Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australian children targetted for propaganda by the weapons industry

Reputation Laundering: weapons companies infiltrating schools to promote education https://www.michaelwest.com.au/reputation-laundering-weapons-companies-now-infiltrating-schools-to-promote-education/, by Michelle Fahy | Nov 27, 2020  A Lockheed missile blows up a bus full of Yemeni children; in Australia Lockheed Martin gains kudos by sponsoring the National Youth Science Forum. BAE Systems sponsors underprivileged kids in Australia while being complicit in the killing of thousands of needy children in Yemen. All you see in industry marketing pitches is euphemism, with nary a mention of the word “weapons”. Michelle Fahy reports.

The UK’s largest weapons-maker, BAE, is working inside Saudi Arabia supporting Saudi-United Arab Emirates military operations in Yemen, a war that has killed or injured tens of thousands of civilians, including thousands of children.

Meanwhile in Australia, BAE sponsors The Smith Family’s STEM education program for under-privileged children.

Flagrant hypocrisy? Welcome to the weapons business.

Then there’s Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest weapons-maker, also raking in billions from the Yemen war. A Lockheed missile blew up a bus full of Yemeni school children in 2018, killing at least 29 kids and injuring dozens more. Back in Australia, Lockheed was cultivating kudos with kids as major sponsor of the National Youth Science Forum, a registered charity.

US missile-making giant Raytheon also continues to supply the Saudi-UAE coalition, despite evidence of numerous attacks with Raytheon missiles that targeted and killed civilians, including children. No mention of that in Australia. Instead, Aussie school kids had fun hanging out with the young Australian snowboarding paralympian Raytheon hired to front the launch of its Maths Alive! STEM program.

The French company supplying Australia’s new submarines, Naval Group, is at the centre of multiple corruption scandals globally, some of which involved murder. That hasn’t stopped Naval promoting itself as a model future employer, with the help of Port Adelaide footy heroes, to 90,174 kids in 329 South Australian schools since 2017.

And let’s not forget the list of sponsors of the Australian War Memorial, Legacy, Invictus Games and Soldier On, which include numerous weapons-making corporations.

There’s a name for this cynical behaviour: reputation laundering. And nearly every weapons company is doing it.

Promoted as innovators

The world’s weapons producers have taken with gusto to promoting themselves as innovators in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Military industry has adopted the STEM mantra to target children and young people as future employees, usually with the willing partnership of respected educational institutions. Many, if not most, Australian universities now have joint agreements, strategic partnerships or some other form of collaboration with the weapons industry.

The sales pitch is, join us for an exciting and challenging high-tech career in science. This enthusiastic support of STEM serves two purposes: reputation laundering is one, the other is as a recruitment drive. STEM provides a socially acceptable way to promote the weapons industry to children, and parents, as a potential employer.

There’s nothing wrong with promoting STEM education, or seeking new employees. The issue is the way these companies are now targeting children as young as primary school age, with the full support of government. (eg. The MD of weapons-maker Saab Technologies is on the South Australian education board.) The problem is the spin and glamour applied to increased militarism, with pertinent information omitted from the marketing. Warfare isn’t mentioned, for starters.

There’s nothing about how the kids will use their STEM education to enhance the ‘lethality’ of their employer’s products. Or about a future where employees have eliminated the need for human involvement in the ‘kill chain’ by creating autonomous robotic devices to make those decisions. (This is not science fiction, these research and development programs are already under way.) Working on nuclear weapons isn’t discussed, either.

You won’t find the underlying arms manufacturing realities in the STEM marketing by weapons giants. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find the word “weapons” at all.

A world of euphemism

Instead, you’ll enter a world of euphemism: “high end technology company”, “leading systems integrator”, “security and aerospace company”, “defence technology and innovation company”. It’s also a fair bet you’re reading weapons company marketing if you see the phrase “solving complex problems”. Especially if there’s mention of working to make the world safer and more secure.

The following are a few examples of many in which multinational weapons corporations are co-opting organisations of good purpose in Australia.

BAE and The Smith Family

BAE operates inside Saudi Arabia, training Saudi pilots, maintaining Saudi’s BAE-supplied fighter jets, and supervising Saudi soldiers as they load bombs onto the planes. Indiscriminate bombing, a well-known feature of the Yemen war, has killed or injured tens of thousands of civilians, including children.

BAE has earned £15 billion from sales to the Saudis since 2015 when the Yemen war started. A BAE maintenance employee was quoted last year saying, “If we weren’t there, in 7 to 14 days there wouldn’t be a jet in the sky.”

BAE’s role in helping the Saudis prolong the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen has been pointed out more than once to The Smith Family since news broke of its sponsorship by BAE. Understandably, The Smith Family has responded defensively along the lines that critics are trying to steal an education from needy Australian children.

But what about the tens of thousands of needy children starved, maimed, and killed on the other side of the world? BAE Systems has given The Smith Family a mere $100,000 –  about 0.3% of The Smith Family’s $36.3 million in non-government fundraising income.

Cheap reputational PR for a company that has gained tens of billions of dollars in defence contracts in Australia, while facilitating war crimes elsewhere.

Raytheon and Maths Alive!

Raytheon has marketed this program to children across America, the Middle East and Australia. Raytheon’s intention? To reach children at an early age and create a “healthy pipeline” from primary education, through secondary, to tertiary studies, to secure its future workforce.

The then Assistant Minister for Defence David Fawcett lent his support to the 2018 Australian launch of Maths Alive!, telling media: “I welcome the ongoing commitment by Raytheon to engage young Australians by helping them visualise what a career in science or engineering might look like.”

