Australian news, and some related international items

Australia as the salvation of the nuclear industry?

Australia is the great ‘white’ hope for the global nuclear industry, Independent Australia, By Noel Wauchope | 19 November 2019, The global nuclear industry is in crisis but that doesn’t stop the pro-nuclear lobby from peddling exorbitantly expensive nuclear as a “green alternative”. Noel Wauchope reports.

The global nuclear industry is in crisis. Well, in the Western world, anyway. It is hard to get a clear picture of  Russia and China, who appear to be happy putting developing nations into debt, as they market their nuclear reactors overseas with very generous loans — it helps to have stte-owned companies funding this effort.

But when it comes to Western democracies, where the industry is supposed to be commercially viable, there’s trouble. The latest news from S&P Global Ratings has made it plain: nuclear power can survive only with massive tax-payer support. Existing large nuclear  reactors need subsidies to continue, while the expense of building new ones has scared off investors.

So, for the nuclear lobby, ultimate survival seems to depend on developing and mass marketing “Generation IV” small and medium reactors (SMRs). …..

for the U.S. marketers, Australia, as a politically stable English-speaking ally, is a particularly desirable target. Australia’s geographic situation has advantages. One is the possibility of making Australia a hub for taking in radioactive wastes from South-East Asian countries. That’s a long-term goal of the global nuclear lobby.   …..

In particular, small nuclear reactors are marketed for submarines. That’s especially important now, as a new type of non-nuclear submarine – the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) submarine, faster and much cheaper – could be making nuclear submarines obsolete. The Australian nuclear lobby is very keen on nuclear submarines: they are now promoting SMRs with propagandists such as Heiko Timmers, from Australian National University. This is an additional reason why Australia is the great white hope.

I use the word “white” advisedly here because Australia has a remarkable history of distrust and opposition to this industry form Indigenous Australians…..

The hunt for a national waste dump site is one problematic side of the nuclear lobby’s push for Australia. While accepted international policy on nuclear waste storage is that the site should be as near as possible to the point of production, the Australian Government’s plan is to set up a temporary site for nuclear waste, some 1700 km from its production at Lucas Heights. The other equally problematic issue is how to gain political and public support for the industry, which is currently banned by both Federal and state laws. SMR companies like NuScale are loath to spend money on winning hearts and minds in Australia while nuclear prohibition laws remain.

Ziggy Switkowski, a long-time promoter of the nuclear industry, has now renewed this campaign — although he covers himself well, in case it all goes bad, noting that nuclear energy for Australia could be a “catastrophic failure“. ……

his submission (No. 41) to the current Federal Inquiry into nuclear power sets out only one aim, that

‘… all obstacles … be removed to the consideration of nuclear power as part of the national energy strategy debate.’

So the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) should be changed, according to Switkowski. In an article in The Australian, NSW State Liberal MP Taylor Martin suggested that the Federal and state laws be changed to prohibit existing forms of nuclear power technology but to allow small modular reactors.

Switkowski makes it clear that the number one goal of the nuclear lobby is to remove Australia’s national and state laws that prohibit the nuclear industry. And, from reading many pro-nuclear submissions to the Federal Inquiry, this emerges as their most significant aim.

It does not appear that the Australian public is currently all agog about nuclear power. So, it does seem a great coincidence that so many of their representatives in parliaments – Federal, VictorianNew South WalesSouth Australia and members of a new party in Western Australia – are now advocating nuclear inquiries, leading to the repeal of nuclear prohibition laws.

We can only conclude that this new, seemingly coincidental push to overturn Australia’s nuclear prohibition laws, is in concert with the push for a national nuclear waste dump in rural South Australia — part of the campaign by the global nuclear industry, particularly the American industry, to kickstart another “nuclear renaissance”, before it’s too late.

Despite its relatively small population, Australia does “punch above its weight” in terms of its international reputation and as a commercial market. The repeal of Australia’s laws banning the nuclear industry would be a very significant symbol for much-needed new credibility for the pro-nuclear lobby. It would open the door for a clever publicity drive, no doubt using “action on climate change” as the rationale for developing nuclear power.

In the meantime, Australia has abundant natural resources for sun, wind and wave energy, and could become a leader in the South-East Asian region for developing and exporting renewable energy — a much quicker and more credible way to combat global warming.,13326

November 19, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, technology | Leave a comment

Kimba and Flinders Ranges communities do not know what nuclear wastes they are getting, and for how many decades

Dump in decades, The Advertiser, GREG BANNON, Quorn, 19 Nov 19, REGARDING the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility, taskforce manager Sam Chard wrote a separate facility “will be found for the permanent disposal of intermediate level waste, but that’s a few decades off” (“Nuclear assurance”, The Advertiser, 16/11/19).

Temporary storage of intermediate-level waste is a major reason why some in the communities of Kimba and the Flinders Ranges are objecting so strongly to this proposal.

The Federal Industry Department acknowledges this material will need to be disposed of for 10,000 years to be considered safe. After four decades a disposal site has not been established and now we are being told it is still “a few decades off”.

The Department acknowledges that intermediate-level waste is the most toxic nuclear waste in Australia. We have asked for, but have received no guarantees, that this material will not end up being stranded at whichever site is chosen at the end of this ballot process. Why should these communities be expected to accept all of Australia’s nuclear waste, on behalf of all Australians, when they don’t know what they are signing up for?


November 19, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Record heat, catastrophic fire danger for South Australia – what a great place to plan transport and dumping of nuclear waste -NOT

November 18, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, South Australia | Leave a comment

Journalism’s future in crisis – the case of Julian Assange

JOHN PILGER: Assange’s case will define the future of free journalism,,13324  By John Pilger | 18 November 2019   John Pilger describes the disturbing scene inside a London courtroom last week when the WikiLeaks publisher, Julian Assange, appeared at the start of a landmark extradition case that will define the future of free journalism.

THE WORST MOMENT was one of a number of “worst” moments. I have sat in many courtrooms and seen judges abuse their positions. This judge, Vanessa Baraitser – actually she isn’t a judge at all; she’s a magistrate – shocked all of us who were there.

Her face was a progression of sneers and imperious indifference; she addressed Julian Assange with an arrogance that reminded me of a magistrate presiding over apartheid South Africa’s Race Classification Board. When Julian struggled to speak, he couldn’t get words out, even stumbling over his name and date of birth. 

When he spoke truth and when his barrister spoke, Baraister contrived boredom; when the prosecuting barrister spoke, she was attentive. She had nothing to do; it was demonstrably preordained. In the table in front of us were a handful of American officials, whose directions to the prosecutor were carried by his — back and forth this young woman went, delivering instructions.

The Magistrate watched this outrage without a comment. It reminded me of a newsreel of a show trial in Stalin’s Moscow; the difference was that Soviet show trials were broadcast. Here, the state broadcaster, the BBC, blacked it out, as did the other mainstream channels.
Having ignored Julian’s barrister’s factual description of how the CIA had run a Spanish security firm that spied on him in the Ecuadorean embassy, she didn’t yawn, but her disinterest was as expressive. She then denied Julian’s lawyers any more time to prepare their case — even though their client was prevented in prison from receiving legal documents and other tools with which to defend himself.

Her knee in the groin was to announce that the next court hearing would be at remote Woolwich, which adjoins Belmarsh Prison and has few seats for the public. This will ensure isolation and be as close to a secret trial as it’s possible to get. Did this happen in the home of the Magna Carta? Yes, but who knew? 

Julian’s case is often compared with Dreyfus, but historically it’s far more important. No one doubts – not his enemies at The New York Times, not the Murdoch press in Australia – that if he is extradited to the United States and the inevitable Supermax, journalism will be incarcerated, too.

Who will then dare to expose anything of importance, let alone the high crimes of the West? Who will dare publish ‘Collateral Murder’? Who will dare tell the public that democracy, such as it is, has been subverted by a corporate authoritarianism from which fascism draws its strength?

Once there were spaces, gaps, boltholes, in mainstream journalism in which mavericks, who are the best journalists, could work. These are long closed now. The hope is the samizdat on the internet, where fine disobedient journalism is still practised.

The greater hope is that a judge or even judges in Britain’s court of appeal, the High Court, will rediscover justice and set him free. In the meantime, it’s our responsibility to fight in ways we know but which now require more than a modicum of Julian Assange’s courage.

November 18, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, media | Leave a comment

Pursuing nuclear power slows down real action on climate change by faster, cheaper, energy sources

In sum, the nuclear industry seeks its own sales arrangements protected from competition, its own prices determined by political processes rather than markets, and diminished opportunities for its carbon-free competitors to express their value, reach their customers, and discover their own prices. This could be good for compliant legislators’ campaign contributions, but hardly in the national interest or helpful for climate protection.

If you haven’t heard this view before, it’s not because it wasn’t published in reputable venues over several decades, but rather because the nuclear industry, which holds the microphone, is eager that you not hear it. Many otherwise sensible analysts and journalists have not properly reported this issue. Few political leaders understand it either. But by the end of this article, I hope you will.

to protect the climate, we must save the most carbon at the least cost and in the least time, counting all three variables—carbon and cost and time. Costly options save less carbon per dollar than cheaper options. Slow options save less carbon per year than faster options. Thus even a low- or no-carbon option that is too costly or too slow will reduce and retard achievable climate protection.

anti-market monkeybusiness cannot indefinitely forestall the victory of cheaper competitors, but it can delay and diminish climate protection while transferring tens of billions of unearned dollars from taxpayers and customers to nuclear owners.

Does Nuclear Power Slow Or Speed Climate Change? Forbes  Amory B. Lovins-18 Nov 19, Most U.S. nuclear power plants cost more to run than they earn. Globally, the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2019 documents the nuclear enterprise’s slow-motion commercial collapse—dying of an incurable attack of market forces. Yet in America, strong views are held across the political spectrum on whether nuclear power is essential or merely helpful in protecting the Earth’s climate—and both those views are wrong.

 In fact, building new reactors, or operating most existing ones, makes climate change worse compared with spending the same money on more-climate-effective ways to deliver the same energy services.

November 18, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

How does the climate denialist Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) get away with being a “charity”?

The climate denialist IPA and its ‘public interest’ charity status, Independent Australia, By David Paull | 19 November 2019Since the IPA and CIS organisations argue against the scientific consensus on the climate change emergency isn’t that against the public interest? Why, then, are they classified as ‘charities’? David Paull reports.

The Prime Minister’s recent comments on the rights of individuals to undertake actions, such as boycotts, that may adversely affect “secondary” company interests raises questions of free speech and public interest.

But the increasingly shrill advocacy for climate denial in the public sphere in this country has reached a stage where it seems that substantive scientific arguments regarding future Earth scenarios are being drowned out.

The debate has descended – thanks in no small part to Murdoch media and political pundits – so that now it’s a “conspiracy” by the Bureau of Meteorology and NASA,  or it’s “sun-spots”, which will initiate a new “ice-age”. Even the line, “We must take a balanced view” provides anti-science advocates with a platform.

Which raises the clear question: Is climate change denial of benefit to our community? Or, to put it another way, if some are still arguing against the scientific consensus on the climate change emergency we are confronting, isn’t that against the public interest?

What does it take to be a charity?

As it turns out, not if you are a “charity” registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC).  When talking about climate denialist organisations, key among those in Australia is the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) and the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS). Both have generated substantial public communication, which is “climate sceptical” in nature and at deviance from the consensus scientific view. Yet both organisations – particularly the IPA – and through their front groups such as the Australian Environment Foundation, have been at the forefront of promoting the idea that global warming is a conspiracy. Examples are the recent book published by the IPA and edited by Dr Jennifer Marohasy who is working on releasing a new edition next year.

The CIS, while not being a loud advocate of climate scepticism, has certainly hosted talkfests which have articulated these views. Both organisations are also within the international Atlas Network, which channels money into groups around the world that seek to further the climate denialist and libertarian agendas. And both have registered charities with the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission (ACNC).

The IPA’s registered charity is called Trustee For Institute Of Public Affairs Research Trust, while the CIS has registered a charity under the name of, The Centre For Independent Studies Ltd……

Follow the money

The IPA receives only about ten to 20 per cent of its annual income through its charity, most of which is spent each year, amounting to some $800,000 in 2017-18. These are nearly all classed as “donations” under the ACNC disclosure requirements — though of course “donors” are not required to be identified…….

Both charities claim they are benefiting the “general community of Australia”. However, given the difficulty in matching a climate denialist agenda with a supposed community benefit, this simply does not stack up anymore.

The reviews by the ACNC in January 2014 of the charitable status of these two registered charities, in this light, needs to be reviewed again. This is particularly so of the IPA with its increasing focus on spreading misinformation (none of which stands up to proper scientific scrutiny) since 2014.

But there are also other issues which need clarification in order that better transparency occurs, such as better definitions of income and expenditure, the question of influence by foreign entities and perhaps what is key: whether charity funds being used by these organisations is for a purpose that may be deemed as being of detriment to the community. Charitable status should be relinquished under these circumstances.

I have written to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC) to undertake a fresh review of these charities and await a response in anticipation. You can make a complaint to the ACNC HERE.   David Paull is an Australian ecologist  . You can follow David on Twitter @davesgas.,13325

November 18, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

50 bushfires continue to rage across New South Wales

November 18, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

A bit of good news – patients’exposure to medical radiation is going down

November 18, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Business demand is helping drive the energy transition to wind and solar — RenewEconomy

Corporate energy users have supported 5.2GW of new renewable energy capacity and procured nearly 2.3GW of mostly solar and wind powered electricity, new report shows. The post Business demand is helping drive the energy transition to wind and solar appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Business demand is helping drive the energy transition to wind and solar — RenewEconomy

November 18, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Coal seen as biggest threat to Victoria power supply — RenewEconomy

The biggest threat to Victoria’s future power supply comes not from more renewables, but unreliable brown coal power plants, and government efforts to prop up black coal units. The post Coal seen as biggest threat to Victoria power supply appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Coal seen as biggest threat to Victoria power supply — RenewEconomy

November 18, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

November 18 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Metamorphosis In Fukushima – Installing 11 Solar Power Plants And 10 Wind Power Plants” • How does one renew an area devastated by nuclear waste? Kurosawa’s film Dreams deals with the issue. But in Fukushima Prefecture, it is real-life matter, with planning for 11 solar power plants and 10 wind power plants on […]

via November 18 Energy News — geoharvey

November 18, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Strong demand for renewables jobs drives industry-leading wages growth — RenewEconomy

Continued investment in renewable energy projects sees renewables sector deliver some of the strongest wages growth in Australia. The post Strong demand for renewables jobs drives industry-leading wages growth appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Strong demand for renewables jobs drives industry-leading wages growth — RenewEconomy

November 18, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cheaper, cleaner, smarter – how wind, solar and batteries are changing Australia’s grid — RenewEconomy

New reports from market operator and market regulator show that – despite the politics – Australia’s grid is getting cleaner, cheaper and smarter. The post Cheaper, cleaner, smarter – how wind, solar and batteries are changing Australia’s grid appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Cheaper, cleaner, smarter – how wind, solar and batteries are changing Australia’s grid — RenewEconomy

November 18, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Canavan revives carbon capture in new effort to underpin coal generators — RenewEconomy

Resources minister Matt Canavan has revived proposals for carbon capture and storage projects to help justifiy government backing of new coal projects. The post Canavan revives carbon capture in new effort to underpin coal generators appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Canavan revives carbon capture in new effort to underpin coal generators — RenewEconomy

November 18, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Now is the time, Mr Morrison. — Urban Wronski Writes

“In this bucket is my house”, Aaron Crowe tells other unquiet Australians rallying in Macquarie St, Sydney, Tuesday. He lifts an organic compost bin, a repurposed twenty gallon steel red drum with hand-made wooden lid, a homely relic of former peaceful, rural domesticity, now, destroyed forever, aloft. The 38 year-old-father tips a few charred, remnants […]

via Now is the time, Mr Morrison. — Urban Wronski Writes

November 18, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment