Australian news, and some related international items

Abbott’s “Direct Action” climate policy – a gift to the big polluters

Abbott-fiddling-global-warmTop polluters to set own limits virtually penalty free, according to Direct Action policy paper ABC News 27 Mar 15  By the National Reporting Team’s Lisa Main Australia’s 140 top polluters will set their own limits for future pollution virtually penalty free, according to the Government’s latest Direct Action policy paper.

The Federal Government is building towards the launch of its flagship climate change initiative, the Emission Reduction Fund (ERF), in mid-April. As part of that it has released a consultation paper outlining “safeguards” to ensure the big polluters do not offset emissions saved through the ERF.

Companies subject to the safeguards will select a baseline, or limit, for future pollution. That baseline will be set according to the highest peak of emissions from the past five years.

Grattan Institute energy program director Tony Wood said the ideas proposed in the paper simply would not work. “The safeguard mechanism was always a critical element of the Direct Action plan, but there is nothing in this safeguard mechanism that puts any absolute limit on a whole range of sectors,” he said.

There is also significant wiggle room for companies, according to the paper. Changes to the baselines can be made if there are changes to the company size or if the company has a “limited ability to control such emissions”. “All of the flexibility seems to be in the hands of the emitter and that runs counter to the fundamental principal of the paper,” Mr Wood said.

System designed as a toothless tiger, economist says Continue reading

March 28, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Disappearance of Submissions from the Nuclear Royal Commission website

The very short time allowed for people to submit for the draft Terms of Reference nevertheless was enough for over 1000 submissions to be sent – the overwhelming majority raising issues that I bet the
keep-it-secretnuclear lobby would not want raised.  No surprise then that the promised web page of all these submissions just vanished within  a day or two.

However, here below is  a sample of some of these excellent submissions. It is from  DR. PETER BURDON ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR ALEXANDER REILLY MR. PAUL LEADBETER of the University of Adelaide


To Whom It May Concern, RE: Royal Commission – Our role in nuclear energy

Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the terms of reference for the Royal Commission into South Australia’s nuclear industry potential. Continue reading

March 27, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

NARROW Terms of Reference for Royal Commission on South Australia’s further participation in the nuclear fuel chain

Below are the Terms of Reference.  You will note how very few related issues are included.nuclear-fuel-chain3

The Terms cover:

  • feasibility of expanding mining of radioactive materials
  •  feasibility of conversion, enrichment, fabrication or re-processing in South Australia
  • feasibility of generating electricity from nuclear fuels
  • feasibility of establishing facilities in South Australia for the management,
    storage and disposal of nuclear and radioactive waste
  • and a little nod to the impact on economy, environment, and community

Australia, Governor in and over the State of South Australia:
GREETING Continue reading

March 27, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Abbott govt’s Direct Action policy to give privileges to heavy-polluting electricity industry

Greens Leader Christine Milne said the policy would not raise revenue because the baselines were Milne,-Christine-1being set so high that no company would breach them.

“It’s just a joke of a policy which will do nothing to reduce emissions and nothing to drive energy efficiency or more innovative practices,” she said.

highly-recommendedPower sector to get special treatment under Direct Action, The Age March 27, 2015 Peter Hannam and Lisa Cox The Abbott government has proposed a major concession to the heavy-polluting electricity industry in its direct action climate change policy by exempting individual companies from caps on emissions. Continue reading

March 27, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Labor and Liberal happy to get donations from coal seam gas companies

TweedleDum-&-DeeLee Rhiannon: Future mortgaged to the mining past, Online opinion 26 Mar 15 Last week, Federal Labor voted with the Liberals and Nationals to block a Senate motion calling for a ban on political donations from mining and coal seam gas companies.

It seems that Labor is not prepared to back up Luke Foley’s recent comments about a post-coal future by ending its own reliance on mining donations.

Data recently released by the Australian Electoral Commission shows that political donations in the lead up to the 2013 election quadrupled. Mining companies are big donors, contributing hundreds of thousands to the Liberal, National and Labor parties.

Santos, Woodside Energy and Hancock Coal were some of the companies that donated more than $1.1 million to the major parties. The implications for democracy are deeply concerning.

March 27, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobby influence – Australian Industry Group Defence Council wants nuclear submarines

submarine,-nuclear-underwatNuclear submarine option pushed by industry Financial Review  by John Kerin, 24 Mar 15,  Australia’s peak defence industry group has urged Prime Minister Tony Abbott to reconsider buying or leasing a nuclear submarine fleet to replace the ageing Collins class, saying the absence of a supporting domestic nuclear power industry no longer presents a hurdle.

Australian Industry Group Defence Council chairman Chris Jenkins, who is also the Australian chief of French industry giant Thales, said today’s submarine nuclear power plants were so efficient and required so little maintenance that an onshore nuclear power industry was hardly a requirement.


He said nuclear submarine powerplant technology was constantly improving and you would need a trained workforce but not necessarily a power industry to support it.

The defence council is the peak body representing the’s $8 billion 24,000 strong defence sector. “That’s been said [you need a nuclear power industry] but I think nuclear energy these days is much more modularised than people think….like anything else [the submarine] powerplant is manageable,” Mr Jenkins said.

“The idea of a nuclear industry as a fundamental necessity, I am not convinced, but I did think it was quite a good thing that there was a call for a really deep review from South Australia in to nuclear energy,” Mr Jenkins said.

Mr Jenkins was referring to a royal commission called by South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill into the development of nuclear power.

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews will deliver the opening address at a major two-day summit on Australia’s Future Submarine, where experts are expected to fiercely debate the competitive evaluation process given ongoing concerns over the future of Adelaide based ASC and jobs in Adelaide……..

the French firm DCNS has offered a diesel powered version of its 5000 tonne Barracuda submarine.The nuclear version of the Barracuda will be in service with the French Navy from 2017.

 Prime Minister Tony Abbott commissioned advice from his own department last year on nuclear submarine options including the 8000 tonne US Virginia class but the government continues to rule out the option.

But its understood DCNS could offer the nuclear version of the Barracuda from around 2030 if Canberra wished to go down that route……..

Mr Jenkins said. “Given the concern over jobs, South Australia should be as keen to know the answer as anyone because it would undoubtedly be the centre of Australia’s nuclear industry,” he said.

March 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, South Australia, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Abbott government intransigent on its plan to weaken Renewable Energy Target

Abbott-destroys-renewables‘Take it or leave it’, government tells renewable energy industry in latest RET talks, SMH March 24, 2015  National political reporter Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has told the clean energy industry that the government’s latest offer on the renewable energy target is a “take it or leave it” position.

In a fresh round of talks with unions and representatives for the clean energy and aluminium industries on Monday, Mr Macfarlane said the government would not budge from a figure of 32,000 gigawatt hours of renewable energy production by 2020.

The number represents a substantial reduction from the existing large scale target of 41,000 gigawatt hours and both Labor and the clean energy industry have said it is unacceptable…….

Australian Solar Council chief executive John Grimes said “we are now at the end point”.

Mr Grimes said his organisation was shut out of Monday’s talks.

“This is not a process and the end point is perpetual uncertainty,” he said.

March 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Greens call to reinstate Municipal and Essential Services funding for remote Aboriginal communities

Consultation to begin with Aboriginal communities slated for closure in WA, Guardian  17 Mar 15  “………Greens senator Rachel Siewert was due to move a motion on Tuesday calling for the prime minister to apologise for the “insensitive” remark.

Abbott has so far refused to apologise for the comments or concede it was a poor choice of words.

The motion will also call on the federal government to reinstate the Municipal and Essential Services funding, which will run out next year under a deal that gave states responsibility for providing for remote communities, and urge the WA government to abandon plans to close Aboriginal communities.

“Many organisations, including the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, have noted that these remote communities are important to cultural, emotional and social wellbeing and should not be shut down for the sake of short-sighted budgetary measures,” Siewert said.

“We need to be working with communities to deliver essential services and support, not closing and abandoning them.”…..

Dodson, known as “the father of reconciliation”, said on Sunday the avenue for dialogue between Indigenous people and the federal government had closed and urged Abbott to reconsider his approach.

“Does Australia want to have a relationship with Aboriginal people, or does it not?” Dodson said. “Or does it simply want to improve the management and control systems over the lives of Aboriginal people? That’s the seminal issue.”……

March 25, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Examining the full chain proposed by Australia’s (and USA & Canada’s) nuclear lobby

What does the nuclear lobby want, for South Australia?, Online Opinion, 

By Noel Wauchope    19 March 2015 “….It is difficult to work out exactly what is planned in nuclear industry expansion for South Australia. The plans involve some or all of these industries: uranium enrichment, nuclear power, importation and storage of nuclear wastes, 4th Generation nuclear reactors, and expansion of uranium mining.
However, we can be grateful to ABC Radio’s Ockham’s Razor programme, as it provided the nuclear lobby with a platform for setting out succinctly their intentions. Oscar Archer, a well -known voice for the nuclear industry, explains……
Australia should get a fleet of PRISM small nuclear reprocessing reactors – Archer’s plan is for  “IFS+IFR: Intermediate Fuel Storage and Integral Fast Reactor, namely the commercially offered PRISM breeder reactor from General Electric Hitachi.”

What he means here is the Power Reactor Innovative Small Module

Archer then sets out the sequence of events that would lead to the establishment of this fleet. In Archer’s words “it goes like this. Australia establishes the world’s first multinational repository for used fuel – what’s often called nuclear waste”

However, he notes that “This is established on the ironclad commitment [my emphasis] to develop a fleet of integral fast reactors to demonstrate the recycling of the used nuclear fuel”……

the sting in the tale of his plan is really exactly what he calls the first step – the overturning or weakening of Federal and State laws. The Federal Act protects against nuclear reprocessing and expanded nuclear industries. ARPANSA sets safety standards for exposure to ionising radiation. South Australian State Law would have to be overturned, too – under the Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000
These laws are not frivolous products of tree huggers – and are there for sound health and environmental reasons.

The central premise of Oscar Archer’s promotion of this nuclear chain of events is that Australia should go out on a limb – be the first country in the world to import nuclear wastes and to order a mass purchase of PRISM reactors…..

The PRISM reactor exists only on paper and its development is decades away from completion. David Biello, in Scientific American comments “Ultimately, however, the core problem may be that such new reactors don’t eliminate the nuclear waste that has piled up so much as transmute it. Even with a fleet of such fast reactors, nations would nonetheless require an ultimate home for radioactive waste, one reason that a 2010 M.I.T. report on spent nuclear fuel dismissed such fast reactors.”


The PRISM can’t melt down in the way that conventional nuclear reactors can. However, its essential use of plutonium entails hazardous transport – vulnerability to terrorism and use as a “dirty” bomb. And – finally the PRISM reactor itself becomes radioactive waste requiring security and burial.

There is another, underlying premise here that needs to be examined. This is the premise that it is OK for Australia and the world to continue to consume energy endlessly…….


The plan purports to reduce greenhouse emissions by means of thousands of little reactors, (and big ones) – but their development is so many decades away that it would be too late for climate change action.

We are left with a plan that looks suspiciously as if the troubled nuclear industries of USA, Canada and UK have selected Australia as the guinea pig for a plan to reverse their industries’ present decline.

corruptionIt is a worry that the South Australian Government is looking to Canada to take part in the Royal Commission. If ever there were a troubled nuclear industry, it is in Canada. The World Bank’s Corrupt Companies Blacklist is Dominated By Canada, because of one company, SNC Lavalin, – exporter of small nuclear reactors………

March 20, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Family First Senator Bob Day gets Senate support for SA nuclear commission

Day, Bob nukesSenate backs SA nuclear commission AAP MARCH 18, 2015

THE Senate has backed South Australia’s royal commission into expanding the nuclear industry.

SA Premier Jay Weatherill launched a royal commission to investigate if the state, home to world’s largest uranium deposits, should embrace production, enrichment and storage of nuclear power.

SA Family First senator Bob Day won enough Senate support to formally welcome the commission, with his motion passing 34 to 33.


March 20, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Nuclear Royal Commission will ignore the elephant in the room

20 Mar 15, The biggest hole in the nuclear Royal Commission isn’t the proposed open cut pit at Olympic Dam, but rather the omission of any consideration as to whether South Australia should be LESS involved in the nuclear industry, rather than MORE involved, according to Greens SA State Parliamentary Leader, Mark Parnell MLC.

“Despite the Premier’s assurance that he has an “open mind”, the most fundamental question of SA’s role in the global nuclear industry won’t be considered at all.  The Royal Commission is only charged with considering NEW ADDITIONAL involvement or expanding our existing involvement; it won’t be looking at whether SA should extract itself entirely from the nuclear cycle.” said Mark Parnell.

“If you don’t ask all the questions, you won’t get all the answers.

“Clearly, there are many South Australians who are opposed to South Australia’s involvement in the nuclear cycle.  With our natural advantages and nation-leading performance in wind and solar, South Australians see that the future is to embrace clean renewable energy, rather than flirting with dangerous, dirty and expensive nuclear power.  Becoming the nation’s or world’s nuclear waste dump is not most people’s vision for our State’s future or the legacy that we want to leave our children.”


Now that the Royal Commission is underway, the next critical decisions will be around the selection of key staff including “Counsel assisting the Royal Commission” and any technical or other research staff.

“Choosing people who are partisan or have vested interests will be seen by the public as evidence of a biased process and the credibility of any findings will be diminished.”

The Royal Commission also needs to announce how it intends to conduct its inquiry, including opportunities for personal submissions, public hearings, site visits and how all South Australians can engage with the process.

“The Greens will engage with the process, but we won’t hesitate to publicly criticise the Royal Commission if it becomes secretive, biased or otherwise limits the ability of South Australians to have their say on their State’s future.” said Mr Parnell.

March 20, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

1000 submissions to S. Australia’s Nuclear Royal Commission. Kevin Scarce accused of pro nuclear bias

Scarce,--Kevin-glowNuclear royal commissioner officially appointed, denies bias ABC Radio National PM 19 Mar 15 DAVID MARK: The newly appointed royal commissioner for investigating the nuclear industry in South Australia says he is not biased towards the industry. The former South Australian governor, Kevin Scarce, has been accused of speaking in favour of the industry in the past.
The royal commission officially started today.
Mr Scarce says the commission will hold public hearings around the state. In Adelaide, Natalie Whiting reports. 

NATALIE WHITING: In the lead up to the start of South Australia’s royal commission into developing a nuclear industry, there has been some criticism of the man selected to lead it. Some people opposing the inquiry, including Doctor Jim Green from Friends of the Earth Australia, say former governor Kevin Scarce had spoken out in favour of the industry before.

He was officially given the role of commissioner today and has hit back at those suggestions……..

NATALIE WHITING: He says dates for public hearings should be finalised next month. There appears to be a lot of interest in commenting on the commission. One thousand submissions were received on the draft terms of reference. They’ve been altered to include a line about looking at past environmental experiences with nuclear.

Craig Wilkins from the Conservation Council has welcomed that.

CRAIG WILKINS: We actually do have a significant history already in this industry and it’s really important that if the commission is to do its work properly it considers where we’ve come from as well as where we’re going. So we very strongly welcome the fact that the terms of reference have been broadened to include that history.

NATALIE WHITING: But he says he would have liked the terms to also look at minimising the state’s involvement in the industry. South Australia already mines uranium.

CRAIG WILKINS: Surely any decent investigation of an industry should mean that all options are on the table. If there are concerns, which many people do have concerns already with this industry, surely this commission should be looking at what our appropriate role should be in it and that may well be a reduction rather than an increase.

NATALIE WHITING: Kevin Scarce says that has been ruled out……

NATALIE WHITING: A number of staff, including researchers, still need to be appointed to the royal commission.

March 20, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Weatherill’s Royal Commission hides the connection between nuclear industry and nuclear weapons

scrutiny-Royal-CommissionDennis Matthews, 20 Mar 15 It’s not difficult to find out that the world’s nuclear waste is not neatly segregated into “military” and “non-military”. The processes that create the waste, such as separating out the various isotopes of uranium, chemical processing prior to this separation, and the processing of spent fuel rods from nuclear reactors all occur at facilities that service both the nuclear weapons and the nuclear power industries.

Weatherill’s Royal Commission has been charged with looking into importing nuclear waste but has been explicitly told not to include nuclear use for military or defence purposes. If the Commission doesn’t study the close physical connection between the military and non-military uses then it is closing its mind to one of the reasons why South Australia shouldn’t have anything to do with the nuclear industry.

It’s pretty obvious that Weatherill and the nuclear lobby don’t want to look into this because it would inevitably lead to a result that they don’t want to know about. More the pity for South Australia.


March 20, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

South Australian govt starts Royal Commission into Nuclear (it’s a CHAIN not a CYCLE)

Dennis Matthews 20 Mar 15 The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission is full of contradictions and political spin

Surely if there was a fuel cycle then we wouldn’t need a nuclear waste dump. In fact it is a nuclear fuel chain; dig it up, process it, use it, then dump the wastes in some cash-strapped state.

The terms of reference explicitly state that the military use of uranium is excluded. Yet a former high-ranking member of the military who is sympathetic to the nuclear industry is the commissioner.

The commissioner has urged people to keep an open mind but the terms of reference state that the commission can’t do that because it can only look at expanding the nuclear industry and not the opposite.

It is claimed that the commission will not recommend sites for a nuclear dump but it will investigate whether South Australia has suitable geography. So it won’t be in your backyard but it might be in the valley down the road.


The royal commissioner said any consideration of reducing nuclear industry involvement had been ruled out by the SA Government.

Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission makes formal start in SA ABC News 19 Mar 15 Public hearings in remote Aboriginal communities are expected to be part of a royal commission in South Australia into nuclear energy issues. Governor Hieu Van Le has signed off to mark the official start of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, which is expected to make its recommendations to the SA Government by May next year.

Scarce,--Kevin-glowIt will examine a range of issues including whether the state should have a nuclear power station or
nuclear waste dump.

Former governor Kevin Scarce will head the inquiry. Continue reading

March 20, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

VIDEO: Greens’ Larissa Waters strongly defends current Renewable Energy Target

Waters,-Larissa-Senator-1Greens savage Labor over RET deal A report that shows power companies are the worst polluters underscores the need to retain the renewable energy target in its current form says Greens environment spokesperson Larissa Waters.

March 20, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment


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