Australian news, and some related international items

Fiji PM tells Scott Morrison- Australian coal is killing the Pacific

Australian coal is killing the Pacific, Fiji PM tells Scott Morrison,  Fiji has firmly told Australia to shift away from coal and fossil fuels because climate change is hurting Pacific island nations. SBS 18 Jan 19 Australia must not put the interests of a single industry above the lives of Pacific nations battling climate change, Scott Morrison has been firmly told.At an official dinner in Fiji to mark a newly announced partnership between the two nations, Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama explicitly told Australia to do better.

He said the only way to guarantee the survival of Pacific island countries was for Australia to shift away from fossil fuels.

“I urged your predecessor repeatedly to honour his commitment to clean energy,” Mr Bainimarama said on Thursday night in Suva.

“From where we are sitting, we cannot imagine how the interests of any single industry can be placed above the welfare of Pacific peoples and vulnerable people in the world over.

“Rising seas threaten whole communities, forcing them to endure the trauma of relocating from land they’ve endured for generations.

“Fijian farmers are watching their crops perish in soil that has been spoiled by the heightened salinity that is associated with sea level rise.”

Mr Bainimarama said the evidence of climate change was clear in the disappearing coastlines in Bangladesh and worsening flooding in the United States.

“And in Australia as well, where soaring temperatures have reached record highs in several major cities just this week,” he said.

“This cannot be written off as a difference of opinion.

“Consensus from the scientific community is clear and the existential threat posed to Pacific island countries is certain.”

Mr Morrison responded in his speech, praising Mr Bainimarama for Fiji’s global leadership on climate change…….


January 19, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Australian Julian Assange in new danger as Ecuador caves in to USA pressure (and Australian govt does nothing)

More troubles for Julian Assange as ecuador bows to pressure to extradite him following this letter,  We have been monitoring Julian asange’s asylum in Ecuadorian embassy in britain to outline the dangers the computer proggrammer and  wikileaks founder face in coming future and it seems alot have been happening lately than the mainstream media’s  are reporting.

Ecuador has begun a “Special Examination” of Julian Assange’s asylum and citizenship as it looks to the IMF for a bailout, the whistleblowing site reports, with conditions including handing over the WikiLeaks founder.

Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa tweeted an image of the letter he received from the State Comptroller General on December 19, which outlines the upcoming examination by the Direction National de Auditoria.

The audit will “determine whether the procedures for granting  asylum and naturalization to Julian Assange were carried out in accordance with national and international law,” and will cover the period between January 1, 2012 and September 20, 2018.

Assange has been in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since he sought asylum there in 2012. He was granted Ecuadorian citizenship last December in a bid to protect him from being extradited to the US where he fears he faces secret charges for publishing US government cables and documents.

WikiLeaks tweeted the news on Wednesday, joining the dots between the audit and Ecuador’s consideration of an International Monetary Fund bailout. The country owes China more than $6.5 billion in debt and falling oil prices have affected its repayment abilities.

According to WikiLeaks, Ecuador is considering a $10 billion bailout which would allegedly come with conditions such as “the US government demanded handing over Assange and dropping environmental claims against Chevron,” for its role in polluting the Amazon rainforest.

Assange’s position has increasingly been under threat under Correa’s successor, President Lenin Moreno, with Ecuadorian authorities restricting his internet access and visitors.“I believe they are going to turn over Assange to the US government,

January 14, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Labor is right to support a nuclear ban treaty

Labor’s pledge to commit to nuclear disarmament puts the alternative party of government on the right side of history.

The gulf between the shenanigans of way too many politicians, and the growing urgency of grave and looming threats has rarely seemed wider. Action on crucial issues languishes while parliamentarians make naked grabs for power, acting in the interests only of themselves. Poor personal behaviour seems endemic. On the two unprecedented dangers looming over all humanity – nuclear war and climate disruption – Australia has been not just missing in action, but actively on the wrong side of history, part of the problem rather than the solution.

The government’s own figures demonstrate that our country, awash with renewable sun and wind, is way off track to meet even a third of its greenhouse gas emissions reduction target by 2030 – itself nowhere near enough.

Not only is nuclear disarmament stalled, but one by one, the agreements that reduced and constrained nuclear weapons, hard-won fruit of the end of the first cold war, are being trashed. All the nuclear-armed states are investing massively not simply in keeping their weapons indefinitely, but developing new ones that are more accurate, more deadly and more “usable”. The cold war is back, and irresponsible and explicit threats to use nuclear weapons have proliferated. Any positive effect that Australia might have on reducing nuclear weapons dangers from the supposed influence afforded us by our uncritical obsequiousness to the US is nowhere in sight. Our government has been incapable of asserting any independence even from the current most extreme, dysfunctional and unfit US administration. The US has recently renounced its previous commitments under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT); we have said nothing.

The one bright light in this gathering gloom is the 2017 UN treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. For its role in helping to bring this historic treaty into being, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican) was awarded the Nobel peace prize for 2017 – the first to an entity born in Australia. This treaty provides the first comprehensive and categorical prohibition of nuclear weapons. It sets zero nuclear weapons as the clear and consistent standard for all countries and will help drive elimination of these worst weapons of mass destruction, just as the treaties banning biological and chemical weapons, landmines and cluster munitions have played a decisive role in progressing the elimination of those other indiscriminate and inhumane weapons. The treaty lays out a clear pathway for all states, with and without nuclear weapons, to fulfil their binding legal obligation to accomplish nuclear disarmament. It is currently the only such pathway.

Regrettably, the Australian government was the most active “weasel” in opposing the treaty’s development at every step and was one of the first to say it would not sign, even though we have signed every other treaty banning an unacceptable weapon.

Hence the Labor party’s commitment at its recent national conference in Adelaide that “Labor in government will sign and ratify the Ban Treaty” is an important and welcome step. It is a clear commitment, allowing no room for weaselling.

The considerations articulated alongside this commitment are fairly straightforward and consistent with the commitment. First, recognition of the need for “an effective verification and enforcement architecture” for nuclear disarmament. The treaty itself embodies this. Governments joining the treaty must designate a competent international authority “to negotiate and verify the irreversible elimination of nuclear weapons” and nuclear weapons programmes, “including the elimination or irreversible conversion of all nuclear-weapons-related facilities”. Australia should also push for the same standard for any nuclear disarmament that happens outside the treaty.

Second, the Labor resolution prioritises “the interaction of the Ban Treaty with the longstanding Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty”. The treaty has been carefully crafted to be entirely compatible with the NPT and explicitly reaffirms that the NPT “serves as a cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime”, and that its full and effective implementation “has a vital role to play in promoting international peace and security”. All the governments supporting the treaty support the NPT, and the NPT itself enshrines a commitment for all its members to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament”. The UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, and the International Committee of the Red Cross are among those who have affirmed that the treaty and the NPT are entirely consistent, complementary and mutually reinforcing. Even opponents of the treaty recognise that prohibition is an essential part of achieving and sustaining a world free of nuclear weapons.

Third, the Labor resolution refers to “Work to achieve universal support for the Ban Treaty.” This too is mirrored in one of the commitments governments take on in joining the treaty, to encourage other states to join, “with the goal of universal adherence of all States to the Treaty.”

An Australian government joining the treaty would enjoy wide popular support in doing so – an Ipsos poll last month found that 79% of Australians (and 83% of Labor voters) support, and less than 8% oppose, Australia joining the treaty.

Australia would also stop sticking out like a sore thumb among our southeast Asian and Pacific Island neighbours and be able to work more effectively with them. Brunei, Cook Islands, Fiji, Indonesia, Kiribati, Laos, New Zealand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Palau, Philippines, Samoa, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Vietnam have already signed the treaty.

Most importantly, joining the treaty and renouncing nuclear weapons would mean that Australia would become part of the solution rather than the problem of the acute existential peril that hangs over all of us while nuclear weapons exist, ready to be launched within minutes. Time is not on our side. Of course this crucial humanitarian issue should be above party politics. The commitment from the alternative party of government to join the treaty and get on the right side of history when Labor next forms government is to be warmly welcomed. It is to be hoped that the 78% of federal parliamentary Labor members who have put on record their support for Australia joining the treaty by signing Ican’s parliamentary pledge will help ensure Labor keeps this landmark promise.

 Dr Tilman Ruff is co-founder of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican) and Nobel peace prize winner (2017)

December 28, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australian Labor Party’s very limited support for the United Nations nuclear ban treaty

Bill Shorten wins cautious agreement on foreign aid, recognising Palestine and nuclear ban treaty, SMH, By Michael Koziol
18 December 2018 A federal Labor government will pursue the recognition of Palestine, a treaty banning nuclear weapons and an increase to foreign aid – but final decisions will be left for cabinet under an agreement struck between the party’s factions.Three controversial issues in the foreign relations portfolio were settled in backroom deals on Tuesday morning to ensure there were no contentious votes and Labor leader Bill Shorten ended the party’s national conference on a united note.The changes to Labor’s platform urge the next Labor government to recognise Palestine as a sovereign state as an “important priority”, but leaves the final decision to cabinet acting on expert advice.Labor has also given in-principle agreement to the United Nations nuclear ban treaty – but only after taking account of whether nuclear-armed states had signed up (so far none have) and whether they were abiding by the treaty’s terms…….

Senator Wong and defence spokesman Richard Marles led the negotiations, while the Left’s Anthony Albanese was heavily involved in the nuclear talks  ……..

The controversial nuclear treaty bans states from using, producing or stockpiling nuclear weapons, and prohibits them from assisting any other state to engage in such activities.

Mr Marles – who has criticised the treaty as “the non-nuclear world thumbing its nose at the nuclear world” – said it was “no secret” some in Labor were sceptical about the treaty and its impact on Australia’s alliance with the US.

A Labor government would need to be “certain” the treaty would not endanger that alliance, Mr Marles told the conference, and it was essential there was a realistic pathway for nuclear powers to sign up.

According to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, 69 states have signed the treaty, and 19 have ratified it into law. However, none of the nuclear weapons powers or nuclear-armed states have signed or ratified the treaty.

As recently as October, Senator Wong said there was “no realistic prospect” of any nuclear states signing the treaty, let alone ratifying it, and it would have “no effect” without their endorsement……

December 22, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia’s credibility on the line at UN climate talks.

COP24 sees Australia walk climate tightrope amid ‘Paris Rulebook’ deadlock, ABC Weather , By Ben Deacon 15 Dec 18 The COP24 Climate talks in Poland have been extended through the weekend, as nations remain deadlocked over how to implement the Paris agreement.

The aim of the annual United Nations conference is to determine what collective action the world takes on climate change. AUDIO: Australia walks climate talks tightrope (AM)

More than 100 ministers and more than 1,000 negotiators from around the globe have been hammering out the so-called ‘Paris Rulebook’ with an eye to defining how pledges will be put into action.

In the thick of it all has been the Australian delegation, which has been walking a tightrope between the Paris obligations and support for fossil fuels.

In a defining moment at COP24, protesters disrupted a pro-fossil fuel event on Monday that had been organised by the Trump administration.

On stage, the only non-American panellist at the event was Australia’s Ambassador for the Environment, Patrick Suckling.

“Fossil fuels are projected to be a source of energy for a significant time to come,” Mr Suckling said.

Fossil fuel event ‘damaged’ Australia’s credibility

The Director of the Climate & Energy Program at the Australia Institute, Richie Merzian, believes Australia jeopardised its influence in the COP process by appearing at the US event.

“Everyone picked up on the fact that Australia was on the panel with the Trump appointees,” Mr Merzian said.

“I think it even made the New York Times and the Washington Post.

“It really damaged, I think, Australia’s credibility here.”…….

December 17, 2018 Posted by | climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Australian government’s hypocritical performance at UN Climate Summit

‘New energy future’: Minister touts Australia at climate summit, Brisbane Times, By Peter Hannam,13 December 2018 — Australia is moving “towards a new energy future”, powered by unprecedented investments in renewable energy, Environment Minister Melissa Price has told a summit in Poland even as the country earned a “fossil of the day award for its poor climate policies.

In a speech on Wednesday at the COP24 climate talks in Katowice, Ms Price said Australia was “committed to the Paris Agreement” and the development of a “robust rulebook” to implement the global pact agreed in 2015…….

Richie Merzian, a climate researcher with The Australia Institute, said Minister Price’s speech “relied almost entirely on policies her government tried to kill-off or water down”.

He also criticised the climate finance pledge, saying Prime Minister Scott Morrison “had trashed and cut support for UN’s key climate finance body, the Green Climate Fund”.

‘Fossil of the Day’

Australia’s policies also copped flak from The Climate Action Network, an alliance of 1300 environmental groups, which declared the country “fossil of the day” for its four years of rising greenhouse gas emissions.

The network also raised the issue, first reported by the Herald, that Australia had “remained silent” about whether it planned to use any surplus from the Kyoto Protocol period – possibly 400 million tonnes worth – to count against its Paris target.

Ms Price’s Labor counterpart, Mark Butler, has also continued to not rule out the use of any Kyoto credits for its post-2020 targets.

“It’s not clear whether the so-called rulebook for the Paris Agreement will allow a carryover,” Mr Butler told Radio National on Thursday.

“If it does, we would have to consider any conditions about that,” he said, adding, “my bias is to steer very clear of cop-outs and accounting tricks when it comes to climate change policies.”

Greens climate spokesman Adam Bandt said: “It is disappointing that Mark Butler has left the door open to cooking the books to meet their Paris commitment. The analysis is clear that up to a quarter of Labor’s target could be met by fake Kyoto credits if they follow the Coalition and pull the same dodgy accounting tricks.”

December 15, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia silent, as New Zealand rules out using ‘Kyoto credits’ for Paris

New Zealand rules out using ‘Kyoto credits’ for Paris, Australia shtum, (shtum means silent, non-communicative), Brisbane Times ,By Peter Hannam, 11 December 2018 New Zealand’s Climate Change Minister James Shaw has ruled out his nation using carryover credits to count against its Paris climate target, saying such a move would make it challenging for the world to meet the important goal of reducing emissions.Australia silent

Mr Shaw made the comments to Australasian journalists in a conference call on Tuesday after meeting his Australian counterpart Melissa Price during the climate talks in Katowice, Poland.

As the Herald has reported, Ms Price and her environment department have refused to exclude use of any surplus credit generated during the soon-to-be concluded Kyoto Protocol against Australia’s Paris emissions pledges.

Federal Labor also said it won’t rule out the use of Kyoto credits until it has received advice………

Low ranking

Mr Shaw’s comments come as Australia was named 55th out of 60 nations on a Climate Change Performance Index compiled by Germanwatch, a non-government agency. Saudi Arabia and the US occupied the bottom rankings, while Sweden and Morocco topped the list.

Australia scored particularly poorly for its national climate policy and per capita greenhouse gas emissions – at more than 16 tonnes of CO2 a year – both ranked second-worst.

The Paris target – in which the Abbott government set at reducing 2005 levels of carbon pollution to 26 per cent by 2030 – was rated 12th among the 60 nations.

Tim Baxter, a researcher at Australian-German Climate and Energy College and Melbourne Law School, said it was likely Australia would try to get international backing to use Kyoto credits – and it might succeed………

December 13, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia’s ambassador for environment, Patrick Suckling ridiculed as he joins USA pro coal panel in Poland

The only non-American was Patrick Suckling, the ambassador for the environment in Australia’s coal-enthusiast government.
Protesters disrupt US panel’s fossil fuels pitch at climate talks, Official event praising coal, oil and gas met with laughter and chants of ‘shame on you’  Guardian,  Jonathan Watts in Katowice, Tue 11 Dec 2018

  Trump administration presentation extolling the virtues of fossil fuels at the UN climate talks in Poland has been met with guffaws of laughter and chants of “Shame on you”.Monday’s protest came during a panel discussion by the official US delegation, which used its only public appearance to promote the “unapologetic utilisation” of coal, oil and gas. Although these industries are the main source of the carbon emissions that are causing global warming, the speakers boasted the US would expand production for the sake of global energy security and planned a new fleet of coal plants with technology it hoped to export to other countries.

The event featured prominent cheerleaders for fossil fuels and nuclear power, Continue reading

December 11, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia quietly sabotages UN climate change message, in Poland

Australia’s silence during climate change debate shocks COP24 delegates, Guardian, Ben Doherty in Katowice, Poland @bendohertycorro, Mon 10 Dec 2018 

Country accused of tacitly supporting oil allies’ rejection of the latest science As four of the world’s largest oil and gas producers blocked UN climate talks from “welcoming” a key scientific report on global warming, Australia’s silence during a key debate is being viewed as tacit support for the four oil allies: the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait.

The end of the first week of the UN climate talks – known as COP24 – in Katowice, Poland, has been mired by protracted debate over whether the conference should “welcome” or “note” a key report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Negotiators spent two and a half hours trying to hammer out a compromise without success.

The apparently minor semantic debate has significant consequences, and the deadlock ensures the debate will spill into the second critical week of negotiations, with key government ministers set to arrive in Katowice.

Most of the world’s countries spoke out in fierce opposition to the oil allies’ position. The push to adopt the wording “welcome” was led by the Maldives, leader of the alliance of small island states, of which Australia’s Pacific island neighbours are members.

They were backed by a broad swathe of support, including from the EU, the bloc of 47 least developed countries, the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean, African, American and European nations, and Pacific countries such as the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu.

Australia did not speak during the at-times heated debate, a silence noted by many countries on the floor of the conference, Dr Bill Hare, the managing director of Climate Analytics and a lead author on previous IPCC reports, told Guardian Australia.

“Australia’s silence in the face of this attack yesterday shocked many countries and is widely seen as de facto support for the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait’s refusal to welcome the IPCC report,” Hare said.

Richie Merzian, climate and energy program director at the Australia Institute, said widespread goodwill across the Katowice talks was being undermined by “a handful of countries” trying to disconnect the science and urgency from the implementation of the Paris agreement.

“It is disappointing but not surprising that Australia kept its head down during the debate … by remaining silent and not putting a position forward, Australia has tacitly supported the US, Russia and Saudi Arabia’s rejection of the latest science on climate change.”

Merzian said Australia’s regional neighbours, including New Zealand and Pacific islands, had voiced strong support for the IPCC’s report, which was a key outcome of the Paris agreement.

“A number of delegates privately shared their frustration that countries like Australia stood on the sidelines while Trump’s, Putin’s and King Salman’s representatives laid waste to the fundamental climate science.”

Hare said the interests of the fossil fuel industry were seeking to thwart the conference’s drive towards larger emissions cuts.

“The fossil fuel interest – coal, oil and gas – campaign against the IPCC 1.5 report and science continues to play out in the climate talks, but even those countries [opposing welcoming the report] are being hit by the impacts of only one degree of warming.

“The big challenge now is for the Polish presidency to set aside its obsession with coal, get out of the way and allow full acknowledgement of the IPCC 1.5C report, and its implications for increasing the ambition of all countries, in the conclusion of COP24 later this week.”

Australia’s environment minister, Melissa Price, arrived in Katowice on Sunday, with negotiations set to resume Monday morning……..

Australia’s emissions, seasonally adjusted, increased 1.3% over the past quarter. Excluding emissions from land use, land use change and forestry (for which the calculations are controversial), they are at a record high.

December 11, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia’s dirty tricks in Poland: getting away with no reduction in greenhouse emissions

December 11, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, politics international | 1 Comment

Lynas contemplates importing radioactive trash into Australia

Brokers remain optimistic on Lynas despite Malaysian setbacks, SMH, By Colin Kruger, 6 December 2018  Analysts remain optimistic about the future of ASX-listed rare earths miner Lynas Corp, suggesting there may be ways around the onerous conditions put on the renewal of its operating licence in Malaysia.

The stock dived as much as 26 per cent on Wednesday after the Malaysian government set the conditions, which include the removal of all 451,000 tonnes of radioactive residue produced by its $1 billion rare earths processing plant since it started operating in 2012.
The Malaysian operating licence, which allows Lynas to process the rare earths there from ore mined in Western Australia, is up for renewal next September.

Despite this, UBS has valued Lynas on a “business-as-usual basis” on the grounds that the problems are not insurmountable.

There may be grounds for appeal. The ministry is planning to implement a much stricter regime than the independent expert panel was recommending,” UBS analyst Daniel Morgan said in a research note. ….

According to UBS, Lynas may be able to economically ship the radioactive waste to another country – possibly Australia. And in a worst-case scenario, it could sell its concentrate product to China for processing while it restructured its processing.

One option is for Lynas to split out the processing stage that produces the residues that have caused problems in Malaysia.

“Lynas may be able to invest in a cracking and leaching facility in Australia, keeping the [waste] in the country.” Lynas would then ship the concentrate to Malaysia for the final stage of extraction using its existing facilities.

CLSA was also optimistic, saying the low-level radioactivity meant the waste could be shipped in regular shipping containers. And Lynas had access to rehabilitation funds to help pay the bill……..

Outside China, Lynas is the only processor of rare earths, which are crucial for elements of the new economy like mobile phone components, electric cars and batteries.

The miner’s shares shares nearly halved in value in May when Mahathir Mohamad unexpectedly defeated his former ruling party and then announced a review of the Lynas operation as promised……..

Lynas earlier this month flagged a temporary shutdown of its Malaysian processing plant, which could cost the company $16 million in lost revenue, if it doesn’t win local government approvals to lift production caps.  safe…….

December 7, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics international, rare earths | Leave a comment

Malaysia tells Lynas to remove rare earths radioactive waste

 Aljazeera, 4 Dec 18 Decision follows an expert review of the east coast facility’s operations. It has until September to remove the waste.

Decision follows an expert review of the east coast facility’s operations. It has until September to remove the waste.   Malaysia has told Lynas, the Australian company operating a rare earth elements processing plant on the country’s east coast, that it must remove the radioactive waste that accumulated as a result of its activities over the past six years if it wants to continue to operate.

The decision on Tuesday follows a review of Lynas operations in Malaysia that was initiated by the government that took power in May’s general election.

The “management of the waste residue from the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) should be given priority to ensure the wellbeing of the community and the environment”, the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change said in a statement.

The residue, some of it radioactive, has been building up at an open landfill at the Lynas site near the city of Kuantan since the processing plant started operations in 2012.

“The Ministry is concerned with the increasing risk of arising from the continued accumulation of residue without a viable solution to manage its accumulation in the near-term,” the statement continued.

“For this reason, the Ministry will not allow the unlimited accumulation of residue at LAMP. The accumulated Water Leached Purification (WLP) Residue, which contains radioactive materials must be removed from Malaysia.”

Radioactive waste

While Lynas was considering recycling the waste as a soil conditioner, the ministry said the duration of the studies was too short to reach a conclusion on the plan’s safety. It said the waste would need to be removed from Malaysia by September 2, 2019, when Lynas’ temporary storage licence expires.

The decision is likely to come as a blow to Lynas. The Australian-listed company had been campaigning hard to convince the review committee, government and the public that the plant was  safe…….


December 7, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, wastes | Leave a comment

Will Scott Morrison drop support for the Iran nuclear deal, in order to curry favour with Donald Trump?


Why do I not do pictures of Scott Morrison?  Because I can’t be bothered. Morrison will soon be gone and forgotten


Although Australia is not a party to the Iran nuclear deal, Scott Morrison is reviewing whether Australia should follow Donald Trump’s lead and withdraw its support

Known as the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA), this has significantly curbed Iran’s nuclear activities for at least a decade and potentially longer, while subjecting it to the most intrusive verification system applied to any country undefeated in war.

The Trump administration has renounced the agreement and reapplied economic sanctions to Iran.

The government’s policy review was announced during the October 2018 by-election for former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s parliamentary seat of Wentworth and was widely considered a ploy, ultimately unsuccessful, to retain the seat for the Liberal Party.

But even now, it’s not clear whether a real review is occurring or whether the Department of Foreign Affairs is simply going through the motions. Regardless, the result is expected this month.

It’s also not clear whether it was Mr Morrison or Mr Trump who raised the issue during their meeting, but the Prime Minister claimed it as “a success”, noting that Trump “very much welcomed the fact that, as a friend and an ally, we have always been ready to re-look at these things”.

This attempt to curry favour with the famously mercurial president is ill-advised. Quite apart from the inaccuracy of the suggestion that Australia is always willing to reconsider its policies just because it is a US ally (that certainly has not occurred over the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which the US refuses to ratify), there are significant political and substantive drawbacks for Australia even hinting that its support for the Iran deal is wavering.

Australia has for decades had a bipartisan policy towards preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. It has actively supported the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treatyand the global nuclear safeguards system run by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which verifies compliance with the treaty through on-site inspections and other monitoring.

Australia has also been at the forefront of efforts to strengthen safeguards.

It was the first country to adopt an Additional Protocol, designed to enhance the system after Iraq’s near-acquisition of nuclear weapons in the 1990s, and the first to qualify for the so-called Broader Conclusion about its compliance with the Protocol’s rigorous new requirements.

Although Australia wasn’t involved in the Iran negotiations, it was consulted as the talks proceeded and vocally supported the initiative and outcome. To renege now would cast doubt on our longstanding commitment to nuclear non-proliferation, jeopardise our credibility internationally, including at the IAEA, and call into question our commitment to multilateral, negotiated solutions to international problems.

Although not perfect, the Iran agreement was the product of an extraordinary international diplomatic effort to curb Iran’s nuclear weapon activities through a multilateral verifiable arrangement.

It involved not just the United States, but three other Western allies of Australia, the European Three (France, Germany and the United Kingdom), as well as the European Union, China and Russia – all of which are sticking to the accord.

While the Morrison government might have gained fleeting kudos from the Trump administration, Australia risks confounding not just the other JCPOA parties, but friends and allies which endorsed it subsequently, including Canada, Indonesia and Japan.

The only states pleased by Australia’s move would be Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps the worst implication of rejecting the JCPOA is to cast doubt on the plausibility of multilateral negotiations to resolve the North Korean nuclear impasse.

December 6, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Edward Snowden Condemns US Justice Department for Targeting Julian Assange 


What IS criminal is the failure of the Australian government do do a damn thing to help Julian Assange

Sputnik News, 18 Nov 18The former NSA contractor, who faces capital punishment in the US for leaking classified information on numerous US secret surveillance programmes, voiced his support for the WikiLeaks founder after it came to light that US authorities are apparently poised to indict Julian Assange.

Edward Snowden, who has been granted political asylum in Russia, has voiced his concern about the dangerous precedent for stifling press freedom which could emerge from the US Justice Department’s alleged plans to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

The Freedom of the Press Foundation, where Snowden is a board member, also issued a statement condemning the possible indictment of Julian Assange, whose website published a classified Iraqi dossier revealing that the US killed civilians during the country’s 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation. Trevor Timm, executive director of Freedom of the Press Foundation, cited a profound threat to press freedom if any charges are brought against WikiLeaks for their publishing activities.

“Whether you like Assange or hate him, the theories used in a potential Espionage Act prosecution would threaten countless reporters at the New York Times, Washington Post, and the many other news outlets that report on government secrets all the time. While everyone will have to wait and see what the charges detail, it’s quite possible core First Amendment principles will be at stake in this case,” his statement reads.

Earlier this week, it came to light through what is believed to be an accident that there’s a sealed complaint against Assange, as the US Department of Justice is gearing up to prosecute the whistleblower. It is now “optimistic” about the prospect of securing his release to US authorities, a new report suggests. According to the Wall Street Journal, prosecutors have weighed several types of charges against the journalist, who has resided in self-imposed exile at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012……….

November 19, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia-UK agreement on nuclear co-operation and development after UK leaves European Union

This agreement allows the strong links between the UK and Australia in the civil nuclear sector to continue following the UK’s withdrawal from Euratom and provides the basis for future  collaboration.

International treaty Gov UK

[CS Australia No.1/2018] UK/Australia: Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy     Presented to Parliament 12 November 2018

November 17, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment