Australian news, and some related international items

Tony Abbott and Clive Palmer’s dirty Direct Action deal is a sham – Christine Milne

Milne,-Christine-1Christine Milne , 30 Oct 14 Just over 100 days ago, Clive Palmer and Tony Abbott got together to destroy the efficient and effective Emissions Trading Scheme.

Today Mr Palmer and Environment Minister Greg Hunt announced that they’ve reached a deal to create a $2 billion slush fund for polluters. They’re calling it ‘Direct Action’ and they’re trying to convince people that it will reduce pollution, when there is no modelling or other evidence that it will do anything of the sort.

Australians aren’t so easily duped.

Palmer and Abbott have absolute contempt for every Australian who wants strong action on global warming. If Palmer was even remotely serious, he’d get out of the coal business instead of expanding it.

We had a strong and effective set of policies in place to tackle global warming. Clive Palmer and Tony Abbott tore them up. Now they’re pretending to care about our climate, all while making sure that big polluters get a massive taxpayer handout and carry on with business as usual.

October 29, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

One New South Wales opinion that the Renewable Energy discussion is furthering local solar power

Still in the dark over Renewable Energy Target changes, ABC News By Bill Brown, 28 Oct 14 “……….Over recent months there has been speculation that the Boco Rock Wind Farm currently under construction between Nimmitabel and Bombala will not proceed to its second stage.

However, Dr Nott is confident that small scale systems such as the solar power his organisation has been installing on surf clubs around the region, will not be affected.

He also believes that the current uncertainty is worrying the community and creating more interest in his group and broader advocacy for renewable energy.

“The perceived reluctance by the Abbott government to tackle climate change is creating more interest in what we’re doing at a community level and is possibly making it easier for us to fundraise for the sort of projects we are doing at the moment,” he said, referring to a community solar farm project at Tathra.

A local solar power system supplier, however, is concerned that every time there is bad press about renewable energy then customer demand drops off.

He says there will be a minimum effect on household solar power, but nonetheless the concern and the negative publicity about the RET review will affect his business.

“Every time,” he said, “there’s a three months drop”.

October 29, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

PM Abbott on the wrong side of history on climate change, renewable energy

Abbott-fiddling-global-warmGet real on renewables October 27, 2014 – The Age Editorial

The environment and the economy will bear the cost of the Abbott government’s attempt to shift the goal posts on Australia’s renewable energy target. The government’s wordplay – declaring it is now pursuing a “real” 20 per cent target for renewable energy use – will actually slow the momentum towards wind and solar electricity, as it surely knows. Prime Minister Tony Abbott is again encouraging a misguided belief that the world can forever rely on burning fossil fuels…………..

The regressive stance adopted by the Coalition is holding Australia back. The carbon tax has been abolished, any move to a carbon emissions market has been deferred indefinitely, and even the government’s promised “direct action” is yet to eventuate. One result is uncertainty in the business community.

Mr Abbott has now compounded that confusion by seeking to revise the renewable energy target. He claims the goal to produce 20 per cent of Australia’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2020 will be met by generating 27,000 gigawatt hours of electricity each year, down from the present 41,000-hour target. All such a backward step will achieve is to slow Australia on the necessary path to developing the alternative energy market.

The government’s bias in favour of the fossil fuel industry over the renewable energy sector has a regrettable human cost……….
Mr Abbott wants to leave climate change off the agenda for next month’s G20 summit in Brisbane. He has said the G20 is an economic forum, and therefore not the appropriate venue for a discussion of environmental issues. His judgment is mistaken. The environment is intimately bound to the economy, and ignoring the problems caused by global warming will not make them disappear.

Mr Abbott, through his sloganeering for the coal industry and wilful disregard for real and growing benefits of renewable energy, has put himself in a position where no national leader should wish to find themselves: standing on the wrong side of history.

October 27, 2014 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

Federal Court grants native title rights on Fraser Island

Fraser Island: Native title rights granted to Indigenous people by Federal Court ABC News, By Kallee Buchanan, Ross Kay and Elaine Ford 25 Oct 2014 Queensland’s popular Fraser Island has been returned to its Indigenous people, with the Federal Court today granting native title rights. The ruling recognised the World Heritage-listed island’s Indigenous heritage of the Butchulla people……The Butchulla People have called Fraser Island home for at least 5,000 years, known to the local Indigenous people as K’Gari, which means paradise.……..

