Australian news, and some related international items

Federal Nuclear Waste Dump Siting IS A NATIONAL MATTER – submission to Senate

While this issue has huge impacts for the areas under current assessment in Kimba on the Eyre Peninsula and in Hawker in the Flinders Ranges – it is a proposal for a national waste dump and needs national attention and consideration

No Nuclear Waste Dump in Flinders Ranges No Nuclear Waste Dump Anywhere in South Australia,  31 Mar 18 

What I wrote in the Senate Inquiry into the Waste Dump selection process:

Thank you for reviewing federal government plans for a radioactive waste facility in South Australia.

I come from the southern Flinders Ranges and have grown up there, spending the first 18 years of my life in Peterborough, not too far from Hawker, one of the selected dump sites. I presently study Environmental Science and plan to return to the area to assist in conservation efforts of the southern Flinders Ranges. It is my home regardless of whether I am physically present, and the connection to the land described by the wise and insightful Adnyamathanha people of the ranges resonates with me. I was therefore absolutely outraged to hear that my home had been nominated as a site for nuclear waste disposal.

To have a singular person, Grant Chapman, select the site on his property, without care or consultation with other surrounding communities, is undemocratic and unrepresentative of the wider area’s opinions and values. The waste dump will affect every locality in the mid north and northern areas of the state and perhaps elsewhere, such as along South Australian borders; the waste will be transported to the site, passing through towns and beside farming properties if trucked. Even more complicated issues exist if transported by sea to ports.

Potential accidents and their health and environmental consequences have the ability to spread to nearby locations through ground water and material within dust. None of these were even slightly touched on in the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Report for the international waste dump proposal, which contained many attempts to sugar coat the deal despite its own geological experts testifying to the significant earth quake activity present within the Flinders Ranges, the national dump site.

To have one, single person, who chaired a committee to establish a waste dump industry in SA in 1995, nominate his property as a potential site, is clearly a conflict of interest and completely bypasses the obtaining of any other consent from surrounding communities. I personally feel completely ashamed of being of European descent when such ideas are generated by the Neo-Liberal system that Australia is presently under. We care more about cash, ‘industry’, tax cuts for major companies and figures at the end of spreadsheets than making real, responsible decisions and respecting the oldest living culture on this planet.

I felt Regina and Vivienne McKenzie’s pain when they said they feel attacked; the nomination by Grant Chapman with complete disregard for the rare freshwater spring, biodiversity, cultural storyline and indigenous community living beside his nominated property is nothing short of a continuation of forceful Colonialism. It is an Administrative Rationality which decides what is ‘good’ for everyone else, despite never really placing itself in the shoes of its constituents. His excuse was that the nearby town of Hawker is appreciative of the $10 million bribe that will go along with the nuclear waste site. In other words, the largely non-Aboriginal community’s consent, obtained through bribes that are only valuable in a society indoctrinated into Neo-Liberal, penny-counting thinking, can override Indigenous views. It is representative of our failure to learn anything from the oldest and most successful living human culture throughout evolution. If only each of us had a little more love and empathy for the land, perhaps our country would be better off all over. In essence, it is unacceptable that, in a country which avidly nags its citizens to be more accepting of other cultures and demonstrate our so called ‘multiculturalism’, that it does not extend this to Indigenous welfare and their views on land management.

In a society pre-occupied with scientific evidence and proof, it seems strange that we cannot see the value in a culture that has thrived in Australia beyond ice-ages, sea level rises, climate changes and retains knowledge that only esteemed academics in geology manage to figure out with diggings, measurements and tests. The nomination of the waste dump beside the beautiful Hookina Springs really is just another slap in the face to the very culture that we should actually be listening to as a nation.

In addition, the nomination of Kimba, also, breaches all comprehension of a fair process. It is, once again, a single property owner and one vocal community member, pushing the nuclear waste agenda in the town, at the expense of everyone else’s views. Advocates for the waste dump declare that Hawker and Kimba cannot say no to the dump because they will only be re-locating the plans to another place (the anti-NIMBY claim), yet I do not see any city residents avidly supporting the facility be planted next to them and disregarding their neighbours’ views. Yet, ironically, they fail to realise that their wheetbix and other products depend upon the good agricultural practices of these rural areas. 100 years the waste could be stored above ground – does any one person have the right to say ‘YES’ on behalf of a community, a state or a country? No! No way.

To summarise, I have deep concerns about this plan including that;

• A single individual or property owner should not be allowed to nominate a site for a nuclear waste dump.
• The federal government have not made a clear or compelling case that we need a national nuclear waste dump in SA.
• The consultation process has been deficient and has caused division in our communities.
• The federal government plan lacks social licence or community consent. Traditional Owners have flagged concerns over cultural heritage issues.
• The project has not considered the full range of options to best advance responsible radioactive waste management in Australia. Australia’s worst waste should be dealt with better.

I do not support this current plan and welcome this opportunity to formally convey my concerns and opposition to the inquiry.

While this issue has huge impacts for the areas under current assessment in Kimba on the Eyre Peninsula and in Hawker in the Flinders Ranges – it is a proposal for a national waste dump and needs national attention and consideration.

March 31, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | 1 Comment

Australia needs an independent National Environment Protection Agency

Why Australians Need A National Environment Protection Agency to Safeguard Their Health   The rationale for reform is clear, writes David Shearman, Emeritus Professor of Medicine at University of Adelaide, in this article which first appeared in The Conversation. PrBono Australia, , 28th March 2018   David Shearman   

Australia needs an independent national agency charged with safeguarding the environment and delivering effective climate policy, according to a new campaign launched by a coalition of environmental, legal and medical NGOs.

Most Western democracies have established national regulatory action, such as the US Environmental Protection Agency – yet Australia is a notable exception.

On Tuesday in Canberra, the Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law (APEEL) will hold a symposium on the reform of environmental laws in Australia. If enacted, these proposals would offer protection to Australia’s declining biodiversity and environment, as well as helping to safeguard Australians’ health.

The proposal would involve establishing a high-level Commonwealth Environment Commission (CEC) that would be responsible for Commonwealth strategic environmental instruments, in much the same way that the Reserve Bank is in charge of economic levers such as interest rates.

The new CEC would manage a nationally coordinated system of environmental data collection, monitoring, auditing and reporting, the conduct of environmental inquiries of a strategic nature, and the provision of strategic advice to the Commonwealth government on environmental matters, either upon request or at its own initiative. The necessary outcomes would then be delivered by government and ministers via a newly created National Environmental Protection Authority (NEPA).

On Wednesday, this call will be echoed by a major alliance of leading environmental groups, including Doctors for the Environment Australia. Similar to the CEC/NEPA proposal, this group has called for an independent National Sustainability Commission that would develop conservation plans, monitor invasive species, and set nationally binding air pollution standards and climate adaptation plans.

The new body would replace the EPBC Act, which has failed to deliver the protections it promised in key areas such as land clearing and species protection, and has no role in limiting climate change which is a major factor in species loss.

The new agencies would be in a position to provide authoritative and understandable consensus reports, similar to those produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change but with a stronger legal basis on which the government should act on its advice.

Why change the system?

The rationale for reform is clear. Only last week the International Energy Agency reported that Earth’s greenhouse emissions have increased yet again. Meanwhile, extreme weather events have increased, while wildlife diversity is on the decline………..

March 31, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Keep an eye out for China’s “out of control” Tiangong-1 space station

SCIENCE  It’s a long shot, but Chinese space station could fall to earth here , SMH, By Liam Mannix 30 March 2018 

If you get killed by the Chinese space station that’s due to fall out of the sky this weekend you’ll probably be remembered as having had one of the most unlikely deaths on record.  Your chances of being hit by Tiangong-1, China’s first space station, are about 10 million times smaller than your yearly chance of being struck by lightning.

But Melburnians would still be advised to watch the skies over the coming days, just in case, with much of Victoria inside a band where there’s a very slightly larger possibility of the debris hitting.

If you die, you would be the first known person ever to be killed by falling space debris. But maybe not the first animal; according to legend, when the remains of the American space station Skylab fell on outback Western Australia in 1979, it killed a rabbit.

“The chances of you being struck by this are essentially zero,” says Associate Professor Alan Duffy, an astronomer at Swinburne University  “An individual human is a tiny target relative to the Earth which itself is mostly water and even the land is mostly of sparsely populated regions.”

The station is as big as a bus and weighs several tonnes. Its name means “heavenly palace” in Chinese, but the space station has more in common with Icarus than any castle in the clouds, and is set for a fiery demise.

Estimates vary – some scientists have organised competitions to see who can most accurately predict when the station will hit the atmosphere – but most place its descent to earth in a window between midnight Saturday and early morning Monday.

Precise predictions about when the satellite will re-enter the atmosphere are very hard to make, requiring scientists to factor in the density of the atmosphere as well as the space station’s speed, orientation and physical properties.

Indeed, Tiangong’s re-entry will probably first be spotted by people staring up at the sky – hopefully with camera-phones ready.

The odds are, the space station will burn up in the atmosphere, with what is left falling in the oceans.

……..Satellites are typically “de-orbited” – deliberately dumped out of orbit – over water so they don’t pose a risk to people. But in 2016 China announced it had lost control of Tiangong-1. Since then, the station has been slowly orbiting closer and closer to Earth.

When it reaches a height of about 70 kilometres above the surface, the atmosphere will start to melt the station. It could take up to 20 minutes for the whole station to decompose.

If the space station does de-orbit over Australian skies, get ready for a hell of a lightshow. Burning pieces of the station will likely stay visible for a minute or more, making for great viewing if the day is clear, says Markus Dolensky, technical director at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research.

“We may potentially witness the end of Tiangong as a series of fireballs streaking across the sky,” he says.


March 31, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The latest sally in the fight to further dumb down the ABC

Murdoch press hails the inquiry it demanded into ABC’s ‘privileged status’, Guardian, Amanda Meade  30 Mar 18, News Corp embraces competitive neutrality terms of reference. Plus: forget Bureaucracy Stop, meet Reveal Capture


The Coalition has handed Rupert Murdoch something his outlets have been lobbying for pretty hard recently: an inquiry into whether the public broadcasters are “using their privileged status to smother commercial operators”. That’s how the announcement of the terms of reference for a competitive neutrality inquiry was reported by the Australian this week.

Just nine months ago the Oz lined up Australia’s media giants to complain about the ABC cutting their grass by operating in the digital space or daring to buy award-winning programs like The Handmaid’s Tale – which, in hindsight, the commercial networks wished they had bothered to bid for.

“The ABC is crowding out and threatening the survival of commercial news organisations because it enjoys that privileged status and has become a state-funded player across every media channel in the digital age,” Oz media editor Darren Davidson wrote last year.

“That is the judgment not only of News Corp, publisher of the Australian, but of every other big commercial operator including Fairfax Media, Seven West Media and Nine Entertainment.”

 The inquiry, which will take six months to consult with national broadcasters, commercial media, advertisers and viewers, will include a call for public submissions.

For fans of The Handmaid’s Tale, season two returns to SBS TV on Thursday 26 April, and episodes will be available on SBS On Demand after they have aired.

Stop, it’s efficiency time

The ABC is of course no stranger to inquiries, either being subject to them or conducting them internally. We told you last week about Bureaucracy Stop, an initiative to cut red tape from the ABC’s chief technology officer, Helen Clifton.

Now from Michelle Guthrie’s right-hand woman, Louise Higgins, comes Efficiency Project and Reveal Capture.

“As you know, we are driving a number of key initiatives, including Bureaucracy Stop and the Efficiency Project,” Higgins, the chief financial officer, wrote to staff this week………


March 31, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | 1 Comment

North Korea has changed its tactics: a peaceful breakthrough, or prelude to war?

Put together, the Kim-Moon meeting serves more as a prelude to the Trump-Kim summit. And if those talks fail, Harry Kazianis, an Asia security expert at the Center for the National Interest think tank, thinks the chances of war might increase.

“We are putting all of our eggs in the summit basket,” he told me. “This is the ultimate Hail Mary.”

The North Korea nuclear standoff: how we went from “fire and fury” to talks in under a year Vox,  “North Korea has 100 percent changed its tactics.” By 

March 31, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

March 30 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “As China’s nuclear power industry flounders, should India and Pakistan take note?” • As countries around the world abandoned nuclear power, China had bucked the trend, embracing nuclear power as a reliable and cheap energy source that would help reduce air pollution. Now nuclear development in China is floundering. [] World: ¶ According […]

via March 30 Energy News — geoharvey

March 31, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Solar battery installs to reach 33,000 in 2018 as economics improve — RenewEconomy

One in eight solar installations include battery storage as the economics improves. SunWiz predicts that 33,000 household storage installations in 2018, with NSW leading the market but the best returns made in South Australia.

via Solar battery installs to reach 33,000 in 2018 as economics improve — RenewEconomy

March 31, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Who is Turnbull trying to fool with the National Energy Guarantee? — RenewEconomy

Turnbull’s plan for the National Energy Guarantee depends on fooling three key constituents: his own party, as a leaked email reveals; the mainstream media; and the industry itself. The evidence suggests he is half way there.

via Who is Turnbull trying to fool with the National Energy Guarantee? — RenewEconomy

March 31, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

If pollies won’t act on climate change, farmers will. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #Time2Choose — jpratt27

AUSTRALIAN farmers are pretty savvy. Given Australia’s erratic and changing climate, they have to be. But now, for more and more farmers and graziers, climate change is a fact, with the consequences up close and personal. There is a growing movement of farmers who are no longer content to keep quiet. Here in Victoria’s northeast […]

via If pollies won’t act on climate change, farmers will. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #Time2Choose — jpratt27

March 31, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment