Australian news, and some related international items

Parking Lot B-52: does the escalation of US troops and installations make Australia a bigger target?

we are particularly concerned about what’s going on now and the speed with what’s going on now. As well as about how little we know or are being told.”

Then there is the matter of what is a base, when is a base a base, and whether Australian authorities are kept in the dark about what their US allies are doing.

“If our objective is to be a deputy sheriff to the US, as the 51st state of the Union, then eight nuclear submarines is the answer.”

Michael West Media, by Callum Foote | Dec 5, 2022

The Department of Defence is refusing to confirm how many American troops are stationed in Australia, who pays for it, or even why. The rising deployment of troops and B-52 bombers however, and Pine Gap, make Australia a target in event of war between China and the US. Callum Foote reports.

The Department of Defence has refused to reply to inquiries into how many US military personnel are currently stationed in Australia. It’s not just soldiers, it’s weapons too.

An ABC Four Corners investigation recently revealed that the US is preparing to develop the Tindal air base near Katherine, 320kms south of Darwin, to host up to six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers. Today it was revealed the US is trying to sell Australia the latest American bomber, the B-21 Raider, and rotate the aircraft through Australia. 

Experts fear that the stockpiling of US weaponry in the Northern Territory would make Australia a target in the event of war between China and the US.

Despite the escalating presence of US troops and military hardware on Australian soil however, the Department of Defence has refused to reply to inquiries into how many US military personnel are currently stationed in Australia. Refused to reply full-stop.

We don’t even know who is funding it.

And as Chinese satellites could pick up the deployment of troops and US military installations, the secrecy is unwarranted.

B-52s here for the long haul

According to independent think tank Lowy Institute, B-52s have been deployed in the Northern Territory since at least the 1970s and military personnel training regularly in Australia since 2005. 

The federal government has yet been unclear about the purpose of the deployment of the bombers in Australia. However, experts believe that the rising tensions between China and the US in the South China Sea is cause for alarm.

Alison Broinowski, the president of Australians for War Powers Reform, an anti-war advocacy group, says her network is concerned about the rising militarisation of the Northern Territory.

“We’re all very concerned about this,’’ Broinowski told MWM. ‘’It’s not new of course – the signs of it being planned go back for years. But we are particularly concerned about what’s going on now and the speed with what’s going on now. As well as about how little we know or are being told.”

Broinowski is a former diplomat, academic and author. A significant amount of her opposition to the militarisation of the NT comes down to secrecy.

“The very fact that it was undertaken in secret and would remain secret were it not for revelations from journalists we still wouldn’t know because they are doing this in secret,’’ Broinowski said.

Political commentator and former diplomat Bruce Haigh suspects the oft-cited number of 2500 rotating US troops stationed in Australia doesn’t paint the full picture.

“They give the official figure at 2500 and say that they rotate but I understood that those troops are becoming more permanent.”

To the purpose of the thousands of US marines stationed in Darwin, Haigh says, officially, it’s for joint training exercises with the Australian Defence Force but we don’t know”.

“A lot of money being spent on upgrading these bases hasn’t yet gone through the parliamentary committee system so we don’t know where in the Defence budget this money is coming from.”

Between Pine Gap, Tindal Air Force Base and thousands of US marines deployed in Darwin the exact figure is unknown. The US also has access to almost all Australian military bases with US naval personnel also coming in and out of the Stirling Naval Base in Fremantle, according to Haigh.

Then there is the matter of what is a base, when is a base a base, and whether Australian authorities are kept in the dark about what their US allies are doing.

Broinowski says the government has little oversight of many of the facilities that the US has interested in “although we call them Australia joint facilities they are for all intents and purposes American bases. About which our government knows as little as it used to know in the olden days about Pine Gap”……………………………

According to former submariner and senator, Rex Patrick, government is captured by the Defence Department which is in turn captured by the US. The post-AUKUS treaty decision to jettison the French submarine deal and agree to a bigger program to buy submarines from the US or UK reflects an Australian subsidy for the struggling submarine industries in those countries.

“If our objective is to be a deputy sheriff to the US, as the 51st state of the Union, then eight nuclear submarines is the answer. “If our objective is ‘‘defence of Australia’’, with the ability to forward deploy boats to operating bases in Singapore, Malaysia, Guam or Japan, in support of our allies and friends, then 20 AIP boats is the answer.”

December 6, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

U.S. weapons firm Northrop Grumman no doubt salivating as Australia looks to buy its nuclear-capable B-21 stealth bomber

“I’m pretty sure you will see Australia ask for the B-21, and the United States I can tell you, is very interested in selling them to Australia,” 

RAAF Chief Robert Chipman’s visit to United States sparks renewed speculation Australia could purchase nuclear-capable B-21 Raiders ABC News, 6 Dec 22

Regular rotations of America’s newest nuclear-capable stealth bomber, and even a possible future Australian purchase of the B-21 aircraft, are expected to be discussed during high level talks between both nations this week.

Key points:

  • The Defence Department hasn’t confirmed whether US officials have discussed deploying their new stealth bomber to Australia 
  • Defence Minister Richard Marles and Foreign Minister Penny Wong will meet with their US counterparts this week
  • The US Air Force plans to build 100 of the B-21 raiders to replace their aging fleet

At a tightly controlled ceremony in California on Friday, the United States Air Force publicly unveiled the B-21 Raider, in front of an audience that included the Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

The B-21 Raider is the first new American bomber aircraft in more than 30 years, designed to carry both conventional and nuclear weapons, with each plane believed to cost around $1 billion (AUD).

Specific details of the in-development aircraft remain shrouded in secrecy with six currently being produced by US arms company Northrop Grumman and the first flight expected to take place next year…………………………………..

The Defence Department is yet to confirm whether Air Marshal Chipman discussed future deployments of the B-21 to Australia with American officials while in the United States, or an eventual purchase of the long-range aircraft by the RAAF.

Defence Minister Richard Marles, who has previously suggested the B-21 is being examined by Australia in the Defence Strategic Review, has just arrived in the United States for talks with Secretary Austin……………………..

“I’m pretty sure you will see Australia ask for the B-21, and the United States I can tell you, is very interested in selling them to Australia,” says Sydney-based American military author Colin Clark, who writes for the Breaking Defense publication.

“Regardless of whether they are armed with nuclear weapons or are under Australian command, I am almost certain, emphasis on almost, that B-21s will at least rotate regularly through Australia and they may well be based here permanently.”

Retired Air Commodore John Oddie, a former RAAF director-general of aerospace development, also believes the B-21 is eventually destined for Australia……….

The US Air Force plans to build 100 of the B-21 Raiders which will replace the ageing B-1 and B-2 aircraft, and could eventually be used with or without a human crew.

Both the US Air Force and Northrop Gruman have heralded the Raider’s relatively quick development, progressing from contract award to public debut in seven years.

December 6, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Albo nukes nuclear energy idea

 Crikey, 6 Dec 22 Anthony Albanese says nuclear energy is off the table……

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said SA Premier Peter Malinauskas is wrong to argue in favour of nuclear energy. Labor right-leaning Malinauskas said the eight AUKUS nuclear submarines expected to be built in his state should open our minds to the “zero carbon emissions” power source — Albo was like, I respect you, Mali, but everyone can get “one or two things wrong” sometimes.

The PM countered that the economic analysis of nuclear energy has proven it a dead end, time and time again. Why? Nuclear reactors take ages to build, they’re really bloody expensive, and where would we put the waste? Albanese asked. It comes as Coalition MP Ted O’Brien is running a “grassroots” survey facilitated by a company that works with nuclear projects in the US, Guardian Australia reports. Consulting company Helixos developed O’Brien’s website, but the MP says he paid for the grassroots community campaign himself.

December 6, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

MP Ted O’Brien’s “grassroots” survey linked to a firm that promotes NuScam’s small nuclear reactors

Coalition MP’s ‘grassroots’ nuclear power survey linked to consulting firm: Ted O’Brien’s Time to Talk Nuclear website was registered by business that helps US reactor company, Guardian, Daniel Hurst, 4 Dec 22,

Coalition frontbencher conducting a “grassroots” survey about nuclear power is using a website registered by a business that helps an American small modular reactor company, records reveal.

Ted O’Brien, the shadow minister for climate change and energy, issued a statement on Friday saying he was “launching a grassroots community engagement program” under the banner “Time to Talk Nuclear”.

He urged Australians to “join the conversation” by completing a short survey on the website, with the first question being: “What do you think could be the benefits of nuclear energy in Australia?”

Guardian Australia can reveal the web domain was registered by Helixos Pty Ltd, a Sydney-based consulting company whose projects include “supporting the commercialisation of new nuclear energy technology”.

Helixos lists the US company NuScale Power as one of its clients.

Helixos says on its own website that NuScale Power “is reinventing nuclear energy and Helixos is helping them bring it to market”. It adds: “Helixos also provides training for employees to become technology ambassadors and engage with stakeholders and the public.”

A search of domain records for O’Brien’s website shows the contact name for the domain registration is Lenka Kollar, a nuclear engineer who co-founded Helixos in 2020. She previously held the role of director of strategy and external relations for NuScale Power.

In that previous role, Kollar was “working to bring NuScale’s small modular reactor to market through business plan development and clean energy outreach”, according to a profile published in 2017.

Kollar addressed a Global Uranium Conference in Adelaide last month on the topic “reaching net zero with nuclear energy”.

In tweets summarising her speech, Kollar said: “The time is now for Australians to have a conversation on nuclear energy and potentially overturn the ban.”…………………………………………..

Helixos’s projects are listed openly on its own website.

It works with the Energy Policy Institute of Australia “on editing public policy papers to promote progressive, technology-inclusive energy policy”, including one focusing on “the ability of small modular reactors (SMRs) to support a ‘just transition’ for coal communities in Australia”.

Helixos states it worked with SMR Nuclear Technology Pty Ltd “to develop a proactive stakeholder engagement strategy” to “help achieve the main goal of having nuclear energy considered as part of Australia’s future energy mix”.

Robert Pritchard, who is both chair of SMR Nuclear Technology and executive director of the Energy Policy Institute of Australia, declined to comment…………………………….

The survey has only three mandatory questions, starting with views on the benefits of nuclear energy in Australia.

It then asks what concerns, if any, the participant holds about nuclear energy, followed by any questions they might have. There is an optional section to “stay informed” by submitting an email address and postcode to O’Brien’s team.

O’Brien’s website also sets out frequently asked questions such as: “Is nuclear energy clean?”

The answer states: “Yes! Nuclear power’s total life-cycle carbon emissions and raw material requirements are the lowest among other energy sources, even lower than wind and solar.”

The climate change and energy minister, Chris Bowen, has previously accused the Coalition of pushing the nuclear debate as a “rearguard attempt to undermine and deny the transition to renewables”…………….

December 6, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Pursuing Assange in a US court could cause even more embarrassment than the WikiLeaks’ publications. 

It’s possible that pursuing Assange in a US court could cause even more embarrassment than the WikiLeaks’ publications. As the years have passed, we have learned that a Spanish security firm recorded his every move and those of his visitors and legal counsel in the Embassy of Ecuador. This was passed to the CIA, and was used in the US case for his extradition. The trial of Daniel Ellsberg for leaking the Pentagon Papers failed because his psychiatrist’s records were stolen by investigators, and this should set a precedent for Assange.

Enough is enough for Albanese on Assange: our allies may respect us if we say this more. By Alison Broinowski, Dec 2, 2022

The Prime Minister’s surprise revelation that he has raised the case against Julian Assange with US officials and urged that charges of espionage and conspiracy be dropped opens up many questions.

Mr Albanese thanked Dr Monique Ryan for her question on Wednesday 31 November, giving what appeared to be a carefully prepared and timed answer. The Independent MP for Kooyong sought to know what political intervention the government would make in the case, observing that public interest journalism is essential in a democracy.

The news flashed around between Assange supporters in and outside Parliament, and reached the Guardian, the Australian, SBS, and Monthly online. Neither the ABC nor the Sydney Morning Herald carried the story, even the next day. SBS reported that Brazil’s president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva expressed support for the campaign to free Assange.

But two days earlier, on Monday 29 November, the New York Times and four major European papers had printed an open letter to the US Attorney-General Merrick Garland, deploring the assault on media freedom which the pursuit of Assange represented.

The NYT, the Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El Pais were the papers which in 2010 received and published some of the 251,000 classified US documents provided by Assange, many revealing American atrocities in Afghanistan and Iraq.

US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning gave them to Assange, who redacted names of people he considered could be harmed by publication. A senior Pentagon serving officer later confirmed that no-one had died as a result. Manning was imprisoned, and then pardoned by Obama. Assange spent seven years in diplomatic asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador in London before British police removed him and he was imprisoned for breach of bail condition.

Assange has been in Belmarsh high security prison for three years, in poor physical and mental health. Court proceedings against him over extradition to face trial in the US have been farcical, biased, oppressive, and excessively prolonged.

In Opposition, Albanese said ‘Enough is enough’ for Assange, and he has at last done something about it in Government. What exactly, with whom, and why now, we don’t yet know. The PM’s hand may have been forced by the major dailies’ letter to Attorney-General Garland, which made Australian politicians and media appear to be doing nothing. Or he may have raised the Assange case in his recent meetings with Biden, at the G20 for example.

Another possibility is that he was talked into it by Assange’s barrister, Jennifer Robinson, who met with him in mid-November and spoke about the case at the National Press Club. When I asked if she could say if she and Albanese discussed Assange, she smiled and said ‘No’ – meaning she couldn’t, not that they didn’t.

Monique Ryan made the point that this is a political situation, requiring political action. By raising it with US officials, Albanese has moved away from the previous government’s position that Australia couldn’t interfere in British or American legal processes, and that ‘justice must take its course’. That wasn’t the approach Australia took to secure the freedom of Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert, imprisoned for espionage in Iran, or of Dr Sean Turnell from jail in Myanmar. It isn’t Australia’s approach in China either, where a journalist and an academic remain in detention.

By taking up Assange’s case, Albanese is doing nothing more than the US always does when one of its citizens is detained anywhere, or than the UK and Canada quickly did when their nationals were imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. Australia allowed Mamdouh Habib and David Hicks to spend much longer in US custody before negotiating their release. We might gain more respect from our allies if we adopted their speedy approach to these cases, than we do by subservience to British and American justice.

It’s possible that pursuing Assange in a US court could cause even more embarrassment than the WikiLeaks’ publications. As the years have passed, we have learned that a Spanish security firm recorded his every move and those of his visitors and legal counsel in the Embassy of Ecuador. This was passed to the CIA, and was used in the US case for his extradition. The trial of Daniel Ellsberg for leaking the Pentagon Papers failed because his psychiatrist’s records were stolen by investigators, and this should set a precedent for Assange.

Even though Biden once called Assange a ‘hi-tech terrorist’, as President he is now an advocate of human rights and democratic freedoms. This might be a good time for him to put them into practice. Doing so would make both Biden and Albanese look better than their predecessors.

December 5, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia a”pot of gold” for America’s military section to wage war in space

US Space Force eyes ‘prime’ Australian real estate for future warfare operations, ABC News, By defence correspondent Andrew Greene 3 Dec 22

Visiting senior US military officers believe Australia is a “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow”, as they eye off this continent’s “prime” geography for future space operations.

Key points:

  • US military officials visiting Australia say conflict in space in the next few years is a very real prospect
  • They believe the war in Ukraine is demonstrating the growing importance of space as a new war-fighting domain
  • Australia’s southern location and potential launch sites near the equator make it an attractive prospect for future operations

Top-ranking members of the US Space Force are warning of China’s growing capability in the emerging military domain as they meet defence counterparts and local industry representatives.

“I’m visiting my allies and we’re talking about future partnerships that we can have,” US Space Force Lieutenant-General Nina Armagno told reporters in Canberra.

“This is prime country for space domain awareness,” the director of staff of the US Space Force added while speaking at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.  

The three-star general has travelled to Canberra along with Lieutenant-General John Shaw, the deputy commander of the US Space Command who is responsible for America’s combat capabilities above Earth……………………………..

Both of the visiting military officers believe the war in Ukraine is demonstrating the growing importance of space as a new war-fighting domain…………………………..

Australia’s own Defence Space Command was only formally stood up in March, but General Armagno says this country already has the natural advantage of its southern-hemisphere geography and potential launch sites close to the equator.

“It seems as [if] Australia is sitting on a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, really, for our common national security interests,” she said.

December 3, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Will USA take any notice at all, as Australia’s Prime Minister and world media call for Julian Assange’s release?

The telling question here is whether Albanese will get any purchase with the Washington set. While enjoying a reputation as a pragmatic negotiator able to reach agreements in tight circumstances, the pull of the US national security establishment may prove too strong. “We now get to see Australia’s standing in Washington, valued ally or not,” was the guarded response of Assange’s father John Shipton.

Julian Assange and Albanese’s Intervention December 1, 2022, by: Dr Binoy Kampmark

The unflinching US effort to extradite and prosecute Julian Assange for 18 charges, 17 of which are chillingly based upon the Espionage Act of 1917, has not always stirred much interest in the publisher’s home country. Previous governments have been lukewarm at best, preferring to mention little in terms of what was being done to convince Washington to change course in dealing with Assange.

Before coming to power, Australia’s current Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had made mention of wishing to conclude the Assange affair. In December 2019, before a gathering at the Chifley Research Centre, he described the publisher as a journalist, accepting that such figures should not be prosecuted for “doing their job”. The following year, he also expressed the view that the “ongoing pursuit of Mr Assange” served no evident “purpose” – “enough is enough”.

The same point has been reiterated by a number of crossbenchers in Australia’s parliament, represented with much distinction by the independent MP from Tasmania, Andrew Wilkie. In a speech given earlier this year to a gathering outside Parliament House, the Member for Clark wondered if the UK and Australia had placed their relations with Washington at a premium so high as to doom Assange. “The US wants to get even and for so long the UK and Australia have been happy to go along for the ride because they’ve put bilateral relationships with Washington ahead of the rights of a decent man.”

The new Australian government initially gave troubling indications that a tardy, wait-and-see approach had been adopted. “My position,” Albanese told journalists soon after assuming office, “is that not all foreign affairs is best done with the loudhailer.”

Documents obtained under freedom of information also showed an acknowledgment by the Albanese government of assurances made by the United States that the WikiLeaks founder would have the chance to serve the balance of any prison sentence in Australia. But anybody half-versed in the wiles and ways of realpolitik should know that the international prisoner transfer scheme is subordinate to the wishes of the relevant department granting it. The US Department of Justice can receive the request from Assange, but there is nothing to say, as history shows, that the request will be agreed to.

Amidst all this, the campaign favouring Assange would not stall. Human rights and press organisations globally have persistently urged his release from captivity and the cessation of the prosecution. On November 28, The New York Times, the GuardianLe MondeEl País and Der Spiegel published a joint open letter titled, “Publishing is not a Crime.”

The five outlets who initially worked closely with WikiLeaks in publishing US State Department cables 12 years ago have not always been sympathetic to Assange. Indeed, they admit to having criticised him for releasing the unredacted trove in 2011 and even expressed concern about his “attempt to aid in computer intrusion of a classified database.”

Had the editors bothered to follow daily trial proceedings of the extradition case in 2020, they would have noted that the Guardian’s own journalists muddied matters by publishing the key to the encrypted files in a book on WikiLeaks. A mortified Assange warned the State Department of this fact. Cryptome duly uploaded the cables before WikiLeaks did. The computer intrusion charge also withers before scrutiny, given that Chelsea Manning already had prior authorisation to access military servers without the need to hack the system.

But on this occasion, the publishers and editors were clear. “Cablegate”, with its 251,000 State Department cables, “disclosed corruption, diplomatic scandals and spy affairs on an international scale.” They had “come together now to express [their] grave concerns about the continued prosecution of Julian Assange for obtaining and publishing classified materials.”

Very mindful of their own circumstances, the media outlets expressed their grave concerns about the use of the Espionage Act “which has never been used to prosecute a publisher or broadcaster.” Such an indictment set “a dangerous precedent, and threatens to undermine America’s First Amendment and the freedom of the press.”

The same day of the letter’s publication, Brazil’s President-elect Lula da Silva also added his voice to the encouraging chorus. He did so on the occasion of meeting the WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson and Joseph Farrell, an associate of the organisation, and expressed wishes that “Assange will be freed from his unjust imprisonment.”

The stage was now set for Albanese to make his intervention. In addressing parliament on November 30 in response to a question from independent MP Monique Ryan, Albanese publicly revealed that he had, in fact, been lobbying the Biden administration for a cessation of proceedings against Assange. “I have raised this personally with the representatives of the US government.”

The Australian PM was hardly going to muck in on the issue of the WikiLeaks agenda. Australia remains one of the most secretive of liberal democracies, and agents of radical transparency are hardly appreciated. (Witness, at present, a number of venal prosecutions against whistleblowers that have not been abandoned even with a change of government in May.)

Albanese drew a parallel with Chelsea Manning, the key figure who furnished WikiLeaks with classified military documents, received a stiff sentence for doing so, but had her sentence commuted by President Barack Obama. “She is now able to participate freely in society.” He openly questioned “the point of continuing this legal action, which could be caught up now for many years, into the future.”

For some years now, the plight of Assange could only be resolved politically. In her address to the National Press Club in Canberra delivered in October this year, Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson acknowledged as much. “This case needs an urgent political solution. Julian does not have another decade to wait for a legal fix.” This point was reiterated by Ryan in her remarks addressed to the prime minister.

The telling question here is whether Albanese will get any purchase with the Washington set. While enjoying a reputation as a pragmatic negotiator able to reach agreements in tight circumstances, the pull of the US national security establishment may prove too strong. “We now get to see Australia’s standing in Washington, valued ally or not,” was the guarded response of Assange’s father John Shipton.

December 2, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Mining lobby tricks government with its big taxpayer fairytale, swaps Deloitte for EY Callum Foote | Nov 29, 2022 |

The Minerals Council of Australia has duped Energy Minister Madeleine King into repeating its highly inflated claims of how much taxes its mostly foreign multinationals members pay. Callum Foote reports on an $85 billion PR scam.

The Minister for Energy, Madeline King, has repeated claims from mining lobby group, Minerals Council of Australia, that the mining industry made payments of $43.2 billion in company tax and royalties to Australian governments in in a speech given at the ​​NT Resources Week conference. The figures were repeated on ABC Radio without question.

As revealed here last year, Big Four consulting firm Deloitte used to do the misleading report for the mining lobby. This year it is another Big Four firm, Ernst & Young. The EY report, has – like Deloitte’s previous work – failed to disclose that up to 60% of the tax that they claim the mining industry pays is returned in the form of GST refunds.

They have included GST paid but not refunded, which is massively misleading. The false claims come at a critical time for the mining and energy sectors which are reaping record profits, partially at the expense of energy customers, and the minerals lobby is threatening a public campaign against the government if efforts are made to increase taxes and royalties.

The big GST swindle

The tax numbers produced by EY are derived from the ATO’s Corporate Tax Transparency data and, while their methodology differs somewhat from that of Deloitte’s last year, the report still fails to disclose the GST refund the minerals industry enjoys.

The report avoids mentioning that the mining industry, as an exporting industry, legitimately receives a huge GST refund every year.

A different set of ATO data, the Taxation statistics 2019-20 reveals that over $7.5 billion was refunded to the mining industry as a whole in 2019-20 which is the latest year that data is available.

Over the last decade years, almost $85 billion have been returned to the mining industry through GST refunds, which equals 55.7% of the $152 billion in company tax paid by the industry as a whole.

In the accounting profession, company taxes are regarded as deriving from company revenue. That is, income from a business comes in, costs such as wages are paid which leaves gross profit upon which company tax is paid. Taxes like GST and PAYG are *collected* for the government, not *paid* by the company.

According to forensic accountant Jeff Knapp “GST doesn’t come through the revenue of the company into profit, which would be ‘company tax’. It is collected from customers, just as PAYG is collected from employees”. These taxes are not paid by a company, they are collected, for government, on behalf of a company.

The claims made by MCA CEO Tania Constable regarding the amount of tax paid by her industry have been used to defend against calls for higher mining taxes: “A new tax on Australian mining companies would seriously undermine our international competitiveness, resulting in jobs losses across the country and devastating many communities which rely on mining,” she said.

The Minerals Council refused to defend its claims when approached, numerous times, for comment about its members receiving GST refunds and the misleading nature of the report.

EY has been contacted for a comment, along with the MCA and Minister for Energy.

Running the line

Compared to last year’s report, this year’s has received far less attention. In 2021, Australia’s major media organisations, News Corp and Nine Entertainment were duped by the mining lobby’s false claims about its contribution to Australia.

This year, it’s mainly the industry outlets such as Mirage News, Australian Mining and Mining Magazine that have repeated the claims.

It should be noted that Deloitte’s report considers only the minerals industry, excluding oil and gas from its analysis. This is important because gas corporations are presently the most profitable of all minerals thanks to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and soaring energy prices. This sector is notorious for tax avoidance and dollar-for-dollar avoids more tax than any other sector. The PRRT, a tax which was designed to capture more of this wealth, is regarded as a failed tax. 

GST data for the minerals industry is only available for four years between 2015 and 2018. During this period, GST refunds to the minerals industry averaged year-on-year 60% of the company tax total, compared to the mining industry’s overall 61%. In 2018 the figure was higher, with minerals at 36% to mining’s 32%.

So why have royalties and company tax been singled out?

It appears the report was intended from its inception to provide an exaggerated view of the contribution of the minerals industry to Australian governments to ward off attempts to increase taxes.

First commissioned in 2014 under MCA’s then-CEO Brendan Pearson – who has been more recently employed in the Prime Minister’s office – Deloitte’s report was used as proof in an argument that supported the MRRT being repealed.

Pearson said the report “underlines that we are paying an effective tax rate above 40 per cent, when you combine the tax rate and the royalties”.

Royalties and taxes are two entirely separate concepts and to conflate the two is misleading. However, it is a well-worn strategy used by the mining industry to make it appear as though they are paying a higher tax rate than they really are.

Brendan Pearson was forced out as CEO of the Mineral Council in 2017, when BHP took issue with his pro-coal, anti-Paris Agreement lobbying. BHP threatened to review its membership with the MCA, with Rio Tinto signalling it would do likewise if Pearson did not step down.

Pearson, landed on his feet taking up a senior advisory role regarding international trade and investment in former Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office in 2019.

BHP and Rio Tinto, who are the MCA’s largest members, declined to be interviewed for this story.

November 29, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics | Leave a comment


New information raises further concerns about the politicisation of the WikiLeaks founder’s legal case. MATT KENNARD, 28 NOVEMBER 2022

  • Assange had been granted asylum by a friendly country to avoid persecution by the US government for his journalistic activities
  • But Home Office had eight staff, and the Cabinet Office had seven, working on secret police operation to arrest Assange
  • Ministry of Justice, which controls England’s courts and prisons, refuses to say if its staff were involved in operation
  • Foreign Office refuses to say if its premises were used

The British government assigned at least 15 people to the secret operation to seize Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, new information shows. 

The WikiLeaks founder was given political asylum by Ecuador in 2012, but was never allowed safe passage out of Britain to avoid persecution by the US government. 

The Australian journalist has been in Belmarsh maximum security prison for the past three and a half years and faces a potential 175-year sentence after the UK High Court greenlighted his extradition to the US in December 2021. 

‘Pelican’ was the secret Metropolitan Police operation to seize Assange from his asylum, which eventually occurred in April 2019. Asylum is a right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

The operation’s existence was only revealed in the memoirs of former foreign minister Sir Alan Duncan which were published last year. The UK government routinely blocks, or obfuscates its answers to, information requests about the Assange case. 

But the Cabinet Office recently told parliament it had seven officials working on Operation Pelican. The department’s role is to “support the Prime Minister and ensure the effective running of government”, but it also has national security and intelligence functions

It is not immediately clear why the Cabinet Office would have so many personnel working on a police operation of this kind. Asked about their role, the Cabinet Office said these seven officials “liaised” with the Metropolitan Police on the operation. 

The Home Office, meanwhile, told parliament it had eight officials working on Pelican. The Home Office oversees MI5 and the head of the department has to sign off extraditions to most foreign countries. Then home secretary Priti Patel ordered Assange’s extradition to the US in June.  

‘Disproportionate cost’

Other government ministries refused to say if they had staff working on Pelican, including the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

The MoJ is in charge of courts in England and Wales, where Assange’s extradition case is currently deciding whether to hear an appeal. It is also in control of its prisons, including Belmarsh maximum security jail where Assange is incarcerated.

When asked if any of its staff were assigned to Pelican, the MoJ claimed: “The information requested could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.”

It is unclear why the Home Office, a bigger department with more staff, could answer such a question, but the MoJ could not. There is no obvious reason why the MoJ would have staff assigned to Pelican, so revelations that it did would cause embarrassment for the government. 

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office told parliament it had no staff “directly assigned” to Pelican, but refused to say if people working on the operation were located on its premises. 

‘Julian Assange’s Special Brexit Team’

Sir Alan Duncan, foreign minister for the Americas from 2016-19, was the key UK official in the diplomatic negotiations between the UK and Ecuador to get Assange out of the embassy. In his memoirs he wrote that he watched a live-feed of Assange’s arrest from the Operations Room at the top of the Foreign Office alongside Pelican personnel. 

After Assange had been imprisoned in Belmarsh, Duncan had a drinks party at his office for the Pelican team. “I gave them each a signed photo which we took in the Ops Room on the day, with a caption saying ‘Julian Assange’s Special Brexit Team 11th April 2019’”, he wrote. 

Ecuador’s president from 2007-17, Rafael Correa, recently told Declassified he granted Assange asylum because the Australian journalist “didn’t have any possibility of a fair legal process in the United States.” 

He added that the UK government “tried to deal with us like a subordinate country.”

In September 2021, 30 former US officials went on the record to reveal a CIA plot to “kill or kidnap” Assange in London. In case of Assange leaving the embassy, the article noted, “US officials asked their British counterparts to do the shooting if gunfire was required, and the British agreed, according to a former senior administration official.” 

These assurances most likely came from the Home Office. 

November 29, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Upurli Upurli people say no to uranium mining at Mulga Rock, Western Australia

Sam Wainwright, Perth, November 28, 2022

Nuclear Free WA protested outside Deep Yellow’s annual general meeting on November 25 against the company’s plans to mine uranium at Mulga Rock, north west of Kalgoorlie. The Upurli Upurli traditional owners absolutely oppose it.

Deep Yellow holds the only uranium deposit in Western Australia. This was the company’s first AGM following its merger in August with Vimy Resources.

Mia Pepper, Nuclear Free Campaigner at the Conservation Council of WA (CCWA), who has been tracking the mine plans for more than 10 years, said it faces more opposition than ever.

Deep Yellow does not have “any agreement with the Native Title claim groups” and “it doesn’t have the finance”, she said.

It has just started a third Definitive Feasibility Study into the beleaguered project, expected to be completed mid-2024. The latest project delay casts further doubt on the future of the site, campaigners said.

“Deep Yellow is the only company beating the uranium drum in Western Australia and even their own executive team has been clear they have no intention to mine at the current uranium price,” Pepper said.

“For a company with a highly speculative business model, no operating mines, many regulatory hurdles still to clear, and a sizeable pricing disincentive, it’s astounding that shareholders would endorse the proposed remuneration package for the Deep Yellow executive team, with the CEO alone receiving over $1 million,” she continued

First Nations communities have been continuing their protests.

WA Greens Legislative Council member Brad Pettitt read a statement in parliament on November 17 on behalf of Upurli Upurli and Spinifex women.

“We are Upurli Upurli and Spinifex women and we are writing because we face the unprecedented threat of uranium mining at Mulga Rock, east of Kalgoorlie … We have been saying no to uranium mining at Mulga Rock for a long time”

Their statement also detailed concerns about Deep Yellow’s executive who held senior roles in companies responsible for the destruction of Juukan Gorge, as well as several incidents of environmental pollution, industrial relations controversies and workplace fatalities at uranium mines in Malawi and Namibia.

The CCWA is delivering a WA Uranium Free Charter to WA MPs. It demands they “review and remove any approval for uranium mining at Mulga Rock” as well as withdraw the approvals of the stalled proposed uranium mines at Kintyre, Yeelirrie and Wiluna.


November 29, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, opposition to nuclear, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Defence Minister Richard Marles delighted to welcome American nuclear-powered Virginia Class fast-attack submarine

Virginia Class nuclear sub visit a plain delight for Marles. The Mandarin, By Julian Bajkowski, Tuesday November 29, 2022

For a routine visit, on a routine deployment, defence minister Richard Marles is plenty excited about the USS Mississippi, a very large nuclear-powered Virginia Class fast-attack submarine that not-so-quietly slipped into Fleet Base West, better known as HMAS Stirling, located off the coast of Perth.

The latest movement in Australia’s strategic dance to get nuclear-powered subs under the AUKUS agreement, the Mississippi’s overt visit and attendant official ceremonies are part of a growing local showcase of military-equipment makers intent on securing Australia’s business.

Smaller (and cheaper) than the gargantuan Ohio Class ballistic missile submarines that previously could carry as many as 150 Tomahawk cruise missiles (or 24 Trident multiple-warhead ballistic missiles), Virginia class subs are slated to number around 34 over the life of the program.

The Virginia boats are essentially the bulk-buy of the US combat submarine fleet, providing maritime hunt and attack capability as well as being a surveillance and weapons launch platform.

The fact that there are plenty of them and that there is still life in the construction cycle makes them potentially attractive to Australia, because they are a known quantity with an established skills base that could be transferred here under the AUKUS arrangement.

Marles has already had a Mississippi sneak peek.

“I had the opportunity to tour the USS Mississippi as part of my visit to Pearl Harbour in Hawaii last month, alongside US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin,” Marles said……….

The Albanese government is also trying to normalise the visitation to Australia of nuclear vessels as very much business as usual.

….. “The USS Mississippi is the second US nuclear-powered vessel to visit Australia in 2022, following a visit by the USS Springfield in April.

“The visit reflects the ongoing strength of Australia’s alliance with the United States and builds on previous visits of nuclear-powered submarines from our AUKUS partners.”

November 29, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

‘Publishing is not a crime’: media groups urge US to drop Julian Assange charges

First outlets to publish WikiLeaks material, including the Guardian, come together to oppose prosecution

Guardian, Jim Waterson Media editor, 28 Nov 22

The US government must drop its prosecution of the WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange because it is undermining press freedom, according to the media organisations that first helped him publish leaked diplomatic cables.

Twelve years ago today, the Guardian, the New York Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, and El País collaborated to release excerpts from 250,000 documents obtained by Assange in the “Cablegate” leak. The material, leaked to WikiLeaks by the then American soldier Chelsea Manning, exposed the inner workings of US diplomacy around the world.

The editors and publishers of the media organisations that first published those revelations have come together to publicly oppose plans to charge Assange under a law designed to prosecute first world war spies.

“Publishing is not a crime,” they said, saying the prosecution is a direct attack on media freedom.

Assange has been held in Belmarsh prison in south London since his arrest at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2019. He had spent the previous seven years living inside the diplomatic premises to avoid arrest after failing to surrender to a UK court on matters relating to a separate case.

The then UK home secretary, Priti Patel, approved Assange’s extradition to the US in June but his lawyers are appealing against this decision.

Under Barack Obama’s leadership, the US government indicated it would not prosecute Assange for the leak in 2010 because of the precedent it would set. The media outlets are now appealing to the administration of President Joe Biden – who was vice-president at that time – to drop the charges.

The full letter sent by the media organisations

Publishing is not a crime: The US government should end its prosecution of Julian Assange for publishing secrets.……………………………………………………………….. more

November 29, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

Nukes Corp Australia carries on 25 Nov 22

Several times in the months since voters blatantly defied Rupert Murdoch’s direction to return the government of Scott Morrison, News Crap Australia has demonstrated its willingness to continue campaigning for the Liberal and National parties.

Not long after voters got it so very wrong and dared to elect a Labor Party government, new Opposition Leader Peter Dutton floated the idea of Australia adding nuclear power to its energy mix.

……………. one thing is clear, on the nuclear issue Mr Dutton has – as usual – enjoyed the active support of the Coalition parties’ advertising agency of choice, News Crap Australia.

Further evidence of the Murdoch media’s handiwork on behalf of Mr Dutton and his nuclear campaign has been on show in the national broadshit The Australian in just the past few days. (below on original)

Given that a group of pro-nuclear scientists will present their case at an event in Canberra today, we’ll no doubt see more and more Liberal Party advertisements… sorry, we’ll no doubt see more news stories and commentary in News Crap Australia outlets right up to the next federal election

It is difficult to fathom the commercial logic behind the nuclear push by News Crap Australia.

Surely, as our MGH researchers argue, young Australians are likely to be the strongest advocates of action to tackle climate change through the wider embrace of renewable energies.

They are also likely to be the last to support nuclear power with its long-term problems of waste storage and disposal and its ability to impact the health of individuals when things go wrong. Just think Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima.

So does News Crap Australia really believe it will attract the next generation of news consumers to its side by peddling the nuclear option?

Or does its obligation to the Coalition parties outweigh even the long-term size of its subscriber base?

November 25, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

What caused the Anthony Albanese China change? Better advisors?

Pearls and Irritations, By Bruce HaighNov 23, 2022,

To say that the Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, has been poorly advised would be an understatement. For reasons best known to himself he picked up and ran with a posse of advisers from the corrupt and inept Morrison regime. A big mistake.

They ran with a strong anti-China pro-AUKUS line. They briefed and backgrounded the press accordingly. It was frustrating and disappointing to watch. They were in thrall to and in some instances being paid by the US Industrial/Military complex. Australian Strategic Policy Institute, (ASPI ), being a case in point. Through the Washington Post we learnt that Morrison had installed senior US defence officers and officials in the Australian department of defence. Their influence still pervades. They are credited with having wrecked the French submarine deal.

These influencers and the many other players combining to bring us the sum total of the US alliance have brought considerable pressure on the Australian government to adopt a hostile stance against China and to go all the way with AUKUS. As I write Australian taxpayer money is being poured into defence facilities in Australia to make them ready for US use, from nuclear submarines to B52’s and marines.

None of these preparations have been put to the Australian people. All are, for whatever reason, secret. No thought has been given to tabling details relating to AUKUS in the Australian Parliament.

Albanese has been swept along and until now has been prepared to go with these arrangements which fundamentally challenge Australian sovereignty and were designed to wreck our trading and diplomatic relations with China. All to advantage the United States. This orgy of self-destructiveness was overseen and orchestrated by so called think tanks, some university based, sympathetic public servants and defence officers whose careers have come to depend on following ‘the line’, even down to believing that the acquisition of nuclear submarines and the basing of B52’s is somehow beneficial to Australia. The media, particularly the Murdoch media, has been captive to this narrative. Some such as Sheridan, Hartcher and Grant have sought to lead it.

Albanese rattled the sabre, sometimes bizarrely. ………………………………..

In contrast, mostly behind the scenes, the Foreign Minister, Penny Wong, worked assiduously and with great intellectual rigour to build bridges to the Chinese. …………………………..

Albanese secured his meeting with Xi, I would say largely on the efforts of Wong whose advice was finally listened to. Faced with Prime Ministerial loss of face the hawks in Canberra buckled to the very sensible approach Wong and her advisers had taken toward China.

Has Albanese learnt anything from this? The lesson should be that he ceases to listen to adviser’s once close to Morrison. If the Labor party wishes to implement their ambitious and long overdue reforms, they can no longer afford to keep these people on board.

Home Affairs, Immigration, Defence all need a strong broom through them. Twenty five years of LNP immaturity, selfishness, greed, corruption and absence of an agenda that included the public good has wreaked havoc and urgently needs to be addressed.

Wong has a formidable mind, she is strong character, more people in the Labor Party should be heading her advice and accepting her judgement.

November 25, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia’s debt to the world greater given our ‘real’ carbon emissions

New data revealing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions are much higher than reported means pressure is on the Federal Government to go beyond current commitments toward global climate action, writes professor Jeremy Moss.

Independent Australia, 24 Nov 22, THE RECENT Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) meeting in Egypt must ultimately be judged a failure.

While the inclusion of loss and damage in the final deal was a step forward, we can’t ignore that after nearly 30 years of COP the world still can’t agree to phase out fossil fuels as part of the agreements. 

The 636 representatives of the fossil fuel industry who attended would be pleased with this outcome. Representatives from the fossil fuel industry outnumbered some countries’ delegates ten to one.

Australia’s Federal Government will claim it as a success. However, new data revealing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions are much higher than reported means pressure is on to go well beyond current commitments.

Despite praise by U.S. envoy John Kerry on Australia’s climate “u-turn” for the Albanese Government’s commitment to a 43 per cent emission reduction target by 2030, after ten years of inaction, much more will be expected of Australia to play our part in preventing global climate breakdown.   

When we hear the Government talk up its climate credentials, we need to bear in mind new data released by ClimateTRACE this week which shows that Australia’s domestic emissions were likely to have been 620 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2-e) in 2021 — a figure more than 20 per cent higher than we reported to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of 488 Mt CO2-e

Climate Justice Project describes the tracker thus: 

‘The new emissions tracker ClimateTRACE uses satellite monitoring of more than 70,000 sites worldwide to produce real-time, facility-level #globalemissions inventories. The tracker, produced by a non-profit coalition, was launched by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore at COP27 in Egypt.’

This discrepancy by Australia is equivalent to roughly twice the volume of emissions from the agriculture sector of 77 Mt CO2-e.

Worse still is the continued contribution made by the fossil fuel export industry. Being one of the world’s largest suppliers of cheap tax-payer-subsidised fossil fuels is a major contribution to climate change.

No amount of “arms dealer defences” from governments and big corporations can mask the fact that supplying fossil fuels is a crucial part of the carbon equation and ought to be allocated some share of the blame.

In Australia’s case, the emissions from exported fossil fuels are double our domestic emissions and they have been rising steadily over the last five years. Those emissions are bigger than the emissions of the UK.   

So, where does this leave us? 

Firstly, we need to properly measure and account for all of our actual domestic emissions to combat our contribution………………………….more,16997#.Y38CW-u8BQQ.twitter

November 25, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment