Australia sells itself as a nation that can teach the world about responsible mining – Afghanistan is one willing student – but the record suggests our corporations have a callous disregard for the rights of civilians.
Why is it left to US NGOs to expose Australian mining’s wrongdoing in Africa? Antony Loewenstein, Guardian , 27 july 15
There are hundreds of Australian mining companies working in Africa, but just one full-time Australian journalist. What does that mean for accountability? Australian miners are making a killing overseas. With little regulation or oversight, billions of dollars are being made in some of the most remote places on Earth.
The necessity of partnering with autocratic regimes has proved no impediment to investment. Human rights have been breached. Victims are largely invisible.
None of this should be surprising. If Australian companies operating internationally are mentioned in the media, it appears in the business pages and discusses the strengths of a CEO or share price. Rio Tinto, for example, receives largely uncritical coverage despite in the 1980s the corporation facing serious allegations of human rights abuses around the world, including in Papua New Guinea.
Two American non-profit media organisations, the Centre for Public Integrity and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, recently bucked the trend and released a stunning report, Fatal Extraction, on Australian mining companies working in Africa (in which no allegations were made against Rio Tinto). How revealing that this research was led from America and not Australia itself.
The findings of the report, produced in collaboration with African journalists on the ground, were shocking.
From the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Malawi, grim details of death, maiming and police and army brutality were revealed. Continue reading
So that’s the game plan − making absurd claims about Generation IV reactors, pretending that they are near-term prospects, and being less than “abundantly clear” about the truth. Time for these people to be held to account and for Brook to be removed from the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s ‘expert panel’.
On the troubled worldwide history with fast reactors, see the report by the International Panel on Fissile Materials.
Barry Brook being less than “abundantly clear” about Generation IV reactors Jim Green, June 2015, www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear/issues/oz/barry-brook-bravenewclimate An 18 June 2015 guest post on Barry Brook’s website claims that Generation IV fast neutron reactors will be mass produced and “dominating the market by about 2030.”
Compare that Big Fat Lie with the following:
- The Generation IV International Forum states: “Depending on their respective degree of technical maturity, the FIRST Generation IV systems are expected to be deployed commercially around 2030-2040.” (emphasis added)
- The International Atomic Energy Agency states: “Experts expect that the FIRST Generation IV fast reactor DEMONSTRATION PLANTS AND PROTOTYPES will be in operation by 2030 to 2040.” (emphases added)
- A 2015 report by the French government’s Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) states: “There is still much R&D to be done to develop the Generation IV nuclear reactors, as well as for the fuel cycle and the associated waste management which depends on the system chosen.”
IRSN is also sceptical about safety claims: “At the present stage of development, IRSN does not notice evidence that leads to conclude that the systems under review are likely to offer a significantly improved level of safety compared with Generation III reactors, except perhaps for the VHTR …” Moreover the VHTR (very high temperature reactor) system could bring about significant safety improvements “but only by significantly limiting unit power”.
- The World Nuclear Association noted in 2009 that “progress is seen as slow, and several potential [Generation IV] designs have been undergoing evaluation on paper for many years.”
IPA uses Australian tax breaks to help fund U.S. climate skeptic’s libel defence Independent Australia DeSmog Blog 16 May 2015 Environment charities like the ACF face having their Deductible Gift Recipient status stripped by the Abbott government, yet corporate mouthpiece, IPA, keep theirs to help fund U.S. climate skeptic Mark Steyn’s libel suit. Graham Readfearn fromDeSmogBlog reports.
WHEN THE facts on climate change become inconvenient or they start to rub your ideology or vested interest up the wrong way, then there are really only two options available.
Option one is to change your mind. Option two is to try and change, distort, misrepresent or just outright ignore the flood of scientific studies over decades showing the serious impacts of loading the biosphere with fossil fuel emissions.
Mark Steyn is a prominent conservative polemicist and writer in the United States and Canada who has chosen option two.
Australian “free market” think-tank The Institute of Public Affairs chose option two in the late 1980s and has stuck with it since.
Now a climate misinformation book produced by the IPA and paid for with the help of tax breaks in Australia is seemingly helping to finance Steyn in a high profile libel case.
So there are two stories to tell here – one about the libel case and the other about the book. The two meet up at the end……..
The IPA keeps its funders a secret, although its supporters are known to include billionaire mining magnate Gina Rinehart and at least one major tobacco company.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the country’s Treasurer Joe Hockey, News Corporation head Rupert Murdoch are all big fans.
The IPA holds Deductible Gift Recipient status with Australia’s tax office, which means that anyone giving money to the think tank for certain prescribed activities, such as research, can claim a tax break on their donation.
Last year, the IPA started fundraising to produce a book called “Climate Change: The Facts” which, when you glance at the list of contributors, should have its semi-colon shifted forward to better reflect the contents. It should really be Climate: Change The Facts.
The IPA decided it would use its DGR status to encourage people to donate cash towards producing the book, which the IPA said would cost about $175,000.
As I wrote on DeSmog last year, this meant Australia’s tax revenue would be a tiny bit reduced so a bunch of climate science deniers could spout their usual conspiratorial mush.
Mark Steyn, who has previously toured Australia thanks to the IPA, was one contributor. He has said the book will help “push back against the climate mullahs”………
The book has been produced and is now on sale internationally.
But according to retailers Amazon and Kobo, the book’s publisher is not the IPA but “Stockade Books” – a venture that’s actually owned by Mark Steyn. ……..https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/ipa-uses-australian-tax-breaks-to-help-fund-us-climate-skeptics-libel-defense,7715
Alannah MacTiernan says proposal to fund centre at the University of Western Australia came ‘directly from the prime minister’s office’ A research centre linked to controversial Danish academic Bjørn Lomborg was earmarked for the University of Western Australia through a “corrupt” process initiated by the prime minister’s office, parliament has been told.
The university backed out of the proposal, which was to have been funded by the federal government, after protests by staff and students.The West Australian Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan said on Tuesday that science has been the big loser under the Abbott government.
She said it was curious that the government had found $4m for the Australian Consensus Centre, a think tank which had at its heart a commitment to cherry-pick the scientific evidence which argued against urgent action on climate change.
MacTiernan said the education minister Christopher Pyne says the decision to fund the centre at UWA followed a proposal put forward by the university and Lomborg, but vice-chancellor Paul Johnson said the proposal was not initiated by the university.
The proposal arose out of discussions between Lomborg and the government, MacTiernan said. “It seems the offer came directly from the prime minister’s office and came to UWA only after the Australian Catholic University had rejected it,” she said.
“Extraordinarily, this special research initiative didn’t come through the Australian Research Council or any peer review.” It was a “corrupt process”, she said.
Remote sites in South Australia offered for nuclear dump , THE AUSTRALIAN, 9 May 15 Michael Owen Up to four sites in South Australia’s far north have been put forward as potential radioactive waste dumps.
The federal government, however, is officially remaining tight-lipped about the response to its call in March for voluntary site nominations for a national radioactive waste facility, which closed on Tuesday.Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane’s office refused yesterday to say how many nominations had been received or where they had originated.
“There won’t be details or a breakdown of nominated sites released at this early stage,” a spokeswoman said. “Information about shortlisted sites will be released after an initial assessment period and after consideration by the minister. That is expected to be completed around July.”
A preferred site is not expected to be identified until at least the middle of next year.
This week the government released a request for tender on Austender, seeking expressions of interest from “suitable companies to undertake the necessary site characterisation work”.
The request also seeks the successful tenderer to assist in the “development of a detailed business case which will inform the government’s decision as to whether to proceed with the project and its cost”.
Federal Liberal MP Rowan Ramsey said his vast electorate of Grey, in South Australia’s far north, was an ideal site for a radioactive waste dump as it was remote, sparsely populated and geologically stable. He said he had tried to nominate his own 2400ha farm, but was asked not to by Mr Macfarlane because of concerns of a potential conflict of interest.
“But as a consequence my understanding is there have been a number of other properties nominated in my community. I’ve encouraged people right across the board to nominate,” Mr Ramsey said. “I understand as many as four sites have been nominated in my electorate.”
The search for a site intensified last year after the federal government failed to convince a Northern Territory community to build a facility on its land.
This comes as South Australia’s royal commission into an expansion of the state’s role in the nuclear cycle picks up pace. Among other issues, the commission will examine whether to store international radioactive waste……..http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/remote-sites-in-south-australia-offered-for-nuclear-dump/story-fn59niix-1227347545498
The information is based on documents leaked by National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden. Greenwald’s article, How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations, is based on four classified documents produced by the British spy agency GCHQ, and presented to the NSA and three other English speaking agencies reportedly part of “The Five Eyes Alliance.”
In this shocking piece, Greenwald publishes a copy of a spy training manual used entitled: “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.” Greenwald writes that agencies like the NSA are “attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.” Greenwald writes: Continue reading
Energy company’s $11 billion transfer to Singapore rings tax avoidance alarm bells, The Age, April 4, 2015 – Heath Aston Political reporter An energy company operating in Australia transferred more than $11 billion to the low-tax jurisdiction of Singapore in a single year, heightening concerns that Australia is being duped by tax-minimising multinationals.
The extraordinary scale of funds being moved out of the country by individual companies is revealed in an internal Australian Tax Office memo, obtained under Freedom of Information.
It lists 10 companies that channelled a combined $31.4 billion from Australia to Singapore in the 2011-2012 financial year.
An estimated $60 billion in so-called “related parties” transactions went from Australia to tax havens in the same year.
The Tax Office is particularly concerned about mining and energy companies extracting Australian minerals which have established “marketing hubs” in Singapore that appear to have little use other than as a destination for shifted profits. Continue reading
WA uranium mine approved despite looming corruption investigation, WA Today March 6 Steve Holland WA Environment Minister Albert Jacob approved a controversial uranium mine proposal on Thursday despite a looming investigation into the dealings of representatives of the traditional owners of the land.
Cameco Australia, in a joint venture project with Mitsubishi Development, acquired the Kintyre uranium deposit in WA’s remote Pilbara region in 2008 and the final stages of approval are edging closer.
But dealings of the representatives of the local Martu people, including the business practices of the Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation, are currently under investigation by the Office of Regional Indigenous Corporations, or ORIC. Continue reading
the previously secret deal followed the Liberal Party’s federal council meeting in June at which it unanimously supported an international waste dump being built in Australia.
Australia next ‘nuclear dump’ http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2007/07/20/australia-next-nuclear-dump The Wilderness Society has warned a deal between Prime Minister John Howard and US President George W Bush to join an exclusive global nuclear club would ensure Australia became the dumping ground for the world’s nuclear waste. Source: 20 JUL 2007 UPDATED 22 AUG 2013
The ministers for foreign affairs and resources had urged Mr Howard to announce the joint nuclear energy plan during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation visit in Sydney in September, Fairfax newspapers reported.
“The proposed action plan would help to open the way for valuable nuclear energy co-operation with the United States,” the briefing note says.
“It would also be consistent with the government’s strategy for the nuclear industry in Australia. Continue reading
Isn’t this just dandy? The Australian government can’t afford to fund services to the needy in health, education, and is doing its darndest to kill clean energy, but is quietly promoting nuclear energy. And not conventional nuclear energy, which is bad enough, but the untested, hugely costly thorium experiment – the same one that was tried and found unviable 50 years ago
ANSTO-SINAP Joint Research Centre, 16 Jan 15 In December 2012, ANSTO signed a memorandum of understanding with the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (SINAP) for cooperation in the area of materials research and development.
Will Tony Abbott to stand up for Australia on the TPP? http://action.sumofus.org/a/australia-tpp/2/2/ Abbott’s government has confirmed they’re getting ready to crack down on internet freedom to comply with the TPP — including a “three strikes” provision that forces ISPs to monitor and police our activity online.
Tony Abbott’s trade minister is about to sign a secret, global pact to allow corporations to sue the Australian government for billions — just for passing laws to protect our health or the environment.
Tony Abbott wants us to believe the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is all about getting a better deal for ordinary Australians. But the truth is that it could end up being one of the biggest corporate power grabs in a generation.
Abbott and his cronies are refusing to make the deal public (although corporate lobbyists seem to be getting the inside track) — making it hard to know just what’s in the TPP. But leaks so far indicate this is bad news. That’s why Tony Abbott wants it to stay confidential — he’d prefer to quietly sign away our rights without a big fuss.
This deal is too important to leave to the politicians: it could affect the lives of Australians for generations to come. Continue reading
Yet another tentacle in the octopus of multi-national corporations’ attempt to achieve dictatorial control, the Trade In Services Agreement (TISA) is intended to eliminate government regulations in the “professional services” such as accounting and engineering but goes well beyond that, proposing sweeping de-regulation of the Internet and the financial industry.
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