Australian news, and some related international items

Dick Warburton, nuclear power enthusiast, is heading Renewable Energy Review Panel

Warburton,-Dick-CzarTony Abbott’s renewable czar: Nuclear only alternative to coal REneweconomy, By  on Parkinson-Report-9 April 2014 Tony Abbott’s handpicked head of the panel reviewing Australia’s renewable energy target, the self-avowed climate “sceptic” Dick Warburton, is no fan of renewable energy. In an article co-authored for Quadrant in 2011, Warburton insisted that nuclear energy was the only alternative to fossil fuel generation.

The two-part series for the conservative magazine – co-authored by Warburton along with poet and accountant Geoffrey Lehmann and Resmed founder Peter Farrell – is an eye-opening compendium of the major arguments that climate science deniers and fossil fuel lobbyists have ever thrown at climate science, against carbon pricing and against renewable energy.

The title of the two-part series was “An intelligent voter’s guide to global warming” (you can find Part 1 here and Part II here), and the authors pretended to “provide basic information often missing from the debate.” In fact, it is a collection of scientific howlers normally only found in right-wing blogs.

This, though, is the paragraph that might interest those likely to feel the impact of the decisions made by the RET review panel that Warburton now heads:

“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. Wind machines operate at only about 25 per cent capacity in the UK. Even when the wind is blowing, “back-up capacity, usually gas-fired … had to be kept running, using fuel, generating steam, emitting CO2, ready to ramp up its turbines the moment sufficient supply from the wind machines stopped coming”. Two main obstacles with renewables are the difficulty of establishing transmission lines from sunny or windy places to where the power is needed and the absence of utility-scale storage technology for intermittent renewable energies. A US comparison estimated the following electricity generation costs per kilowatt hour: hydroelectric $0.03; nuclear and coal $0.04; wind power $0.08; natural gas $0.10 (other estimates for gas suggest about $0.04); solar power (construction costs only, ignoring production costs for which reliable data were unavailable) $0.22.”

And, a little later….

“The only current viable alternative to burning fossil fuels is to go nuclear. Although current known reserves of uranium are limited, it is likely that by developing new nuclear technologies and with new sources of uranium, humanity’s electricity needs could be satisfied by nuclear power for many hundreds of years or more.”

Fantastic. In the true sense of the word. One hopes that Warburton has caught up a little on the various technology costs. In the US, where his electricity generation costs are cited, nuclear is four times the price that he quotes. In fact, you would have to go back many, many years to find a time when it was just 4c/kWh.

Ditto with solar. Solar PV, including production costs (for which there is plenty of reliable data), costs around half that quoted by Warburton in the US. Some recent solar PV power purchase contracts, aided by a tax credit, have been at one-quarter of the price he quoted. Wind, according to General Electric, the largest provider of power equipment, is also around half of that quoted by Warburton, and new coal – according to investment bank Citigroup – is also four times the price quoted by Warburton. Even fracked gas is being priced out of the market by utility-scale solar. As Citigroup noted, quite bluntly: Nuclear and coal are not competitive with renewables on cost.

One also assumes that Warburton is aware that the cost of energy storage is falling, and likely to follow the pathway of solar, as Morgan Stanley has pointed out. This is one reason why grid operators in WA and Queensland are looking to reduce their poles and wires delivering centralised fossil fuels, because they cannot compete economically with solar and storage any more.

Warburton can catch up with Australian technology cost estimates at the Bureau of Resource and Energy Economics, which recently doubled its estimated costs of nuclear and dramatically reduced its estimates on the cost of solar.

One also hopes that Warburton is disabused of his idea that “fossil fuel” generation is left running, and polluting, waiting for the sun to stop shining and the wind to stop blowing. Such nonsense is only propagated by the most infamous of blogs haunted by climate science deniers, nuclear boosters and the anti-wind brigade. (Who are often the very same people).

A report by the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory puts this myth to rest. Those grids that have high renewables are actually using less fast-response peaking power than those relying almost exclusively on inflexible coal or nuclear generators………

The question that the renewables industry will be asking is this: Given that Warburton says he has investigated the climate science and declares that climate scientists do not know what they are talking about, what are the chances that he will accept the evidence from the renewable energy industry? Ideology, as we have seen with the media and the government since the September poll, is a mighty powerful editor.

