Australian news, and some related international items

Sydney Morning Herald up to date coverage of New South Wales bushfires

New South Wales braces for unprecedented fire danger | ABC News

Message from the Editor: Our bushfire coverage, SMH, By Lisa Davies,

“Catastrophic” is not a word used flippantly. The highest possible level of bushfire danger across NSW has led the Premier Gladys Berejiklian to declare a State of Emergency for the first time in six years.

As a result, the Herald will provide open access to our coverage – meaning that for the duration of this crisis, bushfire stories will be free for all readers…..

the conditions forecast for Sydney, the Hunter region, the Blue Mountains and Central Coast have worsened – similar to those experienced in Victoria on Black Saturday, which saw 173 people killed and thousands of homes lost.

Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the predictions were unprecedented for the greater Sydney area.

“We could not find a time in history … where we saw indices reaching what we now know are catastrophic levels here in the Greater Sydney environment,” he said. “We are talking about something we haven’t experienced before in Sydney in the Greater Sydney environment.”

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell has announced 300 schools will be closed and expects the number to rise.

So what does a “catastrophic” fire emergency mean?

It means high winds and extreme heat can cause embers from existing fires to travel more than 20 kilometres ahead of the main firefront, Mr Fitzsimmons explained……..

We will be updating readers live via our blog and at…….

November 11, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

To 12 November – nuclear and climate news Australia

Global heating is behind critical news in California, and Eastern Australia.  Following the huge wildfires, Californians are realising that it’s more like a war situation, with more battles to come. Preparedness and adaptation are now the immediate needs, as well as reducing carbon emissions. And extreme heat waves will bring public health crises to American cities, despite the current very cold burst.

Australia’s ruling Liberal Coalition is still studiously avoiding the words “climate change”, and pouring abuse on The Australian Greens for their supposed insensitivity in mentioning those words in connection with bushfires and drought.

A bit of good news  – New Zealand – one small nation shows how to be nuclear- free and climate friendly.


Australia’s media fights for freedom of press – BUT NOT FOR JULIAN ASSANGE.

CLIMATE. Australia’s out of control bushfires (all along the region where the nuclear lobby wants to put reactors!).  Sydney and surroundings – “Catastrophic” fire warning.

Climate dispute between Scott Morrison and the Greens.  Massive bushfires in New South Wales are NOT “part of a normal cycle” – fire-fighting expert.

Scott Morrison wants to shut down moderate climate action group, Market Forces, BECAUSE IT’s TOO EFFECTIVE. Strong public demand for climate action, but Australian government determined to punish climate protesters. Double standards on “unacceptable” protests.

Australia’s over-exploited water supply – an issue being ignored.


RENEWABLE ENERGY. First offshore wind farm in Australia being tested. Western Australia set to decide on 180MW solar farm for state’s south. Solar and battery offered as “standard” in Victoria new-build housing project.


Planet in peril as world leaders ignore global heating’s catastrophes.

Julian Assange’s father comes to Ireland, Europe, to campaign for his son’s release.

Nuclear medicine has radiation dangers – a reminder to clinicians.

November 11, 2019 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Australia’s National Radioactive Waste Management Taskforce disingenuous about medical nuclear wastes

Tim Bickmore  No Nuclear Waste Dump Anywhere in South Australia 11 Nov 19, The Taskforce broadcasts minimal information about the type, amount, & location of facility bound radioactive wastes; including that % which SPECIFICALLY RESULTS FROM ACTUAL AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL USAGE.

According to ANSTO Waste Projects & Strategic Planning Manager Kapila Fernando in 2017:
“ANSTO holds about 50 per cent of the radioactive waste in Australia, and 85 per cent of the waste ‘stream’ is directly associated with this nuclear medicine manufacturing program – including the fuel used to power the reactor, the machines used in medicine production, and the gloves and gowns used in the manufacture or administration processes – the cycle to produce radionuclides produces nuclear medical waste.”
When questioned by (then) Senator Scott Ludlam (Senate Economics Legislation Committee Session May 2017); ANSTO CEO Adi Paterson informed us that in the 2016 financial year 80% of ANSTO’s diagnostic medical isotope production consisted of Molybdenum 99. Of which only 28% was used in Australia whilst 72% was exported.
Let’s do the medical waste maths: – (50% x 85%) = 42.5 % of the national radioactive waste inventory results from medical isotope production. Currently (72% x 80%) = 57.6% of that results from Mo99 exports: which in future will triple, but at 2016 stood at (57.6% x 42.5%) = 24.5% of the total.

Therefore, only 18% (42.5%-24.5%) results from actual national use of medical isotopes: & not all of the 18% requires containment in the proposed facility.

PS ANSTO will not tell us the cost for producing OS exports vs economic return ~ but there is a very high probability (bordering on certainty) that the taxpayer is heavily subsidising OS usage…more

November 11, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, secrets and lies | Leave a comment


NUCLEAR WASTE DEBATE DIVIDING COMMUNITIES Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA  The Transcontinental November 06, 2019, My name is Ken McKenzie. The Flinders Ranges and Port Augusta have always been my home. I now reside in Flinders House in Quorn.

I wish to say that the radioactive waste dump being proposed for our region is going to be very dangerous for all of us and for generations to come if it is allowed to go ahead.

This is something for all South Australians both black and white to be involved in as it will have an effect one way or another on every one of us.

The area where they want to put this dump is on my tribal land. My ancestors are buried here.

The area also holds a huge connection to our women as this is their land overall. The government do not listen when we say we don’t want it.

The earthquakes and flooding stories told to me in our language goes back into time itself.

This is not the place for a radioactive waste dump. If the Lord doesn’t come down in the next few years, this is going to be a threat to all of us and our future generations to come.

I am also very concerned for people over at Kimba who are going thru the same grief that’s happening to us and my family over here.

The money the government are throwing at us, trying to get us to forfeit our land is insulting and disrespectful to us all.

They have divided my family and our communities, and now we hear that without the much more dangerous intermediate radioactive waste being dumped here as well, that there is hardly any value to the community for putting it here.

Why didn’t they tell the communities all this in the first place. We didn’t want it four years ago and we certainly don’t want it now.

This whole process needs to be scrapped and the government needs to look at a new way to get people to ever trust them again.


November 11, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, personal stories | Leave a comment

Are we opening the doors for an international high-level nuclear waste dump?

Nuclear concern, LEON ASHTON, Quorn, Nov 19

ARE we opening the doors for an international high-level nuclear waste dump?

Federal Government leaders say Australia does not have any high-level nuclear waste.

The reason we don’t is because the word “waste” in the dictionary means it is a material or by-product no longer useful or required.

But someone can still make money out of our spent nuclear fuel rods from Lucas Heights, so off it goes under a veil of secrecy to France or England, where recoverable plutonium and uranium is extracted. But the majority of radioactivity (about 95 per cent) still remains in the reprocessed nuclear waste.

Playing politics with words cannot, and does not, reduce the radioactive risk. This badly flawed process to find a postcode to dump our own nuclear waste, without the Federal Government putting all the cards on the table, could very well have major long-lasting implications for all South Australians.  

November 11, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia’s media fights for freedom of press – BUT NOT FOR JULIAN ASSANGE

Mainstream Media Fights for Own Freedom, But Not for Assange’s, Sydney Criminal Lawyers, 02/11/2019 BY PAUL GREGOIRE Major Australian mainstream media outlets joined forces a fortnight ago to launched the Right to Know campaign. It aims to see public interest journalism decriminalised, and safeguards for whistleblowers enhanced.This unprecedented display of unity has seen The Guardian, the ABC, Nine, News Corp, SBS and the MEAA join forces in calling on the government to enact reforms. And this is rather significant, considering some of these organisations have been much criticised for towing the party line.

The Right to Know has six demands: exceptions so journalists can’t be prosecuted under national security laws, freedom of information reform, defamation law reform, a narrowing of the information classified as secret, protections for whistleblowers and the right to contest warrants.

Of course, the campaign was sparked by the June AFP press raids, which saw agents rifle through the house of a News Corp journalist, as well as the offices of the national broadcaster, in what was understood by many to be a warning to the media and whistleblowers to keep quiet.

However, a glaring campaign omission is the case of an Australian publisher who’s currently being remanded in the UK over charges that apply in the US, which relate precisely to public interest journalism. Yet, the Australian media has all but forgotten their colleague, Julian Assange.

Silenced by association

“The Right to Know campaign drives to the heart of the matter more than many journalists realise,” remarked Ian Rose, a member of the Support Assange and Wikileaks Coalition.

“While on the one hand, they’re right to finally be calling out the creeping incursions and restrictions into media freedoms,” he told Sydney Criminal Lawyers. “On the other, they don’t have the inner fortitude to stand up for Assange.”

According to Rose, there are two reasons that the Australian media has abandoned the Walkley award-winning journalist. One is that he’s “an egalitarian”, which “frightens the hell out of the ruling class”, as most of the work of WikiLeaks has been all about exposing their lies.

The second reason behind the silence is that the “oligarchs” are the “journalists’ paymasters”. And for this reason – which is underscored by the justifiable fear of losing their lives – journalists have refrained from “calling these people out”.

An excuse for silencing

Attorney general Christian Porter spoke out against the Right to Know campaign, claiming that by providing the media with the right to contest warrants could hinder criminal investigations. And he also asserted that the campaign demands could lead to national security threats.

As an example of how the media could become such a threat, Porter pointed to Assange having published leaked classified documents on WikiLeaks. The top lawmaker further set out that while this act of publication was widely condemned, the local industry still awarded Assange a Walkley……..

Neglecting an ally

And as for what the Australian media should be doing about one of its own locked away in isolation in circumstances that undermine the rule of law, Mr Rose says that it “ought to get over its jealousy and unite to support Assange”.

Indeed, the Right to Know campaign should embrace Assange’s cause, as it’s the quintessential example of the concerted crackdown on journalists that’s currently taking place across the western world. And there’s a clear correlation between his silencing and the local AFP raids.

“The way Assange is being treated is the way journalists are starting to be treated, and the way all of society will be treated if we don’t collectively call for a stop to the new dictatorial world order,” Rose warned.

And as an example of how this silencing of dissent is spreading beyond the media, Rose pointed to the recent assault on nonviolent climate activists, which has seen the application of ongoing arrests,  draconian bail conditions,  intimidatory procedures and the passing of restrictive laws……..

November 11, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

About nuclear plants and bushfires

NUCLEAR WILDFIRES  Inlander, Robert Alvarez

The recent wildfires at Department of Energy nuclear sites are among the most serious nuclear emergencies in the United States. In May, the Cerro Grande fire destroyed nearly 48,000 acres on and around the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The Hanford wildfire in Washington state raged over 192,000 acres in late June. In late July, a wildfire cut a swath about 12 miles long and four miles wide at the DOE’s Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, coming close to large amounts of stored nuclear wastes and forcing the evacuation of 1,800 workers.
Nuclear-site wildfires burn off protective layers of soil and vegetation, causing radioactive materials to be carried over great distances. Fires can disrupt safety systems at nuclear facilities, leading to loss of power and ventilation. They can ignite waste areas containing solvents, hydrogen and flammable forms of nuclear materials. And these wildfires are increasing. So far, 6.4 million acres have burned this season — 3.5 million acres above the 10-year national average. According to the Forest Service, there is an acute shortage of resources to fight such fires……..

November 11, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Sydney and surroundings – “Catastrophic” fire warning.


How near to Lucas Heights nuclear facility are the fires?

Catastrophic’ fire warning a first for Sydney   RFS raises Sydney fire warning to ‘catastrophic’, SMH  Helen PittLisa VisentinLaura Chung and Lucy Cormack, November 10, 2019
Catastrophic fire danger is forecast for Sydney and its surrounds on Tuesday for the first time, as a statewide total fire ban is enforced today to help contain more than 60 fires across the state.
It’s the first time the NSW Rural Fire Service has issued the maximum level of warning for the city since the introduction of the “catastrophic” alert in 2009 in the wake of the Victorian Black Saturday blazes.
Yet both the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian have refused to be drawn on the contribution of climate change to the fires which have so far killed three, injured at least 35 and destroyed more than 150 homes.
The Sydney region is now drier than before the 2001 Black Christmas fires, as authorities warn more “lives and homes” will be at risk when the mercury soars to 37-38C tomorrow…….

November 11, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

False promises of lots of permanent jobs – from National Radioactive Waste Management agency

Greg Bannon Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA, 11 Nov 19. 
45 jobs are promised for the NRWMF. Why is it certain that 45 people will be employed? People take holidays, need sleep and feeding, get sick, make mistakes and cost money. Third world countries, where life and wages are cheap, still use people.
Mining and material handling operations the world over are converting to remotely controlled robotics. The same applies to surveillance and security.
    • Rio Tinto operates driverless trains, hauling 28,000 tonnes of iron ore at a time.
  • 3D laser scanning technology can separate humans from potentially dangerous operations, confined areas and boring or repetitive work.
  • Remote cameras and sensors operate 24/7, recording and storing everything.
ANSTO promotes its innovation, ground-breaking research and latest technology. The glossy brochures tell that story. BUT…
Here, in the 21st Century, DIIS won’t concede that any of the 45 jobs could be performed without people – it would spoil their narrative and dash expectations they’ve raised..
Megan Jo And what recompense can the community expect if these 45 jobs don’t materialise? None. No recompense for contamination of land, homes, or water. No recompense for damage to tourism or agriculture. It’s easy to make grand promises when you have no intention to take responsibility for delivering them.

November 11, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Australian Greens criticise Morrison government on bushfires and climate change


November 11, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Climate reality needs more than thoughts and prayers

November 11, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Climate dispute between Scott Morrison and the Greens

Climate dispute breaks out as Scott Morrison visits bushfire-hit areas,  SBS 11 Nov , “……war of words has broken out about the link between climate change and the unprecedented bushfire emergency that has hit NSW and Queensland.BY CLAUDIA FARHART  Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has lashed out at Greens MP Adam Bandt over “stupid and callous” comments linking the government’s inaction on climate change and bushfires that have claimed three lives in New South Wales.

On Saturday, Mr Bandt tweeted that “words and concern are not enough … the Prime Minister does not have the climate emergency under control”.

Bandt tweeted: I’m deeply saddened by the loss of life. Hearts go out to all affected & to brave firefighters. But words & concern are not enough. The PM does not have the climate emergency under control. Unless we lead a global effort to quit coal & cut pollution, more lives will be lost……

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berijiklian dodged more questions about climate change as they visited fire-hit areas in northern NSW on Sunday.

Mr Morrison was heckled by a climate change protester during a briefing from firefighters.

“Climate change is real, can’t you see,” the protester yelled, before being escorted out of the building.  HTTPS://WWW.SBS.COM.AU/NEWS/CLIMATE-DISPUTE-BREAKS-OUT-AS-SCOTT-MORRISON-VISITS-BUSHFIRE-HIT-AREAS

November 11, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

The movement to save Julian Assange – his father in Ireland

Will you come and help?’ Father of Julian Assange on campaign to free his son, Irish Examiner,  MICHAEL CLIFFORD  November 09, 2019    At 80, John Shipton thought he would be enjoying his retirement, he tells Michael Clifford. Instead, he is touring European capitals campaigning for his son, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

A parent’s work is never done. John Shipton entering his ninth decade. He’d like to kick back, maybe learn a few recipes, stroll at a leisurely pace towards the declining years.

But his son needs him. His son’s health is in serious danger and his future looks dark, with the prospect of spending decades, if not the remainder of his life, in prison.

His son is Julian Assange. It’s a name that is familiar to most people, although many would, at this remove, find it difficult to couple his celebrity standing with his talent or achievement.

Assange is an Australian who has been a serious thorn in the side of the powerful. His Wikileaks organisation was responsible for disseminating information that showed what exactly the US and its allies were getting up to in foreign wars.

Wikileaks exposed war crimes. It was the receptor for whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s treasure trove of documents that painted a picture of torture and maltreatment by US forces in Iraq, among other crimes.

Vanity Fair described the resultant stories as “one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the last 30 years… they have changed the way people think about how the world is run”…….

Assange is a category B prisoner, which means he’s not considered an immediate danger to fellow human beings or society in general, but his conditions of detention are still onerous.

“He’s locked up 22 or 23 hours a day,” his father says. “It’s a grade A maximum security prison. Because those in it are treated like terrorists, that’s what Julian is being subjected to.”

Shipton was in Dublin recently on a flying visit that now forms part of his current “job”. That entails lobbying, meeting, and publicising on behalf of his son. Shipton is on a tour of European capitals trying to round up support……

Assange is in a bad way, there is no doubt about that. Both physically and psychologically, his condition is deteriorating. The prison conditions are onerous but they come following eight years cooked up in the embassy, at times under serious stress. The day before arriving in Dublin Shipton had been in to see his son.

“As you would expect after nine years of persecution, he’s a bit down in the dumps,” he says.

“The report of the UN rapporteur on torture says it all really, pointing out that he has every sign of having suffered torture with both physical and mental results…..

The UN rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, did visit Assange with two doctors in June in Belmarch and were highly condemnatory of the conditions in which he was being kept.

Last week, Melzer issued a further statement, saying Assange’s life was at risk and that he must not be extradited to the US as a consequence of “exposing serious governmental misconduct”…..

Melzer goes further and offers an opinion on what is driving the harsh treatment.

“In my view, this case has never been about Mr Assange’s guilt or innocence, but about making him pay the price for exposing serious governmental misconduct, including alleged war crimes and corruption,” he says. “Unless the UK urgently changes course and alleviates his inhumane situation, Mr Assange’s continued exposure to arbitrariness and abuse may soon end up costing his life.”…..

Since coming to power, Trump has railed against many forms of the free press. And his government has requested Assange’s extradition to stand trial for spying.

If he is extradited, his father doesn’t have much confidence in the prospects of a fair trial.

“The espionage law courts are held in Elizabeth, Virginia,” says Shipton. “It’s a town where all the constituents are from the intelligence community. Every judgement in the espionage courts they say just go to jail. It’s not theoretical. If he’s tried he will go to jail.”

The next hearing on extradition isn’t scheduled until February and on the basis that he previously did skip bail while awaiting an extradition hearing he is unlikely to get bail. For his family and close friends, the most immediate issue is his health rather than the political and legal vortex into which he has been drawn.

At a recent court appearance on October 21, he was described by eyewitnesses as appearing “distressed and disorientated”.

He is subject to a legal process, but few could argue that it is anything more than political. Assange published leaked material. In that he was performing an act of journalism.

Manning, for instance, was prosecuted and served seven years of what was originally a 35-year sentence. But Assange’s role was that of publisher.

Much of Wikileaks most serious material was presented in collaboration with leading global newspapers, including the New York Times and The Guardian.

His father believes that the attack on the press through Assange is not fully appreciated.

“It’s in the self interests of all journalists and news corporations to ensure that this is fought,” he says……

November 11, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Massive bushfires in New South Wales are NOT “part of a normal cycle” – fire-fighting expert.

This is not normal: what’s different about the NSW mega fires, SMH, By Greg Mullins, November 11, 2019 —I write this piece reluctantly, because there are still possible fire victims unaccounted for; people have lost loved ones; and hundreds of families have lost their homes. My heart goes out to them. I don’t want to detract in any way from the vital safety messages that our fire commissioners and Premier will be making about Tuesday’s fire potential.

Everyone needs to heed the fire service warnings to prepare, to have a plan, and to leave early if you’re not properly prepared. Know that the best firefighters in the world – volunteer and paid – will be out in force from NSW agencies and interstate to do battle with the worst that an angry Mother Nature can throw at us. But as we saw on Friday, the sheer scale and ferocity of mega fires can defy even the best efforts.

In the past I’ve have heard some federal politicians dodge the question of the influence of climate change on extreme weather and fires by saying, “It’s terrible that this matter is being raised while the fires are still burning.” But if not now, then when?

“Unprecedented” is a word that we are hearing a lot: from fire chiefs, politicians, and the weather bureau. I have just returned from California where I spoke to fire chiefs still battling unseasonal fires. The same word, “unprecedented”, came up.

Unprecedented dryness; reductions in long-term rainfall; low humidity; high temperatures; wind velocities; fire danger indices; fire spread and ferocity; instances of pyro-convective fires (fire storms – making their own weather); early starts and late finishes to bushfire seasons. An established long-term trend driven by a warming, drying climate. The numbers don’t lie, and the science is clear.

If anyone tells you, “This is part of a normal cycle” or “We’ve had fires like this before”, smile politely and walk away, because they don’t know what they’re talking about..…

November 11, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

New South Wales Labor calls for suspending parliament, as bushfires rage


November 11, 2019 Posted by | New South Wales | Leave a comment