Australian news, and some related international items

Australian Labor Party’s policy platform – on nuclear waste, and opposition to nuclear industry development

From Robyn Wood, 4 Feb 19– The ALP policy platform has just been published.

Uranium mining is on page 69
I don’t know how they will achieve this
149  Foster a constructive relationship between mining companies and Indigenous communities affected by uranium mining
 Radioactive waste is on p 71
  154. Labor will: 
 Vigorously and totally oppose the ocean dumping of radioactive waste;  Prohibit the establishment of nuclear power plants and all other stages of the nuclear fuel cycle in Australia;  
 Remain strongly opposed to the importation and storage of nuclear waste that is sourced from overseas in Australia.
155. Labor acknowledges that radioactive waste management is a complex policy challenge that requires the highest levels of transparency and evidence, while balancing the need of the community to benefit from treatments for diseases like cancer. Accordingly, Labor will act in accordance with scientific evidence, and with full transparency, broad public input and best practice technical and consultative standards, taking into account the views of traditional owners, to progress responsible radioactive waste management 
Chapter 4 starts on page 74: Tackling climate change, securing our energy future & addressing our environmental challenges   

February 4, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

The link between weapons testing – thorium, depleted uranium – and birth defects and cancer

How paradise island Sardinia was poisoned by the world’s military | Foreign Correspondent  


Italian military officials’ trial ignites suspicions of links between weapon testing and birth defects in Sardinia

Key points:

  • Eight former commanders of a bombing range are before Italian courts
  • Locals living near Quirra firing range describe multiple cases of deformities and cancer as “Quirra syndrome”
  • Italy’s army has dismissed a report linking exposure to Depleted Uranium to disease suffered by the military
  • Watch the full episode on ABC iview

“She died in my arms. My whole world collapsed. I knew she was sick, but I wasn’t ready.”

Her daughter, Maria Grazia, was born on the Italian island of Sardinia with part of her brain exposed and a spine so disfigured her mother has never allowed her photo to be published.

This was only one of many mysterious cases of deformity, cancer and environmental destruction that have come to be called the “Quirra syndrome”.

Eight Italian military officers — all former commanders of the bombing range at Quirra in Sardinia — have been hauled before the courts.

It’s unprecedented to see Italian military brass held to account for what many Sardinians say is a scandalous coverup of a major public health disaster with international consequences.

Bombs and birth defects — is there a link?

In the year baby Maria Grazia was born, one in four of the children born in the same town, on the edge of the Quirra firing range, also suffered disabilities.

Some mothers chose to abort rather than give birth to a deformed child.

In her first television interview, Maria Teresa told Foreign Correspondent of hearing bombs exploding at the Quirra firing range when she was pregnant.

Enormous clouds of red dust enveloped her village.

Later, health authorities were called in to study an alarming number of sheep and goats being born with deformities.

Shepherds in the area had routinely grazed their animals on the firing range.

“Lambs were born with eyes in the back of their heads,” said veterinary scientist Giorgio Mellis, one of the research team.

“I had never seen anything like it.”

One farmer told him of his horror: “I was too scared to enter the barn in the mornings … they were monstrosities you didn’t want to see.”

Researchers also found an alarming 65 per cent of the shepherds of Quirra had cancer.

The news hit Sardinia hard. It reinforced their worst fears while also challenging their proud international reputation as a place of unrivalled natural beauty.

The military hit back, with one former commander of the Quirra base saying on Swiss TV that birth defects in animals and children came from inbreeding.

“They marry between cousins, brothers, one another,” General Fabio Molteni claimed, without evidence.

“But you cannot say it or you will offend the Sardinians.”

General Molteni is one of the former commanders now on trial.

Years of investigation and legal inquiry led to the six generals and two colonels being charged with breaching their duty of care for the health and safety of soldiers and civilians.

After repeated attempts, Foreign Correspondent was refused interviews with senior Italian military officials and the Defence Minister.

Governments earning money by renting out ranges

Sardinia has hosted the war games of armed forces from the west and other countries since sizable areas of its territory were sectioned off after World War II.

Rome is reported to make around $64,000 an hour from renting out the ranges to NATO countries and others including Israel.

Getting precise information about what has been blown up, tested or fired at the military sites and by which countries is almost impossible, according to Gianpiero Scanu, the head of a parliamentary inquiry that reported last year.

Many, including current Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta, have previously accused the Italian military of maintaining a “veil of silence”.

Speaking exclusively to the ABC, chief prosecutor for the region, Biagio Mazzeo, said he is “convinced” of a direct link between the cancer clusters at Quirra and the toxicity of the elements being blown up at the defence base.

But prosecuting the case against the military comes up against a major hurdle.

“Unfortunately, proving what we call a causality link — that is, a link between a specific incident and specific consequences — is extremely difficult,” Mr Mazzeo said.

What is being used on the bases?

A recent parliamentary inquiry revealed that 1,187 French-made MILAN missiles had been fired at Quirra.

This has focussed attention on radioactive thorium as a suspect in the health crisis.

It’s used in the anti-tank missiles’ guidance systems. Inhaling thorium dust is known to increase the risk of lung and pancreatic cancer.

Another suspect is depleted uranium. The Italian military has denied using this controversial material, which increases the armour-piercing capability of weapons.

But that’s a fudge, according to Osservatorio Militare, which campaigns for the wellbeing of Italian soldiers.

“The firing ranges of Sardinia are international,” said Domenico Leggiero, the research centre’s head and former air force pilot.

Whatever is blown up on the island’s firing ranges, it’s the fine particles a thousand times smaller than a red blood cell that are being blamed for making people sick.

These so-called “nanoparticles” are a new frontier in scientific research.

They’ve been shown to penetrate through the lung and into a human body with ease.

Italian biomedical engineer Dr Antonietta Gatti gave evidence to four parliamentary inquiries.

She has suggested a possible link between disease and industrial exposure to nanoparticles of certain heavy metals.

The World Health Organisation says a causal link is yet to be conclusively established and more scientific research needs to be done.

Dr Gatti said armaments had the potential to generate dangerous nanoparticles in fine dust because they are routinely exploded or fired at more than 3,000 degrees Celsius.

Inquiry confirms causal links

In what was labelled a “milestone”, a two-year parliamentary investigation into the health of the armed forces overseas and at the firing ranges made a breakthrough finding.

“We have confirmed the causal link between the unequivocal exposure to depleted uranium and diseases suffered by the military,” the inquiry’s head, then centre-left government MP Gianpiero Scanu, announced.

The Italian military brass dismissed the report but are now fighting for their international reputation in the court at Quirra where the eight senior officers are now on trial.

The ABC understands commanders responsible for another firing range in Sardinia’s south at Teulada could soon also face charges of negligence as police conclude a two-year investigation.

Until now the military has been accused of acting with impunity.

Perhaps their reckoning has come.


February 4, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Former fire chief lashes out at government inaction over climate change

‘Astounded’: former fire chief unloads on politicians over climate change inaction, The Age, By Nicole Hasham, 4 February 2019,  Decorated Australian firefighter Greg Mullins says climate change is contributing to bushfires so horrendous that homes and lives cannot be protected, and the federal government will not acknowledge the link because it has failed on emissions reduction policy.

The extraordinary comments by Mr Mullins, a former NSW Fire and Rescue Commissioner, coincides with the Tuesday launch of the group Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action, which will lobby the major parties to drastically reduce fossil fuel use and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten both visited Tasmania on Monday, where catastrophic bushfires had reportedly destroyed eight homes and burnt 190,000 hectares of land as of Monday afternoon. Their visit came on the 10th anniversary of the Victorian Black Saturday bushfires.

The major parties’ pledges on climate change are expected to be a frontline issue at the upcoming federal election, as the public reels from record-high summer temperatures, extreme weather and a long, unforgiving bushfire season.

Fires are a natural phenomenon in the Australian bush, but experts say climate change effects such as heatwaves and changed rainfall patterns mean bushfires are becoming more frequent and extreme.

Mr Mullins said fire seasons “are longer, more severe, and we are getting fires that are much harder to put out”.

“What that means … is there is simply not enough firefighters and fire trucks to do the job, to protect every structure and protect people’s lives,” he said.

“It’s extremely inconvenient for any government that does not have a cogent answer for what they’ll do about climate change, to see the effects of climate change putting more and more people and homes at risk.”

Mr Mullins has 50 years of fire fighting experience, including 39 years with Fire and Rescue NSW and as a volunteer in his youth and in retirement. He has been awarded the prestigious Australian Fire Service Medal and is an officer of the Order of Australia. He is a member of the Climate Council and welcomed the formation of Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action.

Mr Mullins sought to raise the climate change alarm in public comments in 2006 following fires in the Blue Mountains, but says the then-NSW Labor government told him to “pull your head in”.

“They didn’t want public servants coming out saying [the climate change driver] was pretty obvious to us,” he said.

“I feel quite passionately that the word needs to get out about how much the bushfire threat has worsened. I’ve watched it change, and I’ve watched our politicians sit on their hands, from both major parties. I don’t think either of them really have answers or are doing enough.”

NSW Labor has been contacted for comment.

Mr Mullins said he was “astounded” that Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday addressed the media at Huonville in Tasmania, the epicentre of the state’s bushfire crisis, but did not mention addressing climate change.

……….A Labor government would reduce carbon emissions by 45 per cent by 2030, based on 2005 levels. The government has pledged to reduce emissions by 26 per cent over the same period, however, the OECD says Australia will miss that target under current policy settings.

GetUp! and the Climate Media Centre are supporting the Bushfire Survivors for Climate Actiongroup.

Black Saturday survivor Ali Griffin lost her home near Yarra Glen during the tragedy, and said: “I don’t want this to happen to anyone else”.

“We know the threat of devastating bushfires is getting worse every year we keep burning coal and heating our planet,” she said.

“Enough is enough, we are sick of the lack of progress on this issue – any politician without a serious plan to tackle climate damage is not fit to hold office.”

February 4, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

One third of Asia’s ice fields doomed, endangering 2 billion people

A third of Himalayan ice cap doomed, finds report, Guardian, Guardian,  Damian Carrington, Environment editor @dpcarrington 4 Feb 2019 

Even radical climate change action won’t save glaciers, endangering 2 billion people At least a third of the huge ice fields in Asia’s towering mountain chain are doomed to melt due to climate change, according to a landmark report, with serious consequences for almost 2 billion people.

Even if carbon emissions are dramatically and rapidly cut and succeed in limiting global warming to 1.5C, 36% of the glaciers along in the Hindu Kush and Himalaya range will have gone by 2100. If emissions are not cut, the loss soars to two-thirds, the report found.

The glaciers are a critical water store for the 250 million people who live in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH) region, and 1.65 billion people rely on the great rivers that flow from the peaks into India, Pakistan, China and other nations.

“This is the climate crisis you haven’t heard of,” said Philippus Wester of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (Icimod), who led the report. “In the best of possible worlds, if we get really ambitious [in tackling climate change], even then we will lose one-third of the glaciers and be in trouble. That for us was the shocking finding.”

Wester said that, despite being far more populous, the HKH region had received less attention than other places, such as low-lying island states and the Arctic, that are also highly vulnerable to global warming.

Prof Jemma Wadham, at the University of Bristol, said: “This is a landmark piece of work focused on a region that is a hotspot for climate change impacts.”

The new report, requested by the eight nations the mountains span, is intended to change that. More than 200 scientists worked on the report over five years, with another 125 experts peer reviewing their work. Until recently the impact of climate change on the ice in the HKH region was uncertain, said Wester. “But we really do know enough now to take action, and action is urgently needed,” he added.

The HKH region runs from Afghanistan to Myanmar and is the planet’s “third pole”, harbouring more ice than anywhere outside Arctic and Antarctica. Limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels requires cutting emissions to zero by 2050. This is felt to be extremely optimistic by many but still sees a third of the ice lost, according to the report. If the global rise is 2C, half of the glaciers are projected to melt away by 2100.

Since the 1970s, about 15% of the ice in the HKH region has disappeared as temperatures have risen. But the HKH range is 3,500km long and the impact of warming is variable. Some glaciers in Afghanistan and Pakistan are stable and a few are even gaining ice, most probably due to increased cloud cover that shields the sun and changed winds that bring more snow. But even these will start melting with future warming, Wester said…….

February 4, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Murray-Darling report shows public authorities must take climate change risk seriously

The Conversation, Arjuna Dibley, Graduate Fellow, Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, Stanford University, February 4, 2019  The tragic recent events on the Darling River, and the political and policy furore around them, have again highlighted the severe financial and environmental consequences of mismanaging climate risks. The Murray-Darling Royal Commission demonstrates how closely boards of public sector corporate bodies can be scrutinised for their management of these risks.

Public authorities must follow private companies and factor climate risk into their board decision-making. Royal Commissioner Brett Walker has delivered a damning indictment of the Murray Darling Basin Authority’s management of climate-related risks. His report argues that the authority’s senior management and board were “negligent” and fell short of acting with “reasonable care, skill and diligence”. For its part, the authority “rejects the assertion” that it “acted improperly or unlawfully in any way”.

The Royal Commission has also drawn attention to the potentially significant legal and reputational consequences for directors and organisations whose climate risk management is deemed to have fallen short of a rising bar.

It’s the public sector’s turn

Until recently, scrutiny of how effectively large and influential organisations are responding to climate risks has focused mostly on the private sector.

In Australia it is widely acknowledged among legal experts that private company directors’ duty of “due care and diligence” requires them to consider foreseeable climate risks that intersect with the interests of the company. Indeed, Australia’s companies regulator, ASIC, has called for directors to take a “probative and proactive” approach to these risks.

The recent focus on management of the Murray-Darling Basin again highlights the crucial role public sector corporations (or “public authorities” as we call them) also play in our overall responses to climate change – and the consequences when things go wrong……….

February 4, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

The Constitutional Reform Package – Explained

Jessica Savage

The following is a summary of points in the video at
The original video is a powerpoint style presentation with voice-over.

This video is the final part of a 5 part series. Here are some brief notes instead of a full transcript, because the video is long.

The Constitutional Reform Package – Explained

  • I think the goal of these reforms is to herd us all together into a single treaty with universal terms. A treaty that gives Australia as much power as possible.
  • These reforms are being presented as coming from First Nations people. This is a deliberate tactic to bypass free prior and informed consent, and to make getting out of the treaty for reasons of misrepresentation difficult or impossible.
  • An important prerequisite to treaty was met in the Yulara statement. First Nations stated that their sovereignty “co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.” This is needed because under INTERNATIONAL law, Australia’s claim of sovereignty is still based on the Crown’s claim of terra nullius. This makes it logically inconsistent for Australia, acting in the right of the Crown, to treaty under international law with people who – according to their own claim to sovereignty – do not exist. Australia is not able to enter into an treaty without first having it’s own sovereignty recognised by First Nations as being co-existent. This acknowledgement was in the Yulara Statement, hidden in plain sight.
  • The “First Nations Voice to Parliament” is more precisly – a First Nations State. To join the First Nations State, is to become a signatory to an international sovereign treaty. (Video 1 in this series explains this more)
  • To join the First Nations State, First Nation mobs must sign a contract, under the name of their own nation. Categorising and labelling nations has already begun. Note also, by signing up, sovereign mobs are also affirming that they were party to the offer made at Yulara. They are signing up to the reform package, and they are affirming that Australia’s sovereignty co-exists with their own sovereignty.
  • The First Nations State is a democratic state, this may adversly affect traditional governence structures. Putting all nations into a single, democratic body is fundamentally contrary to our law “no mob speaks for another mob”.
  • Victoria is not an international actor, so Victoria cannot make treaties at all, the Victorian constitution does not have the power.
  • Victorian treaties are not treaties with Victoria. They are domestic agreements with Victoria, wrapped up in a sovereign international treaty with Australia.
  • The terms of this international treaty with Australia are already set, it is a one-sized-fits-all deal.
  • There are no, and will be no constitutionally enshrined rights.
  • Signing up closes doors to international pathways to self-determination and independence.
  • There are other pathways to a treaty or to independence. The Yulara reforms are not the only option. Don’t be fooled if they tell you otherwise.
  • Consider asserting your sovereignty as firmly as you possibly can as a matter of urgency, even if you prefer a treaty over independence. Asserting sovereignty, and declaring independence does not rule out Treaty. The reason this is urgent, is because of the proposed modifications of the constitutional preamble. Watch the Recognition video, part 3 for more detail on this. This is very dangerous, and it’s flying almost completely under the radar. This is a danger even if the Voice referendum fails.
  • They would not have made such an elaborate, expensive scheme if we were not sovereign. It took me months to figure out what they are doing, and a few more months more figuring out how the hell to explain it! It’s very elaborate, and it takes a while to get your head around. Once you do though, you can’t unsee it.

If you have any questions, visit my blog, there is a contact form where you can write to me. That concludes this video series, I hope you enjoyed it, I hope it got you thinking, but above all – I hope that it gets people talking about the reforms, because there hasn’t been enough critical discussion or debate. I hope to make some more videos about sovereignty related topics in the future.

February 4, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Solar powered batteries on wheels will change the grid forever — RenewEconomy

Tritium co-founder says the mobile battery storage in electric vehicles will have a major impact on the way consumers use electricity, and the grid. The post Solar powered batteries on wheels will change the grid forever appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Solar powered batteries on wheels will change the grid forever — RenewEconomy

February 4, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Energy efficient homes could save households $1,000-plus a year on bills — RenewEconomy

Government mandated energy efficiency standards could deliver more than $1000 a year in electricity bill savings for average Australian households, a new report has found. The post Energy efficient homes could save households $1,000-plus a year on bills appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Energy efficient homes could save households $1,000-plus a year on bills — RenewEconomy

February 4, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

State by state – solar records fell across Australia in 2018 — RenewEconomy

There has never been a sustained boom of this magnitude occurring concurrently in every major state. The post State by state – solar records fell across Australia in 2018 appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via State by state – solar records fell across Australia in 2018 — RenewEconomy

February 4, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

W.A. unveils plan to lead global lithium-ion battery boom — RenewEconomy

Western Australia government launches plan to unlock lithium-ion battery value chain, including vast reserves of lithium and other high value metals. The post W.A. unveils plan to lead global lithium-ion battery boom appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via W.A. unveils plan to lead global lithium-ion battery boom — RenewEconomy

February 4, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Know your NEM: Gas and hydro creamed the market as brown coal failed — RenewEconomy

Gas and hydro plants were the big beneficiaries as the unreliability of brown coal generation hit home in the January heatwave. The post Know your NEM: Gas and hydro creamed the market as brown coal failed appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Know your NEM: Gas and hydro creamed the market as brown coal failed — RenewEconomy

February 4, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

February 4 Energy News — geoharvey

World: ¶ “Energy Storage: Next Game Changer” • Everybody agrees that storage is turning into big business, and soon, but exactly how big and how soon? According to a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance the global energy-storage market will surge to a cumulative 942 GW by 2040 requiring a hefty investment of $620 billion. […]

via February 4 Energy News — geoharvey

February 4, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment