Australia

Nuclear weapons endorser

Has not yet joined the TPNW

Did not participate in the TPNW negotiations

Summary

Australia has not yet signed or ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It did not participate in the negotiation of the treaty at the United Nations in New York in 2017 and thus did not vote on its adoption. 

The treaty is incompatible with Australia’s support for the retention and potential use of US nuclear weapons on its behalf, as indicated in various policy statements, including its defence white paper of 2016 and foreign policy white paper of 2017.

ICAN campaigners protest at Australia’s diplomatic mission in Geneva, Switzerland, during a UN working group on nuclear disarmament in 2016. Credit: Tim Wright

 

Political parties

The current Liberal–National government of Australia has said that it cannot support the treaty because it “seeks to delegitimise extended deterrence”. However, the main opposition political party, the Australian Labor Party, adopted a resolution in December 2018 committing it to sign and ratify the treaty in government.

Anthony Albanese, who proposed the Labor resolution and now leads the party, said: “Our commitment to sign and ratify the nuclear weapon ban treaty in government is Labor at its best.” He and his party’s spokesperson on foreign affairs, Penny Wong, welcomed the 50th ratification of the treaty on 24 October 2020 and reiterated their commitment to sign and ratify it after taking into account a number of factors.

Most Labor parliamentarians have also individually pledged to work in support of the treaty, as have parliamentarians from the Australian Greens and the Centre Alliance. A cross-party parliamentary friendship group was established in 2020 to promote Australia’s adherence to the treaty.

Labor parliamentarians, including the current leader Anthony Albanese, hold a copy of the treaty at parliament house in Canberra in 2018. Credit: Martin Ollman

 

Local councils

The councils of several Australian cities, including Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney, have called on the Australian government to sign and ratify the treaty.

 

Public opinion

A public opinion poll conducted by Ipsos in 2018 found that 79 per cent of Australians believe that their government should sign the treaty, with 8 per cent opposed to signing and 13 per cent undecided.

 

Australia’s record

Since the treaty’s adoption in 2017, Australia has voted against UN General Assembly resolutions welcoming the treaty and calling upon “all states that have not yet done so to sign, ratify, accept, approve or accede to the treaty at the earliest possible date”.

On the opening day of the negotiating conference for the treaty in 2017, Australia joined the United States and several other states in protesting the treaty-making process outside the General Assembly hall.

In 2016, Australia voted against the UN General Assembly resolution that established the formal mandate for states to commence the negotiations in 2017 on “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.

Earlier that year, it had attempted to derail a UN working group on nuclear disarmament in Geneva, which adopted a report recommending that negotiations commence on the treaty. Australia said that it could not accept the draft report and forced a vote on it.

Despite Australia’s ongoing support for the retention and potential use of US nuclear weapons on its behalf, it is a state party to the 1985 Treaty of Rarotonga, which establishes the South Pacific as a nuclear-weapon-free zone.

ICAN campaigners protest on the roof of the Australian foreign ministry building in Canberra on 20 September 2017, the day the treaty opened for signature. Credit: ICAN

 

Nuclear testing in Australia

From 1952 to 1963, the British government, with the active involvement of the Australian government, conducted 12 nuclear test explosions and up to 600 so-called “minor trials” in the South Australian desert and off the Western Australian coast.

Radioactive contamination from the tests and trials was detected across much of the continent. Little was done to protect the 16,000 or so test site workers, and even less to protect nearby Aboriginal communities.

Two representatives of those communities, Sue Coleman-Haseldine and Karina Lester, testified at the treaty negotiations in 2017 about the devastating long-term harm from the tests. In part due to their advocacy, the preamble to the treaty recognises “the disproportionate impact of nuclear-weapon activities on indigenous peoples”.

Sue Coleman-Haseldine, a Kokatha elder and nuclear test survivor, with ICAN’s Nobel Peace Prize medal in 2018. Credit: Martin Ollman

 

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Get involved with ICAN in Australia ›

 

ICAN began in Australia. Read more about ICAN's Australian origins here 

ICAN Australia is coordinating the campaign for Australia to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. 

 

ICAN Parliamentary Pledge

These elected Parliamentarians in Australia have pledged to support and promote the TPNW:

Federal Parliament

→ Anthony Albanese MP

→ Anne Aly MP

→ Tim Ayres Senator 

→ Adam Bandt MP

→ Julia Banks MP*

→ Andrew Bartlett Senator *

→ Catryna Bilyk Senator 

→ Sharon Bird MP

→ Chris Bowen MP

→ Carol Brown Senator 

→ Tony Burke MP

→ Linda Burney MP

→ Josh Burns MP

→ Mark Butler MP

→ Terri Butler MP

→ Anthony Byrne MP

→ Doug Cameron Senator *

→ Kim Carr Senator 

→ Nick Champion MP

→ Lisa Chesters MP

→ Anthony Chisholm Senator 

→ Sharon Claydon MP

→ Libby Coker MP

→ Jacinta Collins Senator *

→ Julie Collins MP

→ Pat Conroy MP

→ Sam Dastyari Senator*

→ Richard Di Natale Senator 

→ Patrick Dodson Senator 

→ Mark Dreyfus MP

→ Justine Elliot MP

→ Kate Ellis MP*

→ Warren Entsch MP

→ Mehreen Faruqi Senator 

→ Joel Fitzgibbon MP

→ Mike Freelander MP

→ Katy Gallagher Senator 

→ Steve Georganas MP

→ Andrew Giles MP

→ Patrick Gorman MP

→ Stirling Griff Senator 

→ Helen Haines MP

→ Sarah Hanson-Young Senator 

→ Ross Hart MP*

→ Chris Hayes MP

→ Julian Hill MP

→ Emma Husar MP*

→ Ed Husic MP

→ Stephen Jones MP

→ Skye Kakoschke-Moore Senator *

→ Ged Kearney MP

→ Justine Keay MP*

→ Mike Kelly MP

→ Martin Pritchard MLC

For the full list of Australian MPs at state level that have taken the Parliamentary pledge on ICAN Australia's website

ICAN Cities Appeal

The ICAN Cities Appeal was born in Australia. These are the cities, towns and states across Australia that support the TPNW and have called on the government to join the Treaty:  

→ Augusta Margaret-River, WA

→ Ballina Shire, NSW

→ Bayside, NSW

→ Benalla, VIC

→ Blue Mountains, NSW

→ Brimbank

→ Byron Shire

→ Canberra, ACT

→ Cockburn, NSW

→ Darebin, VIC

→ Fremantle, WA

→ Hobart, TAS

→ Inner West, NSW

→ Lismore, NSW

→ Melbourne, VIC

→ Moreland, VIC

→ Mount Barker

→ Newcastle, NSW

→ Port Adelaide Enfield

→ Randwick, NSW

→ Sydney, NSW

→ Shellharbour, NSW

→ Wollongong, NSW

→ Yarra, VIC

→ Yarra Ranges, VIC

To get your city or local council on board, visit ICAN Australia's website

Find a local ICAN partner to get active Become an ICAN Partner Organization ›

  • Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement

    WEBSITE

  • Act for Peace

    WEBSITE

  • Anti-Nuclear Alliance of Western Australia

    WEBSITE

  • Anglican Diocese of Gippsland

    WEBSITE

  • Architects for Peace

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  • Arid Lands Environment Centre

    WEBSITE

  • Association of Women Educators (AWE)

    WEBSITE

  • Australian Catholic Social Justice Council

    WEBSITE

  • Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies

    WEBSITE

  • The Australian Conservation Foundation

    WEBSITE

  • Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)

    WEBSITE

  • Australian Democrats

    WEBSITE

  • Australian Education Union (Victoria)

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  • Australia Education Union

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  • Australian Federation of Graduate Women

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  • Australian Greens 

    WEBSITE

  • Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (Victoria)

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  • Australian Nuclear Free Alliance 

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  • Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation

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  • Australian Peace Committee

    WEBSITE

  • Australian Student Environment Network (ASEN)

    WEBSITE

  • The Baptist Union of Victoria

    WEBSITE

  • Beyond Nuclear Initiative

    WEBSITE

  • Canberra Region Anti-Nuclear Campaign

    WEBSITE

  • Catholics in Coalition for Justice and Peace

    WEBSITE

  • The Campaign for International Co-operation and Disarmament 

    WEBSITE

  • Climate Landcare Environment Action Network

    WEBSITE

  • Conservation Council of the South East Region and Canberra 

    WEBSITE

  • Conservation Council of South Australia 

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  • Council of Australian Humanist Societies

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  • Dulwich Centre Foundation 

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  • Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education

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  • Footprints for Peace

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  • Fremantle Anti-Nuclear Group

    WEBSITE

  • Friends of the Earth (Australia)

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  • Greenpeace Australia Pacific

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  • Householders' Options to Protect the Environment (HOPE) Inc.

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  • Human Survival Project 
  • Hunter Peace Group

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  • ICAN Australia 

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  • Independent and Peaceful Australia Network

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  • International Volunteers for Peace Incorporated

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  • Just Peace Old Inc

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  • The Maritime Union of Australia (Victorian Branch)

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  • Marrickville Peace Group

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  • Medical Association for Prevention of War

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  • The National Tertiary Education Union

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  • Network of Immigration and Refugee Women of Australia

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  • Newcastle Bike Ecology Centre

    WEBSITE

  • No Waste Alliance

    WEBSITE

  • Oxfam Australia

    WEBSITE

  • Pax Christi Australia

    WEBSITE

  • People for Nuclear Disarmament

    WEBSITE

  • Presse 
  • Psychologists for Peace

    WEBSITE

  • Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) 

    WEBSITE

  • Australian Rail, Tram and Bus Union (Victoria Branch, Rail Division)

    WEBSITE

  • SafeGround

    WEBSITE

  • The Search Foundation

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  • Social Policy Connections 

    WEBSITE

  • Social Responsibilities Commission, Anglican Province of Western Australia

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  • Soka Gakkai International, Australia

    WEBSITE

  • Spirit of Eureka

    WEBSITE

  • Student Pugwash Australia

    WEBSITE

  • Sunshine Coast Environment Council

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  • UnionsACT

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  • Unions Western Australia 

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  • United Nations Association of Australia

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  • United Nations Youth Australia

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  • Uniting Church of Australia (Vic/Tas Synod), Justice and International Mission Unit

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  • Uniting Church in Western Australia, Social Justice Board

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  • Uniting Church in Australia National Assembly

    WEBSITE

  • The Union of Australian Women (UAW)

    WEBSITE

  • Victorian Trades Hall Council

    WEBSITE

  • The Wilderness Society

    WEBSITE

  • Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (Australia)

    WEBSITE

  • 3CR Community Radio 

    WEBSITE

  • Conservation Council SA Inc 

    WEBSITE

  • Alice Springs Peace Action Think Tank (ASPATT) 
  • Christians for Peace Newcastle
  • HSU Vic Branch No2 - HACSU - Health and Community Services Union

    website

  • Ballarat Regional Trades and Labour Council

    website

  • Divine Word Missionaries

    website

  • Sydney Peace Foundation

    Website

  • Catholic Religious Australia

    Website