Australian news, and some related international items

Former Liberal leader says climate change should be dominant election issue

USA election 2016climate-changeClimate change: John Hewson accuses Coalition of ‘national disgrace’
Former Liberal leader says climate should be dominant issue of election campaign rather than ‘short-term politicking’,
Guardian,  25 June 16, The former Liberal leader John Hewson addressed an estimated 2000 people protesting in the Sydney suburb of Double Bay – minutes from Malcolm Turnbull’s harbourside mansion – calling on the prime minister to take stronger action on climate change.

Speaking at the same time as Turnbull addressed the party faithful at the Coalition’s campaign launch, Hewson told protesters the Coalition’s lack of action on climate change was a “national disgrace”

“I think climate change should be the dominant issue of this campaign – it should have been for quite some time,” said Hewson, who was once the local member for the seat of Wentworth, which includes Double Bay.

He said “short-term politicking” from both sides left targets that were inadequate and policies that were not going to meet those targets.

“The one thing that hasn’t failed is people like yourselves,” he said. “The community is way ahead of the political leaders and the business leaders on this issue.”

He urged the crowd to push political leaders for a bipartisan approach to climate change. “Enough is enough, it’s time to act,” Hewson said.

A spokesperson from GetUp, which organised the protest in coalition with three other environment groups, estimated there were about 2000 people in the crowd.

Protesters were given placards in the shape of coral, which were coloured on one side, and white on the other, which symbolised the devastating bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. They turned them around for the cameras, while chanting “Choose the reef, not coal”……..

The protest caps three days of protesting in Turnbull’s electorate.

On Friday Greenpeace activists hung a banner from Turnbull’s electorate office in Edgecliff, saying: “Turnbull’s Legacy: bleaching – brought to you by Malcolm’s mates in the coal industry.”

And on Saturday, a group of 50 pacific islanders kayaked from Blues Point to Lady Martin’s beach, mere metres from Turnbull’s harbourside mansion, raising awareness of climate change and sea level rise.

June 26, 2016 Posted by | election 2016 | Leave a comment

Citizens Jury: the ever climbing costs of Jay Weatherill’s nuclear waste dream

text-my-money-2$7k each for Jay Weatherill’s nuclear citizen jury JUNE 27, 2016  Reporter Adelaide   The South Australian government has set aside $350,000 for 50 randomly chosen people to meet over four days to discuss the establishment of a nuclear waste dump, equating to $7000 a person.

The first two days of consultations of the citizens’ jury were held at the weekend, with Premier Jay Weatherill ­picketed by anti­-nuclear activists on his way to open the deliberations over whether the state should have a high-level nuclear waste repository.

It is understood a budget of $350,000 has been set aside for the four days, ­including recruit­ment and management, accom­­modation and transport, event facilitation over the two weekends, live streaming and transcription services, catering, venue hire and security.

In announcing the citizens’ jury, Mr Weatherill last month said less than a $1 million had been budgeted for his nuclear consultation process, but more would likely be assigned in the state budget on July 7.

June 26, 2016 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Blow to South Australian govt: BHP categorically rejects any role in nuclear waste importing

BHPB-Olympic-SmIn another potential blow to the South Australian government, which had pinned the state’s economic future on the original expansion plan, Olympic Dam asset president Jacqui McGill categorically rejected siting a high-level international nuclear waste repository on any land covered by its indenture agreement.

We’re not a waste repository company, so that’s not in our business model and it’s not in our plans,” she said. BHP had no moral responsibility to manage waste

BHP: Fukushima set uranium industry back for years THE AUSTRALIAN JUNE 27, 2016 Michael Owen  SA Bureau Chief Adelaide A key reason for BHP Billiton’s decision four years ago to indefinitely mothball a $30 billion plan to turn Olympic Dam into the world’s biggest uranium mine was the Fukushima nuclear plant explosion rather than cost concerns, it has been revealed. Continue reading

June 26, 2016 Posted by | South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

The powerful influence of mining companies on Australia’s political parties

USA election 2016serious questions about the influence that mining and energy companies have on major political parties during election campaigns.

It is well known there is a perpetually revolving door between mining/energy companies and politicians/staffers from the major parties.

Take the Labor Party. When Labor lost the last election, Martin Ferguson, Craig Emerson and Greg Combet either took up management jobs with mining and energy companies and associations or worked as consultants for them.

Combet, a former climate change minister, took up consultancies for coal seam gas companies AGL and Santos. Ferguson, resources minister during Labor’s last term of office, landed the position as chairman of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association’s advisory committee only six months after leaving politics.

With the Coalition, former National Party leader Mark Vaile is chairman of Whitehaven Coal, the company at the centre of protest and controversy at the Maules Creek mine. Another former National Party leader, John Anderson, became chairman of Eastern Star Gas only two years after quitting Canberra.

graph Aust mining donations

How Big Mining’s donations influence the political agenda in Canberra, Independent Australia   The Conversation 25 June 2016,  Voters take note: As the old adage goes, if you take the King’s shilling, you do the King’s bidding. In this case, it is King Coal— and its biggest subject is the Coalition. Monash University’s David Holmes reports.

THE ENDORSEMENT for coal mining from the Labor-Coalition duopoly that the election campaign has seen in the last week makes the token appeals that have been made about tackling climate change even more disingenuous.

In this election campaign, the major parties have only brought up climate change when they have been pressed to do so at public forums, like leaders’ debates, the ABC’s Q&A, or when they treat social media as something that needs to be quelled.

The Coalition’s response is simply to say that Australia participated in the Paris agreement, and that is good enough. Labor, on the other hand, points to having outbid the Coalition on targets. Yet neither party is planning to deliver the cuts needed for Australia to play its part in keeping global warming below the 2℃ threshold.

Which leads us back to a question I will deal with at the end of this article: if polls are consistently showing that Australian voters want climate change on the election agenda, why are the leaders keeping so quiet about it?

Neither party is shy of talking up coal, however. Bill Shorten declared last week that a Labor government would not ban coal mining — and that it would be part of Australia’s energy needs for the foreseeable future.

But then on Tuesday, Attorney-General George Brandis, campaigning for Queensland’s most marginal seat of Capricornia, put in one of the pluckiest coal-selling performances of the campaign. He cited the gigantic Adani mine in central Queensland a saviour for the electorate……. Continue reading

June 26, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

1 – 3 July – Lizard Bites Back festival at Olympic Damn Uranium Mine

Lizards-revenge1The Lizards Bites Back music and arts festival and protest camp will take place at the gates of the Olympic Dam uranium mine (or close by) from the 1st – 3rd of July this year.  The “protestival” will include a variety of musicians and artists from around the country, mobile artworks, workshops on nuclear issues, non-violent direct action, and the message that there is strong community opposition to uranium mining and any expansion of the nuclear fuel chain in South Australia, from BHP Billiton’s planned heap leach demonstration plant to current proposals for South Australia to host a nuclear waste dump. The event will run entirely on solar and wind power.

The entire nuclear fuel chain from mining to nuclear waste dumps poses unique health and environmental risks that span generations.  With South Australia currently facing two proposals for nuclear waste dumps The Lizard Bites Back will re-focus on the source of the problem, highlighting an absurd global situation where we continue to mine a mineral that we cannot dispose of safely, whilst proposals are again being made to force nuclear waste dumps on communities that do not want them. The Olympic Dam mine itself will also eventually become a dump – in the sense that once it is closed, it will leave millions of tonnes of radioactive tailings on the surface of the land forever.

Uranium mining is the beginning of the nuclear fuel chain, and the problem of the long term storage of radioactive waste remains unresolved.  Until the industry and governments stop creating nuclear waste by mining uranium, operating nuclear reactors and making nuclear weapons, why should any community bear the health and environmental risks associated with a nuclear waste dump? The government’s current approach mops up the bathroom floor whilst the tap is still running.

A responsible approach to managing nuclear waste would begin with stopping its production.  An environmentally and socially just approach would stop targeting Aboriginal lands as sacrifice zones. 

The Lizard Bites Back follows on from the Lizards Revenge in July 2012, which mobilised 500 people against the proposed expansion of the mine.  Since then, that proposal has been shelved and the company has been investigating heap leach mining as part of a cheaper expansion plan.  BHP is projected to begin a heap leach trial on the current mining lease by late this year. Even though this technique is not currently used on-site, Federal approval of the trial did not require environmental assessment.

