Australian news, and some related international items

Scott Morrison’s hypocrisy, chops and changes about nuclear power

No plans to change law to allow nuclear power stations, says PM, RICHARD FERGUSON, APRIL 18, 2019 

Scott Morrison has clarified comments suggesting he was open to nuclear power.

The Prime Minister earlier today said nuclear power was “not ‘not’ on the agenda” and he was “fine” with energy generation “wherever it comes from.”

But after backlash from Labor, Mr Morrison moved on Twitter to declare he had no plans to change the law to allow nuclear power stations.

“Labor are getting desperate, and we are only 8 days in. This is not our policy and we have no plans to change that,” he tweeted.

Mr Morrison’s original comments came on Tasmanian radio on Thursday morning.

When pushed on whether he would be happy to take proposals from the nuclear industry on going ahead with power projects, the Prime Minister said it would be allowed to do so.

“It’s not ‘not’ on the agenda, wherever it can come from is fine, but it has to be self-sustaining,” Mr Morrison told Launceston FM.

“If they want to put them forward they can. (Nuclear physicist) Ziggy Switkowski did a major report for the Howard Government on this issue, and it came back and it didn’t say it could support itself.”

Nuclear power has been an almost untouchable issue in Australian politics for decades and Labor was quick to leap on the Prime Minister’s comments.

Opposition environment spokesman Tony Burke said Mr Morrison would need to change the law if he were ever to accept a nuclear power station proposal.

“Nuclear power is against the law in Australia. It is extraordinary that Scott Morrison is now contemplating changing the law to allow nuclear power stations in Australia,” he said.

“Several places have been identified in the past for nuclear power stations — like Jervis Bay, Townsville, Bribie Island, Mackay.

“Where is Morrison proposing to put his nuclear power plants? Which coastal community is under threat?”


April 20, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, election 2019 | Leave a comment

Cory Bernardi sulks as Scott Morrison, inn election campaign, abruptly reverses his support for nuclear power

Cory Bernardi says PM got his ‘hopes up’ on nuclear power, HTTPS://WWW.2GB.COM/CORY-BERNARDI-SAYS-PM-GOT-HIS-HOPES-UP-ON-NUCLEAR-POWER/

 Senator Cory Bernardi has backed nuclear power after the Prime Minister said he is not considering the energy alternative.  Nuclear power plants are illegal in Australia but experts say    [these “experts” turn out to be the  Australian Nuclear Association] it could be the answer to Australia’s energy concerns.

Senator Cory Bernardi had introduced a bill last year to remove a ban on nuclear energy.

He tells Luke Grant he was hopeful when he heard Scott Morrison had been open to the idea.

“The Prime Minister got my hopes up when he said nuclear energy might be a part of the mix if it stacks up on its own two feet. But within 48 hours all the usual suspects come out and monster him into a position which is basically ‘oh no it’s not on the table’.

“Any idea that’s not driven by the left is outrageous and terrible and awful.”

April 20, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Australian Nuclear Association’s Rob Parker continues to make absurd pro nuclear claims

‘Safest form of power generation’: Calls for nuclear to be put back on the table, HTTPS://WWW.2GB.COM/SAFEST-FORM-OF-POWER-GENERATION-CALLS-FOR-NUCLEAR-TO-BE-PUT-BACK-ON-THE-TABLE/ 16/04/2019, NATALIE PETERS & ERIN MOLAN ,  Nuclear power plants are illegal in Australia but experts [?] say it could be the answer to Australia’s energy concerns.

Many are calling for the construction of High-Efficiency Low Emission (HELE) coal power plants, in order to avoid outages and soaring power prices.

But Australian Nuclear Association Vice President Rob Parker tells Natalie Peters and Erin Molan nuclear energy is the most environmentally friendly and cost-effective option.

“When we look at nuclear energy we find that it is established as being the safest form of power generation that we have on the planet.

“It is safer than coal, safer than oil, safer than anything, including solar and wind. “We have established that we can have a clear low carbon, low-cost, future using nuclear energy.”

April 20, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Candidates and MPs supporting the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, election 2019, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Malaysian government insists that Lynas must remove its 450,000 tonnes of radioactive waste from the country

April 18, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, rare earths, wastes | Leave a comment

Kein Rudd, as Foreign Minister in 2011, aware of Lynas’ probable radioactive wastes problem

Malaysian concerns over Lynas raised with Kevin Rudd in 2011,, By Colin Kruger, April 16, 2019, Former prime minister Kevin Rudd warned in 2011 that Australian companies needed to operate to high environmental and safety standards in their overseas operations after being alerted to Malaysian concerns about the radioactive waste produced by rare earths group Lynas Corp.

This was around the same time that ASX-listed Lynas was being warned, in a confidential report it commissioned, that it had failed to engage with the Malaysian community, which could jeopardise its operations in the country.

A letter obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age details a response from Mr Rudd, who was foreign minister at the time, to Senator Doug Cameron, who had met with a delegation of Malaysian citizens expressing their concerns about Lynas’ $1 billion operating plant in Kuantan.

“The Australian government expects Australian companies to operate to high environmental and safety standards in their overseas operations, as they would in Australia,” said the letter from Mr Rudd dated July 20, 2011.

“While ultimately Malaysian law governs the management of residues from the plant, the Australian government has welcomed the Malaysian government’s decision to establish the independent expert panel as an open and transparent response to community concerns.”

Mr Rudd noted that the Lynas plant, once completed, would be the “largest single investment in Malaysia and as such, the government is taking a close interest in the project”.

The plant’s importance went beyond Australia’s relationship with Malaysia.

At the time, there was significant global concern about the fact that China dominated the supply of rare earths – a group of 17 elements crucial to the manufacture of hi-tech products like digital cars, smart phones and wind turbines. Despite the name, the elements are not actually that rare, but they are environmentally hazardous to extract.

In 2010, the then Japanese foreign minister, Seiji Maehara, raised the issue with Mr Rudd during trade talks in Canberra.

Mr Rudd said at the time that Australia “understands the significance of rare earths globally” and “Australia stands ready to be a long-term, secure, reliable supplier of rare earths to the Japanese economy”.

It was shortly after that trade visit that a deal was unveiled under which $US250 million in Japanese government agency financing was made available for an accelerated expansion of Lynas’s Mount Weld rare earths mine in Western Australia, and its associated processing facilities in Malaysia.

Mr Rudd is understood to have played a key role. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Senator Cameron were approached for comment.

Lynas, which is being pursued by former Coles owner Wesfarmers with a potential $1.5 billion indicative offer, faces closure of its Malaysian operations by September if it cannot comply with new conditions introduced in December due to the environmental concerns. These currently include the removal of more than 450,000 tonnes of residues containing low-level radiation.

Wesfarmers chief executive Rob Scott met with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad last month to discuss the regulatory issues faced by Lynas.

The following day, Dr Mahathir announced that a company interested in acquiring Lynas had promised to extract the radioactive waste before exporting the ore to Malaysia.

Wesfarmers has denied any impropriety in its meetings with the Malaysian government.

This month, Australian regulators confirmed they had requested detailed information from Lynas and Wesfarmers about communication between the companies before the public announcement of the takeover bid on March 26.

Earlier last month, four Lynas directors had acquired shares during a designated trading window.

A Lynas spokesman said the company had “no reason to believe that Wesfarmers had an ongoing interest in the company at the time the shares were purchased. The purchases were made in a designated trading window”.

Lynas said it “categorically rejects any assertions of impropriety”.

Lynas chief executive Amanda Lacaze will update the market on the company’s operational performance for the March quarter on Tuesday.

The company’s results for the December quarter were affected by a temporary shutdown of its operations after Lynas failed to receive approval to lift the approved limit for processing lanthanide concentrate.

Lynas shares closed 6¢ lower at $2 on Monday.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, rare earths, wastes | Leave a comment

In 2011, secret report warned of dangers of Lynas’ rare earth’s wastes in Malaysia

April 18, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, rare earths, wastes | Leave a comment

Documents contradict Minister For Coal’s statement that Adani “accepted in full” changes sought by scientists regarding Carmichael mine

April 18, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

ABC’s Vote Compass finds that environment is a high issue amongst voters

Vote Compass finds voters are split on economy and environment as most important issue [interesting graphs] ABC News 

Key points

  • The environment and the economy are the top issues for Australian voters
  • Health and super are next on the list
  • The environment is the number one issue for those yet to decide how to vote

For One Nation voters, immigration is the most important issue.

The environment is rated as the number one issue by 29 per cent of Vote Compass respondents, a massive shift from just 9 per cent in 2016.

It is closely followed by the economy, which includes government spending and taxation, on 23 per cent.

Health care and superannuation, each on 8 per cent, are next.

Crucially, the environment is nominated as the top concern among undecided voters — 30 per cent of them say it is the most important issue, as opposed to 19 per cent who nominate the economy.

The Vote Compass survey is based on a nationally representative sample of 119,516 respondents.

Andrea Carson, a political scientist from La Trobe University and a member of the Vote Compass academic panel, said the environment was a potential “wedge issue” for the Coalition.

“Even though overall [Coalition] voters don’t tend to nominate the environment as their most important issue, the Coalition — in order to win seats — need some of those undecided voters………

Millennials are most concerned about the environment

Age is a big factor in what voters care about, too, with 39 per cent of respondents aged under 35 nominating the environment as their greatest concern…….

April 18, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, election 2019 | Leave a comment

The health dangers from climate change – catching Australia unprepared

Australia’s health system unprepared for climate change, experts warn, New Daily, 15 Apr 19, Australia is unprepared for coming health emergencies caused by global warming disasters, public health experts have warned.

From floods to heatwaves, droughts, cyclones and bushfires, the “frequency, intensity, and duration” of natural disasters in Australia is increasing, and our health systems are struggling to cope, three leading public health experts said.

While Australia is geophysically stable and protected “to some extent” from “catastrophic events” such as earthquakes and tsunamis, we are vulnerable to “climate-related disasters and emergencies”, the researchers wrote in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday.

Titled Resilient health systems: preparing for climate disasters and other emergencies, the article was co-authored by Queensland University of Technology professor of Public Health Gerard FitzGerald, University of Sydney’s Professor Anthony Capon and Queensland Health Disaster Management Unit’s Dr Peter Aitken.

Australia must prepare its health systems for climate-related disasters and emergencies by adopting a “comprehensive whole-of-system approach” integrating “all elements of population health and health care”, from preparedness to response and recovery, they said. ……

The warning follows the release of a landmark report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate in October, which found that some of the most dire consequences of global warming will occur earlier than predicted, with time running out to avoid the most catastrophic effects…….

Across Australia, two-thirds of the population will be vulnerable to infection for eight months of the year, while the top end of the country will be vulnerable to infection 12 months a year, the study found.

Climate change an economic and national security risk……


April 18, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, health | Leave a comment

Whatever you think of Julian Assange, his extradition to the US must be opposed

April 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media, politics international | Leave a comment

The Assange prosecution threatens modern journalism

The only thing standing between an Assange prosecution and a major threat to global media freedom is Britain The US government’s indictment of Julian Assange is about far more than a charge of conspiring to hack a Pentagon computer. Many of the acts detailed in the indictment are standard journalistic practices in the digital age. How authorities in the UK respond to the US extradition request will determine how serious a threat this prosecution poses to global media freedom.

Journalistic scrutiny is a key democratic safeguard against governmental misconduct. Strong reporting often depends on officials leaking information of public importance. That is why, although many democratic governments prohibit officials themselves from disclosing secret information, few prosecute journalists for publishing leaked information that they receive from officials. Similarly, because electronic communications are so easily traced, today’s investigative journalists often make extraordinary efforts to maintain the confidentiality of their sources, including setting up communication avenues that cannot easily be detected or intercepted.

The Assange prosecution threatens these basic elements of modern journalism and democratic accountability. Superficially, the single charge in the indictment concerns an alleged conspiracy between Assange and Chelsea Manning, at the time a US army intelligence analyst, to download Pentagon files for publication on WikiLeaks. Assange is accused of trying – ultimately unsuccessfully – to help Manning crack a password that would have enabled her to bypass security mechanisms that would identify her as the person downloading the files.

But beyond this alleged hacking attempt, the indictment details “manners and means of the conspiracy” that read like standard procedure for today’s journalists who receive information from a confidential source. It alleges that “Assange and Manning took measures to conceal Manning as the source of the disclosure of classified records to WikiLeaks, including by removing user names from the disclosed information and deleting chat logs between Assange and Manning.” It says they “used a special folder on a cloud drop box” for the leaked information. And it charges that “Assange encouraged Manning” to provide the information.

It is dangerous to suggest that these actions are somehow criminal rather than steps routinely taken by investigative journalists who communicate with confidential sources to receive classified information of public importance. It is not difficult to imagine how autocratic governments, eager to undermine media scrutiny, will use this indictment to punish such journalists.

The Trump administration also poses a threat. So far, the administration has not charged Assange for the disclosure of the information he received from Manning, but that remains a possibility.

The administration filed the hacking charges against Assange a year ago, just days before the eight-year statute of limitations was about to expire for the alleged acts in 2010, but the 10-year statute of limitations has not yet run for the Espionage Act, which has been mooted as a way to prosecute Assange despite the severe implications for journalism of applying it to a public vehicle such as WikiLeaks. The indictment lists violation of the Espionage Act as one of the purposes of the alleged hacking conspiracy.

Manning already served nearly seven years of a prison term for leaking Pentagon files to Assange, until Barack Obama pardoned her. But Manning is now back in prison as part of the Trump administration’s effort to coerce her to testify before a grand jury. Because it is unlawful for the US government to use a grand jury simply to prepare for trial, the Trump administration may well be contemplating additional charges against Assange.

British authorities have the power to prevent any US prosecution from eroding media freedom. The extradition treaty between Britain and the United States requires extradition only if “the conduct on which the offense is based” is punishable in both countries. And the treaty prevents the US government from filing additional charges after extradition unless they are based on the same set of facts or the British government consents.

These provisions empower British authorities to insist that the hacking charges are not a subterfuge for – or a first step in a frontal attack on – legitimate journalistic activity. In other words, Britain can refuse to extradite Assange unless the Trump administration gives a binding guarantee that the prosecution, now and in the future, would not extend beyond the narrow charge of conspiring to hack a government computer.

This is not a theoretical matter. Donald Trump openly and regularly rejects any form of critical media scrutiny. And he has shown little willingness to defer to the norms of democratic accountability. The only thing standing between an Assange prosecution and a major threat to global media freedom is Britain. It is urgent that it defend the principles at risk.  Kenneth Roth is the executive director of Human Rights Watch

April 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

“Grey Power” Queensland activists protesting against Adani coal mine, demanding action against climate change

Grey power protesters stage Adani sit in. 12 Apr 19, Older voters opposed to Adani’s Queensland coal mine have vowed to continue a protest in Brisbane until they’re arrested. Queensland grandmother Rae Sheridan has been arrested three times at protests demanding action on climate change.

If she has her way, it’ll be four by the end of the day.

The 74-year-old is among a band of “grey power” activists who are staging a small but determined protest against Adani’s proposed coal mine in outback Queensland. (I’d) probably rather die in jail than in a nursing home,” Ms Sheridan told AAP on Thursday.

“This issue is of such importance, because stopping Adani is a line in the sand for our relationship with coal. It has to stay in the ground … New Zealand has done it, Australia can do it too.”

Fellow protester Greg McLachlan says he was moved to take action after watching thousands of school students take to the streets across the globe, calling on governments to protect their futures.

“We should have done more, and we should be doing more,” he told AAP, welling up with sadness.

“The future is their’s, not ours, and we are letting them down.”

Adani’s Carmichael mine project is an issue because Queensland is one of the key states needed to win federal government.

It is popular in the state’s central and northern regions, but could cost support among voters in inner-city seats who want more action on global warming. Labor’s environment spokesman Tony Burke says the prime minister called the election on Thursday to avoid Senate estimates hearings that would have seen the CSIRO grilled about the recent groundwater approval handed to Adani.

The hearings were promptly cancelled after Scott Morrison called the poll for May 18.

Adani’s plan manage groundwater now needs state government approval so that it can start digging.

But Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government says it won’t be rushed into a decision to approve that plan, and another to manage the tiny and endangered black-throated finch.

April 13, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Wikileaks has won may awards for fine journalism

Hervé Courtoi13 Apr 19  Via Karl Wunder

Snowden points out that the WikiLeaks team has won many awards for its reporting. These include:

The Economist New Media Award (2008)
The Amnesty New Media Award (2009)
The Sam Adams Award for Integrity (2010)
The National Union of Journalists Journalist of the Year (Hrafnsson) (2011)
The Sydney Peace Foundation Gold Medal (2011)
The Walkley Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism (2011)
The Voltaire Award for Free Speech (2011)
The International Piero Passetti Journalism Prize of the National Union of Italian Journalists (2011)
The Privacy International Hero of Privacy (2012)
The Global Exchange Human Rights People’s Choice Award (2013)
The Brazilian Press Association Human Rights Award (2013)
The Kazakhstan Union of Journalists Top Prize (2014)

April 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

“The political, financial, or social influence of older people” – Grey Power climate activism

“We will inspire and train older Australians to take BOLD and creative nonviolent action to help change the politics of climate change for good.

Grey Nomads will become Green Nomads. We’ll organise #GreyPower blocs at the school strikes and bring the kids/grandkids with us. Politicians in marginal electorates will feel our presence day after day after day.
Our mission is to use our power to protect the climate now and for future generations and our #GreyPower uprising will demand the real change needed to address the climate emergency.
We are political but nonpartisan. We will target the political parties with the worst climate change policies the most, but will still push other parties to do better. We do not support or promote any political party.”

April 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment