Australian news, and some related international items

Senator Scott Ludlam in Parliament, on the sale of uranium to India

“……One of the most striking differences between the uranium market and those other commodity markets which Australians might be more familiar with and the one which the industry is most determined to deny is the link with weapons of mass destruction. In September this year this parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties handed down a unanimous report on the proposed nuclear cooperation agreement with India…..

The unanimous recommendations, in essence, say that there should not be uranium sales to India by Australia at this time under the terms of the current agreement. They made those recommendations on the advice of, among others, very senior former Australian officials from within the nonproliferation world who cautioned that the nuclear cooperation agreement:

… has a number of loopholes which mean that under the terms of the NCA India could use our uranium in the production of material that could end up in bombs……..

India is engaged in an active nuclear weapons arms race with its neighbour Pakistan, and just under one and half billion people live in these two countries.

Australia seems determined to circumvent and undermine the only disarmament and nonproliferation framework that the world has, just in order to open up another market for the desperate uranium sector…… Far away, on the other side of the world, in United Nations meetings in Geneva and New York, which our government assumes will never filter back to Australia, we are quietly sabotaging the first hopeful signs in a long while of global resolve in this area. The UN General Assembly’s First Committee recently voted overwhelmingly in favour of an Austrian sponsored resolution to fill the legal gap for the staged prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons. This resolution was based on the careful study of the unthinkable humanitarian consequences of the use of these weapons. As a result, early in 2016, serious negotiations will get underway in Geneva to scope the elements of a global treaty banning these weapons. Why did Australia vote against this initiative? How many people in this country are even aware that that is what Australia’s diplomats were instructed to do by the Turnbull government?……

The third issue that the miners would probably prefer that we did not point out is that their industry, even at the primary end, at the mining end, is in very deep trouble not just because of the catastrophe that overwhelmed Japan’s Pacific coast on 3/11 but because peak nuclear was in the year 2002. Europe is on its way out. Japan is out. France is trying to work out how to drawn down and not have to replace the nuclear reactors it built in such a rush in the 1970s and 1980s. Germany is getting out. Italy has already got out. These are the things the uranium miners would probably prefer we did not talk about. The Beverley uranium mine is over. The Honeymoon mine in South Australia is over as well. The Roxby Downs expansion is cancelled. The Ranger 3 Deeps proposed expansion in Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, which I had the good fortune to visit about this time last week, is cancelled. The Jabiluka deposit will never be mined. The Koongarra deposit has been reincorporated into Kakadu National Park. Colleagues, are you seeing a pattern here because I am? This is an industry that is on its last legs and it is just as well.

November 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Indonesia will close their waters to ship carrying radioactive trash to Australia

ship radiationIndon to ‘block Aust-bound nuclear waste’ November 21, 2015 AAP
 INDONESIA’S Navy and police reportedly want to close their waters to a ship carrying nuclear waste bound for Australia.

“WE will block the ship because nuclear waste is very dangerous,” sea security coordinating agenda head Vice Admiral Desi Albert Mamahit told The Jakarta Post newspaper.

“Our ships are on standby, although the ship is still far from Indonesia. We have information about the ship.”On October 16, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) confirmed a project to repatriate radioactive waste from France, where it was sent for reprocessing in the 1990s and early 2000s, and which will now be retained at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights, Sydney, facility.”Consistent with security requirements and practice established during nine previous export operations, ANSTO will not confirm the destination port, land route, or timing,” it said on its website.The Indonesians are concerned about a ship called the MV Trader, which was close to the African coast and expected to pass through the Malacca Strait, according to reports.

November 20, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, safety | Leave a comment

 Paladin called on to close and rehabilitate Malawi uranium mine

Paladin-thumbConservation Council of Western Australia, 20 Nov 15  Shareholders at Perth based company Paladin’s AGM will call for the non-operational Kayelekera uranium mine in Malawi to be closed and rehabilitated. Calls for rehabilitation follow years of community opposition to the mine and failure to prevent the release of radioactive material into the environment.

The mine has been under ‘care and maintenance’ for several years due to the falling demand for uranium globally.

Charles Roche from the Mineral Policy Institute who will be attending the meeting said “With predicted operating costs almost double the long-term uranium price, there is a real danger that Kaylekera will be abandoned or sold off to reduce company debt. Instead of endless optimism Paladin should be honest about the possibility of re-commencing of mining in the next few years and begin rehabilitation works to protect communities, secure the site and end the cycle of financial losses”.

Mia Pepper, CCWA nuclear free campaigner who is in Africa at the Nuclearization of Africa conference this week said “We’ve been asking, along with French group CRIIRAD, for Paladin to release monitoring data from testing downstream from the mine. CRIIRAD have completed intermittent tests which indicate there is some radiological impact from the Kayelekera mine on the environment.”

“As the mine is about to go into a third year of being in Care and Maintenance we are concerned about the ongoing management of water on site and the structural integrity of the site. We would like to see this mine going into early rehabilitation, given the failures of Paladin to address community concerns, the clear local opposition to the project and the failure to contain radiological material onsite and an uncertain future. Rehabilitation should be done to the same standards expected in West Australia.”

Paladin has two uranium exploration projects in WA, also on hold given the stagnant uranium price and no mid term prospects of improvement. Paladin’s project in Qld is on hold indefinitely given that the Queensland Government reinstated the ban on uranium in Qld. Their JV proposal in the NT is also indefinitely on hold given strong opposition from the NT Government and Alice Springs residents.

November 20, 2015 Posted by | business, politics international, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Malcolm Turnbull “browns down” OECD deal to limit coal subsidies

According to the Australian Greens, the Turnbull government’s deal could allow the development of up to 16,000MW of extra coal plants – already in the planning pipeline – to be financed.

Waters,-Larissa-Senator-1Greens Senator and climate spokesperson, Larissa Waters, said the Turnbull government’s “grubby gambit” had tipped the scales against clean energy in these developing countries, and towards coal – a situation that would benefit Australia’s resources sector.

Turnbull accused of “browning down” OECD coal subsidy fossil-fuel-industryTurnbull climate 2 facedcuts, By  on 18 November 2015 The Turnbull government has been accused of “browning down” the deal to limit global coal plant subsidies, struck this week by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development, after the compromise it proposed alongside South Korea was worked into the agreement. Continue reading

November 19, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Despite warnings, Malcolm Turnbull, in Turkey, announces uranium deal with India

Turnbull nuclearAustralia – India Civil Nuclear Deal Finalised Amidst Warnings, Australia Network News, 17 Nov 15  In 2014, India and Australia signed the civilian nuclear cooperation agreement during then Australian PM Tony Abbott’s visit to New Delhi. Now, his successor, Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull, told PM Narendra Modi on Sunday that procedure for the deal had been completed and could now be implemented…….The significant part of the civil nuclear cooperation agreement was that Australia agreed to become “a long-term reliable supplier of uranium to India.”…..

However, a Huffington Post piece suggests it was only around two months ago that the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties delivered a well-considered report into Australia’s controversial plan to sell uranium to India. The government-controlled Committee identified a number of practical steps & recommendations needed to address safety, security and legal uncertainty around the deal.

According to Dave Sweeney, earlier this week, the government chose to ignore these recommendations — emphatically stating that “the Government does not accept the Committee’s recommendation that exports of uranium to India should be deferred.”

November 18, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Malcolm Turnbull assures India they can now buy uranium from Australia

India, Australia nuclear deal to come into force, Indian Express,  by Shubhajit Roy | Antalya November 16, 2015 A year after India and Australia signed the civilian nuclear cooperation agreement during then Australian PM Tony Abbott’s visit to New Delhi, his successor, Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull told PM Narendra Modi Sunday that procedure for the pact has been completed and can now be implemented…..


“The PM thanked the Australian PM and said the nuclear agreement is a milestone and a source of trust and confidence. With the completion of procedures, including administrative arrangements, the Civil Nuclear Agreement will now enter into force,” he said.

This was Modi’s first meeting with Turnbull after he took over. Sources described the meeting to be “very constructive” and pointed out to the result-oriented conversation in their first-ever bilateral meeting.

It may be recalled that former Australian PM Julia Gillard paid a state visit to India in October 2012. The decision of Australian government to supply uranium to India was taken during her time and on September 5, 2014, India and Australia signed a MoU for “Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy” during Abbott’s visit.
The significant part of the civil nuclear cooperation agreement was that Australia agreed to become ‘a long-term reliable supplier of uranium to India’……..

November 16, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia two-faced at OECD discussions on coal and climate change

Turnbull climate 2 facedIn addition, taking a blocking position at the OECD has the potential to damage Australia’s credibility in other international negotiations and particularly as its role as co-chair of the Green Climate Fund. Overall, to address climate change, our policies on energy and climate change will need to align. As the US, EU and China step up their leadership on climate change, Australia will come under increasing pressure to reconcile its different positions. 

OECD coal discussions highlight tensions in Australia’s position on climate change, The Conversation,  November 13, 2015  While the UN Paris talks approach at the end of November, attention is currently focused on another forum, the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), where member countries are negotiating a deal to limit public finance to overseas coal projects in emerging and developing countries.

Australia and South Korea are reportedly opposed to an agreement struck by the US and Japan and supported by other member countries, notably Germany and France, to prevent public finance to all but the very cleanest power plants.

How will these discussions at the OECD impact on the UN Paris negotiations? Australia’s approach to these international meetings would seem to be inconsistent……..

Australia is walking a fine line in climate diplomacy

Are Australia’s positions on climate change in the UN and the OECD inconsistent?

On the one hand, Australia supports the objective of keeping the global temperature rise within 2℃ and is willing to make some domestic emission reductions to assist in achieving this.

On the other hand, it is not yet willing to place any real limits on its coal exports to developing countries. It justifies this position on the basis that coal is required by developing countries to alleviate poverty and that it is not for Australia to decide how other countries allocate their public finance. Continue reading

November 13, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Australian govt: slap in the face for its own Standing Committee, on uranium sales to India

Australia Ignores Red Light On Uranium Exports To India, Huffington Post,  13/11/2015,  The federal government has delivered a stiff slap in the face to due process and evidence-based policy development by ignoring an unambiguous red light on planned uranium sales to India.


It was only two months ago that the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties delivered a well-considered report into the controversial plan to sell Australian uranium to India. The government-controlled Committee identified a number of practical steps needed to address safety, security and legal uncertainty around the deal.

Importantly the committee’s report clearly recommended against uranium sales at this time or under the current terms of the Australia-India Nuclear Co-operation Agreement, and outlined a series of pre-conditions required before any future sales to India.

These include the full separation of military and civil nuclear facilities, the establishment of an independent nuclear regulatory authority, a review of the adequacy and independence of the regulatory framework, IAEA verification that inspections of nuclear facilities are of best practice standard, improved decommissioning and radioactive waste planning and more.

But, earlier this week, the government chose to ignore these recommendations — emphatically stating that “the Government does not accept the Committee’s recommendation that exports of uranium to India should be deferred.” Continue reading

November 13, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Trans Pacific Partnership final text confirms fears of critics

logo-anti-TPPTPP Environment Fears Confirmed By Final Text
By Thom Mitchell on November 6, 2015 
The content of the TPP is finally known, and it appears to be as bad as critics feared. Thom Mitchell reports.

The Trans Pacific Partnership leaves the door open for corporations to inhibit the ability of governments to legislate for environmental protection, critics of the biggest free trade deal in history said after the release of the final text yesterday.

Like many trade deals, the TPP includes ‘Investor State Dispute Settlement’ clauses which allow multinational corporations to sue governments in trade tribunals outside of national judiciaries if laws are passed that risk their profits. According to Dr Mathew Rimmer, a Professor of Intellectual Property and Innovation law at the Queensland University of Technology, “They have given foreign investors very broad ranging powers to go into investment tribunals to make complaints about decisions by government that affect their foreign investments.”

“There are some clauses there dealing with protection of the environment…and the right to regulate, but they aren’t absolute defences,” Dr Rimmer said.

The Executive Director of America’s influential Sierra Club, Michael Brune, said the fact that “the words ‘climate change’ don’t even appear in the text [is] a dead giveaway that this isn’t a 21st-century trade deal”.

“It sets us back further, empowering fossil fuel corporations to challenge our public health and climate safeguards in unaccountable trade tribunals while increasing dirty fossil fuel exports and fracking,” Brune said.

Over more than half a decade, the deal was negotiated in secret between 12 ‘Pacific Rim’ countries, including Australia, the United States, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Chile, Singapore, Vietnam and Brunei.

November 7, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Indonesia to deny nuclear waste ship access to Indonesian waters

text-NoNuclear Waste Ship will be Denied Entry to Indonesian Waters 05 Nov 2015 By : 

 The navy is ready to prevent nuclear waste-laden vessel from entering Indonesian waters on its way to Australia Jakarta, – Indonesia’s Maritime Security Board (Bakamla) will request the Navy to prevent a vessel carrying 125 tons of nuclear waste from France to Australia from entering the Indonesian waters.

“Our investigation has found that the vessel had ever entered our seawaters when sailing to France. And now we are monitoring its travel back to Australia,” Bakamla Chief Vice Admiral Desi A Mamahit told reporters at his office in Jakarta, according to

Transporting the nuclear waste is BBC Shanghai, an Antigua & Barbuda-flagged general cargo ship. Admiral Desi mentioned two reasons why Indonesian authorities disallow BBC Shanghai passing through Indonesian waters on its way to Australia. The first reason is that the Indonesian seawaters are not part of the routes allowed for foreign vessels traveling from Europe to Australia and vice versa. The second reason is that BBC Shanghai carries nuclear waste.

BBC reported that BBC Shanghai is due to reach Australia by 27 November and that it is now in Africa. France-based nuclear company Areva sent the nuclear waste back to Australia.

The waste reportedly derives from the spent nuclear fuel sent from Australia to France in 1990s and early 2000s. French law obliges such nuclear waste to be sent back to Australia.

November 6, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Too good to be true? Greg Hunt’s new found enthusiasm for renewable energy

Hunt-Greg-climateHunt Talks Up Australian Renewables In Shanghai November 4, 2015 Energy Matters Australia’s Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, provided a glowing report on the state of renewable energy in Australia at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Future of Energy Conference in Shanghai yesterday.

Minister Hunt didn’t want to discuss the not-so-glorious recent past for renewables under ex-Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s reign, stating he wished to focus on “the positive agenda that the Australia has in place to harness energy innovation, support renewables and reduce emissions.”

Mr. Hunt told those gathered Australia boasts 2.4 million solar power and solar hot water systems, and has the highest proportion of households with solar panels globally at 15 per cent. This growth has been supported by programs such as the Solar Credits subsidy, which is still available. Additional incentives such as a tax deduction for asset purchases valued up to $20,000 are available for small business.

The Minister said renewables currently make up approximately 13 per cent of Australia’s electricity generation, a figure that will rise to 23.5 per cent by 2020 under the Renewable Energy Target.

Mr. Hunt was also optimistic about the future of home battery storage, quoting Morgan Stanley research estimating up to a million Australian households could have solar + storage in place by 2020.

The Minister was also very positive about the efforts of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA); agencies the Abbott government attempted to axe.

” Australia also excels in the development and deployment of renewable energy technologies through the Renewable Energy Target and investments made by the Australian Government through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and Clean Energy Finance Corporation,” he said; also detailing some of the projects both agencies have been involved with.

The Minister also mentioned the CEFC and ARENA working together to jointly support the deployment of large scale solar with a $350 million package.

Reading over his comments, it’s hard to believe that a short time ago Australia’s renewable industry was facing a major threat from a government-led attack that saw investment in large scale projects plummet. With a change of leadership, the attitude towards renewables seems to have changed for the better.

The transcript of Minister Hunt’s speech can be downloaded here (PDF).

November 4, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

On uranium sales to India, Malcolm Turnbull should heed Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties

Malcolm Turnbull should pay heed to the findings of the JSCOT report and not be rushed by those with poor track records and overt atomic agendas.

India-uranium1Nuclear ambitions must put safety first Dave Sweeney, It’s now three years since then-Premier Campbell Newman back-flipped on a ‘crystal clear’ commitment and opened the door for the uranium industry in Queensland. The decision, made without consultation, evidence or any independent analysis was explained on the basis of a potential uranium sales deal with India.

Since this time – and to their considerable credit – the re-elected Labor government has reinstated the state’s long-standing and popular ban on uranium mining.

As the uranium lobbyists and former LNP mines minister Andrew Cripps continue to beat the radioactive drum it is useful to look at the risks and roadblocks that mean there will be no smooth passage to India for any Australian uranium.

In September the federal Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties completed a detailed examination of the proposed sales deal and its implications. Despite strong personal support for the sales plan by then PM Tony Abbot the government controlled committee took a far more considered and cautious approach.

The committee’s report identified a range of serious and unresolved nuclear safety, security and regulatory concerns with the proposed sales deal – as well as questioning its uncertain legal basis. Continue reading

October 31, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Fijian PM slams Turnbull for giving in to climate denialists

ocean-heatingFiji PM decries Australia’s ‘climate change deniers’ in Turnbull cabinet, Guardian, , 28 Oct 15,  Frank Bainimarama says: ‘The Australian government, in particular, seems intent on putting its own immediate economic interests first’ The prime minister of Fiji has delivered a blistering broadside at his Australian counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull, over the “climate change deniers” in his government who are helping doom Australia’s “unlucky island neighbours”.

Frank Bainimarama criticised Australia and New Zealand for failing to back Pacific island nations over climate change, claiming that the entire region risked being wiped out by rising sea levels, extreme weather and ruined agriculture.

“The Australian government, in particular, seems intent on putting its own immediate economic interests first,” Bainimarama said in a speech delivered in Nadi, Fiji. “The ‘lucky country’ determined to stay lucky, at least for the short term, at the expense of its unlucky island neighbours.

“To Malcolm Turnbull, the new Australian prime minister, I want to send a special plea. Make good on your previous strong stance in favour of deep and binding cuts in carbon emissions. Do not do deals with those who have enabled you to gain high office and betray your principles and our position.”

Bainimarama said Turnbull should halt new coalmines in Australia and embrace an economy based on clean energy. Such a ban has been proposed by a coalition of Pacific nations in the recent Suva declaration. Continue reading

October 29, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Hallelujah! Political Oblivion for climate villains Abbott and Harper

Parkinson-Report-Canada’s Harper follows fellow “climate villain” Abbott into political oblivion, REneweconomy, By  on 20 October 2015

In less than two months, the two political leaders named by New Statesman as the“world’s worst climate change villains” have been tossed out of power: Australia’s Tony Abbott by his own party, and Canada’s Stephen Harper in a national poll.

It is good news for the upcoming Paris climate change talks. Both countries, under their former leaders,Abbott hallelujah ranked at the bottom of the 34 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for their efforts on climate change. Among G20 countries, only Saudi Arabia ranked lower than them.

Since their elections – Harper in 2006, and Abbott in 2013 – they had applied the brakes on climate change and renewable energy policy, despite some strong efforts at sub-national levels (the provinces in Canada and states and territories in Australia).

During a visit to Canada last year, Abbott and Harper decided to create a “conservative alliance among ‘like-minded’ countries” to try to dismantle global efforts on climate change.

At a press conference, Harper applauded Abbott’s efforts to dump Australia’s carbon tax. Indeed, Abbott had borrowed the “axe the tax” slogan from an earlier Canadian campaign.

Now, both have gone…….

October 23, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

AUSTRALIA’S SHAME: getting UN climate draft to drop action to help climate refugees

ocean-heatingUN drops plan to help move climate-change affected people, Guardian, , 7 Oct 15  Australia opposed the plan for a group to assist migration, and it has been left off the draft agreement for UN climate talks in Paris Australia’s opposition to the creation of a body to help people escaping the ravages of climate change appears to have paid off, with the idea dropped from the draft agreement for the crucial UN climate talks in Paris.

Kiribati 15

A previous draft of the deal to be thrashed out by nations included a “climate change displacement coordination facility” that would provide “organised migration and planned relocation”, as well as compensation, to people fleeing rising sea levels, extreme weather and ruined agriculture.

However, this reference has been removed in a revised text ahead of the December climate conference negotiations. Australia opposed the facility, although Guardian Australia understands the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has shown interest in the issue of displacement.

“Australia does not see the creation of the climate change displacement coordination facility as the most effective or efficient way to progress meaningful international action to address the impacts of climate change,” a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said. “Australia is already working closely with our Pacific partners on these important issues.”

Australia had spent more than $50m in climate resilience projects in the Pacific and contributed another $200m to the Green Climate Fund.

Opposition to the coordination facility is not shared by Australia’s traditional allies, with representatives from the US, British and French governments indicating they were open to the idea……..

The impact of climate change is anticipated to displace up to 250 million people worldwide by 2050, including many in low-lying Pacific islands such as Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati.

In areas of the Pacific, sea level is rising by 1.2cm a year, four times faster than the global average. For coral-based islands two to three metres above sea level this has resulted in communities being relocated, and drinking water and crops are threatened by salt water inundation. Recent research suggests islands will not be submerged but will change shape and height, posing difficulties for fixed infrastructure.

“Why on earth would Australia not support a coordination facility?” said Phil Glendenning, president of the Refugee Council. “We are talking about the most vulnerable people on the planet who are facing threats to their food security, seeing their water supplies diminish and their entire cultures at risk.

“The world is going to have to deal with this displacement. We need to get on the front foot. Australia can’t say we are doing enough. People in Kiribati and Tuvalu are the canaries in the coalmine and they are looking to Australia.”

Last year the Kiribati government bought 20 sq km of land on Vanua Levu, one of the Fiji islands, in case its people cannot be moved internally. It has a policy called “migration with dignity” if its cluster of 33 coral atolls becomes inhabitable…….

Relocation of people is occurring across the Pacific region. Dozens of villages in Fiji will be moved, and 2,000 people from the Carteret atoll of Papua New Guinea will be transferred to mainland Bougainville, a three-hour trip on a wooden boat, because of salt intrusion and destructive tides.

October 9, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment


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