Australian news, and some related international items

The Clean Energy Council slams Senator Leyonhjelm’s “economic vandalism” in attacking the Renewable Energy Target

The Clean Energy Council  labels Senator Leyonhjelm’s proposal as “economic vandalism” and has called on all parties to return to negotiations in search of a sensible outcome for the RET.

Groundhog Day For Australian Renewable Energy November 26, 2014 If insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results, then what is again being inflicted upon Australia’s renewable energy sector might fit that particular definition.

The Senate has given the green light to yet another review of renewable energy – the ninth in just three years. The Senate inquiry will focus on wind farms and include an examination of their economic impact and health effects.

“This is a farcical situation given that the industry is still awaiting the outcome of the government’s recent Warburton Review as well as another legislated review of the Renewable Energy Target by the Climate Change Authority,” said Clean Energy Council Policy Director Russell Marsh.

“It is unclear how yet another review could draw any different conclusions given the many inquiries and reviews already undertaken in Australia. It is pretty obvious this inquiry is about politics rather than science, and it’s basically just Groundhog Day for this industry yet again.” Continue reading

November 26, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

India-uranium1Australia and Japan, both NPT and NSG members, have become complicit in India’s nuclear weapons program and partially responsible for increasing the risk of nuclear accident in India, and for potentially aggravating nuclear rivalry in Asia.

Nuclear Proliferation in the Australia-India-Japan-U.S. Nuclear Nexus By Adam Broinowski Asia-Pacific Journal Global Research, November 24, 2014 

“…….despite PM Abbott’s assurances that ‘suitable safeguards’ were in place to guarantee that Australian uranium would be used for ‘peaceful purposes’ and for ‘civilian use only’, as the former Director General of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office John Carlson points out, the Agreement departs from two principles of Australia’s 1987 Safeguards Act (section 51):40 the acquirement of ‘consent to reprocessing’ from the Australian government prior to the separation of plutonium from spent fuel; and the ‘right of return’ of nuclear materials supplied in the event of a breach of the agreement.41 Instead, the Agreement defers to the US-India nuclear cooperation agreement in which India would reprocess in facilities built with the assistance of US companies, and leaves open the question of how separated plutonium would be used or how arbitration would apply to settle disputes.

Ten of India’s twenty nuclear facilities are beyond the regulatory authority of the IAEA and India only selectively recognises IAEA safeguards for specific foreign supplied reactors and facilities. India also refuses to submit to suppliers inventory reports and accounting processes for nuclear material flowing through the nuclear cycle. As the IAEA is not able to fully inspect India’s dual-purpose (civilian and military) indigenous reactors and facilities for reprocessing, enrichment, retransfers to third countries, research and development or the production of tritium (used as a trigger for weapons), India is not fully accountable to either the IAEA or the supplier nation with which it has a bilateral agreement with in-built IAEA norms. Continue reading

November 26, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

China palling up with Paladin

Hopu To Inject $52M In Australia’s Paladin Energy, China Money Network By Staff Writer | November 24, 2014 Western Australia-based uranium production company Paladin Energy Ltd. says it plans to raise a total of US$177 million in a private placement deal, including a capital injection of US$52 million from a unit of Chinese private equity firm Hopu Investment Management Co., according toa company announcement……..the number of shares Hopu is buying represents around 15% of Paladin’s current capital base, but Hopu has received approval from Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) to investment further and own up to 19.99% of Paladin.

Paladin says it will use the proceeds to repay the company’s medium-term debt that is coming due. Zhang Wendong, senior managing director at Hopu, will join Paladin’s board………

November 26, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

BHP not all that crash hot

BHP warns more cost cuts, management shake up before demerger, Cecilia Jamasmie | November 24, 2014 Mining giant BHP Billiton (ASX, NYSE:BHP) (LON:BLT) warned Monday of further cuts to capital expenditure and a major shake-up of its senior management in the wake of its demerger plans, as the company moves to lower costs amid weak commodity prices.

In the much-anticipated markets briefing, the world’s largest miner by market value said it would trim spending by $1bn to $13bn in the 2016 financial year…………. Clarke Wilkins, director of metals and mining research at Citi in Sydney, said the market had shifted from debating when BHP starts its capex cuts to the “touchier question” of whether its progressive dividend can be maintained given the tumbling price of key commodities such as iron ore and oil…….Mackenzie also outlined a management reshuffle, as the mining group is next year poised to spin off non-core assets into a separate diversified mining company……

November 26, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Election coming up in Australia’s worst State for renewable energy policy – Victoria

ballot-boxVictorian election 2014: State ‘has worst renewable energy policy environment’, The Age, November 18, 2014   State Political Correspondent for The Age Victoria has the worst policy environment for renewable energy in Australia, a study has found less than two weeks from the state election.

And in the wake of international plans to tackle emissions, Premier Denis Napthine said Victoria’s reliance on coal-fired power would continue for some time, while also saying alternative energy deserved more attention.

The Climate Council  will release on Tuesday a comparison of each state’s renewable energy sector, which has found Victoria the worst performing state.  The Brumby government set a 20 per cent emission reduction target by 2020, which was scrapped by the Baillieu government.

The Coalition also quietly abandoned a target of having 5 per cent of Victoria’s power coming from solar energy.

“Victoria now has the worst policy environment for renewables in the country,” the report says.

“Victoria’s new planning rules have cost the state an estimated $4 billion in lost investment and 3000 jobs.”

The Climate Council’s chief councillor,  Professor Tim Flannery, said states had a critical role to play, especially in energy generation and some, such as Victoria and NSW, were not providing the right environment for renewable energy.

In Victoria, just one in 10 homes has solar panels, compared with South Australia where 25 per cent of homes have solar panels.

The report highlights that a coal mine can be built within 100 metres of home but there is a two kilometre veto zone around proposed wind turbines – Labor has promised to halve this zone.

Professor Flannery said Victoria had just as good conditions for wind and solar power as South Australia but was still too fixated on coal and was not providing the right regulatory conditions to encourage renewables.

With less than two weeks to go before the election Professor Flannery called on both parties to commit to a renewable energy target.

“Renewables create jobs and can reduce the cost of power as well as reducing greenhouse emissions,” he said……… :

November 23, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australian government policy ensures uncertainty about future of renewable energy

Abbott-destroys-renewablesAt the end of the day, developers need surety that policy decisions will not affect the future financial viability of their projects. Until then they will continue to sit on the fence and wait – to the detriment of the renewable energy sector as a whole

Why has investment in renewable energy projects stalled?   The Conversation,  Craig Froome, 23 Nov 14, Global Change Institute – Clean Energy Program Manager at The University of Queensland

“……. An uncertain futureThe RET has come under much scrutiny in recent months as the federal government attempts to wind it back. This has also seen the government — both federal and state — take a negative approach to policy measures that promote more renewable energy in the energy system.

The result is that many proposed projects that factored in income from the RET have been put on hold, due to the uncertainty of their future income. In the shadow of this uncertainty, finding finance for projects is also a major issue as financiers become more wary. Continue reading

November 23, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry, and hence the uranium industry – on the road to collapsing

The nuclear house of cards Online opinion,  By Mia Pepper –  Thursday, 20 November 2014  “…….. While the nuclear ideologues are charging ahead, many investors are treading carefully.

Mining journalist Dryblower this week made an interesting distinction between uranium and other minerals: “Because uranium is really not part of the pure mining industry but an arm of the nuclear industry it’s easy to understand why most investors prefer simpler metals where there is a chance that a discovery can be brought into production without incurring multiple layers of complexity.”………..

The marginal and short-term increase in uranium is hardly cause for celebration. Even from the miners’ point of view, there is little to celebrate since the current price is barely half that needed to make new mines viable or profitable.

All this excitement is really based on the hope from the industry that there will be a long-term increase in the demand for uranium. Often pointing to new build reactors in India and China, the industry is optimistic.


However according the World Nuclear Industry Status Report of 2014 there are currently 39 operating reactors that are operating over their 40 year life expectancy and due for closure. The report projects a long term decline in the number of reactors after 2020.

Likewise, in a report released last week the International Energy Agency warns of a looming “wave of retirements” of ageing reactors with almost 200 of the 434 reactors expected to be shut down by 2040. IEA chief economist Faith Bristolsaid: “I am afraid we are not well-prepared in terms of policies and funds which are devoted to decommissioning. A major concern for all of us is how we are going to deal with this massive surge in retirements in nuclear power plants.”

In the face of nuclear war, nuclear disaster, public opposition, financial struggle, and the growth and competitiveness of renewable technologies, the house of cards that is the nuclear industry is bound to collapse again.

November 22, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

BHP having a bet each way on climate change – both coal and uranium

a-cat-CANBHP has, in the past, always spruiked climate change and carbon pricing – in the knowledge that the nuclear industry was, and is again,putting over the world  the lie that uranium/nuclear power is the cure for climate change

BHP says action needed on climate change but won’t rule out coal investments at AGM, ABC Radio The World Today Sue Lannin reported this story on Thursday, November 20, 2014

ELEANOR HALL: BHP Billiton held its annual general meeting in Adelaide today

Its executives have been attempting to explain to shareholders why the company is helping to drive the drastic fall in commodity prices.

BHP Billiton promised to hold a vote for investors in May next year to enable shareholders to have their say on the company’s plans to spin off its less profitable businesses.

But many shareholders at the meeting focused on the environment and BHP Billiton’s record on climate change.

Our resources reporter, Sue Lannin, has been listening in and joins us now.  So Sue, what sort of a turnout was there at the AGM today?

SUE LANNIN: Yes, we had many groups attending such as the Australian Conservation Foundation, residents’ groups, and environmentalists from Australia and overseas, which we often see at BHP Billiton AGMs.

And of course BHP is the world’s biggest miner with operations around the world in commodities such as iron ore, coal, copper and uranium……..

Sue, what concerns were raised about the expansion plans at the Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine in South Australia?

SUE LANNIN: For the time being the expansion plans are on hold. BHP Billiton put them on hold for economic reasons but it is doing trials, what’s it’s called leeching trials of the copper and uranium ore.

Now residents and environmental groups are concerned about the trials that are going on and also the existing uranium exports, and BHP Billiton actually admitted there had been an incident a couple of weeks back……..

n coal, Jacques Nasser refused to rule out further investment in thermal coal, that’s coal used for power generation, amid concerns about global warming and he also defended the company’s stance on climate change…… 

November 22, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Russia calls Australia unreliable partner in nuclear power industry

Australia unreliable partner in nuclear power industry — Russian FM Tass  November 18, Australia has shot itself in the foot to demonstrate that it cannot be regarded as a reliable business partner in such a sensitive sphere as nuclear power, the Russian Foreign Ministry said MOSCOW, November 18. /TASS/. By refusing to supply uranium to Russia, Australia has positioned itself as an unreliable business partner in such a sensitive and responsible sphere as the nuclear power industry, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

“We have taken note of statements by the Australian ambassador in Moscow Paul Myler to the effect his country has stopped uranium supplies to Russia because of the loss of confidence in our country,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “In fact, Myler has accused Russia of a possible abuse of WMD (weapons of mass destruction) non-proliferation liabilities.”………….

November 19, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

South Australia a world leader on renewable energy, other States lagging badly

States inconsistent on renewable energy NEWS.COM.AU NOVEMBER 18, 2014

SOUTH Australia is a world leader when it comes to renewable energy but other states including Victoria have missed out on investment worth billions of dollars, a report has found.

AUSTRALIA is being put in a vulnerable position without clear federal policy and changes to the renewable energy target, Climate Council chief councillor Professor Tim Flannery says.

Prof Flannery said the Australian government has to stop dragging its feet and be willing to address the issues, instead of seeking to reduce its target of 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020.”If we can forge a policy mix, a policy formula, that serves our economy well, that allows us to do our bit for combating climate change at a commensurate level from what we’ve seen China and the US do, I think people will be satisfied.”Prof Flannery says individual states are being put under pressure to perform and the Climate Council report released on Tuesday has recorded varying results.He said South Australia took action early and now got 36 per cent of its energy from renewable resources while less than four per cent of Victoria’s energy is renewable.”Victoria has got fantastic wind and solar resources, every bit as good as South Australia but we’re seeing here a laggard state,” he said.”We haven’t seen the investment here in Victoria that we would otherwise have expected.”Victoria has probably missed out on $4 billion worth of investment in the renewable energy sector.”Prof Flannery said the NSW government has seen the error of its ways and is now committed to a renewable focus……..

November 19, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Warning on outdoor workers’ risk of melanoma

UV-radiation Warning for employers on melanoma, The Standard, By PETER COLLINS
Nov. 19, 2014,   EMPLOYERS have been urged to ensure outdoor workers take precautions against skin cancer, with rising cases of melanoma requiring medical attention.
 In the past 10 years the Victorian WorkCover Authority has received 107 claims costing more than $6.2 million in compensation, common law damages and impairment benefits.

Lost work time and extra insurance costs were also repercussions for employers, the Cancer Council of Victoria said at the start of National Skin Cancer Action Week.

The Standard sought comment after observing several outdoor workers in recent weeks without sun-protective headwear………

he cancer council said outdoor workers received five to 10 times more UV radiation exposure than indoor workers.

“In Australia it is estimated that around 200 melanomas and 34,000 non-melanoma skin cancers are caused by occupational exposures to UV every year,” a spokeswoman said. “Recent research indicated that while 95 per cent of Australian outdoor workers use some form of sun protection, just 9 per cent are considered to be fully protected from UV overexposure.”

In Victoria more than 40,000 new cases of skin cancer were diagnosed every year including 2307 cases of melanoma and 460 deaths from skin cancer……..

It is estimated two in three Australians will get some form of skin cancer before they are 70 and UV levels are strong enough in January to damage the skin in as little as 11 minutes.

November 19, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Joe Hockey touts uranium exports as cure for the climate change that he doesn’t believe in anyway

Hockey,-Joe-on-GROWTHHockey: Australia resources will benefit from China, US climate pact THE AUSTRALIAN  NOVEMBER 13, 2014 
URANIUM and natural gas exporters will see “massive opportunity” from the historic climate pact between the US and China to reduce carbon pollution levels, Treasurer Joe Hockey says………Mr Hockey said the climate deal would benefit Australian resources sector, including uranium, gas and coal……

    Greens leader Christine Milne warned Australia risked “looking like just a quarry” while the world moved to post-carbon economic models…….

November 19, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Balance between need for Vitamin D, and avoidance of skin cancer

radiation spectrumSkin cancer fears blinding people to health benefits of sunlight, say scientists SMH, November 18, 2014    Skin cancer prevention campaigns may be steering people away from healthy doses of sunlight, which is now thought to protect against high blood pressure, heart disease and possibly stroke, a group of British scientists say.

In a provocative presentation to a Melbourne conference this week, Martin Feelisch, a professor of clinical and experimental sciences at the University of Southampton, questioned whether it was time for a “radical rethink” of the advice given to people about how much time they should spend in the sun.

Professor Feelisch said recent epidemiological studies suggested that the health benefits of moderate sunlight exposure outweighed the harmful effects of UV radiation on the skin.

In particular, a recent study conducted with colleagues at the University of Edinburgh found that a dose of UV equivalent to about 30 minutes of sunshine during the summer in southern Europe lowered people’s blood pressure……….

But head of the Australian Cancer Council Professor Ian Olver said current public health advice was sophisticated in Australia, balancing the pros and cons of sunlight for Vitamin D and emphasising high UV index times when people are more likely to burn.

“If the UV index is three or above, the sun is intense enough to burn you and therefore you need to take some protection measures. If it’s less than three, you can probably safely go out in the sun. So for vitamin D, early in the morning or late in the afternoon, it might be fine to go out without protection but in the middle of the day, it usually isn’t.”

Professor Olver said despite these campaigns, Australia still had high rates of skin cancer. There were still more than 12,000 melanomas and 430,000 non-melanoma skin cancers diagnosed each year and about 2000 people died from the disease annually, he said.

November 19, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott’s insensitive remarks spark Aboriginal protest at G20

‘Imagine having your whole history erased’: Indigenous rights activists burn Australian flag during G20 protests 9 News 16 Nov  Indigenous rights protesters have burned Australian flags during a demonstration outside the G20 summit convention centre in Brisbane.

A man at the forefront of the protests at the Roma Street Parklands told 9NEWS the act was a direct response to Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s comments on Friday that Australia pre-white colonisation was “extraordinarily basic and raw”.

“We had no choice when Abbott declared once again there was no semblance of any government [before white colonisation],” the demonstrator Woolombi said.

“This land for 67,000 years was the greatest biodiversity land management estate ever seen on the face of the world.

“We can’t afford to have that removed from our genetic memory.”………

November 17, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Loonpond – a refreshing critique of the Australian media and the G20

 loonpond November 17, 2014 In which the pond puts the G20 to rest, and begins the march to Paris … in company with the denialist dunderheads clutching at their coal for coal comfort

“…………In the matter of climate change, the commentariat solemnly scribbled how the US-China deal was a non-event and solemnly explained how it faced enormous difficulties, then promptly turned about and explained how 2.1% was engraved in stone, or perhaps growth gold, and that the world could live in hope … as if the same difficulties and hesitancies they gloated about in the US-China deal would be waived away by a magic wand, when it came to world growth, and never mind the quality and sustainability of the growth …

Abbott confirmed yet again that he was a lightweight – a man with an introductory speech so bemusing that even the hagiographers were bemused – and then it was left to that other lightweight Joe Hockey to attempt to mop up the consequences of climate change stances presented with all the gravity, depth and nuance of three word slogans. Poor Joe. Revealed as a flake, and so early in his career. Who’d have thought anyone could make Wayne Swan seem like a treasurer of substance?

Now the rest of the week will be spent with others scurrying from their bunk holes to explain how Australia is up with the rest of the world in the matter of responding to climate change, and how we have the very best policies for this grave matter, except – nudge, nudge, wink wink – it’s not that grave, not really…

In short, it’s pretty much business as usual, with the exceptional weather the gravy on the roast, seeing as how denialists just love climate change meetings that take place in unusually heavy snow storms… even these cocooned politicians must have noticed the heat, coming as it does as a furnace blast when you step out of the air-conditioning …

So how did the morons at the Currish Snail see the proceedings this morning?……

Yes, Tony Abbott bravely standing up to the Kenyan socialist and giving him what for about climate change, and so on and so forth, as if Obama was the only one to note the delusional aspects of Abbott’s policy stance:….
Yes, the Murdoch tabloids did their very best to present a defiant Abbott thumbing his nose to the world, as if being a dumbfuck bogan was some sort of clever policy position:
And never mind that the cowardly, graceless Abbott waited until Obama had left the country to produce a petulant bit of payback.

But that’s as fair as the Murdoch crazies could go, in the tabloid-lite arena. In the world of the reptiles, faces were grim, the extent of the humiliation gravely noted – some had already been consternated by Abbott moaning and whingeing about a seven buck co-payment to a president facing a Republican congress – and then there was the shirt-fronting:……….

November 17, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment


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