Old enough to speak out

Wednesday, August 14, 1996

The following is the abridged text of a speech by high school student and Resistance member Hamish Quinn to Sydney's Hiroshima Day rally on August 4.

High school students are concerned deeply about the world we will inherit from a generation unable to think past its wallet. We are too young to vote but old enough to speak out against injustice and environmental vandalism.

We want to send a simple message to Canberra, which even Alexander Downer should be able to understand: stop the nuclear threat, stop uranium mining, no more Hiroshimas!

The backlash against French nuclear testing last year should have made it clear that the Australian people oppose these barbaric acts, yet Australia still mines uranium. It continues to support a dangerous and immoral industry. What about democracy? The will of the people is apparently not as important as the budget deficit.

Australia signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty yet it continues to fuel the nuclear threat through its exports, costing the Australian environment dearly in the process. Once uranium leaves our shores we have no control over how it is used.

It takes more than a treaty to stop the nuclear threat. There is a worldwide nuclear chain leaving irreversible destruction in its wake. One day the chain will break, whether it be in the ocean, in a nuclear reactor meltdown, or in an explosion ... it will happen. Can we afford to take this chance? No. It is time to break the chain right here and now. It's time to take a stand against the hypocrisy of Labor and Liberal and destroy the nuclear monster at its origins.

The Coalition states: "There is no commercial justification for restriction of mining." Here's Johnny, and he plans to expand the three mines policy and open up Kakadu, a world heritage listed area, to further mining. The Ranger mine sits right in the heart of the park, its tailings dam an ecological time bomb. The engineers tell us there is no danger of the radioactive sludge seeping into the park: "We can guarantee the dam will hold for at least 200 years". But they overlook one thing; the tailings will not go away for a million years!

If Kakadu is not safe from the greedy hands of economic rationalists then what is? If they found uranium in Uluru would the Howard government drill holes in it for the sake of the hole in the budget?

Our message is very clear. John Howard, listen to the voice of the people, read the writing on the wall. We want Kakadu protected. We want the wishes of the Aboriginal owners respected. Most of all, we want freedom from the nuclear yoke. It's time to stop uranium mining. Leave it in the ground where it can't kill or pollute. Don't sacrifice our future for the sake of a balanced budget!