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Looking Back to See the Future - Woomera/Maralinga to Nuclear Submarines -All to Protect The "Free World"

Written by: Ned K. on 16 April 2023


Australian historian Michael Wohlltmann's latest book, Looking Back to See the Future about the history of Woomera is a "warts and all" history of the military and space technology base and town of Woomera established by the British and Australian Governments in the 1940s.

Wohltmann's purpose in writing the well-researched book was to "provide a holistic perspective on the Woomera story through the lens of the Military Industrial complex" and "to provide some light on the secrecy and coverups that are part of the Woomera story."

The military and space base at Woomera and the nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga to Woomera's north-west were part of the Anglo-Australian Joint Project. The Joint Project was the complete subservience to British imperialism by the Menzies Government in particular in the context of the Cold War between the USSR and western powers led by the USA.

The book is a rich source of how Woomera and Maralinga were an integral part of the British and US imperialist Cold War military preparations and experiments with devasting impacts on First Nations Peoples in particular.

Part of the Anglo-Australian Joint Project were the British Government nuclear weapons development tests at Maralinga and beyond between 1952 and 1963.

One of the striking aspects of this period is that the subservience of the Australian Government to the British imperialists and the language used by Ministers of the Menzies Government is so similar to language used by the Albanese Government Ministers today when they try to justify the $380 billion nuclear submarine extravaganza planned for Australian ports, particularly at Osborne near Port Adelaide in South Australia.

Familiar Language?

An example of the similarity between the subservient Menzies Government and the subservient Albanese Government to imperialism's military needs is the excerpt from Michael Wohltmann's book below in the chapter on Woomera and Maralinga.

“In 1954 the Australian Government gave formal approval and a year later, the Australian Minister of Supply Howard Beal responded: 'England has the know how: we have the open spaces, much technical skill and a great willingness to help the Motherland. Between us we should help build the defenses of the free world, and make historic advances in harnessing the forces of nature.'”

Now in 2023 the "free world" is not a term used by Albanese, Wong and Marles. They use the term "democracies", their euphemism for western imperialist forms of government with the enemy not called "communism" but "totalitarian" in reference to China and to a lesser extent Russia. 

Just like the Menzies Government of the 1950s, the Australian Government of today sees no problem with nuclear waste being dumped in the same area of South Australia. In the 1950s nuclear waste from the bombs was spread over the land and towns whereas today the Australian Government is going for the more sophisticated nuclear waste dumps to store nuclear waste from the nuclear submarines to add to their planned nuclear waste dump a Kimba which is in the same part of SA as Woomera and Maralinga.

Despite these differences, the essence of the roles of the Menzies and Albanese Governments is the same in relation to the dominant imperialist powers in Australia.

In the 1950s, it was British imperial needs closely followed by the US imperialist needs.

Today, the Australian Government subservience has reversed the order with US imperialism being followed first with British imperialism in second place. The enemy for the USA and Australian Governments has changed from USSR to China.

The idea that Australia should keep out of war plans of imperialist powers was inconceivable for the Menzies Government and appears to be inconceivable for the Albanese Government as well.  

Looking Back to See the Future  is a self-published book (2022) available from


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