Australian news, and some related international items

ICAN urges Australia to sign nuclear weapons treaty 

Nobel Peace Prize winners ICAN urge Australia to sign nuclear weapons treaty, SBS News 7 Oct 17    An Australian-born group that was awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize says Australia needs to join global efforts to abolish nuclear weapons.A Victorian-born international group that was awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize says it’s a shame the Australian government has not signed the treaty banning nuclear weapons that led to its award……

The organisation worked on negotiations for the Treaty on the United Nations Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted by 122 countries in July.

However, the treaty was shunned by nuclear powers the US, Britain, Russia and China. Australia also did not sign the treaty.

“It is a matter of deep regret that the Australian government has thus far refused to join the treaty, and boycotted the conference to negotiate it,” the group said in a statement on Saturday.

ICAN says Australia led a small group of nations who tried to derail efforts in 2016 to secure a UN mandate to launch treaty negotiations.

“Our government’s belief that nuclear weapons, for a select few, are a legitimate and essential source of security is not only misguided, but also dangerous, for it incites proliferation and undermines disarmament,” the group said.

ICAN hopes the federal government will change its stance on nuclear weapons given Australia’s commitment to other treaties prohibiting chemical and biological weapons, anti-personnel landmines and cluster munition.

“For the sake of our collective security, the government must now embrace the global ban on nuclear weapons.  “Greater public pressure is needed, along with enlightened leadership.” ICAN founder Tilman Ruff AM says being awarded the Nobel Prize was “quite humbling” and “unbelievably joyful” 

October 9, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Medical Association for Prevention of War – a tribute to ICAN

ICAN now has 468 partner organisations in 101 countries. It was pivotal to the UN adopting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) on July 7 this year

A Nobel Peace Prize born in Australia, Margaret Beavis   Australians can be very proud. The winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), started in Melbourne. It began when the Medical Association for the Prevention of War (MAPW) recognised that nuclear weapons, the very worst of the weapons of mass destruction, were still “legitimate”. This contrasted with chemical weapons, biological weapons, cluster munitions, land mines – even dumdum bullets, which all have been made illegal by UN treaty, with impressive results. Continue reading

October 9, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Greens Queensland campaign: Richard di Natale attacks Adani coal project

Richard di Natale targets Adani at Greens’ Queensland campaign launch

Leader attacks connection between lobbyists and politicians, saying democratic rules are ‘rigged’ in the state, Guardian, Gareth Hutchens and Katharine Murphy, 7 Oct 17 The Greens say they will offer Queensland voters a chance to clean up politics at the looming state election, and send a clear message that they don’t want the controversial Adani mine to proceed.

The federal Greens leader, Richard di Natale, will launch their campaign on Saturday with a speech declaring the state has a democratic deficit because of lobbying and political connections, with “a revolving door between politicians, their staff and the companies that profit from government decisions”.

Di Natale will declare that “the rules in Queensland are rigged”.

The Greens leader will criticise the practice of political staff from the major parties going on to work as corporate lobbyists, and point out that Adani’s lobbyists in Queensland, Next Level Strategic Services, also “act for property developers, gambling firms and Broadspectrum – the company running Manus and Nauru detention centres”.

Federal leaders from all parties have been highly attentive to Queensland in recent months, preparing the ground for when the Labor premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, fires the starting gun.

One Nation is likely to be the kingmaker, with neither Labor nor the LNP guaranteed to win the 47 seats required for power in the unicameral parliament.

The Greens will also be in fierce competition with Labor for inner Brisbane seats. The Adani project provides a major point of difference between the two parties, and one the Greens will run hard on, as they have done in Melbourne.

Di Natale on Saturday will zero in on Labor’s assistance for the project. “Despite Queensland Labor’s election promise not to give any public money to Adani, they ultimately were able to secure a loan from the Queensland government so Adani don’t have to pay coal royalties that would go towards vital public infrastructure, schools and hospitals.”

The Greens leader will say the company was assisted in securing support from the state government by lobbyists, who were in frequent contact with the state government in the lead up to the royalties decision.

“We still don’t know what is in this contract, because the Palaszczuk government refuses to release it,” the text of Di Natale’s speech says.

“But what we do know through Queensland’s lobbyist contact register is that Next Level lobbyists were in contact with the premier’s office and her chief of staff every single day in the lead-up to the royalties announcement.”

The Queensland lobbyists contact register shows Next Level had daily contact with senior members of the Queensland government from 25 May to 30 May, when the final decision was made.

“We also know that up until that point the premier had had only 10 appointments with lobbyists – six of them were with Adani’s handlers.”

October 9, 2017 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Across Australia, thousands protest against Adani Carmichael coal mine

Adani: Thousands turn out across Australia to protest against Carmichael coal mine, ABC News 8 Oct 17  A national day of action to oppose the proposed Carmichael coal mine has seen thousands of protesters turn out in locations across Australia.

Rallies in locations including Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, the Gold Coast and Port Douglas in North Queensland heard messages against Indian company Adani’s proposed mine in the Galilee Basin.

Adani has promised thousands of local jobs but opponents say the project will fuel global warming and destroy the Great Barrier Reef.

The ABC’s Four Corners program on Monday revealed alleged cases of bribery, corruption and environmentally destructive behaviour by the Adani Group in India.

Adani is seeking a $900-million loan from taxpayers so it can build the railway line from the proposed mine site in the Galilee Basin to the Abbot Point coal port.

“If this mine does go ahead it drives us into a dirty future and Australia is a country that’s smarter than that,” said Simon Fosterling, a Bondi surf life saver at the Sydney protest, which attracted about 2,000 people.

Protesters spelled out ‘#STOP ADANI’ by standing in formation on the sand………

Sydney Stop Adani campaigner Isaac Astill called the construction of the mine an international issue.

“It’s going to be the biggest coal mine in the southern hemisphere at a time when our climate is crumbling,” Mr Astill said.

It’s an international issue and that’s why we’re seeing people around the world and in Australia coming out in their thousands to say no to Adani.”

About 2,000 people rallied in Melbourne’s Princes Park carrying placards reading ‘Coal=CO2!!!’ and ‘Protect Our Future’.

Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Kelly O’Shanassy said she hoped the “big day of action” would send a strong message that taxpayers did not want their money subsidising the project…..

At Miami on the Gold Coast around 200 people turned out to oppose the mine.

“We know how important this is and we know there’s a growing movement and more and more people are realising how desperately we need this to stop,” said Shane Primrose of the Stop Adani Gold Coast group…….

The protests were organised by the Stop Adani Alliance, which is made up of 31 organisations.

October 9, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Donald Trump’s “madman” strategy likely to backfire on him

Among serious strategists, “madmen” are not afraid to fail, or blow up the world and themselves. That is not their preferred outcome, but they are prepared to take massive risks for specific purposes.
President Donald Trump seems not to know this history, nor do most of his advisers. He appears, however, drawn to the same strategy as Nixon. Trump has many incentives to try and convince foreign adversaries that he is “mad,” in hopes that they will back down from long-standing defiant behaviors without heavy costs to the United States. He wants big victories with small sacrifices—a good “deal”—and nuclear threats call out as the obvious instrument.
Kim will continue to defy Trump and make the president look like a “dotard”—a wise word choice. A failed bluff is indeed worse than no bluff at all. Trump will not be willing or able to follow through on his nuclear threats, but he will divert attention with new threats in other places, perhaps in Iran. That is his standard mode of behavior. The president will continue to make empty promises, fail to deliver, and then start again. That is his true madness
AS THE THREATS exchanged between the leaders of the United States and North Korea escalatePresident Donald Trump’s rhetoric seems to draw from the “madman” playbook employed by President Richard Nixon during the Vietnam War. Trump should not expect the results to be any better, and they might be much worse. American leaders should be extremely wary of the risks of flagrant nuclear brinksmanship.

The paradox of American nuclear power is that the nation’s overwhelming arsenal is almost unusable. The damage created by a single nuclear strike would be so great, it would undermine most American strategic purposes. The public revulsion, even from Washington’s closest allies, would make the United States a global outcast. And American nuclear action would justify others contemplating the same, tearing apart 50 years of global non-proliferation efforts. Continue reading

October 9, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Indian news report – “Australians don’t like Adani”

Australians don’t like Adani: Poll shows majority oppose coal mine,, Oct 08th 2017demonstration at 45 different locations across the island continent on Saturday

Thousands of Australians also participated in protests against Adani at 45 locations across the country

Most Australians don’t want work on the Adani Group’s coal mine to go ahead, a new poll commissioned by Australia Institute has found.

As per the poll findings released on Saturday and Sunday, even more Australians oppose the proposed government assistance of $1 billion to the Adani Group. The borrowed money would reportedly be used to build a railway line to nearby Abbott Point coal port.

The poll findings were published in Guardian Australia.

The survey, conducted by market research agency ReachTel, interviewed 2,200 people across Australia. While 55.4 per cent opposed the mine, 18.4 per cent of the respondents remained undecided.

Meanwhile, thousands of Australians on Saturday across 45 locations also protested against Adani’s mine, forming human signs reading “Stop Adani.” The protests were reportedly organised by Stop Adani Alliance, a community group comprised of at least 31 environment organisations aimed at keeping the Carmichael Coal Mine from operating. The group has cited destructive environmental impact that the proposed mine could have on the waters of the Great Barrier Reef as a primary reason behind its reservations about the mine.

According to the Australia Institute survey, the opposition to Adani’s mine cut across political persuasions, with the findings showing that majority of Liberal and Labor voters opposed the project. While the Liberals are in power at the national level in a coalition, a Labor government is at the helm in Queensland.

Nearly 65.8 per cent of those polled stated that Annastacia Palaszczuk, Premier of Queensland, the state where the mine is proposed to come up, should veto the $1 billion loan being mulled for Adani’s project.

The Adani Group has been saying that the mine would generate thousands of jobs and help the troubled economy of Queensland, a claim endorsed by both the state and national governments. Critics, on the other hand, say that the claims are overrated, and the mine would spell disaster for the environment besides hitting the tourism revenue.

October 9, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | 1 Comment

Heartbreaking toll of British nuclear tests on Australian and British soldiers

ground crews who washed down planes that flew through the cloud soon began falling sick and low levels of radiation were detected all over Australia.

In 2007 it was found nuclear veterans had the same DNA damage as Chernobyl survivors.

Wives had three times the normal numbers of miscarriage and children 10 times more birth de­­­fects. 

The secrets behind Britain’s first atomic bomb – and the heartbreaking aftermath The detonation of the plutonium bomb in 1952 was hailed a national success, but many of the servicemen involved were left permanently damaged by the fallout BY SUSIE  BONIFACE, MIRROR UK, 6 OCT 2017 

A blinding flash, an eerie silence, and then the sky cracked.

The sound reached those wat­ching at the same time as the blast – a scorching 600mph wind carrying with it the long, grumbling roar of the worst weapon known to humankind.

It was 65 years ago this week – 9.30am local time on October 3, 1952 – that Britain detonated its first nuclear bomb .

Winston Churchill was jubilant, the scientists bursting with pride. But on a tiny island off Australia the cost of the radioactive fallout from Operation Hurricane had yet to be counted.

Many of the servicemen present that day went on to suffer heartbreaking consequences.

Royal Engineer Derek Hickman, now 84, was there. He says: “We had no pro­­tective clothing. You wore shorts and sandals and if you remembered your bush hat, that was all you had.” The blast took place on HMS Plym, an old frigate anchored 300 yards off Trimouille, one of the Monte Bello islands. Troops and scientists lived and worked for months on a small fleet that accompanied her on her final mission.

Derek remembers: “They ordered us to muster on deck – I was on HMS Zeebrugge – and turn our backs to the Plym. We put our hands over our eyes and they counted down over the Tannoy.

“There was a sharp flash and I could see the bones in my hands like an X-ray. Then the sound and the wind and they told us to turn and face it. We watched the mushroom cloud just melt away. They gave us five photos as a memento.

“All that was left of the Plym were a few pieces of metal that fell like rain and her outline scorched on the sea bed.”………

In 1951 Aus­­tralia agreed the blast could take place at Monte Bello.   ….

Thousands of UK and Aussie servicemen saw the mushroom cloud dis­­perse before dozens of planes flew through it to collect dust samples. Continue reading

October 9, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New $400 million solar farm for Port Augusta.

European energy giant Enel to build $400m solar plant in Port Augusta Adam Langenberg, Political reporter, The Advertiser, October 9, 2017 EUROPEAN energy giant Enel has received final approval for a $400 million solar farm on the outskirts of Port Augusta.

October 9, 2017 Posted by | solar, South Australia | 2 Comments

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN): how it won the Nobel Peace Prize

“We’re calling on all countries to sign the new UN treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, which offers a powerful alternative to a world in which threats of mass destruction are allowed to prevail.

“We will work in coming months to persuade more nations to sign this landmark treaty.

“One of our priorities will be to bring the Australian government on board.

What is ICAN and how did it win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize?

So how did a campaign from Melbourne make its way to the international stage?

Key points:

  • Group honoured for “ground-breaking efforts” to achieve nuclear ban treaty
  • ICAN also awarded for drawing “attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences” of nuclear weapons
  • 215 individuals and 103 organisations were nominated for the prize

So what is ICAN?

ICAN describes itself as a coalition of non-governmental organisations in 100 countries promoting adherence to and implementation of the United Nations nuclear weapon ban treaty.

That global agreement was adopted by 122 countries — but not by Australia — in New York on July 7 this year.

It has advocated at the United Nations and in parliaments around the world, bringing the stories of those impacted by nuclear testing and survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings to a world stage.

How did it form?

ICAN set up its first office in Melbourne, with disarmament campaigner Felicity Hill as the coordinator.

It officially launched in Vienna, Austria in April 2007 during the Non-Proliferation Treaty preparatory committee meeting.

ICAN campaign director Tim Wright said it was inspired by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which had played a major role in the negotiation of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, also known as the Ottawa treaty. Continue reading

October 9, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Queensland’s $12 million Queensland climate change policy dragging on in implementation

Slow progress on key $12 million Queensland climate change policy, SMH, Tony Moore , 7 Oct 17,  Progress appears slow on one of Labor’s key climate change policies to encourage coastal Queensland councils to formally adopt a 0.8-metre higher sea level to combat beach erosion and storm surge problems.

The state government cannot say how many of the 41 coastal councils in Queensland have formally adopted the higher sea level, despite two departments being given four days to answer.

However, funds from the $12 million set aside by the state government has now gone to 21 of the 41 oceanside councils to develop plans.

Gold Coast City Council last week formally adopted the higher sea level when they updated their Gold Coast City Plan last week, as part of Queensland’s Climate Adaption Strategy.

Fairfax Media believes Cairns and Townsville councils have adopted the 0.8-metre higher sea level but it remains unclear if Moreton Bay Regional Council has accepted the higher sea level.

 The policy allows coastal communities to better prepare homes and businesses for sea erosion and storm surge damage from increasingly frequent storms and cyclones as temperatures warm by 2100.

Gold Coast City Council last week formally adopted the higher sea level when they updated their Gold Coast City Plan last week, as part of Queensland’s Climate Adaption Strategy.

Maps produced by Geoscience Australia for the Australian government show localised flooding in three scenarios: a 50-centimetre sea level rise, an 80-centimetre rise and a 1.1-metre rise.

The Geoscience maps show a considerable flood impact on the Gold Coast’s northern suburbs and in the canal estates…….

Earlier this year Local Government Association president Mark Jamieson said more than 30 Queensland councils would be gradually affected by rising sea levels.

“More than half of Queensland’s 77 councils will be exposed to coastal hazards in the future,” Cr Jamieson said.

“It’s vital that local governments work together to assess risks and identify practical solutions that will help coastal communities prepare for serious issues such as storm tide flooding, coastal erosion and sea level rise.”

On Sunday evening, a Local Government Department spokeswoman said the department had provided funding to 20 of the 41 Queensland councils to begin planning how to cope with higher sea levels……

October 9, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Nobel Peace Prize Win and the work of Australian indigenous activist Karina Lester

Indigenous anti-nuclear activist tells of her personal work with Nobel Prize-winning ICAN By Karen Percy For Karina Lester 2017 has been a mixed bag — the loss of her beloved father, but a big win as part of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

Ms Lester’s anti-nuclear stance is a very personal one.

Her father was Yami Lester, an Aboriginal elder who was blinded by nuclear fallout when he was a child.

Mr Lester died just two weeks after the United Nations agreed to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons thanks to ICAN’s work, which was last night named by the Norwegian Nobel Committee as the Peace Prize winner for 2017.

He was 75 and had spent a lifetime raising awareness of the dangers of nuclear weapons, having been blinded during British weapons testing in Maralinga in South Australia in the 1950s.

“I think he’d be really pleased and very proud to know but also grateful that ICAN was able to provide that platform for us and that his story was so powerful,” Ms Lester said.

On July 7 the United Nations adopted the treaty. Mr Lester died on July 21.

Ms Lester has become as passionate about the anti-nuclear movement as her father. “It’s not a happy story, it’s quite a sad and tragic story, but ICAN has certainly been a wonderful platform for us Anangu and Aboriginal people of Australia to really talk up strongly about what happened to us back in those days,” she said.

When she was younger, she did not know what had caused her father’s blindness.

“It wasn’t until later in life that I realised it was such a sad story … with the doings of the British Government and our Australian Government as well … allowing for tests to happen in South Australia in the 1950s and 60s.

“[And] that they were responsible for taking my father’s sight.

“There were a lot of people affected by this, not only Aboriginal people, there were non-Aboriginal people, ex-servicemen and women who were exposed to this as well.”

As a representative of Indigenous voices within ICAN’s 400-strong organisations around the world, she has told her father’s story to audiences around the Asia-Pacific region, including the Japanese city of Hiroshima, which was struck by an American nuclear bomb in 1945.

A later attack on the Japanese city of Nagasaki prompted an end to World War II.

Ms Lester has also exchanged stories with the people of the Marshall Islands and Tahiti affected by nuclear testing by French authorities from the 1960s until the 1990s.

“Many tests have taken place or nuclear issues have occurred in Indigenous countries around the world, so it’s a global issue for sure,” said Ms Lester, a Western Desert Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara woman.

Her grandparents were part of efforts to prevent the establishment of a nuclear waste facility in SA.

She took her daughters to Hiroshima in November 2015 where Yami Lester’s experience was well understood.

“It’s important for us to continue on sharing that story for the next generation to know the story and [then] the next generation to know the story,” she said.

The historic treaty pushed by ICAN needs 50 nations to sign on before it will be activated.

Australia has yet to join the treaty.

October 9, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, personal stories | Leave a comment

Sri Lanka enforces the new UN resolution banning nuclear weapons

Sri Lanka enforces UN resolution on nuclear and biological weapons Colombo Gazette 7 Oct 17 The Government has issued a gazette against the use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and other related activities in line with United Nations regulations…….

Any person who or group or entity which manufactures, acquires, possesses, develops, transports, transfers or uses nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery within Sri Lanka, will be seen as committing an offence under these regulations and shall on conviction by the High Court, be liable to imprisonment of either description for a period not exceeding twenty years or a fine not exceeding five million rupees or both such fine and imprisonment.

Any person who or group or entity which participates in manufacturing, acquiring, developing, possessing, transporting, transferring or using nuclear chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery as an accomplice or assists or finances them commits an offence under these regulations and shall on conviction by the High Court, be liable to imprisonment of either description for a period not exceeding five years or a fine not exceeding one million rupees or both such fine and imprisonment.

A person shall not make available any funds, other financial assets and economic resources and financial or other related services directly or indirectly to, or for the benefit of, a person, group or entity to manufacture, acquire, develop, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery or for the purposes to proliferate nuclear, chemical, and biological weapon related materials…….

There shall for the purpose of these regulations, be a Competent Authority who shall be appointed by the Minister in consultation with the Minister assigned the subject of Defence. (Colombo Gazette)

October 9, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Labor bid to power up solar profits

A QUARTER of Australian households could receive a cash surge under Labor’s plan to encourage people to sell power back to the grid....(subscribers only)

October 9, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Will thorium power be cheaper than wind power?

Windpower ,January 21, 2015 Paul Dvorak Most commentary on energy is really a commentary on the cost of energy……..In contrast, pick up an article about the promise of thorium nuclear reactors and you likely won’t see one dollar sign. What gives?  Thorium reactors may well be the power source of the future but the technology will cost something. But how much?

One way to answer the question is to Google it. A recent search pulled up this edited Best Answer from Yahoo:     Japan thinks it can make a thorium prototype reactor for $300 million. The UK estimates that the first thorium production plant would cost £1 billion. France has invested € 1 million investigating corrosion problems found when a test reactor in the U.S. was shut down in 1969 after four years of operation. Generally, it’s believed that $300 million would be enough for small thorium power plant.

We assume a small plant means about 200 MW.

Another way to get a handle on thorium-reactor costs would be to examine the cost of conventional reactors , such as the Vogtle units in Georgia….

The first two units are rated for a total of 2,400 MW. That is a large plant.

But during Vogtle’s construction, capital investment jumped from an estimated $660 million to $8.87 billion. Additional regulations and a redesign brought the jump in capital costs.

Unfortunately, the nuclear industry has a history and habit of building plants that cost much more than their original estimates. Even though lower construction costs are claimed as a thorium-reactor benefit, when the first cost figures for one make headlines multiply them by at least five for a better estimate. But you have awhile to wait.

For at least the next 10 years, natural gas and onshore wind-generated power will provide the least expensive, most reliable, and fastest-to-production source of power.

October 9, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia’s Ben Heard – fake environmentalist and pro nuclear shill

Jim Green  Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch– 9 October 17 Ben Heard is a fake environmentalist ‒ Australia’s version of Patrick Moore. Heard’s last gig was for the COAL MINING funded Minerals Council of Australia!
Before that, he took money from General Atomics ‒ which is up to its neck in drone warfare. And he’s possibly the first and hopefully the last person to ask for speaking fees from small, unfunded community groups.
Corporations can donate to Heard’s fake environment group and he “will respect the company’s right to privacy if desired”. Since he openly takes money from coal miners and murderous military corporations, I shudder to think who he’ll accept secret donations from.
This is what the stridently pro-nuclear South Australian Royal Commission said about Heard’s Gen 4 nuclear plans: “[A]dvanced fast reactors and other innovative reactor designs are unlikely to be feasible or viable in the foreseeable future. The development of such a first-of-a-kind project in South Australia would have high commercial and technical risk. Although prototype and demonstration reactors are operating, there is no licensed, commercially proven design. Development to that point would require substantial capital investment.”
Heard got a $55,000 government grant to come up with his lunatic Gen 4 proposal and, needless to say, he refused to repay one cent of the money.

October 9, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment