Australian news, and some related international items

A nuclear industry for Australia would be a huge cost to taxpayers

Nuclear inquiry hears cost, health h risks    
By AAP Oct 1, 2019  Taxpayers would be bear the brunt of a potential nuclear energy industry in Australia, a parliamentary committee has been told.

Environment groups began the inquiry on Tuesday in Melbourne, a day after the committee was told the potential economic benefits of more uranium mining.
The various witnesses implored the bipartisan committee not to overturn Australia’s moratorium on nuclear energy, pointing to the huge health, environmental and financial risks.
Anti-nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia Jim Green said a potential industry would have to be propped up with subsidies because investors would steer clear of such a risky investment.
“Nuclear companies would descend on Canberra to try to gouge as much taxpayers’ money as they could possibly get from the federal government,” he said.
Dr Green told the politicians to be wary of submissions talking up emerging small modular reactors, particularly when calling them clean energy. “There isn’t even one prototype operating anywhere in the world,” Mr Green said.
The committee should also be sceptical about a company’s financial estimates of building them, he added.  “Add a zero onto the end and there’s a good chance your estimate will be better.”
The committee is looking at whether nuclear power is a feasible, suitable and palatable solution for Australia’s future energy needs.
The inquiry has so far been told a huge range of facts and figures – at times contradictory – from a wide spectrum of groups, industries and individuals.
Margaret Beavis from the Medical Association for Prevention of War highlighted that nuclear waste has to be stored for about 10,000 years.  “The Egyptian pharaohs were about 5000 years ago,” Dr Beavis added.
The environment groups pointed to a joint submission with scores of other civil society bodies including unions, indigenous representatives, health and faith groups.The submission represents millions of Australians who want a renewable energy future, not a radioactive one, the committee heard.
The inquiry will take place in Adelaide on Wednesday before a hearing in Perth on Thursday.

October 3, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

New involvement of Attorney General in press freedom

Attorney General wades into press freedom debate, says his approval is needed before journalists can be charged, October 2, 2019

by HANNAH BLACKISTON   The debate around press freedom has taken another turn with the federal Attorney General Christian Porter issuing a directive which prevents journalists being charged under certain sections of Australia’s secrecy laws without his formal approval.

The order could shield News Corp’s Annika Smethurst and the ABC’s Dan Oakes and SamClark who were named in Australia Federal Police (AFP) warrants used during raids in June and have not yet been cleared of any criminal charges. The move, however, has ignited debate about an elected politician’s direct involvement in police matters and press freedom.

Now, Smethurst, Oakes and Clark can only be charged if the Attorney-General gives written consent to the charges. A directive was signed to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) in September, the details of which have only come to light this week. The decision follows legal challenges from both the ABC and News Corp Australia over the legitimacy of the raids and the warrants used.

“The direction means where the CDPP independently considers that there is a public interest in a prosecution for one of the relevant offences involving a journalist, the consent of the Attorney-General will also be required as a separate and additional safeguard,” Porter said in a statement.

“This will allow the most detailed and cautious consideration of how an allegation of a serious offence should be balanced with our commitment to freedom of the press.

“I have previously said that I would be seriously disinclined to approve prosecutions of journalists except in the most exceptional circumstances and would pay particular attention to whether a journalist was simply operating according to the generally accepted principles of public interest journalism.”

Porter hasn’t yet commented on the cases regarding Smethurst, Oakes or Clark.

An ABC spokesperson called the directive a ‘welcome step’, but said the organisation continues to look forward to the results of the two press freedom inquiries which have been triggered by the raids.

“The Attorney General’s directive is a welcome step. It is one plank in a raft of legislative reform that the ABC identified in its submissions to the two concurrent media freedom parliamentary inquiries,” said the spokesperson.

“The ABC looks forward to seeing the recommendations from those inquiries as well as an expeditious conclusion to the current AFP investigation into ABC journalists.”

Campbell Reid, group executive for corporate affairs, policy and government relationships at News Corp Australia, was harsher, calling the direction “unremarkable”.

“The direction issued by The Attorney General is unremarkable. They make the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecution seek the Attorney General’s consent to take legal action against journalists in a few more instances but they offer no comfort for journalists disclosing information in the public interest that they are safe from prosecution for doing their job,” said Reid.

“This so-called safeguard falls a long way short of what media organisations are seeking to recognise the role of journalists to keep the public informed.”

The Law Council of Australia has also weighed in on the move, with president Arthur Moses SC citing grave concerns over the Attorney General’s involvement with press freedom.

“I have grave concerns that this sort of direction undermines the independence of the CDPP by requiring her to obtain the consent of the Attorney General before prosecuting an offence,” Moses said.

“What will enhance press freedoms in this country is a proper review of our laws to ensure that the actions of journalists doing their job as a watchdog of government are not criminalised and put at risk of prosecution.

“I have no doubt the Attorney General would act in good faith. But it puts the Attorney General – a politician – in the position of authorising prosecutions of journalists in situations where they may have written stories critical of his government.

“It creates an apprehension on the part of journalists that they will need to curry favour with the government in order to avoid prosecution. The media must be able to lawfully report on matters of public interest without fear or favour.

“Journalists should not need to fear prosecution because of a story that embarrasses government.”


October 3, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

The government seeks to intimidate the media

The national security bureaucracy doesn’t want a police state. It is more ambitious than that. The hope is to return Australian culture to the conformity and political quietude of the 1950s.

Now the government seeks to intimidate the media through laws and criminal prosecutions into a deferential posture once more, with editors becoming habituated to asking permission before they publish.

Clinton Fernandes, The Witness K case and government secrecy  In recent months, I have sat in court as an observer as Canberra lawyer Bernard Collaery has faced charges over disclosing information about the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS). On Thursday, Collaery’s case was back before the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory. It is a good time, then, to consider this case and the national security state’s assault on Australia’s democratic culture more generally.

In 2004, ASIS installed listening devices in the government offices of newly independent Timor-Leste to eavesdrop on its internal discussions during oil and gas negotiations with Australia. The espionage operation occurred while Alexander Downer and John Howard, who were respectively foreign minister and prime minister at the time, said they were deploying Australia’s resources against extremist Muslim terrorism in Indonesia.

But the Timor operation diverted precious ASIS resources away from the war on terror. On September 9, 2004, Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists succeeded in bombing the Australian embassy in Indonesia. To make matters worse, the Timor bugging occurred under cover of an aid project, jeopardising the safety of Australian aid workers everywhere.

A senior ASIS officer, known only as Witness K, expressed concerns about the Timor bugging operation. His career is believed to have suffered as a consequence. He approached the inspector-general of intelligence and security and obtained permission to speak with a lawyer – Bernard Collaery. Both men are now on trial: Collaery in the ACT Supreme Court, where he will exercise his constitutional right to a jury trial, and Witness K in the ACT Magistrates Court……. Continue reading

October 3, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, media | Leave a comment

Ballot dates confirmed for Flinders Ranges on nuclear waste dump issue



Flinders Ranges Council confirms ballot dates for waste facility, Transcontinental, Amy Green,  1 Oct 19

Communities in the far north are one step closer to finding out if they will have a radioactive waste management facility in their backyard with ballot dates confirmed by both councils in contention.

Voting commences in the District Council of Kimba next week, while the Flinders Ranges Council have confirmed that it will hold a community ballot between November 11 and December 12.


Surveys will be undertaken of businesses owners and neighbours living within a five kilometre radius of the boundaries of the three nominated sites. ……

“In addition to the ballots, anyone can have their say through the submissions process.”

But the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Dave Sweeney said the ballots are divisive and are raising tensions in otherwise cohesive communities.

“The ballot is important and essential obviously for communities in the affected areas to have a say and voice their opinion,” he said.

“But this is not a decision just for Kimba or just for Hawker, it’s a national radioactive waste management facility and the government has turned it into a bidding war or a how much are you prepared to fight struggle between two regional communities.

“What it is, what it should be, and what it needs to be  is a national debate or a national consideration around what is the most responsible way to manage this material.

“The ballot and the government’s entire approach has been divisive, unnecessarily divisive. They are consistently asking people to make decisions and take positions on the basis of completely insufficient evidence.

“You wouldn’t buy a secondhand car on the basis of what we know about this project, yet they are asking communities to sign off yes or no about radioactive waste that will need to be managed for 10,000 years.”

October 3, 2019 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, South Australia | Leave a comment

Queensland Liberal National Party opposes nuclear power

Queensland LNP breaks with federal branch to oppose nuclear power, Amy Remeikis, 3 Oct 2019  Queensland LNP says it supports a greater focus on energy efficiency measures

One of the biggest detractors of the federal Queensland Liberal National party’s push to investigate nuclear energy as a potential power source for Australia has come from within its own house.

The state LNP opposition has publicly declared its opposition to making any changes to the current bipartisan ban on nuclear energy generation, declaring the government would be better served in its goals by focusing on renewable energy sources, in a marked split from their federal state colleagues.

Australia is once again looking at nuclear energy as a potential solution to its power woes, after a group of Coalition MPs, led by a cohort from Queensland, pushed the federal party room into investigating the prospect, through a parliamentary inquiry.

But in a move which has surprised their federal counterparts, the Queensland state LNP spokesman for energy, Michael Hart, made a written submission to the inquiry, announcing his arm of the party’s opposition to any attempt to allow nuclear energy generation, citing the risks to the communities and the environment.

Instead, Hart said the Queensland LNP supports “greater focus” on “energy efficiency measures, along with encouraging investment in renewable energy options like wind and solar, in combination with battery storage when it is technologically and economically feasible to do so”.

“It is considered that Australia’s rich renewable energy resources are more affordable and bring less risk than the elevated cost and risk associated with nuclear energy,” Hart submitted.

“The LNP encourages additional jobs and investment in Queensland’s renewable energy industry, while also supporting resource jobs and exploration which provides baseload power and employment for thousands of Queenslanders.

“In addition to the possibility of accidents and operational failure, nuclear facilities can be a potential target for terrorists. Securing insurance around such possibilities would be virtually impossible.

“In conclusion, the commercial, as well as the political risks, associated with nuclear energy are substantial. To this end, the LNP is strongly committed to an energy policy that delivers safe, affordable and reliable energy to consumers, while fulfilling Australia’s international emissions reduction obligations.

“We believe this can be achieved without lifting the moratorium on nuclear energy generation. Accordingly, we would encourage the committee to ensure an increased emphasis is placed on measures to encourage investment in renewable energy that creates green jobs and lowers electricity bills, for both consumers and industry, which does not (underlined) include nuclear energy”.

The state Labor government established a 50% renewable energy target by 2030 upon winning power in 2015.

The federal inquiry was established after a group of Coalition MPs, led by Hinkler LNP member Keith Pitt and Queensland LNP senator James McGrath, pushed for an investigation into whether nuclear power should be considered as part of the mix, as the government hunts for a long term solution to Australia’s surging energy prices.

Not wanting to reignite the war that led to the downfall of the national energy guarantee, and ultimately, Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership, the government acquiesced to calls for an investigation, which was established after a recommendation from Angus Taylor.

The state LNP position stands in stark contrast to their federal colleagues, including conservative senator Amanda Stoker, who said that “Australia must develop a nuclear energy industry”, as well as her Queensland colleague Gerard Rennick.

McGrath has publicly pushed for the nuclear discussion in numerous interviews and his own social media, as well as within the party room. Pitt, who describes himself as “technologically agnostic”, said the discussion had to be had.

“The first priority for the nations future energy needs will always be reliability and affordability,” he said. “As technology changes I expect our energy mix will also change over a period of time. I am completely technology agnostic in terms of the fuel types that might be utilised. Currently Queensland has the country’s youngest fleet of coal fired generators and I expect they will continue to be a critical part of Queensland’s energy mix into the future.”

He demurred from any questions on the split between state and federal lines, saying the state arm could “speak for themselves”, but attacked the state Labor government for its price management of the state owned power assets.

But the submission did give Queensland Labor senator, Murray Watt, a late week boost.

“This submission shows the LNP’s state MPs have had enough of their federal counterparts’ pointless culture war against renewable power,” he said. “Even the LNP’s state MPs acknowledge that renewables are a cheaper and safer way of meeting our future energy needs.

“They have also slammed their federal counterparts’ pursuit of nuclear power as a massive waste of time and resources.

“The Queensland LNP’s federal representatives should stop wasting everyone’s time by pursuing their obsession with nuclear power and get behind cheaper and safer means of meeting our energy needs.”

October 3, 2019 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

A Kimba resident says there’s no going back: a plea to vote NO to nuclear dump

Kimba residents to vote on waste facility, RACHEL YATES, 30 Sept 19, I would really like to see an extra 45 jobs in our community, this ‘process’ has made me very sceptical and I have very little trust in the government to keep their word, especially when we don’t even know who will actually be running the ‘facility’.

There are still so many unknowns in regards to the dump and yet we are being asked to vote on something that will be here forever.

We won’t be able to change our minds once it is here.

No matter what has been promised or how safe they say it is, this facility will be forced onto people in this community.

I am a neighbour and my family and I still do not want to live anywhere near it.

Nuclear waste should not be dumped on agricultural land.

I can live with being blamed for losing this ‘opportunity’ if we are not chosen but, if we are, and I have to live near this, I will never ‘get over’ feeling like the government and my community has forced this on me and my family.

So far, the government has broken numerous promises and continually change the rules to suit themselves.

Can you truly trust them?

The upcoming vote is our final chance to have a say.

This is it!

There is no going back.

Please, please make sure you are absolutely certain before casting your vote.

If you have even the slightest doubt, please vote no.


October 3, 2019 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, South Australia | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste dump for Kimba? Residents to vote soon

Kimba residents to vote on waste facility,  BARRY WAKELIN, 30 Sept week Kimba will be voting to become the nuclear waste centre of Australia and possibly the world.
The State Parliament are on the record as accepting that a Kimba ‘yes’ vote is a yes vote for South Australia, because they believe the constitution gives the federal government the full power to proceed with the national dump at Kimba.

This is supported by the reality that the Palmer/federal Liberal agreement on preferences at the last federal election saw a overwhelming victory for the Liberals.

Importantly, the Palmer policy was strong advocacy for nuclear power in Australia, which saw the strong Liberal victory, so to me the wheels are rolling and the only impediment ironically is the large and increasing investment in South Australia in renewable energy.

As far as Kimba accepting the international nuclear waste the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming, once the decision to accept the higher level waste was made and confirmed prior to the last federal election.

After 60 years of nuclear reactors at Lucas Heights, Kimba is political heaven for our national Parliament.

A yes vote at Kimba means a $300 million investment by the federal government almost immediately, or they could have their ‘facility’ at Leonora in Western Australia for no cost to taxpayers and in a much more isolated area without the risks and without breaching their own guidelines.

So next week Kimba may well be going in to the history books for different reasons to their up-to annual $80 million export agriculture.

Good luck with whatever their decision.. I don’t have a vote even though I am a partner in a farming business of almost 100 years, near a preferred site.

October 3, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Bribery scandal among Japan’s nuclear industry executives

Executives in Japan Nuclear Scandal Blame Dead Local Official,By Aaron ClarkStephen Stapczynski, and Shiho Takezawa, October 3, 2019,

  • Kansai Electric officials took $3 million in cash and gifts
  • Payments came from deputy mayor of town hosting nuclear plant

Top Japanese utility executives who admitted to taking illicit payments related to their nuclear business sought to deflect blame onto a deceased local official and vowed to stay in their roles, potentially deepening the nation’s latest corporate governance scandal.

Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Chairman Makoto Yagi and President Shigeki Iwane spent more than three hours Wednesday detailing in a public briefing how they and 18 other executives received nearly 320 million yen ($3 million) in cash and gifts, including suits and gold, from a former deputy mayor in the western town Takahama, which hosts the company’s biggest nuclear plant. They didn’t return the payments because the official, who died in March at the age of 90, wielded influence and intimidated employees, they said.

The Kansai Electric payments are the latest-high profile exposure of corporate malfeasance in Japan, which include the arrest last year of Nissan Motor Co.’s chairman for concealing more than $140 million in compensation and Kobe Steel Ltd.’s indictment in 2018 for falsifying quality data. It also follows the acquittal last month of executives charged with negligence related to the Fukushima meltdown, which has loomed in the background of the nation’s worst nuclear scandal since the 2011 disaster…….

Nuclear Nerve

That the drama is playing out in the nuclear power industry touches a raw nerve in Japan, where the technology has been shunned since the trauma of Fukushima. Public opinion has consistently been opposed to restarting the nation’s reactor fleet, once the biggest source of atomic power in Asia, as trust in the both the industry and regulators hasn’t recovered………

Gold, Suits, Cash

The company also revealed new details Wednesday of the gifts and cash Moriyama gave to executives from 2006 to 2018. Satoshi Suzuki, director of the utility’s nuclear power division, received the most at 123.7 million yen, which included 500 grams of gold and 14 suits, as well as $35,000 in U.S. currency.

Kyodo News also reported that Yoshida Kaihatsu, a local company that paid Moriyama money that was funneled to officials, won contracts worth at least 2.5 billion yen for work at Kansai’s nuclear power plant. Moriyama was also a part-time adviser for a Kansai Electric unit from 1987 through December last year.

October 3, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Queensland conservatives emerge as voice of reason in nuclear debate. Seriously! — RenewEconomy

Queensland state LNP breaks with federal counterparts and says renewables and energy efficiency better option than nuclear. The post Queensland conservatives emerge as voice of reason in nuclear debate. Seriously! appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Queensland conservatives emerge as voice of reason in nuclear debate. Seriously! — RenewEconomy

October 3, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Horizon first utility to pull down power lines and replace with renewable micro-grids — RenewEconomy

Horizon becomes first utility to cut poles and wires and take customers off grid with renewables and storage, and more network operators will follow soon. The post Horizon first utility to pull down power lines and replace with renewable micro-grids appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Horizon first utility to pull down power lines and replace with renewable micro-grids — RenewEconomy

October 3, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Red flags across the grid: New technologies hobbled by old thinking — RenewEconomy

Transgrid highlights absurdity of “do no harm” rule that requires new wind and solar farms to install machinery that raises costs and may be making grid less stable. The post Red flags across the grid: New technologies hobbled by old thinking appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Red flags across the grid: New technologies hobbled by old thinking — RenewEconomy

October 3, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

China to shutter 8.7GW of coal power by year’s end — RenewEconomy

Chinamay shutter nearly 8.7GW of coal-fired power by the end of the year in an effort to further curb smog and greenhouse gas emissions. The post China to shutter 8.7GW of coal power by year’s end appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via China to shutter 8.7GW of coal power by year’s end — RenewEconomy

October 3, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Climate emergency petition surges towards 200,000 signatures, but will Morrison listen? — RenewEconomy

An electronic petition calling for a climate emergency declaration by federal parliament sets a new record. The post Climate emergency petition surges towards 200,000 signatures, but will Morrison listen? appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Climate emergency petition surges towards 200,000 signatures, but will Morrison listen? — RenewEconomy

October 3, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle smashes sales records, recasts Australia car market — RenewEconomy

Sales of Tesla Model 3 electric vehicles in Australia likely to smash records, and mark a turning point for the local car market. The post Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle smashes sales records, recasts Australia car market appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle smashes sales records, recasts Australia car market — RenewEconomy

October 3, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Charge! Fourteen new big battery projects proposed for NSW — RenewEconomy

NSW storage proposals include 14 different big battery projects, a handful of virtual power plants, and a coal mine which wants to install pumped hydro. The post Charge! Fourteen new big battery projects proposed for NSW appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Charge! Fourteen new big battery projects proposed for NSW — RenewEconomy

October 3, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment