recognition. The abolition of nuclear weapons is an urgent humanitarian necessity. Generations of people around the world have lived with the threat of catastrophic nuclear war. ICAN has led the way towards the international Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted with the support of 122 nations in July this year. Unfortunately and shamefully, Australia was not one of them. Disgracefully, our Prime Minister has not even congratulated ICAN on its achievement in winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Australia must not stand on the wrong side of history. In congratulating ICAN today in parliament on its achievement in winning the Nobel Peace Prize, I call on the Australian government to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.


OCTOBER 2017 - Anthony Albanese MP

House of Representatives, 23 October 2017

Anthony Albanese MP (Australian Labor Party – Grayndler, NSW)

Statements by Members – Petition, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

I seek leave to table a petition from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons to the Prime Minister, signed by more than 50 organisations in civil society.

[Leave granted.]

This petition is signed by a very broad group of people representing civil society: Amnesty International, the ACTU, the Edmund Rice Centre, Oxfam, Sisters of St Joseph, the National Council of Churches, and many other organisations. It’s been coordinated by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which campaigned strongly for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to be adopted by the United Nations. It has been supported already by more than 122 nations and it will enter into force when ratified by 50 countries. Due to its leadership, for a small organisation that began in Melbourne, ICAN received the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017. Nuclear weapons are the most destructive weapons on earth, as the petition says. They pose a threat so grave, they’re an existential risk to all humanity.


SEPTEMBER 2017 - Andrew Wilkie MP, Senator Richard Di Natale

Federation Chamber, 11 September 2017

Andrew Wilkie MP (Independent – Denison, TAS)

Statements by members – Nuclear Weapons

The pace of global disarmament has been dangerously slow. In recent weeks we’ve been reminded again of the risks of nuclear war, as tensions flare between two fractious and nuclear-armed leaders. But next Wednesday, at a United Nations ceremony, government leaders will begin signing on to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This new treaty was negotiated and adopted by 122 countries in July and is a categorical rejection of nuclear weapons. It bans the production, stockpiling, testing, possession, hosting, use and threat of such weapons and is a major milestone on the path to a nuclear-weapon-free world. The treaty is founded on the understanding that any use of nuclear weapons would have catastrophic consequences to which no humanitarian or government agency could adequately respond.

Sadly, the Australian government boycotted the nuclear disarmament negotiations and was the only one of 115 countries that belong to nuclear-weapon-free zones to vote against the start of negotiations. Australia has signed the treaties banning chemical and biological weapons, anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions. If this government is serious about nuclear disarmament, it will sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Frankly, there is no legitimate role for these weapons, and we must relegate them to the past.

Senate, 12 September 2017

Senator Richard Di Natale (Australian Greens – VIC)

Motions – Nuclear Weapons

I ask that general business notice of motion No. 412 standing in my name for today, relating to the prohibition of nuclear weapons, be taken as a formal motion.

The PRESIDENT: Is there any objection to this motion being taken as formal?

Senator McGrath: Yes.

The PRESIDENT: Formality has been denied.

Senator Di NATALE: In lieu of suspending standing orders, I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator Di NATALE: This is absolutely remarkable! This is as predictable as it is pathetic. We have the Liberal government—joined, it must be said, by the Labor Party, on a unity ticket when it comes to foreign policy—at a time when the world is on the brink of nuclear war, saying, ‘We do not support the United Nations, who have overwhelmingly adopted a treaty banning nuclear weapons.’ We’ve got 122 countries standing up to nuclear weapons states. At no time in human history has it been more important to disarm ourselves of these weapons of mass destruction. Yet Australia is missing in action. And it has to be said, while the opposition urges the government to participate in talks, it won’t commit to signing the treaty on nuclear weapons. Now is the time for de-escalation, for disarmament, and this treaty is the pathway to get there.



That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

   (i) this week marks the 72nd anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which killed more than 200,000 people in 1945,

   (ii) the current global stockpile of nuclear weapons is around 15,000 weapons, held by nine countries,

   (iii) on 7 July 2017, 122 nations voted at the United Nations to adopt a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which prohibits nations from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, or allowing nuclear weapons to be stationed on their territory,

   (iv) the adoption of the Treaty puts nuclear weapons on the same footing as other weapons of mass destruction, and represents a significant step forward in global efforts to eradicate nuclear weapons, and

   (v) despite clear global support and the obvious need to reinvigorate international nuclear disarmament architecture, the Australian Government did not participate in Treaty negotiations; and

(b) calls on the Government to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons when it opens for signature on 20 September 2017.

MARCH 2017 - Senator Lisa Singh

Senate, 28 March 2017

Senator Lisa Singh (Australian Labor Party – TAS)

Adjournment – Nuclear Weapons

I rise to highlight that this week, at the United Nations in New York, over 120 countries are taking part in negotiations for a new global nuclear weapons treaty. For more than two decades, multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations were at a standstill. The last treaty concluded in this field was the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in 1996. But this long period of inaction has now come to an end.

Yesterday, a majority of the world’s governments began work on negotiating a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons. This historic UN treaty-making process draws on previous humanitarian disarmament initiatives to ban chemical weapons, biological weapons, anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions. Its interest has been building for some time among states to negotiate a new treaty to ban nuclear weapons based on their unacceptable humanitarian consequences.

Yet the Australian government announced last month that it was boycotting these nuclear disarmament negotiations, as they supposedly are not in our national interests. It told Senate estimates on 2 March that it ‘would not be able to negotiate in good faith’. Turning our back on the United Nations at a moment of great international instability and uncertainty, when global solutions to collective security and humanitarian challenges are more crucial and urgent than ever, is not the answer. That is why Labor is urging the government to fully explain its position.

The boycott has the effect of seriously tarnishing Australia’s international reputation, alienating those of our neighbours in South-East Asia and the Pacific who are among the leaders of this vital UN initiative. Another notable distinction is that, of the 115 nations belonging to nuclear-weapon-free zones, Australia was the only one to vote against the start of these negotiations. As a party to the non-proliferation treaty, Australia is legally required to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament. So how is boycotting the negotiations compatible with that obligation? That was the conclusion of John Carlson, who headed Australia’s nuclear safeguards office for two decades, in a recent article for the Lowy Institute. ANU Professor Ramesh Thakur has also argued that the boycott could breach the NPT. The government must explain to the parliament and to the public how its decision can be reconciled with its international legal obligations.

In 2010, all parties to the NPT expressed their deep concern that any use of nuclear weapons would have ‘catastrophic humanitarian consequences’. Why, then, has Australia refused to join 159 nations in declaring that these weapons should never be used again, under any circumstances? How can any government insist that these are legitimate, useful and necessary weapons, when they are clearly inhumane and immoral? We must fundamentally reassess our position on these ultimate weapons of mass destruction. These instruments of incineration and radioactive contamination are not acceptable for any nation. Most of the world’s nations recognise that and are now taking appropriate action towards humanitarian disarmament.

The Australian Labor Party supports this week’s UN negotiations, which will continue for three weeks in June and July. We support the humanitarian imperative of these negotiations and share international frustrations with the pace of disarmament. Our national platform, adopted in 2015, expresses firm support for ‘the negotiation of a global treaty banning nuclear weapons and welcomes the growing global movement of nations that is supporting this objective.’ With this in mind, I moved a motion in the Senate yesterday noting the grave threat that nuclear weapons pose to all humanity and urging the government to participate constructively in the negotiations supported by the Senate. Earlier this month, an Ipsos poll showed that the vast majority of Australians want the government to join the negotiations. Only one in 10 Australians think that the government should not support the process. The government is wildly out of step with public opinion. That is why Labor supports effective and feasible action towards nonproliferation and disarmament and will continue to actively pursue a path towards these objectives.

If we are truly dedicated to achieving a world without nuclear weapons, we should be firm in our conviction that these weapons are unacceptable for all nations, in all circumstances—no exceptions. The UN treaty being negotiated in New York to prohibit nuclear weapons will establish this as a principle in international law. How can other types of weapons be prohibited under global conventions but not yet the most destructive weapons of all? The Australian government argues that nuclear weapons can be prohibited once they have been completely eliminated. But for other indiscriminate weapons, prohibition has stimulated action towards elimination by stigmatising their use, production and stockpiling. I think that is an incredibly important factor that has come about. The statement provided this week at the UN by Mr Peter Maurer, the President of the ICRC, highlighted this fact. He said:

“Of course, adopting a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons will not make them immediately disappear. But it will reinforce the stigma against their use, support commitments to nuclear risk reduction, and be a disincentive for proliferation. It will be a concrete step towards fulfilling existing commitments for nuclear disarmament, notably those of Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. As with chemical and biological weapons, a clear and unambiguous prohibition is the cornerstone of their elimination.”

It is a clear statement. What is clear is that these negotiations will proceed, with or without Australia at the table.

While Australia is not represented in any official capacity at the negotiations this week, several members of Australian civil society are there as part of ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. They are working alongside like minded governments to achieve a successful outcome. Among them is Sue Coleman-Haseldine, a Kokatha-Mula woman from South Australia, whose community has suffered greatly from the dreadful, ongoing impact of British atmospheric nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s. Three years ago, she travelled to Vienna to speak at a major diplomatic conference that helped pave the way for this week’s UN negotiations. There she showed courage. She said:

“We are telling the story so that our history is not forgotten but also to create a better future for all people, all over the world.

If you love your own children and care for the children of the world, you will find the courage to stand up and say “enough”.

Always keeping in mind that the future forever belongs to the next generation.”

For the sake of current and future generations, I urge the Australian government to change its position, to stand on the right side of history and join the UN negotiations this week in New York and commit to the cause of eliminating nuclear weapons.