Australian news, and some related international items

An Australian apologises for the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

We inherit from the past our own conditions of living. We inherit the burdens, responsibilities and sacrifices, as well as the opportunities. Whether I like it or not, I am part of the rationale against you, that led to the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. All this I owe to you, Japan, when I apologise. ....

Apologising for the bomb: a letter on our anniversary. The Drum, Luke Stickels, 5 August 11

Dear Japan, Today marks 66 years since your city, Hiroshima, faced the world’s first ever nuclear attack, and I thought I would write to apologise……..

at approximately 8.15am on 6 August, 1945, the United States dropped a gun-type atomic bomb called Little Boy on Hiroshima. Between 70,000-80,000 people, or approximately 30 per cent of Hiroshima’s population, were killed instantly by what the subsequent US Bombing Survey termed “inefficient” nuclear fission, which nevertheless cleared 12 square kilometers of the city and 69 per cent of its buildings.[1] I am sorry that Little Boy was not even less efficient; in fact I wish it had failed altogether. Another 70,000 of your people were injured, with 90 per cent of doctors and 93 per cent of nurses among the casualties, significantly disabling treatment for the injured and substantially raising the final death toll. Continue reading

August 4, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Ross Gittins’ apology to grandchildren on Australia’s climate change inaction

climate-changeClimate change: Dear grandchildren, I can only say sorry November 20, 2013 The Age,    The Sydney Morning Herald’s Economics Editor I don’t have grandchildren but I’m hoping for some, someday, so this column is for them. I want you to know that although, in the mid-teens of this century, Australians elected a government that wasn’t genuine in its commitment to combating the effects of climate change, and that even abolished the main instrument economists invented for that purpose, I never accepted this complacency……….

Abbott associated with outright climate-change deniers and said things that seemed to brand him as one of them, while always adding, sotto voce, that he accepted human-caused climate change and the need to do something about it.

Apart from attracting voters away from Labor and its frightening carbon tax, the result of making climate change an issue of party dispute was to give Liberal supporters a licence to stop worrying about climate change – if the leaders of my party aren’t worrying, why should I? – while providing a fig leaf for those Liberals who retained their concern……

economics-falseYou will find this hard to believe, but in the mid-teens, it was still common to think about ”the economy” in isolation from the natural environment which sustained it. Economists, business people and politicians had gone for two centuries largely ignoring the damage economic activity did to the environment.

The idea that, eventually, the environment would hit back and do great damage to the economy was one most people preferred not to think about. At the time, it was fashionable to bewail the lack of action to increase the economy’s productivity.

economics-true Few people joined dots to realise the climate was in the process of dealing a blow to our productivity, one that would significantly reduce the next generation’s living standards.

At the time, we rationalised our selfishness – our willingness to avoid a tiny drop in our standard of living at the expense of a big drop in our offspring’s – by telling ourselves half-truths and untruths about the global nature of climate change…..

Did I ever doubt that climate change represented by far the greatest threat to Australia’s future economic prosperity? Never. Should I have said this more often, rather than chasing a thousand economic will-o’-the-wisps? Yes.

November 19, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Christine Milne is right: Martin Ferguson’s new job a mockery of code of conduct

Ferguson-under-scrutinyThe code says: “Persons who, after 6 December 2007, retire from office as a Minister or a Parliamentary Secretary, shall not, for a period of 18 months after they cease to hold office, engage in lobbying activities relating to any matter that they had official dealings with in their last 18 months in office”.

Greens’ claims over Ferguson lobbying are in the ballpark  ABC News Fact Check 8 Oct 13

  • The claim: Christine Milne says former resources minister Martin Ferguson’s new jobs make a mockery of the lobbying code of conduct.
  • The verdict: By taking up the appointment within the cooling off period it can be argued that Mr Ferguson has made a mockery of the intent and spirit of the code.
  • “……..Mr Ferguson’s new roles, six months after he resigned from federal cabinet in March, made a mockery of the ministerial code of conduct, Senator Milne said.”Martin Ferguson’s appointment as group executive of natural resources for Seven Group Holdings and as chair to a petroleum industry advisory board makes a mockery of the code of conduct which prevents former ministers engaging in lobbying activities relating to any matter that they had official dealings in,” she said.

    The new jobs

    Mr Ferguson accepted a role as chairman of an advisory board of the gas and oil industry’s peak body, the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association.

    The association’s website acknowledges its status as a lobby group, Continue reading

October 8, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Ethics and Politics in Australia. about climate change

ethicsAustralia’s political climate: Three numbers ignored in this election Byron Smith ABC RELIGION AND ETHICS 3 SEP 2013. The national discussion concerning climate change in Australia has some curious blind spots. Despite having featured prominently in Australian federal politics ever since Prime Minister Kevin Rudd declared it to be “the great moral challenge of our generation” back in August 2007, at no point in the public debate have three crucial numbers been highlighted by either side of the political divide. Continue reading

September 4, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Climate change action by religious groups

climate-changeClimate change gets religious SMH, 19 June 13 Few religious communities have gone as far in fighting climate change as a church in Queensland which has 24 solar panels bolted to the roof in the shape of a Christian cross. “It’s very effective. It’s inspired some members of our congregation to install panels on their homes,” Reverend David Lowry said of the “solar cross” mounted in 2009 on the Caloundra Uniting Church, which groups three Protestant denominations.

Many religions have been wary of moving to install renewable energy sources on their places of worship, from cathedrals to mosques – or of taking a strong stand on climate change in general – despite teachings that people should be custodians of nature.

But slowly, that may be changing, thanks to new religious leaders including Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church.

Francis’s stress on environmental protection since he was elected in March and his choice of the name of a 13th century nature lover – Saint Francis of Assisi – may make a difference for all religions trying to work out how to safeguard the planet from threats including climate change. Continue reading

June 18, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Australia’s overseas aid used to promote image of Paladin and Bannerman uranium mining companies

ethics-nuclearPaladin, which has been the subject of some controversy in Malawi over job cuts, was last year linked to a funding application through its employees’ charity – Friends and Employees of Paladin for African Children.

 Paladin’s (African) Ltd general manager, international affairs, Greg Walker, who was invited late last year to be Australia’s honorary consul to Malawi, was involved in the process, according to 2012 correspondence from Australia’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Matthew Neuhaus, to Mr Walker. The letter obtained under freedom of information confirmed Mr Walker’s successful application for the employees’ charity funding proposal.

The Aidwatch director Thulsi Narayanasamy said it was not the place of the Australian aid program to fund the corporate social responsibility programs of wealthy mining companies.

Firms use tax money for aid projects :  January 30, 2013 Rory Callinan

WEALTHY resource companies operating overseas are tapping into Australian taxpayer funds to set up aid projects potentially benefiting their corporate social responsibility credentials.

Aid and mining watchdogs have expressed concerns about the practice, arguing the corporations are wealthy enough to bankroll their own aid and that linking donations to controversial mine operations is a conflict of interest.

Nine mining companies all operating in Africa have been linked to the successful applications via the Foreign Affairs Department’s Direct Aid Program – a scheme that allows heads of missions to give up to $30,000 to local causes.

About $215,000 of taxpayers’ money went to the mining company-conceived projects last financial year, including a school for the deaf, providing trade skill training to local workers, establishing women’s groups and digging wells. Two applications involved uranium mining companies, Paladin Energy in Malawi and Bannerman Resources in Namibia. Continue reading

January 31, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, religion and ethics, uranium | Leave a comment

Stop Northern Territory aboriginal Intervention laws – Australia’s Catholic bishops tell Senate

Bishops slam NT intervention extension Big Pond News,  May 07, 2012 Australia’s Catholic bishops have urged the Senate to block draft legislation to extend the Northern Territory intervention in Aboriginal communities.
Labor’s Stronger Futures draft laws are likely to clear the upper house with bipartisan support when federal parliament resumes this week. Continue reading

May 9, 2012 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Catholic Cardinal and priests join call to abolish nuclear weapons

700 prominent Australians call for nuclear abolition, National Catholic Reporter, Feb. 16, 2012, By Joshua J. McElwee More than 700 prominent Australians — including former prime ministers, defense ministers, and Catholic bishops and priests — have signed onto a statement calling on their country’s government to adopt a “nuclear-weapons-free” defense posture and to take steps to initiate a global treaty to abolish nuclear arsenals.

The statement, which was put together by Australians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention and announced Jan. 25, includes signatures from 713 Australians who have received the Order of Australia, an honor granted by Queen Elizabeth II to note achievement or “meritorious service” and similar to a knighthood in the United Kingdom.

Among the Catholics who have signed onto the statement is Cardinal Edward Clancy, who served as the archbishop of Sydney from 1983 to 2001. Jesuit Fr. Frank Brennan, former chairman of the country’s National Human Rights Consultation Committee, and Fr. Michael Tate, a former ambassador to the Holy See, have also signed. Continue reading

February 17, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Killings of Iran’s scientists – an ethical test for Australia

 these killings pose an ethical test for Australians too.  

It’s easy to condemn terrorism when it’s carried out by official enemies. You don’t need much moral courage to stand up against Emmanuel Goldstein.

But Israel and the US are key allies of Australia, and, on almost every issue of import, our government marches in lockstep with theirs.

Killing Iranian scientists: when terrorism isn’t terrorism The Drum, JEFF SPARROW, 16 Jan 12,  Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage – torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians – which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side…

George Orwell might have been describing almost exactly the Western response to the murder spree currently underway in Iran. Continue reading

January 16, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, religion and ethics | 1 Comment

Does your superannuation fund invest in uranium mining?

Disclosure would also allow fund members who oppose uranium mining, for example, to discover whether their retirement savings are invested in a miner with substantial uranium mining interests.

Portfolio details must be disclosed, SMH, John Collett, August 20, 2011 — Super funds will soon list their investments for all to see  The Australian Securities and Investments Commission wants superannuation funds and fund managers to disclose the investments they hold. Disclosure among super funds and fund managers is patchy. Some will list the biggest 10 holdings in their disclosure documents and perhaps on their websites.

But investors are mostly left guessing on how their super is invested – the biggest investment most people will have alongside the family home. Continue reading

August 22, 2011 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Uranium exports and the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty

On the back of purported concern over climate change, there is increasing noise from vested interests about the need to sell uranium to India, allowing the country to limit its coal use and high greenhouse gas emissions.

This is a debate we need to engage with. We simply cannot avoid Australia’s moral and political hypocrisy in this area.

Fuelling Catastrophe: Uranium, Climate Change and Elephants News and Events, Monash University, 7 March 2011 Dr Gavin M. Mudd,

In the midst of a debate about a proposed carbon tax – a tax we have to have (and should have had years ago) – there is another environmental proposal being prosecuted by a select minority of the Australian Government that is getting much less attention: uranium sales to nuclear-armed India. Continue reading

March 7, 2011 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Catholics must be cringing at Cardinal Pell’s views on climate change

The coolist Cardinal’s hopes were dashed a week later when data came in confirming that 2010 was, indeed, the hottest year on record – even despite the European deep freeze………………….

Climate policies slashed to pay for a natural disaster, Crikey, 29 Jan 2011, “……..Catholic leader Cardinal George Pell, who influences an even greater congregation, wrote a week earlier of his delight at the extraordinary freeze that had hit Europe in late December – an event that just so happened to have killed dozens and ruined the travel plans of millions – because he thought it disproved the theory of man-made global warming.

“Nothing so delicious has happened,” he wrote, since President Obama’s aircraft was snowed in at the global warming summit in Copenhagen in 2009. Continue reading

February 1, 2011 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, people, religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Scientists and the ethics of uranium and nuclear weapons

Considering Australia, he argues, is a country with abundant uranium reserves, our scientists should refrain from activities that have the potential to indirectly aid the production of nuclear weapons

The Responsible Scientist: A Philosophical Inquiry, Eureka: Ethics Research, Australian Museum, December 2010, WINNER – The Responsible Scientist Setting a Moral Compass for Scientists As atomic bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the final stages of World War II in 1945, the world witnessed the devastation that science could inflict on humankind.Since that moment, countries around the world have been called to account on their nuclear weapons programs. But what responsibility rests on the shoulders of the scientists who make such grand-scale destruction possible? Continue reading

December 6, 2010 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, religion and ethics, Resources | Leave a comment

Wikileaks Whistleblower defends principle of free speech

“When governments stop torturing and killing people, and when corporations stop abusing the legal system, then perhaps it will be time to ask if free-speech activists are accountable.” – Julian Assange

A dream come true for WikiLeaks founder, DAILY NATION 2 Dec 10, The founder of the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks whose exclusive dossiers have captured the attention of the world is a man who seems to have achieved his dream. Continue reading

December 2, 2010 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, people, religion and ethics | | Leave a comment

The other side of BHP Billiton’s Annual Report

Threatening lives, the environment, and peoples’ future – An Alternative Annual Report on BHP Billiton 2009-2010 In this 25 page report, case studies question BHP’s record on human rights, transparency, and ecological justice.

“………..This report examines a number of BHP Billiton’s operations around the world. The collection of case studies highlights the disparity between BHP Billiton’s ‘Sustainability Framework’ and the reality of its operations.In the year 2009-2010 BHP Billiton has continued itsinvolvement in many controversial mines, is advancing riskyand unwanted projects….. Continue reading

November 16, 2010 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, religion and ethics, uranium | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment