Box 23, Item 1: Val Routley and Richard Routley to "Sir", 6 Feb 1975

Title

Box 23, Item 1: Val Routley and Richard Routley to "Sir", 6 Feb 1975

Subject

Two copies of typescript letter addressed to "Sir", from Val Routley (later Val Plumwood) and Richard Routley (later Richard Sylvan). The letter to government addresses nuclear energy.

Description

Unnumbered paper from collection, item number assigned by library staff.

Source

The University of Queensland's Richard Sylvan Papers UQFL291, Box 23, Item 1

Date

1975-02-06

Contributor

This item was identified for digitisation at the request of The University of Queensland's 2020 Fryer Library Fellow, Dr. N.A.J. Taylor.

Rights

For all enquiries about this work, please contact the Fryer Library, The University of Queensland Library.

Format

Letter, [2] leaves. 3.65 MB.

Type

Correspondences

Coverage

n/a - not numbered or identified in locator field

Text

94K Fraser Court,
Kingston, 2604.
6th February, 1975

Dear Sir,
A possible change of government later this year should not
be a matter for too much concern, since the difference in policies
between the Labor government and the conservative alternative is
becoming increasingly difficult to discern.
Thus in September
Dr. Cairns told us all to work harder, and at Christmas Mr. Bryant
urged us to buy more.
In January the Prime Minister insisted that
wage demands were the cause of inflation, and in February our
'socialist' Treasurer who had previously exhorted us to buy more
cars, tells us, in effect, that the business of Australia is
business.
That the Labor government, although presenting itself as one
of "change and reform", has a commitment to the industrial- consumer status quo and protecting business, and an aversion to
politically difficult decisions approaching that of its predecessors
is demonstrated by its determination that there shall be no
restructuring (even on a long-term basis) of employment in the
motor vehicle industry.
This industry is widely recognised as a
major polluter and waster of resources, and was, until recently,
the favourite target of several ministers who are now strangely
silent on the subject.
The employment in this environmenta lly
damaging industry which the government is determined to preserve
without change, on a long term basis and apparently at virtually
any cost, is of such poor quality that the industrial sabotage which
was common a few years ago and is now reappearing was attributed by
the unions to the miserable nature of the work.
In normal times of
full employment the immigration program played an essential part in
maintaining the supply of workers to fill these undesirable jobs.
The impression of the early days of the Labor government that
Australians had somehow managed to elect a government of courage,
independence and principle has long since faded.
But nowhere is the
lack of these qualities so clear as in the decision to compete with ·
the opposition in the development stakes and to proceed withthe sale
of uranium for 'peaceful purposes'.
The Prime Minister has
attempted to quell doubts about environmenta l hazards by appealing
to the inadequate standards of the Internationa l Atomic Energy
Authority and by stating that no one overseas to whom he spoke cared
a jot about the hazards of pollution from controlled nuclear plants
or waste, and that (therefore) no one here should either.
Mr. Connor,
displaying a similar slavish concern for what the internationa l
neighbours think, claims that the Australian government would become
a laughing stock if it attempted to act with courage and principle
on the matter of
ur a 11 /um
sales.
The request for a public
inquiry to enable adequate public discussion of the momentous moral
issues involved in ur.ani- um sales has been refused, on the thin and
question-begg ing grounds that this would jeopardise one prematurely
concluded contract and others in the pipeline.
The switch to nuclear fission energy sources which the
Australian government's decision will greatly assist is likely to
impose enormous burdens and risks on future people for nuclear waste
disposal as long as 200,000 years in the future on conservative
estimates. There are clear alternatives to its use.
The moral
position of Australia, as an important supplier of this material,
may be likened to that of an arms
or heroin peddler - obtaining a
comfortable existence for itself at the expense of enormous costs
to other people.
Just as in the case of the a..rft'\S or heroin
dealer, the moral responsibili ty of the supplier cannot be evaded
by the pretence that the moral decision is entirely that of his
customer.
V.

&

R. Routley

94K Fraser Court,
Kingston, 2604.
6th February, 1975

Dear Sir,
A possible change of government later this year should not
be a matter for too much concern, since the difference in policies
between the Labor government and the conservative alternative is
becoming increasingly difficult to discern.
Thus in September
Dr. Cairns told us all to work harder, and at Christmas Mr. Bryant
urged us to buy more.
In January the Prime Minister insisted that
wage demands were the cause of inflation, and in February our
'socialist' Treasurer who had previously exhorted us to buy more
cars, tells us, in effect, that the business of Australia is
business.
That the Labor government, although presenting itself as one
of "change and reform", has a commitment to the industrial__: consumer status quo and protecting business, and an aversion to
politically difficult decisions approaching that of its predecessors
is demonstrated by its determination that there shall be no
restructuring (even on a long-term basis) of employment in the
motor vehicle industry.
This industry is widely recognised as a
major polluter and waster of resources, and was, until recently,
the favourite target of several ministers who are now strangely
silent on the subject.
The employment in this environmentally
damaging industry which the government is determined to preserve
without change, on a long term basis and apparently at virtually
any cost, is of such poor quality that the industrial sabotage which
was common a few years ago and is now reappearing was attributed by
the unions to the miserable nature of the work.
In normal times of
full employment the immigration program played an essential part in
maintaining the supply of workers to fill these undesirable jobs.
The impression of the early days of the Labor government that
Australians had somehow managed to elect a government of courage,
independence and principle has long since faded.
But nowhere is the
lack of these qualities so clear as in the decision to compete with
the opposition in the development stakes and to proceed withthe sale
of uranium for 'peaceful purposes'.
The Prime Minister has
attempted to quell doubts about environmental hazards by apF ealing
to the inadequate standards of the International Atomic Energy
Authority and by stating that no one overseas to whom he spoke cared
a jot about the hazards of pollution from controlled nuclear plants
or waste, and that (therefore) no one here should either.
Mr. Connor,
displaying a similar slavish concern for what the international
neighbours think, claims that the Australian government would become
a laughing stock if it attempted to act with courage and principle
on the matter of
u r ,i A ,'ufrL
sales.
The request for a public
inquiry to enable adequ~te public discussion of the momentous moral
issues involved in l.lia.ni~ .um sales has been refused, on the thin and
question-begging grounds that this would jeopardise one prematurely
concluded contract and others in the pipeline.
The switch to nuclear fission energy sources which the
Australian government's decision will greatly assist is likely to
impose enormous burdens and risks on future people for nuclear waste
disposal as long as 200,000 years in the future on conservative
estimates. There are clear alternatives to its use.
The moral
position of Australia, as an important supplier of this material,
may be likened to that of an atMJ
or heroin peddler - obtaining a
comfortable existence for itself at the expense of enormous costs
to other people.
Just as in the case of the a.rAt!
or heroin
dealer, the moral responsibility of the supplier cannot be evaded
by the pretence that the moral decision is entirely that of his
customer.
V.

&

R. Routley

Citation

Val Routley and Richard Routley, “Box 23, Item 1: Val Routley and Richard Routley to "Sir", 6 Feb 1975,” Antipodean Antinuclearism, accessed June 15, 2024, https://antipodean-antinuclearism.org/items/show/200.

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