Australian news, and some related international items

Russia trying to market Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) to Indonesia

Articles like this one are relevant to Australia. The push for South Australia as a global nuclear waste dump was essentially linked to the marketing of nuclear reactors to South East Asian nations. The essential point in this plan was to tell those nations that they would not have to worry about nuclear wastes, as Australia would take the wastes off their hands.

No Indonesian market for SMRs, M. V. Ramana, 28 June 17,   In May 2017, Indonesia’s government announced that Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation had offered to develop nuclear power plants in Indonesia. But the person making the announcement, Luhut Pandjaitan—the coordinating maritime affairs minister—said he had told them that Indonesia was not ready yet because “we need to raise public awareness, which takes time.”

Saying it “takes time” is an understatement. ………

BATAN’s efforts at setting up a nuclear power plant in Indonesia have not gone unnoticed. Many reactor vendors have beaten a path to Jakarta’s doorstep, hoping to sell their wares. The list includes South Korea, France, China and, of course—given its status as the leading reactor vendor in this decade—Russia. In recent years, all these countries’ offers have focused on one specific kind of reactor that BATAN has expressed an interest in: Small Modular Reactors (SMRs).

Why SMRs for Indonesia? Small Modular Reactors have electrical power outputs of less than 300 megawatts. They are being heavily promoted by many countries’ nuclear establishments ……

There are no operating SMRs, and it remains to be seen whether any real-world reactor would be built …. Indeed, of the different major SMR designs under development, none simultaneously fulfills the key requirements of lower cost, higher safety, less radioactive waste, and reduced opportunity for nuclear weapons proliferation. These are the key problems confronting nuclear power today and constraining its future. It is likely that addressing one or more of these four problems will involve design choices that make some of the other problems worse.

Among the target markets for such reactors are developing countries such as Indonesia. The International Atomic Energy Agency considers SMRs as a good option to electrify “remote regions with less developed infrastructures” because the low-capacity electricity grid that is typical of such areas makes it difficult to introduce a nuclear power plant with large power capacity—say 1,000 megawatts—without destabilizing the grid itself……

Among the SMR designs that have been offered by vendors, and explored by BATAN, are high temperature gas-cooled reactors, submarine-based reactors, floating power plants, and light water reactors…….

Russia.., has been the most determined suitor. In the mid-2000s, Rosatom proposed a small Russian floating nuclear power plant to supply electricity to Gorontalo province on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi………

In October 2006, the governor of Gorontalo announced that the province already had an agreement with Russia’s then state-owned Unified Energy System of Russia to buy a floating power plant.

But despite enthusiasm for the proposal from the provincial government, the Indonesian minister of Research and Technology rejected the idea of using a floating nuclear power plant. As Natio Lasman, then-deputy chairman of Indonesia’s nuclear agency and later chair of Indonesia’s Nuclear Regulatory Agency, told the Wall Street Journal: “I don’t want Indonesia to be used as an experiment.”

Public opposition: A major problem. Many problems may afflict nuclear proposals, regardless of whether the building plans are based on SMRs or large reactors. A key challenge has been public acceptance. Because of the potential for catastrophic accidents and the production of long-lived radioactive waste, nuclear power is perceived as a risky technology, and those living near areas selected to house a nuclear plant—such as the Muria Peninsula—often push back.

And apart from local opposition, the unpopularity of nuclear power among the general population nationwide is often a factor in whether a country develops nuclear power. A poll commissioned by the International Atomic Energy Agency in October 2005 found that only 33 percent of those Indonesians questioned felt that nuclear power was safe and that more plants should be built. In comparison, 28 percent felt that nuclear power was dangerous and all plants should be closed—while 31 percent agreed with the “middle opinion” that what was already in place should be used but that no new plants should be constructed. In the case of Indonesia, of course, that middle opinion is in practice the same as the 28 percent who wanted to close all reactors, because there was (and still is) no operating nuclear power plant in the country.

In 2011, an IPSOS poll conducted after the Fukushima nuclear reactor accident in Japan found that two-thirds of the Indonesian population expressed opposition: 33 percent of Indonesians strongly oppose nuclear power while 34 percent were somewhat opposed. About two-thirds of those polled said that their opinion was not influenced by Fukushima.

……..Nuclear power continues to be controversial in Indonesia, and there is widespread public opposition. Indeed, in December 2015, when then-Energy and Mineral Resources minister Sudirman Said publicly announced that the government had concluded that “this is not the time to build up nuclear power capacity,” one of his stated reasons for avoiding nuclear power was that he did not want “to raise any controversies.”

So, when people like Luhut Pandjaitan—Indonesia’s coordinating maritime affairs minister—talk about the “need to raise public awareness,” it’s reasonable to ask what they mean. Is raising public awareness really just code for coaxing or bribing the people in some areas to allow the construction of a nuclear power plant?

The history of the many attempts to site nuclear reactors in Indonesia shows quite clearly that the public is already aware of the hazards involved in nuclear power. The Indonesian public’s longstanding opposition to nuclear power, especially in areas that have been earmarked for potential construction, include concerns about the security of reactor operations, the reliability of reactor designs, radioactive waste, the potential for nuclear proliferation, Indonesia’s geographical position within the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire, and the proximity of nuclear sites to seismic faults or volcanoes. Many Indonesians are also concerned about nuclear power’s high economic costs and future dependence on foreign parties for nuclear technology or fuel, and they prefer local renewable energy resources.

Other problems with SMRs. My collaborators at the Indonesian Institute of Energy Economics and at the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability and I recently issued a report that detailed the many challenges that would have to be overcome before any small modular reactors are constructed in Indonesia. These challenges include a lack of support for nuclear power at the highest political levels, the absence of tested SMR designs, and the higher electricity-generation costs of SMR technology. We also identified legislative regulations that could become obstacles for specific SMR technologies such as floating power plants, and the political and regulatory problems with SMR construction plans that involve fabricating the bulk of the reactor at off-site factories.

The cost of electricity generated by SMRs is high compared to large conventional nuclear power plants, and high compared to the range of readily available alternatives in Indonesia. The rapidly declining cost of photovoltaic technology is particularly relevant. Studies testify to the large potential of solar energy in Indonesia, and the government has been adopting policies that promise to accelerate the construction of significant amounts of solar capacity.

The lower power level of SMRs also implies that more reactors would have to be built using this technology to produce the same amount of electricity as a few larger reactors—meaning that planners would have to deal with public resistance at many more sites. Public opposition has played a major role in stopping the construction of nuclear power plants so far; small modular reactors might face even more of controversy.

For small modular reactors, the potential benefits accruing from electricity generation come at a higher economic and social cost than other energy sources would require. As a result, it would seem that the construction of SMRs is unlikely, especially in large enough numbers to make a sizeable contribution to Indonesia’s electricity generation.

July 15, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The week that was – climate and nuclear news Australia

It’s a toss-up as to which issue is now the most critical – climate change or nuclear war danger. I’m inclined to think – climate change. Some, like Paul Beckwith, Canadian Climate System Scientist, say that abrupt climate change is already with us, and drastic emergency measures are needed. Others are very concerned, pointing out severe problems – e,g today’s news – Asia faces climate change disaster.

On the nuclear scene, the world could be teetering at the brink of nuclear war, with North Korea ramping up its nuclear weapons, and Donald Trump tweeting belligerently.when what is needed is some new strategic foreign policy thinking


CLIMATE. Former head of BP calls for an end to the cynical and dishonest denial of climate change.  Torres Strait islanders affected by climate change – evacuation eventually needed.    The Great Barrier Reef is not going to survive climate change. World’s unstoppable movement on climate change action – explained at Eco­city 2017 World Summit in Melbourne. Greenhouse gas emissions of Australian States; – Queensland’s the worst.

POLITICS.  Rather than mindlessly toeing militaristic USA line, Australia could urge negotiations on North Korea crisis. Australia should join UN nuclear weapons ban treaty, when it opens in September.

With the sudden resignation of Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, Australia has lost arguably its most intelligent and public spirited member of Parliament. This is a terrible loss for all who care about the environment, because Ludlam has been the most lucid, forceful and courteous voice for Australia’s land and water, and for its indigenous people.

A States’ led Clean Energy Target could work for Australia. Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, and the ACT defy Turnbull, will “go it alone” on Clean Energy Target. Josh Frydenberg, Australia’s Minister Against the Environment, warns the States not to act on clean energy target.

Australia’s mining lobby has a win , with government’s subtle tactic to hobble environmental groups

No plans for real development of Adani coal mine expansion. Adani family will benefit most, if it happens.  The real purpose of Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund? – to supply $billions to Adani coal project. Anti Adani coal project Activists claim they were ‘run over’ at protest.

Queensland Liberal National Party confirms its status as the Party For Fossil Fools.

Australian Energy Market Operator Chief abused by broadcaster Alan Jones, of the loony Right.

RENEWABLE ENERGY. Queensland government would welcome an Elon Musk renewable energy storage project. Renewable energy news more – and more


July 15, 2017 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

What a loss! – Scott Ludlam – politicians of integrity are few and far between

On  a technicality  – an Australian politician,  of both integrity and intelligence , has had to resign. As far as I can see, there is no Australian parliamentarian who has the understanding of nuclear/climate issues, combined with the intelligence and ability to advocate for the public good, except for Senator Scott Ludlam.

I watched his Senate interviews, and marvelled at his ever courteous, but ever persistent and probing, questioning of bureaucrats who tried, unsuccessfully, to cover up the hypocrisies that surround Australian politics on nuclear issues.

Sometimes, people can achieve much outside of parliament, as well as inside. We will have to wait to see what Scott Ludlam will do from now on. Anyway, we wish him well, while much regretting his departure from politics.

And Ludlam has  a sense of humour too. Where are we now going to get those sly amusements in the drab world of Australian politics?

Senator Ludlam welcomes Tony Abbott to WA

July 15, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Christina reviews, politics | Leave a comment

Sudden resignation of Greens Senator Scott Ludlam

Greens shock: Scott Ludlam resigns over NZ citizenship, In a shock announcement, the Greens’ Scott Ludlam has resigned after learning he remained a NZ citizen, Bernard Keane, Politics Editor West Australian Greens senator Scott Ludlam has resigned from the Senate effective immediately after revealing he had recently learnt he remained a New Zealand citizen despite being naturalised as an Australian citizen as a child.

Ludlam, who was born in New Zealand and moved to Australia at the age of three, says he assumed his naturalisation removed his New Zealand citizenship, but that it had recently been drawn to his attention that he remained a New Zealand citizen. Under section 44 of the constitution, anyone who “is under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power” cannot stand for parliament.

Ludlam, the co-deputy leader who holds the communications and foreign affairs portfolios and who was first elected to the Senate in 2007, took responsibility for the oversight.

“This is entirely on me and I should have addressed it in 2006,” he said. The issue had been drawn to his attention by a “community member” who, according to Ludlam, was neither a journalist nor a political opponent. Ludlam made the decision to resign once the New Zealand High Commission had confirmed he remained a NZ citizen.

Ludlam is required to repay his salary for his period in the Senate — a sum that will exceed a million dollars. He says he intends to follow former senators Bob Day and Rod Culleton in seeking an exemption from repayment from the Special Minister of State.

Ludlam was one of the few senators with credibility in the communications sector, given his grasp of information issues, and led the fight against the Rudd government’s internet filter and the Abbott government’s mass surveillance regime. He was also an unstinting supporter of WikiLeaks and one of the few politicians to forcefully criticise the government’s failure to support Julian Assange. He was re-elected in 2014 after a special WA byelection caused by the loss of ballot papers by the Australian Electoral Commission during the 2013 federal election. The byelection became an early test of the Abbott government’s rapidly declining popularity and Ludlam’s politely phrased, but ferocious, “welcome to Western Australia” attack on Tony Abbott prior to the byelection drew huge attention.

“Thanks to you all and see you in the next life,” Ludlam said at the end of his media conference. Australian politics will miss an intelligent, articulate and credible young leader.

July 15, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

A States’ led Clean Energy Target could work for Australia

Clean energy target: how the states might make it work  Victoria and South Australia have suggested a states-led initiative if the federal government continues to stall on a clean energy target. Could it work?, Guardian, Michael Slezak, 14 July 17,

Before Friday’s meeting of energy ministers, for which the federal government refused to put a CET on the agenda, Labor-led Victoria and South Australia called for consideration of a linked-up state-based scheme, and urged Coalition-led NSWto join up. Given recent comments by the NSW energy minister, Don Harwin, who indicated support for the CET, such a move seems plausible………

July 15, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, and the ACT defy Turnbull, will “go it alone” on Clean Energy Target

States harden threat to got it alone on clean energy target, THE AUSTRALIAN, 15 July 17  ROSIE LEWIS, Reporter, Canberra @rosieslewis and SID MAHER, NSW Editor, Sydney@sidmaher

Labor states have ramped up pressure on the Turnbull government to adopt a clean energy target but refused to lift bans on gas exploration, triggering warnings from industry leaders that time was running out for a national ­approach to lowering electricity costs and securing supply.

A crucial meeting of the ­nation’s state and federal energy ministers yesterday signed 49 of the 50 recommendations handed down by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, but Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT stuck to their threat to “go it alone” on a target and moved to “immediately develop and ­de­sign” options for implementing the mechanism………

The Australian Energy Council, representing major gas and electricity businesses, said brokering a national and bipartisan CET was fundamental to overcoming the energy crisis.

“Successful reform and lower energy bills will only come from bipartisan support and national implementation. Investment behind this reform will run for decades, so we need to find broad and enduring agreement to give it the confidence to proceed.’’

Key Finkel recommendations agreed to at the Council of Australian Governments Energy Council meeting in Brisbane include an obligation on intermittent sources of generation such as wind and solar to provide appropriate levels of backup power to guard against blackouts; a requirement for large generators to give at least three years’ notice before closing; and the establishment of an energy security board to scrutinise the National Electricity Market’s health, security and reliability.

The states also backed the federal government’s decision to abolish the Limited Merits Review — a tool the government says has been used by power companies to increase electricity ­prices — and accelerate the timetable for gas pipelines reform.

The price and availability of long-term electricity retail contracts will be published so big consumers can understand the market they are competing in.

Grattan Institute energy director Tony Wood said the only factors likely to drive any easing of prices were a decision by the Queensland government to order its generators to lower their ­returns, and the final commissioning of the Gladstone LNG export facilities, which could see more gas made available for domestic use and ease gas prices……

The Australian Pipelines and Gas Association was dismayed that energy ministers had brought forward reforms to pipeline operations by a month. Information disclosure and arbitration rules will now begin on August 1.

July 15, 2017 Posted by | ACT, energy, politics, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria | Leave a comment

Critique of nuclear weapons’ nations and their hypocrisy over UN weapons ban treaty

U.S., UK and France Denounce Nuclear Ban Treaty, CounterPunch,  In a joint press statement, issued on July 7, 2017, the day the treaty was adopted, the U.S., UK and France stated, “We do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to it.” Seriously? Rather than supporting the countries that came together and hammered out the treaty, the three countries argued: “This initiative clearly disregards the realities of the international security environment.”  Rather than taking a leadership role in the negotiations, they protested the talks and the resulting treaty banning nuclear weapons. They chose hubris over wisdom, might over right.

They based their opposition on their belief that the treaty is “incompatible with the policy of nuclear deterrence, which has been essential to keeping the peace in Europe and North Asia for over 70 years.” Others would take issue with their conclusion, arguing that, in addition to overlooking the Korean War and other smaller wars, the peace in Europe and North Asia has been kept not because of nuclear deterrence but in spite of it.

The occasions on which nuclear deterrence has come close to failure, including during the Cuban missile crisis, are well known. The absolute belief of the U.S., UK and France in nuclear deterrence seems more theological than practical……

The three countries reiterate their commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but do not mention their own obligation under that treaty to pursue negotiations in good faith for an end to the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament. ….

If the U.S., UK and France were truly interested in promoting “international peace, stability and security” as they claim, they would be seeking all available avenues to eliminate nuclear weapons from the world, rather than planning to modernize and enhance their own nuclear arsenals over the coming decades.

These three nuclear-armed countries, as well as the other six nuclear-armed countries, continue to rely upon the false idol of nuclear weapons, justified by nuclear deterrence. In doing so, they continue to run the risk of destroying civilization, or worse.

The 122 nations that adopted the nuclear ban treaty, on the other hand, acted on behalf of every citizen of the world who values the future of humanity and our planet, and should be commended for what they have accomplished.

The new treaty will open for signatures in September 2017, and will enter into force when 50 countries have acceded to it. It provides an alternative vision for the human future, one in which nuclear weapons are seen for the threat they pose to all humanity, one in which nuclear possessors will be stigmatized for the threats they pose to all life. Despite the resistance of the U.S., UK and France, the nuclear ban treaty marks the beginning of the end of the nuclear age.

David Krieger is President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (  He is the author of Zero: The Case for Nuclear Weapons Abolition.

July 15, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s mining lobby wins, with government’s subtle tactic to hobble environmental groups

Government’s letter to conservation groups has ominous implications, GuardianLenore Taylor, @lenoretaylor New reporting rules seem to represent a big win for the campaign by the mining sector and conservative politicians to stifle environmental advocacy. 15 July 2017 

The environment department has recently begun sending letters to conservation groups registered as eligible for tax deductible donations, as they do every year. But this year the correspondence is different, in a disturbing way.

In the past the groups, which include all the big names such as the Australian Conservation Society, The Wilderness Society, Lock the Gate, Greenpeace etc, as well as small local conservation organisations, were simply asked to reveal the total expenditure from their public fund. This year they have also been asked to break down their expenditure into the amounts spent on “on ground environmental remediation”, “campaign and advocacy”, “research” and other administration.

It sounds like a boring technicality but it seems to represent a significant victory in the long-running campaign by the mining industry and conservative politicians to hobble advocacy for the environment.

According to the mining industry’s argument, enthusiastically adopted by conservative politicians including the resources minister, Matt Canavan, environmental groups should not be able to claim tax deductions for all the donations they get from members of the public who want to support their campaigns.

Canavan, while a backbencher, conducted his own deep investigation of green groups’ activities for a previous Senate inquiry, concluding that tax deductibility should be pared back……

The mining industry peak bodies believe they should themselves be free to campaign for public subsidies for new coal mines or coal-fired generators, or to spend millions to overturn a mining tax, in the interests of, and funded by, their cashed-up multinational members.

But they say the environmental groups that argue for the interests of the natural environment should be able to receive tax deductible donations only for “on ground environmental remediation” – planting trees and the like – and not for public debate and advocacy.

That’s why the new reporting requirements are seen as ominous……..

But if you believe Australia is a richer place for doing its part to address global warming, for limiting tree clearing, protecting endangered species or the Great Barrier Reef, or for insisting on proper remediation of mine sites, then it’s taxpayer money well spent. And, by definition, that’s a belief the hundreds of thousands of Australians who donate to environmental groups share.

And if you believe better decisions are reached when politicians, and the public, hear all the arguments, not just those from businesses with expert lobbying teams, why should a self-interested campaign by the mining industry get to disadvantage, even silence, all the voices that disagree with their business interests?

July 15, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Effects of ionising radiation on wild Japanese monkey fetuses

Small head size and delayed body weight growth in wild Japanese monkey fetuses after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster , Nature, Scientific Reports,


Scientific Reports 7, 1June2017


To evaluate the biological effect of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, relative differences in the growth of wild Japanese monkeys (Macaca fuscata) were measured before and after the disaster of 2011 in Fukushima City, which is approximately 70 km from the nuclear power plant, by performing external measurements on fetuses collected from 2008 to 2016. Comparing the relative growth of 31 fetuses conceived prior to the disaster and 31 fetuses conceived after the disaster in terms of body weight and head size (product of the occipital frontal diameter and biparietal diameter) to crown-rump length ratio revealed that body weight growth rate and proportional head size were significantly lower in fetuses conceived after the disaster. No significant difference was observed in nutritional indicators for the fetuses’ mothers. Accordingly, radiation exposure could be one factor contributed to the observed growth delay in this study.


The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (NPP) disaster that occurred in March 2011 exposed a large number of humans and wild animals to radioactive substances. Several studies of wild animals in Fukushima investigated health effects of the disaster, such as morphological abnormalities in gall-forming aphids (Tetraneura soriniTnigriabdominalis)1 and pale grass blue butterfly (Zizeeria maha)2, hematological abnormalities in carp (Cyprinus carpio)3, and chromosomal aberrations in wild mice (Apodemus argenteusMus musculus)4. However, there is no research investigating long-term exposure to radiation on mammals that typically have long life-span to date. This study is the first report to observe long-term biological effects of the pre- and post-NPP disaster on non-human primates in Fukushima.

We previously studied radioactive exposure and its effect on health of Japanese monkeys (Macaca fuscata) inhabiting Fukushima City, which is located approximately 70 km from the Fukushima Daiichi NPP56. After the NPP disaster, the range of radiocesium soil concentrations in Fukushima City was 10,000–300,000 Bq/m2. Hayama et al.5 investigated chronological changes in muscle radiocesium concentrations in monkeys inhabiting Fukushima City from April 2011 to June 2012. The cesium concentration in monkeys’ muscle captured at locations with 100,000–300,000 Bq/m2 was 6000–25,000 Bq/kg in April 2011 and decreased over 3 months to approximately 1000 Bq/kg. However, the concentration increased again to 2000–3000 Bq/kg in some animals during and after December 2011, before returning to 1000 Bq/kg in April 2012, after which it remained constant.

Fukushima monkeys had significantly lower white and red blood cell counts, hemoglobin, and hematocrit, and the white blood cell count in immature monkeys showed a significant negative correlation with muscle cesium concentration6. These results suggested that the short-term exposure to some form of radioactive material resulted in hematological changes in Fukushima monkeys.

The effects associated with long-term low-dose radiation exposure on fetuses are among the many health concerns. Children born to atomic bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki showed low birth weight, high rates of microcephaly7, and reduced intelligence due to abnormal brain development8. Experiments with pregnant mice or rats and radiation exposure had been reported to cause low birth weight910, microcephaly11,12,13, or both1415. We identified one similar study on wild animals16, which reported that the brains of birds captured in the vicinity of the Chernobyl NPP weighted lower compared to those of birds captured elsewhere. Continue reading

July 15, 2017 Posted by | reference | Leave a comment

Queensland Liberal National Party confirms its status as the Party For Fossil Fools

Queensland LNP pledges to promote coal and ‘resist environmental groups’
Proposals before LNP state convention include pulling out of Paris climate agreement and banning migrants from nations that recognise sharia,
Guardian, Joshua Robertson, 14 July 17, Queensland’s Liberal National Party has resolved to use its next stint in state government to push for the promotion of coal mining and “fully resist environmental groups” that stand in the way.

The pro-coal vow was one of the opening resolutions of an LNP state convention set to rule on up to 77 rank and file proposals for new policy, including calling on the federal government to echo Donald Trump’s US administration by pulling out of the Paris climate agreement.

mixed agenda from the three-day event also includes calls to ban immigration from nations that recognise sharia, privatise the ABC, and condemn public spending on “altering traffic lights for ideological purposes”.

One proposed resolution calls on the federal government to ensure Adani’s corporate structure makes its tax liability similar to Australian companies before it is given any loan through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.

That proposal is from the LNP’s Moggill branch, in Brisbane’s leafy, well-heeled western suburbs.

 Moira Williams, from the activist group Stop Adani Brisbane, said this showed “that the grassroots of the LNP are concerned about Adani’s reliance on tax havens, and they know that lending $1 billion of taxpayers’ money to this company is a risk for the taxpayer”.

“That the Adani Group has a complex network of companies that extends to a global tax haven, the Cayman Islands, is no secret. It is no wonder that the LNP membership are concerned about the potential for Adani to receive significant public funds from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.”

The first vote of the convention on Friday backed a resolution from the rural Burnett branch to call for “Get Up and other blatantly political organisations” to register as third parties with electoral authorities to enable scrutiny of funding sources, advertising and political activities.

The convention, which sets official party policy for consideration but is not binding on the LNP parliamentary arm, is the last before a Queensland election due by May 2018.

A proposal from the Groom branch near Toowoomba called on the federal government to “pull out of the Paris Climate Accord as it weakens Australia’s sovereignty and economy without helping the environment in any measurable way”.

The Queensland environment minister, Steven Miles, said the fact the LNP was debating a withdrawal from the “historic Paris climate treaty … underlined the differences between Labor and the LNP on climate policy”.

“In the very same week as Queensland Labor announces we will decarbonise Queensland’s economy in line with the treaty, the LNP wants to pull out of it,” he told Guardian Australia.

“This explains [opposition leader] Tim Nicholls’ hysterical response to our policy. He’s hopelessly beholden to a backward looking party base. Increasingly the LNP is the party of fossil fuels, while Labor accepts the need to transition our economy and is taking steps to do so.”……

July 15, 2017 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Trump’s inability to understand foreign policy. Tweeting is no substitute.

Twitter Is No Substitute for Foreign Policy,  Charles V. Peña

While most Americans celebrated the 4th of July with fireworks, North Korea had their version of fireworks by testing a new ballistic missile— believed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could reach targets in the continental United States. Predictably, President Trump took to Twitter stating, “North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?” Apparently, the president doesn’t seem to understand that this is probably the most important thing Kim Jong-un has to do with his time.

While the U.S. is rightfully concerned that Pyongyang might eventually have the ability to reach the American homeland, we also assume that attacking America is the sole intent of North Korea’s pursuit of long-range missile capability. But even if North Korea is able to mate a nuclear warhead to an ICBM (not a trivial feat), that doesn’t automatically mean that the target would be a U.S. city. Kim Jong-un would have to be suicidal to launch a nuclear weapon against the United States, knowing that the vastly superior U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal could respond with utterly devastating results.

Like his father and his father’s father, Kim Jong-un is more interested in survival and perpetuating the Kim dynasty. Survival is the key word and why the relentless pursuit of ICBM capability is the most important thing Kim Jong-un has to do with his life.

What do Saddam Hussein and Muammar el-Qaddafi both have in common? Both did not have the capability to inflict damage on the U.S. with nuclear weapons and both were on the receiving end of regime change. While we assume North Korea wants ICBMs to attack the U.S., it is just as likely— perhaps even more likely– that they are more about staving off U.S.-led regime change. Certainly, nuclear weapons would be a powerful deterrent from North Korea’s perspective. That reality is probably not lost on Kim Jong-un— even if it is not understood by President Trump.

Another point missed by the president is China’s limitation and inability to reign in its client state’s ambitions. Trump followed up his original tweet with another: “Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!” While China has some leverage over North Korea as its biggest trading partner and main source of food, arms and energy, Pyongyang doesn’t simply bow to Bejing’s wishes. Moreover, the Chinese perspective is that stability on the Korean Peninsula is preferred to denuclearization. So the prospect of a North Korean implosion resulting in a failed state on their border is scarier than Kim Jong-un with long-range missiles and nukes.

What Trump’s tweets betray is that this administration really doesn’t have a coherent policy or well thought out plan when it comes to North Korea. That was apparent in U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley’s tweet complaining about North Korea’s missile test: “Spending my 4th in meetings all day. #ThanksNorthKorea.”

Hopefully, those meetings focused on real policy options and courses of action— other than the use of military force, which most experts agree would risk a catastrophic war– the U.S. should consider.

One option to consider is ending the joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises that are conducted every March, which are a sore point with Pyongyang. A quid pro quo might be a suspension of those exercises in return for the suspension of North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities. Doing so would be relatively low-risk and if North Korea responds positively, it would be an important first step to achieving a resolution to tensions on the Korean peninsula. And it would provide incentive for South Korea to take greater responsibility for its own security rather than continuing to depend on the United States.

Another option to consider is withdrawing U.S. troops from the Korean peninsula. Certainly, it would be less incentive for North Korea to want to target the U.S. if American soldiers weren’t on its border. Moreover, those 23,000 troops aren’t capable of defending South Korea. They are simply a tripwire meant to guarantee a larger U.S. response to any North Korean aggression— even if such aggression does not directly threaten U.S. national security.

But why should American blood be spilled when South Korea is far richer than North Korea and can more than afford to maintain a military capable of defending against it? North Korea’s gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated at $40 billion— about on par with the tiny Polynesian island nation of Tuvalu— while South Korea’s economy is more than 30 times larger at $1.3 trillion. North Korea is believed to spend about $10 billion on its military, about 25 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP). South Korea spends only 2.6 percent of its GDP on defense, but that still amounts to $36 billion— more than three times what North Korea spends.

Ultimately, President Trump needs to understand that navigating a way forward with regard to North Korea will be complicated. There are no easy solutions. Just hard and imperfect choices. He is right to say that “something will have to be done” about North Korea. But Twitter is not how it will get done.


July 15, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The real purpose of Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund? – to supply $billions to Adani

Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund set up to funnel billions to Adani, Independent Australia Mark Zanker 15 July 2017, The NAIF was set up to allow the Coalition Government to pump billions of dollars of public money into Adani’s Galilee Basin coal mine and other coal mining projects, writes former public servant Mark Zanker.

THE Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility(NAIF) was set up ostensibly is to fund the states and territories to carry out infrastructure works to assist economic growth and increased population in northern Australia. However, a close look at the bill, and the people and circumstances surrounding it, suggests that it is, in fact, a tiny fig leaf behind which the Federal Government seeks to hide its desire to shovel billions of dollars of taxpayers money into Adani’s Galilee Basin coal mine project.

The legislation precludes the appointment to the board of representatives of traditional owners, pastoralists, scientists, environmentalists, the tourism industry, and historians. These groups also have significant expertise in northern Australia — pastoral, cultural, spiritual, historical and scientific. Pastoralism, aquaculture, tourism, including conventional, cultural and ecological tourism, are very important industries in northern Australia, but none of them have a seat at the table here.

With the possible exception of Innisfail Mayor Bill Shannon, the board members of the NAIFall have strong links to the mining industry. Chair Sharon Warburton was a board member of Gina Rinehart’s Fortescue Metals Group, and previously worked at Rio Tinto and other resources companies. Continue reading

July 15, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Energy experts and executives are impressed by AEMO boss Audrey Zibelman

Zibelman is not on board the coal-power train with former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce and Jones.
Views such as Jones’s are alien to virtually anyone who works in – or closely observes – the energy industry.
Energy executives are impressed. “I was quite buoyed by Audrey’s approach on demand response,” said Steven Neave, head of electricity networks for Powercor and Citipower, the largest Victorian distributor, who attended the CEDA lunch.
Zibelman said while the CET and consistent national policy would be useful for energy companies – because it would make their investment decisions easier – it wouldn’t make much difference to AEMO’s actions because the shift to renewables is happening and they have to deal with it.
AEMO boss Audrey Zibelman shocks jock with pro-wind and solar energy plan Zibelman has barely been in the country 100 days. Yet she has already aroused such ire in Sydney shock jock Alan Jones that he wants her “run out of town“.

How has she done this? In one word, “energy”.

Energy policy has become one of the most polarising issues in the country. Electricity and gas prices are soaringblackouts and shortages plagued South Australia, NSW and Victoria last spring and summer, and debates about whether wind and solar power are to blame – even whether they can “kill people” – have hit fever pitch.

Zibelman landed in this cauldron in March, fresh from New York, to run the Australian Energy Market Operator – one of three agencies responsible for delivering stable, secure and affordable energy markets.

She is a cleanskin in the local energy debate but is hugely experienced, most recently as chair of the New York state utilities regulator–- responsible for implementing New York’s pro-wind and solar “Reforming the Energy Vision” plan – under Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo. Before that she was chief operating officer of PJM, a huge utility company covering 13 north-eastern states and Washington DC. Continue reading

July 15, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Income inequality, nuclear apocalypse, and luxury bunkers

It’s true that life underground after nuclear war would be a step down from the utopian existence currently lived by the super rich. But it would be immeasurably better than the hellscape populated by those left above, who would face radiation sickness, climatic disruption, virulent plagues, mass starvation, and the complete collapse of law and order. There would be no comparison between the catastrophe above and the plush if somewhat claustrophobic life of the wealthy below. The post-apocalyptic divide would be an extreme, almost absurdist example of inequality…also a fairly logical extension of the present state of affairs. 

 ……..Economic justice—redistribution and reinvestment—would lower the risk of nuclear war because the two issues are inextricably linked

Income Inequality Will Survive the Nuclear Apocalypse The class responsible for the lucrative rush to war can literally buy its way out of annihilation, thanks to the boom in luxury bunkers. New Republic, BY JOHN CARL BAKER, July 14, 2017
A decommissioned nuclear bunker “deep inside a granite mountain” in Switzerland has been put up for sale, according to the Financial Times. Fully hardened against an electromagnetic pulse, the 15,000-square-foot military facility sleeps 1,500 people and features “vehicular tunnels, reservoirs and ‘limitless’ digital bandwidth”—and though the price is secret, the amount is surely obscene. “Your casual nuclear bunker enthusiast,” Judith Evans writes, “need not apply: potential purchasers must demonstrate the capacity to spend £25m before they can receive any further information, including any details of the bunker’s location.” Presumably that knowledge must be closely guarded from the irradiated hordes of our dystopian future.

Such reports have become increasingly common of late: “Armageddon architecture: upmarket bunkers for the worried wealthy.” “Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich.” “Billionaire Bunkers: How the 1% are Preparing for the Apocalypse.” “Bunker Sales Spike as Some Prepare for Worst Amid Uncertainty.” Flush with cash and nervous about societal instability or even civilizational collapse, the wealthy are increasingly investing in a form of apocalypse insurance: posh shelters where they can ride out the coming calamity, whatever that happens to be. While this trend has obvious appeal, given Americans’ overlapping fascinations with wealth, real estate, and Armageddon, it also illuminates the intersection of two seemingly distinct problems plaguing society: economic inequality and the threat of nuclear war.

Continue reading

July 15, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Great Barrier Reef is not going to survive climate change

The uncomfortable truth: The Great Barrier Reef is doomed, Independent Australia  Dr Geoff Davies 14 July 2017 The Great Barrier Reef is unlikely to survive as more than a small, sad remnant of its past glory.

The reason is straightforward. It is well known in climate science that, even if we stopped harmful emissions tomorrow, global warming would not peak for another several decades. By then, most of the Reef will be long gone.

This is not pleasant news and clearly many would prefer it was not said, but there it is, the argument is simple and the conclusion is difficult to avoid.

The recent decision by the United Nations World Heritage Committee not to list the Reef as “in danger” is, of course, farcical. It reflects the crudest of politics, including the blinkered claim that Australia is not reponsible for global warming. Yet Australian governments, state and federal, do everything they can to spruik the coal mining that would ensure the death of the Reef and threaten to tip us into catastrophic warming.

Most news reports of global warming use only words and try for spurious he-said-she-said “balance”, so you don’t get a very clear impression of what is really going on. A good graph is worth millions of such waffle words.

[lengthy explanation given here with graphs]……

Suppose the world suddenly got sane and we set about the emergency reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, as scientists have been urging for several decades now. Even if emissions drop precipitously, there’s still too much already in the atmosphere. It takes a long time for the gases to be absorbed back into the land and ocean. In the meantime, warming will continue for 20 to 40 years — or even longer (the uncertainty is because we don’t know to what depth the oceans carry the extra heat they absorb)…….

Some scientists think corals have some chance of adapting and reversing a portion of the die-off if temperatures peak at “only” 1.5°C, but the corals’ diversity would be greatly reduced. If the peak is above 1.5°C, there is no chance of recovery.

If people like Donald Trump and Tony Abbott continue to be influential then global warming could even accelerate, as we pump out ever-more fossil fuel exhausts. Or natural reinforcings might already be kicking in and tipping the system into runaway. In that case, we would have to forget the Reef and worry about the survival of civilisation.

On the other hand, there is far more we can do to reduce emissions, reduce them quickly and live well as we do it. Leaders like William McDonough and Amory Lovins have long noted our wastefulness and the huge potential of good design and a cycling industrial system. Regenerative agriculture can not only reduce emissions but recapture and store greenhouse gases, all with abundant yields.

The Great Barrier Reef is not just a pretty decoration and earner of tourist dollars. Thousands of ocean species depend on it for food, shelter and breeding — even species that spend most of their lives far away. The effects of the present death will already be reverberating through ocean ecosystems. We depend heavily on the oceans to maintain a habitable planet.

There is a silence about the Reef. The massive bleachings have been prominent in the news, but nothing happens. We know it’s happening, but we don’t want to mention it. Why are we silent?

If our media were functioning properly, this dire prospect could have been widely understood before it became acute. The problem is not just the Murdoch media, which actively obfuscate and lie about global warming.

The media’s interpretation of ‘balance’ is so superficial as to seriously misrepresent the world. For example, paraphrasing a recent report: Much of the northern Great Barrier Reef is dead. But the good news is the southern parts are still mostly healthy. There is no good news. Such a report might reasonably have said, instead: The GBR has begun its death throes………

might there also be shame? We are the generation, out of all of the long history of humanity, that is allowing the glories of a planet to be destroyed. Oh dear, I’m not supposed to make my readers uncomfortable, they might switch off.

The question stares us in the face anyway. How will we face our grandchildren?

Dr Geoff Davies is an author, commentator and scientist.  He is a retired geophysicist at the Australian National University and the author of Desperately Seeking the Fair Go (2017). He blogs at BetterNature and tweets at @BetterNatureOz,10501

July 15, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming | Leave a comment