Australian news, and some related international items

Australia should not lock in to selling uranium in the highly unstable Middle East region

safety-symbolThe UAE is a collection of seven emirates including Abu Dhabi and Dubai and has one of the least participatory political systems in the world. In the most recent national election in 2006, only 6889 people – less than 1 per cent of the population were entitled to vote, and they were hand-picked by the national rulers.

The uranium sale treaty currently before the Federal Parliament’s joint standing committee on treaties, states that the agreement “shall remain in force for an initial period of thirty years

The treaty would lock us in to supply uranium to the UAE irrespective of political changes or upheavals in the region

Think again, minister, on uranium deal with Emirates May 13, 2013   Dave Sweeney 

It might surprise many Australians to know that Foreign Minister Bob Carr is moving forward with a deal to sell Australian uranium to the United Arab Emirates – a country with an illiberal government situated in one of the most volatile and insecure regions in the world. Continue reading

May 13, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, uranium | Leave a comment will rate politicians on truth or falseness in their facts

logo-PolitiFactNew website to rate politicians’ facts  May 12, 2013  A new political fact-checking website has launched with lofty plans to keep politicians honest and voters better informed.  PolitiFact Australia says it will fact-check claims by MPs, parties, candidates and other influential figures. The website is the first international affiliate of Pulitzer prize-winning US site, PolitiFact.

ballot-boxSmIt will rate political statements as true, mostly true, half true, mostly false and false. The US website calls this scale “Truth-O-Meter”. Ridiculous claims will be rated “pants on fire”. The US website says facts are checked by writers and editors “who spend considerable time researching and deliberating” the rulings.  “We always try to get the original statement in its full context rather than an edited form that appeared in news stories. We then divide the statement into individual claims that we check separately.

“When possible, we go to original sources to verify the claims. We look for original government reports rather than news stories. We interview impartial experts.” The first fact-checks have delivered “mostly false” to Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s statement the coalition’s broadband plan will “cost households $5000 to get connected”. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott gets the same rating for his statement that “the carbon tax is adding $400 to the cost of every car manufactured in Australia”.

The site is headed by Peter Fray, the former editor-in-chief of The Sydney Morning Herald, published by Fairfax Media, owner of this publication.Mr Fray said PolitiFact Australia is a necessary addition to Australia’s journalistic scene because politics has become ”faster and noisier” and voters are overloaded with information.

The first step in any fact-check is to ask the source for details to support the claim, before seeking independent verification. ”We are here to help sort out the facts from the fictions … we are not really out to get politicians, we don’t think they are all liars. But we do think they should be accountable for what they say,” he said. went live overnight on Monday.

May 13, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, election 2013 | Leave a comment

High concentrations of radioactivity in some areas in Fukushima, where kids play

Cesium-137‘Emergency decontamination’ needed in places used by Fukushima kids — Highly radioactive material accumulating — City Official: Many times higher than previous record for urban areas  Title: Fukushima closes 2 parking lots for emergency decontamination work
Source: Asahi
Date: May 08, 2013
Two parking lots in the city of Fukushima were declared off-limits to the public on May 7 after high concentrations of radioactive cesium were detected […]

“It’s the first time that soil with cesium levels exceeding 100,000 becquerels was found on the grounds of an urban area, not in sludge accumulated in ditches,” said a city official in charge of decontamination work. […]
The exposed soil had accumulated to a height of 1 to 3 centimeters around the edges of the parking lots or in sunken parts of the surface, mixed with fragments of dead leaves and other material.

The survey at the Matsuki parking lot found radioactive cesium concentrations of 220,000 or more becquerels per kilogram of soil, with the highest level at 433,772 becquerels. […]
In addition to visitors to the facilities, local residents, including students, usually enter the sites for walking and extracurricular activities. […]
See also: Nuclear material in pools at Fukushima schools exceed 100,000 Bq/kg — Level nearly doubled since last year

May 13, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Anti nuclear nun, 83, in gaol – poses problem for USA security

It’s  a sobering thought. If this elderly nun is so capable at getting inside USA’s Oakridge Nuclear Weapons Facility, what chance are they going to have to keep her in jail for 20 years?


May 13, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Solar Citizens” will tackle Queensland’s anti solar recommendations

logo-Solar-Citizens-Sun power advocacy lights up May 13, 2013 Peter Hannam

The million-plus Australian residents with solar panels on their roofs will be less likely to be treated poorly by power companies and politicians following the creation of a new advocacy group, its backers say.

The group, Solar Citizens, expects to muster tens of thousands of members in a bid to defend the rights of the million-plus homes with panels on their roofs. “People are feeling vulnerable having invested thousands of dollars in solar panels,” Greg Evans, manager of Solar Citizens, said. “We think there is a pushback going on.”

In recent months, corporate chiefs including Origin Energy’s managing director Grant King have blamed efforts to promote solar and wind energy for driving up electricity costs. If solar PV owners retain access to the grid but source little power from it, costs will be higher for everybody else, Mr King said in March.

Mr Evans, though, said about 2.5 million Australians live in home with solar PV or solar hot water systems, or both. He predicted many of these households, ranging from outer suburbs to the bush, had sunk $8 billion into PV alone and would be prepared to protect the value of that investment.

Among the group’s first actions would be to campaign against the introduction of recommendations from Queensland’s Competition Authority that would force solar owners to pay more to connect to the grid.

“They’re suggesting solar users should pay time of use tariffs when consuming electricity from the grid and it’s not clear other consumers will be obliged to do that,” Mr Evans said.

“If they’re going to do that fairly (in Queensland), they’re going to have to do that for everyone who gets an air-conditioner,” Craig Memery, energy policy advocate at the Alternative Technology Association, said. “Those who don’t have air-conditioners very heavily cross-subsidise those who do.” Mr Memery said it was very important that conditions PV owners signed up for are preserved. With their numbers swelling at the rate of thousands across the country, their clout is only likely to grow.

“It’s at the point where politicians will have to listen to what this group has to say.”

May 13, 2013 Posted by | Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

Queensland government guts laws protecting water from coal seam gas operations

water-dropshighly-recommended      Australia: Wide-ranging changes to Queensland’s land and water legislation passed, Clayton UTZ 11 May 2013 A petroleum tenure holder in Queensland will now be able to use associated water “for any purpose”.

The Land, Water and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2013 (Qld) was passed by Parliament on 2 May 2013 and introduces a large number of legislative amendments across a wide range of Acts impacting, primarily, the land and water regulatory portfolios, but also making important amendments that impact upon the petroleum industry, particularly in relation to water bores and the use and transportation of CSG water.

Some of the key amendments in this Act for petroleum industry proponents are outlined below.

Removal of restriction on use of CSG water Continue reading

May 13, 2013 Posted by | Queensland, water | Leave a comment

British court rules that atomic test radiation injured veterans

antnuke-relevantflag-UKNuclear test veterans win war pensions after four year battle with Ministry of Defence 12 May 2013  The ruling is the first time UK nuke vets have been awarded money in recognition of their illnesses Survivors of Britain’s nuclear tests have won war pensions after a four-year fight with the Ministry of Defence.

A judge ruled this week that men ordered into the fallout zone were injured by radiation in the 1950s and 60s.

The ruling is the first time UK nuke vets have been awarded money in recognition of their illnesses. They say radiation left them with cancers, rare illnesses and birth defects in their children.

It opens the door for remaining veterans, now thought to number less than 3,000, to finally claim against the government that ordered them into danger. Their long running battle for compensation has so far been unsuccessful.

The war pensions, linked to injuries, are seen as recognition that some veterans are due money for their suffering. “We didn’t stop fighting on the battlefield and we shouldn’t stop fighting now,” said Nick Simons, 70, after winning his case.

He believes the MoD has paid out only to avoid releasing secret medical papers. “If enough of us win a pension perhaps they will finally say sorry,” he added.

May 13, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Solar Citizens” – Australia’s solar homeowners fight back against fossil fuel lobby

solar-on-houseLittle wonder then, that solar consumers and rooftop solar providers are starting to organise themselves to protect the interests of individual consumers, and the industry as a whole.

In Australia, a new solar campaign initative known as “Solar Citizens” is being launched this week to ensure the interests of solar owners are protected from changes to laws and policies by power companies and governments.

Rooftop solar owners vs utilities – the battle begins By    13 May 2013  You don’t have to go too far into a document prepared by the US-based Edison Electric Institute (EEI) to realise what is at stake for centralised utilities from the threat of rooftop solar.

The EEI, a trade group that represents most investor owned utilities in the US, said solar PV and battery storage were two technologies (along with fuel cells and storage from electric vehicles) that could “directly threaten the centralised utility model” that has prevailed for a century or more.

How worried should they be? A lot, said the EEI.  The ability of rooftop solar, battery storage and energy efficiency programs to reduce demand from the grid would likely translate into lower prices for wholesale power and reduced profits. Worse still, customers were just as likely to “leave the system entirely” if a more cost-competitive alternative is available.

“While tariff restructuring can be used to mitigate lost revenues, the longer-term threat of fully exiting from the grid (or customers solely using the electric grid for backup purposes) raises the potential for irreparable damages to revenues and growth prospects.”

In the US, utilities are now seeking to protect their business models by pushing hard against net metering and seeking to influence the pace and manner of deployment of other technologies and new energy market concept that don’t fit the decades old model.

In Australia, much the same has been happening. RenewEconomy reported on the concerns of utilities in this article last month. Feed-in-tariffs have been wound back, as they were supposed to have been as technology costs fell, but now the pendulum is swinging the other way, and utilities – with the apparent complicity of state-based pricing regulators – are now trying to extract as much revenue from solar customers as they can.

It is a dangerous game. Leading electricity executives and market analysts suggest the rollout of rooftop solar is inevitable and “unstoppable” – unless, of course, by regulation and changing tariffs. Continue reading

May 13, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Wiluna uranium mine by no means a goer, and Aboriginal resistance strong

We must note that approval for this project does not mean that the deal is done and dusted. Activists should take inspiration from the recent campaign at James Price Point which saw Woodside forced to shelve its plans for a gas hub there. In that case an organised community campaign pushed the big business interests back.

handsoffLabor approves WA’s first uranium mine, Socialist Party, 10 May 13,  Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke gave the go ahead to Toro’s $270 million uranium mining project in the Wiluna region of Western Australia last month. This decision has angered many people across the state especially the local aboriginal community – the Wiluna and Tarpla people.

Wiluna elder, Glen Cooke, said “Uranium should stay in the ground. It can hurt our Country, the environment, our people, our children, our children’s children”. Continue reading

May 13, 2013 Posted by | General News, uranium | Leave a comment

Murrawarri people campaign for an Aboriginal republic

VIDEO: Activists in northern New South Wales, who’ve declared an Aboriginal republic, say they will take their campaign to the United Nations. The Murrawarri Republic may be the world’s newest country, but for locals it’s been around for tens of thousands of years.

The Republic’s boundaries cross over northern New South Wales and Queensland – covering about 81,000 square kilometres.
Key leaders including Fred Hooper say the push for independence follows many frustrating years of inaction and broken promises.

Clan groups say the Queen of England, the Prime Minister and the Premiers of Queensland and New South Wales have been put on notice and given 21 days to respond to the declaration. They say they will also be asking the UN to formally recognise their republic.  “You know according to our laws and customs, she (the Queen of England) does not now have any say over our country,” says Fred Hooper from the People’s Council of the Murrawarri Republic People’s council of the Murrawarri Republic.

“And we’ve also asked her to produce a number of documents. We have asked her to produce a treaty.”  The Murrawarri Tribe has its own constitution and bill of rights. Fred Hooper says the new country will be inclusive and is offering non-Murrawarri people incentives, including citizenship and tax concessions. “Certainly what we’re saying at the moment it is the status quo…People will maintain their land.”

Anderson,MichaelThe sovereign union camapaign says the declaration has now taken a step forward. Michael Anderson believes it will spark a new wave of declarations similar to Murrawarri.   “The first flame has been lit, it’s now burning. The flames will spread right throughout this country. And there’s nothing Australia can do about it.”
The Murrawarri’s Council has been set up to look at a transition into the republic, including tribal law structures, industry and civil defence.

May 13, 2013 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Aboriginal lawyer launches his Senate campaign for Federal election

ballot-boxSm Independent Senate candidate Ribnga Green launches campaign for Federal Election AN ABORIGINAL Senate candidate has likened the nation’s soft foreign ownership laws to the takeover of Australia by the first Europeans.  Miles Kemp adelaidenow May 12, 2013

Speaking at his campaign launch at Rymill Park yesterday, independent candidate Ribnga Green, 59, said South Australia’s iconic agricultural areas such as the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale must be better protected from foreign investors.

Mr Green, an Adelaide lawyer, aims to be the first South Australian Aboriginal politician at the Federal election in September. He said if elected he would push for agricultural areas of Australia, including SA’s wine regions, to be declared essential to the “national interest”.

“I know what it is like to lose an entire continent as an Aboriginal person and I wonder if Australian people generally value the whole issue of land ownership,” Mr Green said.  “There are food-bowl areas which should be protected in the national interest and as part of Australia’s ability to supply food to other areas of the world, also.

“Land is also something which is not just a commercial enterprise but a spiritual one.

“Valuing land for reasons other than commercial value is something I think I can share with the rest of Australia.”……


May 13, 2013 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

India’s anti nuclear movement remains strong and determined

india-antinukeActivists slam govt’s nuclear policies     Nikhil M Ghanekar, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, May 12, 2013 On Saturday, the Coal-ition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) and anti-nuclear activists criticised the Centre’s policy of expediting civilian nuclear energy projects when most developed nations have shunned the technology following the Fukushima disaster.

CNDP founder Achin Vanaik and activists such as Praful Bidwai and Vaishali Patil spoke on nuclear disarmament, the secrecy around nuclear power and the huge costs of producing nuclear energy at the seminar- ‘Coming out of the nuclear trap’.

Bidwai said the department of atomic energy had propagated myths about the advantage of nuclear power. “The costs of producing nuclear energy are exorbitant… the cost of decommissioning reactors is half of what is used to build them.”

 The seminar’s organiser Kumar Sundaram criticised the Supreme Court’s decision on the Kudankulam plant. “The court did not take into account the safety standard violations. But this judgment will not deter other protests,” said Sundaram.

May 13, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment