Australian news, and some related international items

Scott Morrison’s $billion missile spend, a gift to foreign war companies and their sponsor, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, (ASPI)

Foreign war lobby gets a $billion for missiles – media fawns 4 Apr 21,
Scott Morrison’s latest billion-dollar missile spend was deftly leaked to the media then talked up by ASPI whose sponsors have raked in $51 billion in Defence Department contracts while doling cash to the conflicted “think-tank”. Marcus Rubenstein investigates.

No sooner had Scott Morrison’s new cabinet been sworn in than it was back to business, feeding out distractions to the Canberra press gallery.

Nearly 14 hours before the prime minister announced to the nation that Australia was going to spend a billion dollars on building “our own missiles” Greg Sheridan from The Australian had the scoop—along with The Age/SMH, Nine Newspapers stablemate Australian Financial Review and the ABC. Along with the ranks of metropolitan mainstream media dailies who all fell in line behind the announcement.

And with military precision they all fired off their online reports at 10:30pm… or, to be more precise, 22:30 hrs.

The Age and Sydney Morning Herald both quoted ASPI (Australian Strategic Policy Institute) in their coverage as did The Conversation, along with others they listed potential weapons maker partners for this home grown missile mission.

Apart from the glaring fact that none of these companies are actually Australian, most were listed by ASPI in a report it published last year. Of the five potential partner companies being touted by mainstream media— Raytheon (USA), Lockheed Martin (USA), Kongsberg (Norway), Rafeal (Israel) and BAE Systems (UK)—all but one is a long-term financial backer of ASPI.

As is de rigueur there was no mention that ASPI’s enthusiasm for substantial new military expenditure was directed towards spending on weapons made by their sponsors.

A number of media reports included PR handout images from US missile maker Raytheon, which for years was a loyal ASPI sponsor and also the former employer of, recently demoted, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds.

The actual announcement was made by the prime minister, not at Parliament House, but at the South Australian facility of Raytheon.

Government access for weapons makers

Since ASPI’s foundation in 2001, when it was created to challenge the policy direction of Defence, it has become more and more commercialised.

This fact was highlighted by ASPI’s founding Executive Director Hugh White, who wrote on the 15th anniversary of its foundation, “The quality of defence policy slumped… [and] ASPI’s focus inevitably swung round to contributing to public debates not government policy-making.”

Under Hugh White’s leadership, ASPI preserved a great deal of independence and only took an average of $28,000 per year in commercial revenue.

In the last financial year, under the leadership of (former Howard Government adviser) Peter Jennings, ASPI raked in $6,953,000 in commercial revenue. Yet it maintains its façade of independence of outside influence.

ASPI sponsor, French-owned Naval Group was awarded the contract for Australia’s controversial $80 billion future submarine project. It has been in the headlines recently after an independent report released in March found the project was “dangerously off track”.

In 2016, when the contract was awarded Jennings, wrote a glowing opinion piece, about his sponsor, under the headline “Vive Australia’s choice of a French submarine”.

The release of the Future Submarines Report was very critical of the entire project and there were suggestions from highly credentialed defence strategists that Australia should walk away from the deal.

In response, ASPI wrote that not only should Naval Group keeps its contract but the Royal Australian Navy should commission un-maned Orca submarines whilst waiting decades for the French submarines order to be fulfilled.

And who makes the Orca? Another ASPI sponsor, Boeing Defense.

This comes after revelations in March that ASPI had been commissioned to write a report critical of the federal government’s awarding of cloud computing contracts to Australian company Canberra Data Centres (CDC).

As it transpires, ASPI had been commissioned to write the report by lobbying firm Australian Public Affairs (APA); the Commonwealth Lobbyists Register reveals APA represent CDC’s three main commercial rivals.

Last October, ASPI’s Peter Jennings told the ABC, “ASPI’s work as a think tank is genuinely independent” and suggestions it was controlled by sponsors were “frankly nonsense”.

The massive ASPI payoff

ASPI is not an independent think tank, it is in fact a Commonwealth Company which reports to the parliament through the Defence Ministry. In its latest annual report ASPI singled out the then Defence Minister for her “continuing close personal engagement and support”.

In her first speech as Defence Minister, Linda Reynolds boasted of her close friendship with ASPI’s Peter Jennings.

Clearly ASPI’s boss and his board, which is chaired by former Chief of the Army, Lt Gen (Ret’d) Kenneth Gillespie and includes former Liberal Defence Minister Brendan Nelson, has access to the highest levels of government and the Defence Department.

Since ASPI’s inception it has received sponsorship from 12 manufacturers of weapons and weapons systems. Over that period, they have been awarded 9,423 Defence Department contracts with a total value of $51.2 billion.

This does not include another 49 ASPI sponsors who do not manufacture weapons, yet Department of Finance data, reveals have benefitted from more than $30 billion in defence contracts since 2001.

ASPI’s most recent annual report revealed that in the year before the COVID-19 pandemic, it hosted 142 separate events and meetings, many of them bringing together defence policy makers and defence suppliers.

At one such event in 2019, sponsored by Thales, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, then Defence Minister Linda Reynolds was keynote speaker. Presumably executives from these foreign weapons makers had some level of access to the minister.

Department of Finance figures later revealed that ministerial and department staff were charged $30,723 by ASPI in order to attend that speech.

April 4, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, politics, spinbuster, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Labor Party’s platform on uranium/nuclear and radioactive waste issues.


Dave Sweeey, 31 Mar 21, At its National Conference federal Labor adopted the platform (below) on uranium/nuclear and radioactive waste issues.

Clearly it is not what we would write but there’s a lot that is useful and important – including options to further contest Australian uranium sales, a commitment to responsible radioactive waste management and a rejection of domestic nuclear power.

Yesterday federal Labor also clearly reaffirmed its commitment to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (the ICAN Ban) in government.


1. The production of uranium and its use in the nuclear fuel cycle present unique and unprecedented

hazards and risks, including:

 Threats to human health and the local environment in the mining and milling of uranium and

management of radioactive materials, which demand the enforcement of strict safety


 The generation of products that are usable as the raw materials for nuclear weapons

manufacture, which demands the enforcement of effective controls against diversion; and

 The generation of highly toxic radioactive waste by-products that demand permanently safe

disposal methods.

2 Labor accordingly will allow the mining and export of uranium only under the most stringent


3. In relation to mining and milling, Labor will:

 Ensure the safety of workers in the uranium industry is given priority. Labor has established a

compulsory register for workers in the uranium industry that includes regular health checks

and ongoing monitoring. The register is held by an independent agency and will be subject to

privacy provisions;

 Ensure Australian uranium mining, milling and rehabilitation is based on world best practice

standards, extensive continuing research on environmental impacts and the health and

safety of employees and affected communities, particularly Indigenous communities;

 Ensure the Australian public is informed about the quality of the environmental performance

of uranium mines through public accountability mechanisms;

 Foster a constructive relationship between mining companies and Indigenous communities

affected by uranium mining; and

 Prohibit the mining of uranium within national parks under International Union for

Conservation of Nature protected area category 1A, category 1B, and category 2, and listed

world heritage areas.

4. In relation to exports other than to India, Labor will allow the export of uranium only to those

countries that observe the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), are committed to nonproliferation

policies, and have ratified international and bilateral nuclear safeguards agreements.

Labor will export uranium only to countries that maintain strict safeguards and security controls

over their nuclear power industries.

5. In relation to India, an important strategic partner for Australia, commitments and responsible

actions in support of nuclear non-proliferation, consistent with international guidelines on nuclear

supply, will provide an acceptable basis for peaceful nuclear cooperation, including the export of

uranium, subject to the application of strong safeguards.

6. In addition, Labor will work towards:

 Strengthening export control regimes and the rights and authority of the International

Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA);

 Appropriate international responses to violations of existing safeguard commitments;

 Limiting the processing of weapon usable material (separation of plutonium and high

enriched uranium in civilian programs);

 Tightening controls over the export of nuclear material and technology;

 Universalising of the IAEA additional protocol making it mandatory for all states and

members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to adhere to the additional protocol as a condition

of supply to all their transfers;

 Criminalising actions of individuals and companies that assist in nuclear proliferation;

 The development of an international guarantee of nuclear fuel supply to states foregoing

sensitive nuclear technologies;

 Revising the NPT to prevent countries from withdrawing from the NPT and passing a new

resolution in the United Nations Security Council addressing the penalties for withdrawal

from the NPT;

 Encouraging all nuclear states to join the NPT;

 Reserving the right to withhold supplies of uranium permanently, indefinitely or for a

specified period from any country that ceases to observe the non-proliferation safeguards

and security conditions applied to Australian uranium exports to that country, or which

adopts nuclear practices or policies that do not further advance the cause of nuclear nonproliferation;

 Supporting the maintenance and enhancement of international and Australian safeguards to

ensure that uranium mined in Australia, and nuclear products derived from it, are used only

for civil purposes by approved instrumentalities in approved countries that are signatories to

the NPT (with the exception of India) and with whom Australia has safeguard arrangements;


 Seeking adequate international resourcing of the IAEA to ensure its effectiveness in

undertaking its charter.

7. Labor will progress these commitments through diplomatic means including the re-establishment

of the Canberra Commission to re-invigorate Australia’s tradition of middle power, multilateral

diplomacy. In doing so, Labor believes that as a non-nuclear armed nation and a good international

citizen, Australia can make a significant contribution to promoting disarmament, the reduction of

nuclear stockpiles, and the responsible use of nuclear technology.

8. Labor will:

 Vigorously and totally oppose the ocean dumping of radioactive waste;

 Prohibit the establishment of nuclear power plants and all other stages of the nuclear fuel

cycle in Australia;

 Fully meet all Australia’s obligations as a party to the NPT; and

 Remain strongly opposed to the importation and storage of nuclear waste that is sourced

from overseas in Australia.

9. Labor acknowledges that radioactive waste management is a complex policy challenge that

requires the highest levels of transparency and evidence, while balancing the need of the

community to benefit from treatments for diseases like cancer. Accordingly, Labor will act in

accordance with scientific evidence, and with full transparency, broad public input and best

practice technical and consultative standards, taking into account the views of traditional owners,

to progress responsible radioactive waste management

March 31, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Why Boris Johnson rejected Scott Morrison as speaker at climate summit, to Morrison’s fury

March 22, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Resources Minister Keith Pitt on radio today – same old same old Bluff and Bribery about Kimba nuclear dump plan

Kazzi Jai, No nuclear waste dump anywhere in South Australia, 19n Mar 21,

 Pitt having a news grab this morning Monday 15/03/2021 on ABC 639 North and West. Had nothing new to say – same old, same old – …..but it was the first interview from him for the dump for 2021!

Following Pitt was a short interview from opposition Labor spokesperson for resources Madeline King reiterating that Pitt could declare the site already right now – he doesn’t need change in the current legislation to do this – and what Pitt wants instead is to remove JUDICIAL REVIEW which is the RIGHT OF EVERY AUSTRALIAN!
The timing of Pitt’s interview is interesting though…because if you haven’t noticed, Kimba Council is posting that it is “excited” and “delighted” for their NUCLEAR BRIBE GRANT MONEY being used for two economic advancement projects….although strangely enough they LEAVE OUT MENTIONING where the money is coming from! The two projects are: The Kimba Future Workforce and Training Plan….and Economic Development Officer. Remember most importantly that all Grant money projects must be completed by May 31st 2022, as part of Grant conditions.
Hmmmm….May 2022…..isn’t that the latest that the Federal Government can call an election?
The BLUFF and BRIBING continues…..
Interview begins at 48:37 and ends 54:45. There is then the shortened news clip 55:15 to 56:25.

March 19, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment

BHP, Rio Tinto given carte blanche to export uranium to global hotspots 

March 17, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, safety, uranium | Leave a comment

New South Wales Energy Minister ”excited about the opportunities” for nuclear power

Energy minister backs nuclear option   , Daily Telegraph, 14 Mar 21, 

NSW’s energy minister has said the state is “excited about the opportunities” being afforded by nuclear power as he denied climate policies were leading to the closure of coal-powered plants…… (subscribers only)

March 15, 2021 Posted by | New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Refuting Senator Matt Canavan’s inaccurate hype about small nuclear reactors

March 13, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, spinbuster | Leave a comment

MP Josh Wilson’s excellent submission Senate, about nuclear wastes

March 11, 2021 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s purchase of vastly expensive French nuclear-powered submarine design, adapted to diesel, now to be scrapped?

These submarine designs were adapted from the French nuclear submarines. I thought, at the time, that they were chosen in preference to the more suitable, and more affordable German design, under the pressure of the nuclear lobby. Presumably, it would be practical to later adapt these submarines to be nuclear-powered.

March 2, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A new motley crew of Australian politicians form “Friends of Nuclear”

Reporter Rosie Lewis, writing in THE AUSTRALIAN (25/12/21) recorded, with that  paper’s usual pro nuclear joy and delight, that 21 Australian politicians have signed up to this group.  They named only 9 of these MPs, a motley crew indeed, of minor party members, and 5 Labor Party ones.

It gets confusing, as Labor has a clear policy of prohibiting nuclear technology, ( excluding the Lucas Heights Opal reactor). But then, sabotage of Labor policies is not a new thing for Joel Fitzgibbon.  He opposes Labor’s climate policy  (which is strange, as nuclear’s big push is about purporting to combat climate change)

However, you can bet that the remaining 12 ‘nuclear friends’ would be Liberals and Nationals.

Meanwhile, the 9 mentioned have an  odd assortment of views on energy – some support renewable energy, some oppose. There’s some scepticism on climate change, where you’d expect nuclear being touted as the solution. And Pauline Hanson is on record as opposing the nuclear lobby’s plan for a nuclear waste dump at Kimba, South Australia.

“Dr Gillespie and Senator Gallacher said their priority was on educating other MPs — particularly within Labor — about nuclear energy.”  “We can introduce the best scientific minds into our parliamentary friendship group and bring them to Canberra.”

Of course, those “best scientific minds” will come from “Australia’s ­Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and other government and industry bodies”  which function primarily as nuclear promoters, anyway.   I don’t think they’ll be inviting Dr Helen Caldicott, Dr Jim Green, or Dave Sweeney fron the Australian Conservation Foundation.

March 1, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Australian government obsessed with preventing legal appeals against its nuclear waste dump plan

Commenting on the opinion piece: They have let it come: now build it , In Daily Dave Sweeney, Australian Conservation Foundation InDaily 25 Feb 21

Sean Edwards’ defence of the federal governments push for a hotly-contested national radioactive waste facility near Kimba on the Eyre Peninsula fails to recognise that the deeply flawed plan has once more hit the rough.

Mr Edwards speaks of respect, but there is nothing respectful in the governments new legislation seeking to remove people’s rights to legally appeal or challenge the plan.

Access to a day in court is a fundamental democratic right, and the governments obsession with removing this should sound alarm bells in the wider community, just as it has in the Senate where the planned law was again deferred this week after it failed to garner broad political support.

The plan shirks the hard questions about responsible long-term radioactive waste management in favour of a sub-optimal short-term political ‘fix’.

The waste comes from the Lucas Heights reactor in Sydney. There is a growing call that it should stay at this secure federal site until there is a credible pathway for its long-term management. Moving it to an area in regional South Australia where there are far fewer management assets and resources is both unnecessary and irresponsible.

This is not a decision about on which hill to put a mobile tower. Deciding on Australia’s first purpose-built national radioactive waste facility requires much more evidence, effort and evaluation than has occurred to date.

If radioactive waste lasted as long as our politicians it would hardly be a problem. But it doesn’t. This is Australia’s most serious radioactive waste and some of it needs to be isolated from people and the environment for 10,000 years.

Our nation needs a credible, evidence-based approach to the long-term management of radioactive waste.

Sadly, neither Minister Pitt’s plan nor Mr Edward’s assurances deliver this. It is time the current approach was scrapped and the federal government got serious about advancing responsible waste management.

February 27, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment

Legislation banning nuclear power in Australia should be retained

Murdoch papers and Murdoch’s Sky News have ramped up their campaign to have nuclear laws repealed, and far-right Coalition MPs and former MPs are along for the ride. The post Legislation banning nuclear power in Australia should be retained appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Legislation banning nuclear power in Australia should be retained — RenewEconomy

February 25, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Wise warning to Australian government to withdraw embarrassing Nuclear Waste Dump Bill

Peter Remta, 21 Feb 21, to Senator Slade Brockman

I am aware that the Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020 has been listed in the Senate’s order of business for Tuesday 23 February but with respect suggest that this a completely futile exercise on the part of your government and the responsible minister

The bill will not be passed because of the unwavering opposition by the crossbench and any preceding debate could be extremely embarrassing for your government because of the untoward and disingenuous information previously put out by Pitt and his department and its agencies being raised by the opposing senators

If Pitt then falls back on the existing legislation he will be subject to administrative and judicial and now because of the High Court decision earlier this month in the New Acland Coal case(1) will be completely stopped with his proposals if the opposing community at Kimba start their legal action since their situation is one real and not just apprehend bias as in that case

Should that litigation ensue then practically all written material held by the government in all its guises will be fully disclosed through the litigation procedure of discovery

From my limited personal knowledge of some of that material it will prove extremely embarrassing and your government will not be able to claim any privilege to prevent its disclosure

This is the view of several senior lawyers including some retired superior court judges but ask the attorney should you have any doubts

Perhaps the most pertinent aspect of the whole situation is the proposal for Kimba will in any event fail to get any of the necessary licences as ARPANSA is already being criticised for not carrying out its proper regulatory functions with respect to ANSTO and as a result the licence applications will be subject to an overseas peer review which will completely remove the licensing process from your government and its agencies

In any case ANSTO is already under a cloud due to its dismal performance and awkward responses at the Senate estimates hearing on 29 October 2020 which will I understand be subject to further extensive questioning and explanations

Please bear in mind that I was the source of the information for the questioning senators and the further questions to be asked due to the complete inadequacy of the responses by ANSTO to the notified questions(2)

I therefore suggest that you and Dean Smith as the government whips withdraw the bill before it becomes a further embarrassment to your government in a possible election year

With kind regards

Peter Remta

(1).    Oakey Coal Action Alliance Inv v. New Acland Coal Pty Ltd & Ors

High Court Case No.B34/2020


Hansard  THURSDAY  29 OCTOBER 2020

Senator Abetz pages 11 to 13 and Senator Carr pages 5 to 11

February 22, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment

Nationals add nuclear enthusiasm to the government’s energy bill

Nationals’ nuclear flare-up on energy bill,  Thu, 18 February 2021,  The Nationals have gone nuclear on energy policy, flagging another amendment to their own government’s plans.

The bill at the centre of it all allows Energy Minister Angus Taylor to direct Australia’s green bank to invest in gas and loss-making energy projects.

The government wants the bill to pass parliament next week so a raft of projects go ahead.

Former Nationals leader turned backbencher Barnaby Joyce has already wedged his colleagues by introducing an amendment which would allow the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to invest in coal-fired power stations.

Now the Nationals Senate team wants the green bank to invest in nuclear power as well as carbon capture and storage.

The five Nationals senators led by Bridget McKenzie and Matt Canavan fronted a media conference promoting their plan.

“We compete against the world with one hand behind our back while other nations avail themselves of cutting edge, low emissions technologies,” Senator McKenzie said.

There is a longstanding moratorium on nuclear energy generation which has been maintained by both Labor and coalition governments.

The coal and nuclear-pushing Nationals are putting renewed pressure on current leader Michael McCormack.

By introducing amendments to the government’s own bill they are forcing their colleagues to either vote for or against the original plan.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Mr McCormack has been a resilient leader, having already batted off an attempt from Mr Joyce to snatch back the party’s top job.

Mr Frydenberg said the Nationals and Liberals had so far worked effectively on energy under the current leaders.

“It’s a pretty complex area, as I know,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“If I took off my jacket I could show you the scars from being the energy minister.”

Mr Frydenberg was the minister behind the previous coalition government’s National Energy Guarantee, which played a role in Malcolm Turnbull’s downfall as prime minister.

Mr Joyce claims small modular nuclear reactors are ideal to replace decommissioned coal-fired power stations and reduce emissions.

“Nuclear reactors can do it,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“Why not, if you want zero emissions.”

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said nuclear energy in Australia doesn’t stack up.

“What we are witnessing here is just a part of the chaos that is the coalition when it comes to energy policy,” he said.

The Nationals argue the $1 billion grid reliability fund to be run out of the CEFC should support small nuclear energy projects and get involved in developing the technology.

The Australian Conservation Foundation says there’s nothing clean about nuclear, coal or gas.

“Nuclear is not a credible climate response and has been repeatedly rejected by the market and the community,” ACF spokesman Dave Sweeney said.

February 20, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Australia a renewables leader – or the Saudi Arabia of nuclear energy”

“Nuclear power is dangerous, unnecessary and colossally expensive. It would take more than a decade to build a nuclear reactor in Australia and cost billions. It’s the ultimate climate action delay tactic”
“Australia has an opportunity to position itself as a world leader in renewables.”
The NT, with our abundance of Uranium, should be the Saudi Arabia of nuclear energy’: Senator McMahon,    Hepburn Advocate, Roxanne Fitzgerald, 19 Feb 21,

Northern Territory Senator Dr Sam McMahon says she is “delighted” her push for nuclear has been backed, after the Nationals announced new amendments to a bill in favour of nuclear energy and carbon capture and storage.

Nationals Senators, led by Matt Canavan and Bridget McKenzie have announced a raft of amendments to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) bill to invest in nuclear power.

Senator McMahon says the drafted legislation supports her long-established calls to unlock nuclear energy…..

The Northern Territory, with our abundance of Uranium and potential nuclear fuel Thorium, should be the Saudi Arabia of nuclear energy.

But political activist group Get Up’s national director Paul Oosting says that as Australia forges ahead with solutions to the climate crisis, such as solar technology, the push for nuclear could delay climate action.

“Nuclear power is dangerous, unnecessary and colossally expensive. It would take more than a decade to build a nuclear reactor in Australia and cost billions. It’s the ultimate climate action delay tactic,” Mr Oosting said.

“Australia has an opportunity to position itself as a world leader in renewables. It’s critical this pivotal moment in our history not be squandered on obsolete and failing technologies that will lock in irreparable climate damage.”

Mr Oosting said he was concerned the clean energy corporation could become a “slush fund” for the coal, gas, and nuclear industry, and cautioned politicians from backing the bill.

“When Taylor’s Bill comes before Parliament, politicians who accept the seriousness of the climate crisis we face – of all parties and none – must act to ensure coal, gas, and nuclear are excluded from any definition of ‘low emissions technology’, the return-on-investment requirement is kept, and the independence of the CEFC board is maintained,” he said………….he said………….

February 20, 2021 Posted by | Northern Territory, politics | Leave a comment