Australian news, and some related international items

Rallies across Australia protesting shutdowns of remote Aboriginal communities

Protestors stage more rallies over plans to close remote Aboriginal communities, Guardian, , 26 June 15  Organisers protesting the WA government’s plans to close Aboriginal communities are retaliating by shutting down major cities For the fifth time since the Western Australian premier, Colin Barnett, announced that many of the state’s 274 remote Aboriginal communities would be closed, protesters  shut down major cities during peak hour on Friday.

Barnett has not provided details about how many or which communities will be affected, saying only there would be “significantly fewer” at the end of the reform process.

In protest, activist group Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance has held frequent rallies around the country, with the last round of protests held on 1 May in more than 90 locations……..

Protest organisers did not return requests from Guardian Australia for comment, but in a statement on their Facebook page said the intention was to bring cities to a standstill.

“As we prepare to shut down the CBD, we watch as state and federal governments prepare to shut down Aboriginal communities in clear defiance of well expressed will of the people,” the statement said.

“It is routine in the Australian colonial state for the government to degrade, discriminate against and disrespect Aboriginal people in an ongoing campaign of genocide designed to slowly destroy us.

“We have a right to stay on our homelands, we have a right to practise our culture and we have a responsibility to stand up for our brothers and sisters impacted [on] by racist policies.”

A small protest also took place in Darwin, with more planned for that city over the weekend.

June 27, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Germany closes Grafenrheinfeld nuclear reactor, leads the way with renewable energy

with the closure of this reactor, we see the victory of renewables over nuclear power. Germany is leading the way globally to the safe, clean energy future. The rest of the world needs to follow.
Germany-1013-renewGermany’s Energy Revolution goes from strength to strength as the Grafenrheinfeld nuclear reactor closes

 by Justin McKeating – 25 June, 2015 

One less nuclear reactor threat to the people of Europe with the early closure of the Grafenrheinfeld nuclear reactor. Germany’s 33 year-old Grafenrheinfeld nuclear reactor will be shut down permanently on June 27th as the country’s phase out of nuclear power continues. It’s the first reactor to close since Germany passed its Atomic Energy Act in July 2011 which requires the closure of all commercial nuclear reactors by the end of 2022.

The reactor is being shutdown seven months early as the disastrous economics of nuclear power and Germany’s drive for clean and sustainable energy have made it impossible for its owner E.ON to operate the reactor and make a profit.

E.ON and other large nuclear utilities only have themselves to blame. They failed to anticipate the growth of renewable energy and so they failed to invest in it. At the same time, electricity prices have fallen making their nuclear power plants even less profitable.

That said, even E.ON is waking up to the new energy future of Germany. “The transformation of Europe’s energy system continues to offer us attractive growth opportunities in renewables and distributed energy,” said the company in a report from March this year.

But what are the implications of the closure of Grafenrheinfeld? Won’t it leave an energy gap?

In short: no. Continue reading

June 27, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

World is watching Australia’s pathetic performance on Climate Change

frog boilingParis 2015: Australia in the climate change spotlight, SMH, June 26, 2015  Tom Arup and Adam Morton

It seems Australia is not doing enough to address climate change – and the world is watching closely to see what its next step will be. The Chinese bureaucrat pushed the point. Was, he wondered, Australia expecting the world to do more to address climate change than it was prepared to do itself?

Back home, the Abbott government was furiously arguing that there was nothing unusual about this – that the probe was a standard part of the laborious theatre of international climate negotiations.

But the Chinese representative pointed out Australia was on the end of more questions than any other country. They came not just from China, but also the US, Brazil and South Africa.

“I think he’s right. We got some 36 questions on notice, so there is substantial interest in Australia’s climate change policies,” Peter Woolcott, Australia’s environment ambassador, later told the meeting.

“Particularly since the change of government, and the change in our approach to the Direct Action scheme to address climate change challenges in Australia.”

While some in Australia make the case that the country is largely irrelevant as a tiny contributor to global emissions – about 1 per cent of the total – the meeting in Bonn, Germany earlier this month suggested the international community thinks otherwise.

To many observers it was clear that other countries are closely watching Australia’s climate change debate as work continues on a global treaty due to be signed in Paris late this year. Continue reading

June 27, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Life in the shadow of Australia’s windfarm ‘hell’

“Any ill health effects?” he asked, cracking open a second can of bitter before answering his own question. “Yes, it gives me more money so I can buy more beer.”

wind-farm-evil-1Minimal sound and almost no fury: life in the shadow of Australia’s windfarm ‘hell’, Guardian 27 June 15 As the political cacophony about ‘noisy, visually awful’ wind turbines reaches fever pitch, Calla Wahlquist visits the farmers who host one of the southern hemisphere’s largest windfarms and finds them stubbornly unperturbed   “………..On Monday night the Davies family opened their home to Guardian Australia to spend the night next to a windfarm. Bernice was right; you couldn’t hear the turbines inside the house.

But as any proponent of “wind turbine syndrome” will tell you, it’s infrasound – low-frequency sound beyond human hearing – that allegedly causes problems.

However, despite comments from the prime minister, Tony Abbott, that windfarms are noisy, “visually awful” and have a “potential health impact”, and from shock jock Alan Jones that living next to them was “hell”, the Davies family don’t have any complaints.

Their only gripe is that cuts to the renewable energy target mean the second stage of the development has been shelved, and they’re unlikely to get the final four turbines they had been promised……… Continue reading

June 27, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

As the world moves to renewable energy, Tony Abbott has tried to wreck development in Australia

Abbott-destroys-renewablesAbbott lets Australia slip behind as renewable energy advances, Canberra Times June 20, 2015 Allen Hicks

Most countries recognise the importance of new technology for its economic and environmental benefits. In the stage-managed, focus-grouped, world of politics, Tony Abbott’s description of wind power as “visually awful” provided a starkly honest insight into the thoughts of our nation’s leader.

While the vocal attack on wind farms and the renewable energy target generally were rounded on as being out of touch, few people seem to realise exactly how dangerous that thinking is, not only for the environment, but for our nation’s future economic prosperity.

Far from being at the crossroads on renewable energy, most of the world has moved on, embracing a range of technologies that provide sustainable, renewable, affordable power.

Wind power, which Abbott decried as awful and noisy, is not only a mature and proven technology, it is a major growth sector, with global installed capacity leaping 44 per cent in 2014 alone…….. Continue reading

June 27, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Aboriginal People Need A Treaty First- Forget constitutional recognition

text Treaty

A fair go cannot be achieved without a Treaty.

A Treaty would be the basis upon which the sovereign Indigenous people of Australia and the Government could negotiate the terms of rights to land, minerals and resources and the self-governing of communities. It would be a binding agreement that would have sanctions that would deter breaches of the terms of the treaty.

Forget constitutional recognition. It’s not the best option. Let’s do Treaty and let’s do it highly-recommendedright.  Let’s out Australia’s racist past, its attempts at ethnic cleansing, its whitewashing of who did what. The post below comes from Yinarr Yarning: Life, Love, Laughing, Politics and People – the blog of Natalie Cromb.  It is re-posted here with Natalie’s kind permission.

Constitutional Recognition? Treaty First!

Between the Recognise campaign and Noel Pearson’s latest support for a conservative campaign for Declaration of Recognition, one thing is certain, constitutional recognition is on the agenda. Despite noted Indigenous support, these campaigns are looked upon with suspicion mainly because of the fact that the question remains over whether it would affect the sovereignty of Indigenous people, especially with respect to land rights.

In order to effect the changes suggested by the constitutional recognition campaigns, we would need to have a referendum. This would not be our first referendum. Continue reading

June 27, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Debunking the myths on the cost of wind energy

How much does wind energy cost? Debunking the myths, The Conversation, , June 23, 2015 Are renewables pushing up the cost of electricity? That’s the claim made by Alan Moran in an opinion piece for the Australian Financial Review this week.

Moran, executive director of Regulation Economics and a former director at the Institute of Public Affairs, argues that increasing investment in renewables and particularly wind energy will cost consumers billions of dollars. The high operating costs and requirements for backup when the wind isn’t blowing are the problem, he argues.

But the evidence actually suggests the opposite: wind energy is already competitive with fossil fuels, will reduce electricity prices for consumers, and will play a large role in reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

So, let’s go through Moran’s claims one by one…………

June 27, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Big economic benefits to regional communities, from new wind and solar farms

renewable-energy-pictureRegional areas to reap economic benefits of new wind and solar farms after new RET passes Federal Parliament ABC Rural  By Catherine McAloon 26 June 15 Up to 50 new wind and solar farms are expected to be built in regional Australia, after a bill on a new Renewable Energy Target passed Federal Parliament this week.

An international consortium has announced plans to build a $450 million wind farm near Ararat, in western Victoria, and the Clean Energy Council expects it will be the first of many new projects.

“The Ararat wind farm really represents the first green shoots for an industry that’s been doing in extremely tough for the last 18 months,” the council’s Mark Bretherton said.

“We’re very confident that, with the bipartisan support that’s been restored to the Renewable Energy Target, we’ll see a lot more activity in this sector over the next few years.”

Mr Bretherton said between 30 to 50 major wind and solar projects, worth an estimated $10 billion, were expected to be built over the next five years, with most of those in rural areas.

“Most of the opportunity that we are going to see over the next five years will probably be in the wind and solar farm sector, so what that means is basically where there is the strongest wind and an opportunity to connect to the grid you’ll see wind farms, where there is the best sun, you’ll probably see some solar farms, particularly where there is enough land to build those kind of projects.” He predicted regional areas would see the greatest economic benefits of new renewable energy projects.

“That’s really good news, particularly for people who live in those areas. What it means is extra income being paid to farmers, direct jobs and it means money being paid for community projects as well.

“But apart from local jobs, it also means money is being spent at local restaurants, corner stores, equipment suppliers, motels, pie-sellers and much, much more.”………………

June 27, 2015 Posted by | Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

General Electric prepared to spend $billions on renewable energy in Australia

GE ready to spend billions on renewable energy  THE AUSTRALIAN,  , 26 June 15 

The local chief executive of global conglomerate GE says its head office has given the green light for the company to pursue potentially billions of dollars of new investments in renewable energy in Australia after bankrolling the nation’s third-biggest wind farm in southwest Victoria.

GE, in partnership with local firms Renewable Energy Systems and Downer, has secured a major contract for the supply of 75 wind turbines to the 240MW Ararat Wind Farm, a $450 million project financed by shareholders RES, GE, Switzerland-based investment manager Partners Group and Canadian pension group OPTrust.

The project was secured by the passage through parliament on Tuesday of a new renewable energy target of 33,000 ­gigawatt hours of electricity from large-scale renewable energy projects by 2020.

“We are putting $125m of equity into the deal and we would not have done that without the policy certainty we now have,” said Geoff Culbert, president and CEO, GE Australia, New Zealand and PNG.

He said GE wanted to be involved in projects that produced as much of the 33,000 gigawatt hours as possible, noting they would be worth “billions” of dollars.

“We see GE playing an active role in that build-out. We are very heavily focused on trying to build a pipeline of wind deals in Australia and that is recognised right back to head office,” he said.

“We have a pipeline of deals that we have been looking at but we haven’t been able to progress. Now we have certainty we have a pipeline we are going to aggressively pursue. Australia is a really attractive place to invest for GE and we have the support from headquarters to invest more here.”

Two years ago, GE was part of a consortium that received a contract to supply wind turbines for the 55MW Mumbida wind farm in Western Australia, the first use of GE wind turbines in Australia. But political uncertainty about the RET target put further investment by the group under a cloud.

OPTrust managing director Stan Kolenc said the breaking of the political deadlock over the renewable energy target this week would open the floodgates to international investors in the Australian renewables industry………

Mr Culbert declined to comment on Mr Abbott’s views, instead noting that he was optimistic about the future. There are now more than 60 wind projects across the nation.

“There is trillions of dollars sitting on the sidelines globally looking for a place to invest. When you create a market with policy certainty, you unlock that investment,” Mr Culbert said.

The Ararat project is also being supported by a power purchase agreement with the ACT government which guarantees the purchase of about 40 per cent of the energy produced at the site

June 27, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

South West Victoria’s wind farm goes ahead

ACT-backed wind farm project to go ahead in Victoria, ABC News, 27 June 15 The Ararat wind farm has secured finance to build 75 turbines in south-west Victoria, helping the Australian Capital Territory to meet its renewable energy target (RET).

The project was one of three winners of the ACT Government’s 200 megawatt wind auction held earlier this year.

It is also the first major contract to be signed following the Federal Government’s decision to lower the renewable energy target.

Environment Minister Simon Corbell said without the ACT’s 20-year feed-in tariff, the Victorian project would not have gone ahead.

“There’s no doubt the ACT’s large scale feed-in tariff law allows projects to be bankable, that is it allows them to get the finance they need to go ahead,” he said…………

June 27, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Transcript of Nuclear Royal Commission’s second meeting at Cobber Pedy

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINJon Bok representing the Royal Commission. Small attendance (5 people) 

This is not a perfect transcript, but is largely accurate. Where you see 1. that means a question from the attendees.

Bok: I’m here to help with providing information for the community, and particularly the Aboriginal community, as the Commissioner looks at risks and opportunities for expanding the nuclear industry in South Australia.

  1. Is there some reason why we are being targeted? We’ve had two Royal Commission community forums, and Roxby Downs hasn’t had one.

Bok:  I’m out an about in the region. I’m going back to Port Augusta in the coming weeks.

  1. You’re not looking at the underground tunnels, are you? – I don’t mean you personally; I mean the government in general.

Bok:  It’s a much broader process. It is my opportunity to meet people who are interested.

  1. AREVA is sending back a shipload of nuclear waste to Australia. What are we going to do with that, when it gets here?

Bok: I simply don’t know. The Commissioner is looking broadly at South Australia.  One question is – should we take nuclear waste in, to South Australia?

I’m not aware if Australia has the obligation to take that waste back. The question is:  is it viable to take back nuclear waste?. The Terms of Reference ask about the feasibility and viability of the four questions . Continue reading

June 26, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission | Leave a comment

Have your say for the future of SA – submissions close soon for the Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle.

Submissions for the Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle are closing soon.

This Commission could change our State forever.

Make sure you have a say in it.  The Conservation SA team 26 June 15 

This is too big an issue not to have your voice heard. Currently, our State government is weighing up a future that could see nuclear power, uranium enrichment and nuclear waste dumping here in South Australia. The window for the public to make comment on these issues closes in a month.

We encourage you to make a submission and draw on our resources to assist you.

Submission wizards

In May nuclear expert Dr Jim Green produced some information resources about each of the issues the Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle is investigating. Please see a summary and full report here.

Only last week renewables expert Dr Mark Diesendorf from the University of NSW finished an exciting report showing that South Australia could be run on 100% renewable energy is just 15 years. You can view and download the summary version and Dr Mark Diesendorf’s full report online here.

The issue papers generated by the Royal Commission are available here and submissions are due:

  • Issues Paper 1 (Extraction) and/or Issues Paper 4 (Storage and Disposal of Waste) is 24 July, 2015
  • Issues Paper 2 (Further Processing) and/or Issues Paper 3 (Electricity Generation) is 3 August, 2015.

If you wish to provide a consolidated written submission addressing all Issues Papers you have until Monday August 3, 2015.

If you wish to make an oral submission call the Royal Commission on 08 8207 1480 to make arrangements.

It’s critical that your voice is heard. This commission could change our State for generations to come.

Now is the time to act.

June 26, 2015 Posted by | ACTION | Leave a comment

Kevin Scarce, Nuclear Royal Commission chief, shows up in his true pro nuclear colours

Scarce,--Kevin-glowDennis Matthews, 26 June 15 It does no credit to the Advertiser, or Kevin Scarce, or the SA inquiry into the nuclear industry when Scarce cites misleading statements like no one was killed by exposure to ionising radiation from the Fukushima disaster (The Advertiser, 25/6/15).

This sort of ignorance was promulgated generations ago by the asbestos industry. Gullible, greedy politicians and newspaper editors became part of the problem and it took many decades before action was taken.


Sure, nobody was killed outright by asbestos, and lots of jobs and wealth were produced, but do we really want to lumber the next generation of South Australians with another expensive medical disaster?

It’s time that editors, politicians, and ex-Governors learnt from the past. Learnt that some medical disasters don’t happen overnight and can take decades to be diagnosed.

As with asbestos, the nuclear industry and its supporters will undoubtedly be condemned by history. It’s a pity that the Scarce’s and Koutsantonis’s of this world won’t be around to try to defend themselves.

June 25, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission | Leave a comment

Nuclear Royal Commission chief Scarce says “Don’t worry about Fukushima”

Fukushima scarcely a worry Adelaide Advertiser, Adelaide,  Paul Starick 25 Jun 2015  FORMER governor Kevin Scarce says the Fukushima disaster doesn’t pose a major barrier to the nuclear industry’s development in SA.

The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commissioner, who toured the Fukushima exclusion zone during a global study tour, says the 2011 nuclear power plant meltdown was a result of poor design and management. In an exclusive interview with The Advertiser, Rear Admiral (retired) Scarce said the six-country study tour had demonstrated SA was technically capable, with help, of developing a nuclear industry, from the enrichment to spent fuel rod reprocessing, if this was financially viable.


……. Rear Admiral Scarce said the disaster had prompted safety rethinks at other sites the three-person delegation visited during the Asian and European tour, completed this month… doesn’t indicate to me that we shouldn’t be looking at this technology. “It means we’ve got to be very careful. We’ve got to be aware of what the consequences are.

“As devastating as Fukushima was, the subsequent improvements made since then enable us to go and look at this technology for our future.”….


June 25, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission | Leave a comment

Stricken Fukushima nuclear station faces new problems

nuke-ship-sinkingNew Problems & Challenges Plague Fukushima, Simply Info June 23rd, 2015 As June wanes we find more delays, more problems and new admissions about the extent of the disaster.

TEPCO introduced a new roadmap plan. In this they declared they would now focus on safety over speed. At the same time they announced that spent fuel removal work for units 1-3 would be delayed again. Currently they are attempting to remove the cover on unit 1 but this process has not actually begun based on visual evidence at the plant. TEPCO has not been forthcoming what is delaying this work again. Work at unit 3 had been underway in early spring to remove parts of the crane that fell into the fuel pool. An oil leak was found as they attempted to remove a portion of the crane. This stopped the removal work as they cleaned the oil out of the pool water and investigated a cause. Around the same time they discovered damage to the metal gate that connects the spent fuel pool to the reactor well. After this discovery, removal work at unit 3 appeared to cease.

Newer reports also showed that the earlier concept of flooding the reactor containments to remove damaged fuel debris is being phased out. ……..

June 25, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 789 other followers