Australian news, and some related international items

Evidence mounts on benefits of Renewable Energy target: South Australia’s wind energy success

Map-South-Australia-windSouth Australian Wind Power – Economical And Effective A new report shows wind power in South Australia has not increased wholesale electricity prices, nor created a need for additional back-up power generation capacity.

   Around a quarter of South Australia’s electricity is now sourced from wind power; growing substantially from just 6% in 2005/6.
The eight year study of South Australia’s electricity sector by Windlab Systems shows during the period between 2005 and 2013, wholesale electricity prices have not risen, even if the full cost of the renewable energy certificates (REC) is included. Publicly available data from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) was utilised for the study.
Reliance on expensive and emission-intensive peaking power plants has reduced as have electricity imports from Victoria states the report. Windlab says electricity related carbon emissions have plummeted 34% even though power consumption has remained stable.
“The findings should provide clear guidance to the Federal Government’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) review panel that wind energy and by association the RET should not be a scapegoat for explaining increases in domestic and business energy costs,” says Roger Price, the CEO of Windlab.  “The study further underpins the conclusions of the Clean Energy Council’s commissioned report into the positive cost implications of the RET.”
The Clean Energy Council report indicates abolishing Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) would see Australian households paying billions more for electricity.
A copy of Windlab’s study report can be viewed here (PDF).
The evidence is mounting that the benefits of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target far outweigh the costs. Even so, there are fears the RET review is heading towards a “predetermined and biased outcome” that will result in the loss of thousands of jobs, billions of dollars of investment and also create additional financial burden on Australian households and businesses.

May 13, 2014 Posted by | South Australia, wind | Leave a comment

South Australian State govt aiming for uranium enrichment !

exclamation-South Australia digs deep on future of ur
THE State Government’s mining department has continued to explore uranium enrichment, despite the minister saying there is no business case for it. Documents released under Freedom of Information also show the State Government wants to ship the uranium ore already mined in SA through eastern ports to make it more cost effective.

Emails between Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy Department executives shows they planned a meeting in December with a University College London Master’s graduate whose thesis showed the State Government should invest in uranium enrichment.


The emails suggested the graduate give a talk to the Olympic Dam Task Force and attached a summary of the paper, which stated that the SA Government should invest in uranium enrichment company URENCO.

The summary states a strategic investment would provide access to profits without the risk of developing a new technology and leaving options open for Australia to construct a future uranium enrichment facility.

Another report prepared for the State Government into how to make the state’s uranium industry more profitable and allow new mines to open suggests eastern states be lobbied to allow shipment from higher-traffic ports such as Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Its report says found government should take a leadership role in lobbying for improvement which included a “discussion document around options for addressing access to east coast shipping ports”. Adelaide and Darwin are the only ports from which uranium shipping is now permitted.

A spokeswoman for Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said there were no plans to export uranium from Queensland ports. A Victorian Government spokesman said that “the proposal is not something that has been considered … Any proposal would need to be assessed to consider environmental implications, port handling and also transport arrangements’’.

In 2011, Mining Minister Tom Koutsantonis, publicly backed by then treasurer Kevin Foley, called for change from the traditional approach of simply mining uranium and sending it offshore.

“We’ve got to value add here in SA. Down the track, I would like to see some form of enrichment, some sort of value add. We have to go out and passionately support the uranium industry,’’ he said at the time.
But in April last year, he said there was no case for it “any time in the near future” because it was not commercially viable.

Mr Koutsantonis said the department was not “investigating” uranium enrichment but that it was “keen to foster relationships between universities” and was often approached to discuss a range of policy issues.

He said that SA Government has not been presented with a viable business case for enrichment, and had not approached the eastern states to use their ports.

Family First MLC Robert Brokenshire said the government needed to “come clean” with their plans for uranium. “They’ve tricked their way back into office and it’s no longer acceptable for them to sidestep important issues on alternative energy sources,” he said.
“Why are they doing secret work, what are their intentions? And if they’re not considering it, then why allow the department to look at options?”

May 5, 2014 Posted by | politics, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

South Australian scheme to install solar panels at no cost

Tindo Solar will install solar panels free for 5000 businesses and households RICHARD EVANS THE ADVERTISER APRIL 23, 2014 A NEW solar scheme could get thousands of SA households equipped with free panels and paying cheaper bills for life.

Mawson Lakes solar panel manufacturer Tindo Solar will install solar panels free for an estimated 5000 businesses and households around the state in the next year.

However, if the scheme proves popular the company says there will be no cap on the number of people able to sign up.

Customers will pay for electricity for an agreed time frame of up to 15 years before owning the panels outright.Tindo business and people manager Richard Inwood said the scheme would be a “game changer” and revolutionise the electricity market in Australia. 

“Instead of us selling the system, we’re selling the electricity that that system is generating – that electricity is going to pay off that system,” he said.“We have now become a retailer of 100 per cent green energy that is cheaper than what can be purchased from the grid.”

Solar Tindo South Aust

“SA Power Networks made more than $300 million profit last financial year – that shows how much fat is in there.”

Tindo Solar secured a $30 million loan, under the Federal Government-funded Clean Energy Finance Corporation, last week to install the systems with more money available if demand exceeds expectations, Mr Inwood said.

He said the scheme would provide customers with daytime electricity prices that were 20 to 30 per cent cheaper than most other providers. “Energy has increased around 70 per cent in the last seven years,” he said. “If you look at the average electricity cost per kilowatt it’s 35 to 42 cents per kilowatt – we will provide you with a price of around 25c a kilowatt.”

“Price rises will be no more than one per cent per annum and we want to take the worry around energy price increases away from the public generally and give them certainty. It’s the long term certainty over your energy bills that is exciting.”

Mr Inwood said the company guaranteed its flagship panels had a 240V AC output, with testing at Tindo of other imported panels installed in South Australia revealing the actual output often does not always match the higher voltage promise and brings associated safety compromises.

He said an anticipated upsurge in business for the Mawson Lakes business could mean more jobs for the company.

“Recruiting and on-boarding of factory staff could take as little as four weeks,” he said.

“We currently have 24 staff and would see this at least treble if we are to get the $30 million spent in two years which is what is required.”

Mr Inwood said the State Government also supported the scheme with a tender for 200 public housing homes in the pipeline.


 Upfront cost – $0.

Repayment time frame – up to 15 years – longer in some cases. Customer will own the system at the end of the agreement.

Price per kilowatt – 20-30 per cent cheaper than traditional energy providers.

Annual price rises – up to 1 per cent a year.

Expected uptake – 5000 businesses and households in the next year.

READ MORE: Tindo Solar welcomes ACCC probe into solar advertising

April 25, 2014 Posted by | solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

Australia’s very misplaced enthusiasm for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

Last month, the Department of Industry’s submission to the Energy White Paper pitched Small Modular Reactors as an energy solution for isolated areas in Australia, where there is no access to the electricity grid.

The Energy Policy Institute of Australia (EPI) agreed in its submission, suggesting in its submission small modular reactors (SMRs) are particularly suitable for use in mines and towns in remote locations around Australia.

The BHP-funded Grattan Institute’s submission envisages a string of these little nuclear reactors, connected to the grid, along Australia’s Eastern coast.

Keith Orchison reports on the Grattan Institute submission:

‘The Abbott government is being told that now is the time to flick the switch to “technology neutral,” opening the way for nuclear options.’

Orchison described the advantages of SMRs as Lego-like’.

Why now?

In 2014, it was becoming clear that Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) were not likely to become an operational reality for many decades — and perhaps never.

America was the pioneer of small reactor design in the 1970s.  Again recently, Westinghouse and Babcock and Wilcox have been the leaders in designing and developing SMRs.

But in 2014, the bottom has fallen out of these projects………..

It should be noted that nowhere in [the original article about China, does the author]  Chen mention “small” reactors. However, Australian proponents of ‘small’ reactors welcomed this article, as the Thorium Small Nuclear Reactor is the favourite type proposed for Australia from all 15 possible small designs.

So, while we’re being told that China is racing ahead in the scramble to get these wonderful SMRs, in fact, China has been very much encouraged and helped into this by the U.S. Department of Energy.

This is understandable, seeing that for China it is a government project, with no required expectation of being commercially viable.

In their enthusiasm for China’s thorium nuclear project, writers neglected to mention the sobering points that Stephen Chen made in his South China Morning Post article, such as:

  • Researchers working on the project said they were under unprecedented ‘war-like’ pressure to succeed and some of the technical challenges they faced were difficult, if not impossible to solve.’
  • ‘… opposition from sections of the Chinese public.’
  • ‘… technical difficulties – the molten salt produces highly corrosive chemicals  that could damage the reactor.’
  • ‘The power plant would also have to operate at extremely high temperatures, raising concerns about safety. In addition, researchers have limited knowledge of how to use thorium.’
  • ‘… engineering difficulties .…The thorium reactors would need years, if not decades, to overcome the corrosion issue.’
  • ‘These projects are beautiful to scientists, but nightmarish to engineers.’……….

Australia’s SMR enthusiasts discount the known problems of SMRs. Some brief reminders from the September 2013 report, from the United States’ Institute for Energy and Environmental Research:

  • ‘Economics: $90 billion manufacturing order book could be required for mass production of SMRs …the industry’s forecast of relatively inexpensive individual SMRs is predicated on major orders and assembly line production.’
  • ‘SMRs will lose the economies of scale of large reactors.’
  •  ‘SMRs could reduce some safety risks but also create new ones.’
  • ‘It breaks, you bought it: no thought is evident on how to handle SMR recalls.’
  • Not a proliferation solution. ‘The use of enriched uranium or plutonium in thorium fuel has proliferation implications.’
  • Not a waste solution: ‘The fission of thorium creates long-lived fission products like technetium-99 (half-life over 200,000 years).’
  • Ongoing technical problems. ……….,6404

April 22, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, South Australia, spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

BHP getting out of uranium mining

BHPB-sadBHP weighs divestment options  Mining Weekly By: Esmarie Swanepoel 1st April 2014 PERTH – Mining giant BHP Billiton on Tuesday said it was “reviewing” and “assessing” its divestment options, after media outlets in Australia reported that the company was considering a $20-billion demerger plan……..

As we have said previously, the simplification of our portfolio is a priority and is something we have pursued for several years,” BHP said in response to the market speculation, adding that in the last two years, the company had completed a number of divestments in Australia, the US, Canada, South Africa and the UK.

Divestments included petroleum, copper, coal, mineral sands, uranium and diamond assets……….

BHP told shareholders that the company would actively continue to study the next phase of simplification, including its structural options, but noted that it would only pursue those avenues that maximised value for the company’s shareholders.

BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie has previously said that Australia would remain a focal point for the company, pointing out that the country accounted for about 70% of its profits……..

April 3, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Adelaide wake up: the nuclear lobby is trying to put it over you!

Brett Burnard Stokes  30 March 14 Fight the false claim that Adelaide people want nuclear power – like this new Facebook page to show your opposition to plans for nuclear reactors in South Australia.

Adelaide is under attack from nuclear advocacy fraudsters who tell lies to promote their evil nuclear fantasies.

Our universities and our politicians have been “influenced” by junk science that falsely claims that nuclear power is “safe”.

Our universities and our politicians have been “influenced” by junk economics that falsely claims that nuclear power is “cheap”.


Our newspapers falsely claim that we want nuclear power in South Australia – this page is a place where you can register your protest at this false claim, where you can say “No Nukes In South Australia”.


March 30, 2014 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Australia | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry interests helped along by South Australian government


Dennis Matthews 27 March 14 Today’s (Adelaide) Advertiser contains an article about a new uranium mine in SA. Apparently the SA Government has given $50,000 of taxpayers money to the Ian Wark Institute at the University of SA for them to study a way of recovering the uranium from this proposed in-situ-leach uranium mine.

ANSTO is also involved. The Ian Wark Institute was set up by someone with a long history of involvement in the nuclear industry. I think he was involved in the early days of the Synroc project, another ANSTO project which seems to have fizzled out after spending umpteen million of taxpayer’s money.

March 28, 2014 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Aboriginal victims of Maralinga atomic bomb testing

Australian atomic massacre still ignored By David T. Rowlands from Green Left Weekly  issue 971 June 29, 2013

Lennon,-Lallie-2006Lallie Lennon provided convincing testimony of the injuries suffered from the fall-out.
Nearly 60 years have passed since Totem 1, a British nuclear test in the Australian desert, was recklessly conducted in unfavourable meteorological conditions.

Nuclear testing of any sort, even in the most “controlled” of circumstances, is inherently abusive, a crime against the environment and humanity for countless generations to come. Yet the effects of Totem 1 were particularly bad, even by the warped standards of the era.

The mushroom cloud did not behave in the way it was supposed to. Instead of rising uniformly, part of it spread laterally, causing fallout to roll menacingly at ground level over a remote yet still populated corner of South Australia, sowing injury, illness and death in its wake.

The number of casualties is unknown because the secretive and unaccountable nuclear establishment has always declined to investigate the full impact of its own criminal negligence. But it has been suggested by investigators that perhaps 50 short-term Aboriginal fatalities resulted.

In addition to those who died, many others were exposed to harmful levels of radiation. The long-term health effects on these individuals have never been charted — but anecdotal reports of high cancer rates and horrendous birth defects in isolated “downwinder” communities have circulated.

At the time of the tests, it was well known by authorities that communities of Aboriginal people were close by. Yet the official attitude was that the concerns of a “handful of natives” could not be allowed to interfere with the “interests” of the British Commonwealth.

Imagine you are out with your family one morning when suddenly a loud explosion issues from the distant horizon. The ground rumbles and shakes, as though it were about to open up. Minutes later, a thick, churning dark dust cloud engulfs the surrounding desert countryside.

Terrified, with all your senses in recoil from these unnatural developments, you wonder if an event of apocalyptic proportions is taking place. And your troubles are only just beginning.

This is what happened to 22-year-old Yankunytjatjara woman Lallie Lennon and her three young children at Mintabie on October 15, 1953. A 10-kiloton device (roughly two-thirds the yield of the Hiroshima bomb) was detonated 180 kilometres away at Emu Field, near Maralinga.

Lallie and her son Bruce, aged 3, were covered in the gunpowder-smelling dust and smoke that came rushing through the trees with such intensity that it apparently created eclipse-like visibility conditions. “It went dark and dark,” recalled Lallie in 2006. “Dark — we couldn’t see anything. The place was black, you couldn’t see nothing.”

The levels of beta radiation contained in this toxic plume were so great that it felt like being “rolled in a fire”. The “kids were [ing] … it was terrible … We was glad we was alive but we got sick. We were sicker and sicker.”

About a year later, both Lallie and her son Bruce developed a debilitating skin condition that involves the periodic eruption of oozing, agonising sores all over the body.

Lallie said: “It went away and then came back and the sores were getting bigger and bigger every time … I was in a mess after the sores.” Her two daughters, who were in a tent at the time the mist swept through, were spared the beta burns, but developed other symptoms consistent with radiological contamination.

Lallie’s story first achieved public recognition when she spoke about her experiences for a 1981 documentary, “Backs to the Blast”.

Continue reading

March 28, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, South Australia | Leave a comment

Australia’s regressive politics – rejected in South Australia?

Deballot-boxSmnnis Matthews, 26 March 14, Is it possible that South Australians are smarter than the average voter? The results of the state election would seem to support this proposition.

Just when it seemed that there would be a change of government many voters decided that they would rather stay with the devil they know. Signals from Canberra that the former liberal party, which in recent decades has become the conservative party, was now becoming the regressive party did not go unnoticed.

It appears that regressive politics is being foisted on everyday life with the new political correctness being intolerance, rudeness, and downright bigotry. This may work in political circles but is it the way a civilized society should behave?

Should politicians take their lead from decent citizens or should we follow the example of those in the houses of parliament?

The answer to this question may well shape Australia’s future.

March 26, 2014 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Disinformation about Fukushima from Australia’s nuclear advocates

text-nuclear-uranium-liesFukushima apologies and apologists  Jim Green, Climate Spectator, 12 March 2014 “…..Nuclear apologists  Sadly, nuclear apologists have been slow to apologise for peddling misinformation. Adelaide-based nuclear advocate and conspiracy theorist Geoff Russell and Adelaide University’s Barry Brook insist that the Fukushima disaster was “deathless” despite a growing number of scientific studies giving the lie to that claim.

Last year the World Health Organisation released a report which concluded that for people in the most contaminated areas in Fukushima Prefecture, the estimated increased risk for all solid cancers will be around 4% in females exposed as infants; a 6% increased risk of breast cancer for females exposed as infants; a 7% increased risk of leukaemia for males exposed as infants; and for thyroid cancer among females exposed as infants, an increased risk of up to 70% (from a 0.75% lifetime risk up to 1.25%).

Estimates of the long-term cancer death toll include:

  • a Stanford University study that estimates “an additional 130 (15-1100) cancer-related mortalities and 180 (24-1800) cancer-related morbidities”;
  • an estimate of 1000-3000 cancer deaths by physicist Ed Lyman (based on an estimated collective whole-body radiation dose of 3.2 million person-rem to the population of Japan); and
  • an estimate of around 3000 cancer deaths, from radiation biologist and independent consultant Dr Ian Fairlie.

Indirect deaths must also be considered, especially those resulting from the failure of TEPCO and government authorities to develop and implement adequate emergency response procedures. A September 2012 editorial in Japan Times noted that 1632 deaths occurred during or after evacuation from the triple-disaster; and nearly half (160,000) of the 343,000 evacuees were dislocated specifically because of the nuclear disaster. A January 2013 article in The Lancet notes that “the fact that 47 per cent of disaster-related deaths were recognised in Fukushima prefecture alone indicates that the earthquake-triggered nuclear crisis at the Fukushima power plant caused extreme hardship for local residents.”

In Fukushima Prefecture, 1656 people have died as a result of stress and other illnesses caused by the 2011 disaster according to information compiled by police and local governments and reported last month. That number exceeds the 1607 people in Fukushima Prefecture who were drowned by the tsunami or killed by the preceding earthquake.

“The biggest problem is the fact that people have been living in temporary conditions for so long,” said Hiroyuki Harada, a Fukushima official dealing with victim assistance, “People have gone through dramatic changes of their environment. As a result, people who would not have died are dying.”

The claim by Brook and Russell that Fukushima was “deathless” has no basis in truth. They ought to take a leaf from Naomi Hirose’s book, bow deeply and


March 12, 2014 Posted by | South Australia, spinbuster | Leave a comment

South Aust election: Mr Van Den Brink candidate for Fisher opposes import of nuclear wastes

ballot-boxSmBy Dennis Matthews, 11 Mar 14 Three to four weeks ago I sent a questionnaire to the candidates in Fisher. Of the five candidates only Bob Such and Daryl Van Den Brink responded.

On the issue of expanding the nuclear industry in South Australia, both candidates wanted more debate on nuclear power and uranium enrichment but Mr Van Den Brink was opposed to importing nuclear waste.

In relation to electricity, Mr Van Den Brink supported the feed-in tariff for electricity from solar cells, tighter regulation of the electricity network business, and government incentives for energy efficient homes. He opposed making exporters of solar electricity pay more for the electricity network or higher tariff for users of air conditioners. Dr Such considered that the National Electricity Market needed an overhaul.

Dr Such opposed recent changes to the South Australian Electoral Act but Mr Van Den Brink opposed only the increased nomination fees.

Neither candidate supported an official apology to Aboriginal people for past injustices. Mr Van Den Brink wanted more debate, whilst Dr Such supported alternative measures.

March 11, 2014 Posted by | politics, South Australia | 1 Comment

South Australians not taken in by Business S.A.’s pro nuclear spin

Dennis Matthews, 4 March 14 Business SA has clearly not been paying attention (The Advertiser,4/3/14). We have had debates on all manner of nuclear issues off and on for decades including uranium processing and enrichment, nuclear power and importing nuclear waste.

The resounding response has always been NO.


Or is it possible that Business SA is not happy with the answer and think that by badgering the public every election year that they will finally get their way?

As shown by recent debates on nuclear power and nuclear waste disposal the general public is well and truly a wakeup to the likes of Business SA. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

March 4, 2014 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Australia | Leave a comment


highly-recommended Nuclear Information Centre, Conservation Council of South Australia   INTRODUCTION   The ways in which a country or state can contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons are many and varied. They include direct and indirect, overt and covert, subtle and not so subtle; the line between contributing and not contributing is fuzzy and elusive. What may be ignored at one time may later be seen to be highly significant.

We will concentrate on the obvious and widely acknowledged contributions.

A successful nuclear weapons program requires:

  • A pool of knowledge
  • A supply of highly trained specialists
  • Research and development
  • A source of fissionable material
  • The facilities for converting the fissionable material into weapons grade
  • Testing of guidance and delivery systems, firing mechanisms, various materials, and complete weapons.

We will limit this article to contributions made in the post-war period 1945 to 1965, which constitutes the first phase of South Australia’s contribution to nuclear weapons proliferation.

History will probably record that the second phase started with the discovery of uranium at Beverly east of Mt. Painter (1969), at Honeymoon about 75 km north-west of Broken Hill (1972), and at Olympic Dam on the Roxby Downs station (1975).

Diagram S Australia nuclear weapons

The Olympic Dam mine at Roxby Downs has been exporting to nuclear weapons states since it began production in 1988. Continue reading

March 4, 2014 Posted by | South Australia, uranium, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Preference fixing for the South Australian election

ballot-boxSmThe Editor The Advertiser from Dennis Matthews, 2 March 14 John Patterson has the right idea (The Advertiser, 1/3/14), there is a lack of transparency in what happens to our vote in the Legislative Council.

However it is not as simple as requiring the minor parties and independents to let us know how their preferences are distributed. This is already done and the information can be found on the South Australian Electoral Commission’s website.

The problem is that some candidates participate in a preference fixing cartel, the members of which agree to give preferences to each other. On their own, none of the cartel members are likely to get a seat, but together they are assured of enough votes for at least one member of the cartel to get a seat.

You would think that preference fixing would be illegal, but it is not, and recent changes to the Electoral Act have not solved the problem but instead gave the Liberal-Labor duopoly an equally anti-competitive advantage in the House of Assembly.

March 2, 2014 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Bizarre election in South Australia, rigged by Liberal-Labor duopoly

Dennis Matthews, 27 Feb 14,   Thanks to dangerously defective changes to the Electoral Act rushed through the South Australian Parliament at the last minute by the Liberal-Labor duopoly, organized harvesting of preferences in the 2014 Legislative Council elections appears to be in full swing.

This “gaming” of the system produces unpredictable preference flows such as those that gave bizarre results in the recent Senate elections.

It is highly likely that gaming will result in the balance of power being held by a party that the vast majority of voters had no intention of electing to the Legislative Council.

Thanks to the Liberal-Labor duopoly, governing South Australia could soon become more difficult.

February 27, 2014 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment


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