Australian news, and some related international items

Finkel review of the National Electricity Market – an opportunity to learn from Germany

The terms of reference for the Finkel review recognise the need to integrate energy and climate policy in Australia.

What can Australia learn from Germany’s remarkable energy transition?, The Conversation, December 5, 2016 The Australian government is reviewing our electricity market to make sure it can provide secure and reliable power in a rapidly changing world. Faced with the rise of renewable energy and limits on carbon pollution, The Conversation has asked experts what kind of future awaits the grid.

The Finkel review of the National Electricity Market is an opportunity to consider how Australia can transition its electricity system to be less carbon-intensive.

Germany’s energy transition is often held up as an incredible success story. Starting from a sector relying predominantly on fossil fuels and nuclear energy in the 1990s, renewable energy now provides about 30% of Germany’s electricity.

Germany is on track to achieve its 80% renewable target by 2050. This transformation has been the result of a range of policy measures.

The depth and breadth of these legal and regulatory reforms can provide valuable lessons for Australia. Continue reading

December 5, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

South Australian Labor govt clings to its nuclear waste dream

Weatherill,-Jay-wastesNuclear roadblock warning but door still open, says Tom Kenyon Adam Langenberg, Political reporter, The Advertiser November 15, 2016 A SOUTH AUSTRALIAN high level nuclear facility looks further off into the distant future after one of its most strident backers outlined a series of roadblocks before a statewide referendum could be held.
One of the first backers of a high level facility, Mr Kenyon told the Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle the plan was not dead, but said a referendum would be “quite a long time away” due to the bulk of information required.

“I think if you go to a population with a vague question, should we have a nuclear waste facility in SA, to be honest I think the result of that referendum would be not much better than what we saw from the Citizens Jury,” Mr Kenyon said.

“If it was ever going to happen firstly it would need bipartisan support to at least continue those investigations and continue discussions.

Then you would need to have quite a lot of information, and I would suspect you would need to know how much you were going to get paid and how much it was going to cost you to store and to know that you almost certainly need to know a site and you would need to have most likely an agreement of a community around a site.”

Asked if the Government could expect support of the Parliament to continue those discussions, Mr Kenyon responded “not at the moment”.

Liberal Treasury spokesman Rob Lucas, the first opposition MP to publicly air concerns about the proposal, told the conference the economic risks were “too great”.

   He also criticised Mr Weatherill’s decision to ever put the proposal before a Citizens Jury.

“I always thought it was a naive and ill informed view that you would ever get majority support, whether it be from a Citizens Jury or any other process.

“Frankly if you were going to take on this particular challenge it was going to be an issue of leadership where ultimately the government of the day and the Parliament would have to say, we think it’s in the best interests of South Australia and even though there’s a majority view against it; we’re prepared to support it in terms of the public interest.”

December 5, 2016 Posted by | politics, wastes, South Australia | Leave a comment

Turnbull must reject dirty deal with Adani  

 coal CarmichaelMine2Don’t put the interests of big polluters ahead of the interests of the Australian people. PM Malcolm Turnbull appears to be preparing to give multinational mining company Adani $1 billion of Australian taxpayers’ money to fund a coal-carting railway line from the Galilee Basin to the Great Barrier Reef coast.

Media reports today say up to $1 billion of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) has been earmarked for the project.

“It seems Prime Minister Turnbull is preparing to put the interests of big polluters ahead of the interests of the Australian people and misuse a billion dollars of public money to support the mega-polluting Carmichael coal project,” said ACF CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.

“This would be a serious misuse of public money, a breach of previous assurances and would turn NAIF into the ‘Dirty Energy Finance Corporation’.

“Adani has a mining licence, but no social licence.

“Any investment in coal in the 21st Century is a dud investment. Australians will lose this money and it will fund the death of the much-loved Great Barrier Reef.

“The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) is supposed to fund projects that are in the public interest, not coal mines that will create more reef-wrecking climate pollution and jeopardise up to 70,000 jobs that rely on a healthy Great Barrier Reef.

“The NAIF board must release the assessment documents that show how it has determined the environmental and social benefits of this project.

“The government wouldn’t fund SPC Ardmona or the car industry, but it appears willing to fund a billionaire coal company with a dubious environmental record.”

In India, Adani has faced numerous accusations of damaging the environment and failing to comply with regulations and laws.

“If Adani is unable to fund the mine, Australia will be left with a railway to nowhere and an unpaid billion dollar loan,” Ms O’Shanassy said. “Prime Minister Turnbull can choose to entrench Australia’s dependence on a dirty, declining industry or protect the reef and steer us to a brighter, cleaner future.”

December 4, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Northern Territory appoints too many mining representatives to its Mining Advisory Committee

Concerns mining industry over-represented on NT Government-appointed board, ABC News, 4 Dec 16  By Sara Everingham The NT Environmental Defenders Office has raised concerns the mining industry is over-represented on the mining board, which was set up and appointed by the former Country Liberals Government.

A new report revealed that a directive to Glencore’s McArthur River Mine (MRM) by the Department of Primary Industry and Resources — formerly the Northern Territory Mines Department — was overruled by the Government-appointed mining board.

The report by the mine’s independent monitor, the Erias Group, said the NT Mines Department made an order last year after officers on an MRM site visit reported “unapproved works” where waste rock containing metals and salt had been placed in a facility approved for benign material only.

“The use of non-benign material in close proximity to the McArthur River diversion channel and lack of adequate environmental controls represent a risk to the environment,” the department’s officers reported.

The department directed MRM to move the material but MRM appealed against the order to the Mining Board arguing the works were temporary.

The board, now also known as the Mining Advisory Committee, found in MRM’s favour.

The principal lawyer from the NT Environmental Defenders Office, David Morris, said he was concerned the department’s directive had been overruled.

“It’s of concern to me that mining officers who go down and spend a significant amount of time on the site have said ‘we think material has been placed inappropriately, we think that’s putting the environment at risk’ and the Mining Board said ‘well no we’re going to agree with Glencore who’s appealed this decision’,” Mr Morris said……….

December 4, 2016 Posted by | Northern Territory, politics | Leave a comment

Yingiya Mark Guyula is Confirmed as the Member for Nhulunbuy

text politicsCourt of Disputed Returns Dismissed, Yingiya Mark Guyula  is Confirmed as  the Member for Nhulunbuy  1 December 2016:

MLA for Nhulunbuy Yingiya Guyula has expressed relief and satisfaction at the dismissal of the Electoral Commissioner’s challenge to his election to the NT Legislative Assembly
by consent orders sought by both parties and made by Justice Southwood today in the Court of Disputed Returns.

““From the moment it was suggested that I might be disqualified from nominating for Parliament
because of my claimed membership of a local government advisory body called the Milingimbi Local Authority,
I have said that I was never a member of that body,” Mr Guyula explained.
“I did not nominate to be a member, I did not consent to being appointed to the Authority by the East Arnhem Regional Council (“EARC”), and I did not even know it had passed a resolution to appoint me.
In fact when I was asked whether I wanted to be nominated and appointed I said no because I was too busy working in remote homeland schools and would not be able to attend regular meetings.”

Mr Guyula’s lawyer Ken Parish explained that his evidence was not disputed, and
was corroborated by evidence from other Milingimbi community members.
Moreover, the Electoral Commission accepted in submissions to Justice Southwood that Mr Guyula had attended a handful of Authority meetings not as a member of that body but as a djirrikaymirri or senior elder of the Guyula Djambarrbuyngu tribe. …

“Mr Guyula said that the most pleasing aspect of today’s result was that he would now be
free to focus completely on providing effective representation for the people of Nhulunbuy
and North East Arnhem Land in Parliament over the next 4 years.
“I stood for Parliament with the aim of helping to create harmony, understanding and mutual respect between Yolngu and Balanda people, laws and institutions.
Today’s Court decision is one small but important step on the road to achieving that aim,” Mr Guyula said.”

December 2, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory, politics | Leave a comment

Liberal and Labor quietly pass law to protect uranium industry from legal challenges

Tweedle-NuclearMajor parties push a losing uranium sector to India at great risk  Dave Sweeney , 29 Nov 16 

With little fuss or fanfare, Australia’s two major parties have this week agreed to fly under the radioactive radar and pass an innocuous enough sounding law with some very far reaching implications.

The Indian Civil Nuclear Transfers Act exists to provide “certainty to Australian uranium producers” who want to sell the controversial product to India.

In 2015 a detailed investigation by Parliament’s treaties committee found there were serious and unresolved nuclear safety, security and governance issues with the proposed sales plan. It also found a high level of legal uncertainty. Continue reading

November 30, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, politics, uranium | Leave a comment

Mystery of South Australian Labor tying the State’s prosperity to a nuclear waste toilet

South Australia nuclear toiletNuclear Poker: The Premier declares his hand, but who will win?, Adelaide Review, John Spoehr, NOVEMBER 24, 2016    You Don’t generally establish a Royal Commission on a major economic question unless you have an answer in mind. Tom Playford initiated a Royal Commission into the Electricity Industry in South Australia to bring the industry under greater public control. He was fed up with the privately run Adelaide Electric Supply Company (AESC) and was open to radical change. By the mid-1940s, most states had nationalised their electricity industries…..

It is against the weight of this history that the Premier and the State Government push. They also push against great disappointment – disappointment that the state’s prosperity should, in any way, be tied to becoming a nuclear waste dump. Surely we can do better than that, many South Australians are saying. More than 3000 protestors on Parliament House steps made it clear that a dump was not an option.

What frustrates many about the latest twist in the nuclear waste dump debate is the apparent abuse of process when the State Government didn’t get the result it wanted.  It has created an expectation that the Citizens’ Jury would guide the decision. When the Jury came out against the dump, the Premier had a plan B – put it to a referendum.

The election of Donald Trump sharpened views about the political cost of not listening to the Citizens’ Jury. While the Premier was prepared to take the risk and face accusations of having a tin ear, Opposition Leader Steven Marshall made a captain’s call to oppose the dump on economic grounds. While the Premier alienated many in his traditional support base by being the architect of the impossible, he won new friends on the other side of politics by daring to do what they would not have done themselves. Whether this translates into Labor votes from disgruntled Liberal voters at the March 2018 State election is difficult to know.

Having criticised the Opposition Leader for abandoning bi-partisan support, the Premier has few cards left to play in his game of nuclear poker. There has been talk of trying to lock in a customer nation to demonstrate that there is real demand for the dump, but customers will remain cautious, preferring not to declare their hand. Steven Marshall has laid his cards on the table and so too has the Premier. Their parties are divided on the stance they have both taken. …..

Just why the development of a nuclear industry in South Australia should be so attractive to some is a fascinating question. Those who support a waste dump generally also support the enrichment of uranium and nuclear power generation. Some also see merit in South Australia manufacturing nuclear-powered submarines. I doubt that the pursuit of a dump will satisfy the ambitions of the nuclear lobby.

November 25, 2016 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Victoria to ban fracking

Victorian fracking ban legislation to be in introduced, ABC News By Stephanie Anderson, 22 Nov 16  The Victorian Government will introduce legislation today to permanently ban fracking following what the Premier described as “one of the most amazing community campaigns” in Australian history.

Fracking is used to extract so-called unconventional gases such as coal seam, tight and shale gas by pumping high-pressure water and chemicals into rock, fracturing it to release trapped gases.

There has been fears the chemicals could contaminate groundwater supplies and threaten agricultural industries.

The Victorian Government held a parliamentary inquiry into unconventional gas industries and announced earlier this year it would bring in a permanent ban.

Premier Daniel Andrews said there was a strong community campaign against fracking and unconventional gas.

“This is a triumph of one of the most amazing community campaigns that our state and indeed our nation has ever seen,” Mr Andrews said.

Local communities have put an elegant and articulate argument, and we have responded to that.”

Fracking occurs in all other states except the Northern Territory, with the most by far in Queensland.

Government to pay compensation to licence holders……

November 23, 2016 Posted by | politics, Victoria | Leave a comment

Liberal Party united in opposition to a nuclear waste import industry

logo-LiberalSteven Marshall: The Liberals are united in our decision to oppose a nuclear waste industry but the Weatherill Labor Government is not Steven Marshall, The Advertiser

November 19, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear Economics Consulting Group reports on the diseconomics of importing nuclear waste to South Australia

scrutiny-on-wastes-sa-bankruptNew expert report on dump causes major problems for Weatherill 16 November 2016

Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas said today a new expert study into the nuclear waste dump will cause major problems for Mr Weatherill as it raises significant concerns and questions about the financial assumptions of the project.

The report by international nuclear experts Nuclear Economics Consulting Group was released today by the Joint Parliamentary Committee and makes it clear that the claimed revenue of $257 billion and costs of $145 billion by the Weatherill Government cannot be relied upon.

“This report is a severe embarrassment for Mr Weatherill as it makes it clear the Weatherill Government leaks to the media on the weekend were selective, deceptive and an attempt to grossly mislead the public,” said Mr Lucas.

The report notes:

  • That ‘under some Project approaches” South Australian taxpayers might have to spend even more than $600 million and still decide not to proceed with the dump.
  • The Jacobs report doesn’t even consider the costs of some important issues which “have significant serious potential to adversely impact the Project and its commercial outcomes.”
  • Assumptions about price are “overly optimistic” and if that is the case “project profitability is seriously at risk”.
  • The 25% cost contingency for delays and blowouts is likely to be a significant underestimate.
  • The assumption the Project would capture 50% of the available market had “little support or justification”.

Almost every page of this expert report lists further questions and concerns about the critical assumptions underpinning the projections.

“Whilst the report finds that the project could be profitable ‘under certain assumptions’ it then raises serious questions about most of those assumptions. It also concluded that ‘informed decision making will require a more extensive assessment that includes what was explicitly excluded in the Jacobs report.’

“It is now clear that weekend claims by the Weatherill Government that this report had ‘verified’ the Royal Commission’s figures and “backed Commission findings of $257 billion in revenue are a grotesque distortion of the report.

“In fact, this report ‘blows a hole’ in Mr Weatherill’s vision of a nuclear waste dump future for South Australia and backs Liberal concerns about the financial assumptions of the Project.”

November 19, 2016 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Mutiny within South Australian Labor Party if Weatherill sticks to his pro nuclear policy?

weatherill-martyrDaniel Wills: Serious questions being asked of Jay Weatherill’s future text politicsover nuke dump plan, Analysis — Daniel Wills, The Advertiser, November 15, 2016 FOR the first time in Premier Jay Weatherill’s five years as Labor leader, serious questions are now being asked within the party about his political judgment.

November 18, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Nuclear dump plan dumped- but will be a South Australian election issue

text politicsDaniel Wills: Nuclear referendum won’t happen and Labor will continue to wear political fallout, State Political Editor Daniel Wills, The Advertiser, November 14, 2016 IN every serious way, the nuclear dump has just been thrown on the scrap heap.

November 18, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

No further investigation into high level nuclear waste dump – Jay Weatherill

16 Nov 16 On Monday, Premier Jay Weatherill announced that the absence of bipartisanship and broad social consent meant that the Government is unable to further progress investigations into a high level international waste disposal facility for South Australia.

Yesterday, the Premier delivered the State Government’s full response to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, supporting 9 of 12 recommendations, a copy of the Government’s response is available here:

November 16, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Toxic nuclear debate in South Australian Parliament – Liberal MPs ejected

November 16, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Premier Weatherill wants expansion of uranium mining, and nuclear waste dumping

Weatherill glowPremier Jay Weatherill backs expansion of uranium mining in South Australia, Daniel Wills State Political Editor, The Advertiser November 15, 2016  PREMIER Jay Weatherill has backed an expansion of uranium mining in the state, as recommended by a Royal Commission, while also continuing to explore the prospect of a nuclear dump.

A day after floating long-term plans for a referendum on a high-level nuclear waste dump, Mr Weatherill today addressed the Royal Commission findings in Parliament.
Mr Weatherill rejected recommendations urging he talk to the Federal Government about removing legal bans on uranium enrichment and nuclear power in Australia.

He also rejected a recommendation that the State Government remove state legislation stopping an “orderly, detailed and thorough analysis” of establishing nuclear waste storage in SA.

Recommendations accepted include simplifying mining approvals for uranium and backing more scientific studies of where ores can be uncovered…..

He said the Government will “not pursue policy or legislative change” to develop a nuclear dump, after the Opposition pulled support for the project…..”

November 16, 2016 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, politics | 1 Comment