Australian news, and some related international items

Why Australia should kick pollution politician Martin Ferguson out of the government Ministry

REMOVE MARTIN FERGUSON FROM ENERGY, by Tom Swann  (and Swann doesn’t even mention Ferguson’s unswerving loyalty to the nuclear lobby!  – C.M.) ) 

Here’s just a short list of what Fergo gets up to:

– He invited climate skeptics to launch their book at Parliament House;

– He had the AFP and private companies spy on climate volunteers and campaigners, under the pretence of protecting the energy supply–are we being tracked right now?;

– On a 16 person panel designing future energy policy, he chose only one from the renewables industry, and only after pressure;

– He’s infamous for his ‘open door’ to coal and gas lobbyists;

– He advocates massive expansion of coal and gas, and is pushing ahead with the new HRL coal plant despite HRL missing deadlines, community outrage and the PM’s promise for no new coal;

– He has a long history of holding back our struggling renewables industry, from irregular funding to poor program administration;

– For example, he is responsible for the poor design and continued delays in the Solar Flagships program, which hasn’t yet issued a single flagship grant;

– Gillard acknowledged he is a liability when she made sure he was not in charge of setting up the new Clean Energy Finance Corporation;

– As Ministerial Chair of the International Energy Agency, he ignores the IEA’s recent push for urgent climate action through strong support for big solar;

– Meanwhile, government reports overlook the projections, from the IEA and elsewhere, of rapidly falling renewables costs, especially in solar, as well as new evidence showing support for renewables can actually cut costs;

– He agitates for nuclear power in Australia, nevermind the cost, emissions impact and health risk (the recent Energy White Paper makes a big deal out nuclear power in Australia even while showing all too clearly how expensive it would be!);

– He wants Australia to become a global nuclear waste dump, and has started by  forcing a dump on Muckaty, a remote Aboriginal community that wants nothing to do with it – Senate debate on Muckaty started when everyone was focused on leadership spill!

– As the Minister for Tourism, he’s responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs provided by the Great Barrier Reef — many times more than in fossil fuels. But the reef is under extreme threat from climate change — and so are those jobs!


March 2, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Rare earths: what if Malaysia puts public health over Lynas’ profit?

Lynas languishes as Malaysian radiation protests grow, BY:BARRY FITZGERALD, The Australian, March 01, 2012 RARE-EARTHS stock Lynas cannot pull a trick at the moment. Uncertainty about its ability to win over the local community
at its soon-to-be completed finishing plant in Malaysia has driven the stock down 53 per cent from from its April 2011 peak of $2.60 a share to the $1.22 a share on offer at the close of trade yesterday.

Radiation fears surrounding the plant have become something of a cause celebre in Malaysia, prompting concerns that Lynas’s ability to make finished products from concentrates sent from its Mount Weld mining operation in Western Australia to fully maximise its returns is now under threat.

In the meantime, the West Australian government has amended the state’s Mining Act to impose a 2.5 per cent royalty on Mount Weld production. Rare earths is a new industry for the state and the 2.5 per cent rate has been part of the assumptions surrounding the Mount Weld project since Lynas got serious with feasibility studies into its integrated development, with the offshore finishing plant, in 2005…

.. Last weekend thousands of protesters rallied around the Malaysian plant, calling for its closure. Wong Tack, a key organiser of the event, said: “Malaysians have made our stand and we do not want this hazardous project.”

Protesters also attacked the Lynas website, which was still down yesterday.

March 2, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business | Leave a comment

Lynas’ radioactive waste: Malaysia doesn’t want it, Australia won’t take it back

How to dispose of the waste?  MY Sin Chew Daily,,  2012-03-01  By LIM SUE GOAN, Translated by  SOONG PHUI JEE,   Four government departments have earlier recommended that Lynas should ship back waste material produced by the refinery plant to Australia. They have a certain representativeness as four departments account for 16% of the total 25 departments.

It was reported that the Cabinet has accepted the recommendation and required Lynas to ship back all waste material back to Western Australia. It is indeed a positive development, but is it feasible or just a wishful thinking?

Western Australian Minister for Mines and Petroleum Norman Moore told the Parliament in April last year that the Australian Government would not accept responsibility for any waste produced by Lynas. Continue reading

March 2, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, wastes | Leave a comment

German tourist deported by India for being anti-nuclear

German tourist’s deportation from Koodankulam: Dr. R S Mohan Lal’s Statement Statement of Dr.R.S.Lal Mohan, Nagercoil regarding the News item about the German tourist Mr.Rainer.

Mr.Rainer is a tourist spending his own money. He was staying in a very low budget hotel spending Rs.200/- per day as tariff. He could not afford to pay costly accommodation. He is a very frugal man living a simple life. After working as a computer technologist he saved the money for being a tourist. He used to spend his retired life in India. Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia and Loas as life is cheap in these countries. Even he has lost weight because of Indian food which causes dysentery. He has only 2 or 3 pairs of dress. Computer is his only companion. He loves travel. He calls me sometimes to inform me about the dolphins. He is a Nature lover talks to me about nature and tree planting. He has a high degree of social consciousness and refined behavior

It is absolutely wrong to think he funded any NGOs and supported the Anti-Koodankulam agitation. He has no money to so. Any if the Govt. has proof that he supported the agitation by paying Rs.500 crores, he should have been detained in India instead of deporting him. Now he has no way to deny the charges.

It is wrong on the part of police to treat him shabbly. India is inviting tourists and many people come to Kanyakumari District as tourist. The treatment of Mr.Rainer will carry wrong impression on the tourist from Germany.

As for as I know that Mr.Rainer never gave any donation to any NGO. It is totally false that he funded the Koodankulam agitation. The Nuclear prolobby want to mislead the people that the foreigners life Rainer support the anti koodankulam agitation.

Thank You, (Dr.R.S.Lal Mohan) Conservation of Nature Trust, 43c, Water Tank Road, Nagercoil-1, 28.2.2012, Nagercoil

March 2, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Stronger Futures” legislation, an indignity to all Australians, not only to Aborigines

They are policies that have been shamelessly trialled on the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory and that are now to be imposed on other so-called areas of disadvantage across Australia. The degrading trail of internal colonisation continues, discriminating one moment on the basis of race and the next moment on the basis of class.

The ‘Stronger Futures’ legislation might strengthen the futures of the powerful but it is an attempt to weaken the dignity of those who are subjected to its control.

Picking the scab of colonisation, Eureka Street JOHN FALZON MARCH 01, 2012

There’s a deep wound in Australia.

There’s a gash in our story.

It is a wound that is known by different names:





It is still with us. Continue reading

March 2, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Australia positioned to lead in renewable energy, says global engineering investor ABB

ABB undeterred by carbon tax controversy, BY:SARAH-JANE TASKER , The Australian , March 02, 2012   GLOBAL engineering company ABB Group will continue investing in its Australian arm despite the political upheaval. ….. ABB, one of the largest engineering companies in the world with a market value of about $38 billion, is targeting the renewable energy sector as a significant growth area. It believes Australia is in pole position because of the carbon tax.

ABB Australia country manager Axel Kuhr said the company had not given up on the renewables sector in Australia, despite the opposition’s promise to scrap the carbon tax.

Its confidence in the sector was reflected in its decision in November to buy Darwin-based Powercorp, a renewable power automation company.

“All the discussions around the carbon tax and the delay around that wasn’t helpful but we believe global warming is happening and that countries are really looking at doing something about it,” Mr Kuhr said. “This is a sector where we see further growth in the future years.”

ABB describes itself as a global leader in power and automation technology that enables utilities and industrial users to improve their performance while reducing their environmental impact.

“Our equipment is geared to help our customers save energy, so for us (the carbon tax) should generate new business as it helps companies look to make carbon tax savings,” Mr Kuhr said.

He said wind and solar power would take off in the long term, and prices would fall……

March 2, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Australia’s big utility industries holding back renewable energy development

frustration from having its wind farm development options restricted by the dominance of the big three energy utilities.

 the secretary of the Department of Energy, Drew Clarke, conceded that the market power of the three big retailers and their impact on the deployment of large scale renewables was an issue that was being monitored.

Big three utilities hindering renewable energy, BY:GILES PARKINSON, :The Australian , March 02, 2012  AFTER spending more than three years waiting for Australia’s dominant energy utilities to sign contracts to build new wind farms, the country’s largest renewable energy developers have decided to take matters into their own hands and write the contracts themselves.

The announcement by Pacific Hydro last week that it would establish its own energy retailer by July 1 was driven primarily by its immediate need to find an off-take agreement for the power to be generated by the 150MW Moree Solar Farm.

Without it, the consortium in which PacHydro is involved had little chance of retaining the tender for the Solar Flagships project. But the decision to push into retailing has been brewing for some time and could provide some interesting dynamics as Australia embarks on a $20 billion-plus spend to meet the country’s 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020. Continue reading

March 2, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Nuclear submarines for Australia? – drawing us further into the American military machine

 the Australian fleet could be maintained at a US base in the Pacific Ocean or a US nuclear submarine base could be established in Australia.” That is, the proposal could provide the rationale to construct a new facility on Australian territory jointly operated with the US military.

All these moves would be viewed in China as highly aggressive. 

US ambassador suggests nuclear submarine sale to Australia, World Socialist Website, By Oliver Campbell 29 February 2012 A front page article in the Australian Financial Review on February 22 reported that the US ambassador in Canberra, Jeffrey Bleich, has floated the possibility of Washington selling or leasing nuclear submarines to Australia—a first for any country.
While Defence Minister Stephen Smith restated the Labor Party’s position that it would not consider the “nuclear option”, the report is a further indication of Washington’s moves to strengthen military ties with Australia as it aggressively confronts China….. Continue reading

March 2, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Tasmania’s unique opportunity as leader in renewable energy

Opportunities for Tasmania in the impacts of climate change, 1 March 2012 The Tasmanian Energy Forum was opened in Hobart today with an address from Minister for Climate Change and energy efficiency, Cassy O’Connor, outlining the opportunities that co-exist with the impacts of climate change.

“Tasmania has an opportunity like no other state in Australia to become a leader in renewable technology,” she said. “Through our early investment into renewable energy technology, Tasmania is perfectly positioned to become a green battery for mainland Australia and an economic powerhouse in a carbon constrained  world.

“We have the Climate Futures work from the Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems CRC that tells us how rainfall patterns will change, what to expect in the way of extreme events like flooding and bushfire, and which parts of our state will suffer more severe frost, and longer dry spells.

“The change in rain patterns will affect flows into our hydro dams, investment in renewable energy production must happen now if we are to maintain our competitive advantage.  “We have amazing opportunities in:

Renewable energy with excellent wind resources, and potential in solar, tidal and geothermal
Energy efficiency across industry, business and the community with big in roads into energy efficiency upgrades in public housing, and
Innovative and sustainable agriculture, and a sustainable forestry industry

“The time is now to act upon advice from the Tasmanian Renewable Energy Industry Development Board, to secure our clean, green, energy future.”

March 2, 2012 Posted by | energy, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Children of the Tsunami to screen on ABC television on 11 March

Children tell their story of Fukushima New Scientist  29 February 2012 Film Tiffany O’Callaghan, CultureLab editor  “….of the many voices to weigh in on the legacy of the disasters in coming weeks, it is unlikely many will belong to children.

Award-winning film-maker Dan Reed isn’t content with that. Eager to tell the story of the tsunami and subsequent nuclear fallout from a fresh perspective, he decided to lower his camera a little. His new documentary, Children of the Tsunami, lets the little ones whose lives were forever altered by last year’s events tell their own stories. Gesturing with a downturned palm, Reed explains, “I hope you feel it’s a film that’s down here with the kids, rather than up here with the adults.”….  The film also looks at the fear of radiation exposure among former residents of what is now the exclusion zone – a 20-kilometre-radius zone around the Fukushima Daiichi plant. We meet 10-year-old Ayaka, whose gap-toothed grin belies last year’s troubles. Her grandfather was lost in the tsunami, and now she attends a school on the periphery of the exclusion zone, donning a hat and protective mask to go outside. At home, her dad uses a handheld Geiger counter to measure radiation levels, telling his daughter levels are too high wherever there is grass and limiting her play to a square of asphalt by their temporary home. No one knows when, or if, people from the exclusion zone will be allowed to go back to their homes……

Children of the Tsunami was written, directed and produced by Dan Reed for Renegade Pictures and the BBC. It will be broadcast in the UK on BBC2 at 9 pm on Thursday 1 March, on 5 March on ARD in Germany and on 11 March on VPRO in Holland, DR in Denmark, ABC in Australia, CBC in Canada and SVT in Sweden.

March 2, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Hypocrisy in Indian government condemning “foreign” anti-nuclear movement

The anti-nuclear movement today is a pointer to the huge crisis that India and the world is facing.

the same movement is also opposing American reactors coming up in Gujarat, French EPRs coming up in Jaitapur and indigenous reactors being constructed in places like Chutka and Fatehabad.

How ‘Foreign’ Is The Anti-Nuclear Movement In India?, Counter Currents,  By P K Sundaram 29 February, 2012 The Indian Prime-Minister has started an open tirade against the movement opposing the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant. In his recent interview, he alleged that it is “foreign-hand” and NGOs with American funding that are blocking India’s progress, not only in nuclear energy but also in GMOs.

It is one occasion where we can agree with our Prime Minister. It is important to understand today that the anti-nuclear movement in the country is a voice from beyond the existing system. Entirely foreign to the Manmohan Singh’s imagination of India.

The ‘illiterate’ fisherfolk in Koodankulam today earn at least thrice more than what they would earn in the employment guarantee scheme if they become part of the Manmohan-land governed by primitive market policies. Through opposing the reactor, a sustainably-living community is basically refusing to be part of the neo-liberal India. It is not only foreign to our PM’s imagination, it is essentially opposite to what his economics stands for.

The local administration in Jaitapur, in its attempt to ‘reach out’ and ‘educate’ people after their massive protests, went to the Madban village with vehicles loaded with armed men. Nobody from the village came out to welcome them except an old women who asked: if you have come to talk, whom are you afraid of? Why all this battalion? This moral landscape of dignity of the Jaitapur women definitely has no space in the India that Manmohan Singh, Ahluwalia, Chidambaram and other ex-employees of the World Bank and IMF want to impose on us.

The compensation amount for land in Haryana, for the nuclear power plants in Gorakhpur (Fatehabad district), has been raised dramatically over last 2 years. This month, it was raised to 34 hundred thousands rupees per acre of land. This is an unthinkable amount in India for farmers. One of the main reasons to plan a reactor in Haryana, criminally overlooking other requisites of setting-up reactors, was the assumption that farmers there are more likely to agree on better compensation. But the farmers of Gorakhpur and surrounding villages have refused to accept this amount, at the cost of their health, safety and livelihoods, particularly after Fukushima. This is beyond the neo-liberal mindset of our ruling class, where nothing is more than just a commodity. Continue reading

March 2, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment