Against a backdrop of increased nuclear threats posed by the AUKUS submarine plans, the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA) met on Dharawal Country over the weekend March 15-17, 2024.

Formed in 1997, ANFA brings together representatives from First Nations communities around the country, who gathered with environment and health organisations, trade unions and other civil society groups.

The meeting coincided with the national weekend of action against AUKUS and included participation in a trade union and Illawarra community protest near Port Kembla, a site flagged to potentially host a nuclear-powered submarine base.

The ANFA gathering discussed the destruction, pain and ongoing risks caused by the nuclear industry including the impacts of radiation on health, the negative impacts of legacy uranium mines and nuclear tests, the need for improved rehabilitation of impacted sites and restated steadfast opposition to nuclear waste dumping. We must protect communities, Country, water, sacred sites and our animal kin.

The meeting condemned irresponsible moves by the Federal Coalition to promote nuclear power as a response to the climate emergency. As representatives of the communities most directly impacted by the Australian nuclear industry across generations, the ANFA meeting utterly rejects this approach.

ANFA delegates strongly oppose plans to acquire nuclear submarines in Australia. The economic, environmental and security risks have not been openly discussed or assessed. Legislation currently before the Parliament seeking to deal with AUKUS produced waste is deficient and dangerous and opens the door to high-level military waste being dumped on a First Nations community.

For decades, ANFA representatives have successfully fought multiple plans to dump Australian and International radioactive waste on country. The meeting committed to strengthen our efforts to ensure that First Nations land is not seen as a soft target for some of the world’s worst waste.

Australia is home to significant uranium deposits, which fuel the nuclear chain here and overseas. ANFA representatives call for greater attention and efforts with mine site rehabilitation and agreed to strongly support community resistance to any new uranium projects.

The vast sums of money being channelled to AUKUS should instead be allocated to address real human and environmental needs, including health and social services, education, an effective climate response and environmental repair.

The genocide being perpetrated by nuclear-armed Israel against Palestinian people in Gaza must refocus us all on the horrors of war. The AUKUS deal is also part of a rapid militarisation of our own region, which is raising the ever-present threat of nuclear conflict. We will redouble our efforts to build solidarity with all peoples struggling for peace and justice and fight for a nuclear free future.

ANFA reaffirms that human wellbeing is more important than private profit.