Australian news, and some related international items

Australia will NOT be getting radiation “backscatter” airport scanners.

Christina Macpherson, 6 June 12Contrary to a report in the Sun Herald today  (  the radiation hazards of “backscatter” scanning will not be hitting Australians at our airports.

Australia will be getting the safer type , see

Report on  Aviation Transport Security Amendment (Screening) Bill 2012

The report of the Committee into this Bill was issued last week, and recommended against back scatters for people.  While it may be possible some time in the future to use them for some special case, this is most unlikely.  Australia does not have the radiation type of scanner,  and it is highly expensive. The report can be read at .

  Additional Comments  from Senator Scott Ludlam, Australian Greens
 1.1 The Australian Greens referred this bill to an inquiry because of the privacy and health concerns elaborated in several submissions.
1.2 While these issues have been examined in the Committee’s report and the government amendment prohibiting the storage and transmittal of images is welcome, the health problems experienced overseas with back-scatter scanners that use ionising radiation are serious enough to warrant more attention. These issues provide compelling reasons to reject outright the use of ionising backscatter x-ray equipment, rather than limit it to ‘certain clearly defined exceptional circumstances,’ (Recommendation 2), especially as other technology is available.
1.3 The EU has banned the use of backscatter body scanners because of the possible health risks to passengers and staff. They continue to be used in the USA where passengers have the right to request a frisk search as an alternative. Documents before a USA Federal Court indicate that the health implications of the use of this type of technology have been grossly understated by authorities. The presence of a cancer cluster at Logan Airport in Boston has been documented.
1.4 The Australian Greens support the Committee’s recommendation that frisk searches should continue to be an alternative to body scanners (Recommendation 1) and that the government should ensure that screening technology is thoroughly tested for compliance with health regulations (Recommendation 3).
1.5 The Australian Greens note that conducting inquiries ‘on the papers’ might appear to save time, however, clarifying the intention of proposed legislation with experts and Departments at public hearings saves numerous questions on notice and informal information seeking that were necessary in this case.

June 6, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, technology | 2 Comments

Nuclear power not viable for South Australia, says Premier Jay Weatherill

SA Premier rejects nuclear argument THE AUSTRALIAN  June 05, 2012 Premier Jay Weatherill says the South Australian Government remains opposed to nuclear energy as an avenue to cutting carbon

.. Mr Weatherill says using nuclear energy is not on the table. “It doesn’t represent the policy of this Government,” he said. “Leaving aside the broader objections, there is a practical, financial objective that means that nuclear power for South Australia is unlikely to be viable.”

June 6, 2012 Posted by | politics, South Australia | | Leave a comment

New report on the prospects for solar thermal energy

CSP: It needs a new way of thinking about energy REneweconomy, By    6 June 2012 A new report outlining the prospects of solar thermal energy has underlined its enormous potential for Australia, saying it could provide between a third and even one half of the nation’s energy needs, but notes it may require a new of thinking about energy production and delivery. Continue reading

June 6, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | | Leave a comment

The true value of Concentrated Solar Power is underestimated

market mechanisms are a long way from recognising and rewarding the full value of CSP – 100 per cent renewable, zero carbon, zero waste, dispatchable power – as compared with incumbent coal, gas and diesel.

As Australia considers how to gain best advantage from the huge investment we will make in our electricity system in the coming 20 years, the evidence points to solar thermal power as having very significant value for Australia – value our markets are not currently reflecting….

Not all electrons are created equal REneweconomy, By  on 6 June 2012 All electrons look the same, so the saying goes. It only matters that the electricity comes out of the consumer’s power point when needed. Modern economies and consumers demand reliability of electricity supply. The question modern electricity markets need to answer is, what is the most economically efficient way to meet that expectation? And that question is about value, not cost.

The new report, Realising the Potential of Concentrating Solar Power in Australia, confirms that, as much as they may all look the same, not all electrons are created equal – some are indeed more valuable than others.

Commissioned by the Australian Solar Institute (ASI) and undertaken by international renewable energy consultancy IT Power, the report is the result of an extensive 12 month collaborative review involving Australian Solar Thermal Energy Association (AUSTELA), the Clean Energy Council, the Australian Solar Energy Society, CSIRO and Boston Consulting Group.

The report confirms that assessments of the costs of concentrating solar thermal power used in Australia for many years are well and truly outdated. Continue reading

June 6, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | | Leave a comment

Solar power about to boom in Japan

The recent rush by home owners to cover their roofs with panels and companies to build “mega solar” farms have made solar cells a hot commodity.

“We are almost at grid parity here. Think of what would happen if Japan allows things to run their natural course and solar reaches grid parity

That all of Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors lie dormant amid public concern in the wake of Fukushima is an added boost for solar power

Solar makers bet on Japan nuclear crisis being a game-changer  

* Solar power firms to get boost from feed-in tariff

* Foreign players looking to grab slice of Japan’s solar market

* Companies say FIT will encourage economies of scale

* Public faith in nuclear power still in tatters after Fukushima

By Shinichi Saoshiro TOKYO, June 5 (Reuters) – Solar power firms are betting that the nuclear crisis in Japan will become a game-changer for renewable energy in the world’s third largest economy, with new foreign entrants such as Canadian Solar looking to go toe-to-toe there with some of the biggest utilities in Asia.

They will be given a big helping hand next month when the government introduces a generous subsidy for renewable energy via a so-called feed-in tariff (FIT), in a bid to encourage alternative energy sources, which currently only generate about 1 percent of power in Japan.

The FIT, which excludes large hydro-electric schemes, will require utilities to buy electricity generated by renewable sources such as solar, wind and geothermal heat at a premium for 20 years. Continue reading

June 6, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Majority of Australians oppose sale of uranium to India

‘Most Australians against Uranium sale to India’, Hindustan Times, Melbourne, June 05, 2012 The Australian government might have overturned a ban on uranium sale to India but a majority of people in the country still appear opposed to the idea of selling the mineral to New Delhi. In a new survey, a majority of Australians were found to be
against the recent Labor party decision of lifting ban on Uranium sale to India with 61% opposing it.

“More than 60% of Australians say they are against ‘Australia selling uranium to India’, with 39% saying they are ‘strongly against’,” according to the eight annual Lowy Institute poll 2012.

In December 2011, the Australian Labor Party had overturned a ban on the sale of uranium to India following a heated national conference debate.

The results were published by the Lowy institute Poll after a nationally representative opinion survey of 1,005 Australian adults was done……

June 6, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Opposition to nuclear | | Leave a comment

Queensland’s government in the service of fossil fuel industries

Premier Newman can do climate denial, REneweconomy ,  By    6 June 2012 
Just in case anyone was in any doubt, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman reminded Australia earlier this week that his state was most certainly “in the coal business” and that protecting the Great Barrier Reef wouldn’t come before fossil fuel exports.

But as well as being “in the coal business”, it appears that Premier Newman and his environment minister Andrew Powell are taking their first steps into the business of climate science denial.

Minister Powell repeated a statement he had made to ABC’s Radio National that he was not convinced that humans were having an impact on climate change, a position which immediately puts him at odds with every national scientific academy in the world, the advice from his own chief scientist and the position of the CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and the United Nations.

While Minister Powell made a point of saying that the environment should be protected (what else could the environment minister say, after all) his boss, Premier Campbell Newman, decided his minister’s view on climate change was “refreshing“. I’d choose a different word……

The Queensland Government’s own Office of Climate Change, which Premier Newman is in the process of closing, outlined the impact of sea level rise on the state in it’s “Climate Change in Queensland” report two years ago. A half metre rise in sea level would likely increase the chances of extreme events such as flooding from occuring once every 100 years to several times a year. As a former mayor of Brisbane, which experience devastating floods a little over a year ago, you might think the Premier may have taken some interest……

Hinting that we should be waiting until we’re 100 per cent sure what will happen before we take firm action, is a bit like saying you’re happy to drive your car at double the speed limits because no-one can say for sure that you’ll definitely crash. And while everyone has heard the stories of a grandparent who smoked 50 cigarettes a day and lived until they were 90, most people acknowledge that smoking massively increases your chances of dying of cancer.

Perhaps the Premier’s statements are instead an attempt to offset his own cognitive dissonance – the sick feeling that you get inside when you try and hold two conflicting positions simultaneously……. The then Lord Mayor [ Campbell Newman in 2009] even launched the Green Heart City Smart scheme, with its ubiquitous “I [green heart] Brisbane” catchphrase and branding.

It seems now though, that Mr Newman’s heart is conflicted with coal and climate science denial.

June 6, 2012 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | | Leave a comment

Will Tony Abbott say “yes” to the Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards Bill (GEMS)

One hopes that Tony Abbott might expand his vocabulary from ‘no’ in this particular case. After all it was under the Coalition’s watch that the energy efficiency standards and labelling program started to make an impact. Minimum standards for the energy efficiency of residential and commercial buildings, refrigerators, water heaters, fluorescent tubes, air conditioners, electric motors, and transformers were put in place by the Howard government. Indeed, thanks to Malcolm Turnbull, we started a worldwide trend in phasing out conventional incandescent light globes that create 99 times more heat than light.

Abbott’s power bill ‘yes’ test, CLIMATE SPECTATOR, Tristan Edis, 5 Jun 2012  A little noticed piece of legislation was introduced into parliament last week which is likely to make a big difference to energy bills and carbon emissions – the Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards Bill (GEMS).
This bill aims to move the country toward a single national system for implementing and enforcing minimum standards of energy efficiency and energy rating labels, instead of the current state-based model we currently have.

What many people may not realise is that the measures which have made the greatest impact to date on reducing Australia’s energy emissions have nothing to do with renewable energy, or natural gas, or clean
coal. Instead it has been lots of little incremental improvements in the energy efficiency of mundane things like refrigerators, light bulbs, houses, office buildings, water heaters, air-conditioners, televisions, and electric motors driven by regulated minimum standards and mandatory energy rating labels. Continue reading

June 6, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency | Leave a comment

Hypocrisy of Australian govt in helping USA against Julian Assange

The Australian government has liaised closely with the US from the beginning of the US WikiLeaks investigation, which rapidly gathered steam following Bradley Manning’s arrest in Iraq in March 2010. 

the released cables showed that the Australian embassy had confirmed through US officials that the US Justice Department was conducting an ”active and vigorous inquiry into whether Julian Assange can be charged under US law, most likely the 1917 Espionage Act”. 

ever anxious to demonstrate its loyalty to the US alliance, the Australian government has not uttered any objection to the prospect that Assange may be prosecuted for espionage.

Ministers cagey over Assange, The Age, Philip Dorling, June 2, 2012, Julian Assange fears extradition to Sweden to be questioned about sexual assault allegations.
PRIME Minister Julia Gillard, Attorney-General Nicola Roxon and Foreign Minister Bob Carr all sang from the same hymn sheet this week on the continuing legal saga of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange. But they chose their words very carefully.

The issue was whether the United States intends to charge and extradite Assange – the Australian journalist labelled by US Vice-President Joe Biden as ”a high-tech terrorist” – with criminal offences for WikiLeaks’ publication of hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic reports…..

Well aware of successive polls that show a high level of support for WikiLeaks and Assange across the Australian political spectrum, the Australian government has been insistent this week that it has no knowledge whatsoever of any intention by the US to prosecute and extradite the WikiLeaks publisher……. Continue reading

June 6, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies, Wikileaks | | Leave a comment

Aboriginal opposition to “Stronger Futures” laws is growing

In recent weeks a group of traditional owners representing 8000 people in west, central and east Arnhem Land wrote to the prime minister and others calling for the scrapping of the Stronger Futures laws.

Northeast of Alice Springs, Alyawarr homeland communities – including Lake Nash, Utopia and Ampilatwatja, covering 3500 people – also pledged to fight the laws.

Indigenous groups angry at intervention 9 News Jun 5 2012, Xavier La Canna.   Two more Aboriginal groups have joined calls for the federal government to abandon laws that would intensify intervention in indigenous communities.

On Tuesday the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) and the Tangentyere Council became the latest groups to speak out about the proposed Stronger Future laws, which are expected to pass the Senate this month…… Continue reading

June 6, 2012 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment