Funding withdrawal from Environmental Defender’s Office criticised as ‘systematic attack’ on community groups, ABC News, By Stephanie Dalzell, 28 May 15, The Conservation Council of Western Australia has accused the State and Federal Governments of launching a “systematic attack” on community groups which scrutinise policy decisions.
The criticism comes after WA’s Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO) had its funding completely withdrawn by the State Government, effective from the end of this financial year.
The decision follows similar action by the Federal Government in 2013.
The EDO, which also relies on grants and donations, said the combined cut in state and federal funding would leave it with a gap of $250,000 in annual operating expenses. Conservation Council director Piers Verstegen said the cut appeared to be a direct response to the EDO’s advocacy for groups which challenged policy or development decisions.
“The EDO is an extremely important organisation in our community and it brings scrutiny to environmental issues often where government make bad decisions or go wrong in relation to environmental management,” he said. “I think the Government’s keen to remove that scrutiny.
“I think this is part of a systematic attack on community groups around the country that engage in advocacy on environmental issues and stand up for clean water, healthy land, and healthy ecosystems.
“And when that doesn’t align with government policy or the industries that government [is] supporting, that’s when government [feels] uncomfortable with that advocacy and [starts] to cut funding.”……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-27/conservation-council-criticises-funding-withdrawal/6499492
Covert negotiations, whispered announcements and an awkward about-face reveal a political agenda behind reaching consensus. Mazzarol, Winthrop professor in the business school of the University of Western Australia, is reciting the long list of hoops a proponent must jump through to gain approval for a research centre at the university.
“Normally they have to demonstrate they will contribute to research output of the university and the reputation of the university,” he says. “They must have at least six full-time equivalent academic staff engaged in research at the university, a viable plan for the growth of the centre, the capacity to be self-sustaining. They must have an academic and a business plan, a clear indication of the resources, facilities, funding, negotiated targets for research, training, publication volume, output quality and how that will all be measured.”
He continues, citing the criteria listed on the UWA website: “It must also have the approval of the academic council, normally has to have an interdisciplinary role, and to have demonstrated consultation with other parts of the faculty that might be involved.”
The list of requirements and processes is detailed, but Mazzarol’s point is simple. “This one didn’t go through any of those steps.”
He is referring to an entity proposed by Danish climate change contrarian Bjørn Lomborg, ironically named the Australia Consensus Centre (ACC), whose establishment was secretively negotiated over six months, quietly revealed six weeks ago, and then abandoned after an ugly collision between academe and politics. Continue reading
A genuine commitment to volunteerism would require providing affected communities with ample time to deliberate on their willingness to host or live near a facility through publishing the full list of nominated sites.
Although the government stresses that it does not want to impose a nuclear waste facility on any community, there is no guarantee that this Government (or a future one) will not revert to earlier habits of trying to do so. Community consent is in fact not a prerequisite for its siting decision.
WA actually has state legislation in place prohibiting the storage of radioactive waste from outside the state. This means that, although the National Radioactive Waste Management Act gives the Minister the right to override state legislation, the voluntary and democratic aspects of the WA nominations are highly compromised.
Don’t waste the homelands: community opposition to a national radioactive waste dump in WA http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=17346
|By Anica Niepraschk , 15 May 2015 Western Australian iron ore company Ginbalbie Metals’ nomination of a section of its land to host Australia’s proposed radioactive waste management facility comes as the third known nomination in WA. The two-month nomination period for the project closed on May 5.Another known nomination comes from a landowner in Leonora, against local opposition but supported by Leonora Shire. The Shire had been keen on nominating freehold land itself but could not identify any suitable land.
The third revealed nomination from WA involves land in Kanpa, near Warburton in the eastern part of the state, and lacks support from the Ngaanyatjarra elders.
Similarly, Ginbalbie Metals’s nomination of a land near Badga station in the mid west of the state faces opposition from the traditional custodians of the land. Neither the local community nor Yalgoo shire had been consulted on the nomination. The site is even subject of a current native title claim by the Widi Native Title Claimant Group. The group expressed its strong opposition to Federal Industry Minister Macfarlane, stating that ‘the proponent has displayed an appalling level of disrespect’ for the traditional owners by failing to consult them. They generally reject radioactive waste dumps and uranium mining on their homelands. Continue reading
Gindalbie Metals nuclear dump proposal surprises nearby WA shire, ABC News By Sarah Taillier 14 May 15, A shire in Western Australia’s Mid West says it has been caught completely off guard by a proposal to develop a national nuclear waste dump on land near its boundaries.
Iron ore miner Gindalbie Metals yesterday confirmed it had nominated Badja Station, south of Yalgoo as a potential site to hold low and intermediate level radioactive waste.The proposed site lies about 70 kilometres from the township of Morawa, where more than 600 people live.
Shire of Morawa president Karen Chappel said she was stunned to hear about the application from a resident yesterday. “It could have an absolute major impact on our shire and to just hear via the telephone that this is what’s happening [is unreasonable],” she said.”I seriously would have thought that the Shire of Morawa was owed the courtesy of being told that this was on the run.”
Ms Chappel said the shire was trying to source more information about the proposal. “When we’ve gained the information that we think is necessary, our council will be taking a formal position on where we sit with regard to this proposal,” she said.
Under the selection process, states and territories will not have the right to veto the Federal Government’s site selection.
“That may be legislation, that may be the principal of it, but underneath it all, every politician is put there by population and the people,” Ms Chappel said.
“They have an obligation and a responsibility to sit and listen to how their decision affects us and I would suggest they would need to sit and listen to this one.”
A shortlist of nominated sites is expected to be made public in July……..
Greens spokesperson Robin Chapple described the proposal to develop a nuclear waste dump as a “blatant cash grab from a struggling company”. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-14/gindalbie-metals-nuclear-dump-proposal-surprises-shire/6468176
Uranium Minefield: Middle Men Are Bleeding Aboriginal Land Dry, VICE May 11, 2015 by Jack Callil Buried in Australia’s soil is a third of Earth’s uranium, the largest reserve in the world. This means there’s big money in mining it. But standing on it are Indigenous Australians with native title rights to that land. The Martu people, only numbering only around 1,000, own around 136,000 square kilometers in Western Australia.
On the other side of the dispute is the world’s largest uranium company Cameco, which in collaboration with Mitsubishi, want to extend the Kintyre mine that was previously owned by Rio Tinto. It bears the name of an area cut out of the Karlamilyi National Park for mining in 1994.
Darren Farmer, a burly middle-aged Martu man, told VICE that “the Martu people do not want this uranium mine. Everybody has said no.” But that hasn’t stopped Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who last month gave Kintyre the green light.
This decision was made possible by the intricate mechanics of the Native Title Act. Indigenous Australians are forced to nominate a corporate body that represents them legally. In the case of the Martu people, theirs is the Western Deserts Land Aboriginal Corporation ( WDLAC). In 2012 WDLAC gave up Martu land for mining, and are nowworking with Newcrest Mining, Fortescue Metals Group, Reward Minerals—and Cameco.
Ben 14 May 15 As a resident of the midwest and has lived and worked on and around the area of Badja Station, I am totally against this idea in our back yard.
I as a former employee, have contributed to the success of GML during the exploration stages of the Karrara mining operation.
Thanks to that I got to see and feel this country and now regret the destruction that has already occurred
So I as one individual totally reject GML nominating this area as a facility for radioactive waste storage which will inevitably lead to establishing a much larger facility to accommodate international nuclear waste for avery handsome $$ profit to those involved.
NO PANGEA HERE !!! Please.
I hope and wish the Widi people are successful in their claim of native title of this area. It is beautiful country, surrounded by at least six vibrant, active towns / communities well within a 150km radius of the proposed radioactive waste dump as well as numerous exploration (because of the mineral wealth) and tourist activities in the area, not forgetting those living off and trying to protect this area
I object to, and will support anyone against, this proposal.
Gindalbie applies to host nuclear waste facility in WA’s Mid West By Emily Piesse Iron ore miner Gindalbie Metals has confirmed it has nominated part of its land holding in WA’s Mid West as a potential site for a low level radioactive waste dump.
The site, on Badja Station in the Shire of Yalgoo, has been put forward by the company under a national tender process by the Federal Government. The nuclear waste facility, which would be a national repository for low level waste, would be the first of its kind in Australia.
Most low level waste is stored in hospitals, universities and other private facilities but this would act as a central storage centre.
The Shire of Leonora in WA’s Goldfields has also confirmed it has supported an application to have the nuclear waste dump on a pastoral station’s freehold land between Leonora and Malcolm.
A spokesperson for Gindalbie confirmed the miner had submitted Badja Station to be assessed, but said it was too early to comment as the Government was yet to finalise its shortlist of sites.
Badja Station is currently the subject of a native title claim by the Widi people.
Widi spokesperson Clayton Lewis said he had no prior knowledge of Gindalbie’s proposal.”It was a bolt out of the blue … [we’re] just amazed that it’s going to happen or potentially going to happen in our country,” he said.
“We think if we can get a decent body of support at this early stage we can certainly contest it.”
A spokesperson for federal Industry and Science Minister Ian Macfarlane would not confirm whether Badja Station was under consideration, but said initial site assessments had begun.
Under the selection process, states and territories will not have the right to veto the Government’s site selection.
A shortlist of nominated sites is expected to be made public in July.
Alannah MacTiernan says proposal to fund centre at the University of Western Australia came ‘directly from the prime minister’s office’ A research centre linked to controversial Danish academic Bjørn Lomborg was earmarked for the University of Western Australia through a “corrupt” process initiated by the prime minister’s office, parliament has been told.
The university backed out of the proposal, which was to have been funded by the federal government, after protests by staff and students.The West Australian Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan said on Tuesday that science has been the big loser under the Abbott government.
She said it was curious that the government had found $4m for the Australian Consensus Centre, a think tank which had at its heart a commitment to cherry-pick the scientific evidence which argued against urgent action on climate change.
MacTiernan said the education minister Christopher Pyne says the decision to fund the centre at UWA followed a proposal put forward by the university and Lomborg, but vice-chancellor Paul Johnson said the proposal was not initiated by the university.
The proposal arose out of discussions between Lomborg and the government, MacTiernan said. “It seems the offer came directly from the prime minister’s office and came to UWA only after the Australian Catholic University had rejected it,” she said.
“Extraordinarily, this special research initiative didn’t come through the Australian Research Council or any peer review.” It was a “corrupt process”, she said.
Students praise UWA for ditching controversial $4m Bjorn Lomborg Consensus Centre think tank ABC News 9 May 15 Students at the University of Western Australia (UWA) say the decision to can controversial Danish academic Bjorn Lomborg’s Australian Consensus Centre is a win for academic integrity and common sense.
The Australian Consensus Centre was going to be set up with the help of a $4 million Federal Government grant, but University Vice Chancellor Paul Johnson last night said the proposed centre was untenable and lacked academic support.
UWA student guild president Lizzy O’Shea said students were concerned about the impact the centre, inspired by self-proclaimed “sceptical environmentalist” Dr Lomborg, could have on the university’s reputation. “It’s a really good sign as far as community action goes that if enough people have mobilised against something, and don’t support it, that people will change their minds,” she said.
“The fact that we had international partners saying they wanted to pull out because of the association. So the reputational damage was probably the main complaint. Continue reading
Family harnesses power of social media to drive protests against forced closures of Aboriginal communities, ABC Lateline By Ginny Stein 1 May 15 Pressure is growing across Australia against plans by West Australian Premier Colin Barnett to close scores of remote Aboriginal communities.
A call to protest has spread across social media with rallies in capital cities across the country. But the protests had their origins far from any big city.
Layangali Bieundurry and her brother Nelson Bieundurry are from Wangkatjungka, a remote Aboriginal community on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert with a permanent population of approximately 200 people.
Although internet access is slow in Wangkatjungka, the call to protest against the Government’s threat to close up to 150 communities started there thanks to family support, and then spread nationally and now globally. “We knew that all our family were on Facebook, so what we did, we just set the page up and started sending out messages throughout Facebook and that is how most of our family knew,” Ms Bieunderry said.
“And then other communities started to jump on Facebook and started realising what the Government [was] going to do to us in the remote communities.”
#SOSBlakAustralia has since emerged, connecting people, communities and organisations with similar interests and concerns through the Twittersphere. “I want it to go into the ears of Tony Abbott, that’s where I want it to go,” Mr Bieundurry said………
Throughout the Kimberley, the threat to close up to 150 remote Aboriginal communities has raised both fear and anger. At Wangkatjunga, there is disbelief that the next wave in a long history of dispossession may soon hit.
The State Government has not stated which communities may close, sparking fear across the state………http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-30/protest-against-forced-closure-aboriginal-communities/6431558
The uranium lobby is one of the nation’s most powerful.
The State Labor Opposition carries on that it supports a uranium ban however this is hogwash. It was former Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Government, helped along by Gary Gray and Martin Ferguson, who talked up uranium mining no less than Bob Hawke did, and who negotiated with India. State Labor despite its promises at its annual conferences will never reinstate the ban on uranium.
Western Australia ready to dice with uranium & radiation, The Stringer by Gerry Georgatos April 26th, 2015 “…….Yesterday, the Federal Government ‘green light’ welcomed in a uranium mine in the Pilbara. There are now four uranium projects in advanced development stages. The Government will sell the underwriting of revenue and jobs but it is their mining chums who will get rich not the Australian nation – but the burden of any radiation leaks will be borne by the Australian people.
Mining companies are investing huge fortunes in research, exploration and development projects for the mining of uranium. Nuclear energy is not just touted but will be the energy fuel of the future. Previous and incumbent Australian Governments have signed off uranium export deals and not just with India.
Western Australia has four uranium mining projects in the advanced stages leading to their establishment – Kintyre, Mulga Rock, Wiluna and Yeelirrie.
For now, they are mostly by the communities – Homelands – of First Peoples. The communities are being told that jobs will be waiting for them at the uranium sites. The uranium sites are being sold as world’s best practice – Continue reading
50 City of Perth armed police raided an Indigenous homeless camp at Matagarup, and drove off mostly elderly women and young mothers with children. The people in the camp described themselves as “refugees … seeking safety in our own country”. They called for the help of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees.
Australian politicians are nervous of the United Nations. Abbott’s response has been abuse. When Professor James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous People, described the racism of the “intervention” , Abbott told him to, “get a life” and “not listen to the old victim brigade.”
The planned closure of Indigenous homelands breaches Article 5 of the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP).
Forced evictions are Australia’s latest racist assault on Aboriginal People, Ecologist 28 Apr 15 28th April 2015 Australia’s deliberate and calculated attacks on its indigenous population carry many of the hallmarks of genocide, writes John Pilger. And things are getting worse, not better, as states that have grown rich by exploiting Aboriginal land evict and demolish remote Aboriginal communities. Australia has again declared war on its Indigenous people, reminiscent of the brutality that brought universal condemnation on apartheid South Africa.
Aboriginal people are to be driven from homelands where their communities have lived for thousands of years.
In Western Australia, where mining companies make billion dollar profits exploiting Aboriginal land, the state government says it can no longer afford to“support” the homelands.
Vulnerable populations, already denied the basic services most Australians take for granted, are on notice of dispossession without consultation, and eviction at gunpoint. Yet again, Aboriginal leaders have warned of “a new generation of displaced people” and“cultural genocide”.
Genocide is a word Australians hate to hear. Genocide happens in other countries, not the ‘lucky’ society that per capita is the second richest on earth. Continue reading
Lomborg’s influence over key ministers in the Abbott government is quite well-known. He is seen to be at the centre of much of federal cabinet’s climate groupthink………
The real travesty of funding Lomborg’s newest franchise is that it comes from the same government that defunded the Climate Commission. This was composed of Australia’s best climate scientists, economists and energy experts, with an operating cost of A$1.5 million per year. This, more than even the most horrendous of storms, really exposes the parlous state of the Abbott government’s desertion of future generations
As such, one has to have some sympathy for Lomborg, who is a strange kind of “climate change refugee”. In 2012, the Danish government pulled all funding from his centre. Since, he has only set up shop in countries that have strong climate change-denying lobbies – both in the private sector and within mainstream media. He has enjoyed this in the US.
Lomborg operates by attaching himself to these centres as an adjunct professor, which will be his title at UWA, rather than a staff member. This offers the freedom to command remuneration well above a professorial salary – such as the US$775,000 he was paid in 2012 by the CCC and the US$200,484 paid for his work in 2013……… Continue reading
Environment Minister Greg Hunt has granted conditional approval to Canadian uranium miner Cameco to develop the Kintyre mine in WA’s north.
But Dave Sweeney from the Australian Conservation Foundation said the East Pilbara mine, adjacent to the Karlamilyi National Park, will harm the environment and people.
“On Anzac eve the government has backed the wrong diggers,” he said. “This mine plan does not enjoy broad support and the mining company has said it has no immediate plans to develop the project because of the low commodity price.
“The federal government had time to genuinely examine this plan. “Instead, it has chosen to fast-track an approval before a national holiday”.
Mia Pepper, from the Conservation Council of WA, said the mine, of which Cameco owns 70 per cent and Mitsubishi holds the remainder, also threatens water quality in the region.
“It is irresponsible for Minister Hunt to have given approval for this project at this time”, she said.
“A unique part of our country faces an unnecessary threat because of this approval.
“We will continue our work with the local Parnngurr community and many wider community members and organisations to stop a poor political decision becoming a polluting Pilbara mine”.
West Australian Environment Minister Albert Jacob granted conditional approval for the mine to go ahead last month. Environment Minister Greg Hunt was contacted for comment.
Federal approval granted for Cameco to develop Kintyre uranium mine in Pilbara, ABC News 24 Apr 15 By Tyne McConnon and Ebonnie Spriggs A proposed uranium mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region has been granted conditional Federal environmental approval.
One of the world’s largest uranium producers, Cameco Australia, wants to build the Kintyre open-cut uranium mine 270 kilometres north-east of the town of Newman.
The project received conditional approval from Western Australia’s Environment Minister Albert Jacob last month……..
In a statement, Cameco said the approval by the Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt included conditions covering radiation, ground and surface water, terrestrial fauna and mine closure……..
Environmentalists fear long-term impact of uranium waste
Environmentalists have previously condemned the proposal, citing concerns over the level of radiation monitoring required of the company throughout the Karlamilyi National Park, where the mine would be located.
Campaigner Mia Pepper said current regulations for safely managing uranium in Australia were deficient. “The thing with uranium is that it’s different to other minerals. It’s radioactive, and that radiation is very hard to manage in our environment that [has] very, very dry periods and very, very wet periods,” she said.
“That radiation is so mobile in our environment when we start mining it, you know, it becomes hugely dangerous, and I don’t know of anywhere where they can safely mine uranium.
“What’s left behind after mining is radioactive mine waste, and that stays in our environment forever, really, or for at least 10,000 years. “It’s a very long period of time, and it will be there long after this company has stopped existing and long after this Government has changed.”
Traditional owners, the Martu people, signed a land-use deal with Cameco in 2012.
The company said a development decision would be made when market conditions were favourable to new uranium production…http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-24/uranium-mine-kintyre-given-federal-approval-cameco-says/6418974