Of the many pernicious legacies of colonialism, Australia’s servility in the face of Britain’s nuclear arms aspirations is one of the most under-reported and most consequential. In this week’s episode of The ABR Podcast, Elizabeth Tynan reads her essay tracing the clandestine history of, and fallout from, the agreements that allowed the British to test atomic weapons at various sites in South and Western Australia after World War II. By highlighting the Menzies government’s eager consent and the Australian media’s compliance, Tynan shows that far from being a passive victim, Australia was largely complicit in tests that wrought havoc on large tracts of land and on the Indigenous communities who lived there.
Elizabeth Tynan is an associate professor in the Graduate Research School at James Cook University, and the author of Atomic Thunder: The Maralinga story (2016) and The Secret of Emu Field: Britain’s forgotten atomic tests in Australia (2022).
This commentary is generously supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.