Australian news, and some related international items

The week that has been in nuclear news Australia

Amid all the stuff about the nuclear industry, and about climate change, I occasionally come upon articles that are so powerfully written, and about such powerful global subjects –   that they just blow away the specific articles – important though these still are.

This week, Carl Grossman has revealed Donald Trump’s aim for weapons in space (which would be nuclear-powered), and what that means for the world. The nuclear weapons States currently adhere to the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 which designates space as the global commons to be used for peaceful purposes. If the U.S. goes up into space with weapons, Russia and China, and then India and Pakistan and other countries, will follow. Trump’s plan does require approval from Congress. The mind boggles also at the cost, and at what human services would disappear, in order to pay for this.

– views Trump as “the result of our failed democracy” – It is impossible for any doomed population to grasp how fragile the decayed financial, social and political system is on the eve of implosion. He finds that America’s liberals do not grasp what is happening – impending financial collapse, and creeping fascism. (I’d like to think that he’s wrong)
The climate change issue doesn’t go away. Radio Ecoshock brings us the news before it’s news – this week it’s Carbon Climate Showdown.


The danger of Australia mindlessly aligning with the “Anglosphere
Liberal Coalition attacks on the ABC will rebound against them.  ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie explains economic benefit of the ABC to Australia. Michelle Grattan: expect more government bullying to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
UK Should Reject Extraditing Julian Assange to USA.  Chronicling Julian Assange’s 6 years .of Confinement
Data ethics heavily influenced by the biases of well-off white males.
NUCLEAR.    Australian govt rushing decision on nuclear waste dumping, avoiding Senate Inquiry report, and before next election.    South Australian Premier Marshall’s pro nuclear stance, in agreement with nuclear stooge MP Troy Bell
Tax-payer forks out $20,000 for Kimba children to have nuclear propaganda trip to Lucas Heights.  Resources Minister Matt Canavan lying to South Australians on nuclear waste   Community Benefit Programme – essential (?bribery) part of push for nuclear waste dump for Flinders Ranges.  Nuclear waste dumping would destroy Adnyamathanha traditional land and cultural heritage.
Nuclear waste dump site selection: Submissions to Senate:
Barry Brook’s poorly informed commentary on the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe.
Australian Medical Association urges fixing the uranium-polluted water supplies to remote communities..  Australian Medical Association wants action on  unacceptable levels of uranium in drinking water for several remote communities.
Australian uranium company Paladin leaves a mess behind it, in Africa.
Launch of film “Protecting Country”.
CLIMATE CHANGE.    Support for climate action is rising in Australia: but are politicians listening?  Coalition climate deniers play havoc again with energy.   Water wars: A new front in the fight against Adani.
RENEWABLE ENERGY. Record renewables roll-out eases gas crisis, says AEMO.   Small solar installs pass 3 million mark in Australia. Tasmania – double size of hydro plant, in first step of big battery plans.  Coal to be kaput in Australia by 2050, as renbles, batteries take over .  A 228MW Victorian wind farm to go ahead as big business snaps up cheap green power .

June 23, 2018 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Aboriginal land and nuclear waste dumping: A critically important Submission to Senate from Regina McKenzie

Ed note. This submission has an important attachment – a  letter – which will later be published on this site

Regina McKenzie Selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility in South Australia  (Submission No.107)

This independent submission addresses the following key points of the Terms of Reference of the Australian:  Senate Economic Reference Committee inquiry (2018) into the appropriateness and thoroughness of the site.  selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility at Kimba and Hawker in South  Australia:

  1. c) how any need for Indigenous support has played and will continue to play a part in  the process, including how Indigenous support has been or will be determined for each  process advancement stage; and
  1. f) any other related matters.

My name is Regina McKenzie and I am an identified (Aboriginal) Kuyani traditional owner for the area of land   currently subject to the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility Project (NRWMFP) at Barndioota, South Australia. I have extensive cultural knowledge of this portion of Adnyamathanha country and have  been working collaboratively with non Aboriginal specialist for well over ten years to investigate and report on  this area. Some of the projects that I have worked on in my cultural interest area include:

  • Numerous archaeological investigations with a number of Australian universities;
  • Palaeontology investigations with Flinders University, South Australia;
  • Aboriginal heritage investigations for NRM projects with multiple State Government agencies;
  • Archaeological investigations for SA Power Networks;
  • Archaeological training programs with the Heritage team of the South Australian Department of Premier  and Cabinet, Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Division (DPC AARD) (now Department of State
  • Development Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation – DSD AAR);
  • Cultural heritage management planning for the Commonwealth Government’s Indigenous Protected Area  (IPA) program.
  • The development of large area cultural mapping protocols for the SA State Government;
  • The translation and spatial mapping of one of my Nation’s ancestral story lines that includes the  nominated NRWMFP area in Barndioota.

The reference committee should understand that the Adnyamathanha People are an historical conglomeration of multiple and individually identified Aboriginal tribal Nations, each of which has its own cultural interest area. The Adnyamathanha people, as a whole, hold native title over much of the Flinders Ranges and this is managed by a prescribed body corporate on behalf of all traditional groups by the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (ATLA). I would also like to note that only individual people, not organisations, can hold cultural knowledge and be considered as traditional owners (there is case law in South Australia to this affect). It is also vital that the committee appreciate the difference between Aboriginal cultural heritage laws and obligations (whether they be State or Federal), and Native Title laws, rights and interests. My submission is focussed on the cultural heritage rights and interests of identified traditional owners and the State/Federal obligations for those that wish to investigate /or harm Aboriginal cultural heritage.

Many of my concerns with the Aboriginal cultural heritage consultation process for the NRWMFP in Barndioota have been summarised in a recent letter to Minister Canavan (see Attached) [ed. note: This letter will be published on this site, as a separate post] . I would appreciate if the committee accepts the attached letter as part of my submission. I note that despite repeated requests to Minister Canavan’s office, I still have not received a response to this letter and many questions remain unanswered and concerns unresolved. I believe that these questions and concerns must be addressed for the DIIS consultation process to be considered effective.

In addition to my questions and concerns detailed in the attached letter, I would appreciate some clarification on the following:

  1. Australia’s commitment to Article 29.2. of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous  Peoples which notes:

States shall take effective measures to ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent.

I would appreciate some clarification on the Australian Government’s or the the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS) position on this United Nations charter and how it applies to proposed  developments on traditional Aboriginal lands and lands that contain significant cultural value to relevant Aboriginal people.

The DIIS, on behalf of the Commonwealth Government of Australia, took no steps during the nomination and shortlisting process to secure either the free, or the prior, or the informed consent of the Indigenous peoples who have significant cultural ties to the NRWMFP area in Barndioota. To the best of my knowledge, the DIIS believed that the Commonwealth Government did not need to consult with Aboriginal people in Barndioota because the proposed project area was not subject to Native Title. This was stated to myself and my sister when we first called the DIIS to enquire about the project after we heard about it on ABC news. This was also repeated by DIIS representatives at their initial public meetings in Hawker.

Importantly, and from an Aboriginal cultural heritage perspective, ATLA and the relevant cultural custodians of the Barndioota area have repeatedly advised the DIIS that they do not support the siting of the NRWMFP within our traditional country.

  1. The DIIS initially confused Aboriginal cultural heritage obligations with Native Title constraints and only consulted with affected Aboriginal people after repeated requests for information from myself and my sister
  1. The Aboriginal cultural heritage investigations undertaken to support the Barndioota NRWMFP have not been undertaken in accordance with the Commonwealth Government’s best practice requirements for investigating and reporting on Aboriginal cultural heritage (see attached letter). Importantly, this failure to adhere, recognise or use the Commonwealth best practice guidelines has led the DIIS to:
  • Consult with inappropriate Aboriginal people who do not hold cultural information for Barndioota, and
  • Completely ignore the significant cultural/gender restrictions associated with the NRWMFP area, and
  • Alienate relevant culturally appropriate people from participating in the NRWMFP assessment, and
  • Not have access to vitally important cultural information associated with the NRWMFP area.

These factors alone have made the DIIS Aboriginal cultural heritage assessment ineffective,  inappropriate, and incomplete. This significantly flawed consultation process needs to be completely abandoned as soon as possible because it has caused significant mental health issues within our broader Aboriginal community and continuing lateral violence within our immediate family. The NRWMFP Aboriginal consultation process has left me feeling ostracised within my own family and I find myself constantly witnessing aggressive, misogynistic and culturally inappropriate behaviour from a select few who have been validated through the DIIS Aboriginal cultural heritage assessment process.

  1. The DIIS has failed to abide by their own governance guidelines that they established for the Aboriginal cultural heritage consultative committee. There have been too many instances of aggressive and inappropriate behaviour that have not been recorded or addressed.
  1. The DIIS has inappropriately engaged a cultural heritage consultancy:
  • Against the wishes of both ATLA and the relevant cultural custodians of the NRWMFP area,
  • Without presenting any tangible proof that the consultancy has/can record the intangible values associated with large area cultural sites to a level that is similar to, or better than, that developed by DPC AARD,
  • Without developing the scope of work for the assessment with ATLA and the relevant cultural custodians of the NRWMFP area,
  • Without informing ATLA or the relevant cultural custodians of the agreed scope of work between the DIIS and the consultancy for the Aboriginal cultural heritage assessment
  1. The nomination and short-listing process of the Barndioota NRWMFP site failed to acknowledge the unique and intrinsic Aboriginal cultural heritage values of the associated cultural landscape. Many of these values have been documented by the State Government through extensive cultural mapping and archaeological investigations, and acknowledged by the Commonwealth Government for the neighbouring IPA program. Importantly, the failure to acknowledge the values of this cultural landscape also extended to a failure to recognise and acknowledge the nominated traditional custodians of the land subject to the NRWMFP area. These custodians are well known to DPC AAR who hold the contact details for the custodians of all of our recorded sites.
  1. Ministers Frydenberg and Canavan have both issued seperate commitments that no Aboriginal cultural heritage will be harmed through this project. The DIIS has been informed of the extensive archaeologyand all-encompassing intangible values associated with the NRWMFP area, and the impossibility of situating the NRWMFP and its associated road/power infrastructure without harming Aboriginal cultural heritage which includes our cultural beliefs, lore and customs. Could the committee please clarify the DIIS’/the Commonwealth Government’s understanding of what Aboriginal cultural heritage means and how the DIIS intend to avoid/not cause harm, particularly to our system of lore, custom and belief. We believe that this is a major constraint for the NRWMFP and that valuable public funds could have been saved if the relevant Ministers honour their commitments and resolved this matter early in the project.
  1. During Phase one, the DIIS never undertook any formal Acknowledgement of Country, and has never requested a formal Welcome to Country from any Adnyamathanha elder for any of the meetings held in Hawker.
  1. Retired Liberal Senator Chapman’s nomination of the Barndioota site has never been questioned either in the context of any potential political conflict of interest, or for his prior engagement in the Federal Senate and his involvement in past Senate committees who were tasked to investigate the establishment of above ground Nuclear waste facilities nearly two decades ago. We have been assured that the nomination of the Barndioota site is not related in any way to the current Liberal government or to the ex Senator’s prior profession. I would like this matter to be assessed in a transparent way.
  1. Key Hawker community representatives who support the NRWMFP in Barndioota have long term relationships with, and have worked for Wallerbedina Station for many years. This potential conflict of interest needs to be identified and acknowledged in a transparent manner.

June 23, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | 1 Comment

This is not science fiction. Donald Trump wants war in space

Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force, Counter Punch   

If Donald Trump gets his way on formation of a Space Force, the heavens would become a war zone. Inevitably, there would be military conflict in space.

The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 which designates space as the global commons to be used for peaceful purposes—and of which Russia and China, as well as the United States, are parties—and the years of work facilitating the treaty since would be wasted.

If the U.S. goes up into space with weapons, Russia and China, and then India and Pakistan and other countries, will follow.

Moreover space weaponry, as I have detailed through the years in my writings and TV programs, would be nuclear-powered—as Reagan’s Star Wars scheme was to be with nuclear reactors and plutonium systems on orbiting battle platforms providing the power for hypervelocity guns, particle beams and laser weapons.

This is what would be above our heads.

Amid the many horrible things being done by the Trump administration, this would be the most terribly destructive. “It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space, we must have American dominance in space,” Trump said at a meeting of the National Space Council this week.

“Very importantly, I’m hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon,” he went on Monday, “to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces; that is a big statement. We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal, it is going to be something.”

The notion of the U.S. moving into space with weaponry isn’t new…………..

With the Trump administration, there is more than non-support of the PAROS treaty but now a drive by the U.S. to weaponize space.

It could be seen—and read about—coming.

“Under Trump, GOP to Give Space Weapons Close Look,” was the headline of an article in 2016 in Washington-based Roll CallIt said “Trump’s thinking on missile defense and military space programs have gotten next to no attention, as compared to the president-elect’s other defense proposals….But experts expect such programs to account for a significant share of what is likely to be a defense budget boost, potentially amounting to $500 billion or more in the coming decade.”

Intense support for the plan was anticipated from the GOP-dominated Congress. Roll Call mentionedthat Representative Trent Franks, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and an Arizona Republican, “said the GOP’s newly strengthened hand in Washington means a big payday is coming for programs aimed at developing weapons that can be deployed in space.”

In a speech in March at the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station near San Diego, Trump declared: “My new national strategy for space recognizes that space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea. We may even have a Space Force—develop another one, Space Force. We have the Air Force; we’ll have the Space Force.”

Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, notes that Trump cannot establish a Space Force on his own—that Congressional authorization and approval is needed.  And last year, Gagnon points out, an attempt to establish what was called a Space Corps within the Air Force passed in the House but “stalled in the Senate.”

“Thus at this point it is only a suggestion,” said Gagnon of the Maine-based Global Network.

“I think though,” Gagnon went on, “his proposal indicates that the aerospace industry has taken full control of the White House and we can be sure that Trump will use all his ‘Twitter powers’ to push this hard in the coming months.”

Meanwhile, relates Gagnon, there is the “steadily mounting” U.S. “fiscal crisis…Some years ago one aerospace industry publication editorialized that they needed a ‘dedicated funding source’ to pay for space plans and indicated that it had come up with it—the entitlement programs. That means the industry is now working to destroy Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and what little is left of the welfare program. You want to help stop Star Wars and Trump’s new Space Force. Fight for Social Security and social progress in America. Trump and the aerospace industry can’t have it both ways—it’s going to be social progress or war in space.”

As Robert Anderson of New Mexico, a board member of the Global Network, puts it: “There is no money for water in Flint, Michigan or a power grid in Puerto Rico, but there is money to wage war in space.”

Or as another Global Network director, J. Narayana Rao of India, comments: “President Donald Trump has formally inaugurated weaponization of space in announcing that the U.S. should establish a Space Force which will lead to an arms race in outer space.”

Russian officials are protesting the Trump Space Force plan, “Militarization of space is a way to disaster,”Viktor Bondarev, the head of the Russian Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee, told the RIA news agency the day after the announcement. This Space Force would be operating in “forbidden skies.” He said Moscow is ready to “strongly retaliate” if the US violates the Outer Space Treaty by putting weapons of mass destruction in space.

And opposition among legislators in Washington has begun. “Thankfully the president cannot do it without Congress because now is NOT the time to rip the Air Force apart,” tweeted Senator Bill Nelson of Florida.

“Space as a warfighting domain is the latest obscenity in a long list of vile actions by a vile administration,” writes Linda Pentz Gunter, who specializes in international nuclear issues for the organization Beyond Nuclear, this week. “Space is for wonder. It’s where we live. We are a small dot in the midst of enormity, floating in a dark vastness about which we know a surprising amount, and yet with so much more still mysteriously unknown.”

“A Space Force is not an aspiration unique to the Trump administration, of course,” she continued on the Beyond Nuclear International website of the Takoma Park, Maryland group, “but it feels worse in his reckless hands.”

More articles by:

Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College of New York, is the author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet. Grossman is an associate of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion.

June 23, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment