Australian news, and some related international items

Links between Trump administration, Falun Gong, and Australia’s government

Propaganda Wars: US state department funds anti-China news outlet in Australia

by Marcus Reubenstein | Aug 4, 2020  Office bearers of US-backed Chinese language news service Decode China are linked with Falun Gong, the spiritual group that has spent millions backing Donald Trump through fake social media accounts. The same people are on the board of the National Foundation for Australia China Relations, raising scepticism about its ability to repair fractured relationships. Marcus Reubenstein investigates US state funding of anti-China media in Australia and links to global arms dealers via ASPI.

The US State Department is quietly funding a Chinese-language news service in Australia, a move more typically associated with China’s state media propagandists.

And two of the three office bearers of the news service, Decode China, are members of a taxpayer-funded independent board advising the Australian government on engagement with China.

Corporate records show Dr Wai Ling Yeung and Maree Ma became secretary and director, respectively, of Decode China Pty Ltd just eight weeks before Foreign Minister Marise Payne appointed them to the board of the National Foundation for Australia China Relations. The NFACR replaced the Australia China Council (ACC), which was set up by the Fraser government in 1978 and later chaired by former prime minister Gough Whitlam.

The retired Curtin University academic Dr Yeung is a vocal critic of the Chinese government, while Ma is the general manager of the Falun Gong-aligned, largely anti-Chinese government Vision Times newspaper. According to journalist and former Australian Falun Gong practitioner Ben HurleyVision Times is part of the apparatus of Falun Gong media in Australia, led by The Epoch Times and New Tang Dynasty Television.

The spiritual group Falun Gong is banned in China and there is substantial evidence that its mainland Chinese followers are harshly persecuted by the Chinese government.

However, former practitioners say it’s a dangerous cult, whose leaders claim to have the power of levitation and tell followers that aliens from other planets are responsible for interracial marriage and mixed-race children.

Falun Gong-aligned media affiliates in the US have been accused of pouring millions of dollars into fake social media accounts and Facebook advertising, since banned, supporting Donald Trump. A recent investigation by the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent and Background Briefing programs revealed Falun Gong-affiliated media in the US have spent more than US$11.5 million in social media advertising to promote Trump.

ASPI lurking in the background Continue reading

August 4, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Despite Minerals Council lobbying, Australia’s Environmental Law prohibits nuclear and limits uranium mining

K-A Garlick, Nuclear Free WA, 22 July 20, This week, the interim report of the review into the Environmental Protection Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act – Australia’s federal environmental laws was released. This found that the Federal government should maintain the capacity to intervene in uranium mining and that there be no change to the existing prohibition on nuclear activities, including domestic nuclear power.

Environment groups have given a cautious welcome to this continuation of the status quo, especially in the face of lobbying by the Mineral Council of Australia to weaken nuclear protections and scrutiny. This outcome is a tribute to the efforts of those who have worked hard over years to highlight the deep community concerns with the nuclear industry.

While no amount of regulation can make uranium mining socially or environmentally acceptable, it can reduce the impacts.  The reports sensible approach means it is now incumbent on both State and Federal government to ensure the highest standards or rigour, transparency and public interest.

The nuclear power ban has been retained despite years of concerted effort by the Mineral Council of Australia and pro-nuclear lobbyists to have this removed. Again, this is testimony to the power, importance and effectiveness of sustained community advocacy and action.

In future updates, there will be more information on further developments and action to take, but in the meantime zip over to the excellent resource page, Don’t Nuke the Climate, Australia for all information and myth-busting to keep sharing that nuclear power cannot solve the climate crisis.  Click on website link

July 25, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Hasty and crummy pro nuclear media release from Messrs Pitt, Ramsey and Van Holst Pellekaan

Peter Remta, 22 July 2020.  Here we go again.

This is a very poorly and hastily planned and quite ill-conceived attempt to deflect from the true situation with the proposed facility at Napandee which only shows up the incompetence and lack of knowledge within the federal government as to the management of nuclear waste 

The joint media release is inconsistent within itself and with other previous reports and is surely an embarrassment to the two ministers while confirming the long-held partiality of the local member It is hoped that ANSTO will not be relying on this quite meaningless release as part of its licensing submission requirements for ARPANSA which in turn should immediately as the regulatory and licensing authority require a full explanation of the reasons behind the release 

ARPANSA must not on this occasion hide behind its licensing independence in refraining from strong comment as the release could be viewed to be an attempt to usurp its status and functions 

I will separately comment on the different parts of the release


July 22, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment

Minister Against the Environment, Sussan Ley, in a hurry for Environment Laws to help mining industries?

Environment Minister Sussan Ley is in a tearing hurry to embrace nature law reform – and that’s a worry The Conversation  Peter Burnett, Honorary Associate Professor, ANU College of Law, Australian National University, July 20, 2020  The Morrison government on Monday released a long-awaited interim review into Australia’s federal environment law. The ten-year review found Australia’s natural environment is declining and under increasing threat. The current environmental trajectory is “unsustainable” and the law “ineffective”.

The report, by businessman Graeme Samuel, called for fundamental reform of the law, know as the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. The Act, Samuel says:

[…] does not enable the Commonwealth to play its role in protecting and conserving environmental matters that are important for the nation. It is not fit to address current or future environmental challenges.

Samuel confirmed the health of Australia’s environment is in dire straits, and proposes many good ways to address this.

Worryingly though, Environment Minister Sussan Ley immediately seized on proposed reforms that seem to suit her government’s agenda – notably, streamlining the environmental approvals process – and will start working towards them. This is before the review has been finalised, and before public comment on the draft has been received.

This rushed response is very concerning. I was a federal environment official for 13 years, and from 2007 to 2012 was responsible for administering and reforming the Act. I know the huge undertaking involved in reform of the scale Samuel suggests. The stakes are far too high to risk squandering this once-a-decade reform opportunity for quick wins.

‘Fundamental reform’ needed: Samuel

The EPBC Act is designed to protect and conserve Australia’s most important environmental and heritage assets – most commonly, threatened plant and animal species.

Samuel’s diagnosis is on the money: the current trajectory of environmental decline is clearly unsustainable. And reform is long overdue – although unlike Samuel, I would put the blame less on the Act itself and more on government failings, such as a badly under-resourced federal environment department.

Samuel also hits the sweet spot in terms of a solution, at least in principle. National environmental standards, legally binding on the states and others, would switch the focus from the development approvals process to environmental outcomes. In essence, the Commonwealth would regulate the states for environmental results, rather than proponents for (mostly) process.  …….

From the outset, the government framed Samuel’s review around a narrative of cutting the “green tape” that it believed unnecessarily held up development.

In June the government announced fast-tracked approvals for 15 major infrastructure projects in response to the COVID-19 economic slowdown. And on Monday, Ley indicated the government will prioritise the new national environmental standards, including further streamlining approval processes……..

Here’s where the danger lies. The government wants to introduce legislation in August. Ley said “prototype” environmental standards proposed by Samuel will be introduced at the same time. This is well before Samuel’s final report, due in October.

I believe this timeframe is unwise, and wildly ambitious……

The government’s fixation with cutting “green tape” should not unduly colour its reform direction. By rushing efforts to streamline approvals, the government risks creating a jumbled process with, once again, poor environmental outcomes.

July 21, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Indigenous Australians have been  failed by the nation’s environmental protection laws, a review has found.

July 21, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Federal environment law review calls for independent cop, but Morrison Government rules it out

Federal environment law review calls for independent cop, but Morrison Government rules it out, ABC News, By national science, technology and environment reporter Michael Slezak  21 July 20, 

A landmark review into Australia’s national environment laws has called for a major overhaul, including establishing an “independent cop” to oversee them.

Key points:

The 124-page interim report comes 20 years after the laws were first implemented by the Howard government
The report’s author has called for a “strong, independent cop” on the environment beat
The Federal Government has accepted some recommendations, but rejected the report’s call for an independent regulatorThe independent review into the 20-year-old Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC), released this morning, also flagged legally enforceable “national standards” to stop the decline of Australia’s natural environment.

“The foundation of the report was that there is too much focus on process and not enough focus on outcomes and that should be changed entirely,” Graeme Samuel, the review’s independent author, said.

He concluded that Australia’s environment was getting worse under the laws designed to protect it.

“Australia’s natural environment and iconic places are in an overall state of decline and are under increasing threat,” he said.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley immediately moved to rule out an “independent cop”, which was policy taken to the last federal election by the Opposition.

But the Federal Government accepted the recommendation for national standards, which she said would form the basis of agreements with states, allowing federal approvals to be devolved to the states.

If brought into law it would establish a “one-stop shop” or “single-touch approvals”.

The devolving of federal approval powers to states has long been the aim of the Federal Government.

The report calls for the Government to maintain the power to step in on any decisions it deems important, or when a failure of state processes has been identified.

The 124-page interim report comes 20 years after the laws were first implemented by the Howard government……….

Independent cop call

In his review, Professor Samuel, the former chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, said a “strong, independent cop on the beat is required”.

“An independent compliance and enforcement regulator, that is not subject to actual or implied political direction from the Government Minister, should be established,” he said.

“The regulator should be responsible for monitoring compliance, enforcement and assurance. It should be properly resourced and have available to it a full toolkit of powers.”

The call echoes Labor Party policy from the last election, which called for a federal environmental protection agency — a move backed by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF).

ACF chief executive, Kelly O’Shanassy, said at the moment protecting nature was “optional”.

Regardless, Ms Ley moved quickly to rule out any new regulator……….

Funding cuts and approval delays

The review began in November 2019 but its findings were delayed by the bushfires and then the coronavirus crisis.

While the report was being prepared, the Auditor General released a report finding 80 per cent of approvals under the laws were non-compliant or contained errors.

Federal Labor analysed those findings and concluded that since the Coalition came to power, there had been a 510 per cent blowout in the number of environmental approvals delayed beyond time frames indicated in the laws.

The delays came as the government cut funding to the environment department, which Labor said was now 40 per cent lower than it was before the Coalition came to power…….

July 21, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear status quo in federal environmental law review

The EPBC review interim report was released today. Here is the link to the report. There are some meme’s attached – please share – or share directly from the Don’t Nuke the Climate pages. Thanks!
In summary
no change to nuclear power prohibition
uranium to stay a “matter of national environmental significance”
– federal government should maintain powers to intervene in uranium mining
– set up national environment standards – to devolve assessments to state and territory governments *** this is the bit to worry about – this is largely already the case and has led to much poorer outcomes. The “national environment standards” have the potential to be deficient and have weak regulation as is already the case.

 Mineral Policy Institute and Friends of the Earth Australia,  20 July 2020
National and state environment groups have given a cautious welcome to the continuation of long-standing protections against nuclear risks in the current statutory review of the Environmental Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act – Australia’s federal environmental laws. The interim report released today has stated that the Commonwealth should maintain the capacity to intervene in uranium mining and made no recommendation to change existing prohibitions on nuclear activities, including domestic nuclear power.

Civil society groups made a joint submission to the EPBC review calling for the retention of the long standing ban on nuclear power and continuing federal oversight of uranium mining. The EPBC review committee’s interim report has flagged an intention to continue both protections despite lobbying from the Mineral Council of Australia to weaken these.

However, environment groups are concerned about a possible weakening of uranium mining regulations flagged in the interim report. Associate Professor Gavin Mudd, Chair of the Mineral Policy Institute, said: “The interim report proposes the further devolution of uranium mining regulation to states and territories, coupled to the establishment of ‘National Environmental Standards’. An obvious risk is that the standards will be weak, enforcement will be deficient as is already the case, and devolution will weaken the already inadequate oversight of uranium mining.”

“Uranium mining is different to other types of mining. Australia’s uranium mining sector has been dominated by license breaches, accidents, spills and a persistent failure to rehabilitate as promised. The last thing we need is a weakening of regulations and oversight. Apart from SA and NT every state and territory have a ban or prohibition on uranium mining. It is unsafe and unpopular and needs greater scrutiny, not less,” Assoc. Prof. Mudd said.

The Review’s interim report makes no recommendation to repeal the long-standing prohibition on domestic nuclear power. “Nuclear power is expensive, dangerous and unpopular,” said Dr Jim Green, national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia. “The prohibition in the EPBC Act reflects this. Nuclear is thirsty, produces high level nuclear waste for which there are no safe storage options and produces materials that can be diverted into nuclear weapons. It is a profound security and safety risk. And nuclear power is absurdly expensive.”

“Recent comments from the current Environment Minister and Opposition Leader show a clear bipartisan rejection of nuclear power. There is broad opposition among civil society as shown through a joint statement by over 60 organisations representing millions of Australians. Given the lack of social license for nuclear power in Australia we welcome the continuation of this prudent prohibition,” Dr Green said.

Following the Australian uranium-fuelled Fukushima nuclear disaster the UN Secretary General called for all uranium producing countries to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the industry. Groups have called on the Morrison government to now hold an independent review of the uranium sector.

July 20, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Cory Bernardi resuscitated – renewed zeal for nuclear and “Advance Australia”

Failed extreme right-wing politician Cory Bernardi seemed to have disappeared from the news.   His zeal for the nuclear industry did not go down well with the Australian public.

But no, Cory is now resuscitated in the media –   well, not exactly the reliable and respected news media. But he has found his natural habitat – where else but at right-wing paradise – Sky News?

And where has Cory found the political embrace that he craves?   in the Advance Australia lobby group – perfect for Cory – climate denialism, pro nuclear fanaticism, and ever so coy about where they get their funding.

So-here’s Cory’s Sky News spiel:        Nuclear is the ‘gold standard of power’ ticking all the boxes  – “Nuclear energy solves the climate wars unravelling around the world”  [Ed. note hang on, I thought that Advance Australia didn’t believe that climate change is real]  “You want reliable and cheap, affordable energy? Nuclear ticks that box too,

Advance Australia Director Liz Storer told Sky News:  “The sooner we get nuclear off the ground the better,” she said. “It’s the gold standard of power.”

July 20, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

“Advance Australia” – a group of older rich white men, aiming to get richer.

What is Advance Australia, the new conservative lobby group taking on Get Up! 7.30, By Ashlynne McGhee, ABC News  21 November 2018  Australia has a new conservative lobby group that wants to knock on your door, get in your ear and ultimately swing your vote.

Advance Australia’s named with a nod to our anthem and the hope it can rival the powerful left-wing lobby Get Up!

It has some prominent backers and a bold mission — but can it succeed?    The group’s financially and ideologically backed by a group of prominent business leaders including storage king Sam Kennard, businessman and former ABC chairman Maurice Newman and the Australian Jewish Association’s Dr David Adler.

Its national director is Gerard Benedet, who was the chief of staff to former Queensland LNP Treasurer Tim Nicholls in a previous life.   “We’re not aligned to any political party,” he told 7.30.

“We’re an independent movement of mainstream Australians, who are determined to protect, advance and defend mainstream values and freedoms.”

Get Up! National Director Paul Oosting says that’s rubbish.

“Advance Australia is a group of rich white men on a campaign to make themselves richer,” he said.

“They want to work on issues that are in their own self-interest, that are the vested interests of the corporate lobby they represent.”………..

Who’s donating and who’s joining?   It’s a little unclear.     Membership is free, so money isn’t necessarily flowing from new recruits……..

July 20, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

“Advance Australia” -the extreme right wing lobby group, says that climate change is a hoax

From Wikipedia 20 July 20 The national director of Advance Australia was Gerard Benedet, a former Liberal Party staffer who led the organisation during the 2019 Australian federal election.[3] Benedet stood down in September 2019, and was replaced by Liz Storer, former City of Gosnells councillor,[4][5] and advisor to Liberal senator Zed Seselja.[6]

High-profile backers include businessmen such as Maurice Newman, Kennards Self Storage managing director Sam Kennard, and Australian Jewish Association president David Adler.[2][3] Other members of the advisory council include security specialist Sean Jacobs and journalist Kerry Wakefield.[7] Queensland businessman James Power is also said to have been involved.[8]….

Benedet says the membership is 60 per cent male and has an average age of about 50.[1]

Advance Australia has been accused of astroturfing and being little more than a front for the Liberal Party, much as GetUp has been accused of being a front for the Australian Labor Party.[11] Advance Australia’s independence has yet to be tested, whereas GetUp has been cleared of ties to the Labor Party on three occasions by the Australian Electoral Commission.[12].

 The group believes that anthropogenic climate change is a “hoax”[6], with current national director Liz Storer describing of the teaching of the predominant scientific view as “the other side of the story being shoved down their throats. It’s already happening. The left have infiltrated our education systems. Any aware parent knows that their child is being taught the left’s ideology.  ”

July 20, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Doubts on the independence of the reiew of Australia’s national environmental laws

Frustration grows over delayed release of review into Australia’s environmental laws
‘Questions naturally arise’ about review’s independence, environmental group says,
Guardian,   Lisa Cox   17 Jul 20, Environment groups are increasingly anxious and frustrated as they wait for the release of an interim report from a review of Australia’s national environmental laws.

The review’s chair, the former competition watchdog head Graeme Samuel, handed his report to the environment minister, Sussan Ley, almost three weeks ago.

It had been due for release shortly after that but the government pushed back its publication, which is now expected sometime next week.

“When the review was announced, Minister Ley was very clear that this was meant to be an independent report. But when the report is delayed by government, questions naturally arise about how independent that process is,” said Suzanne Milthorpe, the national environmental law campaign manager at the Wilderness Society.

“If they are serious about this, they should release it so that all Australians can see and engage with the findings of this report.”

The review of Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act is a once-in-a-decade statutory requirement. It has the potential to shape policy for the next 10 years in an area that is highly politicised.

The interim report and its recommendations will inform the next period of public consultation before Samuel delivers a final report in October.

In submissions to the review, environmental and industry groups have put forward proposals that involve the development of national environmental standards.

They agree Australia’s environment is in decline, but they hold different views on what a set of national standards might look like.

Industry continues to advocate for reductions in environmental regulation, while conservationists have called for stronger protection and an independent national environmental authority.

Just this week, Australia’s oil and gas lobby, APPEA, called for regulatory reform, and in particular the cutting of so-called environmental “green tape”, to support economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. …..

James Trezise of the Australian Conservation Foundation said a recent national audit office report that examined the assessment and approval of projects under the act had identified serious failures in governance.

That included findings that the government had been ineffective in managing risks to the environment and had failed to ensure developers were meeting the environmental conditions of their project approvals.

Trezise said reforms were needed to ensure Australia’s laws were better focused on delivering outcomes for the environment and that one way of achieving that was “through setting clear national standards” for environmental protection…….

James Trezise of the Australian Conservation Foundation said a recent national audit office report that examined the assessment and approval of projects under the act had identified serious failures in governance.

That included findings that the government had been ineffective in managing risks to the environment and had failed to ensure developers were meeting the environmental conditions of their project approvals.

Trezise said reforms were needed to ensure Australia’s laws were better focused on delivering outcomes for the environment and that one way of achieving that was “through setting clear national standards” for environmental protection………

July 18, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s Liberal Coalition climate deniers are at it again


Coalition MP Craig Kelly has mounted an extraordinary attack on the Bureau of Meteorology in a Facebook post shared more than one thousand times in 36 hours.

Coalition MP George Christensen was among those who shared the post, saying: “Craig Kelly is in detective mode. Crooks within data-altering government agencies should be worried. Very worried.”

Does the Environment Minister Sussan Ley agree with these attacks on the Bureau of Meteorology? Does the Assistant Minister, Trevor Evans?

What about Mr Kelly and Mr Christensen’s backbench colleagues like Ross Vasta, Tim Wilson, Dave Sharma, Fiona Martin or Katie Allen?

If they don’t agree, what are they doing about the fact that their colleagues are using social media to spread disinformation in an attempt to discredit a government agency and undermine action on climate change?

This is beyond a joke. The Government needs to take responsibility for the actions of its own backbench.

Links to Mr Kelly and Mr Christensen’s posts:

July 16, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Kimba “interim” nuclear waste site – bad news, uncannily like the misguided New Mexico waste plan

KIMBA GOVERNMENT PROPOSALS,  by Peter Remta, 11 July 20   Is not the newspaper article below describing practically the same situation as with the Kimba proposals?

Should not the Australian government learn from this and the other unsatisfactory experiences overseas of which France is a main one despite being used as a successful example by the government for Kimba of community consent.

The author of this article and the former chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of the USA (who incidentally has been to Kimba) would both be prepared to give evidence and their opinions to the Senate committee inquiry by video link.

However this article shows the effects of inept and incomplete planning as is the case with Kimba.

New Mexico nuclear facility is bad news, Las Vegas Sun, By Judy Treichel Monday, July 6, 2020, It may seem like good news in Nevada that an effort is underway in New Mexico to build a private storage facility for nuclear waste there.

But don’t be mistaken: This facility wouldn’t be an alternative to the disastrous Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. In fact, its existence depends on Yucca Mountain becoming an operating repository. That’s unacceptable, because the Nevada facility poses far too many risks for our state.

The license application for the New Mexico facility calls for it to operate over 40 years, after which the waste stored in it would go to Yucca Mountain…..  today those Yucca Mountain deliberations are on an indefinite hold.

Now comes the New Mexico license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which in the opinion of the Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force the commission should not have accepted with the assumption that Yucca Mountain would be an operating repository.

During all of the time that Nevada has been fighting the Yucca Mountain proposal, we were repeatedly assured that we could place our trust in the commission because before any license was granted for construction or operation, a thorough and unbiased process would fully play out. We were told there was no reason for questioning the fairness of the commission’s licensing process…….

Any siting of a facility that creates risk for the community should require informed consent, and the people of New Mexico do not consent.

What we see happening with this so-called interim site is that it does not solve the nuclear waste problem. In fact it increases the risks by putting the waste on the roads and rails, and requiring it to be loaded and unloaded multiple times and transported more than once. Additionally, the only way a site can be considered “interim” is to know that the waste will leave, and the assumption here is that it will leave New Mexico and come to Nevada.

The incentive for the company proposing to build the facility is purely financial — specifically, it’s to gain access to the $42 billion in the federal nuclear waste fund. An interim site does not increase or improve public safety, but rather does just the opposite. It creates one more nuclear waste site and provides more room at reactor sites for more waste. And it moves the waste closer to Nevada.

A national high-level nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain is an overwhelmingly unsafe idea. Nevada residents, elected officials and people across the country living near transport routes know it. For 20 years, the Department of Energy studied the site and discovered — or were forced to admit — that there were conditions present that, according to their own guidelines, disqualified the site.

If the licensing process ever restarts, how could we trust the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to fairly judge the science when it has previously assumed a licensed and operating repository at Yucca Mountain? Congress needs to reverse the action it took naming Yucca Mountain as the only site to be considered for a national repository, and take a fresh and fair look at nuclear waste disposal.

Initiatives like the interim storage site in New Mexico are simply misguided and misleading diversions.

Judy Treichel is executive director of the Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force

July 11, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment

In contradiction to Angus Taylor, Australia’s Minister On Behalf of Polluting Industries, the States are leading on clean energy

How Australia’s state energy ministers are turning the tables on Angus Taylor, Guardian Simon Holmes à Court  The state energy ministers still need to deliver on their promises, but imagine if any of them held the federal portfolio   @simonahac, Sat 11 Jul 202   Sometimes it just takes a bit of leadership.

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull likes to say that we must choose “engineering and economics” over “idiocy and ideology”. The New South Wales energy minister, Matt Kean, has been making the right choices.

In December 2018 I singled out NSW for its reckless lack of energy policy. The state, reliant on an ageing coal fleet for 80% of its power, had been shunned by energy investors……..

NSW is blessed with high-quality wind and solar resources, but lacks transmission lines between the best wind and solar areas and the state’s major population and industrial centres. In 2018, only one-in-20 proposed renewable energy projects could be accommodated into the weak grids in the west of the state, and developers were forced to turn their attention to the other states.

In a landmark speech late last year, Kean, the newly minted energy minister, made it clear his government would respond to the climate science and embrace the opportunities presented by decarbonising the economy.

“To those vested interests and ideologues who want to stand in the way of this transition, I say enjoy your Kodak moment,” he said.

Undeterred by attacks from the Murdoch media and even the prime minister, Scott Morrison, over the following months, Kean set about turning the tables in NSW……….

What’s stunning is how much ambition has shifted, and how it’s being driven by the states. Just two years ago the modelling for Josh Frydenberg’s failed national energy guarantee predicted that NSW wouldn’t build a single wind or solar farm from 2021 to 2030. Now Kean has a plan to build as much large-scale renewable energy this decade in NSW as all of Australia built over the past 20 years. …….

The Australian Energy Market Operator and CSIRO have determined that the cheapest way to “firm” the huge amounts of renewable energy is a relatively modest mix of better interconnections with neighbouring states, batteries and pumped hydroelectricity – Snowy 2.0 project and multiple smaller projects. On economic grounds alone, fossil gas is unlikely to play an increased role.

The Rezs will also open up opportunities for energy intensive industry. Flexible demand, such as hydrogen production, can help balance the grid. Instead of fracking the Pilliga forest to produce fertiliser with a huge carbon footprint, business could build a zero-carbon factory in the New England region, making fertiliser from renewable energy.

Angus Taylor, the federal minister for energy and emissions reductions, is famously no fan of renewable energy or of setting meaningful emissions reduction targets. On electricity, the state energy ministers – right across the political spectrum – are charging ahead without him, which is perhaps as it should be, given that electricity is the states’ responsibility…….

Every state and territory has now formally signed on to a net-zero emissions target by no later than 2050, a target backed by business, unions and the opposition – yet the federal government and its donors stand in the way.

Australia has three Liberal state energy ministers. South Australia’s Dan van Holst Pellekaan wants to see his state hit 100% renewables by 2030. His Tasmanian counterpart, Guy Barnett, is gunning for 200% renewables and Kean has outlined a plan for NSW to be an energy superpower.

Sure, these energy ministers still need to deliver on their promises, but imagine if any one of them held the federal portfolio.

July 11, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Keep Australia’s nuclear prohibition laws: it appears that nuclear is no part of climate action, not necessary

The end of ecomodernism  , John Quiggin, 9 July 20, 
I was due to appear tomorrow before the Environment and Planning Committee’s inquiry into Nuclear Prohibition in Victoria, but I’ve just been advised that it’s been deferred until after the lockdown. I’d just finished writing a supplement to my earlier submission which concluded that there was no real support for the kind of ‘grand bargain’ I’d earlier proposed, combining a commitment to a rapid phase-out of coal with a removal of the prohibition on nuclear power. It’s over the fold.

The most important group of nuclear power advocates who have consistently promoted concerns about climate change as the main reason for their advocacy have been the self-described ‘eco-modernists’. The main organizational focus of ecomodernism is the Breakthrough Institute, established by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus in 2003.
Recently, Shellenberger has issued what he describes as ‘an apology on behalf of environmentalists everywhere’ in which he repudiates previous concerns about catastrophic climate change and indicates that he never sincerely shared these concerns. Other ecomodernists have demurred at some of his claims, but have not indicated fundamental disagreement. The result is that, as a movement combining a pro-nuclear position with a commitment to a serious response to climate change, ecomodernism has ceased to exist.This outcome reinforces the conclusion drawn from my own experience that there is no political basis for a ‘grand bargain’ combining a commitment to rapid decarbonization with the removal of restrictions on nuclear power. I therefore see no merit in changing existing restrictions.

July 9, 2020 Posted by | climate change - global warming, politics, Victoria | Leave a comment