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Answers needed on Australian spoiling tactics as nuclear ban treaty draws nearer

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Media statement Greens co-deputy and spokesperson for nuclear Senator for WA Scott Ludlam 20 August 2016

Answers needed on Australian spoiling tactics as nuclear ban treaty draws nearer

The Australian Greens are calling on Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to explain why Australia voted against an historic international plan to move to a nuclear weapons ban in Geneva overnight.

“Against a backdrop of renewed momentum that has breathed new life into nuclear disarmament diplomacy, it is extraordinary that Australia has tried to sabotage the process and then faced a humiliating defeat when its spoiling tactics were voted down,” said Greens deputy leader Senator Scott Ludlam.

Last night history was made with a majority of nations in the UN Open Ended Working Group deciding to begin negotiations to ban nuclear weapons once and for all. This is the most important development in nuclear disarmament in many years.

The decision was made at the UN Open Ended Working Group in Geneva, with 68 countries voting in favour of the developing a global treaty to ban nuclear weapons, 22 voted against - including Australia and 13 abstained.

“Australia was an early signatory to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, and through the years has occasionally played a constructive role in bringing nuclear weapons states closer to disarmament. What happened overnight in Geneva was ugly, counterproductive and ultimately futile,” Senator Ludlam said.

“The vast majority of countries support the ban - now that this process is finally underway it’s time for Australia to get on the right side of history and support a ban.

“We are seeking an urgent meeting with Minister Bishop to explain the thinking behind this extraordinary act of bad faith, and will be pursuing the issue when Parliament resumes,” Senator Ludlam concluded.

More information on progress towards a nuclear weapons ban treaty:

Greens petition Julie Bishop to get on the right side of history

Media contact: Sarah Quinton 0408 533 877