Nova Peris questions Abbott’s dedication to Indigenous affairs, SBS News 12 Dec 13, The parliamentary year has officially ended for Tony Abbott and the Coalition government, but questions still remain unanswered for Indigenous ministers. By Brooke Boney
NITV News “……The new government established an advisory council headed by Warren Mundine, which will focus on community economic development in the coming parliamentary year.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott declared his dedication to Indigenous Australians, saying “I want to be the Prime Minister for Indigenous affairs.”
However, recent events in mining and tourism have lead Aboriginal communities to believe otherwise…….. the government is still in its infancy and plans to conduct three separate reviews aimed at closing the gap early next year.
The first review will assess all government expenditure in Indigenous Affairs, the second will review training and employment programs, and the third will focus on the merge of Indigenous Business Australia with the Indigenous Land Corporation.
In the final days of the 2013 election, Minister Joe Hockey announced that the Coalition would cut $42 million from the Indigenous legal aid budget.
Northern Territory Senator Nova Peris revealed her distress following this announcement in Parliament today where she questioned the attorney general during senate estimates and question time.
The Australian Human Rights Commission shot down on Tuesday the nuclear veterans’ last legal avenue on a technicality – after 10 months they have just decided they can’t do anything as they don’t think they have jurisdiction.
Can you imagine finding out that our military personnel, our diggers, were sent into the desert, into the sky and out into our oceans to supervise, watch and secure, the explosion of radioactive nuclear weapons with little more protection than the shirt on their back?
You need not imagine because 61 years ago the Australian government, under the guise of former Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies, approved radioactive nuclear weapons to be detonated on Australian soil, and in our oceans, not once but hundreds of times between 1952 and 1963.
The result is a generation of our diggers lost to horrific radiation related cancers and illnesses. Out of the 8000 servicemen sent to Maralinga, Emu Field and the Monte Bello islands, some 2,000 remain living, fighting and suffering amongst us.
To think of the prospect that any human being, let alone our diggers, would be knowingly exposed to the effects of radiation after seeing the consequences of atomic weapons just seven years earlier in Japan is unforgiveable. Read more »
Ranger clean-up ignores traditional owners 9 News, December 12, 2013 Aboriginal traditional owners have been left off a taskforce convened by the government to investigate a massive leak of uranium and acid at the Ranger mine in Kakadu National Park.
At 1am on Saturday a leach tank with a capacity of about 1.5 million litres collapsed, spilling out a mixture of uranium, sulphuric acid, and mud at the mine site, which has operated for 30 years inside the boundaries of one of Australia’s largest protected areas.
The federal government suspended operations at the mine and has formed a taskforce with regulators and the mine operators to respond to the incident, but traditional owners have not been invited to participate, says David Vadiveloo, acting CEO of the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC), which advocates on the behalf of the Mirarr people.
He told AAP the lack of an invitation to play a role “goes to the heart of our calls for the desperate need for independent oversight of that mine”.
“The regulatory procedures are just as archaic as the mine,” he said……..
an on-site GAC representative says radiation testing is still being carried out, with a large volume of contaminated material sitting on the ground outside the contaminated area.
Mr Vadiveloo said he was “stunned” to see ERA reassuring the community before testing was complete.
“Through good fortune – clearly not good planning – it hasn’t rained here since the accident, but what would ERA have done had the skies opened up and a huge dump of rain come in?”
Traditional owners did not feel safe on their own land, he said………GAC is calling for a fully independent review of the leak, along with a full audit of operations at Ranger.http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/2013/12/12/18/42/ranger-clean-up-ignores-traditional-owners
EDONT to watch regulator response with interest in wake of Ranger Uranium Mine incident. ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENDERS OFFICE NT, DECEMBER 11, 2013 “………What can the Commonwealth and Territory Government do to respond to the spill?
Clearly an incident of this nature demands a strong response from regulators of the mine. Currently the Office of the Supervising Scientist and the Northern Territory Government are investigating the spill.
Under the AEA the Commonwealth Minister has the power to impose an indefinite suspension of operations at Ranger if ERA refuses or fails to comply with or observe a condition or restriction provided in its Authority. It is unclear whether the Commonwealth Minister has given a direction under the AEA or whether he has directed ERA to cease operations pending investigation and ERA have voluntarily complied.
It is interesting to note that while ERA have stated that the spill was contained on site, Ranger Environmental Requirement 1.2 requires that:
the company must ensure that operations at Ranger do not result in environmental impacts within the Ranger Project Area which are not as low as reasonably achievable, during mining excavation, mineral processing, and subsequently during and after rehabilitation.
Additionally, Environmental Requirement 12 requires the use of Best Practicable Technology (BPT) at Ranger. While it is contemplated that equipment on site may be able to fulfill its serviceable life, in light of this weekends events ERA appears to be failing in its duty to adequately review and update its equipment in line with Environmental Requirement 12.
Given that preliminary reports have suggested that the tank was over 20 years old, EDO NT would suggest that a full scale review of the mines equipment to ensure that there are no further equipment failures at the mine and compliance with the BPT requirement of ERA’s Ranger Authority is achieved.
Under the Atomic Energy Act it is an offence for a person to fail to comply with a condition of their authorisation. The maximum penalty for this offence, in the case of a body corporate like ERA, is $10,000.
Northern Territory -
The Northern Territory Government’s powers to regulate Ranger arise from the provisions of the MMA, which as stated above provides for the General Authorisation for Ranger, the Schedule to which set out the way mining operations are undertaken and the requirements for environmental protection.
In the event that the NT Government believes ERA has contravened an environmental obligation under the MMA and caused environmental harm, it is able to commence proceedings under the MMA.
The MMA provides three tiers of offences, namely for conduct causing:
- serious environmental harm (level 1 and 2);
- material environmental harm (level 1 and 2); or
- Environmental nuisance.
The penalties for the various tiers (and levels) range from about $55,000 for a body corporate who causes environmental nuisance to over $2.75 million for a body corporate that causes serious environmental harm.
The way forward
The time for taking a strong legal stance against lack luster performance at Ranger would appear to have come. The Northern Territory Government must send a message to ERA, and other mine operators within the Territory, that the Territory community will accept nothing less than strict compliance with the laws put in place to protect the environment.
Expansion of the Australian National Radiation Dose Register http://medical.wesrch.com/paper-details/pdf-ME1AU7TU3NJWR-expansion-of-the-australian-national-radiation-dose-register#page1 13 Dec 13, This medical presentation is about Expansion of the Australian National Radiation Dose Register. In the International Best Practice exposure records for each worker shall be maintained during and after the worker’s working life, at least until the former worker attains or would have attained the age of 75 years, and for not less than 30 years after cessation of the work in which the worker was subject to occupational exposure. This requirement has been adopted in Commonwealth, State and Territory legislation across Australia.
AEMO sees coal sidelined as renewables dominate new capacity REneweconomy By Sophie Vorrath on 12 December 2013 The need to add more ‘poles and wires’ to Australia’s electricity transmission networks has again been questioned, with a new report by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) predicting future oversupply of generation capacity in the National Electricity Market and signalling potential generation reductions.
The 2013 National Transmission Network Development Plan (NTNDP), released on Thursday, also predicts that only renewable energy generation will be added to Australia’s grid out to 2020; 84 per cent of which would come from wind, 13 per cent from large-scale solar PV, and 3 per cent from biomass. (graphs)
The report, which considers the impact of changing dynamics in the NEM over the next 25 years, including the effect of the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) and of a carbon price – or the absence, thereof – finds that the LRET remains the main driver of national electricity generation investment up to 2020.
This includes 168MW of new wind generation that has recently come online in Tasmania, and a further 131MW in Victoria, 270MW in South Australia, and 386MW in New South Wales committed to come online from 2014-15. AEMO says it is aware of close to 15,800MW of proposed wind generation projects…….http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/aemo-sees-coal-sidelined-as-renewables-dominate-new-capacity-19726
Westpac focuses on renewables, Ecogeneration, 13 Dec 13, “In an exclusive excerpt from the February 2014 edition of EcoGeneration, Westpac Institutional Bank Director of Infrastructure and Utilities David Scrivener discusses the Bank’s approach to clean energy financing and the key things financiers look for when investing in clean energy projects……….Westpac is committed to financing the development of clean energy solutions and best practice pollution controls. Today, more than 50 per cent of our lending to the energy sector is to renewable energy generation, including hydro, wind and solar. Read more »
Climate change to make ‘Super El Nino’ events twice as likely, ABC 12 Dec 13 PENNY ORBELL The drought conditions brought on by extreme versions of the El Nino weather phenomenon are likely to happen twice as often as climate change takes hold.
AUSTRALIAN RESEARCHERS have found that extreme versions of the cyclical weather pattern El Niño — dubbed ‘super El Niños’ — will double in frequency under projected global warming scenarios, with repercussions for many countries across the globe…….”Our results show that a warmer climate will increase the probability for the occurrences of super El Niños, and lead to a higher probability for associated extreme weather.”
The most extreme scenarios of global warming modelled by the researchers predicted more intense El Niños, and are most frequently associated with water current reversals…….
If emissions continue to increase at their current rate, some researchers warn that extreme weather events caused by super El Niños will become more frequent, with those most at risk being fishermen in developing nations and farmers.
“El Niño events typically bring dry conditions for Australia. So an increase in the occurrence of extreme El Niños will mean more frequent droughts, which will have an impact on our water resources and agriculture,” said Santoso. http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2013/12/11/3908868.htm
CEFC saved in the Senate – a rare win for Australian renewables REneweconomy,By Giles Parkinson on 11 December 2013 In a welcome piece of good news for the Australian renewable energy industry, efforts to close the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation have been thwarted in the Senate, and the innovative green investment bank is set to continue at least until next July, when a new Senate will sit. Read more »
Renewable Energy Target Review Red Alert , Renewable Energy News, 12 Dec 13 The Abbott government will soon release its terms of reference for another Renewable Energy Target review says the Australian Solar Council. Given the general vibe; it doesn’t bode well for remaining small scale solar subsidies.
“The future of the small-scale scheme for solar PV is in considerable doubt,” states Australian Solar Council CEO John Grimes…….
The solar power industry currently employs more than 18,000 people in 4,500 small and medium businesses across Australia – many in rural and regional areas.
With Renewable Energy Target related support still providing subsidies of up to a couple of thousand dollars on solar panel systems and that support continuing after the review not something to bank on; the best time to go solar may be right now……..http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=4074
Yingli Green Energy Hold. Co. Ltd. (ADR) : EnviroGroup Installs Australia’s Largest Grid-Connected Enphase Microinverter Project in Conjunction with Yingli Solar, 4 Traders Group, 12/11/2013 |Glenlyn Aged Care Facility to power 50 percent of its energy needs with solar power
Enphase Energy, Inc. (NASDAQ:ENPH), today announced that EnviroGroup, a specialist provider of renewable energy products and systems for commercial applications, government clients and residential home owners, has successfully installed Australia’s largest grid-connected solar power system with Enphase microinverters, in conjunction with Yingli Green Energy, known as “Yingli Solar”, at the Glenlyn Aged Care Facility in Glenroy, Victoria.
Below – Brisbane’s solar powered nursing home
BHP Warms to Partnerships, But Olympic Dam Remains in the Cold WSJ 10 Dec 13, BHP Billiton Ltd. wants to share the love to get its $10 billion Jansen potash project in Canada off the ground. But the world’s biggest mining company is being a determined single when it comes to another costly development: Australia’s Olympic Dam…….
BHP’s reluctance to seek a partner for an expanded Olympic Dam project in South Australia may surprise as it’s stuck on the back burner, squeezed by low commodity prices and high development costs estimated by analysts at around $30 billion. In August last year, BHP said it would look for a less costly design for the Olympic Dam mine, which had been expected to bring in billions in tax dollars and create thousands of jobs. Up to now, it hasn’t announced any new plans for the site.
At first glance, finding a competitor to share development costs and risks with BHP makes sense. If they also bring in new technology then so much the better.
The problem for BHP is that a partner might actually want to get the project moving, even at a much-reduced scale. That would test BHP’s desire to keep annual spending below $15 billion in future, down by a third from last year’s bill totaling $21.7 billion. With uranium prices continuing to hover near eight-year lows, and several countries debating nuclear power in their energy mix, BHP can avoid such tough decisions by keeping full control of the asset.
“We like partnerships,” Mr Mackenzie told U.S. investors. Where Olympic Dam is concerned, it’s the outlook for the main commodity—uranium—rather than potential investors that it mostly dislikes. http://blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2013/12/10/bhp-warms-to-partnerships-but-olympic-dam-remains-in-the-cold/
Australian veterans affected by nuclear testing lose final bid for case to be heard http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-12-10/veterans-affected-by-british-nuclear-testing-lose-court-bid/5147678 By Sally Block 10 Dec 2013 Australian veterans of British nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s have lost their bid to have their case investigated.
About 300 surviving members of the Australian Defence Force applied to the Australian Human Rights Commission to have their case heard.
The veterans were involved in the nuclear tests by the British at Maralinga, Emu Field and Monte Bello islands. Their lawyers argued the Menzies government at the time exposed them to the harmful effects of radiation in full knowledge of the damage to their health and that is a breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Commission knocked them back, saying it is out of their jurisdiction to inquire into the acts or practises by the Commonwealth that are alleged. Read more »
Israel wants Australia to use its influence in UN Security Council to amend nuclear deal with Iran SMH, December 11, 2013 Peter Hartcher, Israel has urged Australia to use its new found influence to force a much tougher deal on Iran over its nuclear program.
Israel’s Minister for the Economy, Naftali Bennett, told Prime Minister Tony Abbott that Israel ”badly wants a deal” to halt Iran’s nuclear progress, Mr Bennett said.
Israel is deeply unhappy with the terms of the interim deal negotiated by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the so-called P5 – plus Germany on November 24. ……..Australia can be an important factor in shaping the final deal, due in six months, Mr Bennett said, because it is a member of the UN Security Council next year and also the chairman of the council’s sanctions committee on Iran.
Iran has agreed to freeze parts of its nuclear program and dilute its most highly concentrated uranium in return for a partial easing of the international sanctions that have forced it into recession.
Israel’s essential demand is that Iran be forced to surrender its nuclear fuel-making machinery. Where the P5+1 deal has allowed Iran to keep its centrifuges for concentrating uranium into nuclear fuel, Israel wants them removed. : http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/israel-wants-australia-to-use-its-influence-in-un-security-council-to-amend-nuclear-deal-with-iran-20131210-2z42x.html#ixzz2nBQ2kJxj
The commentary also says that Australia has worked with Japan and the US on a revised version of the controversial annex which deals with government regulation of medicine prices, including Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, while most other countries are opposing it.
Trade Minister Robb said last week that Australia was prepared to agree to give investors the right to sue governments over Australian laws which they claimed harm their investment, which we have experienced in the Philip Morris case.
It is also worrying that the government appears to have agreed with the US refusal to support proposals from the World Intellectual Property Organisation, which assist developing countries to get access to cheaper generic medicines. Most other countries have agreed to support these proposals
TPP talks in Singapore rocked by leaked document By Dr Patricia Ranald (AFTINET Convener) 11 DEc 13,I arrived in Singapore after a week in Bali at the World Trade Organisation talks, at which the US tried but did not succeed in blocking developing countries, led by India, from taking measures to ensure they can make basic food available for the poorest in their countries. A compromise was reached which means that developing countries can continue to do this. AFTINET working group member Peter Murphy was also at the WTO meeting and has done a longer report……
The TPP negotiations here in Singapore are of course still secret, and governments are not making any public statements. The US has set the agenda of bilateral and small group meetings. They are desperate to pressure others to agree to their proposals so they can announce that the agreement is on track to be finalised by the end of the year. Read more »