Support in Australia

AUSTRALIA'S POSITION

The UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons enjoys strong public support in Australia. An Ipsos poll in November 2018 showed that 79 per cent of Australians want the government to sign and ratify the treaty. Further, 83 per cent of Labor voters want a future Labor Government to join the ban. Cities and towns are echoing this call on behalf of their constituents by endorsing the ICAN Cities Appeal.

There is also significant political support: almost 200 Australian parliamentarians have signed ICAN’s parliamentary pledge to work for Australia to sign and ratify the treaty, including 78 per cent of all federal Labor parliamentarians. More than 20 unions and Trades and Labor Councils are putting their weight behind the campaign.

In 2016 close to 50 international lawyers in Australia wrote to the defence minister calling for an end to the policy of “extended nuclear deterrence”. Faith communities are often at the forefront of campaigns for social justice. More than 50 faith-based groups endorsed an Interfaith Appeal calling on the Australian government to support and participate in the United Nations negotiations for a treaty banning nuclear weapons in 2017. Further, high-profile Australians called on Australia to join the treaty negotiations with a Celebrity Appeal. In 2018, the Australian Medical Association formally called on the Australian Government to sign the treaty.

ICAN Australia continues to work with over 75 Australian partners to build community support for the treaty.

UNIONS

Nuclear weapons pose a grave threat to humanity. This threat undermines everything the global trade union movement has fought for and won. It undermines workers’ rights, social justice and environmental protections. In the event of a nuclear catastrophe, workers would be the first to respond.

Unions have long championed campaigns for peace and nuclear disarmament. Australian unions are now putting their weight behind the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and joining the call for Australia to sign and ratify this vital accord.

AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL OF TRADE UNIONS

“The ACTU has always supported efforts to ensure a peaceful world because we know it is working people who suffer during war.  ICAN’s work in moving us towards a world free from the threat of total annihilation by nuclear weapons is something all working people should support and one the ACTU is proud to support.”

– Sally McManus, ACTU Secretary.

The ACTU is an ICAN partner organisation.

AUSTRALIAN EDUCATION UNION

“The AEU Federal Executive has voted to support the campaign for Australia to join the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The AEU is proud to support ICAN and efforts to create a world free of nuclear weapons and the threat they pose to humanity.  We call on the Australian Government to sign and ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.”

– Susan Hopgood, AEU Federal Secretary, October 2018.

The AEU is an ICAN partner organisation.

AUSTRALIAN MANUFACTURING WORKERS’ UNION

“Nobody wins a nuclear war, especially workers.”

– Andrew Dettmer, National President of the AMWU.

Andrew spoke passionately about the role of the labour movement in pushing for nuclear disarmament at the ICAN’s Fringe event during the 2018 ACTU Congress in Brisbane.

The AMWU (Victoria) is an ICAN partner organisation.

AUSTRALIAN NURSING AND MIDWIFERY FEDERATION

“Now more than ever, it is time for nurses and midwives all over the world and in Australia, as the advocates for the health and wellbeing of the population and the planet to get on board and understand the issues and participate in the movement to get the Treaty signed. It is one of the most important call to arms ever… there is a lot at stake.”

– Sally-Anne Jones, ANMF Federal President, in the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Journal, October 2018.

“The stakes are high; it is up to all of us to ensure Australia sides with international law and becomes part of the solution, by signing and ratifying the nuclear weapon ban treaty. I hope that every nurse and midwife reading this considers what action they will take in calling for our Federal Government to act now and join the movement for global nuclear disarmament by signing the treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons. We need to act now, to show our support for a peaceful future, where nobody is at threat of a nuclear attack or disaster.”

– Lori-Anne Sharp, ANMF Assistant Federal Secretary, in the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Journal, October 2018.

The ANMF is an ICAN partner organisation.

AUSTRALIAN SERVICES UNION

The ASU is a supporter of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The Union passed the following resolution at their national conference on November 21, 2018. ICAN board members Dave Sweeney and Daisy Gardener presented to the conference.

Resolution on the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

The Australian Services Union welcomes the adoption of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in 2017. This treaty is the first agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, placing them in the same legal category as antipersonnel mines, cluster munitions, chemical and biological weapons.

ASU National Conference shares with ICAN deep concerns about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from any use of nuclear weapons. We recognise the urgent need to rid the world of these abhorrent and immoral weapons.

Australia joining the TPNW is an essential step on the path towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons. The Australian Services Union calls on the Australian Government to sign and ratify the treaty as a humanitarian imperative.

 

BALLARAT REGIONAL TRADES AND LABOUR COUNCIL

The Ballarat Regional TLC is a strong supporter of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

 

COMMUNICATIONS, ELECTRICAL AND PUMBING SECTOR UNION OF AUSTRALIA
The CEPU National Council unanimously passed the below resolution on 12 December 2018.
“The Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union of Australia:
Acknowledges the devastating humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, whether deliberate or by accident.
Notes and welcomes the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) at the United Nations in 2017 as a significant step towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Congratulates the Australian-founded International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons for their role in bringing about the TPNW, for which they were awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.
Calls on the Australian Government to sign and ratify the TPNW as a matter of urgency.”

“Can you imagine a world free from the threat of nuclear annihilation? Where the investment in nuclear weapons is rather spent investing in developing people’s potential for peaceful societies?

We can, and we campaign for nuclear disarmament to become a shared endeavour, and that nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states take disarmament seriously.”

– Karen Batt, State Secretary, CPSU Victoria.

The CPSU is a supporter of ICAN and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. At the October Council meeting CPSU Victoria passed the following resolution:

“The union resolves to support the ICAN campaign by committing to promoting the dissemination of information on this important issue to our members. Further the Branch Secretary is directed to write to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition requesting that Australia commit to signing and ratifying the Treaty.”

ICAN presented to the CPSU National Council in December, 2018.

CONSTRUCTION, FORESTRY, MARITIME, MINING AND ENERGY UNION

The CFMMEU is a proud supporter of the nuclear weapon ban treaty. National Secretary Michael O’Connor welcomed Labor’s commitment to sign and ratify the treaty during the December 2018 national Labor conference.

 

ELECTRICAL TRADES’ UNION

“These weapons will solve nothing and the global community should sign on and ratify this treaty – and we hope Australia is one of those signatories, not the last.”

– David Mier, Assistant National Secretary of the ETU.

The ETU backs the nuclear weapon ban treaty and has given in-principle support to the push for the Australian Labor Party to commit to signing and ratifying it as a matter of urgency. For further detail, please read ‘Why the ETU backs the nuclear weapons ban’.

GEELONG TRADES HALL COUNCIL

Geelong Trades Hall Council is a supporter of ICAN and the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The following resolution was passed in August 2018:

“The Geelong Trades Hall Council:

  • Acknowledges the devastating humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, whether deliberate or by accident.
  • Supports a nuclear-free defence policy for Australia.  Nuclear weapons are inherently indiscriminate and inhumane.  Their existence and politics for their use threaten the security of all.
  • Notes and welcomes the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) at the United Nations in 2017 as a significant step towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.
  • Congratulates the Australian-founded International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons for their role in bringing about the TPNW, for which they are awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Calls on the Australian Government to sign and ratify the TPNW as a matter of urgency.”

 

HEALTH SERVICES UNION

The Health Services Union and the Health and Community Services Union, together, are aware of the role health workers’ would be required to play in the event of a nuclear attack. The following resolution was moved by HSU WA Secretary Dan Hill and unanimously endorsed on 16 November 2018:

“The National Council of the Health Services Union:

  1. Acknowledges the devastating humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, whether deliberate or by accident.
  2. Acknowledges that health workers would be among the first to respond to a nuclear attack. Most hospitals and support services would be rendered non-functional.
  3. Supports a nuclear-free defence policy for Australia. Nuclear weapons are inherently indiscriminate and inhumane. Their existence and policies for their use threaten the security of all.
  4. Notes and welcomes the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) at the United Nations in 2017 as a significant step towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.
  5. Congratulates the Australian-founded International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons for their role in bringing about the TPNW, for which they were awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.
  6. Calls on the Australian Government to sign and ratify the TPNW as a matter of urgency.”

INDEPENDENT EDUCATION UNION, SOUTH COAST NSW SUB-BRANCH

The following resolution was unanimously passed by the IEU South Coast sub-branch in Campbelltown, NSW, on 6th November 2019.

UN TREATY ON THE PROHIBITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

That the South Coast Sub-Branch of the Independent Education Union: 
Notes that almost 14,000 nuclear weapons still exist, posing an unacceptable threat to humanity and to other life on our planet. The risk of nuclear war is growing as nuclear-armed nations continue to maintain and modernise their nuclear arsenals.
Notes that the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons:
(a) is the first ever treaty to explicitly prohibit all aspects of the development, production, possession, transfer, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, or assistance or encouragement to engage in any of these prohibited activities;
(b) was passed by a majority of countries at the UN on 7 July 2017 and will enter into force when 50 countries have signed and ratified it;
(c) has been signed by 79 countries and ratified by 33 to date; and 
(d) has not been signed or ratified by the Australian Government; and 
Notes that many Australian unions and peak union bodies (including those listed below) have put their weight behind the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  The following unions and peak bodies are supporting ICAN’s position.  ACTU;  AEU; AMWU; ANMF;  ASU; Ballarat Regional Trades and Labour Council;  Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Sector Union of Australia;   CPSU; CFMMEU; ETU;  Geelong Trades Hall Council; HSU;  MUA; NTEU; North East Border Trades and Labour Council; Queensland Council of Unions; RTBU, Victoria;  South Australian Unions; South Coast Labour Council; Unions ACT; Unions Tasmania; Unions Western Australia;  United Firefighters’ Union;  UV;  Victorian Trades Hall Council.

The South Coast Sub-Branch of the IEU calls on executive to invite a speaker from ICAN to Council with a view to moving a motion calling on the IEU to formally endorse its support of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and to call on the Australian government to sign and ratify this vital accord.

MARITIME UNION OF AUSTRALIA

“Australia’s boycott [of the nuclear weapon ban treaty negotiations] will have grave implications. It calls into question our commitment to the UN but also to the 1968 nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and makes advocacy in other areas less credible. Who will believe government claims to want peace and security if Australia actively undermines this historic effort to strengthen international law and give effect to the disarmament obligation written into the non-proliferation treaty…

‘Peace is union business’, Warren Smith, Assistant National Secretary of the MUA, September 2017

“The MUA stands for nuclear disarmament, in solidarity with all workers and nations seeking a world free of nuclear weapons. We are committed to ensuring Australia signs and ratifies the nuclear weapon ban treaty.”

– Warren Smith, October 2018. The MUA is a proud anti-nuclear union. MUA Victoria is an ICAN partner organisation.

 

NATIONAL TERTIARY EDUCATION UNION

“There really is an opportunity to see the elimination of nuclear weapons through the ICAN treaty and campaign.”

– Jeannie Rea, NTEU Immediate Past National President.

The NTEU is advocating for parliamentarians to join the Parliamentary Pledge in support of the nuclear weapon ban treaty. This commitment is detailed in the NTEU Advocate article, ‘We can win a nuclear weapons ban treaty’.

The NTEU is an ICAN partner organisation.

 

NORTH EAST BORDER TRADES AND LABOUR COUNCIL

The NEBTLC is an active supporter of ICAN and the nuclear weapon ban treaty. The Council supported the Albury/Wodonga leg of the Nobel Peace Ride and Chip Eling spoke out on the need for government action at the public event.

 

QUEENSLAND COUNCIL OF UNIONS

The QCU is a supporter of ICAN and the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

 

RAIL, TRAM AND BUS UNION, VICTORIA

“The big end of town will always try to use workers as pawns in their political wars. As unionists we must all stand united for dignity and justice and demand that Australia join the nuclear ban treaty to reject the use of immoral weapons and safeguard our future prosperity.”

– Luba Grigorovitch, Secretary of RTBU Victoria.

The RTBU Victoria is an ICAN partner organisation and a strong supporter of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

 

SOUTH AUSTRALIAN UNIONS

SA Unions is a supporter of ICAN and the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

SOUTH COAST LABOUR COUNCIL

“Now is the time for leadership, let’s start leave the arms race behind and start a new one for peace. Let the will of the people prevail.”

– Arthur Rorris, Secretary, South Coast Labour Council.

The SCLC is a supporter of ICAN and the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The Council unanimously passed a resolution declaring support for the treaty on 12 December 2018.

UNIONS ACT

“UnionsACT is a proud supporter of the treaty to ban nuclear weapons… There is no peace with nuclear weapons.”

– Alex White, Secretary of Unions ACT.

UnionsACT has been a long-standing supporter of peace and total nuclear disarmament, and in 2018 the UnionsACT Executive supported calling on the Federal Government and Federal Labor to support the nuclear weapons ban treaty.

UnionsACT is an ICAN partner organisation.

“Unions Tasmania notes the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted in July 2017. Nuclear weapons have catastrophic humanitarian consequences. In the event of a nuclear event, it will be workers who are the first to respond. Unions Tasmania notes that more than 20 unions and labour councils in Australia have pledged their support for the ICAN campaign. 
 
Unions Tasmania supports the abolition of nuclear weapons and calls on Australia to ratify this important accord.”
– December 2018.

Unions Tasmania is a strong supporter of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

 

UNIONS WA

“UnionsWA supports ICAN and the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and agrees that the abolition of such weapons is a global public good of the highest order and an essential step to promote the security and well-being of all peoples. Our council has endorsed the campaign for Australia to join the treaty and encourages all political parties and politicians to support this goal.”

– Unions WA, October 2018.

UNITED FIREFIGHTERS’ UNION

The UFU is an active supporter of ICAN, working for Australia to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Firefighters would be among the first to attempt to respond to a nuclear attack.

The UFU ACT supported the Nobel Peace Ride, a 900km bicycle journey from Melbourne to Canberra, by welcoming the cyclists into the ACT with a firetruck and a pellaton of firefighters. The next day, a firetruck escorted the Nobel Peace March from the Peace Bell to Parliament House.

 

UNITED VOICE

United Voice is a supporter of ICAN and UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The National Executive has endorsed the push for Australia to join the treaty, and supports a Labor commitment to signing on when next in Government.

VICTORIAN TRADES HALL COUNCIL

“Victorian Trades Hall Council is proud to support ICAN and the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and we are honoured that ICAN calls Victorian Trades Hall home in Melbourne. It is workers that lose their lives and livelihoods during war and conflict, and we stand in solidarity with everyone fighting for a world free of nuclear weapons.”

– Luke Hilakari, Secretary, Victorian Trades Hall Council, November 2018.

The Victorian Trades Hall Council calls on the Australian Government to sign and ratify the nuclear weapon ban treaty.

VTHC Executive congratulates ICAN for being awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for their essential work around the abolition of nuclear weapons. VTHC Executive urges delegates at the 48th ALP National Conference to sign the Nuclear Ban Treaty Declaration urging Labor to ratify the Treaty.

– Resolution passed in June 2018.

The Victorian Trades Hall Council is an ICAN partner organisation.

FAITH GROUPS

Faith-based groups across Australia united to call on the Australian Government to participate and support the UN negotiations for a treaty banning nuclear weapons in 2017.

View the Interfaith Appeal →

Nuclear weapons pose an existential threat to all of humanity,

As people of faith, we understand the gift of life that nuclear weapons are designed to destroy. Nuclear weapons are incompatible with our religious values, moral principles and international humanitarian law. We have an obligation to address this paramount peril.

There are still over 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world today. Their indiscriminate and overwhelming destructive capacity places them beyond any political or military justification.

Some governments continue to invest billions of dollars to maintain and upgrade their nuclear arsenals. This reckless spending robs the people of resources for sustainable development.

The prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons is a moral imperative.

It is beyond time for a new legal instrument to place nuclear weapons on the same footing as the other weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical weapons, which are prohibited by treaty.

Negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons will begin at the United Nations on 27 March 2017. This is a momentous opportunity. This negotiating process should be supported by all governments and include civil society.

The perspectives of faith-based groups and communities impacted by nuclear testing in Australia – as elsewhere – must be heard.

As communities of faith, we urge the Australian Government to support and participate in the upcoming negotiations.

Let us stand together to build peace and outlaw nuclear weapons.”

ENDORSED BY 52 FAITH-BASED ORGANISATIONS (2017):

Australian Catholic Social Justice Council
Australian Jewish Democratic Society
Australian Student Christian Movement
Believing Women for a Culture of Peace
Brigidine Sisters Kildara Centre
Buddhist Council of Queensland
Buddhist Council of Western Australia
Canberra City Uniting Church
Caritas Australia
Catholic Religious Australia
Columban Mission Institute
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand
Dominican Sisters of Eastern Australia
Earthsong
Edmund Rice Centre
Harcourt Uniting Church
Hashomer Hatzair Australia
Hindu Council of Australia
Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea
Interfaith Network of the City of Greater Dandenong
Islamic Shia Council of Queensland
Islamic Women’s Welfare Association
Melbourne Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office
Melbourne Unitarian Church
Metropolitan Community Church Melbourne
Missionaries of the Sacred Heart Justice and Peace Centre (Australian Province)
Missionary Sisters of Service
Muslim Business Network
Muslim Charitable Foundation
Muslims Australia
Muslims for Progressive Values Australia
National Council of Churches Australia
Office for Justice and Peace, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne
Pax Christi Australia
Pax Christi NSW
Pax Christi Victoria
Pitt Street Uniting Church
Presentation Sisters Queensland
Quakers Australia
Rahamim Ecology Centre
Religions for Peace (Australia)
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) Canberra
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) Victoria Regional Meeting
Shepparton Interfaith Network
Sisters of St Joseph
Sisters of the Good Samaritan
Social Justice Committee of Croydon Uniting Church
Society of the Catholics Apostolate (Pallottine Community)
Soka Gakkai International
St Mary’s Catholic Parish
Stand Up: Jewish Commitment to a Better World
Uniting Church in Australia Assembly

INTERNATIONAL LAWYERS

Open letter to defence minister on extended nuclear deterrence →

In March 2016, around 50 experts in international law called on then-Australian defence minister, Senator Marise Payne, to reassess Australia’s position on nuclear weapons. Their appeal followed the release of the much-anticipated defence white paper, which asserts that US nuclear weapons are necessary for Australia’s security.

“We write to encourage the Australian government to review its support for extended nuclear deterrence in light of the growing international movement to prohibit nuclear weapons on humanitarian grounds,” the open letter, signed by some of the nation’s most eminent law professors and coordinated by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said.

Over the preceding year, 126 nations formally pledged to cooperate in efforts to prohibit nuclear weapons outright. “It is deeply regrettable that Australia is not among them,” the lawyers wrote. While Australia participated in UN talks in Geneva throughout 2016 aimed at paving the way to a new legal instrument against nuclear weapons, it argued strongly against the proposal for a global ban.

The policy of extended nuclear deterrence “appears to be the primary reason for Australia’s opposition to the near-term prohibition of nuclear weapons”, the lawyers said. This doctrine could be “hampering” Australia’s implementation of the 1968 non-proliferation treaty. Despite the absence of a comprehensive and universal treaty-based prohibition on nuclear weapons, it is difficult to envisage how any use of nuclear weapons could ever comply with the general rules of international humanitarian law, the experts warned.

“We believe that Australia should cease its reliance on weapons whose use would almost certainly violate international law, given the uncontrollability of their blast, heat and radiological effects,” they wrote. The open letter urged the government to “join the overwhelming majority of states in pursuing a treaty that outlaws nuclear weapons”, which “are an affront to the entire framework of international law”.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a coalition of non-governmental organisations in more than one hundred countries promoting adherence to and implementation of the treaty.

ICAN was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for our work to raise awareness of the devastating humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons and for our role in achieving the treaty.