Israel wants Australia to use its influence in UN Security Council to amend nuclear deal with Iran SMH, December 11, 2013 Peter Hartcher, Israel has urged Australia to use its new found influence to force a much tougher deal on Iran over its nuclear program.
Israel’s Minister for the Economy, Naftali Bennett, told Prime Minister Tony Abbott that Israel ”badly wants a deal” to halt Iran’s nuclear progress, Mr Bennett said.
Israel is deeply unhappy with the terms of the interim deal negotiated by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the so-called P5 – plus Germany on November 24. ……..Australia can be an important factor in shaping the final deal, due in six months, Mr Bennett said, because it is a member of the UN Security Council next year and also the chairman of the council’s sanctions committee on Iran.
Iran has agreed to freeze parts of its nuclear program and dilute its most highly concentrated uranium in return for a partial easing of the international sanctions that have forced it into recession.
Israel’s essential demand is that Iran be forced to surrender its nuclear fuel-making machinery. Where the P5+1 deal has allowed Iran to keep its centrifuges for concentrating uranium into nuclear fuel, Israel wants them removed. : http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/israel-wants-australia-to-use-its-influence-in-un-security-council-to-amend-nuclear-deal-with-iran-20131210-2z42x.html#ixzz2nBQ2kJxj
The commentary also says that Australia has worked with Japan and the US on a revised version of the controversial annex which deals with government regulation of medicine prices, including Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, while most other countries are opposing it.
Trade Minister Robb said last week that Australia was prepared to agree to give investors the right to sue governments over Australian laws which they claimed harm their investment, which we have experienced in the Philip Morris case.
It is also worrying that the government appears to have agreed with the US refusal to support proposals from the World Intellectual Property Organisation, which assist developing countries to get access to cheaper generic medicines. Most other countries have agreed to support these proposals
TPP talks in Singapore rocked by leaked document By Dr Patricia Ranald (AFTINET Convener) 11 DEc 13,I arrived in Singapore after a week in Bali at the World Trade Organisation talks, at which the US tried but did not succeed in blocking developing countries, led by India, from taking measures to ensure they can make basic food available for the poorest in their countries. A compromise was reached which means that developing countries can continue to do this. AFTINET working group member Peter Murphy was also at the WTO meeting and has done a longer report……
The TPP negotiations here in Singapore are of course still secret, and governments are not making any public statements. The US has set the agenda of bilateral and small group meetings. They are desperate to pressure others to agree to their proposals so they can announce that the agreement is on track to be finalised by the end of the year. Read more »
One of the most controversial provisions in the talks includes new corporate empowerment language insisted upon by the U.S. government, which would allow foreign companies to challenge laws or regulations in a privately run international court.
Previously leaked TPP documents have sparked alarm among global health experts, Internet freedom activists, environmentalists and organized labor, but are adamantly supported by American corporations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Obama administration has deemed negotiations to be classified information — banning members of Congress from discussing the American negotiating position with the press or the public. Congressional staffers have been restricted from viewing the documents
Obama Faces Backlash Over New Corporate Powers In Secret Trade Deal HUFFINGTON POST 12/09/2013 WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration appears to have almost no international support for controversial new trade standards that would grant radical new political powers to corporations, increase the cost of prescription medications and restrict bank regulation, according to two internal memos obtained by The Huffington Post. Read more »
Award for man who helped avoid nuclear catastrophe Standard, By JARROD WOOLLEY Dec. 10, 2013, A FORMER Timboon man who is credited with helping save the world from nuclear annihilation has been awarded the Australian National University’s (ANU) highest honour.
Professor Des Ball, who spent his formative years in Timboon, was presented the Peter Baume Award last month, recognising a career of global significance and an association with the ANU lasting almost five decades………
Professor Ball progressed from a prize-winning economics student who was arrested for climbing a statue of King George V during an anti-Vietnam War rally, to blowing the lid on the secret military facility at Pine Gap during a Senate hearing on treaties in 1999.
Despite his outspoken criticism of US government policy, he was personally invited by President Jimmy Carter to critique the USA’s nuclear defence plans during the Cold War — his analysis persuading the US that its plan to destroy selected Soviet targets would not work in practice.
At the end of last year, a book of essays honouring the iconoclastic scholar contained a contribution from the former president saying Professor Ball had helped save the world from a potential nuclear holocaust.
The book, Insurgent Intellectual: Essays in Honour of Professor Desmond Ball, quoted Mr Carter as saying Professor Ball’s “counsel and cautionary advice, based on deep research, made a great difference to our collective goal of avoiding nuclear war”…….http://www.standard.net.au/story/1961594/award-for-man-who-helped-avoid-nuclear-catastrophe/?cs=12,
Tax office deciding if anti-wind farm group Waubra is a charity SMH, December 9, 2013 Madeleine Heffernan The tax office is deciding whether an anti-wind farm group linked to former Liberal MPs should retain its favourable tax treatment.
The Waubra Foundation has been classified a ”health promotion charity” by the tax office, meaning its ”principal activity is promoting the prevention and control of disease in humans”.
It has also been granted deductible gift recipient status by the Australian Taxation Office, and donations of more than $2 to it are tax-deductible…….
Donations to Waubra have helped fund legal challenges against wind farm developments.
Former health minister Michael Wooldridge is a director of Waubra, and former MP Alby Schultz is its patron.
The foundation says its main aim is to ”educate others about the known science relating to the adverse health impacts of infrasound and low-frequency noise.”
The health effects of wind farms has become an increasingly vexed question in the countryside, where there are dozens of farms operated by companies including AGL and Origin Energy.
Sydney academic Simon Chapman says the number of health problems linked to wind farms has reached 216. He has argued that bad publicity about the farms makes it more likely people will report feeling sick around them.
”Wind turbine syndrome” – health problems ranging from headaches, dizziness and insomnia, purportedly the result of the turbines’ low-frequency sounds – is not recognised as a medical condition……..
A spokesman for Greens senator Richard Di Natale expected the review into Waubra’s status by the tax office and the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission to be finished this month.
The tax office has refused to comment, but described Waubra’s situation as ”curious”.
In a recent Senate Estimates, Senator Di Natale asked how the tax office determined that an illness a group purported to prevent was actually an illness.
Tony Poulakis, the ATO’s assistant commissioner, small and medium enterprise, replied: ”I have to admit to not knowing the procedure in which we made those determinations well enough to answer your question.”
Chris Jordan, ATO commissioner, responded that ”It does sound a curious situation, but we will certainly take that on notice.”http://www.smh.com.au/business/tax-office-deciding-if-antiwind-farm-group-waubra-is-a-charity-20131208-2yzdk.html#ixzz2n0iIozkH
If you believe that Australians should get to choose their own policies and have their basic democratic rights honoured and protected, without fear of legal retribution by foreign corporations then please sign this petition!
Don’t let foreign corporations sue Australia over our policies on GE crops, coal seam gas, health & more! https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Dont_let_foreign_corporations_sue_Australia_for_millionsbillions_over_our_policies_on_GE_crops_coal_seam_gas_more/ The decision by Prime Minister Abbott to reverse the blanket prohibition on ‘investor-state dispute settlement’ (ISDS) provisions in Australia’s upcoming trade negotiations has the potential to irreversibly damage Australia’s national interests by limiting Australia’s ability to set its own policies when it comes to health, the environment, social policies and more.
This is because this new policy will give foreign corporations the right to sue the Australian Government if they believe our policies will damage their corporate interests.
This means that biotechnology corporations could sue Tasmania and South Australia over their respective moratoriums / bans on Genetically Engineered (GE) crops. New South Wales could be sued over their environmental guidelines on coal seam gas extraction and any communities choosing to enact a moratorium on coal seam gas extraction could be sued as well. Pharmaceutical companies could sue Australia over our Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS). We could also be sued if we ever wanted to ban harmful pesticides or institute stricter environmental standards in any area of our economy that might impact the interests of a foreign corporation. And that’s just to name a few…
And if you think this all sounds so totally outrageous that it couldn’t possibly happen to us here in Australia, then its well worth considering the impact of what ISDS provisions are currently doing in Canada Read more »
But over the next six months, Abbott intends to trash the very mechanisms that could deliver this increased ambition – the carbon price, the renewable energy target and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation – along with the independent advisory body, the Climate Change Authority, that could possibly counter the advice from his inner circle of mad ideologues to whom the words “climate change”, “green” and “clean energy” are as inflammatory as the names Fairfax and the ABC.
On the international stage, in the climate change arena, Australia’s reputation has been shattered
Australia backing into climate change corner, MacroBusiness, 29 Nov 13, Carbon Economyon November 25, 2013 Cross-posted from Giles Parkinson at Reneweconomy. Tony Abbott has some homework to do. Over the next 15 months he is going to have to figure out how it is that Australia will meet its contribution to a new treaty that aims to limit global warming to 2°C.
He’s not the only one. More than 190 nations associated with the UN climate talks agreed on Saturday on a series of milestones that will hopefully take the world to a meaningful climate agreement in Paris in 2015. As part of that agreement, ministers will meet in June next year, country leaders in September, and by the first quarter of 2015, they will need to lay their targets on the table.
For Abbott this could be quite a challenge. Firstly, Australia, as one of the wealthiest nations in the world, and the biggest emitter per capita of any industrialised nation, will be expected to pull its weight. Read more »
The next conference addressing the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons will be held in Mexico City in February 2014. Australia should strongly support recognition of the following four points being argued by the Red Cross: 1) the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons; 2) the lack of any adequate humanitarian response capacity; 3) the incompatibility of any use of nuclear weapons with the rules of international humanitarian law; and 4) the need for concrete action leading to a prohibition on the use of nuclear weapons and their elimination.
Underlining the horror of nuclear arms http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2013/11/26/commentary/underlining-the-horror-of-nuclear-arms/#.UpY1NNJwo7o BY RAMESH THAKUR NOV 26, 2013CANBERRA – Because of the unique destructive capacity and uncontrollable effects of nuclear weapons, the almost indescribable horror associated with their use informed the very first resolution of the U.N. General Assembly in 1946 and has been a recurring theme ever since in blue ribbon international commissions, NPT review conferences and preparatory committee meetings, and General Assembly committee debates.
Given the presently stalled nuclear disarmament agenda, the most productive way forward for both committed state and civil society actors to generate political momentum for the cause may be to emphasize the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons. The only way to guarantee their non-use ever is their total, irreversible and verifiable elimination under effective international control.
On Oct. 21, speaking in the U.N. General Assembly’s First Committee on behalf of 123 countries and the Holy See, New Zealand’s outgoing disarmament ambassador Dell Higgie issued a statement on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.
It noted that the broad participation at the March 2013 Oslo Conference, with attendance by 128 states (but not one nuclear-armed state nor most who shelter under their nuclear umbrellas), the ICRC, and several U,N, and civil society humanitarian organizations, reflected the recognition that the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are a major global concern. Yet no country or international body has the capacity to address the immediate humanitarian emergency caused by a nuclear weapon detonation or provide adequate assistance to victims.
Intriguingly because of their close relations on so many issues, on the same occasion Australia’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Peter Woolcott, issued a parallel statement on behalf of 17 countries, mainly those protected by U.S. nuclear weapons under extended nuclear deterrence (Belgium, Canada, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Turkey, etc.).
Japan was the only country to sign both statements. The Australia statement emphasized “both the security and the humanitarian dimensions of the nuclear weapons debate.”
It is not clear that the different Australian position was actually ever signed off by the minister in the last Labor government, as opposed to being official Australian policy as determined and articulated by the bureaucracy. Read more »
Problems at Lynas factory can cause radioactive leaks, say experts The Malaysian Insider, 24 Nov 13, Prevailing problems in waste management, storage, disposal facility and waste cleaning at the Lynas factory can lead to radioactive leakages if the Australian firm fails to address the issues, said experts t at a seminar in Kuala Lumpur today.
The mining company’s refinery near Kuantan, Pahang, has several problems, which experts said in the event of an accident or carelessness, could harm to residents near the factory. Read more »
In a speech on the conference floor in Warsaw, South African Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said her country was deeply concerned that Australia and Japan were reducing their climate change commitments. South Africa is part of a powerful negotiating bloc of developing countries, known as BASIC, that includes Brazil, India, and China.
Australia has also been blamed for a brief “walkout” by developing countries including China at a important meeting earlier in the week. The complaints ranged from Australian representatives moving to block any parts of the conference negotiating text to the delegates wearing T-shirts and giggling during the talks.
Australia did not send a minister to the conference, and observers say the delegation of diplomats have been forced to stick to a limited negotiating brief set down by Canberra. That includes not making any new commitments to financially help poor nations deal with climate change – a critical issue at the talks.
Countries have also been concerned about statements by Prime Minister Tony Abbott last week that appeared to narrow conditions under which Australia would adopt a more ambitious 2020 emissions target than the 5 per cent cut currently offered…….http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/south-africa-adds-voice-to-australia-critics-at-climate-change-talks-20131122-2y0yt.html
Australian delegation’s contemptuous attitude to UN climate talks the ‘last straw’ for developing nations
Developing nations blame Australia for loss and damage talks ‘walkout’ http://www.rtcc.org/2013/11/20/developing-nations-blame-australia-for-loss-and-damage-talks-walkout/ 21 November 2013, Delegation accused of wearing t-shirts and “gorging on snacks” during critical UN talks By Sophie Yeo in Warsaw Australia’s team at UN talks in Warsaw have been accused of lacking respect after delegates turned up to critical discussions wearing shorts and teeshirts.
The Australian delegation turned up in casual attire and “gorged on snacks” during negotiations on whether developed states should make reparations to vulnerable countries as the impacts of climate change become more severe, according to a spokesperson for CAN International.
Their behaviour caused over 130 developing nations to abandon discussions on the controversial issue of climate compensation at 4am last night. Read more »
Marshall Islands hits out at Australia and Japan over carbon target cuts http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-21/an-marshalls-climate-minister-lashes-out-at-australia-and-japan/5106838 21 Nov 2013, The Marshall Islands’ Climate Change Minister has lashed out at Australia and Japan for cutting their carbon reduction targets at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Warsaw. Tony de Brum says his country will be one of those that suffers the most from global warming and says Australia and Japan are setting a bad example.
The Australian delegation has already faced criticism from pressure groups for not taking the Warsaw negotiations seriously and attempting to derail the conference…….
Lack of leadership on climate change Australia’s plans to scrap the carbon price has won praise from the Canadian Government, but Mr de Brum has criticised Australia as a rogue nation.
“At a big conference like the UN you might expect one or two rogues to emerge, but never in our wildest dreams did we expect that those rogues might be our own big brother neighbours of Canada, Australia and Japan.” he said…..When the Pacific Rim is responsible for more than its share of world pollution it should be the Pacific countries that take the leadership vision in making sure the rest of the world follows.
“Instead we have Japan, Canada and Australia doing this number on us,” Mr de Brum says he has issued an open invitation to Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to visit the Marshall Islands to see the impacts of climate change first-hand, but she has not yet set a date for the trip.
Poor countries walk out of UN climate talks as compensation row rumbles on Bloc of 132 countries exit Warsaw conference after rich nations refuse to discuss climate change recompense until after 2015 John Vidal theguardian.com, Wednesday 20 November 2013 Representatives of most of the world’s poor countries have walked out of increasingly fractious climate negotiations after the EU, Australia, the US and other developed countries insisted that the question of who should pay compensation for extreme climate events be discussed only after 2015……..
Australia was accused of not taking the negotiations seriously. “They wore T-shirts and gorged on snacks throughout the negotiation. That gives some indication of the manner they are behaving in,” said a spokeswoman for Climate Action Network……http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/nov/20/climate-talks-walk-out-compensation-un-warsaw
Australia turns into ‘anti-climate’ force at Warsaw REneweconomy, By Giles Parkinson on 19 November 2013It has taken just 7 days, but already the reputation of Australia as a constructive force in international climate policy has been completely trashed – both in terms of its domestic actions and in the wrecking ball tactics it has sent to Warsaw.
Australia is now seen as an “anti-climate” nation that is actively working against any consensus at these talks, as its domestic policies are translated onto the international stage. Read more »
Tony Abbott rejects Commonwealth climate change risk fund SMH, November 18, 2013 Ben Doherty South Asia correspondent for Fairfax Media Colombo, Sri Lanka: Prime Minister Tony Abbott has rejected a proposal from the 53-nation Commonwealth to establish a new fund to help poor and island countries to combat climate change.
As an extraordinary Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting concluded in Colombo, Mr Abbott joined with Canada in rejecting a decision by the summit to push for a Green Capital Fund to help vulnerable island states and poor African countries address the effects of rising sea levels, prolonged droughts, or catastrophic weather incidents, caused by climate change.
The proposal is for Commonwealth countries to work within the UN climate change network to build the fund for small and poor countries to access.
One of the key themes of the summit was the plight of low-lying, and poor states who are especially vulnerable to climate change, but don’t have the money for adaptation.: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/tony-abbott-rejects-commonwealth-climate-change-risk-fund-20131118-2xplc.html#ixzz2l9bFQGcM