Australian news, and some related international items

Zambia’s Green Party strongly opposing Australian uranium mining project

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

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

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

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

Continue reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Audio: Abbott cuts foreign aid, again, transfers money to UN climate fund

Hear-This-wayAUDIO: Green fund contribution comes at expense of aid budget ABC Radio PM David Mark reported this story on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 1   MARK COLVIN: There’s been a tentative welcome for the Australian Government’s announcement that it would contribute $200 million to the UN’s climate fund.

The catch is that the money will come from Australia’s international aid budget.

The announcement by the Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, in Lima came on the same day that a coalition of aid groups implored the Federal Government not to cut the aid budget any more.

Australia’s foreign aid budget has already been cut by $7 billion over the next five years and the fear is there could be more to come in the mini-budget.

David Mark reports. DAVID MARK: They came together in Melbourne to demand the Federal Government stop cutting foreign aid. A mass meeting of businessmen and women, the chairmen and CEO’s of Australia’s major aid organisations.

And one by the likes of Gerry Hueston, the former president of BP Australia and chairman of Plan Australia, George Savvides, the CEO of Medibank Private and chairman of World Vision Australia and Simon McKeon, the former Australian of the year, chairman of AMP and chairman of Global Poverty Australia, spoke out.

GERRY HUESTON: As someone who’s worked internationally all my life, I find it inconceivable that one of the richest countries in the world can’t do at least its bit in foreign aid, you know, when you’re supporting some of the poorest people in the world.

GEORGE SAVVIDES: The Australian aid budget has already been cut twice, it already has contributed well above its weight in terms of a fiscal responsibilities in front of us and also in terms of the consideration by government. But really its purpose isn’t to save dollars, its purpose is to save lives.

SIMON MCKEON: These are times to be very careful about what we spend and what we don’t spend, but I’ve got to say as an Australian I am struggling at the moment with the possibility that the aid cuts that were announced earlier this year may well be further cut in the New Year……..

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

Tough scrutiny now needed on uranium deal between Australia and India

Doubts over uranium deal between Australia and India, The Age December 9, 2014 Daniel Flitton The treaty to sell uranium to India will face tough scrutiny after the former chief atomic watchdog warned the deal lacked safeguards to ensure Australia did not inadvertently fuel India’s nuclear bombs.

The treaties committee of Parliament must endorse the deal, signed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott in September, before uranium exports can start.

But John Carlson, the former chief of Australia’s nuclear safeguards organisation, has told the committee India’s nuclear weapons program is expanding and has complex links to civilian reactors.

The warning is likely to rattle Labor’s lukewarm support for sales, the party having opposed uranium exports to India initially and scotched a Howard-era proposal……….

In a detailed submission to the committee, Mr Carlson said that  under the proposed deal Australia could not definitively track uranium used in India’s nuclear program and what happened subsequently to fuel reprocessed into plutonium.

Nor would Australia have the right to demand the return of uranium should the agreement be breached, as it can with 41 other countries covered by similar export deals.

India is estimated to have between 90 and 110 nuclear weapons and has refused to sign international disarmament treaties. Several Indian nuclear reactors are designated “dual use” for civilian energy and military needs.

The deal would not be the first on uranium to run afoul of the treaties committee, with the Russia deal held up almost two years over concerns that yellowcake could be diverted into nuclear weapons.

Labor MP Kelvin Thomson said the committee had received detailed submissions expressing concern not so much at the idea of supplying uranium to India but about the provisions of the agreement……..

several other submissions, including one from  Ron Walker, a former governor of the International Atomic Energy Agency, expressed concern.

The committee is expected to hold public hearings before reporting in February or March.

Labor foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said last month that any exports to India must be with the highest possible level of safeguards.

Mr Carlson was in charge of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office for more than 20 years until 2010 and was criticised during that time by anti-nuclear campaigners for facilitating uranium exports.

He said there were good reasons for concluding a nuclear co-operation agreement with India, “but not this agreement”……..

December 10, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia pushed to nuclear deal with India, by USA strategic interests – Wikileaks reveals

WikiLeaks shows US push behind Australia-India nuke deal, Green Left  November 30, 2014By Linda Pearson  A deal to sell Australian uranium to India has been signed, despite opposition from most people in Australia.

In September, Prime Minister Tony Abbott signed an agreement which will allow sales of Australian uranium to India for the first time.

India has consistently refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and has manufactured up to 110 nuclear warheads, but has been given a free pass to take part in international nuclear trade by virtue of its new strategic relationship with the United States.

The Australia-India deal conflicts with Australia’s obligations under the South Pacific Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty, as well as the NPT.

As Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said in September: “Australia will now be directly complicit in a nuclear arms race in South Asia, with India moving to lock in foreign uranium supplies for power generation so it can preserve its domestic uranium for weapons production.”

The deal is the culmination of a bipartisan shift in policy that began under the Howard government, stalled during the Rudd years, and was completed by the Gillard government in 2011.

As US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks illustrate, this shift took place despite most people in Australiaopposing uranium sales to India. It was pushed by governments bending to US interests.

New strategic partnership

In the three decades after India’s first successful nuclear test in 1974, relations between the US and India were cool. By the early 2000s, however, US policy-makers looking to maintain US dominance in Asia came to view India as a potential counterweight to China.

In January 2004, President Bush and India’s Prime Minister Bihari Vajpayee announced they had signed what would become known as the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP) agreement.

Under the NSSP, the US and India pledged to take a series of reciprocal steps towards greater co-operation on civilian nuclear activities, space programs and high-technology trade.

The NSSP was hailed as a milestone in US-India relations. However, strong opposition within India threatened to derail the agreement.

When it became clear that a dramatic change in nuclear policy would be needed to win Indian support for the new strategic relationship, the US obliged. So did Australia……..

December 1, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia’s Trade Minister Andrew Robb joins the Cabinet chorus criticising President Obama

exclamation-Obama climate speech “unnecessary”, says Trade Minister, The Age, 23 Nov 14 US president Barack Obama’s suggestion that Australia was not doing enough to save the Great Barrier Reef was misinformed and unnecessary, Trade Minister Andrew Robb says.

Mr Obama piled pressure on the Abbott government to act on climate change while in Brisbane for the G20, saying natural wonders like the reef were under direct threat………

November 23, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott lectures French President on need for action on climate change!

Abbott-pants-on-fireAbbott finds his French Connection on emission controls, The Age, November 19, 2014 Mark Kenny and David Wroe Tony Abbott has called on countries to set strong binding emissions reductions targets at next year’s major climate conference in Paris, warning the world cannot afford another disappointment like the Copenhagen summit in 2009.

And after years of arguing that Australia should only move faster once major polluters also moved, he has now described climate change as “an important subject”  and one “the world needs to tackle as a whole”.

The declaration followed one-on-one talks with his French counterpart, President Francois Hollande, in Canberra ranging across trade, security and the need for binding emissions targets. ……..

Mr Abbott’s softening, however, has not convinced everyone, with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten slamming his comments as “lip service”.

“He fought tooth and nail to keep climate change off the G20 agenda – and he failed,” Mr Shorten said.

“Climate change is a major economic issue, the defining issue of the 21st Century according to Ban Ki-Moon – the only person who doesn’t seem to get that is Tony Abbott.

“Tony Abbott’s stubborn isolationism is not only costing Australia our economic competitiveness but also our international reputation.”

It also brought a hostile reaction from Greens leader Christine Milne. She accused him of telling “outright lies” to appease foreign leaders and the international media.

“This is not a cheeky sleight of hand. This is Australia’s climate denying prime minister telling outright lies to world leaders and international media,” said Senator Milne.

“Tony Abbott does not intend to ‘do more’ to tackle climate change. He intends to undo more, and add the CEFC to the scrapheap he’s built with our emissions trading scheme and our mining tax.”

November 22, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Despite the Abbott hype, Australia still does not have a nuclear deal with India

India-uranium1India ,Australia sign five agreements, No nuclear deal for now, 
18 Nov 2014 Seeking early conclusion of comprehensive economic partnership agreement and a closure on the civil nuclear deal ,India and Australia signed five mutual agreements……..Australian Prime Minister Abbott said, “If all goes well, Australia will export uranium to India under suitable safeguards because cleaner energy is one of the most important contributions that Australia can make to wider world.”………
Modi and Abbott had summit talks in Delhi last month during which India and Australia sealed a landmark civil nuclear deal that will facilitate sale of uranium to New Delhi.

The two leaders had earlier directed their respective negotiators to conclude the administrative arrangements pertaining to the civil nuclear pact at an early date that will facilitate uranium trade…..

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

Did you know? Australia is a supporter of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL)

No to Nukes: Australia’s Stand Lunes, Novembre 17, 2014
“………Fukushima met its unfortunate fate due to nature’s indescribable and immeasurable force. Now, we must return to its cradle in order to survive the next thirty or so years. Other renewable resources Australia is currently harnessing are bioenergy, hydro, and geothermal. It seems the country is one of the supporters of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) program launched on September 2011by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

SE4ALL has three objectives, one of which is “doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix” by 2030. Renewable energy is eco-friendly and cheap compared to fossil fuels that contribute to air pollution worldwide. This global initiative is same as “hitting two birds with one stone” approach. It doesn’t only solve the problem of energy or electricity shortage in the future. This may also lessen the impact of climate change that we are experiencing right now.

In this way, we don’t have to resort on desperate actions such as extracting electricity from nuclear power plants. As always, nature has everything we need in terms of natural resources and all we have to do is search for it and seize it. In return, we must be responsible ambassadors of our planet so it could still be available for the future generations.  Article Written By:

November 19, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia’s trade deal with India, export of uranium not finalised

India-uranium1PM announces 12-month deadline for the new trade deal with India STEVEN SCOTT THE COURIER-MAIL NOVEMBER 19, 2014“………The Prime Minister backed  India’s investment in coal in Queensland’s Galilee Basin  and vowed to fast track the first sales of uranium to the world’s largest democracy in a drive to revive flagging ties between our two countries……..

” Mr Abbott said. “And if all goes to plan Australia will export uranium to India under suitable safeguards, of course, because cleaner energy is one of the most important contributions that Australia can make to the wider world.

“By the end of next year we will have a free trade deal with what is potentially the world’s largest market.”……..

Mr Modi said India wanted “energy that does not cause our glaciers to melt”, saying his country had a growing appetite for “clean coal and gas, renewable energy and fuel for nuclear power”………

Uranium sales have not yet taken place but Mr Abbott, who signed a safeguards agreement for the exports in New Delhi in September, said he wanted the trade to begin soon………

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

Australia’s Treasurer, Joe Hockey, tries to put the world on a treadmill to climate disaster

Climate change is no impediment to economic growth, says Joe Hockey, SMH November 16, 2014   Climate change is not an impediment to economic growth, the Treasurer, Joe Hockey, said on Sunday as the Federal Government hit back at  Barack Obama’s speech aimed at forcing climate change to the fore of the G20 summit in Brisbane……..Mr Hockey said he had not seen the President’s speech because the finance ministers are “the ones doing the hard work on the treadmill’.


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

Final deal on uranium to India will not be signed during PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Australia

India-uranium1Pact to operationalise nuclear deal won’t to be signed during PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Australia Indian Express by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi  November 13, 2014 

Two months after India and Australia signed the bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement, a pact on the administrative arrangements — key to operationalising the uranium supply deal — is not likely to be signed when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Australia from November 14 to 18. However, officials said the two sides are aiming to conclude the deal in the first-half of 2015.

The pact on administrative arrangements is important for the Australian government to put it before the Australian parliamentary committee on treaties. After the committee examines the civilian nuclear deal and the administrative arrangements and prepares a report, it goes to the Australian parliament for approval. Only after the parliamentary nod can the Australian companies get into commercial negotiations with Indian counterparts for uranium supply………


November 15, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, uranium | Leave a comment

International pressure on Abbott, over his climate sceptic policies


Abbott continues to allow vested interests and narrow definitions of Australia’s business priorities to control the agenda. These priorities emphasise protecting mining and resource companies, no matter what the long-term costs, even when they are becoming less successful with their largest client.

US–China emissions deal puts pressure on Abbott Macro Business Cross-posted from The Conversation: Unconventional Economist November 14, 2014 | While most of the world is celebrating the US–China pact on climate change, the deal puts pressure on the Australian government and resources companies to rethink relations with Kerry Brown, Executive Director, China Studies Centre at University of Sydney

The deal, signed at the APEC summit in Beijing this week, includes agreement to cut emissions and work together to mitigate the impact of climate change. For the first time China has set 2030 as the year in which its emissions are expected to peak. The deal creates a common framework with the United States, the other largest greenhouse gas producer in the world, to take action.

Chinese President Xi Jinping started the APEC summit hoping for blue skies in the capital. With this deal, he is showing he is prepared to take action to achieve this.

For Australia this means that environmental compliance costs in China will rise. Australian companies will have additional costs of doing business there. Meanwhile Chinese companies will drive a harder bargain as their cost base lowers. Continue reading

November 15, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

C20 critical of G20 Agenda, and demands climate change as a stand alone item

climate-changeC20 calls on G20 to act on inequality, tax avoidance and climate change ABC News By AM business editor Peter Ryan Mon 10 Nov 2014, The C20 (Civil Society 20) is calling on G20 leaders to take action this weekend to improve the lives of the most vulnerable in society.

C20 chair Tim Costello said the group was looking for an outcome on Sunday that clearly demonstrates G20 leaders’ commitment to fairness by taking concrete, measurable action to reduce inequality and address climate change.

“It will be a sad legacy of the Australian presidency if we go backwards in the fight against poverty by failing to tackle growing inequality,” Mr Costello said.

“The G20’s Brisbane Action Plan must build on the formal commitment made in St Petersburg last year for inclusive growth to be a central focus of G20 decision making.

“Otherwise meeting the 2 per cent growth target will be a hollow achievement and leaders will be judged as indifferent to those most in need.”………

The C20 also argues that climate change is a critical economic issue confronting the G20 and must be discussed as a standalone item on the G20 agenda.

Mr Costello condemned the decision by the Australian presidency to ignore the impact of climate change on the global economy as a retrograde and damaging step.

“This G20 will ultimately be judged by the fairness test,” he said.

“Whether that’s fairness to future generations by facing up to climate change; fairness to the bottom 20 per cent of poorest households; fairness to 75 million young people unemployed worldwide; or fairness to taxpayers by declaring tax havens immoral.”

The Australian C20 Steering Committee comprises representatives of international and domestic civil society organisations including World Vision Australia, ACOSS, WWF, Oxfam, Transparency International, the National Council of Churches, and the National Employment Services Association. A number of individuals are also involved in the C20.

The C20 has focused its engagement with the G20 around the four key areas of:

November 12, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment


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