Australian news, and some related international items

Victory for science and public health in removal of Waubra Foundation’s health charity status

astroturf-windRemoval of anti-windfarm group’s charity status is a ‘victory for science’, , Guardian 19 Dec 14 Greens say decision by regulator to remove Waubra Foundation’s tax-deductible status is ‘a victory for science and a victory for public health’……..“The Waubra foundation should never have been granted status as health promotion charity, and the fact that it has now lost that status is a victory for science and a victory for public health,” Greens senator Richard di Natale said.

“I’m glad that we will no longer be lending legitimacy to an organisation that may be harming people in an effort to undermine an important source of clean and renewable energy.”……..

Simon Chapman, a professor of public health at Sydney University, said the foundation had “made it their business” to spread fear and mistrust of wind turbines……..

The Waubra foundation is named after the Victorian town of Waubra, which has become a hub for wind-powered energy, with 128 turbines in the area.

Many of the town’s inhabitants have distanced themselves from the group, and called on it to remove the town’s name from its title…….

December 20, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wind | Leave a comment

Waubra Foundation no longer gets charity tax subsidy for anti wind farm activities

astroturf-windWaubra Foundation, prominent anti-wind farm lobby, stripped of health promotion charity status ABC News By environment and science reporter Jake Sturmer 18 Dec 2014, Government regulators have stripped a prominent anti-wind farm lobby of its health promotion charity status.

The status allowed the Waubra Foundation to receive tax deductible donations, concessions the Greens described as “enormous public subsidies”.

A year ago the ABC revealed the Greens made a complaint to the Taxation Office and Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC), claiming there was no credible evidence to suggest a direct link between wind turbines and health problems.

University of Sydney Professor of Public Health Simon Chapman supports that view.

“There’s very, very poor evidence of any direct effect – in fact there have been 22 published reviews since 2003 which have all reached that conclusion,” Professor Chapman said.

“So in other words there’s nothing intrinsic that’s emitted from wind farms – sound etcetera – which in itself can cause human health problems.”

Four months after the Greens made the complaint, the Commission sent a show cause notice to the Foundation.

“It is not possible for me to find that the Foundation’s principal activity promotes the prevention or control of disease in human beings,” Assistant Commissioner David Locke said in February.

“My current view is there is that there is insufficient evidence that ‘wind turbine syndrome’ or ‘vibroacoustic disease’ caused by proximity to wind turbines are recognised as human diseases or that the health problems that have been perceived by the complainants as being associated with living or working close to wind turbines are a disease.”………..

December 20, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

Jim Green busts the pro nuclear spin of some conservation scientists

BubbleBurst-1Endorsing the wishful thinking and misinformation presented in the Brook-Bradshaw journal article is no substitute for an honest acknowledgement of the proliferation problems associated with nuclear power, coupled with serious, sustained efforts to solve those problems.

‘Wishful thinking and misinformation': An open letter to nuclear lobbyists

JIM GREEN 18 DEC,  A group of conservation scientists has published an open letter urging environmentalists to reconsider their opposition to nuclear power. The letter is an initiative of Australian academics Barry Brook and Corey Bradshaw.

The co-signatories “support the broad conclusions drawn in the article ‘Key role for nuclear energy in global biodiversity conservation’, published in Conservation Biology.” The open letter states: “Brook and Bradshaw argue that the full gamut of electricity-generation sources − including nuclear power − must be deployed to replace the burning of fossil fuels, if we are to have any chance of mitigating severe climate change.”

So, here’s my open letter in response to the open letter initiated by Brook and Bradshaw:

– – –

Dear conservation scientists, Continue reading

December 19, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Get a load of the pro nuclear tripe from nutty Senator David Leyonhjelm

Leyonhjelm,-DavidGet real on nuclear benefits, says David Leyonhjelm 

IF any country in the world should embrace nuclear power it is Australia, or at the very least the nation needs to examine creating a uranium processing industry, it has been claimed. Liberal Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm has called for a debate on the ­viability of ­nuclear power in Australia, arguing that “nuclear power has proven to be safer than just about any other form of power generation’’.

Writing in The Australian today, Senator Leyonhjelm says the environmental problems ­associated with nuclear power are “greatly exaggerated”.

He says it is true that the clean-up of the Fukushima site in Japan, which was badly damaged by a tsunami in 2011, would be costly, but “No one at Fukushima was exposed to enough radiation to get so much as a runny nose’’.

Senator Leyonhjelm says renewable energy such as solar and wind farms routinely occupy huge swaths of land for relatively small returns.

“You need to have drunk a particularly strong ideological kool-aid to believe a technology that covers the landscape in metal is good for the environment,’’ he says. “The volume of nuclear waste produced by nuclear power is smaller than most people are led to believe, it can be safely stored, and is likely to become re-usable as technology develops.”

December 19, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s subsidies to fossil fuel industries – $47 billion!

fossil-fuel-industryAustralian fossil fuel subsidies put at $47bn, as RET wrestle continues, REneweconomy, By  on 18 December 2014 In an budget forecast punctuated by fiscal belt tightening, Australia’s fossil fuel sector is set to receive a whopping $47 billion in federal government subsidies over the next four years, a new report has found.

The analysis, released on Thursday by the Australian Conservation Foundation, uses federal budget data confirmed by this week’s mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO) to identify and tally government handouts for the production and use of fossil fuels. Among the biggest are the Fuel Tax Credit scheme ($27.9 billion over four years), concessional rate of excise on aviation fuel ($5.5 billion), accelerated depreciation rules ($1.5 billion) and the removal of the carbon price ($12.5 billion).

Meanwhile, the renewable energy industry remains under a cloud of uncertainty, with renewed federal government attacks on the Renewable Energy Target (RET) coming just a week after Foreign Minister Julie Bishop used it to bolster Australia’s climate credentials in Lima.

According to figures released by the Labor Party today, investment in renewables in Australia has fallen by 70 per cent since the Coalition came to power………

This glaring divide between Australia’s renewables sector – which is languishing in political limbo – and its fossil fuels sector – which is being given multi-billion-dollar incentives to keep polluting – is part of the Abbott government’s “nonsensical approach” to energy, says ACF President Geoff Cousins.

“With one hand the Government encourages pollution by giving the Fuel Tax Credit diesel subsidy to the mining industry and others, then with the other hand it gives out money through so called ‘Direct Action’, which subsidises businesses to reduce emissions,” Cousins said.

“Unfortunately the $47 billion incentive to pollute is much stronger than Direct Action’s $1 billion incentive to reduce pollution.

Cousins points to the Fuel Tax Credit scheme – which allows corporations like Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton to pay virtually no tax on the diesel they use – as the most perverse of the subsidies, given car drivers and small businesses pay nearly 39c in tax for every litre of fuel they buy.

Figures released in this week’s mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO) show that of the $4.2 billion extra the government will raise through the indexation of fuel excise, $1.9 billion will be refunded to eligible businesses via the Fuel Tax Credit scheme.

“For a Government that desperately needs to find some Budget savings, cutting fossil fuel handouts that encourage pollution should be obvious,” Cousins said.

December 19, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Zambia’s Green Party strongly opposing Australian uranium mining project

the uranium mining issue a symptom of an extremely serious malaise affecting Zambia.

ZEMA and Zambia are woefully unqualified to deal with the environmental effects of the proposed uranium mining upstream of the Park and the management of the radiation and its very serious genetic impacts on people.

The Green Party of Zambia and the Lower Zambezi National Park Preserving the Zambezi ecosystem  Ian Manning 16 Dec 14,The leader of the Green Party of Zambia, Peter Sinkamba, has set out their platform for the Presidential elections of 20 January 2015: to cancel the mining licence issued to Australia’s Zambezi Resources Limited for the Lower Zambezi National Park. Reading this, the electorate will wonder what could possibly be so important about the proposed mining of a National Park. And why do the Greens consider it the single most important issue facing Zambia today?

At one level the mining saga does signal dysfunctional undemocratic malgovernance, requiring a President – given the flawed Constitution handed to Kaunda by Britain that contained no safeguards against the use of excessive Executive power – who is wise and somewhat unworldy, but, above all, a visionary.
The mining, which would utterly destroy Lower Zambezi, poison the Zambezi River and destroy an ecotourim industry was, after all, refused by 17 Chiefs of the Zambezi Basin – now greatly empowered by the Nagoya Protocol of the Biodiversity Convention; by the MMD Government; by Parliament’s environmental committee; by the PF Government’s own Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), a decision later overturned by the Minister. And mining would negate Zambia’s membership of the Convention on Biological Diversity; run counter to its membership of various United Nations bodies; make impossible the declaration of a World Heritage Site joined with Mana Pools; contradict the IUCN’s definition of a National Park; and dishonour the Stockholm and Rio Declarations which bind the nations of the Zambezi Basin under a code of good environmental stewardship. The list is a long one. But are they sufficient reasons to provide a political party with a presidential candidate?

Continue reading

December 16, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Australian governments force Aborigines off their remote lands

Env-Aust Cheap in the deep sense: the sorry business of Indigenous affairs  The Conversation Alison Holland Senior Lecturer in Australian History at Macquarie University 16 December 2014,“……..It might be said that the Abbott government’s decision two months on to stop funding essential services in remote communities was one of the first real policy deliveries since that visit. This would be potentially disastrous for these communities, forcing them off country, escalating dislocation and exacerbating problems of health and well-being in communities already under significant threat.

It also has a flow-on effect as without Commonwealth financial support, the states would have to close the communities.

This is not only cheap policy, but it is deeply grounded in history. It rehearses a profoundly entrenched view in some channels of government that these communities cannot continue and are unviable in the long-term. In this sense, pouring in money is wasting resources better spent elsewhere. In an otherwise fraught policy landscape, cheapness has been one of the cold hard facts of Indigenous affairs………….

Commonwealth expenditure in Aboriginal affairs has historically been very poor when compared to the states and when compared to governments around the world who are similarly placed, like those of North America. The lowest levels of expenditure for much of the 20th century was by governments with the largest nomadic populations – that is, remote communities……….

The discussion at that 1937 conference was quite explicit in relation to the remaining “full-blood” people who, at that stage, were still the majority Indigenous population. The very strong inference was that we couldn’t afford them.

The direction of policy after the Second World War was to concentrate on assimilating those classified as “half-caste”. Most of the bureaucrats held the view that, if left to themselves, the “full-blood” Aborigines would simply die out……….

a history of extraordinary parsimony in this policy arena, particularly for remote communities. It also puts the Closing the Gap initiatives of the former Labor government into perspective. In 2008, the Labor government invested A$3.4 billion in Indigenous affairs in the Northern Territory across ten years to address chronic underfunding. Much of this was directed to remote communities.

Since the change of government, and despite being part of COAG’s national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health plan, the Coalition government has reduced fundingsignificantly. It has rationalised 150 programs to five……….

If he really wants to avoid the failures of his predecessors and of being cheap in the deep sense, Abbott will need to restore funding and respect to remote communities. When in Gulkula in September, he was sitting with representatives of one of the oldest living cultures on earth. In the long-term, ensuring its health and survival might well be less expensive – for us all.

December 16, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane calls for volunteers to host radioactive trash dump

wastesIndustry Minister Ian Macfarlane says bidding for nuclear waste dump to begin in March ZACH HOPE NT NEWS DECEMBER 14, 2014   BIDDING to host Australia’s nuclear waste dump will begin in March, Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has said. It comes after Northern Territory land councils lost exclusive nomination rights because they failed to meet two deadlines of September 30 and November 10 to offer a site.Landowners, pastoralists and indigenous groups across the country will now have the opportunity to submit a tender…………..

December 14, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wastes | Leave a comment

New technology will double savings for solar panel owners in Canberra

“Unlike traditional generators, consumers who become prosumers can can flip, so when electricity prices are low they will be consumers, when prices are high they will be generators. 


Reposit Power’s GridCredit technology a game changer for energy market, Canberra Times, December 14, 2014 –  Solar panel owners will more than double their savings with new technology being launched today. Owners of solar panels in Canberra will be offered new technology from Monday, which will more than double their savings on electricity prices.

A group of investors and electricity industry specialists are investing almost $100,000 to commercial the system, which they believe will be a game changer for the energy market.

Our goal is to get their bill as low as possible.  Luke Osborne

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency will announce $445,000 funding for Canberra technology company Reposit Power to trial the solar storage and trading system, ahead of a national roll-out next year.

Reposit director Luke Osborne says for the first time solar customers can store their renewable energy and sell it back to the grid for a profit. Continue reading

December 14, 2014 Posted by | ACT, solar | Leave a comment

Pope Francis and Bishop Saunders on Australia’s inhumane Aboriginal policies

“Severing the ties of Aboriginal people from their land and thus their culture, spirituality and very foundation of their being, is unethical, immoral, un-Christian and heartless.”

Australia’s human rights record shambolic according to Pope Francis and Bishop Saunders by The StringerDecember 14th, 2014 Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, Bishop Christopher Saunders says Australia’s human rights record is being undermined by inhumane policies. Bishop Saunders pointed to the asylum seeker asylum policies which deny refugees sanctuary and the push by the Western Australian Government to close up to 150 of the State’s 274 homeland (remote) communities. He is also concerned that the South Australian Government may follow Western Australia’s lead and close as many as 100 communities. Continue reading

December 14, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Community opposition to Yeelirrie uranium mining should influence EPA’s assessment of Cameco’s plans

Conservation council highlights opposition to Yeelirrie uranium mine bid 

The WA Conservation Council says traditional owners and locals in the northern Goldfields oppose Canadian giant Cameco’s application to mine uranium.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is currently assessing the company’s plans to mine uranium at Yeelirrie, an open pit mine site 70 kilometres south-west of Wiluna.

The EPA approved a similar proposal for the same project submitted by BHP Billiton in 2010, before it was sold to Cameco in 2012.

The council’s Mia Pepper said a public inquiry into the project was needed.

She said traditional owners and locals in the area had opposed uranium mining at Yeelirrie for 40 years.

“Yeelirrie in the traditional language means place of death which is a strong indication about local knowledge and there’s also white communities there that have opposed the project for over 40 years,” she said.

December 13, 2014 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Abbott government’s lack of international credibility in Lima Climate Summit

Abbott-in-hot-panThe speed at which Australia has lost the respect of the  international community on global warming policy is truly embarrassing. 

This decision to raid the foreign aid budget instead of committing new funds will cause a lot of pain in aid circles, coming as it does on the $7.6 billion cut in the budget, and it may not achieve Australia’s aim of buying back credibility.

While the rest of the world has declared ‘game on’ for the 2015 climate summit in Paris, Captain Abbott is doing as little as possible in the field, because he’s not playing to win for people or the planet, he’s using tactics to fix the game in favour of the fossil fuel industries at the big end of town.

Abbott’s attempt to buy relevance at climate change talks in Lima CHRISTINE MILNE Tony Abbott has tried to buy his way into relevance at the international climate change conference in Lima. But it may not work.

THE ABBOTT GOVERNMENT has finally caved in to international pressure and begrudgingly committed money to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to help developing nations deal with the impacts of global warming.

The announcement has come only days after Foreign Minister Julie Bishop echoed Prime Minister Tony Abbott in declaring Australia would not support the GCF.

I am glad they have. But why they did so is the issue.

It is clear that they have realised that they are so far on the outer that they will have no influence in the negotiations and will not be able to weaken rules or edit texts unless they contributed in some way. Continue reading

December 13, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Ukrainian President revs up cold war talk: Russia warns of doubtful security of Ukraine’s nuclear industry

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko warns new Cold War is looming The Age December 12, 2014 –  National security correspondent   Visiting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has warned Europe is sliding towards a new Cold War and urged the world to stand up to Russia for the sake of global law and order.

Speaking in Sydney during a three-day tour as part of closer relations with Prime Minister Tony Abbott in the wake of the MH17 disaster, Mr Poroshenko also vowed that any Australian uranium sold to his country under a possible deal would be safely used.

But Russia – whose dominance of energy exports to Ukraine would be undermined by any deal between Canberra and Kiev – has already raised doubts about the prospect of Australian uranium sales, which Mr Abbott and Mr Poroshenko flagged on Thursday.

A spokesman for Moscow’s embassy in Canberra branded talk of a uranium deal a “political statement” and warned that given the conflict in eastern Ukraine, nuclear material could “fall into the wrong hands” – though Kiev’s adversaries in the conflict are rebels backed by Russia itself……….

Russian embassy spokesman Alexander Odoevskiy said Australia should bear in mind that eastern Ukraine was “a conflict zone”.


“Given Ukraine’s current geopolitical situation, can it provide enough security for this nuclear industry and safeguards so [uranium] doesn’t fall into the wrong hands? I’m not sure about whether the government institutions in Ukraine are capable of providing these stringent controls.”

December 13, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Rear Admiral Scarce joins the South Australian pro nuclear clique

Let’s talk nuclear, says ex-governor Kevin Scarce THE AUSTRALIAN  Verity Edwards DECEMBER 13, 2014 AFTER seven years of political silence in his role as governor of South 

AFTER seven years of political silence in his role as governor of South Australia, Kevin Scarce yesterday finally spoke out to say the state should consider developing a nuclear industry to compensate for a downturn in manufacturing……….

December 13, 2014 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Is it a good idea to sell uranium to conflict zone Ukraine, with its ongoing Chernobyl pollution?

PM talks uranium sales to Ukraine THE AUSTRALIAN AAP DECEMBER 11, 2014 AUSTRALIA is considering selling uranium to Ukraine, home to the world’s worst nuclear disaster.


UKRAINIAN President Petro Poroshenko raised his country’s energy security needs with Prime Minister Tony Abbott when the pair met in Melbourne on Thursday for talks focused on the MH17 disaster.

    “There is the possibility for Ukraine to buy Australian uranium for our nuclear power stations,” he told reporters.Energy security is a vital issue for Ukraine, which relies heavily on its hostile neighbour Russia for gas and has difficult shoring up supplies of uranium and coal.Mr Abbott said Australia was an energy superpower and wanted to help Ukraine address its vulnerabilities…….

Any uranium sales to Ukraine will prove controversial given the legacy of the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, about 100km from the capital Kiev.It remains the worst nuclear accident in terms of lives and cost in history………

December 13, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment


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