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
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