In an astonishing move, given that an Inquiry into 5G in Australia is currently underway, a joint media release from the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts and Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, who has portfolio responsibility for the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), has proclaimed that the Morrison Government will be spending $9 million over four years to build public confidence in the safety of telecommunications networks – including new 5G mobile networks – and to address “misinformation” about electromagnetic energy (EME) emissions.
Does this largesse smack of a government in panic mode? Certainly, its failure to observe due process, by pre-empting the findings of the inquiry into 5G, suggests that the inquiry is a sham.
The parliamentary webpage for the 5G inquiry reveals that over 400 submissions were received by the committee responsible for inquiring into the deployment, adoption and application of 5G in Australia. The vast majority of these submissions have raised issues related to health. An impressive body of credible scientific evidence supporting the need for a precautionary approach was referenced by submitters as well as many personal accounts of the harm that has already occurred due to exposure to EMF.
Despite this, to-date, the Committee has not heard from a single scientific witness who might substantiate the community’s insistence on an unbiased assessment of the current science. Instead, with Through the Looking Glass logic, the Committee has chosen to reaffirm its belief in this “wonderful technology”, as the Chairman described it in its 6 December 2019 public hearing, by taking advice on health from organisations with vested interests, such as Telstra and the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association.
For instance, in its 19 November 2019 public hearing, the Chair moved “that we accept the new ICNIRP radio frequency guidelines and their implications for 5G, which were so kindly announced by the WHO and provided to us by Telstra”. Never mind that Telstra provided the Committee with a garbled – and highly biased – account of how safety standards are set by “national and international health agencies”.
As this paper, published in the International Journal of Oncology, makes abundantly clear, the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), which ARPANSA chooses to take its direction from, is a private organisation based in Germany with strong ties to industry. It is a closed group, and only allows new expert members to be elected by existing members. Not surprisingly, ICNIRP has seen fit to ignore the vast body of scientific studies attesting to non-thermal biological effects. ICNIRP has also successfully penetrated the World Health Organization, via the WHO International EMF Project.
Facts such as these, however, are unlikely to come to the Chair’s notice, given his eagerness to accept industry spin. At the Committee’s 6 December 2019 hearing, in response to an explanation about 5G from the Chief Executive of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, Hansard records the Chair as saying, “Just so that everyone’s left in no doubt, I was really pleased that you said it was totally safe”.
In addition to taxpayers’ funds being allocated to EME “public education”, part of the $9 million kitty is to be provided to ARPANSA for “continued research on radio frequency safety”.
SSMA hopes that this funding might allow ARPANSA to lift the bar; many of its previous research efforts have fallen woefully short of what the community expects from the Australian Government’s primary authority on radiation protection.
For instance, its Technical Report Series No. 163, titled ARPANSA Preliminary Measurements of Radiofrequency Transmissions from a Mesh Radio Smart Meter, which was authored by ARPANSA staffers Don Wijayasinghe and Ken Karipidis, provided details on emissions from a single (!) mesh smart meter. Given the characteristics of mesh network topology, this study-of-one gave rise to conclusions akin to those reached in the Blind Men and an Elephant parable. By contrast, Total Radiation Solutions’ 2015 report, Quantifying Smart Meter RF EME Levels in Victorian Homes, which had included 32 mesh smart meters in its study, shines a light on the variance across meters (for instance, refer to pp. 21 and 80 of the report).
Analysis in ARPANSA’s Technical Report Series No. 164, Review of Radiofrequency Health Effects Research – Scientific Literature 2000-2012, which came to the convenient conclusion that ARPANSA’s 2002 standard continues to provide adequate protection, appeared similarly lacking in rigour.
A recent study that failed to find a link between the use of mobile phones and brain cancer, which lists ARPANSA’s Ken Karipidis as the lead author, is equally tainted.
A reply to SSMA from a spokesperson for the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, dated 15 July 2019 informed SSMA that “the ACMA and ARPANSA are independent statutory agencies and are not influenced or controlled by the telecommunications industry”. On the face of it, nothing could be further from the truth! Instead, it would seem that our Government is so closely aligned with industry interests, similarly to the situation in the U.S., that it lacks the perspective to see that it is held captive by the very bodies that it seeks to regulate.
SSMA was also assured “that revenue maximisation is not an objective of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (known as the ‘objects’ of the Act), and the ACMA does not seek to maximise revenues collected at auctions. Instead, as per the objects of the Act, the ACMA seeks to maximise the overall public benefit derived from using the radiofrequency spectrum”.
If this is the case, why has the deployment of 5G and the encouragement to drive more Australians towards wireless solutions not been subjected to rigorous cost-benefit analysis? At a minimum, this should include an assessment of the increased burden to the community as a result of more people developing electro-hypersensitivity and escalating cases of cancer, including brain cancer, in addition to looking at factors such as the massive pressure on electricity supply that the uptake of 5G and the IoT is forecasted to create.