Australian news, and some related international items

Canning voters are urged to reject Liberals’ war on solar energy


The solar council is planning a nationwide marginal seats campaign at the next election.

The government has directed the CEFC – which it unsuccessfully tried to abolish – to stop investments in rooftop solar, but changes to the investment mandate remain under legal uncertainty.

Canning byelection: solar industry urges voters to reject Liberals ‘war on solar’, Guardian, , 25 Aug 15

Solar Council letterboxes all electors in Western Australia’s seat of Canning encouraging them to vote for Labor, the Greens or the Palmer United party The solar logo-australian-solar-councindustry is letterboxing all electors in the crucial West Australian Canning byelection urging them to vote against the Liberal party on 19 September in response to the Abbott government’s “war on solar”.

The Solar Council leaflet states: “Installing solar helps Western Australians cut a typical power bill by up to 65%. The federal government is targeting solar by slashing the renewable energy target. We will support any political party with a good solar policy.”

  It advocates a vote against the Liberals and for either Labor, the Greens or the Palmer United party.

The council has invited all party leaders and candidates to a public forum on 13 September

Canning Forum

– a week before the byelection that could affect Tony Abbott’s hold on the Liberal leadership – to explain their solar policies. Continue reading

August 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

BHP wants to remove Federal and State laws on uranium mining

scrutiny-Royal-Commission BHP cool on hot uranium demand,  The Weekend Australian p.2 REBECCA PUDDY,      22 Aug 2015 BHP Billiton has warned that the future doubling of global demand for uranium will not necessarily lead to increased investment at its Olympic Dam mine.

The mining company said the commercial return from the Olympic Dam deposit in the north of South Australia was driven primarily by copper production, together with a combination of commodity prices and other market factors.

“Therefore increased demand for uranium may not in and of itself lead to increased investment in the Olympic Dam deposit,” the company said in its submission to South Australia’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission.

BHP Billiton’s warning comes after it announced this month that 380 workers would be sacked as part of an operational review to cut costs.

An expansion plan for Olympic Dam was put on hold three years ago, although South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill hinted this month that a modified plan to expand the mine remains on the cards, with trials of an alternative heap-leaching technology progressing more rapidly and successfully than expected. This comes as demand for uranium is tipped to increase.

The International Energy Agency world energy outlook states that there are currently 437 operating nuclear power reactors in the world with 378 gigawatt capacity.

With a further 68 reactors being built, the agency forecasts nuclear capacity will increase to 624GW by 2040. “In the long run, additional supply of primary uranium will be required to meet the expected demand,” it says.

“With steady demand increases, the market deficit is expected to be filled by a range of potential projects.”

BHP Billiton’s submission to the royal commission focuses its attentions on the regulatory burdens placed on it by state and federal governments. It recommends the removal of uranium mining from the list of Matters of Environmental Significance in the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act.


The commission is due to report early next year.


August 24, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Nuclear Royal Commission, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Dump for Lucas Heights wastes not the same thing as importing foreign nuclear wastes

radioactive trashWe may now expect Fed govt to await the bi-election in Canning in Perth on Sept 17th before announcing the national nuclear dump site short list across SA & WA – just as South Australian  Premier awaited his bi-elections before announcing the Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission

In any case, the national store & repository are required by law under National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 as a national dump to be restricted to take waste ‘of domestic origin’.

And so has to be at a different site to proposed International nuclear dump being pushed in South Australia.


August 21, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Ambivalence in Port Adelaide Enfield Council about trucking radioactive trash

radiation-truckTrucking nuclear material could clog LeFevre roads, Port Adelaide Enfield Council says, Kurtis Eichler, Portside Messenger August 19, 2015 TRUCKING nuclear material through the Lefevre Peninsula would add “significant” pressure to already clogged transport routes, Port Adelaide Enfield Council says.

Councillors voted last week to send a four-page submission to the State Government to be considered by its Royal Commission into nuclear energy.

Issues raised in the submission included transporting uranium from northern mining areas through Outer Harbor…….In February, contentious climate commentator Professor Ian Plimer pushed for a nuclear reactor in Port Adelaide, saying it would create jobs and make electricity cheaper.

The idea was rejected by Mr Johanson and Port Adelaide MP Susan Close.

August 20, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia, Submissions to Royal Commission S.A. | Leave a comment

Nuclear stooge MP Rowan Ramsey touting radioactive trash dump for his electorate

Concern over radioactive storage, Port Lincoln Times, By Olivia Barnes Aug. 20, 2015, THE potential for a low to medium grade radioactive waste management facility in the Kimba and Buckleboo district has some local families concerned.

Ramsey,-Rowan-nuclearAfter an information session in April and a call for voluntary nominations from landholders, two families with properties to the north of Kimba expressed interest in volunteering land for the facility.

The project is still in its early planning stages but a number of residents and landowners who are strongly opposed to the idea of the facility being placed anywhere in the district have decided to act.

Among these families’ concerns are the potential health effects a storage facility could have as well as future property values and the impact it could have on grain prices in years to come.

Cameron and Toni Scott said after their neighbours told them they had expressed interest in volunteering land for the facility, they were immediately concerned.

“When the information session was held in April it was the middle of seeding and a lot of us couldn’t make it,” Mr Scott said.

“Our concern is this facility could be near our farms and homes and we don’t know what the consequences could be in the future.”

Mr Scott said his family’s concerns were that there was no precedent to compare the proposed facility to and so much was unknown. “We don’t know what it could do to the district’s reputation, what it could mean for our grain in the future, we don’t know what the outcomes will be for future generations,” he said…….

Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey is hoping the Kimba district doesn’t “wipe off” the opportunity for a radioactive waste management facility to be located somewhere in the area.

Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey will be holding an information session at the Kimba Hotel on Monday, August 24 at 8pm, similar to the one earlier this year

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

Very little use made of “third-party appeal rights” in Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act

highly-recommendedReview questions Coalition push to end ‘legal sabotage’ of resources projects, SMH August 19, 2015 Mark Kenny, Lisa Cox, Jane Lee An attempt by Tony Abbott to blame “legal sabotage” used by green groups to kill off large resource projects in the courts, at the cost of tens of thousands of jobs, is derived from dubious and exaggerated evidence, according to an independent review of environmental law.

An analysis of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act by progressive think tank the Australia Institute has found only a fraction of the roughly 5500 projects referred since the act’s inception in 2000 have been challenged using “third-party appeal rights”.

Elements of the yet-to-be-released study, obtained by Fairfax Media, reveal that of those projects referred to the environment minister for assessment under the act, about 1500 have been judged to require formal assessment, with just 12 refused federal environmental approval – nine of those because they were deemed “clearly unacceptable” even before being referred for formal assessment.

And of those 5500, only 27 have been the subject of third-party legal appeals.

“Third-party appeals to the Federal Court have only affected 0.4 per cent of all projects referred under the legislation,” the Australia Institute’s executive director, Ben Oquist, said………

the government plans to amend section 487 of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to remove the power of so-called “third parties”, such as environmental groups, from intervening in referrals from the minister under that act, via the courts.

Labor and the Greens said they would not support government’s proposal, meaning the government will need the crossbench if its plan is to pass the Senate……….

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

Farm organisations angry at Abbott plan to restrict legal action against resource projects

Farm groups furious at Coalition move to restrict environmental challenges, Guardian, , 19 Aug 15  Farm organisations horrified they will be swept up in changes to environmental laws that aim to stop green groups taking legal action against resource projects Angry farm organisations have learned they will be caught by changes to federal environmental laws aimed at stopping “environmental saboteurs” using the courts to delay big projects, but agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce says some individual farmers may not.

After the surprise announcement of major changes to federal environmental law on Tuesday, the Abbott government spent much of Wednesday making conflicting statements about which part of the laws it intended to abolish.

But by the day’s end it confirmed it would try to repeal all of section 487 of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act – contrary to an answer given by the responsible minister, attorney general George Brandis, just hours earlier, and contrary to confidential speaking notes mailed to all MPs that morning.

The clarification horrified farm groups because many farm organisations will also be denied standing to challenge federal environmental approvals in the court and this could stymie several planned challenges to federal approval of the controversial $1.2bnShenhua Watermark coalmine on the fertile Liverpool Plains in NSW.

Any person wanting to mount a challenge would have to prove they had been directly and personally adversely affected……

The government insists the changes to the law will stop only what it calls environmental “vigilantists” and “vandals” and not farm groups.

According to Joyce the Shenhua mine is a “far different proposition” from the Adani mine because it is located on a fertile farming plain.

According to lawyers expert in the operations of the EPBC Act, the amendments proposed by the government would leave both environmental and farm groups bogged in lengthy and expensive legal proceedings to decide whether or not they had the “standing” to take legal action, and will mean many of them wouldn’t.

The proposed amendment, to be introduced on Thursday, appears likely to be defeated in the Senate. Labor and the Greens have said they would not support it. Independent Queensland senator Glenn Lazarus and Palmer United party senator Dio Wang are also unlikely to vote for it and independent Nick Xenophon has said he is “very wary”……..

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

Abbott’s plan to change environmental law puts Great Barrier Reef at risk

barrier-reeefGreat Barrier Reef and other icons at risk from proposed law change: green groups August 19, 2015  Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald The Abbott government’s proposed change to a key environmental protection law is an anti-democratic move that could put  Australia’s famous natural heritage sites at risk, green groups say.

Eight leading non-profit environmental organisations gathered in Sydney on Wednesday to oppose the federal government’s plan to abolish section 487 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.

The move, which may struggle to win sufficient votes to get through the Senate, would limit legal challenges to major projects to those parties directly affected……….

Wilderness Society convener James Johnson said the EPBC ACT had been set up by the Howard government in 1999 after the Australian Law Reform Commission found individuals should not require a special test to begin proceedings on environmental matters.

“Those are the areas and issues deserving the highest levels of protection,” Mr Johnson said. “It’s wrong to represent to the Australian people that we have laws to protect matters of national environmental significance on the one hand, and to take away the very right to ensure those laws are followed with the other.”

Paul Oosting, acting national director of GetUp!, said the move was an action of a “desperate government”.

“They’ve had a controversial few weeks and now they’ve launched this attack on Australia’s key environmental laws, putting in jeopardy our precious places like the Great Barrier Reef, to distract from a government that’s not performing well,” he said.:

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

#Nuclear stooge Senator Bob Day not able to dismantle Australia’s law against establishing nuclear facilities

Senator Day didn’t have enough support for the amendment to pass- Greens and ALP voted against it- so the Bill passed unamended. Some great contributions and statements from Senator Scott Ludlam, usually these are posted on his website.

the ARPANS Act 1998 – 1A Section 10 includes :

10 Prohibition on certain nuclear installations

(1) Nothing in this Act is to be taken to authorise the construction or operation of any of the following nuclear installations:

(a) a nuclear fuel fabrication plant; (b) a nuclear power plant;

(c) an enrichment plant;

(d) a reprocessing facility.

(2) The CEO must not issue a licence under section 32 in respect of any of the facilities mentioned in subsection (1).

(2) Clause 12, page 8 (lines 14 to 22), omit the definition of nuclear installation, substitute: nuclear installation means any of the following:

(a) a nuclear reactor for research or production of nuclear materials for industrial or medical use (including critical and sub-critical assemblies);

(b) a plant for preparing or storing fuel for use in a nuclear reactor as described in paragraph (a);

(c) a nuclear waste storage or disposal facility with an activity that is greater than the activity level prescribed by regulations made for the purposes of this section;

(d) a facility for production of radioisotopes with an activity that is greater than the activity level prescribed by regulations made for the purposes of this section

August 19, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | 1 Comment

Nuclear fan Senator Bob Day pushes to scrap Australia’s law on nuclear facilities

Day, Bob nukesPush to scrap nuclear power plant ban in Australia THE AUSTRALIAN AUGUST 18, 2015  A push to scrap federal laws that ban nuclear power plants in Australia is due to be voted on today, amid calls for MPs to support expanding the uranium industry ahead of the findings of a royal commission.

An amendment to the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Bill was tabled in the Senate yesterday by Family First senator Bob Day.

The change would abolish section 10 of the ARPANS Act which bans construction of certain nuclear installations, including nuclear fuel fabrication plants, nuclear power plants, uranium enrichment plants, and reprocessing facilities.

Senator Day said the change was needed to position the country — and his home state of South Australia — to take advantage of a potential nuclear industry.

A royal commission is underway to investigate the state’s role in the nuclear fuel cycle, with industry invited to submit business cases for building a value-added uranium sector…….


The federal government has made a submission to the royal commission highlighting the benefits of Australia’s nuclear activities.

“Australia has a strong reputation as a global supplier of uranium for peaceful purposes and we already benefit from our nuclear research and the provision of life saving radiopharmaceuticals that help diagnose and treat serious illnesses,” Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said.

However, the government is not expected to support the change.

The current restriction under the ARPANS Act was established in 1998 after an amendment moved by the Greens, which was supported by both major parties.

August 19, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott’s pointless accusations against environmental groups

Tony Abbott’s defence of the Carmichael coalmine is passionate but baseless, Guardian, , 7 Aug 15

justicePrime minister, ‘sabotage’ is something undertaken by enemy agents, not citizens testing the laws of the land.In yet another passionate defence of coal (in an interview with the Australiannewspaper), Tony Abbott has made so many inaccurate and questionable claims it’s hard to know where to start. Here are some of his statements, juxtaposed with facts.

If a vital national project can be endlessly delayed, if the courts can be turned into a means of sabotaging projects which are striving to meet the highest environmental standards, then we have a real problem in this nation … we have to remain a nation that gives people a fair go if they play by the rules.”

The prime minister seems to be suggesting those taking court action are doing something unpatriotic and wrong. In fact, the environmentalists trying to stop the Carmichael mine are playing by the rules – the laws made by parliaments and interpreted by courts.

“Sabotage” is usually something undertaken by enemy agents, not citizens testing the laws of the land. The Environmental Defenders Office is an organisation representing the views of many loyal Australians. A recent Essential poll found that 50% of Australians believe governments should prioritise support for renewables over the coal industry, including 39% of Liberal voters. Only 6% thought governments should prioritise support for coal. The federal court interprets the law.

In any event, the biggest danger to the Adani mine is its own business case, not environmental legal cases, as my colleague Joshua Robertson explained after the recent court decision. Continue reading

August 19, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Abbott govt to remove right of environmental groups to legally challenge developments

Coalition to restrict green groups’ right to challenge after Carmichael setback, Guardian, , 18 Aug 15 [below – mining donations to Coalition] 
graph Aust mining donations
Decision to place restrictions on environment groups that can bring legal action comes after federal court overturned approval for the Queensland coalmine 
The government will remove the right of most environmental organisations to challenge developments under federal laws unless they can show they are “directly affected” – a direct response to the federal court decision this month on Adani’s Carmichael coalmine.

Attorney general George Brandis took the plan to cabinet “under the line” on Monday and it was approved by the Coalition party room on Tuesday, where Tony Abbott said he wanted to use the issue to prove Labor was “torn between workers and greens”, whereas the Coalition was always on the side of the “hard-working and decent” workers.

Brandis said the government would seek to repeal section 487 (2) of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act and “return to the common law”. The government says “vigilante” green groups have been “sabotaging” development, jobs and growth by “lawfare” – unfair and improper use of the courts………

Abbott repeated the claim that the Adani mine would bring 10,000 jobs to Queensland even though the company’s own financial officer told a court this was not true and only 1,464 jobs would be created.

He told his party room “green activists” were “sabotaging” projects that could be bringing growth and jobs to Australia. The approval of the $16bn Carmichael mine, to be located in Queensland’s Galilee Basin region, was set aside earlier this month following a legal challenge by the Mackay Conservation Group. Continue reading

August 19, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

South Australian government warned on using public money to encourage nuclear industry

“…..Greens MLC Mark Parnell has questioned why the Attorney-General’s Department is in charge of three tenders seeking on behalf of the Royal Commission business cases for the establishment of a nuclear power plant, a dump and an enrichment facility.

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAIN“The Government must tread a very fine line between engaging in genuine open inquiry and actively promoting an expansion of the nuclear industry,’’ he said.

“It is illegal to spend any public money to “encourage” a nuclear waste facility in this State. The tender contract is in the name of the Attorney-General’s Department, so they will need to be very careful about any instructions they provide to tenderers about what to say or what not to say.” – Adelaide Now, August 14, 2015

August 15, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia | 1 Comment

Australia will have to improve on its inadequate greenhouse gas emission pledge

Abbott-fiddling-global-warmUN climate expert warns Australia’s emissions target should not be final offer, The Age,  August 13, 2015   Environment and immigration correspondent Australia should not attend global talks in Paris refusing to budge on its greenhouse gas emission pledge, the UN’s scientific body on climate change has said, ahead of expected international pressure on the Abbott government to do better……….

In Canberra on Wednesday, Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, vice-chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said the December talks in Paris were negotiations.

“No country can go to negotiations knowing or thinking, really, that the [emissions target] numbers cannot be touched,” he said. Professor van Ypersele said targets from each nation would be collated and assessed, adding the collective efforts may not be enough to keep warming below 2 degrees. That would lead to “a discussion on how to increase the level of ambition and who needs to increase it first”, he said.

While pledges from nations may not be formally negotiated at Paris, leaders will probably be urged to increase their ambitions, either during the conference or afterwards……….

On Wednesday Labor leader Bill Shorten said he would attend the Paris talks.

The Marshall Islands, a Pacific nation highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, has decried Australia’s pledge as a “weak target” that erodes our international reputation.

Mr Abbott said the Minerals Council of Australia, which represents the mining industry, called the target is “ambitious”.

The target has been interpreted as an effort to placate climate sceptics in the community and the government, while doing the minimum needed to meet Australia’s international obligations.

Climate Institute deputy chief executive Erwin Jackson said Australia’s target was “not the end of the story”. “Countries in Paris will be under pressure to lift their ambitions,” he said.

“Both diplomatic and economic pressure is [also] going to build through time after Paris for countries to get in line with where the world needs to go, which is towards net zero emissions.”

August 14, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Research finds gender divide on opinions on nuclear power versus solar

cartoon- emotionalMore men back nuclear, women like solar: climate change gender divide found, The Age,  August 10, 2015  Environment and immigration correspondent If the climate change debate wasn’t polarised enough, another divide has opened up: the attitudes of men versus those of women.

Climate Institute research published on Monday confirms Australian men are more likely than women to believe climate change is not happening, and to prefer nuclear and coal as energy sources. Women, meanwhile, are more inclined than men to support wind and solar power, and take the view backed by the vast majority of the world’s scientists – that climate change is real.

Ian Dunlop, a former international oil, gas and coal industry executive who is now a director of not-for-profit think tank Australia21, said gender differences were a “fundamental issue” holding back climate action.

“The male incumbency in the business and political world have not been prepared to engage with that discussion,” he said, deriding a dominant culture of “macho short-termism”. “I think women on the other hand are actually more conscious of the … world we are heading into and [that] we need to start doing something about it.”………

The United Nations has previously said women in poor nations bear the disproportionate burden of climate change, but are largely overlooked in the debate about how to address effects such as rising seas, droughts and extreme weather.

The founder of 1 million women, Natalie Isaacs, whose organisation encourages women to act on climate change through the way they live, said protecting future generations “is a hot button issue for women”. She said women made 85 per cent of consumer decisions that affect a household’s carbon footprint.

Mr Dunlop, former chairman of the Australian Coal Association and former chief executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, said women were more likely than men to see climate change as an “existential issue”. “The male approach to this thing is [often] saying it is all nonsense, it’s all just alarmism,” he said.

It has been argued that advocates for climate action should frame their message around defending the status quo, to encourage more men to confront the problem.

August 12, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment


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