The currently-televised ABC TV’s “Operation Buffalo”, is a drama series with some well-known actors in a story that takes place in the remote north-western area of South Australia at Maralinga, mainly at an army base where the British carried out nuclear testing in the 1950s-60s. While this series brings dramatic elements, including love and betrayal, it is not as compelling as another exposé of that time and place, which tells the real story of what happened there.
“Maralinga” – the book published in 2014 by Hachette – is an extraordinary and gripping exposé by veteran investigative Australian journalist, author of several military history books and FCA member Frank Walker of the shocking use by the British Government for nuclear experiments in Australia and the ignorance by two governments of Australia’s indigenous people and land, in the pursuit of global military power.
The effects of nuclear fall-out across Australia from South Australia and particularly on indigenous populations in South Australia who remained in the area during the tests or returned soon afterwards, as well as 17,000 Australian and British troops who were present in the area, continue today from the 1950s and 1960s. At that time, with the blessing of Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies, the British government exploded 12 atomic bombs at Maralinga, Emu Field and Monte Bello Island in Western Australia, as well as several hundred smaller radioactive tests which had even more nuclear fallout and also repercussions lasting for decades.
While Australian veterans may have received some health cover via the Gold Card for resulting illnesses, no compensation has ever been provided to the indigenous people and their descendants of Maralinga.
As Frank Walker says: “Every other nuclear testing country in the world has given compensation to the victims of nuclear tests. The British, the French, the Americans, have all given compensation for their open air nuclear testing. Australia is the only country in the world who hasn’t done anything.”
Frank Walker’s book Maralinga is available through all major bookshops and online outlets, with free delivery worldwide.