Australian news, and some related international items

South Australian Government must oppose the Federal government’s nuclear waste dump

Friends of the Earth, 21 July 20, Today’s announcement by federal resources minister Keith Pitt that a new ‘Australian Radioactive Waste Agency’ will be established and located in Adelaide is the latest move by the federal government to impose a national nuclear waste dump in SA. The Agency will be responsible for all functions of the proposed nuclear ‘facility’

including engagement with the Kimba community.

Dr. Jim Green, national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia, said: “‘Locating the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency in Adelaide is a cynical attempt to present the strongly contested nuclear waste dump as a done deal.

“The imposition of a nuclear waste dump is a clear breach of the SA Nuclear Waste Facility (Prohibitions) Act, legislation introduced by Liberal Premier John Olsen and strengthened by Premier Mike Rann. Yet current SA Premier Steven Marshall and energy and mining minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan support the proposed nuclear dump. That support should be reversed.”

“van Holst Pellekaan falsely claims that Kimba has ‘clearly’ expressed its willingness to be the host community. In fact, a narrow majority supported the facility, and that narrow support was won with a multi-year, multi-million-dollar federal government PR campaign including the fictitious claim that 45 local jobs will be created.

“A majority of South Australians oppose the proposed nuclear dump and there has been no consultation let alone consent along transport corridors. Barngarla Traditional Owners were excluded from the Kimba ballot and their separate ballot found unanimous opposition.

“If the results of the Barngarla ballot are included with the ballot of local Kimba residents (and out-of-town ratepayers), the overall level of support falls to just 43.8% of eligible voters (452/824 for the Kimba ballot, and 0/209 for the Barngarla ballot). That is well short of a majority and a long way short of the government’s 65% benchmark for ‘broad community support’,” Dr. Green said.

Prof. Graeme Samuel’s EPBC Interim Report released yesterday noted that the federal government’s framework environment legislation “reflects an overall culture of tokenism and symbolism, rather than one of genuine inclusion of Indigenous Australians”.

An April 2020 report by Federal Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights noted that planned changes to the National Radioactive Waste Management Act, currently the subject of a Senate inquiry, do not sufficiently protect the Barngarla’s rights and interests. The Committee found “there is a significant risk that the specification of this site will not fully protect the right to culture and self-determination”. Importantly, the Human Rights Committee’s report was unanimous and was endorsed by Liberal and National Party members.

Dr. Green said: “Shamefully, the Federal Government has acknowledged that its proposed changes to the National Radioactive Waste Management Act will deny Barngarla Traditional Owners, farmers and other interested parties a right to a judicial review of the proposed nuclear waste facility; indeed, it appears that the purpose of the legislation is to do just that.

“Prof. Samuel’s EPBC Review and the Coalition and Labor members of the federal parliament’s Human Rights Committee have found that the rights of Traditional Owners need to be strengthened, yet Premier Marshall and Minister van Holst Pellekaan are supporting the imposition of a nuclear waste dump unanimously opposed by Barngarla Traditional Owners. Their crude racism diminishes all South Australians and must be resisted,” Dr. Green concluded.

The SA Labor Party argues that Traditional Owners should have a right of veto over nuclear projects given the tragic history of the nuclear industry in South Australia. Deputy Leader of the Opposition Susan Close said that SA Labor is “utterly opposed” to the “appalling” process which led to the announcement regarding the Kimba site. The SA ALP State Conference in Oct. 2018 endorsed a resolution supporting Traditional Owners “in their current struggle to prevent a nuclear waste facility being constructed in their region.”

July 21, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Federal radioactive waste agency flawed from day one

Australian Conservation Foundation, 21  July 20, In response to Resources Minister Keith Pitt’s announcement of a new Australian Radioactive Waste Agency, to be based in Adelaide, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Nuclear Free Campaigner Dave Sweeney said:

“With his announcement of the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency, Minister Pitt is playing short-term politics with the management of long-term waste.

“This new agency appears to have been set up to rubber stamp and maintain momentum for the Federal Government’s deeply flawed and contested radioactive waste facility planned for Kimba in regional South Australia.

“From day one the perception of this new agency has been tainted – rather than being expert and independent, it has been created primarily to advance the Government’s Kimba plan.

“It is absurd to establish a new federal agency for a proposal that is still under active Senate review and has no current legislative basis.

“Instead of what is needed – an expert and independent authority to oversee radioactive waste management in Australia – this initiative has all the hallmarks of a tailor-made political fix for a federal plan that has no broad social licence.

“It is extraordinary that this announcement to advance a national radioactive waste facility in Kimba against the specific objections of the Barngarla Traditional Owners comes a day after a major review of federal environmental laws highlighted a tokenistic approach to Indigenous concerns.

“Minister Pitt continues to re-state the tired myths that have dominated the Federal Government’s approach to this issue.

To be clear, nuclear medicine in Australia is not dependent on the Kimba plan. Universities and hospitals that produce radioactive waste will still need to manage waste at these places.

“This is a disappointing, half-baked and deeply compromised response to the growing uncertainty and contest surrounding the Federal Government’s approach to radioactive waste management.”

July 21, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Minister Against the Environment, Sussan Ley, in a hurry for Environment Laws to help mining industries?

Environment Minister Sussan Ley is in a tearing hurry to embrace nature law reform – and that’s a worry The Conversation  Peter Burnett, Honorary Associate Professor, ANU College of Law, Australian National University, July 20, 2020  The Morrison government on Monday released a long-awaited interim review into Australia’s federal environment law. The ten-year review found Australia’s natural environment is declining and under increasing threat. The current environmental trajectory is “unsustainable” and the law “ineffective”.

The report, by businessman Graeme Samuel, called for fundamental reform of the law, know as the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. The Act, Samuel says:

[…] does not enable the Commonwealth to play its role in protecting and conserving environmental matters that are important for the nation. It is not fit to address current or future environmental challenges.

Samuel confirmed the health of Australia’s environment is in dire straits, and proposes many good ways to address this.

Worryingly though, Environment Minister Sussan Ley immediately seized on proposed reforms that seem to suit her government’s agenda – notably, streamlining the environmental approvals process – and will start working towards them. This is before the review has been finalised, and before public comment on the draft has been received.

This rushed response is very concerning. I was a federal environment official for 13 years, and from 2007 to 2012 was responsible for administering and reforming the Act. I know the huge undertaking involved in reform of the scale Samuel suggests. The stakes are far too high to risk squandering this once-a-decade reform opportunity for quick wins.

‘Fundamental reform’ needed: Samuel

The EPBC Act is designed to protect and conserve Australia’s most important environmental and heritage assets – most commonly, threatened plant and animal species.

Samuel’s diagnosis is on the money: the current trajectory of environmental decline is clearly unsustainable. And reform is long overdue – although unlike Samuel, I would put the blame less on the Act itself and more on government failings, such as a badly under-resourced federal environment department.

Samuel also hits the sweet spot in terms of a solution, at least in principle. National environmental standards, legally binding on the states and others, would switch the focus from the development approvals process to environmental outcomes. In essence, the Commonwealth would regulate the states for environmental results, rather than proponents for (mostly) process.  …….

From the outset, the government framed Samuel’s review around a narrative of cutting the “green tape” that it believed unnecessarily held up development.

In June the government announced fast-tracked approvals for 15 major infrastructure projects in response to the COVID-19 economic slowdown. And on Monday, Ley indicated the government will prioritise the new national environmental standards, including further streamlining approval processes……..

Here’s where the danger lies. The government wants to introduce legislation in August. Ley said “prototype” environmental standards proposed by Samuel will be introduced at the same time. This is well before Samuel’s final report, due in October.

I believe this timeframe is unwise, and wildly ambitious……

The government’s fixation with cutting “green tape” should not unduly colour its reform direction. By rushing efforts to streamline approvals, the government risks creating a jumbled process with, once again, poor environmental outcomes.

July 21, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Australian government could create 76,000 jobs within three years if it invests more in renewables

Climate Council unveils plan to create 76,000 jobs in three years, The New Daily, KellyReporterThe federal government could create 76,000 jobs within three years if it invests more in renewables, a new report has found.

After a second wave of infections dashed hopes of a rapid economic recovery, the Climate Council has urged the government to invest in sustainable projects that rebuild employment.

In conjunction with economic consultants AlphaBeta, the Climate Council has released a 12-point plan to create 76,000 jobs while slashing emissions – recommending everything from restoring ecosystems to retrofitting public buildings.

“The opportunities identified in our modelling work are shovel ready,” AlphaBeta director Andrew Charlton said.
One-third of the jobs would require less than 12 months of retraining, meaning that workers who lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 crisis could be rapidly employed.

“The job creation could start immediately and continue over three years. Federal, state and territory governments all have the opportunity to put these measures in train.”

Dr Charlton added: “Australia has seen steep job losses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. But with the right policy measures, thousands of jobs could be created in large-scale renewable energy, ecosystem restoration and the collection and processing of organic waste.”

By targeting 12 policy areas, state and federal governments could create employment for communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 economic crisis.

The 12 areas include large-scale projects such as installing wind and solar and investing in pilot-scale green hydrogen, as well as more localised initiatives such as accelerating construction of public transport and increasing the amount of tree canopy cover in urban areas. ………

Ms McKenzie said the plan would create jobs, cut energy bills and reduce Australia’s emissions.

And she said taxpayers wouldn’t have to foot the entire bill, as private investors have a big appetite for investment in renewables.

“We know renewable energy is the cheapest source of power. It can attract the most private investment,”……..

July 21, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, employment, energy | Leave a comment

Indigenous Australians have been  failed by the nation’s environmental protection laws, a review has found.

July 21, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Federal environment law review calls for independent cop, but Morrison Government rules it out

Federal environment law review calls for independent cop, but Morrison Government rules it out, ABC News, By national science, technology and environment reporter Michael Slezak  21 July 20, 

A landmark review into Australia’s national environment laws has called for a major overhaul, including establishing an “independent cop” to oversee them.

Key points:

The 124-page interim report comes 20 years after the laws were first implemented by the Howard government
The report’s author has called for a “strong, independent cop” on the environment beat
The Federal Government has accepted some recommendations, but rejected the report’s call for an independent regulatorThe independent review into the 20-year-old Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC), released this morning, also flagged legally enforceable “national standards” to stop the decline of Australia’s natural environment.

“The foundation of the report was that there is too much focus on process and not enough focus on outcomes and that should be changed entirely,” Graeme Samuel, the review’s independent author, said.

He concluded that Australia’s environment was getting worse under the laws designed to protect it.

“Australia’s natural environment and iconic places are in an overall state of decline and are under increasing threat,” he said.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley immediately moved to rule out an “independent cop”, which was policy taken to the last federal election by the Opposition.

But the Federal Government accepted the recommendation for national standards, which she said would form the basis of agreements with states, allowing federal approvals to be devolved to the states.

If brought into law it would establish a “one-stop shop” or “single-touch approvals”.

The devolving of federal approval powers to states has long been the aim of the Federal Government.

The report calls for the Government to maintain the power to step in on any decisions it deems important, or when a failure of state processes has been identified.

The 124-page interim report comes 20 years after the laws were first implemented by the Howard government……….

Independent cop call

In his review, Professor Samuel, the former chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, said a “strong, independent cop on the beat is required”.

“An independent compliance and enforcement regulator, that is not subject to actual or implied political direction from the Government Minister, should be established,” he said.

“The regulator should be responsible for monitoring compliance, enforcement and assurance. It should be properly resourced and have available to it a full toolkit of powers.”

The call echoes Labor Party policy from the last election, which called for a federal environmental protection agency — a move backed by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF).

ACF chief executive, Kelly O’Shanassy, said at the moment protecting nature was “optional”.

Regardless, Ms Ley moved quickly to rule out any new regulator……….

Funding cuts and approval delays

The review began in November 2019 but its findings were delayed by the bushfires and then the coronavirus crisis.

While the report was being prepared, the Auditor General released a report finding 80 per cent of approvals under the laws were non-compliant or contained errors.

Federal Labor analysed those findings and concluded that since the Coalition came to power, there had been a 510 per cent blowout in the number of environmental approvals delayed beyond time frames indicated in the laws.

The delays came as the government cut funding to the environment department, which Labor said was now 40 per cent lower than it was before the Coalition came to power…….

July 21, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

South Australian government (ignoring its own nuclear prohibition laws) joins Federal govt’s haste for nuclear waste dump

July 21, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Central banks, including RBA, urge rapid coal phase-out to meet Paris climate goals — RenewEconomy

Central banks warn that meeting the Paris Agreement will require the end of coal in Asia before 2050, but provides a huge opportunity for renewables. The post Central banks, including RBA, urge rapid coal phase-out to meet Paris climate goals appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Central banks, including RBA, urge rapid coal phase-out to meet Paris climate goals — RenewEconomy

July 21, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Making America feared again: the Trump administration considers resuming nuclear weapons testing — IPPNW peace and health blog

The Trump administration now seems to be preparing to ignore treaty constraints and world opinion by reviving nuclear weapons explosions. A Washington Post article reported that, in mid-May 2020, a meeting of senior U.S. officials from top national security agencies engaged in serious discussions about US nuclear test resumption. According to one official, the idea was that test renewal would help pressure Russia and China into making concessions during future negotiations over nuclear weapons. In fact, the nuclear testing now being considered by the Trump administration is designed with the same purpose that weapons have traditionally had in world affairs: to intimidate other nations.

Making America feared again: the Trump administration considers resuming nuclear weapons testing — IPPNW peace and health blog

July 21, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

July 20 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Coronavirus, EVs Put Pressure On Dealer Sales Model” • Dealer franchise laws were originally created to protect dealers from unfair competition. Today, those dealer franchise laws have a new purpose – preventing car makers like Tesla from selling directly to the public. Now, with customer pressure, car makers are looking into new models. […]

July 20 Energy News — geoharvey

July 21, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Solar farm and big battery approved for Parkes in NSW — RenewEconomy

Renewable Energy Developments plans to build an 80MW solar farm in Parkes, NSW, given the green light by the state planning department. The post Solar farm and big battery approved for Parkes in NSW appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Solar farm and big battery approved for Parkes in NSW — RenewEconomy

July 21, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment