Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australian Solar Council will campaign in marginal seats over Abbott’s broken promises on renewable energy

logo-australian-solar-councAustralian Solar Council attacks Prime Minister’s ‘broken promises’ on renewable energy support ABC News, By Matt Eaton, 21 Aug 14  The Australian Solar Council is beginning a campaign to target marginal federal seats over so-called broken promises on support for renewable energy.

Solar council CEO John Grimes has accused Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey of breaking a series of election promises by moving to abolish the renewable energy target (RET).

“This comes as a big surprise to many people in the community,” Mr Grimes told 612 ABC Brisbane.

The RET scheme commits Australia to a target of generating 20 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

“Before the election he [Mr Abbott] was committed to renewable energy, he was committed to the RET, he was committed to a million solar roofs,” Mr Grimes said.

“After the election, promise after promise broken, million solar roofs gone, the RET he wants abolished – he and Joe Hockey are working hard for that outcome……….

Mr Grimes said Mr Hunt and the Government would continue applying pressure to get their way.

“They will destroy any character, to stop this movement, to stop this gaining hold in the electorate,” he said.

“In that call, [Mr Hunt] told me that if I didn’t shut it down, that he would be launching a pointed, public attack at me and my character – that’s what he said to me on that call.”

Mr Grimes said Mr Hunt was under great pressure on the issue and needed to “attack his personal credibility”………http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-21/solar-council-attacks-broken-promises-on-renewables/568606

August 22, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, solar | Leave a comment

From the beginning Abbott as P.M. was determined to kill the Renewable Energy Target

Parkinson-Report-Why the Renewable Energy Target never stood a chance, Smart Company, Thursday, 21 August 2014 GILES PARKINSON THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW, CONFIRMED THE WORST FEARS OF THE RENEWABLE ENERGY INDUSTRY IN A FRONT-PAGE STORY ON MONDAY, REPORTING THAT THE PANEL CHARGED WITH REVIEWING THE RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGET HAD BEEN “INSTRUCTED” BY PRIME MINISTER TONY ABBOTT TO LOOK AT WAYS TO SHUT DOWN THE SCHEME.

Shutting down the RET would bring to an end a $20 billion industry, cost thousands of jobs and force household and business bills to soar. But that is what the government has wanted from the beginning. It appointed a panel composed of climate sceptics, pro-nuclear advocates and fossil fuel lobbyists.

Killing the RET would satisfy the right-wing ideologues and deep-lined antipathy to renewable energy within the Abbott government. The AFR also confirms what has long been suspected: that Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane have been effectively sidelined from the process, despite the issue crossing into their portfolios.

The PM’s office has had carriage of the project since the start, and his intentions have long been clear. The secretarial support has been housed within Abbott’s office — and within reach of his principal business advisers, including climate sceptic and renewables opponent Maurice Newman and Abbott’s own energy adviser, former AGL executive Sarah McNamara.

Government insiders who have worked on the RET Review say the intent of the review has always been to cut the current 41,000GWh Renewable Energy Target to a maximum of 25,000GWh (what might be called a “true” 20% target), and possibly close it to new entrants altogether.

There were glimmers of hope that the RET could be retained, particularly when the panel’s own modeling dismissed the two major arguments to drop the target  …….

A report released today by consulting firm Jacobs, on behalf of The Climate Institute, Australian Conservation Foundation and WWF Australia, says that the biggest beneficiaries to dumping the RET would be the fossil fuel generators. The Jacobs report suggested $8 billion in additional profits to coal-fired generators out to 2030 and an extra $2 billion to gas generators. The big three retailers, AGL Energy, Origin Energy and EnergyAustralia, would be the biggest beneficiaries………

Whether the Abbott government finally agrees with a scaled back target or an effective closure, any changes seem likely to be blocked in the Senate, where the Palmer United Party has promised to side with Labor and the Greens.

But it matters not. The large-scale renewable energy industry has already ground to a halt. No new projects have reached financial closure since the election of the Abbott government, and the Abbott government knows that even by doing nothing  — apart from allowing continued uncertainty — no new projects will come to market.

Households will also be affected. They have so far contributed $12 billion of the $18 billion invested in renewables over recent years, initially driven by generous feed — in tariffs and then as a hedge against rising electricity prices once those tariffs were removed. The government, though, can remove some of those remaining incentives that defray the upfront cost of the system, without needing legislative changes. Industry experts say that could cause the rooftop solar market to fall by one-third or even half, with the loss of thousands of jobs.

Meanwhile, state governments — with huge vested interests in state-owned networks and generators — continue to act against renewables. The Western Australian government is even canvassing importing coal from Indonesia rather than moving to develop renewable energy projects at home, while in Queensland, businesses have been hit by a whopping $500-a-day service charge (essentially to read the meter) to dissuade them from installing solar………

ome international groups, such as US solar developer Recurrent Energy, have already packed up. Others, including Goldwind and Trina, have warned of the potential fallout, while Australian groups Pacific Hydro and Infigen Energy are directing their efforts overseas.

The Australian Solar Council echoed the CEC remarks. It is taking its “Save Solar” campaign to marginal electorates, with the first stop at the northern Brisbane seat of Petrie, held by the LNP’s Luke Howarth, this Thursday. The ability to make solar a potent political issue  — many marginal electorates boast more than 20% solar penetration — appears to be their last resort.

“Solar saves money, creates jobs and shifts votes. The Abbott government is about to find out how much Australians love solar and the Renewable Energy Target,” American Solar Council CEO John Grimes said. http://www.smartcompany.com.au/growth/economy/43378-why-the-renewable-energy-target-never-stood-a-chance.html#

August 22, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Abbott facing trouble with Liberal Party in his zeal to kill the Renewable Energy Target

Liberal-policy-1Coalition battle looms over new Renewable Energy Target THE AUSTRALIAN SID MAHER AUGUST 19, 2014 

A BRUISING battle looms within the Coalition over the extent of cuts to the Renewable Energy Target as clean energy companies warn any weakening of the policy will cause projects to collapse and undermine international investor confidence in Australia.

A review of the RET headed by businessman Dick Warburton has been handed to Tony Abbott, igniting internal jockeying over the future of the policy, ahead of a decision expected within weeks.

Some senior members of the government want to scrap it completely while Environment Minister Greg Hunt and 25 backbenchers support reducing the target to a “true 20 per cent’’, which would see the large-scale scheme rolled back from its current 41,000GWh to about 25,000GWh.

Supporters of a “true 20 per cent’’ told The Australian yesterday abandoning the policy would amount to breaking an election promise and would risk a Senate stalemate that would entrench the current target.

With no legislative partner, the Prime Minister would be left in the same position as with his attempt to change Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, and be unable to act.

Labor environment spokesman Mark Butler, Greens leader Christine Milne and Clive Palmer yesterday ruled out allowing any weakening of the 41,000GWh target…….

Victorian Liberal backbencher Sarah Henderson also spoke out in support of maintaining the RET. “The RET is so important for local jobs and for regional prosperity. As a strong supporter of renewable energy, I will continue my campaign to ensure the RET remains in place,’’ Ms Henderson said.

Opposition Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen said apparent intentions to wind back the RET represented a sovereign risk.

“We have $11 billion of investment in renewable energy based on clear government policy, a policy which had been bipartisan, and we see the government floating, walking away from that target. That creates sovereign risk for Australia’s investors,’’ he said.  http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/coalition-battle-looms-over-new-renewable-energy-target/story-fn59niix-1227028613526

August 20, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Northern Territory: Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion manouvres on behalf of mining companies

handsoffNothing for Aborigines in Scullion’s manoeuvreALISON ANDERSON THE AUSTRALIAN AUGUST 20, 2014 
  THERE is a lack of mystery about the machinations of Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion in his drive to devolve power to smaller local land councils and Aboriginal corporations. Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, he pretends to be one of us, out to provide power to the people. But he is not one of us — he is out for blood, the blood of the Northern and Central land councils. In reality, his proposed power shift will benefit only the minister, the Country Liberal Party in the Northern Territory and their friends in mining, gas and agriculture.

By removing powers from the statutory authorities of the land councils, Scullion will undermine the collective authority of traditional owners over huge tracts of land. This collective ownership is the Aboriginal way; Tjukurrpa defines our relationships with the land. These relationships will be diminished by the government attitude of divide and conquer.

Perhaps it is an easy sales pitch to the mainstream world, to claim that we, remote Aboriginal people, are holding ourselves back. Or to claim that there will be no progress unless we are split into smaller, more containable, groups. Why? Because smaller numbers are easier to buy off? Because the lack of an independent Environment Protection Authority or an independent Development Consent Authority in the Territory means that this is the prime time to rape and pillage the land, before anyone looks too closely?

For Aboriginal people, the value of our land is deeper than a simple market value. It is a lasting legacy for our families. That does not mean that no development is warranted, but it needs to be on our terms. The land has to last us forever, not just for a brief boom-and-bust cycle that mostly benefits people from elsewhere.

Disassembling the collective authority over our land will not drive development. ……..

If the white knights want to ride in from distant lands and heroically try to save us from ourselves, why don’t they start by offering our children access to a real education? Nothing more, nothing less. The chance for our children to compete with any other children across Australia. Without this step in remote communities, no other development will be sustainable or meaningful.

After years of skimming commonwealth funds earmarked to ameliorate Aboriginal disadvantage, the source is finally drying up. The Territory government is close to the precipice of economic stagnation. Now the government must try to leverage Aboriginal lands in a squalid bid to attract corporate money to the Territory. It is a strategy doomed to failure.

Uninspiring catchphrases such as “Creating Parity” and “Developing the North” cannot become a reality without the participation of Aboriginal people. The economic wealth of the Territory depends on Aboriginal participation, including that of Aboriginal lands. That responsibility is not one that we will give up lightly under pressure from the commonwealth, the Territory or vested interests.

The governments of the day have made their motivations clear. They fear the collective power of Aboriginal people. They fear the power of the very statutory authorities that they created. But they do not speak with us and they definitely do not speak for us. We will have the last word.

Alison Anderson is the member for Namatjira in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/nothing-for-aborigines-in-scullions-manoeuvres/story-e6frg6zo-1227029853648

August 20, 2014 Posted by | Northern Territory, politics | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott’s plan to axe the Renewable Energy Target

Abbott-destroys-renewablesAbbott’s plan to axe RET Financial Review, PHILLIP COOREY Chief political correspondent, 18 Aug 14 The federal government is moving towards abolishing the Renewable Energy Target rather than scaling it back in a move that will cost almost $11 billion in proposed investment and which is at odds with the views of its own Environment Minister.

The Australian Financial Review understands Prime Minister Tony Abbott has asked businessman Dick Warburton, whom he handpicked after the election to review the RET, to do more work on the option of terminating the target altogether. This was after Mr Warburton’s review leant towards scaling back the RET.

Sources said Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who advocated scaling back the RET as a compromise, has been sidelined from the process and is understood to be unhappy. They said Mr Abbott, Treasurer Joe Hockey and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann are pushing the issue now.

A government source said when the government announced its decision, possibly before the end of this month, it was now “more likely’’ the RET will be abolished under a so-called “closed to new entrants scenario’’ in which existing contracts only would be honoured.

Given Clive Palmer has vowed to block any change to the RET until after the 2016 election, it remains unclear when the government could declare the RET terminated.

Independent modelling commissioned by the Climate Institute and other environmental groups, and which will be released Monday, found that under the termination scenario, coal-fired power generators would reap an extra $25 billion in profits between 2015 and 2030.

There would be no reduction to household power prices and carbon emissions would climb by 15 million tonnes a year on the back of a 9 percent increase in coal-fired power.

DIMINISHED INVESTMENTS

Abolishing the RET would diminish investment in renewable energy by $10.6 billion, said the modelling, conducted by consulting firm Jacobs…….

Miles George, managing director of renewable company Infigen Energy, said either scaling back or terminating the RET “would be devastating”.

He said the creation of sovereign risk would be significant and the very issue had been raised by prospective foreign investors, including Canadian pension funds which Mr Abbott sought to woo when abroad in June.

“Infigen’s shareholder base of over 20,000 investors has invested in ­renewable energy in Australia on the basis of a fixed target of 41,000 GWh by 2020,’’ Mr George said. “This is no different to investors in private public partnerships acquiring a toll road ­concession, or a port lease.

“If the Government pulls the rug from under institutional investors in renewable energy we shouldn’t expect those investors to come back to buy other infrastructure assets here, ­including the electricity networks and ­generation assets that the governments of NSW and Queensland are proposing to sell or lease.” http://www.afr.com/p/national/abbott_plan_to_axe_ret_H2znp8ix2CuwbJe6jyb5ZP

August 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

99% support for Australia’s Renewable Energy Target in submissions to the Review

eyes-surprisedRET review swamped by pro-clean energy submissions, The Age,  August 17, 2014    Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald The overwhelming majority of submissions received by the Abbott government’s hand-picked panel reviewing the Renewable Energy Target back its goals.

Analysis by the Clean Energy Council of the 865 detailed submissions found 754, or more than 87 per cent, in favour of the RET being retained or expanded. Of the rest, 55 were mixed or neutral, and 56 called for it to be abolished.

When the 23,272 community submissions are added, support swells closer to 99 per cent, the council said.

renewable-energy-picture“Five years ago when the [RET] was expanded with bipartisan support, Australians overwhelmingly wanted more clean energy – and that is more apparent now than ever,” Kane Thornton, the council’s acting chief executive, said.

Meanwhile, a separate Senate inquiry into the government’s plan to scrap the Australian Renewable Energy Agency found 125 of the 127 submissions in favour of retaining the body, the council said. ARENA provides grants to emerging clean energy technologies…. http://www.smh.com.au/business/carbon-economy/ret-review-swamped-by-proclean-energy-submissions-20140817-1050j1.html#ixzz3Amte0SEG

August 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Maurice Newman’s anti-science slammed by Australia’s Chief Scientist

Newman,-Maurice-ideasAustralia’s chief scientist tells PM’s business adviser to stick to economics , Guardian , , political editor, 18 Aug 14, Global cooling proponent Maurice Newman urged not to ‘trawl the internet’ for papers questioning scientific opinion Australia’s chief scientist has suggested Tony Abbott’s top business adviser should stick to economics rather than “trawl the internet” for papers questioning the overwhelming scientific opinion on global warming…….

“Almost everyone with knowledge would say Mr Newman’s comments are at odds with what they know, but people with no scientific knowledge persist in the view that they can find three or four papers from the hundreds and hundreds of papers on the subject and then dismiss the overwhelming bulk of evidence … it is a silly response to a very important issue.”

Chubb’s response is not the first time the prime minister’s scientific adviser has taken issue with his business adviser’s views. Continue reading

August 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Western Australian Uranium mine abandoned but what about taxpayer subsidies it gets?

money-lobbying http://tonyserve.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/uranium-mine-abandoned-but-what-about-taxpayer-subsidies-to-mining-co-australia-wapol-auspol/ Uranium miner Areva quizzed over Royalties for Regions payment, 12 August 2014 Greens Member for Mining and Pastoral Region, Robin Chapple MLC has quizzed the State Government over its funding support of a subsidiary of French uranium miner Areva, for its North Canning Project.

Earlier this week, Areva Resources Australia announced that it would move to abandon the Kimberley uranium project because it is not technically feasible.

“Did they get Royalties for Regions funding? Was it utilised or if not, was it returned? If not, why not?” Mr Chapple said.

“I am gobsmacked at the constant allocations of funding being poured into the pockets of those already at the very top of the super-rich mining pyramid. It’s an inequity of the highest order.

“The Royalties for Regions Scheme should be taking from the exploitative, extractive industries and supporting true regional development. We should be funding future industries, affordable housing and community infrastructure that will ensure sustainability beyond this limited mining boom. Why are we using these precious funds to facilitate unsustainable mining practices?

“It’s obvious that the State is struggling to provide affordable housing, energy infrastructure, good public transport options, community and health services, let alone take care of our fragile environment.

“Whichever way we look at it, we cannot justify this expenditure,” Mr Chapple said.

August 14, 2014 Posted by | politics, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Will Liberal MP Dan Tehan kow tow to Tony Abbott on Renewable Energy Target?

politicianWill a Liberal MP resist cuts to renewable energy jobs and investment? Climate Spectator, ANDREW BRAY  11 AUG, Could last week’s backdown on the Racial Discrimination Act offer a glimpse of what lies in store for the government’s plans to take the ideological axe to another publicly popular program, the Renewable Energy Target?

Like the RET, the Racial Discrimination Act was created with bipartisan support, was popular and had operated successfully for over 10 years.

Anger at the ideological changes to the RDA bubbled up from the local level, such as in the multicultural Sydney electorate of Reid where Liberal MP Craig Laundy championed his constituents’ concerns. He argued strongly and publicly that his own government was on the wrong track and that the changes to were wrong.

Laundy’s stand was vindicated when the changes were ultimately overwhelmed by the tide of public protest they provoked. A similar passion, but this time over renewable energy, was felt last week by Dan Tehan, Liberal MP for Wannon in south-western Victoria . Continue reading

August 12, 2014 Posted by | politics, Victoria | Leave a comment

Crucial to have Climate Change on G20 Agenda: call to Abbott

exclamation-Push for climate change on G20 list, The Age August 11, 2014  Health and Indigenous Affairs Correspondent  Three former Australians of the Year, including Nobel laureate Peter Doherty, have signed an open letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott calling for climate change to be included on the agenda for the G20 leaders summit to be held in Brisbane in November.

Epidemiologist Fiona Stanley and immunologist Sir Gustav Nossal are among a dozen health experts supporting the call, published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

cartoon-climate-sceptic”Current climate trends, driven by global warming, threaten the basis of future economic prosperity, regional political stability and human health,” the letter says.

The letter states that the risks climate change posed to human health included more intense heatwaves, floods and fires, and the spread of disease-carrying mosquitoes………

‘This issue warrants urgent consideration at the G20 meeting. The health of present and future generations is at risk from ongoing human-induced climate change.”

A spokeswoman for Mr Abbott confirmed that as the host nation, Australia set the agenda for the meeting in consultation with other G20 member nations…….

In an interview also published in the journal, United States economist Jeffrey Sachs, a special adviser to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on development, said it was not possible to end global poverty without tackling climate change.

”The G20 countries are the world’s most important economies … If the G20 gets its house in order, the world can be saved. If not, the G20 will wreck the world, pure and simple … Brisbane is therefore crucial.': http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/push-for-climate-change-on-g20-list-20140810-3dgne.html#ixzz3AEzcHzfz

August 12, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott and co. effusive supporters of coal and nuclear – out to destroy renewables?

Parkinson-Report-Abbott praises coal, gas, dog-whistles to nuclear lobby REneweconmy, By  on 11 August 2014 Prime Minister Tony Abbott has re-iterated his government’s intention to exploit the country’s coal and gas reserves as fast as it can, and has also raised nuclear as a potential significant energy source for Australia.

In a speech to the Australian Industry Group last week – delivered ahead of a report that will likely decide the fate of the renewable energy industry in Australia – Abbott said the country had plenty of coal and gas and “should make the most of them” – notwithstanding the climate change and other environmental issues

Abbott-destroys-renewables“We have massive reserves of coal, massive reserves of gas; let’s make the most of them,” he told the audience (which, ironically, is the business group that has openly supported the current renewable energy target).

Abbott was particularly effusive in his praise of Environment Minister Greg Hunt, whom he said had swept through approvals for projects worth more than $800 billion. And he couldn’t resist the temptation to raise the prospect of nuclear energy as the government’s preferred choice of fuel into the future.

The address by Abbott once again speaks to the grim determination by the Coalition governments – both at federal and state level – to extract every tonne of coal, and “every molecule of gas” before the window on the proliferation of fossil fuel closes – both as a result of climate concerns and the emergence of cheaper, clean technologies.

It also confirms that Abbott, as we have suggested on many occasions – and most recently in this article: It’s time for Abbott to dump nuclear ambitions – is guided by advisors who believe the only option for Australia is to pursue nuclear energy.

Most of his senior business advisors dislike renewables and are supporters of nuclear, most notably the man tasked with the renewable energy target review, Dick Warburton.………

It is almost certain that the government will announced significant changes to the RET, something that Abbott himself suggested in the speech was inevitable – despite the fact that the government has not yet (officially at least) received a report from the RET Review Panel.

“While energy reform also involves repealing the carbon tax and some work with the Renewable Energy Target, it doesn’t end there either,” he told the audience.

Abbott may well want all the coal, and all the gas, extracted as quick as he can, but he and others are facing a major problem – the ability to attract finance for the massive pieces of infrastructure that are required to deliver these products to market…….. http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/abbott-praises-coal-gas-dog-whistles-to-nuclear-lobby-41599

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

Abbott Praises Coal And Gas — Hints At Nuclear

Abbott-nukemonkAbbott’s Praise Of Coal All You Need To Know About Renewable Energy Target Review Clean Technica August 11th, 2014 by   “………To top it all off, and to add insult to injury, Tony Abbott went to speak to the Australian Industry Group last week and promptly made it perfectly clear just how he feels about Australia’s energy future.

“I would like us to be one of the world’s affordable energy capitals. We have an abundance of coal, we have an abundance of gas; let’s make the most of this natural advantage,” he said to the gathering, before concluding with this gem;

“But right now, we have massive reserves of coal, massive reserves of gas; let’s make the most of them.”

The sheer absurdity of Abbott’s understanding of the situation boggles the mind, and leaves one wondering just where his priorities lie and who is in his back pocket (or maybe, whose back pocket is he in).

These comments represent the last straw in understanding Tony Abbott’s position on climate change. His appointments to the four-member RET Review were but another example, as Tristan Edits wrote for Business Spectator.

The chair of the review, Dick Warburton, isn’t willing to accept the conclusions of the Academies of Science of Australia, the US, UK and other nations as well as their meteorological bureaus, that burning fossil fuels creates a major problem with global warming. And another review panel member has declared the RET as a dead-weight loss to society, and assisted the gas industry in their lobbying for it to abolished.

In the end, the actual review of the RET will simply be the final nail the coffin — a coffin, I might add, that contains the health of Australia and her international legitimacy. It’s a coffin that Tony Abbott has already been frantically throwing soil onto, hoping to have the issue dead and buried, all the while the renewable energy industry flounders under the political uncertainty, costing the consumer, the employer, and the environment.

So well done, Mister Abbott, for burying Australia’s chance to be a forward thinking, environmentally conscious, industry leading, scientifically integral, force for change. Let’s all join hands and welcome in a repeat of pre-industrial thinking, where big business drives policy to the detriment of everyone else. http://cleantechnica.com/2014/08/11/abbotts-praise-coal-need-know-renewable-energy-target-review/

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

Tony Abbott includes nuclear power in Australia’s future energy mix

Abbott-nukemonk

 

Nuclear in future energy mix: Abbott Prime Minister Tony Abbott says nuclear power may be a future source of energy for Australia. The Age, 8 Aug 14, But coal and gas should remain the focus of generators for now, he says.

Mr Abbott was asked about his position on nuclear power during an Australian Industry Group lunch in Sydney on Friday.

He said he would like Australia to be the world’s “affordable energy capital”, making the most of its natural advantage in terms of coal and gas…….http://news.theage.com.au/breaking-news-national/nuclear-in-future-energy-mix-abbott-20140808-3dd9b.html

August 8, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Proposed changes to Western Australia’s Aboriginal Heritage Act for benefit of mining companies

handsoffFast track approvals should be dumped: KLC ABC News 6 Aug 14 By Nicolas Perpitch Proposed changes to Western Australia’s Aboriginal Heritage Act have been labelled discriminatory, amid calls for them to be dumped and the act rewritten. In a scathing submission, the Kimberley Land Council (KLC) also warned the amendments would disenfranchise Indigenous people.

KLC chief executive Nolan Hunter said the draft bill focused power in the hands of one bureaucrat – the Department of Aboriginal Affairs’ chief executive officer. “This is a totally bureaucratic government process, so we pretty much will be disenfranchised in terms of having a say once all this is set,” he said.

“This basically discriminates against Aboriginal people. It favours the state’s position.”

Currently the Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee (ACMC), established through the act, provides advice and recommendations to the Aboriginal Affairs Minister on heritage sites. Fast track’ authority for permits handed to CEOMinister Peter Collier revealed the draft bill in mid-June, saying the pace of economic development in recent years, particularly in mining and construction, had highlighted inadequacies in the current legislation.

The draft bill would speed up the approval process for mining and other development by giving the Department of Aboriginal Affairs chief executive officer “expedited” or “fast track” authority to declare whether or not an Aboriginal heritage site existed.

The CEO would be able to issue land use permits when he or she decided a site would not be significantly damaged or altered.

Submissions on the draft amendments have been overwhelmingly critical of the proposed changes, in particular the new fast track approvals process. The KLC and other land councils, Aboriginal corporations, the Law Society of WA, individuals and anthropologists such as La Trobe University’s Nicholas Herriman have argued the new process would largely cut out Aboriginal people.

The Law Society, in its submission, said the proposed amendments stripped the ACMC of its evaluative role and predominantly shifted power to the CEO, who was not obliged to consult with Aboriginal people or to apply anthropological expertise.

Mining and other companies could appeal decisions but no statutory right of review was provided for Aboriginal custodians or traditional owners.

“The lack of such a right again negates the claim that these amendments are increasing the strength of the voice of Aboriginal people or that the amendments increase accountability,” the Law Society said.

The Goldfields Land and Sea Council pointed out the Government had not specified the process to be followed by the CEO in making his or her decisions, raising concerns about “the validity of any decision made”.

“It remains that the most significant issue raised by the proposed amendments to the act is that the regulations that will govern how it will operate are not yet available,” the land council wrote in its submission…………

‘Streamlining development’ aim of act: council

National Native Title Council CEO Brian Wyatt said the changes were not primarily directed at heritage protection.”There’s no real will or desire by government to protect heritage. It’s all about streamlining the processes of development,” Mr Wyatt said.

The KLC also stressed a new section in the act making it a criminal offence not to declare potential heritage sites could force land councils and representative bodies to break the law. There would be fines for people, other than traditional owners, who did not report sites or objects.

Mr Hunter said traditional owners disclosed information to consultants, development proponents and representative bodies on a legal, confidential basis and that arrangement could fall foul of the new provision.

“It sets a default position where we can be subject to a criminal prosecution with very little culpability on our part,” he said.

“How can you create legislation that compels you to break the law?”

He called on the Government to dump the draft bill and start again……….

Submissions on the draft amendments to the 42-year-old act close this week following an eight-week public consultation period. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-05/indigenous-groups-speak-out-about-aboriginal-heritage-act/5650320/?site=indigenous&topic=latest

August 6, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Green MP Robin Chapple’s submission on the Aboriginal Heritage Legislative Changes

Chapple, Robin Greens W.A.These matters are especially important given the lack of both review/appeal processes and

compensation processes in the Act and Bill for Aboriginal peoples facing damage to or

destruction of their heritage.

Dear Chief Heritage Officer

Feedback on the Aboriginal heritage legislative changes

Thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback on the Aboriginal heritage legislative

changes.

I would like first to acknowledge that the Aboriginal Heritage Amendment Bill 2014 makes

improvements, for example the extension of time in which to bring a prosecution, the

provision of express penalties where these are currently lacking, and the increased

penalties for offences.

The Bill also seems likely to deliver on its promise to deliver better quality registers, and the

inclusion of a historic record of all approvals should assist with monitoring compliance.

The Bill also seems likely to deliver on its promise to deliver faster decision making, and the

prescribing of processes for decision-making would make those processes more certain

and transparent.

However, on the draft legislation currently available, and particularly in the absence of draft

regulations, I am not at all satisfied that the legislative changes will effectively improve

either the protection of Aboriginal heritage or adequately involve Aboriginal peoples in that

process. At the end of the day, protection of Aboriginal heritage is what the Act is for. Continue reading

August 6, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

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