Lockheed Martin and National Youth Science Forum


The National Youth Science Forum
 was created by Rotary, which remains involved. The forum, now run by a board chaired by former senator Kate Lundy, has several programs, the flagship program being for Year 12 students interested in science.

Each year about 600 students complete the program, which exposes students to various career pathways in science. Since Lockheed started as major sponsor in 2015, students visit Lockheed Martin laboratories and speak with Lockheed staff as part of the program. (Watch a short video here from Lockheed’s website with some students.)

The National Youth Science Forum’s website does not mention Lockheed’s dominant influence as the world’s No. 1 weapons manufacturer or its significant role in producing nuclear weapons. Lockheed’s role in civil sectors is covered, however this work constitutes a minor aspect of its business. The most recent information from Stockholm International Peace Research says 88% of Lockheed’s revenue comes from arms sales.

Lockheed Martin and the Gallipoli Sponsorship Fund

This year Lockheed Martin became the first corporate partner of the Gallipoli Scholarship Fund. This partnership includes the new $120,000 Lockheed Martin Australia Bursary for the educational benefit of descendants of Australian veterans.

One of the aims of the Gallipoli Scholarship Fund is to contribute “to the future security of our nation and our national values of democracy, freedom, and the rule of law”.

Nuclear weapons will become illegal under international law in January 2021 when the new UN treaty prohibiting them comes into force. The world’s nine nuclear-armed countries haven’t signed it – nor their hangers-on, including Australia – so it won’t apply to them. But two-thirds of the world’s countries (including New Zealand) did vote to bring the treaty into being, banning the world’s worst weapons of mass destruction, and setting a new global norm.

Professor Ramesh Thakur, Director of the Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament at the Australian National University, has said, “The ban treaty embodies the collective moral revulsion of the international community.”

The awkward truth is that the Gallipoli Scholarship Fund’s new corporate partner, Lockheed Martin, is one of the largest nuclear-weapons-producing companies on the planet. Lockheed is all set to provide its 12 bursaries from now through to the end of 2023.

Such are the ethical dilemmas these weapons corporations create for organisations doing good work that are in need of funding.

Morally indefensible positions

Such sponsorships might appear less self-serving if weapons companies behaved consistently, and stopped supplying weapons to war criminals. Claiming they are just doing the bidding of the US or UK governments in supplying the Saudis, as these companies have, is not a morally defensible position, particularly in the face of evidence of ongoing war crimes in Yemen.

Similarly, claims that they are committed to serving the national interest might be more believable if they ceased bribing and scamming their way into the next arms deal, or concocting endless ways to extend and inflate government contracts and invoices for their own corporate financial benefit, blatantly siphoning funds from the public purse.

November 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Education, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Victorian Government Inquiry confirms that there is no future in nuclear power

Inquiry confirms there is no future in nuclear, Mirage News 27 Nov 20, The Victorian Greens have said Parliament’s recently tabled report into nuclear power has confirmed what they’ve known all along: that there is no future in nuclear.The Greens say they expect this to be the last time Victorian Parliament has to consider nuclear, and say nuclear power must remain buried in the last century where it belongs.

Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam, said she had serious concerns about Parliament wasting valuable time and resources on an inquiry into nuclear power, and that those concerns were confirmed today despite the nuclear industry trying to convince the committee otherwise.

She added that nuclear power was expensive and water hungry, and had failed at every attempt to become a viable industry in Australia.

All around the world, nuclear power plant proposals are falling over before they even begin.

It’s clear that nuclear power is the past, and renewable energy is the future. Solar and wind power with storage can meet all our energy needs without the need to dig up and manipulate dangerous nuclear material…… https://www.miragenews.com/inquiry-confirms-there-is-no-future-in-nuclear/

November 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Australian government’s Bill to weaken Environmental Law will be rejected in the Senate

Key crossbench senators say they won’t support bid to change Australia’s environment laws

The Coalition plan to hand development approval powers to the states hits a further roadblock after Senate inquiry, Guardian,   Graham Readfearn, @readfearn   27 Nov 20, 

A Morrison government plan to change Australia’s environment laws to allow development approval powers to be handed to the states has hit a further roadblock, with three key crossbench senators saying in a report they will not support them.

The crossbenchers’ opposition means that, together with Labor and the Greens, the Morrison government’s laws would be voted down in the Senate.

But one crossbench senator told Guardian Australia he could change his mind once he had seen details in documents that the government has so far withheld.

A rushed Senate inquiry into the controversial changes delivered four reports late Friday, with Labor, the Greens and a crossbench group all confirming their opposition.

The government had gagged debate to push the legislation through the lower house – a move that outraged the Greens and Labor.

A final report from a major review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, carried out by Prof Graeme Samuel, was handed to the environment minister, Sussan Ley, in early November.

That report supported a move to devolve powers to the states, even though Guardian Australia has revealed the government was making moves to devolve powers months before the Samuel review.

Samuel’s interim report, released in July, found the environment was in unsustainable decline and the EPBC Act was not fit-for-purpose.

In their dissenting report to the inquiry, the crossbench senators Rex Patrick, Jacqui Lambie and Stirling Griff said they could not support the bill while key information was withheld……… https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/nov/27/key-crossbench-senators-say-they-wont-support-bid-to-change-australias-environment-laws

November 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Victorian Inquiry finds nuclear power costly and risky

Inquiry confirms nuclear energy’s [‘proven risks’]  https://www.miragenews.com/inquiry-confirms-nuclear-energy-s-proven-risks/ A Victorian parliamentary inquiry has found nuclear power is ‘significantly more expensive than other forms of power generation’ and remains economically unviable without subsidies.

The inquiry has confirmed nuclear energy’s ‘identified and proven risks’.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) welcomed comments made at the tabling of the inquiry that the Victorian government has an ‘unequivocal commitment’ to retain the state’s long-standing nuclear ban.

The upper house inquiry into the prospects for nuclear power and uranium mining in Victoria has found:

  • Nuclear energy is ‘significantly more expensive than other forms of power generation’ (finding 3) and without subsidies, a nuclear power industry is economically unviable in Australia (finding 5).
  • Supposed advantages to nuclear energy put forward by nuclear proponents are speculative and do not outweigh the identified and proven risks (finding 9).
“In 1983 the Cain state Labor government introduced the Nuclear Activities (Prohibitions) Act which prohibits uranium mining, nuclear power and waste facilities in the state,” said ACF campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“This long-standing protection has served Victoria well and its retention is prudent and positive.

“ACF welcomes comments by inquiry member Nina Taylor that the Andrews Government has an ‘unequivocal commitment’ to retain the nuclear ban.

“Nuclear power is high cost and high risk and a distraction from the real energy choices and challenges we face. Our energy future is renewable, not radioactive.”

A broad coalition of faith, union, environmental, Aboriginal and public health groups, representing millions of Australians, last year declared nuclear power has no role in Australia’s energy future and is a dangerous distraction from the pressing climate challenges. Their united statement demonstrates widespread community opposition to nuclear power.

November 27, 2020 Posted by | politics, Victoria | Leave a comment

Inquiry confirms nuclear energy’s ‘proven risks’

Inquiry confirms nuclear energy’s ‘proven risks’

A Victorian parliamentary inquiry has found nuclear power is ‘significantly more expensive than other forms of power generation’ and remains economically unviable without subsidies.

The inquiry has confirmed nuclear energy’s ‘identified and proven risks’.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) welcomed comments made at the tabling of the inquiry that the Victorian government has an ‘unequivocal commitment’ to retain the state’s long-standing nuclear ban.

The upper house inquiry into the prospects for nuclear power and uranium mining in Victoria has found:

  • Nuclear energy is ‘significantly more expensive than other forms of power generation’ (finding 3) and without subsidies, a nuclear power industry is economically unviable in Australia (finding 5).
  • Supposed advantages to nuclear energy put forward by nuclear proponents are speculative and do not outweigh the identified and proven risks (finding 9).

“In 1983 the Cain state Labor government introduced the Nuclear Activities (Prohibitions) Act which prohibits uranium mining, nuclear power and waste facilities in the state,” said ACF campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“This long-standing protection has served Victoria well and its retention is prudent and positive.

“ACF welcomes comments by inquiry member Nina Taylor that the Andrews Government has an ‘unequivocal commitment’ to retain the nuclear ban.

“Nuclear power is high cost and high risk and a distraction from the real energy choices and challenges we face. Our energy future is renewable, not radioactive.”

A broad coalition of faith, union, environmental, Aboriginal and public health groups, representing millions of Australians, last year declared nuclear power has no role in Australia’s energy future and is a dangerous distraction from the pressing climate challenges. Their united statement demonstrates widespread community opposition to nuclear power.

November 26, 2020 Posted by | politics, Victoria | Leave a comment

Victorian Parliament: Legislative Council Committee finds that nuclear ban should stay

Parliament of Victoria
Inquiry into nuclear prohibition
Legislative Council Environment and Planning Committee
November 2020

Findings
FINDING 1: Regardless of technology development, priority should be given to the security, stability and accessibility of energy supply and the need to lower carbon emissions due to climate change and to ensure affordable energy.

FINDING 2: Current estimates of the cost of nuclear energy in Australia are unreliable and accurately costing the full cost is not possible without a detailed business case being undertaken.

FINDING 3: Notwithstanding the ambiguities of the costings, the Committee received substantial evidence that nuclear power is significantly more expensive than other forms of power generation and it is recognised that, currently, nuclear is at the high end of the cost range across all technologies.

FINDING 4: A business case is unlikely to be undertaken, given its costs and resources required, while a prohibition of nuclear energy activities remains and there is not likelihood of a plant being able to be built.

FINDING 5: Without subsidisation a nuclear power industry will remain economically unviable in Australia for now.

FINDING 6: Discussion about Victorian participation in the nuclear fuel cycle is entirely theoretical while the Commonwealth prohibitions remain in place.

FINDING 7: Until there is a change in the Commonwealth position, detailed discussions about emerging technologies in Victoria related to the nuclear fuel cycle and power generation are unlikely to advance.

FINDING 8: The success of any radioactive waste strategy relies on a level of acceptance and confidence across government, industry and the broader community of its legitimacy, effectiveness and integrity in its ability to deal with all facets of waste management, storage and disposal, including the long-term health and safety of workers, affected communities, particularly First Nations Peoples, and the environment.

FINDING 9: Those who propose a policy shift have not presented any argument, data or proof in support of their position that cannot be nullified by those arguing against. Any advantages are speculative in nature, and do not outweigh the identified and proven risks.

FINDING 10: The nuclear medicine industry is not hindered significantly by the current prohibitions against uranium or thorium exploration and mining. Current legislative prohibitions only prohibit mining and the construction or operation of certain nuclear facilities, such as nuclear reactors. This does exclude Victoria from hosting a nuclear research reactor or other nuclear facilities which could be used to increase supply of radioisotopes for medical or industrial purposes. The Committee notes that if Victoria did seek to establish a research reactor, Victorian and Commonwealth prohibitions would need to be repealed to allow this to happen. Therefore, a repeal of just Victorian legislation would not be sufficient to expand
our involvement in nuclear medicine beyond what is currently permissible.

FINDING 11: The current market for this material is receiving enough supply from international import and the OPAL reactor at Lucas Heights. The Committee does not believe that fully repealing the Nuclear Activities (Prohibitions) Act 1983 would have a material influence on the nuclear medicine sector, as it is unlikely Victoria’s involvement would increase beyond its current capacity.

FINDING 12: The Committee is not convinced that thorium exploration and mining is economically or technologically viable.

Contents……..  https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/epc-lc/article/4350

November 26, 2020 Posted by | politics, Victoria | Leave a comment

Olympic Dam uranium mine’s unlimited water access is killing the Arabana people’s mound springs

South Australia’s disappearing springs raise questions for miner BHP–  https://www.smh.com.au/environment/sustainability/south-australia-s-disappearing-springs-raise-questions-for-miner-bhp-20201117-p56f6m.html

Few in big cities know about the ‘mound springs’, but they are of deep cultural significance for the Arabana people who hold native title over Lake Eyre and its surrounds.By Richard Baker November 23, 2020

Dotted around the vast arid harshness of outback South Australia are thousands of small springs fed by ancient waters from the Great Artesian Basin.

Few in big cities know about the “mound springs”, but they are of deep cultural significance for the Arabana people who hold native title over Lake Eyre and its surrounds. They are also a precious source of life for humans, animals and plants in a hostile environment.

A mound spring near the shore of Lake Eyre in South Australia.

But the Arabana people fear the extraction of tens of millions of litres of water from the basin each day by mining, petroleum and pastoral industries threatens the existence of the springs by reducing flow pressure in the aquifer to the extent that the springs dry up.

The federal parliamentary inquiry into Rio Tinto’s destruction in May of 46,000-year-old rock shelters at the Juukan Gorge in Western Australia has given the Arabana people the chance to put the fate of the springs on the national agenda.

“In our country there are over 6000 of these springs and they are of great significance to the Arabana people,” said the chair of the Arabana registered native title body, Brenda Underwood, in a submission to the inquiry.

“The springs themselves can be as small as a cup or large enough that you could swim in them, however, we don’t because of the stories associated with them. To us, and to many Australians, they are a beautiful sight in a harsh environment.

“Unfortunately, our springs are disappearing. How many have disappeared, we are not yet sure, but we are undertaking some research to find out just how many have actually disappeared.”

Rio Tinto’s blasting at Juukan Gorge drew widespread public criticism, prompted the resignation of its chief executive and put a spotlight on state and federal laws that are meant to balance the protection of Indigenous heritage against the commercial interests of miners.

In the case of the springs, another mining giant, BHP, is playing a central role. BHP is licensed by the South Australian government to extract the equivalent of up to 42 million litres of water per day from the Great Artesian Basin to operate the massive Olympic Dam copper, gold and uranium mine near Roxby Downs.

Millions of litres of water are also taken from the basin each day by pastoral stations and various petroleum companies, and more is lost through evaporation from thousands of disused bores that have not been properly capped.

RMIT environmental engineering expert Gavid Mudd has studied the mound springs closely for more than 20 years and said there was no doubt the extraction of so much groundwater had contributed to a reduction in flow pressure. Some had dried up entirely.

Although the Arabana submission to the inquiry acknowledges water users such as pastoralists and petroleum companies, it largely focuses on BHP’s water use and the unique South Australian laws that grant it a virtually unchallenged right to groundwater.

Under the 1982 Roxby Downs Indenture Act, the original Olympic Dam owner Western Mining and present owner BHP are afforded special privileges that trump Aboriginal heritage laws and almost all other state laws and regulations.

“Each day they [BHP] take 35 million litres of water from our springs and the Great Artesian Basin and now they wish to increase that amount to 42 million litres per day,” Ms Underwood’s statement said

“We are told that this will continue for at least the next 60 years. Given the number of springs that have disappeared, in 60 years we have a great fear that there will be none left whatsoever. The Arabana people have tasked me and the board of directors of the corporation to protect the springs. The big question is how?”

Ms Underwood and the 1000-strong Arabana community fear the South Australian government will be reluctant to change the status quo for BHP.

The mining company’s recent announcement to pause a planned $3 billion expansion of Olympic Dam is likely to see its water take remain about the mid 30 million litres per day mark.

The Arabana people have asked their Adelaide lawyer, Stephen Kenny, to advise them if the Commonwealth can get involved. Mr Kenny has said the Commonwealth could act to protect the springs, but previous cases such as that involving South Australia’s Hindmarsh Island suggested it would not.

 

 

 

November 23, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, environment, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Exposing the deceptions of Samantha Chard General Manager of the National Radioactive Waste Agency

Peter Remta, 23 Nov 20, As I have mentioned previously this is not the first time that Chard has been untruthful as was established through the questioning of Senator Patrick in the recent Senate enquiry into the legislative changes for the Kimba proposal

At the estimates hearing on 22 February 2019 Chard interrupted her then responsible Minister to claim that the community development package of $30 million (her figure) including a community fund component of $20 million had always been contemplated when the initial enabling legislation was passed in 2012

However members of the committee advising the government on the implementation of the enabling legislation spanning several years in time claim that there was never any mention or even an oblique reference to anything in the way of a community fund as claimed  by Chard

There was nothing in the various information released by the government  including the official nomination guidelines regarding the community fund until its first mention on 12 December 2018

Moreover to have not remembered 580 documents on such an important issue of national significance as judicial review regarding this situation is completely unacceptable

If this is the best that our country can offer by way of ministerial and administrative capability on such an important issue then what hope do we have for the future

The situation was only exacerbated by the incompetent and unsatisfactory performance of the ANSTO management personnel at last month’s estimate hearing

To qualify myself I probably know more about nuclear waste in a global sense than anyone in Australia and it was through my efforts that the ANSTO personnel faced some of the uncomfortable questions at the estimates hearing last month

November 23, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | 1 Comment

Research on the intergenerational impacts of Maralinga nuclear tests

Research on the intergenerational impacts of Maralinga nuclear tests supported by Moran Awardhttps://www.science.org.au/news-and-events/news-and-media-releases/research-intergenerational-impacts-maralinga-nuclear-tests

November 20, 2020  November 20, 2020

Henrietta Byrne from the University of Adelaide. Photo: suppliedHenrietta Byrne from the University of Adelaide is the recipient of the Academy’s 2021 Moran Award for History of Science Research.
She receives the award for her proposal entitled ‘Legacies of exposure: Tracing scientific and Indigenous understandings of exposures from the Maralinga atomic testing (1956–84)’.

Ms Byrne will explore how Australian science has responded to the question of intergenerational impacts of environmental exposures on bodies over time, focused around the British atomic testing conducted in Maralinga, South Australia between 1956 and 1968.

The National Archives of Australia and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies library, as well as interviews with leading anthropologists, will inform her research.

Her work will not only provide an important examination of scientific understandings of environmental exposure, but will also focus explicitly on the Indigenous aspects of this history.

Ms Byrne said that the award will allow her to study the relationships between Indigenous knowledges, settler colonial histories and science and technology studies.

“I’m honoured to have the support of the Australian Academy of Science to undertake this study. It is a great opportunity to engage with the archives in a way that highlights the experiences and ongoing activism of Aboriginal people whose land was exposed to radiation.”

This research is part of her broader PhD project in Anthropology and Gender Studies on environmental exposures and epigenetics in Indigenous Australian contexts.

The Moran Award for History of Science Research is worth up to $5000, and is aimed at postgraduate students and other researchers with expertise in the history of Australian science. Applications for the 2022 award will open in early 2021.

November 21, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, weapons and war | Leave a comment

What next as the Senate rejects the mandatory selection of Napandee as nuclear waste dump?

Minister Pitt insists he is not giving up on the legislation. Expert in radiation impacts Dr Tilman Ruff has recently called out Pitt’s recent declaration of ‘the urgent need of this facility’ in ‘saving lives’ as ‘reckless claims.’  

A new stage in fight against radioactive waste bill, https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article/a-new-stage-in-fight-against-radioactive-waste-bill?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Eureka%20Street%20Daily%20-%20Tuesday%2017%20November%202020&utm_content=Eureka%20Street%20Daily%20-%20Tuesday%2017%20Nove Michele Madigan -17 November 2020

    • ‘We have spent two very productive days at Parliament House speaking about our concerns regarding the proposed Kimba dump site and the Government’s attempts to pass legislation that intentionally takes away our rights to judicial review. Thank you to all of our supporters who helped get us there, this has been a long and expensive fight, but our voices are being heard.’
  • This message from the No Radioactive Waste on Agricultural Land in Kimba or SA group (No Rad Waste) Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Bill 2020 was a good intimation that day to anxious followers that the hoped for blocking in the Senate of the Coalition’s Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Bill 2020 was indeed going to happen. ACF’s progressive checking of the Senate Agenda had already revealed that the Bill, listed as number 8 on Monday 9/11, had by Tuesday 10/11 slipped to number 23. On Wednesday 11/11 it had disappeared off the list.Did this mean the government, knowing it didn’t have the numbers, had given up on the legislation — at least for the present?Hope was confirmed for sure the next day. An Adelaide Advertiser’s 12th November article heading read: ‘Pauline Hanson’s One Nation torpedoes Kimba nuclear waste dump in SA.’

    The article confirmed ‘The One Nation leader… has confirmed she will not back legislation to build the nuclear waste storage site at Napandee farm, near Kimba.’ The article then went on to explain that ‘Without One Nation’s two crucial votes — and Labor, the Greens, and independent senator Rex Patrick not backing the Bill — the government does not have enough votes for it to pass parliament without changes.’

  •  As Senator Hanson had told The Advertiser reporter, she ‘had serious concerns about the process to select Napandee, the level of community support, the waste site being built on farming land, and the facility storing intermediate radioactive waste above ground.’
  • So in the long journey of nearly five years since the Australianfederal government’s renewed search for a national radioactive waste facility, it seems a new stage has been reached.Here’s a question: did the federal Minister for Resources overreach himself? With the power to simply name the   government’s preferred site, Minister Keith Pitt went a step further by presenting to Parliament the naming of the site.

    This meant that a passing of the government’s Amendment Bill would block off the chances for any opponent group ton take the processes leading to that decision to the courts — no judicial review.

    I wrote of the progress of the bill in the House and later of the Senate Inquiry hearings.In a style reminiscent of recently ex-Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, in the inquiry Labor Senators Carr and Gallacher chose to side  with government in their questioning, comments and final vote.

    However Labor, with their knowledge of community concerns, decided to follow Senator Jenny McAllister’s dissenting report and its unease regarding judicial review. Their resolution was ‘to ask for the amendment of removing the name of the Napandee site with the proviso, “Should our amendment be unsuccessful, we willoppose the Bill in the Senate.”’

    The reasons? ‘This is a contentious issue and should have the highest levels of scrutiny to ensure that the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice have been applied given the national significance of this matter.’ This from the leader of the Opposition in the Senate, SA Senator Penny Wong’s Office to the Josephite SA Reconciliation Circle on 26th October.

    In the meantime, president of No Radioactive Waste on Agricultural Land in Kimba or SA Peter Woolford had first heard of the Minister’s Pitt’s long awaited visit to Kimba and the Napandee site via an ABC’s North and West reporter on Tuesday October 27th. The Minister eventually confirmed that four of their group were permitted to meet with him. As well, of course, were meetings with the executive of the pro-dump District Council of Kimba and theWorking for Future pro-dump group.

    ‘A PR box ticking exercise’ was how Woolford named the Minister’s visit with their group. After the event it was harder  to be dispassionate: ‘Pitt and Ramsey (the federal Member) certainly know what we think and the impact it’s had… it certainly got a little heated at times… We had 45 minutes and we raised many issues relating to the doubling handlingof ILW (intermediate-level waste), the vote unfairness, jobs, judicial review etc.’ 

    With three crossbench votes needed in addition to the Greens and Labor to defeat the Bill, the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC), headed by Chair Jason Bilney had long planned to travel to Canberra to meet with legislators.

    COVID restrictions meant that the vital trip was delayed but perhaps providence meant that it took place at just the  right time for the November Senate session. Both key opposition groups have long supported each others’ concerns.

    So with the government unable to get the Senate numbers, what will happen next?

    Minister Pitt insists he is not giving up on the legislation. Expert in radiation impacts Dr Tilman Ruff has recently called out Pitt’s recent declaration of ‘the urgent need of this facility’ in ‘saving lives’ as ‘reckless claims.’

    Independent SA Senator Rex Patrick has long been involved with both BDAC and No Rad Waste groups. The  Advertiser November 12th report above continued with the voice representing the other two of the vital No votes: ‘I  want to make the right decision, not for the interim, I want to make the right decision for future generations,’ Senator Hanson said. ‘I’m not going to be badgered or pushed into this… It’s about looking after thepeople of SA, but also  the whole of Australia.’

    The SA Stock Journal’s September survey recorded 70 per cent of respondents were against the  federal nuclear dump plan. In Aboriginal Way Spring 2020, Karina Lester, Chair of YNTAC, reported  that four Aboriginal groups ‘right across the state’ including the Yankunyjatjara Native Title

    Aboriginal Corporation have ‘submitted their concern.’

    In November, it’s good to hear that South Australians aren’t alone in actively recognising that simply storing above ground, for at least ‘decades,’ nuclear waste that will be radioactive for 10,000 years is a pertinent national issue.

November 19, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment

Can a new mine save BHP’s loss-making Olympic Dam? 

Can a new mine save BHP’s loss-making Olympic Dam?  Peter Ker,Resources reporter
Nov 18, 2020 – There’s a school of thought at BHP that the best way to fix its loss-making Olympic Dam mine is with a bulldozer.

By demolishing the old smelter, refinery, acid plant and other surface infrastructure that so often cause the inconsistency at the mine, advocates say BHP could start again by spending a few billion dollars on world-class infrastructure to allow it to capitalise on Olympic Dam’s extraordinarily large copper, gold, silver and uranium resource….(Subscribers only)…. https://www.afr.com/companies/mining/can-a-new-mine-save-bhp-s-loss-making-olympic-dam-20201026-p568sn

November 19, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

Australian government weakening of Environmental Law will weaken nuclear and uranium safeguards

Extract of Submission to Federal Environment , David Noonan, 18 Nov 20,       “………..I have made a submission to the Independent Review of the EPBC Act, focusing on operation of the Act in protection of MNES under the “nuclear actions” trigger, and Discussion Paper Q.14 on failings of State roles through a case study on BHP Olympic Dam copper-uranium mine public interest issues.
******************
In the case of EPBC “nuclear actions”, including EPBC Act Section 21 & 22 controlled actions in uranium mining and milling, the EPBC Act protected Matter of NES is “the environment” – requiring “whole of environment” scope of impact assessments, and Protection of the Environment such that authorized actions do not have unacceptable or unsustainable impacts.
******************
The Samuel Review, Box 12 Nuclear activities (p.52) states: “To be able to ensure community confidence in these ‘nuclear’ activities, the Commonwealth should maintain the capacity to intervene. To achieve this, the key reform directions proposed by the Review are:
******************
• The National Environmental Standards for MNES should include one for nuclear actions. To provide community confidence, the Standard should reflect the regulatory guidelines and protocols of all relevant national laws and requirements.”
**************
However, the Samuel Review (p.110) specifies inadequate ARPANSA Codes as a ‘National Standard’ for nuclear action assessments; OR use of State frameworks judged compliant with these Codes.
********************
In addition, “graded” (limited) assessments as set out in ARPANSA Codes are to replace the scope of “whole of environment” impact Assessments for ‘nuclear actions’ – including for uranium mining.
******************
ARPANSA Codes can reflect vested nuclear industry practices rather than best scientific evidentiary standards. For instance, applying outdated 1991 era ionising radiation occupational exposure limits.
******************
Australia already has a failing record in regulation of uranium mining, in environmental protection and mine rehabilitation issues. Transferring Approvals to States and use of ARPANSA Codes in graded assessments will further compromise environmental protection standards and practise.
******************
By January 2021 South Australia will be the only Australian jurisdiction conducting uranium mining. A case study of BHP Olympic Dam provides a cogent context to evaluate this Bill & Samuel proposals.
******************
Importantly, “whole of environment” scope of uranium mining impact assessment encompasses social, economic, cultural and spiritual impacts, and not just environmental & radiological impacts.
******************
Outdated BHP Olympic Dam legal privileges that override Indigenous Heritage are now under scrutiny before Parliament’s Juukan Caves Inquiry, see Submission No.73 and 73.1 by David Noonan.
******************
It is typical that uranium mining disproportionately affects Indigenous People. ARPANSA Codes do not provide an appropriate basis to assess or respect Indigenous and Cultural Heritage issues.
******************
State governments in SA have failed to revoke BHP’s untenable Olympic Dam legal privileges.
******************
It is a travesty that BHP has deliberately retained 1982 era over-rides of Aboriginal Heritage across the 12,000 km2 “Stuart Shelf Area” around the Olympic Dam mine, and retains outdated legal rights to take excessive volumes of GAB waters affecting the integrity and very survival of GAB Springs.
******************
BHP’s influence in excessive mining of Great Artesian Basin water for Olympic Dam mine shows a State’s inability,
and given real ‘conflict of interest’, a State’s unwillingness to reform such issues.
******************
This scope is necessary to respect Indigenous rights and interests to protect their country & culture.
******************
It is a warning to this Inquiry that the State of SA has failed to protect the unique and fragile Mound Springs. The integrity of Springs relies on continued natural flows and pressure of GAB waters.
These Springs are a protected Matter of NES under the EPBC Act as a listed Endangered Ecological Community and are of significant ongoing cultural and spiritual importance to Aboriginal traditional owners, the Arabana People, who have called for real effective Federal protection of the Springs.
******************
Unfortunately, our springs are disappearing. … The cause of the disappearance of our springs, is water that is being taken from the Great Artesian Basin by BHP’s mine at Roxby Downs. … Unless something is done by the Commonwealth, our springs will disappear… It is unsustainable, destructive of nature, and destructive of our culture to allow the springs to die. Will you please enact laws that ensure our mound springs and culture are recognised, respected and protected?”
This Inquiry must not condemn the GAB Springs to State control of EPBC Act Approval powers.
******************
I commend the strong Arabana Aboriginal Corporation Submission No.92 (11 August) to the federal Juukan Caves Inquiry and the Arabana Chairperson’s call for protection of their GAB Springs: …… “

November 17, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Australian government is rushing to weaken Environmental Laws

David Noonan, 18 Nov 20, The Federal Liberal gov has called a rushed Committee of Inquiry into Federal Environment and Nature Laws.

But limited the scope of their Inquiry to their Abbott era untenable ‘One Stop Shop’ Bill to divest EPBC Act Approval powers to the States & Territories…

Public submissions close tomorrow Wednesday 18th, and only one day of Hearings is to be allowed.

New Inquiry:  Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Streamlining Environmental Approvals) Bill 2020
Date Referred: 12 November 2020 to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee,
Reporting Date: 27 November 2020

see Inquiry homepage:

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Environment_and_Communications/StreamliningEnviroApp

My 3-page input of concern at a rushed Inquiry & a flawed Bill itakes a national interest focus on ‘nuclear actions’,

Extracts:

Due process and the national interest responsibility to the protection of Matters of National Environmental Significance (NES) are compromised by this deeply flawed Bill and rushed Inquiry. …

It appears reckless that a core pre-requisite audit of State resourcing and capacity to undertake EPBC Approvals and enforcement roles has not been undertaken at this late stage of events. …

Community confidence requires the EPBC Act to retain Approval powers at a Federal level, and to retain the “whole of environment” scope of Assessment and Protection of the Environment in ‘nuclear actions’ as has been required in our national EPBC Act laws since 1999.

This Inquiry should take up the Arabana People’s call for Federal protection of their GAB Springs. 

 

Contacts: The Committee Secretary
Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications
Phone: +61 2 6277 3526
Fax: +61 2 6277 5818
ec.sen@aph.gov.au

Note the ACF has provided a proforma sign on letter option to this Inquiry – which you may wish to avail of,. (see sidebar at right.)

November 17, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | 1 Comment

Corporate vested interests win as Australian Government weakens Environmental Laws

This Bill is fundamentally flawed in the core untenable proposal to divest national environmental responsibilities to States & Territories. State Approvals of major resource, mining and development projects are mired in ‘conflict of interest’, corporate influence and vested – not public – interests.

David Noonan, Full Submission to the Federal Environment Inquiry, 18 Nov 20, To: The Inquiry Chairperson Senator the Hon David Fawcett, ,   Senate Environment and Communications Legislative Committee , By email: ec.sen@aph.gov.au

Concern regards this rushed Inquiry into the flawed Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Streamlining Environmental Approvals) Bill 2020

Dear Secretary

This Inquiry is an unacceptably rushed process, and the Bill takes a pre-emptive and flawed approach to the EPBC Act. The public and the Parliament have a right to see and consider the Samuels Final Report, and the full suite of proposed EPBC Act Reform, National Standards and Amendments.

This Bill is fundamentally flawed in the core untenable proposal to divest national environmental responsibilities to States & Territories. State Approvals of major resource, mining and development projects are mired in ‘conflict of interest’, corporate influence and vested – not public – interests.

Due process and the national interest responsibility to the Protection of Matters of National Environmental Significance (NES) are compromised by this deeply flawed Bill and rushed Inquiry.

State control of EPBC Approvals is proposed through use of unenforceable “Bilateral Approval Agreement” instruments that are not fit for purpose, with little or no State law in place across Australia to even reflect the Objects, obligations and requirements of the EPBC Act.

The Bill unacceptably provides for ‘National Standards’ to be added to Bilateral Agreements with States, rather than legislated in the national interest in the EPBC Act and subject to national consultation and enforcement, with required national resourcing – rather than State paucity. The proposed accreditation process for States to take up federal EPBC powers is not even transparent.

It appears reckless that a core pre-requisite audit of State resourcing and capacity to undertake EPBC Approvals and enforcement roles has not been carried out at this late stage of events.

The Federal government is trying to expedite relinquishing national roles to Protect the Environment while declining to fund States to do so. This is a disrespectful indifference to Matters of NES.

Existing Cth-State Bilateral Assessment Agreements are not enforceable instruments and are not fit for purpose. For instance, no legislative or other mandated changes having been made in South Australia since taking up EPBC Act Assessment roles and responsibilities some years ago.

The non-statutory “EPBC Act Condition-setting Policy” further aligns the Commonwealth to defer to State Conditions of Approval and not set warranted Federal Conditions to properly protect MNES.

I have made a submission to the Independent Review of the EPBC Act, focusing on operation of the Act in protection of MNES under the “nuclear actions” trigger, and Discussion Paper Q.14 on failings of State roles through a case study on BHP Olympic Dam copper-uranium mine public interest issues.

******************

In the case of EPBC “nuclear actions”, including EPBC Act Section 21 & 22 controlled actions in uranium mining and milling, the EPBC Act protected Matter of NES is “the environment” – requiring “whole of environment” scope of impact assessments, and Protection of the Environment such that authorized actions do not have unacceptable or unsustainable impacts.

******************

The Samuel Review, Box 12 Nuclear activities (p.52) states: “To be able to ensure community confidence in these ‘nuclear’ activities, the Commonwealth should maintain the capacity to intervene. To achieve this, the key reform directions proposed by the Review are:

The National Environmental Standards for MNES should include one for nuclear actions. To provide community confidence, the Standard should reflect the regulatory guidelines and protocols of all relevant national laws and requirements.”

**************

However, the Samuel Review (p.110) specifies inadequate ARPANSA Codes as a ‘National Standard’ for nuclear action assessments; OR use of State frameworks judged compliant with these Codes.

********************

In addition, “graded” (limited) assessments as set out in ARPANSA Codes are to replace the scope of “whole of environment” impact Assessments for ‘nuclear actions’ – including for uranium mining.

******************

ARPANSA Codes can reflect vested nuclear industry practices rather than best scientific evidentiary standards. For instance, applying outdated 1991 era ionising radiation occupational exposure limits.

******************

Australia already has a failing record in regulation of uranium mining, in environmental protection and mine rehabilitation issues. Transferring Approvals to States and use of ARPANSA Codes in graded assessments will further compromise environmental protection standards and practise.

******************

By January 2021 South Australia will be the only Australian jurisdiction conducting uranium mining. A case study of BHP Olympic Dam provides a cogent context to evaluate this Bill & Samuel proposals.

******************

Importantly, “whole of environment” scope of uranium mining impact assessment encompasses social, economic, cultural and spiritual impacts, and not just environmental & radiological impacts.

******************

Outdated BHP Olympic Dam legal privileges that override Indigenous Heritage are now under scrutiny before Parliament’s Juukan Caves Inquiry, see Submission No.73 and 73.1 by David Noonan.

******************

It is typical that uranium mining disproportionately affects Indigenous People. ARPANSA Codes do not provide an appropriate basis to assess or respect Indigenous and Cultural Heritage issues.

******************

State governments in SA have failed to revoke BHP’s untenable Olympic Dam legal privileges.

******************

It is a travesty that BHP has deliberately retained 1982 era over-rides of Aboriginal Heritage across the 12,000 km2 “Stuart Shelf Area” around the Olympic Dam mine, and retains outdated legal rights to take excessive volumes of GAB waters affecting the integrity and very survival of GAB Springs.

******************

BHP’s influence in excessive mining of Great Artesian Basin water for Olympic Dam mine shows a State’s inability,

and given real ‘conflict of interest’, a State’s unwillingness to reform such issues.

******************
This scope is necessary to respect Indigenous rights and interests to protect their country & culture.

******************

It is a warning to this Inquiry that the State of SA has failed to protect the unique and fragile Mound Springs. The integrity of Springs relies on continued natural flows and pressure of GAB waters.

These Springs are a protected Matter of NES under the EPBC Act as a listed Endangered Ecological Community and are of significant ongoing cultural and spiritual importance to Aboriginal traditional owners, the Arabana People, who have called for real effective Federal protection of the Springs.

I commend the strong Arabana Aboriginal Corporation Submission No.92 (11 August) to the federal Juukan Caves Inquiry and the Arabana Chairperson’s call for protection of their GAB Springs: ……

 

Unfortunately, our springs are disappearing. … The cause of the disappearance of our springs, is water that is being taken from the Great Artesian Basin by BHP’s mine at Roxby Downs. … Unless something is done by the Commonwealth, our springs will disappear… It is unsustainable, destructive of nature, and destructive of our culture to allow the springs to die. Will you please enact laws that ensure our mound springs and culture are recognised, respected and protected?”

This Inquiry must not condemn the GAB Springs to State control of EPBC Act Approval powers.

Pre-conditions to protect GAB Springs from BHP water extraction were set by the Labor Federal government in 2011 but were not applied as BHP abandoned a proposed open pit mine expansion.

If this Bill were to go ahead, the State of SA’s ‘conflict of interest’ role and BHP’s influence in mining GAB waters will combine to continue the exploitation of underground water reserves and the decline in the integrity and very survival of the unique and fragile GAB Springs.

Community confidence requires the EPBC Act to retain Approval powers at a Federal level, and to retain the “whole of environment” scope of Assessments and Protection of the Environment in ‘nuclear actions’ as has been required in our national EPBC Act laws since 1999.

The Inquiry should take up the Arabana People’s call for Federal protection of their GAB Springs.

This brief summary of input is based on my experience: Including some sixteen years as an Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) Environment Campaigner 1996-2011; as lead author consultant on Joint ENGO submissions (ACF, Conservation SA, and Friends of the Earth Australia) to three BHP EPBC Act Olympic Dam Referrals in 2019; and with 25 years involvement across public interest issues in Olympic Dam mine operations and in matters of environment protection legislation.

Please feel free for the Secretary, Members of the Committee and any of their staff, to contact on any aspect of these issues, for further information, clarification or discussion.

November 17, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, politics | 1 Comment

Australia’s Department of Defence captured by foreign weapons makers Thales, BAE,

November 17, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment