Australian news, and some related international items

Marcia Langton “poorly informed” on Adani coal mine, says leading native title lawyer

Leading Indigenous lawyer hits back at Marcia Langton over Adani  Tony McAvoy says traditional owners are ‘proud and independent’ and are not being used by anti-mining activists to block the $16bn mine, Guardian, Joshua Robertson, 9 June 17, One of Australia’s leading native title lawyers has spoken publicly for the first time as a traditional owner fighting to stop the Adani mine, a campaign he said was driven by “proud and independent people” who were among the best-informed Indigenous litigants in the country.

Tony McAvoy SC, who became Australia’s first Indigenous silk in 2015, said the Wangan and Jagalingou people were keenly aware of how their priorities differed from environmentalist allies in a battle to preserve their Queensland country from one of the world’s largest proposed coalmines.

McAvoy dismissed claims by the prominent Indigenous academic Marcia Langton that Indigenous people had become “collateral damage” as the “environmental industry” hijacked the Adani issue.

He said the rhetoric of Langton and Warren Mundine, who likened anti-Adani campaigners to colonial oppressors running roughshod over Indigenous self-determination, “serves a purpose for them but is just so inaccurate”.

The barrister said to suggest that “the greens are puppet masters pulling the strings and we’re somehow puppets” was wildly off the mark and disrespectful to the many families opposing the mine, including his.

The W&J are the only Indigenous group in Australia to have, in McAvoy, a senior counsel with expertise in native title law within their ranks.

“We are likely to be one of the best informed claimant groups in the country, we have many people who are experienced in native title, including my own input, and representation by an extraordinary team of lawyers,” he said.

McAvoy is part of a contingent within W&J who have mounted legal challenges to an Indigenous land use agreement (Ilua) with Adani, contesting the right of pro-Adani representatives to approve a deal previously spurned by their claim group. The miner resurrected an Ilua last year with majority support in the W&J native title applicant, then sought to register it with the native title tribunal.

But the W&J opponents challenged the deal in the federal court, on grounds including that the pro-Adani applicant members were voted out in a claim group meeting, and that a rival meeting that endorsed the Adani deal was not legitimate.

Then Adani’s hopes suffered a blow with the McGlade native title case, which found that an Ilua was invalid because not all Indigenous representatives had signed it.

The shock precedent prompted the government to put up a bill changing native title legislation to safeguard what it argued were hundreds of Iluas thrown into doubt because they had a majority but not all the signatures of claimants.

The bill also contains amendments that would pave the way for Adani’s unregistered, contested Ilua.

Langton lashed out at Greens and environmentalists on Wednesday for delaying the government’s bill “in order to bolster their campaign against the Adani project”……….

McAvoy said Langton was “very poorly informed” on the Adani issue.

He and a swathe of the W&J argue there should be no rush to pass law changes dealing with critical issues around Indigenous property rights through future land access deals.

McAvoy argues for “splitting the bill” to validate Iluas already registered with the National Native Title Tribunal, but not those unregistered, such as Adani’s. McAvoy said he hoped this proposal would find favour with Labor and crossbench senators, with the bill due for voting as early as next week.

The W&J objectors were open about the fact that “we have an alliance between our objectives [and those of environmentalists] so that we can make use of each other and we do that”, he said.

But the group raises its own funds for its legal challenges.

“And more than that, we are very, very aware that our interests of preserving our country are not entirely aligned with the green interests,” he said……..

A land access deal is crucial to Adani gaining finance for the mine, initially needing $3.3bn.

The miner last week cited the end of this year as its deadline for finance. But the federal court this week signalled a trial to decide the fate of Adani’s deal with the W&J would take place in March 2018.

McAvoy said that even if the Senate “amends the Native Title Act in the way proposed [by the government], that proceeding is still to run its course”.

June 11, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Professor Marcia Langton used to support Aboriginal empowerment, not the power of mining companies

In regards to mining on Aboriginal land, there are two primary concerns. Firstly, are the economic benefits as good as they sound? And secondly, what power do Aboriginal communities have in the agreement-making process?

While Prof. Langton has convincingly argued for many years that Aboriginal communities are not receiving their fair share of mining revenues, in the Boyer Lectures her proposed solutions to this economic vulnerability are largely to maintain the power of the mining industry

Responses to Marcia Langton’s Boyer Lectures

Prof. Langton used to sit on the Australian Uranium Association’s so-called ‘Indigenous Dialogue Group’. Other mining companies support her work as discussed below.

[ I’m thinking that Marcia Langton might now have to be  be included in the hierarchy of Australia’s nuclear spinners? – C.M. ]


Indigenous communities, conservation and the resource boom Friends of the Earth Australia, Nick McClean and Dawn Wells Chain Reaction #117, April 2013 In the recent Boyer Lectures, Prof. Marcia Langton argued that mining is providing Indigenous communities with an opportunity to move out of the economic margins and grow into a new middle class of wealth and opportunity.

But is mining the only way forward for Indigenous communities seeking to develop economically sustainable futures? And are supporters of conservation committing an act of racism, as she suggests?

We can begin by looking to Prof. Langton’s own publications. In an article published in the Journal of Political Ecology in 2005, Prof. Langton and her colleagues brought together research from across Australia, the Middle-East, Indonesia and the United Nation’s chief conservation agency, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Assessing the benefits and pitfalls of developing community-based conservation programs in partnership with Indigenous peoples, the conclusions were clear − Australia is currently one of the few countries where Indigenous led conservation programs are proving successful.

To quote: “Australia has in relation to certain key national parks, taken a lead role in the development of joint management agreements with Indigenous groups” (p.35) and “we also argue, in contrast to many critiques of community-based conservation elsewhere, that community-oriented protected areas are delivering significant benefits to Indigenous peoples in Australia” (p.24).

Based on a number of detailed examples, Prof. Langton and her colleagues argued that Australia’s Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) program in particular provides significant potential for Indigenous communities to develop livelihoods that are economically sustainable and culturally relevant. Continue reading

June 11, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | 1 Comment

Congratulations to those who received Queen’s Birthday awards for work on the environment

from Maelor Himbury , 12 June 17 :
Ms Catherine Elise BLANCHETT (NSW)
Professor Ross Gregory GARNAUT AO (VIC)
Professor Lynette SELWOOD (VIC)
Professor Philip Noel PETTIT (ACT)
Mr David John THOMAS OAM (QLD)
Mr Reece Samuel FLAHERTY (NSW)
Mr Maurice Francis HAGARTY (NSW)
Mrs Kathleen Margaret HASSELL (VIC)
Dr Gregory Murray MOORE (VIC)
Mr Frank RIGBY (VIC)
Mr Donald Kimberley SARTI (WA)
Mrs Margaret Ann WILKSCH (SA)
Mr Leslie Walter SMITH (VIC)
Mr Stephen John BEAMAN (NSW)
Mr Robert Anthony LAWRENCE (QLD)
Mr Ian Clifton CARROLL OAM (NSW)
Ms Bridgit (Penny) Mary HUSSEY (WA)
Ms Rosemary Margaret BIRNEY (VIC)
Mr William Andrew HANDKE (ACT)

June 11, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Energy report sparks coal debate in Federal Parliament

Federal Labor warns negotiations over a new proposed clean energy target will fail if the government insists on fresh coal generation.

June 11, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Power firms offer Finkel support

The nation’s biggest power generators have given cautious support to the landmark Finkel Report into the nation’s power market.

June 11, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

IN USA solar energy increases, as renewables beat nuclear in energy production

Renewable Energy Outproduces Nuclear In The U.S. [good graphs] 

• The contribution from solar reached just over 2 percent

• The contribution from All Renewables exceeded that from Nuclear

• The combined contribution from Wind and Solar exceeded 10 percent

• The contribution from Non-Hydro Renewables exceeded 12 percent

………This year the increase in solar output in March seems significantly greater than in the previous three years. The solar generation capacity in the U.S. increased by over 57 percent for the year 2016 and data is not yet available from the Solar Energy Industries Association for the first quarter of 2017….

June 11, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

False promises about Adani coal project have sucked in Queensland Premier and Townsville Mayor

Not that it was in writing. The only assurance Queenslanders truly had was a photo of a handshake. The premier ought to have stopped there, but she kept going.
For a premier under pressure to create jobs in a state with a population of 4.6 million, of whom more than 160,000 were unemployed in May this year, supporting a coalmine that will see job losses from elsewhere seems a serious folly.
the myriad companies that make up the Adani conglomerate make it nearly impossible to follow the money. What tax on profits will be paid in Australia? How much will be siphoned off to Adani’s “marketing hub” in Singapore and the Adani family company in the Cayman Islands?
Revealed: Gautam Adani’s coal play in the state facing global-warming hell  The extraction of mammoth coal deposits in Queensland’s Galilee Basin will only exacerbate climate change. Who supports the mines – and why? The Age, Anna Krien, 9 June 17  “…….
It was December 2016 when Gautam Adani flew into Townsville to meet Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and the city’s mayor, Jenny Hill. Yes, there was some animosity: a couple of hundred people gathered on the foreshore to protest against Adani’s proposed coal mega-mine, and two native-title owners, Carol Prior and Ken Dodd, were also on his trail.
But for the nation’s kingmakers, Adani may as well be Midas. That very morning he had nipped down to Melbourne to meet Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to discuss the Coalition’s “conditional” offer to chip in a $1 billion loan to his project. After the meeting in the Townsville City Council chambers, there was the obligatory handshake photo with the Queensland premier, and then he was gone – a “fly-in, fly-out” billionaire.

Continue reading

June 11, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, employment, Queensland | Leave a comment

Russia’s very unsatisfactory nuclear waste disposal: Norway should not participate

For Nadezhda Kutepova, fighting for the rights of people living in the villages along the Techa river came with a price. First, the organization she founded in the 1990s, Planeta Nadezhd (Planet of Hopes), was declared «foreign agents» by the Justice Ministry in April 2015. The law labeling NGOs as «foreign agents» aims to close down activities of groups working with political questions and get funding from abroad. Recently afterwards, the federal TV channel Rossiya 1 aired the news that Planeta Nadezhd used American money to conduct industrial espionage.

Nadezhda’s group is one of 11 environmental NGOs to end up on the «foreign agents» list since the law was introduced in 2012.

Activist in exile says Norway’s nuclear waste support is irresponsible, Barents Observer, Thomas Nilsen,  June 07, 2017

Nadezhda Kutepova was forced to flee Russia after fighting for the rights of the residents in radioactive contaminated villages near Mayak, the site where all spent nuclear fuel from Andreeva Bay will be sent.

On June 27, the first shipment of containers with highly radioactive spent fuel elements will leave Andreeva Bay on the Kola Peninsula. Destination: Mayak reprocessing plant in the South-Ural.

For 20 years, Norway has financed infrastructure upgrades aimed at shipping spent nuclear fuel away from Andreeva Bay. The rundown facility is located 55 kilometers from the border to Norway on the Barents Sea coast and is considered to be the worst storage facility for Cold War nuclear waste in the Russian Arctic.

When the nuclear waste shipment sails away with the first few of an estimated 3,000 containers, Norway’s Foreign Minister Børge Brende and State Secretary Marit Berger Røsland will be on site and wave farewell.

This landmark event, though, is not welcomed by activists fighting for the rights of the people effected by radioactive contamination in the vicinity of Mayak.

«I think it is a irresponsible decision by Norway,» says Nadezhda Kutepova to the Barents Observer. She says out of sight, doesn’t mean out of mind.

I’m sure the Norwegian government knows about the situation in Mayak only from officials represented by Rosatom.»  Continue reading

June 11, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Green light for massive coal mine? Adani has not secured the financing it needs for the project

Gautam boys, It was a stunt. This fact makes the legitimacy given to it by Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and federal resources minister Matt Canavan doubly galling.

Adani claims it has given the “green light” to its huge mine in the Galilee Basin. Palaszczuk repeats the lie that this is a boon for jobs. Canavan calls it “a great future now that we can all get along and work on”.

The support of both governments for this project is pathological. It speaks of the sickness at the heart of our politics. This is not about the meagre jobs the mine might create. It is about punishing the environment as if it were an enemy.

The desire to build this doomed mine, to cut its useless rail line halfway across the state, is about saying to a handful of backward voters that contemporary thought won’t trouble a people who can’t imagine a life that isn’t dug from the earth. It’s about saying the modern world can go on everywhere but rural Queensland.

Adani has not secured the financing it needs for the project. Contractor Downer EDI has no binding deal from the company.

Loans have been refused by 19 banks, the most recent being Westpac. In Gujarat, in India, the power station that was to take more than half the mine’s coal looks unable to justify the import costs.

Rising debts mean Adani may have to begin selling assets. The coal terminal at Abbot Point is one of these. Meanwhile, renewable energy is ever cheaper.

Adani’s announcement this week was like a historical re-enactment, like a few excited mates putting on pantaloons and false beards and having their sepia picture taken in a replica saloon. It was an announcement from a different time, unbound by reality.

This mine is a farce. The coal it would excavate grows more worthless each day. The desire to see that excavation becomes more desperate and illogical.

In making this week’s announcement, Gautam Adani had the defiant air of an industrialist gone mad. His announcement was as much about business as about the imagined enemy of the environmental movement.

“We have been challenged by activists in the courts, in inner-city streets, and even outside banks that have not even been approached to finance the project,” he said. “We are still facing activists. But we are committed to this project.”

The company’s choice of the phrase “green light” for this project was unfortunate. But there it was in the press release: “Adani Project Gets Green Light.”

The phrase recalls the pass Roger Rogerson gave to Neddy Smith in the 1970s, a kind of licence to commit violent crime in exchange for stability in the underworld. Rogerson is now disgraced, serving life for murder, regarded as a serial killer.

The green light was never about the law. It was about rank opportunism. The same could be said of the Adani mine and the politics that supports it. Rogerson’s green light is regarded now as a shameful relic; Adani’s will soon be, too.

June 11, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment