Australian news, and some related international items


Paparc, 19 Feb 19 

Just how bad does Adani need this mine?

Bad enough that leaked information has shown Adani and their lawyers will go after individual people, and attempt to use our legal system on our own government in an effort to bankrupt, jail and silence anyone stopping theirr mine.

“Lawyers for mining firm Adani proposed waging “war” on opponents of its controversial Queensland mine by using the legal system to pressure government, silence critics and financially cripple activists, according to documents obtained by the ABC.”

Adani are under investigation for tax evasion, and fraud (1), and have found themselves between a rock and a hard place with the massive mobilisation against the Carmichael mine in Australia putting the brakes on their cash cow.

Adani have a reputation for exploiting and destroying local communities and environments for profit, like the coal mine in Parsa, that drained the entire village of water (2).

—-> .1 ADANI CORRUPTION INVESTIGATION:…/adani-companies-facing…/8140100…

—-> .2 PARSA DRAINED OF WATER:…/in-chhattishgarh-adanis-coal-mine-leav…

—-> MAIN STORY:…/adani-law-firm-put-fo…/10821470…


February 19, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, legal, politics | Leave a comment

Law firm AJ and Co to wage war for Adani coal company – as an “attack dog”

Adani’s new law firm put forward ‘trained attack dog’ strategy for waging legal ‘war’    BY JOSH ROBERTSON  Lawyers for mining firm Adani proposed waging “war” on opponents of its controversial Queensland mine by using the legal system to pressure government, silence critics and financially cripple activists, according to documents obtained by the ABC.

Key points:

  • Law firm AJ & Co promised to be Adani’s “trained attack dog”
  • The firm launched bankruptcy proceedings against an Indigenous mine opponent
  • Head of commercial litigation Alex Moriarty quit after a falling out over strategy

The draft copy of Adani’s new law firm’s aggressive strategy to bring the Carmichael mine to life is labelled “Taking the Gloves Off” and outlines a commercial proposal by AJ & Co to win a multi-million-dollar legal contract with the Indian mining giant.

In the document, the Brisbane firm promised to be Adani’s “trained attack dog”.

The strategy recommended bankrupting individuals who unsuccessfully challenge Adani in court, using lawsuits to pressure the Queensland Government and social media “bias” as a tool to discredit decisionmakers.

In a section called “Play the Man”, it recommended “where activists and commentators spread untruths, use the legal system to silence them”.

It also urged Adani to hire private investigators to target activists and work “with police and a criminal lawyer to ensure appropriate police action is taken against protesters”.

“Like a well-trained police dog, our litigations know when to sit and shake, and when it is time to bite,” the law firm promised. “To achieve its commercial goal, Adani needs to accept it is involved in a war.”

The AJ & Co plan pledged to “assess each battle as part of the overall war” and to “know when to negotiate and known when all out attack is required”.

An Adani spokeswoman said “we won’t apologise for pursuing our legal rights”.

“Like many organisations, we have a panel of law firms that service our business on a wide range of matters to ensure we are complying with Australia’s legal and regulatory frameworks,” the Adani spokeswoman said.

“We will not comment in detail on the legal firms we use, their marketing material and any matters where they may represent us or advice we may receive.”

Lawyer quit firm over strategy

The ABC can reveal AJ & Co’s former head of commercial litigation, Alex Moriarty, quit after an internal falling out over strategy in the wake of the proposal.

Mr Moriarty — who did not leak the planning document and now runs his own legal firm — also alleged he was assaulted by a colleague who confronted him over dealings with Adani, a complaint that Queensland police were investigating.

The ABC understands the alleged incident did not involve physical contact.

Mr Moriarty said he disavowed the “aggressive commentary” at the heart of the proposal, and that he believed it “tends to bring the legal profession into disrepute”.

“Such comments tend to damage the professional independence and integrity of the legal profession as a whole.”

The AJ & Co proposal suggested Adani “not settle for government departments dragging out decisions — use the legal system to pressure decisionmakers”.

It also argued that “social media is a tool to use against activists and decisionmakers”.

“Look for evidence of bias and use it to show the court system is being used for political activism,” the law firm wrote.

Since it was engaged by Adani, AJ & Co has pushed to bankrupt a cash-strapped Indigenous opponent of the mine, threatened legal action against a community legal service and an environmental group, and applied to access an ABC journalist’s expenses and documents.

Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad told the ABC she believed it was “clear that their strategy has been activated … and we should be concerned”.

“We’ve seen the attacks on government — they clearly don’t like the role that the independent regulator [the Department of Environment and Science] is performing in terms of using science to make recommendations around final approval,” she said.

“I mean, seriously, what’s Adani going to do next? Are they going to start pressuring the CSIRO around the ground water management plan?

“And quite frankly, I am quite alarmed by some of the language used in the report like pursuing individuals so that they become bankrupt.

“I, like most Australians, don’t want to see us go down an Americanisation path of heavy litigation and corporate attack.”

Murrawah Johnson from the anti-Adani faction of the mine site’s traditional owners, the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J), told the ABC that in recent months “Adani’s strategy has definitely changed — it’s become more aggressive”.

On Adani’s behalf in December, AJ & Co launched bankruptcy proceedings against vocal W&J opponent Adrian Burragubba over unpaid legal costs.

“My uncle Adrian has been public enemy number one for Adani,” Ms Johnson said.

“Going after him, I think, has been their plan all along — to essentially stamp out our resistance to the coal mine going ahead on our country.”

A day after the ABC revealed Adani was under investigation for alleged unlawful site works, AJ & Co wrote to Queensland’s Environmental Defenders Office (EDO).

EDO chief executive Jo Bragg, who commented in the ABC story, said the letter was “clearly designed to intimidate us”, although she declined to elaborate.

“It appears Adani has built an entire, well-funded strategy around hiring lawyers to bully community groups into silence,” she said.

AJ & Co later applied under federal Freedom of Information laws to access ABC journalist Mark Willacy’s expenses, and documents relating to the story.

In November, AJ & Co demanded environmental campaigners Market Forces abandon a trip to South Korea with W&J opponents to lobby banks not to invest in Adani.

Market Forces executive director Julien Vincent said the law firm accused the campaigners of injurious falsehood, unlawful conspiracy to cause economic loss to Adani and threatened legal action.

“It was pretty aggressive,” Mr Vincent said.

“It came across with a tone that had little substance to back up the allegations it made, and was quite threatening in the steps that would be taken if we didn’t comply with everything they wanted.”

A barrister for Market Forces told AJ & Co its allegations were “doomed to fail” and no more was heard from the firm.

Mr Vincent said Adani’s mine was “a massive public issue … and it is entirely reasonable for people to speak up and voice their concerns”.

An AJ & Co spokesman said “we don’t discuss matters which may relate to clients”.

February 19, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, climate change - global warming, legal, politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Legal advice: Government cannot fund new coal plants without parliamentary approval

Government cannot fund new coal plants without parliamentary approval, advice says
New legal advice sought by the Australia Institute contradicts what government has been telling stakeholders,
Guardian, Katharine Murphy Political editor @murpharoo, 17 Feb 19 
A new legal opinion suggests the Morrison government will not have the ability to roll out taxpayer support to its controversial plan to underwrite new coal plants unless it enacts supporting legislation or amends existing legislation.The advice, sought by the progressive thinktank the Australia Institute, argues assistance for new generation projects will require “some form of supporting legislation”, either new or existing, to operate and fund the program, otherwise the arrangements would be open to a high court challenge.

Federal parliament resumes on Monday for one of the last sitting periods before the May election, and the Morrison government has already pulled its much-vaunted “big stick” energy legislation because of concerns it would have to cop an amendment from the Greens and Labor, preventing the government from funding new coal projects…….

February 17, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s Minister for Coal, Melissa Price, – but supposed to be Minister for Environment

The invisible minister’: Melissa Price accused of going missing on the environment, Guardian, Lisa Cox, 16 Feb 2019

The criticism comes during a summer of disasters, including the mass fish kill, Townsville floods and fires in Tasmania

She is being called the “invisible minister”, the cabinet member responsible for the environment who is accused of “disinterest” during Australia’s summer of natural disasters and record-breaking heatwaves.

Melissa Price has been criticised by three of the country’s biggest environment groups who say they have been unable to meet with her since her appointment last year. A fourth is accusing her office of being in breach of its responsibilities on threatened species.

The criticism comes during a summer that has brought numerous environmental catastrophes, including the mass fish kill in Menindee in far-west New South Wales, fires in Tasmania’s world heritage area, a record-breaking January heatwave, and floods in Townsville that Queensland’s premier Annastacia Palaszczuk described as unprecedented.

While the prime minister Scott Morrison and other senior members of the government including Michael McCormack and David Littleproud have made public appearances in towns affected by the disasters, Price has been absent…….

The government’s key independent committee for the assessment of threatened species, the threatened species scientific committee, also currently has five vacancies including its chair. ……

February 17, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Northern Territory passes law on nuclear wastes, reiterates opposition to NT nuclear waste dump

NT moves to clarify offshore oil, gas industry’s nuclear waste obligations

15th February 2019 BY: ESMARIE IANNUCCI  CREAMER MEDIA SENIOR DEPUTY EDITOR: AUSTRALASIA PERTH  – The Northern Territory has passed the Nuclear Waste Transport Storage and Disposal (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, providing the offshore oil and gas industry with a blueprint of their obligations around the management of nuclear waste.

The nuclear waste covered by the Bill included naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORMs) that could be incidentally generated from offshore oil and gas activities and subsequently brought into the Northern Territory, Environment and Natural Resources Minister Eva Lawler said.

“The Bill demonstrates the Northern Territory government’s commitment to protecting the Territory’s environment, while listening to and responding to concerns raised by the offshore oil and gas industry about the ambiguities in the regulatory environment.

“The Amendment Bill addresses ambiguities in exemptions for nuclear waste, including NORMs that may be created as a by-product of industry activities.”

NORMs are widespread in sands, clay, soils and rocks and many ores and minerals, commodities, products and by-products.

Lawler said that the amendments to this Bill became necessary after uncertainties were raised by industry about whether NORMs were exempt from the Act. The Amendment Bill reframes the exemptions while maintaining the Parliament’s original intention when passing the original Act.

She noted that the Northern Territory maintains a strong environmental stance against nuclear waste being dumped in the Territory, and from becoming a nuclear waste dump for the rest of Australia.

“Jobs are the number one priority for the Territory Labor government and we believe that good environmental policy makes good economic sense,” Lawler added.

February 16, 2019 Posted by | legal, Northern Territory, politics | Leave a comment

Matt Canavan hijacks native title fight on Adani

“The system, the native title system,” Tony McAvoy, SC, Australia’s first Indigenous silk said, “coerces Aboriginal people into an agreement. It’s going to happen anyway. If we don’t agree, the native title tribunal will let it go through, and we will lose our land and won’t be compensated either. That’s the position we’re in.”
They can either agree to an ILUA, in which case the mine goes ahead and they get something out of it, or they can refuse, in which case the mine almost certainly goes ahead anyway, and they get nothing.
The mining company and its political backers engaged in a process of “manufacturing consent by exploiting dissent”.
The appeal is expected to be heard in May. The docket should read “David v Goliath”, given the relative resources of the parties involved. On one side the multibillion-dollar mining conglomerate, backed by the federal government and aided by a legislative regime skewed in its favour, and on the other, a relative handful of impecunious Indigenous custodians.

It’s a big case, not only for the W&J people, but for an entire, overheating planet.

The Saturday Paper  Mike Seccombe , 15 Feb 19, 
Just before 1pm on Tuesday, most media attention in Parliament House was focused on the government’s historic embarrassment on medical evacuations of asylum seekers. So, relatively few were there to witness another embarrassment, in the senate courtyard.
Resources Minister Matt Canavan, chief government advocate for the coal industry in general and the Adani Carmichael mine in particular, had called a media conference with representatives of the Wangan and Jagalingou people, traditional custodians of the land Adani wants to mine.

Its purpose was to promulgate the line that the traditional custodians overwhelmingly support the giant coalmine. To that end, Canavan, along with his National Party colleagues Michelle Landry and George Christensen, had invited a member of the W&J people to spruik the benefits of the mine. Continue reading

February 16, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Global events, as well as Australian politics, may spell doom for Australia’s coal industry

Australia’s coal future under threat as more changes hit fossil fuels globally, ABC 

Key points:

  • Germany wants to exit coal power by 2038, which could have implications for Australian coal producers
  • Renewables last year overtook coal as the key source of energy in the European nation
  • Environmental groups are pushing candidates to outline their position on climate change ahead of the upcoming federal election

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed the country would exit coal power by 2038.

In New South Wales, a court knocked back an application for a new coal mine on the grounds it would increase greenhouse gas emissions at a time when they need to be cut.

Neither will immediately derail the freight train that made Australia $66 billion in export earnings last year, overtaking iron ore as our most valuable traded commodity, but both decisions are a snapshot of large and incremental changes in policy and legislation that are hitting the coal sector.

“We want to be out of coal in 2038,” Chancellor Merkel told students in Tokyo last week, after a government-appointed commission released its 20-year plan to completely shut the coal-fired power plants that currently provide almost half the country’s electricity……….

Politics may dictate a shift

Australia is months away from a federal election where senior Liberal Party figures — including Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and former prime minister Tony Abbott — are being threatened by independents who support a rapid shift away from greenhouse-gas-producing fossil fuels like coal.

Even people who cannot vote, but feel passionately about the impact of climate change, are entering the debate.

School student Maiysha Moin helped found “Climate Voices” to amplify the concerns that prompted a strike by thousands of students last year.

“We want the voices of young people to be heard,” she said.

“Right now we see a lot of politicians don’t represent our vision for the future, especially on climate change, and what we want to do is endorse leaders and candidates who will represent what we believe in and our values.”

The new group is vetting the climate change credentials of potential candidates, giving them stamps of approval and offering campaign support in key marginal seats.

“What we need right now is visionary leadership,” she said.

“We need our politicians to be brave, step up, take action and listen to what the people have to say instead of standing around and hoping that climate change is going to go away — that’s not going to happen.”

February 16, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Adani ramps up propaganda war, intimidation of activists

Green Left , Margaret Gleeson, February 8, 2019
“Adani is continuing to run advertisements and opinion pieces in newspapers, along with paying for huge billboards in Brisbane, all talking up the supposed jobs that the proposed mine will create. …
Adani is also facing a legal challenge in the Federal Court by the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council (W&J TO), which is due to be heard in May. …
The Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) criticised Adani’s latest management plan covering the black-throated finch on January 22. …
The nationwide movement against Adani is gearing up for a busy few months. A national mobilisation is being organised to coincide with the first sitting day of federal parliament in Canberra on February 12. …
The Stand Up 2 Aurizon group is planning an action directed at the rail and port aspects of the project in Bowen from February 23 to March 3.
The next major national mobilisation will be the School Strike 4 Climate on March 15. …
Grey Power Climate Protectors, among others, will be targeting the seats of Melbourne and Brisbane for 50 days leading up to the federal elections. In NSW, anti-coal activists are targeting a number of marginal seats in the lead-up to the March state election. … “

February 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

New South Wales Labor announces plan for 500,000 households to get rooftop solar

Labor announces plan for 500,000 households to get rooftop solar,, By Laura Chung,February 9, 2019 NSW Labor has announced it will support a program to help 500,000 households to install rooftop solar, reducing electricity bills in the next 10 years.

Under Labor’s Solar Homes policy, owner-occupied households in NSW with a combined income of $180,000 or less would be eligible for a rebate, to be capped at $2200 per household.

Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Adam Searle, said the policy could add solar to an additional million homes over the next decade, and could save the average household anywhere between $600 and $1000 a year on electricity bills.

“This is a bold program to push NSW to the front of the energy revolution,” he said. “This will significantly cut electricity bills and carbon emissions.”

“We will have much more to say about energy and tackling climate change.”

The program would be phased in during the 2019-2020 financial year. The policy announcement comes ahead of the launch of Labor’s campaign bus, which will travel around the state from Sunday.

The Smart Energy Council said Labor’s policy addressed two of NSW residents’ main concerns: the cost of living and climate change.

It shows “a strong commitment towards climate change” and is a “sign of confidence in renewable energy, a critical part of NSW’s future,” a spokesman said.

The council said it would like to see a stronger commitment from both the NSW Government and the Opposition to supporting families’ purchases of household solar batteries, which would provide people “with a greater sense of control of power and how they use power.”

In a statement, deputy leader of NSW Liberals Dominic Perrottet said Labor “cannot be trusted” to deliver more affordable, reliable and clean energy, “with a history of energy cost blowouts and blunders”.

The NSW Coalition government “is getting on with the job of taking pressure off electricity prices, while maintaining energy security,” Mr Perrottet said.

February 10, 2019 Posted by | New South Wales, politics, solar | Leave a comment

Morrison government not recognising the climate impacts already hitting Australia

Governments not keeping pace with climate change impacts: scientist, Brisbane Times, By Tony Moore, February 5, 2019 — One of Australia’s leading scientists has warned the Queensland and federal governments that they are not keeping pace with the impacts of climate change.

Queensland’s recent extreme weather – bushfires, heatwaves, coral bleaching, drought, Cyclone Penny, Townsville’s floods – showed the state was clearly experiencing climate change, Professor Ian Lowe said.

“What I think is a reason for concern is that the science in the 1980s was saying that – if the [1980] climate models were right – by about 2030 there would be observable changes in climate that would be impossible to ignore,” Professor Lowe said.

“Now I think you could say that, if anything, the science of the time was being unreasonably cautious,” he said.

I think you would have to be in deep denial not to accept that there are unmistakeable signs of climate change.”

Professor Lowe is a member of the Queensland government’s senior climate change body, the Queensland Climate Advisory Council.

It is chaired by Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch, while Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, Natural Resources and Mines Minister Anthony Lynham and Queensland’s chief scientist are members. It has met only three times since 2017.

……. Professor Lowe listed coral bleaching, Townsville’s flooding, the Australia-wide heatwaves in January 2019, the unseasonal Queensland bushfires from October to December and the recent fires in Tasmania as examples of extreme weather, triggered by the changing climate.

Professor Lowe said the Queensland government was not “keeping pace” with measures to adapt to a changing climate, despite a string of reports since 2015.

“As I said before, there isn’t yet the sense of urgency that there should be, either in adaptation, or in mitigation,” he said.

He said the federal government was “in complete denial” over the impacts of climate change.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in Townsville on Tuesday, declined to say whether the torrential rain, described as a one-in-100-year event, was a demonstration of climate change…….

February 7, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Keeping South Australia nuclear-dump-free – a priority for Candace Champion, Greens candidate for Grey electorate

Greens announce new candidate for Grey electorate, Transcontinental, Amy Green 6 Feb 19 Port Augusta woman Candace Champion has joined the race for the seat of Grey at the next federal election.

Running as a candidate for The Greens, Candace is described as a passionate and driven young Aboriginal woman who can bring diversity to Australian parliament.

The 32-year-old expectant mother was born in Port Augusta and grew up with a large extended family.

Brought up in a close-knit family, Candace has many fond memories of her childhood growing up on the Eyre Peninsula – especially participating in local sports. ……

While her family has been a large source of inspiration throughout her life, her faith is also something that has had a big influence on who she is today.

Candace’s father was a minister and later on her mother followed suit.

“The church is and has always been a second home for me. Friday night Youth Group and Sunday Church hold special memories,” she said.

She is now an active member of the Uniting Church in Australia and the Uniting Aboriginal and Islanders Christian Congress.

Candace said she was inspired to run for government after witnessing the many issues her family, friends, country, communities and church continue to face. ……

She is deeply committed to child safety and keeping families together, a treaty with First Australians, and the protection of Australia’s beautiful country and waters.

“By running for the seat of Grey I hope to achieve real advocacy, I will advocate for equality, justice and change. I hope to create positive change in all areas of government and society,” Candace said……

Candace is also passionate about cleaning up politics – where corporate donations should be banned and making SA a no nuclear waste dump. ……

February 7, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Bill Shorten’s climate change policy isn’t ‘ambitious enough’ – Zali Steggall

Zali Steggall says Labor needs to commit to stopping Adani coalmine, Guardian Katharine Murphy Political editor @murpharoo,  6 Feb 2019
Independent challenging Tony Abbott says Shorten’s climate change policy isn’t ‘ambitious enough’ The high-profile independent taking on Tony Abbott in Warringah at the coming federal election says Labor’s climate change policy needs to be more ambitious and include an explicit commitment to block the Adani coalmine.In an interview with Guardian Australia’s political podcast, Zali Steggall said the current policy outlined by Bill Shorten was on the right track, but she challenged the opposition to go further.  “I don’t think it’s ambitious enough.”

Steggall said Labor, given the potential for a change of government later in the year, needed to include a commitment to block the controversial Queensland coal project. “Our financial institutions aren’t prepared to lend or invest in coal projects, why should the Australia people’s money be invested?”

She said Labor, if it wins this year’s federal contest, needed to use whatever regulatory powers it had available to it to stop the project. “We need an orderly retirement of coal, I don’t think we should be entering new projects,” Steggall said.

“The attention should be with renewables, technology, clean transport, clean energy – not projects like Adani.”

Steggall, a barrister, and former Olympic ski champion, is one of a group of small l liberal independents taking on government frontbenchersin the federal election contest expected in May, and has put Abbott and the Coalition’s record on climate change front and centre of her campaign in the Sydney seat.

The environment movement, and activist groups like GetUp, also want Labor to strengthen its position on the Adani project, an idea Shorten countenanced seriously last year, before stepping back.

Private polling conducted for the environment movement and for the major parties suggests community concern about climate change is currently sitting at levels not seen since the federal election cycle in 2007…….

February 7, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Australian Labor Party’s policy platform – on nuclear waste, and opposition to nuclear industry development

From Robyn Wood, 4 Feb 19– The ALP policy platform has just been published.

Uranium mining is on page 69
I don’t know how they will achieve this
149  Foster a constructive relationship between mining companies and Indigenous communities affected by uranium mining
 Radioactive waste is on p 71
  154. 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;  
 Remain strongly opposed to the importation and storage of nuclear waste that is sourced from overseas in Australia.
155. 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 
Chapter 4 starts on page 74: Tackling climate change, securing our energy future & addressing our environmental challenges   

February 4, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Former fire chief lashes out at government inaction over climate change

‘Astounded’: former fire chief unloads on politicians over climate change inaction, The Age, By Nicole Hasham, 4 February 2019,  Decorated Australian firefighter Greg Mullins says climate change is contributing to bushfires so horrendous that homes and lives cannot be protected, and the federal government will not acknowledge the link because it has failed on emissions reduction policy.

The extraordinary comments by Mr Mullins, a former NSW Fire and Rescue Commissioner, coincides with the Tuesday launch of the group Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action, which will lobby the major parties to drastically reduce fossil fuel use and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten both visited Tasmania on Monday, where catastrophic bushfires had reportedly destroyed eight homes and burnt 190,000 hectares of land as of Monday afternoon. Their visit came on the 10th anniversary of the Victorian Black Saturday bushfires.

The major parties’ pledges on climate change are expected to be a frontline issue at the upcoming federal election, as the public reels from record-high summer temperatures, extreme weather and a long, unforgiving bushfire season.

Fires are a natural phenomenon in the Australian bush, but experts say climate change effects such as heatwaves and changed rainfall patterns mean bushfires are becoming more frequent and extreme.

Mr Mullins said fire seasons “are longer, more severe, and we are getting fires that are much harder to put out”.

“What that means … is there is simply not enough firefighters and fire trucks to do the job, to protect every structure and protect people’s lives,” he said.

“It’s extremely inconvenient for any government that does not have a cogent answer for what they’ll do about climate change, to see the effects of climate change putting more and more people and homes at risk.”

Mr Mullins has 50 years of fire fighting experience, including 39 years with Fire and Rescue NSW and as a volunteer in his youth and in retirement. He has been awarded the prestigious Australian Fire Service Medal and is an officer of the Order of Australia. He is a member of the Climate Council and welcomed the formation of Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action.

Mr Mullins sought to raise the climate change alarm in public comments in 2006 following fires in the Blue Mountains, but says the then-NSW Labor government told him to “pull your head in”.

“They didn’t want public servants coming out saying [the climate change driver] was pretty obvious to us,” he said.

“I feel quite passionately that the word needs to get out about how much the bushfire threat has worsened. I’ve watched it change, and I’ve watched our politicians sit on their hands, from both major parties. I don’t think either of them really have answers or are doing enough.”

NSW Labor has been contacted for comment.

Mr Mullins said he was “astounded” that Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday addressed the media at Huonville in Tasmania, the epicentre of the state’s bushfire crisis, but did not mention addressing climate change.

……….A Labor government would reduce carbon emissions by 45 per cent by 2030, based on 2005 levels. The government has pledged to reduce emissions by 26 per cent over the same period, however, the OECD says Australia will miss that target under current policy settings.

GetUp! and the Climate Media Centre are supporting the Bushfire Survivors for Climate Actiongroup.

Black Saturday survivor Ali Griffin lost her home near Yarra Glen during the tragedy, and said: “I don’t want this to happen to anyone else”.

“We know the threat of devastating bushfires is getting worse every year we keep burning coal and heating our planet,” she said.

“Enough is enough, we are sick of the lack of progress on this issue – any politician without a serious plan to tackle climate damage is not fit to hold office.”

February 4, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Murray-Darling report shows public authorities must take climate change risk seriously

The Conversation, Arjuna Dibley, Graduate Fellow, Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, Stanford University, February 4, 2019  The tragic recent events on the Darling River, and the political and policy furore around them, have again highlighted the severe financial and environmental consequences of mismanaging climate risks. The Murray-Darling Royal Commission demonstrates how closely boards of public sector corporate bodies can be scrutinised for their management of these risks.

Public authorities must follow private companies and factor climate risk into their board decision-making. Royal Commissioner Brett Walker has delivered a damning indictment of the Murray Darling Basin Authority’s management of climate-related risks. His report argues that the authority’s senior management and board were “negligent” and fell short of acting with “reasonable care, skill and diligence”. For its part, the authority “rejects the assertion” that it “acted improperly or unlawfully in any way”.

The Royal Commission has also drawn attention to the potentially significant legal and reputational consequences for directors and organisations whose climate risk management is deemed to have fallen short of a rising bar.

It’s the public sector’s turn

Until recently, scrutiny of how effectively large and influential organisations are responding to climate risks has focused mostly on the private sector.

In Australia it is widely acknowledged among legal experts that private company directors’ duty of “due care and diligence” requires them to consider foreseeable climate risks that intersect with the interests of the company. Indeed, Australia’s companies regulator, ASIC, has called for directors to take a “probative and proactive” approach to these risks.

The recent focus on management of the Murray-Darling Basin again highlights the crucial role public sector corporations (or “public authorities” as we call them) also play in our overall responses to climate change – and the consequences when things go wrong……….

February 4, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment