Australian news, and some related international items

The National Party’s Barnaby Joyce recommends nuclear power for impoverished rural Australians

Barnaby Joyce’s thwarted ambitions glow like a nuclear meltdown, “……….  Mr Joyce’s commentary this week on nuclear energy, raising Newstart, and an Indigenous voice to Parliament is also a transparent re-branding exercise – the type favoured by disgraced politicians when they’re trying to rebuild their leadership credentials.

You might recall that Mr Joyce was doing a lot of leadership posturing in the lead-up to the May federal election. Some political observers even reported that the former Deputy PM’s return to the Nationals leadership was such an inevitability that it could possibly happen even before the election…….

the backbencher missed out on a seat in Scott Morrison’s new ministry and also lost his special drought envoy role, although Mr Joyce did retain a gig as chair of a parliamentary committee.

Using what was left available to him, namely the chairman’s role, Mr Joyce kicked off a campaign to become relevant again by claiming his committee should hold an inquiry into establishing nuclear power in Australia.

Yet again demonstrating his expertise in energy policy, the former accountant claimed in a radio interview last weekend that technological advances had essentially made nuclear energy “safe” – and that impoverished Australians living in regional Australia would vie to live near a nuclear power plant if it meant they would receive lower-cost or free electricity in return. To be fair, this is how the French established their nuclear power stations with minimal community dissent.

These reassuring words may well be what mining magnate Gina Rinehart and other investors with uranium interests told Mr Joyce, but the vested interests omitted to explain how expensive it is to build a safe nuclear power station, and how long it takes.

Meanwhile, solar and wind farms with battery storage can be built in remote locations too, but at less cost and in less time, with no need to worry about long-term radioactive waste. Yet pesky details are not what the Barnaby 2.0 campaign is all about………


July 20, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Federal Court Adani decision: Wangan and Jagalingou’s rights fight will continue  12 July 2019    ‘Near enough is good enough for Aboriginal rights’ under Native Title Act

Adani ILUA remains tainted, W&J to consider High Court action

Court decision will not silence dissent

THE Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council says today’s decision by the Federal Court dismissing their appeal confirms that when it comes to Aboriginal rights in Australia, “near enough is good enough” under the Native Title Act.

The Council says it will not give up, but instead consider grounds to seek leave to the High Court and work to build public pressure on the Queensland Government to accept their part in dividing their people and ignoring their rights.

The full bench of the Federal Court today dismissed the appeal brought by five W&J appellants against the certification and registration of the Adani ILUA.

The Council noted the decision hinged only on the question of whether the certification and registration of the Adani ILUA were handled according to the legal requirements of the Native Title Act. It did not ‘pull back the veil’ on the contested dealings leading up to and after the Adani meeting more than three years ago.

The Council says no one can draw any conclusion from this decision that those attending the Adani meeting were actually entitled under the laws and customs of Wangan and Jagalingou people to sign away their rights in land for monetary compensation.

Wangan and Jagalingou Council senior spokesperson, Adrian Burragubba said: “Today is NAIDOC. A day of celebration for our community, where we come together to share our culture, and our dreams and aspirations, with our families and friends, brothers and sisters. We join together in strength as First Nations people.

“But this is a day to remember. On ‘black fella day’ the Full Bench of the Federal Court denied us our right to stand up and say ‘that’s our land and we’re not going to give it away’.

“We don’t intend to give up. We will build public pressure on the Queensland Government to accept their part in dividing our people and ignoring our rights.

“In keeping with international law, there has never been any free prior and informed consent when it comes to this ILUA with Adani. A lot of our people were played into position by the Government and Adani and stitched up by a legal process they have no control over.

“We will continue our fight with the support of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, as demonstrated at NAIDOC here in Brisbane today,” he concluded.

Murrawah Johnson, a spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou Council said: “Our Council will continue to pursue all legal and political avenues in opposition to the coal mine and the destruction of Wangan and Jagalingou Country.

“We will review the decision of the Federal Court and take legal advice. We will consider any grounds to seek leave to the High Court. The Adani ILUA has been upheld, as Justice Perry said, “notwithstanding any deficiencies which might have tainted the validity of the certification”.

“With Adani commencing initial works, our focus will shift to exposing the failure of the State Government in issuing the mining leases without an ILUA and without consent.

“Today’s decision does not retrospectively validate the Queensland Government’s abysmal conduct in backing Adani and stepping on our rights.

“We will challenge the issuing of environmental approvals, given without regard to First Nations cultural rights in our land and waters, and the plants and animals that depend upon them.

“We know we have always had a fight on our hands. That fight is not just with Adani, but with the Federal and Queensland Governments. It is shameful that the State delivered mining leases to Adani without an ILUA or our consent, and twice the Federal Government intervened in our cases to ensure Adani’s interests, including in this most recent appeal”, she concluded.

July 20, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Adani’s search for scientists’ names – pressure on scientists to shut up about climate change, water scarcity?

Adani has set a dangerous precedent in requesting scientists’ names, The Conversation     Samantha Hepburn, Director of the Centre for Energy and Natural Resources Law, Deakin Law School, Deakin University
July 17, 2019  A freedom of information request has revealed Adani sought the names of CSIRO and Geoscience Australia scientists involved in reviewing groundwater management plans related to its proposed Carmichael mine.

Adani argued it required a list of people involved in the review so as to have “peace of mind” that it was being treated fairly and impartially on a scientific rather than a political basis.

Ten days before Adani’s request, Geoscience Australia’s acting director of groundwater advice and data reportedly raised concerns that Adani had “actively searched/viewed” his LinkedIn profile and that of a colleague.

Significantly, Adani’s request to the government was made before CSIRO and Geoscience Australia had reported their review findings back to the Queensland government.

While the federal Department of the Environment and Energy reportedly declined to hand over the names, the fact the letter was sent in the first place is concerning. It fundamentally interferes with the capacity of individual scientists to provide clear and informed evaluation………..

The letter sent by Adani requesting the names of scientists was allegedly grounded in concerns about the possibility of anti-Adani activism by expert reviewers. Despite this, Adani made it clear that it was not explicitly alleging bias. Its objective, the letter said, was a desire to be “treated fairly and in a manner consistent with other industry participants”.

The real purpose of the letter

If Adani was seriously concerned about a breach of procedural fairness in the review of their groundwater management plan, it would have sought a judicial review. It did not – because there was no breach.

The scientists working at CSIRO and Geoscience Australia are all experts in their disciplines. They were engaged in the important process of determining whether Adani’s plan for managing groundwater around their mine would meet the environmental conditions of their mining licence. In other words, the scientists were doing their job…….

As Adani has not brought an action for judicial review, the substantive purpose of the letter appears to be, as suggested by CSIRO representatives, to pressure scientists and potentially seek to discredit their work. The potentially chilling effect is clear.

Concern about climate change is not bias

The profound concerns raised by climate change and fossil fuel emissions are shared by many scientists around the world. The reports prepared for the International Panel on Climate Change make it clear that coal fired electricity must drop to nearly zero by 2050 to keep warming within 1.5℃.

This shared concern does not make scientists political activists. Nor does it prevent scientists from acting fairly and impartially when reviewing a groundwater management plan.

An acceptance of climate science and even a belief that coal-fired energy should be decommissioned does not constitute bias. A reasonable bystander would expect most environmental scientists to be concerned about climate change…….

The letter, sent before the review was handed down, sets a dangerous precedent. Not because it suggests the scientists were impartial or there was any procedural unfairness involved in the process. But rather, because it jeopardises the independence of our scientists who, in seeking to ensure the longevity of our water, food and energy resources, carry a heavy responsibility to the public interest.

July 20, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics | Leave a comment

The probably insuperable hurdles to Australia getting nuclear reactors

The idea of producing nuclear energy in Australia before 2040 is absurd

Joyce and Barilaro revived this idea after the release of a report by Industry Super Australia, which took as the starting point the need to replace most of Australia’s coal-fired power stations by 2040. The report concluded: “It is difficult to see how the the problem can be resolved without some nuclear in the mix.”

It would perhaps be churlish to observe that the small reactors advocated by Barilaro exist only as designs and may never be built. There is a much bigger obstacle which is essentially impossible to overcome.

To make the central point as bluntly as possible: even with a crash program there is no chance of deploying nuclear power in Australia in the required timeframe. I looked at this question in a submission to the South Australian royal commission into the nuclear fuel cycle and concluded that “there is no serious prospect of Australia producing nuclear energy before 2040”.

That was in 2015, and the news for nuclear power since then has all been bad. All of the nuclear power plant construction projects under way in the developed world have experienced substantial delays (the VC Summer plant in the US has been cancelled with a loss of billions of dollars).

Most of these projects (Flamanville in France, Olkiluoto in Finland and Vogtle in Georgia) received their initial approval around 2005, and none is now likely to start before 2020. So, to be sure of getting nuclear power going by 2040, we’d need to have projects in their initial stages before 2025, in the term of the next parliament.

To see how absurd this is, consider some of the steps that will be needed before a project could begin.

First, both major parties need to be convinced of the case for nuclear power. That’s highly unlikely but let’s suppose it can somehow be done by 2020. Next, the current ban on nuclear power needs to be repealed. This ban looms large in the minds of nuclear advocates but actually it’s such a minor problem we can ignore it.

The first big problem is the need to set up, from scratch, a legislative and regulatory framework for nuclear power. That would require adapting an overseas model such as that of the US, where the nuclear industry is regulated by at least eight different acts, covering more than 500 pages. Back in the 1970s the French government could do this kind of thing by fiat, without parliamentary debate, but that’s not a feasible option for Australia.

Having passed the necessary legislation, the next task would be to establish and staff a regulator similar to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission or the UK Office for Nuclear Regulation. The only Australian body with any relevant expertise is the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation which operates a 20 megawatt (research reactor at Lucas Heights. Ansto has little or no capacity to deal with the problem of licensing and regulating commercial reactors of 1,000MW.

Even with a massive effort, and assuming no political obstacles, it’s hard to see these tasks being accomplished within five years, which would already take us to 2025. But there are many more remaining difficulties.

Most obviously, as the Industry Super report states, we would need a carbon price or a market mechanism with similar effects, such as an emissions trading scheme. On any realistic political analysis, that’s impossible – the overlap between supporters of nuclear power and advocates of carbon pricing in Australia is virtually zero. At a minimum, the adoption of a carbon price would require a change of government at the next election, which may happen though it doesn’t seem likely at the moment. Even if it would occur (and assuming, improbably, that a Labor government relying on Green support could be persuaded to back nuclear power), there would be further delays before the carbon price could be put in place.

But that’s just the beginning. Before any project could be considered, it would be necessary to license designs that could be built and operated here. The processes of the NRC in the US, which were expedited in the hope of spurring a “nuclear renaissance” typically take three to four years.

We could simply accept the judgement of overseas regulators, but even then we would have a problem – there may be no designs available.

In my submission to the SA royal commission, I argued that the only serious contender for Australia was the Westinghouse AP1000. Since then, however, cost overruns and cancellation have sent Westinghouse bankrupt, almost taking its owner, Toshiba, with it. There is no serious prospect of any more plants of this design being built. Areva, which is building its EPR model in Europe, is in similar difficulty. There’s a serious risk that the only contenders would be Chinese or Russian designs, which would pose some obvious problems.

The most difficult step would be the need to identify greenfield sites for multiple nuclear power plants, almost certainly on the east coast, and go through the relevant environmental processes. Reliance on overseas models won’t be of much use here. All the plants under construction in western countries are “brownfield”, that is, situated next to existing plants, built last century, and approved as far back as the 1970s.

In summary, it would be a heroic endeavour to get construction started on a nuclear plant even by 2030. Getting it finished and generating electricity by 2040 is virtually impossible.

Fortunately, there are alternatives, though the Industry Super report dismisses them. The combination of solar photovoltaics and battery storage is already cheaper than new coal-fired power. As a backup, Australia has huge potential for storage using pumped hydroelectricity. We don’t need to call on the phantom of nuclear power to secure a reliable, carbon-free electricity supply for the future.

 John Quiggin is professor of economics at the University of Queensland

July 18, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

John Quiggan demolishes the case for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors in South Australia

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINJOHN QUIGGIN John Quiggin is Professor of Economics at the University of Queensland.

John Quiggan’s Submission to the #NuclearCommissionSAust addressed Question 3.2 of the Issues Papers:

“Are there commercial reactor technologies (or emerging technologies which may be commercially available in the next two decades) than can be installed and connected to the NEM?” 

Extract “….Business SA wants Australia to adopt the PRISM reactor, a so-called Generation IV design. Unfortunately, “design” is the operative word here: PRISM is, literally, still on the drawing

(Tell them they’re dreaming • Inside Story 3 of 4 26/06/2015)

It does not exist even in prototype form. The US Department of Energy, along with designers GE and Hitachi, looked at the idea of building such a prototype at the Department’s Savannah River plant a few years ago, but the project has gone nowhere.

Much the same is true of another popular piece of nuclear vaporware, the “small modular reactor.” All but one of the American firms hoping to produce a prototype have abandoned or scaled back their efforts. The remaining candidate, NuScale, is hoping to have its first US plant operational by 2024, with commercial-scale production some time in the 2030s.

And, of course, there’s no guarantee that the new designs will work in economic terms, or that the problems of waste disposal and proliferation can be resolved. Even assuming this optimistic projection is met, small modular reactors aren’t going to be a viable option for Australia any time soon.

Unfortunately, that didn’t stop the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics from asserting, in its 2012 Australian Energy Technology Assessment, that “SMR technology could potentially be commercially available in the next five to ten years” and presenting it as a low-cost option for 2020. This absurdly optimistic claim was abandoned in the 2013 update, which drastically increased the estimated costs and dropped the claim that the technology would be feasible in 2020.

There is still a chance for nuclear power to contribute to decarbonisation of the global economy in China and other countries with an existing program or the state power to force through a crash program. But these conditions don’t exist in Australia, and there is no serious prospect that they will do so in time to play a substantial role in decarbonisation. Anyone who pretends nuclear power is a serious option for Australia under current conditions is dreaming or, worse still, deliberately diverting attention from the real issues. ……….”

July 18, 2019 Posted by | Submissions to Royal Commission S.A. | Leave a comment

How the Mirrar Aboriginal people, helped by environmentalists stopped uranium mining at Jabiluka

Leave it in the ground: stopping the Jabiluka mine, Red Flag Fleur Taylor, 15 July 2019  “…… The election of John Howard in March 1996 marked the end of 13 years of ALP government…..

