Australian news, and some related international items

Australian Government’s White Paper warns on climate change dangers in our region

Australia facing climate disaster on its doorstep, government’s white paper warns
Foreign policy paper says climate-related conflict and migration could put Australia’s economic interests under pressure,
Guardian, Katharine Murphy, 23 Nov 17, Climate change is creating a disaster on Australia’s doorstep, with environmental degradation and the demand for sustainable sources of food undermining stability in some countries, especially “fragile states”, according to the Australian government’s first foreign policy white paper in more than a decade.

The new white paper, released on Thursday, contains warnings over the disruptive effects of climate change in Australia’s immediate region, noting that many small island states will be “severely affected in the long term”, and the coming decade will see increased need for disaster relief.

The white paper notes the demand for water and food will rise, with the world’s oceans and forests under intense pressure. It notes climate change and pressure on the environment could contribute to conflict and irregular migration, impacting specifically on Australia’s economic interests.

Despite the obvious challenges for Australia and the world posed by Donald Trump’s presidency, and a live debate in this country about whether Australia needs to rethink the American alliance, the white paper makes a strong case for the United States to remain engaged in the region to counterbalance China’s increasingly assertive posture.

It notes that the postwar alliance with the US “is central to Australia’s security and sits at the core of our strategic and defence planning”.

 While the white paper makes the case that it is in Australia’s interests to pursue a cooperative relationship with China, it contains language critical of China’s military posturing. It characterises the disputes that have emerged in the South China Sea as “a major fault line in the regional order”………

November 24, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Pacific Islanders call on Australia and other nations, as climate change submerges islands

Pacific Island nations urge world leaders to act as islands expected to sink

AUSTRALIA’S tropical island neighbours may exist today, but their leaders have urged us to help them from sinking., Matt Young@MattYoung  14 Nov 17 
A LARGE swath of Pacific Island nations are slowly being eaten away until residents will be forced to evacuate and the islands eventually sink into the sea — and it’s coming sooner than we think.

This modern-day Atlantis is thanks to sea levels across small island nations that have seen a dramatic rise over the past few decades, a rate of up to 3-4 times larger than the global average. Tuvalu, in the western Pacific Ocean, will reportedly be uninhabitable by 2050, while its island neighbour Kiribati, is expected to be fully submerged by 2100.

The Maldives, which has the lowest elevation in the world and a population of 427,000, may also have sunk by the end of the century.

It has led experts — including Professor Tim Flannery, climate change expert and Professor at La Trobe University — to believe we are “on a trajectory that will see those nations compromised”.

Five reef islands in the Solomon Islands have already been lost forever while a further six have been completely eroded. Last year, the island of Nuatambu had already lost half of its habitable area.

Professor Flannery told The Maldives, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Tokelau and Tuvalu were most at risk.

“It’s very much on their minds, they’re trying to work out how to deal with it,” Mr Flannery told

Scientists are convinced more and more of these tiny islands at risk of sinking into the sea in the next 30 years and Pacific Island leaders have gathered to urge its neighbours, including Australia, to take action to save their dwindling nations……

November 15, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Malcolm Turnbull urges Hong Kong to put pressure on North Korea

Malcolm Turnbull calls North Korea ‘criminals’, urges Hong Kong to help, SMH, Lindsay Murdoch, 12 Nov 17,  Hong Kong: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has accused North Korea of being one of the world’s most “cunning, sophisticated criminals,”  involved in many serious crimes, including drug trafficking, in his strongest condemnation yet of the dictator Kim Jong-un.

And Mr Turnbull told US president Donald Trump and China’s president Xi Jinping during a leaders’ retreat in Vietnam that their relationship is one of the “single most priorities for the world today,” urging them work together to pressure North Korea over is nuclear weapons program……

November 13, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Australian uranium company Paladin to leave costly environmental mess in Malawi

Paladin has ignored our requests to provide its estimate of the cost of rehabilitating Kayelekera, but we can safely say that the figure will be multiples of the US$10 million bond. Just keeping Kayelekera in care-and-maintenance costs US$1012 million annually.

As things stand, if Paladin goes bankrupt and fails to rehabilitate Kayelekera, either rehabilitation will be coordinated and funded by the Malawian government (with a small fraction of the cost coming from Paladin’s bond) or the mine-site will not be rehabilitated at all.

It does Australian companies investing in mining ventures abroad no good whatsoever to leave Kayelekera unrehabilitated, a permanent reminder of the untrustworthiness and unfulfilled promises of an Australian miner and the indifference of the Australian government.

The company’s environmental and social record has also been the source of ongoing controversy and the subject of countless critical reports.

Julie Bishop, the WA government, Paladin and its administrators from KPMG need to liaise with the Malawian government and Malawian civil society to sort the rehabilitation of Kayelekera. An obvious starting point would be to prioritise the rehabilitation of Kayelekera if and when Paladin goes bankrupt and its carcass is being divided up. (picture below shows uranium sludge going to river)

Australian uranium miner goes bust ‒ so who cleans up its mess in Africa? By Morgan Somerville and Jim Green, Online Opinion, 8 November 2017

Perth-based uranium mining company Paladin Energy was put into administration in July and the company is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Critics of the uranium industry won’t miss the company if it disappears. Other uranium mining companies won’t miss Paladin; in an overcrowded market, they will be pleased to have less competition.

But the looming bankruptcy does pose one major problem. Paladin’s Kayelekera uranium mine in Malawi, the ‘warm heart of Africa’, needs to be rehabilitated and Paladin hasn’t set aside nearly enough money for the job.

Under the leadership of founder and CEO John Borshoff, described as the grandfather of Australian uranium, Paladin has operated two uranium mines over the past decade. The Langer Heinrich mine in Namibia was opened in 2007, and Kayelekera in 2009.

They were heady days ‒ there was an endless talk about a nuclear power ‘renaissance’ and the uranium price tripled between June 2006 and June 2007. Continue reading

November 8, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Pacific Islands leaders will pressure Australia at UN climate meeting

UN climate meeting: Pacific Islands leaders set to put heat on Australia  Germany is hosting UN climate talks this week, but the main focus will be the front line of global warning – the Pacific region. By Rosemary Bolger

 Australia is expected to face renewed criticism when its Pacific Island neighbour Fiji chairs a key UN climate meeting from Monday.

The Conference of the Parties 23rd meeting takes place in the German city of Bonn and will be chaired by Fiji – the first time a Pacific nation has chaired such a major meeting.

Pacific Island leaders are expected to make the most of the global spotlight on the region, which is under threat from rising sea levels.

While Australia has provided a $300 million climate change package for the Pacific, the region’s leaders are demanding a moratorium on new coal mines.

Fiji-based lecturer on international politics Dr Wesley Morgan said he expects the government’s support for the planned Adani coal mine in North Queensland to be a target.

“Australia will be facing a lot of heat. Pacific Island countries and Pacific Island leaders are outraged that Australia, the world’s largest coal exporter, is planning to subsidise the construction of the world’s largest export coal mine.”

The Australia Institute executive director Ben Oquist said the planned Adani coal mine will produce more emissions a year than the Pacific Islands combined.

“I think the controversy surrounding that Adani mine is going to put extra pressure on the Australian Government as those Pacific countries want to see Australia move away from coal, not having a big neighbour in the region effectively subsidising what will be the world’s biggest coal mine,” he said.

Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg is leading Australia’s delegation to the Bonn meeting and will defend the mine. Continue reading

November 6, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia set to sabotage UN climate talks? AGAIN!- theme for this week

Yes – it’s true –  Australia is sending fossil-fuel-and-nuclear stooge Josh Frydenberg off to Germany to sabotage the UN climate conference!

Ever since Kyoto, 1997, when the Australian delegation kept everybody up until 4 a.m to make sure of watering down climate action, Australia has been ?proudly subverting international climate action.

Frydenberg is adept at twisting things, to make himself look good, while he’s really no more than an agent for the polluting industries.   He might find this harder than usual, in Bonn, where the Murdoch media does not hold sway.

Frydenbeg might find that the Pacific Islanders’ case for action on climate will be better received than his advocacy for Australia’s coal industry.

Look – we’re an international  disgrace on our punishment of refugees. We’v e long been an international disgrace on our climate inaction.

Here’s hoping that Frydenberg and the rest of the Australian polluting shills don’t succeed again.


November 5, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Christina reviews, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

THE ADANI COAL MESS: Australia to provide big subsidies to Indian Billionaire and Chinese government?

If the deal does go ahead with backing from Chinese state-owned enterprises, it could see Australia providing big direct and indirect subsidies to a company effectively owned by an Indian billionaire and the Chinese Government.

Adani: Chinese state-owned company could help bankroll Carmichael coal mine, ABC News, 2 Nov 17 By business reporter Stephen Long For years it has been a mystery where Adani would get the money to build its giant Carmichael coal mine in North Queensland.

Key points:

  • Chinese state-owned enterprise CMEC in negotiations with Adani
  • Deal would involve CMEC given manufacturing contract in return for procuring finance
  • Some close to the negotiations sceptical about deal being finalised

Now we may have the answer.

The ABC has learned that a Chinese state-owned enterprise, China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC), is in negotiations with Adani and its principal engineering and procurement contractor, Downer EDI.

If the deal goes ahead, it would see CMEC awarded contracts to build key mining plant and equipment in return for China’s financial backing of the Carmichael mine.

CMEC is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, but is 78 per cent owned by the giant Chinese state-owned enterprise China National Machinery Industry Corporation Ltd, or Sinomach. Continue reading

November 3, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

As Australian government plans to subsidise Adani coal megamine – China steps into the picture

could it be that our own government is walking into the middle of an economic contest between China and India for control over industry and infrastructure?

Surely our government wouldn’t be using public money to subsidise Adani’s mine, undermining its own country’s interest and supporting China to strengthen its grip on power and infrastructure in countries neighbouring India? 

Or would it?

Adani takes another climb up Mount Absurdity, Julien Vincent ,NOVEMBER 2 2017

Last month I claimed that using a $900 million, publicly funded loan to bail out Adani’s otherwise unviable Carmichael coal mine proposal was the height of absurdity.

How wrong I was.

With Australia’s Big Four banks among the two dozen that by policy or commitment won’t be going anywhere near the project, it’s no secret that Adani is desperate for finance.

The Australian government has been equally desperate, creating an agency and filling it with taxpayers’ money so we can fund a project opposed by the majority Australians.

But the government’s efforts to support Adani stretch well beyond the financial.

We learned last week the former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce and Trade Minister Steven Ciobo had been providing assurances to the Chinese government over Adani receiving its approvals. Continue reading

November 3, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Don’t fund Adani coal project: Pacific Islanders’ call to Australian government

Pacific Islanders call for Australia not to fund Adani coalmine, Caritas says thousands face threats to their wellbeing, livelihoods and ‘their very existence’ due to rising sea levels, Guardian, Naaman Zhou, 1 Nov 17, Pacific Islanders whose homes face eradication by rising sea levels have called on Australia to not fund the Adani Carmichael coalmine, as a new report reveals the worsening impact of climate change across Oceania.

Residents of the endangered islands have described their forced displacement as like “having your heart ripped out of your chest” as they called on the Australian government to do more to combat climate change.

A report released by international aid group Caritas on Wednesday found that thousands of Pacific people across the region faced “threats to their wellbeing, livelihoods and, in some places, their very existence” due to rising sea levels, king tides and natural disasters brought about by climate change.

n Papua New Guinea, 2,000 households across 35 coastal communities were displaced by coastal erosion over the past year. In Samoa, 60% of the village of Solosolo was relocated to higher ground.

In the Torres Strait, 15 island communities were identified as at risk over the next 50 years.

The mayor of the Torres Straight Island regional council, Fred Gela, described the forcible removals as like having your heart ripped out “because you are told you’re not able to live on your land”.

Erietera Arama resident of Kiribati who works for the Department of Fisheries, said he decided to visit Australia to ask its government to take action.

“We talk about the Adani coalmine,” he said. “That’s a new one. I think it’s not a good idea – it makes the world worse for all of us. It is inconsiderate of other humans on this planet.

“We didn’t think of Australia as a country that would do that. We looked at it as our bigger brother. Proceeding with that new mine is a sad move. We live together in the environment but it’s like they are ignoring us.

“We’re two metres above sea level. With the sea level rise, most of our lands have been taken by coastal erosion. We love our country and we want our children to live there as well, hopefully forever. It’s hard to talk about leaving the place where you belong.”

According to the report’s authors, the impact of coastal erosion and flooding reached “severe” levels in 2016, upgraded from “high” the year before. Climate change also made it “increasingly difficult to maintain the health and integrity” of food and water sources. Water scarcity was deemed a “serious slow-onset problem throughout Oceania”……

November 1, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop ‘s timely warning on the danger if USA were to scrap the Iran nuclear agreement

Julie Bishop warns Donald Trump’s Iran backflip could weaken pressure on North Korea, SMH, David Wroe, 29 Oct 17, 

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has said there is a “powerful argument” that US President Donald Trump’s threat to scrap the Iran nuclear deal could imperil efforts to negotiate a peaceful outcome with North Korea.

In a significant sharpening of Australia’s public rhetoric on the Obama-era Iran agreement, Ms Bishop said she had asked US officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, how they would counter the argument that North Korea could not trust the US if it walked away from previous international agreements…..

The US President vowed during his election campaign to tear up the deal, but this month kicked the issue to the US Congress, effectively demanding it either come up with a tougher approach or he would follow through on his threat to scrap it.

By endorsing the argument that ditching the deal could set back efforts to negotiate with North Korea over its nuclear program, Ms Bishop has taken the firm, if diplomatically sensitive position, of pressuring the White House not to push ahead with what many international experts say would be a self-defeating move but one in which Mr Trump is personally invested.

Ms Bishop said she had discussed the matter with American officials last month after Iran mounted the argument to the United Nations General Assembly that the US would lose credibility including in its stand-off with North Korea.

“Iran was immediately on the front foot saying … ‘Why would North Korea sit down and negotiate with the United States as we, Iran did, if the United States feels that it’s able to walk away from an agreement that was embodied in a UN Security Council resolution?'” Ms Bishop told Fairfax Media…….

October 29, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

90 organisations join ICAN in calling for the government to sign and ratify the UN Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty

Ninety organisations have joined ICAN to call for Australia to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

In an open letter addressed to Malcolm Turnbull the groups warn of the “existential threat” that nuclear weapons pose. “There are no safe hands for nuclear weapons. We face a clear choice: continue to let these weapons spread and risk their inevitable use, or eliminate them”.

The letter is signed by a range of health, union, student, Indigenous, humanitarian, environment and faith organisations from across Australia. It highlights the urgency of disarmament amidst current heightened risks of nuclear conflict.

There is no argument – moral, ethical or rational – for the retention of weapons with the capability to end life on Earth. No person or group of people should wield that kind of power,” Stuart McMillan, President of the Uniting Church in Australia.

“The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons provides the necessary vehicle for nations to walk away from these unacceptable, and now illegal, weapons. Australia has signed the treaties banning chemical and biological weapons, landmines and cluster munitions. It’s time to take genuine action against these weapons by signing and ratifying the ban treaty,” said Tilman Ruff from ICAN.

The signatories to the letter include World Vision Australia, Oxfam Australia, Save the Children Australia, ChildFund Australia, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Uniting Church in Australia.

The letter was sent to the Prime Minister on Friday and tabled in the House of Representatives by Anthony Albanese MP yesterday. It featured in this Guardian article: Nobel peace prize winners urge Australia to sign treaty banning nuclear weapons.

October 25, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Remote seismic station in the Northern Territory plays critical role in monitoring North Korea’s nuclear testing

Remote Territory seismic station watching for nuclear blasts from North Korea GARY SHIPWAY, NT News October 18, 2017 A LESSER-known remote seismic station in the Northern Territory is playing a critical role in keeping an eye on North Korea and its nuclear testing.

October 18, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Climate change, sea level rise, and the plight of Australia’s island neighbours – Kiribati

Former president Anote Tong compares Kiribati’s future to the sinking of the Titanic, ABC News By Sarah Hancock , 13 Oct 17 Anote Tong is the former president of the Republic of Kiribati and his island home, in the central Pacific Ocean, is already suffering from the effects of climate change.

Rising sea levels are causing land to be engulfed by tidal waters, driving people away from their homes and leaving them displaced.

Anote Tong is the former president of the Republic of Kiribati and his island home, in the central Pacific Ocean, is already suffering from the effects of climate change.

Rising sea levels are causing land to be engulfed by tidal waters, driving people away from their homes and leaving them displaced.

“What I have seen in my lifetime over the years has been villages, communities, who have had to leave … because it is no longer viable,” he said. “The sea is there and there is nothing. Everything has been taken away so they have had to relocate.”……..

“As a grandfather I have got to think beyond that, as a leader I have to think beyond what will happen today, and knowing what we know today, what will happen to the next generation,” he said.

Mr Tong compared Kiribati’s future to the sinking of the Titanic.

“We are the people who will be swimming,” he said.

“The question will be — will those people on the lifeboats bother to pull us in or push us away because we would be too problematic?”

October 14, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | 1 Comment

Australia’s role in monitoring North Korea’s nuclear tests

North Korea nuclear tests: How Australia is watching Kim Jong-un

THE key to stopping North Korea’s nuclear technology could lie in Australian towns you’ve never even heard of.  Debra Killalea@DebKillalea 12 Oct 17,

THERE are 321 monitoring stations around the world all designed with one common goal. The International Monitoring System (IMS) uses four technologies to monitor nuclear activity in countries including North Korea.

Unsurprisingly some of these stations are located within our own borders and play a powerful role in monitoring rogue nations.

In a piece for The Conversation, Trevor Findlay, Senior Research Fellow Department of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne reveals the key role Australia plays.

Dr Findlay writes Australia hosts six seismic, two infrasound, and one hydroacoustic station, including a large seismic array and infrasound station at Warramunga in the Northern Territory.


The Vienna-based Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) uses the IMS to detect nuclear tests around the world.

This means if Kim Jong-un decides to conduct another nuclear test there are several monitoring stations in Australia which could potentially pick up this abnormal activity.

According to Dr Findlay its monitoring system, which began construction in 1996, is “sensitive enough to detect underground nuclear tests below 1 kiloton”.

The CTBTO picked up the September 3 blast detecting a seismic magnitude of 6.1 and a blast yield of 160 kilotons.

Data such as this is picked up is transmitted to Vienna via satellite where it is analysed and distributed to member states.

The CTBTO’s International Monitoring System is basically designed to verify compliance with the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban treaty.


According to Associate Professor at Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre Dr Stephan Fruhling, the monitoring system is hugely beneficial.

“The technologies used by the monitoring system (seismic, infrasound, and radionucleides) were all used developed the Cold War to monitor other countries’ nuclear tests, and/or are also the same as used in geophysical monitoring,” he said.

However, it has a much more vital function.

“The main innovation of the CTBTO system is that it makes all raw data freely available, which means that all member states have now access to a global detection system that is meant to give confidence that the treaty is effective, whereas before only the superpowers had such capabilities,” Dr Fruhling said.

He also said the system is operating “even though the CTBTO itself isn’t actually legally in force, and probably never will be.”

Dr Fruhling said the system was very effective and expects it to become even more so over time as sensors and computing improve and the last few stations come online.

He said the system wasn’t perfect.

“There are some limits to the system in terms of very low-yield tests, especially where reduced enrichment fuels are used that do not produce a full yield but still a useful neutron flux to validate a weapons design,” he said.

“However, this is something that is of more use to the advanced nuclear powers who have a lot of experience and access to past testing data, than it is to a new proliferant like North Korea.


Nuclear disarmament campaigner John Hallam said the system and Australia’s role in it was actually quite remarkable.

Mr Hallam said the system has managed to not merely detect, but diagnose every North Korea test right from their first which was just a fraction of a kiloton.

“Australia plays quite a key role, mainly with the big seismic and infrasound array at Warramunga and the Hydroacoustic station at Cape Leeuwin,” he said.

“The CTBTO manages to do amazing work not only in detection of nuclear blasts, but also in detecting earthquake and volcanic activity and a secondary role as a tsunami early warning network.”

However Mr Hallam said the current policies of the US threaten all of that as the CTBTO has been in effect “boycotted” by the Government, despite being the first to actually sign it.

CTBTO’s executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo is geophysicist who used to be the Director of the International Data Centre which processes and analyses all the data coming from the more than 300 stations around the globe.

CTBTO’s work, including the establishment and maintenance of the IMS, is mandated by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty which was negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament in the 1990s and endorsed by the General Assembly. It opened for signature in 1996.


October 13, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Julie Bishop says that USA should keep Iran nuclear deal

US should keep Iran nuclear deal: Bishop

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has made the case to the US that the nuclear deal with Iran should remain. Australia has urged the US to retain the nuclear deal with Iran in the absence of any credible alternatives.

US President Donald Trump will make an announcement this week on an “overall Iran strategy”, including whether to decertify the international deal curbing Tehran’s nuclear program, the White House says.

“We are urging that it be maintained and Iran’s other behaviour be dealt with in different circumstances,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told ABC TV.

October 13, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment