Australian news, and some related international items

Queensland election – Party Policy Platforms

Election 2015 – Policy Platforms   PAINTING FAKES, 28 Jan 15   “……..Of all the minor parties, greensSmthe Greens are the ones who have taken policy issues most seriously.  The Greens grew out of the conservation movement and are still often perceived as an environmental party.  However, over the years they have evolved into a more rounded progressive party.  Despite never having had a member elected to the Queensland parliament – and this is not likely to change on Saturday – they have a specific Queensland policy platform that runs to over one hundred pages.  This is not developed specifically with this election in mind, but has been put together over a number of years to clarify what the Greens stand for.
It covers a wide range of issues under five headings – Natural Environment, covering biodiversity, water quality, food and agriculture, animal welfare and fishing; Social and Democracy, which includes policies about political accountability, criminal justice, ageing and disability, gambling and gender identity; Economics and Energy, which includes climate change, policies about various industries and policies on government finance; Built Environment with policies about transport and planning; and Human Services which includes education, health, social housing and reproductive rights.  You probably won’t be surprised to learn that their policies are fairly consistently progressive or “left” – on environmental issues in favour of conservation, on economic issues in favour of better regulation and more equity and sustainability, on social issues in favour of better services and more public provision, and on “moral” issues in favour of gay marriage, abortion and euthanasia……..
TweedleDum-&-DeeIf you were to compare the two major parties solely on the basis of their election promises, you would probably end up feeling depressed at the quality of the alternatives.  Most of the policies on both sides are very specific, playing to a particular region or interest group.  There is a lot of “rollback” in the Labor policies, a lot of items funded by assets sales (sorry, “leases”) in the LNP’s.

Beyond the question of quality and vision, you have a choice between a moderate, centrist party interested in a notion of balance between economy, equity and environment, and a party that sees government as about economic development, delivering specific items of infrastrucute and a narrow range of mainstream services.  Neither really has any kind of focus beyond the next three-year electoral cycle……..

January 30, 2015 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Shameful hypocrisy of Campbell Newman on uranium mining for Queensland

Queensland Minister for Natural Resources Andrew Cripps has refused to rule out the export of uranium across the Great Barrier Reef.

The ALP and the Greens have clear policies supporting the reinstatement of the ban on uranium mining in Queensland, a position recently reaffirmed at the ALP State conference. The positions of the minor parties have been less clear, but we know the Katter Party and PUP have also voiced concerns about the resumption of uranium mining. 

ballot-boxCampbell Newman’s nuclear lies and Queensland’s radioactive future,,7309 Independent Australia  Dave Sweeney 29 January 2015 Queensland Premier Campbell Newman broke his 2012 election promise and overturned a longstanding ban on uranium mining in Queensland,  and is now looking at exporting the radioactive material across the Great Barrier Reef.

THE LEGACY of uranium mining lasts longer than the promises of politicians. This lesson has particular resonance today as it wasn’t so long ago Premier Campbell Newman wrote to the Australian Conservation Foundation with a promise that only lasted a matter of weeks.

On 11 October 2012, Campbell Newman wrote(see letter below):

“I take this opportunity to reaffirm my statements, made before the last election, that the State Government has no plans to approve the development of uranium in Queensland.”

But on October 22, less than two weeks later, Cambell Newman moved quickly to overturn Queensland’s longstanding, popular and prudent ban on uranium mining.

So much for politicians’ promises. Unfortunately the legacy of uranium mining is much more consistent and long standing.

Fast forward to 2015 and the LNP’s uranium backflip remains, despite the fact no mandate has ever been sought or granted from Queensland voters on the issue.

In Townsville, uranium mining is a key issue for people who remember the debacle that occurred around the Ben Lomond (Harvey Range) uranium deposit back in 1975.

The mismanagement of the site drew such community ire that it is often recognised as sparking the growth of the Queensland anti-nuclear movement.

The entire project was a case study in poor management and neglect.  Continue reading

January 30, 2015 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Queensland Labor’s feeble effort on renewable energy

ballot-boxQueensland Labor talks bold, promises little on renewable energy TRISTAN EDIS  Business Spectator, 27 JAN,  The Queensland Labor Party released a policy statement on renewable energy last Friday full of platitudes with so much wriggle room that Treasury officials should have no difficulty hacking them apart if Labor ever manage to make it into government in the Queensland state election.

Of course Labor didn’t face much competition from Premier Campbell ‘We’re in the Coal Business’ Newman, who is yet to release any policy on reducing carbon emissions or promoting clean energy.

Framing the entire policy is a target of 50% renewable energy by 2030 – not to achieve it, but rather to study it. And in case you might have actually taken them seriously, they’ve also said that as part of achieving such a goal they’ll be establishing an auction to acquire 40 megawatts of renewable energy. Given the state already has 12,000 megawatts of scheduled power generating already installed, you can get a sense of just how serious they are about cracking that 50% target.

By the way, Queensland householders and businesses themselves managed to install 250MW of solar last year so you can imagine what a huge difference Labor’s auction will make.  …….

January 30, 2015 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

A Labor win in Queensland will be a win for solar energy

ballot-boxsunQueensland Labor Promises Solar Support January 26, 2015 Queensland Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk has committed Labor to boosting the state’s renewable energy sector if it wins the election.

“In office Labor will call for proposals to generate 40-megawatts of base-load renewable energy including solar power. This will be used as a trial for more renewable power plants,” said Ms. Palaszczuk.

Labor would also investigate introducing competition in the power sector by enabling remote area councils to generate electricity from renewables to be sold at a lower cost to consumers.

“We will also initiate a renewable energy study to investigate measures to create an export-orientated renewable energy economy here in Queensland,” said Ms. Palaszczuk; who additionally promised an independent review to determine a fair price for a solar feed-in tariff based on all the benefits it provides, “rather than the requirements of large companies.”

Ms. Palaszczuk accused the LNP of being stuck in the past and pointed out after the last election Campbell Newman reneged on promises on renewable energy; cutting $660 million in related programs.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said while Queensland has seen a huge number of households install solar power systems, the state trails behind others when it comes to new large-scale renewable energy developments.

“The Queensland Opposition’s plan to generate 40 megawatts of power from solar and other renewable sources is a welcome move, particularly in light of the ongoing review of the federal Renewable Energy Target – which has caused investment in the sector to collapse,” said Mr Thornton.

The Australian Solar Council also welcomed Labor’s announcement.

“Labor has released a solar plan for the Sunshine State, which is responsible and affordable and will restore confidence in a battered solar industry,” said Australian Solar Council CEO John Grimes.

“Labor’s solar policy stands in stark contrast to the contempt shown by the Newman and Abbott Governments towards solar families and workers.”

If the Council’s Save Solar Community Forum in Townsville last week is anything to go by, the LNP should be very worried – it was a standing room only event. The next forum is at Springwood on Thursday, January 29.

Last week the Greens also unveiled their solar policy, which would ensure all Queensland solar households are paid a fair price for their electricity exports. The policy would also provide 100,000 extra households the opportunity to control their power bills by installing solar.

January 26, 2015 Posted by | politics, Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney dismissed climate change as “a semi-religious belief”

ballot-boxSmJeff Seeney said climate change ‘semi-religious belief': Queensland mayor signs statutory declaration stating Deputy Premier made comment ABC News, By the National Reporting Team’s Mark Willacy and Mark Solomons  24 Jan 15 The mayor of a major Queensland council has signed a statutory declaration stating Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney dismissed climate change as “a semi-religious belief” during a tense meeting in his office.

On Thursday, Mr Seeney publicly denied he made the remark.

Allan Sutherland, of the Moreton Bay Regional Council north of Brisbane, stated Mr Seeney made the comment during a discussion about the council’s regional plan in October. The meeting was also attended by four council officials.

A participant in the meeting confirmed the mayor’s version of events to the ABC.

As revealed by the ABC in December, Mr Seeney intervened to have all references to a predicted 0.8-metre sea rise removed from Moreton Bay’s regional plan, a move that upset the council and Councillor Sutherland……..

January 24, 2015 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Queensland: McKinlay Shire plans solar panels for business and Council buildings

sunMcKinlay Shire solar levy to help businesses cut power bills ABC News, By Kate Stephens 22 Jan 2015,  A north-west Queensland council says it is moving ahead with an innovate plan to help local businesses reduce their power bills.

The McKinlay Shire has put out an expression of interest for a renewable energy company to install solar panels on 14 local businesses and some council building…..

January 23, 2015 Posted by | Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

Greens the only Party in Queensland serious about Climate Change

Milne,-Christine-13“I think the key thing is that the Greens are the only political party standing in Queensland, giving Queenslanders the opportunity to vote against the expansion of coal seam gas and against the expansion of coal mines and coal ports,” Ms Milne said.

Queensland election: World looking at ‘fossil-fuel free existence’ Brisbane Times 12 Jan 15 senior reporter The world is beginning to consider a “fossil-fuel free” existence as soon as 2050, according to Australian Greens leader Senator Christine Milne.

ballot-boxSmMs Milne will join the Queensland state election campaign on Monday having recently returned from a climate summit in Lima, Peru. In the negotiating texts – for the (future) Paris agreement, one of the options is for a fossil-fuel free world by 2050,” Ms Milne said.

The United Nations climate change conference – also attended by Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop – was held in Lima from December 1-12.

The long-serving Greens senator agreed it was “still early days” and the text would most likely be opposed by Australia, Saudi Arabia and other countries before the final United Nations talks in December 2015.

“But the fact that you even have in a negotiating text at this point one of the options being a fossil-fuel free world by 2050 shows you the recognition it is getting,” she said.

“If you are serious about climate science – serious about addressing global warming – then a rapid transition to a renewable energy-powered world is on.”……..

Ms Milne said many people had noticed the decision by several major financial bodies to no longer back more marginal coal projects.

“The rapid growth in the divestment movement has surprised everybody around the world,” Ms Milne said. Continue reading

January 12, 2015 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Queensland Nationals Senator Matt Canavan attacks the Renewable Energy Target

Newman-and-Abbottballot-boxSmRenewable energy ‘fad’ is our best bet for saving the planet  MIKE BRUCE  THE COURIER-MAIL JANUARY 11, 2015″…….. those impressionable and impetuous Chinese are spending billions to create the world’s largest renewable power capacity (388GW), dwarfing the US (172GW) and renewables-sector darling Germany (84GW). Those crazy and irrational Germans are now producing almost 30 per cent of their electricity needs with renewable energy.

Excuse the sarcasm, but I couldn’t help it after reading an opinion piece by Matt Canavan, a Nationals senator for Queensland, in which he argues for the abolition of the renewable energy target (RET) in Australia……..

While he is careful not to dismiss renewables per se – despite calling them a “fad” – Canavan strongly implies that Australia’s energy future, at least in the short to medium term, lies in fossil fuels, one of the world’s most heavily subsidised industries.

It’s a surprising position for a National, much of whose constituency is at war with coal and coal-seam interests eating into their land, livelihoods and sustainability.

But, then, this narrative does tally perfectly with the Abbott Government’s stunning reticence to act on climate change. Continue reading

January 12, 2015 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Australian govt policy uncertainty leads to scrapping of Burdekin hydro power project

Burdekin hydro power project scrapped over renewable energy target concerns Guardian, , 12 Dec 14  Meridian Energy puts Queensland project on hold because it says Coalition’s efforts to reduce the RET made long-term investment ‘near impossible’  An energy company has shelved plans to develop a hydro power project in northQueensland, blaming the federal government’s “destabilising” attempts to wind back Australia’s renewable energy target (RET).

Meridian Energy Australia announced on Friday it would not proceed with the Burdekin hydro power generation project, which was intended to “harness the otherwise wasted power of the largest dam in Australia at Burdekin falls”………… Burge said regulatory uncertainty over the RET was the reason for not proceeding with the Burdekin project.

The project would have improved energy security in north Queensland, meeting the growing needs of agricultural and mineral businesses, and provided about 150 jobs during development and construction, the company said.

“Sadly, the decision to undermine the long-term investment signals of the RET makes it more difficult to realise these benefits for Queensland businesses and households,” Burge said.

The opposition leader, Bill Shorten, and the environment spokesman, Mark Butler, said the Meridian decision showed the government’s stance on the RET was costing jobs. Shorten and Butler said Labor would reopen RET negotiations if the government moved away from its position.“Australian families will have Tony Abbott to thank when their power bills rise because of his ideologically destructive approach to renewable energy,” they said in a joint statement.

Meridian is not the first company to cite RET uncertainty as a reason for shelving or cancelling projects. Silex Systems announced in August it was suspending a project to construct a large solar power station in Mildura, Victoria.

Keppel Prince Engineering, a wind turbine manufacturer based in Portland, Victoria, notified workers in October that 100 staff would be made redundant.

Other renewables companies have said the uncertainty has stopped them making long-term investment decisions.

January 10, 2015 Posted by | energy, Queensland | Leave a comment

Problem of rising sea levels causing waves of dissent in Queensland Liberal National Party

sea-level-rise-PortseaWill climate change denials sink the LNP? DES HOUGHTON THE COURIER-MAIL DECEMBER 20, 2014  IT’S a controversy that could not have come at a worse time for Campbell Newman. Cracks are appearing in LNP ranks over a State Government edict forcing Moreton Bay Regional Council to remove a theoretical climate change sea level rise of 0.8m when considering developments.

Inside the party there are waves of discontent. Continue reading

December 22, 2014 Posted by | climate change - global warming, politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Uranium industry will NOT go ahead in Cape York land, as Aboriginals win land rights

handsoffOlkola reclaim traditional Cape York land after three-decade struggle, Guardian, , 10 Dec 14  More than 6,300 square kilometres of former cattle grazing land in Queensland is formally handed back to Indigenous owners, spelling the end of uranium exploration in the area and the start of a quest to develop tourism opportunities One of the largest returns of land to traditional owners in Queensland’s history has killed off the prospect of uranium mining in a key part of Cape York.

The Olkola, who reclaimed more than 6,300 square kilometres of former cattle grazing land in a formal ceremony on Wednesday, are instead seeking business opportunities in adventure tourism.

Just over 1000 sq km of Olkola land is licensed for uranium exploration by French corporation Areva, which has spoken of north Queensland’s potential to match Kazakhstan as a source for nuclear fuel.

But the deal negotiated by the Olkola has forced Areva to give up its exploration licences in areas given over to a national park, and the clan has no intention of allowing mining elsewhere.

The traditional owners are instead in talks with a global adventure travel agency about a possible joint venture.

It comes just months after the Newman government began to accept uranium mining applications across the state with a view to ending a 25-year ban.

The Australian Conservation Foundation has praised the Olkola people’s move, along with their decision to give over almost a third of their land to a protected national park.

For Mike Ross, the chairman of the Olkola Aboriginal Corporation, the joy of reclaiming country after nearly 30 years of negotiations was tempered by the need to find viable ways for his people to make a living………

December 13, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Queensland | Leave a comment

Use of radioactive materials in coal seam drilling must be disclosed to public

Radiation-Warning1Anti-CSG groups says use of radioactive materials should be disclosed, The Age November 24, 2014  Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald Radioactive material is being used at some coal seam gas drilling sites in NSW and Queensland, raising concerns about potential health and environmental impacts.

A radiation management licence issued to US-based drilling company Halliburton shows it is permitted to use caesium-137, a radioactive isotope, for drilling by AGL at Gloucester, in the northern Hunter Valley and for Santos in the Pilliga forests near Narrabri.

Drillers deploy devices containing CS-137 to measure the composition of gas and water deep underground, with the isotope emitting gamma rays to operate like a miniature X-ray. Produced in nuclear reactors, the material is potentially deadly and among the main radiation concerns at failed power stations at Chernobyl and Fukushima…………

Environmental groups say the use of the radioactive material is not disclosed in the CSG projects’ Review of Environment Factors (REF) and Environmental Impact Statements, nor does it appear by name in Materials Safety Data Sheets.

An anti-coal seam gas campaigner at Gloucester, Jennifer Schoelpple, said AGL had played up the use of much more benign chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing – fracking – but had downplayed the role of caesium.

“No matter how thoroughly you search ‘under your kitchen sink’ or how scrupulously you check the ingredients of your condiments and ‘household products’, you are highly unlikely to lay your hands on any CS-137 in your family home,” Ms Schoelpple said.

“If they are so transparent, why don’t they document the most dangerous thing they use?”

Vicki Perrin, from Lock the Gate in Queensland, said farmers allowing CSG drilling on their land and the neighbouring communities should be made aware of the risks:  “Farmers need to know there is a radioactive source on their site.”………

November 23, 2014 Posted by | New South Wales, Queensland, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Scientists and Aboriginal land-managers work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Old ways are new again: reducing greenhouse gas emissions by fire CHRIS MAWER ABC Environment 7 NOV 2014  Lighting smaller fires at the start of the dry season prevents runaway fires later on.

Scientists working together with indigenous land-managers have reduced Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by half a million tonnes. IMPROVING FIRE MANAGEMENT in the tropical savannah of northern Australia has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 500,000 tonnes over the past year.

By reintroducing traditional fire knowledge and practices, local land managers have benefited through the sale of carbon credits, as well as helping the environment.

“Methane and nitrous oxide emissions from savannah burning represent about three per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions,” said the CSIRO’s Dr Garry Cook at the 2014 annual conference of the Ecological Society of Australia in Alice Springs in September.

“Since European settlement, fires in the north have increased in size and severity. This has threatened biodiversity as well as increased greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

Australia’s tropical savannah landscape is enormous — it covers an area of some 1.9 million square kilometres, or about one quarter of the entire continent. The landscape is mainly forests and woodlands consisting of wide fields of grass with scattered eucalypt trees.

The savannah stretches from Rockhampton on the Queensland coast up to the tip of Cape York and across to the Kimberley region of Western Australia on the Indian Ocean.

Frequent fires are a characteristic of the landscape, and the vast majority are deliberately lit without any authorisation. Tens of thousands of square kilometres burn every year during the northern dry season.

Many local Aboriginal communities have retained their traditional fire knowledge, and these communities hold deep aspirations to fulfil long-held cultural obligations regarding country. Dr Cook said the Commonwealth’s Carbon Farming Initiative provided the impetus to restore traditional fire management practices on aboriginal homelands, combining modern environmental and fire science with traditional mosaic burning practices.

“In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the methodology, land managers need to burn early in the dry season to protect the landscape from the more intense fires that would otherwise occur later in the dry season,” he said.

“Early dry-season fires are generally low in intensity; they trickle through the landscape and burn only some of the fuel, creating a network of burnt firebreaks. These stop the late dry-season fires sweeping through large areas and releasing large amounts of methane and nitrous oxide.

“Most savannahs burn on average once in every two to four years, in the late dry season, and it’s these fires that produce between three and four per cent of Australia’s accountable greenhouse emissions. The methodology helps reduce these emissions by using low-intensity, patchy early dry-season fires to reduce the overall fire frequency and proportion of late dry-season fires, which tend to be much larger and more intense,” Dr Cook said.

The savannah burning methodology for reducing methane and nitrous oxide emissions was developed by a team from CSIRO, the Charles Darwin University’s Centre for Bushfire Research, the Northern Australia Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance, and Aboriginal landowners and rangers in northern Australia.

Dr Cook said, “It’s lovely to see science being applied to improve land management in that part of the world: we’re talking very remote country, very limited resources for land management, and very sparse populations. It’s had a great impact.”

November 8, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, climate change - global warming, Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Censorship of calls for climate change to be included in G20 agenda

Abbott-fiddling-global-warmBrisbane G20: Airport vetoes #onmyagenda climate change billboard, Brisbane Times November 3, 2014 senior reporter Brisbane Airport Corporation has vetoed a “political” billboard asking for climate change to be added to this month’s G20 conference.

The billboard – backed by nine national and international conservation groups – was planned for Brisbane International Airport.

A second billboard is being unveiled in Peel Street at South Brisbane on Monday.

The groups wanted world leaders and their delegates to see the billboard as they arrived in Brisbane. The #onmyagenda campaign encourages people to tweet G20 leaders asking them to include climate change as a stand-alone item on the G20 agenda.

Climate change issues have been on the agendas at eight previous eight G20 summits.

It is not on the agenda in Brisbane.


The decision comes as the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Sunday released its most recent report on the impact of climate change.

The report found that the world must stop almost all greenhouse gas emissions through a phased elimination of fossil fuels by 2100 if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged companies to disinvest from fossil fuel-based industries.

In broad terms, the UN IPCC report finds there are “multiple pathways” available to keep global warming below two degrees.

All of these pathways require “substantial” cuts to greenhouse gas emissions over the next few decades, and “near zero” emissions by the end of the century, the report’s authors concluded.

BAC told Fairfax Media the billboards were rejected last Wednesday because they were  deemed to be “political”.

November 4, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, Queensland | Leave a comment

Brisbane to enter a military lockdown for the G20?

Commandos and Black Hawk helicopters stage operations in Brisbane CBD as G20 security ramps up

By Francis Tapim G20 security preparations are ramping up in Brisbane, as commandos and Black Hawk helicopters flooded the Eagle Street Pier area in a counter-terrorism training operation last night.

Around 50 personnel dressed like commandos, armed with semi automatic rifles and wearing body armour staged the training exercise on Sunday.

Courier Mail photographer Marc Robertson stumbled on the operation, and said there were four helicopters “only a few feet from the buildings”.


“I counted about 50 blokes wearing paramilitary uniforms, combat pants, and wearing body armour carrying full automatic weapons,” he said.

“They are not wearing any insignia at all… there was a lot of action in amongst the buildings.

“There were guys with night vision goggles running around the boardwalk, it was obvious that it was a training exercise and it had been left until after midnight before any of this action took place.”

There was no official information about the operation, but Queensland police confirmed they had been assisting with traffic control for a G20 training exercise in the CBD.

Meanwhile, the RAAF said the public would notice increased activity in the skies over south-east Queensland in the lead-up to the summit.

It said fighter jets, Black Hawk helicopters and surveillance planes would increase patrols, and conduct training exercises. Commander of ADF support to the G20 Major General Stuart Smith said the training period would allow the military to sharpen their response skills.

November 4, 2014 Posted by | civil liberties, Queensland | Leave a comment


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