PM’s department keeps first briefings secret October 31, 2013 SMH Dan Harrison Health and Indigenous Affairs Correspondent Tony Abbott’s department has decided to keep secret its first briefing for the Prime Minister, arguing disclosure of its advice would be contrary to the public interest.
The decision to block access to the briefing, which was handed to Mr Abbott the day after the election, marks a shift from 2010, when the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet published a redacted version of the briefing it prepared for Julia Gillard.
It follows decisions by Treasury and the Attorney-General’s department – both of which published elements of their 2010 briefs – to refuse Freedom of Information requests for the briefs they prepared for their new political masters.
Fairfax Media, along with other media organisations, applied to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet under Freedom of Information for access to the so-called “blue book” prepared in advance for an incoming Coalition government as well as the “red book” for a re-elected Labor government.
The documents typically provide a frank assessment of the party’s election policies as well as the public service’s view of the economy and other information designed to allow a smooth transition between governments.
The department’s acting first assistant secretary, Myra Croke, declined both requests on the grounds that the release of the briefs would “have a substantial adverse effect on the proper and efficient conduct of the operations” of the department. ”I consider that release of any part of these documents would be contrary to the public interest,” Ms Croke wrote…….
Treasury and the Attorney-General’s department cited similar grounds in refusing requests for their briefs, with the Attorney-General’s department also noting the view expressed publicly by Mr Abbott in opposition that release of the briefs would contravene the Westminster conventions. The Industry and Employment departments have rejected requests from Labor Senator Joe Ludwig for the briefs prepared for their new ministers, arguing the requests are an unreasonable diversion of their resources……..
…..Senator Ludwig said while departments would always take a conservative approach to such requests, Ministers could encourage their departments to release their briefs.
“It is by and large information by individual taxpayers, why shouldn’t they be able to access that information? I think this is a government that is wedded to secrecy,” he said…….. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/pms-department-keeps-first-briefings-secret-20131031-2wllw.html#ixzz2jQmSYq8j
Trained as a climate scientist, Janet was one of the founders of the Greens in Victoria & is a leading voice for sustainability and justice. A transport planner, former Mayor, facilitator & campaigner, she brings a wealth of knowledge & experience to the team.
Janet led Maribyrnong Council’s local efforts to tackle global warming as Mayor, won campaigns to protect some of Australia’s precious forests, did crucial work with Bicycle Victoria and chaired the Metropolitan Transport Forum for four years.
Australia And Renewable Energy: What Now? http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=3931 9 Sept 13, Some in Australia’s renewable energy industry will be starting their week scratching their heads as to what to do next. With the Coalition gaining power; there are some knowns, but many unknowns about their plans for renewable energy.
The situation was made more perplexing by the fact the Coalition’s recently released Policy for Resources and Energy left out renewables for the most part; well, almost entirely. However, it did make it clear Australia is about to embark on a re-invigorated love affair with fossil fuels.
For renewable energy, the knowns that have been cobbled together are the scrapping of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and an attempt to reverse the carbon tax. There will be yet another costly investigation into the health impacts of wind farms; even though multiple studies have debunked so-called Wind Turbine Syndrome.
Money and other resources will be taken from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) by making it responsible for delivering the Coalition’s watered-down “One Million Solar Roofs” rebate. Within the first week of a Coalition government, the new Minister for Resources and Energy will commence work on (yet another) Energy White Paper, which it says will be publicly released within a year. There will also be (yet another) review of the Renewable Energy Target next year – it’s these continual reviews that are believed to be having an impact on dampening investment in renewables in Australia; particularly large scale projects.
The full details of the new Government’s “Direct Action” plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will not be known until at least 100 days after the new government is formed and a period of public consulting ends says The Canberra Times. Given the uncertainty over renewables and the renewed love affair with polluting fossil fuels, it would seem for Australian households (like so often in the past), the best time to go solar may be sooner rather than later.
The document says the Coalition would look into formalising the sale of uranium to India, and would also examine the potential use of thorium as an energy source, noting that Australia possesses an estimated 18.7% (489,000t) of the world’s identified resources.
Coalition energy document focuses almost entirely on fossil fuels Giles Parkinson theguardian.com, Thursday 5 September 2013 Only reference to Australia’s $20bn renewable industry is repeat of promise to hold another investigation into the health impacts of wind farms.
The Coalition on Thursday unveiled its new energy and resources document, which focuses almost entirely on fossil fuel developments, promising to restore coal-fired power stations to profitability, boost exploration for oil and gas, and to produce another “white paper” on energy.
Other proposals in the document prepared by opposition energy spokesman Ian Macfarlane include an investigation into the use of thorium as a potential energy source of the future, and support mechanisms for the use of LNG as a transport fuel……..
the repeat of a promise made last December to hold yet another investigation into the health impacts of wind farms, and confirmation of a previously leaked commitment to require “real time” monitoring of wind turbine noise – a move that wind energy groups say would involve “crippling” costs.
There is no mention of renewables – least of all the “solar revolution” that state energy ministers admit is sweeping the country.
However, separate costing documents reveal sharp cuts to renewable support measures. This includes stripping the Australian Renewables Energy Agency of $150m over three years to fund the Coalition’s million solar roofs program, cutting a planned $40m program to support geothermal and ocean energy developments in regional towns, and cutting $185m from a “connecting renewables” program designed to support transmission infrastructure for renewables. The million solar roofs program – targeted for low income earners – will now feature a $500 rebate instead of a $1,000 rebate because of the fall in the cost of solar PV modules.
On wind, the energy document – in an apparent gesture towards the anti-wind members of its constituency – says: “Some members of public have serious concerns over the potential impacts of wind farms on the health of people living in their vicinity…….
The renewables industry has previously said that real-time monitoring would impose unbearable costs on the wind industry, and would be almost useless because of the inability to separate other noise in real-time.
Despite the fact that there have been 19 separate studies into wind farm health, including one by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Coalition said it would establish either an independent NHMRC research program or an independent expert panel to examine and determine any actual or potential health effects of wind farms.
A previous study by the NHMRC in 2010 found that “there are no direct pathological effects from wind farms and that any potential impact on humans can be minimised by following existing planning guidelines”. A Senate inquiry into wind farm health fell largely along party lines, although it said it was unable to establish a direct link between ill health and the noise generated by wind farms.
The Coalition has said that the inquiry would be made in response to demands from anti-wind senators John Madigan and Nick Xenophon, who may hold the balance of power in a new Senate………
The document says the Coalition would look into formalising the sale of uranium to India, and would also examine the potential use of thorium as an energy source, noting that Australia possesses an estimated 18.7% (489,000t) of the world’s identified resources.
“The primary source of thorium in Australia and globally is the mineral monazite. Thorium can be used as an alternative source of fuel for energy generation and possesses an energy content that can be utilised almost in its entirety,” it says. Thorium is often touted as a future energy source, although most experts say it is decades away from deployment…….
Leigh Ewbank from Friends of the Earth’s Yes 2 Renewables initiative says the anti-wind farm stance of some Coalition members is out of touch with mainstream views.
“All available public polling shows strong public support for wind farms,” says Ewbank. “The Coalition desperately needs to make a wind energy friendly policy announcement to reaffirm its commitment to Australia’s most affordable renewable energy source.” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/05/coalition-energy-document-focuses-almost-entirely-on-fossil-fuels
the suspicion that the sceptic still lurks within grew stronger with an interview with Michelle Grattan forThe Conversation. People were less anxious about climate change for three reasons, Abbott said:
“First I think they’re more conscious of the fact that the argument among the experts is not quite the one way street that it might have seemed four or five years [ago].”
This election has heard no end of debate about Australia’s budget deficit but little about the environmental deficit that we are accumulating and that will take much longer to pay off.
How much will climate inaction cost us? The Drum By Mike Steketee 5 Sep 2013, This election has heard no end of debate about Australia’s budget deficit; meanwhile, an environmental disaster looms that will cause us much more financial pain, writes Mike Steketee.
Victoria and other parts of eastern Australia, including Sydney, have just recorded their warmest winter on record. Was that evidence of climate change, Barrie Cassidy asked Tony Abbott on the ABC’s Insiders on Sunday. “It is evidence of the variability in our weather,” replied the person on the brink of becoming prime minister.
It was an answer at the same time unexceptional and revealing. Of course, Abbott is correct. Weather records are being broken all the time. For centuries Australia has been a land of drought and flooding rains.
But Abbott also could have given a different answer, along the lines that, whether or not specific record-breaking events were the result of human impact on the climate, they were occurring more frequently, particularly those associated with high temperatures, and that this was in line with the predictions of the overwhelming majority of climate scientists.
Here’s another record: for the whole of Australia, temperatures for the 12 months to the end of last month were the highest since reliable records were first kept 103 years ago. Continue reading
Greens propose Collie as renewable energy zone Sept. 4, 2013,By By Mackenzie Dixon http://www.colliemail.com.au/story/1753791/greens-propose-collie-as-renewable-energy-zone/?cs=1191 Sept. 4, 2013 GREENS Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam was in Collie Monday to give a presentation on the Greens proposal to turn Collie into a renewable energy zone….. Mr Ludlam was joined by representatives from research organisation Sustainable Energy Now to outline the Greens Energy 2029 plan, which looks to making WA a 100 per cent renewable energy state.
“I do hope this brings a conversation about a transition to a form of economic development that’s not premised on depleting non-renewable resources” said Sen. Ludlam during his presentation.
“We’ve struggled in past decades with four key problems to getting renewable energy up and running – the cost associated, the risk of investment, network access and the fact that it’s not always on when you need it.
“But those things are becoming less problematic, the cost is lowering, there’s specific entities who invest in renewable energy, priorities are changing when it comes to allowing access to the network and we are making leaps and bounds when it comes to energy being there when you need it.
“We also recognise that Collie has good sun and wind energy resources, and if deployed in Collie under one of the scenarios we propose, these other forms of energy generation would each create hundreds more local, highly skilled jobs.”
The South West could be a flagship region for renewable energy ABC South West WA By Sharon Kennedy and David Bone, 5 September, 2013 Greens candidate Gordon Taylor is passionate about achieving 100 per cent renewable energy generation “…… he is passionate about renewable energy. “There is potential for this area of the South West to be a flagship zone,” he says.
On the question of one of the region’s traditional industries, timber, he again sees the need for plantations and other renewables. ”I think in the long term, because of the gradual decline of our forests, there has to be a point where we move in other directions – we create employment in other ways – hopefully through renewable energies.” A Greens presence in the Senate will help to keep a balance, says Mr Taylor. Voters have the option of voting for a major party in the Lower House but casting 1 for Scott Ludlum in the Senate to “keep that green edge in the parliament which is so needed now”……abc.net.au/local/stories/2013/09/05/3842164.htm?site=southwestwawww
Coalition climate policies take $320m hit http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/coalition-climate-policies-take-320m-hit-20130905-2t82a.html#ixzz2e96fsfiL September 6, 2013 Tom Arup Environment editor, The Age The Coalition has cut $320 million from its direct action climate policy, halving rooftop rebates for households and cutting spending on geothermal and tidal power.The changes came amid a sweep of cuts to clean energy and climate change programs in the Coalition’s costings released by Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey on Thursday.
But Coalition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt confirmed the rebate on offer would now be $500. That means spending on the solar scheme will be $50 million a year, rather than $100 million. Mr Hunt said the reduction was the result of dramatic decreases in the cost of solar systems in recent years. He said priority would now be given to solar hot water and low income households.
In other changes:
- The Coalition has also scrapped $50 million over four years in planned funding to support the development of geothermal and tidal power.
- $60 million in spending on clean energy employment hubs has been scrapped, with Mr Hunt instead saying it had been replaced with $9 million in funding for the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility at Griffith University.
- $100 million for a solar towns and schools program will be stretched over six years, rather than four.
With other changes all up direct action will now cost $2.88 billion over the first four years, rather than the originally budgeted $3.2 billion. The costings confirm the Coalition’s long-stated plans to axe the carbon price, which will end up costing it $6 billion to do so as a result of foregone revenue.
Amid the savings it claims is $1.46 billion from abolishing “other carbon tax measure no longer needed.” That is understood to include a cut to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and savings for closing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. But the Coalition is yet to detail the exact cuts. Other savings include suspending a program to connect renewables to the electricity grid, saving $185 million. The national low emissions coal initiative will have $42 million in funding reduced, while the national CO2 infrastructure plan will be suspendend, saving $13 million.
It will also “redirect” $349 million in spending on the carbon capture and storage flagships.
Coalition ‘No Friend Of Renewable Energy’ http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=3928 6 Sept 13 100% Renewable has come out swinging after recently released Coalition budget costings revealed what it says is ‘a dark and dirty energy future’ for Australia.
According to the group, the costings show not only does the Coalition intend on shutting down the Clean Energy Finance Corporation; but they would also slash their “One Million Solar Roofs” rebate by half and make the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) responsible for delivery of the program. This would lead to a reduction of funding and resources available to ARENA to execute other projects.
National Director of 100% Renewable, Lindsay Soutar, has reminded the Coalition there are over 1 million solar households in Australia and millions of solar-supporting voters. ”Today’s announcement is clearly a capitulation to the big power companies who don’t want to see Australia take advantage of our abundant renewable energy resources. It will mean less innovation, less new jobs, and less small, medium and large scale solar projects.”
“By cutting funding to the only remaining clean energy funding body, the Coalition is again revealing it is no friend of renewable energy.”
Ms. Soutar also took exception to the Coalition’s Policy for Resources and Energy (PDF); which she says doesn’t mention the words ‘solar’ or ‘renewable’ even once.
What the Policy does mention frequently and favourably is fossil fuel. RenewEconomy’s Giles Parkinson reports the document promises to “focus on restoring coal-fired power stations to profitability, boost exploration for oil and gas, and to produce another ‘white paper’ on energy.”
Where renewable energy related technology does get a mention; it isn’t positive – the Coalition promises yet another investigation into the health impacts of wind farms; even though so-called Wind Turbine Syndrome has been thoroughly debunked.
“Australians want more renewables,” says Ms. Soutar, “but this announcement again shows that the Coalition is out of touch with ordinary Australian’s vision for a wind and solar powered future.”
Not all doom and gloom for renewables under Coalition REneweconomy, By Stephen Webb on 5 September 2013 Renewable energy has its neck on the guillotine with Messrs Hunt and Hockey holding the blade up with rope, awaiting a nod from the Australian Electoral Commission that they can let go. At least, that’s the impression the electorate might be receiving: carbon price (tax) – gone, CEFC – gone, Clean Technology Program – gone, Climate Change Authority – gone, with as yet unspecified cuts to ARENA as well. In all, $9.1 billion (less according to Labor) in climate change and renewable energy expenditure-related savings.
However, even assuming that the Coalition are able to get these changes through the Senate and pierce former PM Gillard’s “Abbott Proof Fence”, all is not doom and gloom. The Renewable Energy Target (RET) is King and domestic and international developers are not abandoning Australia like some may think. Continue reading
Greens find clean energy sticking point SMH, September 4, 2013 Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer A federal coalition government won’t be able to immediately stop clean energy grants being paid out without amending legislation, the Australian Greens say. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has said if the coalition wins the election on Saturday it will order the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to stop paying out grants and then abolish the $10 billion fund.
But Greens Leader Christine Milne has received advice from the Clerk of the Senate showing Mr Abbott and finance spokesman Andrew Rodd can’t stop the corporation carrying out its work without the parliament amending legislation. ”Mr Abbott and Mr Robb are arrogantly assuming they can usurp the role of the parliament to direct the CEFC to halt its legislative function. They can’t,” Senator Milne told the National Press Club.
“Only the parliament can repeal the carbon price and only the parliament can stop the roll out of renewable energy by the CEFC.” She said that was why voters should support the Greens on election day.
“We will protect the environment, address global warming and continue Australia’s path to a clean energy economy,” she said in Canberra on Wednesday. Senate clerk Rosemary Laing said in her written advice a minister could decline to authorise payments to the CEFC “and so starve them of funds”.
“However, a minister who declined to carry out a statutory function … contrary to the will of the parliament, would risk serious legal consequences, in addition to any legal action that could arise if lack of funding led to defaulting on specific contracts,” she wrote.
“It seems unlikely, in my view, that any government would contemplate such a course of action……. http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/greens-find-c
Maurie Ryan, Chair of the NT’s Central Land Council questions the LNP’s anointment of Mundine as head of the Indigenous Advisory Council.
The members of the [Central] Land Council find it unacceptable that policy affecting them may be dictated by somebody who doesn’t understand the issues affecting them. Unfortunately Mr Mundine seems to be unaware of the significant changes made in recent years and he needs to update his knowledge of the current situation in the Northern Territory
How do the parties stack up on nuclear power and uranium mining, uranium enrichment,, nuclear wastes?
How do they stack up on climate change?
Christine Milne warns Greens must retain balance of power in Senate to block repeal of carbon tax ABC By Monique Ross 4 Sept 13, Greens leader Christine Milne has warned voters that unless her party retains the balance of power in the Senate, Tony Abbott may have free rein to “tear down carbon pricing mechanisms”.
The Opposition Leader has today reaffirmed his commitment to repealing the carbon price in favour of his Direct Action policy if he is elected to the top job. While Labor MPs have said they would block the move, Mr Abbott says that would be political suicide, and has repeatedly threatened to call a double dissolution election on the issue.
Senator Milne says the Greens are needed in the Senate to “stand firm against Tony Abbott” for the sake of the global environment. ”If Tony Abbott has effective control of both houses, then he will be able to do as he likes,” she told ABC News 24′s Capital Hill.
“He will be able to tear down the carbon pricing mechanisms. He will be able to get rid of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. Who knows what he would do to the environment.
“It is critical that the people who actually believe the science, who want this to be evidence-based policy, are there to argue it because Tony Abbott doesn’t believe in evidence-based policy. He thinks climate change is crap.”
Senator Milne rounded on Mr Abbott’s concession that his policy may not succeed in reaching Australia’s target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent by 2020. ”He has been able to get off the hook here. Nobody has really unpacked his Direct Action farce,” she said.
“Is he walking away from his 5 per cent reduction target? Greg Hunt says they’re not and Tony Abbott says they are.”
She did not let the Government off the hook either, saying that Greens Senators are needed to “keep Labor on track”.
“We will never support reducing action on climate change and as long as we’re there in balance of power, we will be able to shame Labor into standing up and holding the line,” she said.
“Otherwise who knows where they would go on this either.”
Earlier, Labor figures including Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Environment Minister Mark Butler said the party would not give in to Mr Abbott’s push to repeal the carbon tax.
“Carbon pricing is fundamental to how you deal with climate change,” Mr Rudd said.
“Any alternative response to that is just intellectually dishonest.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-03/milne-says-greens-senators-vital-to-carbon-tax-future/4932712
AUDIO: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-03/is-carbon-pricing-key-or-ripe-for-abolition/4932722 Is carbon pricing key or ripe for abolition? ABC radio, 3 Sep 2013″………MARK COLVIN: Fourteen-and-a-half million people are eligible to vote this Saturday and already, more than one and a half million of them have had their say, either through pre-poll booths or postal votes.
If the Coalition wins, Tony Abbott says he’ll have a mandate to abolish the carbon tax, and that Labor should recognise that. And he isn’t ruling out a double dissolution on it. But the Climate Change Minister Mark Butler says Labor won’t cave in, and the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says pricing carbon is fundamental to dealing with climate change.
Chief political correspondent Sabra Lane…….
KEVIN RUDD: If every government took that position that he has taken, what’s the net consequence? The net consequence is that all governments would walk away from hard action on this, the planet would continue to endure global warming, and as a result, we’d provide a very uncertain future for our kids.
I think the contrast is very clear and reflects poor judgement.
SABRA LANE: He later accused Mr Abbott of walking away from the bipartisan commitment to cut CO2 emissions.
KEVIN RUDD: He’s not fair dinkum about climate change, and when yesterday he made it very explicit that he was walking away from his 5 per cent commitment if his so-called Direct Action farce did not work, then that says everything to everybody out there who follows these debates with any degree of closeness.
SABRA LANE: Tony Abbott’s often couched this election as a referendum on the carbon tax, saying if the Coalition wins he’ll consider it a mandate to scrap the tax.
But on RN (Radio National), the Climate Change Minister Mark Butler dismissed talk of mandates……..
KEVIN RUDD: Carbon pricing is fundamental to how you deal with climate change. Any alternative response to that is just intellectually dishonest…….
The Greens, meanwhile, are arguing for the status quo in the Senate. Its leader, Senator Christine Milne:
CHRISTINE MILNE: And Tony Abbott has now become so arrogant that he is assuming that he’s already got The Lodge. What he’s now coming after this week is control of the Senate as well, absolute power and control of both Houses of Parliament and the Liberal Party advertising is going in that direction.
And that’s why the Greens are standing firm saying if you don’t want Tony Abbott to have absolute power, then vote for The Greens in the Senate.