Australian news, and some related international items

Australian government allows BHP new uranium mine to avoid environmental impact statement

Abbott’s Olympic dodge on environmental protections  The Australian Greens say the Abbott Government is shirking responsibility by waiving a new environmental impact statement for the proposed expansion of Olympic Dam.

“The Federal Government needs to do its job and stop putting the private profits of the big mining companies ahead of the environment,” said South Australian Greens Senator Penny Wright.  “This is a short-sighted measure, which shows how little the Government cares about environmental protection.”

Senator Wright said BHP’s original environmental impact statement did not mention acid leaching but there were serious concerns around about this process in South Australia, with previous leaching in a copper mine near Copely resulting in leaks and contamination.

“We need to be sure that chemical pollution from BHP’s trial will be contained. If the Federal Government is cutting corners, what’s to stop BHP from skimping on environmental protections?


Senator Wright urged the Weatherill Government to guarantee environmental safety, but said their record was not cause for optimism.

“Just because the Commonwealth doesn’t care about the environment, doesn’t let the State Government off the hook. They should demand a full environmental impact statement before taking any further steps,” she added.

September 2, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Australian environmental justice activist refused entry to Malaysia 

exclamation-flag-Malaysia1 Sept 14, Australian resident Natalie Lowrey was refused entry into Malaysia after returning as an observer on the criminalisation of environmental defenders against Australian rare earth miner, Lynas Corporation. On arrival at in Malaysia, Lowrey was detained by customs who said she had been blacklisted by Bukit Aman (the police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur) and that she would be deported back to the country she flew in from. She is being sent to Bali and will fly into Sydney on Tuesday 2 September at 6.50am. Lowrey was informed of a strict denial of entry to Malaysia, reasons not given.

Australian rare earths company, Lynas Corporation Ltd, whose processing plant is in Kuantan, Malaysia is the focus of Malaysia’s largest environmental movement. Lynas has been under pressure for the past three years for having no social licence to operate. Their 2 year Temporary Operating Licence (TOL) is due to expire on 2nd September. Continue reading

September 2, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Abbott sanctions agricultural exports to Russia, but uranium exports continue

hypocrisy-scaleAustralia to Step Up Economic Sanctions on Russia  Trade Between Two Nations Worth $1.68 Billion a Year , WSJ By ROB TAYLOR 1 Sept 14 CANBERRA, Australia—Australia will ratchet up economic sanctions against Russia in response to its military action in Ukraine, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott saying Moscow risked becoming an “international pariah.”

Australia plans to match measures introduced by the European Union last month and increase restrictions on the access of Russian state-owned banks to Australian capital markets, Mr. Abbott said, while barring the export of goods and services for use in Russia’s oil exploration and production.

But the list of additional sanctions didn’t mention the sale of Australian uranium….

September 2, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Queensland government wants India to invest in uranium mining in Queensland

dollar 2Australia’s Queensland state seeks investment from Indian firms in uranium mining Business Today Anilesh S Mahajan      August 29, 2014   A week before Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott lands in New Delhi on his first trip to India, the Australian state of Queensland is soliciting investments from Indian companies to mine uranium…….

At a select media briefing, the state’s trade and investment commissioner for South Asia, Parag Shirname, said that there are two-three Indian corporate houses that are keenly looking at getting the mining license, once the deal is reached. “We have already briefed them about the regulatory frameworks, geological data and the attorney firms. They are exploring the opportunity,” he said. Shirname refused to divulge the names of these corporate houses citing non-disclosure agreements. ……
ith Indian investments, the government there is expecting production to go up about 30 per cent by 2017, from 6,976 tonne in 2011. The Queensland government restarted the process of giving out mining licenses from July this year, after a moratorium of 25 years.
India has already concluded civil nuclear cooperation agreements with Argentina and Kazakhstan, and a similar contract with Canada is in final stages……
As per Canadian law, Indian companies can take only 49 per cent of equity in a uranium mining company……..”There are no such conditions if they come to Australia,” Shirname said.
Modi, on his visit to Japan , is expected to sign a nuclear deal with Japan, which will not only smoothen the investment of Japanese companies in setting up of nuclear plants, but will also help the US treaty to be enforced as most US nuclear equipment companies either have Japanese investments or they work in conjunction.

September 2, 2014 Posted by | business, Queensland, uranium | Leave a comment

Victoria’s Liberal government systematically destroying renewable energy

Liberal-policy-1Napthine government accused of attacking renewable energy incentives August 31, 2014  State political editor for The Age. The Napthine government has been accused of systematically destroying renewable energy as green groups prepare for a ground offensive targeting key electorates ahead of the November 29 election.

A report by Environment Victoria claims the government has made 25 attacks on clean energy, including “extreme” restrictions on wind farms, removing the 20 per cent emissions reduction target from the Climate Change Act, cutting and restricting the solar feed-in tariff, scrapping a commitment to replace street lights with energy efficient light bulbs, cancelling the solar hot water rebate and opposing the carbon tax.

Since the November 2010 election, the environment has remained on the periphery of state politics. In the latest Age/Nielsen poll, it ranked sixth on a list of nine key issues for voters, behind health, education, jobs, financial management and public transport.

But with the Abbott government considering breaking an election pledge by scaling down Australia’s renewable energy target, the state government is believed to be examining various options for an environment policy to counter voter concerns.

attacks were announced to the public before the 2010 election, and it is difficult to see how they have benefited the people of Victoria.”

The antagonistic claims follow a submission to the federal review of Australia’s renewable energy target by the Napthine Government. It argues the renewable energy target – ensuring that at least 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity is derived from clean sources – should be scaled back and suggests gas-fired power and power generated using waste wood from native forest logging should be counted……..

Mr Wakeham said renewable energy had increased its share in spite of state government policy, largely because of the federal renewable energy target, something which the state government’s colleagues in Canberra want to destroy.

Environment Victoria is preparing to target key marginal electorates – including some of the crucial “sandbelt” seats on the eastern side of Port Philip Bay – using hundreds of trained volunteers.

Environment Victoria chief executive Mark Wakeham accused the government of running an agenda to destroy clean energy because it was “joined at the hip” with coal companies, risking billions of dollars of investment.


“Most of Victoria’s policy agenda for a cleaner and more efficient energy mix has been deliberately dismantled over the past four years,” Mr Wakeham said. “

September 2, 2014 Posted by | energy, Victoria | Leave a comment

Powershop – Australia’s only real renewable energy electricity retailer, has the others worried

Australia-solar-plugElectricity Retailers Paying Price For Undermining RET  1 Sept 14, According to national solar provider Energy Matters; electricity retailers backing a reduction or abolishing of the Renewable Energy Target are paying the ultimate price – losing customers.

Energy Matters CEO Jeremy Rich says households and businesses disgusted by the position of some retailers – including Energy Australia, Origin Energy and AGL – are taking their business elsewhere.

“We’re aware some of our customers have made the shift to other electricity retailers purely on the basis of support for the Renewable Energy Target,” says Mr. Rich. “It’s not just solar households making the switch to RET-friendly retailers either – even some of those without panels installed are rebelling in a display of solidarity.”

“We certainly encourage households and businesses to shop around and select a retailer aligned with their own views about Australia’s clean energy future – and to let the retailer they are leaving know why.”

According to Greenpeace, Origin Energy, EnergyAustralia and AGL currently provide electricity to over three quarters of Australian households.

“‘The Dirty Three’ sometimes market themselves as environmentally conscious, but their ‘green’ initiatives are small compared to their investments in coal and gas generation,” says the group. “Recently these companies have been undermining Australia’s Renewable Energy Target.” One of the companies disillusioned consumers are gravitating to is Powershop; Australia’s first 100% carbon neutral energy retailer.

“Powershop believes support for renewable energy is demonstrated by deeds not words, and we know that our customers are looking to make their support for renewable energy real,” says part of a statement from the company; which was named the greenest retailer in Australia by Greenpeace and the Total Environment Centre in August.

Powershop’s offers are available to residents of Victoria only at this point in time. The company can be contacted on 1800 462 668.

Another company benefiting from the RET-inspired rebellion is Momentum Energy; which provides services in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.

Momentum Energy’s SmilePower offers clean energy from a hydro system that has been powering Tasmania for nearly 100 years. Electricity generated in Tasmania is transmitted across Bass Strait via the Basslink undersea cable and into the NEM (National Electricity Market).  Momentum Energy can be contacted on 1800 SWITCH (1800 794 824).

“Switching electricity retailers is usually a quick and easy process these days,” says Mr. Rich. “Often a few minutes on the phone is all it takes to find a comparable or even better deal. It’s a simple action that can save money while sending a very clear message – hands off the Renewable Energy Target!”

September 2, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Radioactive Strontium-90 was found in secret testing of over 20,000 Australian corpses

strontium 90British scientists tested dead Australians for nuclear radiation, Australian  Startling evidence that British scientists secretly tested up to 21,830 dead young Australians, without the knowledge of their parents, for radiation contamination following nuclear weapons tests in the 1950s. By  on 1 September, 2014 Dead Australians were tested for nuclear radiation contamination following nuclear tests, according to a new book.

The author of Maralinga, Frank Walker, laid his hands on minutes of a top secret UK Atomic Energy Research Establishment meeting in England on 24 May 1957 approving a program to determine the long-term effects of the tests on Australia and its citizens.

In his book, Walker describes how officials at the meeting, chaired by Professor Ernest Titterton, decided to first obtain soil samples from pasture regions near Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth to check for fallout from the nine nuclear bombs detonated at Maralinga in the Australian Outback and the Monte Bello Islands, off WA.

The group also sought to collect animal bones from the regions around where the nuclear explosions were carried out.

In the document, the professor says that the final phase of testing would be to determine if Strontium-90 was being absorbed by the Australian population – most likely through the food chain.

“We have to find out if Strontium-90 is entering the food chain and getting into humans,” says the document. The scientists then agreed to start testing the bones of dead Australian infants and children for radiation contamination.

Acting on these orders, hundreds of bones from the bodies of 21,830 dead babies, infants, children, teenagers and young adults across Australia were collected without the knowledge of their parents, according to Adelaide newspaper, The Advertiser.

In a 2001 report to then federal health minister, Michael Wooldridge, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency said it had detected varying levels of Strontium-90 in the bone ash samples it had collected from hospitals in Adelaide, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne………..

September 1, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, history, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Dick Warburton’s RET Review puts thousands of Australia’s solar energy businesses at risk

Parkinson-Report-Why Warburton wants to set solar industry back a decade   REneweconmy, By  on 1 September 2014 “………In the long term, it seems that the solar market in Australia – which could be leading the world – will be set back a decade.

That seems to be the clear and deliberate intention of the RET review panel, which says that large-scale solar farms are not needed, and not desirable. It expects its recommendations on the small-scale solar sector to set the market back by around 10 years.

Yingli Green Energy, the world’s biggest solar module manufacturer, warned that if these recommendations are adopted, Australia will be left behind in a world that is embracing renewable energy as a tangible player in the global energy mix.

“Australia’s extremely high levels of solar radiation mean that solar PV technology is particularly efficient in producing energy outputs,” Yingli’s Australian head Daman Cole said in a statement.

Australia-solar-plug“This country can lead in the adoption, investment and innovation in solar energy. Academically, our universities lead the world in solar photovoltaic innovation, but regretfully the political uncertainty is hurting Australia’s solar industry.

“While we remain stranded in uncertainty around Australia’s clean energy future, the solar industry is experiencing strong growth in many other markets such as China, Japan, South East Asia and the Americas.

The problem with solar is that it is being adopted at a rate unforeseen and unimagined by the fossil fuel industry. Australia leads the world in residential rooftop solar, with more than one in five houses having solar systems, or 1.3 million homes, with a total of 3.3GW installed – even if it does trail in large scale installations. (The first utility-scale solar farm to be connected to the National Electricity Market will be formally opened this week).

Various official studies, such as those done by the market operator in WA, have predicted that installation rates could treble – reaching three-quarters of residential homes, and 90 per cent of businesses. New financial models would allow rental homes and apartments to become part of the market.

This is causing massive problems for generators, such as those owned by the Queensland government and recently sold by the NSW government, because it is eating away at demand, andrevenue, at what used to be the most profitable time of the day.

The RET review variously describes rooftop solar as causing cross-subsidies, an assessment repeated by the AEMC in its analysis of network costs and tariffs, but rarely are the benefits brought to the front. Last week, the South Australian network operator said that the 565MW of rooftop solar in that state – it has the highest penetration – had delivered clear benefits in moving and reducing the peak, and for grid stability.……..

A new report by the REC Agents Association on Monday warned that 1,000 small and medium-sized businesses could collapse if the RET Review recommendations were implemented.

It says that the solar industry currently comprises more than 3,800 businesses, with annual retail sales of more than $2.5 billion.

“Should the Government axe or significantly reduce the Renewable Energy Target, we would see a 40-50 per cent reduction in demand for solar and the closure of at least a thousand small businesses,” it says.

It says the absolute majority (96%) of the 3,800 solar businesses in Australia are SME sized businesses, and more than 93 per cent of the roughly 21,000 Australians who work in the Australian solar industry work in SME’s.

“It has been one of Australia’s fastest growing employment and business sectors, having grown twenty fold in the last decade. In less than ten years, the industry has created more than $17 billion of direct retail sales and tens of billions of flow on expenditure on in-direct support services.”

September 1, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Australia was deliberately used as Britain’s radiation test experiment, at Maralinga!


As The Advertiser has previously reported, hundreds of bones were subsequently collected from the bodies of 21,830 dead babies, infants, children, teenagers and young adults across Australia without the knowledge of their parents.

The Strontium-90 testing program in Australia was the longest of its kind in the world, finally ending in 1978.

In September, 2001, following an extensive investigation by The Advertiser, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency revealed it had kept ash samples from bones collected from hospitals in Adelaide, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne.

In a report to the then federal health minister, Michael Wooldridge, the agency said it had detected varying levels of Strontium-90 in all Australian capital cities.

British scientists secretly used Australian population to test for radiation contamination after nuclear tests at Maralinga  (includes copies of documents from British National Archives),.au 29 Aug 14 scientists secretly used the Australian population to test for radiation contamination after the nuclear tests at Maralinga in the 1950s, a new book confirms.

Its author, Frank Walker, has obtained the minutes of a top secret meeting in England where the UK Atomic Energy Research Establishment approved a program to determine the long-term effects of the tests on Australia and its citizens. Continue reading

August 31, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Uranium miner Paladin reports another big loss

graph-downwardWeak uranium price hits Paladin NICK SAS The West AustralianAugust 29, 2014 The weak uranium price has hit Perth miner Paladin Energy, with the company reporting a $338 million loss for the year.

Late last night the John Borshoff-run company reported a basic operating loss of $3.4 million – which it blamed on the weak uranium price – compared to its operating profit of $55.9 million last year.

The $338 million book loss came on the back of a $226 million impairment on its Queensland exploration assets, along with smaller impairments at its African mines.

The Kayelekera Mine, which it put on care-and-maintenance in May, was the main culprit in the operating blowout, with the mine reporting basic cash costs – but not all-in costs – of $US42.6 a pound.

The uranium price has been hovering around the $30/lb pound mark for much of the year……….

Earlier this week Mr Borshoff had his contract extended by two years until the end of 2016. He will be paid a base salary of $1.38 million a year.

August 31, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

Australians to lose jobs, businesses, if RET scaled back

Renewable Energy Target: Who benefits from scaling back the scheme?NEWS.COM.AU AUGUST 30, 2014    “……..WHO LOSES?

The clean industry sector has railed against scaling back the scheme, warning it would gut future investment in renewables in Australia, damage the $10 billion already committed and put 21,000 jobs at risk.

Australians would also lose subsidies for installing devices such as solar hot water, panels or wind turbines. This is worth about $2500 for those installing a typical three kilowatt solar power system.

Australian National University’s Professor Andrew Blakers, said most of Australia’s fossil fuel stations would be retired over the next few decades.

“The RET target of 41,000 gigawatt hours by 2020 drives renewable energy investment at a sufficient annual rate to reach more than 90 per cent renewable electricity if continued until 2040,” he told The Conversation.  “Thus Australia has the wonderful prospect of moving to a clean electricity future at approximately zero net cost, as retiring coal and gas power stations are replaced by renewable energy.”

Infigen Energy has warned the proposed changes offered the “worst outcomes for electricity consumers”. The wind farm operators said modelling in the review showed the RET would result in a net benefit to consumers compared to closing the scheme.

“The claims that the RET would drive up electricity prices have once again been shown to be incorrect,” Infigen managing director Miles George said in a statement. He said the results were driven by ideology, not facts.

Clean Energy Council CEO Kane Thornton said scaling back the scheme would only serve old-coal generators well past their use-by date.

“These recommendations would stop renewable energy in its tracks, stifling competition within the Australian energy market and ultimately disadvantaging electricity customers,” he said in a statement.

The wider industry has also warned of a sovereign risk issue if a message is sent globally that Australia is not open for business

Greens leader Senator Milne said the uncertainty generated by the review has already deterred investment in clean energy.

“A huge solar farm in Mildura has halted development; Hydro Tasmania stands to lose millions, and countless other innovative businesses, as well as the jobs and families they support, are now in danger,” Ms Milne said.

“The Renewable Energy Target is cutting pollution, rolling out investment, creating jobs and will bring power bills down. Why on earth would we get rid of it?

“Once renewable energy projects are built, they cost almost nothing to run. They are crucial to keeping power prices under control, because the cheap energy they produce drives down the wholesale price of power.

“The reality is that the fossil fuels sector can’t handle the competition from renewables, so the Abbott government is trying to delay the inevitable……..

August 31, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Yea! Boo! Australian government destabilises the solar power industry

Australia-solar-plugAustralia’s solar installers face another boom and bust Solar energy installers are expecting a boom then sharp contraction of their businesses as the Abbott government prepares to take an axe to renewable energy support. Continue reading

August 31, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

Australia led the world in solar power – and then what happened?

Aust-sunHow Australia Perfected Solar Power and Then Went Back to Coal By Julian Morgans August 30, 2014 There was a time in the 1980s when Australia led the world in solar technology. To begin with, Australia receives more solar radiation per square foot than anywhere on the planet, and that presents an obvious advantage. But the true catalyst was geography: two thirds of the country consists of uninhabited desert. This posed problems for engineers tasked with constructing a national telephone network in the early 1970s. The solution was to build remote relay stations powered with solar energy, which at the time was a fledgling, expensive technology. Yet by 1978 the national provider, Telecom, had developed reliable solar cells that could be installed affordably across the country and be infrequently maintained. International recognition came in 1983 when Perth was tapped with hosting the Solar World Congress.

Fast-forward to 2014 and Australian solar power is in a very different place. This week a proposed solar farm with 2,000 dishes—capable of powering 30,000 homes—was canceled amid uncertainty about the future of renewable energy. This comes at a time when every one of the country’s proposed solar farms are on hold and coal operators push legislation to strangle solar proliferation. So what happened? Continue reading

August 31, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Tasmania urging Federal government not to scrap Renewable Energy Target

map-tasmania-wind.1Greens urges Hodgman Government to ‘utterly reject’ RET review recommendations 31 Aug 14,  By Ellen Coulter  Greens leader Christine Milne has urged the Hodgman Government to stand up for renewable energy and “utterly reject” the Warburton report’s recommendations.

The review of the Renewable Energy Target (RET), chaired by Dick Warburton, has recommended the scheme be drastically cut back.

The prospect that the findings will be adopted by the Abbott Government has cast a pall over the renewable energy industry Australia wide.

In Tasmania, Hydro Tasmania has warned any winding back would threaten billions of dollars in investment and doubt prevails over proposals such as the Granville Harbour wind farm on Tasmania’s west coast.

Liberal Premier Will Hodgman says he is worried about the Commonwealth’s response to the review, which is expected in about a fortnight.

State Energy Minister Matthew Groom is planning to fly to Canberra this week to urge the Federal Government against scrapping the RET. “We’re very anxious about any decision that the Federal Government might make to this scheme that could disadvantage the state,” Mr Hodgman said.

“I urge the Federal Government to look very carefully at Tasmania, consider our investment and also further opportunities in the future.”

Mr Hodgman said he has been arguing Tasmania’s case for months and that Mr Groom would again be pushing the cause to his federal counterparts.

But Ms Milne said the Tasmanian Liberals were not doing enough.

She maintained that Prime Minister Tony Abbott was determined to “destroy renewable energy”.

“It was his idea to abolish the Renewable Energy Target altogether,” she said.

She said the Tasmanian Government was “attacking the Federal Government with a wet lettuce leaf” and needed to present a strong rejection of the Warburton review.

“I think it is time that if Matthew Green supports a clean energy future, supports renewable energy, that he stands up and really condemns the direction of the Abbott Government and rejects utterly the Warburton report on renewable energy,” Ms Milne said.

“Frankly, it is pathetic. If they are going to make a stand they need to stand with the jobs, with the university [UTAS], with the renewable energy future and against Eric Abetz.”

August 31, 2014 Posted by | politics, Tasmania | Leave a comment

No surprise! Abbott’s RET Review Panel comes up with a climate sceptic report

Abbott-fiddling-global-warmCosts of Australia’s renewable energy target ‘not justifiable': review, SMH, August 28, 2014 –  National political reporter Tony Abbott has been given cover to break an election promise not to touch Australia’s renewable energy target after his hand-picked review panel recommended the scheme be dramatically cut back.

Clean energy industry leaders said the findings of the review, headed by businessman and climate sceptic Dick Warburton, represented the “worst case scenario” and would cost thousands of jobs and more than $10 billion in investment if the government adopted its recommendations. Clean Energy Council acting chief executive Kane Thornton said the proposals would “shut down the future of the industry” in Australia………

The panel recommended two options for Australia’s renewable energy target, which is currently set at 41,000 gigawatt hours of electricity from large-scale renewable energy by 2020 – now equivalent to about 27 per cent of expected generation.

Under the first option, the scheme would be closed to new investment beyond those under construction or winning full financial commitment within a month of the change. This scenario would slash the target to about 15 per cent.

Under the second option, the target would be set at 20 per cent. The target would be reset each year and new renewable energy power stations be given approval only if electricity demand increased. The target was one of the few climate change-related measures to enjoy bipartisan support before last year’s election………

Any change proposed by the government will set the scene for another parliamentary fight, with Labor, the Greens and Palmer United Party all opposed.

Analysis conducted for the report found coal-fired power stations would be the biggest beneficiaries of a cut in the target. The review acknowledged that the scheme had lowered wholesale electricity prices and that its impact on household bills over time would be “relatively small”. But the panel found the cost for emissions-intensive companies was not justifiable, and called on the government to find lower cost alternatives to cut carbon emissions.

The Greens said it was no surprise that a review led by a climate sceptic had “trashed” the target. Greens leader Christine Milne said both options put forward would destroy the renewable energy sector. “I’m glad this dangerous and ignorant report is finally public so everyone can see it for the climate denier drivel it is,” she said.

It is expected to be at least a fortnight before the government responds.

August 29, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 476 other followers