Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Clive Palmer and his United Australia Party guarantee a nuclear reactor for South Australia if they hold the balance of power.

Clive Palmer’s UAP backs SA nuclear energy, The United Australia Party is backing nuclear energy for South Australia, pledging to build a reactor if the party gains the balance of power……………..

Clive Palmer’s UAP backs SA nuclear energy, The United Australia Party is backing nuclear energy for South Australia, pledging to build a reactor if the party gains the balance of power……………..

Mr Palmer believed his party would hold the balance of power in the Senate and guaranteed the project would be carried out if so…………

But Mr Palmer said the federal government should fund the power plant.  https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/clive-palmers-uap-backs-sa-nuclear-energy/l9fo4wt7n?fbclid=IwAR257bldPcPrYu8jc3uMqAPliJbvGFzuytaK9WOvkYaORWScMIW_FvAmriA

May 21, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

More scathing comments from readers, about Scott Morrison’s foolish nuclear submarine deal

Here is another bunch of the many comments from readers, in reaction to Peter Harcher’s article  https://www.smh.com.au/national/aukus-fallout-double-dealing-and-deception-came-at-a-diplomatic-cost-20220513-p5al95.html

Lorenzo the Mag That’s what you get when you hire a marketing person.

KEEPITREAL Australia is facing an unprecedented debt disaster. Already $1.2 Trillion dollars in Sovereign debt the LNP want to add to that with perpetual weapons acquisitions that will cost hundreds of billions of dollars and lock Australia into agreements spanning many decades with evermore additional associated expenses. The 2024 Stage 3 tax cuts / vote buy will cost $20 billion / year in lost budget revenue whilst entrenching poverty.
This LNP insanity has to stop, their debt consolidation would only make sense if their plan is for Australia to become the North Korea of the South Pacific

Kim Australia is committed to paying whatever the US military complex want to charge, not just for the submarines but all the add ons as well. A blank cheque for the US to fill in the figures. No wonder the US official asked if Australian taxpayers can sustain the cost. How stupid is this government?

David AUKUS or in order of importance USUKA (you sucker) will cost us mega billions, only to see the subs never delivered because they will be yesterday”s technology by the time they are delivered.

MM55 Sooner or later nuclear subs have to return to base. They could be destroyed by hypersonic missiles sent from China direct. In 10 years they will be obsolete. Technology will see to that. In the meantime we keep the workers in the US submarine industry in a job.

Tahoe Why the need for absolute secrecy? Such strategic decisions need proper analysis.

The thing that Labor failed to understand is that the American subs use weapons grade uranium. It was never going to get past Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, not as far as Iran was concerned. The French *nuclear* subs used non-weapons grade uranium.

These US submarines ain’t never going to be actually delivered.

Terryroger#2 Last year, Morrison and Dutton effectively shunned and insulted France the only European power and the only nuclear power with territory and military and naval bases in the South Pacific. We’re now on the hook to buy nuclear submarines that were intended to be integrated into the US Navy to blockade China’s sea lanes. As a result China is building the capacity to block our sea lanes to the US. .
The French Barracuda subs would be far more suitable for defending and monitoring the maritime approaches to Australia, which is what our defence priority should be – independent self-defence.
Morrison and Dutton have shown themselves to be nothing more than ventriloquist dolls for Uncle Sam for it was they who were ‘conned’ by Trump and Bannon and Pompeo in to leading the way in the call for a Covid inquiry – well ahead of the rest of the world and of course the results were that Australia lost trade with China while the US gained those lost markets – some ally!
If Labor win the election, they could do worse than prepare a current Defence White Paper, based on the circumstances we now face and on our own interests rather than those of the US, and tell Macron that we may yet take the more useful, appropriate and delivered-on-time French subs.

fizzybeer…. anti lies and rorts, pro ICAC I would have expected a thousand comments on this series of revelations about the Morrison lies and incompetence with defence purchases and national security, are we becoming used to the lies or too tired of Morrison to take an interest?

EVAN SMITH Thanks Peter,
As if more proof was required about the PM’s unfitness for office, then this article by Peter Hartcher exposes it concisely and succinctly in this article.

The duplicitous conduct and lack of decency and respect that the Pm has for others, is laid bare by Peter Hartcher!

Vote this useless LNP mob out and restore Australia’s tattered reputation as a trusted ally!

@therealmclovin Another really important aspect to all of this, which I’m surprised isn’t even alluded to given what has been happening in our region in the last few weeks, is that France has a significant regional presence. New Caledonia and French Polynesia are both French territories. Setting aside which boats we needed to buy, if putting a regional partner offside seemed like a bad idea last year, it seems spectacularly idiotic now. Surely there could have been another way of handling this. We’ve created significant rifts within our region, this being just another example, that are being exploited and will continue to be exploited and we won’t even see these boats for 15 -18 years or more!

Even if the idea and technologies aren’t obsolete in two decades (and I’m not opposed to nuclear subs), given the amount of coastline we have (or the amount of area of the SW Pacific we operate in), we may in retrospect conclude we would have been much better off with 20 French subs for the price of 8 US/UK ones and in a conflict continue to be able to build and importantly fuel them ourselves.

Lorne Green As we have seen its not only the French who have been deceived but possibly the whole of the South Pacific region, not to mention a large chunk of the Australian population.
Well detailed analysis of the level of underhandedness our government went to in this affair – sounds like a masterstroke of deception worthy of intelligent services in WW2.
Is this a forewarning of the way we will be treated by the LNP, when they decide there is something we don’t need to know – there is a danger that we end becoming like our worst enemy.

No vision- No policies- No direction – How good is that! This confirms it – we have to get rid of this LNP rabble.😠
They can’t be trusted are underhanded and make terrible decisions that we will live with for the next decades.

May 17, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

DEMOCRACY IN DANGER — Declassified Australia

Upon leaving parliament, former Liberal party Defence Minister Christopher Pyne was immediately employed with corporate consultants EY Defence (Ernst & Young) to help them grow their defence business, and Adelaide-based arms industry lobbyists GC Advisory.

Brendan Nelson, former Liberal Party leader, Defence Minister, and director of the Australian War Memorial, is now president of Boeing Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, a top five contractor to Defence. Nelson is also on the board of defence advisory and weapons lobbyist Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

Former Labor senator and chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, Stephen Loosley joined the board of French arms multinational Thales Australia.

Former Liberal defence minister  Robert Hill is on the  board of German weapons-maker Rheinmetall’s Australian subsidiary, which is supplying Defence’s $5 billion of Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles.

Former Labor defence minister and Labor leader Kim ‘Bomber’ Beazley joined the board of Lockheed Martin Australia and was the chair of EY Defence lobby group

State capture’ by private interests explains why, no matter which major party forms government in Australia, powerful and well-connected industries always seem to win

FELICITY RUBY and SCOTT LUDLAM16 MAY 2022 ‘State capture’ by powerful corporate and political players is a major existential threat to democracy and communities across the world. It is fast becoming […]

DEMOCRACY IN DANGER — Declassified Australia

State capture’ by fossil fuel, defence and other powerful industries is more systematic and entrenched than corruption but falls short of the definition of oligarchy, or corporate dictatorship. It exists in a distinct place in the middle, where private sector actors get hold of democratic levers to shape policy in their interest, no matter the outcome of elections. 

The World Bank coined the ‘state capture’ phrase when observing private sector actors in former eastern bloc states shaping policies to serve their narrow interests. The power comes through control over resources, the threat of state violence, or other forms of influence on the judiciary, bureaucracies and government. 

In Australia, state capture explains why no matter which major party forms government, powerful industries always seem to win. 

Fighting state capture at election time means voting for people who don’t bank cheques from the huge companies, and who are not part of the revolving door between industry and politics.

Opinion polling and the surge in volunteers working to elect independents and Greens indicate that more Australians understand that a big, uncaptured and raucous crossbench can restore some integrity to parliament and fight corporations undermining democracy.

Early in 2022, the Australian Democracy Network published a report titled ‘Confronting State Capture’ which outlined six channels of state capture: financial, lobbying, revolving doors, institutional repurposing, research and policymaking, and public influence campaigns. 

The foundation of state capture is money: using it to fund political parties, buy access to decision makers and wage third party attack campaigns. Lobbying is then used to build relationships, either through consultancies, direct CEO-Minister contact, or peak bodies.

Revolving doors, the great merry-go-round or golden escalator, sees people working as Ministers or advisers one day and company directors or lobbyists the next, providing familiarity with process and people in decision making roles. 

The mostly observable work of policy and research involves the think tanks, the ‘Big 4’ professional services consultancies, and industry peak bodies. They allow these companies to cover every Senate inquiry, every piece of legislation, and infiltrate every regulatory body – unlike affected populations, community groups or social movements.

Institutional repurposing occurs when public authorities like the CSIRO or Bureau of Meteorology, or environmental protection authorities or universities are hollowed out through placing industry people on the board, changing underpinning legislation, gradually diverting them from the public interest to serving private industry. Finally, there are the public influence campaigns that are run on traditional media platforms and social media.

Revolving doors and golden escalators

When senior public officials and politicians ‘retire’ from public service and move into lobbyist roles in industry, they take with them an extensive contact network, deep institutional knowledge, and rare and privileged personal access to people at the highest levels of government.

Their presence in the private sector entrenches the influence of industry over policymaking and government procurement decisions – decisions that should be entirely unmoved by commercial imperatives.

The ministerial code supposedly requires ministers to not lobby government for industries connected to their portfolio for a period of 18 months, and yet some politicians don’t even wait before they have left office.

In defence of the realm 

  • Former Liberal Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb on the day before his resignation, took up a job with Chinese-owned developer Landbridge, the leaseholder of the strategically important Port of Darwin.
  • Upon leaving parliament, former Liberal party Defence Minister Christopher Pyne was immediately employed with corporate consultants EY Defence (Ernst & Young) to help them grow their defence business, and Adelaide-based arms industry lobbyists GC Advisory.
  • Former Liberal Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop overseeing the Australian Aid agency, became a director with private aid contractor Palladium.
  • Labor MP Mike Kelly went in 2020 directly from the powerful Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security into the arms of Palantir, a creepy US global surveillance consultancy.
  • Brendan Nelson, former Liberal Party leader, Defence Minister, and director of the Australian War Memorial, is now president of Boeing Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, a top five contractor to Defence. Nelson is also on the board of defence advisory and weapons lobbyist Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).
  • The former Labor defence minister Stephen Smith, chairs the Perth-based cybersecurity company Sapien Cyber.
  • Former Labor senator and chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, Stephen Loosley joined the board of French arms multinational Thales Australia.
  • Former Liberal defence minister  Robert Hill is on the  board of German weapons-maker Rheinmetall’s Australian subsidiary, which is supplying Defence’s $5 billion of Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles.
  • Former Labor defence minister and Labor leader Kim ‘Bomber’ Beazley joined the board of Lockheed Martin Australia and was the chair of EY Defence lobby group.
  • Former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer had been closely involved in negotiations on the Timor Sea boundary, to the ultimate advantage of Woodside Petroleum. As an ex-MP, he established a political advisory consultancy, Bespoke Approach, which was contracted by Woodside to lobby the East Timorese government to accept the basing of Timor’s LNG processing in Darwin rather than in Timor. Downer’s former departmental head also retired and joined the board of Woodside.

It’s not just ministers who seem to struggle on the Commonwealth pension, but also senior military and intelligence heads who pick up work with their former clients.

Former Chief of the Defence Force Mark Binskin, exactly a year after he retired as Defence Force Chief, was appointed as ‘non-executive director, defence and national security policy’ at BAE Systems Australia, one of Australia’s top three defence contractors. BAE Systems is in the running to provide Australia’s planned nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS military pact.

  • Five months after leaving his post as ASIO chief, Duncan Lewis joined the Australian board of Thales, a French arms and security multinational and a top three Australian defence contractor.
  • Former defence secretary, head of the Office of National Intelligence (ONI) and director general of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), Nick Warner, joined the board of defence lobbying firm Dragoman Global, whose clients include French submarine company, Naval Group Australia.
  • Former defence secretary and ASIO boss, Dennis Richardson, joined the board of Vault Cloud, which provides high-security cloud infrastructure for government and critical industries.
  • Former chief of army, Lt Gen Ken Gillespie, chairperson of ASPI’s council, has joined the boards of Naval Group Australia and cybersecurity firm Senetas Corporation.
  • Retired Air Vice-Marshal Margaret Staib joined the board of QinetiQ, a British defence multinational that is deeply embedded with Defence’s weapons arm, Defence Science and Technology.
  • Former defence secretary Allan Hawke joined the Lockheed Martin Australia board as well as the military advisory and lobbyist group, ASPI.
  • Chief of Army Peter Leahy soon joined the boards of Codan, manufacturer of military communications equipment, and Electro Optic Systems, manufacturer of machine guns exported to UAE and Saudi Arabia, both at war against Yemen.

Fossil fuelled influence

 key weakness in the Lobbying Code is that it only applies to ministers, and has no application to senior public servants, nor to MPs who have spent years on relevant committees.

While the defence and intelligence industries are renowned for making astute appointments of former ministers and senior bureaucrats, the fossil-fuel industries are also keen to exchange personnel with governments to share the knowledge and contacts that secure their deep influence…………………………..

The use of ‘institutional repurposing’

One of the most threatening aspects of state capture is the manipulation or ‘repurposing’ of government agencies set up to serve the public interest, through a process of board appointments, legislative amendments or cultural drift.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) have been persistent targets for repurposing by fossil industries……………….

May 16, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Radioactive: Inside the top-secret AUKUS nuclear submarines deal

A nuclear subs deal would lock Australia more tightly into the US bloc.

Shearer managed to sidestep the Russian roulette of Australia’s vaccine rollout with the help of doctors at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.……….

My sources didn’t put it quite this bluntly, but everyone in the room understood that this was about Australia acquiring the power to pose a direct threat to China’s forces and the Chinese mainland.

 Campbell made a crucial choice by appointing Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead…...

Secret meetings and subterfuge over many months shored up Australia’s “40-year fantasy” of a mighty nuclear marriage with the US and the UK.

SMH, By Peter Hartcher MAY 14, 2022 When Joe Biden was first briefed on Australia’s request for nuclear-powered submarines, he did not say “yes”. He was cautious, even sceptical. Among his doubts was whether Australia was up to it………….

The Australians were asking for the crown jewels in the national security vault. one of America’s remaining decisive advantages over China. The US had shared its nuclear sub secrets with only one nation, Britain, in 1958. Much had changed since.

The transformational power of nuclear-propelled subs is that they could allow Australia to pose a direct threat to the Chinese mainland. For the first time. It had come to that.

With unlimited range because they never need to refuel, and with vertical launch tubes for firing missiles, a nuclear-propelled submarine could stand off China’s coast and threaten it with cruise missiles.

Australia’s existing fleet of submarines, the six diesel-powered Collins class, is equipped with torpedo tubes only. Which means it can fire torpedoes at targets in the water but not missiles at targets on land.

But it had been a 40-year fantasy of Australian governments to get American nuclear propulsion. Canberra had been turned down every time. Indeed, no earlier request had even reached the president’s desk. The US Nuclear Navy, guardians of the technology, had ruled it out of the question.

Now the Australian appeal had the president’s full attention. The briefing paper in front of him ran through the positives and negatives of such an arrangement –it did not contain a recommendation.

On the positive side of the ledger, the top consideration was that it would help counter China. The People’s Liberation Army Navy has the advantage over the US in warfighting on and above the ocean. Arming an ally with nuclear-powered subs would help blunt China’s edge.

Nuclear-propelled submarines “are fast, they have stamina, they bring a whole spectrum of weapons, and if you are China, how are Australian and US forces working together?” poses the former chief of US Naval Operations, retired Admiral Jonathan Greenert.

“You don’t know their sovereign decisions. Your imagination is your biggest nightmare – what could they be doing? They can reposition fast, 25 knots [46km/h] for a full day. If an adversary says, ‘I’ve got a detection of a nuclear sub’, great – when? Two days ago. Then you draw a circle on the map and see where it might be. It’s a big circle.”

The US today has 68 submarines, all nuclear-powered. China has an estimated 76 subs, of which 12 are nuclear-powered. But the US fleet is shrinking as it retires older subs faster than it can build new ones. China’s nuclear-powered fleet is expanding. The AUKUS agreement aims to help Australia acquire eight.

Second, it would cement the alliance with Australia. Just a few years earlier, many in the US foreign policy community including Campbell had tipped Australia to be the ally most vulnerable to China’s influence, that it would “flip” and align with Beijing.

Instead, Australia had “set an incredibly powerful example” for the world in standing up to China, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview this year. A nuclear subs deal would lock Australia more tightly into the US bloc.

Third, it would help the US to deter China’s expansion through the Indo-Pacific. It would signal US commitment to the region and to US allies, reassuring other Indo-Pacific nations who might be doubting American staying power. “The president said, ‘this could be quite powerful’,” according to an official who was present.

But on the other side of the ledger, Biden himself raised four big concerns with the Australian request. First was nuclear proliferation. Since the deal with Britain in 1958, Washington, London and Canberra, among others, had signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. If we give the Australians this technology, won’t we be in breach of the treaty, Biden wanted to know?

Second was the response from China. How will Beijing react if we agree to this? Will it provoke Xi Jinping into accelerating his own naval build-up, into getting more aggressive?

Third was Australia’s capability. Would the Australian political system be capable of bipartisan commitment for the decades required? Is Australian politics stable enough? Could Australia afford the price tag?

Fourth, would the US Nuclear Navy be prepared to deliver? This had been the obstacle to every other Australian inquiry. This elite priesthood is the guardian of the fast, stealthy, underwater Doomsday machines that are America’s last line of defence.

America’s nuclear warfighting is structured on a “triad” – ground-based, airborne and undersea forces. The ground-based and airborne forces are the most vulnerable to enemy attack. But even if these are destroyed in a surprise first strike by an enemy, its nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed subs are designed to survive, undetected in the dark depths, to deliver annihilation to the enemy. By guaranteeing “second strike” capability, they deter any adversary from even thinking about launching a first.

Australia was not asking for nuclear weapons; it was content to arm its subs with conventional missiles. And Canberra was not so much concerned about nuclear Armageddon. Australia has entrusted that responsibility to the US, sheltering under America’s nuclear “umbrella”. Australia was feeling threatened by China and wanted the capacity to threaten it in return.

As the discussion around the White House table unfolded last year, other concerns emerged. The group included Secretary of State Blinken, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark Milley.

What if we attempt this three-way agreement with Australia and Britain and it fails? The credibility of all three nations would be damaged. Have the Australians consulted fully with the French about their contract? Do we risk alienating one ally to gratify another?

The meeting broke up without a decision and with big questions needing to be answered. In the meantime, Australia had a contract with Paris – and French President Emmanuel Macron was deeply invested in it………..

In France, national pride and national honour were engaged, not to mention French economics – it was the biggest defence export contract France had signed, and the biggest Australian acquisition. The contract value was $50 billion but adjustments for inflation and extras took the total deal to at least $90 billion.

………………………………… Towards the end of 2019, Morrison started to ask his closest advisers about fallback options, including nuclear-propelled ones.   They told him of the joyless history of Australian requests for nuclear propulsion and that the likelihood of getting the technology from the US or Britain was “very, very low”. And they warned him that Australia would need a civil nuclear industry. Without one, it couldn’t maintain the nuclear reactors that drive the boats. On March 19, 2020, two months after the Audit Office report, the prime minister took the first formal step towards exploring contingencies.

…….  Secretly, he asked the secretary of the Defence Department, Greg Moriarty, for a discussion paper about all the options, including nuclear-propelled ones. He had the result within a fortnight……

Morrison decided to take the next step regardless. In May, 2020, he asked Moriarty and the military co-leader of the Defence Department, Chief of the Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, to form a small, expert group to see whether it was feasible for Australia to acquire and operate nuclear-powered subs. The top-secret exercise was led by the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan.

It came back with the conclusion that it was potentially feasible, but on two conditions. One, it was only possible with the help of the US, Britain or both. This was the only way Australia could operate nuclear-powered subs without setting up a civil nuclear industry to support them.

America and Britain use highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium to run their subs’ reactors. That means the reactors don’t need refuelling for the life of the boat itself, some 30 years.

Two, the same consideration ruled out the French nuclear-propelled sub, the big Barracudas Macron had launched so proudly, as an option. The French use low-enriched uranium, meaning their reactors need to be refuelled every decade or so in a lengthy process called full-cycle docking. This would keep the Australian fleet permanently dependent on Paris.

Moriarty’s opinion was that this would not be a sovereign Australian capability. Unless Australia started its own civil nuclear industry to refuel and maintain the reactors, something which Morrison would not countenance.

Tantalised, Morrison immediately asked Defence to contact the Pentagon to test its assumptions. Through a series of secure video conferences between the Pentagon and Defence’s headquarters on Russell Hill, the US Navy gave a guarded endorsement, summarised by an Australian official: “There’s nothing in your thinking that’s completely implausible”. But there was no enthusiasm from the Americans and certainly no commitment to help.

For the prime minister, this was a “game changer” nonetheless, as he’s described it to colleagues. The revelation: It was possible to have a nuclear-powered attack submarine, or SSN as navies call it, without needing to service the reactor.

To now, Morrison had briefed only two members of his cabinet, Linda Reynolds and the Foreign Affairs Minister, Marise Payne. But now that he envisaged raising the idea with the American president and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, he decided to widen the circle.

When he briefed Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, he met an enthusiastic response. He remarked that the politics in the three capitals of Washington, London and Canberra seemed to be in alignment. “You could never do this deal with (the former leader of British Labour) Jeremy Corbyn,” said Frydenberg. “When a gate like this opens, you go through it.”

But what of the multibillion-dollar cost of cancelling the French deal and the far greater cost of building SSNs? “Everything is affordable if it’s a priority,” was the treasurer’s attitude. “This is a priority.”

Morrison then took it to the National Security Committee of his cabinet. This is the overarching mechanism for co-ordinating defence and security and includes top officials and ministers responsible for defence, foreign affairs, home affairs and intelligence. It gave Morrison the green light to take it further. “It was a high level of secrecy because there was no guarantee we could pull it off,” Morrison told colleagues. He didn’t want to disrupt progress with the French toward a conventional sub in case he failed with the Anglo American nuclear option, and end up with neither.

Morrison kept it so tight that the PM’s personal permission was required before any official could be brought into the charmed circle, a top civil servant explained. “So if anything leaked, you knew you’d be personally accountable to the PM himself,” said the official.

………….  Australia then, and now, had no long-range strike capability whatsoever. None on land, none in the air force, none in the navy. The ADF was set up for counterinsurgency wars as part of a US alliance like those in Afghanistan and Iraq, and low-level conflict in the Pacific Islands like the missions in East Timor and the Solomons, but was unprepared for high-intensity warfighting with a capable nation state.

Reynolds tasked the Capability Enhancement Review with recommending the strike power Australia needed. One part was to be the nuclear subs project. Campbell made a crucial choice by appointing Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead………

Eventually, the moment arrived for Australia’s first approach to the Biden White House. ……

In May 2021, the moment came. The director-general of Australia’s peak intelligence assessment agency, the Office of National Intelligence, Andrew Shearer, was planning a routine visit to Washington to consult with his US counterparts. He’d been briefed on the nuclear subs project. Would you like me to broach it with the White House, he asked the prime minister? Morrison agreed. Shearer managed to sidestep the Russian roulette of Australia’s vaccine rollout with the help of doctors at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade………..

Shearer and Campbell had known each other for decades. He explained what Australia wanted. “As China’s capability advances, we need to have submarines capable of meeting it. We need to be able to operate without the risk of easy detection by the Chinese,” Shearer said, according to the participants.

…………..  My sources didn’t put it quite this bluntly, but everyone in the room understood that this was about Australia acquiring the power to pose a direct threat to China’s forces and the Chinese mainland.

Sullivan and Campbell immediately were interested. Biden has described the US rivalry with China as “the competition for the 21st century”. With this request, Australia was choosing sides emphatically.

……………  Shearer emphasised that Australia had no intention of developing a civil nuclear industry or developing nuclear weapons. He said that Canberra was satisfied it could operate the subs while preserving Australia’s strong record on nuclear non-proliferation.

Sullivan and Campbell had lots of questions about Australian technological, personnel and financial capacity but the potential killer at this threshold meeting was Australian politics. “We asked lots of questions about politics,” said Campbell. “Would this be contentious? Would this hold?”

Bipartisan political commitment, Labor and Liberal, was a prerequisite, the Americans said. “This would be a military marriage. It would have to hold over decades.”

………….   when Shearer returned to Canberra he made clear to Morrison and his other colleagues that the White House had set political bipartisanship as a non-negotiable condition. “If Albo says ‘no’, the deal will be dead,” as Australia’s ambassador to Washington, Arthur Sinodinos, put it to colleagues.

……..  the prime minister decided not to brief Labor leader Anthony Albanese for five months. He briefed him on the day before the deal was to be announced in a three-way piece of theatre with Morrison, Prime Minister Johnson and President Biden. It was high stakes on a very tight deadline.

This is part one of a two-part series by Peter Hartcher examining the AUKUS deal. The series concludes on Sunday, May 15.  https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/radioactive-inside-the-top-secret-aukus-subs-deal-20220510-p5ak7g.html

May 14, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Biden demanded bipartisan support before signing AUKUS. Labor was not told for months

By Peter Hartcher, May 14, 2022 The Biden administration insisted from the outset that it would only consider pursuing the landmark AUKUS project if it had solid support from both major Australian political parties, yet Prime Minister Scott Morrison chose not to consult Labor until the day before its announcement.

By waiting four-and-a-half months, the prime minister made AUKUS into a high-stakes, last-minute political gambit.

And, when Morrison later challenged Labor publicly over whether it fully supported the deal, he seemed to be looking for a way to politicise the security partnership.

White House officials emphasised the point as a deal-breaker in the very first discussion on Australia’s request for nuclear-propelled submarines.

The prime minister sent a special emissary, Australia’s spy chief Andrew Shearer, to broach the topic with two senior officials, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and the White House US Indo-Pacific Co-Ordinator, Kurt Campbell on May 1 last year………….

The Democratic White House were frustrated at the lack of clarity from Australia. They called on a special assistant to the President who had been posted to Australia, Edgard Kagan, for his view.

They called on a special assistant to the President who had been posted to Australia, Edgard Kagan, for his view.

He observed that the Australian government seemed confident that Labor would support such a deal when they were eventually informed.

The Americans could see that if Labor baulked, Morrison would use it as a wedge against Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese in the approach to an election.

They would frame him as weak on national security.,………………………..  https://www.smh.com.au/national/biden-demanded-bipartisan-support-before-signing-aukus-labor-was-not-told-for-months-20220513-p5al9d.html

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

Election 2022: Anthony Albanese says John Howard is wrong about Australia’s nuclear future

future https://www.news.com.au/national/federal-election/election-2022-anthony-albanese-says-john-howard-is-wrong-about-australias-nuclear-future/news-story/535baf51f90a399dacd2394cc06642fd

Anthony Albanese has labelled the view of one former prime minister as “wrong” – and he has support from an unlikely corner. Ashleigh Gleeson @ashleighgleeson, May 9, 2022

NCA NewsWire   Anthony Albanese has labelled John Howard’s view that the AUKUS pact means it is “inevitable” Australia will develop a civil nuclear industry as “wrong”.

The Labor leader shared the view of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who also rejected Mr Howard’s prediction on the nation’s nuclear future at an American Australian Association function in Sydney on Sunday night.

There, the former prime minister said the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal with the US and Britain “will make inevitable the arrival of a nuclear power industry in Australia”.

But Mr Albanese said Labor stood by its position to only support the AUKUS agreement if there was no requirement of a domestic civil nuclear industry and there was no acquisition of nuclear weapons.

He spoke alongside South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas at Flinders Medical Centre in the marginal Adelaide seat of Boothby, held by the Liberals by just 1.4 per cent.

There he was announcing $400m to upgrade the facility but did not give a straight answer on whether a federal Labor government would increase the commonwealth’s share of public hospital funding.

No, I think Mr Howard’s wrong,” Mr Albanese said.

“And, indeed, the advice and part of the decision-making process in the briefings that we had about AUKUS were that you didn’t need a domestic civil nuclear industry in order to support the nuclear submarines.

“We made very clear our support for nuclear subs. We made that on the basis of the advice that we received. And we stand by it.”

Mr Morrison had earlier said he didn’t’ agree with Mr Howard.

“The fact we were able to go forward with nuclear-powered submarines without having a civil nuclear industry was one of the key changes that enabled us to go forward with the agreement itself,” he said.

Mr Morrison said he therefore saw the issues as separate

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong labelled reports in The Australian about a draft maritime co-operation agreement between the Solomon Islands and Beijing outlining plans for China to build wharves, shipyards and submarine cables as “serious”.

“If it’s true, it demonstrates the seriousness of what has occurred on Mr Morrison’s watch,” she said.

“It also demonstrates that the sort of tough words he’s talking about, or trying to use about red lines, don’t appear … to be the way forward or appear to have much affect.

“This is a very serious problem which has occurred on Mr Morrison’s watch. It will take, if we are elected, it will take a lot of work to address it.”

May 10, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Far from having a leftwing bias, the ABC has been tamed by cuts and incessant attacks

So what is to be done? One recommendation I have made to the parliament is to enshrine in legislation the ABC’s funding so that it cannot be stood over by future conservative governments. Such legislation would set a minimum level of ABC funding, indexed for the future, which the government could not fall short of without passing legislation through the Senate.

Second, the independent selection panels for the ABC must be strengthened. When Labor designed the panels, we did not imagine that a future government would be so brazen in ignoring their recommendations. This could include legally limiting the proportion of directors who could be appointed outside the panel process.

Finally, the ABC’s leaders need to toughen up and actually show some leadership in defence of their own institution. They are under attack every single day – whether by the Liberal party, the National party, the Institute of Public Affairs, the Murdoch media, or myriad other arms of the rightwing establishment – and should learn to fight back.

The alternative is to continue seeking to appease the far right. And that only ends badly.

 

Kevin Rudd,  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/may/10/far-from-having-a-leftwing-bias-the-abc-has-been-tamed-by-cuts-and-incessant-attacks?CMP=share_btn_tw 10 May 22, Under the Coalition, the national broadcaster has been domesticated to the point of overcorrecting for perceived partisanship.

When your opponent is determined for war, history teaches us appeasement does not work. Indeed, unilateral concessions are often counterproductive: they weaken your position and embolden your adversary.

Sadly, these are lessons that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, by and large, has failed to learn. Over the past decade of conservative rule, the national broadcaster has been gradually tamed by an unrelenting campaign of bullying, intimidation and delegitimisation.

The clearest example is the ABC’s budget. Despite a crystal-clear election promise in 2013 of “no cuts to the ABC”, the national broadcaster is facing $1.2bn of cumulative cuts over a decade. These cuts have felled two television programs that were crucial to government accountability, Lateline and the state-based 7.30 program (once known as Stateline), among many others.

Most government ministers, no matter their level of ability, can navigate a short daily press conference or a local radio interview. But you can’t fake your way through a 15-minute grilling on live television where premiers and prime ministers have their mastery of the issues put to the test. Also gone are statewide radio bulletins, digital transcripts and programs like the Media Report, which examined the rapid changes to how information flows in our democracy.

The cuts have not stopped at our water’s edge. Our national security has been undermined by the axing of the ABC’s Australia Network, which broadcast high-quality television throughout the Pacific while adding to the ABC’s overall pool of foreign correspondents. Radio Australia’s shortwave radio service – an essential lifeline that amplified our national interests and democratic values to remote Pacific Island countries – has also been axed. And while Australia has retreated, China has spent billions to expand its global media presence with Xi Jinping vowing to “tell Chinese stories well” and “make the voice of China heard”.

The Coalition government also exerts control by quietly stacking the ABC’s board with directors hand-picked by the minister, directly ignoring the recommendations of independent merit-based selection processes established under legislation by my government. This includes Ita Buttrose, a former Murdoch editor and Liberal party fundraiser, as its chair. At one stage, five of the eight government-appointed board members were not recommended on merit.

These appointments risk affecting decision-making at the highest levels. One apparent example was when Buttrose’s predecessor, Justin Milne, responded to government complaints by demanding journalist Emma Alberici’s head. “They hate her,” Milne reportedly wrote in an email to then managing director Michelle Guthrie. “We are tarred with her brush. I think it’s simple. Get rid of her. We need to save the ABC – not Emma. There is no guarantee they will lose the next election.” Alberici was eventually forced out. Milne denied there had been any interference by the government in the ABC and said the “interests of the ABC have always been utmost in my mind”

But the most insidious way the government domesticates the ABC isn’t through budget cuts or board appointments; it is through incessant attacks on the national broadcaster over alleged systemic leftwing bias in its news and current affairs.

These attacks have always been fanciful. There have always been prominent conservatives at the ABC. Consider two of the ABC’s recent chief political correspondents: Mark Simkin later became Tony Abbott’s press secretary; Chris Uhlmann was a protege of deeply conservative MP Paul Osborne. Other presenters include Tom Switzer, who sought preselection for the Liberal party and runs the Centre for Independent Studies. Some ABC staff, like Phillip Adams, have been involved in left-of-centre causes over the years.

Nonetheless, the Liberal party attacks persist because they serve multiple purposes. First, they delegitimise the ABC, fuelling the idea that reporting that exposes the government’s failures cannot be believed. The ABC’s critics often claim to detest cancel culture, but they would love nothing more than to cancel the ABC.

Second, by doing so, the Liberals curry favour with Rupert Murdoch, who has a direct financial stake in undermining public broadcasters, be they the ABC in Australia, PBS and NPR in the United States, or the BBC in the United Kingdom. Murdoch hates any media he can’t control, and he wants the ABC privatised.

Third, they normalise the idea that Murdoch’s national stranglehold on print media is OK because it’s merely a rightwing counterbalance to the leftwing ABC. This is ludicrous; the ABC has robust standards, rigorous complaints processes, and is accountable to parliament. News Corporation is functionally unregulated, its political bias is way off the Richter scale, and it acts like a petulant child at the very suggestion that it be compelled to answer questions at a commission of inquiry about their monstrous levels of monopoly.

The Murdochs insist they have nothing to hide, while claiming the ABC is compromised. If they actually believed this, they would have welcomed a wide-ranging media royal commission years ago.

Fourth, and most importantly, the Liberals use these tactics because they subtly condition the ABC’s staff to be hyperconscious about confirming the stereotype. You can see it in the eyes of television reporters who, having caught themselves in the act of saying something that could be construed as vaguely leftwing, will rush to invoke a Coalition talking point (even if they know it is false) or engage in facile “both sides” arguments that draw a false equivalence between the two parties.

Continue reading

May 10, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, politics | Leave a comment

The ‘climate election’ we need to have

 https://www.foe.org.au/the_climate_election_we_need_to_have 9 May 22, As pre polling opens for the 2022 federal election, climate change and the environment have been largely missing from the mainstream debate.

Yet what happens at this election will impact climate and environment, in a time where science makes it abundantly clear that we don’t have time to waste if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Context

Why does climate and environment matter when there are so many pressing immediate issues, like the cost of living, health and employment?

  • Global monthly average carbon dioxide (CO2) levels have reached above 420 parts per million (ppm) for the first time on record.
  • Global temperatures have risen about 1C since 1900, overwhelmingly due to greenhouse gas emissions. In Australia, the average increase has been 1.4C. It has been linked to unprecedented bushfires, rainfall events that have caused catastrophic flooding and four mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef since 2016.
  • There is scientific consensus about the risk of irreversible climate impacts if 1.5C of warming is passed for even a short period of time.
  • Since colonisation, more than 100 native species have been made extinct and more than 1,900 Australian animals, plants and ecological communities are at risk of extinction.
  • According to the Vote Compass surveys, climate change is the top issue for voters.

How do the parties rate on climate?

A key issue to look for in judging how seriously political parties take climate change is to look for their promised emission reduction targets.

The emission cuts the four major parties promise for 2030 are:

  • Greens:  75%
  • Labor:  43%
  • Coalition (Liberal/ National):  26-28%

Recent research by Climate Analytics found neither major party had emissions reduction goals that lived up to the commitment that was made in the landmark 2015 Paris agreement, and strengthened in last year’s Glasgow climate pact, to aim to limit heating to as close as possible to 1.5C.

For reference, the Climate Analytics analysis found that Australia should cut its emissions by 57% by 2030 to be compatible with a 1.5C heating goal.

LIBERAL NATIONAL COALITION

According to analysis by Climate Analytics, the Morrison government’s climate change commitments are consistent with more than 3C of global heating, bordering on 4C, a level that would lead to catastrophic damage across the planet.

The Liberal’s environment and energy policies can be found here.

The Nationals don’t have a specific policy covering climate change. Climate change is not one of the Nationals top five priorities. You can find their policies here.

THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY

The ALP has reaffirmed its plans to cut Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 45% on 2005 levels by 2030, and ensure 50% of the nation’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2030. Additionally, it has announced a long term target of net zero greenhouse gas pollution by 2050.

Labor’s climate target was found to be consistent with about 2C of heating above pre-industrial levels. Both would be expected to lead to the loss of tropical coral reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef, and a significant rise in the number of extreme heat events in Australia, assuming other countries took equivalent action.

The ALP’s climate platform can be found here.

The ALP’s environment policies can be found here.

THE AUSTRALIAN GREENS

The Greens say Australia should be cutting by 75% by 2030.

The Greens climate platform is available here.

THE CLIMATE INDEPENDENTS

The ‘teal’ independents largely support a climate bill proposed by Zali Steggall that includes a 60% target.

There are more than 22 candidates covered under the Climate 200 umbrella. They are self described as being ‘pro-climate, pro-integrity and pro-gender-equity Independent candidates’.  

You can details on them, and their individual policies, here.

THE MICRO PARTIES

Be aware that many of the micro parties are deeply anti environment and opposed to government taking meaningful action on climate change. These include


  • Pauline Hanson’s One Nation
     (PHON is a climate change denialist party)
  • Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party
  • The Liberal Democrats (who advocate for the deployment of nuclear power)
  • Far right independents like those associated with ‘Australia One’ who have been focusing on harvesting anti-vaccine-mandate and anti-lockdown sentiment. The Australian Federation Party is conservative, anti-public health, and has no formal climate, energy, environment policies. There are many candidates running on a ‘Freedom platform’ against public health orders and vaccination mandates. Most of them have no climate or environment policies. This is a good (Melbourne focused) assessment of the policies of many micro parties.

Most of these groups hold climate denier/ anti environment positions. If you are considering voting for them, we urge you to check their policies on climate, energy and environment.

Scorecards

Friends of the Earth has not produced a scorecard for this election. Here are some links to other groups assessments.

Vote Climate. Available here.

Climate and Health Alliance. Available here.

Australian Religious Response to Climate Change. Available here.

May 9, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

The Greens oppose nuclear waste dump on Kimba, South Australia

May 5, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment

Call to dump nuclear, go hydrogen for submarines

Australia cannot afford to allow Scott Morrison’s nuclear submarine plans to proceed, according to federal parliament’s only ex-submariner. 7 News, Marion Rae, 27 Apr 22,

Scott Morrison’s nuclear option for future Australian submarines is another budget disaster in the making, according to federal parliament’s only former submariner.

“We can’t afford to allow this bathtub admiral’s nuclear fantasy to go any further,” Independent senator Rex Patrick said on Tuesday.

The South Australian senator wants hydrogen fuel-cell submarines to be considered instead of the program he says will ruin Australia’s sovereign capability and deal a huge blow to his state’s defence industrial base.

New technology has allowed hydrogen fuel-cell powered submarines to become a viable non-nuclear option for endurance and silence, with some navies already operating or building with the new propulsion systems.

The senator said Australia needs a new submarine capability in the water in 2026, not 2040, and it should be built in Adelaide not contracted to foreign shipyards.

“I get that nuclear submarines are very capable. As a former submariner and having spent time at sea on the nuclear USS Santa Fe, I get it more than any other member of the federal parliament,” he said.

“But I also understand the capabilities of modern hydrogen fuel-cell submarines.”

He recommends a $20 billion spend on 20 highly capable submarines, rather than an estimated $171 billion on eight nuclear-powered vessels.

The previous $90 billion deal with a French company was scrapped last year in favour of nuclear-powered submarines as part of the AUKUS security pact, with a termination payment that could exceed $5.5 billion.

The Morrison government has already committed to building a new nuclear submarine base on Australia’s east coast, with the location to be announced after the election…………..

Senator Patrick said it was wrong to claim conventional submarines would not survive the modern operational environment, pointing to the fleets of Germany, Spain, Turkey, Greece, Sweden, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore.

“It doesn’t matter how good the pros of a nuclear submarine are – if it arrives too late, costs too much and undermines sovereign capability then it’s the wrong solution,” he said.
 https://7news.com.au/business/call-to-dump-nuclear-go-hydrogen-for-subs-c-6580633?fbclid=IwAR2rf7smDYvCgEnSKGxjYp0rNFExJe0Vv8zd7tt8S9aN1Jkdk3_t9WW0rqY

April 30, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Today. About Julian Assange: Australian government, snivelling cringing sycophantic to USA. And the Labor Opposition is just as bad

Will Australia ever get any integrity in it’s leaders?

In the clearest denialof justice in British history, the UK kow-tows to American militarism in its court now agreeing to send Juian Assange to be ”disappeared” in the USA’s penal system. And, worse than the UK, Australia’s leaders stand by, and pretty much applaud this evil event.

Liberal Morrison mouthpiece Simon Birmingham – ” we have confidence in the process”

And Labor’s Penny Wong carefully keeping her nose clean as she sucks up to the UK-USA ”legal” fakery – ”We also expect the government to keep seeking assurances from both the UK and US that he’s treated fairly and humanely.” What does she mean? – ” ïf they don’t treat Assange fairly, well, that’s not our problem

I actually think that the Liberals are better – they don’t even pretend to care!

Paradoxically – we all love to hate Barnaby Joyce, but he stuck up for Julian Assange – and good on him!

And the Greens – a voice of intelligence and reason, in Australian political mental desert – the Greens spelled out the reasons for their opposition to this terrible injustice to Assange and to journalism.

April 22, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Christina reviews, politics | Leave a comment

Australian government will not intervene as Australian citizen Julian Assange is extradited from UK to USA

Australia won’t interfere in Assange case  https://www.aapnews.com.au/news/australia-won-t-interfere-in-assange-case?share=PPzPIGP&fbclid=IwAR2z0saMHCLbT3dc-VMgelywE7ND1eEa4TahOq9wCQ2Ai7IG2CKRyzKmWVE, By Dominic Giannini, April 21, 2022 The Australian government will not make any representations to the British home secretary after a UK court approved the extradition of whistleblower Julian Assange to the US.

A British court has sent Mr Assange’s extradition order to Home Secretary Priti Patel, but the whistleblower can try to challenge the decision by judicial review if signed.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the government maintained confidence in the UK’s justice system.

“We trust the independence and integrity of the UK justice system. Our expectation is that, as always, it operates in the proper and transparent and independent way,” he told the ABC.

“It, of course, has appeal processes built into it as well. This is the legal system upon which our own has been built on and established and we have confidence in the process.”

Labor foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said it was ultimately a decision for the UK home secretary.

“I do understand why not only Mr Assange’s personal supporters but many Australians more generally are worried about this. It has dragged on a long time,” she told the ABC.

“As an Australian citizen, he is entitled to consular assistance. We also expect the government to keep seeking assurances from both the UK and US that he’s treated fairly and humanely.”

But Senator Wong stopped short of saying a Labor government would make specific representations about the case. 

“Consular matters are regularly raised with counterparts, they are regularly raised and this one would be no different,” she said.

The development comes 10 days after Mr Assange surpassed the three-year anniversary of his arrest.

The 50-year-old Australian was dragged from London’s Ecuador embassy on April 11 in 2019 to face extradition to the United States on espionage charges over WikiLeaks’ release of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has previously called for an end to Mr Assange’s extradition.

Mr Joyce said Mr Assange didn’t steal secret US files but only published them, which did not breach any Australian laws at the time, and he was not in the US when leaks were put online.

The Greens have criticised the extradition of Mr Assange, with senator Peter Whish-Wilson saying the US Espionage Act wasn’t intended to be used against publishers.

“We must support press freedoms and those who hold the powerful to account,” he said.

“Julian Assange’s prosecution has always been political. It needs political intervention of the highest order from our government to get justice for him.”

Assange Australia campaign adviser Greg Barnes says it’s important the matter has moved back into the political realm.

“Previously the Australian government has said we can’t even intervene because the matter is before the courts. It is no longer before the courts in that sense,” he told Sky News.

This is a political decision that will be made by Priti Patel and it’s a decision which the Australian government, and of course in this context the opposition, could influence.”

The Greens, crossbenchers such as Andrew Wilkie, and Liberal and Labor backbenchers had expressed support for Mr Assange, which could potentially influence a hung parliament in May, Mr Barnes said.

“That’s also an interesting factor as to what pressure is going to come on whoever gets elected in May to bring this Australian home.”

with Reuters

April 22, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international, secrets and lies, Wikileaks | Leave a comment

Australian politics – Grift, Lies and Influence

As we lurch from one scandal of misspent public money to the next, transparency and accountability in public life have never seemed rarer. Fiona McLeod is Chair of the Accountability Round Table. Her book, Easy Lies and Influence, documents how community interests have been undermined. Through his fiercely independent news site, Michael West is known for following the money, highlighting those corporations exercising insidious power over our democracy. They ask: where have we gone wrong and what should we do now?

April 21, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Scott Morrison, Angus Taylor stack clean energy agencies with fossil fuel mates

 https://michaelwest.com.au/scott-morrison-angus-taylor-stack-clean-energy-agencies-with-fossil-fuel-mates/ by Callum Foote | Apr 20, 2022,

The Morrison government has slashed renewables funding and stacked Australia’s renewable energy agencies with fossil fuel executives, leaving the likes of ARENA, CEFC and Snowy Hydro controlled by potentially regressive political appointees for years. Callum Foote reports.

Eschewing common sense and proper process has become de rigeur for Scott Morrison and his energy minister Angus Taylor. And we are not hearing more than a whimper about this from Labor either. Political Mates deals. Jobs for the boys, Jobs for the girls.

Stacking the bureaucracy occurs under regimes of both stripes but, as is their wont, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his energy minister Angus Taylor have taken their undemocratic agendas to the next level, to a grotesque art form.

They have been busy stacking public agencies, supposedly independent agencies, with their own people; not on merit but on party lines. We are of talking highly paid jobs, many between $250,000 and $500,000 going to people on the basis on political affiliations rather than ability or independence.

As if the government’s well-publicised stacking of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) were not enough evidence of blatant abuse of process, the recent spate of mining or fossil-fuel related board appointments to government-run renewable energy bodies ARENA and the CEFC, will favour the agendas, indeed the profits, of large multinational mining companies for years to come.

CEFC Board appointments

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) was created under the Gillard government, dedicated to making investments in emerging clean energy technologies. Originally, and for many years it ran a profit while presiding judiciously over the financing of RE projects.

First, the Coalition under Tony Abbott tried to have it abolished, despite it being a net earner for government – therefore no drag on the public purse. Failing there, the government has undermined its mandate and stacked it with its own ever since. 

The latest: chairman, Steven Skala, AO, has had his position renewed for another five years. 

Skala is vice chairman of Deutsche Bank Australia and has been a director of the Centre for Independent Studies, a libertarian think tank, since 1995.

While being the vice president of Deutsche Bank Australia, the bank joined JP Morgan and Standard Chartered to loan US$1 billion to Adani Enterprises in July last year.

Matt Howell has been appointed to the CEFC board for the first time, leaving his position as CEO of Tomago Aluminium.

Howell is also a director of the Australian Aluminium Council, an organisation which has been labelled the most militant of the “greenhouse mafia” organisations – as dubbed in a 2006 ABC Four Corners investigation.

The Council funded and promoted the work of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE), whose “MEGABARE” economic model was, at the time, used to generate reports which were a go-to for Liberal and National Party politicians wanting to argue climate action would spell economic catastrophe.

Rod Campbell, director of research at The Australia Institute, says Howell’s recent switch to pro-renewable energy rhetoric shows he is ”more than willing to play games in the energy space rather than really be involved in constructive long-term planning”.

ARENA Board appointments

Elizabeth O’Leary, a senior director at Macquarie Asset Management and head of MAM Agriculture & Natural Assets, one of the world’s largest private land managers, has been appointed to the board of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

O’Leary joins a long list of Macquarie Bank Alumni working for Australian clean energy financial bodies as revealed by a MWM investigation.

A consortium comprising private equity funds managed by the tax avoiding Brookfield Asset Management and Macquarie Capital acquired Apache Corporation’s Western Australian oil and gas assets for $US2.1 billion in 2019. This created Australia’s third largest oil and gas producer.

Snowy Hydro Board appointments

Snowy Hydro, which has become the government’s tool to intervene in the energy market – check out the highly questionable public subsidies for the Kurri Kurri gas plant – has appointed two new board members. These are Leanne Heywood who spent 10 years as an executive with Rio Tinto.

Timothy Longstaff was the government’s other pick for the role. Longstaff has previously been a director of Perenti, a Perth-based global mining services contractor.

Longstaff was also a senior advisor to the Finance Minister Simon Birmingham as recently as 2021. Birmingham is the minister who announced Longstaff’s appointment. Jobs for the boys, anyone?

Reduction in renewables funding:

The Climate Debt Statement, a measure introduced by Prime Minister Tony Abbott aggregates funding for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) to work out how much their expenditure contributes to total government debt. It shows a decline in spending from $2 billion in 2022-23 to $1.3 billion in 2025-26.

Angus Taylor attempting to co-opt CEFC

A previous attempt to amend the CEFC’s legislation was abandoned earlier this year, after a group of Nationals MPs – including current leader Barnaby Joyce – sought to move additional amendments to expand the agency’s investments into coal and nuclear projects.

The Morrison government had attempted to open up the CEFC to carbon capture and storage projects, announcing a plan to establish a new Low Emissions Technology Commercialisation Fund using the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

This was designed to skirt around the CEFC’s legislated ban on funding CCS projects.

Despite the government’s ten-year jihad on renewable energy, there is no stopping financial logic, or common sense for that matter. RE prices have dropped radically over the decade, even more than the sector’s advocates and analysts had anticipated. That is, the cost of building new renewable energy versus the cost of building new coal or gas.

Where government has failed, miserably, investors have taken up the slack, leaving our politicians in the dust trying to prop up their fossil fuel donors with public money. This, even to the point of espousing ludicrous schemes which do not measure up financially: Kurri Kurri, the examination of a new coal-fired power plant for Queensland, the public subsidies for gas companies to frack the NT’s Beetaloo Basin.

April 21, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Will Australia’s nuclear submarines end up being built overseas?

ABC7.30 / By Angelique Donnellan,  18 Apr 22, In 1938, wharfies at Port Kembla, south of Sydney refused to load smelted iron ore bound for military production in Japan for its war against China.

Key points:

Independent Senator Rex Patrick is concerned Australia’s nuclear submarines may end up being built overseas
Defence expert Clive Williams believes it would be cheaper to build the subs in the US or the UK
Port Kembla in NSW is being considered as a base for the nuclear submarines

Some locals, including Alexander Brown from Wollongong Against War and Nukes, says the peaceful legacy is reason for the town not to become a defence base for Australia’s new nuclear submarines.

“We’re a city of peace, and we’re a city of renewable and sustainable employment. We don’t want to turn into a defence industry town,” he told 7.30.

“If nuclear submarines are based here in Port Kembla, we’re looking at accident risks for us, for sea life, for the ecosystem that we all depend upon.”

Port Kembla is being considered as a potential $10 billion east coast nuclear submarine base location, along with Newcastle and Brisbane.

Debra Murphy from Illawarra Regional Development Australia said the town should embrace the opportunity.

Along with the base proposal, the historic AUKUS deal to deliver eight nuclear-powered submarines remains a work in progress during its initial 18-month consultation period…………

Defence Minister Peter Dutton wouldn’t be drawn on when the new nuclear submarines would be built and go into service, or the amount of construction work that would happen in Australia.

Under the previous French submarine deal, there was a public pledge to spend 60 per cent of the contract value in Australia………..

Concerns subs may be built overseas

South Australian Independent Senator and former submariner Rex Patrick said the language around a local build was too vague.

Every day, it looks more and more likely that this submarine will be built overseas,” Mr Patrick told 7.30.

“The government keeps squeezing on the schedule and that means that they have to reduce risk wherever they possibly can.

“The Australian Strategic Policy Institute has predicted that this project will cost about $170 billion. An overseas build is the exporting of $170 billion of taxpayers’ money and thousands of Australian jobs to foreign shipyards.”……………………..

Expert says subs should be built overseas

Defence researcher Clive Williams from Australian National University said considering the complexity of a nuclear submarine, taxpayers would get better value for money if the boats were constructed in the US or UK.

“I think building at Osborne in South Australia is fraught with danger and could well be another defence procurement disaster. I’m sure that it’ll wind up in cost overruns, changes to design, fiddling around with it, and so on,” he told 7.30.

“I think a much safer bet is to go with an overseas purchase.”………………………………

The government is pursuing the nuclear option after cancelling a contract last September with the French to build 12 diesel-electric submarines, a move that is likely to cost up to $5.5 billion in compensation to the companies involved, including Naval Group.

Mr Dutton said negotiations were ongoing and the settlement would be made public when finalised.  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-04-19/australia-aukus-nuclear-submarines-building/100982778

April 19, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, employment, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment