Australian news, and some related international items

British Prime Minister urges Scott Morrison on climate action: Morrison twists the message

October 29, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Labor aims to amend the Nuclear Waste Bill, removing Napandee as the stipulated dump site

Penny Wong office reply to Josephite SA Reconciliation Circle letter before the last Senate session  27 October 2020 
From: “Wong, Penelope (Senator)” <>

Subject: RE: We plead with Labor Senators to vote NO to the undemocratic, unfair National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Bill 2020
Date: 26 October 2020

Dear Michele,

Thank you for your correspondence on the proposal for a national radioactive waste management facility in South Australia and the National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020.
Senator Wong is aware of different views in the community about this proposed facility.
It is clear the Government’s proposal gives rise to issues surrounding Indigenous heritage, environmental concerns, public safety, as well as differing opinions on necessity of such a facility, all of which must be adequately resolved.
Australians depend on nuclear technology for medicines used in the diagnosis of heart disease, skeletal injuries, as well as a range of cancers. Radioactive substances and wastes must be handled safely and with care.
One effect of the Bill would be to amend the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 to set aside the existing site selection and approval process, and instead specify the site selected and enable the acquisition of additional land for the facility.
On 11 June 2020, the Bill passed the House of Representatives. As you noted, Labor opposed the Bill in the House. As you are aware, the Senate Economics Legislation Committee completed an inquiry into the Bill, and now it is up to the Government to decide when this bill will be debated in the Senate. Senator Wong followed the progress of the committee inquiry, in which Labor senators actively participated. We are pleased to see that you quoted from Labor senator Jenny McAllister’s dissenting report in your correspondence.
Senator Wong encouraged members of the South Australian community to engage with the Senate Economics Legislation Committee inquiry in order to ensure committee members and parliamentarians more broadly are aware of community attitudes. Along with consultation that has taken place with stakeholders, as well as community views expressed to Labor parliamentarians in community meetings and through organised petitions and campaign emails, this informed Shadow Cabinet and Caucus as they finalised Labor’s position on the legislation.
Labor has decided move an amendment to the legislation in the Senate that will remove the section of the Bill that nominates the site at Napandee, near Kimba, as the location of the national radioactive waste management facility, whilst maintaining the Community Fund established in the Bill for whatever community eventually hosts the site. Should our amendment be unsuccessful, we will oppose the Bill in the Senate.
Labor’s proposed course of action does not prevent the Government from nominating the site under the existing legal process, something it could do today. However, retaining the existing process ensures this significant decision will be subject to judicial review so that the community can be assured the decision about where to locate the facility was reached as a result of a fair and properly conducted process. This is something we are aware that the representatives of the Barngarla People have expressed is particularly important to them.
Ten years ago, Federal Labor deliberately amended the current legislation to include judicial review so that an affected party could challenge a decision made by the relevant minister. This is a contentious issue and should have the highest levels of scrutiny to ensure that the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice have been applied given the national significance of this matter.
Thank you again for your correspondence.
Yours sincerely,
Dear Senator Penny Wong,
We plead with Labor Senators, especially with yourself as Opposition Leader in the Senate, to vote NO, as Labor did in the House, to the undemocratic, unfair National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Bill 2020 coming before the Senate this Tuesday, October 6th.
In the years of this federal Coalition campaign there have been many unfair practices and processes in the government’s determination to achieve the SA siting above ground of long lived intermediate level radioactive waste –  toxic for an unimaginable 10,000 years – alongside low level radioactive waste.    
It was clear in recent Senate Inquiry that the federal government are taking this site decision to Parliament to deny judicial process to anyone. In particular, the Traditional Owners, the Barngarla people who fought for 21 years to obtain their native title rights have been excluded from having any say over on their traditional lands. The federal government plan is now to ensure they as well as anyone else will excluded from judicial process. Labor Senator Jenny MacAllister’s dissenting report is clear:“In evidence to the committee, the Department confirmed that the effect of the change proposed in the legislation is to remove the requirements for procedural fairness in the selection of the site.”
This dangerous precedent of no judicial review will be set if the Senate passed this Bill. This is not the Australia that we want – and we would expect not what federal Labor wants. 
SA State Labor have spoken up strongly against this legislation. Senator Jenny McAllister’s dissenting report recommends “That the elements of the National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020 which alter the existing process for site selection not proceed at this time.”
We plead with federal Labor Senators to avoid this extremely concerning circumvention of judicial process by voting against this Bill.
Yours sincerely,
Michele Madigan
 Josephite SA Reconciliation Circle

October 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment

South Australian Upper House reaffirms the State’s law opposing nuclear waste dump

Mark Parnell MLC , It was a great day back in 2016 when we won the campaign to stop the ill-conceived proposal to turn South Australia into the World’s dumping ground for deadly high-level radioactive waste.  However, domestic nuclear waste and other radioactive subjects are still on the agenda of State Parliament.

Proposed Kimba Nuclear Waste Dump

Whilst the Federal Liberal Government seeks to push this unnecessary and divisive project through the Senate, the South Australian Upper House has reaffirmed its commitment to State law by opposing a domestic nuclear waste dump at Kimba or anywhere else in South Australia.  Dangerous long-lived radioactive waste currently stored under guard at Lucas Heights should stay there until a permanent solution is found, not shipped 1700kms to another temporary storage site in SA.  If this project proceeds, the Greens will ensure that a South Australian Parliamentary inquiry is held that properly consults all stakeholders, including the Barngarla Traditional Owners who were shamefully excluded from the original community ballot.

Banning Nuclear weapons

State Parliament has recognised the 75th anniversary of the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  This horror has inspired 47 countries to ratify a 2017 UN Treaty that would ban nuclear weapons forever.  Only 3 more nations are needed for the Treaty to become International Law. So far, Australia is refusing to sign, for fear for offending our US allies.  You can add your voice here:

STOP PRESS: We’ve just learnt that the 50th nation has ratified the Treaty, which will now come into effect in 90 days.

Radiation Regulation

The State Government has re-written South Australia’s radiation protection laws.  Whilst most changes were administrative, there are still some fundamental problems, not least of which is that BHP’s Olympic Dam mine at Roxby Downs continues to be exempt from most State laws.  Both Liberal and Labor joined forces to ensure that BHP’s special treatment continues with their “Indenture” overriding laws that all other mining companies must comply with.

On a more positive note, a number of Green amendments to increase accountability and transparency were accepted.  We also secured an amendment that allows South Australia to set its own safety standards for radiation exposure and not be limited to outdated and weak standards applied elsewhere.



October 27, 2020 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

The Greens had a remarkable win in Australian Capital Territory elections

The Green wave that swept the 2020 A.C.T. Election, Independent Australia, By Chris Mordd Richards | 26 October 2020,  In a result almost none saw coming, the A.C.T. Greens have tripled their seat count in the A.C.T. Legislative Assembly following the Election on 17 October.

Going from two seats to six, stealing two seats each from A.C.T. Labor and the Canberra Liberals in the process……..

Clearly any party which manages to increase its representation by 300% in a single election has done an excellent job, appealing to the voters not only as a party but as credible individual candidates as well.

Newly elected MLA Johnathan Davis, who was in a very tight race for Brindabella but emerged the victor at the final count, had this to say on behalf of the Greens:

“The A.C.T. Greens are so grateful for the support we’ve received from Conder to Kippax, from Forde to Fraser. Every single Canberran is now represented by the Greens. We commit to working hard and honouring the support offered to us. Together, we’ll work every single day to build a better normal.”….

While Labor did reasonably well in retaining government, it was instead the Greens’ message which most struck a chord with a particular key segment of voters across the entire Territory this time. …….

The Australian Greens will certainly be examining in detail how the local party pulled it off to see how they might replicate this result in other parts of the country. For now, the A.C.T. is once more the greenest jurisdiction in Australia.,14448

October 27, 2020 Posted by | ACT, politics | Leave a comment

Morrison government’s devastating cuts to Environmental research and teaching

‘Devastating’: The Morrison government cuts uni funding for environment courses by almost 30%, The Conversation,    Dianne Gleeson, Professor, Science, University of Canberra, Ian Clark, Associate professor, University of South Australia, Stuart Parsons, Professor, Queensland University of Technology, 14 Oct 20
  1. There has been much attention on how the Morrison government’s university funding reforms will increase the cost of humanities degrees. But another devastating change has passed almost unnoticed: a 29% cut to funding to environmental studies courses. This is one of the largest funding cuts to any university course.

    Universities will receive almost A$10,000 less funding per year for each student undertaking environmental studies. The cut will undoubtedly lead to fewer students and lower-quality learning experiences.

    Environmental studies encompasses the biological and earth sciences, as well as management and planning. Graduates go on to work as government policy officers, and managers in fields including water resources, the environment, urban planning and climate change adaption.

    We are senior members of the Australian Council of Environmental Deans and Directors, with more than 80 years of collective experience in various environmental fields. At a time of unprecedented pressures on our environment, expertise in these fields is clearly needed more than ever. ………..Until now, Australia has been a world leader in training the next generation of environmental managers and scientists. Thirty of our universities have recently been rated as producing research in environmental science significantly above world standard. And environmental science at four Australian universities – Australian National University, University of Melbourne, UNSW and University of Sydney – was recently ranked in the top 50 worldwide.

    Without adequate funding, this global standing is threatened.

    The bigger picture

    Fewer and less well-trained environmental studies students will inevitably have a knock-on effect in sectors and industries that need quality graduates with specialist environmental knowledge, such as:

    1. local, state and federal government, to ensure developments are sustainable and broadly benefit communities

  2. agriculture, to address threats as diverse as water quality in the Great Barrier Reef, better retention of nitrogen fertilisers in soils and adaptation to climate change
  3. mining, for advice on site planning and restoration to ensure minimal environmental harm during and after the mine’s operation
  4. water management in rivers and wetlands, to respond to climate change and higher demand from growing populations…….

    We need environmental experts

    Australia’s recent, brutal experience with bushfires and drought shows just how badly we need world-class environmental expertise. As climate change grows ever worse, these experts will be critical in steering us through these challenges.

    What’s more, the COVID-19 pandemic – linked to land clearing and more human-wildlife interaction – shows just what can happen under poor environmental management.

    Australia is uniquely vulnerable to climate change, and in 2019, recorded its worst-ever environmental conditions. These university funding cuts affect the people with the answers to our pressing environmental problems – they are a blow to the future of all Australians.

    Read more: A major scorecard gives the health of Australia’s environment less than 1 out of 10

October 15, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Michelle Fahy blows open the disgraceful collusion between Australian politicians and weapons industries

October 13, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Murdoch media monopoly – an ‘arrogant cancer on our democracy’

A cancer’: Kevin Rudd calls for royal commission into ‘Murdoch monopoly’, The New Daily,  Cait Kelly, 10 Oct 20, 

October 12, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, politics | Leave a comment

Queensland election – all about climate, coal, and minority parties

‘Queensland paradox’ pushes coal and climate to centre stage of election campaign, Guardian,   Ben Smee @BenSmee, Sat 10 Oct 2020 
As Labor and the LNP try to woo regional and metro voters with at-times contradictory messages, minor parties thrive

On Sunday in Clermont – in the dusty heart of Queensland – the coal fanatic Liberal National party senator Matt Canavan and the mining magnate Clive Palmer will hold a rally, mocking the convoy of climate protesters who made a somewhat unwelcome voyage north last year.

Three days earlier, almost 1,000km away in Brisbane’s trendy western suburbs, the Greens announced state election plans to provide free school meals, funded by a $55bn increase to mining royalties.

Somewhere in between lies what the University of Queensland political scientist Glenn Kefford calls “the Queensland paradox” – the challenge for major parties to woo voters in both Toowong and Townsville with different, sometimes contradictory, messages.

“The state might appear a certain way to outsiders but it’s really interesting and diverse,” Kefford says.

……… complexity has been writ large since the writs were issued this week: a series of events has widened a philosophical rift within the LNP; prompted some of Australia’s largest resources companies to quit their statewide lobby group; and placed the Greens at the centre of the election narrative.

As Labor and the LNP attempt to “walk both sides of the street”, divisive issues including coalmining and climate change have again been pushed to the forefront of the campaign………

Avoiding the third rail

Of course, it’s impossible to talk about Queensland, coal, climate and the election without mentioning the third rail of that debate: Adani.

On the eve of the election, Labor sought to neutralise a potential campaign problem by signing a long-delayed royalties deal for Adani’s under-construction Carmichael coalmine.

Polling released this week shows Labor extending its dominance over the LNP in greater Brisbane. The party also hopes to pick up seats on the Gold Coast and the southern Sunshine Coast.

Of most concern to Labor strategists are the party’s regional seats, including the working-class regional cities of Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton and Gladstone, where voters swung fiercely towards the Coalition at the 2019 federal election.

The premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, began her hi-vis “jobs, jobs and more jobs” campaign by hopping across north Queensland, pushing a pro-mining message.

Kefford said Labor appeared to be attempting to address failures from last year’s federal election campaign in north and central Queensland by running messaging tailored to suit local campaigns in regional areas……….

‘Frankenstein majority’

Queensland politics has become known for its embrace of minor parties,………

“There’s a good chance of [a hung parliament], there’s no doubt,” Kefford said. “The major parties, they have to rationalise what they’re doing and be strategic about their messaging. They can’t be everything to everyone.”

October 12, 2020 Posted by | climate change - global warming, politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Net zero emissions target for Australia could launch $63bn investment boom

October 12, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Australian government’s controversial Nuclear Waste Bill delayed – not yet debated in Senate

10 Oct 20, The dump legislation didn’t make it on to the Senate floor for debate and voting …

I think the government just ran out of time, they didn’t withdraw the Bill

So over the next week Non Government Organisations,  and farmers and Traditional Owner s will be discussing how best to use the next month

October 10, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment

China’s dramatic plan for switch to renewables – a warning to Australia’s fossil-fuel economy

October 10, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Australia now the worst OECD country for climate change action

Back of the pack: Australia now the worst OECD country for climate change action, The New Daily, Cait Kelly, 7 Oct 20, Australia has become the worst-performing of all OECD countries when it comes to climate change, and will soon become a global pariah unless federal policies change fast, experts warn.It comes as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson became the first democratic leader to outline a green-centred plan for rebuilding the country and creating jobs when the coronavirus crisis ends.

One of Australia’s leading experts in climate change, Professor Will Steffen said the UK’s announcement has left Australia in the dust.

“The UK is the first country to put forward a concrete plan but other OECD counties, particularly the Nordic ones – Denmark, Norway and Sweden – already have advanced plans,” he told The New Daily. 

“We and the United States are stumbling around while most European countries are trying to get it done.”

He said depending on how the US election plays out, Australia could soon become an outlier.

We’re pretty much alone now and who knows how the US is going to go,” Professor Steffen said.   If the election changes the government, you’ll see much more action on climate change. They’ve got great wind resources. They’ve got enormous tech capability. If they get the politics right, they could change fast.

We have enormous renewable sources, but we’re being held back by politics.”

The stark warning we have fallen behind the pack comes as new analysis from WWF reveals that in terms of committing to stimulus spending on renewables, Australia lags even further behind.

We are currently spending five times less than the conservative UK government and 10 times less than South Korea – a major trading partner……….

The government has focused Australia’s economic recovery from COVID-19 on fossil fuels, namely gas. …….

October 8, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Morrison government again fails on climate ation, snubs renewable energy

Professor, School of Economics, The University of Queensland  When it comes to action on climate change, Tuesday’s federal budget delivered by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was a real – though not unexpected – disappointment which favoured polluting technologies over a clean energy future.It included money to upgrade a coal-fired power station in New South Wales, and confirmed A$50 million previously announced to develop carbon capture and storage. The government will also spend A$52.9 million expanding Australia’s gas industry.

But investment in renewable energy was largely shunned. Notably, the government allocated just A$5 million for electric vehicles. It confirmed funding for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) for another decade, but the money is far less than what’s needed.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen the Morrison government abandon long-held dogma on debt and deficits. However, the federal budget shows when it comes to climate and energy, the government is singing from the same old songbook.

A techno-fix

The budget doubled down on the Morrison government’s rhetoric of “technology, not taxes”, by choosing preferred technologies for investment.

This “picking winners” approach would have some chance of addressing climate change if it were based on a comprehensive analysis of the best path to zero emissions. But instead, the government has largely made offerings at the altars of technologies worshipped by the conservative side of politics.

The government will spend an as-yet undisclosed sum, possibly A$11 million, to refurbish the Vales Point coal-fired power station. The commitment to this coal infrastructure, co-owned by prominent Liberal party donor Trevor St Baker, is a disgraceful misuse of public money. It will also do little to halt the steady decline of coal-fired power generation.

As previously announced, the government will spend A$52.9 million to support the gas industry, which Frydenberg says will lower prices and support more manufacturing jobs. It includes money for gas infrastructure planning and to open up five gas basins, starting with Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory.

The budget confirms A$50 million for carbon capture and storage (CCS) to fund projects to cut emissions from industry. But proving the viability of large-scale CCS projects is extremely difficult, as experience in the United States and Canada has shown. In this context, allocating just A$50 million to get the technology off the ground is simply laughable.

History suggests the spending offers little return on investment. Research by the Australia Institute in 2017 revealed federal governments have spent A$1.3 billion in taxpayers’ money on CCS projects, with very little to show for it.

Renewables snubbed

Meanwhile, last night’s budget largely shunned investment in renewable energy.

The budget confirmed A$1.4 billion in ARENA funding for a further ten years, including a pretty paltry A$223.9 million over the next four years. Separately, the government will also seek to pass legislation to change ARENA’s investment mandate, enabling it to fund gas and carbon capture projects.

The government has allocated a tiny A$5 million towards electric vehicle development, including money towards a manufacturing facility in South Australia. It’s good to see electric vehicles on the government’s radar. But the commitment is dwarfed by investment overseas, including a reported US$300 billion set aside by global car makers over the next decade to bring electric vehicles to mass production.

The measly spending on clean energy technology does not make economic sense. The renewable energy sector is standing by to slash emissions and deliver lower energy prices – if only the right policy environment existed.

The budget was also an opportunity for the government to ditch its irrational opposition to carbon pricing. Recent research has comprehensively shown carbon pricing slows growth in greenhouse gas emissions.

Vehement carbon pricing critics, such as conservatives Tony Abbott, Craig Kelly and Barnaby Joyce, are now either discredited or out of parliament altogether. And scores of countries around the world have implemented some form of price on carbon.

A global outlier

Most obviously, the budget was an opportunity to commit to net-zero emissions by 2050, as many developed countries have done.

The Morrison government has already used dodgy accounting tricks to meet Australia’s Paris Agreement commitment – reducing emissions by 26% on 2005 levels. The absence of a net-zero target suggests the government intends to allow emissions to grow indefinitely after 2030.

This approach is out of step with many of Australia’s international peers. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, now the clear favourite to win the US election in November, is campaigning on what has been described as “the most aggressive climate platform” ever put forward by a presidential nominee.

October 8, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Labor likely to amend the Nuclear Waste Bill, removing certainty about the Napandee dump happening

October 6, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment

Divisions in Labor, over nuclear waste dump plan

Federal Labor divided over plans to block SA’s nuclear waste dump facility, The Age, By Rob Harris, October 5, 2020 — A 40-year effort to establish a nuclear waste dump in remote South Australia faces a rocky passage through Federal Parliament after Labor signalled it is prepared to block the Morrison government’s attempts to resolve the long-running debate.

The decision, rubber-stamped by the federal caucus in lengthy debate on Monday, has sparked further divisions within the opposition, with veteran senators Alex Gallacher and Kim Carr expressing fierce criticism of their party’s position.

There are also concerns within federal Labor that its stance could unwittingly hand Prime Minister Scott Morrison a double-dissolution trigger should the crossbench sink the laws.

The government intends to introduce legislation to finally establish a low- and medium-level nuclear waste facility at Napandee, a farm on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, having spent seven years and more than $60 million finding a suitable home……..

Labor will seek to amend the laws so that the minister responsible, Resources Minister Keith Pitt, can use existing powers to nominate any site under the current legislation. Labor says the changes would still give the local community access to a significant community fund on offer and would ensure the decision be subject to a judicial review.

Seven Labor MPs spoke up in the debate over the legislation, which lasted for more than an hour………

Opposition science spokesman Brendan O’Connor said federal Labor supported the need for a national facility to store radioactive waste.

This government has had existing powers under the current legislation for the past seven years to determine a site, but under the guise of compensation has sought to remove proper scrutiny, through this proposed legislation,” he said.

“This is a contentious issue and should be subject to the highest levels of scrutiny to ensure that the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice have been applied given the national significance of this matter.”……..

A Senate committee last month recommended the legislation be supported but three members – the Greens’ Sarah Hanson-Young, Independent senator Rex Patrick and Labor senator Jenny McAllister – issued dissenting reports.

Senator McAllister said the proposed facility had not received the support of the relevant traditional owners in South Australia.

October 6, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment