Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s energy and mining companies in $60 billion tax avoidance?

dollar 2Energy company’s $11 billion transfer to Singapore rings tax avoidance alarm bells, The Age, April 4, 2015 –  Political reporter An energy company operating in Australia transferred more than $11 billion to the low-tax jurisdiction of Singapore in a single year, heightening concerns that Australia is being duped by tax-minimising multinationals.

The extraordinary scale of funds being moved out of the country by individual companies is revealed in an internal Australian Tax Office memo, obtained under Freedom of Information.

It lists 10 companies that channelled a combined $31.4 billion from Australia to Singapore in the 2011-2012 financial year.

An estimated $60 billion in so-called “related parties” transactions went from Australia to tax havens in the same year.

Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan and a number of his senior colleagues have recently flagged concerns about cross-border transfers and intra-company refinancing and the potential that they are linked to tax avoidance.

The Tax Office is particularly concerned about mining and energy companies extracting Australian minerals which have established “marketing hubs” in Singapore that appear to have little use other than as a destination for shifted profits. Continue reading

April 4, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Traditional owners not consulted about criteria for closing down remote Aboriginal communities

KLC head says remote communities not given ‘chance to improve’, ABC Online Indigenous By Nicolas Perpitch March 27, 2015 The head of the Kimberley Land Council says Aboriginal communities should have been made aware of the criteria by which they were assessed in a WA Government report to give them the chance to improve.

A July 2013 draft discussion paper prepared by the Department of Housing, and seen by the ABC, recommended funding be stopped to 75 remote Aboriginal communities and very limited to another 53.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Peter Collier has received the final version of the report and said it would go into the makeup of a new funding model to be released “very soon”.

The draft discussion paper assessed communities against 15 indicators, including health, education, access to food, electricity and drinking water.

KLC chairman Anthony Watson said communities did not know there were criteria they had to meet.

“We should have been made aware of it and at least we would have been engaged with it,” he said.

“They’ve done the study, coming in, without the consultation.

Mr Watson said communities needed to be able to demonstrate they were working towards the Government’s requirements, and at the same time traditional owners should have been consulted about the criteria. Continue reading

April 4, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Chernobyl area: strange failure of dead trees to decompose properly

Forests Around Chernobyl Aren’t Decaying Properly It wasn’t just people, animals and trees that were affected by radiation exposure at Chernobyl, but also the decomposers: insects, microbes, and fungi  By Rachel Nuwer  March 14, 2014 Nearly 30 years have passed since the Chernobyl plant exploded and caused an unprecedented nuclear disaster. The effects of that catastrophe, however, are still felt today. Although no people live in the extensive exclusion zones around the epicenter, animals and plants still show signs of radiation poisoning.

Birds around Chernobyl have significantly smaller brains that those living in non-radiation poisoned areas; trees there grow slower; and fewer spiders and insects—including bees, butterflies and grasshoppers—live there. Additionally, game animals such as wild boar caught outside of the exclusion zone—including some bagged as far away as Germany—continue to show abnormal and dangerous levels of radiation.


However, there are even more fundamental issues going on in the environment. According to a new study published in Oecologia, decomposers—organisms such as microbes, fungi and some types of insects that drive the process of decay—have also suffered from the contamination. These creatures are responsible for an essential component of any ecosystem: recycling organic matter back into the soil. Issues with such a basic-level process, the authors of the study think, could have compounding effects for the entire ecosystem. Continue reading

April 4, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Northern Territory Remote Aborigines – “We were not adequately consulted on fracking permits”

Northern Territory Indigenous community says it was not adequately consulted over fracking permits By Nadia Daly Yaho 7 News,  March 29, 2015, The granting of fracking permits on Aboriginal freehold land in the Northern Territory is stoking tensions among some residents of a remote Aboriginal community who say they were not adequately consulted.

Last week, the NT Government announced it had granted the first two petroleum exploration permits on Aboriginal land managed by the Northern Land Council (NLC).

Jilkminggan community, 140 kilometres south-east of Katherine, with a population of about 300, sits in a zone that excludes fracking, according to the NLC.

However, fracking has been permitted over nearby swathes of land. News that gas companies could now drill exploratory wells on their land came as a shock to many in the community. Continue reading

April 4, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Griffith University’s promising battery energy storage system


According to the research from Griffith’s School of Engineering and published in the journal Applied Energy, a forecast-based, three-phase battery energy storage scheduling and operation system provides benefits such as reduced peak demand, more efficient load balancing and better management of supply from solar photovoltaics (PV).

Researcher Mr Chris Bennett, working under the supervision of Associate Professor Rodney Stewart and Professor Jun Wei Lu, has developed and applied an intelligent scheduling system to a South-East Queensland-based LV distribution network servicing 128 residential customers.

“The low voltage network is a typical suburb of a few hundred homes where there is a single area transformer and recently there has been a substantial increase in the number of homes with installed residential solar PV in these settings,” says Mr Bennett.

“Daily peak demand in residential networks typically occurs in the evenings in summer and both late morning and evening in winter. But because solar PV generation is dependent on incoming solar radiation, peak generation occurs during the middle of the day, typically when demand in the residential distribution network is low.”

“This means there is an incongruity between when energy is generated and when it is required, which can lead to power supply and quality issues.

“However, with a battery energy storage (BES) system comprising Lithium Ion battery banks coupled with smart power control systems, such as STATCOMS, and featuring embedded intelligent forecasting software, we can better manage the LV network.”……..


April 4, 2015 Posted by | efficiency, Queensland, solar | 1 Comment

Toll of climate change on the oceans – will take thousands of years to recover

the abrupt fluctuations offer a glimpse at the duration of the effects of climate change driven by human activity pumping more planet-warming gases into Earth’s atmosphere, Moffitt said.

“What this shows us is that there are major biomes on this planet that are on the table, that are on the chopping block for a future of abrupt climate warming and unchecked greenhouse gas emissions,” Moffitt said. “We as a society and civilization have to come to terms with the things that we are going to sacrifice if we do not reduce our greenhouse gas footprint.

barrier-reeefOceans might take thousands of years to recover from climate change, study suggests, SMH, April 2, 2015 Geoffrey Mohan Naturally occurring climate change lowered oxygen levels in the deep ocean, decimating a broad spectrum of seafloor life that took some 1,000 years to recover, according to a study that offers a potential window into the effects of modern warming.

Earth’s recovery from the last glacial period, in fact, was slower and more brutal than previously thought, according to the study, published online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Continue reading

April 4, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Solar system for water cooling and air conditioning

antnuke-relevantsunSolar cooling system keeps water at 9 degrees Celsius for up to three months April 2, 2015 Source: Investigación y Desarrollo

Maintaining food in places where high temperatures prevail, using little energy at a low cost,  it is now possible with new technology, thanks to the creation of a solar cooling system.

intaining food in places where high temperatures prevail, using little energy at a low cost, it is now possible with Mexican technology, thanks to the creation of a solar cooling system designed by Susana Elvia Toledo Flores.

The prototype developed in the Research Department in Zeolites, at the Institute of Science of the Meritorious University of Puebla (BUAP), in center Mexico, works 24 hours and keeps the cold for up to three months. Continue reading

April 4, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why a nuclear deal with Iran is the best option

diplomacy-not-bombsflag-IranA nuclear deal with Iran is the best option By Fareed Zakaria WP April 2 When making up their minds about the nuclear deal with Iran, people are properly focused on its details. But to figure out whether an agreement that limits and inspects Iran’s nuclear program is acceptable, one has to consider seriously the alternatives to it — and there are really only two. Continue reading

April 4, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

RePower Port Augusta explain how Solar thermal power plant project could be economically viable

Solar thermal power plant project at Port Augusta ‘economically highly unviable’, Energy says A group lobbying for a solar thermal power plant to be built at Port Augusta in South Australia says Alinta Energy may have overestimated the project’s cost.

The company’s latest report into the potential for a solar thermal power plant near the Upper Spencer Gulf city has found the project to be “economically highly unviable”.

Alinta owns the coal-fired Northern Power Station and the disused Playford Station but a study report found that a funding gap and falling electricity demand meant a conversion of the station to solar thermal was unlikely to happen.

But Lisa Lumsden, from the group RePower Port Augusta, said the finding was unsurprising given the uncertainty around the federal Renewable Energy Target (RET).

The Federal Government is yet to decide on the figure set for a national target on the amount of energy coming from renewable sources by 2020.”As we continue to have no decision and no action and certainty around the RET, the prospect of solar thermal happening in Port Augusta becomes less and less,” Ms Lumsden said.

There has been a strong push from the local community in recent years to convert the coal-fired station to renewable energy.Ms Lumsden said new technologies and plant configurations meant the project could actually be much less expensive than Alinta predicted.

“If they take that all into account over the next two or so months, and bring that information to the fore, we know that some of that will bring the costs down significantly, like more than half,” she said.”We know some of those technologies have the capacity to do that.”

Alinta Energy said that even under the most optimistic scenarios, it would fall short of the $570 million capital cost by about $150 million.

Ms Lumsden said the State Government should step in and fund the $150 million shortfall.

The company is continuing to investigate the project’s potential.

April 4, 2015 Posted by | solar, South Australia | 1 Comment

Carbon Tax – now is the time to establish one

antnuke-relevantFlag-USAWhy Now Is the Right Time for a Carbon Tax MARGARET WALLS: The current downturn in the oil and gas business, like the ups and downs of the cycles that came before it, is fundamentally a result of demand and supply. Weak economic activity in Europe, China and elsewhere has led to reduced demand at the same time that increased exploration and development, particularly from U.S. unconventional sources, has increased supply.

The low prices are creating winners and losers in the U.S., but the biggest loser may be the environment. As consumption of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined petroleum products rises in response to lower prices (and it will, mark my words), emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will rise, too, exacerbating the already dire projections for global climate change. The time couldn’t be better for implementing a carbon tax.

The timing is right for two important reasons. For one thing, low oil prices will dampen the blow. A tax of $25 a ton of CO2 would raise gasoline prices by about 25 cents a gallon, keeping pump prices still far below where they were a year ago. For another, a carbon tax might help to avert some capital investment decisions that would lock in higher emissions. Many observers are worried that low oil prices may lead households to increase purchases of SUVs and other gas guzzlers, cause manufacturers to back off from conversions of oil-fired boilers, and dampen plans for a variety of renewable-energy investments. A carbon tax would provide the right consumption and investment incentives.

As former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers put it in advocating for a carbon tax, “that which is not paid for is overused.” We pay a price for energy but that price reflects only its private costs and benefits and not the externalities associated with its use, the most serious of which is climate change. The call for a carbon tax is now coming from many quarters.

Former Secretary of State George Shultz has made an impassioned plea for a revenue-neutral carbon tax, an option many economists have supported for years. Coupling a carbon tax with reduced income or payroll taxes can improve the environment and the tax code. A lump sum per household annual “climate dividend” is another option.

Congress is gridlocked but a revenue-neutral carbon tax should have appeal to both political parties. And with oil prices at a five-year low, no time could be better.

Margaret Walls (@margaretwalls1) is research director and senior fellow at Resources for the Future, an independent nonprofit research organization in Washington, DC. 

Read the latest Energy Report.

April 4, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Judge overturns West Australian Government’s decision to deregister Port Hedland Aboriginal sacred site

judge-1WA court overturns decision to deregister Port Hedland Aboriginal heritage site By Nicolas Perpitch and Laura Gartry  April 01, 2015 The Supreme Court has quashed a decision by a West Australian Government committee to deregister a Port Hedland Aboriginal sacred site, in a test case that opens the door to a class action by traditional owners.

In his judgement, Justice John Chaney referred the case back to the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee (ACMC).

The committee had recommended to State Indigenous Affairs Minister Peter Collier that land and waters around parts of Port Hedland port should no longer be considered an Aboriginal sacred site because it had not been used for religious purposes.

“I conclude that the committee did not give consideration to the question of whether or not the Marapikurrinya Yintha was a place of importance or special significance because the question did not arise for consideration in light of the conclusion that it was not a sacred site,” Justice Chaney said in his judgement.

“The ACMC asked itself the wrong questions and identified the wrong issues, thereby falling into jurisdictional error.” Continue reading

April 4, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, legal, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Ian Viner, former Federal Liberal Minister condemns Western Australian govt’s push to change Aboriginal Heritage laws

WA reforms destroy sacred indigenous heritage: Ian Viner VICTORIA LAURIE THE AUSTRALIAN APRIL 04, 2015

Fraser government ­Aboriginal Affairs minister Ian Viner has described as “truly ­offensive” and “fundamentally destructive of Aboriginal cultural heritage protection” the West Australian government’s Aboriginal heritage reforms, amid growing opposition to proposed changes.

Mr Viner, who introduced the Northern Territory Aboriginal land rights act into federal parliament in 1976, has weighed into the debate over protection of ­aboriginal sites after a West Australian ­Supreme Court finding that the government was wrong to deregister the land and sea surrounding the iron ore export hub of Port Hedland as an Abo­riginal sacred site.

The state government, through its Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee, had sought to clear the way for multi-million dollar port extensions by removing Aboriginal claims that certain coastal mangroves and seaways were sacred.

The case turned on a controversial requirement, introduced in 2013, that a sacred site could qualify only if religious activity occurred on it.

Justice John Chaney referred the case back to the ACMC, which is tasked with assessing site protection under the Aboriginal Heritage Act……..

Mr Viner said the Barnett government’s bid to rewrite its state heritage laws — in changes enshrined in a heritage amendment bill yet to pass through ­parliament — was bad legislation that would result in the government being labelled a ­cultural pariah.

“The clear intention of the legislation is to seriously restrict the opportunity for Aboriginal participation in the administration of the act,” he said in an opinion sent to the Aboriginal Heritage Action Alliance and obtained by The Australian.

“(It would) weaken and limit the protection of heritage places and objects so as to allow more and easier access to land.

“In the interests of good governance and the Aboriginal people of Western Australia and their cultural heritage, and the government not being regarded as cultural pariahs, the bill should be withdrawn.”

Alliance spokesman Clayton Lewis, representing several indig­enous land groups, said that the heritage amendments should be referred to a parliamentary select committee “so the issues can be properly ­examined”.


April 4, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment