Cross party parliamentarian group calls on Australian government to sign treaty banning nuclear weapons

Photo by Scott Radford-Chisholm/AAP: Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese

Contributed from Victoria

Many Australians will be happy to learn that that a cross party group of members of parliament have called on the Australian government to join a landmark treaty banning nuclear weapons, declaring that the weapons “fundamentally undermine our peace and humanity”.

The group warned of “escalating nuclear threats and provocations from nuclear-armed states” and said Australia must play an active role to end the nuclear arms race.

This is especially relevant in the current political climate that is increasing the risk of war. The question of nuclear arms is directly connected to the pressure being put on China, and the conflict with Russia being played out in Ukraine. Both threaten to involve other nations and create blocks, which could at worst, lead to global war.

Denuclearisation is an important part of the goal of turning away from conflict and securing global peace.

By signing the new treaty, which came into force two years ago, Australia will stand with our neighbours in south-east Asia and the Pacific, according to the Labor MP Josh Wilson, the Liberal MP Russell Broadbent and the Greens senator Jordon Steele-John.

Speaking out on the second anniversary of the UN treaty, the MPs said the agreement was supported by “the clear majority of our regional neighbours with whom we share a common goal of peace, cooperation, and security”.

They called for Australia’s “timely signature and ratification”.

“The members of this cross-party group are ready to work constructively with the Albanese government to ensure Australia becomes a state party to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” the MPs wrote.

Unfortunately, the United States and most others nuclear powers. China has long been calling for simultaneous nuclear disarmament. This too has been refused. In fact, the United States has escalated its own build-up.

By being tied to United States foreign policy, Australia has directly linked into that country’s nuclear proliferation. American bases on Australian soil assist the positioning of these weapons.

The treaty puts bans the developing, testing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons – or helping other countries to carry out such activities.

By signing Australia will have to disengage from the relationship, and this would be a good move for the rest of the world. The treaty has been ratified by 68 nations to date, and by signing, Australia will be encouraging a host of other nations to do the same. It would make the further proliferation of these weapons more difficult and put pressure on the nuclear powers to scale back and eventually eliminate them.

Before the last election Labor policy was to go down this track. It is unclear whether this still holds in the party room.

At a key meeting in Vienna during October last year, Australia, Australia shifted  from opposing the treaty to abstaining for the first time. This drew a warning from Washington through its embassy in Canberra, saying, it would cause problems with military cooperation. The question is, will the Albanese government stand up to the pressure?

Gem Romuld, the Australian director of the Nobel prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish nuclear weapons, said the organisation hoped the cross-party statement would “spur the Albanese government on to fulfil its pre-election commitment”.

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