Australian news, and some related international items

Submission to Senate – nuclear power an expensive waste of money and time.

Submission No. 58 to Inquiry on the Environment and Other Legislation Amendment (Removing
Nuclear Energy Prohibitions) Bill 2022

– from a vistor to nuclear facilities and presentations in Japan and Canberra on nuclear power

I was part of a group which visited Japan after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power station meltdown. In
Sendai, and in Canberra, we listened to days of presentations on the costs and benefits of nuclear
It became clear that there was only one reason for any country to go down the road of nuclear power,
and that was to acquire nuclear weapons at some point in the future. The reasons against doing this are
obvious, and it vexes me that the idea that we might take up nuclear power as an energy source
continues to be dug up and considered again.

Nuclear power is expensive and slow to build;

  • is impossible to get out of once you have nuclear power stations to keep watch over;
  • puts people’s health and safety at risk — research is showing that even low levels of radiation are
  • raises terrifying possibilities of annihilation of large areas of the planet;
  • requires transparent operation practices but is inherently secretive due to security concerns;
  • and attracts private investors who operate under the assumption that they will not be liable if things
    should go terribly wrong (they will have made their money, and the public will foot the long-term bill).

  • Should anything go wrong, as we saw in Fukushima, we will need to have in reserve large numbers of
    trained workers to go in, incurring certain damage to their health and in some cases their lives, to try to
    fix the damage.

  • Decommissioning of nuclear facilities and disposal of nuclear waste are still not resolved anywhere,
    and so far, experience suggests that those with the weakest political clout may see a nuclear dump in
    their territory. This may be us, one day.

  • Nuclear power plants can be threatened and used as bargaining chips by criminal actors as is feared in
    the Ukraine.

  • In short, given that we must proceed very fast to move over to a sustainable and much cheaper energy
    system, putting nuclear power back on the agenda is an expensive waste of money and time, and I
    suspect is being done for reasons which would not stand up to public scrutiny.
    The public wants a sustainable and benign energy system, and a government which will provide this.
    Please let this be the government that understands this and acts accordingly.

March 19, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why is the Labor government determined to silence the Barngarla people, at the same time as Labor promotes the indigenous Voice to Parliament ?

While appreciating the Labor government’s strong commitment to the Voice, the question remains as to why, at the same time, federal Labor are doing so much to continue the Coalition’s determination to silence the voice of the Barngarla.’

Nuclear waste controversy continues in Federal Court Michele Madigan, 16 March 2023,
On Monday 6 March, the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC) began action in the Federal Court in Adelaide to overturn the federal Ministerial declaration to selecting Napandee near Kimba as the proposed site for a national nuclear waste facility.

The Barngarla people, the Traditional Owners of Kimba, have consistently opposed the controversial nuclear waste plan. The federal government has spent millions of dollars fighting the Barngarla in court, despite the continued efforts of the Barngarla people who do not want their sites and stories disturbed by a nuclear waste facility.

This fourth manifestation of federal governments of either persuasion to impose a national radioactive waste dump continues to be one of the best kept environment secrets in the country on all levels. There are still unanswered questions regarding the project itself, the actual necessity for it, and the risks involved.

Capitalising on the small amount of coverage South Australian affairs have in the media in general outside our own state, three out of the four chosen sites in this serial campaign since 1998 have been in South Australia. No coincidence either that the precedent seemed to be long set by SA being the main place of choice for the British nuclear explosions and the following so called ‘minor trials’ of the 1950s and 1960s.

It may be worth again touching on the risks involved. Recently, a WA mining company lost a tiny radioactive capsule on the long southward trek down to Perth. Eureka Street readers may have heard as the story became international news. The authorities were certainly anxious that it be found, warning in the meantime how dangerous it would be to touch. 

It seemed amazing that such a tiny entity could later be found in such vast territory of 1400 kms. Finding it was surely a classic triumph of the needle in the haystack success story. However, though certainly difficult, it was not  impossible because of the radioactive rays it was emitting. Those of us concerned about the previous federal government‘s campaign to regularly transport, not a tiny capsule with a half life of 30 years, but long lived Intermediate Level radioactive waste — toxic for 10,000 years — have been regularly and understandably puzzled by the almost absent media coverage about this far more dangerous waste in the proposed regular 1700 km monthly transports from ANSTO Lucas Heights.

Regarding the actual necessity for the dump, the Coalition government has repeated the mantra about the ‘100 hospitals and universities throughout the nation housing radioactive waste’ as a prime reason for needing the national facility. Even normally reputable news outlets like the Guardian have been known to fall back on these easily-accessible Resource Ministers’ media statements providing inaccurate information.

The reality is in huge contrast to these claims. In October of last year, SA environmental expert David Noonan discovered, through reading the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency’s own detailed information, compelling evidence that directly contradicted the claims of multiple government officials, department personnel, and ARWA staff. 

Far from the claims that the proposed facility is ‘essential’ to prevent the nationwide ‘100 hospitals and universities’ being overwhelmed by the storage of nuclear medical waste products, Noonan’s research revealed the reality. Total Hospital existing and future LLW [low -level waste] is reported at only 3 m[three cubic metres]. Based on ARWA’s Report, all non-ANSTO sources produce on average only approx. 1.3 m3 per year of LLW over the next 100 years and produce approx. 1.34 m3 per year of Intermediate level waste ILW over the next 50 years.’ Not enough to necessitate the creation of a waste dump in Kimbra. In the words of environmentalists, ‘it’s ANSTO’s dump.’

Ignorance, (wilful or otherwise), by Parliamentarians about the matters of nuclear medicine is not confined to the Coalition. NSW Senator the Hon Tim Ayres was the presiding member for the absent Resources Minister, Madeleine King in the recent February Senate Estimates on these matters. Ayres’ comments to SA Senator Barbara Pocock said it all: ‘But South Australians use X-rays. They use nuclear medicine. They use it for cancer treatments. They use it for all sorts of medical purposes’. When later conveyed to her, this statement drew the incredulity of Dr Margaret Beavis, GP and Co-Chair of ICAN Australia, and Vice-President Medical Association for Prevention of War. As Dr Beavis explains: ‘Nuclear medicine is used for medical imaging and to treat some cancers. Nuclear medicine should not be confused with X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, radiotherapy or chemotherapy, which are much more commonly used.’

The previous November Senate Estimates seemed to give Shaun Jenkinson CEO of Australian Nuclear Scientific and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) an almost uncritical forum for propagating ANSTO’s claims of the Kimba dump being essential for the survival of Australia’s nuclear medicine, even when challenged by the new SA Senator, economist Professor Barbara Pocock. In February’s recent Senate Estimates, Senator Barbara Pocock asked what contingency plans were in place to produce and store nuclear medicine if the facility didn’t go ahead at Kimba. Jenkinson’s response was measured, admitting that there is room at ANSTO. ‘We continually look at the storage capacity on site, and we of course look at the projected time for the national radioactive waste management facility. We work closely with ARWA, and, if there was to be a delay in that, we would be seeking approval for additional onsite storage until such time as a national radioactive waste management facility was ready.’

Cost has been, and is, no obstacle to either federal government to ensure their project goes ahead. As the recent BDAC briefing paper reveals, ‘since 1 January 2017, the Commonwealth Government has spent close to $10 million on legal work for the nuclear waste dump and the AWRA (Australian Radioactive Waste Agency).’ In the last year alone, the Commonwealth Government spent around $2 million, or approximately $40,000 every week, on a team of 14 lawyers to fight the Barngarla in court. Norman Waterhouse, the legal firm representing the Barngarla people, and the legal team working with Norman Waterhouse have endured all of the Commonwealth’s litigation for fees of $500K in 2022. The Barngarla’s legal team has withstood tremendous pressure from the Commonwealth lawyers for a quarter of the cost to take the case.

While appreciating the Labor government’s strong commitment to the Voice, the question remains as to why, at the same time, federal Labor are doing so much to continue the Coalition’s determination to silence the voice of the Barngarla.


March 19, 2023 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

Aukus nuclear submarine deal will be ‘too big to fail’, Richard Marles says

Australia’s defence minister plays down concerns multi-decade plan could be vulnerable to political changes in the US and UK

Daniel Hurst, Guardian, 17 Mar 23

Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine deal with the US and the UK will rapidly become “too big to fail”, the deputy prime minister has said.

Richard Marles made the comment in an interview with Guardian Australia’s politics podcast, pushing back at the idea the multidecade Aukus plan could be vulnerable to political changes in both the US and the UK.

He also predicted that broader diplomatic efforts to stabilise the relationship between Australia and China would “continue largely unaffected by what has been announced during the course of this week”.

As the minister for defence, Marles has been at the centre of the Aukus planning. He said he had felt the “gravity” and “responsibility” of this week’s announcement of sweeping, staged plans that involve Australian spending of up to $368bn by the mid-2050s.

One point of contention has been the Australian promise to provide $3bn in funding over the next four years to subsidise the submarine production base in the other two countries, mostly the US, and what guarantees there were that the US would actually proceed with selling three to five Virginia-class submarines to Australia in the 2030s.

Asked what contracts or agreements sat underneath the high-level political commitment announced in San Diego this week, Marles said the project was “a shared endeavour of the three countries”.

“There is going to be a legal underpinning to this … and there is going to need to be a treaty-level document between our three countries, so there is a whole lot of legality which will be worked through,” Marles said.

“But in so many ways this transcends that [given] the sheer size of the decision to share this capability with Australia. And having taken the step of doing that, which we’ve done, puts all three countries in a position where it’s too big for it to fail on the part of any of those countries.”

Marles said all three countries were “deeply committed to each other’s success in this project” and that was what gave him “a sense of assurance that this is going to play out in the way that we want it to play out”.

“This must work for the US, this must work for the UK, as much as it must work for Australia,” he said……………….

Marles also addressed questions about whether the submarines could become obsolete, given that an Australian National University report, Transparent Oceans?, found that scientific and technological advancements predicted oceans were “likely” or “very likely” to become transparent by the 2050s.

“Just as there is a lot of effort going into illuminating the seas, there is a lot of effort going into creating more stealth around a submarine,” Marles said……………………..

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons said this week that the best way for Australia to reassure the region about the submarine plan would be to sign and ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

It is Labor party policy to do so, but only “after taking account” of several factors, including the need for an effective verification and enforcement architecture and work to achieve universal support from other nations. The nuclear weapons states including the US have opposed the treaty, arguing it is out of step with the current security environment.

Marles said Australia wanted “a world where there are no nuclear weapons”, and had sent observers to the first meeting in Vienna last year…………

March 19, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Labor Premiers’ dispute over location for AUKUS nuclear wastes, – but planned Kimba waste dump is”now dead in the water”?

Mr Wilkins told ABC Radio Adelaide that the proposed Kimba nuclear waste dump no longer made sense, and that any future site to store submarine reactor spent fuel should also accept waste that would have gone to Kimba.

“The proposed Kimba nuclear waste dump must now be dead in the water,” he said

Nuclear waste divisions intensify between Labor premiers over AUKUS submarine deal

ABC, 18 Mar 23

South Australia’s premier has hit back at suggestions from Labor counterparts that his state should take nuclear waste from the future AUKUS fleet, saying the decision on where the waste goes should be based on the “nation’s interests”…………….

Divisions within Labor ranks over AUKUS — including over its $368 billion cost, and its strategic aims and consequences — have become increasingly apparent since Paul Keating’s blistering attack on what he described as the “worst international decision” by a Labor government since conscription.

While Prime Minister Anthony Albanese yesterday rebuked Mr Keating, Labor premiers have since voiced opposition to accepting nuclear waste from the AUKUS subs in their states.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said yesterday it was not “unreasonable” to suggest that, since South Australia is gaining jobs, it should also accept the spent fuel rods when the submarines reach the end of their service.

“I think the waste can go where all the jobs are going,” he said.

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan voiced similar sentiment, suggesting South Australia take on a nuclear waste facility.

But while Mr Malinauskas said that the possibility of SA taking waste could not be ruled out, he rejected Mr Andrews’s claim that SA had a responsibility to take the waste because it was taking the jobs.

“No, because that implies that somehow that this isn’t a national endeavour,” he said……………………

Conservation Council of SA chief executive Craig Wilkins said discussion of a “short-term political stoush between state premiers” overlooked the major challenges involved in storing nuclear waste.

“We’re talking about waste that needs to be kept safe from humans for tens of thousands of years, basically beyond our civilisation, so this needs to be an incredibly well-considered decision,” he said.

“[There] needs to be a multi-billion-dollar project to house the waste.”

Mr Wilkins told ABC Radio Adelaide that the proposed Kimba nuclear waste dump no longer made sense, and that any future site to store submarine reactor spent fuel should also accept waste that would have gone to Kimba.

“The proposed Kimba nuclear waste dump must now be dead in the water,” he said……………………….

March 19, 2023 Posted by | politics, South Australia, Victoria, wastes, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Editorial Geppetto logic

Saturday Paper 18 Mar 23 is something perverse about the prime minister announcing he will spend $368 billion to make Australia less safe – and for the press to record this as an act of political genius. It’s like a child announcing he has fouled himself at the dinner table only for his parents to tell him how clever he is.

March 19, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Uncle Sam, can you target my Tomahawk, please?

Will Australian air warfare destroyers serve simply as a transport means and launch platform for the United States, receiving targeting data only with their agreement? Or will we have full targeting control over our Tomahawks?

by Rex Patrick | Mar 18, 2023

Who will control the Tomahawk Missiles? News that Australia will purchase up to 220 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles might seem like just another Defence purchase, but there’s a hidden sovereignty issue that needs to be examined. And that’s what Rex Patrick is here to do.

The United States Congress has just approved the sale of as many as 20 Block IV Tomahawks and 200 Block V Tomahawks for $1.3 billion dollars. The US will provide support consisting of unscheduled missile maintenance, spares; procurement, training, in-service support, software, hardware, communication equipment, operational flight test, engineering, and technical expertise.

Tomahawk missiles are a long range, all weather, subsonic cruise missile used to attack land targets. The intention is for these proven and highly effective missiles to be fitted to our navy’s three Air Warfare Destroyers. But while these missiles will be fitted to our ships and be under Australian command, the ability to target them properly may be constrained by the US.

The purchase raises a sovereignty issue which must be bought out in the open and discussed.

We’re going to war tomorrow

I was in the United States in October 2001, just after 9/11. America was in shock. On the evening of October 5th, I was in a US Defence establishment working back late, hoping to be able to complete the task I was there to do so that I could return home to Australia.

My American host, sitting in front of his classified computer system, looked up at me and said, “America’s going to attack someone this weekend.”

I looked back at him and asked, ”You’ve got a classified email message telling you that?”

“No,” he replied, pointing out the window, “See that building over there. That’s where they program the Tomahawk missiles. It’s 6pm on a Friday night, and the car park’s full.”

Less than 48 hours later, the US launched Operation Enduring Freedom with a series of, amongst other things, Tomahawk missile strikes.

Guidance required

Tomahawks are used to attack land targets to incapacitate enemy command & control facilities, strategic air defences, intelligence systems, infrastructure, key production facilities and military forces.

They are normally fired as part of a joint operation with targeting information provided by strategic commanders onshore and coordinated in time and space to produce a synergistic attack.

The missiles use GPS and terrain contour matching to navigate to the target, and a ‘Digital Scene Matching Area Correlation’ to improve navigation in the terminal stages leading to accuracies of the order of ten metres.

Two stages of planning are conducted for the Tomahawk. Planning for the maritime cruise (overwater) phase is normally carried out by the launch platform, our air warfare destroyers’ crew, cognisant of the current surface and air picture.

Programming of the land cruise (overland) phase and target selection is normally carried out by a ‘Theatre Mission Planning Centre’ (TMPC) ashore (like the one my US colleague and I were looking through the window at) or a shipboard Tactical Tomahawk Weapon Control System (TTWCS). Australia is receiving both from the US.

The onshore centre and shipboard TTWCS also provide for post launch control of the weapons.

The US TMPC has a worldwide geospatial database that allows for them to plan strikes. Whether Australia has unfettered and unblockable access to this, or an indigenous alternative, is not known.

Whether we do or don’t is the answer to whether we will have full sovereign control over targeting.

“Will Australian air warfare destroyers serve simply as a transport means and launch platform for the United States, receiving targeting data only with their agreement? Or will we have full targeting control over our Tomahawks?

Sovereign capability

The first priority of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is defence of Australia. Every capability we acquire should come with the keys to allow ADF commanders to use capabilities in their possession as they see fit.

Questions of sovereignty are swirling around the entire AUKUS program; submarines, and now missiles. I hope my former colleagues in the Senate will ask the right questions.

March 19, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Despite UK government’s enthusiasm, nuclear power is just not a good investment

 Investment industry lukewarm on confirmation of nuclear in UK taxonomy.
One London-based funding manager warned that the industry’s problems were
economic not environmental. A sustainability figure at one large UK fund
manager said the nuclear industry’s ability to attract capital has not
primarily been about having to manage an unattractive ESG profile. “It is
incredibly expensive and un-cost competitive when compared to the

 Responsible Investor 14th March 2023

March 19, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Seymour Hersh warns of potential US plan B in Ukraine

Washington could clash with Moscow’s forces if Kiev starts to lose, the veteran journalist argues 17 Mar 23

The US could get directly involved in the Ukraine conflict if it sees that Kiev’s forces are on the back foot, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Seymour Hersh suggested on Tuesday.

Speaking at an event in Washington, DC hosted by the Committee for the Republic, a non-profit organization, Hersh noted that the US “did stupid things” during the Vietnam War, and suggested that Washington could “start doing something else” in the Ukraine conflict.

I don’t know what happens if it goes bad for Ukraine, you have all this manpower,” he said, pointing out that the US has dispatched units of its 82nd and 101st elite airborne divisions close to the Ukrainian border, while “a lot of weapons and arms are coming” to Europe.

“I’m told the game is going to be: this is NATO, we are supporting NATO in offensive operations against the Russians, which is not going to fool the world… It’s us fighting Russia,” Hersh stressed, without disclosing his sources.

According to Hersh, “the big deal” is that Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to come to an agreement with the Ukrainian government. “The deal is demilitarize, and it’s going to be a no-go for us,” the journalist said, adding that the Russian leader “has not put in his main force yet” in the conflict.

Summing up the Ukraine conflict, Hersh argued that “we just may be kidding ourselves what’s going on there and what the results are going to be”.

He recalled the battle of Stalingrad during WWII, when Soviet troops suffered heavy losses but still emerged victorious. “Come on. Do we really want to mix up with those guys? I don’t think so,” the journalist added.

In February, Hersh released a bombshell report on last September’s Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipeline blasts, accusing Washington of orchestrating the attack. The White House denied responsibility. Last week, several Western media outlets claimed the culprits may have been linked to Ukraine. Moscow dismissed the reports as “a coordinated media hoax campaign.”

Russia has repeatedly voiced concerns about the eastward expansion of NATO and its involvement in the Ukraine conflict. Last month, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov stated that NATO “is no longer acting as our conditional opponent, but as our enemy” as it conducts round-the-clock intelligence operations against Moscow and continues to supply Kiev with arms.

March 19, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment