Australian government defying the will of 72 percent of voters by refusing to sign the UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons

Press release - 18 September, 2017
September 19, 2017: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is set to ignore the wishes of a clear majority of Australians by refusing to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

More than 72 percent of Australians support a ban on nuclear weapons and more than 65 percent want Australia to sign up to the UN ban treaty, according to Reachtel polling commissioned by Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

“Julie Bishop’s decision not to sign Australia up offers yet another example of how out of touch this government is,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO David Ritter said.

“A clear majority of Australians want these weapons eliminated but the government still clings onto the flawed assumption that these weapons of mass destruction somehow make the world a safer place.”

The polling also reveals that the government’s belief that the United States’ nuclear arsenal bolsters Australia’s national security is not a view shared by the majority of Australians.

More than 71 percent of Australians surveyed disagreed with the notion that nuclear weapons make the world safer.

“Bishop can’t go to New York and tell the world she is representing the will of the people,” Ritter said.

“By refusing to be part of the international push to ban nuclear weapons Bishop is not only putting Australia on the wrong side of history but acting against the wishes of the people she claims to represent.”

This is echoed by the fact that more than 65 percent of voters want Australia to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

With tensions rising on the Korean peninsula the catastrophic threat posed by nuclear weapons needs to be taken more seriously than any time in recent history.

The world has previously united to ban chemical and biological weapons, cluster munitions and landmines and the same thing needs to happen with nukes.

It defies belief that eight nuclear states can possess these weapons of mass destruction for the foreseeable future without ever using them, intentionally or not.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific is calling on Ms Bishop to do the right thing by the planet and her people and sign Australia up to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

“Nobody wins a nuclear war,” Ritter said.

“The only way we can be truly free of the threat of nuclear annihilation is to consign these weapons to the dustbin of history.”


For interviews contact:

Martin Zavan

Greenpeace Media Campaigner

0424 295 422 /


Notes for editors

Link to polling

What the UN treaty will do

The treaty will comprehensively bans nuclear weapons and related activity. It will be illegal for parties to undertake any activities related to nuclear weapons. It bans the use, development, testing, production, manufacturing, acquiring, possession, stockpiling, transferring, receiving, threatening to use, stationing, installation, or deployment of nuclear weapons.

When will it enter into force?

Fifty states are required to ratify the treaty for it to enter into force. At a national level, the process of ratification varies, but usually requires parliamentary approval and the development of national legislation to turn prohibitions into national legislation. This process is also an opportunity to elaborate additional measures, such as prohibiting the financing of nuclear weapons.

How is it different to the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty?

The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968 contains only partial prohibitions, and nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties prohibit nuclear weapons only within certain geographical regions. The Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty is an addition, and recognises the importance of full implementation of the NPT.