Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Tony Abbott’s top Aboriginal adviser, Warren Mundine is a nuclear industry lobbyist

Mundine-puppetEnvironmentalists respond to Warren Mundine’s attacks  1 Aug 2014, Jim Green, Indymedia Nuclear lobbyist “………..Mundine’s role as a lobbyist for all things nuclear has been particularly offensive. In June, Muckaty Traditional Owners in the NT won a famous victory, defeating the efforts of the Howard−Rudd−Gillard−Abbott governments to impose a nuclear waste dump on their land. The racism could hardly have been cruder, with bipartisan support for legislation overriding the Aboriginal Heritage Act, undermining the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, and allowing the imposition of a nuclear dump with no Aboriginal consultation or consent.

Mundine’s contribution to the eight-year battle of Muckaty Traditional Owners? Nothing. Silence.

In February 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd highlighted the life-story of Lorna Fejo − a member of the stolen generation − in the National Apology in Parliament House. At the same time, Rudd was stealing her land for a nuclear waste dump. Fejo said: “When are we going to have fair go? I’ve been stolen from my mother and now they’re stealing my land off me.”

Mundine’s response to Lorna Fejo’s plight? Nothing. Silence.

When Muckaty Traditional Owners finally won their battle, Marlene Nungarrayi Bennett said: “Today will go down in the history books of Indigenous Australia on par with the Wave Hill Walk-off, Mabo and Blue Mud Bay. We have shown the Commonwealth and the NLC [Northern Land Council] that we will stand strong for this country.”

And it was indeed a famous victory. No thanks to Warren Mundine. He could have spoken up for Muckaty Traditional Owners in his previous role as National President of the ALP; he could have spoken up as a self-styled Aboriginal ‘leader'; he could have spoken up as a Director of the Australian Uranium Association and co-convenor of the Association’s ‘Indigenous Dialogue Group’ (which made no effort to establish dialogue with indigenous people); and he could have  spoken up as head of the Indigenous Advisory Council. But he remained silent for eight long years.

Mundine says Australia has “a legal framework to negotiate equitably with the traditional owners on whose land many uranium deposits are found.” Bullshit. Only in the NT do Traditional Owners have any right of veto over mining. And even then, sub-section 40(6) of the Commonwealth’s Aboriginal Land Rights Act specifically exempts the Ranger uranium mine in the NT from the Act and thus removed the right of veto that Mirarr Traditional Owners would otherwise have enjoyed.

Another example ignored by Mundine: in 2012 the NSW government passed legislation which excludes uranium from provisions of the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983. Nothing equitable about that.

And another example ignored by Mundine: In 2011 the SA Parliament passed amendments to the SA Roxby Downs Indenture Act 1982, legislation governing the Olympic Dam copper/uranium mine. The amendments retain exemptions from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act. Traditional Owners were not even consulted. The SA government’s spokesperson in Parliament said: “BHP were satisfied with the current arrangements and insisted on the continuation of these arrangements, and the government did not consult further than that.” Nothing equitable about that.

And on it goes. The Western Australian government is in the process of weakening the WA Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 at the behest of the mining industry. Nothing equitable about that….”http://indymedia.org.au/2014/08/01/environmentalists-respond-to-warren-mundines-attacks.

 

August 1, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott’s secret nuclear dreams are out of step with reality

Abbott-dancing-3It’s time for Abbott to dump secret nuclear ambitions  Echo Net Daily, By Giles Parkinson, RenewEconomy, 29 July 14 Michael Goldsworthy is not the only one  who has been betting the house on  nuclear beating renewables to be the low carbon energy source of the future.

Last month, Goldsworthy announced that the ASX-listed Silex Systems would look to jettison its solar assets and focus instead on its uranium laser enrichment technology, confident that the global nuclear industry would rebound and that his technology would be worth billions within a decade.

Now its partners, GE and Hitachi, have dashed the plans by suspending all work on the nuclear technology.

Two of the world’s biggest suppliers to the nuclear industry no longer have faith in the industry. Silex shares crashed in response. The Tony Abbott government, it seems, is prepared to do exactly the same, jettison the country’s renewable energy industry and achievements in favour of a belief that the centralised form of generation will remain dominant for decades to come, and that nuclear will one day be the answer.

Numerous studies suggest that this is nonsense, that the emergence of solar, storage and software solutions will results in at least half the world’s electricity generated (and stored) ‘on site’.

But the conservative side of politics doesn’t want to know. It wants to extend the life of fossil fuel generators, pursue various of forms of emission reduction technologies for coal generators through its Direct Action plan, and leave the door open for nuclear.

The nuclear option is as yet unstated by the Abbott government, but you don’t have to scratch far beneath the surface to reveal a deep-seated belief in nuclear energy.

Abbott has surrounded himself with nuclear advocates. Most significantly, the man he appointed to adjudge the fate of the renewable energy target, and the wind and solar industries in Australia, climate change denier Dick Warburton, is convinced that nuclear is the only alternative to coal.

In an opinion piece he co-wrote for Quadrant magazine in 2011, Warburton wrote:

‘Except for nuclear power, there are no straightforward strategies for reducing dependence on fossil fuels without large economic costs. Wind and solar generators often cannot function when needed.’
Others in Abbott’s orbit of business advisors share similar views. So do many of his cabinet colleagues and backbenchers.

Industry minister Ian Macfarlane has explicitly written in nuclear as a consideration for the upcoming energy white paper.

In an issues paper released last December, Macfarlane’s team wrote that  nuclear technologies continue ‘to present an option for future reliable energy that can be readily dispatched into the market’.

It also says: ‘A growing area of global interest is in the use of small modular reactors, which have the potential to reduce the cost uncertainties and construction time frames associated with current generation reactor designs.’

The conservative commentariat is full of references to nuclear as a potential solution to safe-guarding Australia’s cheap energy status ………….http://www.echo.net.au/2014/07/time-abbott-dump-secret-nuclear-ambitions/#comment-1776807

July 30, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Senator Larissa Waters slams Abbott Government decision for massive coal mine

Green (Black) Light For Australia’s Largest Coal Mine http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=4417 29 July 14 Australia’s biggest coal mine, the $16.5 billion Carmichael Coal and Rail Project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, has been given the nod by Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt; much to the dismay of environmental groups and many Australians.

Minister Hunt has said the project proposed by Indian company Adani could go ahead, subject to 36 conditions (PDF) designed to reduce environmental impact.

The Australian Greens have blasted the decision.

Waters,-Larissa-Senator-1“History will look back on the Abbott Government’s decision today as an act of climate criminality,” said Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens environment spokesperson.

“The Abbott Government’s claims that it has put ‘stringent’ conditions on the approval are a joke given the Auditor General last month found that the federal environment department is so under-resourced it is failing to monitor and enforce environmental conditions. Adani has a track record of non-compliance with environmental conditions in India – why take the risk with our climate and Great Barrier Reef?”

Greenpeace also has a list of grievances; among them, the 12 billion litres of water each year from local rivers and underground aquifers that will be needed by the operation, the 60 species at risk and the burning of coal from Carmichael mine producing four times the fossil fuel emissions of New Zealand.

“It is a catastrophe for the climate,” says the group. Environmental issues aside, there may be massive financial risks involved too.

The Greens state Adani is already in “dire financial straits” and earlier this yearan analysis found major coal projects that rely on new export markets such as India face a very uncertain future. India’s Finance Minister also recently announced plans to double the nation’s tax on coal in order to help finance renewable energy projects.

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) says building renewables is cheaper than constructing imported coal power capacity, they are cheaper to maintain and can be constructed more rapidly.

“The notion that anyone will want to buy our coal in 60 years is economic lunacy, so this project is economically foolhardy as well as an environmental disaster,” said Senator Waters.

July 30, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Bill Shorten, Labor Leader urges that climate change must be on the G20 agenda

climate-changeG20 ‘must talk climate change’ THE AUSTRALIAN JULY 24, 2014   Senior Writer
Canberra  CLIMATE change must be one of five priorities at the G20 leaders’ summit in Brisbane in November, Bill Shorten argues as he warns nations without a price on carbon risked economic isolation…... (subscribers only) http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/g20-must-talk-climate-change/story-e6frg6xf-1226999321748#

July 26, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

In Australia Nuclear interests trump aboriginal rights

The nuclear war against Australia’s Aboriginal people, Ecologist  Jim Green 14th July 2014 Nuclear war“……….Muckaty Traditional Owners have won a significant battle for country and culture, but the problems and patterns of radioactive racism persist. Racism in the uranium mining industry involves: ignoring the concerns of Traditional Owners; divide-and-rule tactics; radioactive ransom; ‘humbugging’ Traditional Owners (exerting persistent, unwanted pressure); providing Traditional Owners with false information; and threats, including legal threats.

One example concerns the 1982 South Australian Roxby Downs Indenture Act, which sets the legal framework for the operation of BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam uranium mine in SA.

The Act was amended in 2011 but it retains exemptions from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act. Traditional Owners were not even consulted. The SA government’s spokesperson in Parliament said:

“BHP were satisfied with the current arrangements and insisted on the continuation of these arrangements, and the government did not consult further than that.”

That disgraceful performance illustrates a broader pattern. Aboriginal land rights and heritage protections are feeble at the best of times. But the legal rights and protections are repeatedly stripped away whenever they get in the way of nuclear or mining interests.

Nuclear interests trump aboriginal rights

Thus the Olympic Dam mine is largely exempt from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act. Sub-section 40(6) of the Commonwealth’s Aboriginal Land Rights Act exempts the Ranger uranium mine in the NT from the Act and thus removed the right of veto that Mirarr Traditional Owners would otherwise have enjoyed.

New South Wales legislation exempts uranium mines from provisions of the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act. The Western Australian government is in the process ofgutting the WA Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 at the behest of the mining industry.

Native Title rights were extinguished with the stroke of a pen to seize land for a radioactive waste dump in SA, and Aboriginal heritage laws and land rights were repeatedly overridden with the push to dump nuclear waste in the NT.

Most of those laws are supported by the Liberal / National Coalition and Labor. Radioactive racism in Australia enjoys bipartisan support.

Muckaty Traditional Owners have won a famous victory, but the nuclear war against Aboriginal people continues – and it will continue to be resisted, with the Aboriginal-ledAustralian Nuclear Free Alliance playing a leading role Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth, Australia, and editor of Nuclear Monitor.

Nuclear Monitor has been publishing deeply researched, often strongly critical articles on all aspects of the nuclear cycle since 1978. A must-read for all those who work on this issue!   http://www.wiseinternational.org/node/36  http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2476704/the_nuclear_war_against_australias_aboriginal_people.html

July 19, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, uranium | Leave a comment

Regulators to decide on Cameco’s Kintyre uranium mine, but not economically viable now

Cameco: Australia Regulator to Rule on Uranium Mine Within Weeks By Stephen Bell Capiyal Gr. 16 July 14 PERTH--Canada’s Cameco Corp. (CCJ) expects Australian regulators to decide on its proposed Kintyre uranium mine within weeks, but will likely delay construction after prices of the nuclear fuel slumped to nine-year lows.

Brian Reilly, managing director of Cameco Australia, said Wednesday he expects Western Australia state’s Environmental Protection Authority to release a report into the project soon.

“The EPA is sitting on the report and recommendations–we anticipate seeing that released publicly within the next few weeks,” Mr Reilly told The Wall Street Journal on the sidelines of a uranium conference in Perth.

The regulator will make a recommendation to state and federal ministers, who will then make a final decision on whether the project can go ahead.

Mr. Reilly said Cameco hopes to “be in a position by the end of this year to have this project approved.”

However, Cameco would need uranium prices to recover sharply before starting construction of the mine. It would also look to discover more uranium reserves at the mine site.

In mid-2012, Cameco deferred development of Kintyre due to a collapse in the uranium price in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan. At the time, Cameco said the project likely wouldn’t be viable if uranium prices fell below US$67 a pound.

Spot uranium prices are currently around US$28 a pound because of a slower-than expected restart of Japanese nuclear reactors idled soon after the Fukushima crisis. There has also been a build-up in global uranium inventories as nuclear facilities recycle more fuel……http://english.capital.gr/News.asp?id=2064849

July 17, 2014 Posted by | politics, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott was elected to destroy action on climate change

History will condemn climate change denialists    theguardian.com, Wednesday 16 July 2014 

Tony Abbott was elected by the right-wing of his party for a single purpose: to destroy any meaningful action in Australia against the threat of climate change ……..

Abbott-Koch-policies

Climate change denialism soon spread beyond the US, especially to the countries of the English-speaking world. As Australia is a country extremely sensitive to the cultural winds blowing in from the US, reliant on the export and consumption of coal, and where the denialist Murdoch newspapers exercise enormous unhealthy influence, it is hardly surprising that over the past decade climate change denialism quickly sunk deep roots here.

The impact was seen in late 2009 with the coup inside the Liberal party which replaced Malcolm Turnbull, a rational believer in climate science, by a complacent opportunist, Tony Abbott, who regarded and still regards climate science as “crap”. The anti-Turnbull coup represents the most critical moment in the recent history of Australia. Abbott was elected by the right-wing of his party for a single purpose: to destroy any meaningful action in Australia against the threat of climate change. When the carbon tax is repealed, the leaders of the coup and the fossil fuel interests they represent will receive from a dutiful prime minister their anticipated reward.

The right-wing denialists, now dominant within the Coalition, often call themselves conservatives. They are not. At the heart of true conservatism is the belief that each new generation forms the vital bridge between past and future, and is charged with the responsibility of passing the earth and its cultural treasures to their children and grandchildren in sound order. History will condemn the climate change denialists, here and elsewhere, for their contribution to the coming catastrophe that their cupidity, their arrogance, their myopia and their selfishness have bequeathed to the young and the generations still unborn. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/16/history-will-condemn-climate-change-denialists

July 17, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Former Liberal leader supports Renewable Energy Target

Liberal veteran Hewson backs Renewable Energy Target, Sunshine Coast Daily  | 11th Jul 2014   A FORMER Liberal Party leader has urged the Abbott government not just to retain the renewable energy target, but increase it to ensure carbon emissions can be curbed.

Economist Dr John Hewson, who led the party to election defeat in 1993, on Thursday called on the government to increase the current 20% by 2020 target to at least 25% or more by the same date. He made the comments launching a new report which has found the RET will continue to reduce the cost of household electricity, even as the government reviews the target. The target is being reviewed by a government-appointed panel led by noted climate change sceptic Dick Warburton, which has received several submissions from heavy industries urging the government to abolish the target. climate-changeBut Dr Hewson said the RET, likely the only specific target for reducing Australia’s emissions left once the carbon tax is removed, is doing the job. He said while the RET and other climate change policies could help to reduce emissions, in less than a week, Australia could be without any overarching policy on climate change………http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/former-liberal-party-john-hewson-renewable/2315456/

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

Radioactive racism, the war to dump nuclear waste on Aboriglnal land in Australia

handsoff

legal rights and protections are repeatedly stripped away whenever they get in the way of nuclear or mining interests. Thus the Olympic Dam mine is largely exempt from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act. Sub-section 40(6) of the Commonwealth’s Aboriginal Land Rights Act exempts the Ranger uranium mine in the NT from the Act and thus removed the right of veto that Mirarr Traditional Owners would otherwise have enjoyed. NSW legislationexempts uranium mines from provisions of the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act. Native Title rights were extinguished with the stroke of a pen to seize land for a radioactive waste dump in SA, and Aboriginal heritage laws and land rights were repeatedly overridden with the push to dump nuclear waste in the NT

The bipartisan nuclear war against Aboriginal people, Dr Jim Green, Online opinion 11 July 14 The nuclear industry has been responsible for some of the crudest racism in Australia’s history. This radioactive racism dates from the British bomb tests in the 1950s and it has been evident in more recent debates over nuclear waste.

TweedleDum-&-DeeSince 2006 successive federal governments have been attempting to establish a nuclear waste dump at Muckaty, 110 kms north of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. A toxic trade-off of basic services for a radioactive waste dump has been part of this story from the start. The nomination of the Muckaty site was made with the promise of $12 million compensation package comprising roads, houses and scholarships. Muckaty Traditional Owner Kylie Sambo objected to this radioactive ransom: “I think that is a very, very stupid idea for us to sell our land to get better education and scholarships. As an Australian we should be already entitled to that.”

While a small group of Traditional Owners supported the dump, a large majority were opposed and some initiated legal action in the Federal Court challenging the nomination of the Muckaty site by the federal government and the Northern Land Council (NLC). Continue reading

July 12, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Australia’s fossil fuel front groups “tax deductible gift recipients” !

FOR AN ORGANISATION that has been touting ‘low taxes‘ for sixty years, the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) sure delivers big on tax benefits to its major donors, especially Big Mining — which is already heavily subsidised by Australia’s taxpayers (note graphic below right).

Some, like Glencore, not only enjoy such subsidies but have no qualms about paying zero tax. These are the true “leaners” we tax-payers have to “lift”, as this article will show……….

Fortunately, Sourcewatch has done significant work into the IPA’s funding and relates the following:

logo-IPA-wolfThe IPA has heavily relied on funding from a small number of conservative corporations. Those funders disclosed by the IPA to journalists and media organisations include:

  • Major mining companies – BHP-Billiton and Western Mining Corporation;
  • Pesticides/Genetically modified organisms: Monsanto;
  • A range of other companies including communications company Telstra, Clough Engineering, Visy, and News Limited;
  • Tobacco companies – Philip Morris (Nahan) and British American Tobacco 
  • Oil and gas companies: Caltex, Esso Australia (a subsidiary of Exxon) and Shell and Woodside Petroleum; and fifteen major companies in the electricity industry;
  • Forestry: Gunns, the largest logging company in Tasmania;
  • Murray Irrigation Ltd …

In 2003, the Australian [Howard] Government paid $50,000 to the Institute of Public Affairs to review the accountability of NGOs.

The latest truly breathtaking rort is tax deductibility for donations to fund the new IPA-promoted misinformation manual, Climate Change: The Facts 2014. Like previous books, it attacks climate science, carbon pricing and renewable energy targets……….http://www.independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/the-ipa-and-waubra-foundations-charitable-tax-status-rorts,6649

July 9, 2014 Posted by | politics, secrets and lies | 2 Comments

New Senator Ricky Muir out to save Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena) from theAbbott axe

renewable_energyRicky Muir seeking to save the Australian Renewable Energy Agenc  , political editor theguardian.com, Tuesday 8 July 2014 Senator is seeking to amend the carbon tax repeal bills to stop $435m in funding being stripped from the clean energy body Motoring Enthusiast senator Ricky Muir has emerged as a surprise would-be saviour of the $2bn Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena), seeking to amend the carbon tax repeal bills to stop $435m in funding being stripped from the clean energy body and promising to try to stop its abolition.

Muir’s amendment is very similar to one already circulated by the Australian Greens, and seeks to stop immediate funding reductions for Arena, which the government is seeking to abolish with separate legislation to be voted on in September.

The move raises the possibility that the crossbench could frustrate the government’s intention to abolish Arena. Palmer United party senators have already promised to stop the government’s plan to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the existing renewable energy target.

But the government is already seeking to effectively close Arena ahead of legislation passing, refusing to reappoint board members as their terms expire. The government wants to return $1.3bn in Arena funding to the budget, and then have the industry department oversee around $900m in funding deals that have already been struck.

Muir’s amendment would stop the immediate $435m funding cut announced by the Coalition last September, but a spokesman for the Victorian senator said it was the first step in an attempt to retain the body.

“Ricky wants to preserve Arena. He is in favour of renewable energy and he thinks it is doing great work,” the spokesman said. Muir’s intervention comes as the Senate prepares to pass the package of bills repealing the carbon tax on Wednesday or Thursday, with the backing of the three Palmer United party senators and others on the new crossbench.

PUP’s Senate leader, Glenn Lazarus, introduced PUP’s only amendment to the main carbon tax repeal bills on Tuesday, reversing the onus of proof so that power retailers must show they have passed on cost savings to households.

As previously reported by Guardian Australia, PUP is also finalising amendments to legislate its dormant ETS, which it has announced will be part of the bill to repeal the climate change authority.

PUP has said its amendments will retain the CCA to advise governments on when a set of conditions are met to activate the Australian ETS. The negotiations are about exactly what actions will be required by trading partners the United States, the European Union, South Korea, Japan and China for the Australian ETS to be enacted.

At times PUP leader Clive Palmer has referred to the other countries having to have an ETS, but another proposal is that they would need to have an “effective” carbon price at a certain level, meaning they might be achieving significant greenhouse gas reductions through different policies.

The uncertainty about the amendment means the Climate Change Authority Repeal Bill will be considered separately to the rest of the carbon tax repeal legislation. It is unclear whether the government is considering the amendment.

Introducing the PUP’s power pricing amendments, Lazarus said the Australian ETS would occur “if the day comes when our American trading partners, the US, China, the EU, Japan and Korea set up an emissions trading scheme.”

Lazarus said the carbon tax repeal was “historic”.

It is understood the PUP senators and independent senator Nick Xenophon and DLP senator John Madigan are still considering how they will vote on the legislation to repeal Arena, but may back the Greens and Muir and refuse to allow its abolition.http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/08/ricky-muir-seeking-to-save-the-australian-renewable-energy-agency?cmp=wp-plugin

 

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

Warren Mundine ‘raises his eyebrows’, but Nova Peris speaks out, on Tony Abbott racist gaffe

Peris,-NovaNova Peris attacks Tony Abbott over ‘unsettled’ land  THE AUSTRALIAN JULY 05, 2014  Patricia Karvelas LABOR senator Nova Peris has condemned Tony Abbott for suggesting Australia was unsettled before British occupation.

And Mr Abbott’s chief indigenous adviser [Warren Mundine] admits he “raised his eyebrows” Mundine-and-Abbottwhen the Prime Minister said we had all benefited from Britain’s original foreign investment because Australia was “unsettled” before the British ­arrived.

After delivering the keynote address at the Economic and ­Social Outlook conference on Thursday night, Mr Abbott was asked about foreign investment, but his answer suggesting people were not in Australia in 1788 sparked a backlash.

Senator Peris said the comments were highly offensive, dismissive of indigenous peoples and simply incorrect.

“British settlement was not foreign investment. It was occupation,’’ she said. “The comments from the Prime Minister have not just offended Aboriginal Australians but many people around the country.” Senator Peris said Mr Abbott’s comments had setback bipartisan efforts to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution……http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/nova-peris-attacks-tony-abbott-over-unsettled-land/story-fn9hm1pm-1226978303770

July 5, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Palmer and Gore have saved Australia’s important renewable energy projects

Australia Institute director says Gore-Palmer ploy reset climate debate http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/01/australia-institute-director-says-gore-palmer-ploy-reset-climate-debateFormer Greens staffer Ben Oquist, one of those who brought the two men together, said the move was a step forward The Australia Institute has defended its role in negotiating the Clive Palmer-Al Gore climate announcement because the concessions made by the Palmer United party had “avoided a big step backwards” and reset the climate debate in Australia.

In an email to supporters, the thinktank’s strategic director and former Greens staffer, Ben Oquist, one of a number of people involved in bringing Gore and Palmer together, defended the move as a step forward, despite PUP’s unchanged resolve to repeal Australia’s carbon pricing scheme after the Senate resumes next week.

PUP will now use its balance of power votes in the Senate to retain the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Climate Change Authority and the renewable energy target.

Gore-and-Palmer

“Six months ago it seemed certain that the Abbott government would succeed in its plan to scrap the RET, the CEFC and the CCA,” Oquist wrote.

“[The institute’s] research has long shown that the RET has been the key mechanism driving investment in clean energy production … It has had more impact than the carbon price at zero cost to the government. Billions of dollars in investment was being put at risk by the Abbott government’s determination to unwind the scheme.

“The Palmer-Gore announcement has reset climate policy and politics. Keeping the CCA, the RET and the CEFC is much more than most expected from PUP. We have avoided a big step backwards … [it] also reframed the debate about carbon pricing – it’s hard to suggest carbon pricing is some form of left-wing, economy-wrecking conspiracy when a billionaire mining magnate supports it.”

Oquist says it “would have been preferable for PUP to have delayed a vote on the carbon price repeal by sending it to a committee. It would have been preferable for them to amend the existing carbon price to move straight to the floating price [due to start next July]. The fact is that the PUP senators and Clive Palmer think that their voters expect them to vote it down, and that’s what they intend to do.”

Government backbenchers have been pushing for the RET to be watered down (it currently requires 41,000 gigawatt hours of power to be sourced from renewables by 2020) on the grounds that it pushes up power prices. Before the PUP announcement senior government sources were suggesting the scheme could be closed to new entrants after the government’s own review of the scheme, chaired by the businessman and self-professed climate sceptic Dick Warburton. More recently backbenchers have been pushing for a less drastic scaling back.

ACIL Allen modelling done for the government’s review shows the current target will increase the average household bill by an average of $54 a year between now and 2020, but will reduce bills by a similar annual amount over the following decade compared with what they would be if the RET were repealed.

The modelling used assumptions highly unfavourable to renewable energy, including that coal and gas prices would remain almost unchanged until 2040.

Separate modelling for the Clean Energy Council by Roam Consulting – with different assumptions about gas prices – found that bills would be $50 higher by 2020 if the RET were repealed, compared with it being retained.

And polling has revealed that Australians overwhelmingly want the renewable energy target to be retained or even increased.

The polling, done for the Climate Institute, shows 72% of Australians want to keep or expand the RET.

The Coalition went to the election promising to keep the RET, which underpins investment in energy sources such as wind and solar, but said it would review the fact that the policy was exceeding its original goal of delivering 20% renewable energy by 2020 because of falling electricity demand.

Warburton, a veteran industrialist and the chairman of the Westfield Retail Trust, described his views on climate science in a 2011 interview on ABC.

“Well, I am a sceptic,” he said. “I’ve never moved away from that. I’ve always believed sceptical. But a sceptic is a different person than a denier. I say the science is not settled. I’m not saying it’s wrong. I’ve never said it’s wrong, but I don’t believe it’s settled.”

 

 

 

July 2, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Climate change is above party politics. Labor should support Direct Action policy

climate-changeLabor should compromise on Direct Action: Australia Institute chief  The Conversation, 1 July 14, Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow at University of Canberra The chief executive of the left-leaning Australia Institute think tank, Richard Denniss, has urged Labor to do a deal to implement elements of the government’s controversial direct action climate program.

With money already appropriated in the budget for the proposed emissions reduction fund, Denniss said it should be used “to buy as much abatement as we can”.

The government has legislation before Parliament to provide for the Clean Energy Regulator to conduct auctions and enter into contracts to pay companies to reduce their emissions. Some $2.55 billion worth of contracts would be funded, although only $1.1 billion would be spent in the forward estimates period.

When the carbon tax is repealed – now considered certain after last week’s announcement by Clive Palmer that PUP senators will vote for ending the tax – Australia would have no primary scheme for combating climate change if direct action is not implemented.

Labor voted against the direct action legislation in the House of Representatives, but shadow treasurer Chris Bowen appeared to leave open its final position at the weekend.

Denniss told The Conversation: “The government is offering to spend a couple of billion on abating emissions. As long as we get good value for it, and we are confident the emissions are abated and administrative costs are not excessively high, I think that would be a good outcome.”

But he said the money should be spent on energy efficiency projects and carbon farming, rather than buying emissions from big polluters, as the administrative costs would be much lower and the measurement of emission reduction much easier…….http://theconversation.com/labor-should-compromise-on-direct-action-australia-institute-chief-28689

July 2, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Liberals attack environmental charities, (but right wing Institute of Public Affairs is unscathed)

Liberal-policy-1Activist charities targeted http://www.examiner.com.au/story/2382849/activist-charities-targeted/?cs=95 By MATT MALONEY June 28, 2014,

The Liberal Party’s Federal Council on Friday night unanimously endorsed a policy motion put up by Bass Liberal MHR Andrew Nikolic to remove consumer and competition law exemptions for eco-charities. He argued that environmental groups should be treated the same as corporations under the act, and that tax deductibility for donations and reduced fees for court action should be removed.

He said there were 583 approved environmental groups under the act, and 13 of these were allowed to receive tax-deductible donations. “I am seeking to remove exemptions so environment groups are not above the law,” Mr Nikolic said. “Part of taking this forward now requires ministers in the state and federal government to act together to remove the exemption.”

Mr Nikolic’s motion follows moves by the state government to repeal the Tasmanian forest peace deal and clamp down on forest protesters through tough new laws involving hefty fines and three-month mandatory prison sentences.

Wilderness Society spokesman Vica Bayley said the latest move would not only hit community groups but the industry groups that the government had pledged to protect.“The Liberals have torn down the only collaborative and constructive thing going and replaced it with draconian measures,” Mr Bayley said.

“It’s a backward step and demonstrates that they believe that their policies will fail and the state will descend back into conflict.”

He said amendments to consumer and competition law would increase the level of controversy and contention in forestry in Tasmania as the government would be seen as one that wanted to block dissenting voices.

June 30, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

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