Australia’s giant mining companies – major backers of the Coalition – got their wish list. Howard immediately abolished Labor’s three mines policy, and the business pages crowed that “25 new uranium mines” were likely and possible. And in October 1997, then environment minister Robert Hill blew the dust off an environmental impact statement from 1979 that said mining at Jabiluka was safe. Approval of the mine quickly followed.

The Jabiluka uranium deposit, just 20 kilometres from the Ranger uranium mine, is one of the richest in the world. The proposal was to build a massively bigger mine than that at Ranger, which would be underground and therefore more dangerous for the workers. It was projected to produce 19 million tonnes of ore over its lifetime, which would be trucked 22 kilometres through World Heritage listed wetlands.

The Liberals hoped to make a point. After all, if you could put a uranium mine in the middle of a national park in the face of Aboriginal opposition, what couldn’t you do?

The fight immediately began. The traditional owners of the area, the Mirarr, were led by senior traditional owner Yvonne Margarula and the CEO of the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, Jacqui Katona. They were supported by anti-nuclear campaigners around the country, most notably Dave Sweeney of the Australian Conservation Foundation, as well as a network of activist groups.

The most important objective was to delay construction of the mine, scheduled to begin in 1998. To do this, the Mirarr called on activists to travel to Jabiluka in order to take part in a blockade of the proposed mine site until the onset of the wet season would make construction impossible.

The blockade was immensely successful. Beginning on 23 March 1998, it continued for eight months, attracted 5,000 protesters and led to 600 arrests at various associated direct actions. Yvonne Margarula was one: she was arrested in May for trespass on her own land after she and two other Aboriginal women entered the Ranger mine site.

The blockade also attracted high-profile environmental and anti-nuclear activists such as Peter Garrett and Bob Brown. This helped signal to activists that this was a serious fight. The sheer length of time the blockade lasted created a fantastic opportunity for the campaign in the cities. Activists were constantly returning from Jabiluka with a renewed determination to fight.

The Jabiluka Action Group was key to building an ongoing city-based campaign in Melbourne, and the campaign was strongest there of any city. It held large – often more than 100-strong – weekly meetings, organised endless relays of buses to the blockade and  took the fight to the bosses and corporations that stood to profit from the mine.

We were determined to map the networks of corporate ownership and power behind the mine. But in the late 1990s, when the internet barely existed, this wasn’t as simple as just looking up a company’s corporate structure on its glossy website. It took serious, time consuming research.

A careful tracing of the linkages of the North Ltd board members showed that they were very well connected – and not one but two of them were members and past chairmen of the Business Council of Australia (BCA) – one of Australia’s leading bosses’ organisations. So our June 1998 protest naturally headed to the Business Council of Australia. We occupied their office, and the two groups of anti-uranium protesters, 3,800 kilometres apart, exchanged messages of solidarity, courtesy of the office phones of the BCA.

We were also staggered to learn that the chairman of a company that owned two uranium mines and was Australia’s biggest exporter of hardwood woodchips was also a member of the Parks Victoria board, the national president of Greening Australia and the Victorian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) board president!

The EPA, and corporate greenwashing in general, thereby became a target for the campaign. Another target was the Royal Society of Victoria, which made the mistake of inviting Sir Gus Nossal, a famous scientist and longstanding booster for the nuclear industry, to give a dinner address. We surrounded its building, and the organisers, somewhat mystified, cancelled the dinner. This action once again made headline news, helping to keep the issue of the Jabiluka mine in people’s minds.

We held regular protests at the headquarters of North Ltd on Melbourne’s St Kilda Road. On the day that Yvonne Margarula was facing court on her trespass charge, a vigil was held overnight. When we heard she had been found guilty, the protest erupted in fury. Cans of red paint – not water-based – materialised, and the corporate facade of North Ltd received an unscheduled refurbishment. The Herald-Sun went berserk.

The leadership of the Mirarr people gave this campaign a different focus from other environmental campaigns of the time. It was fundamentally about land rights, sovereignty and the right of Aboriginal communities to veto destructive developments on their land. In Melbourne, the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation appointed long-time Aboriginal militant and historian Gary Foley as their representative. Gary worked tirelessly to provoke and educate the many activists who turned up wanting to “support” or “do something” for Aboriginal people.

At a time when “reconciliation” was strongly supported by liberals and much of the left, Foley told us that reconciliation was bullshit. He argued native title (supposedly a key achievement of Keating) was “the most inferior form of land title under British law”, and that the ALP was every bit as racist as One Nation – if not worse. He insisted activists must educate themselves about sovereignty and the struggles happening right here, not just those happening 3,800 kilometres away. The way the Jabiluka Action Group activists approached this challenge was an example of how people’s ideas change. Many came into the campaign primarily as environmental activists, but almost all left as committed fighters for Aboriginal rights.


When the blockade wound down at the onset of the wet season, it was an opportunity to fight on some other fronts. Representatives of the UN World Heritage Committee visited Kakadu in late 1998 and issued a declaration that the World Heritage values of the area were in danger. They called on the government to stop the mine. Yvonne Margarula and Jacqui Katona travelled to Paris to speak to the European Commission about the mine.

John Howard, at the time mired in ministerial scandals and resignations, had called an election for September 1998, and there was hope in some quarters that Labor might win and stop the mine. But Howard scraped back in on only 48.3 percent of the vote, and it was clear that the fight on the ground would have to continue.

In the meantime, an important legal loophole had been identified. North Ltd had failed to secure agreement for the Jabiluka ore to be trucked to the Ranger mine for processing. It turned out the Mirarr did have the right to refuse this, and by exercising this right they would increase the cost of the project by $200 million (the cost of building a new processing plant at Jabiluka). This, combined with the ongoing protests, became a huge problem for the company.

Something we enjoyed doing at the time was monitoring North Ltd’s share price. It started out high when the Liberals took power. But after a year of protest and controversy, it had started to sink. The slump world uranium prices were going through didn’t help. But what the share price correlated to most closely was the major protests – it showed a drop after every single one.

Fund managers everywhere had absorbed the simple message that Jabiluka meant trouble, and early in 1999 this formerly prestigious blue-chip mining stock was described as one of the year’s “dog stocks”. Encouraged by this, the campaign launched its most ambitious action to date – the four-day blockade of North Ltd, from Palm Sunday until Easter Thursday 1999. This was the beginning of the end for the mine. In mid-2000, Rio Tinto bought out the struggling North Ltd. With no appetite for a brawl, the new owners quietly mothballed the Jabiluka project, signing a guarantee with the Mirarr to that effect. The campaign had won.


The Jabiluka campaign was one of those rare things – an outright victory. It was a win not just for the Mirarr people, but for every community threatened by a devastating radioactive mine. And it was a win for humanity as a whole, protected from more of this deadly substance. Our chant – “Hey, North, you’re running out of time! You’re never going to get your Jabiluka mine!” – for once came true.

The victory inspired a neighbouring traditional owner, Jeffrey Lee, single-handedly to challenge the development of the Koongarra uranium deposit, resulting in the cancellation of that entire mining lease. In Melbourne and other cities, the Mirarr resistance inspired sustained and creative campaigning from a wide variety of participants – from vegan Wiccans and revolutionary socialists to doof-doof rave organisers and corporate-philanthropist Women for Mirarr Women. The campaign was chaotic and argumentative, but united by a commitment to challenging corporate power and standing up for Aboriginal sovereignty.

It still serves as an inspiration for anti-nuclear and anti-mining campaigns, such as the brave and determined opposition of the Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners to the Adani mine. It stands as a great example of how blockades on country can nourish and inspire actions in the cities.


July 18, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, Opposition to nuclear, opposition to nuclear, reference | Leave a comment

Warning on the likely police surveillance of young climate protestors

July 18, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Adani demands names of CSIRO scientists reviewing groundwater plans

July 16, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Robert Parker of Australian Nuclear Association identifies 20 sites for nuclear reactors

Nuclear lobby identifies preferred sites for 20 nukes in Australia,  Giles Parkinson

These areas include Joyce’s New England electorate, Barilaro’s state electorate of Monaro in southern NSW, and fellow booster Ken O’Dowd’s federal electorate of Flynn in central Queensland. Won’t their constituents be pleased!

The Australian Nuclear Association last week gave a presentation to the Australian Institute of Energy in Victoria, in which ANA vice president Robert Parker outlined his hopes for the country to adopt nuclear and for the renewable energy industry to be stopped, quite literally, in its tracks.

The organisation’s website includes this map and others that outline preferred sites for nuclear plants in NSW, Queensland and South Australia. (See below.)

It comes as the Coalition faces intense pressure from its own MPs and Senators, and One Nation, and, of course, the conservative media, to allow nuclear to be built in Australia.

The reason for this symbiotic relationship is that the coal and nuclear industries share a common enemy – wind and solar and distributed renewables plus storage that undermine the traditional energy system of centralised power generation and “base-load” power.

So, the nuclear lobby had dusted off its plans and ramped up its campaign to demonise the competition. Seminars are being held, reports are being released, and the trolls have been let loose on social media.

Parker’s presentation is interesting only because it gives warning to residents of where the nuclear proponents think they could build a nuclear power plant.

Dylan McConnell, from the Climate and Energy College, attended the presentation and tweeted his observation that neither cost nor social licence were addressed in the seminar. He said it “defied credulity” and further comments can be found here.

That the nuclear boosters don’t address this issue is not surprising, because these are the impossible questions for the nuclear industry.

new study by the CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator found nuclear to be by far the most expensive option for Australia’s main grid, and the very idea of new nuclear plants is laughed at by those with a serious interest in the electricity industry and its future.

Parker suggests – the EIA has published the slideshow – that a nuclear grid providing 82 per cent of Australia’s annual demand would deliver output that looks something like this:

It’s a fantasy, of course, and deliberately misleading, like much of what is said by the coal and nuclear lobbies and climate deniers.

Apart from not mentioning the enormous cost of nuclear, Parker simply wishes away wind energy, ignores the more than 10GW of large-scale wind and solar currently installed or committed to the main grid, not to mention the 9GW of rooftop solar, which is likely to total close to 30GW by 2030, when Parker heroically suggests the first nuclear plant could be completed.

Even South Australia is suggested for one or more nuclear plants, despite the fact that even the state’s conservative government suggests that the local grid will be “100 per cent net renewables” by that time, and the idea of trying to jam a nuclear plant into the local grid was rejected by the Nuclear Royal Commission.

That 10-year time-line for the first nuke in Australia, apparently based on approval being given last year, isn’t remotely realistic given the huge delays in every new reactor currently being built in the UK, Europe and north America, not to mention the huge cost blowouts.

At best, Australia is looking at a 20-year timeframe for its first nuclear reactor, should approval be given now. But by then, like South Australia, the rest of the main grid will be largely renewable, with close to 50 per cent delivered by distributed energy.

The centralised system will be rapidly becoming a thing of the past, as market operators around the world readily acknowledge.

So, in reality, the regions identified by the nuclear lobby should have nothing to worry about at all, apart from their elected representatives doing all they can to deprive them of the opportunities that might be presented in wind, solar and storage.

Giles Parkinson
Giles Parkinson is founder and editor of Renew Economy, and is also the founder of One Step Off The Grid and founder/editor of The Driven. Giles has been a journalist for 35 years and is a former business and deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review.

July 15, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s military well aware of the security dangers of climate change

Defence lacks ‘overarching strategy’ to deal with climate change conflict, internal notes warn By Mark Willacy, ABC Investigations and Freedom of Information Editor Michael McKinnon, 14 July 19,  Australia’s military has warned of a possible influx of climate refugees and an increased potential for conflict because of the effects of climate change.

Key points:

  • A briefing note warns there is no “overarching strategy” to address climate change risks
  • The Indo-Pacific region is projected to experience prolonged droughts and increased flooding from rising sea-levels
  • Defence admits that their operations could be impacted by ocean acidification and extreme weather

Internal Australian Defence Force (ADF) briefing notes from last year, obtained by the ABC under Freedom of Information, also predict the military may be forced to increase patrols in Australia’s northern waters to deal with “sea-borne migration” sparked by rising sea levels in the Indo-Pacific.

One document warns that climate change could “exacerbate the potential for conflict” and contribute to “state fragility and the undermining of economic development in our immediate region”.

Former Defence Force chief Chris Barrie said Australia would be seen as the “land of opportunity” for many people affected by climate change………..

Climate change ‘may directly impact’ Defence operations

The ADF has refused to release documents relating to the impact of sea level rises and flooding on defence training areas, telling the ABC that it is not in the national interest.

“Release of this information could reasonably be expected to cause damage to the ability of the Defence Force to remain an effective force as well as potentially providing an avenue through which foreign incursions could significantly impact our critical infrastructure,” it said.

But one briefing note warns that the Indo-Pacific region is projected to experience challenges such as prolonged droughts and increased flooding from increased sea levels.

“Sea level rise, ocean acidification, increase in extreme temperatures and a forecast increase in intensity of bushfires and extreme weather events may directly impact Defence capabilities, personnel and equipment,” it read.

The ADF has already identified climate change as a challenge to Australia’s future security.

Its 2016 Defence White Paper predicted that Australia may be called on to conduct more humanitarian and disaster relief operations.

The internal notes obtained under freedom of information go further in warning about climate change risks.

“Further, an increase in illegal foreign fishing or sea-borne migration to Australia because of climate change effects may increase demands for Australian Defence Force patrols in Australia’s north waters,” the briefing note said.

Admiral Barrie said Australia was “wide open” for climate refugees, using Bangladesh as an example — its border with India is already being heavily patrolled by the Indian military.

“Bangladesh — a very populated country — runs out of fresh water and also has problems with sea level rise. Where will all the Bangladeshis go?” he said.

‘Impacts are unavoidable’

The briefing documents include a report assessing the impact of sea level rises and flooding on “selected defence training areas and ranges”.

The report, by global infrastructure consultancy Aecom, says the “warming of the climate system is unequivocal…atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years”.

It states that the warming of Australia’s mean air temperature could “reach 0.6 degrees Celsius to 5.1C depending on the emission scenarios”.

The report cites such impacts as increased flooding, coastal erosion, bushfires and heatwaves.

“Even with considerable reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, the inertia of the global climatic system means that many of these impacts are unavoidable.”

Last year defence chiefs told the Senate’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade committee that rising sea levels and coastal erosion could damage military bases “in the short to medium term”.

The committee’s report warned that “climate change may also eventually contribute to greater irregular migration pressure in vulnerable countries to Australia’s north, potentially becoming a substantial security threat to Australia”……..

July 15, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Acute water shortage in rural Australia, as drought persists

Country towns close to reaching ‘day zero’, as water supplies dry up in the drought, ABC News, By National Regional Affairs reporter Lucy Barbour 14 July 19, Across New South Wales and Queensland’s southern downs, country towns are approaching their own ‘day zero’, as water supplies dry up in the drought.

July 15, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, environment | Leave a comment

Campaigners vow to continue the fight to stop Canberra dumping nuclear waste in South Australia

12 July 2019, Civil society groups and members of the communities affected by the federal government’s proposed National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) are deeply disappointed with Justice White’s ruling that the exclusion of Barngarla Traditional Owners from a ballot intended to gauge community support was not a breach of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Ballots were to be held in the Flinders Ranges and Kimba districts in August 2018. Eligibility to participate was severely restricted and while non-resident rate-payers were included, Traditional Owners who live outside the small geographic areas were excluded.

The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation, Native Title Holders for the Kimba District, sought an injunction in the Supreme Court, asserting that their exclusion breached the Racial Discrimination Act. This effectively put the site selection on hold.

In December 2018, the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (ATLA) lodged a formal complaint with the Human Rights Commission based on poor treatment and consultation with Traditional Owners throughout the divisive site selection process. This case is ongoing.

Mara Bonacci, Nuclear Free Campaigner for Friends of the Earth Australia said: “Today’s announcement is very disappointing, but not surprising. The federal legislation governing the nuclear waste management process, the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012, is undemocratic and systematically disadvantages Aboriginal people. The Act gives the federal government the power to extinguish rights and interests in land targeted for a radioactive waste facility. The Act allows the Minister to proceed with a nuclear waste dump without securing the consent of Traditional Owners. Traditional Owners, local communities, pastoralists, business owners, local councils and State/Territory Governments are all disadvantaged and disempowered by the NRWMA.

“It is important to note that today’s ruling is not a vindication of the federal site selection process, only finding that it is not a breach of the Racial Discrimination Act. The lack of inclusion of Aboriginal people is inconsistent with community expectation, best practise and Australia’s international obligations under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is galling that Justice White’s ruling was delivered in NAIDOC week.

“The Federal government process has also denied a voice to many Australians concerned about this issue and about responsible radioactive waste management – this is a national issue and national responsibility, the burden of which should not be placed on regional and remote communities.

“It is appalling that federal resources Minister Matt Canavan is contemplating proceeding with a nuclear waste dump on Barngarla land despite the clear opposition of Traditional Owners. The SA Marshall Government also needs to voice its clear opposition to the imposition of a nuclear waste dump.”

“This Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of a famous day in South Australia’s history. On July 14, 2004, a campaign led by an Aboriginal Women’s Council, the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, finally persuaded the Howard Government to abandon its plan to impose a national nuclear waste dump on SA. It seems nothing was learnt from that experience.


“Despite today’s ruling, community members, civil society groups and many others will continue to fight to protect South Australia from becoming home to Australia’s radioactive waste and for a fair and transparent site selection process based on responsible radioactive radioactive waste management”, Ms Bonacci concluded.

July 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Huge volumes of water gulped by Olympic Dam uranium mine – even more with expanded mine

The nuclear cycle of destruction, Red Flag, James Plested, 12 July 2019  “……..The first stage of the cycle – the mining of uranium, the fuel used in nuclear power stations – is particularly relevant to Australia, home to an estimated 31 percent of the world’s known uranium reserves.

Uranium mining requires huge volumes of water – an obvious problem in arid Australia – and produces large quantities of toxic “tailings” which threaten the surrounding environment and people.

The historical record speaks for itself. According to the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, over the 38 years of operation of the Northern Territory’s Ranger mine, there have been around 200 leaks, spills or other breaches of the mine’s operating licence. In 2013, the collapse of a leach tank resulted in a spill of about 1 million litres of radioactive waste over the mine site.

Beyond the risk of accidents, there are many other downsides to nuclear power. One particularly relevant factor for Australia is that nuclear reactors require massive amounts of water. A typical US reactor, for example, consumes 114 million litres of water an hour. To put this in perspective, total residential water consumption in Melbourne, a city of 4.8 million people, in 2018 was around 32 million litres an hour.

Australian business heads and governments have long had an eye on further uranium mines. The anti-nuclear movements of the 1970s and early 1980s, as well as the later campaign against the proposed Jabiluka uranium mine (see article in this issue), kept this aspiration in check. In recent years, however, state and federal governments have renewed the push.

The South Australian government is supporting a proposal by BHP to expand massively the operations of its existing Olympic Dam mine – which contains the largest single uranium deposit in the world. And the day before the last election was called, the federal government abruptly announced its approval of a new uranium mine in Western Australia…….

The need for water means that reactors must be located close to rivers, lakes, dams or the ocean. In Australia, this would inevitably mean reactors would need to be built in or near densely populated areas…..” ……

July 13, 2019 Posted by | environment, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Federal court rules against Aboriginal group who wanted inclusion in nuclear waste dump ballot

Federal Court dismisses bid to stop ballot on nuclear storage facility near Kimba, ABC,  By Candice ProsserClaire Campbell and Sara Garcia  12 July 19, A South Australian Aboriginal group has lost a bid to stop a council ballot on whether a nuclear storage facility should be built on the Eyre Peninsula.

Key points:

  • The Kimba District Council planned to hold a vote to gauge support for the waste dump
  • Representatives of the Barngarla people were excluded from the ballot
  • They argued it contravened the Racial Discrimination Act, but the Federal Court dismissed the application

The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation launched legal action against the District Council of Kimba, arguing it contravened the Racial Discrimination Act by excluding native title holders from the ballot.

The council planned to hold a vote to gauge community support among its ratepayers for having radioactive waste stored in their area, after the Federal Government shortlisted two sites near Kimba as possible locations for the facility.

A third site in Hawker, near the Flinders Ranges, has also been shortlisted.

The native title holders won an injunction to halt the ballot last year, while the legal challenge was being heard.

Justice Richard White ruled that no contraventions of the Racial Discrimination Act had been established, and dismissed the application.

SA Greens leader Mark Parnell said he was disappointed with the court’s decision.

“Here we are in NAIDOC week, celebrating Aboriginal culture, and the court has determined it is not a breach of the Racial Discrimination Act to deny traditional owners a vote on whether a nuclear waste dump can be built on their land,” he said.

“Clearly in this country we have a very long way to go before we achieve anything like reconciliation.

“The Aboriginal traditional owners have legitimate rights over this country, yet they’ve been denied a right to vote on whether a nuclear waste dump can be built.

“The Federal Government is obviously keen to get their project up but they only want to ask people who are going to say yes.”

In a statement the Barngarla people said they respected the Federal Court’s decision, but said their lawyers were considering an appeal.

“The Barngarla respects the decision of the Federal Court, as the court has to interpret complicated legislation,” the statement read.

“However, more generally we consider it sad that in the 21st century we are required to take legal action to allow us to have the right to vote on the major decision of the day.

“This case has been about standing up for the right of Aboriginal people to vote on important issues which affect their rights.”……….


Landholder Jeff Baldock [at left] has volunteered a portion of his property in Kimba for the proposed facility and said he welcomed today’s decision.

“Now hopefully we get to have our democratic vote … if there’s nothing else that gets in the road,” he told ABC News………

The proposal has the community divided, with Kimba resident and former Liberal MP Barry Wakelin also opposing the facility. …….

The latest Federal Government proposal is to build a single facility in regional South Australia for all of the nation’s waste.

July 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, legal | Leave a comment

Hasty, secretive federal approval of Yeelirriee uranium project shows contempt for the scientific environmental evidence

New light on WA uranium mine approval sparks call to put environment before economics,  WA Today. By Cameron Myles, July 10, 2019 — New light shed on the “clandestine” approval of a uranium mine in Western Australia’s outback has sparked calls to beef up the country’s environmental laws, amid concerns the minister responsible prioritised the economy over the environment.Then-environment minister Melissa Price signed off on Cameco’s Yeelirrie project near Wiluna on April 10 this year, the day before the federal government called the May 18 election.

News of the project’s approval did not emerge until around Anzac Day later that month, with no releases announcing the minister’s decision, prompting Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney’s call that it was a “clandestine approval under the cover of a national election”.

Yeelirrie, which sits within the boundaries of Ms Price’s vast federal electorate of Durack, had a long history of resistance.

It was previously rejected by the WA Environmental Protection Authority which flagged, among others, concerns about the project’s impact on 12 species living underground and in the water table.

Some species were only found in the area covered by the project and there were fears they could go extinct as the miner dug through groundwater to get to the uranium below.

It was later approved at a state level by the then-Barnett government, and several options on how to proceed were presented to Ms Price by the federal Department of the Environment and Energy on April 5 this year.

But the release last week of a statement of reasons from Ms Price – secured by the ACF – has revealed she signed off on the project with a less stringent set of environmental conditions than those recommended by the department, noting that if she attached the more onerous conditions “there is a real chance that the project could not go ahead”.

“I was satisfied that if the project did not go ahead and the social and economic benefits would not be realised, this would have an adverse effect on the region and the State as a whole,” Ms Price wrote.

The Wilderness Society WA state director Kit Sainsbury said the revelation meant the minister put economic and social conditions ahead of what should be her primary consideration – the environment.

“To see both at the state and federal level such contempt for the scientific evidence suggesting that this project is environmentally unsustainable – yet receiving approval – is galling and highly contentious,” he said.

“As the Yeelirrie decision proves, too often decisions affecting the environment are made behind closed doors … a national body with teeth can stand up for the communities which need it and their country they honour.”……….

Tjiwarl native title holders and conservationists are also appealing a Supreme Court decision against their challenge to the WA government’s approval of Yeelirrie, which Ms Price had previously told media she would wait for the outcome of before signing off on the approval. ……..

July 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment