Australian news, and some related international items

Fabricated media attacks on Julian Assange

The attempt to implicate WikiLeaks in a Russian plot has no less anti-democratic motives. It is aimed at justifying the prosecution of Julian Assange on charges of “conspiracy” with a foreign power to manipulate the outcome of the 2016 election, rather than the sealed charges of espionage that were filed against him in late 2010, after WikiLeaks published documents that exposed US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and international diplomatic intrigues.
The Guardian attack on Assange exposed as politically-motivated fabrication,, By James Cogan , 6 December 2018Last week’s sensationalist allegation by the Guardian newspaper, that WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange met with Paul Manafort, American political lobbyist and one-time campaign manager for Donald Trump, has been exposed as a politically-motivated tissue of lies. Continue reading

December 8, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

No Australian policy on climate change as Melissa Price, Minister For Coal, heads off to U.N. climate talks

No climate consensus at ministers meeting–spt.html, Angus Livingston, , Australian Associated Press, 7 December 2018

Australia’s state environment ministers are refusing to agree to a joint statement on climate change until the federal minister comes up with a plan to tackle it.

Melissa Price met with her state counterparts in Canberra on Friday and asked them to endorse a statement for her to take to a climate meeting in Katowice, Poland, on Saturday.

They refused because the government has no plan to tackle the problem.

“What I had suggested was that we had an agreed statement that we would all work together to determine an action plan with respect to climate, with respect to things that we can do individually and collectively,” Ms Price told reporters on Friday.

“Sadly that was not agreed. There was not an agreement on the words that I proposed, and no one proposed alternative words.”

The Labor governments of Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT released a joint statement condemning the lack of action.

“The science is frightening, unequivocal and clear – we are running out of time,” the statement said.

“Yet the response of successive Liberal prime ministers has been one of delusion and deliberate inaction.

“It is unacceptable that any action on climate change has again been left off the agenda at today’s meeting.”

The states demanded a boost to Australia’s overall output of renewable energy, stronger energy efficiency targets, and action on emissions across all sectors.

“It is time for the federal government to stop ‘noting’ the science around the impacts of climate change, and actually step up and take action,” Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said.

“It is unacceptable that there has been no progress on climate change by the federal government.”

Ms Enoch said she asked Ms Price to come back to the next meeting with an action plan of how to respond to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report’s findings about the dangers of 1.5 degree global warming.

“Unfortunately, the federal environment minister would not agree to undertake that important work,” she said.

December 8, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | 1 Comment

The fightback against Adani and Aurizon steps up

Margaret Gleeson, December 6, 2018, Issue 1206,

“A reported 20,000 students, many of them with their parents and grandparents in tow, took to the streets with a powerful message to Adani and policymakers: ignore us at your peril.

This was followed by a sit-in at Parliament House in Canberra on December 5.

Another round of #StopAdani rallies has been called in BrisbaneCairnsMelbourne and Sydney on December 8. …

Adani has jumped the gun and started work illegally. Its use of groundwater is also the subject of a federal investigation. …

“The Supreme Court must decide if Aurizon, an enormously powerful and well connected corporation, should have the power to deny a small community group the right to inform Australians how to help to prevent this climate crisis.

“Obviously the people who make up FLAC have a direct interest in the outcome, but should this corporation succeed in gagging free speech to this degree, we will all be the worse for it.

“Finally, Aurizon’s action is based on the assumption that if FLAC stops training concerned citizens on how to take non-violent, safe, direct action, people will stop taking action. Unfortunately what may well happen is that people continue to act to prevent a climate catastrophe, but do so without the training, discipline or principles of non-violence.” … ‘

ReadMuchMuchMore of  Margaret Gleeson‘s comprehensive article at the #GreenLeft

December 8, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

The Royal Nuclear Show — exhibition on in Victoria

Public works: Royal Nuclear Show, THE AUSTRALIAN, By BRONWYN WATSON,  DECEMBER 7, 2018

“……….Screen-printing workshops across the country, such as Redback Graphix, Earthworks Poster Collective and the Tin Sheds, created posters that adorned cafes, telephone poles, university campuses, libraries and virtually any public space. They had slogans such as No Nukes No Tests, No More Hiroshimas, and End Uranium Mining. At the time, perception of a nuclear future was seen as progressive and positive, with governments and industry trying to promote nuclear experimentation as necessary to the nation’s security and beneficial to humanity.

One artist who emphasised these issues in her poster prints was Toni Robertson, whose work, The Royal Nuclear Show — 3, is on show at the Burrinja Dandenong Ranges Cultural Centre in Upwey, Victoria. Produced while Robertson was an artist-in-residence at the Experimental Art Foundation in Adelaide in 1981, it depicts a dystopian post-nuclear carnival where crowds wander past a billboard with a baby sleeping and sucking a bottle. On the baby’s pillow is written Bomblet. The billboard reads: “Meet the nuclear family, Bomblet the baby nuke. He’s so like his dad! This little boy was conceived as a low yield, tactical weapon for use in limited theatre war.” “Little boy” was the name given to the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

……. Gallery and exhibition curator JD Mittmann says this work “really resonates quite strongly with me. It is really a statement of the time, but I think not much has changed in some ways. We are still sold nuclear technology, especially as a solution to climate change problems. Certainly, it is important to remember how dangerous these things are, and so I think this print might have been from 1981 but if you had 2011 underneath it, it would work in just the same way.”

December 8, 2018 Posted by | ACTION, art and culture, Victoria | Leave a comment

Lynas contemplates importing radioactive trash into Australia

Brokers remain optimistic on Lynas despite Malaysian setbacks, SMH, By Colin Kruger, 6 December 2018  Analysts remain optimistic about the future of ASX-listed rare earths miner Lynas Corp, suggesting there may be ways around the onerous conditions put on the renewal of its operating licence in Malaysia.

The stock dived as much as 26 per cent on Wednesday after the Malaysian government set the conditions, which include the removal of all 451,000 tonnes of radioactive residue produced by its $1 billion rare earths processing plant since it started operating in 2012.
The Malaysian operating licence, which allows Lynas to process the rare earths there from ore mined in Western Australia, is up for renewal next September.

Despite this, UBS has valued Lynas on a “business-as-usual basis” on the grounds that the problems are not insurmountable.

There may be grounds for appeal. The ministry is planning to implement a much stricter regime than the independent expert panel was recommending,” UBS analyst Daniel Morgan said in a research note. ….

According to UBS, Lynas may be able to economically ship the radioactive waste to another country – possibly Australia. And in a worst-case scenario, it could sell its concentrate product to China for processing while it restructured its processing.

One option is for Lynas to split out the processing stage that produces the residues that have caused problems in Malaysia.

“Lynas may be able to invest in a cracking and leaching facility in Australia, keeping the [waste] in the country.” Lynas would then ship the concentrate to Malaysia for the final stage of extraction using its existing facilities.

CLSA was also optimistic, saying the low-level radioactivity meant the waste could be shipped in regular shipping containers. And Lynas had access to rehabilitation funds to help pay the bill……..

Outside China, Lynas is the only processor of rare earths, which are crucial for elements of the new economy like mobile phone components, electric cars and batteries.

The miner’s shares shares nearly halved in value in May when Mahathir Mohamad unexpectedly defeated his former ruling party and then announced a review of the Lynas operation as promised……..

Lynas earlier this month flagged a temporary shutdown of its Malaysian processing plant, which could cost the company $16 million in lost revenue, if it doesn’t win local government approvals to lift production caps.  safe…….

December 7, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics international, rare earths | Leave a comment

Malaysia tells Lynas to remove rare earths radioactive waste

 Aljazeera, 4 Dec 18 Decision follows an expert review of the east coast facility’s operations. It has until September to remove the waste.

Decision follows an expert review of the east coast facility’s operations. It has until September to remove the waste.   Malaysia has told Lynas, the Australian company operating a rare earth elements processing plant on the country’s east coast, that it must remove the radioactive waste that accumulated as a result of its activities over the past six years if it wants to continue to operate.

The decision on Tuesday follows a review of Lynas operations in Malaysia that was initiated by the government that took power in May’s general election.

The “management of the waste residue from the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) should be given priority to ensure the wellbeing of the community and the environment”, the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change said in a statement.

The residue, some of it radioactive, has been building up at an open landfill at the Lynas site near the city of Kuantan since the processing plant started operations in 2012.

“The Ministry is concerned with the increasing risk of arising from the continued accumulation of residue without a viable solution to manage its accumulation in the near-term,” the statement continued.

“For this reason, the Ministry will not allow the unlimited accumulation of residue at LAMP. The accumulated Water Leached Purification (WLP) Residue, which contains radioactive materials must be removed from Malaysia.”

Radioactive waste

While Lynas was considering recycling the waste as a soil conditioner, the ministry said the duration of the studies was too short to reach a conclusion on the plan’s safety. It said the waste would need to be removed from Malaysia by September 2, 2019, when Lynas’ temporary storage licence expires.

The decision is likely to come as a blow to Lynas. The Australian-listed company had been campaigning hard to convince the review committee, government and the public that the plant was  safe…….


December 7, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, wastes | Leave a comment

Will Scott Morrison drop support for the Iran nuclear deal, in order to curry favour with Donald Trump?


Why do I not do pictures of Scott Morrison?  Because I can’t be bothered. Morrison will soon be gone and forgotten


Although Australia is not a party to the Iran nuclear deal, Scott Morrison is reviewing whether Australia should follow Donald Trump’s lead and withdraw its support

Known as the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA), this has significantly curbed Iran’s nuclear activities for at least a decade and potentially longer, while subjecting it to the most intrusive verification system applied to any country undefeated in war.

The Trump administration has renounced the agreement and reapplied economic sanctions to Iran.

The government’s policy review was announced during the October 2018 by-election for former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s parliamentary seat of Wentworth and was widely considered a ploy, ultimately unsuccessful, to retain the seat for the Liberal Party.

But even now, it’s not clear whether a real review is occurring or whether the Department of Foreign Affairs is simply going through the motions. Regardless, the result is expected this month.

It’s also not clear whether it was Mr Morrison or Mr Trump who raised the issue during their meeting, but the Prime Minister claimed it as “a success”, noting that Trump “very much welcomed the fact that, as a friend and an ally, we have always been ready to re-look at these things”.

This attempt to curry favour with the famously mercurial president is ill-advised. Quite apart from the inaccuracy of the suggestion that Australia is always willing to reconsider its policies just because it is a US ally (that certainly has not occurred over the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which the US refuses to ratify), there are significant political and substantive drawbacks for Australia even hinting that its support for the Iran deal is wavering.

Australia has for decades had a bipartisan policy towards preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. It has actively supported the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treatyand the global nuclear safeguards system run by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which verifies compliance with the treaty through on-site inspections and other monitoring.

Australia has also been at the forefront of efforts to strengthen safeguards.

It was the first country to adopt an Additional Protocol, designed to enhance the system after Iraq’s near-acquisition of nuclear weapons in the 1990s, and the first to qualify for the so-called Broader Conclusion about its compliance with the Protocol’s rigorous new requirements.

Although Australia wasn’t involved in the Iran negotiations, it was consulted as the talks proceeded and vocally supported the initiative and outcome. To renege now would cast doubt on our longstanding commitment to nuclear non-proliferation, jeopardise our credibility internationally, including at the IAEA, and call into question our commitment to multilateral, negotiated solutions to international problems.

Although not perfect, the Iran agreement was the product of an extraordinary international diplomatic effort to curb Iran’s nuclear weapon activities through a multilateral verifiable arrangement.

It involved not just the United States, but three other Western allies of Australia, the European Three (France, Germany and the United Kingdom), as well as the European Union, China and Russia – all of which are sticking to the accord.

While the Morrison government might have gained fleeting kudos from the Trump administration, Australia risks confounding not just the other JCPOA parties, but friends and allies which endorsed it subsequently, including Canada, Indonesia and Japan.

The only states pleased by Australia’s move would be Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps the worst implication of rejecting the JCPOA is to cast doubt on the plausibility of multilateral negotiations to resolve the North Korean nuclear impasse.

December 6, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Queensland Supreme Court hearing Big Coal’s case aimed to shut down climate activism

The term, “climate crisis” is now the most commonly used descriptor when discussing global warming. Extreme weather events, firestorms, heat waves, flooding rain, loss of ice, snow and species are rightly seen within the frame of an emergent climate crisis. But if we are really witnessing a climate crisis – one with the potential to destroy our way of life and end our lives – how should we respond as a community?

This is a question being tested in Australia’s classrooms and Parliament right now and later today, in fact. The Queensland Supreme Court will be asked to decide whether, despite this crisis, it is reasonable for a large corporation to dictate how the community should be allowed to use social media to try and prevent this crisis.

The background to the case is this. Aurizon, the rail freight company formerly owned by the Government of Queensland, has been targeted by a number of individuals and communities because it plays a key role in the coal industry managing the 2,670 km Central Queensland coal network. It is also critical to Indian mining company Adani’s plans to ship coal from the proposed Carmichael mine to Abbott Point, as Adani plans to build a 200km line that will connect to Aurizon’s existing Goonyella and Newlands rail network.

Without Aurizon there is no Adani mine.

One of those groups protesting the proposed Adani mine, and Aurizon’s involvement in the expansion of the coal industry, is a small community group called FLAC – Front Line Action on Coal. Unlike the large environmental NGO’s, FLAC is still committed to supporting people who take direct action to prevent the expansion of the coal industry and they have had some serious successes of late.

So much so that Aurizon has taken the extraordinary action of getting interim orders against FLAC. Those orders include prohibiting FLAC from inciting anyone by Facebook, website, and Twitter to enter rail corridors across Aurizon’s network or interfering with any of the company’s coal trains.

On Tuesday the Supreme Court will be asked to make these interim orders permanent thus preventing FLAC from using social media to inform people and to be prohibited from going within 20 meters of the entire Queensland rail corridor. That’s a lot of rail corridor.

But there are concerns Aurizon will want more than just clear corridors. For many in the climate movement FLAC has become a touchstone as a moral force and an inclusive community that takes seriously the discipline and commitment to non-violent, safe, direct action. And this is what Aurizon is keen to shut down.

The company wants to prevent this small community group from encouraging, supporting or training anyone to take non-violent action to prevent this crisis. The less there are of these kinds of communities the better things are for large corporations like Aurizon.

These are extraordinary days climatically and politically. On Friday there was the sight of thousands of Australian school kids leaving their classrooms to demand governments – State and Federal – take the action necessary to secure their future. It was an action that happened with blessing of the Australian Senate.

Globally the divestment campaign has seen billions divested from companies involved in the fossil fuel business. While banks with a high exposure to fossil fuel companies have been forced to either rule out further investment or explain their plan to manage the escalating risk posed by stranded assets.

Then there’s the science. According to the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report the world is confronting the real risk of mass wildfires, food and water shortages, super storms and dying coral reefs by as soon as 2040. The last week alone in Australia has seen Sydney experience a one in 100-year rain event, while Queensland continued to burn.

These are extraordinary times and the science tells us they will get even more extreme as the global political leadership fails to materialise to prevent it. It is in this context that Aurizon’s request to the Supreme Court to gag FLAC must be viewed.

The Supreme Court must decide if Aurizon, an enormously powerful and well connected corporation, should have the power to deny a small community group the right to inform Australians how to help to prevent this climate crisis.

Obviously the people who make up FLAC have a direct interest in the outcome, but should this corporation succeed in gagging free speech to this degree, we will all be the worse for it.

Finally, Aurizon’s action is based on the assumption that if FLAC stops training concerned citizens on how to take non-violent, safe, direct action, people will stop taking action. Unfortunately what may well happen is that people continue to act to prevent a climate catastrophe, but do so without the training, discipline or principles of non-violence.

December 6, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, legal | 1 Comment

Plans for Australia to become a renewable energy exporting superpower

December 6, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | 1 Comment

Labor backs Greens plan to block Coalition from underwriting coal power 

Guardian, Katharine    Murphy Political editor @murpharoo, Tue 4 Dec 2018

Crossbenchers are being asked to support a bill preventing the signing of contracts before the next election Labor and the Greens will attempt to prevent the Morrison government from underwriting new coal-fired power as the energy policy battle moves into its next phase.

Labor on Tuesday resolved to support a Greens bill stopping the commonwealth from providing financial assistance to coal-fired power plants, and there is an effort to secure the requisite parliamentary numbers for an upset as the Morrison government moves ahead with its controversial energy package. Negotiations are under way with crossbenchers in both chambers.

The government secured a rubber stamp from the Coalition party room on Tuesday for policy measures aimed to reduce power prices, including a contentious divestiture power, but Guardian Australia revealed on Monday night ministers had to rework the original proposal substantially to head off a backbench revolt…….

The energy minister, Angus Taylor, who has signalled coal will be in the mix, with a possible indemnity against the risk of a future carbon price, declined to answer questions from journalists on Tuesday about whether the government would enter binding contracts with proponents before the next election, which would be difficult to unwind if the Morrison government loses next year.

The Greens, with support from Labor, are attempting to head that sortie off at the pass with the new private members’ bill. Discussions with the crossbench are under way in both chambers – but it is unclear whether the foray will succeed.

Greens MP Adam Bandt, who could be a crucial vote for the government on the divestiture package because the party is not opposed to the idea, warned the Coalition not to “rely on support from the Greens on energy issues while … trying to sign contracts for new coal-fired power stations”. ……..

December 6, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, election 2013 | Leave a comment

Legal challenge against Adani coal mine plan, over water use

Adani coal mine water licence faces Federal Court challenge over move to bypass EIS, ABC , By Kate McKenna 4 Dec 18 The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has launched a legal challenge to a Federal Government decision to bypass an impact assessment of planned water use by Adani’s Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland.

Key points:

  • Federal Minister made an “error of law” in bypassing EIS, ACF alleges
  • Adani licensed to take up to 12.5b litres a year from Suttor River
  • Indian miner says it can only take water after other licensed users

The ACF applied to the Federal Court, challenging Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price’s decision not to activate the “water trigger” for the proposed pipeline infrastructure, which avoided a full environmental impact assessment (EIS).

The move comes less than a week after Adani announced it would push ahead with construction of a scaled-down version of its Carmichael project.

Last year, the Indian mining giant was granted a water licence by the Queensland Government, meaning it could take up to 12.5 billion litres a year from the Suttor River.

Under federal law, coal mining projects must undergo a full environmental assessment if they are likely to have a significant impact on water resources.

But in September, the Federal Government decided the water trigger did not apply to the Carmichael project, instead saying it would only require “preliminary documentation”……..

December 6, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

Students left hanging during Canberra trip to confront Morrison on climate change

Guardian, 5 Dec 18,  Group rallies outside Parliament House after being told they needed to have a prearranged meeting organised. High school students from across Australia calling for emergency action on climate change have travelled to Canberra to confront the prime minister after he criticised them for skipping school to stage national strikes.

Students from Scott Morrison’s southern Sydney electorate of Cook – as well as Townsville, Melbourne and Brisbane – arrived at Parliament House on Wednesday morning to meet with him.

Morrison said he would sit down with the school students……..

But one group of 11 students gathered out the back of Parliament House in the hope of speaking to Morrison had not yet had any luck.

Fourteen-year-old Tully Bowtell-Young travelled solo from Townsville for the chance to share her concerns with the prime minister – using her own pocket money to help cover costs.

“I think it’s worthwhile because nothing I have now is going to mean anything if I don’t have a future in this world,” she said.

The striking students want federal policymakers to stop the Adani coalmine and move Australia from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy.

“We have been trying so much for the possibility of meeting with [Scott Morrison] but if we don’t get that opportunity after coming so far and going through so much to be here I think we will be a bit disheartened,” she said.

The group of students tried numerous times to call the prime minister’s office but were told they needed to have a prearranged meeting organised – in some instances they were hung up on.

Senator Jordan Steele-John and independent MP Kerryn Phelps both came out to meet with the students.

December 6, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment


December 3, 2018 Posted by | business, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

False claims against Julian Assange pave the way for USA to imprison him (DOES AUSTRALIA NOT CARE?)

Indeed, we could see those articles as pivotal in the current hostile environment against Assange; the purpose of which is presumably to prepare the way for the extradition of Assange to the US. Meanwhile, the Mueller inquiry into alleged links between US president Donald Trump and Russia – and Assange – is gaining headlines on an almost daily basis. And there is evidence that Assange has been secretly indicted and that an extradition request is imminent.

In such an environment, media outlets must provide hard evidence to substantiate allegations, and not simply fall back on anonymous ‘sources’ (usually code for spooks). The people these allegations target deserve better, and so do readers

Former diplomat challenges ‘fake’ Guardian claims about Julian Assange meeting Paul Manafort  The Canary Tom Coburg  3rd December 2018 A former consul and first secretary at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London has spoken out against a “fake story” from the Guardian. Speaking to The CanaryFidel Narváez insisted that the claim that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is entirely false. Continue reading

December 3, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Weird responses of righteous fury, against students who protested about about climate change

The weirdest right-wing takes on the student climate protest , Australia’s free speech warriors took a righteous stand against children fighting for their future. Crikey, DEC 03, 2018   After years of apocalyptic headlines and government intransigence on climate change, the sight of thousands of high school students packing Sydney’s Martin Place last Friday provided a jolt of much-needed hope for the future. Armed with loudspeakers, and some incredibly creative posters, the strike — which also took place in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Coffs Harbour, Bendigo and other city centres — represented part of a global surge of student-led climate change protests.

It also caused a surge of righteous fury among conservative politicians and commentators; a feeling that was not shared by most Australians who are more worried about climate change than ever, and increasingly are in favour of more renewable energy. Here’s a selection of the responses from those who chose to take a stand against the children advocating for their future: … (subscribers only)

December 3, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment