The 16,000 Australian service men involved in the tests were sworn to secrecy by ASIO agents under the threat of jail. The general population was made part a large secret experiment to see whether the human race could survive a nuclear attack.
This book is also a warning for the present. Prime Minister Tony Abbott wants to create a nuclear waste dump in central Australia to bring in millions of dollars. The Australian people must be vigilant and active as our governments and politicians cannot be trusted.
Australia’s two decades as a radioactive laboratory https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/57965, December 8, 2014 By Coral Wynter The British government, with the complicity of the Menzies government, used Australia as a laboratory to test the short and long-term effects of exposure to radioactivity.
Maralinga: The Chilling Expose of Our Secret Nuclear Shame & Betrayal of Our Troops & Country By Frank Walker Hachette, 2014
Frank Walker, who worked as a journalist for Australian and international publications for 38 years, was talking to his daughter’s university friends one day and discovered they had no idea atomic bombs had been exploded in Australia.
In fact, 12 had ― excluding the 300-600 minor trials at Maralinga, Emu Field, both in the South Australian desert, and Monte Bello Islands off the Western Australian coast.
Walker had been interviewing soldiers, navy and air force victims and decided to expose the veil of secrecy on their ghastly experiences.
The atomic tests began in 1952 and continued until 1957. However, minor trials with dirty radioactive clouds, and uranium and plutonium waste, did not stop until 1963.
The British government, with the total complicity of the then-Menzies government, used Australian land and people as a laboratory to test the short and long-term effects of exposure to radioactivity. Continue reading
Australia will now contribute to spreading nuclear weaponry as India will be able to use Australian-supplied uranium for civilian purposes and reserve its indigenous supplies for its nuclear weapons program.
Moreover, India has a poor nuclear safety record.
WikiLeaks exposes gov’t lies, shifts on India uranium deal, Green Left December 8, 2014 By Linda Pearson Prime Minister Tony Abbott signed an agreement in September to allow sales of Australian uranium to India for the first time. Uranium sales were initially approved by then-Coalition PM John Howard in August 2007 but Howard’s successor, Kevin Rudd, reinstated the ban.
Rudd’s action was in accordance with long-standing Labor Party policy that uranium should only be sold to countries that have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). A 2008 Lowy Institute poll found that 88% of Australians supported this policy.
By the end of 2011, however, Labor had switched to the Liberal Party’s position at the behest of Rudd’s successor, Julia Gillard.
As US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks show, both parties were ultimately willing to change Australia’s long-standing nuclear policy to aid the Australian uranium industry and match strategic US objectives…………..
The US Embassy in Canberra regarded Rudd as a strong supporter of the US alliance. But there was concern over whether Labor’s nuclear policy would stop Australia supporting the US position at the NSG.
The cables show that pressure on the Rudd government to back the exemption came from the Australian High Commission in India as well as the US. They reveal how Labor’s official position on nuclear matters differed from the private views of individual members of the government.
This made the government’s support for the exemption and the party’s eventual approval of uranium sales in 2011 all but inevitable……………..
The Rudd government’s public position before the NSG meeting in August 2008 was that it would consider the arguments on both sides and then decide whether to support the exemption. On July 24, 2008, Smith stuck to the official line during a joint interview with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, saying “we haven’t made a decision”.
However, the cables suggest the government had already decided to support the exemption……………
After several days of deliberation and more intense US lobbying, the NSG approved the exemption on September 6, 2008. A cable reported that Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, Marius Grinius, said “most NSG members ‘gave up’ and ‘joined the bandwagon’ rather than fully supporting a nuclear agreement with India”.http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/05/09USUNNEWYORK497.htmlhttp://wikileaks…
The NSG decision opened the door to uranium sales to India. But while the Rudd government supported this exemption, its public position remained that Australia would not sell uranium to India unless it joined the NPT. On a visit to India shortly after the NSG decision, Smith said this policy “remains unaffected by the NSG decision”.
However, US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks suggest Labor leaders were already preparing to change its policy………………
 According to another cable from Canberra, federal resources minister Martin Ferguson confirmed to US Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich that the ALP’s policy could change.
Bleich wrote in November 2009 that in Ferguson’s view, “the recent expansion in uranium development in Australia reflected a shift in willingness to consider nuclear energy”.
Additionally, according to the cable, Ferguson had said that the Australian government might have to revisit the issue of nuclear energy if other technologies “failed to develop commercially quickly enough” for Australia to meet its “clean” energy goals.
Moreover, Ferguson had told Bleich that he had “personally supported the US-India nuclear agreement” and believed that “a deal to supply India with nuclear fuel could be reached in 3-5 years”.
These comments contradicted his party’s official position at the time, but Ferguson’s support for the uranium industry was no secret. He led efforts to overturn Labor’s three-mines policy at the party’s 2007 conference.
After his comments on India in this cable were divulged by Fairfax in February 2011, Ferguson side-stepped questions and repeated the official line, saying: “We will only supply uranium to countries that are signatories to the NPT and have signed a bilateral agreement with Australia.”
US diplomats in Australia also consulted representatives of mining giant BHP for their views on the industry and the prospect of uranium sales to India.
In April 2009, a cable from the US Consulate in Melbourne reported that BHP manager for integrated planning Barry Hewlett had told the consul-general that “India represents a potentially massive market” for the uranium in BHP’s Olympic Dam mine.
However, in November 2009, another cable from the consulate in Melbourne reported comments by BHP CEO Marius Kloppers that suggested the renewed international nuclear cooperation with India permitted by the NSG waiver was more important to BHP than the Australian government’s position on uranium exports.
“As long as someone can sell to the Indians,” Klopper said, “the world market will continue to expand, which helps us.”
Ferguson’s prediction in relation to uranium sales turned out to be true. In November 2011, Gillard announced she would push for the ALP to change its policy at its December party conference.
Gillard’s decision was motivated in part by a desire to help the uranium industry recover from the effects of the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Demand dropped in the wake of the disaster and the price of uranium plummeted.
Smith publicly backed Gillard ahead of the vote. Smith said Rudd also supported the policy change. With the help of Ferguson and Australian Workers Union head Paul Howes, Gillard was able to overcome the opposition from the party’s left and the conference voted narrowly to allow uranium sales to India.
The decision was not supported by the Australian public. A 2012 opinion poll by the Lowy institute found that 61% of Australians opposed uranium sales to India, with only 9% strongly in favour.
Nevertheless, the Gillard government began talks with India on a bilateral nuclear safeguards agreement in March last year, which were concluded by Tony Abbott in September.
Both Labor and the Coalition claim India has an “impeccable” record on non-proliferation and therefore deserves an exemption from the rules that apply to other states. This is not true.
India’s new status as a “responsible nuclear state” is more a reflection of the power of the US to influence international bodies, like the NSG and the International Atomic Energy Agency, to do favours for its friends and punish its enemies.
India chose to stay outside the NPT so it would be free to develop nuclear weapons. India’s first nuclear test in 1974 was carried out using plutonium from a nuclear reactor supplied by Canada strictly for civilian purposes.
The US and Australia imposed sanctions on India after it carried out another series of nuclear tests during its escalating arms race with Pakistan in 1998.
Australia will now contribute to spreading nuclear weaponry as India will be able to use Australian-supplied uranium for civilian purposes and reserve its indigenous supplies for its nuclear weapons program.
Moreover, India has a poor nuclear safety record. In 2012, the country’s auditor-general warned that a Fukushima-like disaster could result from the absence of effective industry regulation…………..https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/57962
Australian support for France’s nuclear force, Islands Business, By Nic Maclellan , 27 Nov In his final press conference during his state visit to Australia, French President Francois Hollande praised the contribution of Australian companies to France’s nuclear strike force. However the full translation of these comments went missing from the transcript published by Prime Minister Abbott’s office.
Standing beside Tony Abbott at a joint press conference in Canberra on 19 November, French President Francois Hollande highlighted the important collaboration of French and Australian corporations in the defence sector.
Speaking in French, he stated: “We are allies as well through our defence industries, because we manufacture – our French and Australian companies manufacture – processes, notably for the most essential equipment for the French strategic force, the French nuclear force, a part of this equipment is manufactured here in Australia.”
Hollande’s endorsement of the contribution by Australian corporations to France’s nuclear strike capacity can be seen on the video released by the French Presidential Palace (quote starts at 9:03 minutes): http://www.elysee.fr/videos/conference-de-presse-conjointe-avec-m-tony-abbott-premier-ministre-de-l-australie/
However, when you go to the English-language transcript of the press conference on Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s website, part of the translation is missing. There’s a reference to “France’s strategic strength”, but the words “the French nuclear strike force” are nowhere to be found!
Maybe the word “nuclear” brings back memories of Moruroa Atoll and the Rainbow Warrior, and the tense relationship between the two countries during thirty years of French nuclear testing in the south Pacific.
Hollande’s formal state visit – the first ever by a French President – was supposed to transcend past rivalries. Media coverage of the President’s visit highlighted joint action on trade and terrorism, the emotional link of Villers-Bretonneux and the slaughter of World War One diggers in France. But both governments are reluctant to talk about modern strategic warfare.
France resists international calls for comprehensive disarmament negotiations and maintains a significant nuclear arsenal, with an estimated 300 nuclear warheads. Successive Australian governments also refuse to criticise extended nuclear deterrence. Last October, 155 countries endorsed a New Zealand statement to the United Nations on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear war. Canberra refused to sign on and put forward a counter-resolution, a worrying diplomatic stand as we move towards the Third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, to be held in Vienna on 8-9 December……….http://www.islandsbusiness.com/news/australia/6411/australian-support-for-frances-nuclear-force/
Anti-CSG groups says use of radioactive materials should be disclosed, The Age November 24, 2014 Peter Hannam Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald Radioactive material is being used at some coal seam gas drilling sites in NSW and Queensland, raising concerns about potential health and environmental impacts.
A radiation management licence issued to US-based drilling company Halliburton shows it is permitted to use caesium-137, a radioactive isotope, for drilling by AGL at Gloucester, in the northern Hunter Valley and for Santos in the Pilliga forests near Narrabri.
Drillers deploy devices containing CS-137 to measure the composition of gas and water deep underground, with the isotope emitting gamma rays to operate like a miniature X-ray. Produced in nuclear reactors, the material is potentially deadly and among the main radiation concerns at failed power stations at Chernobyl and Fukushima…………
Environmental groups say the use of the radioactive material is not disclosed in the CSG projects’ Review of Environment Factors (REF) and Environmental Impact Statements, nor does it appear by name in Materials Safety Data Sheets.
An anti-coal seam gas campaigner at Gloucester, Jennifer Schoelpple, said AGL had played up the use of much more benign chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing – fracking – but had downplayed the role of caesium.
“No matter how thoroughly you search ‘under your kitchen sink’ or how scrupulously you check the ingredients of your condiments and ‘household products’, you are highly unlikely to lay your hands on any CS-137 in your family home,” Ms Schoelpple said.
“If they are so transparent, why don’t they document the most dangerous thing they use?”
Vicki Perrin, from Lock the Gate in Queensland, said farmers allowing CSG drilling on their land and the neighbouring communities should be made aware of the risks: “Farmers need to know there is a radioactive source on their site.”………http://www.theage.com.au/environment/anticsg-groups-says-use-of-radioactive-materials-should-be-disclosed-20141123-11s5vp.html
Backgrounder: Why was Maralinga used for secret nuclear tests? Indigenous landowners have finally been given back their homelands at Maralinga, which was used by Britain to test atomic bombs in the 1950s. But why did Britain use Australian land for nuclear tests in the first place? Source:
SBS News 5 Nov 14 “……. Why was this site chosen?
During The Cold War, the British were keen to develop nuclear weapons of its own.
“If we are unable to make the bomb ourselves, and have to rely entirely on the United States for this vital weapon, we shall sink to the rank of a second-class nation,” said Lord Cherwell, scientific advisor to Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Australian Institute of Criminology reported that the “remoteness and sparse population of Australia made it an attractive alternative.”
The operation – codenamed ‘Hurricane’ – was a secret agreement between the British prime minister Winston Churchill and Australian prime minister Robert Menzies, who was reportedly “only too pleased to assist the motherland”.
In 1993, Ian Anderson wrote in Scientific American magazine that “Britain knew in the 1960s that radioactivity at its former nuclear test site in Australia was worse than first thought. But it did not tell the Australians.”……..http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/11/05/backgrounder-why-was-maralinga-used-secret-nuclear-tests
ACCC investigates claims of Aboriginal and mining ‘cartels’ October 24, 2014 SMH, Nicole Hasham
State Politics reporter Mining companies and Aboriginal groups allegedly engaged in “cartel conduct”, including price fixing for work involving ancient indigenous heritage sites, according to claims investigated by the competition watchdog……..Critics say Aboriginal cultural knowledge has been “commodified” and important artefacts and sites are being destroyed to make way for mining developments……..
Mining companies can pay groups known as “registered Aboriginal parties” to conduct field surveys and manage or salvage artefacts affected by mining development.
The ACCC investigated claims involving Rio Tinto Coal, Ashton Coal and NuCoal Resources,………
Aboriginal cultural heritage expert Maria Cotter claimed that decision-making on important sites was “being driven by dollar reimbursement and not by informed Aboriginal people making decisions about their heritage”.
“Aboriginality has been commodified in the process so that [people] are being bought to be Aboriginal, whether they have clear connections and understanding of the heritage of a particular place or not,” Dr Cotter said.
Scott Franks, who works with Ms Cotter and is a registered native title claimant for about 10,000 square kilometres of the Hunter Valley, claimed indigenous “blow-ins” from outside the area were engaged by mining companies, regardless of their knowledge or qualifications. Another local indigenous source close to the assessment process supported the claim……..http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/accc-investigates-claims-of-aboriginal-and-mining-cartels-20141026-119gab.html
Hillside mine: Greens call for release of ‘uranium appendices’ for Yorke Peninsula open pit, ABC News 19 Oct 14
The Greens are calling for the release of documents relating to uranium deposits at a copper mine approved for South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula.
Earlier this year mining company Rex Minerals submitted a document to the South Australian Government that responded to community concerns about the potential contamination of prime farmland from the Hillside mine.
The Government responded by approving the 2.4-kilometre-long, 1km-deep and 450m-deep open pit near Ardrossan that would extract 2 million tonnes of copper, 1.7 million ounces of gold and 44 million tonnes of iron ore over 15 years.
Some parts of the mining lease proposal documents, however, were deemed “commercial-in-confidence” and withheld from publication.
State Greens leader Mark Parnell has submitted a freedom of information application to view the documents and see how much uranium is at the site.
He said appendices 36 and 37 related to uranium and were being “kept secret”.
“If the company says ‘nothing to worry about’, then they should have nothing to worry about releasing the documents that explain exactly where the radioactive hotspots are,” Mr Parnell said………
EPA regulation levels to be reduced
South Australian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) regulations take effect at 200ppm – a level that would soon be reduced to 80ppm in line with national guidelines……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-20/greens-call-for-the-release-of-uranium-appendices-hillside-mine/5826048
Australia’s new secret police, Eureka Street Brian Toohey | 09 October 2014 When Greg James QC recently launched Frank Walker’s book Maralinga on British nuclear tests in Australia, the former NSW Supreme Court judge said the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation was involved in an associated program to collect the bones of dead children without the parents’ permission.
Jones later explained that he obtained this previously unpublished information, although not precise details, while representing military veterans exposed to radiation from the tests in 50s and 60s. However, the book provides a powerful reminder of the harm that can be done by using national security to conceal indefensible behaviour.
Walker sets out how 22,000 bones, mostly of babies and young children, were removed from corpses as part of a secret program to examine the effects of the radiation, which the tests spread across large parts of Australia. The program, that began in 1957 and lasted 21 years, was kept secret until 2001.
Walker says the grieving parents, in the overwhelming majority of cases, were not asked if the bodies of their children could be used for scientific studies relating to the development of nuclear weapons. The book also gives harrowing accounts of the experiences of servicemen and technicians who were exposed — in some cases deliberately— to dangerous levels of radiation without their permission. All were warned they would be severely punished if they said anything about what happened.
This is only one of many examples of the disturbing consequences of excessive secrecy in the name of national security. President Kennedy is a rare example of a politician who acknowledged that suppressing information can actually damage national security, as occurred in 1961………..http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=42125#.VDg3TGddUnk
Australia’s new secret police, Eureka Street Brian Toohey | 09 October 2014 “……..Numerous official inquiries and media reports have shown that highly secretive bodies will abuse their powers in the absence of strong checks and balances. Undeterred, the Coalition and Labor parties have backed a new law that imposes 5-10 year jail sentences on anyone who reveals anything about what ASIO designates a Special Intelligence Operation. This prohibition covers exposing murder, endemic incompetence or dangerous bungling. The loosely worded law covers ASIO officials, agents and ‘affiliates’. The latter could include other Australian and overseas intelligence agencies, police forces and special military squads.
The law removes the long-standing defence that publication in the public interest can be legally justified. The US does not have an equivalent law. These days the mere utterance of the words ‘national security’ seems to mesmerise mainstream Australian politicians, such as the Attorney General George Brandis, who normally see themselves as resolute opponents of the unconstrained expansion of state power.
In this case, journalists and others who report on stuff-ups and abuses of power can’t even know whether they are committing a crime — ASIO will not say whether a Special Intelligence Operation exists. Bank robbers at least know they are breaking the law. Australian media reporting has never resulted in the death of any intelligence operatives or undercover police. In contrast, far more people have been killed as a result of intelligence operations being kept secret. This is not a fanciful concern when the Australia’s overseas intelligence partners assassinate people. If the CIA wants to kill someone in Spain, for example, it could ask ASIO to use its coercive questioning powers to force an innocent relative in Australia to reveal the target’s location.
Intelligence information is often wrong. Identities can be confused, intercepts misconstrued and informants give false information about rivals. This is one reason police are not allowed to assassinate people suspected of committing a crime.
If it were a crime at the time to report on ASIS operations, the media could not have informed the public about the 1983 folly in which masked ASIS trainees ran around the Melbourne Sheraton, armed with silenced machines guns, sledge hammers and hypodermic syringes, recklessly indifferent to public safety. Likewise, the new law could be used to suppress future media reports about a similar injustice to one where a NSW Supreme Court Judge Michael Adams said in 2007 that two ASIO officers ‘committed the criminal offences of false imprisonment and kidnapping at common law’. No one in ASIO was subsequently charged.
Originally, ASIO was purely an information gathering body with no power to detain people or compel answers to questions. It now has these powers, without the safeguards that apply to police investigations of serious crimes where they must identify themselves can’t compel answers. As others note, Israel’s security service does not have these ASIO powers. In this context, one former ASIO officer privately told this writer that he feared the changes ‘would turn ASIO into a secret police agency’. http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=42125#.VDg3TGddUnk
The following summarizes some of the key conclusions of the Royal Commission:
- The Australian government controlled media reporting such that news items provided what the UK government deemed suitable only;
- Prior to the first tests on the Australian mainland, the Government Cabinet, Parliament and news media were not informed of what was happening;
- It is likely that the major tests resulted in a general increase in cancer within the Australian population;
- Exposure to radiation increased the risk of cancer in nuclear veterans;
- There was a failure to adequately take into account the distinctive lifestyle of Aboriginal people living in the region;
- The authorities were negligent in their management, equipping and briefing of the crews of the Lincoln aircraft who were directed to fly through the nuclear cloud in the Totem 1 test;
- In the Buffalo tests, “. . . the attempts to ensure Aboriginal safety during the Buffalo series demonstrate ignorance, incompetence and cynicism on the part of those responsible for that safety.” (12)
This summary is a very small and selective account of the content of the Royal Commission’s Report.
Since Hiroshima: Australia’s Active Involvement in the Use and Abuse of Nuclear Energy Sunday, 05 October 2014 09:59By Lindsay Fitzclarence, Truthout “………..By 1952, the government had signed a contract with the CDA (Combined Development Agency) representing the UK and United States to supply uranium (5).
At the same time, in a remarkable expression of executive power, the pro-royalist prime minister of Australia, Robert Menzies, agreed to a British request to begin testing of atomic weapons in its former colony (6). At the dawn of the Cold War nuclear arms race, Australia was an active participant at both ends of the weapons cycle: the source of primary nuclear fuel and as a nuclear testing ground. Continue reading
1984 – Australian Royal Commission starts an investigation into whether servicemen were deliberately exposed to radiation in British nuclear tests at Maralinga in 1956-57. It will conclude that they were. http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/1880269/good-morning-bendigo-12092014/?cs=80
As The Advertiser has previously reported, hundreds of bones were subsequently collected from the bodies of 21,830 dead babies, infants, children, teenagers and young adults across Australia without the knowledge of their parents.
The Strontium-90 testing program in Australia was the longest of its kind in the world, finally ending in 1978.
In September, 2001, following an extensive investigation by The Advertiser, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency revealed it had kept ash samples from bones collected from hospitals in Adelaide, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne.
In a report to the then federal health minister, Michael Wooldridge, the agency said it had detected varying levels of Strontium-90 in all Australian capital cities.
British scientists secretly used Australian population to test for radiation contamination after nuclear tests at Maralinga (includes copies of documents from British National Archives) http://www.news.com.au/national/south-australia/british-scientists-secretly-used-australian-population-to-test-for-radiation-contamination-after-nuclear-tests-at-maralinga/story-fnii5yv4-1227041781005 news.com,.au 29 Aug 14 scientists secretly used the Australian population to test for radiation contamination after the nuclear tests at Maralinga in the 1950s, a new book confirms.
Its author, Frank Walker, has obtained the minutes of a top secret meeting in England where the UK Atomic Energy Research Establishment approved a program to determine the long-term effects of the tests on Australia and its citizens. Continue reading
Unsustainable: the ugly truth about Rio Tinto‘, also reveals that Rio Tinto’s sustainability reporting contrasts sharply with the company’s actual performance in all four categories. It shows how Rio Tinto’s reckless pursuit of profit at any cost has caused disputes with numerous unions as well as environmental, indigenous and community groups. Most of the disputes covered in the report are ongoing. Rio Tinto has continued to provoke disputes in the three months since the report was released:
- with South African regulators by illegally operating a coal mine for a decade;
- with injured Australian workers by systematically targeting them in a layoff;
- with leaders in Zimbabwe by reportedly reneging on a pledge to support community development programs;
- and with the people of Papua New Guinea by rejecting calls for an investigation into the company’s role in a bloody civil war.
Rio Tinto will go on provoking disputes and operating in an unsustainable manner unless it believes that doing so could threaten its license to operate. To reform Rio Tinto, first we must threaten its ‘license to operate’
Rio Tinto’s ‘Sustainable Mining’ Claims Exposed By Kemal Özkan http://www.globalresearch.ca/rio-tintos-sustainable-mining-claims-exposed/5394301 July 31, 2014 Global mining giant Rio Tinto markets itself as a ‘sustainable company’. But serious failures in its reporting, and its attempt to hold an Australian indigenous group to ransom, reveal a very different truth: the company is driven by a reckless pursuit of profit at any cost. Rio Tinto uses its sustainability reporting to bolster the argument that it is a responsible company and therefore entitled to a license to operate. Now, a global campaign is demanding that Rio Tinto live up to its sustainability claims.
Rio Tinto subsidiary, Energy Resources of Australia (ERA), has threatened the Mirarr people that if it is not allowed to expand its Ranger uranium mining operations underground, it may be unable to fully fund rehabilitation of the open pit mine. The Ranger mine is located in the traditional lands of the Mirarr, the world heritage-listed Kakadu national park in Australia’s Northern Territory. If ERA does not complete rehabilitation of the site, which suffered a radioactive spill last year, the water, air quality and soil in the area could be scarred with toxic radiation for generations.
‘It’s not our problem’ When a shareholder confronted Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh about this at the company’s April annual meeting, Walsh flatly refused to commit to full rehabilitation or take responsibility for the mess. Continue reading
The search for the clean coal holy grail http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/ The Abbott government and a group of investors are pinning their environmental hopes on a clean coal technology that is still in the very early stages of development. Paddy Manning tracks the quest for the clean coal holy grail and investigates the men getting unspeakably rich from the search.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt has made clear that a key plank of the government’s plan to tackle climate change is reducing emissions from existing black and brown coal-fired power stations……
Ignite Energy Resources, a member of the DICE network, recently recieved a $20 million grant to produce liquid fuel for DICE engines from brown coal, among other things………
photo – Dr John White Executive Director, Ignite Energy Resources
Conflict of interest: Abbott’s Aboriginal man Warren Mundine and the Martu people’s missing $millions
For Mundine, today’s revelations raise questions about his business judgment – and specifically about his company’s role in the Reward Minerals deal. How could anyone believe that the Martu people were being properly represented by the Western Desert corporation during negotiations when one of its top executives had an undisclosed interest in a predetermined outcome?
The sorry tale of Lake Disappointment, the missing mining millions and Warren Mundine, SMH. July 10, 2014 Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie “……once again, he [Darren Farmer] was doing what he had been told not to do. This time he was asking questions. He strode towards Biljabu, who was deputy chairman of the [Western Desert] Corporation. Where, he demanded to know, was the paperwork? And why couldn’t he or the others see it?
The paperwork in question outlined details of the deals Western Desert had struck with mining companies to allow them to dig on the 136,000 square kilometres of resource-rich Pilbara that are the Martu’s traditional lands.
These deals had brought about $50million into the corporation, a non-profit prescribed body corporate that is meant to use the money to benefit all Martu. But little of the money had gone into improving Martu townships.
Farmer kept on with his questions. Why had the Western Desert corporation spent $7million in four years on its handful of employees and paid directors more than $1million? How had well-connected corporate advisers pocketed millions, while much of the Martu mob lived in poverty? Why had the views of senior elders on mining proposals been ignored? Everyone at the meeting that day could tell it was not going to end well.
There are conflicting accounts of what happened next……….
Heated debate – and sometimes violence – is nothing new at indigenous land-council meetings across Australia. These are the forums where the future clashes with the past; where members of some of Australia’s most impoverished communities weigh up the riches that mining can deliver against the cultural cost of digging up their sacred sites.
But what was different about that meeting last July was that the deals at the centre of all the trouble had been brokered by companies owned by the biggest names in Australia’s indigenous community, including the nation’s most influential Aboriginal, Warren Mundine.
The accountant Dalgleish, true to stereotype, was a stickler for detail and decided to dig further into Wolf and Wright’s activities. He found that in mid 2008 they had separately bought more than $1million worth of Perth property. This was close to the time Wright joined WDLAC and the Rio Tinto $21million deal was done.
Although he had no proof that the property purchases involved money from Rio Tinto, Dalgleish was intrigued by the confluence of events and brought them to the attention of WDLAC’s board. On May 7, 2009, Dalgleish wrote a confidential memo to WDLAC’s chairman in which he wondered how Wolf could have approved such an “outrageously excessive fee” as the $2.35million paid to Procter.
A day later, Wright paid out Dalgleish’s contract and asked him to leave. He was able to do this because he had become the corporation’s acting chief executive following Wolf’s departure, a promotion that had bumped his salary to $250,000.
Three days after his departure, Dalgleish reported his concerns to the WA police fraud squad, which in turn contacted Western Desert corporation. According to the police file, detectives were assured by Western Desert in September 2009 that Procter no longer acted for the corporation, and that an “independent third party” would examine the issues and provide recommendations.
A WA police spokeswoman says police never received a copy of any third-party review.
‘‘The matter is currently filed pending further contact from WDLAC as the complainant,’’ she says.
Procter is bewildered as to why anyone would seek police attention over the Rio deal. His company, he says, acted with integrity and its role was supported by the Martu people, who were $20million richer because of IndiEnergy’s involvement.
Dalgleish also contacted the federal regulator, the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, which is meant to ensure good governance and financial probity at the more than 2500 indigenous bodies across Australia. ORIC also decided not to investigate.
Meanwhile, in early 2009, the Australian Uranium Association – the peak body for uranium miners – announced the members of its indigenous dialogue group. Wolf and Mundine were among those named to promote the potential for uranium mining to enrich indigenous communities.
At the same time, Procter was busy expanding the reach of his company, IndiEnergy. He began appointing ‘‘special advisers’’ from the mining, legal and financial worlds. By far his most important appointment was that of Mundine as a special adviser and advisory board member.
The two had known each other since 2004 when the Howard government appointed them as members of the body that replaced ATSIC.
By the time Abbott announced Mundine as head of his Indigenous Advisory Council in September 2013, he was a close business associate of both Wolf and Procter.
Australia may be a big country, but the indigenous business and politics scene is small and replete with overlapping interests. It was only a matter of time before one of Mundine’s business relationships would clash with his quasi-ministerial role.
Mundine’s potential for a conflict of interest became a reality in February when Procter announced IndiEnergy had taken a stake in an indigenous company whose co-owner, Larrakia Development Corporation, is actively seeking Commonwealth support.
Procter highlighted Mundine in the February announcement of his new venture, praising him and Abbott for promoting indigenous business opportunities. ‘‘Skin in the game is the only way indigenous organisations can attract the right people to assist them in reaching their commercial dreams,’’ Procter said.
But having skin in the game means you risk losing some. And this is the risk that emerged for Mundine when a company he part-owned became involved in the Western Desert corporation’s most contentious mining deal…………
For Mundine, today’s revelations raise questions about his business judgment – and specifically about his company’s role in the Reward Minerals deal. How could anyone believe that the Martu people were being properly represented by the Western Desert corporation during negotiations when one of its top executives had an undisclosed interest in a predetermined outcome?……………
In December 2011, Reward announced it would pay the Western Desert corporation $500,000 upon the signing of an agreement. Another $500,000 would come when mining began and there would also be royalties of 1.25per cent on potash sales. This money was meant to be held in trust for all Martu.
But the biggest prize was Reward’s issuing of 9.5million share options to the Western Desert corporation and Poynton’s Azure Capital, which was in effect the parent company of Indigenous Investment Management. The value of the options at the time was almost $10 million. The Martu will get millions more options as the project progresses.
With money now in the bank, the Western Desert corporation went on a spending spree. Despite its own rules banning the handing out of funds without the approval of all members, the board decided on February 16, 2012, to use the first $500,000 from Reward and $100,000 from the corporation’s operating budget to pay 30 select elders $20,000 each.
Five board members, including Biljabu’s brother, received $20,000 each. Another recipient had just finished his term as a director, and the parents of three board members were also paid. Wolf says ensuring money is properly handled is easier said than done. ‘‘Some Martu live on $9000 a year and so when money hits the account you say ‘that should go to education or something’ but it’s hard when you live in poverty.’’
Still, Farmer says many Martu people are bewildered by their board’s capitulation over Lake Disappointment. ‘‘Why did we fight so hard, only to let it go?’’
So where has the federal regulator been in all this? ORIC has long been aware of governance issues at Western Desert corporation. In 2010, it found the Western Desert corporation had failed to keep proper records, paid money to the board’s chair and deputy in breach of its rules and provided cars to directors – including Biljabu – without member approval. But no disciplinary action was taken against individuals responsible.
Farmer’s fight for answers has taken a toll. ‘‘I’ve been isolated, lost sleep, become ill and [been] made out to be the troublemaker who is stopping people getting their money,’’ he says.
Meanwhile, he says, the Martu communities have not benefited as much as they should have from the mining deals. ‘‘Go out into the communities and there is f— all to show for all the millions.’’………: http://www.smh.com.au/national/the-sorry-tale-of-lake-disappointment-the-missing-mining-millions-and-warren-mundine-20140711-zt2b8.html#ixzz37Iu9KYXJ