Australian news, and some related international items

Tasmanian conservationists have a legal win, in their fight against mining groups

Legal win for Tasmanian anti-mining groups fighting two Tarkine proposals, ABC News By Pablo Vinales , 27 Aug 16  Tasmanian conservationists have won the right to find out why previous state governments granted mining leases in the Tarkine region.

The Supreme Court in Hobart has dismissed an appeal by the State Government in an ongoing dispute with the Tarkine National Coalition.

Conservationists were seeking the reasoning behind decisions made by both Labor and Liberal governments which gave Venture Minerals Limited leases at Mount Lindsay and Livingstone in the Tasmania’s north-west.

Scott Jordan from Save the Tarkine said the decision was emphatic.

“This is a really clear judgement, it’s a strong judgement that the minister must provide statements of reasons for decisions he made around mining leases and that he can’t withhold that information and it should be available to the public,” Mr Scott said.

“The judgement was very clear to that there wasn’t any merits to the case that was brought, we’re very pleased with the judgement.”……

August 27, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Surprise surprise – our new Resources Minister loves coal, not renewables

Canavan, MattMining key to our past and future Matt Canavan
The focus is firmly on the north, where major infrastructure works are under way. (subscribers only)

August 21, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Canberra heading to be a smart c ity

Canberra is getting much closer to smart city status, Canberra Times, Merlin Kong,21 Aug 16  Cities calling themselves smart seem to be all the rage these days. The checklist of must-haves is pretty standard, and here are a few: sensors at traffic lights and parking lots, apps to access public services, a chief data officer and smart-city IT platforms.

Smart connected infrastructure is good. However, this is only part of the smart city equation. The other element, and noted in last week’s Chief Minister’s Governance Lecture, involves using that infrastructure to generate community involvement. To this end, Access Canberra is engaging in customer-focused digital transformations aimed at enhancing the quality of their services – it represents just the beginning of the type of service redesign made possible by digital technology.

The numbers are quite impressive. Currently, Access Canberra delivers 195 digital transactional services, which includes 930 service options. The uptake by users is equally impressive, between May to July this year, 100,696 smart forms were submitted…….

August 21, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

South Australian Liberal leader pulls out of nuclear waste trip to Finland

text politicsSA Libs choose kids over nuclear waste , 18 Aug South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has been told he “wants to flee the scene of the crime” by visiting a nuclear dump in Finland next month when parliament resumes to consider an overhaul of the state’s child protection system.

Opposition Leader Steven Marshall has pulled out of the bipartisan trip so he can be in parliament to respond to the damning findings of a royal commission into child protection, released last week.

The trip comes as the state government consults with South Australians about whether SA should have a nuclear waste storage facility of its own……..

“This report is far more extensive and damning than anyone considered that it would be when the trip was planned and I think there’s no alternative,” he told ABC radio on Thursday…..

August 19, 2016 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

Indigenous Australians Fight planned Flinders Ranges nuclear waste dump

handsoffIndigenous Australians Fight Planned Nuclear Dump On Sacred Lands“It’s like me and my sisters going to the Vatican and saying we want to put a waste dump right under the pillar where they say St. Peter is buried.” Timothy Large, Huffington Post,   08/18/2016 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Enice Marsh remembers the black clouds of “poison stuff” that billowed from the northwest after British atomic bomb tests in the 1950s spread fallout across swathes of South Australia.

Now a new kind of radioactivity could head to her ancestral home in the remote Flinders Ranges – a nuclear waste dump.

“To me, it feels like a death penalty,” said Marsh, 73, standing in the cemetery of the outback town of Hawker, where many of her relatives are buried under red earth.

“We are one big family and the land also is family to us. We care for the land just in the same way we care for our family.”

South Australia is at the heart of a debate over the nation’s nuclear future that highlights a familiar tension between quick economic gain and long-term custodianship of land occupied by Aboriginal people for more than 50,000 years.

Two separate proposals divide opinion in the state with the country’s biggest uranium mine and a history going back nearly 20 years of saying “no” to nuclear dumps.

A recent Royal Commission report argues that South Australia could profit by storing high-level waste from nuclear reactors overseas, buried deep underground at a location still to be chosen.

As that recommendation is put to a “citizens’ jury” for further debate, the government is pushing ahead with plans to build a storage facility for less toxic waste generated domestically, mainly from industry and medicine.

It’s this above-ground dump for domestic waste that affects the Flinders, known for its haunting landscapes and home to the Adnyamathanha people, one of several hundred indigenous groups in Australia.

For the first time, the government says it has found a community — at least among non-Aboriginal people — willing to host a repository for the 40 cubic meters (125 square feet) of radioactive waste Australia generates annually……..ra ra

August 19, 2016 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

First Australian uranium shipment to India flagged for next year

August 16, 2016. The first shipment of Australian uranium is reportedly due to arrive in India next year…. (subscribers only)

August 17, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

BHP Billiton posts first full-year loss, totalling $8.3b, dividend slashed

BHPB-sadBy business reporter Michael Janda BHP Billiton has posted a statutory net full-year loss of $US6.385 ($8.3 billion) on significant one-off write-downs.

It is the company’s first annual loss since BHP and Billiton merged 15 years ago.

The company was expected to post a $US5.9 billion ($7.7 billion) loss according to the average of 11 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg…..

August 17, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Antarctic climate change researcher named ACT’s Scientist of the Year

Man-made islands might be better known as the domain of China or Dubai.
But the ACT’s new Scientist of the Year, biogeographer Dr Ceridwen Fraser, would build her own in the sub-Antarctic; if research money was no object.

August 17, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Up to $20 per week for 100pc electric cars

Australia could move to a 100pc electric vehicle fleet within ten years….(subscribers only)

August 12, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia unwise to snub China over power grid sale?

“Australian governments have proved to be very poor at understanding how to manage relations with China – they are a bit bewildered by China’s rise,” he said. “We need to figure out how we live in a world where China has become the principal economic player in our neighbourhood.”

Australia risks Chinese anger over power grid sale, BBC News Karishma Vaswani Asia business correspondent 11 August 2016

Australia’s decision to preliminarily block Chinese and Hong Kong bidders from taking a controlling stake in Ausgrid, the country’s largest Australia network, over national security concerns, is likely to be met with outrage and indignation in China. The Chinese don’t like being snubbed.

That’s not surprising – after all, who likes being dumped? And this is starting to look like a recurring pattern. Australia’s move comes as the UK has postponed approval for the Hinkley point nuclear power project, in which China’s General Nuclear Power Corp will have a minority stake, on similar concerns.

CGN is also accused of leading a conspiracy to steal American power industry secrets to speed up the development and production of Chinese reactor technology. Szuhsiung Ho, a senior adviser to CGN, is due in court in the US next week, and is accused of recruiting American experts to obtain sensitive nuclear technology for China, in a plot that prosecutors say threatened US security.

But the UK’s snub has already had serious consequences – verbally at least. Writing in the Financial Times, China’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaming has said the delay to approving the plant had brought the two countries to a “crucial historical juncture.”

He hinted that “mutual trust” could be in jeopardy if the UK government decided not to approve the deal.

There’s been no official comment yet about the blocking of the Australian deal from China’s State Grid Corp. But it is a state owned enterprise, and this may be seen as an affront to China’s global ambitions, or viewed as yet another attempt to cast doubt on China’s motivations in the international business arena. Continue reading

August 12, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

“An Australian gift from one atomic survivor community to another.

Nagasaki one day after the atomic bombing seen in newly-discovered pictures..jpgIndigenous Australia’s Shared Legacy With Nagasaki’s Atomic History
“An Australian gift from one atomic survivor community to another.” 
On August 9, 1945, Nagasaki became the second city in the world to be targeted by atomic bombs in warfare, killing 80,000 people. Over the next 70 years, thousands more would die from the effects of the bombing alone.

 A legacy of nuclear bombs is one the South Australian Yatala Indigenous community share.

In the 1950s British nuclear testing saw nine atomic bombs tested on Australian soil in the Maralinga and Emu fields of South Australia. This forced the migration of the Pitjantjatjara Anangu community away from their traditional land into Yatala.  For the Indigenous people of Maralinga, they were unable to return to their land and hunt because of contamination.

To mark not only the 71st anniversary of the Nagasaki bomb, but also International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, this short documentary Peace Gift to Nagasaki unites both communities in their efforts to promote peace and expose the legacy of the atomic age through creative arts.

 In the Nagasaki Peace Park, the site of the atomic bombs, there are sculptures gifted from countries all around the world in a show of solidarity.

Until now, Australia has not been one of those countries. In Peace Gift to Nagasaki, the Yatala Aboriginal community present a sculpture called ‘The Tree of Life’ to the Japanese community, a sculpture made of wood and cast in bronze so it can survive many hundreds of years.

“The Yatala sculpture will be an Australian gift from one atomic survivor community to another,” the narrator of the documentary explains.

To find out more about this project you can head to the Nuclear Futures page over here.

August 10, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia Leads The Charge To Promote Nuclear Weapons

The Australian government’s role, notwithstanding its ineffectual murmurings about how bad the weapons are, has been to lead the charge in opposing the growing push for a ban treaty, arguing that, without the support of the nations with the weapons, it’s an impractical process. That’s a bit like arguing that we must consult with criminals about the sort of laws they’d agree to before we enact any.

It also misrepresents the purpose of a ban treaty, which is to delegitimise and stigmatise the weapons and change the legal landscape by which nations are judged.

pinegap1Australia’s stance, of course, has everything to do with our reliance on “extended nuclear deterrence”, which is a preparedness to have US weapons destroy cities on our behalf. Just which cities, or in what circumstances, the government refuses to say

71 Years On, We’re Still Dodging Bullets While Australia Leads The Charge To Promote Nuclear Weapons, New Matilda By  on August 8, 2016 There is some light on the horizon in terms of the international fight to ban nuclear weapons. But it’s certainly not emanating from Australia, writes Dr Sue Wareham.

Early August marks the anniversaries of the atomic bombings on August 6 and 9, 1945, of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – dates which most often come and go with little to offer except a terrifying reminder of humanity’s capacity to destroy ourselves. Nevertheless, we’ve made it to 71 years, having tempted fate with tens of thousands of the most destructive devices ever created, escaping within a whisker of global catastrophe more times than bears thinking about. Continue reading

August 8, 2016 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

Nuclear Royal Commission’s waste proposal – a bad option for South Australia

South Australia mirageNuclear waste dump just another bad option — what about renewable energy?
John Willoughby, The Advertiser February 18, 2016   SOUTH Australia’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, in its tentative findings, has recommended avoiding some bad options: no nuclear power generation and no reprocessing or fuel leasing in the foreseeable future.

However, a bad option it found acceptable is allowing a proportion of the world’s most dangerous high-level nuclear waste to be transported to SA for long-term disposal.

The royal commission is not proposing to import this material in its hottest, radioactive state — the initial cooling of the waste will take place overseas.

From the health point of view, the risks are largely borne by those who work in the nuclear industry and, perhaps because the risks are not high, the report does not adequately address them. Employees involved in the processing would have to accept increased health risks.

The impact on life and health from a major release of radioactivity from nuclear accidents is severe and immediate. Safety problems cannot be excluded: in existing repositories overseas (Germany and US), water ingress occurred in one, and failure in cooling systems caused an explosion in another. Both required expensive remediation.

Radiation toxicity is the primary reason so much care is required in dealing with nuclear material and why safe disposal of radioactive waste is critical. As the royal commission report says, “Used fuel requires isolation from the environment for many hundreds of thousands of years”…….

the costs of renewable sources of energy (solar, wind) are very low. Solar and wind plants can be built quickly and relatively cheaply, can be maintained or deconstructed easily, and have no ongoing population risks.

The endeavours of our scientists and engineers are needed in dealing with the many facets of climate challenge, including the transition to renewable energy, and they should be focused on this.

John Willoughby is Professor Emeritus, Flinders University, and a member of Doctors for the Environment Australia–what-about-renewable-energy/news-story/92f494cdde1dcae41481a45e5ac4f4ac

August 8, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Geoff Cousins: Dear Minister Frydenberg 

6 August 2016. Congratulations on your appointment as minister for the environment and energy. The bringing together of these two portfolios for the first time could present a substantial opportunity for sound policy development in Australia.

It must be a considerable relief for you to emerge from the gloom of the resources portfolio, away from the problems of the decline of the fossil fuel sector and the return of the killer black lung disease, into the bright light of nature and our rivers, mountains, forests and reefs. Why, you could even be the minister who saves the Great Barrier Reef – but more of that later.

In the meantime, you may want to have a word with that other new minister, Senator Matthew Canavan, who says he is excited by the prospect of the Adani Carmichael coalmine being built. …

August 8, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

UN tries to hide involvement in deleting Australia from its climate report

see-no-evilFederal environment department says Unesco sought and was granted heavy redactions in freedom of information documents, Guardian,  , 2 Aug 16 The United Nations has tried to cover up its involvement in the Australian government’s successful attempt to have all mentions of the country removed from a report on climate change and world heritage sites, freedom of information documents show.

In May, Unesco published a report with the UN’s environment program, Unep, and the Union of Concerned Scientists about the impact of climate change on world heritage sites, which were also major tourist attractions.

Australia was the only continent not mentioned, despite being home to several important sites, including the Great Barrier Reef, which were being heavily affected by climate change. Continue reading

August 3, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment


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