Australian news, and some related international items

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

The Abbott government’s agenda heading down the authoritarian path

Abbott’s thuggish agenda steers country down authoritarian path  Old Dog Thoughts, 14 Oct 124 THE Abbott Government is a regime with a taste for authoritarianism the like of which we have not seen in Australia since World War II.

It is using the pretext of a terrorist group called ISIS, operating thousands of miles from this island continent, to strip freedoms and empower security and police agencies in a way that is frightening, so frightening in fact that the venerable Washington Post last week described Australia as a “national security state”.

The authoritarianism of the Abbott Government also manifests itself in seeking to suborn the ABC and turn it into a tame propagandist for the reactive conservatism of Mr Abbott and thuggish lieutenants like Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and Attorney-General George Brandis. Sounding more like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe or Russia’s Vladimir Putin than the leader of a democratic country, Mr Abbott once complained that the ABC is too often not on the side of Australia. A troubling comment and symptomatic of the intolerance of dissent and critical commentary that is part and parcel of the modus operandi of the Abbott Government……….

All this — anti terror laws, Abbott’s patting the ABC on the back for being loyal and Mr Morrison’s legal bullying — in only a month. But look at the pattern. This is a government obsessed with secrecy and pumping taxpayers’ dollars into police, spies and the military. It is a government that berates its critics in a way that makes former Liberal prime minister John Howard look positively tolerant.

Australia suffers from having no real check on an authoritarian leader like Mr Abbott. In Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper shares many of the unfortunate undemocratic traits of Mr Abbott, but he is fortunately constrained by a cultural and legal commitment in that country to citizens having enforceable protections via a human rights charter. Even in the US, citizens have more protection against authoritarian actions than is the case in Australia.

Maybe Australians don’t care. After all, this country started its European days by wiping out indigenous Australians and as a jail for the UK. It is a country that has never had to struggle to maintain democracy. It is a lazy democracy as a result and easily scared by mythical invaders from elsewhere.

It would be a pity if the Abbott Government were allowed to continue along the authoritarian path it is taking this country down. But it will only stop if Australians realise that the democracy they think exists is being dismantled by a bunch of thugs running Canberra, and a weak opposition in the form of an unprincipled ALP.

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

Dr Helen Caldicott at USA’s National Press Club – on danger of nuclear war

Caldicott-2013Activist urges alternative strategy to U.S.-Russia relations, and nuclear disarmament  October 8, 2014 | By Joshua Higgins

With ongoing crises ranging from terrorism to Ebola, policymakers, the media and the public are overlooking a threat that could wipe out the entire human race, a 1985 Nobel Peace Prize nominee said at a National Press Club Newsmakers news conference on Wednesday.

That issue, Helen Caldicott said, is nuclear war.

Escalating tensions between the U.S. and Russia over conflict in Ukraine pose a worldwide nuclear risk, according to the Australian physician and civil activist who also is the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary. Both the U.S. and Russia have access to the button that could launch nuclear missiles at Washington, New York, Boston, and other urban centers, she said, adding that the threat goes beyond politics and foreign policy to the health of the global population.

“It’s a medical issue,” Caldicott said at the Newsmakers event. “And it will create the final epidemic of the human race.”

Caldicott, who helped establish Physicians for Social Responsibility, warned some U.S. strategies could do more harm than good, given that Russia holds a large arsenal of nuclear weapons.

“You don’t provoke paranoid countries armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons,” she said, making the case for education through the media as a critical way to expose the issue.

Public awareness can generate enough political capital for leaders in the science and health communities to inform policymakers about the risks to public health and to the global ecosystem that stem from nuclear arms.

“I honestly don’t know how we’re all still here,” Caldicott said.

Still, she said the U.S. can “lead by example” by generating a dialogue on nuclear weapons and urging international disarmament efforts.

While President Barack Obama has expressed support for nuclear disarmament, global challenges such as the Islamic State terrorist threats and Ebola outbreaks have prevented him from acting, Caldicott noted.

“We’ve got a good man,” she said. “But the forces have overwhelmed him.”

October 11, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will not help Abbott to gut the Renewable Energy Target

Shorten, BillBill Shorten vows to fight to save renewable energy target (273 comments)  Labor leader says opposition is not prepared to help gut a scheme which has delivered investment and jobs , deputy political editor theguardian.comFriday 10 October 2014 Bill Shorten says Labor will offer a helping hand to aluminium by exempting the sector from Australia’s renewable energy target – but he says the opposition is not prepared to help the Abbott government gut a scheme which has delivered significant new investment, and created jobs……….
Comment by Alpo88 10 October 2014

The RET must be as core to Labor as Medicare and funding for education. This government doesn’t deserve any help or compromise…. it just deserves the sack!…. The sooner, the better. Aluminium smelters should be only given a temporary reprieve if the socioeconomic issues involved are truly relevant (a clear rationale must be made public, by the way). But they should be asked to prepare and follow a gradual program of adaptation that must be concluded by a given date.

October 11, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Until Oct 20 public can comment on Wiluna uranium project environmental scoping document (ESD)

text-Please-NoteToro releases Wiluna environmental report for public input Mining Weekly By: Natalie Greve  6th October 2014 JOHANNESBURG ( – Following an environmental assessment, uranium developer Toro Energy has released the environmental scoping document (ESD) for the planned extension of the company’s wholly-owned Wiluna uranium project, in Western Australia .

This followed prior approval by the state and federal governments for the establishment of a processing facility and the start of mining at Wiluna’s Centipede and Lake Way deposits.

The ESD provided information about Toro’s plans to integrate two additional deposits at Millipede and Lake Maitland into an expanded Wiluna project and identified the key environmental issues to be addressed during further government assessment of the project.

Interest parties would be able to make comments about the document to the Western Australian Protection Authority until October 20 and Toro would be required to respond to these inputs before producing a final ESD.

This would guide the preparation of a Public Environmental Review, which continued the government’s assessment and approval process………

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

Senator Christine Milne standing firm against change to RET that will benefit big polluters

Milne-Chris-smGreens leader stands against aluminium sector The Examiner By DANIEL McCULLOCH Oct. 8, 2014 GREENS leader Christine Milne has ramped up calls against offering aluminium smelters a full exemption from the Renewable Energy Target amid mounting support for the move among her political opponents.

Federal Coalition and Labor MPs are expected to enter negotiations over the future of the target later this week, after the Clean Energy Council backed calls to exclude the aluminium sector.

The renewable energy industry body said it would support a full exemption if it would guarantee bipartisan support for the RET and restored stability to the renewable energy and aluminium industries.

Their support follows backing for a full exemption from the Australian Workers Union, and has been mooted as making a deal on the scheme’s future between the political foes almost certain.

Senator Milne said she was disappointed by the council’s intervention. ‘‘To cave in to government pressures and the big polluters is frankly pathetic,’’ she said.

Senator Milne urged the Labor Party not to ‘‘brown down’’ the scheme by excluding big electricity users, saying the move would completely undermine the target’s purpose………

Senator Milne urged a different approach to the better-than-expected RET progress.

‘‘There is absolutely no doubt there is a surplus across the Australian energy sector,’’ she said.

‘‘That’s why its the best opportunity we’ve ever had to shut down coal-fired generation.’’

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


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 533 other followers