Australian news, and some related international items

Maurice Newman’s anti-science slammed by Australia’s Chief Scientist

Newman,-Maurice-ideasAustralia’s chief scientist tells PM’s business adviser to stick to economics , Guardian , , political editor, 18 Aug 14, Global cooling proponent Maurice Newman urged not to ‘trawl the internet’ for papers questioning scientific opinion Australia’s chief scientist has suggested Tony Abbott’s top business adviser should stick to economics rather than “trawl the internet” for papers questioning the overwhelming scientific opinion on global warming…….

“Almost everyone with knowledge would say Mr Newman’s comments are at odds with what they know, but people with no scientific knowledge persist in the view that they can find three or four papers from the hundreds and hundreds of papers on the subject and then dismiss the overwhelming bulk of evidence … it is a silly response to a very important issue.”

Chubb’s response is not the first time the prime minister’s scientific adviser has taken issue with his business adviser’s views. Continue reading

August 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

New South Wales: new Bill to enforce environmental protection laws

justiceAustralia: Tough new environmental enforcement measures under NSW Bill Mondaq Clayton Utz,  17 August 2014 A range of new and much higher penalties, and a new power for the EPA to require bank guarantees for remediation, are the key features of the Protection of the Environment Legislation Amendment Bill 2014, introduced into the New South Wales Parliament on Tuesday.

If passed, the Bill will amend

  • the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997;
  • the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997; and
  • the Radiation Control Act 1990.

Bank guarantees for remediation work

The EPA will be able to require financial assurances, such as a bank guarantee or bond, as part of a management order under the Contaminated Land Management Act. The EPA can set the amount, but it cannot exceed the EPA’s reasonable estimate of the total cost of carrying out the relevant action (including EPA supervision costs).

If the person fails to carry out the required action, the EPA can then do the action itself or contract someone else to do it, and then make a claim on the financial assurance to cover its costs.

The Court can also use this mechanism in proceedings under the Contaminated Land Management Act if it orders an offender to carry out a specified work or program for the restoration or enhancement of the environment……….

New penalties, including restorative justice

For some offences under the Contaminated Land Management Act and Radiation Control Act, the Land & Environment Court will be able to order new penalties, including ordering the offender:

  • to publicise the offence and its environmental and other consequences;
  • to notify specified persons, such as shareholders of the offence, via the annual report or other methods;
  • to carry out a specified project for the restoration or enhancement of the environment in a public place or for the public benefit; or
  • to carry out any social or community activity for the benefit of the community or persons that are adversely affected by the offence (a restorative justice activity) that the offender has agreed to carry out………

Waste tracking

It will now be an offence not to fit GPS tracking to waste transportation vehicles………

August 18, 2014 Posted by | legal, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Democracy under threat in Tasmania

Proposed anti-protest laws a ‘brutal strategy’, Bob Brown tells Hobart rally  17 Aug 2014,  Hundreds of people who rallied in Tasmania today against proposed anti-protest laws have been warned the State Government intends to misuse the prison system. More than 500 people packed into Hobart’s City Hall to protest against laws that would see on-the-spot fines and jail sentences for people who disrupt workplaces.

Former Greens leader Bob Brown labelled the laws discriminatory and out-of-balance, telling the crowd that: “These laws would have jailed Gandhi and Jesus Christ himself.”

Many see the laws as aimed at anti-forestry protesters, who have disrupted logging in state forests by protest actions.

Richard Griggs from Civil Liberties Australia told the rally the proposed laws would create mandatory prison sentences for people who on two occasions gathered on public land to protest, if they slowed or hindered a vehicle registered to a business.

“This is a misuse of the prison system by our Government. Prisons should be used by government to make the community safer, not as a way to frighten the community into silence,” he said. He said competing rights of workers to enter their workplaces, and those of people have a right to protest, were currently managed by the laws of trespass and public nuisance.

Mr Griggs said people were at the rally to stand up for the right to peaceful protests, which was a fundamental democratic freedom. Greg Barns from Australian Lawyers Alliance agreed, saying: “You can be 18, 19 years of age, you’re fired up at a protest, and you decide to run into some business premises, you end up getting a mandatory conviction. I will not be bullied or cowered by their brutal strategy.”

Previously, the Greens have compared the laws to those of Nazi Germany, while Labor’s Lara Giddings has described the legislation as draconian.

The State Government rejects the criticisms. Resources Minister Paul Harriss said the protest showed there was no issue with peaceful demonstrations. “The legislation currently before the Parliament does in no way diminish or take away from the opportunity for anyone to peacefully and legally protest.” he said.

The bill has passed the Lower House and will now be considered by the independent-dominated Upper House.

August 18, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Victoria’s Napthine govt governs for coal and gas lobbies, and against the environment

Sandi Keane: Citizens unite against Alcoa’s dirty brown coal mine and pitiful power plant
The Victorian Napthine Government’s dismal record on stewardship of the environment is only equalled by its blatant disregard for the health and welfare of some of its citizens — especially the most vulnerable, our children. In May this year, with its smelter operation due to close this month, Alcoa was issued a fresh licence to generate and sell its electricity into the grid. This filthy, sulphur-belching brown coal plant at Angelsea on Victoria’s iconic Great Ocean Road – now up for sale – operates just over one kilometre from a primary school and 500 metres from residents’ homes.

This is the Government that demanded two kilometre setbacks for clean energy wind farms. In spite of the 2011 Senate finding and twenty reviews since proving no link between wind turbines and illness, the Government’s complicity in fostering these debunked claims saw an estimated $3 billion in wind investment go into free-fall.

So much for Victoria’s slice of the future low carbon economy. That’s the price Victorians and future generations will pay for the lax donor laws in this country that allow vested interests, like mining and developers, to launder millions into Liberal party campaign coffers through so-called trusts (as recently revealed by ICAC in New South Wales) and, thus, dictate policy outcomes. …

Denis Napthine once damned the Labor Government as “hypocritical when it comes to climate change” but has watered down the bilateral agreement with the former Labor Government of a 20 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020 to just “aspirational” only. As the saying goes: ‘If you take the King’s shilling, you do the King’s bidding.’,6765

August 18, 2014 Posted by | energy, Victoria | Leave a comment

Profits for EnergyAustralia, AGL, and Origin Energy if RET is cut

dollar 2Renewable Energy Target cut would hit budget: modelling, The Conversation, 18 Aug 14 Michelle Grattan Professorial Fellow at University of Canberra “……..The current arrangement (including the large-scale RET plus existing hydro and small-scale solar PV panels) would lead to about 28% of national electricity coming from renewables by 2020-21. The modelling looked at capping it at 20% (the “reduced” scenario) as well as abolishing the RET altogether.

Reduction of the large-scale RET as proposed by some power companies would bring $8 billion extra profit to coal and $2 billion to gas generators (net present value of future profits 2015-30).

Under current ownership arrangements, EnergyAustralia is the company that would stand to gain the most. Its potential extra profit would be about $1.9 billion if the RET were reduced (and $2.2 billion if it was abolished).

But “if AGL purchases Macquarie Generation, it would become by far the biggest beneficiary of reducing the RET”, with combined extra profits of $2.7 billion if the RET were reduced.

“Origin Energy’s total extra profit would be about $1.5 billion. Origin owns the power station that would emit the largest amount of additional pollution under a reduced RET.” ……..


August 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, energy | Leave a comment

Anti science in the ear of Australia’s Prime Minister

Newman,-Maurice-ideasModern Monetary Theory … macroeconomic reality Bill Mitchell – billy blog 17 Aug 14 “………Yesterday, we were confronted with the ranting Maurice Newman in an Op Ed in Murdoch’s The Australian newspaper – We’re ill-prepared if the iceman cometh.

Newman is the chairman of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council. He has been behind the establishment of major conservative think tanks in Australia and is not a scientist (has a background in finance).

He is on the record as saying that those who believe that climate change is occurring and presents a serious challenge are trapped in “uncritical group-think” (Source).

His position on climate change has hardened and in December 2013 he wrote:

… the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change progressively has applied mass psychology through a compliant media to spread the delusion that wicked Western industrialists are causing irreparable damage to the climate. Crowds go cold on climate cost

Yesterday’s article continues his campaign. He is now asserting contrary to what most scientists consider to be a reasonable interpretation of the research, that the world is cooling as a result of solar activity. The same activity that he claims is responsible for the period of warming over the last 50 years.

He considers that there is “growing evidence that climate change is determined by the sun, not humans”. He wants the Government to start cutting funding towards “biased research to pursue gesture politics”. That funding “has inflicted serious damage on economies and diminished the West’s standing and effectiveness in world ­affairs.”

He also opposes investment in renewable energy…….”

August 18, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Storage for renewable energy is not the great problem they say it is

Is Storage Necessary for Renewable Energy? (includes videos) Engineering .com Tom Lombardo August 17, 2014  Physicist and energy expert Amory Lovins, chief scientist at The Rocky Mountain Institute, recently released a video in which he claims that renewable energy can meet all of our energy needs without the need for a fossil fuel or nuclear baseload generation. There’s nothing unusual about that – many people have made that claim – but he also suggests that this can be done without a lot of grid-level storage. Instead, Lovins describes a “choreography” between supply and demand, using predictive computer models models to anticipate production and consumption, and intelligent routing to deliver power where it’s needed. This “energy dance,” combined with advances in energy efficiency, will allow us to meet all of our energy needs without sacrificing reliability.

Okay, so there is a little storage involved: ice-storage air conditioning and smart charging of electric vehicles. But where others, including myself, have assumed that large storage devices will need to be added to the grid, Lovins thinks that massive storage facilities are unnecessary, and he presents compelling evidence to support his claim, including actual data from Europe and computer models from NREL……….
There will always be a need for storage since many applications are off grid. Obviously storage is needed in order to electrify transportation. So I agree that dynamic routing is the best long term solution for the grid, but we still need to invest in storage technologies. The good thing is that both storage and smart routing can be implemented together, a little at a time, and scaled up gradually.

August 18, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear and Climate News in Australia this week


Radioactive wastes.  The Australian government is still licking its wounds from the debacle of their attempt to impose a waste dump on Aboriginal land at Muckaty  – (the shame, with all their resources,  of being beaten by a few elderly and poor black women).  However, that hasn’t stopped them from calling for volunteers in Aboriginal communities to accept a (presumably bigger) bribe to host the dump.

Meanwhile, saner voices in Australia are calling for an independent National Commission to assess radioactive waste management based on good science, good process and acceptance that social and human concerns are valid and need to be addressed alongside technical criteria.

Uranium. Queensland government mouths stuff about protecting the Great barrier Reef, but in fact, is quite prepared to export uranium through Townsville, if need be.

Climate Change.  Even a top  former coal executive is getting worried about us having a government driven by anti science and climate denialism

Renewable Energy. The battle rages as renewables become ever more effective and cheaper. Big coal power – AGL, Energy Australia and Origin Energy lobby their tiny minds off trying to get rid of the Renewable Energy Target.  In the  ACT there’s a movement against the  proposed 7MW solar farm to be built at Uriarra – to my mind, it’s suspiciously like the supposed “community anti-wind” movement . Just wondering how much backing there from the fossil fuel industries.   Not surprising- as this new solar farm will be, in the fashionable jargon – a national game-changer in electricity technology

Solar power. I just can’t resist publicising the nifty solar thing that has been going on in Port Augusta, S. Australia for 3 years. Now Council has approved an expansion of Sundrop Farms, which uses cutting-edge solar thermal technology to desalinate seawater for irrigation and to heat and cool greenhouses. The Sundrop Farms System allows land normally not deemed suitable for agriculture or horticulture to produce large quantities of food.

POLITICS.  Nuclear and Climate issues are so serious that they are above politics. I try to keep this in mind. However, it would be hypocrisy to pretend that these issues are not political in Australia. Our children and grand-children’s future depends on the management of these issues.  We are in desperate need of getting good government – we don’t have that now.




August 17, 2014 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

What is the best thing to do with Australia’s radioactive waste?

it is time to restore trust, credibility and common ground in relation to radioactive waste management based on good science, good process and acceptance that social and human concerns are valid and need to be addressed alongside technical criteria.  

What is clear is that the approach taken to date has failed – and if it is simply tried again in another place it is likely to fail again.  The government holds a duty of care to all Australians, including future generations, to get this issue right and the best start is through a dedicated National Commission into responsible waste management.

WASTES-1Many years, many debate and countless column inches later, the nation is no closer to a lasting solution to nuclear pollution. Why? By Dave Sweeney
It’s now just two months since the federal government’s long held plan to relocate Australia’s radioactive waste to a remote site in the Northern Territory collapsed during a high profile Federal Court action bought by Aboriginal Traditional Owners opposed to a dump on their country.

After seven years of sustained and against the odds campaigning the people of Muckaty and Tennant Creek dodged a forever bullet, but the celebrations have been clouded by the continuing radioactive rumour mill.

NT Senator Nigel Scullion has joined Chief Minister Adam Giles and former Prime Minister Bob Hawke in banging the nuclear drum and are now actively promoting a new Territory dump site for Australia’s, and possibly the world’s, radioactive waste. A recent flying visit to Tennant Creek by Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has also raised renewed emotions and concerns about the dump push.

Like the waste itself, the issue is far from dead.

But all this political re-positioning continues to miss the central and long-standing question – what is the best thing to do with Australia’s radioactive waste? Continue reading

August 16, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wastes | Leave a comment

Former coal executive calls on corporate Australia to stop denying climate change

Corporate Australia in denial over climate change, former coal exec Ian Dunlop says, ABC News, By Nonee Walsh  15 Aug 2014,  Corporate Australia is in complete denial about climate change, according to former fossil fuels executive and energy commentator Ian Dunlop.
Mr Dunlop, a former chairman of the Coal Association, said business should be condemning the chairman of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council (BAC), Maurice Newman, for claiming the Earth is cooling…….

Mr Dunlop said not a single voice had been raised by peak business about the appointment of so-called climate change deniers to advise government.

Newman,-Maurice-ideas“The appointment of Maurice Newman, Dick Warbuton and David Murray are evidence of the real problem that we have,” Mr Dunlop said.

“The Government is in complete denial on this and unfortunately I believe that most of corporate Australia is in the same position.

“I would have expected that corporate leaders would be coming out and really making their voices heard, because this is the big issue that is going to affect the corporate world.”

Mr Dunlop said the scientists Mr Newman quoted had been debunked………

Mr Dunlop does not expect to see political leadership on the issue, “because it is too hard under the adversarial system”.

“We have never had in this country a serious discussion on what climate change really means, it been dumbed down by both sides of politics,” he said.

“Here it is going to have to be business that leads … it requires people at the top of the corporations to get off their backsides and start to take account of the risks that we face and the opportunities, in a genuinely objective way.”

August 16, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Sabotage causes Belgian nuclear reactor to shut down for this year

sabotage-reactorBelgian Doel 4 nuclear reactor closed till year-end Major turbine damage forces closure till year-end By Geert De Clercq PARIS, Aug 14 (Reuters) 

* GDF Suez confirms outage was due to sabotage

* Other reactors down, Belgian nuclear capacity halved

* Further outage set to impact GDF Suez earnings (Adds GDF Suez quote on sabotage, detail on capacity)

- Belgian energy company Electrabel said its Doel 4 nuclear reactor would stay offline at least until the end of this year after major damage to its turbine, with the cause confirmed as sabotage. Continue reading

August 16, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Federal Industry Minister Ian MacFarlane admits the disastrous mess of efforts to impose nuclear waste dump on Muckaty

Failed Muckaty nuclear dump process ‘a disaster’, Federal Industry Minister Ian MacFarlane says, ABC News,  August 14, 2014, “……..Ian MacFarlane added that if there were no takers for a dump in the NT by September he would “throw open it to all Australia”. Mr MacFarlane has been in the Territory to speak with Aboriginal land councils about proposals to nominate a new site after the Federal Government withdrew its nomination of Muckaty Station north of Tennant Creek as the site for Australia’s first nuclear waste dump in June.

Mr MacFarlane said a dump would be a lucrative opportunity but would only consider nominations that were uncontested…….

Dave Sweeney of the Australian Conservation Foundation said the process should lure people to consider the dump out of financial circumstance.

“We should have a process that’s based on evidence, not enthusiasm. We should have a process that isn’t a race to the bottom of which community desperate and seeking some revenue puts their hand up first,” Mr Sweeney said.

August 16, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Research reveals effects of radiation on plants and animals at Chernobyl and Fukushima

The Crushing Effects Of Radiation From The Fukushima Disaster On The Ecosystem Are Being Slowly Revealed  CHRIS PASH   A range of scientific studies at Fukushima have begun to reveal the impact on the natural world from the radiation leaks at the power station in Japan caused by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

Biological samples were obtained only after extensive delays following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown, limiting the information which could be gained about the impact of that disaster.

Scientists, determined not to repeat the shortcomings of the Chernobyl studies, began gathering biological information only a few months after the meltdown of the Daiichi power plant in 2011.

butterflies-mutant-0812Results of these studies are now beginning to reveal serious biological effects of the Fukushima radiation on non-human organisms ranging from plants to butterflies to birds.

A series of articles summarising these studies has now been published in the Journal of Heredity. These describe widespread impacts, ranging from population declines to genetic damage to responses by the repair mechanisms that help organisms cope with radiation exposure.

“A growing body of empirical results from studies of birds, monkeys, butterflies, and other insects suggests that some species have been significantly impacted by the radioactive releases related to the Fukushima disaster,” says Dr Timothy Mousseau of the University of South Carolina, lead author of one of the studies. Continue reading

August 16, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What’s wrong with the India-Japan Nuclear Deal? – Plenty

Abe, Shinzo nuke 1Reasons to Oppose the India-Japan Nuclear Deal - Nuclear Free by 2045 ? Dennis Riches 14 Aug 14 In late July and early August, a leading member of India’s Coalition for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament, Kumar Sundaram, visited several Japanese cities in order to speak to the mass media and Japanese citizens about the proposed Japan-India nuclear energy agreement. He timed his visit to Japan to precede that of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the end of August. Modi will meet with his Japanese counterpart in hopes of finalizing a deal to allow the purchase of vital components of nuclear power plants that are proposed or under construction

Mr. Sundaram wished to draw attention to numerous problematic aspects of India’s nuclear energy ambitions, negative aspects which the mass media, intellectuals and politicians have failed to criticize sufficiently.
On July 31, Mr. Sundaram gave a press conference in Tokyo at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. During his hour at the microphone, he gave a detailed explanation as to why he believes the plans for nuclear energy development in India will lead to disastrous consequences for both India and foreign countries. This report summarizes the information given by Mr. Sundaram, with additional background information and commentary. Continue reading

August 16, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

AGL, Energy Australia and Origin Energy lobbying to dismantle Australia Renewable Energy Target

Parkinson-Report-Greenpeace slams Big 3 “dirty” energy retailers By  on 15 August 2014  Environmental group Greenpeace has slammed the “Big 3” energy retailers in Australia, accusing them of “greenwash” and doing little to promote the adoption of green energy.

Among the worst greenwash offenders it says are AGL, EnergyAustralia and Origin Energy – the biggest retailers in the country with more than three quarters of the national market.

“The ‘Dirty Three’ go to great efforts to advertise their ‘clean and green’ credentials but invest relatively little in renewables,” Greenpeace says in its new Green Electricity Guide.

“The ‘Dirty Three’ are also using their political muscle to try to dismantle the Renewable Energy Target. “This means locking out solar and wind, and locking in higher household bills and climate change driving coal and gas power for decades to come.” Continue reading

August 16, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment


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