US ‘threatens to involve Australia in war with China’: Paul Keating condemns US secretary of state nominee’s comments, The Age, Fergus Hunter, 14 Jan 17
Former prime minister Paul Keating has rounded on President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state nominee, accusing him of threatening to bring on war with China and making “ludicrous” comments on the tense South China Sea dispute.
In a statement released on Friday, Mr Keating warned the Australian government to reject Rex Tillerson’s declaration this week that a “signal” needed to be sent to Beijing that the construction of artificial islands in the contested region must stop and “access to those islands also is not going to be allowed”. The remarks from the former chief of Exxon Mobil, in which he also called for regional allies “to show backup”, have set the stage for sharply increased tensions between the US and China as the Asian superpower builds up its military presence on the islands to defend against competing territorial claims from neighbouring countries.
According to Mr Keating, Mr Tillerson’s testimony to his US Senate confirmation hearing “threatens to involve Australia in war with China”. And he has urged the Australian people to “take note” and recommended the government tell the Trump administration, which will take over on January 20, “that Australia will not be part of such adventurism, just as we should have done in Iraq 15 years ago”. “That means no naval commitment to joint operations in the South China Sea and no enhanced US military facilitation of such operations,” the former Labor prime minister said.
“Tillerson’s claim that China’s control of access to the waters would be a threat to ‘the entire global economy’ is simply ludicrous. No country would be more badly affected than China if it moved to impede navigation. On the other hand, Australia’s prosperity and the security of the world would be devastated by war.”……… http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/us-threatens-to-involve-australia-in-war-with-china-paul-keating-condemns-us-secretary-of-state-nominees-comments-20170113-gtqy0k.html
Radioactive Waste:Written question – 46886
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if his Department will take steps to ensure that storage or disposal of nuclear waste is compliant with the obligations outlined in Article 29 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Margaret Henry Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA
In the UK parliament they were asked if they will take steps to stop the shipment of UK nuclear waste to Andnyamantha homelands in Australia up to 2020.
HERE IS THE ANSWER –
“There is a very small quantity of Australian owned radioactive waste currently stored in the UK. We anticipate that this will be returned to Australia in due course in line with contractual commitments. The location of any storage and disposal facilities for this waste will be a matter for the Australian authorities.
Any shipment of radioactive material out of the UK will comply with all relevant international laws and use ships which meet national and international requirements.” https://www.facebook.com/groups/344452605899556/
Margaret Henry Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA, 30 Dec 16 In the UK parliament in January 2016, they were asked if the Government will issue an apology to the indigenous people of Australia for British nuclear tests carried out on their land in the 1950s and 1960s.
“In 1968, Australia signed an agreement with the UK confirming that the clean-up of all test sites had been completed satisfactorily. As announced to the House on 10 December 1993,(Official Report, column 421), the Government agreed to make an ex gratia payment of £20 million to the Federal Government of Australia as a contribution to the cost of the further clean-up of the Maralinga site. A copy of the note giving effect to this agreement was placed in the Library of the House. The note also records that the Government of Australia indemnified the Government of the UK against claims from Australian nationals or residents. The Government now regards the matter as closed.” https://www.facebook.com/groups/344452605899556/
Why is Australia not fully behind efforts to prohibit nuclear weapons? http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/why-is-australia-not-fully-behind-efforts-to-prohibit-nuclear-weapons-20161229-gtjhd6.html, Sue Wareham It’s about time for some good news. Heaven knows, we need it after 2016’s litany of human failures to find peace between ourselves and with our struggling planet. But as a Christmas gift of historic proportions, the UN – which is to say its member states – has taken the most promising action in decades to lead us towards the elimination of the world’s worst weapons. Late on December 23 in New York, the UN General Assembly resolved by a strong majority to begin talks in March on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.
To realise the full significance of this, consider the fact that other weapons of mass destruction – chemical weapons, biological weapons, landmines, cluster bombs – have all been prohibited by their respective treaties, and the threats posed by these weapons dramatically reduced as a result. But for nuclear weapons, which literally threaten life on Earth, there is currently no equivalent.
One might have expected that our Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, who likes spruiking Australia’s commitment to a “rules-based international order”, would welcome the imminent closure of this legal anomaly. On the contrary, however, Australia has been leading the charge to undermine the process.
Australia claims that the ban treaty process has not taken into account the security needs of “all nations” (for which read the US), a curious claim given that our ally stands out as more vulnerable than most to a nuclear weapons attack. In any event, is she really suggesting that the security needs claimed by the nine nuclear-armed nations outweigh the right of the other 187 of us to be rid of this diabolical threat?
That’s a bit like cutting President Bashar al-Assad some slack over his alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria because he has “security needs”. Weapons of mass destruction are not somehow more acceptable because a handful of nations claim that they, and only they, must have them. But, the ban treaty critics say, nuclear weapons are different, and the countries with the weapons will just thumb their collective noses at it.
Not according to a letter in October from the US mission to NATO to its European allies, urging that they oppose the treaty. With an air of desperation to sabotage the whole thing, the US stated that efforts to delegitimise nuclear weapons are at odds with its policy of nuclear deterrence, including extended deterrence for its allies (such as NATO members and Australia). Further, horror of horrors, it “could make it impossible to undertake nuclear planning or training”. Well, yes, that’s the general idea, to delegitimise every aspect of nuclear weapons possession and planning; and all indications are that that goal will be achieved, regardless of who signs the treaty. So much for the toothless tiger notion.
Nevertheless, Australia presses on with its defence of US nuclear weapons, including their possible use on our behalf, not veering from its chosen “progressive” approach to disarmament. This consists of a number of steps that have progressed more slowly over decades than a drunken snail.
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty has languished since it was completed in 1996, with little prospect of ever coming into force, and the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty has been moribund for even longer. In other words, we are told that a stagnant business-as-usual agenda is the way to go, even as 15,000-plus nuclear weapons – 1800 of them still on hair-trigger alert – continue to threaten human suffering of the most grotesque proportions, and all warnings point to increasing risk of their use.
Australia will have to decide very quickly whether we support the majority of nations that have come to their senses and are about to outlaw nuclear weapons, or the Trumps and Putins of this world with their chilling Cold War-style ravings. For a nation that boasts commitment to a “rules-based international order”, the choice hardly seems difficult.
The reality of moving one big step closer to stigmatising, prohibiting and eliminating the most destructive, inhumane, indiscriminate devices ever created is cause for celebration. However, there is another cause for celebration, and that is the capacity of civil society – without which the nuclear weapons ban would not be happening – to mobilise, organise, work with supportive governments and set the agenda for a better world. As the politics of violence, division and hatred loom large on many fronts, such capacity is desperately needed for the huge challenges ahead.
Dr Sue Wareham is a board member of ICAN (Australia), the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.
DCNS Opens New Australia-Based Office to Support Country’s Submarine Replacement Project http://blog.executivebiz.com/2016/12/dcns-opens-new-australia-based-office-to-support-countrys-submarine-replacement-project/on: December 22, 2016 France-based naval shipbuilder DCNS has established a new headquarters for its Australian subsidiary that will design the future submarine of Australia’s navy as part of an intergovernmental agreement between the two countries.
DCNS said Wednesday its Adelaide Future Submarine Facility is scheduled to begin operations in early 2017 and will support activities such as the transfer of technology from France to Australia, development of a supply chain and design of a shipyard in Adelaide.
“This facility, and our local Adelaide workforce starting with 50 people in 2017, marks the beginning of our relationship as part of the community,” said Herve Guillou, DCNS Group chairman and global CEO.
The Australian government selected DCNS in April to provide design services for the country’s estimated $38.7 billion SEA 1000 Future Submarine Program.
Marise Payne and Jean-Yves Le Drian, respective defense ministers of Australia and France have signed an agreement that establishes a framework for the two countries on the development of the Australian navy’s fleet of submarines.
“DCNS’s operations face questions across almost the entire globe, including in Pakistan, Malaysia, India, Saudi Arabia and Chile, with bribes and kickbacks reportedly comprising 8 per cent to 12 per cent of DCNS’s entire budget.”
French subs builder’s record of corruption, The Saturday Paper, HAMISH MCDONALD, 30 Apr 16 “…….The Defence Department has been dazzled by promises from shipbuilder DCNS of ultra-quiet pulse-jet propulsion, a powerful sonar array from Thales, a comfortable space for the crew, and a very long range. Now all that has to be done is design the new boat, replacing the nuclear reactor in the Barracuda with diesels, batteries and fuel cells, and fitting in fuel tanks.
For the politicians, it’s all about jobs and buckets of money − as much as an extra $20 billion for local production − to retain a few Coalition seats in South Australia. So soon after seeing off the car industry, the Liberal Party dominated by economic “dries” has embraced industrial policy in a big way, in alliance with the Socialists of President François Hollande……
Somehow, even though the subs will be built in Adelaide, the French defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, also claims the contract as a “major victory for the French naval industry”, which would create thousands of new jobs in France.
Le Drian added that, “We are married to Australia for 50 years” − referring to the lifetime support for the submarines. So we had better be aware of the baggage our new partner brings. Unfortunately the Direction des Constructions et Armes Navales, now partly privatised and named DCNS, is a lady with a shady past,
As the Hong Kong-based website Asia Sentinel has pointed out, “DCNS’s operations face questions across almost the entire globe, including in Pakistan, Malaysia, India, Saudi Arabia and Chile, with bribes and kickbacks reportedly comprising 8 per cent to 12 per cent of DCNS’s entire budget.”
One of the notable scandals was the alleged payment, with approval by the late president François Mitterrand, of $US400 million in bribes to Taiwan’s then ruling Kuomintang in 1991 for the sale of six frigates, with another $US100 million going to the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee to keep Beijing quiet. A more recent scandal, still simmering in Malaysia and France, involves the payment of €114 million in commissions to an associate of then Malaysian defence minister Najib Razak (now prime minister) in 2002 for the $US1.25 billion order of two Scorpène-class submarines for the Malaysian navy.
One of the major criticisms of the SA nuclear proposal by the SA Liberals and green groups has been the risk of spending state taxpayer money up front with no certainty of future revenue.
Opposition treasury spokesman Rob Lucas said Mr Hamilton-Smith “stands condemned for misleading everyone” about Taiwan’s views
Taiwanese energy firm rejects Martin Hamilton-Smith’s claim it would help set up SA nuclear waste dump Daniel Wills, State political editor, The Advertiser 14 Dec 2016
TAIWAN’S state-owned energy company has bluntly rejected Investment and Trade Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith’s claim the country would consider paying to help set up a nuclear waste dump in SA, saying in a letter that it “hereby declares this is a false information”.
Just days after Premier Jay Weatherill’s citizens’ jury last month overwhelmingly dumped on plans for nuclear storage in SA, amid concerns about trust, Mr Hamilton-Smith insisted he had met with Taiwanese officials who expressed a “clear message” of interest in investment.
“There’s clearly a demand and our neighbours may be in a position to put hundreds of millions, if not billions, into infrastructure and then paying to dump waste on an ongoing basis,” he said.
However, correspondence from state-owned power company Taipower and the country’s Atomic Energy Council to government party MP Su Chih-Feng rejects Mr Hamilton-Smith’s claim.
While they note there was a meeting with Mr Hamilton-Smith on November 10, Taipower says his spin of the events in Adelaide three days later was “a false information”.
The translation from Mandarin to English was done by a Taiwanese NGO and provided to The Advertiser by antinuclear activists Friends of the Earth Australia. It states Taipower was interested in using a dump which had been established, but not paying to help set one up. Continue reading
the Australian government’s desire to have the AIIB’s investment strategy give more priority to fossil fuel projects runs contrary to Australian public opinion.
According to an online poll from Market Forces, taken between 15 and 19 August by Essential Research, 62% of Australians would prefer multilateral banks like the AIIB and World Bank to use taxpayer dollars to fund renewable energy projects.
The poll, of 1,017 respondents, found just 13% of Australians would prefer money to fund fossil fuel projects (with 26% unsure).
Australia lobbies infrastructure bank to invest in coal and nuclear power https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/dec/06/australia-lobbies-infrastructure-bank-to-invest-in-coal-and-nuclear-power Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank releases draft energy strategy prioritising renewable projects, Guardian, Gareth Hutchens, The Australian government is lobbying for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to put more emphasis on coal and nuclear after concerns renewable energy projects were being prioritised.
Draft guidelines were circulated by the bank that suggest it should prioritise investments in renewable energy projects across Asia while the Turnbull government has argued fossil fuels will play a significant role in energy generation in the region for decades to come..
Australia joined the AIIB in June 2015, with then-treasurer Joe Hockey pledging an initial $930m to the bank. The AIIB has been working with the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, and a range of other banks to satisfy an estimated US$8tn infrastructure shortfall across Asia.
The bank is still in the process of creating its identity, but its founding members, including Australia, have declared the AIIB should be a “green bank.”
The draft guidelines suggest the AIIB should not consider financing nuclear plants at this stage, because the bank would “have to develop the capacity to be involved in such complex and capital-intensive projects”. It says this decision could be revisited if justified.
It also suggests the AIIB should prioritise renewable energy generation over fossil fuel power. Continue reading
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
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…..
On 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.”
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
Poor 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
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.
17 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 , 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 .
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 . 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 .
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  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 . London Mining Network and the Mineral Policy Institute welcomed this development as a step towards justice .
Notes Continue reading
Today’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/
What’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