Pacific Concerns

Nuclear weapons and the peace movement in Australia, 1960–1967

Authored by: Kyle Harvey

The Routledge History of World Peace Since 1750

Print publication date:  September  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138069138
eBook ISBN: 9781315157344
Adobe ISBN:


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Australian opposition to nuclear weapons operated in similar ways to other western nations. A peace movement, drawing support from trade unions, clergy, communists, and pacifists, organized campaigns from 1945 on the dangers posed by nuclear weapons, their testing, deployment, and potential use. From 1946, when the United States began testing nuclear weapons in the Pacific Ocean, the Australian peace movement reacted slowly, preferring instead to focus on domestic concerns, such as the British nuclear tests that took place on Australian soil in the mid to late 1950s. As nuclear testing in the Pacific increased in intensity, and as the French government announced its plans to test its own weapons in the South Pacific, Australians began to think more critically about the regional implications of radioactive fallout and its effects on the health of all those who lived in and around the Pacific Ocean. This coincided with a diversification of protest tactics used in Australia, responding to trends in Britain and the United States that valued public demonstrations over petitioning, discussion groups, and public meetings.

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