The Australian government has opposed the idea of a ban on nuclear weapons since the beginning. It has argued that a key problem with the TPNW is that it 'seeks to delegitimise extended deterrence' and 'would be inconsistent with our US alliance obligations'. The opposition Australian Labor Party in December 2018 formally committed to 'sign and ratify the Ban Treaty' when in government, after taking into account the need to ensure complementarity with the NPT and an effective verification and enforcement architecture. The Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, and shadow foreign minister, Penny Wong, reaffirmed this commitment in October 2020 upon the 50th ratification of the TPNW. Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney are among more than 30 cities in Australia that have committed to ICAN’s Cities Appeal. See: bit.ly/2mX63ek, bit.ly/2UR0gEj, bit.ly/2mmfEdT, bit.ly/36Y1CCR.
- Australia should ensure that nuclear weapons do not have a role in its national defence plans and security policies. It should renounce the retention and potential use of nuclear weapons on its behalf, for instance through a declaratory statement, and refrain from endorsing future alliance statements in support of weapons of mass destruction.
- Australia should urgently sign and ratify the TPNW, and encourage other states to adhere to the Treaty. Until it is in a position to do so it should welcome the TPNW as a valuable contribution to the global disarmament and non-proliferation architecture, attend its meetings of states parties as an observer, and work with its states parties on practical steps towards disarmament.