Australian news, and some related international items

$30 billion expansion of Olympic Damn uranium mine will go ahead, says Tony Abbott

Abbott-liarPrime Minister Tony Abbott predicts $30 billion Olympic Dam expansion will go ahead POLITICAL EDITOR TORY SHEPHERD THE ADVERTISER SEPTEMBER 30, 2014 A $30 billion Olympic Dam expansion is likely to go ahead “in the months and years ahead”, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says.

BHP Billiton shelved the expansion plans in the face of low commodity prices and spiralling costs. However the expansion moved a step closer recently, after the Government waived stringent environmental tests to let them trial a cheaper way of processing minerals…….

BHP Billiton is expected to give more detail on their plans at their AGM in Adelaide in November. Chief executive Andrew Mackenzie has said they have reduced costs and might be able to go ahead with a smaller or incremental expansion.

Before the election Mr Abbott pledged to create the economic conditions that would give the expansion the best chance of going ahead.

Federal ministers have met with BHP and have been talking up the prospects of the expansion …….

October 1, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Fossil fuel industries lobby against solar power: gas joins attack by coal utilities

fossil-fuel-fightback-1 What neither industry likes to talk about is the pricing of the network – did they invest too much money in network infrastructure, and shouldn’t they take a write down on those assets, rather than just charging customers more?.

Gas networks attack solar policies, fearing mass defections By on 26 September 2014  Gas industry calls for solar hot water rebates to remove to try to slow down mass defections from gas networks it fears will be caused by soaring gas prices.

The Energy Network Association has released a report that suggests the industry could lose one quarter of its customers as a result of soaring prices. It says 1.15 million households could drop gas and defect to solar hot water in coming years. Continue reading

October 1, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics | Leave a comment

Investors representing $1 trillion lobby Abbott to keep Renewable Energy Target

piggy-ban-renewablesInvestors lobby PM on renewable energy 01 October 2014 | Staff Reporter A group of institutional investors representing $1 trillion has accused the prime minister of undermining the Renewable Energy Target.

In an open letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott published in the Australian Financial Review, the Investor Group on Climate Change argued that the savings of more than 10 million Australians are invested in a “clean energy future”.

“The health of our economy is vitally dependent on investor confidence in government and the stability of its policies,” the letter said.

“For years we’re been investing the savings of Australians in projects on the basis of bipartisan support for boosting renewable energy,” it said.

“This is now at risk. Our investments, together with skilled industries and jobs that the Renewable Energy Target is creating, are at risk due to the uncertainty of your government’s commitment to the legislated 41,000 giga-watt-hour target.”

Australia ought to be growing renewable energy rather than “stepping back” from its international commitments, said the letter.

“Investors need predictable long-term policies to be confident to make investments in the energy sources of the future,” it said.

“This environment requires bipartisanship on the need for more renewable energy, not less. We encourage you not to change that now,” said the letter.

The Investor Group on Climate Change includes AustralianSuper, BT Financial Group, AMP Capital Investors, Colonial First State Global Asset Managers and Cbus among its members.

October 1, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics | Leave a comment

Australian govt’s Energy White Paper misrepresents Friends of the Earth Australia, on nuclear power

to Energy White Paper Taskforce
Department of Industry ,

from D Jim Green

The White Paper misrepresents Friends of the Earth in relation to nuclear power and I am seeking immediate clarification on a couple of points.

The WP states: “However, the relative safety of nuclear power is reflected in a 2013 study commissioned by Friends of the Earth, which concluded that, “overall the safety risks associated with nuclear power appear to be more in line with lifecycle impacts from renewable energy technologies, and significantly lower than for coal and natural gas per MWh of supplied energy.”

text-half-truthQuestion 1: Why does the WP not specify that the study was commissioned by Friends of the Earth UK?

Question 2: Why does the WP fail to note that the commissioned paper raised multiple objections to nuclear power, and that FoE UK retained its anti-nuclear policies as a result of the review process, e.g. from the article below  ‘The non-nuclear energy pathway that Friends of the Earth advocates is credible …’

Please provide immediate answers to the above questions since the misrepresentation is a matter of great concern.

Please also advise if the Department or the Minister will immediately issue a media release correcting the mirepresentation. Alternatively, will the Department put a note on the relevant webpage noting that the WP fails to specify that the Friends of the Earth group in question is FoE UK and that FoE UK retained its anti-nuclear policies as a result of the review process.

Jim Green
Jim Green B.Med.Sci.(Hons.), PhD
National nuclear campaigner – Friends of the Earth, Australia

Dear Dr Green

Thank you for your email to the Energy White Paper Taskforce regarding the citation of the Tyndall Centre report.

To clarify, the paper released is the interim Green Paper, which is the basis for consultation on policy issues. Submissions received until 4 November will help inform the development of the Energy White Paper.  We expect to release the Energy White Paper later this year.

On the referencing of the report, we note that the quotation is accurate, and the footnote referencing provides enough detail to clarify that the report is based on a UK analysis, and allows for easy access to the online report in full, including the report origins and relevant disclaimers, as would be normal practice.

We acknowledge your preference that the report be linked to Friends of the Earth UK more explicitly in text, rather than through accessing the commissioning and disclaimer detail of the report itself. Given that concern, should the reference be used in the Energy White Paper, we will ensure that the body of our text includes the distinction. We would appreciate your guidance as to whether the preference is to use UK, or the full ‘England, Wales and Northern Ireland’ as per the report cover.


Energy White Paper Taskforce
Department of Industry

GPO Box 9839, Canberra ACT 2601

September 29, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, technology | Leave a comment

Don’t be misled by Industry Minister MacFarlane. Govt still plans for nuclear power

Macfarlane forked tongue Energy White Paper
Green Paper 2014
to inform preparation of a White Paper

Attachment 3: Nuclear energy issues p. 71 ………– In 2013, the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics found that, over the projection period to 2050,  nuclear remains cost-competitive with both renewable and non-renewable technologies on a levelised cost of energy basis. …….

The IAEA Nuclear Safety Action Plan, endorsed  unanimously in September 2011 by the IAEA’s member states, defines a programme of work to strengthen the global nuclear safety framework.
Nuclear power plants are also designed to be safe in their operation and resilient to any malfunction or
accident. The nuclear power industry globally has been developing and improving reactor technology for
more than five decades. Advanced reactors now being built have simpler designs, which reduce capital
cost, are more fuel-efficient, and inherently safer. Generation III+, III++ and IV full-scale reactors, and
Small Modular Reactors currently under development, incorporate passive safety features that require no
active controls or operational intervention to avoid accidents in the event of malfunction, and may
instead rely on gravity, natural convection, or resistance to high temperatures.
SMRs Australia
At all stages of the nuclear fuel cycle, individuals, society and the environment must be adequately
protected against radiological hazards. For radioactive waste, these obligations are underpinned in the
Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste
Management, to which Australia is a signatory…….
There is a worldwide consensus amongst technical experts that spent fuel and high level waste can be
appropriately disposed of in deep geological repositories. Finland and Sweden are leading the way with
this work and have made significant progress towards opening their deep geological repositories.
A full spent fuel / high level waste strategy should be included as part of any consideration for nuclear
power or fuel generation.
Australia is a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which aims to
prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to foster the peaceful uses of nuclear
energy, and to further the goal of disarmament. The Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office
regulates physical protection and IAEA safeguards requirements on nuclear material, equipment, and
activities in Australia.
The non-proliferation regime has been remarkably successful and has helped to slow proliferation……

September 29, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Highly reputable organisations call on Tony Abbott to keep Renewable Energy Target

poster-renewables-rallyGroups fight for renewable energy target, Herald Sun  AAP  SEPTEMBER 29, 2014
CUTTING the renewable energy target (RET) will leave Australians reliant on natural gas and drive up electricity bills, a group of consumer and community advocates say.

THEY have written to Prime Minister Tony Abbott urging him to reject the recommendations of a review that called on the government to cut the target.

The economic, environmental and social impacts of the RET scheme were well-documented and overwhelmingly positive, states the letter from groups including the Australian Council of Social Service, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, the Consumer Utilities Advocacy Centre and the Clean Energy Council.

“If the RET is cut, Australia’s greater reliance on gas-fired power will increase the cost of power for all energy users,” they say…….

September 29, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Greens urge that Western Australia get a nuclear emergency plan

safety-symbolGreens want Barnett to make emergency nuclear plan for WA September 18, 2014 Brendan Foster With Australia on the brink of new conflict with Iraq, Greens MP Lynn MacLaren says she can’t believe the Barnett government doesn’t have an emergency plan if a nuclear accident happened at Fremantle Port.

On Monday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Australia would send 600 troops, including SAS soldiers and eight FA18 Super Hornets, to the Middle East in preparation for military action against the Islamic State terror group.

And on Thursday, more than 800 police officers raided homes in Sydney in an attempt to foil a plot to “commit violent acts”, including plans to behead a member of the public.

Ms MacLaren asked Attorney-General Michael Mischin on Wednesday night in State Parliament if the Liberals had an action plan for workers and residents living near the port in the event of the nuclear reactor incident from a nuclear-powered warship. Mr Mischin said a nuclear detonation was not a defined hazard prescribed within the Emergency Management Act 2005.

“The state emergency management arrangements allow for a controlling agency to be appointed for any hazard not prescribed in the act,” Mr Mischin said.

Ms MacLaren said as Australia prepared to send troops to Iraq, “we cannot afford to have a head-in-the-sand approach to an emergency response”.

“Since nuclear-powered vessels visit our shores, we need to be ready in the event of an accident or incident. The report tabled in response to my question was last updated in 2010,” she said.

“Nuclear weapons have been a major threat to world peace for decades, how can the state government not have an emergency response to the risk of a nuclear weapon detonation or accident?

“The consequence of even a small incident would be catastrophic. Yet, we should have a plan which factors in health care facilities and staff to provide triage care in the event of a nuclear detonation or other nuclear incident.” Ms MacLaren said with the Mayors of Peace Conference in Fremantle next week, the call to prohibit nuclear weapons was more important than ever.

Junko Morimito who will describe her experience as a 13-year-old in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb went off is one of the guest speakers at the conference.

“I will be attending the Fremantle Peace Walk which will take place on International Peace Day, Sunday 21 September – celebrating the opening of Fremantle Peace Grove. Tthis issue must be kept as a priority for leaders and the community,” Ms MacLaren said.

September 20, 2014 Posted by | politics, safety, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Tasmania has vital need to keep Renewable Energy Target – Bill Shorten

map-tasmania-wind.1Bill Shorten says Renewable Energy Target vital to Tasmania’s north-west  Yahoo News September 17, 2014 Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has called on the Federal Government to support the Renewable Energy Target (RET) during a trip to Tasmania’s west coast……Mr Shorten said the Government needs to retain the RET to ensure the proposed wind farm at Granville Harbour goes ahead.

“It beggars belief that you have got up to 200 jobs just waiting to roll: 33 wind turbines, one of the windiest areas in Australia,” he said.

“The community want them, they don’t share Joe Hockey’s view that somehow wind farms are sick-making.

“They want the jobs, they want the wind farms but what they need is a government in Canberra who understands that renewable energy is not some green plot but part of the sustainable mix going forward.”

Liberal Senator David Bushby gave assurances the Federal Government had not yet decided what to do about the RET……….

 projects such as the Granville Harbour wind farms remain in doubt.

In her meeting with Mr Shorten this morning, West Coast Mayor Robyn Gerrity stressed the importance of the RET to the region.

She told 91.7 ABC Northern Tasmania that while there was not much Mr Shorten could do for the region she wanted him to support the retention of the RET to ensure the Granville wind farm went ahead.

“They could employ within weeks about 30-odd men to start doing the roadworks for it,” she said.

“The problem being, for them to source and get the final tick-off regarding financing, they’re relying on the Renewable Energy Target.”…….

September 18, 2014 Posted by | energy, politics, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Labor committed to keeping Renewable Energy Target unchanged: Palmer also

Labor rules out making changes to scale down Renewable Energy Target 7 News,  BY ENVIRONMENT AND SCIENCE REPORTER JAKE STURMER September 18, 2014 Labor has ruled out negotiating with the Federal Government to scale back the Renewable Energy Target (RET).

The Government is believed to be searching for a bipartisan compromise to scale back the green scheme, which was put in place by the Howard Government.

It was tweaked in 2010 to ensure that 20 per cent of Australia’s power would be generated by renewable resources by 2020.
It effectively gives industry support to renewables at the expense of established fossil fuel electricity generators.

A Government-commissioned review last month recommended closing the large scheme to new entrants and shutting it by 2030, or that it be ditched with the renewable sector limited to a 50 per cent share of new growth in electricity demand.

The Government is yet to reveal its position on the review but it is understood to be looking for a middle ground…………

 The Australian Solar Council is not waiting – it has already held three “save solar” meetings in marginal electorates.
The most recent meeting was held in the Liberal held seat of Barton in southern Sydney, which is held by just 489 votes.

Labor leader Bill Shorten used the opportunity to hose down talk that he would accept any negative change to the RET.
He was asked by one of the 200 audience members to promise that he would not negotiate down from what the current position is.

“We’re not about to abandon all the principles and the details of what you just said,” Mr Shorten said………Mr Shorten’s office later told the ABC that there would be no negotiation that would result in the scaling back of the RET.

The Palmer United Party also reiterated its position that it did not support any change to the scheme………

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

Shadow Environment Minister Jackie Trad exposes foolish decision of Queensland govt on uranium mining

Queensland--antinukeLNP under fire as companies target Qld uranium  | 12th Sep 2014 THE ALP has slammed the Newman government decision to grant mineral development leases to two companies planning to mine uranium in Queensland.

Shadow Environment Minister Jackie Trad accused the LNP of lying before the last election when it gave what she described as a clear commitment not to endorse uranium mining.

“The Premier gave a clear election commitment but the granting of six exploration licences shows once again the value of an LNP promise,” she said.

“In breaking the promise, the Newman Government is ignoring the widespread objections of Queenslanders, ignoring the substantial environmental risks associated with uranium mining, ignoring the risks associated with the transportation ofradioactive material and ignoring the risks to public health and safety.

“It is a massive betrayal of trust.

“We are just a few steps away from having trucks and trains filled with uranium making their way through communities to ports and waterways.”

Ms Trad accused the Newman Government of arrogantly ignoring the wishes of the majority so it could pander to the demands of powerful vested interest groups.

She said there had been no uranium extraction in Queensland since 1982. Any future State Labor government would move swiftly to reinstate the ban. “It remains our view that the risks and hazards inherent in uranium mining far outweigh the economic benefits,” Ms Trad said.

“Even if all known deposits of uranium were mined the expected royalties would only be around 1% of the state’s current royalty revenue.”Uranium mining simply doesn’t stack up on either economic or environmental grounds.”

Ms Trad will be on the Sunshine Coast as special guest at her party’s Sunshine Coast Hinterland branch forum on the environment and the Newman Government’s track record on green policy.

It will be held at Maleny Neighbourhood Centre on Saturday, September 27 at 2pm.

September 13, 2014 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Queensland State Labor pledges to block hazardous uranium mining

Queensland--antinukeQ, North West Star Sept. 10, 2014, “..[Queensland's OPPOSITION environment spokeswoman] Jackie Trad was adamant there was little benefit from uranium mining.

“Even if all known deposits of uranium were mined the expected royalties would only be around 1% of the State’s current royalty revenue,” she said.

“Uranium mining simply doesn’t stack up on either economic or environmental grounds.

“We are just a few steps away from having trucks and trains filled with uranium making their way through communities to ports and waterways.”

Ms Trad said there had been no uranium extraction in Queensland since 1982 and confirmed that a future State Labor Government would move swiftly to reinstate the ban” .

September 11, 2014 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

The 3 demands at the top of the IPA’s 75-strong wish list for a “better Australia” were the repeal of the carbon price, the abolition of the Department of Climate Change and clean energy funds.


Parkinson-Report-Tony Abbott’s Year of Leading Dangerously, REneweconomy By  on 8 September 2014 Just over a year ago, after it became clear that Tony Abbott’s Coalition would sweep to a federal election victory, the predominant thought among many in the clean energy and climate policy space was: Well, he won’t be that bad, will he?

Yes, he will, and he has been. As we noted in our pre-election summary on September 6 last year, there was every reason to believe that anAbbott government could be worse than people feared. And not it should be noted, by doing anything Abbott hadn’t already flagged, but by doing exactly what he said he would do.

Several months earlier, RenewEconomy flagged Five ways Abbott could kill renewables in Australia. They were: Kill the carbon price, the Clean Energy Finance Corp and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, make the renewable energy target unworkable, and disband the Climate Change Authority.

He has acted on all five. Here’s how he has progressed.

Can the carbon price. Tick.

Can or dilute the Renewable Energy Target, and make it unworkable. Tick. The Abbott government now has the recommendation it needs, from the controversial Warburton Review, now it just a matter of implementing them. The uncertainty in the industry has brought all large-scale investment to a halt.

Axe the Climate Change Authority. This was one of the government’s first acts. It hasn’t yet succeeded, but the CCA has been gutted by the departure of many key personal. It has been sidelined from the RET Review, and its key findings on climate policies and emissions targets are ignored by the government, and ipso facto by mainstream media.

Can the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. It’s still trying, with a vote to be presented to the Senate later this month. Funding has already been cut, but Abbott wants to cut all future funds and absorb the running of the committed projects back within a government department.

Can the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. It tried, but once again the Senate has stymied its attempts. Still, the CEFC can be directed where to direct its funds, and it is increasingly likely it will be given modified mandates to help out with the discredited Emissions Reduction Fund, the key plank of Direct Action policy.

A lot of what Abbott has sought to achieve in his first year was mandated by the Institute of Public Affairs, the conservative think tank that has become a voice for extreme right views and vested interests. Continue reading

September 9, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Christopher Pyne has opposite view to Abbott, on Renewable Energy Target

Pyne,-ChristopherGovernment increasingly divided over plan to scrap renewable energy target Christopher Pyne said to have given full support to RET scheme at a private meeting, amid signs cabinet at odds over issue, Monday 8 September 2014 The government appears to be edging away from the closure of the renewable energy target (RET) scheme, with the education minister, Christopher Pyne, reportedly giving his full support to the scheme at a private meeting.

This comes as pressure mounts on Labor to reach a “compromise” position on the issue. However, Labor appears unlikely to compromise its opposition to any change to the RET.

“The Abbott government shattered any notion of bipartisanship on the RET when it walked away from its election commitment to keep the existing 41,000 gigawatt hours by 2020 target,” said Mark Butler, Labor’s environment spokesman.

Guardian Australia understands that Pyne told a group of solar panel installers that he did not want to see any change to the RET, which requires that 41,000 gigawatt hours of Australia’s energy comes from renewable sources such as solar and wind by 2020.

Cabinet is divided over what to do with the RET, with Tony Abbott understood to favour its closure, while others, such as the environment minister, Greg Hunt, advocating that it be scaled back……

Analysis released by the Clean Energy Council on Monday showed that $15bn in investment would be lost if the RET was cut. The NSW economy would be worst off among the states, according to the analysis, losing $4bn, while Victoria would lose out on nearly $1bn. Queensland leads the way in terms of clean energy employment, with 4,600 jobs in solar power and more than 6,500 across the state’s renewable energy sector.

September 9, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Some Labor party heavies likely to join Abbott’s anti renewabl eenergy crusade

The worry for the renewable energy industry is that Labor would be tempted to cut a deal: Its energy spokesman Gary Gray is no fan of renewables and once described himself, Macfarlane and former minister Martin Ferguson, another who wants the RET cut, as three peas in a pod.

Parkinson-Report-Abbott reveals his true colours on renewables By Giles Parkinson, RenewEconomy 7 Sept 14, 

If there was ever any doubt about the Abbott government’s antipathy to renewable energy, then a Senate report into the proposed abolition of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency mus surely put it to rest.

It has given a fascinating – and somewhat frightening – insight into the coalition government’s antipathy to renewable energy, and how it has thrown its support behind extreme right ideology against green energy.

Abbott-destroys-renewablesThe Abbott government keeps insisting that it is ‘pro-renewables’, a facile description it is hanging on to because it has not yet acted on the diabolical recommendations of the Warburton review of the renewable energy target.

But the government’s conclusions on the ARENA Senate committee shows it is anything but supportive. The coalition sided with two of the most committed anti-renewable lobbies in the country – the gas association and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. These were the only two submissions supported that the government’s move to abolish the agency, which will see all future funding stripped and current projects managed absorbed by the department.

The other 129 submissions supported retention of ARENA, Continue reading

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

Australia’s top engineers call for keeping Renewable Energy Target as it is

Engineering peak body backs Renewable Energy Target 2 Sept 14  Following the release of the government’s review of the Renewable Energy Target, peak professional body Engineers Australia has reiterated its support for maintaining the RET in its current form.
“Not only are there major environmental benefits to be had under RET, but there are significant employment and economic benefits to be gained from RET projects, especially in regional areas,” said Chair of Engineers Australia’s Sustainable Engineering Society, Dr Alice Howe.

“The RET is clearly delivering benefits for Australia, and Engineers Australia does not support moves to dilute or weaken its operation.

“Engineers are central players in delivering Australia’s energy infrastructure, and we stand by the need to create a long-term and sustainable energy sector in this country. Ongoing investment in renewables is a critical component of our energy security mix.

“Heavy reliance on fossil fuels creates a major vulnerability in our economy. If significant global action on greenhouse gas reductions occurs, the consequences for Australian energy exports and even Australia goods and services, due to their high carbon footprints, may be severe.

-“While we welcome strong public debate on this topic, we urge the government to stand by the RET in its current form. Engineers Australia believes that the RET should be retained to at least its present level,” said Dr Howe. -

September 4, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment


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