Mr Smith said today’s determination meant the State Government, national parks and the Butchulla tribe would be able to work together to help enhance the natural beauty of the island, which was largely covered by national parks……….

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

Move to protect the $2bn indigenous land fund

$2bn indigenous land fund next on agenda THE AUSTRALIAN OCTOBER 27, 2014 1  Patricia Karvelas FRESH from a win against merging two indigenous economic bodies, Dawn Casey will lobby politicians to support a $2 billion “land account’’ to be managed by the Future Fund.

The Indigenous Land Corporation chairwoman wants the land account to be made more secure.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion confirmed last week that he did not intend to make changes, after commissioning an independent report that provided ambiguous recommendations and failed to back the government’s preferred option of amalgamation of the corporation and Indigenous Business Australia.

The move was a win for Dr Casey, who has lobbied strongly against an amalgamation and enlisted the support of Aboriginal leaders to call for the protection of the $2bn indigenous land account presided over by the land corporation……….. “……“In addition, we seek government support to broaden the current narrow investment parameters of the land account and allow the Future Fund to manage it so as to maximise the benefits available to indigenous Australians, particularly those whose native title rights have been extinguished over the past two centuries.

“The minister’s decision is sensible, as an amalgamation would have undermined the integrity of the land account, and diminished its status as a compensatory fund.

“However, the ILC continues to be concerned that the land account, established in the wake of the Native Title Act in recognition of indigenous dispossession associated with colonisation and settlement, continues to be at risk.”…….

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

Abbott’s Australia: another amazing first! Slashing renewable energy

Map-Abbott-climateRenewable energy target about to get an Abbott-style haircut REneweconomy, By  on 23 October 2014Oh, dear, this is going to get ugly. Very ugly. Australia is poised to become the first country in the world to reduce the ambition of its renewable energy target – either through a deal between the Coalition and other parties. Or by default.

Only in Australia, one imagines, can a proposal by the government to slash the country’s renewable energy target by more than half be proclaimed by the “experts” as a “victory” for the moderates. Such is the toxic nature of this government’s antipathy to all things clean and green, and wind farms in particular. Welcome to Team Australia. Open to vested interests. Continue reading

October 25, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australian government’s review on Renewable Energy – a complete waste of money

Parkinson-Report-Was the Warburton Review a complete waste of money? REneweconomy, By  on 21 October 2014

The Abbott government has now revealed the cost of the highly controversial Warburton Review of the Renewable Energy Target, as bureaucrats appeared to concede the panel went beyond its terms of reference when it recommended that the target be ditched or significantly wound back.

Under questioning in a Senate estimates committee, the government revealed that the Warburton review cost $587,329 – not including incidentals such as accommodation, or the salaries of staff seconded to the review…….

the costs included:

– $287,468 to modelers ACIL Allen – whose modeling, under instructions from the government, included assessing the cost of coal-fired generation while ignoring climate, carbon, financing risk, as well as community opposition. In other words, to ignore commercial reality.–

– Dick Warburton, the former Caltex chairman, climate change denier andpro-nuclear advocate, received $73,000 for his role as chairman (the review process ran less than six months).

– Brian Fisher, who RenewEconomy revealed on Monday had installed a subsidised solar system on his farm this month, after recommending that solar subsidies be ditched, received $39,900. That would be about enough to install a 20kW system, about four times the size of the solar system that Fisher installed – not that the local network would have allowed him.

– Shirley In’t Veld, another climate skeptic and former head of WA’s Verve nergy, received $43,900.

– And Matt Zema, the CEO of the Australian Energy Market Operator, who was sitting in a “private” capacity, received $29,700.

Archer was given an uncomfortable time in the Senate Estimates committee by Greens leader Christine Milne, who asked if the Warburton Review had gone beyond its terms of reference, which was specifically to assess the price impact of the RET on consumers. (You can see it here).

Why, she asked, had the Warburton review ignored the cheapest options, and chosen the two most expensive options that would cause the biggest rises in consumer prices, the least investment, the least jobs, the biggest rise in emissions, and the greatest benefit ($9.3 billion according to the panel itself) to the coal industry?

Did it occur to the government, Milne asked, that the government had been misled by the panel – which advocated that the target be closed to new entrants, or reduced to a “real” 20 per cent target, rather than the current 41,000GWh target……….

CCA chairman Bernie Fraser told the Senate estimates committee on Monday that it will be a “limited review” because of time constraints.

“We do have a fair bit of knowledge and experience about the RET arrangements from the initial report finished 18 months ago. And we will have access to the public submissions to the Warburton Review, and the modeling that done for that review.

“That will be part of the grist to our mill,” he added, before noting that there was “quite an array of modeling out here.”

As Fraser noted, the CCA will make its judgment “independent” of the Warburton review, or the influence of Abbott’s office. That will provide an interesting backdrop to the negotiations between the Abbott government and the Labor party to try to find a “bipartisan” deal.

October 25, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Renewed warning on UV radiation and skin cancer

UV-radiationSkin and Cancer Foundation Australia professor says ‘there’s no such thing as a safe tan’ MERCEDES MAGUIRE THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH OCTOBER 21, 2014 

We talk to the head of the Skin and Cancer Foundation for Australia, Professor Pablo Fernandez Penas, who tells us there is no such thing as a safe tan.

Skin cancer and premature ageing are the main concerns that come from too much exposure to the sun. What can we do to adequately protect our skin this summer?

An SPF 50+ broad spectrum sunscreen will ensure you have good protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
A good rule is to apply one teaspoon to seven body points (head/neck, shoulders/arms, back, torso and legs) 15 minutes before sun exposure. Re-apply every two hours and immediately after sweating or swimming.

What’s the difference between UVA and UVB rays?

UVA and UVB are the harmful rays that reach our skin.

UVB rays are largely absorbed by the outer skin layer and are responsible for sunburn. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin, are responsible for causing accelerated ageing and recent research shows UVA can also cause skin cancer…….

October 25, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Labor says NO to 40% reduction in Renewable Energy target

see-this.wayVIDEO: Labor rejects forty per cent reduction in RET Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 22/10/2014

Reporter: Tom Iggulden

A government proposal to substantially reduce the Renewable Energy Target has been rejected by the Labor Party.

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

Jim Green responds to critics on Australia’s export of uranium to India

India-uranium1Jim Green: Safeguarding uranium exports Responding to my OnLine Opinion article about inadequate safeguards provisions in the Australia−India uranium sales agreement, Geoff Russell begins: “Jim Green’s recent OnLine Opinion piece about Australia’s export of uranium to India reports on concerns about “safeguards” by the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ANSO). This Government office is concerned with nuclear safety.”

In fact, the safeguards office is concerned with safeguards − preventing the diversion of nuclear materials for weapons production − not safety.  ….

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

Students’ climate action campaign is having its effect on Australian politics

logo-Aust-Youth-Climate-CoaLouis Klee: Students put the Coalition on notice over climate change
Climate change hypocrisy has drawn the ire of business leaders and former Liberal party leaders.

Since the moment of his ascendency to office, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been determined to keep climate change off the national agenda. He was carried to victory on his pledge to repeal Australia’s carbon pricing, his first act as Prime Minister was to abolish the Climate Commission, he has vowed to leave aside climate change in G20 talks and he was conspicuously absent at the New York climate summit to the opprobrium of those present.

Yet, Mr Abbott has, in the past week, been drawn into a confrontation over the future of the fossil fuel industry in Australia, declaring: “Coal is good for humanity.” The fascinating thing is that this debate – one that is fast becoming a “bellwether moment in Australia,” as Greens leader Christine Milne put it – was started by the humble efforts of a grassroots student campaign at the Australian National University……

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

Divestment movement shows up Tony Abbott’s short-sighted view on the economy

Milne,-Christine-1Fossil fuel divestments are putting the Abbott government on notice, Saturday 18 October 2014   ANU’s decision to end investment in fossil fuels is democracy up against crony capitalism The decision by the Australian National University to end its investment in fossil fuels is a bellwether moment for Australia. It’s democracy up against crony capitalism, science up against ideology and renewable energy against the old polluting industries.

Tony Abbott’s derision of ANU as “stupid” is a raw ideological refusal to face three key facts:

1. If we are to constrain global warming to less than two degrees, Australia’s remaining fossil fuel reserves cannot be burned. Not by any country, not ever.

2. Australians are already experiencing the effects of climate change, through more frequent and intense extreme weather events. We must stop it getting worse.

3. People can take control of their power bills, take control of their money, and they don’t need to wait for governments.

While climate policy is being torn apart and emissions that came down under the carbon price are going up again, it’s heartening to see that thousands of Australians already know they can take the power back. National Divestment Day events are underway today in Hobart, Lismore, Ballina, Geraldton, Maroochydoore and Darwin, with more tomorrow in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Coffs Harbour.

The divestment movement is putting the Abbott government on notice. People are voting with their wallets – as are churches like the Uniting Church and the Perth diocese of the Anglican Church, and super funds like Local Government Super – all moving their money out of companies that profit from fossil fuels. Now the option is there, students can even invest their minds and fees in a uni that shares their values.

People are changing the direction of our economy, but Abbott’s only response has been to call them stupid and declare that “coal is good for humanity”. What a desperate statement from a man exposed as governing for the big end of town…….

What Abbott’s efforts amount to is “economic suicide,” to quote an adviser to the German Chancellor. The divestment movement proves that Australians won’t be left behind, even if our government is determined to cling to the age of fossil fuels. It’s a bellwether moment and the pendulum is swinging away from the Abbott government, towards restoring our democracy, towards science and towards a clean energy future.

October 21, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott’s comments on coal make prize-winning author cringe

Man Booker Prize winner Richard Flanagan ‘ashamed to be Australian’ over Tony Abbott’s coal comments ABC News 15 Oct 14 Tasmanian author Richard Flanagan, winner of the prestigious 2014 Man Booker literary award, says Tony Abbott’s comments that “coal is good for humanity” make him “ashamed to be Australian”.

Flanagan took out the 50,000-pound ($88,000) prize, announced in London, for his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North…….

Flanagan a better ambassador than PM: Bob Brown

Former Australian Greens leader Bob Brown said Flanagan had become the ambassador for Australia the Prime Minister had failed to be.

“Tony Abbott’s ‘shirtfronting’ approach to global diplomacy is a matter of shame for many, many Australians, but Flanagan restores our pride in Australia.

“He’s the… thoughtful, far-visioned, compassionate intellect that our Prime Minister isn’t,” he said…….

October 18, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

‘Devastating impact’ on Australia by cutting renewable energy

REUTERS SUMMIT-Australia faces ‘devastating impact’ by cutting renewable energy target -lawmaker Oct 15, 2014 (For other news from the Reuters Global Climate Change Summit, click here) By Byron Kaye SYDNEY Oct 15 (Reuters) – Plans by Australia to cut back its renewable energy target would have a “devastating impact” on investment in the country’s sustainable power generation industry, a senior opposition lawmaker said.

Australia is one of the world’s biggest carbon emitting countries per person but has seen declining electricity use in the past five years amid rising power bills and cheaper renewable energy options such as rooftop solar.

As such, the government led by conservative prime minister Tony Abbott wants to redefine a renewable energy target (RET) set by a previous centre-left government in 2009. Instead of a fixed amount then equivalent to 20 percent of projected energy use in 2020, the government wants to aim for 20 percent of actual energy use, which is far less.

To reach the target, the government subsidises companies which invest in renewable energy as well as households and small businesses which opt to use such energy. But the cost of renewable energy is higher than the subsidies, so companies pass on costs to customers.

The government and opposition are now negotiating new terms of the RET in hope of giving investors confidence beyond the three-year electoral cycle.

But they face a deadlock with neither side apparently willing to give ground.

“It would have a devastating impact,” Mark Butler, environment spokesman for the opposition Labor party told the Reuters Global Climate Change Summit on Wednesday when asked about the government’s so-called real 20 percent target.

“It would largely kill any chance of significant new investment. It would collapse the certificate price to the point where even the existing investments would be seriously compromised.”……….


Australian aluminium miners have argued they deserve an exemption from paying any additional costs associated with the RET in their energy bills because sharp falls in the metal’s spot price have put significant pressure on their industry.

Butler said Labor may agree to exempt the aluminium industry, but rather than force households and other industries to subsidise the 2,000 gigawatt hours used by that industry, it could cut the target by that amount.,,,,,,,,

October 18, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Abbott to close Co-operative Research Centres, in favour of science in the service of big business

Abbott-fiddling-global-warmAbbott govt to terminate CRCs for new plan, Herald Sun AAP OCTOBER 14, 2014
THE federal government will pump $188.5 million into new Industry Growth Centres to provide infrastructure in five key sectors of the economy in a move that will spell the end of Cooperative Research Centres……..
The CRC program was established by the Hawke Labor government in 1991. They unite universities, industry and government agencies in research on topics ranging from cell therapy to space environment management.There are 36 CRCs currently in progress…….

October 15, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment


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