Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Indigenous landowner challenges Sussan Ley’s decision for coal mine

Legal challenge over Sussan Ley’s decision to put potential mining jobs at Shenhua Mine before cultural heritage, ABC News, By Indigenous affairs correspondent Isabella Higgins and Sarah Collard  25 Aug 19, A family fighting to defend their traditional country from mining are suing Environment Minister Sussan Ley after she rejected their heritage protection bid in favour of a controversial Chinese coal project.

Key points 

  • Environment Minister is being sued for rejecting heritage protection in favour of a proposed coal mine
  • Lawyers say it could be an important test case if the decision is found to be unlawful
  • Traditional owners fear important sacred sites will be destroyed if the mine goes ahead

Last month, the Gomeroi Traditional Custodians failed in a bid to have sacred sites in north-west New South Wales preserved and protected from development due to cultural importance.

The land near Gunnedah had already been earmarked for the $1.2 billion Shenhua Watermark Coal Mine, which gained conditional federal approval in 2015 and has state development consents.

Ms Ley rejected their application on the grounds that the potential jobs generated from the mine were more important than cultural preservation.

She acknowledged the project could cause “mental health impacts … a sense of dislocation, displacement and dispossession,” among Indigenous people, but determined the social and economic value of the project took priority.

On behalf of the Gomeroi people, traditional owner Dolly Talbott has launched legal action against Ms Ley, with the case due before court for the first time on Wednesday.

She is being represented by the NSW Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO) which will argue that the minister’s decision was “unlawful” and contravenes the constitutional basis of the heritage protection act.

“If we don’t try to save these sites, then we are not fulfilling our obligations to our elders and our ancestors … and our children and grandchildren,” Ms Talbott said.

“[The national Indigenous heritage laws] are supposed to be there for the protection of Aboriginal culture and it doesn’t seem to be working.”……

Benefits of mine outweigh destruction of heritage: Minister

When deciding on the intervention request, Ms Ley acknowledged the mine would result in the “likely destruction of parts of their Indigenous cultural heritage”.

“I considered that the expected social and economic benefits of the Shenhua Watermark Coal Mine outweighed the impacts on the applicants [Gomeroi people]” she said in the rejection document seen by the ABC…….

The Minister has the final say on which applications receive protection status, under the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act. …….

Shenhua development courts controversy

This legal battle is the latest saga, in a long-running series of controversies involving the mine.

It sparked vehement protests in recent years, with farmers, environmentalists and Indigenous groups all fiercely opposed to the development.

They have raised concerns about how the mine will impact groundwater and wildlife and whether it’s economically viable.

Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce previously labelled the project “ridiculous” after his own government approved the mine, which falls in his New England electorate.

The NSW Government bought back half of the company’s mining exploration license in 2017, at a cost of $262 million, which at the time it said was to protect prime farming land.

Winning this case would mean Gomeroi people can continue to teach their children culture on country, Ms Talbott said.

“The stories of the land that we continue to tell our children today, and hopefully these sites are still there so they can tell their children.

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August 27, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, legal, New South Wales | Leave a comment

South Australian law – no public money towards nuclear waste dumping facility

NUCLEAR WASTE STORAGE FACILITY (PROHIBITION) ACT 2000 – SECT 13

13—No public money to be used to encourage or finance construction or operation of nuclear waste storage facility 

        (1)         Despite any other Act or law to the contrary, no public money may be appropriated, expended or advanced to any person for the purpose of encouraging or financing any activity associated with the construction or operation of a nuclear waste storage facility in this State.

(2)         Subsection (1) does not prohibit the appropriation, expenditure or advancement to a person of public money for the purpose of financing the maintenance or sharing of information or to enable the State to engage with other jurisdictions.

August 22, 2019 Posted by | legal, South Australia | Leave a comment

The Kimba nuclear waste dump ballot – breaching South Australian law?

ENuFF[SA], 21 Aug 19, Today Kimba Council announced a date for a community ballot on the radioactive suppository ~ October 3rd.
http://www.kimba.sa.gov.au/page.aspx?u=408&c=10102

The legality of conducting such a ballot needs to be tested in the courts, since s.13 of the Radioactive Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act SA 2000 prohibits public monies being spent “…. encouraging or financing any activity associated with the construction or operation of a nuclear waste storage facility in this State.”
http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/sa/consol_act/nwsfa2000430/s13.html

This concerns & will affect ALL South Australians, not just Kimba. We should start a fund for a court injunction based upon s.13 “… any activity …” of the Radioactive Waste Facility [Prohibition] Act ~ & then engage Maurice Blackburn Lawyers [eg] to mount a case against the ballot.

https://www.facebook.com/sanuclearfree/

August 22, 2019 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, legal, South Australia | Leave a comment

Yeelirrie uranium project court outcome shows environment laws in need of urgent repair

Conservation groups are calling for state and national environment laws to be strengthened, following today’s confirmation that the Yeelirrie uranium mine approval was valid, despite advice that the project would lead to the extinction of several unique species and was contrary to key principles of environmental law.

Conservationists, Traditional Owners, and supporters of the campaign against the Yeelirrie uranium mine gathered today to hear the news that their legal challenge against the mine approval had been unsuccessful in the WA Supreme Court of Appeal.

Approval for the Yeelirrie mining proposal in the Northern Goldfields of WA was granted during the final days of the Barnett Government, against the recommendations of the WA Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and against the outcome of a subsequent appeal process.

The EPA found that the project would cause the extinction of multiple species of subterranean fauna and the complete loss of a species of saltbush, concluding that the proposal could not meet key objectives of WA’s environmental legislation.

In July 2017, the Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) and three senior members of the Tjiwarl Native Title group lodged a Supreme Court challenge seeking to overturn the environmental approval. After this challenge was unsuccessful, the decision was appealed by the applicants.

Vicki Abdullah, Traditional Owner and Tjiwarl Native Holder said, “We are disappointed, but glad we took this to court, to defend our country and expose the problems with environmental law in this state. We won’t give up – our country is too important. We will continue to fight for Yeelirrie and to change the laws.”

CCWA Director Piers Verstegen said that the outcome of the case demonstrated that Western Australia’s environmental laws needed to be urgently strengthened.

“This case has confirmed our worst fears – that it is legally admissible for a Minister to sign off on a project against the advice of the EPA and in the knowledge that it would cause the extinction of multiple species.

“The decision demonstrates that our environmental laws are badly broken. Our community fought for these laws decades ago, and they were never intended to be used by a Minister to commit wildlife to extinction.

“We are calling on the McGowan Government to strengthen our environment laws to give proper protection to our wildlife and its habitat, and to ensure that Ministers cannot make decisions which cause wildlife extinction at the stroke of a pen.

“For the sake of all wildlife across our state, we were determined to challenge what we believe was an appalling precedent set by the previous State Government.

“We have been proud to take this action together with three incredible Tjiwarl Traditional Owners who have stood up for over 40 years to protect their sacred lands and culture from uranium mining.

“The case has drawn national and international attention to the issue and prevented early commencement of the mining project.

“Since this legal action commenced, the economic outlook for uranium mining has significantly worsened, and the community resolve to prevent extinction at Yeelirrie has strengthened. There are also a number of significant hurdles that this company needs to pass before it can commence any mining at Yeelirrie.

“Conservation groups will not give up our fight to prevent extinction at Yeelirrie. The project may have passed in the court of law but it has failed the court of public opinion.

“We will consider options for further appeal of this decision, and we will continue to vigorously engage with the project to ensure the highest level of scrutiny is applied at all approval stages.

“The mining company can expect a long, expensive process if they want to continue pursuing plans to mine uranium at Yeelirrie.

“We thank those who have supported this case to be heard by the WA Supreme Court, and the WA Environmental Defenders Office for representing CCWA and the Traditional Owners in the matter.”

Further Comment:

Piers Verstegen, CCWA Director – 0411 557 892
Kerri Anne (to arrange interviews with the Tjiwarl Women) – 0401 909 332

Further Information:

Background: http://www.ccwa.org.au/yeelirrie_legal_challenge 

Yeelirrie in the Northern Goldfields is part of the Seven Sisters dreaming and has many important cultural sites, all under threat from the proposed uranium projects. The community has fought against the proposed mine for over 40 years, and neighboring pastoralists have joined the fight in recent years.

The Cameco mining proposal was rejected by the EPA but approved by the Barnett Government.

The approved project would involve:
•    A 9km long open mine pit and processing plant
•    Clearing 2421 hectares of native vegetation
•    Use of 8.7 million litres of water per day
•    Generation of 36 million tonnes of radioactive mine waste to be stored in open pits
•    Extinction of several unique species found nowhere else on Earth

August 1, 2019 Posted by | legal, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Federal court rules against Aboriginal group who wanted inclusion in nuclear waste dump ballot

Federal Court dismisses bid to stop ballot on nuclear storage facility near Kimba, ABC,  By Candice ProsserClaire Campbell and Sara Garcia  12 July 19, A South Australian Aboriginal group has lost a bid to stop a council ballot on whether a nuclear storage facility should be built on the Eyre Peninsula.

Key points:

  • The Kimba District Council planned to hold a vote to gauge support for the waste dump
  • Representatives of the Barngarla people were excluded from the ballot
  • They argued it contravened the Racial Discrimination Act, but the Federal Court dismissed the application

The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation launched legal action against the District Council of Kimba, arguing it contravened the Racial Discrimination Act by excluding native title holders from the ballot.

The council planned to hold a vote to gauge community support among its ratepayers for having radioactive waste stored in their area, after the Federal Government shortlisted two sites near Kimba as possible locations for the facility.

A third site in Hawker, near the Flinders Ranges, has also been shortlisted.

The native title holders won an injunction to halt the ballot last year, while the legal challenge was being heard.

Justice Richard White ruled that no contraventions of the Racial Discrimination Act had been established, and dismissed the application.

SA Greens leader Mark Parnell said he was disappointed with the court’s decision.

“Here we are in NAIDOC week, celebrating Aboriginal culture, and the court has determined it is not a breach of the Racial Discrimination Act to deny traditional owners a vote on whether a nuclear waste dump can be built on their land,” he said.

“Clearly in this country we have a very long way to go before we achieve anything like reconciliation.

“The Aboriginal traditional owners have legitimate rights over this country, yet they’ve been denied a right to vote on whether a nuclear waste dump can be built.

“The Federal Government is obviously keen to get their project up but they only want to ask people who are going to say yes.”

In a statement the Barngarla people said they respected the Federal Court’s decision, but said their lawyers were considering an appeal.

“The Barngarla respects the decision of the Federal Court, as the court has to interpret complicated legislation,” the statement read.

“However, more generally we consider it sad that in the 21st century we are required to take legal action to allow us to have the right to vote on the major decision of the day.

“This case has been about standing up for the right of Aboriginal people to vote on important issues which affect their rights.”……….

 

Landholder Jeff Baldock [at left] has volunteered a portion of his property in Kimba for the proposed facility and said he welcomed today’s decision.

“Now hopefully we get to have our democratic vote … if there’s nothing else that gets in the road,” he told ABC News………

The proposal has the community divided, with Kimba resident and former Liberal MP Barry Wakelin also opposing the facility. …….

The latest Federal Government proposal is to build a single facility in regional South Australia for all of the nation’s waste. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-07-12/bid-to-stop-ballot-on-nuclear-storage-facility-in-sa-dismissed/11302852

July 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, legal | Leave a comment

Adani mining project: Court asks Australian govt to look into public concerns

Adani mining project: Court asks Australian govt to look into public concerns  https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/international/adani-mining-project-court-asks-australian-govt-to-look-into-public-concerns  14 June 19

A local court in Australia has asked Federal Govt to listen to public grievances on Adani’s North Galilee Water Scheme. It spells fresh trouble for Adanis and their billion dollar coal mining project

In what is being interpreted as fresh trouble for the Adanis in Australia, who are on way to set up USD 16 billion dollar coal mining project in the Queensland state, a local court has asked the Federal Government to listen to public grievances on Adani’s North Galilee Water Scheme.
The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), which had filed a case the Federal Government has said that the latter has conceded public grievances on the Adani’s water scheme were ignored.
ACF said, “This is a massive outcome for the broader community, who raised grave concerns about the effect this project would have on Australia’s precious water resources”, adding, “In conceding the case, the Federal Environment Minister has admitted the Federal Government failed to consider all of the thousands of valid public submissions about if and how Adani’s project should be assessed, in direct breach of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.”

According to ACF, “Those people were denied their right to a voice in this process. This win will ensure their voice is heard. Now the Government will need to go back to the drawing board and open up assessment of the project for public comment again. It’s a big moment in the Adani story, and it couldn’t have happened without the bold vision of ACF in launching the case, backed by the hard work and expertise of the legal team.”

It continued, “This win is a humiliating outcome for the Federal Government over its assessment of Adani’s North Galilee Water Scheme – the plan to pump up to 12.5 billion litres of water a year from the Suttor River to the company’s Carmichael mine site. Thousands of Australians made valid public comments on Adani’s North Galilee Water Scheme referral, many concerned about the project’s impact on our precious water resources during a time of extreme drought.”

According to ACF, “The Federal Environment Minister has now admitted her delegate did not consider these comments, as required by law. In fact, she has admitted that her Department lost an unknown number of public comments made over the controversial project. This botched process points to a worrying lack of oversight in core assessment procedures designed to protect Australia’s precious water resources.”

It insisted in a statement, “The Federal Environment Minister did not concede our client’s initial argument in the case, which was that the ‘water trigger’ should have applied to the Scheme. The ‘water trigger’ is a measure that ensures any action which has a significant impact on water resources and involves a large coal mining development requires a more rigorous assessment under the EPBC Act.”

It added, “The community is still no closer to having an answer on why the ‘water trigger’ should not have applied to the North Galilee Water Scheme – a project which will take billions of litres of water a year from Central Queensland to service a coal mine. The Australian people have a right to know the impact big projects like this have on their precious water resources.”

June 15, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, legal | Leave a comment

Adani coalmine: minister loses legal challenge on water pipeline assessment


Australian Conservation Foundation says case shows federal government hasn’t scrutinised Carmichael project, 
Guardian,  Lisa Cox, 12 June 19, The federal government will have to reassess water infrastructure for Adani’s Carmichael coalmine after conceding in a legal challenge that was lodged with the federal court.The Australian Conservation Foundation has succeeded in its appeal against the government’s assessment of Adani’s north Galilee water scheme, with the federal government admitting it failed to properly consider public responses to the proposal and even lost some submissions.

The new environment minister, Sussan Ley, will now have to reconsider the proposal, which would see a 100km-long pipeline constructed to transport 12.5bn litres of water a year from the Suttor river and Burdekin basin. The project would also expand an existing 2.2bn-litre dam to 10bn litres.

The government will need to reopen the project for public comment.

While the decision is a win for the environment movement in its fight against the project, it will not prevent Adani from commencing preliminary construction at the mine site if it receives approval for its groundwater plans from the Queensland government on Thursday.

But the ACF said the government’s concession in the case is a demonstration it has not properly scrutinised Adani’s plans…….

The ACF lodged the appeal last year, challenging Price’s decision not to apply the water trigger in her assessment of the water scheme.

Through the proceedings it became evident that the process leading to the minister’s approval hadn’t properly considered the more than 2,200 public submissions that had been made, with some even being lost.

As a result, the ACF amended the grounds to challenge the failure to consider those submissions and the government conceded.

The government could still face further legal challenge if it reapproves the project without applying the water trigger in its reassessment.

“The water trigger is in Australian law because water is scarce on our dry continent. It should be applied to every relevant proposal, including Adani’s plan to take billions of litres of Queensland’s precious water,” O’Shanassy said.

“ACF will continue to scrutinise all decisions around Adani’s proposal, including groundwater approvals that were rushed through on the eve of the election.”

A spokesperson for Ley said the decision had no bearing on the federal approval for the Carmichael coalmine itself…….

The outcome has some similarities to a 2015 challenge to Adani’s mine approval, which saw the then environment minister Greg Hunt’s decision to approve the mine set aside after he failed to consider advice about two threatened species, the yakka skink and the ornamental snake.

The mine was reapproved two months later.  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/12/adani-coalmine-federal-government-loses-legal-challenge-on-water-assessment

June 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

Swedish court rules in favour of Julian Assange: he will not be extradited to Sweden

4 June 19

Sweden’s Uppsala District Court has found in favour of Assange: the court ruled NOT to detain Assange in absentia. The preliminary investigation can proceed without Assange’s extradition to Sweden. This was always the case as Assange has always cooperated with the investigation.

Suzie Dawson on Julian Assange’s mistreatment #FreeAssange

June 4, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal | Leave a comment

Julian Assange will now not face Espionage Act charges.  

Assange won’t face charges over role in devastating CIA leak   The decision surprised national security experts and some former officials, given prosecutors’ recent decision to go after the WikiLeaks founder on Espionage Act charges.  

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will not face charges for publishing Vault 7, a series of documents detailing the CIA’s arsenal of digital code used to hack devices  Politico, By 6/2/19

The U.S. Justice Department has decided not to charge Julian Assange for his role in exposing some of the CIA’s most secret spying tools, according to a U.S. official and two other people familiar with the case.

It’s a move that has surprised national security experts and some former officials, given prosecutors’ recent decision to aggressively go after the WikiLeaks founder on more controversial Espionage Act charges that some legal experts said would not hold up in court. ……

Prosecutors were stymied by several factors. First, the government is facing a ticking clock in its efforts to extradite Assange to the United States from the United Kingdom, where he is being held. Extradition laws require the U.S. to bring any additional charges against Assange within 60 days of the first indictment, which prosecutors filed in March, accusing Assange of helping former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning hack into military computers.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will not face charges for publishing Vault 7, a series of documents detailing the CIA’s arsenal of digital code used to hack devices | Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Justice Department has decided not to charge Julian Assange for his role in exposing some of the CIA’s most secret spying tools, according to a U.S. official and two other people familiar with the case.

It’s a move that has surprised national security experts and some former officials, given prosecutors’ recent decision to aggressively go after the WikiLeaks founder on more controversial Espionage Act charges that some legal experts said would not hold up in court. The decision also means that Assange will not face punishment for publishing one of the CIA’s most potent arsenals of digital code used to hack devices, dubbed Vault 7. The leak — one of the most devastating in CIA history — not only essentially rendered those tools useless for the CIA, it gave foreign spies and rogue hackers access to them.

Prosecutors were stymied by several factors.

First, the government is facing a ticking clock in its efforts to extradite Assange to the United States from the United Kingdom, where he is being held. Extradition laws require the U.S. to bring any additional charges against Assange within 60 days of the first indictment, which prosecutors filed in March, accusing Assange of helping former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning hack into military computers.

Second, prosecutors were worried about the sensitivity of the Vault 7 materials, according to an official familiar with the deliberations over whether to charge Assange. Broaching such a classified subject in court risks exposing even more CIA secrets, legal experts said. The CIA has never officially confirmed the authenticity of the leaked documents, even though analysts widely believe them to be authentic……

So instead, the Justice Department will go after Assange on the one count for allegedly assisting Manning and the 17-count Espionage Act indictment. There are no plans to bring any additional indictments prior to his extradition.  https://www.politico.eu/article/julian-assange-wont-face-charges-over-cia-leak-whistleblower-spy-tools-national-security/

June 3, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, politics international | Leave a comment

Swedish court rejects effort to delay Assange hearing

  https://www.theage.com.au/world/europe/swedish-court-rejects-effort-to-delay-assange-hearing-20190529-p51s61.html  29 May 19.   Stockholm: A Swedish court has rejected efforts to postpone a hearing relating to Julian Assange, a lawyer for the WikiLeaks founder says.

A Swedish prosecutor this month filed a request for Assange to be detained for a June 3 hearing about a rape allegation.

Defence lawyer Per Samuelson told Reuters he visited Assange in British custody on Friday before seeking to postpone the hearing.

“One of the reasons is that Assange’s health situation on Friday was such that it was not possible to conduct a normal conversation with him,” Samuelson said.

“I meant that it should be postponed until I had time to meet again and go through the issues in peace and quiet. I suggested no specific date and meant it should be postponed until everything was ready, but the district court has now decided that this won’t happen .

he Uppsala district court, where the hearing is due to take place, was not immediately available for comment. A prosecutors’ office spokesman declined to comment.

Sweden reopened the investigation into alleged rape, which Assange denies, in early May. It was begun in 2010 but dropped in 2017 while Assange was in refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy.

Assange was arrested in London last month after spending nearly seven years inside the embassy.

If the court order is granted, it would be the first step in a process to have Assange extradited from Britain, where he is serving a 50-week sentence for skipping bail.

US authorities are separately seeking to extradite Assange on charges relating to the public release by WikiLeaks of a cache of secret documents, and last week unveiled 17 new criminal charges against him, including espionage.

The British courts will have to rule on the two extradition requests, with the home secretary having the final say on which one takes precedence.

June 1, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, politics international | Leave a comment

Australian companies, later, governments, may face legal action over climate issues

May 30, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming, legal | Leave a comment

Torres Strait lodges case at UN against Australia on human rights as climate change issue

May 27, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, politics international | Leave a comment

Australian courts will consider the risks of climate change to be foreseeable, thereby creating further responsibilities for companies and directors

May 23, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, legal | Leave a comment

Adani’s bid to bankrupt traditional owner hits court

Adani’s bid to bankrupt traditional owner hits court, Courier Mail 24 Apr 19,

A date has been set for Indian mining giant Adani’s case to bankrupt a traditional land owner who fought to stop its $2 billion Carmichael mine – and it falls just days before the Federal Election. …(Subscribers only)

April 25, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

Landmark High Court decision guides how compensation for native title losses will be determined

March 14, 2019 1.43pm AEDT William Isdale  Jonathan Fulcher 
theconversation.com/landmark-high-court-decision-guides-how-compensation-for-native-title-losses-will-be-determined-113346
‘The High Court has decided, for the first time, the approach that should be taken to resolving native title compensation claims. In a previous article, we said it would be “the most significant case concerning Indigenous land rights since the Mabo and Wik decisions”. The High Court’s decision yesterday certainly stands up to that description, and provides a degree of certainty for native title holders and governments. … ‘

March 16, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment