Tim Wilson: Freedom Commissioner, The Age, Tony Wright, Dan Harrison December 18, 2013 The Abbott government has sent shockwaves through the anti-discrimination and political establishments by appointing one of the nation’s most vociferous critics to the Human Rights Commission. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Aboriginal elder Kevin Buzzacott gets no answer from BHP AGM BHP Billiton would neither confirm nor deny that it plans to pursue a South Australian Aboriginal elder for court costs.http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-21/aboriginal-elders-asks-bhp-to-drop-costs/5107622 ABC Rural Babs McHugh Kevin Buzzacott of the Arabunna people was ordered by the Federal Court to pay costs to the SA and Federal Governments and BHP after a failed appeal over the expansion of the Olympic Dam uranium, copper and gold mine.
Mr Buzzacott argued the proposed expansion, which has since been shelved, was approved without proper consideration of the long term environmental impact. But three judges ruled that lawyers for Mr Buzzacott failed to make out the grounds for appeal and ordered him to pay court costs.
Sources close to the world’s largest mining company told the ABC it’s very unlikely the the miner would consider pursuing Mr Kevin Buzzacott for costs. They added that BHP Billiton doesn’t have a track record of pursuing individuals on this basis.
Anti wind farm group’s ‘sprawling and inarticulate’ tactics to try to delay King Island wind project
Judge labels King Island wind farm legal challenge ‘sprawling and inarticulate’ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-01/king-island-wind-farm-legal-challenge-too-27sprawling27/5063722 1 Nov 2013 A legal challenge against Hydro Tasmania’s King Island wind farm proposal has been described as “sprawling” and liable to create additional costs.
The No TasWind Farm group has appeared in the Federal Court in a bid to stop Hydro proceeding with its $2 billion project. Lawyers representing the group say Hydro did not have broad community support for the wind farm and it should not proceed.
Justice Duncan Kerr described the application as massively sprawling, inarticulate and likely to result in significant costs to Hydro Tasmania, without concluding anything. He has ordered the two parties to meet and narrow down the claim before returning to court later this month. Hydro wants to build 200-turbines on the island, creating the largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere.
It said the project would not proceed to the feasibility study without the backing of most of the residents. The survey in June found just under 59 per cent support, which Hydro described as sufficient. The close vote prompted the opponents to launch a legal challenge to stop the project. In a statement,
Hydro says a decision on the project’s future will only be made after a feasibility study. Several studies are underway looking at whether the TasWind project is commercially and technically feasible. Hydro says the court challenge will not affect the timing of this phase.
A decision this month by the Veterans’ Appeals division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal upheld the finding that Mr Prior’s death was linked to his work with the British Nuclear Test Defence Service.
Relying on 57-year-old log books of Operation Mosaic – the code name given to the atomic weapons testing at the Monte Bello islands – as well as a witness account of the explosion and design points of the aircraft, the tribunal found Mr Prior would have suffered contamination.
Specialists said the itching and pain could be so severe as to lead to depression and suicidal thoughts, with itching permeating every aspect of live, including sleeping.
The court found “there was a connection between Mr Prior’s exposure to ionising radiation and his skin condition which caused chronic pain” and upheld the decision to award the pension.
Wife of veteran involved in Monte Bello Island nuclear test wins war widow pension JESSICA MARSZALEK NEWS LIMITED NETWORK OCTOBER 07, 2013 http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/national/wife-of-veteran-involved-in-monte-bello-island-nuclear-test-wins-war-widow-pension/story-fnihslxi-1226734294281A VETERAN’S wife has won a 10-year fight for the war widow’s pension after she successfully argued her husband committed suicide because of his involvement in atomic bomb testing in Australia.
The retired Air Commodore, who was stationed at Richmond in NSW and served in Vietnam, was 67 years old when he died in October 2001 – a death deemed not to attract the $840 fortnightly war widow payment. Continue reading
The progressive think tank, the Australia Institute, put out a statement within hours of the release of the Coalition Trade policy, attacking the Coalition’s “hidden agenda” which would see “health and the environment sacrificed for free trade”.
It highlights the threat that ISDS provisions pose to pharmaceutical, tobacco and environmental legislation in particular.
“The Howard Government successfully resisted pressure from the US Government but now the Coalition has signalled its intention to sell out Australian sovereignty.”
provisions of the Trans-Pacific partnership are increasingly encountering resistance within other negotiating nations, which are concerned that the American agenda is more about protecting the interests, particularly the intellectual-property interests, of its big corporations than it is about free trade
Abbott: Open For Business — And Multinational Lawsuits The Global Mail By Mike SeccombeSeptember 20, 2013 ………You’re probably familiar with the fact that a group of tobacco companies including Philip Morris brought a case to the Australian High Court, on the basis that the government had effectively stolen its intellectual property by enforcing plain packaging. It got lots of media coverage.
Less publicised is the fact that having failed in the High Court, the company now is pursuing the matter via a bilateral trade agreement signed between Australia and Hong Kong in the early 1990s, which includes ISDS provisions.
The contempt such an action shows for Australian legal process and sovereignty, says Patricia Ranald, is plain. “They’re saying: ‘We’re going to ignore the High Court, when it says we’re not entitled to compensation; we’re going to go off and find an obscure trade agreement to sue you under’.” Continue reading
Spurious excuses The rationale for the dump is spurious. There is no compelling scientific or public safety necessity for one to be built.It has been repeatedly claimed that a specialised waste dump is required to safely store low level waste (LLW) and long lived intermediate level waste (LLIW).
Most of the LLW is derived from medical isotopes used in hospitals and clinics, while the LLIW comes almost exclusively from the nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights in Sydney. It is this latter type of waste that is of most concern because it is highly toxic and radioactive for a lengthy period
No Northern Territory nuclear waste dump!, En Passant Posted by John, September 19th, 2013 Despite clear opposition from the Aboriginal traditional owners, the push for a nuclear waste dump at Muckaty Station, 120 kilometres north of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, continues, write Jon Lamb and Cathy Lawless in Red Flag.
The campaign led by traditional owners to stop the waste dump is gearing up for the next stage in the fight.
On 26 August, the Federal Court set June 2014 for a case to be heard on whether the nomination of the site for the waste dump followed due process. The nuclear free campaigner for the Australian Conservation Foundation, Dave Sweeney, told Red Flag: Continue reading
Clean Energy Finance Corporation could sue over Coalition shutdown It is not lawful for the new government to tell the CEFC to cease operations, says leading barrister Lenore Taylor, political editor theguardian.com, Thursday 19 September 2013
The board of the clean energy finance corporation is legally obliged to ignore a directive from the new treasurer, Joe Hockey, to cease its operation and could take the Coalition government to court if it persisted in attempts to shut the CEFC down before the parliament voted to abolish it, according to advice from a leading barrister. Continue reading
Australia: ILUA Indigenous Land Use Agreement Equals Indigenous Land Under Attack http://indigenouspeoplesissues.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=17864:australia-ilua-indigenous-land-use-agreement-equals-indigenous-land-under-attack&catid=24&Itemid=57 Native Title lawyers and anthropologists are deceiving claimants of their true Native Title rights and interests Michael Anderson said from Goodooga on July 2:2013
Among other things, the Ashurst letter accused the anti-nuclear campaigner of imputing that Mr Walker was ‘’insensitive’’.
In any case, these kinds of threats to muzzle free speech are on the rise. At a time when the mainstream media is under pressure from falling revenues, lawyers are threatening and shutting down websites around the country at an alarming clip.
Anti-nuke campaigner braces for legal blast, The Age, December 19, 2012 Michael West Ashurst is at it again.
Acting on instructions from its clients, the big law firm last month was threatening a farmer who had the hide to express his opinion on electricity prices.
This month it has been instructed to threaten a 75-year old pensioner who has spoken out against the alleged exploitation of African workers by an Australian uranium miner. Noel Christina Macpherson Wauchope, who runs the website www.antinuclear.net under the name Christina Macpherson, told Business Day she was not in a position to hire lawyers.
“I think they must have thought AntiNuclear Australia was a big organisation, but it is just me,” she said. She was particularly worried that the letter of demand said “STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL NOT TO BE PUBLISHED” until we explained that there was no legal basis for expecting confidentiality from somebody who simply bobbed out of the blue with a bunch of threats and told you to keep quiet about it.
If you already had some kind of confidential or contractual arrangement with the other party, it might be different…… The price of Noel Wauchope’s concern for the people Karonga was a long and intimidating letter of demand from Ashurst on behalf of the uranium company Paladin Energy and its general manager of international affairs, Greg Walker. If she did not comply with these demands, warned Ashurst, she would face court action.
Curiously, big companies with more than 10 employees are not permitted to sue for defamation yet the concerns notice sent to Noel Wauchope complains about defamation of Paladin.
…… the Ashurst defamation partner responsible for the letter was unavailable for comment….. and did not respond to
questions. Neither did Ashurst’s public relations department. Paladin chief executive John Borshoff said he was unaware of the
letter. “I’m not aware about a 75-year old lady,” said Borshoff, “All I know is that these NGOs (Non-Government Organisations) and they are
absolutely maligning us, and we sent them legal letters”.
Neither was Borshoff aware that Paladin was unable to sue for defamation……
Among other things, the Ashurst letter accused the anti-nuclear campaigner of imputing that Mr Walker was ‘’insensitive’’.
In any case, these kinds of threats to muzzle free speech are on the rise. At a time when the mainstream media is under pressure from falling revenues, lawyers are threatening and shutting down websites around the country at an alarming clip.Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/business/antinuke-campaigner-braces-for-legal-blast-20121219-2bm74.html#ixzz2FeGIYe9h
27 August 2013
Dear Ms Wauchope
Thank you for giving me ths opportunity to respond to the article which you have posted on your websites. I trust that you will post this letter with equal prominence. Fairfax is no longer publishing it, has accepted that I and Ashurst acted ethically and competently at all times, and has withdrawn and apologised for the suggestions in the article to the contrary.
Your article contains a number of errors and says a number of false and damaging things about me. In particular, when I sent you the letter on 10th December 2012, I had no way of knowing who you were, as we were sending it to you as a domain name registrant. Your site appeared to be published by an organisation. Further, I at all times acted in accordance wit proper legal practise, and my professional obligations to my client.
I hope that you will rethink your decision to continue to publish incorrect and harmful allegations about me.
Editor’s note: I don’t understand why Fairfax withdrew the article from their online publication, as I thought that the article was true. I understand that the journalist who wrote that article stands by the story and has not accepted the claims made by Ashurst’.
Date set for court fight over Muckaty nuclear waste dump http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-08-26/court-date-set-for-nuclear-waste-dump-fight/4912730 26 Aug 2013, A date has been set in the Federal Court case of Aboriginal traditional owners fighting plans to use their land as a nuclear waste dump.
The site on Muckaty Station near Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory is the Federal Government’s preferred site for Australia’s first radioactive waste facility. Beyond Nuclear Initiative spokeswoman Natalie Wasley says the month-long trial has been listed for June 2014.
“After eight years that’s a big relief for traditional owners and the community who have had this nuclear cloud hanging over their heads,” she said.
She says submissions being made this week will determine whether pre-trial evidence needs to be taken. Ms Wasley says those involved are hoping the trial would be held near the proposed site.
“It’s very important for people that they give the best evidence possible, and of course that it’s close to the site that’s being discussed,” she said.
Court date marks eight-year NT nuke fight http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/court-date-marks-eight-year-nt-nuke-fight/story-fni0xqi4-1226679665473 16 July 13 FOR Dianne Stokes, it was fitting that the eight-year anniversary of a fight to stop a Northern Territory nuclear dump was marked by a brief and frustrating court appearance.
Ms Stokes, an elder with the Yapa Yapa people, is one of the traditional land owners taking action to stop the federal government dump proposal, which is earmarked for Muckaty Station. She was present on Monday when the Federal Court heard a delay in an anthropologist’s report may push back a 2014 trial date.
Ms Stokes says the traditional land owners’ complaints to the government had for years fallen on deaf ears. ”It’s been a long struggle, many years of struggling to say we didn’t want the waste to come to our land when no one is listening,” she said outside court in Melbourne.
But she said new Resources Minister Gary Gray had agreed to visit the site and meet community members – a move she welcomes. ”We’re going to try to hassle him until he comes down,” Ms Stokes said. ”It’s a spiritual country, it’s a cultural land and it’s a very strong belief we have in that county.”
The waste dump was originally planned to be built in South Australia, but in the face of local opposition the federal government sought to relocate it to the NT. A site at Muckaty Station, about 110km north of Tennant Creek, was flagged as a possible site.
Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Dave Sweeney said Mr Gray’s visit was a step forward in the conflict, but that it signalled a “change in tone, not necessarily a change in policy”.
Mr Gray declined to comment.
The parties will return to the Federal Court for another directions hearing in August.
Australia: Last chance of justice for nuclear veterans http://www.mondaq.com/australia/x/236534/Personal+Injury/Last+chance+of+justice+for+nuclear+veterans 03 May 2013 by Joshua Dale An appeal to the Australian Human Rights Commission by Australian military veterans arising from Britain’s nuclear bomb tests in the Outback is gaining momentum.
Lodged by Stacks human rights lawyer Joshua Dale representing several hundred nuclear veterans, the appeal asks the commission to find the government of the 1950s and 60s breached their human rights by ordering them to be exposed to deadly radioactive fallout. Continue reading
WikiLeaks characterized the judge’s lecture as part of the Swedish government campaign against Assange, following Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt’s recent visit to Australia.
“The head of Swedish Supreme Court campaigning on a case they expect to judge with $ from the embassy in the run up to an election,” the group wrote on Twitter.
Assange legal shakeup: Prosecutor walks, Supreme Court judge to speak out on case RT March 28, 2013 The lead Swedish prosecutor pursuing sexual assault charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is no longer handling the case, media reports revealed. Her departure comes as a top Swedish judge is set to speak publicly on the ‘Assange affair.’ Continue reading
Frank Walker, 21 Feb 13, Lawyers representing 295 military veterans and their families afflicted with terrible health problems due to the British nuclear tests carried out in Australia between 1952 and 1963 are taking the case to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
They argue the Menzies government breached their human rights by ordering them to be exposed to the harmful effects of radiation in full knowledge of the potential damage to their health.
Joshua Dale, a human rights law specialist at Stacks/Goudkamp in Sydney, said the decision to host the nuclear tests and order Australians to be used as virtual guinea pigs breached three articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that Australia signed at the United Nations in 1948.
Article 3: The right to life, liberty and security of person.
Article 5: The right not to be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 25: The right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services……
“We’ve been fighting for redress for nuclear veterans and their families for years, but after the UK courts rejected an appeal for damages last year we’ve embarked on this one last avenue for justice,” Mr Dale said.
“We hope the AHRC will examine the case and recommend to the government that it right the wrongs that have been done to these people over decades, and provide compensation and the gold card for medical assistance.
“The nuclear veterans have suffered higher death rates, higher cancer rates and worse health problems than the general population. The effects of the nuclear tests are still going on today. Many effects of radiation are hereditary, and children and grandchildren of the nuclear veterans have been afflicted with health problems and deformities.”
NUCLEAR VETERANS CASE BACKGROUND INFORMATION Continue reading