Australian news, and some related international items

Why Australia must retain its nuclear bans: Dr Jim Green explains to Senate Nuclear Inquiry


PRESENT The Hon. Taylor Martin (Chair) The Hon. Mark Banasiak The Hon. Mark Buttigieg The Hon. Wes Fang The Hon. Scott Farlow The Hon. Mark Latham The Hon. Natasha Maclaren-Jones The Hon. Mick Veitch (Deputy Chair)  JIM GREEN, National Anti-Nuclear Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Australia, affirmed and examined  DAVE SWEENEY, Nuclear Policy Analyst, Australian Conservation Foundation, affirmed and examined CHRIS GAMBIAN, Chief Executive, Nature Conservation Council of NSW, sworn and examined Monday, 11 November 2019 Legislative Council Page 30 

The CHAIR: Would anyone like to begin by making an opening statement?

Dr GREEN: Yes, we all would, with your permission. I am going to speak about nuclear power. Dave will speak about uranium, and Chris will speak about New South Wales energy issues—opportunities, road blocks and so on. I am going to quickly run through issues canvassed in our joint submission, and in particular the reasons why we believe that State and Federal bans against nuclear power should be retained.

The first one is that those bans have saved Australia and saved New South Wales from the catastrophic cost over-runs with every reactor project in Western Europe and the United States over the past decade. It is a sad truth that every one of those reactor projects is at least A$10 billion over budget. That’s $10 billion—with a ‘B’. It is hard to believe that but it is true. Perhaps the most catastrophic of all those catastrophic projects was in South Carolina, where they have had to abandon a reactor project mid-stream, having already spent over A$13 billion.

Nuclear power could not possibly pass any reasonable economic tests, and it certainly would not pass the tests set by Prime Minister Scott Morrison. It could not possibly be introduced or maintained without massive taxpayer subsidies. There are a couple of examples. Hitachi has recently walked away from a project in Wales in the United Kingdom, despite the offer of staggering, unprecedented subsidies. Also in the UK, the lifetime subsidies for the Hinkley Point project alone—a 3.2 gigawatt project—are estimated by the European Union to be A$55 billion for a two-reactor project. Other credible estimates put those lifetime subsidies at A$91 billion. These are extraordinary figures. I know it is hard to believe but it is all documented.

The other economic test set by Prime Minister Morrison is that nuclear power would need to reduce electricity prices, and clearly it would do no such thing. It would clearly increase electricity prices. Legislation banning nuclear power should also be retained because of the lack of a social licence, and in particular numerous polls over the past 10 years have found that only 20 per cent to 28 per cent of Australians would support living in the near vicinity of a nuclear power plant. As the Clean Energy Council put it, in its submission to this inquiry, it would require “a minor miracle” to win community support for nuclear power in Australia.

There is a lot more that could be said about nuclear economics and I am happy to field questions on that issue. There is plenty of information in our joint submission and in the separate Friends of the Earth submission dealing specifically with small modular reactors. There is one point that I would particularly like to make to the committee and to the secretariat, which is that there is an excellent critique of some of the claims made by nuclear lobbyists, both to this inquiry and to the Federal inquiry. This article neatly corrects and debunks those claims. The article is by Giles Parkinson. It was published at on 23 October. It is called, “Why the nuclear lobby makes stuff up about cost of wind and solar”. Our joint submission also does some of that work— debunking highly questionable claims made by nuclear lobbyists about nuclear economics. In particular I would draw your attention to sections 3.5 and 3.6 of our joint submission.

The next issues is that we believe legal prohibition should be retained because the pursuit of a nuclear industry would almost certainly worsen patterns of disempowerment and dispossession experienced by Australia’s First Nations. To give just one example of that, the National Radioactive Waste Management Act dispossessed and disempowers traditional owners in many different ways. To list one of many, the Act states that the nomination of a site for a radioactive waste dump is valid even if Aboriginal owners were not consulted and did not give consent. I would ask this Committee to consider recommending that those appalling and indefensible clauses of the National Radioactive Waste Management Act be repealed.

Legislation banning nuclear power should also be retained because no-one could have any confidence that satisfactory solutions could be found for waste streams. Globally, no country has a repository for high-level nuclear waste. There is one deep underground repository for long-lived intermediate level waste in the United States. It was set up in the late nineties. Almost as soon as it was set up, safety standards and layers of regulatory oversight were peeled away, and those failures led to a chemical explosion in an underground waste barrel, which shut the repository down for three years. Direct and indirect costs amounted to about $3 billion. The thing that I really want to focus on there is that safety standards and regulatory standards fell away straight away—and you are dealing with plutonium, with a half life of 24,000 years. We need to safely manage this waste for millennia; they failed to safely manage it for one single decade.

I want to make a quick point on wastage of another sort. That is that nuclear power reactors are voracious consumers of water. A single reactor typically consumes 50 million litres of cooling water every single day. Their water intake pipes are slaughter houses for fish and other marine creatures. Arguably, the best way to destroy a local fishery is to build a nuclear power plant nearby. This is just considering routine operations of a nuclear power plant. In the case of Fukushima, that disaster has crippled and almost killed the local fishing industry. Currently fishers in the region are fighting plans to dump vast amounts of contaminated water into the ocean surrounding the nuclear plant.

I have one final point. Legislation banning nuclear power should be retained because the introduction of nuclear power would delay and undermine the development of effective economic energy and climate policies based on renewables and energy efficiency. A December 2018 report by CSIRO and AEMO found that the cost of power from small modular reactors would be more than twice as expensive as power from wind and solar PV, even with some storage costs included. CSIRO and AEMO are about to release another report, which firms up that conclusion and also considers the costs of a higher degree of storage attached to renewables. They have canvassed the findings of that report. They find that, even with a considerable amount of storage factored in, renewables are still far cheaper than nuclear, comparable to the costs of existing fossil fuels and are almost certain to become cheaper than fossil fuels because of the clear cost trajectory of renewables and storage.

So nuclear simply is not even in this debate. There has been a big spat about the CSIRO and AEMO costings with respect to small modular reactors. Their costing is $16,000 per kilowatt of installed capacity, and the nuclear lobbyists are furious with that and strongly contesting it. What I would say is that if you average the cost of small modular reactors, which are actually under construction in China, Russia and Argentina, that average is higher than the figure given by CSIRO and AEMO. Also, if you look at the reactors being built in the United States—the large reactors—one again, the CSIRO and AEMO figure for nuclear is lower than the real-world cost for reactors that are actually under construction in the US. So the CSIRO and AEMO figure is entirely defensible. In conclusion I quote the senior vice-president of Exelon, which is the largest nuclear company in the United States, who said:

I don’t think we’re building any more nuclear plants in the United States. I don’t think it’s ever going to happen … They are too expensive to construct …

That is in the US where they have a vast amount of infrastructure and expertise but nuclear has clearly priced itself out of the market. The calculations in Australia would certainly be worse because we do not have that infrastructure, we do not have that expertise and we are blessed with renewable energy resources. As the Climate Council, comprising Australia’s leading climate scientists, puts it, nuclear power reactors “are not appropriate for Australia—and probably never will be.” I will leave it there.

December 7, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Dr Jim Green busts ANSTO’s spin about nuclear wastes

Dr Jim Green at Senate Nuclear Inquiry , 11 Nov 19

WES FANG: I am unaware if you heard the evidence earlier today, but we heard from Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation about the advances that have developed not only in the development of power but also in the way that waste is handled. ANSTO is not a lobbyist; it is a scientific organisation.

Dr GREEN: ANSTO is a lobbyist and its claims about nuclear waste are demonstrably false. I mean that quite literally. If you take the example of the integral fast reactor, the idea is that you can use high-level nuclear waste, consume it in a reactor and then turn it into low-carbon power. That is an incredibly enticing proposition but the reality in Idaho—where they operated one of those demonstration reactors and are now trying to deal with the waste—is that they have turned one difficult, challenging form of nuclear waste, namely spent fuel, into multiple forms of challenging, difficult nuclear waste. They have not improved the situation; they have made a bad situation worse.

That is the reality of the theoretical arguments that you have heard from ANSTO this morning. I would also strong recommend that you read the articles that we have pointed to in our submission from Dr Allison Macfarlane, who is a former chair of the US Nuclear Regulatory Committee. Once again, she has looked at demonstration advanced reactor projects. They are not improving waste management issues; they are making those issues more difficult to deal with—demonstrably in the real world, as opposed to the theoretical nonsense you have heard from ANSTO.

December 7, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Australia burns, as government leaders choose not to discuss this

Leading scientists condemn political inaction on climate change as Australia ‘literally burns
Climate experts ‘bewildered’ by government ‘burying their heads in the sand’, and say bushfires on Australia’s east coast should be a ‘wake-up call’,
 Lisa Cox, Sat 7 Dec 2019 , Leading scientists have expressed concern about the lack of focus on the climate crisis as bushfires rage across New South Wales and Queensland, saying it should be a “wake-up call” for the government.

Climate experts who spoke to Guardian Australia said they were “bewildered” the emergency had grabbed little attention during the final parliamentary sitting week for the year, which was instead taken up by the repeal of medevac laws, a restructure of the public service, and energy minister Angus Taylor’s run-in with the American author Naomi Wolf.

Escalating conditions on Thursday and Friday led to dozens of out-of-control bushfires, including in the NSW’s Hawkesbury region, where a fire at Gospers Mountain merged with two other blazes burning in the lower Hunter on Friday.

Sydney has been blanketed with a thick smoke haze that health officials said had led to a 25% increase in people presenting in emergency departments for asthma and breathing problems.

Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, a climate scientist with the University of NSW’s Climate Change Research Centre, said she was “surprised, bewildered, concerned” that the emergency had prompted little discussion from political leaders this week.

“Here we are in the worst bushfire season we’ve ever seen, the biggest drought we’ve ever had, Sydney surrounded by smoke, and we’ve not heard boo out of a politician addressing climate change,” she said.

“They dismissed it from the outset and haven’t come back to it since.

“They’re burying their heads in the sand while the world is literally burning around them and that’s the scary thing. It’s only going to get worse.” Continue reading

December 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Fire? What fire? It’s business as usual in Morrison’s Canberra bubble

December 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s submarine project is dubious, as supplier France’s nuclear industry withers

The French nuclear revolution is rusting away, December 6, 2019, THE AUSTRALIAN, Henry Ergas “……..France’s nuclear power industry faces a future that is more uncertain than ever.  The problems gripping the industry were highlighted late last month in an official report prepared by the former president and chief executive of PSA Peugeot Citroen, Jean Martin Folz.

While the report’s focus is on the difficulties that have plagued the construction of a new reactor at Flamanville in northwestern France, its implications reach much further.

With nuclear power plants accounting for more than 70 per cent of its overall electricity generation, no country is as dependent on nuclear energy as is France.

The decision to rely so massively on nuclear energy was taken in 1974, after the oil shock of the previous year had underlined France’s vulnerability to Middle Eastern oil. Prime minister Pierre Messmer launched a crash program that led to the construction of 56 reactors in just 15 years.

…….. however, most of France’s generators are approaching the final decade of their useful life. Planning for their replacement has been a stop-start affair, with the Greens’ increasingly strident opposition to nuclear power deterring successive governments from taking action.

As a result, only the Flamanville plant received the go-ahead, with construction beginning in 2007 for an expected entry into service in 2012. Virtually from the outset, the project was beset by woes. At this stage, the total costs of construction are four times greater than initially estimated, while the plant will not enter service before the end of 2022.

The problems stem partly from the sheer complexity of the new reactor, which is the first of its kind to be built in France.

Additionally, the catastrophe at Fukushima in 2011 led to regulatory changes that necessitated costly redesigns. And the project has suffered more than its fair share of mismanagement, aggravated by a byzantine allocation of responsibilities between EDF, the main French electricity utility, which oversaw the project, and many layers of subcontractors.

However, as the Folz report shows, the primary cause of the difficulties lies in the erosion of the industry’s skill base during the long hiatus from the end of the crash program in 1990 to the initiation of Flamanville………

There is, at this point, no prospect of France scaling up its nuclear program ………The cost blowout at Olkiluoto drove Areva, the “national champion” of France’s nuclear industry, into bankruptcy.

Even with an injection of $7.3bn in public funds EDF, which acquired Areva, lacks the balance sheet strength to underwrite new projects, while the French government’s borrowing ability is hampered by its already too high levels of debt.

To make matters worse, the regulated prices at which EDF has to sell the power it generates mean that it cannot charge its European clients the full value of the baseload it supplies.

As for global investors, who might provide the debt financing EDF would require, they are wary of projects that are risky in themselves ….

Given those constraints, the government has announced a modest plan to eventually build six additional reactors. So far, however, there are no actionable decisions beyond the completion of Flamanville. And work on the next generation of reactors….. has been quietly downgraded, making it likely that there will no fourth generation reactor of French design.

The consequences for France itself are far-reaching. Beginning in the late 1950s, French firms succeeded in one high-technology market after the other by developing or acquiring a rather basic design (including the Westinghouse Pressurised Water Reactor, the Mirage jet fighter and the TGV high-speed train) that they up­graded while producing it on a large scale.

That era is over, and there is every sign France is struggling with almost all the major projects it has in train.

The Folz report should therefore come as an ominous warning for our submarine project, as it identifies French industry’s serious managerial and technological weaknesses in a range of areas, such as precision welding, that are crucial to that project’s success…….

December 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Bushfires crisis in New South Wales, smoke pollution in Sydney, and even New Zealand

NSW ‘living in fear’ as bushfires continue to rage,  SBS, 6 Dec 19, So much of NSW is now alight that smoke from the bushfires is impacting communities across the Tasman Sea in New Zealand, the NSW RFS says.

The NSW bushfire crisis has people “living in fear” with more than 100 blazes burning across the state and Sydney choking on harmful smoke pollution.

Firefighters will have a brief window over the weekend to get on top of the crisis before the weather deteriorates early next week.

The Bureau of Meteorology has painted a grim picture for the coming week, with winds forecast to whip dangerous fire grounds and no rain relief in sight. At one point on Friday there were nine fires burning at an emergency level, including the massive Gospers Mountain blaze, which has merged with neighbouring fire grounds to create a “megafire”.

Smoke from the fires was drifting to New Zealand and affecting communities there, NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said on Friday.

There were 108 fires burning in NSW on Friday afternoon, with 74 of those burning out of control.

Hazardous air pollution readings were recorded in many parts of the state, with emergency departments seeing an increase in presentations for respiratory issues…….

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said residents from the South Coast up the Queensland border are “living in fear”.

“The difference now as we lead into the summer months is previously [bushfires] were pretty much confined to the northern part of NSW but what we are seeing this week is our resources stretched across the entire coastline,” she told reporters……

Fire crews have arrived from interstate as well as New Zealand and Canada, while a team from the US will arrive on Saturday.

Total fire bans will be in place on Saturday for the far north coast, New England, the northern slopes, the greater Hunter, greater Sydney, the central ranges and the nortwestern regions……

December 6, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Huge bushfire North of Sydney, with conditions forecast to worsen

Australia fires: five blazes merge north of Sydney as conditions forecast to worsen, More than 100 bushfires were burning in New South Wales on Friday, more than half of them out of control, Guardian,  Ben Doherty and Helen Davidson, Fri 6 Dec 2019  Five fires burning to the north of Sydney joined up into one huge conflagration on Friday, with out-of-control blazes threatening homes and lives.On a day that brought choking smog to Sydney, the premier of New South Wales said the entire coastline of the state was on fire.

Six people have died, and more than 680 homes have already been lost to bushfires in NSW this fire season, and on Friday more than 100 fires were burning, more than half of them out of control. Eight fires have emergency warnings, which means they pose an immediate risk to lives and property.

The largest fire – a conglomeration of five blazes which have joined up north of Sydney – has burned over 335,000 hectares.

The forecast for coming days is for more hot, dry conditions. Strong winds are likely to continue to fan blazes towards towns and properties.

The NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said while fires had been burning across the state for weeks, the sheer scale of the current fire threat was stretching crews’ ability to fight the blazes……..

Sydney has been choked by thick smoke for almost a week.

Hospital emergency departments have seen a 25% increase in people presenting with asthma and breathing problems, and ambulance crews are responding to between 70 and 100 call-outs a day for respiratory conditions, including to school children as young as six.

Some schools across the state have been closed because of the fire risk, while others have kept children inside because of the worsening air quality……

December 6, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Environment is downgraded, as Morrison merges government departments

Concerns for environment as Morrison merges government departments Newsline, 5 Dec 19, “……. Farmers for Climate Action spokesperson Verity Morgan-Schmidt said strong environmental policy was essential to make the agriculture sector sustainable.

“We’re failing to address climate change, which is the biggest threat to agriculture, and the concern in this merger is that ecological outcomes will be overlooked,” Ms Morgan-Schmidt said.

……. Farmers for Climate Action spokesperson Verity Morgan-Schmidt said strong environmental policy was essential to make the agriculture sector sustainable.

“We’re failing to address climate change, which is the biggest threat to agriculture, and the concern in this merger is that ecological outcomes will be overlooked,” Ms Morgan-Schmidt said.

……. Infrastructure, transport, regional development, communications and the arts will also come together in another massive new department.

Education, skills and employment will be merged in a move welcomed by vocational education advocates……..

December 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Grim summer is forecast for Murray Darling river system

“Campaigns led by irrigators and the NSW National party to derail the basin plan do not represent the interests of all communities across the basin. Governments must listen to all voices in this debate, not just the loudest and most belligerent,”

Murray-Darling authority warns of ‘dire’ summer of mass fish deaths and blue-green algae  

Alert comes as Indigenous group issues plea for states to stick with basin plan or risk marginalising vulnerable communities and endangering river health,  Anne Davies, 6 Dec 19,

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority has warned of more mass fish deaths and blue-green algae events throughout the Murray-Darling River system as the peak group representing First Nations issued a plea for the states to stick with the plan.

The MDBA issued a communique on Friday saying the summer outlook from the Bureau of Meteorology was “dire”, and there was a greater than average chance of drier, warmer conditions and an elevated fire danger across the basin.

“We are already seeing the drying of critical aquatic refuges in the north, and water quality issues such as blue-green algae and stratification are becoming more widespread,” the MDBA said.

These were the conditions that led to mass fish deaths at Menindee in January this year.

The MDBA reiterated how important it is to use what little environmental water that remained available to protect critical habitats and maintain water quality.

It has produced a detailed water quality map that will be updated as the drought worsens. Continue reading

December 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

BHP’s plan to take yet more water for huge copper-uranium mine

The federal government is inviting public comment on BHP’s proposed expansion of the Olympic Dam copper-uranium mine (ODM) until Tues. 10 Dec 2019.

BHP plans to increase extraction of precious Great Artesian Basin water to an average 50 million litres per day for the next 25 years, with likely serious adverse impacts on the unique and fragile Mound Springs ‒ which are listed as an Endangered Ecological Community and are of significant cultural importance to Aboriginal people.

Please make a brief submission to the Federal Minister for Environment. You can use our pro-forma submission and just add your name (and you can add any additional comments you like).

More information:

December 5, 2019 Posted by | environment, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Traditional Aboriginal owners will not give up fight against planned WA uranium mine, despite legal loss

December 5, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, legal, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Sydney afflicted with smoke, as many fires out of control in New South Wales

December 3, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

COP25, and Australia’s position at the Madrid climate talks

Earth has a couple more chances to avoid catastrophic climate change. This week is one of them  Robert Hales
Director Centre for Sustainable Enterprise, Griffith University, December 3, 2019   Almost 200 world leaders gather in Madrid this week for climate talks which will largely determine the success of the Paris agreement, and by extension, the extent to which the planet will suffer under climate change.

Negotiations at the so-called COP25 will focus on finalising details of the Paris Agreement. Nations will haggle over how bold emissions reductions will be, and how to measure and achieve them.

Much is riding on a successful outcome in Madrid. The challenge is to get nations further along the road to the strong climate goals, without any major diplomatic rifts or a collapse in talks.

What COP25 is about

COP25 is a shorthand name for the 25th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (or the nations signed up to the Paris agreement).

After Paris was signed in 2015, nations were given five years in which to set out bolder climate action. Current targets expire in 2020. At next year’s November COP in Glasgow, nations will be asked to formally commit to higher targets. If Madrid does not successfully lay the groundwork for this, the Glasgow talks are likely to fail.

The United Nations says the world must reduce overall emissions by 7.6% every year over the next decade to have a high chance of staying under 1.5℃ warming this century.

The 1.5℃ limit is at the upper end of the Paris goal; warming beyond this is likely to lead to catastrophic impacts, including near-total destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.

Presently, emissions reduction targets of nations signed up to Paris put Earth on track for a 3.2℃ increase.

A global carbon market

Parties will debate the mechanism in the Paris agreement allowing emissions trading between nations, and via the private sector.

Such mechanisms could lower the global cost of climate mitigation, because emissions reduction in some nations is cheaper than in others. But there are concerns the trading regime may lack transparency and accountability.

Among the risks are that emissions cuts are “double counted” – meaning both the buying and selling nation count the cuts towards their targets, undermining the aims of the agreement.

Help for vulnerable nations

Small island states say COP25 is the last chance to take decisive action on global emissions reduction.

Fossil fuel burning in the developing world is largely responsible for the carbon dioxide that drives global warming. Developing nations are particularly vulnerable to the loss and damage caused by climate change.

Parties will discuss whether an international mechanism designed to assess and compensate for such damage is effective.

Developing nations are expected to contribute to the Green Climate Fund to help poorer nations cope with and mitigate climate change. Some 27 nations contributed US$9.78 billion in the last funding round.

Some nations have indicated they will not contribute further, including Australia, which says it already helps Pacific nations through its overseas aid program.

Arguments about cost

Nations opposed to adopting stronger emissions reduction targets often argue the costs of decarbonising energy sectors, and economies as a whole, are too high.

However, recent cost benefit analysis has found not taking action on climate change will be expensive in the long run.

Realisation is also growing that the cost of emissions reduction activities has been overestimated in the past. In Australia, prominent economist Ross Garnaut  recently said huge falls in the cost of equipment for solar and wind energy has created massive economic opportunity, such as future manufacturing of zero-emission iron and aluminium.

The shift in the cost-balance means nations with low ambition will find it difficult to argue against climate mitigation on cost grounds.

Australia’s position at Madrid

At the Paris talks, Australia pledged emissions reduction of 26-28% by 2030, based on 2005 levels. The Morrison government has indicated it will not ramp up the goal.

About 68 nations said before COP25 they will set bolder emissions reduction targets, including Fiji, South Africa and New Zealand. This group is expected to exert pressure on laggard nations.

This pressure has already begun: France has reportedly insisted that a planned free trade deal between Australia and the European Union must include “highly ambitious” action on climate change.

The Climate Action Tracker says Australia is not contributing its fair share towards the global 1.5℃ commitment. Australia is also ranked among the worst performing G20 nations on climate action.

The Madrid conference takes place amid high public concern over climate change. Thousands of Australians took part in September’s climate strikes and the environment has reportedly surpassed healthcare, cost of living and the economy as the top public concern.

Climate change has already arrived in the form of more extreme weather and bushfires, water stress, sea level rise and more. These effects are a small taste of what is to come if negotiations in Madrid fail to deliver.

Johanna Nalau, Samid Suliman and Tim Cadman contributed to this article.

December 3, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

To National Party members. “Climate Change” is real, not “dirty words”

In London and Venice, the C-word isn’t a dirty word,,  Andy Marks, Assistant vice-chancellor at Western Sydney University.November 14, 2019 — Recent flooding in Britain is, according to Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson, “almost certainly because of climate change”. Contrary to the Australian experience, it turns out it is entirely acceptable around the world for politicians to utter the words “climate change” in an emergency.

Nobody called the thoroughly urban mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro a “raving inner city lunatic” when he said flooding due to climate change had brought his city “to its knees”.

Equally not prone to lunacy, Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, cautioned in the wake of Typhoon Hagibis that “making the world more resilient to natural disasters will be more important in the years to come”, in light of studies showing an “increase in cyclone intensity because of climate change”.

In contrast, amid recent Californian wildfires, US President Donald Trump tweeted the state’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, had done “a terrible job of forest management”, failing to “clean” his forest floors. Newsom retorted: “You don’t believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation.”

In their absolute refusal to “go there” on climate change, our parliamentarians have more in common with Trump than the rest of the world when it comes to their inability to walk and chew gum on disaster response and climate change.

Fair enough, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack was right to point out that what people in the grip of disaster most urgently need “is a little bit of sympathy, understanding and real assistance”. But that shouldn’t mean treating them like simpletons, and ruling out any discussion on the cause of their trauma and strategies to prevent it.

And it’s not just, as McCormack claimed, “woke capital city greenies” demanding answers. The Nationals’ own constituency wants to have the conversation.

Rural newspaper The Land surveyed its readers on the eve of the March NSW election. A “whopping 63 per cent” of respondents, the news outlet declared, “believed in climate change”. And 15 per cent said the issue would determine their vote.

The state poll delivered an average swing of 25 per cent against the Nationals in four seats. These are electorates devastated by mass fish kills and long-term drought. There’s no hesitation among some in National Party ranks about what needs to change.

WA Nationals leader Mia Davies told The West Australian that the party’s constituents expect them “to be a part of the conversation” on climate change. “When you live in regional Western Australia you see the impact of climate change … we are dealing with [it] on a day-to-day basis.”

The party’s own polling ahead of the May federal election revealed “climate change is a key issue” for voters in National-held seats. The party’s member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, remarked many of his most ardent supporters are “practical environmentalists” who “expect a balanced and rational … response to climate change”.

There. He said it. Climate change. Not so hard after all.

December 3, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear Inquiry Report now delayed, due to scandal over Energy Minister Angus Taylor?

Nuclear power inquiry to be pushed back amid scandal over Energy Minister Angus Taylor, Lanai ScarrThe West Australian, Monday, 2 December 2019

A parliamentary inquiry report on nuclear power is likely to be pushed back until next year amid Energy Minister Angus Taylor’s woes surrounding a police investigation of allegations his office forged documents to accuse Sydney’s Lord Mayor of excessive travel spending.

The West Australian understands the committee examining the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia, which was due to release its report before the end of the year, could now delay it until mid-January or later.

The standing committee on the environment and energy, which includes two West Australians Labor’s Josh Wilson and the Coalition’s Rick Wilson was directed by under siege Mr Taylor in August to hold the first probe into nuclear power in more than a decade after calls from within his party to put the option on the table for reliable, zero-emissions power.

Among them was former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce.

It is not clear if the potential delay is linked to Mr Taylor’s woes or due to other scheduling issues.

A meeting on Wednesday will discuss the proposed recommendations.

  It is understood one recommendation to be considered is an economic feasibility study into nuclear power, particularly emerging technology such as small modular reactors.

News of the push back comes after NSW Police last week launched an investigation of Mr Taylor and his office for false accusations that Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore spent $15 million on travel.

It also comes as research conducted on behalf of the Minerals Council of Australia today reveals more Australians support lifting the ban on nuclear energy in Australia than those who are opposed.

Under the current Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act, which is under review, there is a moratorium on nuclear power.

The research by JWS Research of 1500 Australians found 39 per cent support using nuclear power and 40 per cent support lifting the nuclear power ban.

“39 per cent support using nuclear power and 40 per cent support lifting the nuclear power ban.”

Even key Green seats those with twice the national average number of Greens voters are just as likely as everywhere else to be in favour.

Chair of the standing committee on the environment and energy, Liberal National Party of Queensland MP Ted O’Brien, said the report validated the need for a thorough inquiry.

On his inquiry’s report being pushed back, Mr O’Brien said: “I can’t pre-empt the conclusions that will be drawn from our inquiry and nor has a date been set for the inquiry to be concluded.”

Fremantle MP Mr Wilson, who is deputy chair of the inquiry, said the Minerals Council survey material contained some “misleading claims” and could not be relied on.

Council chief executive Tania Constable said WA would be a “big winner” if the moratorium on nuclear power were lifted.

December 2, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment