Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

The danger of Australia mindlessly aligning with the “Anglosphere”

Australia’s dangerous obsession with the Anglosphere, The Conversation,  Dennis AltmanProfessorial Fellow in Human Security, La Trobe University, 22 June 18 

Over the past three weeks the ABC program Four Corners has presented special reports on American politics, which involved one of our best journalists, Sarah Ferguson, travelling to the US on special assignment. I watched these programs and I enjoyed them. But in part I enjoyed them because they covered ground that is already familiar.

If the same effort had gone into bringing us in-depth special reports from, say, Jakarta or Mumbai they would have been less familiar, but perhaps more interesting. Most important they would not be stories already covered by major English language media to which we have extraordinary access.

As we struggle to make sense of a changing world order, in which the role of the US seems less defined and dependable, our fascination with things American continues to grow. It is one of the ironies of current Australian life that preoccupation with “the Anglosphere”, a favourite phrase of former prime minister Tony Abbott’s, is in practice shared by many who regard themselves as progressive.

What is the Anglosphere? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as “the countries of the world in which the English language and cultural values predominate”, clearly referring to Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. A surprisingly recent term, it was coined by the science-fiction writer Neal Stephenson in his 1995 novel The Diamond Age, and then picked up by a number of conservative commentators.

The Churchillian notion of near-mythical bonds created by the English language and British heritage has always attracted Australian conservatives

……… Despite 50 years of governments talking about Australia as part of Asia, now somewhat rebadged in the concept of the Indo-Pacific, our cultural guardians continue to behave as if nothing has changed. We may be wary of Trump’s America, and a little bemused by the reappearance of Little Britain, but we still look unreflectively to the US and Britain for intellectual guidance……..

Australia is not Britain or the United States, and there is a paradox that we are more and more obsessed with them even as their relative importance in the world, and certainly in our region of the world, declines. …….

Australia has a bipartisan record of sending troops overseas to win the gratitude of our “great and powerful friends”.

With an American president who seems uninterested in traditional alliances and unmoved by appeals to protect democracy or human rights, one might expect the government would be more conscious of the reality that US and Australian interests will not always converge. On the contrary: they seem to be working harder to align us with the United States.

……… culture and foreign policy meet: alarm bells about Chinese influence  ignore the far greater sway of American, to a lesser extent British, influence on our everyday lives. Yes, China is a repressive authoritarian state which is trying to increase its global influence. Yes, we should be cautious about their expansion. But too often we view this through an American prism, rather than making the effort to understand how the shifting power relations are being understood in countries in our region……..

The danger of aligning ourselves with the Anglosphere is that it distorts the complexity of the greater world and aligns us with policies that are neither in our national interest nor that of a more just world. Just as republicans can enjoy the spectacle of a royal wedding without abandoning the idea of an Australian head of state, we need to remind ourselves that Trump is, literally, not our president. https://theconversation.com/friday-essay-australias-dangerous-obsession-with-the-anglosphere-97443?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%20104769250&utm_content=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%20104769250+CID_d2601f3250ee129a2a85691211523ae8&utm_source=campaign

 

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

Australian uranium company Paladin leaves a mess behind it, in Africa

Who cleans up the mess when an Australian uranium mining company leaves Africa?Jim Green, 18 June 2018, The Ecologist   www.theecologist.org/2018/jun/18/who-cleans-mess-when-australian-uranium-mining-company-leaves-africa

Australian mining companies have a poor track record operating in Africa. Australian uranium company Paladin Energy has now put two of its mines into ‘care-and-maintenance’ and bankruptcy looms. But who cleans up the company’s mess in Namibia and Malawi, asks JIM GREEN

Many Australian mining projects in Africa are outposts of good governance – this is what Julie Bishop, the country’s Foreign Minister, told the Africa Down Under mining conference in Western Australia in September 2017. The Australian government “encourages the people of Africa to see us as an open-cut mine for lessons-learned, for skills, for innovation and, I would like to think, inspiration,” the minister said.

But such claims sit uneasily with the highly critical findings arising from a detailed investigation by the International Consortium of Independent Journalists (ICIJ). The ICIJ noted in a 2015 report that since 2004, more than 380 people have died in mining accidents or in off-site skirmishes connected to Australian mining companies in Africa.

The ICIJ report further stated: “Multiple Australian mining companies are accused of negligence, unfair dismissal, violence and environmental law-breaking across Africa, according to legal filings and community petitions gathered from South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Ghana.”

Paladin Energy’s Kayelekera uranium mine in Malawi provides a case study of the problems with Australian mining companies in Africa. Western Australia-based Paladin exploited Malawi’s poverty to secure numerous reductions and exemptions from payments normally required by foreign investors.

United Nations’ Special Rapporteur Olivier De Schutter noted in a 2013 report that “revenue losses from special incentives given to Australian mining company Paladin Energy, which manages the Kayelekera uranium mine, are estimated to amount to at least US$205 million (MWK 67 billion) and could be up to US$281 million (MWK 92 billion) over the 13-year lifespan of the mine.”

Paladin’s environmental and social record has also been the source of ongoing controversy and the subject of numerous critical reportsContinue reading

June 19, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Donald Trump alienates America’s allies, raising the question “Should Australia get its own nuclear weapon?”

“The irony of the North Korean denuclearisation deal could be that everybody else decides to go nuclear. If it fails and Kim remains in power and countries doubt our commitment, then what’s to stop Japan or South Korea or Australia going nuclear?”

Trump triggers talk of Australia going nuclear, SMH, By Peter Hartcher 

Should Australia develop its own nuclear weapons? It seems an outlandishly radical thought for such a safe country to consider. But a former adviser to Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop thinks it’s an idea whose time is fast approaching.

In his book Why Australia Slept, launched this week, Peter Hendy says that Australia needs to consider nuclear weapons because “if we could financially afford them, [they] would secure an even more independent foreign policy” for the country.

Hendy, a former Liberal federal MP, former head of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and now a consultant, is not the first to raise this delicate subject. The way things are going he won’t be the last.

Three former deputy secretaries of Australia’s Defence Department – strategists Hugh White, Paul Dibb and Richard Brabin-Smith – have mooted the idea in the past year. Till these most recent months, it’s been something of a taboo topic in respectable circles.

One big reason? Australia already has the protection of the United States nuclear umbrella. Under this system, the US pledges that if anyone should launch a nuclear strike on one of its allies, Washington would retaliate against the aggressor.

So to suggest that Australia now needs its own atomic arsenal is to suggest that there has been a fundamental breakdown in trust. In short, that the US alliance is dead. Continue reading

June 15, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia needs a more consistent and rational approach to China

Australia needs to reset the relationship with China and stay cool The Conversation  Tony WalkerAdjunct Professor, School of Communications, La Trobe University, 

Let’s call it the “China syndrome”. This describes a condition that is a bit compulsive and not always rational.

Australia’s response to China’s continuing rise mixes anxiety, even a touch of paranoia, with anticipation of the riches that derive from the sale of vast quantities of commodities.

Economic dependence on China is two-edged and potentially policy-distorting.

To put this in perspective: Australian exports of goods and services to China in 2016-17 were worth $110.4 billion. That accounts for nearly 30% of total exports. This compares with $20.8 billion for the US, or 5.16% of total exports. The EU (including the United Kingdom) accounted for $30.5 billion, or 9.8%.

In other words, nearly one-third of Australian goods and services trade is hinged to the China market. Putting it mildly, such a level of dependence on a single market is not ideal……….

What is lacking in Australia’s approach to its relationship with China is consistency, so the government speaks with one voice and, where possible, separates domestic politics from the conduct of China policy. ……..

the greatest risk for Australia is that an erratic Trump administration will undermine a rules-based international order critical to Australian security.

Canberra’s diplomatic efforts over many years have been aimed at drawing Beijing into a rules-based system, promoting certainty in China’s behaviour as a “responsible stakeholder”.

That longstanding impulse of Australian foreign policy is now under stress.

However, what also needs to be kept in mind is that relations between Canberra and Beijing have had their ups and downs over the years. These blips have come and gone……..

The Australian government needs a reset of the relationship that would move the two countries past a difficult stage caused by a combination of misunderstanding and loose talk.

Australian officials also need to bear in mind that, in a region in flux, Australia’s Asian neighbours are accommodating themselves to new realities at warp speed. Old certainties such as the validity of US security guarantees are being questioned.

The Turnbull government is operating in a much-changed environment. Stakes are high. Levels of anxiety about China’s rise are unlikely to fall. Australia needs to keep its cool and avoid falling prey to a China syndrome characterised by unsteadiness and poor judgement. https://theconversation.com/australia-needs-to-reset-the-relationship-with-china-and-stay-cool-97370?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%204%202018%20-%20103249093&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%204%202018%20-%20103249093+CID_283a8e2d929a46b44b455fc08b8056c4&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Australia%20needs%20to%20reset%20the%20relationship%20with%20China%20and%20stay%20cool

 

June 3, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Will Australia’s Prime Minister Turnbull cave in to USA pressure for Australia to join in USA efforts against Iran ?

US calls on Australia to pressure Iran out of nuclear weapons program, Perth Now, Peter MitchellAAP, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called on Australia and other nations to help execute the Trump administration’s tough new campaign to ensure Iran “has no path to a nuclear weapon – not now, not ever”.

Pompeo, in his first major foreign policy speech since becoming secretary of state, on Monday used fiery language to outline America’s strategy after US President Donald Trump earlier this month defied the wishes of Australia, France, Great Britain and other allies and pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal.

He said the US was ready impose the “strongest sanctions in history” against Iran and listed 12 demands the regime must follow, including providing the International Atomic Energy Agency with unqualified access to all sites throughout Iran.

“In the strategy we laid out today, we want the support of our most important allies and partners in the region and around the globe,” Pompeo said in his address to the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC.

“Certainly our European friends, but much more than that.

“I want the Australians, the Bahrainis, the Egyptians, the Indians, the Japanese, the Jordanians, the Kuwaitis, the Omanis, the Qataris, the Saudi Arabians, South Korea, the UAE, and many, many others worldwide to join in this effort against the Islamic Republic of Iran…….. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on May 9 he regretted Mr Trump’s decision to pull out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal between Iran and the US, Britain, Russia, France, China and Germany.https://www.perthnow.com.au/politics/donald-trump/us-calls-on-australia-to-pressure-iran-out-of-nuclear-weapons-program-ng-b88843974z

May 23, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

BHP, Heathgate, and Turnbull government keen to sell uranium to India

Boost to nuclear-power: Two Australian firms in talks to export uranium to India, The Indian Express,  by Anil Sasi | New Delhi   May 2, 2018 

Two Australian companies BHP Billiton, the world’s biggest mining company, and Heathgate Resources, an affiliate of US company General Atomics, are in discussions with the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) for exporting uranium to India.

A sales contract for enabling the transfer, which is part of the ongoing commercial negotiations between Australian uranium vendors and India’s DAE on fuel contracts for civil nuclear-power generation, is currently under discussion, officials indicated…..

A steady supply of uranium is good news for the country’s nuclear power sector, something that is expected to boost the performance of Indian nuclear power plants, as well as of several fuel cycle facilities.

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott had signed an agreement with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for civil nuclear cooperation in September 2014, clearing the way for uranium sales. Australia’s current PM, Malcolm Turnbull, had said in April last year that he was looking forward to exporting uranium to India “as soon as possible” after holding talks with the Indian PM. Ongoing discussions with Melbourne-based BHP and Adelaide-based Heathgate Resources are aimed at formalising commercial contracts to enable uranium shipments to India. …….http://indianexpress.com/article/india/boost-to-nuclear-power-two-australian-firms-in-talks-to-export-uranium-to-india-5159318/

 

May 5, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics international, uranium | 3 Comments

Australia, France, in support of Iran nuclear deal

Emmanuel Macron, Malcolm Turnbull fear looming demise of Iran nuclear deal  Financial Review 1 May 18 by Andrew Tillett

Last-ditch efforts to prevent the Iran nuclear agreement from completely collapsing will feature in talks between Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday, amid the growing likelihood Donald Trump will ditch the deal.

Australia has expressed its support for retaining the agreement, which requires Iran to curtail the development of nuclear weapons in return for economic and diplomatic sanctions being lifted, in a rare split with the White House.

During Mr Turnbull’s recent European visit, Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg both pressed upon him their concerns that Mr Trump will not certify the agreement by the May 12 deadline.

Both Ms Merkel and Mr Macron pushed Mr Trump not to abandon the agreement during their separate visits to Washington DC last week, with the French leader conceding he expected Mr Trump would cancel the deal because of US domestic politics.

A senior government source said Mr Turnbull would offer Mr Macron support for keeping the agreement alive when they meet in Sydney on Wednesday.

Mr Macron’s visit will be dominated by security and defence, including greater cooperation between Australia and France on development in the South Pacific to serve as a counterweight to China’s rise.

……Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australia’s position was that the agreement – formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – should remain in place until such time as an alternative could be negotiated.

“I have made our views clear to the Trump administration and again during my recent discussion with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo,” Ms Bishop told The Australian Financial Review.

“Our ongoing political support for the JCPOA is based on advice from the International Atomic Energy Agency that the deal is providing verifiable assurances on Iran’s nuclear program.

…..Lowy Institute non-resident fellow Anthony Bubalo said Australia was a peripheral player in the debate but Canberra would be “very conscious of any implications” a US withdrawal would have for negotiations with North Korea. Far from sending the “right message” to Kim Jong-un, it signalled to North Korea not to trust a deal struck with an US administration.

“It undermines efforts to strike a deal with North Korea,” he said. http://www.afr.com/news/emmanuel-macron-malcolm-turnbull-fear-looming-demise-of-iran-nuclear-deal-20180501-h0zh4t

May 2, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

USA wants nuclear attack submarines to be based in Perth

Washington report floats US nuclear attack subs and warships in Perth THE AUSTRALIAN, CAMERON STEWART, Washington correspondent@camstewarttheoz, 25 Apr 18

US nuclear attack submarines and navy warships should be based in Perth in response to China’s growing power projection into the Indo-Pacific, a new US report warns.

The report says Australia and its allies must “spotlight and push back” against China’s stepped-up efforts to project power and build military infrastructure in the region.

……..The report also comes a week after it was revealed that three Australian warships were challenged by the Chinese military as they travelled through the disputed South China Sea early this month.

Tensions between Australia and China have risen sharply, with China’s ambassador to Australia warning last week that the relationship between the two countries had been marred by “systematic, irresponsible and negative remarks” about China.

Beijing has not hosted a senior Australian minister for several months and was highly critical of Malcolm Turnbull’s new security laws announced last year to ­protect Australia from foreign ­interference.

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd this week further accused the current Prime Minister of undermining Australia’s relationship with China, saying Mr Turnbull’s public remarks about our largest trading partner were tantamount to “punching the Chinese in the face”……..

 the CSIS calls for a range of measures, including a rotational presence of US warships at HMAS Stirling in Perth.

It also calls on the Turnbull government to “consider the possibility of investing in the nuclear support infrastructure necessary for the basing of (US) attack submarines as well”.

These military options have been considered by the Turnbull and Abbott Coalition governments and by the Gillard and Rudd Labor governments but they have never been acted upon.

But Mr Shearer said the time was now right for a bigger US military presence at HMAS ­Stirling…….https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/defence/washington-report-floats-us-nuclear-attack-subs-and-warships-in-perth/news-story/af5d0e9dd300c8eb96bf74aca790198d

 

April 25, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Surprise surpise – Turnbull doesn’t agree with New Zealand PM on nuclear weapons ban, on immigrants

Ardern and Turnbull agree to disagree on nuclear weapons ban http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/on-air/larry-williams-drive/audio/barry-soper-jacinda-ardern-and-malcolm-turnbull-agree-to-disagree-on-nuclear-weapons-ban/ 2 Mar 18 Jacinda Ardern and Malcolm Turnbull have agreed to disagree on efforts to ban nuclear weapons, and whether Australia should deport Kiwi-born criminals.

The two leaders have held bilateral talks in Sydney.

Political editor Barry Soper told Larry Williams it was a charm offensive, and nothing substantial has come out of it.

He says the issues that were outstanding going into the talks remain outstanding, after them.

“It’s important, I guess, to keep a very good relationship with them but I don’t think we should allow ourselves to be bullied and to some degree, I think that’s what the Australians do to them.”

March 2, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | 1 Comment

New Zealand Prime Minister may urge Malcolm Turnbull to join UN nuclear weapons ban

NZ may lobby Aust on nuclear weapons ban   SBS News 27 Feb 18  “……….Australia could be in for a lecture from New Zealand on nuclear weapons disarmament.

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will visit Australia for talks with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the end of the week.

She’ll be accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, seven cabinet ministers and a business delegation.

Ms Ardern delivered a major foreign policy speech to the New Zealand Institute of Public Affairs on Tuesday and announced her government will reinstate the cabinet position of disarmament and arms control minister.

Last July, 122 countries voted in the United Nations to ban nuclear weapons.

Ms Ardern flagged in the speech her government was looking at an early ratification of the treaty. “In a modern context, the greatest challenge comes from North Korea, situated right here in our region,” she said.

“At a time when risks to global peace and security are growing and the rules-based system is under such pressure, we must recommit ourselves to the cause of non-proliferation and disarmament.”

Australia has refused to sign up to the treaty ban and did not take part in the negotiations.

The country relies on the deterrent protection from the US’s nuclear weapons arsenal.

New Zealand has long adopted a firm line in opposing development of nuclear capabilities, which at times puts the small Pacific nation at odds with some allies.

……… Asked if she’ll raise the issue with Mr Turnbull, Ms Ardern told reporters in Wellington: “I have no qualms having conversations about it.”……. NZ also has an ongoing offer to resettle 150 refugees from Nauru and Manus Island, which has previously been rejected……..https://www.sbs.com.au/news/nz-may-lobby-aust-on-nuclear-weapons-ban

 

February 28, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Julian Assange loses bid to have UK arrest warrant withdrawn 

 

Why is the Australian government giving no help to this Australian citizen?

 ABC News 14 Feb 18A British judge has upheld an arrest warrant for Julian Assange, saying the WikiLeaks founder should have the courage to come to court and face justice after more than five years inside Ecuador’s London embassy.

Key points:

  • Mr Assange can seek to appeal, though his lawyers did not say whether he would
  • He faces arrest if he leaves Ecuador’s London embassy
  • His attorney argues that arresting him was no longer proportionate or in the public interest

Judge Emma Arbuthnot rejected arguments by Mr Assange’s lawyers that it is no longer in the public interest to arrest him for jumping bail in 2012 and seeking shelter in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden.

Prosecutors there were investigating allegations of sexual assault and rape made by two women, which Mr Assange has denied.

Judge Arbuthnot did not mince words in her ruling at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, saying that by jumping bail, Mr Assange had made “a determined attempt to avoid the order of the court”.

She said Mr Assange appeared to be “a man who wants to impose his terms on the course of justice”.

Mr Assange can seek to appeal, though his lawyers did not immediately say whether he would.

Swedish prosecutors dropped their investigation last year, saying there was no prospect of bringing Mr Assange to Sweden in the foreseeable future.

But the British warrant for violating bail conditions still stands, and Mr Assange faces arrest if he leaves the embassy.

Mr Assange’s lawyers had asked for the warrant to be withdrawn since Sweden no longer wants him extradited, but the judge rejected their request last week.

His attorney had gone on to argue that arresting him was no longer proportionate or in the public interest.

Lawyer Mark Summers argued the Australian was justified in seeking refuge in the embassy because he had a legitimate fear that US authorities want to arrest him for WikiLeaks’ publication of secret documents.

Judge Arbuthnot dismissed another plank of Mr Assange’s case — a report from a UN working group which said the 46-year-old was being arbitrarily detained.

“I give little weight to the views of the working group,” the judge said, noting that Mr Assange had “restricted his own freedom for a number of years”.

Julian Assange’s bid for freedom
While court hearings for Julian Assange’s bid for freedom are interesting steps in a long running saga, the end game is far more complicated, writes Lisa Millar.

Mr Assange’s lawyer had argued that the five-plus years Mr Assange had spent inside the embassy were “adequate, if not severe” punishment for his actions, noting that he had health problems including a frozen shoulder and depression….

..The ruling leaves the long legal impasse intact. Apart from the bail-jumping charge — for which the maximum sentence is one year in prison — Mr Assange suspects there is a secret US grand jury indictment against him for WikiLeaks’ publication of classified documents, and that American authorities will seek his extradition.

Mr Assange’s lawyers say he is willing to face legal proceedings in Britain, but only if he receives a guarantee that he will not be sent to the US to face prosecution. That is not an assurance Britain is likely to give. ……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-14/julian-assange-loses-bid-to-have-uk-arrest-warrant-withdrawn/9444540

 

February 14, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, politics international | Leave a comment

Julian Assange remains stuck in London, still at risk of extradition to USA

Julian Assange ‘has suffered enough’, his lawyers tell British judge, SMH, Nick Miller, 6 Feb 18, London: Julian Assange has suffered enough and shouldn’t face prison for absconding from justice, his lawyers have told a court.

The Wikileaks editor is depressed, in constant pain from an infected tooth, and has been stuck in the Ecuador Embassy in London’s Kensington far longer than the maximum 12-month jail penalty for breaching bail, his barrister said.

On Tuesday Assange lost a legal bid at Westminster Magistrates Court to quash the arrest warrant that has awaited him since he entered the Ecuador embassy in June 2012.

However his lawyers immediately launched a new push to end the UK government’s attempt to bring him to justice – arguing that it is against the public interest to punish him for refusing to leave the embassy.

It is a criminal offence for someone on bail to refuse to surrender to police without “reasonable cause” – and Assange refused to leave the embassy despite a court order for his arrest.

 But Assange’s barrister Mark Summers QC told Judge Emma Arbuthnot that it was not in the interests of “justice and proportionality” to bring an action against Assange.

Assange went into the embassy after he exhausted his line of appeal against a decision to extradite him to Sweden to face rape allegations.  Sweden last year ended its investigation into the allegations, and the European arrest warrant against Assange was cancelled. However the British warrant for his arrest still stood – and judge Arbuthnot said she was not persuaded it should be quashed simply because the underlying investigation had stopped.

Mr Summers said Assange was not “thumbing his nose” at justice and his five and a half years in the embassy were “adequate if not severe punishment for the actions that he took”.

Assange had genuine fears – later proved correct – that the US were keen to prosecute him over his work with Wikileaks, Summers said.

If arrested he would face rendition to the USA, treatment similar to that meted out against Wikileaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning – and possible “persecution, indefinite solitary confinement and the death penalty”, Summers said in a written submission……….

Judge Arbuthnot said it was a “very interesting” case.

She will rule on the public interest application on February 13.

Outside court, Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson said whether or not the warrant is quashed Assange would not leave the embassy until he had an assurance he wouldn’t be extradited to the US.

“Mr Assange remains willing to answer to British justice in relation to any argument about breaching bail, but not at the expense of facing injustice in America,” she said.

“This case is and always has been about the risk of extradition to the United States and that risk remains real.” http://www.smh.com.au/world/julian-assange-has-suffered-enough-his-lawyers-tell-british-judge-20180206-p4yzjt.html

February 7, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

New Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement “less problematic”

‘Hallelujah’ moment: Revised TPP to be signed in March Radio New Zealand, 23 Jan 18 The revised Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement is to be signed in March, the Trade Minister has confirmed. Australia’s Trade Minister, Steve Ciobo, said the 11 nations, including New Zealand, are “finally at the finish line” following talks between officials in Tokyo………

The rebranded the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), covers nearly 500 million people and the 11 countries involved make up 14 percent of global economic activity, or about $US10 trillion.

If the trade pact is successfully concluded, lower barriers and standardised rules are expected, making it easier for businesses to sell their goods and services in these markets.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the agreement the “right deal”.

The country’s trade minister said it included an improved arrangement on autos with Japan and the suspension of intellectual property provisions that had been a concern…….
Trade specialist Stephen Jacobi  said it was a less problematic deal than the initial one.

“It suspends a number of the more problematic areas of TPP, particularly intellectual property provisions and some aspects of the investor state settlement that was very controversial in New Zealand.

“It’s taken the hard edge off TPP … in those areas.”

Mr Jacobi said [New Zealand] parliament needed to ratify the agreement, but while he did not think there would be major issues passing it in New Zealand there would still be critical voices in this country.https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/348764/hallelujah-moment-revised-tpp-to-be-signed-in-march

January 24, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Professor Hugh White warns on risks of an alliance between Japan and Australia

An Australian-Japan alliance?, Hugh White  http://sdsc.bellschool.anu.edu.au/experts-publications/publications/1854/australian-japan-alliance

Policy paper

In this Centre of Gravity paper, Professor Hugh White explores the potential and risks of an alliance between Japan and Australia. Japan is one of Australia’s most important economic partners, a close ally of the US and might be prepared to sell Australia a highly advanced submarine fleet. Yet, for all the overlap of values, Professor White cautions that there is not necessarily an overlap of interests. In particular the rise of China poses difficult questions for the long term potential for the relationship, and for Australia’s desire to avoid having to choose between the US and China.

January 20, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

India Enters Australia Group, Inches Closer to Joining Nuclear Suppliers Group

BY THE WIRE STAFF ON 19/01/2018   The Ministry of External Affairs hopes India’s ‘credentials’ are taken into account as and when a decision is taken (on its NSG application). New Delhi: India on Friday joined the Australia Group which aims to stop the development and acquisition of chemical and biological weapons, a move that may take the country an inch closer to joining the Nuclear Suppliers’ group (NSG).

This is the third multilateral export control group – after the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and Wassenaar Arrangement – that India has become a member of.

In a press release, the 42-member Australia Group said there had been “very strong support” for India’s membership at its plenary meeting in June 2017. Following that, “consensus was reached intersessionally” to admit India to the club. “India then reaffirmed its intention to join the group,” said the announcement.

The Ministry of External Affairs said that the series of multilateral export control groups that India has joined “helps in establishing our credentials” for joining the NSG. India joined the MTCR in June 2016, followed by the Wassenaar Arrangement in December 2017.

Stating that India remains engaged with other countries over its application to join the NSG, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “We hope that our credentials are taken into account as and when a decision is taken (on NSG application)”…….. https://thewire.in/215482/india-enters-australia-group-inches-closer-joining-nuclear-suppliers-group/

January 20, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment