Australian news, and some related international items

Bob Carr puts Peter Dutton on the spot -calls for detail on Dutton’s plans for nuclear power in Australia

Bob Carr on the Opposition flagging nuclear, 9 August 22,
Michael speaks with Bob Carr, Former Premier of NSW & Former Australian Foreign Minister, who over the years has been a proponent of nuclear power, though becoming more circumspect with time.

Mr Carr writes, “Any opposition leader is under pressure to espouse fresh ideas and launch out in new directions. In this spirit Peter Dutton says the Coalition is open to nuclear power. He signalled an internal party review but took the opportunity to rehearse the somewhat dusty arguments about nuclear being cheap and reliable.”

“But Dutton in the next three months has the chance to prove this time Australian conservatives are serious. He can pitch it direct to 4.5 million voters in the November 26 Victorian elections. He can show this is more than a lazy “thought experiment” and invest it with hard-edge credibility.”

August 9, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

The National Party’s false claim about nuclear power

Barnaby Joyce’s meltdown over nuclear energy claim , ABC, Jacob Shteyman  August 5, 2022,

With Australia’s future energy needs dominating parliament, Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce has claimed we are the only OECD country that does not produce nuclear power.

The claim is false. Eighteen of the 38 OECD countries do not produce nuclear power.

Mr Joyce made the claim during a debate on Labor’s Climate Change Bill 2022  on August 3. In outlining his support for nuclear power, the shadow minister for veterans’ affairs asked: “Why is it that every OECD country produces nuclear power except us? Are we the wise ones and they’re all stupid?” (video mark 19:25).

Mr Joyce has been a supporter of nuclear power for a number of years while the coalition has looked into its implementation at several points in recent decades.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton announced on August 2 that the coalition would begin an internal process to examine the potential for nuclear power in Australia.

AAP FactCheck contacted Mr Joyce on the source of his claim but received no reply at the time of publication.

The OECD, which is made up of 38 countries, was established in 1961 as a forum for governments to “seek solutions to common economic and social problems”.

The OECD Nuclear Energy Agency publishes an annual report showing nuclear energy generation by each member nation. The 2021 report (table 1.1, page 14) shows 18 of the 38 do not produce nuclear power.

They are Italy, Turkey, Poland, Ireland, Norway, Israel, Austria, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Iceland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal, New Zealand and Australia.

ANU nuclear expert Tony Irwin confirmed to AAP FactCheck in an email that Australia is not the only OECD nation to generate nuclear power.

A similar claim was made by Liberal MP Stuart Robert in an interview on ABC’s Afternoon Briefing on August 2. While responding to a question about the affordability of nuclear energy, he said: “I think we’re one of only, in fact we’re the only non-top 20 OECD country that doesn’t use nuclear power as part of its power mix” (video mark 9min).

A spokesman for Mr Robert clarified to AAP FactCheck that he meant to say Australia is the only top 20 OECD country without nuclear power.

Either way his claim is false……………………………..

The most recent World Nuclear Industry Status Report, published last year, found global nuclear energy production is on the decline, despite a significant increase in China.

In 2019 AAP FactCheck debunked a similar claim by coalition MP Keith Pitt that Australia is the only OECD country not utilising nuclear energy.

August 6, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Jenny Ware -A Liberal MP happily in the grip of the nuclear lobby

Some of the more inane comments promoting nuclear power for Australia have lately been voiced by Liberal MP Jenny Ware . She’s enthusiastically advocating nuclear to solve Australia’s electricity crunch prices. (a. Nuclear would not be operative for decades. b. Nuclear is the most costly source)

And she wants the Lucas Heights research reactor to provide electricity. Does she not know that there’s a bit of a difference between a research reactor and a commercial nuclear power plant? (There are a few other problems, too, but nuclear lobby mouthpieces don’t usually stretch to considering them.

from The Daily Telegraph – Nuclear the best medicine for power prices, says new MP Newly elected member for Hughes Jenny Ware has declared Australia has to start talking about adding nuclear into the mix, otherwise we won’t be able to keep the lights on.

James Morrow in The Chronicle writes Hughes MP Jenny Ware wants Lucas Heights nuclear reactor to help power Australia

August 1, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Labor should halt plans to dump nuclear waste on South Australia – Greens Senator Barbara Pocock.

29 July 2022

Greens Senator for SA Barbara Pocock has called on the Albanese Labor Government to abandon plans to dump nuclear waste on South Australia, after it was revealed the environmental impact statement won’t consider shipping and transport routes for the toxic waste.

The latest concerns have arisen while the Traditional Owners of the selected waste dump site at Kimba on SA’s Eyre Peninsula were visiting parliament this week. The Barngarla people were not consulted before the site was selected and are in the midst of a Federal Court battle opposing the dumping of waste on their traditional lands. They were in Canberra asking the new Minister to listen to them and halt the plans of the Morrison Government.

Senator Pocock said:

“The Albanese Labor Government should stop the pursuit of the Morrison Government’s plans to dump on SA.

“If this dump goes ahead, radioactive waste will be transported through South Australia’s regional roads, streets and waters for decades to come, yet these towns and cities – and most South Australians – have never consulted.

“Now it’s also clear the new government has no plans to consider the environmental impact of the shipping and transport of the waste throughout our state. This is unacceptable.

“This week I met with the Barngarla People who were again in Canberra pleading for the government of the day to listen to them.

“The Labor Party continues to talk about giving First Nations People a voice to the parliament yet is failing to listen to their voices right now, on a current issue. The Prime Minister is addressing the Garma Festival on implementing the Statement from the Heart this weekend. His words will be hollow if his government does not listen to the voice of the Barngala people and instead pursues the radioactive waste dump rejected by Traditional Owners.

“The Greens will fight to ensure that all South Australians have a say about this dump and we will keep listening to the voice of the Barngarla people who, to a person, oppose this dump.”

July 30, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment

Government to rewrite climate bill to win over Greens

The Age, By Mike Foley, July 25, 2022 , The Albanese government is promising to rewrite its signature climate reforms to secure support from the Greens including a change to make clear its target of 43 per cent emissions reduction by 2030 is a minimum that could be upgraded over time.

Labor’s concession on the eve of the first parliamentary session is a crucial bargaining play as the new government seeks support for its first major bill.

While the government previously stated that its 43 per cent target would not put a limit on its climate action, Greens leader Adam Bandt is concerned the original draft did not spell that out and could have acted as a cap on emissions’ reduction.

Labor has agreed to make clear in the bill that 43 per cent is a minimum only, but has stopped short of some of the Greens’ biggest demands, such as phasing out coal and gas exports, and it remains to be seen if this rewrite of the bill is enough to lure the minor party across the line.

Bandt told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald the changes would be a starting point for negotiations.

“The Greens are pleased the government has listened to some of our concerns about the bill, and we are continuing negotiations about remaining issues, including the opening of new coal and gas mines,” he said.

The Greens want to set a target to cut emissions by 75 per cent by 2030 and hit net zero by 2035. Bandt has called Labor’s target “weak”.

draft of the climate change bill obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age earlier this month revealed the proposed legislation was largely symbolic because it would only enshrine an emissions target and oblige the federal government to make an annual progress report to parliament.

Responding to the earlier draft, Bandt had demanded the Labor government “Dutton-proof” the targets against any future government’s plans to wind them back, calling for commitments to raise the ambitions to be written into the laws……………………………..

Labor’s bill is expected to come before the lower house on Wednesday where Labor has enough votes to pass it on its own. The bill is set to reach the Senate by September and because the Coalition has vowed to vote against the draft laws, Labor will need all 12 votes from the Greens plus one crossbencher, which will most likely come from ACT independent David Pocock who is open to Labor’s proposal.

Another change proposed by Labor would also insert the new emissions target into the objectives and functions of key agencies such as CSIRO, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Infrastructure Australia and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Even if the Greens and the Coalition decide to block Labor’s bill, Labor can deliver its key measures to cut carbon emissions without new legislation by increasing renewable energy projects and capping industrial pollution.

The bill does not contain specific mechanisms to ratchet up emissions reductions, such as the use of existing safeguards mechanism to force tougher carbon pollution caps on the 215 biggest industrial polluters in the country……………..

July 26, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Nonsense to say ‘Australia needs nuclear submarines to defend itself’: Australian scholar

Global Times 24 July 22,

After the Albanese government took office in Australia, there have been discussions about a possible reset of China-Australia ties. Global Times (GT) reporter Yan Yuzhu talked to Professor David Goodman (Goodman), director of the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, about his opinions on the reason why there has been hostility in Australia toward China and possible changes in the new government regarding the China policies……………………………..


I think this government is definitely more inclined to deal with sensible diplomacy with China than standing up in public and telling China why it is wrong. That’s a good thing, because talk is always preferable to war. 

Penny Wong is a great foreign minister, as she is listening to people and doing things. She has put a whole new working party in place to see how we can more positively deal with our foreign policy. …………………..

A lot of nonsense is talked such as “Australia needs to have nuclear submarines to defend itself.” It doesn’t work, and there are many opinion influencers who agree with me that this is really not healthy. 

Of course, we don’t want to be attacked by anyone, but when you think about what it would take China to physically attack Australia, including logistic and military challenges, it will be clear that China will not do so. 

But a lot of the defense officials in the past government in Australia are thinking about what we would do as Australians if China “invaded” Taiwan. How crazy. Even people who are anti-China in the UK and the US have said that kind of argument is rubbish, because it is.

What I’d like to see in the bilateral relationship is that the trade ties could ease. The previous government made some statements and criticism about Chinese trade practices which led to bad trade relations between the two countries. I’d like to see them eased. And in my opinion, China has some severe economic problems ahead. It would be in China’s interests to solve them. ………………………………

About Australia’s hostility toward China, one of the reasons is that politicians outside China prefer a threat to exist so that they can use it to mobilize support for themselves. As a result, both China and Russia become the new fashionable threats. 

Besides, it is because of the US and European defense industries who fund one of Australia’s leading think tank that leads the charge against China.

Arms makers of course want there to be a China threat because they can sell more. It’s a logic of capitalism I’m afraid.

As to Australia’s stance toward the US, there is a debate going on in Australia as I mentioned before. I don’t know who the majority supports, but there is a sizable body of opinion that doesn’t think that America is the answer to all our problems. There’s also a lot of discussion in Australia about foreign interference and involvement in the local property market.

July 25, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australian local governments vote to retain prohibitions on nuclear power

Local government talks nuclear, Cosmos 15 July 22

Energy shortages across the world have shone a harsh spotlight on the way forward for energy production, and renewed the nuclear power debate in Australia. But what stance are our local government representatives taking on this divisive issue?

What do our grass-roots leaders think about nuclear power?

……. A motion to call on the federal government to remove restrictions to progressing nuclear energy in Australia has recently been defeated by a narrow margin at the National General Assembly in Canberra.

But the heated debate included a claim from one councillor he wouldn’t mind if it was in his own backyard.

Delegates from Australia’s 537 councils took part in the June 19-22 conference, billed by its organisers the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) as “the largest most influential local government conference in Australia”.

Motion number 52, submitted by Gunnedah Shire Council in north-west New South Wales, called on the federal government to “remove restrictions preventing the development of nuclear energy as a viable option in the production of base-load electricity following the decommissioning of coal-fired power stations throughout Australia”.

Gunnedah Mayor Jamie Chaffey told delegates……………. Nuclear power production has developed exponentially since its early days and is now considered to be safe and reeliable with nations such as Germany [ really?] and France leading the way.

The plea brought an emotional response from Inner West (Sydney) Councillor Mark Drury, who quoted the 2021-22 CSIRO GenCost report.

“Let’s not go through this again, delegates,” Drury said.

“Let us not repeat the mistakes of the last 10 years. Let us not sing from the Mineral Council songsheet. Let us move on.

“Interestingly, the restriction Gunnedah wants to remove is the 1999 [Prime Minister John] Howard ban on ministers considering nuclear power. Since 1999, no Liberal prime minister has changed that. I know Albo [Prime Minister Anthony Albanese] won’t.

“Why? Because nuclear power is expensive. It is really, really expensive.”

Gladstone Mayor Matt Burnett said even people who supported nuclear energy had told him they did not want it in their own backyards.

He quoted the 2018 CSIRO GenCost report that stated by 2050, nuclear energy would cost $16,000 per kilowatt to produce, while solar energy would cost $600 per kilowatt.

“The same report identified it would take 9.4 years before we saw a nuclear generation plant in this country,” Burnett said. “In context, in the Gladstone region, with our beautiful deepwater harbour and our industrial port, the Gladstone Port Corporation estimates we’ve got upwards of 2,500 wind towers coming into the Gladstone Port over the next 10 years.”…………..

The motion was defeated 109 to 93 votes.

The construction and operation of nuclear power stations was prohibited in Australia in 1998.

July 14, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Liberals to seek ‘social licence’ for nuclear power

AFR 15 July 22, As Liberal leader Peter Dutton and Nationals leader David Littleproud backed an examination of nuclear power, new shadow energy minister Ted O’Brien said while his immediate focus was the gas and energy crisis, his longer-term mission would be to build support for nuclear energy. 

July 14, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Labor must reverse Morrison’s submarine bungle to protect nation,16546 By Alan Austin | 11 July 2022,

There is a niche in the global submarine industry that Australia is well-placed to occupy, reports Alan Austin.

IT WOULD BE a bold move which only a visionary and courageous government could accomplish. Australia has the chance now to reimagine its status as a global naval manufacturer and exporter. The challenge is to build a smaller, faster, stealthier, stronger submarine than its rivals, which requires fewer crew and is cheaper to build and operate.

This can be achieved with a scaled-down version of one of the best submarines ever designed: the Collins class. Where was this built? In South Australia in the 1990s.

This “daughter-of-Collins”, as former Prime Minister Paul Keating dubbed it, offers multiple gains. It will replace the current ageing Collins class more quickly than other options, it will give Australia’s navy boats fit for purpose, it will generate export income and build a springboard for expansion into other high-tech manufacturing. It’s a win-win.

Australia lost its car manufacturing industry during the disastrous Tony Abbott period. Australia’s military procurement suffered badly throughout the later Coalition years due to ineptitude, lack of enterprise and corruption. New submarine construction will restore Australia’s heavy industry capability and recover – eventually – the treasure lost with all those Coalition failures.

The boat for middle-power countries

None of the submarines considered by the previous incompetent Coalition Government is right for Australia.

These were:

  • Japan’s Soryu class diesel-electric, 84 meters long, speed of 20 knots submerged, 65 crew. The Abbott Government announced in 2014 that it was buying these but did not proceed;
  • France’s Barracuda class nuclear attack submarine, 99.5 meters, speed of 25 knots, 60 crew. The Turnbull Government contracted to buy twelve in 2015. The Morrison Government welched on that deal in 2021, costing Australia its international reputation as an honourable trading partner, compromising Australia’s medium-term security, and losing taxpayers around five billion borrowed dollars with nothing to show for it;
  • American Virginia class nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine, 115 metres, speed of 25 knots, 135 crew. Designed in the 1990s, first delivered in 2008;
  • Britain’s Astute class, nuclear-powered attack submarine, 97 metres, speed of 30 knots, 98 crew. Designed in the 1990s, first launched in 2007.

Other options include Sweden’s Blekinge class diesel-electric, 66 metres; Germany’s U-36, diesel-electric, 57 meters; and India’s Kalvari class diesel-electric, 67.5 metres.

These compare with the current Australian Collins class, which is 77 metres, speed of 20 knots, crew 42, including six officers.

Assessing Australia’s needs

The new Australian sub should be around 60 metres, diesel-electric, speed 30 knots and operable with a crew of four officers and 25 sailors. This is based on the following needs:

  • Given regional stability is steadily improving, Australia can ensure its defence with smarter decisions, more advanced technology, better regional collaboration and much lower expenditure;
  • Australia’s immediate neighbours are Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, New Zealand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Nuclear submarines are not needed to patrol these waters and cannot access New Zealand ports under laws unlikely to change. Malaysia and Indonesia also have serious misgivings;
  • The concept that Australia, population 26 million, could deploy nuclear attack class vessels in the South China Sea or beyond to engage militarily with China, population 1,439 million, is ludicrous. This seems to be the underpinning of the previous Government’s failed endeavours.
  • The risk of China attacking Taiwan is limited. Even if it does, Australia has no treaties with Taiwan, and will not be involved;
  • The risk of buying American nuclear submarines is that they will be operated and controlled by Americans and effectively just add to the U.S. fleet.

Historical precedent

Building the six Collins class submarines in Australia was an extraordinarily ambitious project. The challenge was to build faster, stealthier and more lethal boats than its successful predecessor, the Oberon class.

Prime Minister Bob Hawke delegated this task to Treasurer Paul Keating and Defence Minister Kim Beasley.

Keating recalled recently that “Kim always had the admiral’s hat on. I had the money and the guns”.

Construction began in 1990 and encountered multiple engineering problems, all of which were eventually overcome. The first boat was delivered in 1996, the sixth in 2003. These will now serve until the mid-2030s.

Military analysts Asianometry recently assessed them as:

‘… very capable, up to par with anything the United States has to offer … The Collins was a triumph.’

Australia can do this

ASC, the government-owned shipbuilders based in Osborne, South Australia, built the Collins vessels and has continual experience maintaining them. It has also successfully delivered three Hobart class destroyers and other vessels.

Home-built submarines superior to Collins are now possible because of advances since the 1990s in metallurgy, engine design, sonar technology and batteries. Weapons systems are also more compact.

Importantly, Australia is one of two major lithium mining countries. Lithium-ion batteries have double the storage capacity of lead-acid batteries. Australia becoming the world’s leading lithium battery producer will be a highly-profitable spin-off.

Can new Defence Minister Richard Marles pull this off? As Deputy PM, he had the choice of portfolios and chose defence. He has put his hand up. Let’s see what he delivers when he dons his admiral’s hat.

South Australia’s enthusiasm

The project has passionate support from the State Government.

Welcoming new Defence Minister Richard Marles to South Australia last week, Premier Peter Malinauskas said:

What the Deputy Prime Minister has been able to see firsthand today is the extraordinary capability that South Australia offers when it comes to shipbuilding. This has been something that is now in our blood here in South Australia. We are the home of the Collins-class submarine. We built the AWDs. We now see firsthand the work in terms of the delivery of the Hunter class.

What should we call this new class of submarines built in Australia? One option is to honour the last of the Coalition defence ministers, whose incompetence has inadvertently gifted the new Government with this shot at greatness.

So why not the Boofhead class? Or in honour of Keating, who remains an inspirational visionary in this area, maybe the Scumbag class?

Perhaps, to recognise the recent historic change of government, the Toto class? Or if the incoming Government succeeds with this ambitious project, as it should, then why not simply the Albo class?

July 11, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Slow, expensive and no good for 1.5° target: CSIRO crushes Coalition nuclear fantasy.

CSIRO says nuclear is too slow, too expensive, and its best prospects for a significant share of global generation are in weak climate targets. The post Slow, expensive and no good for 1.5° target: CSIRO crushes Coalition nuclear fantasy appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Slow, expensive and no good for 1.5° target: CSIRO crushes Coalition nuclear fantasy — RenewEconomy

Australia’s leading scientific research organisation, the CSIRO, has delivered a damming blow against the renewed push by the federal Coalition for nuclear power, saying it is expensive, and too slow to make  a significant contribution to any serious climate targets.

The latest version of the CSIRO’s important GenCost report still ranks nuclear as the most expensive of existing technologies, and at least double or up to five times the cost of “firmed” wind and solar, including storage and transmission costs.

It has long been accepted that existing large scale nuclear is way too expensive and too inflexible to play any role in Australia’s future grid, but the pro-nuclear lobby has been pushing the idea of Small Modular Reactors, and has been putting intense pressure on the CSIRO to embrace it.

This argument has been taken up with vigour by the federal Coalition, which has responded to its electoral defeat by appointing a pro-nuclear advocate as energy spokesman, and intensifying its campaign against wind and solar that its members have described as “dole bludgers.”

The latest CSIRO GenCost report – which says that wind, solar and storage is clearly the cheapest option in Australia – points out that the intense pressure it received to lower its cost estimates for nuclear comes almost exclusively from ambitious vendors, and their proxies, who have nothing to show for their claims.

There are no SMRs in operation, and none are expected until 2029 at the earliest. CSIRO economist Paul Graham, the lead author of the report, says until the first SMRs are deployed it is not possible to find good evidence about the claims of the industry.

It is interesting to note that in the latest GenCost report, CSIRO notes that only one formal submission was received on nuclear, which argued that the cost estimates of nuclear SMR should be lower.

“Vendors seeking to encourage the uptake of a new technology have proposed theoretical cost estimates, but these cannot be verified until proven through a deployed project,” it says.

But perhaps the most damming part of the CSIRO report are what it says about the role of various technologies in differing climate scenarios.

It shows that the weaker the climate target, the greater the share of nuclear power. If countries are serious about achieving 1.5°C target, or even below 2°C, then nuclear is simply too slow to play a significant role, and its share of global generation falls significantly.

Graham puts it this way. If nuclear is to prosper, it will need huge licks of government support, and a significant carbon price. But if the world is aiming for the Paris climate targets and is willing to spend money to get there, then other technologies – mostly wind, solar and storage – will fill that gap.

“(Nuclear) needs some climate policy ambition,” Graham told RenewEconomy. “But if there’s too much climate policy ambition the other technologies run away with the cost reductions and nuclear can’t catch up.

“If it looks like we have to reduce emissions much faster, then it’s just too slow to contribute to that.”

This graph [on original] illustrates the point. Nuclear (in purple) has a share of around 10-12 per cent of global generation in the “current policies” scenario out to 2030. But this share diminishes out to 2050 in all three scenarios, and particularly those that seek to minimise average global warming.

The current policies scenario represents average global warming of around 2.6°C, while the Global NZE (net zero emissions) by 2050 aims for 1.5°C and the Global NZE post 2050 assumes around 1.7°C.

July 11, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Why Australia’s Labor government refuses to defend Julian Assange

WSWS Oscar Grenfell@Oscar_Grenfell, 6 July 22, When the Labor Party scraped into office following the May 21 federal election, some supporters of Julian Assange voiced hopes that the new government would defend the WikiLeaks publisher because he is an Australian journalist and citizen undergoing persecution abroad.

The crudest and most thoughtless expression of these hopes came in the form of an update to a petition demanding that the Australian government act to free Assange. Over the course of almost three years, the petition has been signed by more than 730,000 people, and has served as an important focal point for the latent, mass support that exists for Assange.

But on July 4, the petition’s founder declared that it was no longer necessary to issue any demands on the Australian government. The sole evidence provided was that Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had purportedly signed the petition, and that some members of the government have hinted that it may engage in “quiet diplomacy” on behalf of Assange. “Now that we confirm that the Prime Minister of Australia is one of us and together with all of our collective 731,000 Signatories to this petition we will together move forward with direct representations to the responsible Public Officers in both the USA and Britain,” the update declared.

It was necessary to “understand that the Australian Government does have a right to negotiate the matter of freedom of Julian Assange in the best way they see to secure his freedom… We do not intend to work against any action being taken in different ways by any individual Signatory”—i.e., Albanese.

“[W]e will move forward in a peaceful, harmonious and inclusive manner,” the update declared, that is with regards to the Labor government.

To be blunt, such statements are exercises in wilful delusion. Since forming government, Labor has not issued anything that even could be described as weasel-words in support of Assange. Its attitude towards the WikiLeaks publisher is barely concealed hostility.

The greatest mistake defenders of Assange could make would be to allow a right-wing pro-war Labor government to lead them around by the nose. Such a course would serve to demobilise the mass backing that Assange has among workers and young people, and create the political conditions required for Labor to bury his plight and ensure that extradition from Britain to the US proceeds without hindrance.

The petition update promoted the latest comments on Assange by a member of the government. In an Australian Broadcasting Corporation “Law Report” radio program on June 28, Labor’s Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus again stated that the Assange case had “gone on for too long.” It was this comment that was highlighted on the petition.

But what, of substance, did Dreyfus actually say?

Introducing the subject of Assange, midway through the interview, the host noted warnings that the attempted US prosecution of Assange would set a dangerous precedent of US law being imposed globally.

Assange, an Australian citizen, is facing prosecution in the US, for documents he published while in Europe, exposing American war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Citing Assange legal advisor Greg Barns, the interviewer asked if Dreyfus was troubled by this attempt to extend the reach of American legislation to an Australian citizen with no legal connection to the US?

The attorney-general brushed the question aside. “The United States has long legislated in an extra-territorial way and I think that all other countries have understood that for a long time,” he said. In other words, the US government can do what it likes.

Dreyfus continued: “It is not open to the Australian government to directly interfere with either the jailing of Mr Assange in the United Kingdom or the extradition request that has been made by the United States.”

As with all other Labor ministers, Dreyfus presented Assange’s imprisonment and threatened extradition as a bona fide, lawful procedure. But Assange’s detention, in a maximum-security British prison, without conviction, has been denounced by outgoing United Nations Rapporteur Nils Melzer as state torture.

The US extradition effort is akin to a pseudo-legal lynching. Assange is to be imprisoned, for 175 years, under the draconian Espionage Act, for publishing true information revealing the illegal actions of the American government. Such an operation recalls dissidents being hurled into a dungeon cell, with the key thrown away, during medieval times.

Credible allegations are now on the public record, moreover, that the Trump administration and the CIA discussed kidnapping or assassinating Assange in 2017, before filing an indictment and an extradition request.

Dreyfus again made reference to the possibility of diplomatic representations on Assange’s behalf.

In a highly revealing exchange, the interviewer noted: “The government has said it would like to see this matter brought to an end, but hasn’t exactly said how it would prefer it to come to an end.” Would the government seek to have the charges against Assange dropped in the United States? she asked. “I am not going to canvas what will be the resolution of this case,” Dreyfus replied.

In other words, the attorney-general’s vague statements are worthless. Why would anyone believe that a government minister, who will not even state publicly that the charges against Assange should be dropped, would be fighting for his freedom behind closed doors?

Dreyfus’ vague references to “representations” are like a bone to a hungry dog, meant to placate Assange’s supporters, as is the cloak and dagger operation of Albanese possibly signing the petition.

The real position of Labor has been spelled out by two of its most prominent leaders, Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Defence Minister Richard Marles.

Marles stated last month: “This is a matter for the United Kingdom. Like any Australian citizen facing legal proceedings abroad, he will be provided consular assistance.”

The position is identical to that of the previous Liberal-National Coalition government. Consular support means monitoring the extradition case and the decline of Assange’s health. It is the antithesis of a diplomatic and political intervention to free Assange.

For his part, Albanese has sought to dodge the issue of Assange for the past six weeks. He refuses to mention the WikiLeaks founder’s name, even when directly questioned about the topic. The only passionate comments he has made on the case were in an angry denunciation of Twitter users calling on the Labor government to take action.

It is hardly a mystery why Labor refuses to defend Assange.

The primary focus of the new government has been a foreign policy blitz, orchestrated in the closest of collaboration with the Biden administration, which is seeking Assange’s extradition.

Wong and Albanese have been on one foreign visit after another, seeking to shore-up US dominance in the Indo-Pacific, and to further American imperialism’s confrontation with China, which threatens nuclear war.

The highpoint came last week, when Albanese attended the NATO summit in Madrid. There, he gave full support to a new NATO doctrine, which labels Russia and China as threats and calls on member states to prepare “for high-intensity, multi-domain warfighting against nuclear-armed peer-competitors.”

The persecution of Assange is retribution for his exposure of past war crimes. But it is also a preparation for new, and even greater crimes, associated with these US-led plans for what is nothing short of a global war. The aim is to intimidate the mass anti-war sentiment that exists among workers and young people, and to establish a precedent for further frame-ups and victimisations. The Labor government is fully committed to Washington’s war measures, so it is hostile to Assange. …………………………

July 9, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Liberal National Party, led by Dutton and Littleproud vote on support for Queensland nuclear plants

LNP vote on support for Qld nuclear plants, Marty Silk  July 8, 2022,

Liberal National Party members are set to vote on whether to make it easier for nuclear power plants to be built in Queensland.

The party will use its annual convention in Brisbane this weekend to decide on motions that could come to define its climate change and energy policies at the next state and federal elections.

They include a call to commit to net zero emissions by 2050 ahead of the 2024 state election and to repeal any law preventing the construction of a nuclear power plant in Queensland.

“So that it authorises the construction or operation of the following nuclear installations: a nuclear fuel fabrication plant; a nuclear power plant; an enrichment plant; and a reprocessing facility,” the motion put forward by three LNP branches says.

Other motions call for an end of government subsidies for renewable energy and for domestic coal, oil, gas and uranium reserves.

The LNP motions could be decisive in determining the federal coalition’s energy policies as both the Liberal and National leaders – Peter Dutton and David Littleproud – are members.

Mr Littleproud last month wrote to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese urging him to consider small-scale nuclear plants to reduce emissions and improve reliability.

Formed in a merger of the two parties 14 years ago, the LNP currently holds more seats in Queensland than the coalition does in any other state.

The Queensland party’s three-day annual convention starts in Brisbane on Friday will begin charting a course for its return to power.

Opposition Leader David Crisafulli is hoping to lead the LNP to victory in two years’ time against what will then be a nine-year-old Labor government.

Federal Opposition Leader Mr Dutton is on leave and will miss the convention, but his deputy Mr Littleproud will speak on Saturday………………………………

There are also motions to water down land clearing laws and to oppose any increase of national park areas in Queensland…………………………

July 9, 2022 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Albanese’s extreme language against China is out of place now, and against Labor tradition

Even the hawkish former defence Minister Peter Dutton told National Press Club that he did not believe China wanted to occupy Australia. Why then do both sides of politics go out of their way to make an enemy of China. It is a recklessly provocative policy that could cause many Australians to die unnecessarily.

Albanese blasted China for not condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but exempted India which did the  same.

China has not been in major war since 1950. Nor has it  killed anyone in the South China Sea or near Taiwan,  where it is accused of behaving more aggressively. All major countries accept Taiwan is part of China.

What is Anthony Albanese up to! By Brian Toohey. Jul 6, 2022

Anthony Albanese has shown during his recent trip to Europe that he is a prime minister addicted to hyperbole and oblivious to how countries can change in unexpected ways.

He told NATO leaders China aimed to become the most powerful nation in the world and its strengthening relations with Moscow “posed a risk to all democratic nations”. It’s most unlikely all democratic countries will be at risk. For a start, Russia will be in no condition to go to war with any other country after its abhorrent decision to invade Ukraine. It could be bogged down for years in a guerrilla war. China faces  a growing number of countries, including those in NATO, which are committed to containing its military and economic growth.

Albanese said in Europe that China is trying to “build up alliances to undermine what has historically been the Western Alliance in places like the Indo Pacific”. Historically, however, most Asian countries, including India and China, have been there a lot longer than the Western intruders are likely to last. The US may be the exceptional state. It annexed Hawaii in 1898 and made it an American state in 1959. But there is a plausible chance America will not  remain a democracy in coming years. While nothing is certain, China may become a democracy sometime after a discredited President Xi is deposed or dies. If so, it is entirely feasible the public may elect a majority Communist government led by a moderate reformist. No one knows. Alternatively, the US may become an autocratic state with a feral Supreme Court while China remains an autocratic state with an unpopular and futile determination to achieve “Zero Covid”.

The story of other members of the Western alliance is one of momentous change. Britain took Hong Kong by force in 1842 as a base for peddling opium produced in India by the British East India Company. India won its independence from Britain in 1947 and Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1977. France had a cumulative 100 years as the colonial power in Indochina until booted out by the Viet Minh in 1953. However, it retained its colonial possessions in the Pacific Islands. Albanese told President Macron in Paris that France was an Indo Pacific power which could help contain China’s “growing ambitions” in the region.

Albanese told President Macron in Paris that France was an Indo Pacific power which could help contain China’s “growing ambitions” in the region.

Albanese blasted China for not condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but exempted India which did the  same. Labor’s Defence Minister Richard Marles earlier warmly praised India and said it is “central to Australia’s worldview and defence planning”. It also has a Hindu supremacist government that actively discriminates against Islamic members of the population.

While in Europe, Albanese falsely claimed that Australia always obeys the international rules. If it had, it would not have helped the US and the UK invade Iraq. The invasion killed or seriously injured large numbers of people and rendered even more homeless. It also allowed terrorist groups to operate in Iraq when none were present under Saddam Hussein.  Albanese’s misleading assertion dishonours Labor’s leader at the time, Simon Crean, who opposed the invasion as a breach of the rules forbidding the use of military aggression in international relations.

Albanese caught the attention of his European audience when he complained that China had “economically coerced” Australia. A fuller picture would have acknowledged Australia officially took more than 100 anti-dumping complaints against China, despite usually frowning on such measures as potentially harming free trade. China eventually retaliated with tariffs and anti-dumping measures on some Australian exports to China. Albanese gives no sign that he understands China is not the only one who should back off.

China has not been in major war since 1950. Nor has it  killed anyone in the South China Sea or near Taiwan,  where it is accused of behaving more aggressively. All major countries accept Taiwan is part of China. Some of China’s opponents, including senior US Republican politicians, seem intent on goading it into using military force against Taiwan. Fortunately, Taiwanese leaders seem to understand that the island will not be attacked unless they declare independence. China could make this less likely by granting Taiwan a genuine status as autonomous region. One reason China won’t grant independence is this would make the island a convenient base to stage attacks against the mainland. Nevertheless, an experienced observer Geoff Raby says China won’t attack the island as this would involve the killing fellow ethnic Han Chinese which would be highly unpopular.

China makes claims to territorial waters in the South China Sea that other littoral countries also claim. The Pentagon acknowledges China withdrew six land claims to settle borders disputes. If it wants to be more accommodating, China could settle some of the extreme territorial sea claims that were originally made by the Communist Party’s political opponent, the Nationalist Party, before 1949. Taiwan also makes these claims. Ideally, China Sea could follow the Antarctic example and offer to turn South China Sea into a demilitarised zone beyond the 12 nautical mile offshore line.

There is no dispute that China is building up its armed forces. But its spending is no match for the US which is spends as much as the next nine countries together, including China. China has good reason to respond to a US military build up. In 2009, the US announced it had developed an Air/Sea Battle Plan for a war with China, to destroy much of its air and naval forces and blockade all its ports and maritime routes. The details have changed, but in 2011 the US also adopted  a “pivot” to the Pacific with goal of deploying  60 per cent of its forces there. It is also actively engaged in building new bases on Pacific islands within striking distance of China while the Albanese government loudly opposes any hint that China might try to build naval base in the Pacific, or even in nearby Cambodia. US and Australian forces also constantly undertake surveillance missions close to China.

In these circumstances, it is vital to try to ease tensions on all sides to avoid what would be a terrible war. In the past, Labor would be among those urging support for new arms control agreements and expanding all channels for the potential combatants to talk. Ben Chifley, Bert Evatt, Gough Whitlam, Bill Hayden, Gareth Evans and Paul Keating all made significant efforts to actively promote peace. Anthony Albanese is supporting a large arms buildup, which is not the same thing.

Well before Albanese’s European trip, he stressed the Labor government would support the Coalition’s new security pact between Australia, the UK and the US (AUKUS). No one has given a convincing explanation for why we need AUKUS on top of the Australian New Zealand US (ANZUS) security treaty signed back in 1951.

The UK adds nothing of value. In 1968 the then Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson announced that Britain would withdraw its military bases from “East of Aden”. This was a good policy reflecting the fact that Britain no longer ruled the waves. Wilson also refused to send British troops to the Vietnam war, partly because the country couldn’t afford it. Yet Britain retained its “special relationship” with the US. A subsequent government restored a military base in the Middle East, but now Boris Johnson, a disastrous prime minister, has given British military forces a role in confronting China in the Asia-Pacific.

Although the text of AUKUS has not been released, it states the US and UK are prepared to sell nuclear submarines to Australia. They would’ve done that without AUKUS. They would also have done so for other countries such as Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Singapore, but they see more advantages in writing operating modern conventionally powered ones. NATO members without nuclear subs could buy them, but don’t because it doesn’t make military or financial  sense. Yet Labor still wants buy eight nuclear subs, almost certainly from the US, so it can fire cruise missiles from nuclear submarines operating far from Australia into China. This is an extremely bad idea on both strategic and cost grounds.  It will only provoke China which çan fire more missiles into Australia than Australia can fire into it. We could do more to defend Australia from closer to home with a mix of weapons at a much lower cost. Moreover when our nuclear submarine fires the first missile into China it will be detected and almost certainly sunk.

Plausible estimates put the cost of eight US nuclear submarines at $171 billion. (This is from a government that says it can’t afford to increase the miserable level of the New Start Allowance.) The risks of buying nuclear are on the upside, particularly as Australia wants to build them here.

The first submarine, probably a version of the US Virginia class attack ones, will not be operationally available until the early 2040s and the last by 2060. A leading US defence analyst Winslow Wheeler cautions that the Virginia class has maintenance problems and is not available for much of the time. He says that over 33 years they have only  performed 15 six monthly deployments.

The former Senator Rex Patrick, an ex-submariner, says that conventionally powered submarines are now commonly equipped with air independent propulsion (AIP), which makes them quieter than nuclear submarines which have to keep their reactor cooling pumps going and use noisy big meshing gears between the steam turbines and propellers. Others point out that nuclear subs can be detected by their constant release of hot water; by leaving wakes on the surface when run at high speeds and by blue green lasers that will penetrate water by 2040.

Patrick says that figures given to the parliament show Australia could buy 20 modern off-the-shelf conventional submarines for $30 billion – not $171 billion for nuclear submarines that don’t meet our requirements.

Another downside of buying nuclear subs is that we would have to meet our obligations to declare any fissile material under our control to the International Atomic Energy Agency which acts on behalf of the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). However, the US will refuse to give us the required information about the highly enriched,  weapons grade uranium in the reactors.

A further problem is that several Pacific Island leaders don’t want Australia to buy nuclear submarines. Nor, as Foreign Minister Penny Wong discovered on her recent visit to Malaysia, do its leaders.

Australian public opinion does not unambiguously support Labor’s strategy. The latest Lowy Institute’s annual poll shows over 51 per cent believe Australia should remain neutral in a military conflict between China and the US.

Even the hawkish former defence Minister Peter Dutton told National Press Club that he did not believe China wanted to occupy Australia. Why then do both sides of politics go out of their way to make an enemy of China. It is a recklessly provocative policy that could cause many Australians to die unnecessarily.

July 7, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A big win for Yeelirrie — Beyond Nuclear International

Indigenous community keeps door closed to uranium mining in Australia

A big win for Yeelirrie — Beyond Nuclear International Cameco delays mean uranium mining permit not extended
By Maggie Wood, Acting Executive Director, Conservation Council of Western Australia
On April 6, we celebrated a huge step forward in our sustained campaign to keep the door closed to uranium mining in Yeelirrie. 
The Minister for Environment has rejected an application by the Canadian mining company Cameco to extend their environmental approval for the Yeelirrie uranium mine. 

The approval was controversially granted in 2017 in the dying days of the Barnett government and required Cameco to commence mining within five years. They have failed to do this and now they have failed in their bid to have this time extended.

This is a huge win for the local area, the communities nearby and for life itself. The special and unique lives of the smallest of creatures, endemic subterranean fauna found nowhere else on earth, would have most likely been made extinct had this project gone ahead, according to the WA EPA. 

For over five decades Traditional Custodians from the Yeelirrie area have fought to protect their Country and community from uranium mining. Over this time they have stood up and overcome three major multinational mining companies – WMC, BHP and now Cameco.

We have stood united with communities to say no to uranium mining and this consistent rejection of the nuclear industry in WA has helped secure the sensible decision to not extend the approval.

“It is possible to stand up to multinational companies and stop major mining projects from destroying sacred lands and environments – we do that from a base of strength in unity and purpose, from persistent and consistent actions and most of all perseverance against all odds to stand up for what is right …” – Kado Muir, Tjiwarl Traditional Custodian.

And this couldn’t have happened without you. Hundreds of supporters like you have spent time on country with Traditional Custodians – listening, walking, connecting with country and standing up for a nuclear free future. Traditional Custodians, unions, faith groups, health groups, environmental groups, the WA and Australian Greens and WA Labor – we’ve all had a big part to play. 

Thank you to everyone who has stood up, spoken out, donated, walked, written letters, signed petitions and online actions, bought artwork and t-shirts, volunteered, and organised to say no to uranium mining.

The campaign to protect Yeelirrie is not entirely over. While the approvals can’t be acted on currently, they do still exist, and an amendment could be made by a future government giving Cameco the greenlight to mine.

This is why we are now calling on the State Government to withdraw approvals for Yeelirrie along with expired approvals for Cameco’s Pilbara proposal at Kintyre and Toro Energy’s Wiluna uranium proposal. Doing this would be consistent with WA Labor’s policy and community expectations and – as Vicki Abdullah says – is the next step to a lasting solution.

“We’re really glad to hear the news that Yeelirrie’s approval has not been extended. It was a bad decision in the first place and after years in court and fighting to defend our country this news is a great relief. We will really celebrate properly when this government withdraws approvals altogether and then we can have more confidence the threat is over…” – . – Vicki Abdullah, Tjiwarl Traditional Custodian.

June 27, 2022 Posted by | politics, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Nuclear test survivors’ plea for Australia to sign treaty, as they speak at UN meeting

ABC North and West SA / 21 June 22, By Bethanie Alderson  Three generations of First Nations survivors of historic nuclear tests have told the United Nations that Australia must do more to address the devastating impact the tests have had on their families. 

Key points:

  • Three First Nations survivors of nuclear testing share their stories at a United Nations meeting
  • They are calling on the Australian government to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
  • The survivors say they are facing intergenerational trauma from nuclear tests carried out in the 1950s in outback South Australia

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) invited survivors to address a conference in Vienna, more than 60 years after nuclear bombs were detonated in the South Australian outback.

Yankunytjatjara woman Karina Lester, Kokatha elder Sue Coleman-Haseldine and her granddaughter, Mia Haseldine, shared their experiences via video link from Port Augusta.

The women told the conference how the tests conducted by the British government at Maralinga and Emu Field in the 1950s had affected the health of successive generations of Aboriginal families from the region.

They called on the Australian government to sign the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which came into force in January last year.

Intergenerational toll

Survivor June Lennon, who was in the audience, said she was only a week old when her father covered her with a tarp to protect her from a nuclear blast at Emu Field.

She told the ABC her family would continue to suffer physical and mental trauma from the testing for generations to come.

“Most of our grandchildren have got pretty bad eyesight, and we were born basically with epilepsy,” Ms Lennon said.

“It’s quite likely that I’m going to die because I’ve got bleeding from my kidneys.

“We want to live. We want our children to live after us. We’re losing them at really young ages now and some of that is mental health issues.”………………

‘We still eat the bush tucker’ in test zone

Ms Haseldine outlined gaps she believed the government needed to address to support the next generation of survivors, including a commitment to greater research and education with Aboriginal communities on the impact of the testing.

“If we can somehow link those scientists or researchers studying DNA into people that live on community, eat food from this community,” Ms Haseldine said.

“We still eat the bush tucker that’s out there where fallout probably landed.”

Last year, Australian researchers found that radioactive particles released during the nuclear tests remained highly reactive.

Second-generation survivor Karina Lester noted in her presentation the importance of language for Aboriginal communities who never gave consent to the testing.

Our mob were not informed of those tests that were about to take place on their traditional lands,” Ms Lester said.

“It’s important for information to be in traditional language so they know of the impacts it has on our bodies and our environment.”…………………………….

June 21, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment