Australian news, and some related international items

Australia just one part of the current environmental catastrophes

Reporting on a World of Environmental Catastrophes – All in Just One Month TruthOut,   By Dahr JamailTruthout | News Analysis March 2014

When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money.
– Cree Prophecy……..

new study has confirmed that a magnitude 5.7 earthquake in Oklahoma – one of the state’s biggest man-made quakes – was caused by fracking-linked wastewater injections.


Even the depths of the oceans are now at risk………

Australia can expect the other extreme, as the recent State of the Climate report by Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology shows the country being hit by even more extreme heat and high fire danger and the southern regions of the country drying up. The report says these trends will only continue to accelerate as the planet continues heating up and that the projected increase in the number of extremely hot days is underlined by the fact that there were more extreme heat days in 2013 than in the entire 1910-1940 period.

This is particularly bad news, given that the current drought in Queensland is officially the worst and most widespread on record, with 15 more districts and shires in Australia recently declaring drought.

A coal seam gas project in Australia has contaminated a nearby aquifer with uranium at levels 20 times higher than those set by safe drinking water guidelines………..

Radiation from the ongoing Fukushima nuclear disaster is being tracked, and a recent study shows radioactive cesium from the Japanese plant reaching the Pacific Coast of North America by April.

Fukushima remains on the forefront of many folks’ minds because it is an ongoing disaster, and its direct impact on our health is obvious. However, we tend to forget how much radiation has already been bombed into the oceans.

Those who have been bombed, however, haven’t forgotten.

Residents of the Marshall Islands recently marked 60 years since the United States dropped a hydrogen bomb on the Bikini Atoll, causing islanders to be exiled from their homeland. Islanders, rightly remain too fearful to go back because of the nuclear contamination.

The United States conducted six nuclear tests there in all, leaving hundreds of forgotten victims among the islanders to live with ongoing health effects and painful memories of loved ones lost from radiation exposure.

Closer to home for those living in the United States, “significant construction flaws” in some of the “newer” double-walled storage tanks at Washington state’s Hanford nuclear waste complex could lead to additional leaks of some of the worst radioactive waste at the most contaminated nuclear site in the country.

Not to be outdone, the only nuclear waste repository in the United States, located in Carlsbad, New Mexico, has an ongoing radiation leak. But that has not stopped the brilliant minds running the repository from pushing to obtain even more nuclear waste.

Japan is struggling with ongoing radiation problems, as more than 500 tons of radioactive waste from Fukushima that is being stored in Tokyo is threatening residents………

Shockingly, all of this ongoing pollution and dramatic evidence of ongoing ACD are happening amid what US and UK scientists recently described as a brief slowdown in global warming. Everything you’ve just read is occurring despite the planet being in the midst of a “pause” in a longer-term trend of increasing temperatures, according to Britain’s Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences.

Their joint announcement added that the current “slowdown” in the pace of global warming since a peak in 1998 “does not invalidate our understanding of long-term changes in global temperature arising from human-induced changes in greenhouse gases.”

Yet, there remain those who have chosen to remain willfully ignorant of ACD and ignore the evidence from around the globe that is slapping us in the face every day. Those folks aren’t likely to believe the pedantic scientific data produced by sophomoric institutions like Britain’s Royal Society or the US National Academy of Sciences.

Hence, they are also unlikely to believe anything that comes out of the “progressive” and “left-leaning” US Pentagon, which just released its 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review Report, which states:

“Climate change poses another significant challenge for the United States and the world at large. As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing and severe weather patterns are accelerating. ……..

March 18, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

A New Zealander’s view of Australia’s Foreign Minister -Damn it. Not cool.

Bishop, Julie cartoon

Liberal led Australian government – disappointed in you. The New Zealand government was actually doing something I support and you start playing military industrial geo-politics under mining it.
Damn it. Not cool.

Julie and the Mushroom ~ Welcome to nuclear wonderland.

March 17, 2014 by  This is a headline which as a Kiwi it’s not nice to read in an Aussie paper “Federal government worked to scuttle New Zealand statement against nuclear weapons.

Oh dear…

New Zealand’s nuclear free stance and continued work towards nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, regardless of political party, is something to be proud of, if not vaguely surprised by in some cases.

