Australian news, and some related international items

Civil liberties out the door as Australia prepares for Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

CHOGM protest organisers claim homes raided, phones confiscated, WA Today Courtney Trenwith October 14, 2011 WA Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan said police would use all the powers at their disposal in the lead up to CHOGM after three protest organisers claimed their Perth homes were unfairly raided and accused police of heavy-handed tactics including surveillance and harassment……

One of the protestors, Colleen Bulger, claimed while her house was being ‘raided’ police suggested they had been conducting surveillance on her.  “They kept asking about CHOGM and were very interested in leaflets we had around the house,” Ms Bulger said.

“When they arrested me they kept saying ‘we know more than you think’, and suggesting that I had been under surveillance. “It’s absolutely harassment and an attempt to intimidate us into stopping lawful activities.”

The group said their phones were confiscated in what they claimed was a move by police to download information in “an unnecessary breach of privacy”. Seamus Doherty said his car was confiscated after he was released without charge.

Mr Doherty, who is disabled, said he told the police that his car and phone were his lifelines to work and family and without them he risked losing his job and was stressed. The third member of the group, who did not want to be named, was not at home during the alleged raid but claimed he was followed by police to university where he was arrested on Thursday morning.

“They implied that the suspected offence wasn’t what concerned them, and that it was the protest that they were interested in,” he said.  Pearl Lim, from civil rights action group Search For Your Rights, which is not associated with the CHOGM network, said the police action was heavy-handed.

“How can we claim to promote civil democracy across the Commonwealth when peaceful activists are intimidated by police in our own state?” she said. :

October 23, 2011 Posted by | civil liberties, Western Australia | | Leave a comment

Western Australia’s police already targeting protest groups before CHOGM

Facebook intelligence used to target CHOGM protesters, WA Today, Aja Styles October 20, 2011  Police have been using social media to gather intelligence and monitor the movements of protest groups in a bid to quell troublemakers during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Yesterday the first of the 700 interstate and overseas police began to filter into Perth for the international event, with a specialist team from New Zealand due in the coming days……. protest actions, such as the Anti-Corporate Greed and Anti-Wall Street movements, have been widely monitored through Facebook and Twitter.  Read more:

October 23, 2011 Posted by | civil liberties, Western Australia | | Leave a comment

Mike Rann sold South Australia short on Olympic Dam uranium mine

A case of Olympian incompetence by South Australia, THE AUSTRALIAN, BY:PAUL CLEARY ,October 21, 2011    THE royalty agreement negotiated by South Australia for BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam expansion has robbed the state’s citizens and all Australians of the opportunity to share in the profits of what will become the world’s biggest mine. (at left, Marius Kloppers CEO of BHP BIlliton, and Mike Rann, retiring Premier of South Australia.)

This deal is a monumental example of state government incompetence when it comes to acting as custodian of the nation’s mineral wealth.

South Australia has agreed to a regime based solely on percentages and even cents per tonne of the mine’s production. Mike Rann, who stands down today as Premier, has done South Australians a disservice that will cost them dearly for almost half a century. Continue reading

October 23, 2011 Posted by | Olympic Dam, politics, South Australia, uranium | , | Leave a comment

Senator Scott Ludlam refutes the spin of Australian Uranium Association

Uranium and health: industry has to face the unpleasant facts, SENATOR SCOTT LUDLAM, AUSTRALIAN GREENS SENATOR FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 22 Oct 11,  Mr. Michael Angwin of the Australian Uranium Association has objected to my statement to the ABC 1 that ‘Uranium mining has killed a lot of its workforce’, and has demanded I withdraw the comment.
I will do no such thing.
There is a well-established link between uranium mining and lung cancer. Continue reading

October 23, 2011 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster, uranium | Leave a comment

Michael Angwin spins about radiation for the Australian Uranium Association

Uranium miners accuse Greens of fearmongering, ABC News, Myles Morgan,  October 21, 2011  “…….Uranium association chief executive Michael Angwin says the industry is relatively safe.

“There have been two recorded fatalities in the Australian uranium industry, neither of them caused by radiation,” he said.

“There is no evidence of deaths from radiation in the Australian uranium industry.”

October 23, 2011 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, people, spinbuster, uranium | Leave a comment

Scandal of radiation caused illness in South Africa’s uranium workers

Nuclear illness scourgeThe new Age, Mel Frykberg, 20 Oct 11,  Exposure to uranium at South African nuclear facilities over the years has left dozens of people dead and hundreds of others terminally ill, an investigation by The New Age has revealed.  “These nuclear workers have been used and abused like cannon fodder and then abandoned without any care or compensation when they were no longer of any use to the nuclear industry,” said Mashile Phalane, the former coordinator of Earthlife Africa (ELA).

ELA and the Pelindaba Working Group – comprising ­ex-employees and antinuclear activists – are leading the battle to get compensation for victims. Former nuclear workers claim that they were not provided with protective clothing nor given the necessary medical attention when they were exposed to radiation.

Most claim they were given ­little or, in many cases, no financial compensation and in many cases were summarily dismissed once their symptoms became known.  The country’s nuclear watchdog, the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa), stands accused by activists involved in the long-running campaign to ensure justice for victims and their families, of destroying the lives of hundreds of ex-employees.

Waldemar Botha, 54, a former maintenance fitter at the Valindaba Uranium Enrichment Corporation at the Pelindaba nuclear complex, told The New Age: “I was ordered to take four months’ sick leave after twice being contaminated with high amounts of uranium.”  Botha worked directly with the components that were used to enrich uranium.

ELA also alleges that former Atteridgeville workers pursuing compensation claims received ­visits from Necsa officials at night, pressuring them to sign forms in exchange for being re-employed at higher wages – a claim denied by the nuclear watchdog.  “Previous media reports have been dismissed by Necsa and accusations of pressure on ­investigative journalists have circulated,” said Dominique Gilbert, who has worked with the Pelindaba Working Group.

October 23, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Still no radiation registering of Northern Territory’s uranium workers

NT URANIUM WORKERS STILL NOT ON NATIONAL REGISTER, GREENS SAY, Safe To Work, By Cole Latimer  20 October 2011  Uranium miners in the Northern Territory are still not on the National Radiation Dose Register, Greens senator Scott Ludlam says.  It comes five months after Ludlam originally brought the issue to bear in May, with Ludlam today again quizzing representatives from the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency on this issue.

“In July 2010 the register began collecting data on the radiation doses to which workers had been exposed. There are now over 18,000 workers on the database – covering about five years – but there is no information at all on the radiation workers have been exposed to at the Ranger Mine in the Northern Territory. We revealed this in May, and urged the Territory and Federal authorities to address it. ARPANSA told us today that nothing has changed, and to raise the issue with the office of energy and resources minister Martin Ferguson,” Ludlam said in a recent statement.

“We will write to Northern Territory Chief Minister Paul Henderson to encourage urgent action to fix this problem.”  The national register was created as a central database to track radiation dose histories of miners….. Under this new development, information on radiation doses will be sent to a central register, where miners can then access their personal records.

“Excluding work in the Northern Territory is a huge crack in the system, and it was revealed five months ago and NT uranium mine workers are still off the radiation dose radar. The system will only have integrity if all radiation doses are included,” Ludlam says…..

October 23, 2011 Posted by | health, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Marathon anti uranium walk will culminate at CHOGM in Perth, Western Australia

Environment: Uranium mine protests in Australia  Summit County Citizens Voice, October 11, 2011 by Bob Berwyn  Activists protest by marching from Wiluna to Perth   SUMMIT COUNTY — Together with activists from around the world, a group of native Aboriginal custodians is marching 1,200 kilometers across Western Australia to protest plans for a new mine by Toro Energy in Wiluna.

Concerns about uranium mining have heated up in Australia recently, following government approval of the Olympic Dam  minewhich would be the world’s largest open pit uranium mine.

“(It’s) is a very sad day for South Australia and Australia. Many people around the world will also be appalled at this decision by the Labour Party,” said Footprints for Peace organizer Marcus Atkinson.

“In December 2003, Footprints for Peace, having walked from Olympic Dam uranium mine to Hiroshima in Japan, learnt from Traditional Custodians about the destruction of sacred sites and the enormous amounts of water being taken from the Great Artesian Basin,” Atkinson said.

“In Japan we stayed in Fukushima and heard from locals about the dark future they envisioned for their community. This community’s nightmare has come true in a much more terrifying way than anyone could have imagined. An environmental ministers job should be to protect the environment, but as Tony Burke has demonstrated today it is more about big business and little to do with the environment and our children’s future,” he added.

The latest march, billed as the “Walk away from Uranium Mining”, is to inform the community of the dangers of this industry. The walk began  August 20 in Wiluna in Western Australia, the proposed uranium mine site of Toro Energy and will finish in Perth on October 27, coinciding with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting meeting. Continue reading

October 23, 2011 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

South Australia’s outgoing Premier contradicts Labor Party policy on uranium to India?

Rann changes tack on uranium sales to India, The Australian,  October 20, 2011    “…….The long-serving South Australian Premier, forced by Labor to hand his premiership over to Education Minister Jay Weatherill tomorrow morning, said it was time to think about agreeing to India’s desire to import uranium from Australia……. Mr Rann’s remarks came a week after he signed off on approvals for BHP Billiton’s proposal to expand the Olympic Dam mine in the state’s far north. “It will be the world’s biggest uranium mine,” he said.

Mr Rann was a longstanding opponent of uranium exports to India, and had called potential sales a “grave mistake” and “extremely foolhardy”. While India is Australia’s third-biggest export market, Labor is opposed to exporting uranium to a nation that has not signed the UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In September, Tony Abbott said the government had made a “great mistake” in reversing the Howard government’s decision to sell uranium to India……

Speaking from France, Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said the federal government’s policy was clear. “We will only supply uranium to countries that are signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and have signed a bilateral agreement with Australia,” he said…..

Australian Uranium Association chief executive Michael Angwin said it was not the Premier’s role to determine which countries uranium could be exported to.

October 23, 2011 Posted by | politics, South Australia | | Leave a comment

Australia’s Liberal Party’s new platform – Against renewable Energy

 the Coalition is becoming an anti-renewable energy party

Abbott opens new front in climate war, Unleashed, 19 Oct 11, This week Tony Abbott and the Coalition opened up a new front in their ideological war against climate change action and carbon pricing.

In a move reminiscent of the US Tea Party, renewable energy has become the new target of Australia’s conservative party.

Not content with the ‘blood pledge‘ to repeal the carbon price, Abbott lieutenants Joe Hockey and Andrew Robb announced that a Coalition government would scrap the Clean Energy Finance Council (CEFC). If well designed and administered, the body is a potentially useful aid for Australia’s transition to a 21st-Century clean economy. The plan to abolish the CEFC threatens $10 billion of investment: $5 billion exclusively for renewable energy and the remainder available for cleantech manufacturing, energy efficiency and enabling infrastructure.* Continue reading

October 23, 2011 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | 1 Comment

Corruption for years in Japan’s nuclear industry

Tepco ‘Deal With Devil’ Signals End to Japan’s Postwar Era, Bloomberg, October 21, 2011,

 “…….Tepco in 2002 admitted it had falsified maintenance reports at nuclear plants for more than two decades. Chairman Hiroshi Araki and President Nobuya Minami resigned to take responsibility.

Faked Records    In 2007, the utility said it hadn’t come entirely clean five years earlier and admitted to concealing at least six emergency stoppages at Dai-Ichi and a “critical” reaction at the plant’s No. 3 unit that lasted seven hours.

Kansai Electric, Chubu Electric Power Co., Tohoku Electric Power Co. and Hokuriku Electric Power Co. have also said they faked safety records.

“Accidents, mishaps, lies, duplicities — the postwar landscape of Japan’s nuclear power development is filled with fiascoes,” the University of Toronto’s Donnelly said.

Amid the accidents and fake safety reports, the underlying premise that resource-poor Japan had to rely on nuclear power was rarely questioned by the government, industry or the country’s bureaucrats……

The majority of opinion surveys show Japan’s public now opposes nuclear power. Sixty percent of respondents to a Mainichi newspaper poll published on Sept. 20 said they favor phasing out atomic energy…..

“The nuclear industry is a very Japanese bureaucracy in nature, similar to the Japanese army during World War II,” said Tetsunari Iida, executive director at the Tokyo-based Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies and a former nuclear industry official. “They don’t listen to anybody.”

Fukushima has ruptured the usual consensus within Japanese industry.

October 23, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment