Australian news, and some related international items

Despite Australia’s laws prohibiting nuclear activities, ANSTO’s already chosen nuclear reactor types for Australia

ENuFF South Australia August 29 2019 Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste In The Flinders Ranges

How many know that, on behalf of us all, ANSTO is already preparing the groundwork for the deployment of Gen VI reactors in the 2030s?

ANSTO stooge Prof Edwards speaking to the Prerequisites Standing Committee “…….. Australia …. has chosen, ….. supporting two reactors: the very high temperature reactor and the molten salt reactor.”

in terms of the reactors Australia has chosen, we’re supporting two reactors: the very high temperature reactor and the molten salt reactor. The very high temperature reactor is probably the highest technology readiness level, or TRL, in that there are a couple being constructed in China at the moment. As part of the generation forum, I will be visiting those in October. They’ve actually started co-commissioning those plans. …. Those two reactors are particularly suitable for Australia


September 2, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear power in Australia not realistic for at least a decade, Ziggy Switkowski says

August 31, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear research reactor was always intended as the first step towards the nuclear bomb

The push for an Aussie bomb   It took former PM John Gorton almost three decades to finally come clean on his ambitions for Australia to have a nuclear bomb. THE AUSTRALIAN, By TOM GILLING  30 Aug 19,

In December 9, 1966, the Australian Government signed a public agreement with the US to build what both countries described as a “Joint Defence Space Research Facility” at Pine Gap, just outside Alice Springs. The carefully misleading agreement expressed the two countries’ mutual desire “to co-operate further in effective defence and for the preservation of peace and security”.

Officially, Pine Gap was a collaboration between the Australian Department of Defence and the Pentagon’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, but the latter was a red herring meant to conceal the real power at Pine Gap: the Central Intelligence Agency….the truth was that the Joint Defence Space Research Facility was joint in name only and its purpose was not (and never would be) “research”. It was a spy station designed to collect signals from US surveillance satellites in geosynchronous orbit over the equator. ……

The building of an experimental reactor at Lucas Heights in Sydney’s south was supposed to be the first step in a nuclear program that within a decade would see the development of full-scale nuclear power reactors. ……

During the 1950s Australian defence chiefs ­lobbied vigorously for an Australian bomb. When it became clear that the prime minister, Robert Menzies, had reservations, they went behind his back. Menzies did agree, however, to let Britain test its nuclear weapons in Australia — a decision, according to historian Jacques Hymans, taken “almost single-handedly… without consulting his Cabinet and without requesting any quid pro quo, not even access to technical data necessary for the Australian government to assess the effects of the tests on humans and the environment”……….

Gorton’s political reservations about the non-proliferation treaty masked a deeper fear: that signing the treaty might cause Australia’s ­nascent atomic energy industry to be “frozen in a primitive state”. Gorton and the head of Australia’s Atomic Energy Commission, Philip Baxter, were both committed to pursuing the development of an Australian bomb. Scientists at the AEC worked with government officials to draw up cost and time estimates for atomic and hydrogen bomb programs. According to the historian Hymans, they outlined two possible programs: a power reactor program capable of producing enough weapons- grade plutonium for 30 fission weapons (A-bombs) per year; and a uranium enrichment program capable of producing enough uranium-235 for at least 10 thermonuclear weapons (H-bombs)  per year. The A-bomb plan was costed at what was considered to be an “affordable” $144 million and was thought to be feasible in no more than seven to 10 years. The H-bomb plan was costed at $184 million over a similar period.

Aware of opposition to any talk of an “Aussie bomb”, ­Gorton carefully played down the military aspect and argued instead for the economic benefits of a nuclear power program. ………

a US ­mission did visit Canberra at the end of April 1968.   Officials from the AEC had impressed the US visitors with “the confidence of their ability to manufacture a nuclear weapon and desire to be in a position to do so on very short notice”.  

The Australian officials, they said, had “studied the draft NPT [non-proliferation treaty] most thoroughly… the political rationalisation of these officials was that Australia needed to be in a position to manufacture nuclear weapons rapidly if India and Japan were to go nuclear… the Australian officials indicated they could not even contemplate signing the NPT if it were not for an interpretation which would enable the deployment of nuclear weapons belonging to an ally on Australian soil.”

Eighteen months after Rusk’s fractious visit to Canberra, Gorton called a general election. He declared his commitment to a nuclear-powered (if not a nuclear-armed) Australia, announcing that “the time for this nation to enter the atomic age has now arrived” and laying out his scheme for a 500-megawatt nuclear power plant to be built at Jervis Bay, on NSW’s south coast. While the defence benefits of such a reactor were unspoken, there was no mistaking the military potential of the plutonium it would be producing.

The Jervis Bay reactor never got off the drawing board, although planning reached an advanced stage. Detailed specifications were put out to tender and there was broad agreement over a British bid to build a heavy-water reactor. A Cabinet submission was in the pipeline when Gorton lost the confidence of the party room and was replaced by William McMahon, a nuclear sceptic who moved quickly to defer the project.

It would be another 28 years before Gorton finally came clean on the link between the reactor and his ambition for Australia to have nuclear weapons.  . In 1999 he told a Sydney newspaper that “we were interested in this thing because it could provide electricity to everybody and… if you decided later on, it could make an atomic bomb”. Gorton did not identify who he meant by “we” (although Philip Baxter was almost certainly among them) but Gorton and those who shared his nuclear ambitions were unable to win over the doubters in his own government.

Australia signed the non-proliferation treaty in 1970 but even as it did so it was clear that Gorton had no intention of ratifying the treaty. Australia would not ratify it until 1973, and then only after McMahon’s Coalition government had lost power to Gough Whitlam’s Labor Party. As well as ratifying the treaty, the Whitlam government cancelled the Jervis Bay project that had been in limbo since McMahon became prime minister. And with that, Whitlam effectively ended Australia’s quixotic bid to become a nuclear power.

Australia never got its own bomb, although as late as 1984  the foreign minister, Bill Hayden, could still speak about Australian nuclear research providing the country with the potential for nuclear weapons. The Morrison Government is unlikely to let the nuclear genie out of the bottle, with a spokesperson from the Department of Defence telling The Weekend Australian Magazine that “Australia stands by its Non-Proliferation Treaty pledge, as a non-nuclear weapon state, not to acquire or develop nuclear weapons”.  ….. 

August 31, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, politics, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australian Government Nuclear Inquiry told that renewables, not nuclear, are the best option

Nuclear inquiry told “firmed renewables” cheapest and best option for future   , Sophie Vorrath

But in a hearing in Sydney on Thursday morning, it heard that nuclear power just doesn’t stack up against firmed renewables – already at price parity with new-build coal and gas and “well and truly” on track to becoming the lowest cost generation form for the National Electricity Market.

“Unfirmed renewables are effectively the cheapest form of energy production today,” said Alex Wonhas, the chief system design and engineering officer at the Australian Energy Market Operator.

“If we look at firmed renewables, that current cost is roughly comparable to new-build gas and new-build coal, but given the learning rate, this will well and truly become the lowest cost generation form for the NEM.

“There is a certain amount of energy that we expect renewables to deliver,” Wonhas added. “But we will need dispatchable resources, and generators that can respond quickly.

“Gas is an effective firming option, but there’s a whole range of other technologies out there – such as solar thermal, that are dispatchable.” He also added pumped hydro and battery storage.

“We are quite fortunate that we have many different technology options available that we can use to build Australia’s future generation system.”

And nuclear, it is becoming blindingly clear, is not one of them.

Even Ziggy Switkowski, who headed up the Coalition’s last big excursion into nuclear power, was unequivocal on that.

“The window (in Australia) is now closed for gigawatt-scale nuclear,” he told the Committee on Thursday, noting that current large-scale versions of the technology had failed to find anywhere near the same economies of scale that had been enjoyed by solar and wind.

“Nuclear power has got more expensive, rather than less expensive,” he added, while also noting that the time required to develop new nuclear projects could cover at least five political cycles. There is no business case, and no investor appetite.”

Switkowski told the Committee that the only hope for nuclear in Australia hinged on the future of Small Modular Reactors – which, as Jim Green explains here, are currently “non-existent, overhyped, and obscenely expensive.”

Current costs for SMR generation, as modelled by the AEMO and CSIRO, are estimated at $16,000/kW, which as Committee member and Labor MP Josh Wilson pointed out, is more expensive than large-scale nuclear by at least 50 per cent, and four or five times higher than capital cost of new solar wind. And while other technologies are modelled to see a decrease in their cost over time – solar thermal and storage, for example, at $7,000/kW is expected to fall to around half that in 2050 – SMR nuclear costs stay flat in AEMO/CSIRO modelling out to 2050.

August 29, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Western Australian Labor joins Queensland Labor in clearly rejecting nuclear power


Dave Sweeney, 27 Aug 19, It was a big weekend of Labor politics with state conferences in both WA and Queensland.

In WA the following motions were adopted on Sunday 25/8:

WA Labor is committed to implementing a best process and practise approach to uranium assessment and regulation. We urge federal Labor – and the federal government – to reflect this on a national level and retain the long standing and prudent nuclear action trigger for uranium mining and the clear prohibition on nuclear power in the federal EPBC Act (1999) during the current EPBC review process.

WA Labor commits to rigorous scrutiny of any further approvals or applications by any of the four WA uranium mine proposals approved under the previous government. WA Labor will apply the highest regulatory standards to any project and will work with affected communities and key stakeholders including trade unions and workers in order to reduce risks.

WA Labor welcomes the resolution passed unanimously by the 2018 National Labor Conference committing Labor in government to sign and ratify the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and calls on the Australian Government to sign and ratify the Treaty as an urgent humanitarian imperative.

 Queensland Labor reaffirmed their clear policy opposition to uranium mining and also adopted a wider nuclear free position on Sunday:

In order to protect human health and Queensland’s unique natural values, Queensland Labor affirms its commitment to ensuring that Queensland remains nuclear free.

 There was a good presence and profile (WA) and support at both events – see attached pic from WA with Leader of the Opposition Albanese and Yeelirrie defender Vicky Abdullah – a massive shout out to KA, Vicki, Mia, along with Piers and the wider crew from CCWA. The WA nuke free team did a superb job of putting the issue strongly on the radar at Conference. Thanks also to our comrades and champions in Labor and the progressive trade unions.

August 27, 2019 Posted by | politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Nuclear weapons – the underlying aim in the new push for nuclear power?

August 26, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Queensland Labor and Liberal Coalition say NO to nuclear power

Nuclear energy policy emerges as Queensland election issue, SMH, By Tony Moore, August 25, 2019  Nuclear energy has emerged as a 2020 Queensland election issue after Labor confirmed its anti-nuclear stand amid a new investigation into nuclear power led by three Queensland federal LNP MPs.Labor’s 2019 state conference on Sunday cemented the party’s opposition to the energy source after three high-profile federal Liberal National Party MPs recently triggered the first federal government inquiry into nuclear power in a decade.

Queensland Labor immediately questioned the LNP’s nuclear power policy before Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington on Sunday afternoon issued a single line statement rejecting nuclear power.

“The state LNP does not support nuclear power in Queensland,” Ms Frecklington said.

Three high-profile Queensland federal MPs – Senator James McGrath, Bundaberg-based MP Keith Pitt and Sunshine Coast MP Ted O’Brien – quietly re-opened a federal government inquiry into nuclear power, which began quietly on August 7.

Mr O’Brien is chairing the House of Representatives Standing Committee investigation into nuclear power, which will receive submissions until September 16.

He said nuclear power had evolved over the past 20 years and it was time to look again.

“The committee will look at the necessary circumstances and requirements for any future government’s consideration of nuclear energy generation, including using small modular reactor technologies,” Mr O’Brien said.

“It will consider a range of matters including waste management, health and safety, environmental impacts, energy affordability and reliability, economic feasibility and workforce capability, security implications, community engagement and national consensus.”

The Labor conference several times highlighted clear policy differences between Labor and the LNP in the 12-month run down to the 2020 Queensland election.

On Sunday ALP delegate Ali King, from the United Voice union, received unanimous support for the party to reconfirm its opposition to nuclear power in Queensland.

Since the (May) federal election we have seen an emboldened LNP federal government flirting with every policy fantasy of the hard right,” Ms King told the conference.

“The most disturbing of these is their insistent push towards imposing nuclear power on a reluctant Australia.”

Ms King claimed nuclear power was “now a central plank of the LNP’s hard-right policy platform”, but questioned why it was being explored……

Cost evaluations showed energy produced from nuclear fusion would be more expensive than renewable energy and the long timeframe – “possibly a generation” – made it impractical, Ms King argued. ……

Nuclear power development is currently banned in Australia under the Federal Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

“It is this restriction that the LNP are ultimately trying to dismantle,” Ms King said.

August 26, 2019 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Early submissions to Australian govt Inquiry slightly favour nuclear power

First views to federal inquiry give tick to nuclear power, The pro-nuclear power camp is slightly ahead in the first batch of views presented to the federal inquiry.  Nuclear backers lead charge in new probe   Chris Russell, The Advertiser, August 23, 2019 

Nuclear power can operate safely and Australia should pursue the technology, a slight majority of initial submissions to the Federal Government’s inquiry into the issue recommend.

However, nearly as many submissions urge against nuclear power, saying it is dangerous and uneconomic.

“There is no business case for nuclear in Australia,” University of Adelaide Professor Derek Abbott argues.

“From an engineering viewpoint, the modern grid in fact needs energy sources that can rapidly respond to changing demand.

“(It) … would be a poor investment in a technology that will be largely redundant in the modern grid.”

Fellow South Australian Denys Smith, a retired analytical chemist, says that having plentiful power would support desalinating water, a hydrogen industry, mineral processing and manufacturing.

“Involve the public in the nuclear power debate as SA did during the royal commission in 2016,” he suggests.

“Information and facts change attitudes.”

The two SA submissions are among the first 17 to be published by the Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy, which is holding an inquiry into The Prerequisites for Nuclear Energy in Australia.

Nine submissions were in favour and seven against, with one recommending a focus on thorium rather than uranium-fuelled reactors.

The inquiry, which was established this month on instruction from federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor is open for submissions until September 16.

It will then hold hearings and request further evidence.

In his submission, Notre Dame University Professor Keith Thompson tells the inquiry nuclear power could assist Australia to fulfil an “altruistic obligation to the world to develop its agricultural potential”.

In contrast, Richard Finlay-Jones, from EcoEnviro consultants, says nuclear will not solve price and reliability issues and that “Australia has such rich renewable energy resources that it has the potential to generate power for all of southeast Asia”.

The first submissions are from individuals, with organisations likely to lodge comprehensive documents nearer to the closing date.

The inquiry must take regard of SA’s 2016 Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle – which found generation was not commercially viable for SA alone but should be considered nationally – and the 2006 Switkowski review.

Mr Taylor has asked the committee to report by the end of the year.

August 26, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Labor urges Morrison govt to pressure Brazil to protect Amazon forests

Labor urges more action to protect the Amazon, SBS,  Labor is urging the Morrison government to do all it can to encourage Brazil to protect the Amazon as international leaders discuss the issue at the G7 summit. In a joint statement, Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong and climate change spokesman Mark Butler said the rainforest fires are increasingly occurring at an alarming rate.

“The Amazon has often been described as the world’s lungs. Its protection matters to the whole international community,” they said.

“We call on the Morrison government to do everything they can to encourage Brazil to respond to this rapidly worsening global disaster.”

They said failure to defend against or prevent these fires stands to derail any international efforts against climate change…….

August 26, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

One gem from the pro nuclear Submissions to FEDERAL. Inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia.

 Submission 11 Keith Thompson (Strange and wonderful arguments) Minimises the importance of Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters.
(Get nuclear power for Australia) by creating wealthy and attractive research prizes to completely eradicate these risks. …
For example, if the Australian federal government created an all comers $10m or $100m prize that invented ways to use all existing nuclear power production waste so that there was none left, I believe that universities and private engineering businesses all over the world would be motivated to engage with the problem. Smaller subsidiary prizes for dealing with parts of that nuclear waste could be crafted to be similarly motivating. I expect that with such incentives, the waste problem could be solved within ten years but would certainly be resolved within fifty years. …
The destructive effects of nuclear power. In one sense this criticism of nuclear power is the response of an ostrich to the unknown or danger. If Newton had stopped pondering gravity because it might lead to the discovery of powered flight and the loss of life in aircraft accidents, or the possibility of anti-gravity and power more destructive than that which we are now considering, we would never have learned how to fly or otherwise stood on the shoulders of his discovery. …
Australia has a duty of comity to the rest of the nations of the world to realise its agricultural potential which could be unlocked with the production of industrial and residential water.

August 25, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Submissions now published to Federal Nuclear Inquiry

SUBMISSIONS SO FAR PUBLISHED (I’ll be analysing these as they come in, and also publishing this on the page more

 1. FEDERAL. Inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia (Submissions close 16 September 2019 

Don’t let’s forget – some submissions are “confidential” – (quite likely a few from nuclear companies )

Pro nuclear
Submission  1 Gavin Brown
Submission 8 Ian Fischer
Submission 10 Paul Myers
Submission 11  Keith Thompson
Submission 12   Barry Murphy
Submission 14  Terry Ryan
Submission 15    Denys J Smith
Submission 17  Terje Petersen   (same as his submission to NSW Inquiry)
Submission 18   Allen Tripp
Anti nuclear 
Submission 2   Jonathan Peter
Submission 3 Glenda Maxwell
Submission 4 Paul Savi
Submission 6 EcoEnviro Pty Ltd – Richard Finlay-Jones
Submission 7 Derek Abbott
Submission 9  David Gates

Submission 13   Peter L Briggs

August 24, 2019 Posted by | Submissions Federal 19 | Leave a comment

John Quiggin on Submissions to Parliamentary Nuclear Inquiries

August 24, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Shock Jock Alan Jones takes time off insulting women, to praise thorium nuclear power

Thorium ‘more environmentally friendly and safer’ than nuclear  August 20th 2019  
Sky News host Alan Jones explains the element thorium, which is “seen by many as more environmentally friendly” than nuclear as an energy source. Mr Jones said thorium-based reactors are safer too because the reaction can easily be stopped and produce less waste that is radioactive. “It’s three times as abundant as uranium, we’re told, and there’s enough thorium in the United States alone to power America at its current energy level for a thousand years,” he said. The broadcaster noted that rolling blackouts for smelters and manufacturers has created a “crisis” for the energy market and suggested thorium as a possible answer.


August 24, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack is an international embarrassment

Deputy PM apologises for telling Pacific it will survive climate change as workers ‘pick our fruit’ ABC , By political reporter Matthew Doran  23 Aug 19, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has apologised for comments about Pacific islanders being able to survive the ravages of climate change by taking fruit-picking jobs in Australia.

Key points:

  • Pacific countries want Australia to do more about climate change as they face rising sea levels
  • Nationals leader Michael McCormack said last week they would survive because they “pick our fruit”
  • He has has offered an apology for the comment “if any insult was taken”

Mr McCormack made the comments last Friday as he sought to dismiss criticism levelled at Prime Minister Scott Morrison following the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), at which leaders claimed Australia was ignoring the threat climate change posed to the survival of vulnerable low-lying island nations.

[I] get a little bit annoyed when we have people in those sorts of countries pointing the finger at Australia and say we should be shutting down all our resources sector so that they will continue to survive,” he said.

“They will continue to survive, there’s no question they will continue to survive, and they will continue to survive with large aid assistance from Australia.

“They will continue to survive because many of their workers come here and pick our fruit.”

On Thursday he apologised…….

‘Appropriate from a drunk in a bar, not from a leader’

The PIF meeting in Tuvalu saw Mr Morrison pressure fellow leaders to water down the PIF’s final declaration, removing references to cutting carbon emissions by phasing out coal.

Former president of Kiribati Anote Tong said he could not understand how Mr McCormack thought it was a smart comment to make.

“If you’re drunk, and in a bar, it would be an appropriate place and time to make the comment. But if you’re speaking as a leader, really it is not appropriate,” he said.

Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga, who hosted the Pacific Islands Forum, said the comments made Pacific Islanders sound like “paupers” who were begging for Australian support.

August 24, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear submissions: people are “doubling up”? Sending the same submissions to 2 different Inquiries

Well –  I am not able to read any submissions to FEDERAL. Inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia . But I have read all the 11 submissions so far published to New South Wales Inquiry into Uranium Mining and Nuclear Facilities (Prohibitions) Repeal Bill 2019. . They mostly pretty much read as if they were about setting up nuclear power in Austra ply using the same story to send to the Federal Inquiry. So there’s a hint – a way to save time?

Another hint – some writers are using some or all of their own previous submissions to the 2016 South  Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission.

In the next days and weeks Antinuclear. net will analyse submissions, as they appear on government websites.

August 22, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment