Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s Aboriginal Central Land Council suspicious of the government’s nuclear waste dump plans

CLC seeks more Red Centre nuclear waste dump answers By Robert Herrick Fri 12 Sep 2014,

Traditional owners in central Australia say they are frustrated by the Commonwealth’s process for nominating a site for a nuclear waste storage facility on Aboriginal land.

The Federal Government is seeking a new location for the facility, after a nominated site at Muckaty Station, near Tennant Creek, was abandoned.

The Government has given the Northern and Central land councils until the end of the month to put forward an uncontested site for a nuclear waste dump, before considering proposals from all landowners.


Traditional owners in the Tanami Desert are offering a site 540 kilometres west of Alice Springs.

However, the Central Land Council (CLC) said Commonwealth officials could not answer all the questions put to them at a meeting this week at the Tanami Mine, including how waste would be transported.

The CLC says it has a responsibility to ensure traditional owners are fully informed of the potential impacts of a nuclear waste dump before it can back any nomination.

September 13, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Northern Territory, wastes | Leave a comment

Central Australia’s Aboriginal leaders proclaim that their land is not a nuclear waste dump


handsoffOur country ‘not a dump’  Centralian Advocate- Alice Springs NT – by Sasha Petrova – 05/09/2014, 
A GROUP of prominent Central Australian Aboriginal leaders have come together to proclaim that they will “never accept a nuclear dump on NT Aboriginal Lands”.
CEO of Tangentyere Council Walter Shaw and Chairman of Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation Noel Kruger are among the nearly 20 native title holders who have signed a statement that “enough is enough” and they are sick of traditional owners being blackmailed to host Australia’s nuclear waste storage facility.
“We have heard that people are being approached with the suggestion a nuclear dump could draw funding for bitumen roads and outstation housing,” the statement said.
“The Commonwealth Department of Education also offered scholarships as part of the Muckaty proposal.”
It is planned that the open letter will be circulated across the community and sent to relevant Northern Territory and Federal government representatives.

Continue reading

September 6, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Northern Territory Aboriginal leaders want clear answers on compulsory land acquisition

handsoffNorthern Land Council Chief Executive Joe Morrison said the Government needed to explain where it stood on the issue.

“Surely if there’s going to be any suggestions about compulsorily acquiring lands gained under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act then they need to make that public,” he said.

Northern Australia report: Aboriginal land compulsory acquisition paragraph withdrawn from NT Government Response, ABC News, By Felicity James , 5 Sept 14, A paragraph calling for powers to compulsorily acquire Aboriginal land was withdrawn from the NT Government’s Response to the Green Paper on Developing Northern Australia, it has emerged.

The Federal Government tabled its recommendations on the Pivot North: Inquiry into the development of Northern Australia in Parliament on Thursday.

The Northern Territory Government Response was released to the media the same day and included a section on land tenure in the NT.

It said: “Given the Australian Government’s primacy in the area of Northern Territory Indigenous land tenure, the Northern Territory Government urges the Australian Government to expedite discussions with the Northern Territory Government and other stakeholders on the following in the interest of the development of northern Australia and its residents, particularly those in remote communities.”

It then had a list of requests for the Federal Government, and the first request called for the capacity to compulsorily acquire land held under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act.

In a version sent to the ABC by a Government media adviser it contained the following paragraph that did not appear in the final document.

“At the very least there needs to be capacity to compulsorily acquire ALRA land for Government/strategic purposes (Territory government including independent agencies and authorities, and local government).”

But the Government says the ABC was sent the wrong version and compulsory acquisition was not mentioned in the final version sent to the Federal Government. “What was written in the paper that you’ve got a copy of, came out of the department. I was the person who removed it before it got to Cabinet,” Chief Minister Adam Giles said today.

“This isn’t a mistake. There’s a draft paper that’s come up from the department. I encourage all employees of Government to think outside the square.”

Mr Giles said the Government does not have a stance on compulsory acquisition.

“We don’t have a position, it’s never come up as requiring a position.”

The Aboriginal Land Rights Act is a piece of federal legislation that establishes collective freehold title for traditional owners, with land councils empowered to act on their behalf.

About 50 per cent of the land, and 85 per cent of the coastline, in the Northern Territory is Aboriginal land.

Chief Minister Adam Giles has previously suggested the legislation should be put under the control of the Northern Territory Government.

Gaining access to land for development is a major theme of the NT Government’s submission.

The submission said development projects on land held under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act have become “too hard”.

“To provide an example of the challenge posed to development under current arrangements, often as many as 70 per cent of outstanding mineral exploration licence applications fall under the ALRA negotiation process,” it said.

NLC: Come clean about intentions

Northern Land Council Chief Executive Joe Morrison said the Government needed to explain where it stood on the issue.

“Surely if there’s going to be any suggestions about compulsorily acquiring lands gained under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act then they need to make that public,” he said.

“They need to articulate what their policy position is and how they intend to go about engaging with the Aboriginal community and particularly traditional owners.

“We’ve got a Government that’s made its intentions clear about the Aboriginal Land Rights Act.

“It’s clear that it sees it and sees the Native Title Act also as an impediment to development.

He said the Giles Government had not made a serious approach to the NLC about dealing with land tenure.

“This underhandedness is not doing anyone any good at a time when there’s enormous disparity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and we need to get on with the business.”

Audit of all NT Crown land…….

September 6, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Rare Earths mining in Central Australia

a-cat-CANNote: We mightn’t like mining, and it will be good when eventually product design is such that recycling of rare earths will pretty much eliminate this. Still, rare earths are needed in 21st Century technologies, especially in renewables. At least this company is not involved in the difficult and hazardous rare earths processing. I understand that processing is to be done in China, – where, after their disastrous history, they  now do have the most advanced methods

rare-earth-dysprosiumMining company Arafura Resources says plans to mine rare earth minerals in central Australia remain ‘on track’, despite uncertainty over future funding for the project, ABC Rural News 3 Sept 14,  NT Country Hour  By Carmen Brown

The company hopes to extract up to 20,000 tonnes of rare earth oxide per year from the Nolan’s Bore deposit, 135 kilometres north-east of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.

A comprehensive project report released this week, indicates mining could begin at the site in 2019, six years later than previously expected. General manager of exploration and business development, Richard Brescianini, says while there has been strong interest in the project from investors, the company is yet to secure full financial backing for the mine……

September 6, 2014 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, rare earths | Leave a comment

Northern Territory: Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion manouvres on behalf of mining companies

handsoffNothing for Aborigines in Scullion’s manoeuvreALISON ANDERSON THE AUSTRALIAN AUGUST 20, 2014 
  THERE is a lack of mystery about the machinations of Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion in his drive to devolve power to smaller local land councils and Aboriginal corporations. Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, he pretends to be one of us, out to provide power to the people. But he is not one of us — he is out for blood, the blood of the Northern and Central land councils. In reality, his proposed power shift will benefit only the minister, the Country Liberal Party in the Northern Territory and their friends in mining, gas and agriculture.

By removing powers from the statutory authorities of the land councils, Scullion will undermine the collective authority of traditional owners over huge tracts of land. This collective ownership is the Aboriginal way; Tjukurrpa defines our relationships with the land. These relationships will be diminished by the government attitude of divide and conquer.

Perhaps it is an easy sales pitch to the mainstream world, to claim that we, remote Aboriginal people, are holding ourselves back. Or to claim that there will be no progress unless we are split into smaller, more containable, groups. Why? Because smaller numbers are easier to buy off? Because the lack of an independent Environment Protection Authority or an independent Development Consent Authority in the Territory means that this is the prime time to rape and pillage the land, before anyone looks too closely?

For Aboriginal people, the value of our land is deeper than a simple market value. It is a lasting legacy for our families. That does not mean that no development is warranted, but it needs to be on our terms. The land has to last us forever, not just for a brief boom-and-bust cycle that mostly benefits people from elsewhere.

Disassembling the collective authority over our land will not drive development. ……..

If the white knights want to ride in from distant lands and heroically try to save us from ourselves, why don’t they start by offering our children access to a real education? Nothing more, nothing less. The chance for our children to compete with any other children across Australia. Without this step in remote communities, no other development will be sustainable or meaningful.

After years of skimming commonwealth funds earmarked to ameliorate Aboriginal disadvantage, the source is finally drying up. The Territory government is close to the precipice of economic stagnation. Now the government must try to leverage Aboriginal lands in a squalid bid to attract corporate money to the Territory. It is a strategy doomed to failure.

Uninspiring catchphrases such as “Creating Parity” and “Developing the North” cannot become a reality without the participation of Aboriginal people. The economic wealth of the Territory depends on Aboriginal participation, including that of Aboriginal lands. That responsibility is not one that we will give up lightly under pressure from the commonwealth, the Territory or vested interests.

The governments of the day have made their motivations clear. They fear the collective power of Aboriginal people. They fear the power of the very statutory authorities that they created. But they do not speak with us and they definitely do not speak for us. We will have the last word.

Alison Anderson is the member for Namatjira in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly.

August 20, 2014 Posted by | Northern Territory, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s Pine Gap now an intrinsic part of USA’s drone killing system (and a terrorism target, too)

Map-Aust-Target1Pine Gap communications facility’s operations ‘ethically unacceptable’, Professor Des Ball says, ABC News By Dylan Wench 12 Aug 14  A senior strategic analyst has called for the Federal Government to rethink the Pine Gap communications facility, saying some of its work now is “ethically unacceptable”.Australian National University Professor Des Ball previously supported the joint Australia-US communications facility near Alice Springs, but changes to its role since the Al Qaeda attacks in 2001 have changed his mind.

“I’ve reached the point now where I can no longer stand up and provide the verbal, conceptual justification for the facility that I was able to do in the past,” he said.

Pine Gap is the jewel in the crown of Australia-US intelligence sharing, detecting nuclear weapons and intercepting communications around the globe. But for the past decade it has also been involved in the US drone program, which has killed thousands of militants and some civilians in countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Iraq.

“We’re now locked into this global network where intelligence and operations have become essentially fused,” Professor Ball told 7.30. “And Pine Gap is a key node in that network – that war machine, if you want to use that term – which is doing things which are very, very difficult I think, as an Australian, to justify.”…….

“We’ve already entered into a new phase of warfare where intelligence and unmanned vehicles of various sorts, under the water, killer satellites in space, are being fed from intelligence sources like Pine Gap – still one of the two biggest stations of this sort in the world – and we’re thoroughly embedded into it,” Professor Ball said……….

…..what is causing Professor Ball concern. “The drone program puts some of these dilemmas on a plate in front of you,” he said. “You have to start confronting this conflation of intelligence and operations, which has been an ongoing process now for some time.

“But the drones bring it right out in front, including on your television sets, and including the fact that I don’t know either how many terrorists have been killed by drones.

“But I would not be surprised if the total number of children exceeds the total number of terrorists. I don’t know.”

And he fears support of lethal US operations is becoming a steadily increasing part of what Pine Gap does.

“Aspects of what is collected there, the general surveillance function expanding, and the now increasing military operational uses, if they were really to change the balance around so that Pine Gap basically became a war fighting machine rather than an intelligence collector, then I think we all have to have second thoughts.”

August 14, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Northern Territory, religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Victoria Daly Regional Council, (Northern Territory) backs down from radioactive waste plan

wastesTop End council denies radio-active dump plans ABC News  ABC Rural  By Carmen Brown  8 Aug 14 The Victoria Daly Regional Council is backing away from reports it is planning to build a dump capable of storing radio-active material in the Top End.

A council employee revealed plans to build a 100 hectare waste facility near Timber Creek, which would be used to store municipal waste and ‘listed’ items including farm chemicals, acids and low-level radio-active medical waste.

However, Victoria Daly Regional Council Mayor, Steven Hennesey, denies the claims and says the site will only be used for household rubbish and asbestos.

“It is not, under any circumstances, going to deal with radio-active waste, and it is not going to be a toxic dump,” he said……..

August 8, 2014 Posted by | Northern Territory, wastes | Leave a comment

Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) reports a loss – AGAIN!

graph-downwardERA posts $127m loss in tough conditions, Trading Room,  PERTH, July 31 AAP  Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) has reported a first half net loss as the uranium price hovers around nine year lows amid weak demand.
The uranium miner reported a $127 million loss in the six months to June 30 after posting a $53.5 million loss a year earlier.

The company did not produce any uranium oxide during the period…………..ERA said in the short term, the uranium oxide market remained challenging for producers.

“All Japanese reactors remain offline three years after the Fukushima accident and the market continues to be oversupplied,” the company said in its half year results.

“The spot price for uranium oxide has now fallen below $US30 per pound, the lowest level since 2005.”
ERA only restarted the Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory last month after a toxic leak forced it to close in December.

The company said production in the first half was adversely impacted by the suspension of processing operations…….ERA is no longer mining new ore at its open pit and is exploring underground to see whether there is enough uranium to justify a new mine at the site, which is surrounded by the Kakadu National Park……..ERA shares fell 0.5 cents, or 1.5 per cent, to $1.34 on Thursday.

August 1, 2014 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Despite Tony Abbott, Solar Power is shining in Alice Springs

Red Centre keeps shining as solar technology hub  ABC Rural  By Lauren Fitzgerald Central Australia is continuing to attract international investment from the solar industry, despite the Alice Solar City initiative wrapping up more than a year ago. In its five-year history, the program helped hundreds of homes and businesses install solar panels and solar hot water systems.

The general manager of the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT), Lyndon Frearson, says Alice Springs now also has a reputation as a hub for developing technology.


He says companies from China, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, Switzerland and America are all installing different solar PV modules at the CAT site. “The range of their investment varies depending on the size of the facility that they want to put in,” he said.

“Some of them are putting in little five-kilowatt systems as a test site, where they might be putting a number of small test sites around the world, through to a Swiss-based company which only has three R & D [research and development] facilities in the world, and they chose to build one of them here.

“And certainly those investments are in the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Mr Frearson says local businesses like the Alice Springs Airport are also demonstrating an ongoing commitment to solar. “They received a subsidy to do their original project, but they’ve just [installed] 320 kilowatts off their own bat, completely their own investment. “And that’s both a maturing of the economics, that the solar panels are cheaper and the energy prices have changed.

“But it also shows a degree of confidence that they as an organisation and their board have in the technology to better run their business. “And there are a number of examples within Alice and broader afield throughout central Australia where different entities are making those decisions.

“So I think the legacy of Alice Solar City in central Australia is strong. “Certainly it’s something we see people talking about with pride, and we still see people outside of Alice focus very heavily on and see Alice Springs as a leader in this space.”

July 23, 2014 Posted by | Northern Territory, solar | Leave a comment

Doubts on whether ERA’s Ranger 3 uranium mine can go ahead

Technical hitches bedevil ERA’s Ranger mine by: Matt Chambers The Australian July 12, 2014   URANIUM producer Energy Resources of Australia could face more problems at its Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu National Park, flagging potential higher costs that Credit Suisse says could stop a planned underground ­expansion.


The Darwin-based Rio Tinto subsidiary said its Ranger 3 Deeps exploration decline project was experiencing tougher than expected geotechnical conditions. “Some geotechnical conditions have been encountered that are less favourable than assumed,” ERA said in its June quarter report, released on Thursday.

“These findings are being factored in to the mine design and the pre-feasibility study.”

While the market was little moved by the report on Thursday, Credit Suisse analyst Matthew Hope saw red flags.“We believe the results of the Deeps resource drilling are poor,” Mr Hope said yesterday in a note to clients.“The rock is probably heavily fractured, so extensive rock bolting and meshing will likely be required to prevent the access drives from collapsing,” Mr Hope said.

Credit Suisse downgraded its rating on ERA from outperform to underperform, and cut its target price by two-thirds from $1.50 to just 50c.

Mr Hope said value in ERA was almost entirely based on whether Ranger 3 Deeps would be mined. “If ERA announces at the end of this year that Ranger Deeps is not viable, then the share price should collapse to very low levels, with only option value remaining,” he said.

“Ranger Deeps either adds value or there is close to none, and risks are increasing towards the latter.”Ranger shares slipped 0.5c to $1.16 yesterday, giving the company a market value of $600m.

July 12, 2014 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Northern Land Council in 2005 asked Australian government to change law. to faciliiate nuclear dump on Aboriginal land

NT News, 20 June 14 The NLC’s decision to pull out of a Federal Court case, which was arguing the NLC had acted deceptively and had consulted the wrong traditional owners, means the site on Muckaty will no longer be used for a radioactive waste dump. The NT News welcomes this decision, which has also seen the Commonwealth agree to settle the case and abandon Muckaty.

While understanding the nation needs to store radioactive waste, we do not believe the fact we do not have full statehood should see the Territory forced to take a dump on any form of land, Aboriginal or otherwise.

The site should be chosen based on the best scientific advice, not because money is waved in the faces of impoverished Aboriginal people. If the proper scientific advice is that the dump should be located on land within the Territory, we will look closely at the proposal when the exclamation-time comes.

The NLC is, however, hardly above criticism in this saga. It asked the Commonwealth to change the law in 2005, so traditional owners could nominate their land.

It says it used the right anthropology and located the right people, but we will never know: they pulled out of the case before their lawyers were subject to cross-examination in the Federal Court.

They wasted an untold amount of money arguing for the dump, causing a lot of anguish for people in Tennant Creek and nearby Elliott, and a lot of confusion in Darwin and Alice Springs.

We are prepared to take Mr Morrison at his word that the reason the NLC agreed to settle the case was because he did not enjoy seeing such deep fractures among the traditional owners…….”

June 21, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory, wastes | Leave a comment

What will happen next, about Australia’s obligation to take back its high level nuclear waste?

Lucas-wastesAustralia’s first nuclear waste dump in limbo after Muckaty Station ruled out 21 June 14,“……..In 2012, Labor introduced changes to the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act. It broke its promise by continuing to allow Aboriginal groups to nominate land (therefore validating Muckaty) but included another significant clause.

It said if a nomination on Aboriginal land should fail, any private landholder, anywhere in Australia, could nominate their land for the waste dump, as long as vaguely specified community consultations were made.

What is likely now to happen is that some small struggling outback town — preferably one in a geologically suitable arid zone — is likely to get together and go for some of that $12m, or whatever amount the Commonwealth is prepared to offer.

The Beyond Nuclear Initiative will then likely relocate and begin another campaign. And the reality is that it will be able to raise much more substantial popular opposition than it did with remote Muckaty, which was pretty much out of sight and mind…….

Behind the scenes, Muckaty has been deeply divisive. As traditional owners fought each other, it became clear that few had real traditional knowledge of land they rarely, if at all, visited.

And some in the NLC, the organisation that is supposed to represent the interests of traditional owners, wondered why they were involved in a dump nomination at all…….

The case got going in Melbourne several weeks ago and then moved to Tennant Creek where, last Saturday, there was explosive evidence that went widely unreported…….

The Ngapa clan can now nominate another site on the northern part of Muckaty for a dump, and the Commonwealth has given them three months to do so. But the same disputes about who owns that site would almost certainly curse that nomination, as it would any other nomination of Aboriginal land in the Territory……

The government is prepared to store the repatriated fuel rods at Lucas Heights near Sydney in the short term, but this case has only stalled, not ended, the search for a site.

June 21, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory, wastes | Leave a comment

Muckaty still at risk of getting radioactive trash dump

wastesMuckaty could still house nuclear dump, 9 News 20 June 14 Opponents of a nuclear waste dump in the Northern Territory have won the battle, but perhaps not the war. The Northern Land Council has three months to nominate another site for Australia’s nuclear waste storage facility after abandoning the Muckaty site, following a seven-year battle with Aboriginal traditional owner groups who launched a Federal Court challenge against the NLC for what they said was inadequate consultation and a failure to obtain informed consent from all traditional owners.

The NLC settled with opponents of the dump midway through a trial that had travelled from Melbourne to Tennant Creek and Muckaty, and was due in Darwin next week. “The NLC have walked away without being held truly accountable,” said Gerry McCarthy, local member for the Barkly tablelands, of which Muckaty is a part.

He now hopes for a scientific approach to locating the dump, which previous reports said would suit conditions in the northwestern corner of South Australia.

“Science will prove this facility needs to go to the driest part of this continent, (with) a water table very deep and preferably contaminated by salt, and also an area of minimal infrastructure that provides access to what will be low to intermediate-level waste coming home from France shortly,” he said.

Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Dave Sweeney told AAP that for 20 years, successive governments had tried to find a “remote and vulnerable community and a remote place to dump Australian waste”. He said the federal government needed “an open, inclusive, evidence-based assessment of the range of radioactive waste management options available” for responsible and effective long-term storage.

Clan members think the NLC capitulation is not the end of the matter, with Marlene Bennett saying they were “still feeling slightly apprehensive”…….. Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion told ABC he hoped for another nomination of a northern site at Muckaty, not susceptible to the conflicts of the first.

Mr McCarthy said the NT couldn’t refuse the dump, which “should never be forced on a community due to constitutional exploitation”.Spent nuclear fuel rods are due to be returned to Australia from France by mid-2015, and traditional owners are ready to continue their fight if Muckaty is circled again.


June 21, 2014 Posted by | Northern Territory, wastes | Leave a comment

A new battle could be coming, to save Aboriginal land from radioactive trash dumping

handsoffMuckaty battle won, but war far from over  Crikey Paddy Gibson  Friday, 20 June 2014  After much wrangling, yesterday the federal government agreed not to continue with its original plans for a nuclear waste dump at Muckaty Station, a win for the local Aboriginal community. But another fight could be coming.

The Northern Land Council and federal government yesterday announced their … (registered readers only)

June 21, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Ray Aylett, Muckaty cattle station manager supports nuclear waste siting there

MuckatyMuckaty manager will support second nuclear waste nomination ABC News 20 June 14 The manager of Muckaty cattle station says he doesn’t care where a nuclear waste facility is put on the property, because it will mean more infrastructure.  The Northern Land Council (NLC) has withdrawn its original nomination of a small section of Muckaty Station, 600 kilometres north of Alice Springs, as the site for Australia’s first nuclear waste dump.

But the NLC has not ruled out the possibility of making a second nomination on behalf of Traditional Owners from the Muckaty Aboriginal Land Trust.

The Federal Minister for Industry, Ian McFarlane, has given the NLC three months to come up with a second nomination, and says it could possibly be an area on Muckaty known as the ‘Northern Site’.

The station manager of Muckaty, Ray Aylett, says while it’s not up to him, he would support a second nomination……Ray Aylett is currently in a dispute with the Northern Land Council about his licence on the property, saying he was given an eviction notice to be out by this month.

A tender for a grazing licence on the property was advertised late last year, but Mr Aylett says he doesn’t know where the process is up to.

The NLC is yet to respond to ABC Rural’s request for clarification on the status of the property’s lease.

June 21, 2014 Posted by | Northern Territory, wastes | Leave a comment


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