April 10, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Climate denialists and opponents of renewable energy in power in Australia

Liberal-policy-1Australia’s renewable future in hands of policy fringe dwellers By Giles Parkinson on 7 April 2014 So, it’s come down to this. The defence of Australia’s renewable energy industry has been entrusted to the hands of a man who thinks carbon pollution is caused by nature, not people, and another who is openly hostile to wind farms.

The re-run of the Senate election in Western Australia this weekend provides some interesting fodder for the psephologists: Labor’s continued electoral implosion, the Scott Ludlum-inspired revival of the Greens, and the outstanding success of Clive Palmer’s expensive electioneering.

But for the key policies that will affect Australia’s renewable energy industry – and the decarbonisation of the Australian economy – the equation is essentially unchanged. The numbers in the new Senate, to site from July 1 means that the carbon price – despite whatever hoops that Palmer may try and get the Abbott conservative government to jump through – is effectively dead and buried.

Any changes to the renewable energy target – or even its ditching – will likely go unimpeded through parliament. At best, Labor and the Greens would need support for the RET from Nick Xenophon, not a fan of wind farms, and the DLP’s John Madigan, who has been celebrating what he is sure is the impending demise of the RET.

“The wind industry is panicking in Australia with the likely death of the Renewable Energy Target and this is another example of its peddling influence and money to manipulate the truth,” Senator Madigan told The Australian last week.

At worst, Labor and the Greens would need support from the Palmer United Party to support the renewables target. Good luck with that; Palmer, who now has three of his own Senators and a fourth from the Motoring Party tied up in an unspecified “alliance,” says renewable energy targets should not be compulsory.

“We don’t intend to legislate to make people do something they may not want to do,” Palmer told ABC’s Lateline program last week. This, as economist Ross Garnaut pointed out on the same program, would be about as effective as making taxes voluntary.

What’s not clear is the future of the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation, or likely budget cuts to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, both of which would require legislative approval.

The CEFC was actually supported by Xenophon and Madigan in a repeal vote earlier this year because, while they are not supporters of wind energy, they see the upside of bringing in new renewable technologies. Xenophon, in particular is a fan of what he calls “baseload” renewables, meaning geothermal and ocean energy – even those these are years away from commercial deployment. The CEFC has been largely focused on energy efficiency, waste-to-energy, and some emerging solar technologies. ARENA is similarly focused on techologies that do not yet match wind energy on cost.

If Labor can somehow grab the sixth seat in the WA Senate, then Xenophon and Madigan could protect the CEFC, and allow it to continue beyond early July. If not, and the sixth seat falls to the Liberals, then the fate of the CEFC lies in the hands of Palmer.

Quite what he makes of the CEFC is anyone’s guess. The fact that it brings in private money at a ratio of nearly $3 for every $1 in loans may be appealing, so might its ability to develop a profit to the government, and abatement at a “net benefit.”

The abatement equation, however, may just fall on deaf ears. Palmer, it seems, appears to believe that any sort of abatement is a waste of time. Quoting material from what must be one of the more extreme climate denier websites, Palmer told Lateline last week:

“Now we know that 97 per cent of the world’s carbon comes from natural sources. Why don’t we have money to look at how we can reduce the overall carbon signature by reducing it from nature, not just from industry. It’s entirely wrong-focused.”

Newman-Moaurice-climateAnd there’s more. Check out the transcript, it gets feisty in part but it is as though Palmer is channeling the thoughts of Tony Abbott’s main business advisor, Maurice Newman, and those of Dick Warburton, the head of the RET review panel. The climate skeptic brigade is now in full control of climate and renewable energy policy in this country.

Of course, it did not need to have come to this. Climate change and renewable energy policies were supposed to be bipartisan, and for a brief moment in time they were, before the relentless and pig-headed push by the Rudd government to make climate change a wedge issue for the conservatives saw Malcolm Turnbull’s reign at the head of the Coalition ended abruptly, the Liberal Party swerve dramatically to the far right with his replacement by Abbott, and the Greens reject the then CPRS after Rudd refused to even talk to them.

The renewable energy target was also supposed to be bipartisan, and Labor had the opportunity to put this issue to rest if it had the conviction to accept the Climate Change Authority’s recommendation to provide certainty for the industry and push the next review out to 2016.

In the end, Labor backed off. It was the only one of the CCA’s key recommendations that Labor refused to implement. Not only did that decision make the rest of the CCA’s recommendations and endorsement of the RET irrelevant (because of lingering uncertainty about the future of the policy), it left the way open for the Abbott government to conduct its own review, and justify it as a legislative requirement.

And so it appointed a special panel comprising a climate change sceptic, a fossil fuel lobbyist and the former head of one of Australia’s most emissions intensive generation companies to consider the merits of wind and solar.

Now, the renewables industry has to rely, possibly beyond hope, on the support of politicians who think that human-caused climate change is a myth, and that renewables should not be mandated, probably cause health problems, are expensive and unreliable.

It should never have come to this. But it has.

April 8, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, energy, politics | Leave a comment

The Greens’ Scott Ludlam polled16% of the primary vote, in Western Australia’s Senate election

ballot-boxSmWestern Australia Senate election: is this a new moment for the Greens?  theguardian.comMonday 7 April 2014  Scott Ludlam’s victory in Western Australia has some important implications for those keen to write off the Greens as a political force

Saturday’s Senate by-election in Western Australia is certainly good news for the environmental party. The Greens polled nearly 16% of Ludlam-in-Senatethe primary vote, a result that saw Scott Ludlam handily re-elected with quota to spare. The result represented a swing to the Greens of more than 6%.

Ludlam’s result is a personal triumph for the soft-spoken Western Australian. After narrowly losing his seat in the contested result of 2013, Ludlam has roared back into the Senate for another six years on the back of a highly effective Greens campaign.

Beginning with the unexpected social media success of his “Welcome to Western Australia, Tony” speech, Ludlam honed a re-election campaign that was well targeted and technologically savvy. He leveraged his excellent online profile and policy expertise on issues like the NBN andsurveillance to attract a wider following of voters under 40. In just a month, Ludlam has tweeted and DJ’d his way from likely has-been to future leader.

While Saturday’s result may not herald a new age of verdant ascendancy, it does have some important implications for those keen to write off the Greens as a political force in Australia. Their demise is regularly forecast by major party figures and journalists, many of whom appear to believe that the environmental party will one day share the fate of the Australian Democrats……….

April 7, 2014 Posted by | politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australian election – so far – 7 % swing to the Greens

ballot-boxSmWA Senate count shows swing to Greens, PUP, The Age,  April 6, 2014 – Rebecca Le May Greens Senator Scott Ludlam appears to have retained his seat in the re-run West Australian Senate election, with early results showing a big swing to the party.
At 12.44pm local time, when 70.88 per cent of polling places had counted first preferences, there was a 5.91 per cent swing against the Liberals and a 5.33 per cent swing against Labor, while the Greens had put on 6.69 per cent.

At the same time, there was a 7.51 per cent swing towards the Palmer United Party (PUP).

Labor’s member for Perth, Alannah MacTiernan, said it appeared some of her party’s traditional voters had backed the Greens……….<>Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said it appeared from comments made to her at polling booths that the party had gained votes from both of the majors.

She said one woman told her: “I’ve been a Liberal voter but we need to keep a check on Tony Abbott.”

Ludlam,-Scott-1“This is the strongest vote [for the Greens] I’ve seen,” Senator Siewert said……Both major parties had low-profile lead candidates, he said, but the Greens had promoted a lead candidate – Mr Ludlam – who made the others look dull.

And the party was creative in its campaign, said Former Labor workplace relations and tertiary education minister Chris Evans………”It looks like Scott’s home and hosed,” Labor Senator Sam Dastyari said……”It will be interesting to see where the Greens end up – how much over a quota they’ll get.”

April 5, 2014 Posted by | politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Queensland government incapable of properly monitoring Mining industries

exclamation-Summary of Auditor-General’s report on mines  SMH, 4 April 14 What was revealed in the Auditor General’s report on the monitoring of Queensland’s resource and waste industries by the Departments of Environment and Heritage Protection and Natural Resources and Mines.


“Poor data and inadequate systems continue to hinder EHP’s planning and risk assessments. As a result, EHP cannot target its monitoring and enforcement efforts to where they are most needed.”

This situation is exacerbated by the lack of coordination and sharing of relevant information across agencies, particularly between EHP and NRM……..

April 5, 2014 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Clive Palmer very flustered over Climate Change, contradicts his Western Australian candidate

ballot-boxPalmer loses cool in climate debate  Palmer United Palmer leader Clive Palmer has lashed out an ABC interviewer who was probing the MP about his dismissal of the IPCC climate consensus.

In a debate with economist Ross Garnaut on Lateline last night, interviewer Tony Jones questioned Mr Palmer’s dismissal of the IPCC process and suggestion the world needed a “proper report” on climate change, prompting a reply of “shut up” from the mining magnate.

JONES: Sorry, I’ve got to interrupt you there. A proper report by who exactly?

CLIVE PALMER: I don’t want to be interrupted. Well, I haven’t made my point.

TONY JONES: Well, I’m sorry, every now and then …

CLIVE PALMER: “Well, I’m sorry.” Why don’t you shut up for a while and let me finish?

TONY JONES: Every now and then – every now and then …

CLIVE PALMER: Why don’t you just keep quiet while – why don’t you just keep quiet and let me finish what I’m saying? “Every now and then,” come on, we’ll have a fight if you want to. But why don’t you just shut up while I’ll can say what I want to say? I’m saying that 100 per cent of carbon, we’ve got to reduce it. 97 per cent comes from nature. Let’s reduce it, let’s look at both areas, not just look at industry, not just take away our jobs, up our electricity prices…

The PUP leader reiterated his desire to repeal the carbon price legislation and also said the party candidate for WA Dio Wang did not support a mandatory Renewable Energy Target, as he has said, but a voluntary target.
“Voluntary RET wouldn’t work. Voluntary taxes don’t work. Tony, that’s why we need the law,” Prof Garnaut replied.

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

Scott Ludlam’s speech went viral -by 13 March 700,000 viewings

Ludlam-in-SenateScott Ludlam’s speech worth paying attention to, SMH,     13 March 14 Australian politics measures itself in landmark speeches. Menzies’ ”forgotten people” speech, 1942. Keating’s ”Redfern” speech, 1992. Gillard’s misogyny speech, Hockey’s entitlement speech. And now, Scott Ludlam’s ”Welcome to WA, Tony Abbott” speech.

I like such speeches, if only for their comforting illusion that there’s more to our political life than the mundane squabble over money and resources. Not exactly ”I have a dream” territory, perhaps, but they do at least imply core principle.

And apparently I’m not the only one hungry for it. Sorry to say I don’t mean our political leaders, whose indifference to the parlay for which we pay them is so profound that Ludlam found himself delivering his adjournment speech to a near-empty Senate, occupied by just one of his 75 elected colleagues.

But it was the populace came thundering through on horseback. Ten days on YouTube garnered Ludlam’s speech 700,000 views; more than Cate Blanchett’s Oscar win. This kind of response makes Australian politicians’ disdain for principle the more surprising. Take, for example, Tony Abbott’s recent address to the ForestWorks dinner. It was a classic crowd-pleaser, a cynical exercise in wrongful and duplicitous nonsense.

Abbott told the logging industry lobby group that ”too much” of our pristine forest is protected, that loggers are the ”true conservationists” and that the Greens – which he characterised as ”the devil” – are to blame for Tasmania’s high unemployment, low life-expectancy and low school retention rates. It was dumb. It was embarrassing. But it worked.

The subtext was appeasement; a placatory sop to an angry state for Abbott’s shameless downgrade of his national broadband network optic fibre promise to slow old copper.

Against such background blather, statements of principle stand in stark contrast. True, even principled speeches can have destructive consequences. Menzies’ ”forgotten people” speech, in validating the middle classes, helped justify a century of bloat and sprawl. Helped feed the entitlement from which we are now forced painfully to resile.

Far more dangerous, however, are those speeches that appear principled and are not. A comparison of Ludlam’s ”Abbott” speech with Joe Hockey’s ”entitlement” speech is edifying here. The first, marked by a kind of reckless candour (driven, no doubt, by Labor’s threat to redirect preferences on April 5) is a lucid, point-by-point explication of principle. The other merely deploys principle to cloak economic expedience.

As opponents, the Liberals and the Greens could hardly be more adamant. Yet the weird thing is, if Hockey were serious about ending entitlement he would adopt just about every principle Ludlam so eloquently voiced……..

by far the bigger and more urgent picture is how entitlement on all our parts, and most especially the parts of wealthy hyper-consumers, drives our wanton planetary destruction.

Ludlam’s speech showed where Hockey’s reasoning should have taken him, if he’d only had the courage and imagination to go there.

Ludlam begged Abbott to see Western Australia as ”a place where the drought never ended, where climate change from land clearing and fossil fuel combustion is a lived reality that is already costing jobs, property and lives”. He sketched a moving vision of ”Australia as it could be – an economy running on infinite flows of renewable energy; a society that never forgets it lives on country occupied by the planet’s oldest continuing civilisation; and a country that values education, innovation and equality”.

He went on to log some of the ways in which Abbott’s government has allowed its agenda to be driven by expectations of entitlement. Entitlement to what? Well, broadly, to exploit natural resources for immediate financial gain, entitlement to predator capitalism, whatever the long-term cost.

Ludlam cited Abbott’s ”blank cheque” for West Australian Premier Colin Barnett’s ”bloody and unnecessary” shark cull (over which an unprecedented 12,000 public submissions were received), and his summary cancellation of half a billion dollars’ worth of funding for Perth light rail.

He also cited Abbott’s support for gas-fracking and uranium mining, despite the known dangers and evident toxicity. And Abbott’s determination to log Tasmania’s old-growth forests, pretending that they’re already ”degraded” when in fact only a fraction of the world’s-tallest flowering forest has ever been logged.

And Abbott’s support for Monsanto and other global biotechs, in proposing the so-called Investor State Dispute Resolution clauses for the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. ISDRs will effectively allow these massive biotechs, their clanking war-chests bigger than many state budgets, to sue Australian states that try to legislate against coal-seam gas or GM crops or for consumer labelling.

The writer Tim Winton says WA’s ground-wealth has bred a ”smugness that has paralysed parts of the communal brain”. Ludlam insists otherwise. This is his gamble, that we’re wrong to act ”as though the western third of our ancient continent is just Gina Rinehart’s inheritance, to be chopped, benched and blasted”.

Ludlam finished by thanking the PM because ”every time you open your mouth the Green vote goes up”. In three weeks, we’ll know whether he was right.–worth-paying-attention-to-20140312-34ml1.html

April 3, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Greens leader Christine Milne is scathing about Tony Abbott’s lack of climate policy

Milne,-Christine-13Tony Abbott a fool on climate change says Greens leader Christine Milne WA Today, April 1, 2014    “………We have a government with its head buried in the 19th without a plan for the nation in the 21st century.

With no plan for the future, Tony Abbott will fail as Prime Minister.

No one can lead at this moment without a plan to address global warming. It is a defining characteristic of leadership to identify the risks and threats to the nation and lead people to address them. The IPPC has made it clear. Time has run out, we are suffering already and are on track for 4 degrees of warming and we are not prepared. The Greens are the only party in the Australian Parliament who recognise the two possible futures, as the IPCC has said: “one of inaction and degradation of our environment, our economies, and our social fabric. The other, to seize the moment and the opportunities for managing climate change risks and making transformational changes that catalyses more adaptive and resilient societies where new technologies and ways of living open the door to a myriad of health, prosperity and job- generating benefits. The path of tomorrow is undoubtedly determined by our choices today. We must decide which path to follow.”

The Greens have chosen the future of transformational change – the government has not.

Nowhere is this lack of a plan for a climate change dominated future more obvious than in WA.

Yesterday’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emphasised the enormity of the global task to avoid climate. In WA, the south west of the state is drying out, and Perth recently recorded its second hottest summer on record and sweltered through their hottest night on record ever, at 29.7 degrees, life will get harder with more heatwaves and extreme fire danger days resulting in loss of life and reduced productivity.

Tony Abbott is a fool to pretend climate change is not happening and even more foolish to try to prevent action that would help people, create jobs and create a future for WA, and the country, after the mining boom………

ballot-boxSmThis election offers WA the chance to vote for a future which takes the science of climate change into account, delivers billions of dollars and jobs in renewable energy, public transport, housing and education, saves money on power bills by supporting solar and gives hope and the promise of happiness to this and the next generation by standing up for people and the environment in the face of the biggest power grab for the greedy seen in generations.

If you’re feeling the “vibe” Vote Green!

April 2, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Lined up against Renewable Energy – These Liberal and National Members of Parliament

Liberal-policy-1MPs unite against ACT’s renewable energy scheme, Braidwood Times, 1 April 14  Liberals and Nationals in NSW have joined forces to send a strong message to the ACT Government over its renewable energy policy: Leave our farms alone!

Windfarms have been controversial in the area surrounding the ACT and an110 tower ‘farm’ is in the wind for the area from Tarago, south across the Kings Highway down to Manar.

The Member for Monaro John Barilaro was joined by his State colleague the Member for Burrinjuck and Minister for Primary Industries and Small Business, Katrina Hodgkinson, Family & Community Services Minister, Minister for Women & Member for Goulburn Pru Goward, the Federal Member for Hume, Angus Taylor  and Goulburn Mulwaree Mayor Geoff Kettle, on top of a popular Canberra lookout to deliver the message on behalf of their communities…….

April 2, 2014 Posted by | ACT, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, is not worried about Climate Change

(Video) TAbbott-firemanony Abbott unmoved as UN report finds climate change happening all over the world BERNARD HUMPHREYS AND KATRINA STOKES  THE ADVERTISER  MARCH 31, 2014 

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has played down a United Nations climate report that predicts a dire future for the Murray-Darling Basin and the Great Barrier Reef, saying that “Australia is a land of drought and flooding rains, always has been and always will be”.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says governments around the world can still avoid the worst of forecast droughts, floods and bushfires, but Mr Abbott says he remains reluctant to link extreme weather events to climate change.

April 1, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Western Australian election: is Clive Palmer’s Party FOR or AGAINST the Renewable Energy Target?

ballot-boxRET And PUP – Confusion (Still) Reigns  The Palmer United Party (PUP) still appears not to have a solid stance on the future of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET).

PUP’s WA candidate, Zhenya ‘Dio’ Wang, recently expressed support for the Renewable Energy Target to be left as is and Clive Palmer appeared to indicate the same view. Shortly afterwards, Mr. Palmer clarified; stating it perhaps shouldn’t be a “mandatory thing”.

Nearly 2 weeks later and it seems there still isn’t a unified position at PUP.

According to the Guardian, a PUP spokesman told the publication on Monday “the policy is what Clive says; the target has to be voluntary”. However, when Mr. Wang was again asked about when asked about the RET policy on Monday; he told Guardian Australia, “We are still discussing our policy. We are working out what it is.”

With voters set to go to the polls in Western Australia this Saturday, the mixed signals from PUP wouldn’t be very encouraging for solar supporters considering the party – and the outcome of WA’s election could have major implications nationally for renewable energy.

According to the Australian Solar Council, 500,000 WA residents live in solar households and hundreds of thousands more will go solar if the RET is left as is; something that is in doubt due to the Federal Government’s RET review.

“By putting barriers up for 350,000 people in WA who want to install solar on their homes and slashing large-scale solar projects back from the current path of 700 MW, the Federal government looks set to break a key election promise,” says Australian Solar Council CEO John Grimes.

Mr. Grimes says Western Australian householders and small businesses will invest their own money to build 445 megawatts of generating capacity if the RET is retained for rooftop PV systems and hot water. With regard to large-scale solar, the existing RET could deliver more than 700 MW of projects in WA, employing an additional 7,000 people during the construction phase between now and 2020.

With solar so popular in the state; the parties that clearly support the RET in its current form may have a bit of an edge this Saturday.

April 1, 2014 Posted by | politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

20 Australia-wide organisations call for W.A. government inquiry into Wiluna uranium project

questionUnited call for uranium inquiry 31 March 14 Today twenty* different public health, union, Aboriginal and environment groups have called on the WA Environment Minister Albert Jacob and the WA EPA to hold a dedicated Public Inquiry into the states most advanced uranium proposal, Toro Energy’s Wiluna uranium project.

State Secretary of the AMWU Steve McCartney said “The nuclear industry is increasingly marginal and uneconomic. This industry is worth 0.02% of our national export revenue and holds just 0.015% of Australian jobs. The risks far outweigh any rewards. Uranium mining does not pass the asbestos test for us – it impacts on the workers extracting it, transporting it and the end users.”

Dr Peter Underwood, National Vice President Medical Association Prevention of War, said “We need to have a way to look at all the risks of a uranium project including a detailed look at the public health risks from this industry here and overseas. A public inquiry is the only way to address these issues. We know it was Australian uranium that fuelled Fukushima and that’s something we need to look at before we push forward with plans to mine uranium.”

Melanie Walker, Acting CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia commented “We have seen a number of accidents at uranium mine sites across Australia, most recently at Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory. There needs to be public and transparent process to look at the risks of this industry on workers and the public.”

Mia Pepper, Nuclear Free Campaigner with the Conservation Council of WA said “This small inexperienced company is now proposing a uranium precinct – including four mines across two lake systems and a proposal to store over 50 million tonnes of  radioactive mine waste in a lake bed*.”

“This idea lacks credibility and the company lacks capacity, experience and financial backing,” concluded Dave Sweeney Nuclear Free Campaigner with the Australian Conservation Foundation.

Media Comment

  • Dr Peter Underwood: (08) 9840 9626

National Vice President Medical Association for the Prevention of War

  • Melanie Walker: 0438 430 963

Acting CEO, Public Health Association of Australia

  • Mia Pepper: 0415 380 808

Nuclear Free Campaigner, Conservation Council WA

  • Dave Sweeney: 0408 317 812

Nuclear Free Campaigner, Australian Conservation Foundation

* Australian Conservation Foundation, Public Health Association of Australia, Australian Manufactures Workers Union WA, Conservation Council of WA, Medical Association for the Prevention of War, Social Justice Board Uniting Church, Maritime Union Australia, UnionsWA, United Voice, Electrical Trade Union, The Wilderness Society, Greenpeace Sustainable Energy Now, Friends of the Earth Australia, Mineral Policy Institute, Anti-Nuclear Alliance WA, Australia Nuclear Free Alliance, WA Nuclear Free Alliance, Beyond Nuclear Initiative,

* Based on the assumption that mining 1 tonne of uranium oxide produces approximately 2,400 tonnes of low level radioactive waste. Total of 22,270 + tonnes of uranium at the four deposits = 53,448,000 + tonnes of tailings.



March 31, 2014 Posted by | politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

For solar power in Australia, the Western Australian Senate election is critically important

logo-australian-solar-councWestern Australia’s Election Crucial In National Solar Battle As the people of Western Australia prepare to return to the polls, the Australian Solar Council says the outcome will play a major role in the battle solar is facing nationally.

“There are increasing indications that the Federal Government is planning to remove or scale back support for rooftop and large scale solar through its review of the Renewable Energy Target (RET),” says Australian Solar Council CEO John Grimes.  Mr. Grimes says with Labor and the Greens supporting the position of not changing the RET, if numbers can be secured in the Senate, any changes the Abbot Government seeks to make that would negatively impact the RET can be blocked.

The Australian Solar Council has secured letters of support regarding the Renewable Energy Target from Labor and The GreensPalmer United Party issending mixed signals.  The Council’s Save Solar campaign is currently focusing the majority of its efforts in Western Australia and recently launched its first ever TV and print advertising campaign.

The response from the community is such that it says several political parties have asked the Council stop all of the emails being sent by solar supporters as they are receiving hundreds each day.

“Our clear message – anti-solar policies will only happen at great political cost, because the people are with us,” says Mr. Grimes.

“This campaign says to governments across Australia that solar is the future and the industry will not tolerate ad-hoc policy changes that damage our businesses and most of all restrict access to solar for the 3.5 million people who want solar over the next 5 years.”

Shadow Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water, Hon. Mark Butler MP will meet solar workers in Perth on Monday to discuss the importance of the Renewable Energy Target for the solar industry; which employs thousands of people in Western Australia.

March 31, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, solar, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Liberal policies make sense when you realise who funds them

highly-recommendedThe rise and rise of mining company donations. Crikey BERNARD KEANE | FEB 21, 2012 Labor’s mining tax and the resources boom may have permanently and significantly changed the balance of political donations, with millions of dollars flowing from mining companies to the Coalition, Australian Electoral Commission data shows.

Mining companies began increasing their stake in the political process before the financial crisis, favouring the Coalition but also contributing to Labor. However, the mining tax saw an extraordinary increase in donations to the Coalition that has opened up a huge funding resource for the Liberals.

Mining company donations to state and federal Labor parties and the Coalition since 2004 show the extent to which Coalition benefited from the surge in mining company largesse after the Rudd government infuriated them with its RSPT proposal in May 2010.

graph Aust mining donations

But the largesse is predominantly from Western Australia. In Queensland, the ongoing support of Clive Palmer has been the primary mining contribution to the conservative cause, including a monster donation of $500,000 to the LNP by his Queensland Nickel. Other than Palmer, the federal Liberal Party took $100,000 from controversial miner New Hope — the target yesterday of a protest led by Alan Jones and Bob Katter — maintaining the Queensland representation in 2010-11.

Last year the Queensland government capped donations at $5000 to parties and $2000 to candidates, but the cap only applies to donations relating to campaign purposes; general purpose donations to parties are not capped).

Santos and Beach Petroleum each gave big donations to the SA Liberals in 2010-11 as well……….

Federally, Labor’s take from miners slumped to a bare $50,000 worth of small donations and fund-raising dinner contributions, from $200,000 before the 2007 election.

The sheer scale of mining company generosity illustrates why Tony Abbott remains committed to repealing the carbon pricing package BHP-+-puppetsand the mining tax despite the difficulties he will face in securing Senate support. That should continue to lock in big mining company donations this year and next and establish the mining industry as a go-to source for big donations that Labor cannot access for years to come.

The donations are widespread across the WA industry, with 25 companies giving the party on average $95,000. The list doesn’t include Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, who no longer donate or only provide small donations; given they can pick and choose prime ministers and dictate how much tax they pay, donations would appear to be of limited value for the big foreign miners………..

March 31, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Don’t invest in or work for BHP or Rio Tinto – Don Henry

BHP-on-Aust-govtAustralian Conservation Foundation outgoing head Don Henry calls on people to monitor big business, The Age, March 29, 2014   The outgoing head of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Don Henry, has urged people not to invest in or work for big businesses – including mining giants BHP and Rio Tinto – he says are pushing to bring down Australia’s climate change laws.

On Monday Mr Henry will step down as the foundation’s chief executive after almost 16 years. In an interview with Fairfax Media this week he accused a section of big business, and their lobby groups, of driving the Abbott government’s repeal of the national carbon price and other policies, saying ”Australians shouldn’t have a bar of it”.

Mr Henry specifically pointed to mining giants BHP and Rio Tinto. He said they were large members of industry bodies, such as the Minerals Council of Australia, that are pushing repeal of what he said was the most cost-effective way to cut emissions – carbon pricing.

”Let’s not be stupid here, they are very influential on our politics. Governments in Australia, both Coalition and Labor, listen closely to business,” he said. ‘Don’t watch the Prime Minister here, you should follow the BHPs, the Rio Tintos and other major actors. And you should start having a discussion with them. If you are shareholder in Rio or BHP do you really want to give licence to actions that are clearly against Australia’s well-being?”

He decried their position as ”short-termism”, focused only on boosting quarterly profit results. They are ignoring the erosion in their public standing and social licence caused by their position on climate, he says……

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


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