Australian news, and some related international items

Australia: Freedom of Information and the Nuclear Industry- theme for October 19

Australia’s press freedom is under threat as never before.

It’s always been pretty bad, with Murdoch media controlling at least 70% of media outlets, and with Liberal governments trying to strangle the ABC,

But now –  it is at crisis point.  We have an Australian citizen, Julian Assange, held in solitary confinement in London, for the crime of skipping bail. UK and complicit Australia want to have him extradited to USA, to face life imprisonment for ‘treason”. What was his “treason”? Publishing the facts, revealed by Bradley Manning, on USA military atrocities. i.e. investigative journalism. (Manning also in prison)

We also have federal police raiding ABC offices and a journalist’s home. We have draconian security laws, and prosecutions of whistleblowers Richard Boyle, David McBride and Witness K.

Australia is fast developing a culture of press intimidation by government.

Has this anything to do with the nuclear industry?   Not obviously directly. Not yet.  But government and industry have always tried to see that the harms from uranium mining and nuclear bomb testing were covered up.  Few Australians would have heard of the long term push by some politicians and defence industry personnel, for nuclear weapons.

As  the global nuclear industry revs up its dishonest spin for “new nuclear”, and as climate change impacts this country, Australia is a sitting duck for the lie that “nuclear solves climate change”. And for the push for even more involvement in America’s nuclear weapons system. And for involvement in Trump’s Nuclear Weapons in Space programme.

We now have a government without any policy (unless you count “having a budget surplus” as a policy)   Scott Morrison can’t forever shout “How good is that?” about everything.  Journalists that criticise government actions are under scrutiny.  It doesn’t bode well for any public policy area. And that certainly includes matters nuclear.  more

September 21, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Christina themes, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

Australian children, and adults who care, march in their hundreds of thousands, for Action on Climate Change

While our revered Prime Minister was sucking up to USA’s revered President,  and totally ignoring the climate issue, hundreds of thousands of Australian citizens were rallying for action on climate change.  I was there, in Melbourne, and I’ve never seen anything like it.  I’ve been there in big rallies, 100,000 and more- but this was the biggest ever!  

And so many children. It is their future, that we are talking about!!

September 21, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

A dilemma for Scott Morrison, as Trump suggests that Australia join USA in a possibly nuclear war with Iran

September 21, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Risk of going nuclear

The Age,  Linda Brownstein, 21 Sept 19, Japan still struggles to deal with the release of radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident in 2011, and half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production has been damaged by attacks by drones.

Why would anyone in their right mind, such as the Australian Workers Union, promote nuclear power? It does not take much imagination to see that the ease with which nuclear power plants can be damaged will be an irresistible honeypot to all sorts of individuals and groups, and a continual source of potential devastation.

September 21, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

NO, Minerals Council, you have your facts wrong on nuclear costs

NOT CHEAPER   The Advertiser, Robyn Wood, 19 Sept 19, REGARDING nuclear power: the Minerals Council is factually wrong when it says that nuclear power is cheaper than other energy sources.

All reputable studies show that nuclear is far more expensive than existing coal, new coal, oil and renewables with storage.

I had hoped that the Minerals Council reports would be factually-based. Time for it to do some more research.


September 21, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Controversial MP Barnaby Joyce on the pro nuclear campaign trail

If there’s anyone really intelligent in Australia’s nuclear lobby, might they be wishing that Barnaby would just shut up?  With friends like Barnaby, who needs enemies?

Barnaby Joyce finds a new cause in nuclear power, Australia’s best-known backbencher is hitching a ride to the nuclear debate and creating awkward moments. AFR, Aaron PatrickSenior Correspondent.  Who knew? Barnaby Joyce loves nuclear energy as much as he detests abortions.

As a budding debate over splitting the atom fires up in three parliaments, the former deputy prime minister has decided that his new parliamentary vehicle, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Industry, Innovation, Science and Resources, deserves a piece of the nuclear action.

On Friday morning, before a tour of Sydney’s own nuclear reactor, Joyce’s committee held a “nuclear industry roundtable” discussion that was broadcast live with about 30 energy industry experts, bureaucrats and lobbyists.

The purpose was, Joyce said, “to dispel some strongly held beliefs which may or may not be true”.

He couldn’t refer to the hearing as an inquiry, because one of those already exists – and helpfully covered much of the same information last month.

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy, which is reviewing nuclear energy at the government’s direction, held its hearing in Sydney three weeks ago.

Several of the same organisations turned up to Joyce’s event, which was held in a hotel within walking distance of Sydney Airport, making transport easier for the Member for New England.

To add to the double-dating awkwardness, Joyce’s star witness, businessman Ziggy Switkowski, read out the same opening statement he prepared for the other committee – by phone.

The real inquiry also visited the reactor, where it’s a wonder the distracted engineers haven’t inadvertently triggered a core meltdown.

Which raises an interesting question: would a nuclear accident that took out a parliamentary committee increase or lower public support for the power source?……

September 21, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

As Morrison and Australia’s richest suck up to Trump, plan for rare earths business

Morrison and Trump open new front in China trade war with rare earth ‘action plan’, SMH, By Matthew Knott and David Crowe, September 21, 2019  Prime Minister Scott Morrison will throw Australian support behind US President Donald Trump in a bid to counter China’s dominance in vital raw materials as part of a historic state visit to the US capital.

The “action plan” will open a new front against China in a widening technology and trade war by exploiting Australian reserves of the rare earths and other materials that are essential for products ranging from iPhones to batteries and hybrid cars.

Mr Morrison arrived in Washington DC with a message for Mr Trump that positioned Australia as an ideal friend that would back its longstanding ally on Israel, Iran and wider defence policy……

Mr Morrison wants Mr Trump and his colleagues to see Australia as their strongest military ally over the past century and is using the visit to pledge the same close alliance for the century ahead.

Mr Trump’s officials believe the joint plan with Australia will improve the security of supply of materials in critical shortage, saying this will ensure economic security for both partners…….

US officials also praised Australia as a “tremendous partner” in opposing Iran’s nuclear program and interference in shipping, while Mr Morrison made it clear he backed the US in its support for Israel – a totemic issue for Mr Trump.

“Under my government we have taken an even stronger stand against the biased and unfair targeting of Israel in the UN General Assembly,” Mr Morrison says in the draft of his speech to the State Department………

The menu served to guests including golfer Greg Norman, businesswoman Gina Rinehart and media mogul Rupert Murdoch will include sunchoke ravioli, Dover sole and lady apple tart with ice cream for dessert.

Following his visit to Washington, Mr Morrison will travel to Chicago to meet the governor of Illinois, then Ohio to visit a new recycling plant owned by Australian billionaire Richard Pratt and on to New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

September 21, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, rare earths | Leave a comment

Australian Labor Party standing firm on its climate policies

Labor’s climate policies are ‘unshakeable’ despite election loss, Mark Butler says

Shadow climate minister says he believes Scott Morrison may shift on issue during the coming term, Guardian,   Katharine Murphy Political editor @murpharoo, 21 Sep 2019 Mark Butler wants to make one thing clear: the shadow minister for climate change and energy is not for turning. It wasn’t a mistake to pursue an ambitious climate policy in the 2019 election and “we are not going to change our position to get to a level of profound irresponsibility [on policy], like the government”, he tells Guardian Australia’s politics podcast.

“Our position on climate is unshakeable.”……..

he also thinks it is possible Scott Morrison will shift on climate during the coming term, particularly if the Australian community remains vocal on the issue, and business also continues to demand policy certainty to allow it to deal with carbon risk. He says for people who want practical climate action, as opposed to rhetoric, bipartisanship remains “the holy grail”.

Butler says Morrison is not Malcolm Turnbull on climate, and not Tony Abbott, but somewhere in the middle. He suspects the prime minister has no “deep beliefs” on the issue, but that could enable him to pivot to a more plausible policy position in the event he makes a judgment that climate change is harming the electoral prospects of the Coalition. Perhaps Morrison, he says, can take “some baby steps to break down the culture war”.

…….. Butler says all the survey evidence he has seen indicates Australian voters are alarmed by the lack of policy action on climate change, and the issue rates second behind concerns about cost of living pressure. He says he is “utterly convinced” that public opinion in favour of action is “broad, deep and growing”.

Politicians, he says, need to be particularly aware that young people are hugely motivated on climate change. Butler has teenaged children and meets regularly with young activists.

“I can see it in their eyes,” he says. “They think our generation is from a different planet.” He says there is a risk of climate change widening the generation gap, which is more substantial now, he thinks, than at any time since the 1960s

“If we get to 2030 with the level of inertia we’ve had over the last decade, then we have profoundly let down our children and grandchildren”.


September 21, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Donald Trump talks gibberish about nuclear weapons then announces trip to Mars

Donald Trump talks gibberish about nuclear weapons then announces trip to Mars Jimmy McCloskey, Metro UK 20 Sep 2019  Donald Trump spouted a stream of gibberish about the US’s nuclear arsenal at a press conference Friday. The President of the United States told reporters at the White House: ‘Nobody can beat us militarily. No-one can even come close. ‘Our nuclear was getting very tired..Now we have it in, as we would say, tippy-top shape. ‘Tippy top. We have new and we have renovated and it’s incredible. We all should pray we never have to use it.’ Trump was speaking in response to questions about the US’s military capability amid increasing tensions between America and Iran…….

The president tore up his precedessor Barack Obama’s 2015 nuclear deal which saw Iran agree to wind down its attempts to build a nuclear weapon and have economic sanctions lifted against it in return. Meanwhile, Trump also announced plans to send US astronauts to Mars on Friday – and said they’d be stopping off on the moon en route. Speaking at the joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Trump said: ‘We’re going to Mars.
‘We’re stopping at the moon – the moon is actually a launching pad, that’s why we’re stopping at the moon.’ Trump explained plans to charge space tourism entrepreneurs like Tesla founder Elon Musk and Amazon owner Jeff Bezos to use US launchpad facilities to help fund the planned missions. 

September 21, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australian Workers Union join National Party’s push for nuclear power

Nuclear energy: Nationals MPs welcome AWU support for domestic industry Union to tell parliamentary committee it’s ‘ludicrous’ to export uranium but not benefit from the energy source at home. Guardian,   Sarah Martin  20 Sept 19, Nationals MPs have welcomed support from the Australian Workers’ Union for a domestic nuclear industry, as the union calls on progressives not to reject a “zero carbon compromise”.

House of Representatives committee chaired by Barnaby Joyce will hear from the union during a roundtable discussion in Sydney on Friday, before MPs visit the Lucas Heights nuclear facility for a site visit…….

The AWU national secretary, Dan Walton, said that while he accepted that the Labor party had already expressed opposition to nuclear, there were people on both sides of politics who were stuck in old ideological debates over the issue.  …….

The potential for Australia’s nuclear ban to be lifted has been revived since the May election after a group of Nationals lobbied for the issue to be revisited by a parliamentary inquiry.

Following a referral from the energy minister, Angus Taylor, in August, the environment and energy committee is conducting an inquiry into the “prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia”.

At the same time, Joyce has tasked his lower house committee to also look at the issue through a series of roundtable events. Taylor has said that while there are no plans to drop the existing moratorium on nuclear energy, the government’s role was to plan for the decades ahead.

The resources minister, Matt Canavan, a senior Nationals senator from Queensland, said the AWU’s view was welcome as the debate over nuclear continued.

“I welcome the AWU’s contribution,” he told Guardian Australia. “It will, of course, need support from a broad range of organisations, including the Labor party, to progress nuclear power…..

The Nationals MP for Hinkler, Keith Pitt, said that there could be no change to Australia’s current position on nuclear without bipartisan support……

Support for a domestic nuclear industry also appears to be gathering pace within the Coalition, with two new government senators, South Australian Alex Antic and NT National Sam McMahon, both using their first speeches to parliament this week to back the technology……

The union’s support will likely buoy conservative supporters of nuclear who are hoping the twin inquiries into the issue will be sufficient to win a change to government policy.

Ziggy Switkowski, who headed a 2006 review of nuclear power for the Howard government, told the environment committee that the technology had no chance of being introduced unless Australia had a coherent energy policy.

He also said that it would take about a decade before it was clear whether small nuclear reactors were suitable for Australia, and about 15 years to bring a plant online if a decision was made to build one.

The Australian Nuclear Association, which advocates for nuclear science and technology, has said nuclear power could provide cheap, reliable, carbon-free energy in Australia, but would only be financially competitive with a carbon price.

In a group submission released this week environmental and civil society groups warned the government that nuclear power has “no role” in Australia, saying the issue was a distraction from “real movement on the pressing energy decisions and climate actions we need”.

September 21, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

September 20 Energy News — geoharvey

Science and Technology: ¶ “Storing Energy In Compressed Air Could Finally Become Cheap Enough For The Big Time” • Hydrostor uses excess energy to compress air and store it in a container. Then, to recover the energy, run the trapped air through a turbine that generates power. It has developed the technology to the point […]

via September 20 Energy News — geoharvey

September 21, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The world is burning, and all Australia has is a big stick — RenewEconomy

The world is burning, and Australia is doing nothing but waving a big stick. No wonder the kids have gone on strike. The post The world is burning, and all Australia has is a big stick appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via The world is burning, and all Australia has is a big stick — RenewEconomy

September 21, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How the ACT’s 100% renewable electricity target is saving households cash — RenewEconomy

ACT has demonstrated how turning to renewables can slash emissions, and protect customers from soaring electricity prices. The post How the ACT’s 100% renewable electricity target is saving households cash appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via How the ACT’s 100% renewable electricity target is saving households cash — RenewEconomy

September 21, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Climate strikes: Do we choose extinction? Or do we choose to fight it? — RenewEconomy

We know how to fix this problem and we know we can afford to do so. Now it’s time to decide. The post Climate strikes: Do we choose extinction? Or do we choose to fight it? appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Climate strikes: Do we choose extinction? Or do we choose to fight it? — RenewEconomy

September 21, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment