Australian news, and some related international items

Australia: energy and nuclear news this week

a-cat-CANElection:   Nuclear/uranium matters are just not on the radar in this election, with the two major parties in lockstep in their support for the uranium industry, (and, quietly, in support of nuclear power and the full nuclear fuel cycle).

What is more surprising is the lack of interest in Climate Change.  I watched the Rudd-Abbott debate on TV. Kevin Rudd made the most fleeting reference to the subject.  There was no mention of renewable energy.   The media goes along with this apparent ban on discussing matters environmental.  (Of course Christine Milne doesn’t get much mainstream media coverage)

Tony Abbott announced the appointment of Aboriginal Warren Mundine,  who would head up a Liberal Government’s Indigenous Advisory Council . Warren Mundine’s quite  a political acrobat.  He used to be in John Howard’s National Indigenous Council. Then Mundne was the President of the Australian Labor Party. Now – a quick flip to the Liberals.

More interestingly, Warren Mundine is a Director of the Australian Uranium Association, and a member of BHP’s Indigenous Dialogue Group – a body aimed to convert Aborigines to support uranium mining.   Mundne has publicly advocated uranium mining, nuclear power, and the importing of international nuclear wastes.   Kevin Rudd welcomed the new Abbott-Mundine deal.  No surprises there, as both sides have the  interests of the nuclear  lobby at heart.

Western Australia.  Now this could be  a bit of a pointer for the federal election.  Premier Colin Barnett announced the slashing of the solar feed-in tariff. There was an outcry, and a Solar Citizens petition was launched that very quickly attracted over 9,000 signatures protesting the reduction. In no time, Barnett announced that he had reversed the decision.      Solar energy supporters might have an impact on federal politics?

New South Wales.  University of Wollongong’s fibro cottage wins international renewable energy competition .

Victoria.  Demonstration sin Melbourne against the Future Fund’s investing in nuclear weapons.      Stirrings in the Macedon Ranges community – people are not happy with Victoria’s anti-wind farm laws.


August 14, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s Future Fund should stop investing in nuclear weapons

Future Fund nuclear investments   In May 2011 ICAN Australia revealed through freedom of information laws that the government-owned Future Fund had investments worth A$135.4 million in 15 foreign-owned companies involved in the manufacture of US, British, French and Indian nuclear weapons. Earlier that year, the Fund – which was established in 2006 to cover the pension costs of retiring parliamentarians, judges and public servants – announced that it had divested from 10 companies involved in the production of cluster munitions and land mines. But nuclear weapons companies still have not been excluded from its investment portfolio.

Nuclear bombs visit the Future Fund headquarters

August 14, 2013 Posted by | Audiovisual | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott’s election gamble – preferencing Labor ahead of Greens

logo-election-Aust-13questionTony Abbott to banish the Greens from the lower house  SIMON BENSON STATE POLITICAL EDITOR THE DAILY TELEGRAPH AUGUST 14, 2013 OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott will today direct the Liberal Party to preference the Greens behind Labor in all seats across the country in a bid to ensure the party is wiped from the lower house of parliament.

It will mean the Greens’ only current lower house MP, Adam Bandt, will almost certainly lose his seat of Melbourne on September 7 – in an election gift to the ALP.

It will also guarantee that Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese keeps his inner-city Sydney seat of Grayndler, which Labor holds with just a 4 per cent margin against the minor party. Continue reading

August 14, 2013 Posted by | election 2013 | Leave a comment

Australia’s Aboriginal Establishment – it’s a Patriarchy, (with a Marcia Langton token)

text patriarchyNACCHO political alert: 14 Aug 13 The Guardian reports Tony Abbott’s plan for Aboriginal Australians is fatally flawed  by Louise Taylor  Louise Taylor is an Aboriginal (Kamilaroi) woman and a barrister/solicitor practising in the Australian Capital Territory. Louise is the convenor of the Women’s Legal Centre, an Indigenous Law Centre associate, and a member of the Law Council of Australia’s Indigenous Legal Issues Committee. Her piece is written in a personal capacity (and not the views of NACCHO)

Perhaps you nodded along and thought “good, let’s get moving on this”. Perhaps you thought Mundine surely must have been given a mandate from community representatives. Or perhaps, like me, you wondered how this announcement was anything new……..Mundine-and-Abbott

Abbott’s Garma speech invoked his “friend” Noel Pearson. Pearson was absent from any alignment with the Abbott plan. Curiously, Mundine and Abbott were the headline act in the mainstream media. A weird choice, given I’ve yet to see any major support from other Indigenous people or organisations for the Coalition’s plan with Mundine at the helm……….

I see a common theme in both camps – the almost complete absence of Aboriginal women at the national leadership table. It troubles me that the domain and face of national Indigenous leadership is portrayed consistently as Indigenous men.

Noel Pearson. Warren Mundine. Mick Gooda. Mick Dodson. Patrick Dodson. Where are the women? When Rudd and Abbott speak of their Indigenous “mates”, they always name men. There are many competent and capable Indigenous women who are thinking innovatively and deeply about solutions for their communities. Do we see or hear from them?…….

they are absolutely there – Andrea Mason, Fiona Jose and Jenny Hayes to name a few. But we are rarely treated to the benefit of their views at a national level. Apart from the formidable professor Marcia Langton, who we do see and hear from now and then, the debate is missing the presence of Indigenous women at what appears to be a crucial time in the shaping of policy.

We know this is not a reflection of what is going on in our communities, where Indigenous women are front and centre of the grunt work being done to improve outcomes and keep communities together. Perhaps Abbott considers Aboriginal women too busy “cowering in their houses or their huts” to participate in policy discussion directly affecting the lives of their families and communities. We have a new female co-chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, and I have yet to see one single mainstream media engagement with her – on anything. Is her number in Rudd’s contacts list? I wonder……

August 14, 2013 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Heathcote locals unhappy with Victoria’s anti-wind farm laws

wind-turb-smquestionHeathcote locals question Victoria’s anti-wind farm laws  August 13, 2013 by   

Yes 2 Renewables visited Heathcote recently to present to the local U3A (university of the third age) about wind energy technology. Given that Heathcote is located in the hearth of the McHarg/Macedon Ranges ‘no-go zone’ for wind farms, we took the opportunity to brief attendees about the Victorian government’s anti-wind farm laws. The presentation prompted  U3A member, Louise Joy, to submitted the following letter to the editor to The McIvor Times

Heathcote U3A  “Understanding New Technology” group heard Leigh Ewbank from Friends of the Earth speak on “Wind Power” at the Guide Hall for an illuminating and entertaining two hours on Wednesday 3 July 2013 from 10 am.

Such a simple solution to the problems of pollution where unfortunately Victoria leads the way in developed countries. Renewable energy has strong public support with 94% opting for Solar and 87% for wind power. There have been Wind Power community projects planned for Woodend, Surf Coast and Anglesea with opportunities for job creation in manufacturing, construction, maintenance and computer programming. Farms in drought areas benefit, a lid is kept on Electricity prices,  communities gain control over their own clean and safe energy future.

So what is stopping implementation with so much community support and so many advantages? There are strong lobby groups with vested interests against Wind Farming. In Victoria, Amendment VC 82 has created no go zones in the Yarra and McHarg Ranges, among others. Heathcote U3A members left the meeting encouraged to make known the advantages of Wind Farming and to lobby politicians to rescind Amendment VC 82.




August 14, 2013 Posted by | politics, Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

New book on “Nuclearity” and The Global Uranium Trade

Book-Being-NuclearBeing Nuclear Africans and the Global Uranium Trade,  By Gabrielle Hecht    Overview

Uranium from Africa has long been a major source of fuel for nuclear power and atomic weapons, including the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. In 2002, George W. Bush claimed that Saddam Hussein had “sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa” (later specified as the infamous “yellowcake from Niger”). Africa suddenly became notorious as a source of uranium, a component of nuclear weapons. But did that admit Niger, or any of Africa’s other uranium-producing countries, to the select society of nuclear states? Does uranium itself count as a nuclear thing? In this book, Gabrielle Hecht lucidly probes the question of what it means for something–a state, an object, an industry, a workplace–to be “nuclear.”

Hecht shows that questions about being nuclear–a state that she calls “nuclearity”–lie at the heart of today’s global nuclear order and the relationships between “developing nations” (often former colonies) and “nuclear powers” (often former colonizers). Nuclearity, she says, is not a straightforward scientific classification but a contested technopolitical one.

Hecht follows uranium’s path out of Africa and describes the invention of the global uranium market. She then enters African nuclear worlds, focusing on miners and the occupational hazard of radiation exposure. Could a mine be a nuclear workplace if (as in some South African mines) its radiation levels went undetected and unmeasured? With this book, Hecht is the first to put Africa in the nuclear world, and the nuclear world in Africa. Doing so, she remakes our understanding of the nuclear age.

August 14, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Japan Had Already Been Defeated Prior To Dropping the Bombs

hiroshima-1America’s Nuclear Madness: Terrorism With A Vengeance (Part I) By  OpEdNews   8/11/2013    “………After the war had ended, the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey (a board consisting of more than 1,000 individuals, both military and civilian), was tasked by U.S. Secretary of War Henry Stimson with the examination and analysis of U.S. involvement in WW II. The Survey concluded in 1946 that “Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”

But it was not only with the advantage of hindsight that this conclusion was reached. General Eisenhower (Supreme Commander of allied forces in Europe) and General MacArthur (Supreme Commander of the U.S. Army in the Pacific) came to the same conclusion before the bombs were ever dropped. I don’t think there’s any question that both General Eisenhower and General MacArthur would have done whatever was necessary to spare their troops the horrors of a ground invasion. But the fact is that neither of them believed that a ground invasion of mainland Japan was necessary. Continue reading

August 14, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Split in Right-wing Politics over Solar Energy

an intriguing clash of two strands of conservative thought – one that remains true to its ideology of individual rights against centralised control, and the other where ideology is cherry-picked and co-opted for the protection of vested and incumbent interests.

In Australia, the party divide between left and right over support for renewables has pretty much gone in lockstep with the US. Carbon pricing is opposed by conservative parties, and there is lukewarm support for renewables targets. Ultra conservative think tanks argue against them. But in Western Australia, a move by the conservative state government to tear up contracts written by its state-owned network operator Synergy, and slash the tariffs that it had agreed to pay 75,000 households, was met with a revolt by its own backbenchers and was reversed within days after an uproar from households.

How the far right developed an unlikely interest in solar energy, The Guardian, 13 Aug 13,  From the US to Australia, solar energy is increasingly supported as an individual right against centralised control – a headache for many conservatives   …….. Now, in the state of Georgia, there has been a dramatic split in conservative attitudes. The local branch of the Tea Party has aligned itself with solar interests and environmental NGOs to force the monopoly utility Georgia Power to open its network to more solar power. Ironically, it has little to do with the need to with climate goals. It is being fought – as Lorens suggests – as a property rights issue, pitting private citizens against utilities, regulators and fixed rates of return.

This push to elevate solar energy as an individual right is being carried by the new economic case for solar power: the plunging cost of solar modules – they have fallen 80% in the last four years – means households can install rooftop systems and lower their electricity bills. The emergence of these “prosumers” is challenging the revenue and the profit pool for network operators and fossil fuel generators.

Even analysts at major investment banks describe the proliferation of solar as unstoppable. The Edison Electric Institute, a trade group that represents most investor owned utilities in the US, says solar is a direct threat to the centralised utility model, and could cause “irreparable damages to revenues and growth prospects.” Continue reading

August 14, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Abbott very keen to be Australia’s “indigenous affairs prime minister”

Tony Abbott overruled advice on indigenous advisory council BY:PATRICIA KARVELAS  :The Australian  August 12, 2013   TONY Abbott’s proposed indigenous advisory council was only supposed to last for six months to undertake a significant review of indigenous affairs, but the Opposition Leader changed the policy late in the process.


The Australian understands the policy, which had been planned over many months, was rewritten by Mr Abbott who decided, against advice, to make it a permanent feature of his government rather than a short-term audit………..

Mr Abbott ultimately made the call to create an ongoing council similar to Mr Howard’s national indigenous council, of which Mr Mundine was also a member.

Mr Mundine is committed to the objectives of Mr Abbott’s plan for indigenous affairs  ……

it is understood that Mr Abbott’s desire to become the first “indigenous affairs prime minister” is so strong he decided a permanent body was a better policy and it could still perform an audit-style role. His office settled on the policy…………. The council will inform the policy implementation of a new Coalition government……….

August 14, 2013 Posted by | election 2013 | Leave a comment

Why Energy Australia opposes renewable energy and energy efficiency

Parkinson-Report-EnergyAustralia says solar PV causing rapid structural change By  on 13 August 2013 EnergyAustralia, one of the big three utilities operating in Australia, says that rooftop solar PV and energy efficiency measures are causing “unprecedented structural change” to the national electricity market.

It says rooftop solar and energy efficiency are causing a significant fall in household energy consumption, more than offsetting any gains from population growth. It says these factors, combined with an increase in renewable energy generation due to the Renewable Energy Target (RET), has caused wholesale electricity prices to fall. “This is likely to continue,” it says. “These factors are impacting the industry as a whole, providing difficult trading conditions for ourselves and our major competitors alike.”

The comments came as EnergyAustralia, which owns the Yallourn coal-fired generator – and recently purchased coal-fired generators in NSW and a range of gas and wind energy assets, along with a retail arm – recorded a loss of $HK45 million in the first half of 2013. That compares with earnings of HK$268 million for the same period the previous year.  Operating profits fell to HK$55 million from HK$807 million.

“The Australian energy market is facing unprecedented structural changes that are taking place at a rapid pace,” the company noted in a statement.

“In particular, the past two years have seen a pronounced decline in residential electricity demand in response to rising prices, and the deployment of rooftop solar photovoltaic systems and energy efficiency savings have more than offset any increase in demand from population growth.”

EnergyAustralia has been one of the most vocal opponents of both the RET and energy efficiency measures, because of the impact on its generation assets. It has been joined by  Origin Energy and many state-owned coal fired generators in pushing for the RET to be diluted or halted…….

Despite the problems and the losses, Richard McIndoe, the managing director of EnergyAustralia, received total remuneration of $HK15.4 million ($2.2 million) million in the six month period, with nearly two thirds of this coming from performance bonuses. He was the best paid in the last six months of all senior executives of CLP, the Hong Kong-based parent company, including group CEO Andrew Brandler.

August 14, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

General Ban Ki-moon speaks on Nagasaki anniversary, about nuclear disarmament

Iflag-UN.n Nagasaki message, Ban stresses need for education on benefits of nuclear disarmament  In his message to a ceremony marking the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the Japanese city of Nagasaki,  Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that the benefits of nuclear disarmament must be spread worldwide through education. “We must eliminate all nuclear weapons in order to eliminate the grave risk they pose to our world. This will require persistent efforts by all countries and peoples,” Mr. Ban said in his message to the Nagasaki Peace Memorial Ceremony.

“We may take a lead from the scholars and researchers at Nagasaki University who have studied this issue, and strengthen disarmament and non-proliferation education worldwide so a younger generation of emerging leaders, voters, and taxpayers can understand the vital need for policies to advance disarmament goals.” More than 400,000 people died as a result of the attacks on Hiroshima on 6 August, 1945, and Nagasaki, which occurred three days later. The ceremony honoured those who died in the attack as well as the survivors, known as hibakusha, and their families.

Mr. Ban said he was “enormously impressed” by the hibakusha’s efforts to educate the world about the full humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, and called on civil society groups around the world to help inform the general public about the benefits of disarmament and the terrible risks of failing to achieve it.

“I especially appeal to the States currently possessing nuclear weapons, particularly those with the largest nuclear arsenals, to agree on deep and verified reductions, stop developing new or modernized weapons, and accelerate their individual and collective efforts to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons,” Mr. Ban said.

The Secretary-General also reiterated the UN’s commitment to nuclear disarmament, noting it is one of the greatest legacies that can be passed on to future generations.

August 14, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment