Australian news, and some related international items

Japanese women and the environment to suffer, with new government

nuclear-and-women activists are concerned about two areas they fear will slip beneath the radar of the incoming administration: the country’s nuclear policy in the aftermath of the disastrous accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor following the earthquake and tsunami last March; and job stability for youth and women, both grappling with badly paid or part-time work.

Only 38 female candidates, from a total of 225, won seats in the parliament during this election, a major dip from the 54 women who won seats at the last poll in 2009.

Already, Japan has been ranked as low as 110th on the World Economic Forum’s latest gender gap survey, which rates countries based on gender equality in political representation.

Women and Activists Lament Japan’s Election Outcome By Suvendrini Kakuchi TOKYO, Dec 18 2012 (IPS) – The return to power of Japan’s conservative and hard-line Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on Sunday indicates that voters traded urgently needed social and environmental reforms for traditional male-led leadership, according to analysts here.

Youth and feminist organisations who had campaigned vigorously for better environmental protections, labour equality and the upholding of regional peace ahead of the elections, expressed frustration about Sunday’s outcome, lamenting that the victorious LDP is yet to present concrete policies to tackle Japan’s most pressing problems……

LDP leader Shinzo Abe, whose brief term as Prime Minister ended abruptly in 2007, is now set to take back the reins.

A hawkish politician, he has raised his profile by promising to usher in a militarily stronger Japan  Continue reading

December 18, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Western Australian Aboriginal communities pleased at govt rejection of Toro’s uranium mining plan

ANFAFederal Ministers announcement give hope to Aboriginal Communities  19 Dec 12, The Australian and West Australian Nuclear Free Alliances (ANFA and WANFA) have today welcomed Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke’s decision to delay any approval of the Toro Wiluna uranium mine in WA, until there is more information.

logo-WANFAWANFA chairperson, Kado Muir said “Minister Burke has given hope to the Aboriginal people represented by WANFA that the conservative Government in Western Australia cannot and will not get away with steam rolling development on our Traditional land.” “This decision sends a message to our Aboriginal communities that if you hold out and stand up strong for country – you can win. Thankyou Mr Burke.” Continue reading

December 18, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

How jolly! Ballarat schoolkids get shooting lessons for Christmas

Christina apologises for the picture below – all those girls. I bet it was boys who got the ballarat gun lessons


Ballarat region schools’ gun excursion sparks debate The Courier,  By MELANIE WHELAN Dec. 18, 2012, “…..Students were taken to Beaufort Gun Club for lessons in clay target shooting – a sport in which Ballarat’s own Russell Mark is a multiple Olympic gold medallist.

Fuelling contention, the excursion was made two days after the United States’ Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut when 28 people, mostly elementary school children, were killed.

Ballarat High School principal Gary Palmer yesterday defended his school’s decision to go ahead with the activity….. Mr Palmer said the school sent its condolences to the families involved in the American tragedy.

Victorian Education Department confirmed Ballarat High School had followed correct procedure, having parents sign consent forms…. Gun Control Australia secretary David Stack told News Limited the excursion was idiotic and insensitive following the US massacre….


December 18, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

In USA the gun lobby wins out against children’s safety

murderThere are more than twenty mass shootings every year in America and over a hundred people are shot every day…but the NRA tells us that we can’t do something about guns?….
Increasingly, Americans are recognizing the blood-soaked gun lobby as the pariahs they are, who have done far more damage to America than Osama bin Laden ever dreamed of.

Flag-USANRA Has More Blood on Its Hands Than al-Qaeda: What Do We Do?, TruthOut,, 18 December 2012  By Thom Hartmann and Sam Sacks,   In the coming weeks, we’ll find out just how far our elected lawmakers are willing to go to protect our children from future gun massacres.
But we already know how far our lawmakers are willing to go to protect us from Middle Eastern terrorists – a group that has killed nothing close to the number of Americans who die every day because of the NRA.
If al-Qaeda were to strike the United States in the last remaining weeks of 2012 and kill as many Americans as three 9/11s, the carnage still wouldn’t compare to what guns do to Americans every single year.
So far in 2012, more than 9,000 Americans have died by way of the gun; almost a hundred thousand were shot. Just this last Saturday alone, 190 people were shot in America. And in Newtown, Connecticut, twenty first graders are dead – gunned down by an assault rifle borrowed from a gun-nut mom. Continue reading

December 18, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mining industry losing enthusiasm for exploration in Northern Territory

thumbs-downMining exploration cut back in the NT
By Caddie Brain, 18/12/2012 Mining exploration spending in the Northern Territory has dropped for the first time in seven years. After a record year in 2011, this year’s expenditure by companies looking for minerals in the Outback is down by more than 25 per cent.
Dr Ian Scrimgeour, from the NT Department of Mines and Energy, says there’s no appetite for high-risk investment in the current economic climate.
“This time last year we had about $161 million spent on exploration. That’s now dropped in 2012 to about $119 million,” he said. “Having said that, those figures don’t include petroleum, but we know that there’s just been a massive amount of activity going on and it’s a real boom industry for the Northern Territory.”

December 18, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Business leaders ahead of Australian government on renewable energy for 2013

Hot Tips For Australia In 2013 — Energy Storage, Big Solar, Clean Technica December 18, 2012 Giles Parkinson   RenewEconomy passed around the hat this past week for a few ideas on what would be big in 2013 in clean energy in Australia. What emerged was a couple of key themes – the continued proliferation of solar PV and the growing interest in energy storage. And it might just be the year that big solar (solar thermal) makes its mark.


“Watch solar thermal for a vision of what is likely to become the more dominant technology five to 10 years from now,” said one executive. There is certainly much interest – internationally, many countries are throwing billions at the technology, and it is thought that ARENA and/or the CEFC may finally find a way to make it work here too.

Battery storage was another popular choice. Many hinted at their own plans to introduce storage technologies at the commercial, industrial, and residential level. As one said: Everyone seems to think you need a lot of storage to make a difference, but this is not necessarily the case. Many households now use less than 5 kWh per day, so even 1-2 kWh
of storage could allow them to manage a large proportion of their peak demand.”

This could be done with ultra-capacitors, lithium-ion, or the CSIRO developed ultrabattery, which recently won the contract for the King Island renewables integration project, and has signed a deal with the largest lead acid battery manufacturer in the world.

The most depressing tip for 2013 was the prediction that regulators and governments will again fail to keep up with the pace of change, “leading to a complex, backward looking and confusing market picture dominated by the status quo and the powerful voices of incumbent players”, as one executive put it.
Here’s what the executives said in their own words:……… Read more at

December 18, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Australia’s Donna Mulhearn takes up the forgotten cause of Fallujah’s deformed babies

poster-Donna-MulharnIraq: Crimes against Humanity. The Babies Will Haunt Us By Kelley B. Vlahos Global Research, December 18, 2012 It was like walking through a nightmare: drifting in an out of hospital rooms, down the long hallways, her contact with shock-ravaged Iraqi parents interrupted only by glimpses of their physically deformed and terminally sick babies who in many cases, would never see the outside of Fallujah’s main hospital, ever.

Then, the more than vague sense that she must apologize. The words thick like molasses were hard to form. “I felt inadequate,” said Donna Mulhearn. “What was so hard was, what do you say to these people other than saying sorry, which I said over and over again. You just wanted to offer more.”

Donna Mulhearn is a name we need to remember, as she is one of a small but dedicated group of citizen activists who, after most of us have said the long goodbye to Iraq in the rear-view mirror, are taking on the environmental and humanitarian legacy of the Iraq War as a personal cause. Continue reading

December 18, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Opposition to nuclear | 1 Comment

Dramatic fall in greenhouse gases, as Australians, especially Victorians. use less coal-fired power


Yallourn was operating at just 56 per cent last month even after it announced it was mothballing one of its four units.

Emissions sink as consumers turn off coal, SMH,   Peter Hannam, December 17, 2012 Carbon economy editor Weak demand for electricity across eastern mainland states has sparked a “dramatic fall” in greenhouse gas emissions from Australia’s power stations, the latest review of data by consultants Pitt & Sherry has found.

While demand for base-load electricity from black coal-fired power stations has been in retreat for about three years, the decline has extended in recent months to two of Victoria’s emissions-intensive brown coal-fired plants, Hazelwood and Yallourn. Changes in demand of electricity on this scale are unprecedented in the entire 120-year history of the electricity supply industry in Australia Continue reading

December 18, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, energy | Leave a comment

Australian government refuses Toro ‘s Wiluna uranium project, requires further scrutiny

Peak state and national environment groups today welcomed the Federal Environment Minister’s increased scrutiny of WA’s first planned uranium mine – Toro Energy’s Wiluna project.

The Australian Conservation Foundation and the Conservation Council of Western Australia described Tony Burke’s refusal to approve the Toro Wiluna uranium project and to require further project detail as prudent and responsible.

“The Toro project is ill-conceived and the WA assessment has been dangerously deficient,” said CCWA campaigner Mia Pepper.

“The WA Government has broken its promise of a world’s best practice uranium industry and has failed to meet national standards.  “Premier Barnett and the WA Government now urgently need to re-examine the environmental assessment process in WA and hold a comprehensive public inquiry into uranium mining.” Continue reading

December 18, 2012 Posted by | politics, uranium, Western Australia | 1 Comment