Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

United Nations uphold their ruling in favour of Julian Assange

flag-UN.UN rejects UK appeal on Assange, Justice for Assange On 30 November 2016, the United Nations rejected the United Kingdom’s attempt to appeal the UN’s February ruling in favour of Julian Assange.

The decision therefore stands and the UK and Sweden are once again required to immediately put an end to Mr. Assange’s arbitrary detention and afford him monetary compensation.

Earlier this year the United Nations concluded the 16 month long case to which the UK was a party. The UK lost, appealed, and today – lost again. The UN instructed the UK and Sweden to take immediate steps to ensure Mr. Assange’s liberty, protection, and enjoyment of fundamental human rights. No steps have been taken, jeopardising Mr. Assange’s life, health and physical integrity, and undermining the UN system of human rights protection.

Now, the United Nations has found that the United Kingdom’s request for review of this decision (filed on March 24) was inadmissible; the United Kingdom has now reached the end of the road in its attempt to overturn the ruling. As a member of the Security Council and the United Nations Human Rights Council, the United Kingdom must respect its commitment to the United Nations, and release Mr. Assange immediately. Now, more than ever, moral leadership is required; maintaining Mr. Assange’s effective detention (which stands at six years as of 7 December, 2016) will only serve to green light future abuses against defenders of free speech and human rights.

Mr. Assange stated “Now that all appeals are exhausted I expect that the UK and Sweden will comply with their international obligations and set me free. It is an obvious and grotesque injustice to detain someone for six years who hasn’t even been charged with an offence.”….. https://justice4assange.com/?rejects

December 2, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, politics international | Leave a comment

Australian govt ignores UN request to review its failing uranium industry

The Federal Government …remains resistant to an independent cost-benefit assessment of Australia’s uranium trade, as directly requested by the then UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon in the wake of Fukushima.

instead of the requested industry review there has been a retreat from responsibility and a rush to rip and ship more uranium ore by fast-tracking risky and contested new uranium sales deals, including to India and Ukraine.

Despite Canberra’s irresponsible fire sale approach the Australian uranium sector is facing tough times…..

text-uranium-hypeOn shaky ground: Australian uranium and Fukushima https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/on-shaky-ground-australian-uranium-and-fukushima,9778  Dave Sweeney 28 November 2016 

THE POWERFUL EARTHQUAKE that struck off the coast of Fukushima prefecture in Japan last week, is a stark reminder of the deep and continuing safety concerns following the 2011 nuclear disaster.

The stricken reactor complex remains polluted and porous and every added complication leads to further contamination.

Closer to home the renewed tectonic instability highlights the need for urgent Australian government action on the industry that directly fuelled the continuing nuclear crisis.

In October 2011, Robert Floyd, the director general of the Department of Foregn Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO) confirmed to the Federal Parliament that

“Australian obligated nuclear material [uranium] was at the Fukushima Daiichi site and in each of the reactors.”

Continue reading

November 27, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, uranium | Leave a comment

Australian uranium fuelled Fukushima. Now about to fuel dangerous Ukraine nuclear reactors

Earlier this week without fanfare, a group of federal politicians gathered to take a very quick look at an issue with very long consequences. As far as ideas go, a uranium sales deal between the country that fuelled Fukushima and the one that gave the world Chernobyl doesn’t sound like a good one.

And it’s not. There are serious and unresolved nuclear security, safety and governance concerns with the plan and putting more unstable nuclear material into a deeply politically unstable part of the world is force-feeding risk.

There is a lack of detailed information to support the safety and safeguards assumptions underpinning the proposed treaty action, and DFAT’s National Interest Analysis of the plan is deeply deficient, especially in relation to key safeguards and security concerns and the implications of the Russian conflict.

The NIA’s under-stated noting ‘that political tensions currently exist between Ukraine and Russia’ completely fails to recognise or reflect the gravity of the situation. Continue reading

November 25, 2016 Posted by | politics international, uranium | Leave a comment

Australia near the bottom of the list in international climate policies

Map Turnbull climatePoor ranking for Australia in climate action index released at Morocco talks  http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2016/11/16/poor-ranking-australia-climate-action-index-released-morocco-talksAn international ranking of government actions on climate change has put Australia fifth last out of 58 countries. 16 NOV 2016

 Australia’s climate change policies continue to be ranked as very poor in an international comparison of 58 countries.

The latest climate change performance index ranks Australia fifth last – the same rank as last year – in a list of nations responsible for 90 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions.

We’re ahead of Korea, Kazakhstan, Japan and Saudi Arabia but well behind France, Sweden and the UK which topped the index.

The report, released at United Nations climate change talks in Morocco, says Australia improved in the areas of renewable energy and cutting emissions but did worse in energy efficiency. Experts reviewing policies pointed to a wide gap between Australia’s national and state level plans for tackling climate change.

“While the former were rather unambitious and uninspired; the latter managed to some extent to take independent action,” the report states.

Australian Conservation Foundation says the report shows the world is watching as Australia’s carbon pollution rises.

“The government spruiks its climate credentials but Australia remains a laggard on cutting climate pollution,” chief executive Kelly O’Shanassy said.

While the government’s ratification of the Paris agreement was welcome, Ms O’Shanassy said Australia couldn’t meet its commitments under that deal unless it systematically closed coal-fired power plants and replaced them with renewable power.

November 18, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

One year on, BHP Billiton held to account for the Samarco tailings dam disaster

BHPB-sad17 Nov 16,  BHP Billiton’s AGM | Thursday 17th November at 11 am | Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre

 At th BHP Billiton Limited AGM in Brisbane this Thursday, dissident shareholders will challenge the company’s board over its response to the Samarco tailings dam disaster. The AGM is being held twelve months on from the disastrous collapse of the Fundão mining waste (‘tailings’) dam at the Samarco iron ore mine in Minas Gerais, Brazil, which is 50-50 owned by BHP Billiton and Brazilian mining giant Vale.

“The dam break led to the destruction of all forms of life in the region. Mud covered everything, resulting in 20 deaths and unmeasurable environmental destruction. We have seen whole communities destroyed by BHP Billiton and Vale’s operations. They have lost everything, without receiving any real compensation. Instead of reparations for the victims, what is becoming evident is the blatant corporate capture of our government by transnational companies”, said Rodrigo de Castro Amédée Péret, of the Churches and Mining Network in Latin America who attended the BHP Billiton London AGM.

The collapsed waste dam killed twenty people [1], left 700 people homeless and polluted hundreds of kilometres of the Rio Doce river valley. Following the 5 November, 2015 disaster, MAB (People Affected by Dams), a coalition of local communities impacted by Brazil’s thousands of dam projects, made four key demands of Samarco and parent companies BHP Billiton and Vale [2].

Natalie Lowrey, of Australia’s Mineral Policy Institute, said, “BHP Billiton and its associates at Samarco are ignoring those most affected – the people whose lives and livelihoods have been devastated by last year’s tailings dam collapse. The demands being made by MAB, the social movement of people affected by dams, should be accepted. People want meaningful participation in decision-making about the clean-up and compensation, and for everyone who has been affected to be recognised – the companies shouldn’t be picking and choosing who gets help.”

Representatives of communities impacted by the broken dam disaster reiterated these demands at BHP Billiton’s London AGM on 20 October 2016 [3][4]. They were unsatisfied with the company’s responses.  A panel of inquiry was set up to assess the cause of the waste dam collapse without attributing blame, they released a report in August 2016 [5].

Richard Harkinson, of London Mining Network, said, “BHP Billiton appears to be leading on international lobbying for the industry’s ‘learning lessons’ without regulatory change. The panel’s report [6] questioned the efficacy of changes in waste dam design and the sequence of its modifications, and poor management particularly throughout 2011-12, whereby the bases for failure were established through failure and compounded through avoiding good practice.”

On the day of the company’s London AGM, the Brazilian prosecutor’s office charged 26 people for their alleged roles in the disaster, 21 for qualified homicide. This included BHP Billiton and Vale executives on the Samarco board, including a minority who have now left [7]. London Mining Network and the Mineral Policy Institute welcomed this development as a step towards justice [8].

Notes Continue reading

November 18, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics international | Leave a comment

Taiwan will NOT be sending its nuclear waste to South Australia

flag-taiwantext-NoToday’s Advertiser (South Australia’s mouthpiece for the nuclear lobby) has an article promoting the idea of Taiwan sending its nuclear wastes to Australia.

But here’s what’s really happening

Taiwan organising to dump its nuclear wastes on Orchid Island  https://nuclear-news.net/2016/08/14/tawian-organising-to-dump-its-nuclear-wastes-on-orchid-island/

Taiwan to End Nuclear Power Generation in 2025 https://nuclear-news.net/2016/10/23/taiwan-to-end-nuclear-power-generation-in-2025/

November 13, 2016 Posted by | politics international, South Australia | Leave a comment

Will Australia back coal at the UN climate talks?

coal plants LatrobeWhat’s in store at the Marrakech climate talks – and will Australia still back coal?, Guardian,  Graham Readfearn,6 Nov 16 

The US presidential race is guaranteed to prove a distraction at the Morocco COP22 gathering, where action is on the agenda. he Australian government takes a delegation to the United Nations climate change talks in Morocco starting Monday – two weeks that are sure to be dominated by, well, who knows?

Because, during the first week, the United States will go to the polls to pick a new president – an event that will act like a giant weapon of mass distraction in Marrakech.

The Republican candidate, Donald Trump, has pledged to pull the US out of the UN process on climate change and cancel the global deal agreed at the last talks in Paris…….

aside from the distraction of US politics, what else for Marrakech – a meeting known as COP22 (so called, if you must ask, because this is the 22nd meeting of the conference of the parties to the UN framework convention on climate change)? And what about Australia’s position?

Since the Paris agreement was gavelled last December, the process to ratify the deal has been ongoing.

This process, known as “entry into force”, required at least 55 “parties” representing about 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions to ratify the agreement.

This threshold was met on 5 October and the deal will enter into force right about … now!…….

Australia has still not ratified the Paris agreement but there are reports this could happen before the talks close on 18 November……

Australia pledged that by 2030, it would cut emissions between 26% and 28% below where they were in 2005.

While the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade stands by the target as being ambitious and fair, there are many critics who say it’s anything but……

Australia remains an influential country in the talks, owing in part to its position as chair of the umbrella group of countries – one of many negotiating groups.

As yet there has been no formal announcement from the Australian government on who will attend, but there is an expectation among some that the foreign minister, Julie Bishop, will be there for the “high-level segment” that starts in week two.

The Australian delegation will also have a new diplomat in charge. Replacing Peter Woolcott as climate change ambassador is Patrick Suckling, who took over the role in February after serving as Australia’s high commissioner in India.

During his time in New Delhi Suckling made several statements supporting the controversial Carmichael mega-coalmine project in Queensland, being proposed by Indian company Adani.

“This project will drive economic growth and create more than 6,000 jobs in Australia,” he said in 2014. “It will also boost India’s development by providing electricity to 100 million Indians.”

In one report in the Economic Times, Suckling was quoted as saying the Australian government was trying to tighten legal rules around who could and could not challenge coalmines through the courts (a theme that has re-emerged in recent weeks).

“We are actively thinking of possible ways to limit the scope of litigation to only those with a real standing in a project,” he was quoted as saying.

Language like this tends not to go down well with the army of NGOs, campaigners and civil society groups who attend the climate talks and have given Australia more then a fair share of “fossil” awards over the years.

The perception among many has been that Australia has sought to defend the coal industry too many times at UN meetings.

Will Australia stake its reputation on coal again? https://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2016/nov/05/whats-in-store-at-the-marrakech-climate-talks-and-will-australia-still-back-coal

November 6, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia’s ignominious opposition to UN resolution towards nuclear disarmament

Clearly, Australia, Japan and South Korea voted in solidarity with their U.S. nuclear protector and against the overwhelming sentiment of their Asian and Pacific neighbors as well as against global opinion. Being on the wrong side of geography as well as history is not a good look. Their vote might also attract charges of hypocrisy the next time they criticize North Korea’s nuclear program

Rattling the nuclear cage, and look who is terrified,
Japan Times,  BY  , 4 Nov 16, “…….on Oct. 27 the First Committee of the U.N. General Assembly adopted, by the overwhelming vote of 123-38 (with 16 abstentions), Resolution A/C.1/71/L.41, which calls for negotiations on a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading toward their total elimination.” Two conferences will be convened next year in New York (March 27 to 31 and June 15 to July 7). The resolution fulfills the 127-nation humanitarian pledge “to stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.”
The strengthening international sentiment was evident at the U.N. working group’s disarmament meeting in Geneva in August when Australia angered many countries by insisting on a recorded vote instead of approving a consensus report calling for negotiations on a ban to begin in 2017. Continue reading

November 5, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UN vote to start negotiating treaty to ban nuclear weapons- Australia voted against it

UN votes to start negotiating treaty to ban nuclear weapons
Australia votes with major nuclear powers against the resolution – including US, Russia and Israel – but 123 nations vote in favour,
Guardian , 28 Oct 16, United Nations member states have voted overwhelmingly to start negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, despite strong opposition from nuclear-armed nations and their allies.

In the vote in the UN disarmament and international security committee on Thursday, 123 nations were in favour of the resolution, 38 opposed and 16 abstained.

Nuclear powers the United States, Russia, Israel, France and the United Kingdom were among those that opposed the measure.

Australia, as forecast last week, and as a long-time dependant on the US’s extended nuclear deterrence, also voted no.

The resolution now goes to a full general assembly vote some time in December.

The resolution aims to hold a conference in March 2017 to negotiate a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.

Support for a ban treaty has been growing steadily over months of negotiations, but it has no support from the nine known nuclear states – the US, China, France, Britain, Russia, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – which includes the veto-wielding permanent five members of the security council.

But Australia has been the most outspoken of the non-nuclear states.

During months of negotiations, Australia has lobbied other countries, pressing the case for what it describes as a “building blocks” approach of engaging with nuclear powers to reduce the global stockpile of 15,000 weapons…….

Professor Tilman Ruff, founding chair of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and co-president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, said the vote was a “historic step” for the world that “heralds an end to two decades of paralysis in multilateral nuclear disarmament”.

“The numbers are especially encouraging given the ferocious pressure on countries to vote no by the nuclear-armed states, who see that this will fundamentally challenge their continued possession of nuclear weapons,” he said.

The treaty will fill the legal gap by which the most destructive of all weapons – nuclear weapons – are the only weapon of mass destruction to not yet be outlawed by international treaty.”

Ruff said Australia should reverse its opposition “and get on the right side of humanity”.

“Australia is doing dirty work for Washington, and is willing for US nuclear weapons to be used on its behalf, and potentially with its assistance,” he said.

“It is inconceivable that Australia would not eventually sign up to a treaty prohibiting the last to be banned and worst [weapons of mass destruction]. We’ve signed every other treaty banning an unacceptable weapon, and on some, like chemical weapons, we were a leader.”…….https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/28/un-votes-to-start-negotiating-treaty-to-ban-nuclear-weapons

October 29, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

How USA got rid of Australian Prime Minister Whitlam – it was all about Pine Gap

Whitlam demanded to know if and why the CIA was running a spy base at Pine Gap near Alice Springs, a giant vacuum cleaner which, as Edward Snowden revealed recently, allows the US to spy on everyone. “Try to screw us or bounce us,”the prime minister warned the US ambassador, “[and Pine Gap] will become a matter of contention”.

Victor Marchetti, the CIA officer who had helped set up Pine Gap, later told me, “This threat to close Pine Gap caused apoplexy in the White House. … a kind of Chile [coup] was set in motion.”

Pine Gap’s top-secret messages were de-coded by a CIA contractor, TRW. One of the de-coders was Christopher Boyce, a young man troubled by the “deception and betrayal of an ally”. Boyce revealed that the CIA had infiltrated the Australian political and trade union elite and referred to the Governor-General of Australia, Sir John Kerr, as “our man Kerr”.

pine-gap-1

The forgotten coup – How America and Britain crushed the government of their ‘ally’, Australia https://www.rt.com/op-edge/198420-australia-pm-whitlam-intelligence-usa/
By John Pilger 23 Oct, 2014 Across the political and media elite in Australia, a silence has descended on the memory of the great, reforming prime minister Gough Whitlam, who has died. His achievements are recognized, if grudgingly, his mistakes noted in false sorrow.

But a critical reason for his extraordinary political demise will, they hope, be buried with him. Australia briefly became an independent state during the Whitlam years, 1972-75. An American commentator wrote that no country had “reversed its posture in international affairs so totally without going through a domestic revolution”.Whitlam ended his nation’s colonial servility. He abolished Royal patronage, moved Australia towards the Non-Aligned Movement, supported “zones of peace” and opposed nuclear weapons testing.

Although not regarded as on the left of the Labor Party, Whitlam was a maverick social democrat of principle, pride and propriety. He believed that a foreign power should not control his country’s resources and dictate its economic and foreign policies. He proposed to “buy back the farm”. In drafting the first Aboriginal lands rights legislation, his government raised the ghost of the greatest land grab in human history, Britain’s colonization of Australia, and the question of who owned the island-continent’s vast natural wealth.  Continue reading

October 27, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia’s deplorable nuclear disarmament policy

Later this month, the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly will vote on a draft resolution that will ‘convene a UN conference in 2017, to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination’. The resolution is expected to be adopted with a substantial majority. But the Australian government, in an unprecedented departure from a decades-long bipartisan commitment to nuclear disarmament, plans to vote no.

As reported in The Interpreter in August, Australian diplomats have been fighting an increasingly desperate rearguard action against the move by more than 100 other countries to negotiate a new treaty that prohibits nuclear weapons, with or without the participation of nuclear-armed states. Such a treaty would put Australia in an awkward spot. As a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), there is no prima facie legal reason Australia could not support and join such an instrument. Indeed, it is not obvious why any state that is legally obliged by Article VI of the NPT to ‘pursue negotiations in good faith’ on effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament could not vote to ‘convene a United Nations conference in 2017, to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons’. But Australia’s reliance on extended nuclear deterrence evidently poses a problem.

Australia has been curiously reluctant to engage honestly with other governments about its true objection to the ban treaty. Instead of frankly expressing their concerns about the implications that an absolute prohibition of nuclear weapons might have for Australia’s defence doctrine, Australian officials have continued to trot out one flimsy and transparent pretext after another. Ambassador John Quinn told the First Committee that a ban treaty ‘would not rid us of one nuclear weapon. It would not change the realities we all face in a nuclear-armed DPRK’. This is a ludicrous criticism from a country that supports the ‘step-by-step’ or ‘building blocks’ approach to nuclear disarmament. A fissile material cut-off treaty would also ‘not rid us of one nuclear weapon’, but Australia (rightly) supports it as one of a range of measures needed to move closer to a world without nuclear weapons…….

Australia has also joined the US and other opponents of the ban treaty in incorrectly and disingenuously portraying it as ‘abandoning’ their preferred ‘step-by-step’ approach. Proponents of the ban treaty have been careful to emphasise that it is not a replacement for existing measures (such as pursuing a fissile material treaty, entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-ban Treaty, further bilateral stockpile reductions, etc), but, rather, is intended to support and reinvigorate them. There is no choice to be made: any country that supports, negotiates and joins the ban treaty can and will continue to work cooperatively with all states to strengthen the NPT and pursue the ‘practical, realistic’ measures that Australia advocates……

Contrast this with other countries that share some of Australia’s concerns. Sweden’s decision to vote yes came after months of careful deliberation by a commission specially established by the government to examine the implications of the ban treaty for Sweden. Japan’s government commissioned an extensive study by the Japan Institute of International Affairs. The Clingendael foreign policy institute produced a study back in May 2015 on the implications of a ban treaty for the Netherlands, and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation produced a similar study for Germany.

However Australia casts its vote in the First Committee, negotiations on the ban treaty will commence at the UN next year. Australia is manifestly unprepared for this. It would be totally unprecedented (and unconscionable) for Australia to fail to participate in a UN-mandated negotiation of a multilateral disarmament treaty. But if Australia does choose to participate, its record of disingenuous and at times dishonest opposition to the ban, coupled with a dire lack of substantive policy analysis, will leave it poorly placed to steer the negotiations in its national interest. http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2016/10/20/Australia-digs-itself-deeper-into-nuclear-disarmament-policy-hole.aspx

October 22, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia continues to try to scuttle international moves towards a nuclear weapons ban !

exclamation-Australia will not support negotiations to outlaw nuclear weapons  Senate estimates to question foreign affairs department officials on Thursday on nuclear disarmament stance, Guardian,  20 Oct 16, Australia will not support a resolution to begin negotiations to outlaw nuclear weapons, as it grows increasingly isolated from a global disarmament push.

A resolution is before the United Nations general assembly to “convene a United Nations conference in 2017, to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons”.

The resolution has 39 co-sponsoring nations and will be voted on by the general assembly later this month, or next. The conference is slated for March next year.

Officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will appear before Senate estimates on Thursday to face questioning on Australia’s nuclear disarmament position.

Support for a ban treaty has been growing steadily over months of negotiations, but it has no support from the nine known nuclear states – the US, China, France, Britain, Russia, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea – which includes the veto-wielding permanent five members of the security council.

Australia has spent months in negotiations over the proposed negotiations, seeking to stymie the push for a ban on nuclear weapons, and has sought to press the case for what it describes as a “building blocks” approach of engaging with nuclear powers to reduce the global stockpile of 15,000 weapons.

Australia has consistently maintained that while nuclear weapons exist, it must rely on the protection of the deterrent effect of the US’s nuclear arsenal, the second largest in the world.

In August, with nations at a UN disarmament meeting set to unanimously pass a report recommending negotiations on a ban start in 2017, Australia forced a vote on the issue, which it lost 68 to 22.

The move upset opponents and allies alike, resulting in the adoption of a report with stronger language in favour of a ban. Australia was marked as the most strident opponent of a ban treaty.

But diplomatic cables obtained under freedom of information laws now show that Australia, despite its resolute opposition, is increasingly pessimistic about stopping ban treaty negotiations progressing.

“We are concerned that the [open-ended working] group [on nuclear disarmament] is tracking towards recommendations supporting a nuclear weapons ‘ban treaty’ which we do not support,” a cable sent to Canberra from Geneva in June this year said.

A so-called “humanitarian pledge” to eliminate nuclear weapons has been signed by 127 states around the world. Australia is particularly isolated in the Asia-Pacific region – ASEAN nations, New Zealand, and almost all Pacific Island states, support a ban treaty……….

Associate professor Tilman Ruff, co-president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, said that with a ban treaty likely to be concluded next year, the world stood at an historic turning point.

A ban would, he argued, “fill the existing legal gap which currently makes the most heinously destructive of all weapons the last weapon of mass destruction not explicitly outlawed by international treaty”.

“For other indiscriminate and inhumane weapons … the world has first established a clear moral and legal norm of prohibition. For biological and chemical weapons, antipersonnel land-mines and cluster munitions, establishing an unequivocal norm of prohibition has … been the basis for subsequent progress towards their elimination.

“Prohibit, then eliminate. That is the proven, logical path. For nuclear weapons it is also the only feasible, practical option at this time.”

The Australian government’s position, he said, was becoming increasingly untenable globally, and falling further out of step with Australian public opinion.

Politically, support for Australian reliance on America’s extended nuclear deterrence, is no longer bipartisan. At its national conference in 2015, Labor formally adopted a policy of “firm support” for an outright ban on nuclear weapons.

Lisa Singh spoke at a UN side event in New York last week – in her capacity as a Labor Senator, not as a representative of the Australian government – arguing the “doctrine of nuclear deterrence … is based on a willingness to inflict violence indiscriminately and on a massive scale”……… https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/20/australia-will-not-support-negotiations-to-outlaw-nuclear-weapons

October 20, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia under question at UN over its climate change policy

Map Turnbull climateAustralia facing questions at UN over post-2020 climate change stance, The Age, 13 Oct 16, Adam Morton  Australia is facing renewed international pressure to explain what it is doing to tackle climate change, with a United Nations reviewfinding its emissions continue to soar and several countries calling for clarity about what it will do after 2020.

Countries including China and the US have put more than 30 questions to the Turnbull government, asking for detail about how Australia will meet its 2030 emissions target and raising concerns about a lack of transparency over how the government calculates and reports emissions.

It comes as the federal government has been facing calls at home – sparked by its own criticism of ambitious state renewable energy targets – to reveal what it would do on climate change and clean energy beyond 2020.

An expert review commissioned by the UN found, based on data submitted by Australia, its emissions would be 11.5 per cent higher in 2020 than they were in 1990. Industrial emissions – not counting those from forestry and land-clearing – were expected to rise 33.5 per cent over the three decades.

The reviewers found a recent Australian report lacked transparency about how it estimated its future emissions. And they noted the report failed to mention the abolition of the carbon price scheme, or explain what impact scrapping the policy would have on it meeting targets……..

Physicist Bill Hare, chief executive of Climate Action Tracker and an adviser to developing countries at climate negotiations, said the questions asked of Australia showed deep scepticism and frustration beneath a diplomatic veneer. “It is very strange that the government had put forward no projections, which are the sine qua non [essential ingredient] of this area of policy,” he said.  “It is as if the Treasury produce a report for the International Monetary Fund with no future numbers in it. It raises alarm bells.”

A Climate Action Tracker analysis found Australia’s emissions were headed to be more than 27 per cent greater than 2005 levels in 2030…….. http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/australia-facing-questions-at-un-over-post2020-climate-change-stance-20161011-gs0avq.html

October 13, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Australian uranium companies notorious for exploitation of African communities

Paladin Energy’scontaminating uranium operations, controversy over Anvil and state repression in Congo, MRC’s exit from its Xolobeni titanium project on South Africa’s Wild Coast following the murder of anti-mining advocateBazooka Rhadebe earlier this year.

The list goes ever on and the details – some of which are documented in a powerful report by the International Consortium of Independent Journalists – are deeply disturbing.

The absence of a robust regulatory regime in many African countries can see situations where Australian companies are engaged in activities that would not be acceptable practise at home

uranium-oreAfrica Down Under: Tales Of Australian Woe On The ‘Dark Continent’, New Matilda, By  on September 7, 2016 A mining conference underway in Perth states its aim is to help boost the fortunes of one of the poorest regions on earth. But boost the fortunes for whom, asks Dave Sweeney from ACF.

Stories of corruption, dirty dealing and corner cutting are not uncommon in the world of mining and resource extraction, especially in the developing or majority world. It is a tough trade where the high-visibility clothing is often in stark contrast to the lack of transparency surrounding payments and practises.

But as a major industry gathering takes place this week in Perth it is time for a genuine look at whether Australian resource companies are supporting the growth of fledgling democracies or literally undermining them.

No doubt the tall tales will flow along with the cocktails at the Africa Down Under mining conference, an annual event that sees Australian politicians join their African counterparts alongside a melange of miners, merchants and media. Continue reading

September 9, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, uranium | Leave a comment

French anti-nuclear activists force Australian delegation to leave National Radioactive Waste Management Agency (ANDRA)

protestflag-franceAustralian Delegation to France Blockaded By Anti-Nuclear Activists http://earthfirstjournal.org/newswire/2016/09/05/australian-delegation-to-france-blockaded-by-anti-nuclear-activists/#more-51943 from Earth First! Newswire On the morning of September 1st an Australian delegation on a parliamentary inquiry into the management of nuclear waste, was blockaded in North-East France by anti-nuclear activists.

The delegation was visiting the National Radioactive Waste Management Agency (ANDRA) facilities in the municipality of Bure, where an anti-nuclear movement under the banner of Bure Zone Libre (Bure Liberated Zone, BZL) has been burgeoning in recent years.

A group of about twenty masked activists dressed in white overalls and armed with water guns, drums and a sound system blocked the Australian delegation from entering the ANDRA laboratory, forcing the delegation to turn around and leave.

“We’re here in solidarity with indigenous resistance to the planned nuclear facility in Australia,” said one activist with a red clown nose. “Nuclear industry endangers life itself, and we will resist it everywhere.”

The BZL movement recently got national headlines in France for toppling a three kilometer long wall which ANDRA has erected around the forest near Bure. The wall was intended to stop the group from reoccupying the forest which ANDRA aims to uproot for the construction of a controversial nuclear waste facility.

“Wherever they’ll build walls, we’ll turn them into wall jam,” the activist laughed, explaining the French wordplay confiture de mur, as mur means both blackberry and wall.

About twenty gendarmes (French military police) patrolled Bure after the action had already ended. The area has been increasingly militarized recently, with activists facing trumped legal charges.

The BZL activists sent the Australian delegates a letter explaining their actions, presented below.

Letter to Australian delegation: Continue reading

September 7, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment