Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

In India, Customs Department accuses Adani of fraud, as Adani bids forAustralian coal loan

If true, one effect of the alleged scheme would have been to move vast sums of money from the Adani Group’s domestic accounts into offshore bank accounts where it could no longer be taxed or accounted for.

Adani mining giant faces financial fraud claims as it bids for Australian coal loan, Exclusive: Allegations by Indian customs of huge sums being siphoned off to tax havens from projects are contained in legal documents but denied by company, Guardian, Michael Safi in Delhi, 16 Aug 17, A global mining giant seeking public funds to develop one of the world’s largest coal mines in Australia has been accused of fraudulently siphoning hundreds of millions of dollars of borrowed money into overseas tax havens.

Indian conglomerate the Adani Group is expecting a legal decision in the “near future” in connection with allegations it inflated invoices for an electricity project in India to shift huge sums of money into offshore bank accounts.

The directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI) file, compiled in 2014, maps out a complex money trail from India through South Korea and Dubai, and eventually to an offshore company in Mauritius allegedly controlled by Vinod Shantilal Adani, the older brother of the billionaire Adani Group chief executive, Gautam Adani.

Vinod Adani is the director of four companies proposing to build a railway line and expand a coal port attached to Queensland’s vast Carmichael mine project.

The proposed mine, which would be Australia’s largest, has been the source of years of intense controversy, legal challenges and protests over its possible environmental impact.

Expanding the coal port to accommodate the mine will require dredging an estimated 1.1m cubic metres of spoil near the Great Barrier Reef marine park. Coal from the mine will also produce annual emissions equivalent to those of Malaysia or Austria according to one study.

One of the few remaining hurdles for the Adani Group is to raise finance to build the mine as well as a railway line to transport coal from the site to a port at Abbot Point on the Queensland coast.

To finance the railway Adani hopes to persuade the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (Naif), an Australian government-backed investment fund, to loan the Adani Group or a related entity about US$700m (A$900m) in public money.

While it awaits the decision on the loan, in Delhi the company is also expecting the judgment of a legal authority appointed under Indian financial crime laws in connection to allegations it siphoned borrowed money overseas.

The Adani Group fully denies the accusations, which it has challenged in submissions to the authority.

The investigation

News of the investigation was first reported in India three years ago, but the full customs intelligence document reveals forensic details of the workings of the alleged fraud which have not been publicly revealed.

The 97-page file accuses the Adani Group of ordering hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of equipment for an electricity project in western India’s Maharashtra state using a front company in Dubai.

To read the pdf click here. Continue reading

August 16, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

A Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility funded Adani rail link could create a $billion ghost train

Government loan to Adani will create ‘billion-dollar ghost train’, Senate told https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/11/government-loan-to-adani-will-create-billion-dollar-ghost-train-senate-told

Public governance specialist raises concerns over the way the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility is conducting itself, Guardian, Michael Slezak, 11 Aug 17, If the federal government funds a rail link to Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine, it will become known as the “government-funded billion-dollar ghost train”, an expert in public governance has told the Senate.

Thomas Clark, a professor at the University of Technology Sydney, who has decades of experience in public and corporate governance, appeared before a Senate inquiry into the operation and governance of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (Naif), which is considering a $900m loan to Adani’s rail link.

He said the way Naif was conducting itself neglected years of reforms in public finance, and risked returning Australia to an era “when the public sector was discredited”.

Clark criticised Naif’s lack of transparency, pointing to its lack of disclosure of conflicts of interests and refusal to disclose whether or not Adani had applied for funding.

The former minister for resources Matthew Canavan has acknowledged that Naif is considering a loan application by Adani for the railway, and an Adani spokesman confirmed that the company had sought a loan.

 Clark said the fact the Naif board was considering the loan for the rail link showed it was was not conducting itself properly. He said it would not benefit the larger community, would harm other coalmines and industries, and threaten the Great Barrier Reef.

“The worry is that the Naif’s structure and processes, and the way the board has been selected and so on has neglected all of that reform and thrown us back to an era of long ago when the public sector was quite discredited.”

He said the corporate history of Adani – which has been implicated in several environmental disasters and governance questions – would make the company ineligible for government funding.

