Australian news, and some related international items

D’oh! David Littleproud’s nuclear comments insult our intelligence

D’oh! David Littleproud’s nuclear comments insult our intelligence Mia Pepper. CCWA Nuclear Free campaign coordinator.  

New federal Nationals leader David Littleproud made headlines this month when he suggested Australians’ collective aversion to nuclear power could be explained by its portrayal in The Simpsons.

“There’s this perception that’s been put around nuclear … etched into folklore from cartoons,” he said.

Perhaps Mr Littleproud would like to calm Australian nerves over rogue coyotes with boxes of TNT or bears swiping picnic baskets from unsuspecting members of the public.

Mr Littleproud’s comments were described as “bizarre” in the media. While he did also attribute nuclear’s image problem to concerns over Chernobyl and Fukushima, it is his comparison to Springfield’s crumbling and dangerous nuclear plant that drew the most ire.

To suggest Australians get their information on subjects like nuclear power from cartoons is to insult our collective intelligence. It might be more plausible to say – as Mr Littleproud did – that opinions have been formed around films and TV series like 2019’s Chernobyl.

However, if we were to follow that trail of thought to its natural conclusion, the only response to Mr Littleproud’s comments is, so what? Film and television comedy and drama enable exploration of many serious, complex topics without being mistaken for news or documentaries – though the creators of the Chernobyl miniseries did receive acclaim for their attention to detail, exhaustive research and stringent adherence to history.

The problem with Mr Littleproud’s points of reference – with the exception of The Simpsons, which is only a cutting parody of real-life incompetency in the nuclear energy industry – is that they are based in fact. Chernobyl and Fukushima really happened and really were as bad as their various dramatisations suggest – it could hardly be otherwise. Perhaps Mr. Littleproud would have been happier if, at the critical moment of the Reactor 4 meltdown, one of the Chernobyl workers had turned to another and declared, “not to worry, I’ll get this cleaned up in no time”?

Behind every dramatic interpretation of a nuclear disaster or depiction of incompetence in nuclear energy and uranium mining is a litany of real-life incidents that has created an enduring global movement against nuclear power. There have been more than 200 recorded nuclear accidents and events worldwide and with nuclear power plants vulnerable to threats exacerbated by climate change, similar incidents are a very real possibility. Climate-related shutdowns have been reported in France, Germany, California and Texas, leading the now-retired nuclear engineer David Lochbaum to state: “You need to solve global warming for nuclear plants to survive.”

Ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more than 300 organisations from 40 countries signed a joint declaration against nuclear power. Among them were 49 separate bodies from Australia, including unions, faith groups, environment and conservation bodies, Indigenous groups and health sector organisations representing millions of Australians.

Nuclear has been consistently proven deeply unpopular, ruinously expensive and too slow to implement to provide a serious solution to energy and decarbonisation needs.

By the time the legislation has passed, facilities have been built and workforces trained, 30 to 40 years will have passed along with the window of opportunity to prevent irreversible climate damage. Professor John Quiggin, an Australian laureate fellow in economics at the University of Queensland, has said the idea of producing nuclear power in Australia before 2040 is absurd.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency told a 2019 Senate inquiry into nuclear power that “Australia could not take much less than 15 years from the time a decision is taken to move in this direction; it is not unlikely that it would take longer.”

Even if it were possible to implement nuclear faster, the costs involved in delivering the energy into Australian homes and businesses would be utterly impractical, given the alternatives. In 2016, the South Australian Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle found “it would not be commercially viable to develop a nuclear power plant in South Australia beyond 2030.” In 2019, the Senate inquiry acknowledged “Over the past decade, levelised cost estimates for utility-scale solar dropped by 88 per cent, wind by 69 per cent, while nuclear increased by 23 per cent.”

Only this week, the new federal Minister for Energy Chris Bowen told the media that nuclear power is “the most expensive form of energy” – especially so given the current cost of living crisis.

Furthermore, every review into nuclear over the past two decades has acknowledged there is no bipartisan support for nuclear and strong public opposition. Doctor Ziggy Switkowski made this clear in his comments to the 2019 Senate inquiry, saying “there is no social licence at this time.”

June 20, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

No decision yet on choosing USA or UK nuclear submarines, but a USA Bill to train Australian submariners!

Ed. note: But Australian nuclear zealot Jonathon Mead (left) and nuclear enthusiast Peter Dutton are on the job, in lockstep with the Americans.

Booster For AUKUS: US Could Train Australian Navy On Its Nuclear Subs While Canberra Decides Between US, UK Submarines

Eurasian Times, By Sakshi Tiwari, June 18, 2022 The Australian nuclear submarine project, assisted by the US and the UK under the AUKUS agreement, has faced several controversies. Recently, the former Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton made startling revelations about his government’s plan to buy American Virginia-class nuclear submarines.

Even though the claims enthused observers about a possible purchase by Australia, the officials have maintained that the decision has not been reached. Canberra is expected to choose between the US Virginia-class submarine or British Astute-class submarines.

In an all-new development, the US lawmakers have introduced a bill called ‘Australia-US Submarine Officer Pipeline Act’ to train Royal Australian Navy officers in the operation of nuclear submarines. The bill was moved into Congress even as doubts remain over the Virginia-class submarine purchase.

The ‘Australia-United States Submarine Officer Pipeline Act’ would allow Australian naval officers to begin training in the United States to operate and maintain nuclear-powered submarines before eventually commanding the future boats.

“The new bipartisan bill will establish a joint training pipeline between the US Navy and the Royal Australian Navy and enable the start of US-based training of Commanding Officers for Australia’s future fleet of nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS alliance,” the AUKUS working group said in a news release.

The bill requires the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Energy to begin a training exchange in 2023 and continue it in subsequent years. It is the result of Congress’ AUKUS working group, formed in April to help develop the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia’s new cooperation.

In November 2021, Australia inked a nuclear submarine technology-sharing deal with the United States and the United Kingdom as part of the AUKUS defense agreement. Australia is only the second country after the United Kingdom to secure a transfer of nuclear propulsion technology from the US.

Currently, the AUKUS partners are pursuing an 18-month study period to assess the requirements of Canberra’s nuclear submarine project, as previously reported by EurAsian Times. In September 2021, it abandoned a deal with the Naval Group of France for diesel-electric submarines and signed the AUKUS pact in favor of nuclear submarines.

Training Before Manufacturing

Nuclear-powered submarines are more expensive, but they are quieter and harder to detect, and they can stay submerged longer since they don’t need to surface to refuel.

With Australia, the US plans to begin training a cadre of young officers now to be ready to command the country’s submarines when the time comes, noted Defense News.

“The AUKUS alliance is the most important national security partnership that America has entered into in decades,” Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., said in a news release. “While [design] work is ongoing, it makes sense to open the US Navy’s nuclear training programs to Australia’s naval officers to acquire proficiency in the operation of nuclear submarines.”

The Chief of the Royal Australian Navy’s nuclear-powered submarine task force, Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead, previously told The Strategist that Australians co-crewing with American and British submarines are likely to be part of an interim submarine capability.

“To train personnel,” Mead said, “We could embed sailors and officers in a US or UK boat to the point where we may have a 50% UK or US crew and a 50% Australian crew.”

When the first submarine is launched in South Australia, the goal is to have the crew trained, the industrial base ready to maintain it, and the regulatory system set up. “We have exchange officers on board our submarines and ships all the time.”

Mead also toured training schools in the United Kingdom and the United States to assess their systems. Many crew members receive reactor training and study nuclear physics concepts, but they are not nuclear physicists.

“‘They’ve been given a six-month course, and then they go to sea and become competent and current on their tradecraft at sea in a submarine,’ he explained.

“So we need to set up a system supported by the US and UK to provide our people with reactor training. If you’re an engineer, you may be a nuclear physicist. If you’re working at the front end of the boat, you require some knowledge of the reactor in case there’s an emergency, but not to the same level.”

The sentiment in Australia, [i.e in Jonathon Mead] thus, seems to align with American plans to start training Australian sailors and Naval officers. However, the exact nature and specifics of the training module are not yet known……………………….

Australia does not have sufficient nuclear infrastructure or advanced industrial capacity to build nuclear submarines. The shortcomings in nuclear infrastructure have had many experts suggest purchasing subs from the two AUKUS partners or building Australian submarines overseas.

Building nuclear-powered submarines would cost Australia billions of dollars and years of infrastructure construction. However, for the project to become a reality and for Australia’s crew to operate nuclear subs perfectly, training is one of the top priorities for AUKUS.

Even though Australia sells some nuclear fuel and has a single nuclear reactor for scientific study, the country does not have a substantial civil or military nuclear program. To get a head start, Australia could first start training on American or British nuclear submarines or lease older retired American submarines until they can deploy their indigenous designs, according to a National Interest report.

The Urgency For AUKUS

Australia’s nuclear submarines are expected to be operational no sooner than the end of the next decade. Consequently, the former Defense Minister Dutton had indicated that his government wanted to purchase two US submarines “this decade” to avoid a gap in replacing the country’s outdated Collins-class submarine fleet, with another eight US submarines under development in South Australia as part of the project.

This plan, he claims, would have eliminated the need to wait until 2038 for the first submarines designed in the United States to be built in Australia. The Royal Australian Navy currently operates six diesel-electric guided-missile submarines.

……………… While a decision regarding purchasing a nuke sub from the UK or the US hangs in the balance, training to use a nuclear submarine could be an easier way forward……..

June 20, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, technology, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s Opposition Leader Dutton Says US Can Provide Two Nuclear Subs by 2030

Cartoon by Independent Australia’s MARK DAVID.

  • No confirmation of any such deal from US, despite claims
  • US, UK are ‘incredibly willing partners’: opposition leader
  • BySybilla Gross19 June 2022,   Australian opposition leader Peter Dutton reiterated his earlier claims that the US could provide Australia with two nuclear submarines by 2030, without providing material evidence that such a deal would occur. 
  • Speaking on the national broadcaster’s “Insiders” program Sunday, Dutton said he had visited counterparts in Connecticut and “spoken with them there” about acquiring the equipment, even though the proposition has attracted skepticism, given there’s been no indication from the US that it agreed to enter a sale. 
  • The US is “very keen to see the reality in the Indo-Pacific addressed and so I think that they would pull out every stop to support Australia acquiring the capability as quickly as possible,” he said.

Australia joined an Indo-Pacific security partnership with the U.S. and U.K. in September last year, allowing it to acquire nuclear-powered submarines. The move sparked a rift with France, which said the agreement scuppers an earlier deal Australia made in 2016 with a French shipbuilder to build up to 12 submarines.

Dutton, the former defense minister, wrote earlier this month that he believed it possible to acquire “the first two submarines off the production line out of Connecticut” this decade as an alternative to waiting until 2038 for domestic manufacturing to produce the first Australian-made submarine.

When asked on Sunday what information he had based his claims on, Dutton said, “I’m not going into conversations, but I formed a judgment that we could acquire two submarines quickly and I think it’s necessary that we do so.”  

The US and the UK are “incredibly willing partners,” he said.

The comments come as current Prime Minister Anthony Albanese prepares to depart for Europe later this month to attend a NATO meeting to discuss the war in Ukraine. The trip may also involve a visit to Paris to see President Emmanuel Macron, after Albanese said earlier in June he was looking forward to accepting an invitation from the French leader and that it was “absolutely vital” to reset the relationship between the two countries. 

June 20, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia yet to sign up to treaty banning nuclear weapons but will attend UN meeting as observer

With nuclear weapons states modernising, and in some cases increasing their arsenals instead of dismantling them, more states are becoming disenchanted with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and are lending their support to an outright ban.

Australia yet to sign up to treaty banning nuclear weapons but will attend UN meeting as observer

 Anthony Albanese committed Labor to signing the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons while in opposition  Ben Doherty, Mon 20 Jun 2022 

Australia will attend – as an observer – a UN meeting of countries that have outlawed nuclear weapons, parties to a treaty Anthony Albanese championed in opposition and committed Labor to ratifying in government.

Government backbencher Susan Templeman’s attendance at the meeting in Vienna on Tuesday comes as a group of 55 former Australian ambassadors and high commissioners have written an open letter to the prime minister urging the government to sign up to the treaty, which outright prohibits the development, testing, production and use of nuclear weapons.

We hope … that Labor’s commitment to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will be swiftly realised. Making meaningful gains in eliminating the most destructive weapons ever invented is as crucial for Australia’s security as it is for the security of people everywhere,” said the letter, signed by the former diplomats including Stephen FitzGerald, John McCarthy, Neal Blewett and Natasha Stott Despoja.

The treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons (TPNW) came into force in January last year: it has been ratified by 62 states, though not by any nuclear weapons powers.

The former Coalition government consistently rejected the nuclear weapons ban treaty, saying it would not reduce nuclear arsenals or increase security and would undermine existing disarmament efforts.

But Anthony Albanese, now prime minister, has been a longstanding and public supporter of a Labor government signing and ratifying the new treaty.

At the 2018 ALP conference, he proposed the resolution that committed the party to sign and ratify the treaty in government.

“Nuclear disarmament is core business for any Labor government worth the name,” Albanese said. “Labor in government will sign and ratify the UN treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons.

“I don’t argue that this is easy. I don’t argue that it’s simple. But I do argue that it’s just.”

The motion was passed, and the ALP’s formal party platform states: “Labor in government will sign and ratify the ban treaty”, contingent on ensuring an effective verification and enforcement architecture, and the ban treaty’s compatibility with the existing nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Templeman, the Labor member for Macquarie, will attend the UN meeting of states parties to the treaty as an observer only. Australia has neither signed nor ratified the TPNW: that position has not changed with the change of government.

The Guardian understands the new government wants to assess the adequacy of the TPNW’s verification and enforcement regime; its interaction with the treaty on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (that Australia is a party to); and how countries that have joined the new treaty intend to attract universal support for the outright ban.

The government will need to be satisfied on those questions before it decides to sign and ratify the treaty.

The Australian-founded International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for its work on the TPNW, said the diplomats’ open letter “demonstrates the broad support for the treaty among Australia’s foreign policy establishment”.

“It was a mistake for the previous government to abstain from the negotiations on this crucial treaty,” Gem Romuld, Ican’s Australian director, said this week.

“But it isn’t too late to join – and we expect the new government to follow through with its promise to do so.”

The diplomats’ letter argued it is unacceptable that nearly 13,000 nuclear weapons remain in the world today, more than half a century after the nuclear non-proliferation treaty came into force.

“These weapons pose an existential threat to human life.

“That threat is again underlined now by Russia’s nuclear sabre-rattling over Ukraine and, more generally, by the abysmal state of relations between the United States and its two most powerful nuclear-armed rivals. Unless we chart a new course, nuclear weapons will almost certainly be used again, with predictably catastrophic consequences.”

The diplomats argued that, by becoming a state party to the ban treaty, Australia “can work with like-minded states to help avert such a calamity – and at the same time restore its reputation as a champion of multilateral disarmament”.

“In the course of our careers, we have seen first-hand what our country can achieve on the world stage and know that Australia is at its best when it pursues a principled foreign policy – one that advances the global common good. This is a sensible and overdue step. We urge you to take it without delay.”

The TPNW is international law – it came into effect for those states that have ratified it, in January 2021. But the efficacy of a ban treaty remains contested.

Without the participation of the states that actually possess nuclear weapons, critics argue it cannot succeed.

But proponents say a nuclear weapons ban will create moral suasion – in the vein of the cluster and landmine conventions – for nuclear weapons states to disarm, and establish an international norm prohibiting nuclear weapons’ development, possession and use.

Non-nuclear states have expressed increasing frustration with the current nuclear regime and the sclerotic movement towards disarmament.

With nuclear weapons states modernising, and in some cases increasing their arsenals instead of dismantling them, more states are becoming disenchanted with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and are lending their support to an outright ban.

June 20, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Federal government lobbying behind the scenes for Assange’s freedom.

  “in the end the Americans can’t say no [to his release], given that President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning for exposing the very war crime that Assange went on to publicise worldwide”.

“It was in Priti Patel’s power to do the right thing,” she said in a statement. “Instead, she will forever be remembered as an accomplice of the United States in its agenda to turn investigative journalism into a criminal enterprise.”

further appeals in British courts could rely on media reports last year that the CIA had planned to assassinate the Wikileaks founder. “There’s absolute validity to these matters . By James Massola and Latika Bourke, June 19, 2022

The federal government is lobbying US counterparts behind the scenes to secure the freedom of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, after the United Kingdom’s decision to approve his extradition to the United States.

The Trump administration brought charges against Assange under the Espionage Act relating to the leaking and publication of the WikiLeaks cables a decade ago.

The UK Home Office announced late on Friday (AEST) that “after consideration by both the Magistrates Court and High Court, the extradition of Julian Assange to the US was ordered”.

“In this case, the UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange.

“Nor have they found that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression, and that whilst in the US he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health.”

Assange’s legal team has 14 days to appeal the decision to the High Court and will do so while he remains in Belmarsh prison.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, while still opposition leader in December, said “enough is enough” and that it was time for Assange to be returned to Australia.

Asked about Assange’s extradition on Saturday, he told The Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age that he stood by the comments he made in December.

At the time, Albanese said “he [Assange] has paid a big price for the publication of that information already. And I do not see what purpose is served by the ongoing pursuit of Mr Assange”.

Albanese met US President Joe Biden at the Quad meeting in Tokyo in late May, days after the federal election, but there has been no indication that he raised the Assange matter with him during their meeting.

A source in the federal government, who asked not to be named so they could discuss the matter, has confirmed to The Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age that Assange’s case has been raised with senior US officials.

Former foreign minister Bob Carr said the discussions over Assange’s release would be “governed by sensitive, nuanced alliance diplomacy appropriate between partners”.

“I trust the judgment of Prime Minister Albanese on this, given his recent statement cautioning against megaphone diplomacy and his comments last December,” he said.

But Carr predicted that “in the end the Americans can’t say no [to his release], given that President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning for exposing the very war crime that Assange went on to publicise worldwide”.

“The Yank has had her sentence commuted; the Aussie faces an extradition and a cruel sentencing.”

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said on Friday that “Assange’s case has dragged on for too long and that it should be brought to a close. We will continue to express this view to the governments of the United Kingdom and United States”.

Albanese is due to attend the NATO summit in Madrid at the end of the month, which US President Joe Biden will also attend, though it is not clear if he will raise the matter there.

Assange’s wife, Stella Moris, hit out at UK Home Secretary Priti Patel for approving the extradition.

“It was in Priti Patel’s power to do the right thing,” she said in a statement. “Instead, she will forever be remembered as an accomplice of the United States in its agenda to turn investigative journalism into a criminal enterprise.”

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd tweeted that he disagreed with the decision to approve the extradition, even though he did not support Assange’s actions and “his reckless disregard for classified security information”.

“But if Assange is guilty, then so too are the dozens of newspaper editors who happily published his material.”

Labor MP Julian Hill said there could never be a legal solution to the case as it was inherently political and that “we should speak up for our fellow Australian and request that these charges be dropped and he not be extradited”.

Greens senator Jordon Steele-John said the extradition to the United States would set a dangerous precedent for press freedom and called on the prime minister to pick up the phone to his British and American counterparts.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, the chair of the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group, has called Britain’s decision an outrageous betrayal of the rule of law, media freedom and human rights.

“This matter is so deeply wrong on so many levels … time’s up for the new federal government hinting at caring and then doing nothing,” he said.

“The new Australian government is now to be condemned for abandoning an Australian hero journalist facing the very real prospect of spending the rest of his life rotting in a US prison.”

Amnesty International is urging the UK to refrain from extradition and the US to drop all charges.
The secretary-general of the human rights organisation, Agnes Callamard, says allowing the Australian to be sent to the US for trial would put him at great risk.

“Assange faces a high risk of prolonged solitary confinement, which would violate the prohibition on torture or other ill treatment,” Callamard said.

“Diplomatic assurances provided by the US that Assange will not be kept in solitary confinement cannot be taken on face value given previous history.”

Adviser to the Australian campaign to free Mr Assange, Greg Barns SC, says Britain’s decision is unsurprising given past approaches.

“The UK does not regard the extradition as being political when it clearly is,” he told ABC News on Saturday.

He says further appeals in British courts could rely on media reports last year that the CIA had planned to assassinate the Wikileaks founder.

“There’s absolute validity to these matters … the real issue is do we let this matter go back into the court system for another couple of years or do we say there are important principles here.”

There had been a change in rhetoric on the matter from the new government and statements from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Ms Wong had heartened the campaign, Mr Barns said.

“We’re certainly urging and hoping that now is the time for Australia to get involved with its key allies in London and Washington and bring this matter to an end.”

June 18, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics | Leave a comment

Assange Is Doing His Most Important Work Yet Caitlin Johnstone, 18 June 22, British Home Secretary Priti Patel has authorized the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States to be tried under the Espionage Act in a case which seeks to set a legal precedent for the prosecution of any publisher or journalist, anywhere in the world, who reports inconvenient truths about the US empire.

Assange’s legal team will appeal the decision, reportedly with arguments that will include the fact that the CIA spied on him and plotted his assassination.

“It will likely be a few days before the (14-day appeal) deadline and the appeal will include new information that we weren’t able to bring before the courts previously. Information on how Julian lawyers were spied on, and how there were plots to kidnap and kill Julian from within the CIA,” Assange’s brother Gabriel Shipton told Reuters on Friday.

And thank goodness. Assange’s willingness to resist Washington’s extradition attempts benefit us all, from his taking political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 until British police forcibly dragged him out in 2019, to his fighting US prosecutors in the courtroom tooth and claw during his incarceration in Belmarsh Prison.

Assange’s fight against US extradition benefits us not just because the empire’s war against truth harms our entire species and not just because he cannot receive a fair trial under the Espionage Act, but because his refusal to bow down and submit forces the empire to overextend itself into the light and show us all what it’s really made of.

Washington, London and Canberra are colluding to imprison a journalist for telling the truth: the first with its active extradition attempts, the second with its loyal facilitation of those attempts, and the third with its silent complicity in allowing an Australian journalist to be locked up and persecuted for engaging in the practice of journalism. By refusing to lie down and forcing them to come after him, Assange has exposed some harsh realities of which the public has largely been kept unaware.

The fact that London and Canberra are complying so obsequiously with Washington’s agendas, even while their own mainstream media outlets decry the extradition and even while all major human rights and press freedom watchdog groups in the western world say Assange must go free, shows that these are not separate sovereign nations but member states of a single globe-spanning empire centralized around the US government. Because Assange stood his ground and fought them, more attention is being brought to this reality.

By standing his ground and fighting them, Assange has also exposed the lie that the so-called free democracies of the western world support the free press and defend human rights. The US, UK and Australia are colluding to extradite a journalist for exposing the truth even as they claim to oppose tyranny and autocracy, even as they claim to support world press freedoms, and even as they loudly decry the dangers of government-sponsored disinformation.

Because Assange stood his ground and fought them, it will always reek of hypocrisy when US presidents like Joe Biden say things like, “The free press is not the enemy of the people — far from it. At your best, you’re guardians of the truth.”

Because Assange stood his ground and fought them, people will always know British prime ministers like Boris Johnson are lying when they say things like, “Media organisations should feel free to bring important facts into the public domain.”

Because Assange stood his ground and fought them, more of us will understand that they are being deceived and manipulated when Australian prime ministers like Anthony Albanese say things like “We need to protect press freedom in law and ensure every Australian can have their voice heard,” and “Don’t prosecute journalists for just doing their jobs.”

Because Assange stood his ground and fought them, US secretaries of state like Antony Blinken will have a much harder time selling their schtick when they say things like “On World Press Freedom Day, the United States continues to advocate for press freedom, the safety of journalists worldwide, and access to information on and offline. A free and independent press ensures the public has access to information. Knowledge is power.”

Because Assange stood his ground and fought them, UK home secretaries like Priti Patel will be seen for the frauds they are when they say things like “The safety of journalists is fundamental to our democracy.”

Extraditing a foreign journalist for exposing your war crimes is as tyrannical an agenda as you could possibly come up with. The US, UK and Australia colluding toward this end shows us that these are member states of a single empire whose only values are domination and control, and that all its posturing about human rights is pure facade. Assange keeps exposing the true face of power.

There is in fact a strong argument to be made that even all these years after the 2010 leaks for which he is currently being prosecuted, Assange is doing his most important work yet. As important as his WikiLeaks publications were and are, none of them exposed the depravity of the empire as much as forcing them to look us in the eye and tell us they’ll extradite a journalist for telling the truth.

Assange accomplished this by planting his feet and saying “No,” even when every other possible option would have been easier and more pleasant. Even when it was hard. Even when it was terrifying. Even when it meant being locked away, silenced, smeared, hated, unable to fight back against his detractors, unable to live a normal life, unable to hold his children, unable even to feel sunlight on his face.

His very life casts light on all the areas where it is most sorely needed. We all owe this man a tremendous debt. The least we can do is try our best to get him free.

June 18, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Why nuclear energy won’t work in Australia

Scott Ludlam, Scott Ludlam is a writer and activist, and a former Greens senator. 18 June 22,  There is something almost comical about the Liberals and Nationals throwing the forlorn spectre of nuclear power back into national energy debates, right after their loss in the 2022 “climate election”.

The incoming Energy minister, Chris Bowen, immediately slapped down the idea, calling it a “complete joke” and noting that nuclear is the most expensive form of energy. He’s right, and that should be the end of the argument, but we know it won’t be, because Peter Dutton and his colleagues are not engaged in a good faith debate about Australia’s future energy mix. For them, this is about something else entirely.

Not everyone who invites discussion on nuclear power acts in bad faith. In a climate emergency, it’s essential to have all viable, low-carbon energy sources on the table, which does entail a periodic assessment of where the nuclear industry actually stands. Has any progress been made on the intractable question of nuclear waste? How permeable is the barrier between civil and military applications? How are safety concerns over the world’s ageing reactor fleet being managed? How is the industry planning to clean up the enormous volumes of radioactive wastes left behind at uranium mines? 

Can this technology compete against low-cost renewables?

It’s tempting to imagine the nuclear industry stumbling around like the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, bleeding freely, mortally wounded and yet stubbornly defiant and refusing to die.

The best independent analysis of the state of the industry is provided by the World Nuclear Industry Status Report. Since 2007, these reports have provided an annual, country-by-country snapshot of nuclear plant construction, start-ups, accidents and closures. 

They make for forbidding reading, painting a picture of an industry in deep trouble. The number of reactors in operation has declined by two dozen since 2002, as the share of global electricity generation provided by nuclear power fell from about 17 per cent in 1996 to just above 10 per cent in 2020. Part of the problem is that the age of the industry is catching up with it. In the two decades to 2020, there were 95 new nuclear plant start-ups and 98 closures. As plants built in the 1970s and ’80s reach the end of their design life, and construction dries up nearly everywhere other than China, there is no real prospect of them being replaced at anything like the rate of closure. This decline is structural and inexorable.

There is an additional wildcard, which the industry refuses to acknowledge: the risk of future catastrophic reactor accidents. The industry insists it has learnt the lessons of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima, and it is true that plant redesigns and additional safety systems are a major factor driving up the costs of new reactors. But despite this, any accident, disaster or attack that shuts down the cooling system inside a nuclear power plant runs the risk of a meltdown. One study from 2017 analysed the frequency and intensity of 216 nuclear accidents between 1950 and 2014, estimating that “there is presently a 50 per cent chance that a Fukushima event (or larger) occurs every 60-150 years, and a Three Mile Island event (or larger) occurs every 10-20 years”.

These are shocking odds, both for host communities and for energy planners trying to manage the transition to zero-carbon electricity supply. People organising against nuclear power stations, waste dumps and uranium mines are commonly accused of being emotional, hysterical or delusional, when in fact these actions are usually informed by a willingness to look honestly at the difficult truths of this industry.

Someone who has seen those truths close up is Naoto Kan, who was prime minister of Japan at the time of the Fukushima disaster in 2011. In his introduction to the 2021 World Nuclear Industry Status Report, he writes: “The reactors in Units 1 to 3 suffered not only meltdowns, but also melt-through of the nuclear fuel, while the spent fuel pool at Unit 4 came close to evaporating entirely. Had this come to pass, it would have necessitated the evacuation of all residents within a radius of 250 kilometres – an area including the metropolis of Tokyo, the consequences of which would have been unimaginable.”

On the awful day we learn the name of the next Fukushima, whether it be in France, China, the United States or Russia, neither the industry nor its investors will be able to say they weren’t warned.

Surprisingly, it turns out these arguments are now accepted by a growing number of pro-nuclear advocates. Many of them tacitly or openly acknowledge that the technology they’ve been promoting for decades has no future. They have ceased arguing for the giant, water-cooled fission reactors that have been the backbone of the commercial nuclear energy sector since the 1960s.

Instead, they now advocate for a bewildering variety of experimental reactor types, fuelled by uranium or thorium or plutonium, cooled with helium or molten salt or liquid metal. These designs are proclaimed to be simultaneously cheap, safe and efficient, free of proliferation, waste and accident risks, and ready for commercial deployment any decade now.

What unifies many of them is not so much the technology type, but the smaller scale and the fact that they don’t really exist.

A pilot plant of one such small modular reactor (SMR) went into operation at Shidao Bay in China late in 2021, but outside the Chinese nuclear establishment, nobody knows how much it cost to build. According to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report, “There appear to be no plans to construct more reactors of the same design.” These plants are not an answer to climate change. Even the most ambitious estimates for commercial deployment of SMRs stretch into the 2030s and 2040s, long after the heavy lifting of global decarbonisation needs to have been done. Allison Macfarlane, the former chair of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, stated in 2021: “When it comes to averting the imminent effects of climate change, even the cutting edge of nuclear technology will prove to be too little, too late.”

This is where what Peter Dutton and his colleagues are really up to comes into sharper focus.

The speed and scale of low-cost solar and wind energy backed up by batteries and hydro power has hit critical mass worldwide. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, 2015 was the first year that more renewable energy capacity was added to the grid than non-renewable, including fossil and nuclear. By 2021, clean energy technologies accounted for 81 per cent of new generation capacity globally. Closer to home, the signs are everywhere, from the early closure of AGL’s coal-fired power stations to the announcement of huge new renewable energy zones across multiple Australian states.

 Into this fast-closing gap, the nuclear industry is making its final pitch before obsolescence: enormous public subsidies in exchange for an imaginary generation of small, cheap, safe reactors that exist nowhere but on paper. Complicating the message for those who still insist that there is no connection between nuclear weapons and nuclear power, the Morrison government’s reckless entry into the AUKUS agreement threatens to enmesh Australia in the trafficking and disposal of high-level spent nuclear fuel from submarine reactors, with all the public health, national security and proliferation risks this entails.

Importing this staggering debacle into Australian energy markets would be much more than just financially irresponsible: it would lock us into a high-risk dead end just as the clean energy revolution is finally under way at scale. But unlike the Black Knight, nuclear technology still retains the capacity to do enormous harm, even in its present enfeebled state. The UN Secretary-General’s special adviser on climate change, Selwin Hart, put it like this in a statement last year: “Where countries are depending on technologies that have not yet been developed, or indicating they intend to cut in the 2030 and 2040s, quite frankly, that’s reckless and irresponsible.”

The foundation of the global anti-nuclear movement has always been in the frontline communities that have suffered the harshest impacts of this technology. Whether it be the First Nations communities in Central and Western Australia, whose lands and health were sacrificed for nuclear weapons testing decades ago, or those who won an end to uranium mining in Kakadu or nuclear waste dumping in Central and South Australia: these debates are won and lost on Country, not in op-ed pages or analysts’ spreadsheets. So, while a combination of lived experience, mockery and hard data may be enough to put Dutton and his colleagues’ latest deranged foray to rest for the time being, the “debate” over nuclear power seems likely to hang around until the solar age puts it to the sword once and for all.

June 18, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Julian Assange and family suffer as unjust detention continues.

Independent Australia By Binoy Kampmark | 16 June 2022,

The documentary Ithaka powerfully depicts the fight Julian Assange’s family is putting up for him, writes Dr Binoy Kampmark

JOHN Shipton, despite his size, glides with insect-like grace across surfaces. He moves with a hovering sense, a holy man with message and meaning. As Julian Assange’s father, he has found himself a bearer of messages and meaning, attempting to convince those in power that good sense and justice should prevail over brute stupidity and callousness. 

His one object: release Julian………………………..

The documentary Ithaka powerfully depicts the fight Julian Assange’s family is putting up for him, writes Dr Binoy Kampmark

JOHN Shipton, despite his size, glides with insect-like grace across surfaces. He moves with a hovering sense, a holy man with message and meaning. As Julian Assange’s father, he has found himself a bearer of messages and meaning, attempting to convince those in power that good sense and justice should prevail over brute stupidity and callousness. 

His one object: release Julian…………………..

The documentary Ithaka powerfully depicts the fight Julian Assange’s family is putting up for him, writes Dr Binoy Kampmark

JOHN Shipton, despite his size, glides with insect-like grace across surfaces. He moves with a hovering sense, a holy man with message and meaning. As Julian Assange’s father, he has found himself a bearer of messages and meaning, attempting to convince those in power that good sense and justice should prevail over brute stupidity and callousness. 

His one object: release Julian……………………………….

Soft, a voice of reed and bird song, Shipton urged activists and citizens to join the fray, to save his son, to battle for a cause imperishably golden and pure. From this summit, power would be held accountable, institutions would function with sublime transparency, and citizens could be assured that their privacy would be protected. 

In the documentary Ithaka, directed by Ben Lawrence, we see Shipton, Assange’s partner, Stella Moris, the two children, the cat and glimpses of brother Gabriel, all pointing to the common cause that rises to the summit of purpose. The central figure, who only ever manifests in spectral form – on-screen via phone or fleeting footage – is one of moral reminder, the purpose that supplies blood for all these figures. 

Assange is being held at Belmarsh, Britain’s most secure and infamous of prisons, denied bail and being crushed by judicial procedure.  But in these supporters, he has some vestigial reminders of a life outside.

The film’s promotion site describes the subject as ‘the world’s most famous political prisoner, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’ a figure who has ‘become an emblem of an international arm wrestle over freedom of journalism, government corruption and unpunished war crimes’. ………..

 suffer he shall, if the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel decides to agree to the wishes of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). 

The DOJ insists that their man face 17 charges framed, disgracefully and archaically, from a U.S. law passed during World War I and inimical to free press protections. The Espionage Act of 1917 has become the crutch and support for prosecutors who see, in Assange, less a journalist than an opportunistic hacker who outed informants and betrayed confidences. ……………………..

Through the film, the exhausting sense of media, that estate ever-present but not always listening, comes through. This point is significant enough; the media – at least in terms of the traditional fourth estate – put huge stock in the release of material from WikiLeaks in 2010, hailing the effort and praising the man behind it. 

But relations soured, and tabloid nastiness set in. The Left found tell-all information and tales of Hillary Clinton too much to handle while the Right, having initially revelled in the revelations of WikiLeaks in 2016, took to demonising the herald. Perversely, in the United States, accord was reached across a good number of political denizens: Assange had to go, and to go, he had to be prosecuted in the United Kingdom and extradited to the United States.

The documentary covers the usual highlights without overly pressing the viewer.  A decent run-up is given to the Ecuadorian stint lasting seven years, with Assange’s bundling out, and the Old Bailey proceedings covering extradition. But Shipton and Moris are the ones who provide the balancing acts in this mission to aid the man they both love……….

The film has faced, as with its subject, the usual problems of distribution and discussion. When Assange is mentioned, the dull-minded exit for fear of reputation, and the hysterical pronounce and pounce. 

In Gabriel Shipton’s words

“All of the negative propaganda and character assassination is so pervasive that many people in the sector and the traditional distribution outlets don’t want to be seen as engaging in advocacy for Julian.”

Where Assange goes, the power monopolies recoil. Distribution and the review of a documentary such as Ithaka is bound to face problems in the face of such a compromised, potted media terrain. Assange is a reminder of the plague in the patient of democracy, a pox on the body politic. ………..,16470#.YqqqxM6TP0M.twitter

June 16, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Earthworks approved for nuclear waste dump despite opposition from traditional owners, court hears

Barngarla traditional owners vie to overturn federal government’s decision to develop site near Kimba in South Australia

Australian Associated Press, Wed 15 Jun 2022 

Traditional owners attempting to block the construction of a nuclear waste dump in South Australia have told a court the federal government has already approved plans to begin earthworks, despite an active legal challenge.

The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation applied for a judicial review of the project in December, and a directions hearing was held in the federal court in Adelaide on Wednesday.

Legal argument will be heard in July ahead of a substantive hearing, most likely before the end of this year. The court was told that there were plans to begin earthworks at the Napandee site, near Kimba on SA’s Eyre Peninsula, before September…….

Justice Natalie Charlesworth asked that sufficient notice be provided to allow time for the court to hear applications to halt the works. Charlesworth said such notice would avoid the need for an urgent hearing.

“What I would like to avoid is what I might call a pyjama hearing where it’s called at midnight and we all come in here in our pyjamas and we have an unnecessarily urgent argument,” she said.

The Barngarla are seeking to overturn the Coalition government’s decision to develop the site by quashing the declaration of former resources minister Keith Pitt.

The corporation also wrote to the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, and the resources minister, Madeleine King, a week after the federal election, urging them to scrap plans for the dump.

It said the previous federal government had tried to silence the traditional owners at every turn, denying their right to participate in a community ballot to gauge local support for the site.

The corporation said the Coalition also refused access to the land to undertake a proper heritage survey and tried to remove its right to judicial review.

“Although we appreciate all that Labor have done in opposition, the Barngarla people unequivocally make it clear that we request that the new Labor minister revoke the declaration or consent to the orders quashing the declaration,” it wrote in its letter to Albanese.

The Labor government has given no indication that it would take a different view on the matter than the previous administration.

June 16, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, legal | Leave a comment

Nuclear Waste Dispute in Court Wednesday 15 June 

Kimba Radioactive Waste Facility Judicial Review in Federal Court. Wednesday 15 June 2022:
initial directions hearing and hearing on discovery

Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC ICN 8603 
• The first directions hearing will occur in the Federal Court of Australia this Wednesday at
9:00am in Adelaide, with some solicitors and counsel attending by MS Teams.
• The directions hearing will start off the long process of judicial review on the facility.
• An immediate issue is that the former Minister Pitt would not provide the Barngarla
documents Barngarla needed for the judicial review. It is not clear what the new Labor
Minister’s position is now that they have won Government.
• The dispute on discovery includes records of all of the commitments Minister Pitt and
Minister Canavan made that a facility would not be placed on an unwilling community.
Minister Pitt abandoned this requirement in his reasons when he made the declaration to
select Napandee.

The Government is refusing to provide these records and the matter may now need to be
argued as a contested discovery application.
• Any dispute on discovery is likely to take several months.
• Barngarla, Indigenous leaders around Australia, and the environmental movement have all
called for the declaration to be withdrawn now that Labor has won Government.
Barngarla spokesperson quote:
“There were serious failings when the National Party selected Napandee, too many to outline of the area, trying to legislate away judicial review, breaching UNDRIP and abandoning the test ofbroad community support at the last minute without any warning to anyone. The former Ministerwouldn’t provide us the material we need to run our case. Leaving aside these tricks and theseefforts to exhaust us, we remain confident that we will win this if we have to go to Court. However,because of the terrible mishandling by the National Party, we again call upon the new Labor Ministerto quash the declaration. We do not want to spend the next two years in Court against the LaborGovernment. They know what the National Party did and they should do the right thing andwithdraw the declaration.”
For further comment, please contact: barngarlamedia@gmail.comhere.They included, denying the First Peoples the right to vote, not conducting a proper heritage survey

June 14, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, legal | Leave a comment

Julian Assange’s wife Stella Moris reveals how they raise children together while he is in jail waiting an extradition decision

In court, Julian has not been permitted to sit with his lawyers. And despite many applications since January 21, he has not been allowed to attend his own court hearings in person., My Australian husband Julian Assange is fighting for his life from within the confines of a three-by-two-metre cell in Britain’s harshest prison, Belmarsh.

The US has accused him of espionage as a result of his work with WikiLeaks in 2010-2011 and wants to extradite him to face court.

If his extradition goes ahead, Julian faces a maximum 175-year prison sentence. As his wife, I fear he will be buried in the deepest, darkest corner of the US prison system until he dies.

During another extradition hearing last year a UK magistrate blocked Julian’s transfer to the US over fears of “oppressive” conditions that could drive him to take his life.

On July 3, Julian turns 51. It will be the fourth year he has spent his birthday alone in a cell, without conviction.

Is our time together running out?

When Julian is taken from his cell to the prison yard he tilts his head up so his eyes can focus on the distance. If he narrows his eyes, the double razor wire above becomes a blur. Beyond is the open sky.

Julian recently discovered a family of nesting magpies. He spotted their home subversively nestled between the razor wire. I think our family is like those magpies.

When we are together, we are always a few metres from their nest. Our children — Gabriel, who is five, and Max, three — only have memories of their father within the brutal surroundings of Belmarsh prison.

We don’t know how long our children have left with their father. We don’t know if we can visit him or even talk to him on the phone. If the extradition goes ahead, US authorities retain the right to put Julian in conditions so cruel that no one in his position is likely to survive.

It is impossible for Julian and me to escape a feeling that he is on death row. Our weekly visits may be the only time we have left together. But for how much longer? A few months more, a few weeks, a few days and then only a few hours? I fear in the end we will count the minutes and the seconds.

Guards search inside my children’s mouths

Were it not for our children, this approaching catastrophe would be all-consuming. But Julian and I know these may be the only memories that our children will have of their father. We make our visits as joyous as possible.

I don’t need to explain to Gabriel and Max the reality of this place where we go to visit their father. They live it. The children walk under razor wire and past layers and layers of security to reach their daddy.

Guards search inside their mouths, behind their ears and under their feet. The prison dogs sniff them head to toe, front and back.

Last week, Gabriel slipped some daisies he had picked by the prison walls into his pocket to give to his father. After he passed through the metal detector his daisies were confiscated during the pat-down search by one of the guards, albeit reluctantly.

During visits, our family is allowed to embrace at the beginning and end. We can hold each others’ hands across the table. Julian and I are not allowed to kiss. But Julian would rather kiss his wife and be penalised than have that taken away from him too. So, we kiss.

Precious moments for life lessons

The children love visiting their daddy. Julian reads them stories. Gabriel shares his father’s fascination with numbers. Julian teaches them nifty tricks: the best way to peel an orange, how to open chips without losing any of the contents.

These things may sound small to most people, but they are our precious moments together. A canteen selling chips and oranges and the prison’s collection of children’s books are all that is on offer in the visitor’s hall we share with 30-or-so prisoners and their families once or twice a week.

On March 23, we were married in Belmarsh. The prison – normally filled with tragedy and isolation – was turned on its head for a few hours to celebrate our love and commitment. Our nest in the razor wire.

The last time the media photographed Julian was in 2019, through the scratched windows of a prison van.  The UK Authorities insist that our wedding photos not be made public ‘on security grounds’. In court, Julian has not been permitted to sit with his lawyers. And despite many applications since January 21, he has not been allowed to attend his own court hearings in person.

June 14, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Australia’s Energy Minister rejects nuclear power push

Hawkesbury Gazette By Paul Osborne and Dominic Giannini June 9 2022 

Energy Minister Chris Bowen has attacked the Nationals for suggesting nuclear power be considered in Australia’s energy mix, saying the party had no credibility after nine years in government.

Mr Bowen says nuclear would be the most expensive form of energy when Australians are already facing rising costs and inflationary pressures.

“Seriously? Nine years in office and then coming up with bright ideas on the other side of the election is point one. No credibility,” he said on Thursday.

“Nuclear is the most expensive form of energy. We have a cost of living crisis, energy prices going through the roof and what’s their big bright idea? Let’s have the most expensive form of energy we can possibly think of.”

…………………..  Labor has rejected the technology as too expensive and not a serious solution to reducing power costs or cutting emissions.

June 14, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Disgraced Victorian Liberal MP Tim Smith – quitting politics – backs Dutton’s call for nuclear power

Smith backs Dutton’s nuclear push as colleagues dodge debate, By Annika Smethurst, The Age June 12, 2022 Victorian Coalition leaders won’t endorse calls from their federal counterparts to consider nuclear energy generation, despite the plan having the support of several state MPs.

Following the federal election loss, newly installed Liberal leader Peter Dutton and Nationals leader David Littleproud have both hinted that nuclear energy could be part of the Coalition’s future policy platform…………….

While nuclear power has some support among Victorian Coalition MPs, the state opposition has attempted to distance itself from the federal push, repeatedly refusing to endorse or reject nuclear energy when approached by The Age.

In response to individual questions on the policy, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, Victorian Nationals’ leader Peter Walsh and shadow minister for energy and renewables Craig Ondarchie issued a joint statement claiming nuclear energy in Australia is regulated by the Commonwealth, and therefore not a state issue.

“As such any move would need to be taken at a federal level,” the Coalition spokesman said.

The statement was slammed by outgoing Liberal MP and former shadow attorney-general Tim Smith, who said: “Any serious opposition or government must at the very least put nuclear energy on the table.”

There is currently a federal ban prohibiting the use of nuclear materials for energy production, while Victorian legislation prohibits uranium and thorium mining and exploration………………………..

Another backbencher told The Age there should be an open conversation about the use of nuclear technologies given soaring energy costs.

Smith, who is quitting politics in November after crashing his car while drink-driving last year, agreed, saying the federal debate was both “timely and welcome” given the state’s baseload energy requirements……………………

June 14, 2022 Posted by | politics, Victoria | Leave a comment

Another episode in the unlawful spying and harassment of Julian Assange and his legal team, by the UK and USA governments

Julian Assange’s Australian lawyer who counts Amal Clooney and Amber Heard as friends says she has reached settlement with government ‘over breach of her human rights after it admitted she was likely put under covert surveillance’

  • Jennifer Robinson has reached settlement with Government over surveillance 
  • She said it accepted covert surveillance of her ‘likely breached her human rights’
  • She was one of the three lead claimants in a complaint against the Government 
  • She said it raises ‘grave concerns’ over interference with ‘journalistic material


One of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange‘s lawyers has reached a settlement with the Government after it accepted it was likely she was the subject of ‘covert surveillance which breached her human rights’, she said.

Jennifer Robinson welcomed a statement by the European Court of Human Rights which she said meant the UK Government has ‘accepted her rights were breached by surveillance’.

She was one of the three lead claimants in a complaint against the UK Government which went to the court.

Ms Robinson said the UK Government has reached a ‘friendly settlement’, admitting there was reasonable cause to believe she was the subject of surveillance.

She said: ‘The UK Government has now admitted that its surveillance and information-sharing arrangements with the US violated my rights. That includes in relation to the protection of confidential journalistic material.

‘This follows a pattern of unlawful spying on Julian Assange and his legal team, and it raises grave concerns about government interference with journalistic material and privilege.

‘It also raises serious questions about what information the UK and US governments have been sharing about Mr Assange’s case against extradition to the US.’

The development came as Mr Assange awaits a decision by Home Secretary Priti Patel on whether he should be extradited to the United States. 

Ms Robinson, who works from the respected Doughty Chambers in London, has represented Assange for some 12 years.

She is the go-to barrister for the rich and famous, and counts the Hollywood elite among her inner circle, travelling to George and Amal Clooney’s wedding on a speedboat with actor Bill Murray.

In 2019, she was named international pro bono barrister of the year and prior to lockdown, was pictured at events with Prince Charles and Cherie Blair.

She has also appeared on BBC Question Time and supported Amber Heard during the Johnny Depp’s libel case against The Sun newspaper in 2020………………….

June 11, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Peter Dutton’s claim he planned to buy US nuclear subs is ‘political point-scoring’, defence experts say

These are sensitive negotiations and I think the great concern here is that Peter Dutton has basically worked against the national interest in an attempt for some domestic political point-scoring.”

Liberal leader is in damage control after his comments raised eyebrows, one analyst saying ‘there’s no way this is a plan’ Guardian. Paul Karp @Paul_Karp Fri 10 Jun 2022

Experts are critical of Peter Dutton’s claim he planned to buy two US nuclear submarines to plug a looming capability gap, as the Liberal leader goes into damage control over the disclosure.

Dutton has been accused of “political point-scoring” and being “unhelpful” in a campaign to pressure Labor’s Richard Marles to rule out other options to plug the gap between the retirement of Collins class submarines and Australia’s plan to build a nuclear fleet.

On Thursday Dutton, the former defence minister, revealed a plan he devised before the election to buy two Virginia-class submarines by 2030, claiming he had “formed a judgment the Americans would have facilitated exactly that”.

The comments raised eyebrows, both because Australia had not formally decided whether to opt for US or UK nuclear submarines and because experts have suggested it is unlikely the US would give up two of its own submarines by 2030.

Marles labelled the intervention “rank politics” and “completely inconsistent with everything Peter Dutton was doing and saying in government”…………….

Marcus Hellyer, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, told Guardian Australia Dutton had “put out an idea or concept”.

There’s no way this is a plan, it hasn’t been agreed by the US government, nor Australia, nobody has actually agreed to it.”

“If it were a plan it would be a pretty serious kind of breach or leak [to disclose it].”…….,

“No boats are available before 2030 unless the US gives up its own – that would be quite remarkable – the US has been clear there is no way they can build additional submarines.”

The chair of defence studies at the University of Western Australia, Dr Peter Dean, also expressed concerns about Dutton’s intervention.

“I’m sure that the UK wouldn’t be happy to learn from a newspaper article that, potentially, their submarine is not an option and I’m sure there’s plenty of people in the US Congress, the Pentagon and other parts of the US who were very interested to read these possible developments,” Dean reportedly told the ABC

These are sensitive negotiations and I think the great concern here is that Peter Dutton has basically worked against the national interest in an attempt for some domestic political point-scoring.”…………….

June 11, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment