Australian news, and some related international items

Election result: no action on climate change

Australia's politiciansAustralians still waiting for climate leadership USA election 2016 Geoff Cousins, 10 July 16 

Judging from the federal election you wouldn’t know that the public call for leadership on climate change is the highest it has been for a decade in Australia.

In the past 12 months we’ve seen large sections of the Great Barrier Reef turn ghostly white from coral bleaching and sections of Tasmania’s ancient World Heritage forests reduced to cinders in unseasonal fires.  The images of Australian suburban homes and swimming pools teetering on the brink of collapse into the ocean off Sydney are burned vividly into the Australian public psyche as a prescient reminder of what’s at stake with more extreme and frequent storm surges predicted under global warming.

The next Federal Parliament must deliver genuine leadership to cut pollution and limit global warming to get in line with the concerns of voters across Australia.

The ALP stepped up early in the election campaign with strong renewable energy policies and Bill Shorten often spoke of his party’s plan to take “real action on climate change” in his pre-election pitches.

Strong policies on tackling carbon pollution from the Greens were announced early in the campaign, and other parties increased their environmental positions as the campaign wore on.

Disappointingly, the Coalition remain without a credible plan to cut pollution or support clean energy, and announcements for smart cities and reef protection were largely funded out of existing clean energy budgets. Continue reading

July 10, 2016 Posted by | election 2016 | Leave a comment

Josh Frydenberg, Energy and Resources Minister attacks environmental groups

Frydenburg, JoshFederal election 2016: Frydenberg slams activist ‘bias’  The Australian, 5 July 16 Liberal frontbencher Josh Frydenberg has attacked the Australian Conservation Foundation and ­Environment Victoria for campaigning against him in his electorate despite their claims to being independent and non-partisan.

Deposed Tasmanian Liberal Andrew Nikolic is also locked in a war of words with ­activist group GetUp! over its activities in his seat, where 80 volunteers and 10 paid staff led a $300,000 campaign against the former government whip.

Mr Frydenberg, the Energy and Resources Minister, said the ACF and Environment Victoria had used billboards, trucks and pamphlets to campaign against the Coalition in his inner-­Melbourne seat of Kooyong.

“These organisations such as the ACF and Environment Victoria claim to be non-partisan and ­independent but they clearly acted in this campaign in a way that is hostile to the Coalition,’’ he said.

The ACF hired a truck to drive through the electorate throughout the campaign with a banner attached attacking Mr Frydenberg for refusing to sign up to its environment pledge……..

ACF spokesman Josh Meadows said the banner and flyers were not partisan. “We weren’t saying vote for this person; what were saying was this person pledged commitment and this person didn’t,’’ he said.

Mr Frydenberg said Environment Victoria also launched a partisan attack, placing a billboard at a prominent intersection in the electorate saying: “We booked this ad to talk about the Liberals’ plan to cut ­climate pollution … they still don’t have one.”

Environment Victoria chief executive Mark Wakeham said: “We are non-partisan, but under the Coalition CO2 emissions have been rising and it’s important that people know that.”…….

In the Adelaide seat of Mayo, GetUp! ran a campaign advocating voting for the Nick Xenophon Team candidate Rebekha Sharkie over Liberal Jamie Briggs. The group says it chooses the recipients of its favours on their stands on renewable energy, marriage equality and education and health.

July 6, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, election 2016, politics | Leave a comment

Teach climate denial in schools – the Hanson plan !

cartoon-climate-AustFederal election 2016: Potential One Nation senator wants climate scepticism taught in schools, SMH July 5, 2016      The One Nation candidate with a strong chance of joining Pauline Hanson in the Senate, Malcolm Roberts, wants climate scepticism taught in schools and says the CSIRO and United Nations’ peak climate body endorse corruption.

As Australians adjust to One Nation’s return as a political force, attention has turned to the party’s far-right agenda, which extends well beyond controversial views on immigration and Islam.

Ms Hanson is confident of securing a second Senate spot out of Queensland, which would see Mr Roberts take a seat in the red chamber. She claims her party is in the running for six Senate position

The One Nation website touts Mr Roberts as a family man and former coal mine manager who is “passionate about climate change data and facts”.

He “has earned the respect of informed people around the world for his investigation of claimed global warming and climate change where he … exposed the corruption,” the website states.

……..Mr Roberts’ views appear to be driving One Nation’s extreme climate policy agenda, which includes pushing for a royal commission into climate science and abolition of the Renewable Energy Target.It also wants the teaching of climate science in schools to be based on “the scientific method of scepticism”.

One Nation wants the Bureau of Meteorology reviewed, including “public justification of persistent upward adjustments to historical climate records” and a review of the CSIRO to determine whether funding has influenced its climate claims.

Mr Roberts is listed as a project leader for the Galileo Movement, a prominent climate-sceptic group that boasts broadcaster Alan Jones as its patron.

In a paper published in 2013, Mr Roberts claimed CSIRO scientists were “deeply enmeshed in producing corrupt UN IPCC reports”, in reference to the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which he also described as “corrupt”.

He claimed IPCC papers “contradict empirical scientific evidence and provide no logical scientific reasoning for their core claim that human CO2 caused, causes or will cause global warming”.

The federal election cleaned out a number of parliamentarians seen as roadblocks to the environment cause, such as WA climate-sceptic MP Dennis Jensen and Bass MP Andrew Nikolic, who wanted environment groups stripped of their charity tax status.

It also put in serious doubt the political futures of others including anti-wind farm crossbench senators Bob Day, David Leyonhjelm and John Madigan.

However One Nation’s new power in the Senate would pose a fresh challenge to those seeking stronger climate action in the next Parliament.

On Monday Ms Hanson said she was “definitely not sold on” climate change…….. Comment has been sought from Mr Roberts.

July 6, 2016 Posted by | election 2016 | Leave a comment

Indigenous elder Dr Jillian Marsh – Greens candidate for Grey, South Australia

Marsh, Dr JillianNuclear personal and political for Dr Jillian Marsh Politicians more often than not stick religiously to the party line when it USA election 2016comes to key policy issues.

But for The Greens’ candidate for Grey, Dr Jillian Marsh, the issue of a proposed nuclear industry in South Australia is not just political – it is personal, too. Dr Marsh is a traditional owner and elder of the Adnyamathanha people.

She endorses The Greens’ nuclear and uranium policy which outlines a future without uranium or nuclear energy production. But she said that her Aboriginal heritage motivated her to take the role as candidate for Grey and fight against the proposed nuclear dump.

“I know this is something I have as an obligation as an Adnyamathanha traditional owner,” Dr Marsh said. “I am required to step up to the mark … to take this on board for the sake of future generations.”

One of the proposed sites for a low to intermediate-level nuclear waste dump at The Wallerberdina station, near Barndioota in the Flinders Ranges, sits on Adnyamathanha land.

Dr Marsh was involved in anti-nuclear protest marches through Port Pirie and Port Augusta recently.She felt the the responsibility as a traditional owner and elder of the Adnyamathanha people to speak out about the federal and state government plans.

“Traditional owners, the Aboriginal people, have really had a gutful of this type of approach to community consultation,” she said. “They are always facing the prospect of their culture and country being damaged, destroyed, abused once again.”

Dr Marsh said that the consultation processes and uncertainty put a lot of pressure on aboriginal communities. “It creates a lot of ill-feeling in the community,” she said. “This type of uncertainty and angst is one of the things contributing to the shorter lifespans faced by our people.”

The translation of Adnyamathanha is “people of the rock” or “people of the rocky country” and Dr Marsh said this sacred cultural connection is under threat. “Our connection to the land is constantly being ransacked by ill-informed policies,” she said.

July 1, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, election 2016, South Australia | Leave a comment

Australian Marine Conservation Society’s scoreboard on Liberal and Labor policies

USA election 2016Reef election policies don’t go far enough:  Fight for the Reef AMCS (Australian Marine Conservation Society) June 16:

“The Fight for the Reef campaign’s final Election Policy Scorecard, released today (Wednesday),
shows that the next Australian Government will need to increase its financial commitment to the Reef,
regardless of which party wins office.

“Key findings of the scorecard:

“The Coalition’s $1 billion loan announcement is an existing climate fund rebadged as a Reef water quality initiative.
Assessing this policy announcement has been challenging as no further information has been forthcoming.
… Accordingly, the policy has been assessed as not meeting what is required to deliver the water quality reforms that are needed.

“The ALP’s promise to increase funds by $377 million is a good down payment, but it’s not enough.

“The ALP has scored green for two major Reef policies:
commitment to introduce a legal cap on pollution flowing from the catchment into the Reef and
a promise to reform the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to make it more independent.

“Both the Coalition and the ALP scored green for committing to satellite tracking of commercial fishing vessels to improve protection of green zones. … ”

From WGAR News ( WGAR: Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Australia) Editorial Note: The Australian #Greens scored green for all items on the scorecard

July 1, 2016 Posted by | election 2016 | Leave a comment

Guardian’s video explains Liberal and Labor plans on climate change

see-this.wayUSA election 2016So what will the Coalition, Labor and the Greens do about climate change? A video explainer Lenore Taylor explains what each of the major parties plan to tackle the problem of greenhouse emissions. While the Coalition is planning to review its plans after Saturday’s general election, Labor is promising two new emissions trading schemes and the Greens have are advocating that Australia source 90% of its power from renewable sources by 2030 Lenore Taylor,Josh Wall and Clare Downey, Source: 29 June 2016

July 1, 2016 Posted by | election 2016 | Leave a comment

Fiona Stanley’s survey on political parties’ response to climate change

Climate-Report-CardThe climate change letter most candidates won’t answer Canberra Times, June 29 2016 Fiona Stanley I recently wrote to more than 1000 candidates in the federal election. I described how climate change is a real and growing threat requiring urgent attention, and that health professionals are seeing its impacts in medical practice right now and will be increasingly in the future.

The results distressed me. More than 100 independent candidates and those from virtually all minor parties and Greens responded to me with comments that were often constructive and extensive. There was only one individual response from a Labor Party candidate, and a courteous response from Labor campaign headquarters detailing official Labor policy. No Liberal Party candidate acknowledged my letter and there was no official response. Continue reading

July 1, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, election 2016 | Leave a comment

Federal election candidates oblivious about the South Australian nuclear waste plan

Liberal Labor election 16Nuclear waste importing: The taboo election topic, Independent USA election 2016
Australia  29 June 2016
An international nuclear waste dump is planned for South Australia but it is hardly mentioned in the lead up to the federal election. Noel Wauchope approached the candidates to see where they stand.

THE MAJOR PARTIES have each shrunk their thinking down to a couple of themes.

Occasionally, there’s a little burst from Labor about climate change, to which Turnbull might respond with a few motherhood statements on that subject.

But the one that nobody touches is nuclear waste importing.

The South Australian Labor Government is spending an enormous amount of money, time and effort, towards starting the world’s first commercial nuclear waste importing business. They plan to make a decision on this later this year — a decision that will impact the whole of Australia.

Whether you think about ports for receiving radioactive wastes or road or rail transport to the South Australian waste facility, or other issues, such as safety, the terrorism risk, Australian agriculture’s clean green reputation, it is pretty clear that this is a matter of national importance.

I’ve now found that Australian federal politicians, outside of South Australia, are pretty much oblivious of this extraordinary plan, unprecedented in the world, to invite in global nuclear waste.  Continue reading

June 29, 2016 Posted by | election 2016 | Leave a comment

Voter support for Climate Action is now high, but Turnbull and Shorten don’t care

Australia's politiciansTurnbull and Shorten ignoring voters on coal and climate, Canberra Times,   June 28 2016 Sarah Gill

Here are two statistics to ponder as we prepare to head to the polls this weekend: voter support for action on climate change has surged to historically high levels since the last election and; four fifths of usbelieve neither of the major parties actually gives a toss.

Polling released by the Climate Institute last week reveals that 72 per cent of us are worried about global warming, and that while only 17 per cent think the Coalition’s climate policies are credible, the plausibility of Labor’s response is ahead by just a whisker, at a paltry 20 per cent.

And, really, is it any wonder? While the Coalition and the ALP have emission-reduction targets – neither of which, it must be said, will avoid dangerous global warming – the policy detail underpinning them is woefully inadequate. It’s like trying to build the Eiffel Tower with a box of matchsticks.

After a decade of flip-flopping on climate policy, the electorate, it seems, has wised up. We’re not buying Labor’s pledge of an “orderly” closure of coal-fired power stations – remember how well that went last time? – any more than Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s enthusiasm for the Coalition’s Emissions Reduction Fund which, as everyone knows, is about as effective as an ashtray on a motorbike. …….

If you thought Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg was on thin ice spruiking the benefits of coal for the third world – asserting, I kid you not, that coal will reduce air pollution – then the Australian coal lobby recently dispensed with reason altogether by claiming, in the wake of the Paris climate agreement, that “coal will play a part in reducing emissions globally”……..

Let’s not forget that in the lead up to the last election, the Coalition snared $1.8 million from companies in favour of a carbon price repeal. Mining industry executives – who are drawn, with disturbing regularity, from the ranks of former politicians and political staffers – would, no doubt, be similarly disgruntled. ……

The world’s largest privately-owned coal producer, Peabody Energy, may have recently filed for bankruptcy protection amid a slump in global demand and tighter environmental regulation, but our political leaders are resolutely peddling a narrative on the merits of Australian coal that could have been drafted by the Minerals Council of Australia. Who knows, maybe it was?

June 29, 2016 Posted by | election 2016 | Leave a comment

Former Liberal leader says climate change should be dominant election issue

USA election 2016climate-changeClimate change: John Hewson accuses Coalition of ‘national disgrace’
Former Liberal leader says climate should be dominant issue of election campaign rather than ‘short-term politicking’,
Guardian,  25 June 16, The former Liberal leader John Hewson addressed an estimated 2000 people protesting in the Sydney suburb of Double Bay – minutes from Malcolm Turnbull’s harbourside mansion – calling on the prime minister to take stronger action on climate change.

Speaking at the same time as Turnbull addressed the party faithful at the Coalition’s campaign launch, Hewson told protesters the Coalition’s lack of action on climate change was a “national disgrace”

“I think climate change should be the dominant issue of this campaign – it should have been for quite some time,” said Hewson, who was once the local member for the seat of Wentworth, which includes Double Bay.

He said “short-term politicking” from both sides left targets that were inadequate and policies that were not going to meet those targets.

“The one thing that hasn’t failed is people like yourselves,” he said. “The community is way ahead of the political leaders and the business leaders on this issue.”

He urged the crowd to push political leaders for a bipartisan approach to climate change. “Enough is enough, it’s time to act,” Hewson said.

A spokesperson from GetUp, which organised the protest in coalition with three other environment groups, estimated there were about 2000 people in the crowd.

Protesters were given placards in the shape of coral, which were coloured on one side, and white on the other, which symbolised the devastating bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. They turned them around for the cameras, while chanting “Choose the reef, not coal”……..

The protest caps three days of protesting in Turnbull’s electorate.

On Friday Greenpeace activists hung a banner from Turnbull’s electorate office in Edgecliff, saying: “Turnbull’s Legacy: bleaching – brought to you by Malcolm’s mates in the coal industry.”

And on Saturday, a group of 50 pacific islanders kayaked from Blues Point to Lady Martin’s beach, mere metres from Turnbull’s harbourside mansion, raising awareness of climate change and sea level rise.

June 26, 2016 Posted by | election 2016 | Leave a comment

Green preferences help Labor in the coming election: voting Green is not a waste

greensThe Major Party Myth That Stops People Voting For The Greens  By  on June 21, 2016
The Liberal Coalition and Labor both want you to think that a vote for our party, or an independent candidate, is a wasted vote. Nothing could be further from the truth, writes Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon.

There are hundreds of thousands of Australian voters who think the Greens have the better policies on issues such as climate change and refugees, but they end up voting for the Labor Party instead. They do this out of fears arising from a lack of understanding of the preference voting system used for the House of Representatives. This mindset also holds back the Greens’ Senate vote.

The crux of the unfounded fear for many progressive voters is the false belief that voting for the Greens ahead of Labor may somehow help the Liberal/National parties win the lower house seat and government.

Of course, if the Greens dropped out of the count and it came down to a contest between the Labor and Coalition candidates as it usually does, any voter who had given the Greens their number 1 vote and placed the Labor candidate ahead of the Coalition, would have their vote allocated to the Labor candidate at full value when Greens’ preferences were distributed.

There is no wasted vote in that. It is a safe way to send a message to Labor and help stop the Coalition candidate being elected. Continue reading

June 22, 2016 Posted by | election 2016 | Leave a comment

Clean Energy Finance Corporation now being used as Coalition election slush fund

logo CEFCHow the Coalition is using clean energy financing as an election slushUSA election 2016 fund
Some in the sector fear the government is trying to defund the Clean Energy Finance Corporation by stealth. The truth may be a little more mundane,
Guardian, , 20 June 16 

After trying in vain to dismantle the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Coalition is now using Labor’s $10bn financing scheme as an election slush fund, throwing its money at the Great Barrier Reef, at “smart cities” and even at the steel industry in South Australia.

These announcements left some clean energy sector experts crying foul, saying the government was trying to squeeze the CEFC for every last drop, and defund it by stealth.

That might be the case but the truth could be more mundane. The announcements probably amount to little, leaving the spending pledges bereft of substance – but equally doing little to harm the CEFC.

By anyone’s reckoning, the CEFC has been a success. According to its 2015 annual report, it invested $1.4bn, financing projects worth a total of $3.5bn, which would reduce 4.2m tonnes of CO2-equivalent emissions annually. And it did all that while making a profit.

But under the Tony Abbott, who called the CEFC “Bob Brown’s bank”, the Coalition tried unsuccessfully to abolish it, tried unlawfully to stop it operating, and tried – also possibly unlawfully – to stop it investing in windfarms and small-scale solar.

When Turnbull became prime minister he conceded the government had failed to abolish the CEFC but stopped short of giving it his backing……

But now it is certainly playing a crucial role in Turnbull’s re-election campaign. Continue reading

June 22, 2016 Posted by | election 2016 | Leave a comment

For women, climate change is an election priority

USA election 2016Election 2016: Climate change – an election priority for women, ABC News, 19 June 16 By Erin Stewart Women care more about addressing climate change than men, doubtless because they suffer more from its effects, writes Erin Stewart. So why are the Coalition and Labor not prioritising it in their election campaigns?

In his capacity as the former minister for women, Tony Abbott claimed the best thing he did was repeal the carbon tax.

“As many of us know,” he said in December 2014, “women are particularly focused on the household budget, and the repeal of the carbon tax means a $550-a-year benefit for the average family”.

Aside from overstating his figures, Mr Abbott expressed the absurdly inaccurate view that women were more interested in domestic arithmetic than the world around them. In actuality, women care a great deal about climate change, and are more likely to suffer as a result of it.

Eighty-two per cent of female respondents to the ABC’s Vote Compass felt the Federal Government should do “much” or “somewhat more” to tackle climate change, compared with just 67 per cent of men.

These findings are in line with data from the Pew Research Centre which found 83 per cent of Australian women see climate change as a serious problem, compared with just 71 per cent of men.

Part of the reason for the climate gap is doubtless because women would be disproportionately affected if climate change was not effectively addressed. Chair of Population Health at Western Sydney University Professor Hilary Bambrick said extreme weather events killed more women than men globally because they were less likely to have the resources to survive.

They were also more likely to experience poverty and social restrictions, were less likely to be part of decision-making processes, and were also more likely to be exposed to mosquito-borne diseases in performing household tasks such as collecting water and harvesting food.

The reasons climate change was especially bad for women, Professor Bambrick wrote recently at the Conversation, was “largely because they are overrepresented among the world’s poor and are thus more exposed to these dangers”.

Australian women ‘financially vulnerable’ to climate change  The threats are seen in Australia, too. Greens Senator Larissa Waters said she believed women were particularly financially vulnerable to climate change due to structural disadvantage and discrimination.

“With lesser financial means, it will be harder for women to recover from damage to their homes from extreme weather events driven by global warming, such as flooding, droughts or bushfires,” Senator Waters told ABC News…….

June 20, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, election 2016 | Leave a comment

Why we should question the Liberal Party on nuclear waste importing

a-cat-CANWell, of course the Liberals don’t have a policy on any nuclear issues.

So you have to look back on their record – in Wikipedia, or better still, in this fine article by Independent Australia’s intrepid investigative journalist Sandi Keane – The Liberal Party’s nuclear dreams: The strange case of Dr John White and Ignite -display/the-liberal-partys-nuclear-dreams-the-strange-case-of-dr-john-white-and-ignite,6270

It might be a waste of time questioning Labor Party politicians and candidates on what they think about importing nuclear waste –  Labor policy is strongly anti nuclear.

It’s probably good to question Nick Xenophon Team – as they are still making up their minds about this.

Waste of time questioning Greens –  their opposition to the Nuclear Fuel Chain is rock solid.

text-cat-questionBut the Liberals?  I wonder what their politicians and members really think?  Or perhaps – do they think at all?

June 17, 2016 Posted by | Christina reviews, election 2016 | Leave a comment

Environmental policy threatened by Trans Pacific Partnership: this election could decide

text-TPP-Avaaz-petitionTPP: This Election Could Decide If Companies Can Sue Australia Over Environmental Policy, New Matilda, By  on June 17, 2016 Experts are warning that the Trans Pacific Partnership could get in the way of effective action on climate change, and Australia’s international obligations, at a symposium being hosted by the Queensland University of Technology.

The apprehension comes as political players take different positions on the controversial Pacific Rim trade deal, ahead of the July 2 poll which could prove critical to Australia’s involvement. The Labor Party has taken a dim view of aspects of the deal, but is yet to rule out voting for it.

Central to widespread concerns about the deal is what’s known as an Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause, which would allow foreign companies to sue the Australian government in offshore tribunals that sit outside the judicial system. Continue reading

June 17, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, election 2016, politics | 1 Comment