Letter seeking Radiological Monitoring Data to Minister Ian Hunter

Hon. Ian Hunter, MLC
Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation
Minister for Water and the River Murray
Minister for Climate Change

GPO Box 1047
Adelaide SA 5001

Minister Hunter,

I continue to seek the radiological monitoring data for South Australian drinking water storages for the period 1956 to 1963.

Previous requests for this information have resulted in the following State Government and agency reply documents as follows:

Letter 08/127/255, 3.2.1995, Jill Fitch, Radiation Protection Branch, South Australian Health Commission.

Letter MFI00876, 1/11/95, David Abbott, Chief Administrative Officer, Office of Mr John Olsen, Minister for Industry, Manufacturing, Small Business & Regional Development, Minister for Infrastructure.

Letter MFI, 100876, SA Water 10713/95, E.J. Phipps, Chief Executive with enclosures: Data sheets of radiological monitoring of SA Water storages.

Letter MFB 1195, BCN/AK15, 19/5/96, The Hon. John Olsen, FNIA, MP

Letter MFI 00876, SA Water 10713/95, E.J. Phipps, Chief Executive.

All of the preceeding documents conveyed that the information I sought did not exist.

I refer also to the following documents addressed to me by the then Minister for Environment and Conservation, Mr. John Hill:

03EC2212 dated 11 June 2003
03EC2951 dated 19 June 2003

Copies of these two letters are attached as enclosures herewith.

On 11 June 2003 Minister Hill advised me that in relation to my request for this information that:

“Your letter refers to a Freedom of Information application lodged by Dr Cross in January 2002. You should note that this application was submitted before the election of a Labor Government in South Australia in March 2002. At that time, the secrecy provisions of the Act prevented the release of the information requested by Dr. Cross. …..This government was elected to office with a commitment to do whatever is reasonable and appropriate to ensure there are no impediments to the public availability of information……” The then Minister then confirmed the election promise to specifically to change the “secrecy” provisions of section 19 of the Radiation Protection and Control Act, 1982.
This was done, the Minister informed me, on 5 December 2002.

I note that the State Government’s formal documents addressed to Dr Cross regarding the rejection of the Cross FOI Application and the of the rejection of the subsequent appeal both confirm that the documents do indeed exist.

This is in stark contrast to the State government documents addressed to me dated 3.2.1995, 1.11.1995, 19.5.1996 all advise me via Fitch, Abbott and Olsen that the documents I sought and still seek did not exist. In this regard Mr Olsen SA Water to supply me with documents for a later period which did and do exist. Letters Letter MFI, 100876, SA Water 10713/95, E.J. Phipps, Chief Executive (with enclosures: Data sheets of radiological monitoring of SA Water storages from 1964 to 1995), and Letter MFI 00876, SA Water Corp 10713/95, E.J. Phipps, Chief Executive confirm that with the supply of the documents covering the data from 1964 I now had all documents which exist. As helpful as the documents are to me, these documents had previously been supplied to Dr. Helen Caldicott during the period of the 1970s. She did not have an easy time obtaining the documents, as I recall from listening Bazz and Pilko on breakfast radio at the time. I have no association with Dr. Caldicott just in case that helps my case in any way.

I refer also to the letter to me from then Minister Hill dated 19 June 2003. In this letter the State labor Government advises me that “Your matter is receiving attention and a response will be forwarded to you as soon as possible.” The letter is signed by Carolyne Lee, Office Manager for the Minister for Environment and Conservation.

How much longer will the State Government be in providing me with an answer to my requests? Can I see the documents which record the readings from the radiological monitoring of SA drinking water storages fom 1956 until 1963?

I point out that the documents began to exist from 1956. They still exist. The alleged will of the government is to possess a spirit of openness and democracy in regards to the information it holds in trust for the people in South Australia. I have yet to see any evidence of this spirit of openness in this matter.

I would appreciate action in this matter. I have been quite patient in this matter. I know how slowly the wheels of government move. As all South Australians do. I beg therefore, in the old fashioned some sign that the state can handle the truth in a spirit of openness worthy of a body which purports to represent the will of the people, and which was elected on the basis of that promise of openness and democracy.

I note today the Citizens’ Jury 2, formed by the Premier of South Australia to consider specific matters has delivered its verdict to the State Government and people of South Australia. I note the reaction of the nuclear industry and experts to that verdict. I note that lack of trust in government is a major stumbling block in the view of the People’s Jury. The findings of the citizens’ jury present no difficulty when compared to my experience in obtaining the information I have sought since I was a young in the 1990s. I am now quite. It is 2016.

I find it highly lamentable and deplorable that the State Government has expressed views which convey the judgement that the people of South Australia are ill informed on matters of nuclear undertakings and the effects of them.

That such judgements are passed by politicians who have, from the 1950s until the present day, repeatedly refused to be open and honest with the people of SA. And who, it seems to me, have the goal of keeping the people of this state of Australia in a goldfish bowl of the very ignorance we are accused of.
If is also interesting to note that an alleged ignoramus like me is told documents do not exist, whereas a Doctor of science, such as Dr. Cross, is told that he cannot see the documents because they do, in fact exist. This information is in the public interest. Why are the people of the State being denied access to it?

Yours Sincerely,

Paul Langley

Radilogical Safety NCO,
Storeman, technical clerk,
RADIAC Centre,
RAEME, Australian Army

I ask the readers of my blog to consider writing to Minister Hunt asking for the Radiological Monitoring Data for South Australian Drinking Water Storages for the period 1956 to 1963. If English is not your first language, please write to the Minister in your first language. I ask also that you consider writing to the Minister via snail mail and not emailing the Minister. I ask most firmly that your letters, if you decide to write one, remain formal and polite. Irony is encouraged. Mention of the Dead Parrot Routine would probably be frowned upon by authorities, as perfect a fit as it is.

Thank you for your help.