Please see below for a summary of the issues. Continue reading

June 26, 2016 Posted by | ACTION, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Port Augusta protest against federal government’s plan for dumping Lucas Heights nuclear wastes at Barndioota


Doctor Margaret Beavis, a Melbourne-based GP, joined the protest today and Lucas-wastessays the community needs help addressing this issue.

“I think it’s important to realise that most of this waste doesn’t come from the use of medicine,” Dr Beavis said.

Nuclear waste protest gives people voice Matt Carcich@MattCarcich June 24, 2016,Around 150 people made their voices heard in a protest against the federal government’s plan for a national nuclear storage facility in the Flinders Ranges at the Barndioota site near Hawker.

The march started at the Port Augusta foreshore, before stopping out the front of State MP Dan van Holst Pellekaan’s office.

The rally continued down the main street, stopping at every major intersection and Woolworths, before heading to the Port Augusta Regional Council building and finishing at Gladstone Square.

People travelled from Port Pirie, Whyalla, Hawker, Quorn and Adelaide for the event.

Upon arrival at Mr van Holst Pellekaan’s office, the state MP for Stuart and protesters discussed about multiple facets of the proposal.

Australian Greens candidate for Grey Dr Jillian Marsh, who is a Adnyamathanha Traditional Owner, accompanied the march and made an impassioned speech.

Dr Marsh said it’s important for people to have their voices heard and reinforced the Australian Greens’ stance against the proposal. Continue reading

June 26, 2016 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Australia | Leave a comment

Protest outside South Australia’s Nuclear Citizens Jury

text don't nuclear waste AustraliaNuclear royal commission: Protesters voice opposition to SA waste dump outside citizens’ jury, ABC News, 25 June 16   Anti-nuclear protesters have confronted SA Premier Jay Weatherill on his way into a citizens’ jury which is meeting to consider a controversial proposal to build a nuclear waste dump in the state.

The event at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) was prompted by the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, which handed down its findings earlier this year.

The final report by commissioner Kevin Scarce delivered to the SA Government in May made 12 recommendations, including the creation of waste storage sites and the relaxation of federal restrictions on nuclear power.

Tentative findings released in February also urged the creation of a dump with capacity for 138,000 tonnesof spent fuel from the world’s nuclear reactors.

Dozens of protesters gathered outside SAHMRI in Adelaide this morning, shouting out their concerns when the Premier arrived.

Gypsy-Rose Entriken from the Barossa Valley said she was worried about the dangers of transporting nuclear waste. “I’m really worried about what the implications of this long-term dump are going to be, and how it’s going to affect us for the rest of our lives and for generations,” she said.

“How are they going to get it here? There’s so many things that can go wrong.”

The citizens’ jury is made up of 50 people selected from about 1,100 registrations by research organisation newDemocracy Foundation, and is part of a public relations exercise organised by the State Government.

Its job is to decide which elements of the royal commission’s recommendations need to be discussed in more detail…….

June 26, 2016 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Australia | Leave a comment

Climate protest march in Malcolm Turnbull’s electorate of Wentworth

USA election 2016Election 2016: Climate change activists march in Malcolm Turnbull’s electorate of Wentworth, ABC News,  26 June 16 About a thousand people have gathered in Malcolm Turnbull’s Wentworth electorate to demand action on climate change.

Speakers said climate change needed to be higher on the political agenda and told the crowd the Great Barrier Reef was dying under Malcolm Turnbull’s watch…..

June 26, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Whitsunday residents take expansion of Adani’s Abbot Point Terminal to court

justice EDO Qld
The following statement is from our client 
Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping (WRAD) 24 June 2016:

“Local community group, Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping,
which aims to protect the Great Barrier Reef from damage,
is asking the QLD Supreme Court to scrutinise whether the QLD Department of Environment
properly considered legislative tests when granting authority for
Adani’s controversial Abbot Point Terminal 0 expansion to go ahead.
The first directions hearing is taking place today in the Queensland Supreme Court.
Local grandmother, former tourism worker and spokesperson for Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping, Sandra Williams said,
“Our precious Great Barrier Reef is already in poor health, and Adani’s controversial port project,
which will cause irreparable damage, has raised significant concern in our community.
“Residents in our group have never taken legal action before,
but we were forced to because of our worry that the approval of the port expansion,
which will require damaging dredging and see hundreds of extra ships through the Reef each year, was not lawful.
“There is a question mark over whether the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection
properly assessed the project, as required by law, before it gave this billion dollar proposal the green light.
“It is critically important that the decision, which has such grave implications for the Reef, is properly scrutinised. … ”
To continue reading the full statement, click on this link:

June 26, 2016 Posted by | environment, legal, Queensland | 1 Comment

At long last Kenbi Aboriginal land claim is settled

KENBI: settlement at last!
‘As we look to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act,
final settlement has been reached over the Kenbi land claim. In a battle that has been going on for nearly as long as the existence of the Land Rights Act itself, the Kenbi claim has been the focus of numerous court cases and claim hearings, and hostility from a succession of CLP governments.’
Land Rights News | Northern Edition | April 2016 Issue 2 Page 1!topic/wgar-news/2AjmlTzThP0 via WGAR News

June 26, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Closure of Californian nuclear station will save marine life

Closing the Diablo Canyon nuclear facility would finally end decades of harm to marine life in the region where the plant operates. The plant’s intake pipes draw in more than 2.5 billion gallons of water per day, or 2.8 million acre-feet annually. This large and continuous seawater withdrawal is estimated to kill roughly 1.5 billion fish in early life stages each year, as creatures are sucked into the cooling systems or become impinged against the screens on the open-water pipes. The cooling water is also discharged back into the ocean water at a warmer temperature, which can cause additional harm to fish and other marine life in the area.

Removing this impact to California’s treasured marine wildlife and coastal habitats—and replacing it with clean energy—is something all Californians can celebrate.

Nuclear Plant Closure Will Benefit California Marine Species June 23, 2016
Elizabeth Murdock The California State Lands Commission is scheduled next week to consider a joint proposal from Pacific Gas & Electric, NRDC, Friends of the Earth, and others to begin an orderly closure of the giant Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, located along California’s majestic central coast that also is home to abundant and unique sea life, marine plants, and animals.At issue for the State Lands Commission on Tuesday (June 28) is whether to grant a six-year extension of PG&E’s subtidal leases—the permits that allow the utility to draw in billions of gallons of ocean water daily to keep the plant’s two reactors cool—to cover the time between their scheduled expiration in 2018 and 2019 and the beginning of the decommissioning process that would begin in 2024 under the proposal. Continue reading

June 26, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Brexit might promote the nuclear industry in UK

5 ways Brexit would transform European energy, Politico,  , 24 June 16 Central and Eastern Europeans would lose a powerful ally, while nuclear and renewable investors would face an uncertain world.

A British vote to leave the European Union would force broad changes to the bloc’s energy policy, weakening its climate policy and removing a crucial Central European energy ally — but it could also give London far more freedom to pursue nuclear projects.

The U.K. is often an energy outlier in the EU, advocating nuclear power and shale gas sources shunned by others. And it tends to build alliances broadly aimed at keeping interference from Brussels to a minimum.

But both sides have a lot to lose.

A Brexit could undercut long-term climate policies in Brussels and London, and the EU would lose the U.K.’s pro-free market voice, which has historically helped tone down some more statist schemes coming from European capitals.

Here are the five ways that a Brexit would impact Europe’s energy and climate forecast:…….

4. The freedom to subsidize — maybe

One area the European Commission tries to avoid is state aid, particularly for energy projects.

But even when the Commission gives a green light, there’s the danger that another EU country might try to interfere. That’s what happened with Hinkley Point. Brussels approved a state aid plan in 2014, but Austria, backed by Luxembourg,challenged the decision in the European Court of Justice eight months later…….

Environmental advocates worry it would give the U.K. room to continue rolling back support for renewables in favor of other fuels.

“One of the reasons why the government has had to have a more sensible policy on these issues is because state aid disciplines have stopped it from throwing money at gas-powered stations and fracking and nuclear,” said  Nick Mabey, chief executive of the environmental analysis group E3G……..

June 26, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Is the SA Government Sufficiently Open & Transparent to run a Global High Level Nuclear Waste Dump?

June 26, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments