Australian news, and some related international items

Business South Australia – a strident pro nuclear lobbyist -ruled to not be a ‘charity’

Business SA loses legal fight to prove it is a charity for tax purposes, Andrew Hough, The Advertiser, August 31, 2017 THE role of the state’s peak business lobby group has been called into question after a judge ruled its “dominant purpose” was not to advance trade and commerce in South Australia.


October 20, 2017 Posted by | legal, South Australia | Leave a comment

Why the High Court shut down Tassie’s anti-protest laws in Bob Brown case

Michael Bradley
The High Court has given judgment in Bob Brown’s case against Tasmanian anti-protest laws, and found the laws invalid on the basis they infringe the implied constitutional freedom of political communication….. (subscribers only )

October 19, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

Adani: Australian Conservation Foundation loses appeal against $16b Carmichael coal mine 

The Age, By Ellie Sibson, 26 Aug 17, Environmentalists have lost another appeal against Adani’s $16 billion Carmichael coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) lodged the appeal last year after an earlier court ruling endorsed the mine’s environmental approval.

The full bench of the Federal Court in Brisbane today dismissed the foundation’s arguments that the Federal Environment Minister had failed in his duty to consider the mine’s impact on the Great Barrier Reef.

ACF spokesman Paul Sinclair said they would continue their fight to stop the mine.

“Today’s decision is just another step in the most significant environmental campaign of our generation,” he said.

“[It] shows that our national environmental laws are broken and are not protecting the places we love, like the Great Barrier Reef.

“We depend on the passion, commitment and determination of the Australian people to stop the Adani mine.”

In June, Adani’s board gave final investment approval for the proposed coal mine, which would be the largest in Australia.

In a statement, Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said the Government welcomed the decision…..

August 26, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

Aboriginal group considers appeal over Federal Court decision for lease to Adani coal project

Fed Court decision: Adani leases issued despite Traditional Owners’ express rejection
The Queensland State continues to authorise dispossession, August 25, 2017

“Responding to a Federal Court decision today, in one of the long running cases brought by Traditional Owners against the Adani mine, the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners  expressed their profound frustration with the way the native title and court processes have over-ridden their decision to reject an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with Adani.

“The appeal against the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT),  which authorised the issuing of mining leases to Adani by the Queensland Government,  was dismissed.  The Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Representative Council are seeking  the advice of their senior counsel as to whether to pursue the matter in the High Court. …

Senior spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Adrian Burragubba, says:

“We have fought and will continue to fight for our right to say no to the destruction of our country
through mining and to have our rights properly recognised and respected by the State Government. …

““We now look to our trial in March 2018 which focuses on Adani’s fake ILUA.  We have three times voted No to Adani’s grubby deal. …

Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Murrawah Johnson, says,

“Adani and the State Government didn’t ‘negotiate’ and  achieve the free, prior, informed consent of the W&J people.  Instead Adani, backed by the State Government and past NNTT decisions,  relied on the threat that they would compulsorily take our land. …

Legal representative in the case, Benedict Coyne, says,

“Our client is carefully considering the judgement, and prospects of  further appeal for special leave to the High Court of Australia.” … “

August 26, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

Anti Adani coal project movement continues, despite Court setback

Court setback for anti-Adani campaign  Margaret Gleeson, August 25, 2017

” … While further legal challenges in the High Court are still awaiting decision,  the movement in opposition to Adani is growing.  Protests have been held in recent weeks in Townsville and Brisbane  targetting Adani’s offices and those of likely contractor Downer.  Arrests were made.

“The campaign is currently organising a series of summits in  Queensland regional centres, Brisbane and Sydney  to plan the next steps in the campaign.  The focus so far has been on direct action.
This has successfully prevented Adani from securing financial support from the Big Four Banks.

” … as Adani continues to have the support of both the Coalition and Labor,  to defeat Adani and put an end to all new coalmines in Australia,  mass demonstrations will be needed along with  the lobbyingdirect action and legal tactics.”

August 26, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

Auditor General to investigate Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility?

Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility may be investigated by auditor general
NGOs urge audit following Wayne Swan’s warning Naif risks ‘misallocating billions of dollars’ in loan for Adani’s mine rail link,
Guardian, Michael Slezak, 17 Aug 17,  The controversial Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, which is mulling a $900m loan for a rail link for Adani’s Carmichael coalmine, may be investigated by the auditor general.

The potential inquiry by the auditor general, who has wide-ranging access and information-gathering powers, follows interventions from a former federal treasurer and environment groups.

In March, Wayne Swan wrote to the auditor general requesting that he urgently begin an investigation into the “unacceptable fiscal risks” Naif posed to the commonwealth.

Swan warned that Naif risked “misallocating billions of dollars of public money,” specifically raising the secrecy around Naif’s consideration of a loan to Adani, its lack of adequate staffing and the pressure imposed on the organisation by “a domineering minister”.

“I am concerned the real risk of maladministration may lead to significant losses to the commonwealth in the future and the misallocation of resources due to political pressure and poor governance, resulting in funds failing to be allocated to more worthy purposes,” Swan said in his letter.

The auditor general replied last month, informing Swan that he had considered the request, and decided to include an audit of Naif among the potential performance audits to be completed in the 2017-18 work program.

The auditor general is independent of the government, and the decision on whether an audit of Naif goes ahead depends on a number of factors, including the priorities of the parliament and public submissions……

Paul Sinclair, ACF’s Director of Campaigns, said: “Naif is a secretive, poorly run organisation. It is critical that the auditor general fully scrutinise its operations, transparency and decision-making processes.”

“Naif’s consideration of the Adani project shows that it cannot be trusted to spend public funds intelligently,” he said. “Northern Australia needs investment that will benefit people and the environment, not Adani’s bank accounts in the Cayman Islands.”

“Without radical reforms, Naif will simply become another vehicle for fleecing Australia of its wealth to line the pockets of a few billionaire mining magnates,” Sinclair said. “Australians can have no confidence in an organisation that has pledged its allegiance to coal mining instead of the Great Barrier Reef and the 70,000 jobs that depend on it.”

Naif has not responded to questions from the Guardian.

August 18, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

World first: shareholders sue Commonwealth Bank of Australia for misleading shareholders over climate risks

Climate change is a financial risk, according to a lawsuit against the CBA The Conversation, August 16, 2017 , Anita Foerster, Senior Research Fellow, University of Tasmania, Jacqueline Peel, Professor of Environmental and Climate Law, University of Melbourne The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has been in the headlines lately for all the wrong reasons. Beyond money-laundering allegations and the announcement that CEO Ian Narev will retire early, the CBA is now also being sued in the Australian Federal Court for misleading shareholders over the risks climate change poses to their business interests.

This case is the first in the world to pursue a bank over failing to report climate change risks. However, it’s building on a trend of similar actions against energy companies in the United States and United Kingdom.

  1. The CBA case was filed on August 8, 2017 by advocacy group Environmental Justice Australia on behalf of two longstanding Commonwealth Bank shareholders. The case argues that climate change creates material financial risks to the bank, its business and customers, and they failed in their duty to disclose those risks to investors.

    This represents an important shift. Conventionally, climate change has been treated by reporting companies merely as a matter of corporate social responsibility; now it’s affecting the financial bottom line.

    What do banks need to disclose?

    When banks invest in projects or lend money to businesses, they have an obligation to investigate and report to shareholders potential problems that may prevent financial success. (Opening a resort in a war zone, for example, is not an attractive proposition.)

    However, banks may now have to take into account the risks posed by climate change. Australia’s top four banks are heavily involved in fossil-fuel intensive projects, but as the world moves towards renewable energy those projects may begin to look dubious.

  2. As the G20’s Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures recently reported, climate risks can be physical (for instance, when extreme weather events affect property or business operations) or transition risks (the effect of new laws and policies designed to mitigate climate change, or market changes as economies transition to renewable and low-emission technology).

    For example, restrictions on coal mining may result in these assets being “stranded,” meaning they become liabilities rather than assets on company balance sheets. Similarly, the rise of renewable energy may reduce the life span, and consequently the value, of conventional power generation assets.

    Companies who rely on the exploitation of fossil fuels face increasing transition risks. So too do the banks that lend money to, and invest in, these projects. It is these types of risks that are at issue in the case against CBA………

August 16, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, legal | Leave a comment

Legal case – a world first – against the Commonwealth Bank, over its failure to disclose climate risks

New CBA case a warning: Step up on climate change, or we’ll see you incourt John Hewson, Despite the scale and urgency of the climate crisis and popular support for action, governments and financiers are failing to act. This will have to change  John Hewson is a professor at ANU and a former Liberal leader, In a global first, Australian mum-and-dad shareholders Guy and Kim Abrahams have launched a case against the Commonwealth Bank, arguing that the bank has breached the law by not disclosing the risks climate change poses to its business. Continue reading

August 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, legal | Leave a comment

Adani fined $12,000 for Abbot Point coal terminal stormwater breach

 The Age, Jorge Branco , 11 Aug 17,  Indian mining giant Adani has been fined $12,000 for a stormwater breach at its Abbot Point coal terminal during Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

The Adani-owned Abbot Point Bulk Coal was granted a temporary licence to more than triple its “suspended solids” releases during the severe weather in March. But the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection claimed more than eight times that amount was released into the ocean near the north Queensland facility.

The fine did not relate to water released into the surrounding wetlands, which was still under investigation. Activists released striking photos of the difference in the wetlands before and after the cyclone, claiming coal had turned the area black, but Adani said it had complied with the conditions of its licence.

 The breach related to stormwater released on the other side of the facility, into the ocean.At the time, a company spokesman said no spill had made its way into the sea and the Queensland Resources Council said “water absorbs light so it is usually black in the images”.

According to the Environment Department, the Temporary Emissions Licence allowed Abbot Point Bulk Coal to release stormwater with a suspended solid limit of 100mg per litre during the high rainfall.

But on April 6, the company informed the department it had breached the conditions with the release of stormwater containing 806mg/L of suspended solids, the department said…….

Mackay Conservation Group co-ordinator Peter McCallum criticised the fine, saying it would encourage future harm rather than deter it.

“Adani is likely to make a business decision that it is cheaper to pollute the Caley Valley wetlands and the waters of the Great Barrier Reef than to put in place infrastructure that will ensure the sensitive environments at Abbot Point are never damaged again,” said the man, whose organisation released the before and after photos of the wetlands.

“Without sufficient penalties for breaching environmental conditions there’s little point in having them.”…….

The company has proposed a $3 billion expansion of the Abbot Point terminal to service its massive Carmichael mine plans in the Galilee Basin.

August 12, 2017 Posted by | environment, legal, Queensland | Leave a comment

Aboriginal group’s claim against Western Australia Conservation Council over uranium mining

Traditional owners hit out at WA Conservation Council for alleged misrepresentation over uranium campaign  ABC Goldfields By Jarrod Lucas An Aboriginal corporation representing traditional owners in WA’s northern Goldfields claims an environmental group has misrepresented it by suggesting it supports legal action against a proposed uranium mine.

The Conservation Council of WA launched Supreme Court action earlier this month to challenge the Barnett Government’s decision to approve Cameco’s proposed mine at Yeelirrie, 1,079km north east of Perth.

The council maintains it has the support of members of the Tjiwarl people, the native title holders over the Yeelirrie area, in pursuing the action.

But the Tjiwarl Aboriginal Corporation said they do not speak for its 150-odd members or 10 directors, who represent each of the area’s different family groups.

A spokesman for the Tjiwarl group told the ABC it is yet to formally adopt a policy on uranium mining or the Yeelirriee court case — although that could change as soon as September when the directors meet in Leinster.

“Any decision about this project needs to be made by Tjiwarl (Aboriginal Corporation) in accordance with our traditional laws and customs,” the corporation said in a statement.

“Until such time, we ask that media outlets, and the Conservation Council of WA, refrain from referring to Tjiwarl (Aboriginal Corporation) as supporting this legal proceeding.”

The spokesman said the group had received significant backlash on social media, due to its perceived involvement in the action.

Conservation Council denies misrepresenting group

Conservation Council director Piers Verstegen denied they ever misrepresented the Aboriginal corporation.

“We haven’t linked them to the case, there’s certain members of that claim group that are part of the case, but we haven’t linked the body corporate to the case and I’m not sure where they’re getting that information from,” Mr Verstegen said.

“We haven’t made any linkage between their claim group and the case — it’s just individuals who are part of that claim group who are part of the case.”

Vicky Abdullah, whose family has opposed uranium mining at Yeelirrie for more than 40 years, is one of three traditional owners who are backing the Conservation Council’s legal action.

“Yeelirrie is important to my family; we have fought to protect this site and we won’t stop now,” Ms Abdullah said.

A crowdfunding page set up by the 47-year-old not-for-profit group seeking to raise $50,000 to fund the court case also mentions the traditional owners.

At last count the page had raised more than $9,800.

Uranium mine a challenging call for traditional owners

The Tjiwarl claim was officially recognised by the Federal Court in April, with the long legal fight seeing the group’s 13,000 square kilometres of land between the towns of Wiluna and Leonora officially acknowledged.

It has sparked a flurry of negotiations with Cameco and fellow mining giants BHP and Gold Fields, both of which have operating mines in the area.

But as WA’s biggest uranium deposit, Yeelirrie remains the area’s most controversial potential development.

Discovered by Western Mining Corporation in 1972, the deposit was sold to Cameco by BHP for $US430 million in 2012.

The mine takes its name from a nearby pastoral station, which in turn took its name from the traditional word for the area.

Opponents of the mine say the name translates to “place of death”, but others have suggested “lethargy” or “fatigue” are better translations.

The mine is one of four proposed uranium mines the McGowan Government will allow to proceed, despite reinstating a ban on any further development or exploration in Western Australia.

The Tjiwarl spokesman said the group would likely formalise its position on uranium mining when the corporation’s directors meet in September.

July 29, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, legal, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Norther Territory Aboriginal owners’ legal case: they wanted “low level nuclear waste dump”


Wonder which Whitey businessmen are funding this one?


Nuclear waste fight sparks $17m claim,  AMOS AIKMAN,  The Australian, July 26, 2017Traditional owners who want a nuclear waste dump on their land are suing the Northern Land Council for more than $17 million, claiming that the federal statutory authority neglected its duty to support their bid to use the land to ­alleviate crippling poverty.

Documents filed in the Federal Court allege that the NLC, which is legally bound to consult with ­indigenous landholders and pursue their best interests, failed to do so repeatedly in relation to proposals to house Australia’s low-level nuclear waste at Muckaty Station……..

The first applicant, Ngapa traditional owner Jason Bill, welcomed the serving of legal papers yesterday.

“Great news: that’s the thing that my family have been waiting for,” Mr Bill said.

“All we were asking for is a low-level waste dump … we’ve looked into it and heard about it from the professionals, and it’s not going to damage the environment.”…..

July 26, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

Probably illegal: any loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (Naif) to Adani’s Carmichael coalmine project

Loan to Adani by infrastructure fund could be unlawful, says former clean energy head
Oliver Yates says any taxpayer money facilitating the proposed Carmichael coalmine carry reputational risks for the government, Guardian, 
Michael Slezak, 6 July 17, Any loan the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (Naif) gives to Adani’s Carmichael coalmine project would likely be unlawful, according to the former head of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), which operated under an almost identical mandate.

Naif, which was set up to give $5bn of concessional loans to support the development of northern Australia, operates under an investment mandate that includes a clause saying it “must not act in a way that is likely to cause damage to the commonwealth government’s reputation, or that of a relevant state or territory government”.

An almost identical clause exists in the investment mandate for the CEFC, which has sought to give $10bn in concessional loans to support the growth of clean energy in Australia, saying it “has a responsibility to act in a way that is not likely to cause damage to the Australian government’s reputation”.

In December 2016 it was revealed Naif had granted “conditional approval” for a $1bn loan to Adani to finance a rail link between the Abbot Point export terminal and its proposed Carmichael project, which would be the biggest coalmine built in Australia.

Oliver Yates, who was the chief executive of the CEFC since its inception in 2012 until May this year, said that loan should never have progressed past the initial inspection by the Naif board, since it did not pass the reputation test.

 “It is beyond my understanding how the board of Naif can conclude that providing a subsidised loan to facilitate a project of this nature is ‘not in a way likely to cause damage to the commonwealth government’s reputation’,” Yates told the Guardian.

He gave a laundry list of factors that would raise reputational risks for the government…….

July 7, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

Australian and International Hurdles to Adani Coal Mine Expansion

Final chapter in Adani loan deal, Saturday Paper, Karen Middleton , 24 June 17 “……..While the Queensland government has promised a royalties concession if the development goes ahead, it has also decided not to process the NAIF loan if approved – something that may require federal legislation to circumvent.

And for the Carmichael mine to proceed, the company must have concluded an Indigenous land use agreement, or ILUA, with the area’s native title holders.

Last week, the federal government and Labor combined to pass legislation to reverse a Federal Court ruling that all members of a registered native title claimant group in any relevant area were required to sign an ILUA for it to have force.

The move affected agreements well beyond the Adani ILUA and was welcomed by some Indigenous groups and opposed by others.

That followed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s promise to Adani owner Gautam Adani during a meeting in India earlier this year that he would fix the native title problems that were preventing the development from proceeding,

But the Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners are challenging the ILUA on three other grounds. The court hearing has been set down for next year.


Originally, Adani had said it expected to achieve financial close on its Carmichael project by December this year. But recently that date was revised to March – the same month the court is due to hear the ILUA challenge.

What is not clear is whether there is a NAIF deadline by which an applicant must prove it has fulfilled all requirements, or whether an application can remain live for as long as that takes……

In the latest public criticism of the whole proposal, an international group of high-profile conservationists wrote to Malcolm Turnbull late this week urging the government not to proceed.

The Ocean Elders, which include ocean explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau, marine biologist Dr Sylvia Earle, businessman Richard Branson and Jordan’s Queen Noor, wrote that the mine would worsen damage to the Great Barrier Reef that Australia, as its custodian, had a global obligation to protect.

The group’s spokeswoman, marine biologist Earle, told ABC Radio that Australia should reject fossil fuels and hence the Carmichael mine, despite its advanced state of official approval.

“It’s never too late as long as the people and as long as rational individuals with power can change course, now that we know what we know,” Earle said.

A prime ministerial spokesman declined to comment on the letter.

One of the conditions of the NAIF approving a loan is that it must not be likely to “cause damage to the Commonwealth Government’s reputation or that of a relevant State or Territory government”.

Opponents of the mine are gearing up to argue that such global bad publicity should be grounds for refusal.

In her speech to the Cairns conference, Sharon Warburton said the NAIF must both reflect government policy and be independent of it.

“First NAIF must align with Commonwealth policy, and that is a whole-of-government position, remembering it is taxpayer funds we are deploying,” Warburton said. “Secondly – importantly – we cannot lend funds if all regulation at both a Commonwealth and state level are not in place.

“The other tremendously important parameter under which we operate is that it was set up to be an independent body making decisions independently of all outside influence.”

Given the attempts at influence being made on all sides of the argument, that may prove to be a challenge.

June 28, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, legal | Leave a comment

Adani ‘investment decision’ meaningless without Indigenous consent

 Federal Court sets date for W&J litigation against Adani’s sham ILUA for March 2018

Native Title Bill still to pass, but won’t stop court action
On the day the Federal Court sets a hearing date for Traditional Owners fighting Adani’s proposed coal mine,
the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council has labelled
Adani’s announcement in Townsville as disingenuous.

Senior spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J)Traditional Owners Council, Adrian Burragubba, says

““Adani can put on whatever song and dance they like but the reality is that we have never consented to Adani’s mine being constructed on our land.

““The company and the Queensland Government do not have an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with our people.
We are fighting this mine of mass destruction, and no matter what the Senate does in its next sitting in terms of voting for the Native Title Bill, the Federal Court will hear our case against Adani’s phony deal.”

““Adani is going nowhere fast. They have no money for their project, and they don’t have the crucial Traditional Owners’ consent they need to build it. We have them in the Federal Court until March 2018 at least.”

“Members of the Wangan and Jagalingou Registered Native Title Claimant are currently in the Federal Court seeking to strike out Adani’s purported Indigenous Land Use Agreement [ILUA],
filed by Adani Mining with the National Native Title Tribunal.
An ILUA has been opposed by the native title claim group on three occasions since 2012.

Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Ms Murrawah Johnson,
giving a keynote address at the National Native Title Conference in Townsville tomorrow, says

““Adani’s approach seems to be ‘fake it until you make it’, but
the reality is that they can’t and won’t proceed in the face of our resistance”. …

June 9, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

Queensland Land Court recommends scrapping Acland coal mine expansion

Acland coal mine: Queensland Land Court recommends scrapping expansion, ABC News, By Andrew Kos, 31 May 17, Landholders and farmers in the Darling Downs are claiming a big win following a Land Court decision recommending the $900 million Stage 3 expansion of the New Acland Coal Mine be scrapped.

More than 60 property owners have been fighting the New Hope Group’s proposed project since the State Government indicated support for it in 2012.

The expansion, which would see the mine produce coal for a further decade, was granted Federal Government approval earlier this year.

Opponents took the matter to the Land Court last year arguing the mine expansion would damage groundwater levels, air quality and prime agricultural land.

The case became the longest in Land Court history, with more than 100 days of hearings and 2,000 exhibits.

In a judgment today, the court recommended the Mining Leases and Environmental Authority amendment for Stage 3 not be granted for the proposed expansion…..

Government could still permit project

In a statement to the ASX, the New Hope Group said it remained committed to delivering the project and would actively progress it through the final stages of approval…… The State Government is the final decision maker for the project and will need to decide whether to follow the court’s recommendations or approve it regardless.

A spokeswoman said the Government was examining the court’s judgment.,-court-rules/8576886

June 2, 2017 Posted by | legal, Queensland | Leave a comment