Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s pro nuclear lobby in the spotlight

Australia – uranium and nuclear power, Online opinion By Helen Caldicott -, 26 August 2014

“………… an Brook,-Barry-glowsardently pro-nuclear group in Adelaide has arisen led partly by Barry Brook a Professor of Climate change at Adelaide University, who is an adamant supporter of uranium mining and nuclear power in Australia and is promoting small modular reactors

SMRs Australia

To make matters worse former Prime Minister Bob Hawke is advocating that Australia enrich uranium and become the repository for the world’s nuclear waste. “We would get an enormous stable flow of income which could be used for the benefit of the world and our own benefit” he says. Nuclear waste must be isolated from the environment for 1,000,000 years according to the US Environmental Protection Agency – a scientific impossibility.

These people clearly do not understand the carcinogenic and medical dangers arising at all stages of the nuclear fuel chain, nor do they understand radiobiology, genetics or teratology. Furthermore nuclear power does not alleviate global warming because it is supported by a massive industrial infrastructure which creates large quantities of global warming gases including CO2 and CFCs. It is hugely expensive – $12-15 billion per new reactor, and unable to gain funding from Wall Street it is totally government subsided. And most importantly, investment in nuclear power would take money away from desperately needed renewable energy.

Each large reactor contains as much radiation as 1000 Hiroshima bombs, and uranium becomes one billion times more radioactive in a reactor, creating 200 new dangerous radioactive isotopes……..


August 27, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

$15 billion in large scale renewable energy projects on hold, in uncertainty ov Renewable Energy Target

piggy-ban-renewablesThe Implications of Axing RET Sourceable, , 26 Aug 14 The potential demise of the Renewable Energy Tax (RET) is already taking its toll on Australia’s clean energy sector, with major projects annulled due to developers’ concerns about their economic viability in the absence of government-backed incentives……..

A total of $15 billion in large scale renewable energy projects are reported to be on hold as a result of jitters over RET, with next to no new financing committed during the past 18 months.

With Australia’s clean power sector already so heavily shaken by uncertainty surrounding the future of RET, what will the implications be for the country’s broader energy sector should the Abbott government succeed in reducing it, or bringing about its total demise?

According to a recent study commissioned by environmental groups, a reduction in RET would come as a huge boon for coal and gas suppliers, who could look forward to an additional $10 billion in profits over the next decade and a half.

Modelling by the Jacobs Group for the Climate Institute, the Australian Conservation Foundation and WWF-Australia found that reducing RET’s goal to 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020 as advocated by EnergyAustralia and Origin Energy would provide huge economic benefits to these conventional power providers.

………While the big three power companies would reap huge gains from a watered down RET, Australia’s burgeoning yet still fledgling renewable energy sector would suffer from heavy adverse effects. Jacobs’ modelling also found that Australia would see a decline in new renewable energy investment of $8 billion in current dollar terms by 2040.

The Australian Solar Council said the country’s solar energy sector would be “gutted” by any reduction in RET, while a cancellation of the measure completely would have even more disastrous effects.

According to Australian Solar Council CEO John Grimes, the total removal of RET would halve demand for solar power almost immediately.

“If the government goes ahead with its plans to axe the RET, demand for solar will fall 40 – 50 per cent straight away,” he said. “Thousands of Australians will lose their jobs. Hundreds, if not thousands, of small businesses will shut up shop.”

- See more at:

August 27, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Online Green Electricity Guide gives thumbs down to Simply Energy, Energy Australia and Origin Energy

Green guide ranks big energy providers in the red, SMH, August 15, 2014  Some of Australia’s biggest energy providers have been ranked the worst performers on a green energy scale, among them Energy Australia and Origin Energy in NSW.

thumbs-downThe online Green Electricity Guide produced by Greenpeace Australia and the Total Environment Centre ranks electricity retailers, state by state, on seven criteria relating to carbon emission rates, solar power offers, GreenPower products and investments in fossil fuels.

The highest-ranked companies in NSW were Diamond Energy, which relies predominantly on solar generation, and Momentum Energy, the owner of Australia’s biggest hydropower generator.

Among the biggest energy providers with a poor ranking were Simply Energy, which predominates in the Victorian and South Australian electricity markets, and Energy Australia and Origin Energy, ranked consecutively the least efficient in green energy in NSW.

Senior Greenpeace campaigner Reece Turner said the days are gone of customers staying with one power company for life. “There’s now a new breed of retailers investing in renewables, eager to snare customers with an appetite for a renewable energy future,” he said.

The guide has encouraged Kylie Hitchman and her family to switch from Origin Energy to Diamond Energy this month. “I’m very disappointed with Origin Energy. Initially we started with them because we thought they were the cleanest and greenest,” she said.

Ms Hitchman said the smaller and 100 per cent renewable Diamond Energy was a better fit. “It follows my ethics to go with someone like them,” she said………

In Victoria, the advocacy group GetUp! and a Victorian energy provider are trying to encourage consumers to  switch to companies that have a greater commitment to renewable energy. Their campaign urges people to switch from the big energy providers and use Powershop, an online company that monitors energy companies’ prices and offers customers a monthly review of their energy usage and recommends better deals.

Powershop has added 10 per cent of its total customer base in the past two months as a result of the campaign, which GetUp! believes has providers like AGL on the offensive.

“The big power companies are trying to win back customers who have switched to Powershop,” GetUp! spokesman Matt Levinson said. “AGL is offering customers who have switched to Powershop huge discounts of up to 39 per cent to try and win them back.” ….

GetUp! said it plans to make the Powershop campaign a national one, following the success of the Victorian trial. :

August 27, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

World is moving away from nuclear power, says former Prime Minister of Japan

Former Japanese PM Naoto Kan urges Australia to wean world off uranium, focus on renewables By Kate Wild and Xavier La Canna  

Japan’s prime minister during the Fukushima disaster says Australia should be trying to wean other countries away from nuclear power, not increase exports of uranium.

Naoto Kan, who was prime minister from June 2010 to August 2011 is in Australia to lobby for a greater use of renewable energy sources.

He said the world was moving away from nuclear power, and Australia should not get in the way of that.

“Rather than looking at making contributions through exporting and making it more possible for more countries to be relying on nuclear power, all countries including Australia should be making efforts to do what can be done to reduce such dependence on nuclear power,” Mr Kan said.

“I hope that Australia can be exporting not uranium or coal for example, but electricity created through renewable sources,” he said.

When he was Japanese PM, representing the Democratic party of Japan, a tsunami caused a nuclear incident in which three nuclear reactors melted down at the Fukushima nuclear power plant and forced widespread evacuations.

“We were very close to the scenario of having to evacuate people in a 250 kilometre radius,” he said.

“This would have included also Tokyo, which would mean 40 per cent of the entire Japanese population – close to 50 million people.”

His party initiated policies to see nuclear power phased out in Japan by the 2030s, but this policy was overturned by the Liberal Democratic Power, which regained office in 2012.

Australia is thought to have the world’s largest uranium resources, and mines exist in the Northern Territory and South Australia, while Queensland recently lifted a 30-year ban on uranium mining.

Western Australia is also looking to develop its uranium industry.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott will soon travel to India to finalise a deal for Australia to sell uranium to their energy-hungry economy for the first time.

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

Tony Abbott soon off to India to sign uranium export deal

Abbott-nukemonkTony Abbott expected to sign uranium deal with India on visit next month, The Guardian 19  Aug 14 PM’s scheduled visit follows completion of negotiations surrounding arrangements for the export of uranium Tony Abbott is expected to sign a deal to sell uranium to India during a visit to the country next month.

The Australian prime minister’s scheduled visit follows the completion of negotiations surrounding arrangements for the export of uranium, according to multiple news reports.

Indian officials convinced their Australian counterparts that the uranium would not be used for nuclear weapons, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported on Monday.

The Times of India reported earlier this month that negotiations between the two countries had concluded and the deal was likely to be signed during Abbott’s visit to India in early September

The Australian government would not confirm the reports on Monday, but the assistant minister for infrastructure, Jamie Briggs, told the ABC it would be a welcome development if true.

Labor’s treasury spokesman, Chris Bowen, said the former government had been working on arrangements to sell uranium to India.

TweedleDum-&-Dee“The Labor party put in place the policy framework to allow that to happen so if that has been progressed that’s something that’s welcomed,” Bowen said.

In 2012 the then prime minister, Julia Gillard, visited India and announced the two countries would begin negotiations for a nuclear safeguards agreement.  ….

August 20, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Hype about Olympic Damn Uranium Mine – too good to be true?

BHPB-OlympicOlympic Dam: mining’s double century resource, In Daily, KEVIN NAUGHTON | 20 AUGUST 2014 “…..Outlining its new corporate strategy in a global statement last night, BHP listed Olympic Dam as a core asset with a longer life than any other asset in his portfolio…….The limits of the mine’s mineralisation is yet to be determined; however, it remains a resource that is difficult to recover and process……..

Shortly after picking up the asset, BHP began work on a major expansion of the mine.
It aimed to triple production by removing the dirt above the resource and building a massive open cut mine.

The capital cost of that project didn’t stack up when presented to the company’s board in 2012 and the project was cancelled.
BHP is now working on a longer, slower extraction process. It’s currently conducting research trials at geology laboratory Bureau Veritas’s Adelaide site.

The mining process called heap leaching is being tested in a three-year trial. The ore is “heaped” and a mix of acids and other chemicals drip through the ore.
It’s still in its experimental stage and any expansion of the mine is at least six years away……..

August 20, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Pollutimg industries will gain from weakening of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target

Weaker RET = $10 Billion Windfall For Big, Dirty Energy  18 Aug 14 It’s becoming even clearer why Big Energy in Australia want the Renewable Energy Target gone; or at least gutted.

According to modeling by Jacobs; even just reducing the national Renewable Energy Target (RET) would generate $10 billion in extra profit over the next 15 years for coal and gas-fired power generators – and households and businesses will pay more for their power.

Jacobs states reducing the large-scale RET in the way some power companies have recommended would net Energy Australia $1.9 billion in extra profit between 2015-2030 and Origin Energy would rake in $1.5 billion.
But there’s more – AGL’s extra chunk of change would be significantly boosted to $2.7 billion if its goal of buying government-owned Macquarie Generation succeeds.

The sting in the tail of this mega-profit bonanza will be borne, as always, by electricity consumers and the environment. Wholesale prices will rise an average 15 per cent and retail prices 2.5 per cent by 2030. The latter doesn’t include the inevitable price hikes in relation to network costs, which make up a good chunk of a bill.

Jacobs also state $8 billion in new renewables investment would be lost and Australia’s electricity related emissions would balloon by an extra 2 million tonnes a year by 2030 under the reduction scenario. Jacobs’ modeling was carried out for the Climate Institute, Australian Conservation Foundation and WWF-Australia. The full report can bedownloaded here (PDF).

While the Abbott Government may have its sights set on disemboweling the RET; if it should do so it would be at great risk. Many Australians are passionate about renewables and an overwhelming majority of submissions to the Renewable Energy Target Review were in support of the RET. After the black eyes the Government has worn over the recent Budget; treading on the RET could be the proverbial straw.

Still, it wouldn’t be the first time a government has acted in opposition to the will of the people and defied logic – a good reason for perhaps going solar now and taking advantage of the thousands of dollars in incentives while they are still available. For example, a 5kW solar power system can attract up to $3,120 in subsidies depending on installation location.

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

Democracy under threat in Tasmania

Proposed anti-protest laws a ‘brutal strategy’, Bob Brown tells Hobart rally  17 Aug 2014,  Hundreds of people who rallied in Tasmania today against proposed anti-protest laws have been warned the State Government intends to misuse the prison system. More than 500 people packed into Hobart’s City Hall to protest against laws that would see on-the-spot fines and jail sentences for people who disrupt workplaces.

Former Greens leader Bob Brown labelled the laws discriminatory and out-of-balance, telling the crowd that: “These laws would have jailed Gandhi and Jesus Christ himself.”

Many see the laws as aimed at anti-forestry protesters, who have disrupted logging in state forests by protest actions.

Richard Griggs from Civil Liberties Australia told the rally the proposed laws would create mandatory prison sentences for people who on two occasions gathered on public land to protest, if they slowed or hindered a vehicle registered to a business.

“This is a misuse of the prison system by our Government. Prisons should be used by government to make the community safer, not as a way to frighten the community into silence,” he said. He said competing rights of workers to enter their workplaces, and those of people have a right to protest, were currently managed by the laws of trespass and public nuisance.

Mr Griggs said people were at the rally to stand up for the right to peaceful protests, which was a fundamental democratic freedom. Greg Barns from Australian Lawyers Alliance agreed, saying: “You can be 18, 19 years of age, you’re fired up at a protest, and you decide to run into some business premises, you end up getting a mandatory conviction. I will not be bullied or cowered by their brutal strategy.”

Previously, the Greens have compared the laws to those of Nazi Germany, while Labor’s Lara Giddings has described the legislation as draconian.

The State Government rejects the criticisms. Resources Minister Paul Harriss said the protest showed there was no issue with peaceful demonstrations. “The legislation currently before the Parliament does in no way diminish or take away from the opportunity for anyone to peacefully and legally protest.” he said.

The bill has passed the Lower House and will now be considered by the independent-dominated Upper House.

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

Anti science in the ear of Australia’s Prime Minister

Newman,-Maurice-ideasModern Monetary Theory … macroeconomic reality Bill Mitchell – billy blog 17 Aug 14 “………Yesterday, we were confronted with the ranting Maurice Newman in an Op Ed in Murdoch’s The Australian newspaper – We’re ill-prepared if the iceman cometh.

Newman is the chairman of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council. He has been behind the establishment of major conservative think tanks in Australia and is not a scientist (has a background in finance).

He is on the record as saying that those who believe that climate change is occurring and presents a serious challenge are trapped in “uncritical group-think” (Source).

His position on climate change has hardened and in December 2013 he wrote:

… the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change progressively has applied mass psychology through a compliant media to spread the delusion that wicked Western industrialists are causing irreparable damage to the climate. Crowds go cold on climate cost

Yesterday’s article continues his campaign. He is now asserting contrary to what most scientists consider to be a reasonable interpretation of the research, that the world is cooling as a result of solar activity. The same activity that he claims is responsible for the period of warming over the last 50 years.

He considers that there is “growing evidence that climate change is determined by the sun, not humans”. He wants the Government to start cutting funding towards “biased research to pursue gesture politics”. That funding “has inflicted serious damage on economies and diminished the West’s standing and effectiveness in world ­affairs.”

He also opposes investment in renewable energy…….”

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

Federal Industry Minister Ian MacFarlane admits the disastrous mess of efforts to impose nuclear waste dump on Muckaty

Failed Muckaty nuclear dump process ‘a disaster’, Federal Industry Minister Ian MacFarlane says, ABC News,  August 14, 2014, “……..Ian MacFarlane added that if there were no takers for a dump in the NT by September he would “throw open it to all Australia”. Mr MacFarlane has been in the Territory to speak with Aboriginal land councils about proposals to nominate a new site after the Federal Government withdrew its nomination of Muckaty Station north of Tennant Creek as the site for Australia’s first nuclear waste dump in June.

Mr MacFarlane said a dump would be a lucrative opportunity but would only consider nominations that were uncontested…….

Dave Sweeney of the Australian Conservation Foundation said the process should lure people to consider the dump out of financial circumstance.

“We should have a process that’s based on evidence, not enthusiasm. We should have a process that isn’t a race to the bottom of which community desperate and seeking some revenue puts their hand up first,” Mr Sweeney said.

August 16, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Risk to crops from radioactive dust contamination from Yorke Peninsula Hillside mine?

Uranium dust’ from Yorke Peninsula Hillside mine could contaminate crops, campaigners say ABC News, By Malcolm Sutton 15 Aug 14, Fears that dust from a planned mine on Yorke Peninsula could contaminate crops with low-level uranium and potentially travel as far as Adelaide have been raised by campaigners.

The YP Landholders Group said an estimated 3 million kilograms of dust produced annually by Rex Minerals’ Hillside copper, gold and ore mine could include radioactive uranium and its decay products, called radon gas and radon daughters.

Chairman Stephen Lodge cited a joint paper written by United States doctor Dale Dewar that found “long-lived radioisotopes” from uranium mines could spread on surrounding land via dust and the water used for dust suppression.

Mr Lodge said Rex Minerals’ own documents acknowledged the existence of uranium on the site near Ardrossan………

Mr Lodge said the level of uranium considered safe was constantly being downgraded and feared guidelines could be breached as a result.

“YPLOG is asking Rex to guarantee there will be no increase in background radiation, radioactive dust or radiation levels in rainwater tanks as a result of the Hillside operation,” he said.

He warned that Rex Minerals’ decision last week to consider scaling back the project’s initial stages did not mean the full mine would not go ahead, and people needed to be aware of the risks……

August 16, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott’s intentions clear – wants to scrap the Renewable Energy Target

Abbott’s Praise Of Coal All You Need To Know About Renewable Energy Target Review Clean Technica August 11th, 2014 by   Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott initiated a review of the country’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) less than six-months into holding office. Months later, and Australians are waiting with baited breath for former Reserve Bank board member, and arguable climate-skeptic, Dick Warburton and his committee to hand down their recommendations in the next week or so.

However, Tony Abbott’s intentions already seem pretty clear — and if you’re part of Australia’s renewable energy community, or at all interested in Australia contributing to healing planet Earth, then you’re not likely to be too happy…….

in May a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance found that scrapping the Renewable Energy Target could have dramatic ramifications on consumers and employees if Abbott decides to move that way.

As the time until the review board hands down its recommendations regarding the Renewable Energy Target, I’ve been waiting to see just how bad it will turn out. There is no doubt in my mind that Tony Abbott will move to redraw the RET, but just how far he feels he can go is a matter of opinion…….

August 12, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

BHP guzzling precious farming water for uranium mining

BHP Billiton’s thirst triggers an outback water fight   THE AUSTRALIAN, Sarah Martin Political Reporter Adelaide 9 Aug 14  SHANE Oldfield kicks the red rocks on his vast, dry pastoral lease north of Marree where he raises organic Angus beef for ­export.

The outback Clayton Station in northern South Australia has always been marginal farming land. With an average of 10cm of rain a year the property is dependent on water from the Great ­Artesian Basin in dry years…….. (subscribers only)


August 9, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

UK film star Emma Thompson blasts Tony Abbott on Climate Change

Tony Abbott climate change is REAL I’m standing on it': Actor Emma Thompson blasts the Prime Minister from the Arctic

  • Oscar winning British actress, Emma Thompson is currently travelling the Arctic as part of a Greenpeace campaign
  • The 55-year-old help up a sign calling Tony Abbott to act on climate change
  • Ms Thompson is visiting retreating glaciers in the area alongside her 14-year-old daughter
  • The group hopes to use their visit to draw the public’s attention to the impacts of climate change on the area

By LILLIAN RADULOVA, 8 August 2014


August 8, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Conservation Council of South Australia welcomes Bill for Renewable Energy on Pastoral Lands

solar-farmingGreen group cites ‘huge potential’ in pastoral land renewable energy projects  7 Aug 2014,  The Conservation Council of South Australia says a bill backing renewable energy developments on SA’s pastoral lands will help to diversify regional economies.

The Legislative Council this week passed the Pastoral Land Management Bill, which aims to make it easier to build wind farms or solar energy projects on pastoral properties.

Conservation council chief executive Craig Wilkins says there is huge potential to expand the state’s green energy sector.

“A lot of leaseholders actually do want to have some choices and they want some opportunities and renewable energy does provide the diversified income and another string to their bow,” he said.

“So it makes sense for them to be given opportunities where it is appropriate and where it doesn’t impede on other activities.

“The potential is huge and going forward there is really an exciting story to tell about South Australia.

“We actually are one of the world leaders in terms of renewable energy and in terms of how much renewable energy is in our mix and we think we can go even further.”

The Legislative Assembly still needs to consider the bill.

August 8, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment


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