Australian news, and some related international items

A Labor win in Queensland will be a win for solar energy

ballot-boxsunQueensland Labor Promises Solar Support January 26, 2015 Queensland Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk has committed Labor to boosting the state’s renewable energy sector if it wins the election.

“In office Labor will call for proposals to generate 40-megawatts of base-load renewable energy including solar power. This will be used as a trial for more renewable power plants,” said Ms. Palaszczuk.

Labor would also investigate introducing competition in the power sector by enabling remote area councils to generate electricity from renewables to be sold at a lower cost to consumers.

“We will also initiate a renewable energy study to investigate measures to create an export-orientated renewable energy economy here in Queensland,” said Ms. Palaszczuk; who additionally promised an independent review to determine a fair price for a solar feed-in tariff based on all the benefits it provides, “rather than the requirements of large companies.”

Ms. Palaszczuk accused the LNP of being stuck in the past and pointed out after the last election Campbell Newman reneged on promises on renewable energy; cutting $660 million in related programs.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said while Queensland has seen a huge number of households install solar power systems, the state trails behind others when it comes to new large-scale renewable energy developments.

“The Queensland Opposition’s plan to generate 40 megawatts of power from solar and other renewable sources is a welcome move, particularly in light of the ongoing review of the federal Renewable Energy Target – which has caused investment in the sector to collapse,” said Mr Thornton.

The Australian Solar Council also welcomed Labor’s announcement.

“Labor has released a solar plan for the Sunshine State, which is responsible and affordable and will restore confidence in a battered solar industry,” said Australian Solar Council CEO John Grimes.

“Labor’s solar policy stands in stark contrast to the contempt shown by the Newman and Abbott Governments towards solar families and workers.”

If the Council’s Save Solar Community Forum in Townsville last week is anything to go by, the LNP should be very worried – it was a standing room only event. The next forum is at Springwood on Thursday, January 29.

Last week the Greens also unveiled their solar policy, which would ensure all Queensland solar households are paid a fair price for their electricity exports. The policy would also provide 100,000 extra households the opportunity to control their power bills by installing solar.

January 26, 2015 Posted by | politics, Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

Time for Tony Abbott to give up his war against renewable energy

Setting aside the widespread voter support for renewable energy, especially solar, the government’s attack on the industry looks like bad economics.

Abbott says 2015 is looking like another “long, hard slog”. Maintaining his government’s efforts to stall renewable energy’s inevitable advance will only make it worse.

Abbott-destroyerTime for Tony Abbott to join renewable energy’s flow SMH, January 22, 2015 The government is leading a battle against the growth of renewable energy in Australia. For the nation’s sake, it is one fight Tony Abbott should drop. “…….developments in two of Australia’s major energy markets will be watched nervously by our fossil fuel exporters. They also throw into sharp contrast Australia’s alarming retreat on the clean energy front.

Under the Abbott government, the country has dived on international rankings as a favourable destination for low-emissions investments despite its natural bounty of abundant solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.

By Bloomberg’s count, spending on large-scale renewable energy sank 88 per cent last year to $240 million while global investment advanced 16 per cent. Tiny Panama and war-torn Sri Lanka were among 38 nations investing more than Australia. Continue reading

January 26, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney dismissed climate change as “a semi-religious belief”

ballot-boxSmJeff Seeney said climate change ‘semi-religious belief': Queensland mayor signs statutory declaration stating Deputy Premier made comment ABC News, By the National Reporting Team’s Mark Willacy and Mark Solomons  24 Jan 15 The mayor of a major Queensland council has signed a statutory declaration stating Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney dismissed climate change as “a semi-religious belief” during a tense meeting in his office.

On Thursday, Mr Seeney publicly denied he made the remark.

Allan Sutherland, of the Moreton Bay Regional Council north of Brisbane, stated Mr Seeney made the comment during a discussion about the council’s regional plan in October. The meeting was also attended by four council officials.

A participant in the meeting confirmed the mayor’s version of events to the ABC.

As revealed by the ABC in December, Mr Seeney intervened to have all references to a predicted 0.8-metre sea rise removed from Moreton Bay’s regional plan, a move that upset the council and Councillor Sutherland……..

January 24, 2015 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Liberal Party kids at Uni dutifully toe the Party line on fossil fuels

Liberal-policy-1Liberal student movement hits back at fossil fuel divestment campaign by ‘vocal minority’ ABC Rural  By Babs McHugh  20 Jan 15 The Australian Liberal Students Federation (ALSF) has hit back at the fossil fuel divestment movement which wants universities to sell shares they have in mining businesses.

The divestment lobby is also calling for educational bodies to end sponsorship and partnership deals with resource companies……

we’ve come out to provide the alternate viewpoint of what we feel students are really concerned about, which is jobs and opportunities.”

In October 2014, the Australian National University announced it was selling the shares it held in seven mining companies.

Student activist group Fossil Free ANU had several meetings with the ANU Council before Vice Chancellor Ian Young made the announcement.

Despite opposing the policy, Mr Lesh said the ALSF fully supported renewable energy development.

“It’s not that we don’t support renewable energy at all, we support all forms of energy,” he said.

“But the practical side is we need fossil fuels like coal and gas to provide baseload energy.

“And the mining industry employs thousands of people and contributes billions to our economy.

“And the fossil fuel divestment campaign is an ideological attack on that economy, and comes at a time of increasing difficulty for many students finding jobs.”…….

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

Will constitutional recognition really make any difference to Australia’s indigenous people?

Baird calls on states to support Indigenous recognition. But what difference will it make?, Guardian, - 15 Jan 15 “……………-If, after consultation, a preamble statement is what we’re left with when we go to vote, then the examples set by the states do not leave me with a great deal of confidence. Why would we believe that federal recognition would lead to a great shift of consciousness and more collaborative and equitable governance based on state records?

Baird may have success convincing other Australian premiers and chief ministers that they need to support constitutional recognition but he is going to have a much harder time convincing the Indigenous electorate. We have a lot of experience of being handed pyrite by politicians dressed up as gold.

While we may have differing views on constitutional recognition across the spectrum, you can be certain we will always question the motives of governments who talk of the importance of our rights on one hand, yet attempt to strip our rights on another.

January 16, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Pope Francis takes a leadership role for global action on Climate Change

Popehe has been invited by Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, to address the general assembly of the UN on the issue.

The impact of this on Australian politics is hard to predict. A number of senior Coalition ministers are Catholic, yet their climate credentials are less than impressive. Tony Abbott’s claim that coal is “good for humanity” is the antithesis of the likely papal message. Now his opponents will be able to quote chapter and verse of a papal encyclical calling his policies into question.

Climate-change encyclical may lay ground for UN progress January 14, 2015  Neil Ormerod This is the year the Catholic Church will join the battle to save the planet; as Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, stated, “2015 could be a decisive year in history”.

From the start of his pontificate Pope Francis indicated his intention to publish an encyclical on the environment. Encyclicals are the most authoritative documents a pope can issue, and it has become increasingly clear that global warming will be its central theme.

Previous popes – both John Paul II and Benedict XVI – referred to the environment and climate change in various communications, and committed the Vatican City to being carbon neutral, but this will be the first time a pope will have dedicated an entire encyclical to it. Continue reading

January 14, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Greens the only Party in Queensland serious about Climate Change

Milne,-Christine-13“I think the key thing is that the Greens are the only political party standing in Queensland, giving Queenslanders the opportunity to vote against the expansion of coal seam gas and against the expansion of coal mines and coal ports,” Ms Milne said.

Queensland election: World looking at ‘fossil-fuel free existence’ Brisbane Times 12 Jan 15 senior reporter The world is beginning to consider a “fossil-fuel free” existence as soon as 2050, according to Australian Greens leader Senator Christine Milne.

ballot-boxSmMs Milne will join the Queensland state election campaign on Monday having recently returned from a climate summit in Lima, Peru. In the negotiating texts – for the (future) Paris agreement, one of the options is for a fossil-fuel free world by 2050,” Ms Milne said.

The United Nations climate change conference – also attended by Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop – was held in Lima from December 1-12.

The long-serving Greens senator agreed it was “still early days” and the text would most likely be opposed by Australia, Saudi Arabia and other countries before the final United Nations talks in December 2015.

“But the fact that you even have in a negotiating text at this point one of the options being a fossil-fuel free world by 2050 shows you the recognition it is getting,” she said.

“If you are serious about climate science – serious about addressing global warming – then a rapid transition to a renewable energy-powered world is on.”……..

Ms Milne said many people had noticed the decision by several major financial bodies to no longer back more marginal coal projects.

“The rapid growth in the divestment movement has surprised everybody around the world,” Ms Milne said. Continue reading

January 12, 2015 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Queensland Nationals Senator Matt Canavan attacks the Renewable Energy Target

Newman-and-Abbottballot-boxSmRenewable energy ‘fad’ is our best bet for saving the planet  MIKE BRUCE  THE COURIER-MAIL JANUARY 11, 2015″…….. those impressionable and impetuous Chinese are spending billions to create the world’s largest renewable power capacity (388GW), dwarfing the US (172GW) and renewables-sector darling Germany (84GW). Those crazy and irrational Germans are now producing almost 30 per cent of their electricity needs with renewable energy.

Excuse the sarcasm, but I couldn’t help it after reading an opinion piece by Matt Canavan, a Nationals senator for Queensland, in which he argues for the abolition of the renewable energy target (RET) in Australia……..

While he is careful not to dismiss renewables per se – despite calling them a “fad” – Canavan strongly implies that Australia’s energy future, at least in the short to medium term, lies in fossil fuels, one of the world’s most heavily subsidised industries.

It’s a surprising position for a National, much of whose constituency is at war with coal and coal-seam interests eating into their land, livelihoods and sustainability.

But, then, this narrative does tally perfectly with the Abbott Government’s stunning reticence to act on climate change. Continue reading

January 12, 2015 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Abbott’s Direct Action policy threatened by cuts to CSIRO

CSIRO cuts threaten Abbott’s direct action policy Phillip Thomson Government budget cuts continue to bite at Australia’s premier science organisation and one union says it threatens Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s direct action policy.

The CSIRO Staff Association said internal documents from the research organisation revealed dozens of scientists specialising in ecological research were now at risk while experts devoted to new carbon capture techniques could also be on shaky ground. Continue reading

January 7, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Liberal MP contradicts Abbott on coal (but doesn’t mention renewables)

Liberal-policy-1Liberal MP rebukes Abbott on coal and says gas is the future for developing nations SMH December 30, 2014  Latika Bourke One of the Liberal Party’s rising stars has rebuked Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s claim that coal is the key to providing developing countries with low-cost energy.

NSW Liberal MP Angus Taylor, who was elected the member for Hume in the 2013 election, says gas is the better way to reduce carbon emissions and supply countries such as China and India with the energy they need to continue their rise……….

Mr Taylor’s comments put him at odds with Mr Abbott, who has repeatedly insisted that coal is “good for humanity” and the “foundation of prosperity” for “now and the foreseeable future”, because it is cheaper.

As recently as the G20, Mr Abbott said it was up to Australia and other energy exporters to deliver power to the fifth of the globe that doesn’t have access to electricity and said coal would be an “important part … for decades to come”.………

Recently, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said any honest conversation about reducing Australia’s domestic emissions had to include a debate about nuclear power, describing it as an“obvious direction” for a country blessed with uranium supplies.


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

Labor to talk with Abbott govt on Renewable Energy Target, armed with latest report from Climate Change Authority

Labor returns to renewable energy target talks armed with Coalition’s own advice Guardian, 23 Dec 14Government insists on an effective cut to clean energy scheme, despite its climate advisory body concluding the opposite. Labor is set to resume talks with the government over the future of the renewable energy target (RET), but insists the Coalition needs to alter its negotiating position to fall in line with its own climate advisory body.

A Climate Change Authority (CCA) review of the RET, released on Monday,concluded that the scheme should not be cut, although it should be deferred by “up to three years” in order to restore investor confidence.

Investment in clean energy has virtually ground to a halt due to uncertainty over the future of the RET, which requires that 41,000 gigawatt hours of Australia’s energy come from renewables such as solar and wind by 2020.

The government has sought a bipartisan deal to “reform” the RET but Labor walked away from negotiations earlier this month, claiming the Coalition’s plan for a “real 20%” renewable target would devastate jobs and investment in the sector.

When the target was initially set, 41,000 GWh represented 20% of Australia’s estimated 2020 energy production. But the country is now on course to produce 26% to 28% of its energy from clean courses by 2020, meaning a “real 20%” would be significantly less than 41,000 GWh.

The government and opposition have now signalled that talks will resume in January, but Labor said the Coalition needed to heed the CCA’s findings.

“We do need to see a change in position from the government, a change from the prime minister’s position either to abolish the target altogether or to severely cut it back,” Mark Butler, Labor’s environment spokesman, told the ABC.

“Both of those options the Climate Change Authority says in their report would be very, very unwise options.”……..

Th environment group WWF said its own polling from November showed that nearly nine in 10 Australians thought the RET should be retained as it is or increased.

“Cutting the Renewable Energy Target is poor policy, it will see Australia’s carbon pollution go up, sustainable energy jobs lost and investment shut out,” said Kellie Caught, WWF’s climate campaigner.

December 24, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Problem of rising sea levels causing waves of dissent in Queensland Liberal National Party

sea-level-rise-PortseaWill climate change denials sink the LNP? DES HOUGHTON THE COURIER-MAIL DECEMBER 20, 2014  IT’S a controversy that could not have come at a worse time for Campbell Newman. Cracks are appearing in LNP ranks over a State Government edict forcing Moreton Bay Regional Council to remove a theoretical climate change sea level rise of 0.8m when considering developments.

Inside the party there are waves of discontent. Continue reading

December 22, 2014 Posted by | climate change - global warming, politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Bob Baldwin – another climate sceptic joins Abbott’s anti environment team

Parkinson-Report-Tony Abbott appoints climate skeptic to “help” on environment REneweconomy By  on 22 December 2014  Bob Baldwin, a man who once compared the impact of Australia’s man-made greenhouse gas emissions to that of a single strand of human hair on a 1km bridge, has been appointed parliamentary secretary to the minister of the environment. The announcement was made as part of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s ministerial reshuffle. Baldwin will assist Greg Hunt, after previously being assistant to the Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane. It comes just a few weeks after Abbott sent Trade Minister Andrew Robb,another climate skeptic, to chaperone foreign minister Julie Bishop at the Lima climate talks.

In a speech in China in 2010, at the APEC SME summit, Baldwin said that the climate had been changing for millions of years – a favourite meme of the climate denier community – and even praised Rupert Murdoch as “the starting point for green innovation”………..

another speech in parliament gives no doubt about Baldwin’s skepticism, if not outright denial. Quoting climate-denying Queensland shock-jock Michael Smith, Baldwin compared the impact of any Australian efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions to that of a human hair on a 1km bridge………..

o, that’s settled then. Hunt, who says the Abbott government does accept the science of climate change, and describes its emissions reductions to date as Australia’s great “gift to the world”, will have carriage of Australia’s domestic climate policy, while the international stuff is assumed by Bishop, after checking in with Robb.

Hunt, however, also has carriage over approvals to coal mines. The Newcastle Herald, Baldwin’s local paper, reported in August that Baldwin may be asked why the NSW anti corruption watchdog to explain why he wrote  to ‘‘implore’’ the NSW Coalition government to support Nathan Tinkler’s proposed coal-loader.

The paper said documents  with the Independent Commission Against Corruption show Baldwin drafted a letter to then-state ministers Chris Hartcher, Mike Gallacher and Duncan Gay in April 2011 urging  in-principle support to the $1 billion coal-loader. “I implore the New South Wales government to do everything it can to see this project come to fruition,” he wrote……….

December 22, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Get a load of the pro nuclear tripe from nutty Senator David Leyonhjelm

Leyonhjelm,-DavidGet real on nuclear benefits, says David Leyonhjelm 

IF any country in the world should embrace nuclear power it is Australia, or at the very least the nation needs to examine creating a uranium processing industry, it has been claimed. Liberal Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm has called for a debate on the ­viability of ­nuclear power in Australia, arguing that “nuclear power has proven to be safer than just about any other form of power generation’’.

Writing in The Australian today, Senator Leyonhjelm says the environmental problems ­associated with nuclear power are “greatly exaggerated”.

He says it is true that the clean-up of the Fukushima site in Japan, which was badly damaged by a tsunami in 2011, would be costly, but “No one at Fukushima was exposed to enough radiation to get so much as a runny nose’’.

Senator Leyonhjelm says renewable energy such as solar and wind farms routinely occupy huge swaths of land for relatively small returns.

“You need to have drunk a particularly strong ideological kool-aid to believe a technology that covers the landscape in metal is good for the environment,’’ he says. “The volume of nuclear waste produced by nuclear power is smaller than most people are led to believe, it can be safely stored, and is likely to become re-usable as technology develops.”

December 19, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Rear Admiral Scarce joins the South Australian pro nuclear clique

Let’s talk nuclear, says ex-governor Kevin Scarce THE AUSTRALIAN  Verity Edwards DECEMBER 13, 2014 AFTER seven years of political silence in his role as governor of South 

AFTER seven years of political silence in his role as governor of South Australia, Kevin Scarce yesterday finally spoke out to say the state should consider developing a nuclear industry to compensate for a downturn in manufacturing……….

December 13, 2014 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment


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