“The serious concern is that if this rail project goes ahead and is funded, it will not only prove a financial and energy disaster, it will also announce to the world the poor standards and poor public governance that allowed this disaster to occur and utilised tax payer money to fund it,” Clark said.

“This will not enhance the reputation of Australia internationally for sound governance and probity in public finance.

“Undoubtedly if Naif funds this Carmichael project, it will become renowned as the government-funded billion-dollar ghost train – a useless waste of taxpayer money to enrich a company based in the Cayman Islands, which the Australian public will not forget or forgive.”

The Senate hearing continues on Friday, and will include an appearance by Naif officials.

August 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Energy executives tell Turnbull they aren’t interested in prolonging life of coal plants

Executives also tell prime minister that policy uncertainty is contributing to rise in power prices, Katherine Murphy, Guardian, 9 Aug 17 Senior energy executives have taken the opportunity of a face-to-face meeting with Malcolm Turnbull to argue policy certainty is required to help lower power prices for consumers – and to signal they are not interested in prolonging the life of coal plants……..

Government backbenchers report being under huge pressure from their constituents over soaring power bills but internal divisions have prevented the Turnbull government, thus far, from resolving whether it wants to adopt the Finkel recommendation of a new clean energy target.

The message the executives delivered to the top echelons of the government was the country needed policy action that would lower or stabilise wholesale electricity prices, not just a focus on retail prices.

  Executives told the prime minister, the energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, the treasurer, Scott Morrison, and the deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, that they were interested in running businesses that were intent on reducing their climate risk, so they weren’t interested in maintaining the lifespan of existing coal-fired plants, like Liddell in New South Wales………

After the talks, the prime minister was asked whether he would deliver a full response to the Finkel review by the end of the year.

Turnbull hedged, saying the government was waiting on additional information from the Australian Energy Market Operator about the amount of dispatchable power required to stabilise the grid after the departure of major coal plants which are coming to the end of their operating life.

He said the government would receive that information on 1 September…….

The government will hold another meeting with the same group of executives on 18 August to hear progress.

A report released by the Grattan Institute five months ago highlighted the problems addressed in Wednesday’s meeting.

The Grattan report pointed out that consumers struggle to find better deals to reduce their power bills because they find the market too complicated. It also argued that, if energy retailers failed to clean up their act, political pressure would increase for price regulation given the rapid escalation in energy costs.

On Tuesday night, the Greens called for price regulation by the end of 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/aug/09/energy-chiefs-tell-turnbull-they-arent-interested-in-prolonging-life-of-coal-plants

August 11, 2017 Posted by | energy, politics | Leave a comment

$1 billion loan to Adani Carmichael mine project a big loser for taxpayers?

Adani loan too much of a risk for taxpayers according to independent study, The Age, Mark Kenny, 31 July 17, 

A $1 billion concessional loan to the controversial Adani Carmichael mine project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin could expose taxpayers to a high risk of losing their money, according to an independent business analysis.

The economic assessment of the troubled project’s outlook found the collapsing coal price, the uncertain global picture for thermal coal, and the $21.7 billion project’s heavy reliance on external financing contributed to a high risk for taxpayers.

Among the problems was Adani’s hope of using the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to fund a key part of the project – a rail link to Abbot Point – while relying extensively for security on the availability of other, as yet unsecured, debt and equity financing.

The assessment was done by the business consulting firm, ACIL Allen, and commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation. The study was fully independent of both the ACF and Adani, and forms the basis of a submission from the environmental group to a Senate Economics References Committee currently examining the “Governance and Operation of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility”.

Noting that a number of unknown commercial factors made definitive third-party assessment problematic, ACIL Allen found there were multiple reasons why a public loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility appeared risky……..

ACIL Allen also highlighted a contradiction between the Infrastructure Facility’s rationale, which is to provide finance to economy enhancing infrastructure projects that are unable to secure private capital funding, while also relying on the project principals’ assurances that adequate private investment will become available for the mine to go ahead.

“It is not clear how the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility could meet the direction from government that there be an expectation of full repayment of the loan with interest, while providing support only if commercial financiers do not provide sufficient finance for the project to proceed. It seems that the expectation could not be high if sufficient private sector finance is not forthcoming.”….

ACIL Allen said amid the uncertainties, “one thing is clear” about the project. “The substantial decline of thermal coal prices since 2011 has stripped in excess of $A40 per tonne from profit (after adjusting much larger US$ price declines for depreciation of the $A). This has raised doubts about the likelihood of any significant surplus of revenue over full costs (including a reasonable risk-adjusted rate of return on investment) in medium- and long-term timeframes.”http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/adani-loan-too-much-of-a-risk-for-taxpayers-according-to-independent-study-20170731-gxmarj.html

August 2, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics | Leave a comment

Matt Canavan makes it quite clear that he WAS the Minister For Mining

Canavan comes out as “minister for mining sector,” internet gets really mad, REnewecono0my, By Sophie Vorrath on 28 July 2017 Australia’s recently resigned resources minister has unleashed a torrent of public criticism, after posting a heartfelt note of farewell to “the mining sector” on his Facebook page.

Canavan stood aside as federal minister for resources and northern Australia this week after it was revealed he held dual Australian and Italian citizenship. He has blamed his mother for the oversight, and is mounting a legal battle to remain in the Senate.

“It has been such an honour to represent the Australian mining sector over the past year,” the July 27 post begins.

“From the small, gambling explorers and prospectors to the large, world-beating multi-nationals, the industry provides rich and diverse experiences that can take you to the smallest towns of outback Australia to the biggest cities in the world.”

The note, which also touches on the current state of commodity prices and jobs, sparked instant outrage from readers, who noted Canavan was “supposed to represent the people of Queensland, and not private mining companies.”……http://reneweconomy.com.au/canavan-comes-minister-mining-sector-internet-gets-really-mad-65405/

July 30, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Labor state conference dumps Barron River branch anti-Adani motion at last minute

Chris Calcino, The Cairns PostJuly 29, 2017   AN anti-Adani motion from members of Labor’s Barron River branch has been scrapped before the party’s State Conference today.

Barron River was among three branches calling for Labor to pull support for the Carmichael coal mine whose motions were abandoned after a meeting of Labor’s agenda committee on Wednesday……http://www.cairnspost.com.au/news/cairns/labor-state-conference-dumps-barron-river-branch-antiadani-motion-at-last-minute/news-story/de67ccd746bf5af3770802f50cabfa45

July 29, 2017 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Resignation of Australia’s Minister Representing The Coal Industry – Matt Canavan

Out with “minister for Adani” – in with a minister for renewables? http://reneweconomy.com.au/minister-adani-minister-renewables-48967/#undefined.uxfs By Sophie Vorrath on 26 July 2017

An alliance of Australia’s top environmental NGOs, formed to oppose the development of what would be the nation’s largest coal mine in northern Queensland, has seized on the resignation of federal resources minister, Matt Canavan, as an opportunity for the Turnbull government to appoint an energy agnostic replacement, and to drop its support for the controversial Adani coal project.

Fat chance, but here’s the idea.

Stop Adani Townsville said on Wednesday that Canavan had acted less like a resources minister and more like “the self appointed minister for Adani” – the Indian company behind the massive proposed Carmichael coal mine and rail project in the Galilee Basin – while steadfastly ignoring the “enormous opportunities” in the state’s north for renewables.

Canavan, who quit Federal Cabinet on Tuesday after it was revealed he had “unwittingly” taken out dual Italian citizenship, is, indeed, well known for his pro-fossil fuels stance, as well as for his indifference to the Paris climate treaty, and the science behind it.

Some notable recent quotes from the minister, who also oversees the northern Australia portfolio, include “Stop trying to save the planet” – Tweeted in response to Queensland’s zero emissions target; and “forget about climate change.”

But most notably, Canavan has been a staunch defender of the virtually indefensible Adani coal mine, often using highly questionable data to support his argument, despite the weight of evidence showing it to be environmentally unviable, and loaded with financial risk.

“This unexpected turn of events is an opportunity for the Turnbull government to rule out the $1 billion public loan to Adani for its private rail line and leave the success of the mine project to the market,” said Stop Adani Townsville member Wendy Tubman on Wednesday.

Canavan has also been one of a number of key conservative ministers pushing for the development of a new coal-fired generator in northern Queensland, preferably funded by the government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund.

Meanwhile, as we reported here in May, there is some 4,200MW of large-scale wind and solar projects, all of them in central to northern Queensland, and billions of dollars worth of other projects in the pipeline, including biofuels and even a battery gigafactory in Townsville.

“Townsville and the region are sitting on a gold mine of opportunities,” Oliver Yates, the former head of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and a spokesman for Future North, told RenewEconomy at the time.

Said Tubman: “A gross error of Canavan has been to politicise the work of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, turning it into a slush fund for the Turnbull government, which appears desperate to support Gautam Adani’s private business interests.

“Poll after poll show Queenslanders want large-scale renewable energy projects not a dangerous coal mine that will fuel climate change and destroy the Reef.

“Three times as many Queenslanders oppose taxpayer subsidies from Federal or State governments to the Adani mine as support them,” she said.

July 28, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

World Vision leader scathing about Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne’s plan for Australia to export weapons

‘Profiting from bloodshed’: Tim Costello criticises Christopher Pyne weapons export plan, SMH, Amy Remeiki , 17 July 17  

World Vision Australia chief Tim Costello said Australia would be “exporting death” and “profiting from bloodshed” if it followed through on Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne’s plan to see the nation become a major arms exporter. Speaking to Fairfax Media, Mr Pyne said he wanted to see Australia not only build but design military assets, such as warships, on par with other players and allies such as Britain, France and Germany to help bolster the nation’s influence and reinforce relations.

But Mr Costello strongly criticised the plan, which he said carried terrible consequences.

“This is a government that has cut humanitarian aid, which saves lives, to the lowest level in our history, and it is now seriously discussing the merits of becoming a major weapons manufacturer and exporter,” he said.

“The government says this is an export and investment opportunity – but we would be exporting death and profiting from bloodshed. Mr Costello said it was naive to imagine Australia could control whose hands the weapons ended up in, once they were sold…….http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/profiting-from-bloodshed-tim-costello-criticises-christopher-pyne-weapons-export-plan-20170717-gxcomj.html

July 26, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Clear opposition to nuclear development in South Australia: no further tax-payer money should be wasted on it

“…….Mr Parnell said the laws — changed last year to allow public consultation on the issue — must be reinstated now Premier Jay Weatherill said the nuclear debate was dead.

“The Government has already wasted over $13 million of taxpayers’ money on this dump proposal and I want to make sure that any future public relations exercises for harebrained schemes like this won’t be funded without Parliament’s approval,” Mr Parnell said.

“There are still too many diehard nuclear dump supporters inside both the old parties for us to trust them with public money.”

Mr Weatherill last year said the Government was still committed to a referendum on the issue, but would not do so until there was bipartisan support.

But he went further in June, saying he would not revisit the nuclear debate even if he wins the 2018 election.

The Liberal Party said it was opposed to a nuclear facility in SA after the Government’s citizens’ jury process overwhelmingly rejected it.

Two thirds of the 350-member panel said they did not wish to pursue nuclear storage under any circumstances….” The Advertiser, 19 July 17 

July 21, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Queensland Liberal National Party refuses to pull out of Paris Climate Accord

LNP members vote down call to pull out of Paris Climate Accord at Queensland convention, ABC News By Chris O’Brien, 16 July, Queensland Liberal National Party members have steered away from a potentially divisive move against Australia’s global climate position, while the party leader also vowed not to be distracted by federal squabbles in the lead up to the next election.

The party’s annual convention voted down a motion calling on the Commonwealth to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, after two former presidents warned against undermining the Prime Minister.

“This motion is really about just putting the knife into the Federal Government,” immediate past president Bruce McIver said.

“They’ve agreed on it on our behalf, and I think if we don’t believe we should vote this down today, we are doing them an injustice.”………http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-16/lnp-members-vote-down-call-to-pull-out-of-paris-climate-accord/8713210

July 17, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Climate denialism rules the Liberal Party – and is bringing about a split within it

The most senior Liberal expressing doubt is former prime minister John Howard, who remains an influential figure in conservative circles.
Some of Mr Turnbull’s conservative critics cite his belief in global warming as evidence he is too left-wing for the Liberal Party.
The split within the Liberal Party is illustrated by its own think tank, the Menzies Research Centre.
More than half of federal Liberal MPs ‘don’t trust’ climate science: think tank  http://www.afr.com/news/policy/climate/more-than-half-of-federal-liberal-mps-dont-trust-climate-science-think-tank-20170714-gxb7r2 The majority of federal Liberal MPs are not convinced the science behind climate change is settled and support reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases for political reasons, according to an prominent conservative think tank.John Roskam, the executive director of the Melbourne-based Institute of Public Affairs, said he hadn’t conducted a formal count but found most Liberal politicians shared his doubts about what many experts say is the greatest global threat to mankind.

“More than 50 per cent are solid sceptics and more than 50 per cent feel they need to be seen to do something,” he said in an interview. “The science is not settled.”

The overwhelming majority of climate change scientists accept the atmosphere is warming and humans are responsible. The burning of fossil fuels contributed to an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide from 280 parts per million before 1800 to 396 parts per million in 2013, according to the Australian Academy of Science. Continue reading

July 17, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Australian States and Federal Govt approve 49 Finkel recommendations, but split on Clean Energy Target

COAG splits over clean energy target, but 49 Finkel ideas approved http://reneweconomy.com.au/coag-splits-over-clean-energy-target-but-49-finkel-ideas-approved-97105/ By Giles Parkinson on 14 July 2017 

Four Labor states and governments have formalised their push to purse their own clean energy target mechanism, officially breaking away from the federal government after the Coalition refused to endorse the Finkel Review’s recommendation on the issue.

The COAG energy council meeting in Brisbane endorsed 49 of the 50 recommendations from the Finkel Review, and endorsed the decision to get rid of the “limited merits review” that affects network spending. However, the federal government said it could not commit to a clean energy target.

South Australia, Victoria and Queensland, along with the ACT, said they would ask the Australian Energy market Commission to study how a CET might be implemented by the states saying “they can’t wait any longer”.

It is not clear how long this will take, and how quickly legislation can be introduced, or if it can survive state-based partisan politics given that both the South Australia and Queensland Labor governments are facing elections in the next 12 months.

 The role of the ACT is also unclear, given that it will reach its target of 100 per cent renewable energy by 2020.

These same states this week all committed to zero net emissions by 2050, in a ceremony marking the visit of former vice-president and climate campaigner Al Gore.

“It is incredibly frustrating that despite the overwhelming community support for a market mechanism, the Federal Government is still resisting committing to all 50 Finkel recommendations,” South Australia energy minister Tom Koutsantonis said in a statement.

“Opposition from the coal lobby and the right wing of his party is preventing the Prime Minister from acting in the interests of all Australians.”

The federal Coalition has been riven by divisions over the proposed CET, with conservative commentators unanimously condemning the idea, and the rump of Far Right Coalition MPs also voicing their opposition.

Federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg said COAG had agreed a “significant set of reforms ….  to ensure a more affordable and reliable energy system.”

The recommendations include the creation of an Energy Security Board. Each jurisdiction will send through a name; and the next few weeks the states will agree on a chair and deputy chair. The other members will be the heads of the three main energy industry regulators, rule-makers and operators.

July 17, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

The disgraceful state of Australia’s politics and media on clean energy

It is an absurd situation we find ourselves in. The public support for these new technologies is overwhelming, as it is in business (apart from those seeking to protect stranded assets), and among most politicians – even many in the Liberal Party, as NSW energy minister Don Harwin revealed late last month.

Yet here we are: Short-term policies; a patchwork of rules on energy efficiency; the worst building stock in the world; the most inefficient and polluting cars; and the world’s most expensive and dirty grid, soaring emissions, and rising temperatures.

And two years after obtaining power, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is still defending policies he once describes as “bullshit,” too afraid to call out the nonsense spread by those keeping him in power.  

How did Australia get this stupid about clean energy? http://reneweconomy.com.au/australia-get-stupid-clean-energy-99268/, By Giles Parkinson on 14 July 2017, Just when you thought that the public debate around clean energy in Australia could not possibly get any worse, any dumber, or any further divorced from reality, it did.

Conservatives have been railing against renewables and carbon pricing for at least a decade. So ingrained has it become in our national psyche that it is like a State of Origin contest between energy sources and their fans. “Queenslander”, shout the league fans. “Fossil fuels” screech the incumbents.

But it plumbed further depths this week. And it got really stupid and really nasty. Conservatives in the government and the media rebooted their attacks on wind and solar energy, and extended it to battery storage and vehicle emission standards, with the Murdoch media dubbing the latter as a “carbon tax on cars.”

Craig Kelly, the chair of Coalition’s energy policy committee, said renewable energy “would kill people”, a claim happily repeated by columnist Andrew Bolt.

 Resources Minister Matt Canavan urged the Queensland government to “forget about climate change”, while the LNP in Queensland will this weekend consider a motion urging Australia to quit the Paris climate deal.

Worse, the conservatives started attacking individuals. The verbal assault on chief scientist Alan Finkel was launched way back in February when it was clear he would not toe the fossil fuel line. And even after delivering what many consider a “soft option”, the conservatives rekindled their attack. Continue reading

July 17, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, politics | 2 Comments

What a loss! – Scott Ludlam – politicians of integrity are few and far between

On  a technicality  – an Australian politician,  of both integrity and intelligence , has had to resign. As far as I can see, there is no Australian parliamentarian who has the understanding of nuclear/climate issues, combined with the intelligence and ability to advocate for the public good, except for Senator Scott Ludlam.

I watched his Senate interviews, and marvelled at his ever courteous, but ever persistent and probing, questioning of bureaucrats who tried, unsuccessfully, to cover up the hypocrisies that surround Australian politics on nuclear issues.

Sometimes, people can achieve much outside of parliament, as well as inside. We will have to wait to see what Scott Ludlam will do from now on. Anyway, we wish him well, while much regretting his departure from politics.

And Ludlam has  a sense of humour too. Where are we now going to get those sly amusements in the drab world of Australian politics?

Senator Ludlam welcomes Tony Abbott to WA

July 15, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Christina reviews, politics | Leave a comment

Sudden resignation of Greens Senator Scott Ludlam

Greens shock: Scott Ludlam resigns over NZ citizenship https://www.crikey.com.au/2017/07/14/greens-shock-ludlam-resigns-over-citizenship/, In a shock announcement, the Greens’ Scott Ludlam has resigned after learning he remained a NZ citizen, Bernard Keane, Politics Editor West Australian Greens senator Scott Ludlam has resigned from the Senate effective immediately after revealing he had recently learnt he remained a New Zealand citizen despite being naturalised as an Australian citizen as a child.

Ludlam, who was born in New Zealand and moved to Australia at the age of three, says he assumed his naturalisation removed his New Zealand citizenship, but that it had recently been drawn to his attention that he remained a New Zealand citizen. Under section 44 of the constitution, anyone who “is under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power” cannot stand for parliament.

Ludlam, the co-deputy leader who holds the communications and foreign affairs portfolios and who was first elected to the Senate in 2007, took responsibility for the oversight.

“This is entirely on me and I should have addressed it in 2006,” he said. The issue had been drawn to his attention by a “community member” who, according to Ludlam, was neither a journalist nor a political opponent. Ludlam made the decision to resign once the New Zealand High Commission had confirmed he remained a NZ citizen.

Ludlam is required to repay his salary for his period in the Senate — a sum that will exceed a million dollars. He says he intends to follow former senators Bob Day and Rod Culleton in seeking an exemption from repayment from the Special Minister of State.

Ludlam was one of the few senators with credibility in the communications sector, given his grasp of information issues, and led the fight against the Rudd government’s internet filter and the Abbott government’s mass surveillance regime. He was also an unstinting supporter of WikiLeaks and one of the few politicians to forcefully criticise the government’s failure to support Julian Assange. He was re-elected in 2014 after a special WA byelection caused by the loss of ballot papers by the Australian Electoral Commission during the 2013 federal election. The byelection became an early test of the Abbott government’s rapidly declining popularity and Ludlam’s politely phrased, but ferocious, “welcome to Western Australia” attack on Tony Abbott prior to the byelection drew huge attention.

“Thanks to you all and see you in the next life,” Ludlam said at the end of his media conference. Australian politics will miss an intelligent, articulate and credible young leader.

July 15, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment