Australian news, and some related international items

Australia Day – the disconnect from the country’s true history

The day I don’t feel Australian? That would be Australia Day The Conversation, Chelsea Bond Senior Lecturer in the Oodgeroo Unit at Queensland University of Technology, 26 January 2015, If there is ever a day that I don’t feel Australian, it would be on Australia Day.

My mother is a fifth-generation Australian of English and Irish heritage and my father is Munanjahli and an Australian-born South Sea Islander…….

The disconnect I feel on the January 26 is not a rejection of my mother’s history. Rather, it is a rejection of the privileging of one version of history at the expense of another. I simply cannot be part of the collective amnesia that sweeps the nation on January 26 each year. This amnesia is evidenced in our current prime minister choosing the arrival of the First Fleet as the “defining moment” of our national identity.

This nation has a history that extends well beyond the past 227 years, not to mention a few more inclusive “defining moments” since then.

There is no doubt that the arrival of the First Fleet was a“defining moment” for this nation, but defining for vastly different reasons for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. For me, this day is worthy of commemoration, not celebration……..

The iconic Australia Day images of people adorning various flag paraphernalia, parades, boozy BBQs, and bikini-clad girls on beaches shows complete disregard for the Indigenous lives, lands and languages that were lost as a result of the British invasion of this country and the persisting inequalities that exist

So how do I commemorate Invasion Day? I march. I march not because I’m bitter or stuck in the past, or ungrateful for the privileges I enjoy today. Rather, I march in remembrance for those who lost their lives simply defending their own land and people. I march with pride and pay tribute to the innumerable acts of resistance of our warriors and the ongoing resilience of our communities.

I march with my children so they will never forget about who they are, where they come from and how they came to be where they are today.

Last year, my husband and I took our eldest three children to participate in the Invasion Day march organised by the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy. As we walked through the city to join the march wearing Aboriginal flag T-shirts, we noticed the responses of our fellow Australians. Many averted their gaze or looked disturbed simply by our presence. I just didn’t feel very Australian at all.

More than 1,000 of us marched across Victoria Bridge to South Bank where the official Australia Day celebrations were being held. We noted the newly erected fences around the two main entrances to the South Bank Parklands and the heavy police guard ensuring that we didn’t spoil their parade by entering. It was a stark reminder of our standing in this country…….

Hey, maybe you could even step out to one of the marches taking place in our capital cities and commemorate January 26 with your fellow Australians – the first peoples of the land that you proudly call home.

And maybe then, you will come to understand why this really should be a day to commemorate, not celebrate.

January 26, 2015 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

Change the date of Australia Day – or make January 26 First Fleet Day – Dick Smith

Flag_AustraliaThe truth is January 26 should be First Fleet Day, not Australia Day, The Age  January 24, 2015 -Dick Smith I love this land and its people and believe I won the lottery of life being born here. Celebrating our national day on the date of British settlement in 1788 has never been a date that brings all Australians together, no matter how many flags we wave or happy barbecues we may enjoy. For many Indigenous Australians, the date is no holiday but a reminder of their country being taken over by others. It completely disrupted a way of life that had been undisturbed for 50,000 years.

The early British settlers considered Australia “Terra Nullius”, in effect an empty place that would be subject to British law and customs and the indigenous people were, for the most part, invisible and discounted.

Fortunately, in the last few decades most Australians have changed their views on this. We now understand that the first Australians lived here for countless generations in balance with the fragile Australian environment. Using fire and moving lightly on the land, they not only nurtured the environment, but developed a rich and remarkable culture that has survived longer than any civilisation in history……….

Finding another date will not be easy but it won’t be impossible, either.  I would suggest a date that is orientated towards when we gained our independence from British rule or perhaps a date based on when Matthew Flinders first used the name ‘Australia’.  January 26 could simply be known as ‘First Fleet Day’– yes, an important day for modern Australia but certainly not the day that our more inclusive society should celebrate as the day our nation was formed…….

I look forward to a day we can ALL celebrate as Australians.

January 24, 2015 Posted by | General News | 2 Comments

Australia: globally top potential for renewable energy, bottom chance in market

Parkinson-Report-“Dead” Australian renewables market faces train-crash REneweconomy, By Giles Parkinson on 21 January 2015 (with good graph) In Abu Dhabi, at a series of sessions at the World Future Energy Conference on the future of global renewable energy investment and clean energy markets, there was a lot of debate among some of the world’s leading bankers and clean energy developers about which countries offered the best opportunities.

Some suggested China, India, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas, both north and south. There was no doubt about which offered the worst opportunity. Australia.

“Australia is dead,” said Edgare Kerkwijk, the head of Singapore-based Asia Green Capital, to the general agreement of all.

Just how dead the market is has been highlighted by the fact that no new projects have gotten financial commitment since the election of the Abbott government in late 2013. In 2014, investment in large scale renewables plunged 88 per cent, taking Australia from 11th ranking to 39th.

A new report from Green Energy Markets, looking at the last quarter of 2014, notes that only one large scale project got new finance approval in 2014 – the 70MW Moree solar farm, and that was mostly due to the financing awarded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

(There was also around 10MW of larger scale solar, about the only construction that was committed and occurred under the RET itself).

The big problem, and one that could finally seal the exodus of many international players and financiers, is that Australia needs to commit to 5,000MW of new renewable projects over the next two years if it is to meet the current 41,000GWh target………

January 24, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Victorian Greens aim for closure of Hazelwood coal power station

Greens to use upper house numbers to seek closure of Hazelwood power station The Age January 23, 2015 Josh Gordon  

The Victorian Greens will use their upper house clout to push for the closure of the Hazelwood power station, claiming it is a risk to the community and no longer needed.

Greens MP Ellen Sandell said Hazelwood was one of the dirtiest coal plants in the world and should be closed.

Neither Labor nor the Liberals was giving the community any certainty about the timeline for mine rehabilitation and shutdown, meaning people could not plan for their future, she said……..

The move is in line with the recommendations of the inquiry into the 2014 Hazelwood mine fire, which burned for 45 days, choking the town of Morwell in smoke and ash.

Premier Daniel Andrews also confirmed the inquiry, which was chaired by former Supreme Court judge Bernard Teague, would be reopened to look into a reported spike in deaths and consider options for the mine’s rehabilitation……..

January 24, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Despite overwhelming evidence, Australia’s government in denial about climate change

Abbott-fiddling-global-warmCanberra fiddles while Australia burns January 20, 2015  by:  Despite the overwhelming evidence that the effects of climate change are having a devastating impact on present and future Australia, Kirsten Tona reports that the Abbott Government continues to ignore the evidence.

By 2070, Australia’s average temperature will rise by anything up to five degrees Celsius, our rainfall will be significantly lower and our sea levels higher. This data comes from the CSIRO, not from the-sky-is-falling conspiracy theorists, so …. why is the Australian Government not preparing?

It is a sometimes uncomfortable paradox of democracy that while governments—elected—come and go, much of the real work of the state is done behind the scenes by unelected bureaucrats and institutions.

But, there are times we have reason to be grateful for that.

While the current Prime Minister of Australia is on record as saying that the arguments behind climate change are “absolute crap”, Australia’s premier scientific body, the CSIRO, has been quietly beavering away, using proven scientific methodologies to produce realistic models of what climate change may look like in our country.

And the news is: hotter, and drier……..


    The CSIRO do not think there is no consensus on the science of climate change. The CSIRO think climate change is already happening. So do the Bureau of Meteorology, the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and the Australian Climate Change Science Program………..

January 23, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Victorian health report supports wind farms

WIND-FARMSupport for wind farm report
A STUDY of health impacts from low-frequency noise at Cape Bridgewater wind farm in Victoria is “groundbreaking”, a noise and health exper­t says .[subscribers only]

January 23, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott ignores the chance to benefit Australia by using the low 10-year bond rates

dollar 2Abbott-destroyerPeter Martin: Low 10-year bond rates are the deal of the century but Abbott’s not at the table, The Age, 20 Jan 15
With 10-year bond rates at an all-time low, the time is ripe to get some visionary projects off the drawing board….

If we are prepared to grasp it, there’s no shortage of projects that would set us up for decades to come. In education, in health, in the delivery to railway lines into suburbs that are at present barely accessible – in all of these areas there are projects whose benefits would exceed their costs and exceed them by more than enough to pay the minimal rate of interest being demanded.

Some are visionary. Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist Saul Eslake says if Australia was to get serious about reducing its dependence on coal it would consider paying coal producers to close, and speeding up the commercialisation of battery technologies that would allow Australians with the next wave of solar panels to live off the grid.

January 23, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Between politicians and mining lobby , Australia wasted the mining boom

How Australia squandered the mining boom, The New Daily  Jan 15, 2015 JAMES FERNYHOUGH Money Editor Australia failed to capitalise on a once-in-a-lifetime mining boom because politicians put short-term vote-winning policies ahead of the long-term interest of the nation, economists say.

The private interests of the powerful mining lobby were equally to blame for the squandering of a golden opportunity to strengthen Australia’s economic future.

Why Australia is ending its historic mining boom little better off than when it started……

January 23, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia’s solar PV highly competitive – International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

logo-IRENARenewables Competitive With Fossil Fuels : IRENA January 20, 2015 [Good graphs] The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) says the cost of generating power from some renewable energy sources has reached parity or is cheaper than cost of fossil fuels.

The Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2014 report states biomass, hydro, geothermal and onshore wind are all competitive with or cheaper than coal, oil and gas-fired power stations – and that’s even without subsidies.

Individual wind projects are consistently generating electricity for USD 0.05 per kilowatt-hour without financial support, compared to  USD 0.045 to 0.14/kWh for fossil-fuel power plants.

Solar PV is rapidly closing the gap; with solar panel costs falling 75 per cent since the end of 2009 and utility-scale solar PV electricity generation costs plummeting 50 per cent since 2010.

IRENA notes a recent utility scale PV tender in Dubai was costed at just just 0.06USD/kWh…

Residential solar power systems are now as much as 70% cheaper than in 2008.

Between 2010 and 2014, the average LCOE (levelized cost of electricity) of residential systems in Australia declined by 52% and residential electricity price parity has been reached in parts of the nation. The report states the LCOE of solar PV in Australia is highly competitive due to the country’s excellent solar resources.


“Now is the time for a step-change in deployment for renewables,” said Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of IRENA. “It has never been cheaper to avoid dangerous climate change, create jobs, reduce fuel import bills and future-proof our energy system with renewables. This requires public acknowledgement of the low price of renewables, an end to subsidies for fossil fuels, and regulations and infrastructure to support the global energy transition.”

The report says there are no technical barriers to the increased integration of variable renewable resources.

” At low levels of penetration, the grid integration costs will be negative or modest, but can rise as penetration increases. Even so, when the local and global environmental costs of fossil fuels are taken into account, grid integration costs look considerably less daunting, even with variable renewable sources providing 40% of the power supply. In other words, with a level playing field and all externalities considered, renewables remain fundamentally competitive.”

In terms of small scale off-grid and remote power, renewables now offer the best economic solution compared to diesel-fired generation – and this is  despite the reduction in oil prices at the end of last year and the beginning of 2015.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is the global hub for renewable energy cooperation and information exchange. It consists of 138 members (137 States and the European Union), including Australia. Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2014 can be downloaded here (PDF).

January 20, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Tax-payers paid up big for Queensland’s Abbot Point coal port expansion

Queensland taxpayers subsidised Abbot Point coal port expansion by up to $2bn, Guardian, , 16 Jan 15  Australia Institute says state government provided $1,947.1m to the project despite no public cost-benefit analysis and questions over environmental risk. Queensland taxpayers have subsidised the Abbot Point coal port expansion to the tune of almost $2bn with it expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars more, according to a paper released by an independent policy thinktank.

While the environmental risks of the Abbot Point port expansion have been widely reported, the economic impacts have been overlooked, according to the Australia Institute.

The thinktank found Queensland taxpayers had contributed $1,947.1m to the project despite no public cost-benefit analysis of the project being done.

“The Queensland government money spent on Abbot Point comes at the expense of spending on other government services such as education and health. This fact has been emphasised by Queensland Treasury,” the paper, released on Friday, says.

“… No cost-benefit analysis or other economic assessment has been conducted, contrary to Queensland government guidelines and statements by treasurer Tim Nicholls. The dubious financial viability of Galilee Basin coal projects threatens the expansion of Abbot Point and the large sums spent by taxpayers.”

The Abbot Point port is in central Queensland, adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. Ships accessing the port must pass through the reef and it is being upgraded to a capacity of 70m tonnes of coal a year. In the 2013-14 financial year 30m tonnes of coal passed through the port……….

January 17, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Central West New South Wales could have a bright future with renewable energy – Greens candidate Matt Parmeter

ballot-boxSmgreensSmGreens candidate for Dubbo sees opportunities in transition to renewable energy By Elle Watson Jan. 16, 2015  Greens candidate for Dubbo Matt Parmeter says renewable energy poses a bright future for the Central West.

 Renewable energy poses a bright and alternative future for the Central West, according to Greens candidate for Dubbo Matt Parmeter. A civil engineer with the NSW Office of Water, Mr Parmeter said the Greens aim to transition to renewable energy sources within 15 years.

“[Renewable energy] will have a lot of benefits for inland NSW,” Mr Parmeter said.  He said 300 jobs had been created in Nyngan were a solar power plant is currently under construction.

The Greens renewable energy plan claims NSW can transform from its reliance on 19th century fossil-fuels to a clean, green economy.  “Investing in renewable energy technologies now is possible, it is affordable, and it will create jobs in our region,” said a release from Mr Parmeter.

“We all want to safeguard the environment for our kids – 100 per cent renewable electricity generation for NSW by 2030 is the way to do this.”

The Greens say transitioning to a low-carbon economy is the only way to tackle climate change head on and avoid the worst predictions of a hotter, drier climate.  “I think climate change is an issue that effects everyone,” Mr Parmeter said.    “There are a lot of aspects to that.”

Mr Parmeter said the Greens are staunchly against Coal Seam Gas mining and believe renewable energy is a far better alternative.  “The concerns people have are for the damage caused by CSG mining,” Mr Parmeter said.

He has worked on farm water supply, town water supply and sewerage projects throughout the region for the last 20 years. Has lived in Dubbo since 1996, has two teenage children, and said he has a good understanding of what paying a mortgage and doing the grocery shopping is all about.

January 16, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction – Symposium in New York

text-Please-NoteSymposium: The Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction l February 28-March 1, 2015 at The New York Academy of Medicine

A unique, two-day symposium at which an international panel of leading experts in disarmament, political science, existential risk, artificial intelligence, anthropology, medicine, nuclear weapons and other nuclear issues will be held at The New York Academy of Medicine on Feb 28- March 1, 2015. The public is welcome.
A project of The Helen Caldicott Foundation

January 16, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Northern NSW could be a powerhouse for clean energy, but COALition’s loyalty is to coal

The Greens said the coalition’s love affair with fossil fuels was more about shoring up their mates than a realistic policy for the future.

‘Northern NSW could be a powerhouse for clean energy, but right now the National and Liberal Parties are deliberately wrecking the sector to favour destructive coal and coal seam gas,’

greensGreens attack coalition’s ‘dumb’ renewables stance Greens say jobs and energy independence in the region are under attack by the Liberal/National parties despite a substantial take-up of solar on the north coast. January 15, 2015 | by Chris Dobney

This week, Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported that investment in renewable energy had plunged 88 per cent in Australia in 2014, largely in response to the hostility of the Abbott government to renewable energy and their policy to reduce the Renewable Energy Target.

But 20 per cent of households in the northern rivers already have solar panels on their roofs and the Greens say the industry is still in a ‘growth phase’ worldwide, with more effective batteries allowing residents to become independent from the grid.

Greens candidate for the state seat of Ballina, Tamara Smith, said that investment in the renewable energy sector could be providing new jobs across northern NSW, but instead the government had caused ‘a collapse in business confidence’. Continue reading

January 16, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia not as protected from UV radiation as we used to be.

UV-radiationFrom Frances Rowe, 15 Jan 15 The following may have been broadcast via media outlets, however if so, I missed it:
” A pulse of extreme UV radiation from the flare ionized Earth’s upper atmosphere over Australia and the Indian Ocean. Mariners and ham radio operators may have noticed a brief communications blackout at frequencies below about 10 MHz. This map from NOAA shows the affected region:..”
(see 13 January 2014)
The intensity of this radiation is referred to as extreme; what cosmic rays may be involved are not indicated. It may be that we are not as protected as we once were.

January 14, 2015 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

Australia on USA nuclear bandwagon, to sell uranium to India, but technical problems remain

India-uranium1Technical issues holding up India, Australia civil nuclear cooperation: Minister By Ashok Dixit   Big News Network (ANI)  12th January, 2015 Australia’s Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb said Monday that his country and India have resolved the political issues related to the activation of the civil nuclear cooperation agreement between the two countries, and now, both governments were working on resolving the technical issues.

Interacting with select media here on the sidelines of the four-day Australia Business Week in India (ABWI), Robb said he did not see the government-to-government discussions on civil nuclear cooperation dragging on interminably, but added that at this point in time, he could not put a date on when the agreement would actually be finalized

The minister also said that for the civil nuclear agreement to see the light of day in actual terms, Australia would have to be convinced that India would completely adhere to IAEA and Nuclear Suppliers Group norms for the peaceful and civilian use of uranium before agreeing to release uranium to New Delhi……….

He said there is strong support from foreign nations for India to have access to and give access to civil nuclear business, notably from the United States, Canada and Japan, and saw no reason why Australia could not also join this bandwagon……

January 14, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment


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