Labour History

Nuclear Migrants, Radical Protest, and the Transnational Movement against French Nuclear Testing in the 1960s: The 1967 Voyage of theTrident

Labour History (2016), 111, (1), 79–98.


This article explores the origins and early years of the Australian movement against the French nuclear testing program in the South Pacific, which ran from 1966 to 1996. In particular, it looks at the transnational frame of Australian activism by focusing on an early example of direct action, the Committee Against Atomic Testing (CAAT). Established in Sydney in 1964, CAAT was conceived as a vehicle for organising the Trident protest voyage that sailed from Sydney towards French Polynesia in 1967. Although the voyage only travelled as far as the Cook Islands, it is significant for a number of reasons. Firstly, it illuminates the role of British and American migrants in radicalising the Sydney Left in the early to mid-1960s. Many of these, especially those from the United States, were self-described “nuclear migrants,” fleeing radioactive fallout, Cold War propaganda, and the excesses of materialism back home. Several were involved in CAAT, helping to radicalise its ideas and its place in broader, international trends of direct action and radical pacifism. Secondly, the campaign of the Trident and its evolution is illustrative of a broader trend of experimentation with radical protest in opposition to French nuclear testing that was garnering interest among many on the Left in Australia in the mid to late 1960s.

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Author details

Harvey, Kyle