It is disappointing, to say the least, that our special friends in Canberra appear to view this  ANZAC relationship differently when it comes to the nuclear industry and the money uranium brings into the Australian economy. Even to the extent it will actively work against the NZ government and it’s partners within international forums. Continue reading

March 18, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia’s transformation from centralised to decentralised energy generation

A ‘new normal’ has not yet been established but all the indications are that the emerging model will lower the cost of new infrastructure, improve competition and greatly improve the degree to which existing infrastructure is used efficiently.

Distributed generation has already succeeded in moving beyond a characterisation as a niche part of the energy industry. However the speed of that transition will depend on the extent to which the market allows for innovation and how quickly the new entrants of today are allowed to become the incumbents of tomorrow. 


Centralised to decentralised energy: What does it mean? REneweconomy, By  on 16 March 2014 We are in the early stages of a transformation in the way we build, operate and finance our electricity infrastructure in Australia. For decades, Australia’s electricity sector – just like most across the western world – has operated on a model of centralised, state-owned power plants, typically co-located with major sources of fuel. This has meant that not only have a small number of large power plants provided the vast bulk of electricity needs, but that often these plants have been physically clustered together in places like the Latrobe Valley in Victoria and the Hunter Valley in New South Wales. Today, Australia’s energy market is increasingly integrated into one large east coast market and several smaller grids, with the Victorian market fully liberalised. Others, such as Queensland, Western Australia, and Northern Territory are still largely state-owned, and the remaining states are in various degrees of transition.

The core logic behind the physical co-location of generation plants was that the economic efficiency gains from being positioned close to the fuel source (typically coal or large hydro) were greater than the economic inefficiency of transmission losses from transporting power long distances to major population and industrial centres.

New technology and the economic dynamic of the market mean this is now changing. Continue reading

March 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Pressure on scientists to not publish findings on Fukushima radiation

censorshipNYTimes: Gov’t scientist not allowed to publish findings that Fukushima cesium-137 levels could be 10,000 times higher than after Chernobyl in Pacific surface waters — Japan researchers pressured to downplay disaster’s impact — Professors obstructed when data might cause public concern

New York Times,, Mar. 16, 2014: […] As a senior scientist at the Japanese government’s Meteorological Research Institute, [Michio Aoyama] said levels of radioactive cesium 137 in the surface water of the Pacific Ocean could be 10,000 times as high as contamination after Chernobyl […] as Mr. Aoyama prepared to publish his findings […] the director general of the institute called with an unusual demand — that Mr. Aoyama remove his own name from the paper. […] Aoyama asked for his name to be removed, he said, and the article was not published. […] Off the record, university researchers in Japan say that even now, three years after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, they feel under pressure to play down the impact of the disaster […] In several cases, the professors say, they have been obstructed or told to steer clear of data that might cause public “concern.” […] stories of problems with Fukushima-related research are common, [Aoyama] said, including accounts of several professors’ being told not to measure radiation in the surrounding prefectures. Continue reading

March 18, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hooray, Labor Leader Bill Shorten speaks out on Climate Change

Shorten, BillBill Shorten vows to fight climate change deniers and conspiracy theorists The Age, March 17, 2014 James Massola Political correspondent  Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has lashed out at the conspiracy theorists, keyboard warriors and social media trolls who have hijacked the debate about man-made climate change. There’s an important difference between tackling the misinformation peddled by climate change deniers, and stooping to their level.

And Mr Shorten has pledged to be a “disciple of science and innovation”, promising the Labor Party will encourage risk-taking and entrepreneurialism and warning “Australia can either get smarter or get poorer – we can choose to compete or give up”.

The Opposition Leader has been under sustained political pressure from the federal government to support the repeal of the carbon tax, but he has promised to vote against repeal if the alternative is the government’s Direct Action policy. He has also committed to taking a market-based system for pricing carbon to the 2016 election.

“Labor won’t be walking away from our action on climate change – or bowing to the will of a Prime Minister who offers cynical nostrums that emissions trading is rendered meaningless because it deals with an ‘invisible, odourless substance’,” he said.

Mr Shorten told the annual Science Meets Parliament conference in Canberra on Monday the climate change debate was a “cautionary tale for what happens if we abandon the field to the conspiracy theorists and keyboard warriors, the social media trolls and the angry shouts of talkback radio”.

“Too many of us took the popular support for action on climate change for granted,” he said.

“A mistake that has seen Australia move from a co-operative conversation on the best international method for dealing with the causes of climate change and mitigating against its effects to an argument poisoned by allegations of conspiracy and alarmist ‘warmism’.”…×01.html

March 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Abbott govt shows its allegiance to BHP and Rio Tinto

BHP-on-Aust-govtTaxpayers fund $110m loan to venture run by BHP,  Rio Tinto  The Age, March 18, 2014 Peter Ker, James Massola Australian taxpayers will lend $US100 million ($110 million) to a mining joint venture run by BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto in Chile, under the latest funding deal by Australia’s controversial Export Finance and Insurance Corporation.

The loan to two of Australia’s largest and most profitable companies is being made despite recent criticism of EFIC by the Productivity Commission. It advised the corporation to focus more on small exporters who were unable to secure finance rather than wealthy multinationals.

It also comes at a sensitive time for the Abbott government, which has denied financial assistance to companies such as Alcoa and Holden, amid its campaign to ”end the age of entitlement”.

Under the terms of the latest loan, the $US100 million will be lent to a holding company called Minera Escondida Limitada, which is 57.5 per cent owned by BHP and 30 per cent owned by Rio. Japanese companies Mitsubishi and Nippon Mining own the rest…..

March 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Victoria’s govt joins Abbott’s war on green energy schemes – to axe Energy Efficiency Target

energy-efficiency-manVictorian Energy Efficiency Target Threatened 18 March 14 The war on green schemes relating to energy is continuing – the latest victim could be the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target  (VEET).

The VEET scheme is designed to make energy efficiency improvements more affordable. It commenced on 1 January 2009 and was legislated to continue in three-year phases until 1 January 2030.

However, it may meet a very premature end. On Sunday, the Herald Sun published a story on a “secret government report” into the scheme that recommended it be abolished and replaced by 2015. Among the reasons reportedly stated is the scheme has been labeled inefficient and a burden to other electricity users.

The Clean Energy Council says claims axing the scheme would provide substantial power bill relief are wrong; as is the conclusion it is ineffective. “The program is getting through to those that need it most and previous studies have shown that it is working well at a low cost,” said Clean Energy Council Chief Executive David Green.

“Two out of every five households in the program have below-average incomes and a third are on some form of welfare.”

Among the products covered under the scheme are selected solar hot water systems and heat pumps. Water heating represents one of the most greenhouse gas and energy intensive activities in a household. This is particularly so in Victoria given much of the state’s electricity generation is through the burning of brown coal – one of the filthiest fossil fuels.

Mr Green said the ‘secret’ modelling released to select media outlets should be fully released for public scrutiny and is confident that scrutiny will reveal VEET is continuing to deliver, both in terms of household savings and the economic activity it creates.
According to the Clean Energy Council, VEET  has slashed energy costs for approximately 1.3 million households and businesses; plus has supported thousands of jobs in Victoria’s economy.

March 18, 2014 Posted by | efficiency, Victoria | Leave a comment

Australia could prosper with Big Solar Power, if Renewables funding stays

Big solar could boost Australia’s power, if renewables funding stays, Climate Spectator,  Vassilios Agelidis17 Mar,The Conversation The recent start of construction on the first of two large-scale solar photovoltaic power plants in outback NSW shows the importance of renewable energy targets and funding.

The first, currently being built at Nyngan, will be the largest solar PV farm in the southern hemisphere, producing 103 megawatts at peak capacity. This will be enough to power more than 33,000 average NSW homes, roughly equivalent to taking 53,000 cars off the road. Both projects have received federal and state funding, and have benefited from the Renewable Energy Target.

The Solar Flagships Program, of which the Nyngan plant is the major part, will also deliver a further 50 MW plant at Broken Hill, providing a combined solar power output 10 times larger than anything else ever built in Australia.

It is not just the sheer size of this project that makes it the potential tipping point for the Australian renewable energy industry. This project will once and for all answer the question of whether solar power can be a legitimate source of industrial scale energy in this country, and if such projects can be technically, commercially, socially and environmentally viable.

Plenty of sun, slow on solar

If there is one natural resource above all others which Australia possesses in abundance, it is sunshine. The integration of large-scale wind farms into the Australian energy mix has been a reality for the past decade, yet the same cannot be said for solar energy. So far it has only been harvested by small-scale residential and commercial applications, most commonly rooftop solar and hot water systems……..


one-off support for pilot large-scale solar projects is a far more efficient way of supporting the realisation of Australia’s greenhouse emissions reduction targets than continuing subsidies for small-scale distributed generation.

Put simply, the Solar Flagships project has the potential to prove to industry that large-scale solar is a sound commercial investment, and if this is indeed proven, then there will be more winners than losers.

Part of the energy puzzle

The social impact of the Solar Flagships generators will also likely be extremely positive. The Nyngan plant and a second plant at Broken Hill will be good for the regional economies. The Nyngan plant alone will generate around 300 jobs during the construction phase of the project, while both generators will provide longer term maintenance jobs.

Furthermore, such large solar infrastructure will hopefully help to develop Australia’s skills base in this field, helping to drag the country’s quantum of smart, green jobs somewhere closer to major international competitors’.

Solar PV is a vital piece of the energy puzzle, as the fossil fuels we have relied on for decades to produce our electricity will be slowly phased out due to either increased cost or unacceptable environmental impact.

The need for a concerted effort to make solar power work in an industrial context is key to securing reliable, affordable and sustainable energy supply for Australia. The first sods of earth that are turned at Nyngan will hopefully be looked back upon as a critical step in that journey.

March 18, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) helping remote miners with hybrid energy

the mining industry, although a little shy about risking the money on such brave new projects, is one of the best places for ARENA to make investments, to offset those risks and help industry to find the confidence to get involved in experimenting with renewable energy sources that, in the long run, will deliver lower operating costs for everything from small exploration camps, right up to production level power generation

Hybrid power meeting the challenges for a renewable mining future, Australian Mining, 17 March, 2014 Ben Hagemann Miners are finally starting to look at ways to get their power generation off the grid with renewable energy sources.

Although the technology is burgeoning, the way of the future lies with hybrid power generators……….In remote locations where there’s little to no access to grid power, which means most Australian resource sites, the problem of power generation needs in mining camps, construction projects, exploration crews, and telecommunications is usually dealt with by traditional diesel fired generators. Continue reading

March 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Dr Gideon Polya reviews the film “Utopia”

film-UtopiaReview:“Utopia” by John Pilger exposes Apartheid Australia’s Aboriginal Genocide  Bella Ciao by: Dr Gideon Polya  Friday March 14, 2014  The must-see movie “Utopia”, by the outstanding expatriate Australian humanitarian journalist John Pilger, exposes the horrendous circumstances of the Indigenous (Aboriginal) Australians. The following review summarizes the main points raised in “Utopia” and in doing so attempts to quantify and document these horrendous abuses of the ongoing Aboriginal Genocjde by what John Pilger describes an Apartheid Australia. Continue reading

March 18, 2014 Posted by | Resources | Leave a comment

Audio: New book reveals Aborigine’s complex farming and agricultural practices

Hear-This-wayAUDIO: Dark Emu argues against ‘Hunter Gatherer’ history of Indigenous Australians By Hilary Smale and Vanessa Mills
A fresh perspective of Indigenous history showing evidence of village populations, crop harvesting, and irrigation, is all explored Bruce Pascoe’s new book Dark Emu. The common perception of Indigenous Australians leading a ‘hunter-gatherer’ lifestyle before European settlement is ignoring strong evidence of sophisticated farming and agriculture practices, argues Mr read-this-wayPascoe.
“There certainly was a lot of movement… but there was also a lot more sedentary living than we were led to believe.”……….Mr Pascoe would like to see the book change how history is now taught.

“I never learnt it when I was at school; my son never learnt it, my daughter never learnt it.
Why are we not telling Australian children of the success and the achievements of Aboriginal Australia?”

Dark Emu is published through Magabala Books.
Bruce Pascoe spoke about Dark Emu with Vanessa Mills for Kimberley Mornings.

March 18, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Resources | Leave a comment