Australian news, and some related international items

Censorship of calls for climate change to be included in G20 agenda

Abbott-fiddling-global-warmBrisbane G20: Airport vetoes #onmyagenda climate change billboard, Brisbane Times November 3, 2014 senior reporter Brisbane Airport Corporation has vetoed a “political” billboard asking for climate change to be added to this month’s G20 conference.

The billboard – backed by nine national and international conservation groups – was planned for Brisbane International Airport.

A second billboard is being unveiled in Peel Street at South Brisbane on Monday.

The groups wanted world leaders and their delegates to see the billboard as they arrived in Brisbane. The #onmyagenda campaign encourages people to tweet G20 leaders asking them to include climate change as a stand-alone item on the G20 agenda.

Climate change issues have been on the agendas at eight previous eight G20 summits.

It is not on the agenda in Brisbane.


The decision comes as the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Sunday released its most recent report on the impact of climate change.

The report found that the world must stop almost all greenhouse gas emissions through a phased elimination of fossil fuels by 2100 if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged companies to disinvest from fossil fuel-based industries.

In broad terms, the UN IPCC report finds there are “multiple pathways” available to keep global warming below two degrees.

All of these pathways require “substantial” cuts to greenhouse gas emissions over the next few decades, and “near zero” emissions by the end of the century, the report’s authors concluded.

BAC told Fairfax Media the billboards were rejected last Wednesday because they were  deemed to be “political”.

November 4, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, Queensland | Leave a comment

Brisbane to enter a military lockdown for the G20?

Commandos and Black Hawk helicopters stage operations in Brisbane CBD as G20 security ramps up

By Francis Tapim G20 security preparations are ramping up in Brisbane, as commandos and Black Hawk helicopters flooded the Eagle Street Pier area in a counter-terrorism training operation last night.

Around 50 personnel dressed like commandos, armed with semi automatic rifles and wearing body armour staged the training exercise on Sunday.

Courier Mail photographer Marc Robertson stumbled on the operation, and said there were four helicopters “only a few feet from the buildings”.


“I counted about 50 blokes wearing paramilitary uniforms, combat pants, and wearing body armour carrying full automatic weapons,” he said.

“They are not wearing any insignia at all… there was a lot of action in amongst the buildings.

“There were guys with night vision goggles running around the boardwalk, it was obvious that it was a training exercise and it had been left until after midnight before any of this action took place.”

There was no official information about the operation, but Queensland police confirmed they had been assisting with traffic control for a G20 training exercise in the CBD.

Meanwhile, the RAAF said the public would notice increased activity in the skies over south-east Queensland in the lead-up to the summit.

It said fighter jets, Black Hawk helicopters and surveillance planes would increase patrols, and conduct training exercises. Commander of ADF support to the G20 Major General Stuart Smith said the training period would allow the military to sharpen their response skills.

November 4, 2014 Posted by | civil liberties, Queensland | Leave a comment

Soldiers and police gear up for the G20

G20 security: Soldiers man checkpoints in inner-Brisbane ahead of summit ABC News 4 Nov 14 By John Taylor Soldiers and police have begun stopping and searching vehicles going into G20 restricted zones in inner-Brisbane.

Checkpoints have been set up at Milton and Spring Hill to search for explosives and weapons, manned by military personnel who have served in war zones.


Major General Stuart Smith said the soldiers and police would be involved in the searches over the next fortnight, using high-tech latest equipment.

“You’ve got soldiers here that have got experience in Afghanistan doing high-profile search techniques and they’ve done specific rehearsals to build them up in cooperation with the police over the last few months,” he said………

More than 900 soldiers will be helping with security during G20 and have spent months training for every eventuality.

Barricades to go up as ‘countries take over hotels’

Barricades and fencing will begin appearing around Brisbane city from next week, G20 Assistant Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said………

At the weekend, two people were served with notices prohibiting them from the G20……..

On Sunday night dozens of soldiers with machine guns and body armour took part in an exercise in the CBD…….

November 4, 2014 Posted by | civil liberties, Queensland | Leave a comment

Government cover-up of Australia’s involvement in nuclear bomb testing

The following summarizes some of the key conclusions of the Royal Commission: 

  • The Australian government controlled media reporting such that news items provided what the UK government deemed suitable only;
  • Prior to the first tests on the Australian mainland, the Government Cabinet, Parliament and news media were not informed of what was happening;
  • It is likely that the major tests resulted in a general increase in cancer within the Australian population;
  • Exposure to radiation increased the risk of cancer in nuclear veterans;
  • There was a failure to adequately take into account the distinctive lifestyle of Aboriginal people living in the region;
  • The authorities were negligent in their management, equipping and briefing of the crews of the Lincoln aircraft who were directed to fly through the nuclear cloud in the Totem 1 test;
  • In the Buffalo tests, “. . . the attempts to ensure Aboriginal safety during the Buffalo series demonstrate ignorance, incompetence and cynicism on the part of those responsible for that safety.” (12)

This summary is a very small and selective account of the content of the Royal Commission’s Report.

Since Hiroshima: Australia’s Active Involvement in the Use and Abuse of Nuclear Energy Sunday, 05 October 2014 09:59By Lindsay FitzclarenceTruthout  “………..By 1952, the government had signed a contract with the CDA (Combined Development Agency) representing the UK and United States to supply uranium (5).


At the same time, in a remarkable expression of executive power, the pro-royalist prime minister of Australia, Robert Menzies, agreed to a British request to begin testing of atomic weapons in its former colony (6). At the dawn of the Cold War nuclear arms race, Australia was an active participant at both ends of the weapons cycle: the source of primary nuclear fuel and as a nuclear testing ground. Continue reading

October 6, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, history, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Community rights disappearing under Campbell Newman’s uranium mining push

Newman,-Campbell-jackbootsTo many Traditional Owners, these places are known as sickness country, or poison country, and are often considered sacred. Upsetting the poison and letting out into the landscape would be a disaster, particularly in the life giving and food providing Mitchel River basin.

The Bill, passed in parliament in early September, gives the Coordinator General the power to exclude community objection rights over some of the largest mining projects

Mining companies now have more rights than the community in Newman’s Queensland  1 Oct 14    Queenslanders have more reason than ever to be concerned about uranium mining in the sunshine state. By  Andrew Picone Back in 2012 Queensland Premier Campbell Newman made a series of ‘crystal clear’ commitments to keep the door closed to uranium mining in Queensland. In a letter to former ACF CEO Don Henry, Newman wrote “I take this opportunity to reaffirm my statements, made before the last election, that the State Government has no plans to approve the development of uranium in Queensland”.

It proved to be one of his first broken promises. Just a fortnight later this commitment was dumped, without any independent assessment or community consultation. Uranium mining would not just be permitted in Queensland, the Premier started actively encouraging uranium mining companies to set up shop in the sunshine state.

Fast forward to 2014 and Queenslanders have more reason than ever to be concerned. In an echo of the heavy handed police state politics that so characterized former Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke Petersen, the Queensland government’s hand-picked co-ordinator general will now have sole authority over major new mining projects.

Proposed legislative changes introduced in the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill 2014, literally rushed through the Parliament at five minutes to midnight on September 9th 2014, in particular provision 47D entitled ‘restriction in giving of objection notice under the Environmental Protection Act’ – should sound the community alarm.   Continue reading

October 3, 2014 Posted by | civil liberties, Queensland | 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

Secret gagging of the Australian Press is revealed by Wikileaks

highly-recommended civil-liberty-2smWikiLeaks reveals Australian gagging order over political bribery allegations Superinjunction reported to have been issued on 19 June to block reporting of claims involving international politicians   The Guardian, Wednesday 30 July 2014 

A sweeping gagging order issued in Australia to block reporting of any bribery allegations involving several logo-Wikileaksinternational political leaders in the region has been exposed by WikiLeaks.

The prohibition emerged from a criminal case in the Australian courts and applies throughout the country. It was issued by the criminal division of the supreme court of Victoria in Melbourne “to prevent damage to Australia’s international relations that may be caused by the publication of material that may damage the reputations of specified individuals who are not the subject of charges in these proceedings”.

The Australia-wide gagging order is a superinjunction, which means it also contains a clause insisting that the terms of the order itself should remain secret. It was issued on 19 June and states: “Subject to further order, there be no disclosure, by publication or otherwise, of any information (whether in electronic or paper form) derived from or prepared for the purposes of these proceedings including the terms of these orders.”

In a statement published with the leak, Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, said the gagging order relates to a case that “concerns the subsidiaries of the Australian central bank”.

He said it was the first blanket suppression order of this nature in Australia since 1995. “With this order, the worst in living memory, the Australian government is not just gagging the Australian press, it is blindfolding the Australian public,” said Assange, who is himself Australian. “This is not simply a question of the Australian government failing to give this international corruption case the public scrutiny it is due. Foreign minister Julie Bishop must explain why she is threatening every Australian with imprisonment in an attempt to cover up an embarrassing corruption scandal involving the Australian government. The concept of ‘national security’ is not meant to serve as a blanket phrase to cover up serious corruption allegations involving government officials, in Australia or elsewhere. It is in the public interest for the press to be able to report on this case.”

Assange has been holed up for more than two years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London evading extradition to Sweden where he is wanted to face questioning over allegations of sexual assault.

July 30, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Climate research censored by Queensland University?

civil-liberty-2smQueensland University tries to block climate research GRAHAM LLOYD THE AUSTRALIAN MAY 17, 2014  THE University of Queensland has threatened legal action to stop the release of data used in a paper that establishes a 97 per cent scientific consensus on ­anthropogenic climate change

The paper, lead authored by John Cook, has been the subject of debate over its methodology since it was published last year…..(subscribers only)

May 17, 2014 Posted by | civil liberties, Queensland | Leave a comment

Legal bullying made a scientific journal remove its article about climate change

intimidationThe journal that gave in to climate deniers’ intimidation The Conversation,  Elaine McKewon,  Research Associate, Australian Centre for Independent Journalism at University of Technology, Sydney 1 April 14, 

In February 2013, the journal Frontiers in Psychology published a peer-reviewed paper which found that people who reject climate science are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories. Predictably enough, those people didn’t like it.The paper, which I helped to peer-review, is called “Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation”. In it, cognitive scientist Stephan Lewandowsky and his colleagues survey and analyse the outcry generated on climate skeptic blogs to their earlier work on climate denial.

The earlier study had also linked climate denial with conspiracist thinking. And so by reacting with yet more conspiracy theorising, the bloggers rather proved the researchers’ point.

Yet soon after Recursive Fury was published, threats of litigation started to roll in, and the journal took the paper down (it survives on the website of the University of Western Australia, where Lewandowsky carried out the study).

A lengthy investigation ensued, which eventually found the paper to be scientifically and ethically sound. Yet on March 21 this year, Frontiers retracted the paper because of the legal threats.

The episode offers some of the clearest evidence yet that threats of libel lawsuits have a chilling effect on scientific research………

the journal’s management and editors were clearly intimidated by climate deniers who threatened to sue. So Frontiers bowed to their demands, retracted the paper, damaged its own reputation, and ultimately gave a free kick to aggressive climate deniers.

I would have expected a scientific journal to have more backbone, certainly when it comes to the crucially important issue of academic freedom.


April 2, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, media, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Queensland govt moves to restrict objections to mining applications

civil-liberty-2smMove to limit ideological objections to Qld mining projects, ABC News, 28 Feb 14 By environment and science reporter Jake Sturmer The Queensland Government is looking to restrict who can object to mining applications, in a bid to crack down on what it calls philosophical opposition to projects.

Currently any group or person can object to applications, potentially sending the decision to the Land Court.

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said it was “frustrating” for the Government.

“It’s obvious that the current process allows individuals or groups who are fundamentally opposed to the coal industry – for whatever reason – to use the objection process to frustrate and delay those projects,” he said. “The people of Queensland have elected us as a Government based on developing our coal industry to supply the world markets and our processes need to allow us to do that.”

In the next few weeks, the State Government will release a discussion paper looking at who can object to applications….

“The people of Queensland have elected us as a Government based on developing our coal industry to supply the world markets and our processes need to allow us to do that.”

In the next few weeks, the State Government will release a discussion paper looking at who can object to applications……

February 28, 2014 Posted by | civil liberties, Queensland | Leave a comment

Australian government spied on Aboriginal activists: photographic exhibition


THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS  Exhibition dates: Wed 22 January to Sat 1 February 2014  View the artworks

Australia spy photos: Australia stalked Aboriginal activists ‘Persons of Interest’ Australia stalked Aboriginals By Brenda Norrel Censored News, 23 Jan 14, Australian Aboriginals were secretly photographed under surveillance by the government of Australia. Now, the spy photos of Aboriginal land rights activists, authors, playrights and artists are the subject of a photo exhibit.

“The 70 photos of people such as author Frank Hardy, Aboriginal activists Eddie Mabo and Gary Foley, film critic David Stratton and actor Bob Maza, among a range of Australians who went on to become prominent in public life,” Business Insider reports.

 Torres Strait Islander Eddie Mabo’s Aboriginal land rights struggle and love for his homeland resulted in reshaping Australian laws. Mabo passed to the Spirit World in 1992
Gary Foley, Gumbainggir from New South Wales exposed Aboriginals deaths in custody. Foley worked with the “style and language” of the Black Power Movement in America. Robert ‘Bob’ Lewis Maza was an actor and playwright, whose father was a Murray Islander and mother was Aboriginal Yidinjdji.
Damien Minton Gallery announced that the photos will be viewed for the first time. These are previously secret ASIO, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, images sourced by the creators of the documentary series, Persons of Interest, Smart Street Films, Haydn Keenan and Gai Steele.

The director of the documentary series, Haydn Keenan, said the photos are “… images with no author, created by the State, of those who threatened it. They are secret political images, stolen to gain power over the subject. Here is a machine aesthetic. No artful frame or composition proposed, but uncannily appears.”

 The gallery said the photographs were created as documents and records of surveillance by secret ASIO operatives going about their work monitoring the activities and meetings of people who the state considered to be ‘a person of interest’……(PHOTOS below in the original article)

January 23, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Aboriginal Land Rights activists targeted by ASIO and NT cops

secret-agent-AustASIO and NT cops spied on, meddled with careers of Territorians BY ALISON BEVEGE NT NEWS JANUARY 21, 2014  AUSTRALIA’S secret service spied on Territorians – including the NT News editor – files released under the Archives Act show……

Those targeted had spoken out against the Vietnam War, campaigned for Aboriginal land rights or opposed Indonesia’s brutal invasion and occupation of East Timor.

Their partners, friends and colleagues were followed, their phones tapped and mail was intercepted…….

January 22, 2014 Posted by | civil liberties, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Trans Pacific Partnership’s investor-state dispute settlement mechanism puts democracy in peril

Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement favours foreign investors over citizens’ rights  Canberra Times, January 4, 2014 Without debate, increased rights for foreign investors will undermine our way of life, writes Thomas A. Faunce. All the indications from the recent Singapore meeting on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) are that Australian society is about to undergo a momentous shift in its governance arrangements. The recent Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) gives a pointer.

It includes an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism. This provides rights of foreign investors (additional to those of local businesses) to challenge our legislation where it impedes their profits overseas before panels of trade arbitrators. Our government claimed it had ”ensured the inclusion of appropriate carve-outs and safeguards in important areas such as public welfare, health and the environment.”


The Australian government has no mandate to introduce such a significant change in our sovereignty and governance. Though the present author and others raised the issue of such greater rights of foreign investors over local businesses during the preceding electoral campaign it was never the subject of major policy debate or positioning.

The insertion of such foreign investor rights into our governance system is a momentous event in the history of our democracy.According to the central document in our social contract, fundamental alterations in Australia’s governance arrangements require not just legislation but a referendum. Thus, a majority of Australian citizens in a majority of states were needed to support the creation of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme or the citizenship of Aboriginal Australians.

Yet, as a result of the TPPA, this country risks displacing the authority of citizens who live and support families, friends, local communities and ecosystems in this land, in favour of a system privileging artificial people called corporations.

The multinational corporations to which the KAFTA and the TPPA will be ceding rights to challenge our democratic laws are regarded by the law as ”people”. They can sue in courts to protect their rights. But they lack conscience, empathy, the capacity to develop virtues though consistent application of generally applicable principle, that constitute the richness of our character. Corporations can never marry or have children. They seek to fulfil a monomanical basic craving – to maximise shareholder profit.

Perhaps the big issue in our nation should not be gay marriage, but corporate marriage – using the corporations law to link a broader public purpose.

It is ironic and sad that the privileging of corporate elites over the rights and interests of our citizens implicit in such foreign investor rights was rejected by conservative former prime minister John Howard at the time of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement in 2004. It also has been deprecated by Pope Francis as part of his recent apostolic exhortation……

At the same time as foreign investors are gaining these extra rights, our government is preparing to turn more of our social infrastructure over to them. The new era for infrastructure financing involves projects financed by taxpayers and superannuants, that then are sold to private corporations who manage them…..

The deliberate disengagement of Australian citizens from the governance changes being wrought on Australia through the TPPA may mark a turning point in a wider disengagement of citizens from the political process in this country.

♦ Thomas A. Faunce is professor, jointly in the college of law and college of medicine, biology and the environment at the Australian National University.

January 6, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s Coalition government to crack down on political protest

policeman-with-truncheonNew law to expand police powers to ‘move on’ protester, THE AGE December 12, 2013,  Legal Affairs Reporter   Unions say a plan to enable police to order people in picket lines and blockades to “move on”, and arrest those who do not, erodes the right to political protest.

The Coalition introduced reforms on Wednesday extending police powers to issue “move on” orders to people who prevent access to buildings, commit offences in public places, cause others to have a “reasonable fear of violence” or who behave in ways “likely to cause damage to property.”

Police would be able to ask such people for their names and addresses, and arrest and fine those who do not comply $720 under the new law. They could also apply to the Magistrates’ Court for an exclusion order, banning protesters from entering certain places if they have been given more than one “move on” order in the same place.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said the proposed changes were excessive and unnecessary: “Current legislative provisions governing industrial action are comprehensive and effective for unions and employers.”……

Liberty Victoria president Jane Dixon, SC, similarly opposed the reforms: “The anti-war demonstrations in the City of Melbourne may well have impacted on shops and businesses in the vicinity but Liberty [Victoria] believes that political protests in public places are an important feature of a functioning democracy……

The reforms follow long-running protests, including against the east-west link and builder Grocon.

They come a month after the Abbott government announced it would re-introduce the Australian Building and Construction Commission, which could fine people picketing building sites up to $34,000. The reforms follow long-running protests, including against the east-west link and builder Grocon.

December 15, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Trans Pacific Partnership helps USA corporations overcome rights of Australian citizens

logo-anti-TPPthe draft was ”very prescriptive” and strongly reflected US trade objectives and multinational corporate interests ”with little focus on the rights and interests of consumers, let alone broader community interests”. ”One could see the TPP as a Christmas wish list for major corporations

The full transcript of the leaked negotiating text can by found at

Australians may pay the price in Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement The Age, November 14, 2013  Philip Dorling  A leaked draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal looks to have worrying intentions.Australians could pay more for drugs and medicines, movies, computer games and software, and be placed under surveillance as part of a US-led crackdown on internet piracy, according to details of secret trade negotiations exposed by WikiLeaks.

A leaked draft of a controversial chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement reveals the negotiating positions of 12 countries including Australia on copyright, patents and other intellectual property issues, with a heavy focus on enforcement measures against internet piracy.

Intellectual property experts are critical of the draft treaty, which they say would help the multinational movie and music industries, software companies and pharmaceutical manufacturers to maintain and increase prices Continue reading

November 14, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment


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