David Bradbury, lifetime war abolisher, wins award for Anti-AUKUS efforts

Sep 3, 2023
US and China flags depicting each nations strength and conflict Image: iStock

The cracks in Labor ranks over AUKUS won’t be going away despite Albanese staring down dissenters at Labor’s national conference. A pitched battle over the choice of submarine base is guaranteed — and now we discover that Albanese has suffered the mother of all brainsnaps: Australia has agreed to set up a weapons-grade nuclear waste dump. At the heart of the resistance to this militarism has been David Bradbury’s documentary film The Road to War

This week, Australia’s legendary political filmmaker, David Bradbury, achieved another media milestone with his much-lauded anti-AUKUS documentary, The Road to War (2023) winning the Lifetime War Abolisher of 2023 award. Adding to the list of International and Australian film awards including two Academy-award nominations (Frontline (1979) and Chile Hasta Quando? (1985), his latest documentary won the World BEYOND War’s Individual ‘Lifetime War Abolisher Award’ —named for David Hartsough, who co-founded World BEYOND War in Virginia, USA in 2014.

The creator of 26 documentary films, Bradbury advances our understanding of war, peace, international relations and peace activism. His films have been broadcast around the world on the BBC, PBS, ZDF (Germany), and TF1-France, as well as ABC, SBS and commercial television networks in Australia.

Bradbury is no ordinary film maker. Not for him the mercenary characters like Prigozhin lauded in Hollywood with their larger than life bravado, greed and murderous intent. When interviewed by P & I, he said:

“Peace activists operate out of a sense of ‘the Other’, the Greater Good for Humanity and ALL species on the planet and rarely given their moment ‘in the Sun’, whereas War and those who pursue it are, in some twisted way, elevated to Hero status.”

Bradbury added:

“Those of us who work against the Grain, against the entrenched Conservatism and self interest of the ‘Capitalist’ press — the Fourth Estate who mostly, with some wonderful exceptions, do a miserable job in exposing the entrenched privilege of the Ruling Class — do our work for Peace tirelessly, without financial gain…”

Bradbury shoots his own footage, traveling widely, and seeking out people with uncomfortable truths to tell — sometimes at great risk. Bradbury has filmed in Iran during the final days of the Shah, in Nicaragua during the CIA-Contra war, and in El Salvador during the days of death squads during the early 1980s. His film on Pinochet’s Chile, Chile Hasta Quando? (1985) was nominated for an Academy Award. He has filmed independence struggles in East Timor and West Papua, and in India, China, and Nepal.

In The Road to War (2023), concern is raised among the Australian experts interviewed by Bradbury about Australia’s AUKUS commitment of hundreds of billions of dollars for new weaponry, nuclear propelled submarines and stealth bombers — to protect us against our biggest trading partner — China. Yes, China. The film shows why it is not in Australia’s, or the world’s interests to be dragged into another US-led war and brings into sharp focus that Australia is being set up as USA’s proxy:

“Basing US B52 and stealth bombers in Australia is all part of preparing Australia to be the protagonist on behalf of the United States in a war against China. If the US can’t get Taiwan to be the proxy or its patsy, it will be Australia,” warns former Australian ambassador to China and Iran, John Lander, in Bradbury’s film.

We all appreciate the Labor Government was still on its toddler legs when it signed the AUKUS agreement and had only 24 hours to decide — or be wedged on Defence by the Coalition in the 2019 federal election.

But the cracks in Labor ranks won’t be going away despite Albanese staring down dissenters at Labor’s national conference and enshrining the tripartite security pact in the party’s policy platform. A pitched battle over the choice of submarine base is guaranteed — and now we discover that Albanese has suffered the mother of all brainsnaps: Australia has agreed to set up a weapons-grade nuclear waste dump. According to the Fact Sheet: Trilateral Australia-UK-US Partnership on Nuclear-Powered Submarines:

“as part of this commitment to nuclear stewardship, Australia has committed to managing all radioactive waste generated through its nuclear-powered submarine program, including spent nuclear fuel, in Australia.”

Who knew about that? Hats off to Crikey for disclosing the secret no-one is talking about. Where was the spirited public debate about which port such terrorist “bait” will be shipped to, how it would be transported? By truck? Train? Where to? Given the Coalition has had a nuclear waste dump on the back burner for decades, Maralinga is the likely bet.

The lack of debate now resembles the barely reported signing of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership by Prime Minister John Howard on 5 September 2007. Had the Coalition won the 2007 election on 24 November, Australia was on track to become a global nuclear waste dump. Did anyone know about it then? Like now, it went under the media radar. MSM were MIA.

Back then, Howard had control of both houses. All the ducks were in a row. The Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Bill 2005 had passed effectively transferring power to the Minister to nominate nuclear waste dump sites. The ANSTO Bill passed around the same time giving ANSTO the power to accept waste generated outside Australia.

Maralinga in South Australia seemed to tick all the boxes. But they forgot that nuclear waste produces hydrogen when it eventually breaks down and Maralinga is sited right on top of the Great Artesian Basin.

John Large, whose company, Large & Associates handled the salvage of the stricken Russian U-sub, Kursk, told Julie Macken in an interview in New Matilda on 15 November 2006 that when the waste breaks down, it produces hydrogen and “there is simply no way, over a 100,000 year time scale, to stop the fuel leaking out.”

Large was shocked to hear that Australia wanted to go down this path.

As Bradbury sums up in his acceptance speech:

“Neither government of either stripe have learnt anything from being dragged into America’s wars of folly since World War II — Korea, Vietnam, two disastrous wars in Iraq and America’s failed 20 year war in Afghanistan which ripped that country apart, only to see the Taliban warlords return the country and its female population to feudal times.”
He continues:

“Each of us, each of you have the option of either sitting back and letting our leaders take us into a nuclear war which will end life on this planet as we’ve always known it. Or we can rally and come together and support each other in communities across the world to say, WAR NO MORE. EARTH CARE… NOT WARFARE.”

The 2023 War Abolisher Awards and the video of David Bradbury’s acceptance speech can be accessed on the website at War Abolisher Awards.

War Abolisher awardees are honoured for their body of work directly supporting one or more of the three segments of World BEYOND War’s strategy for reducing and eliminating war as outlined in the book A Global Security System, An Alternative to War. They are: Demilitarising Security, Managing Conflict Without Violence, and Building a Culture of Peace.

You can view a clip from The Road to War below:


Bradbury’s films can be viewed at FRONTLINE FILMS.

For information on screenings of The Road to War, email david@frontlinefilms.com.au.

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