Australian news, and some related international items

Labor Party dithers in vote over nuclear waste dumping in South Australia

alp-indecision 1Nuclear waste dump: Labor votes at SA convention to delay decision on proposal, ABC News By Daniel Keane, 29 Oct 16,  “……Inside the conference, Mr Weatherill defended the decision to explore the nuclear option, but Labor MP Steph Key told the gathering of ministers, MPs and party members her constituents strongly opposed the idea.

“People in Ashford don’t favour a high-level nuclear waste dump,” she said.

“We think there needs to be a special convention so that we can talk about these issues in detail within the party, and see whether or not there is a social licence within the Labor Party first of all for such a thing.”

Frontbencher Peter Malinauskas used his speech to mock the demonstrators.

“We’re all here past lunchtime, unlike the protesters,” he said.

“The difference between us and them, of course, is that we take very seriously our obligation to make sure that our ideology is underpinned by evidence.”

But Labor voted to delay a decision on whether to pursue a nuclear dump until it holds a special convention, in line with Ms Key’s suggestion, at the end of the community consultation process.

Citizens’ jury hears from expert witnesses  The party conference coincides with a royal commission citizens’ jury at the Adelaide Convention Centre, where about 350 randomly selected people are meeting this weekend to discuss the state’s possible involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle.

Mr Weatherill has previously been confronted by protesters over the issue, and was heckled on his way into a previous citizens’ jury.  “I don’t know where this debate is ultimately going to end, either in the community or in this party,” he told the convention…..

The citizens’ jury is hearing from more than 30 experts witnesses over two days.  A report prepared after the citizens’ jury meetings will be presented to Mr Weatherill next month.

October 29, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

South Australian Premier Weatherill heckled by anti nuclear protestors

The Premier and Senator Penny Wong entered the venue amid cries of “nuclear waste, what a disgrace”, with a number of senior party ministers including Police Minister Peter Malinauskas also lobbied by protesters.

Eleven separate motions about a proposal to establish a nuclear waste dump in the state will be heard at the conference this afternoon, with many calling on Labor to immediately rule out establishing a dump.

……….More than 130 motions will be debated at the convention.

October 29, 2016 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Delaying tactics on the nuclear waste agenda at South Australia’s Labor party Conference

ALP IndecisionTreasurer defends SA dump debate  Read more at  October 28, 2016  The Labor party is no different to a football club or a family barbecue when it comes to debating the merits of establishing a nuclear waste dump in South Australia, Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis says.

The issue will come under discussion at the party’s state convention on Saturday, with a number of motions to be debated, some calling for any plans for a dump to be scrapped and others buying the state government some time before having to make a decision. Mr Koutsantonis says the party is rightly engaged in the same discussion that mums and dads are having across South Australia, weighing up the pros and cons of taking high-level waste from overseas.

 “The Labor Party is no different from an RSL club, no different from a football club, no different from a barbecue,” the treasurer told reporters on Friday.

“People are just talking about what do we do next? Do we do this or don’t we do this? What are the risks, what are the rewards.

“So absolutely we should have this debate.”

Among motions to be debated at the convention, one calls for the government to hold a state referendum on the issue of a dump, others call for the government to delay any decision until after the issue is discussed at the next national ALP conference and one calls for a special state convention to be called.

There is also one that calls for the state government to “cease and desist” any further action to consider nuclear waste dumps of any kind.

Mr Koutsantonis acknowledged there were strong feelings within the party on the question of nuclear waste. “Our view, very simply is, we want to continue the debate,” he said. “The party is allowed to express its views, individuals are allowed to express their views.”

Also this weekend the second citizen’s jury will continue to deliberate on the dump proposal, which was raised as possibility by a royal commission conducted into SA’s future involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle.

The 350 people making up the jury will present their final report to Premier Jay Weatherill on Sunday.

The No Dump Alliance, which plans to stage a protest outside the convention on Saturday, said the ALP should “close the door on this deeply flawed and reckless plan”.

“Despite a huge amount of taxpayer-funded promotion, opposition to an international nuclear dump is growing within the Labor Party and the wider community,” spokesman Craig Wilkins said.

October 29, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

UN vote to start negotiating treaty to ban nuclear weapons- Australia voted against it

UN votes to start negotiating treaty to ban nuclear weapons
Australia votes with major nuclear powers against the resolution – including US, Russia and Israel – but 123 nations vote in favour,
Guardian , 28 Oct 16, United Nations member states have voted overwhelmingly to start negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, despite strong opposition from nuclear-armed nations and their allies.

In the vote in the UN disarmament and international security committee on Thursday, 123 nations were in favour of the resolution, 38 opposed and 16 abstained.

Nuclear powers the United States, Russia, Israel, France and the United Kingdom were among those that opposed the measure.

Australia, as forecast last week, and as a long-time dependant on the US’s extended nuclear deterrence, also voted no.

The resolution now goes to a full general assembly vote some time in December.

The resolution aims to hold a conference in March 2017 to negotiate a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.

Support for a ban treaty has been growing steadily over months of negotiations, but it has no support from the nine known nuclear states – the US, China, France, Britain, Russia, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – which includes the veto-wielding permanent five members of the security council.

But Australia has been the most outspoken of the non-nuclear states.

During months of negotiations, Australia has lobbied other countries, pressing the case for what it describes as a “building blocks” approach of engaging with nuclear powers to reduce the global stockpile of 15,000 weapons…….

Professor Tilman Ruff, founding chair of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and co-president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, said the vote was a “historic step” for the world that “heralds an end to two decades of paralysis in multilateral nuclear disarmament”.

“The numbers are especially encouraging given the ferocious pressure on countries to vote no by the nuclear-armed states, who see that this will fundamentally challenge their continued possession of nuclear weapons,” he said.

The treaty will fill the legal gap by which the most destructive of all weapons – nuclear weapons – are the only weapon of mass destruction to not yet be outlawed by international treaty.”

Ruff said Australia should reverse its opposition “and get on the right side of humanity”.

“Australia is doing dirty work for Washington, and is willing for US nuclear weapons to be used on its behalf, and potentially with its assistance,” he said.

“It is inconceivable that Australia would not eventually sign up to a treaty prohibiting the last to be banned and worst [weapons of mass destruction]. We’ve signed every other treaty banning an unacceptable weapon, and on some, like chemical weapons, we were a leader.”…….

October 29, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

United Nations Resolution Calls for Ban on Nuclear Weapons

flag-UN.UN Resolution Calls for Ban on Nuclear Weapons U.N. member states have voted overwhelmingly on a measure that could lead to a ban on nuclear weapons.

On Thursday, the U.N. Disarmament and International Security Committee voted to approve a resolution that calls for negotiations on a new treaty outlawing nuclear weapons, despite opposition from nuclear-armed nations.

“This treaty won’t eliminate nuclear weapons overnight. But it will establish a powerful, new international legal standard, stigmatizing nuclear weapons and compelling nations to take urgent action on disarmament,” Beatriz Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said.

Fihn said the vote was a “historic moment” even though convincing countries to eliminate their nuclear weapons will be very difficult.

The non-binding resolution, presented by Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Nigeria, Mexico and South Africa was approved by a vote of 123 to 38, with 16 abstentions. Nuclear powers had lobbied for “no” votes.

Who voted against it The United States, Israel, France, Russia and Britain were among the nations voting against the measure. China, India and Pakistan abstained.

U.N. members will meet in December to vote on the resolution during a full general assembly.

The resolution also aims to set up a conference next March to negotiate a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading toward their total elimination.”

Humanitarian consequences  Countries in favor of the resolution cited deep concerns about the “catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.”

Nations against the measure say nuclear disarmament should be discussed during negotiations on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

This resolution came after three international conferences that took place in 2013 and discussions by a working group on nuclear disarmament in 2016 that recognized the humanitarian effects of nuclear weapons.

October 29, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A New South Wales energy conference devoted to coal and nuclear power

Re-Powering NSW 2016 Conference: As long as it is coal, gas and nuclear [good graphics] Independent Australia  27 October 2016 Lachlan Barker reports on the fossil-fuel-driven agenda of the NSW conference, Re-Powering NSW 2016, which concludes today.

THERE’S A conference currently on in NSW looking at the future of power supply in NSW.

Titled Re-Powering NSW 2016, at first glance one might have thought that this would be a sensible look at integrating greater percentages of renewable power into the NSW energy mix, however those thoughts quickly vanish once we took a close look at the program and see the rubbish being put up.

Clearly this logo [on original]  is out to create the impression that this conference is closely linked to the NSW Government.

This is not the case. In reality, it’s the fossil fuel mouthpieces who are running it.

However, since the NSW government of Mike Baird considers only gas and coal viable energy sources for NSW, the similarity of the logos doesn’t surprise. Nor would it be a surprise if we subsequently learn that a graphic designer working for the NSW Department of Resources and Energy did the artwork for the conference.

So to the conference program……..

Then on to the afternoon of day one, by which time, all pretence has gone and we learn that the true title of this conference should have been: How do we keep burning coal and gas so a small number of monopoly companies can retain their profit margins……

Kieran Donoghue and Miles George get to present their ideas. But before anyone can run away with the idea that genuine renewables are the answer, the panel is brought back to “normality” by hearing that if we want zero emissions, it has got to be nuclear……..

Anyone who has attended a conference like this will know that by the time Ed from Powershop and Iain from UNSW come on, it is winding down to the 5pm close of the conference, so the bulk of attendees will already have gone home. Those still there will be eyeing the bar and another “networking” session over a few glasses of ale.

There are some positive bits scattered here and there but, quite frankly, any conference that discusses the DICE engine, carbon capture and storage and nuclear power as even remotely serious options reinforces what the agenda of this conference was: only coal, gas and – I choke as I type – nuclear are viable options for power in NSW.

Sheesh (for the last time).

Lachlan Barker blogs at You can follow him on Twitter at @cyclonecharlie8.,9646

October 29, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Climate change and the financial sector

Australia’s economy is particularly tied to the fossil fuel industry.

PF This isn’t about stopping the economy from growing. It’s about how we get the maximum sustainable growth rate. It’s about making people more fuel efficient. It’s about making sure energy prices properly reflect the costs that are imposed on society, not just whatever the market price would otherwise be. This isn’t anti-Australia or anti-Australian industry, it’s about what you have to do to get Australian business working on a sustainable basis … given what’s happening to the planet. A lot of people are working behind the scenes quietly with firms to try to get the right position.

MS Nonetheless, we will see a lot of stranded assets here, won’t we?

PF Possibly, but the longer it’s left and the less is done, the more of those stranded assets you get……

Once it moves to the financial sector, as it has now, ideology’s out the window

Veteran UK banker Paul Fisher on climate change and the financial sector, Saturday Paper, 29 Oct 16  MIKE SECCOMBE
A veteran of Britain’s central bank, Paul Fisher says climate change will have a massive impact on the global financial sector. He talks about managing the risks.
Paul Fisher recently retired as deputy head of the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority, after a long career in financial markets, financial stability and monetary policy. In September 2015 the bank released a report on the risks to the financial system of dealing with climate change……
 Anybody who is a long-term asset-holder potentially is exposed to climate risk. You can divide the risks two ways; there’s physical risk if the climate does change, or as it does change, and that’s fairly easy to think about – floods or whatever. But more interestingly you’ve got the transition risk, and two things are going to happen. [First] the economy will need to restructure in order to try to minimise climate change and that will present both new opportunities for new businesses to grow, and it will be a threat to some existing business models. So you’ve got that structural change. But perhaps even more importantly you’ve got the policy change. Continue reading

October 29, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Activists take coal mine fight to the top

IN WHAT is believed to be a legal first, green activists have applied to take their battle against Gina Rinehart’s Alpha coal project to the High Court…. (subscribers only)

October 29, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Adani coal mine: Queensland Government publicly embarrassed over handling of megamine

October 26, 2016. A POWERFUL lobby of regional councils and business groups have started to publicly embarrass the State and Federal governments over their inability to pave the way for the $21 billion Adani megamine… (subscribers only)

October 29, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Kimberley’s Indigenous fire management experts featuring at UNESCO climate talks

Kimberley representatives head to Morocco to share traditional fire management techniques ABC Kimberley By Leah McLennan, Matt Bamford and Fi Poole,  Representatives from the Kimberley region of Western Australia will travel to climate talks in Morocco to discuss their strategic burning methods.

Traditional fire management techniques have generated more than $85 million for Indigenous groups across northern Australia.

Kimberley Land Council chief executive Nolan Hunter will deliver a presentation on Indigenous fire management in Australia at the UNESCO Indigenous Knowledge and Climate Change conference in Marrakech next month.

“We have been invited to go over there to present the work we have been doing with traditional owner groups in the north Kimberley on fire abatement and the role of Indigenous people in climate change and biodiversity,” Mr Hunter said……

October 29, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, climate change - global warming, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Climate campaigners should have the right to sue governments

Alice Klein, 28 Oct 16 
The Australian government wants to stop environmental groups using the courts to halt carbon-belching projects, but we all deserve to be heard

October 29, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment