During the last few weeks, the issue in most Australians’ minds has again been the risk of nuclear testing on our back door-step. In papers, on radio and television, and in local gossip there has been discussion and argument of the situation. Some have said no to French products. Others have gone too far and sabotaged French or even French-sounding companies. All the while, France has maintained its front of indifference.
Greenpeace’s passive action on Moruroa Atoll, almost a re-enactment of the very similar situation in the early 1970’s, brought the topic into larger public awareness. Attacks on French pride have caused acts like the withdrawal of their Ambassador from Australia and a scurrulous, dishonest attack on Paul Keating in French newspapers last week. However, talk alone may be insufficient to make the French Government realise what an issue this is, not only to countries in the Pacific, but also all over the world. Boycotting French products gives a voice for protest to every Australian citizen, to show that they have enough guts to stand up against nuclear testing. We can take action against something that we believe to be wrong. It can be as simple as buying Australian made and owned products instead of French ones.
Other, more complex decisions require a bit of sacrifice. You may have to go without. If every concerned person in Australia stood up to be counted, the French would see that many are against their testing. To hit a government in political conflicts is nearly always disadvantageous to the common people. The politicians involved have always shored themselves up. To hit the government would be to hit the people. So why do it? Because, if we are going to stop nuclear testing, we are all going to have to suffer and sacrifice, some people more than others.
Our government is not as much on our side as we may believe. Some political leaders have chosen to keep up good public relations with France. To get the results we want, we will have to fight. The recent splitting and retitling of the S.E.C in Victoria, instigated by Mr. Kennett’s government, provided the possibility that a division could be purchased by French interests. Fortunately, the sale of the biggest portion, which seemed likely to be sold to them, went to other buyers. The four remaining portions are still open for sale to France.
The company that will be in charge of the road toll on the Western Ring Road for the next thirty-four years is owned by the French. They aim to have paid off the cost in fourteen years, the following twenty being profit.
That Australia supplies the radioactive material uranium does not strengthen our case against France. Ranger Uranium Mine, in the middle of Kakadu National Park, sells uranium to France and other nuclear countries. However, if we stand up against this we are showing the Australian and French Governments that we oppose nuclear testing.
If we are going to take the French Government to task we are going to have to use the French public as a tool against them. The public is one of every government’s weak areas. Boycotting French products will affect President Jaques Chiracs’ decision to resume testing in September. What do we want, nuclear disaster, or clean seas?