Australian news, and some related international items

What is the role of top secret facility Pine Gap?

pinegap1Pine Gap ‘Spy base’ Alice Springs: What you never knew about top-secret facility, NT News ,Debra Killalea,, September 25, 2016 “………According to Richard Tanter, a professor in the School of Political and Social Studies at the University of Melbourne, most Australians really don’t know all that much about it.

Prof Tanter, who has conducted years of research into the facility with ANU colleague and leading authority on Pine Gap, Desmond Ball, said it remains one of the most important intelligence facilities outside of the United States today…….


While groups such as the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network argue Pine Gap and its value to the US makes us a target, the Australian Government maintains its presence here is crucial……..


Groups such as IPAN, which is holding its annual conference next weekend, claim the facility has a darker side.

The group said not only does Pine Gap allow access to satellites to spy on every continent except Antarctica and the Americas, but also question the role it plays in the use of drone technology.

Pine Gap contributes to and collects data used for US drones in the Middle East and Pakistan……

University of Melbourne drone researcher Alex Edney-Browne said Australians had no idea about the alarming rates of civilian casualties from drone strikes or the psychological effects caused by living under drone surveillance.

“Government and military spokespeople in the US and allied countries tell the public that drones are an ethical weapon — that drones stop civilians from being killed and limit the destructive effects of war,” she said.

“This is simply not the case.”

Ms Edney-Brown said laser guided drone weapons only hit their target radius half the time while the kill radius of drone strikes can be up to 90 metres.

September 26, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Coalition government funded climate change sceptic Bjorn Lomborg’s programme

The Liberals must explain their actions. Carr accused the Abbott and Turnbull governments of “using taxpayers’ money in an attempt to promote an anti-science conservative agenda”.

Bjørn Lomborg centre got $640,000 for report saying limiting warming rise to 2C not Lomborg, Bjornworth it  Revealed under freedom of information, cost came before Copenhagen Consensus Centre’s controversial $4m Australian program dropped, Guardian, , 24 Sept 16 Australia’s education department paid Bjørn Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Centre $640,000 to help produce a report that claimed limiting world temperature increases to 2C was a “poor” use of money.

The $640,000 cost, incurred before the CCC’s controversial $4m Australian program was junked, is revealed in the 2016 incoming ministerial brief published under freedom of information laws.

An education department spokeswoman told Guardian Australia the $640,000 represented the Australian government contribution to the CCC for the SmarterUN Post-2015 Development Goals project.

The project concluded that for every dollar spent on keeping global temperatures to the 2C target, less than $1 of social, economic or environmental benefit resulted, which it described as a “poor” result.

Other spending with “poor” returns included cutting outdoor air pollution, increasing protected biodiversity areas, better disaster resilience for the poor and reducing child marriages……….

The project explained its conclusions were “based on peer-reviewed analyses from 82 of the world’s top economists and 44 sector experts”.

Its brochure notes financial support was provided by the Australian government. Continue reading

September 26, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Art exhibition about The human fallout from Maralinga

The human fallout from Maralinga

Saturday 24 September 2016 6:45PM (view full episode)

Imagine a cemetery lined with the uniform graves of stillborn children in the loneliest place in the world.

We may never know the human fallout from the British nuclear tests conducted in the desert in the far west of South Australia in the 1950s and 60s.

Almost exactly 60 years ago, on the 27th of September 1956, the British began testing nuclear weapons at Maralinga, inside a vast area that became known as the prohibited zone.

The nuclear tests at Maralinga – and what she describes as a contempt for human life – echo in the work of the glass artist Yhonnie Scarce.

She’s created a radioactive cloud shaped from molten glass into bush foods once harvested in the country around Maralinga.

Her latest series of works is called Strontium 90 – a by-product of nuclear fission which is metabolised by the body, literally in the bones, of those affected by radioactive fallout.

As well as glass forms arranged on surgical steel cribs, Yhonnie has printed photographs of the cemetery at Woomera where the bodies of stillborn infants lie in uniform rows, in a defence industry town in the middle of nowhere.


September 26, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Know Nuclear is short on facts

Paul Waldon I wish that someone would put this to air. About 15 students attended Clare’s engagement program for Know Nuclear as a class but none of the facts on this recording were mentioned.

September 19, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia always a colony – first for convicts, now for radioactive trash ?

Derek Abbott, Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia  19 Sept Thought for the day: Jay’s logic in importing the world’s most dangerous materials and ‘securely’ housing them here is about as brilliant as building a huge secure underground international jail here for the world’s most dangerous criminals and serial killers. Countries will be just lining up to handsomely pay us to take their felons off their hands, as it will free up their overcrowded decaying jails. We’ll be doing our moral duty by becoming the “World Guantanamo.” Being an island with lots of dry desert we have the perfect geology questionfor a huge Alcatraz, where the inmates will ‘never’ be able to leak out.

Does Jay really think he’d get public consent for the above idea? No? Then why is nuke waste any different?

September 19, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Could terrorists attack nuclear waste being transported to a South Australian dump?

A comment on today’s Advertiser article about Premier Weatherill’s jaunt to Finland 
Rohn 17 Sept 16 

 If we can accept, for sake of argument, that the proposed disposal of nuclear waste is ‘safe’, I doubt I will ever be convinced that the safe transport of such waste to the dump site is anything near likely to ever being made ‘safe’.
radiation-truckOne assumes that at some point the waste material after somehow being TRAIN-NUCLEARdelivered to our shores, has to be transported by road or rail. That being so, no precautions now or in the future are likely to ever be 100 percent safe from terrorist attack. Until that aspect is thoroughly and convincingly settled we would be foolhardy to give it the ‘Green Light’.
In fact before $600m, or whatever, is spent on any Report this aspect should be extensively researched and the results made public.

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

A sceptical view of the South Australian hype about nuclear waste importing

A comment on today’s Advertiser article about PremierWeatherill’s jaunt to Finland
Sanity1  17 Sept 16  in France you will see that they are shutting down a third of their reactors by 2025 and not replacing them. They found them too expensive and dirty to keep running and are replacing them with renewables.
scrutiny-Royal-CommissionNo one in the world has successfully run a long term high level nuclear waste storage facility. Visit Germany’s, where they are still trying to work out how to remove all their stored waste when it was overfilled because of greed, and is leaking into the watertable. Even the one at Onkalo, Finland hasn’t started burying waste and won’t until next decade. All this haste, to copy a system that hasn’t even stored waste for a single year!

I think that many  have been caught up in a nuclear sales pitch that has promised big returns, on a scheme that no-one else in the world has dared. Not even countries with reactors, who would (you think) have the expertise, are considering this scheme. Why?

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

Australian government very wrong to gut ARENA – climate change has health consequences

Fossil fuels are also the main drivers of climate change, which is already causing multiple health consequences, including deaths from heat stroke, dehydration, bushfires, floods, typhoons, storm surges, vector borne diseases, cardio-pulmonary diseases and allergies. All of these problems will worsen if we fail to curb global warming. 


Comment: Gutting ARENA is just sick – renewable energy saves lives and health costsThe Australian Renewable Energy Agency will be gutted by a funding cut of $500 million. But it’s at odds with the government’s claims to be innovative and support jobs and growth. By David Shearman, SBS World News, 16 Sept 16 

 “……..The news that the Australian Renewable Energy Agency will be gutted by a funding cut of $500 million, after the Coalition and Labor made a compromise deal on the government’s omnibus budget repair package, shows neither party is listening to the concerns of health professionals about the costs of Australia’s coal habit.

The Coalition, as expected, at best doesn’t understand the gravity of the need to transition to renewable energy, or at worst is being destructive, in line with the view of the new head of the Coalition’s environment and energy committee who has attacked subsidies for solar energy.

Labor’s position is also disappointing. It too either doesn’t understand the urgency of a transition or is giving in to political expediency given that renewables are the main plank of its policy.

ARENA is one of the most important mechanisms to aid Australia’s transition from fossil fuels and should be protected.

The mining, transport, and combustion of coal are contributors to air pollution which causes 3000 deaths a year in Australia from cardio respiratory diseases. This death toll is greater than that from road accidents.

Thousands suffer from illness due to the pollution afflicting our cities, ranging from asthma in children to obstructive airways disease in adults.

As doctors, it distresses us to see such suffering in our patients, even more so because the causes are preventable. It distresses us to see the re-emergence of Black Lung disease in young men in their quest to serve an industry that has to be replaced.

Findings indicate at best that coal-fired power generation has no economic value to the community. At worst the industry is a huge economic burden.

William Nordhaus, one of the most respected economists in the US, did a study of full cost accounting of the coal industry in the USA which was published in 2011 in the American Economic Review, the leading economics publication.

Coal-fired power generation was found to produce damages from 0.8 to 5.6 times its value added. In other words, the damage caused is worth at best 80 per cent of the net value of the industry and at worst 5.6 times greater.

The costs that make the industry an economic burden in the US are health costs. Those studies carried out in Australia show a similar picture.

Fossil fuels are also the main drivers of climate change, which is already causing multiple health consequences, including deaths from heat stroke, dehydration, bushfires, floods, typhoons, storm surges, vector borne diseases, cardio-pulmonary diseases and allergies. All of these problems will worsen if we fail to curb global warming.

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

Billionaire Twiggy Forrest fights uranium exploration on his cattle station land

Forrest appeals uranium bid
Billionaire Andrew Forrest has launched a battle to stop a junior uranium player exploring on his family cattle station…. (subscribers only)

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

South Australia’s nuclear waste dump plan – a reckless gamble?

scrutiny-on-wastes-sa-bankruptEditorial: Let’s weigh up cost of nuclear dump The Advertiser September 11, 2016 “…….The final royal commission report, delivered four months ago, projected that there were immense potential profits over the life of the dump which could be churned into investments and produce huge wealth.But far more needs to be understood about how that money comes in and what liabilities we would be accepting under such a deal.

Evidence to a State Parliament committee investigating the dump is that outlays of about $600 million would be needed to identify a site before SA could lock in contracts and get the heavy work of facility building under way.

This is a gamble the state is unlikely to take with its own money. It is potentially a small price to pay for the possible riches to be derived from the dump, but it would be reckless for SA to throw that money away on the mere hope it stands up……….

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

Australian business leaders support UN Sustainable Development Goals

flag-UN.Australian CEOs Sign Statement of Support for UN Sustainable Development Goals
More than 30 business leaders from some of Australia’s largest companies have publicly signed a statement to support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, Pro Bono Australia,  
Ellie Cooper, 7 Sept 16  In the statement, CEOs agreed to incorporate the SDGs into their strategies, invest in those priority areas, and collaborate with governments, civil society and academia to achieve the goals.

“We are a diverse group of companies with footprints across Australia and the globe. We agree that business has a critical contribution to make towards achievement of the SDGs – both domestically and internationally – through responsible business operations, new business models, investment, innovation, technology and collaboration,” the statement said

“Our businesses are already contributing to the SDG agenda in many ways… we can do more.

“The SDGs provide points of focus around which we can innovate and collaborate in the search for solutions to critical global and local sustainability challenges, while at the same time positioning competitively for the future.”

The SDGs – agreed by all 193 United Nations member states – are a global agenda laying out a roadmap over the next 15 years to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice and protect the planet.

The CEO statement was led by the Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA), the Australian chapter of the UN Global Compact, which is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative.

“The statement is a really significant development in the corporate sustainability space,” GCNA executive manager Alice Cope told Pro Bono Australia News……..

September 9, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Some telling Facebook comments on South Australian govt’s Your Say Nuclear site

text we objectJudith Bruton  After a weekend of debate on the Your Say Nuclear site I posted this on their site Monday morning.

‘The fundamental problem with Your Say Nuclear is that to be pro is assumed immediately by some to be right, well informed, science based. Those that are anti are cast as irrational, ill-informed, emotional and ignorant. The pro bullies try to educate those who are anti, like Christians converting ‘primitives’ (and we all know that worked well!) This FB site is totally biased and I would never recommend it to anyone. On the contrary I will spread the word that Your Say Nuclear is just more Government propaganda. Disappointing!’

What would you expect from a Government site?

Judith Bruton People power is the way to go. It has worked before and will work this time. Do we actually get a vote or what?

 Kyriaki Maragozidis Of course it’s biased and an expensive PR campaign. That being the case it’s still important to post our objections on the site. No need to respond to the pro nuke trolls, just have your say and ignore their ravings.
Annette Ellen Skipworth It is very bias …when you write something and you are basically told your opinion is irrelevant because you dont want nuclear. .
I asked how many jobs 9600 to construct ..found out only 600 ongoing jobs for the high waste site and 15 for the low waste site
That’s a huge amount of money for 615 jobs over 2 sites …

Ian Lloyd  The SOUTH AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT IS SPENDING A A LOT OF TAX PAYERS MONEY PROMOTING NUCLEAR DUMPS. They say it may create a few jobs. I bet these really flash pens that they are giving away were not made in Australia. I heard it is illegal what they are doing, spending tax payers money to promote nuclear dumps.

September 5, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Senate calls on Coalition to rule out financing Adani’s Carmichael coalmine

coal CarmichaelMine2Greens motion also calls on government to rule out publicly funding any of the mine’s associated infrastructure ~ Michael Slezak @MikeySlezak 1 September 2016

“The government is under increasing pressure to rule out public funding for Adani’s Carmichael coalmine, after the Senate passed a Greens motion calling on the Coalition to rule out financing the mine or any associated infrastructure.

“The government did not oppose the motion, so it was carried without a formal count on Thursday.

Larissa Waters, the Australian Greens deputy leader and mining spokesperson, said:

“Australia must not spend public money propping up a project that more than a dozen private banks have refused to finance, especially while this government is trying to cut $1bn from clean energy.” … ”


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

ACT’s push for renewable energy is hampered by Federal govt’s push against renewables

One step forward and two steps back for ACT’s renewable energy future, The Canberra Times, 1 Sept 16  It really is a case of one step forward and two steps back when it comes to Canberra’s ongoing bid to become an international centre of excellence in the field of renewable energy.

On the same day the ACT government announced a groundbreaking investment deal that will deliver state-of-the-art hydrogen electrolysis to the territory, The Canberra Times reported planned federal Coalition cuts to renewable energy research would gut the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, slashing jobs and closing down potentially lucrative research programs…..

The Turnbull government’s antipathy towards renewable energy, highlighted some years ago by then treasurer Joe Hockey’s views on the wind farms between Sydney and Canberra, appear to be as irrational as they are inexplicable…….

Canberra’s greenhouse emissions will be running at about 40 per cent below what they were in 1990.

This is a remarkable effort that looks like being achieved while still providing Canberrans with access to some of the most affordable electricity, and certainly the cheapest renewable energy, in the country…….

Many of the game changers, such as the reduction in the cost of solar panels for private homes and the development of affordable battery systems that allow private consumers to accumulate power during the day and use it at night, are the result of intense and expensive research.

By encouraging that research, and actively trying to develop a hub of intellectual excellence within its own borders, the ACT government is doing its bit to ensure the good ideas keep on coming and may, in time, deliver even more remarkable dividends.

The Turnbull government, on the other hand, still seems to have ideological hang-ups that unless reversed, will continue to hold back what could be a boom industry for Australia.

September 2, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

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