Australian news, and some related international items

Ashurst, Paladin, attack this website with legal threats. Reply from Ashurst

Among other things, the Ashurst letter accused the anti-nuclear campaigner of imputing that Mr Walker was ‘’insensitive’’.

civil-liberty-2smIn any case, these kinds of threats to muzzle free speech are on the rise. At a time when the mainstream media is under pressure from falling revenues, lawyers are threatening and shutting down websites around the country at an alarming clip.

Anti-nuke campaigner braces for legal blast, The Age, December 19, 2012 Michael West Ashurst is at it again.
Acting on instructions from its clients, the big law firm last month was threatening a farmer who had the hide to express his opinion on electricity prices.

This month it has been instructed to threaten a 75-year old pensioner who has spoken out against the alleged exploitation of African workers by an Australian uranium miner. Noel Christina Macpherson Wauchope, who runs the website under the name Christina Macpherson, told Business Day she was not in a position to hire lawyers.

“I think they must have thought AntiNuclear Australia was a big organisation, but it is just me,” she said. She was particularly worried that the letter of demand said “STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL NOT TO BE PUBLISHED” until we explained that there was no legal basis for expecting confidentiality from somebody who simply bobbed out of the blue with a bunch of threats and told you to keep quiet about it.

If you already had some kind of confidential or contractual arrangement with the other party, it might be different…… The price of Noel Wauchope’s concern for the people Karonga was a long and intimidating letter of demand from Ashurst on behalf of the uranium company Paladin Energy and its general manager of international affairs, Greg Walker. If she did not comply with these demands, warned Ashurst, she would face court action.
Curiously, big companies with more than 10 employees are not permitted to sue for defamation yet the concerns notice sent to Noel Wauchope complains about defamation of Paladin.
…… the Ashurst defamation partner responsible for the letter was unavailable for comment….. and did not respond to
questions. Neither did Ashurst’s public relations department. Paladin chief executive John Borshoff said he was unaware of the
letter. “I’m not aware about a 75-year old lady,” said Borshoff, “All I know is that these NGOs (Non-Government Organisations) and they are
absolutely maligning us, and we sent them legal letters”.
Neither was Borshoff aware that Paladin was unable to sue for defamation……
Among other things, the Ashurst letter accused the anti-nuclear campaigner of imputing that Mr Walker was ‘’insensitive’’.
In any case, these kinds of threats to muzzle free speech are on the rise. At a time when the mainstream media is under pressure from falling revenues, lawyers are threatening and shutting down websites around the country at an alarming clip.Read more:

logo-AshurstLegal Firm Ashurst replies to the article above

27 August 2013

Dear Ms Wauchope

Thank you for giving me ths opportunity to respond to the article which you have posted on your websites. I trust that you will post this letter with equal prominence. Fairfax is no longer publishing it, has accepted that I and Ashurst acted ethically and competently at all times, and has withdrawn and apologised for the suggestions in the article to the contrary.

Your article contains  a number of errors and says  a number of false and damaging things about me. In particular, when I sent you the letter on 10th December 2012, I had no way of knowing who you were, as we were sending it to you as a domain name registrant. Your site appeared to be published by an organisation. Further, I at all times acted in accordance wit proper legal practise, and my professional obligations to my client.

I hope that you will rethink your decision to continue to publish incorrect and harmful allegations about me.

Kind regards

Ashurst lawyer

Editor’s note:  I don’t understand why Fairfax  withdrew the article from their online publication, as I thought that the article was true.  I understand that the journalist who wrote that article stands by the story and has not accepted the claims made by Ashurst’.

September 2, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | 1 Comment

Paladin’s boss John Borschoff rails against ”diabolical” state of uranium market

uranium-orethumbs-downPaladin managing director John Borshoff could do little on Friday but launch yet another speech about how unreasonably low the uranium price has been, labelling it ”diabolical”, ”extremely depressed” and ”of great concern

Paladin still paying price of uranium freeze  August 31, 2013 SMH, Peter Ker Resources reporter Two years after Fukushima, nuclear energy companies remain troubled.  The first year after the Fukushima disaster was always going to be tough for the uranium sector, but few would have thought the second year would be even worse.

The spot price for uranium hit eight-year lows this week, and now stands 30 per cent lower than a year ago, when the industry was supposedly at its nadir.

Most of the Japanese nuclear power stations that were turned off after the deadly tsunami of March 2011 remain idle, and the prospect of new demand emerging in developing countries such as China has yet to eventuate.

While all uranium stocks have suffered over the past 30 months, few companies epitomise the struggles of the sector more than Paladin Energy, which has almost been decimated since it was fetching $5 a share on the day before the Fukushima tragedy. Continue reading

September 2, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott prepared to break his pledge on reducing carbon emissions

Abbott-Koch-policieslogo-election-Aust-13Tony Abbott willing to break emissions pledge over funding hole The Age September 2, Jonathan Swan Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has branded the election a referendum on the carbon tax and said it would be “unimaginable” for a defeated Labor Party to stop him repealing the tax.

Mr Abbott also confirmed categorically – for the first time – that he would break the Coalition’s pledge on greenhouse reduction targets if it cost more money than he had budgeted for.

The Opposition Leader spent about 15 minutes of a 20 minute address to the National Press Club hammering Labor on the carbon tax. If elected the Coalition would repeal the tax within its first year in government, Mr Abbott promised………

Mr Abbott confirmed he was prepared to break the Coalition’s pledge to cut Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent by 2020 (on the levels recorded in 2000). Estimates by Treasury and independent modelling companies suggest that the Coalition’s $3.2 billion Direct Action policy will fall several billion dollars short of reaching the targets.

“The bottom line is we will spend as much as we have budgeted, no more and no less,” Mr Abbott said. :

September 2, 2013 Posted by | election 2013 | Leave a comment

Japanese govt does not know what to do about ever-growing pool of radioactive water

Fukushima-water-tanks,-workTepco has yet to decide how to dispose of the contaminated water, spokeswoman Mayumi Yoshida said. But before it can act it will need approval from the government, residents and fishermen, who are already suspicious of the company’s motives.

Fukushima’s toxic water pool grows as Tepco dithers August 31, 2013  Yuriy Humber The Tokyo Electric Power Company is trying to decide what to do with the largest pool of radioactive water in the history of nuclear accidents. It can either dump it in the ocean, let it evaporate into the air, or both.

The more than 330,000 tonnes of water with varying levels of toxicity is stored in pits, basements and hundreds of tanks at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant.

The government said this week it would take a bigger role in trying to staunch the toxic outflow that has grown to 40 times the volume accumulated in the atomic disaster at Three Mile Island in the US.

Processing and disposing of the water – enough to fill a large crude oil tanker or 132 Olympic-size swimming pools – is presenting one of the most challenging engineering tasks of our generation, former nuclear engineer Michael Friedlander said. Continue reading

September 2, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Japan could see legal action by neighbouring nations, about Fukushima radiation

Japan Official: Fukushima contamination “increasingly seen as international problem… lawsuits may be filed overseas” — “Gov’t should take preventive actions based on a worst-case scenario” says S. Korea newspaper
Title: Government under fire for slow response to Fukushima leak
Source: Asahi Shimbun
Date: Aug. 30, 2013
[…] In a meeting at the ruling Liberal Democratic Party headquarters on Aug. 29, party lawmaker Yasuhisa Shiozaki lashed out at the Abe administration […]
“The issue of radioactive water is increasingly seen as an international problem, and lawsuits may be filed overseas,” said Shiozaki, acting chairman of the LDP Policy Research Council and a former chief Cabinet secretary.

Shiozaki’s anger can be seen as the first explicit criticism of the government from the ruling party since the LDP returned to power in December. […]
The Chosun Ilbo newspaper said [on August 26], “The South Korean government should take preventive actions based on a worst-case scenario, without relying only on information from the Japanese government and TEPCO.” […]
See also: Korea Times: Quarter-billion liters of Fukushima contaminated water flowed into Pacific — Japan cover-up could violate international law — Hid global issue of environmental concern?

September 2, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Democratic Labor Party’s Geraldine Gonsalvez comes out swinging for a nuclear weapons free world

logo-election-Aust-13Geraldine Gonsalvez, 2 Sept 13, I am running as a candidate in the electorate of Bruce. As you all know how passionate I am about a peaceful toxic free world free of nuclear weaponsand weapons of mass destruction. You can be rest assured I will be active and vocal if by a miracle I do get elected to federal parliament towards this cause. This is a very busy week for me given my limited resources.

September 2, 2013 Posted by | election 2013 | Leave a comment

South Australia on track to lead the world in renewable energy use


it would make South Australia the most advanced industrialised economy in the world in the adoption of variable renewables, and a test case for the incorporation of such energy sources into a broader grid. 

South Australia heads to 50% renewables within a decade,  (excellent graphs  REneweconomy  By  on 2 September 2013  Already, one in five houses in South Australia has rooftop solar PV, and a new AEMO document predicts this could treble by 2022. With wind already supplying 27% of power, and new wind farms coming on, the state will likely have 50% of wind and solar within 10 years.

The state of South Australia is emerging as one the leading regions in the world in the take-up of variable renewable energy sources such as wind energy and rooftop solar PV, and could be the first industrial economy to reach 50 per cent variable renewable generation.

According to figures included in a  report by the Australian Energy Market Operator, that could happen well within a decade. That would make it the most advanced industrialised economy in the world in the adoption of variable renewables.

In a special report on the state released late last week, AEMO noted that 31 per cent of the state’s energy consumption was met by wind and solar in 2012/13, with more than 1,250MW of large scale wind farms, and a further 400MW of solar PV installed on one out of every five homes in the state. Continue reading

September 2, 2013 Posted by | energy, South Australia | Leave a comment

Australia’s old coal power stations refitted as renewable energy plants

Old power stations fired-up by renewable energy   , 2 Sept 13,  The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has contracted Parsons Brinckerhoff to examine the potential for use of renewable energy by existing fossil fuel power stations through hybridisation in Australia. For example coal-fired power stations can burn biomass material such as wood in conjunction with coal. Also it is possible for solar thermal mirrors to heat water for steam turbines in conjunction with gas or coal.

The study will assess 100MW or larger fossil fuel plants that are grid connected. The study evaluates all applicable plants for resource and technology suitability and fatal flaws. The potential plants will then be subjected to a multi-criteria assessment process to see if there are any characteristics that rule out renewable hybridisation and to identify the total expected opportunity of hybridisation.

ARENA will host a workshop on 26 September to gather views from stakeholders on important challenges, opportunities and issues related to hybridisation. To register for the workshop see:

ARENA anticipates using the report findings as an input in the design of any potential strategic initiative in this area.

September 2, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Radiation levels at Fukushima 18 times higher than previously thought.

Fukushima radiation levels 18 times higher than previously thought,  in Tokyo, Sunday 1 September 2013 Operator of Japanese nuclear power plant claims there has been no leak but has yet to discover cause of radiation spike Radiation levels 18 times higher than previously reported have been found near a water storage tank at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, causing fresh concern about the safety of the wrecked facility.

The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), said radiation near the bottom of the tank measured 1,800 millisieverts an hour – high enough to kill an exposed person in four hours. Tepco said water levels inside the tank had not changed, indicating there had not been a leak. But the company said it had yet to discover the cause of the radiation spike.

Last month Tepco said another storage tank – of the same design as the container causing concern at the weekend – had leaked 300 tonnes of radioactive water, possibly into the sea.

Japan‘s nuclear watchdog confirmed last week it had raised the severity of that leak from level 1, an “anomaly”, to level 3, a “serious incident”, on an eight-point scale used by the International Atomic Energy Agency for radiological releases.

Earlier, the utility belatedly confirmed reports that a toxic mixture of groundwater and water being used to cool melted fuel lying deep inside the damaged reactors was seeping into the sea at a rate of about 300 tonnes a day.

Experts said those leaks, which are separate from the most recent incidents, may have started soon after the plant was struck by a powerful tsunami on 11 March 2011………

September 2, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment