Australian news, and some related international items

Labor must reverse Morrison’s submarine bungle to protect nation,16546 By Alan Austin | 11 July 2022,

There is a niche in the global submarine industry that Australia is well-placed to occupy, reports Alan Austin.

IT WOULD BE a bold move which only a visionary and courageous government could accomplish. Australia has the chance now to reimagine its status as a global naval manufacturer and exporter. The challenge is to build a smaller, faster, stealthier, stronger submarine than its rivals, which requires fewer crew and is cheaper to build and operate.

This can be achieved with a scaled-down version of one of the best submarines ever designed: the Collins class. Where was this built? In South Australia in the 1990s.

This “daughter-of-Collins”, as former Prime Minister Paul Keating dubbed it, offers multiple gains. It will replace the current ageing Collins class more quickly than other options, it will give Australia’s navy boats fit for purpose, it will generate export income and build a springboard for expansion into other high-tech manufacturing. It’s a win-win.

Australia lost its car manufacturing industry during the disastrous Tony Abbott period. Australia’s military procurement suffered badly throughout the later Coalition years due to ineptitude, lack of enterprise and corruption. New submarine construction will restore Australia’s heavy industry capability and recover – eventually – the treasure lost with all those Coalition failures.

The boat for middle-power countries

None of the submarines considered by the previous incompetent Coalition Government is right for Australia.

These were:

  • Japan’s Soryu class diesel-electric, 84 meters long, speed of 20 knots submerged, 65 crew. The Abbott Government announced in 2014 that it was buying these but did not proceed;
  • France’s Barracuda class nuclear attack submarine, 99.5 meters, speed of 25 knots, 60 crew. The Turnbull Government contracted to buy twelve in 2015. The Morrison Government welched on that deal in 2021, costing Australia its international reputation as an honourable trading partner, compromising Australia’s medium-term security, and losing taxpayers around five billion borrowed dollars with nothing to show for it;
  • American Virginia class nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine, 115 metres, speed of 25 knots, 135 crew. Designed in the 1990s, first delivered in 2008;
  • Britain’s Astute class, nuclear-powered attack submarine, 97 metres, speed of 30 knots, 98 crew. Designed in the 1990s, first launched in 2007.

Other options include Sweden’s Blekinge class diesel-electric, 66 metres; Germany’s U-36, diesel-electric, 57 meters; and India’s Kalvari class diesel-electric, 67.5 metres.

These compare with the current Australian Collins class, which is 77 metres, speed of 20 knots, crew 42, including six officers.

Assessing Australia’s needs

The new Australian sub should be around 60 metres, diesel-electric, speed 30 knots and operable with a crew of four officers and 25 sailors. This is based on the following needs:

  • Given regional stability is steadily improving, Australia can ensure its defence with smarter decisions, more advanced technology, better regional collaboration and much lower expenditure;
  • Australia’s immediate neighbours are Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, New Zealand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Nuclear submarines are not needed to patrol these waters and cannot access New Zealand ports under laws unlikely to change. Malaysia and Indonesia also have serious misgivings;
  • The concept that Australia, population 26 million, could deploy nuclear attack class vessels in the South China Sea or beyond to engage militarily with China, population 1,439 million, is ludicrous. This seems to be the underpinning of the previous Government’s failed endeavours.
  • The risk of China attacking Taiwan is limited. Even if it does, Australia has no treaties with Taiwan, and will not be involved;
  • The risk of buying American nuclear submarines is that they will be operated and controlled by Americans and effectively just add to the U.S. fleet.

Historical precedent

Building the six Collins class submarines in Australia was an extraordinarily ambitious project. The challenge was to build faster, stealthier and more lethal boats than its successful predecessor, the Oberon class.

Prime Minister Bob Hawke delegated this task to Treasurer Paul Keating and Defence Minister Kim Beasley.

Keating recalled recently that “Kim always had the admiral’s hat on. I had the money and the guns”.

Construction began in 1990 and encountered multiple engineering problems, all of which were eventually overcome. The first boat was delivered in 1996, the sixth in 2003. These will now serve until the mid-2030s.

Military analysts Asianometry recently assessed them as:

‘… very capable, up to par with anything the United States has to offer … The Collins was a triumph.’

Australia can do this

ASC, the government-owned shipbuilders based in Osborne, South Australia, built the Collins vessels and has continual experience maintaining them. It has also successfully delivered three Hobart class destroyers and other vessels.

Home-built submarines superior to Collins are now possible because of advances since the 1990s in metallurgy, engine design, sonar technology and batteries. Weapons systems are also more compact.

Importantly, Australia is one of two major lithium mining countries. Lithium-ion batteries have double the storage capacity of lead-acid batteries. Australia becoming the world’s leading lithium battery producer will be a highly-profitable spin-off.

Can new Defence Minister Richard Marles pull this off? As Deputy PM, he had the choice of portfolios and chose defence. He has put his hand up. Let’s see what he delivers when he dons his admiral’s hat.

South Australia’s enthusiasm

The project has passionate support from the State Government.

Welcoming new Defence Minister Richard Marles to South Australia last week, Premier Peter Malinauskas said:

What the Deputy Prime Minister has been able to see firsthand today is the extraordinary capability that South Australia offers when it comes to shipbuilding. This has been something that is now in our blood here in South Australia. We are the home of the Collins-class submarine. We built the AWDs. We now see firsthand the work in terms of the delivery of the Hunter class.

What should we call this new class of submarines built in Australia? One option is to honour the last of the Coalition defence ministers, whose incompetence has inadvertently gifted the new Government with this shot at greatness.

So why not the Boofhead class? Or in honour of Keating, who remains an inspirational visionary in this area, maybe the Scumbag class?

Perhaps, to recognise the recent historic change of government, the Toto class? Or if the incoming Government succeeds with this ambitious project, as it should, then why not simply the Albo class?

July 11, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Slow, expensive and no good for 1.5° target: CSIRO crushes Coalition nuclear fantasy.

CSIRO says nuclear is too slow, too expensive, and its best prospects for a significant share of global generation are in weak climate targets. The post Slow, expensive and no good for 1.5° target: CSIRO crushes Coalition nuclear fantasy appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Slow, expensive and no good for 1.5° target: CSIRO crushes Coalition nuclear fantasy — RenewEconomy

Australia’s leading scientific research organisation, the CSIRO, has delivered a damming blow against the renewed push by the federal Coalition for nuclear power, saying it is expensive, and too slow to make  a significant contribution to any serious climate targets.

The latest version of the CSIRO’s important GenCost report still ranks nuclear as the most expensive of existing technologies, and at least double or up to five times the cost of “firmed” wind and solar, including storage and transmission costs.

It has long been accepted that existing large scale nuclear is way too expensive and too inflexible to play any role in Australia’s future grid, but the pro-nuclear lobby has been pushing the idea of Small Modular Reactors, and has been putting intense pressure on the CSIRO to embrace it.

This argument has been taken up with vigour by the federal Coalition, which has responded to its electoral defeat by appointing a pro-nuclear advocate as energy spokesman, and intensifying its campaign against wind and solar that its members have described as “dole bludgers.”

The latest CSIRO GenCost report – which says that wind, solar and storage is clearly the cheapest option in Australia – points out that the intense pressure it received to lower its cost estimates for nuclear comes almost exclusively from ambitious vendors, and their proxies, who have nothing to show for their claims.

There are no SMRs in operation, and none are expected until 2029 at the earliest. CSIRO economist Paul Graham, the lead author of the report, says until the first SMRs are deployed it is not possible to find good evidence about the claims of the industry.

It is interesting to note that in the latest GenCost report, CSIRO notes that only one formal submission was received on nuclear, which argued that the cost estimates of nuclear SMR should be lower.

“Vendors seeking to encourage the uptake of a new technology have proposed theoretical cost estimates, but these cannot be verified until proven through a deployed project,” it says.

But perhaps the most damming part of the CSIRO report are what it says about the role of various technologies in differing climate scenarios.

It shows that the weaker the climate target, the greater the share of nuclear power. If countries are serious about achieving 1.5°C target, or even below 2°C, then nuclear is simply too slow to play a significant role, and its share of global generation falls significantly.

Graham puts it this way. If nuclear is to prosper, it will need huge licks of government support, and a significant carbon price. But if the world is aiming for the Paris climate targets and is willing to spend money to get there, then other technologies – mostly wind, solar and storage – will fill that gap.

“(Nuclear) needs some climate policy ambition,” Graham told RenewEconomy. “But if there’s too much climate policy ambition the other technologies run away with the cost reductions and nuclear can’t catch up.

“If it looks like we have to reduce emissions much faster, then it’s just too slow to contribute to that.”

This graph [on original] illustrates the point. Nuclear (in purple) has a share of around 10-12 per cent of global generation in the “current policies” scenario out to 2030. But this share diminishes out to 2050 in all three scenarios, and particularly those that seek to minimise average global warming.

The current policies scenario represents average global warming of around 2.6°C, while the Global NZE (net zero emissions) by 2050 aims for 1.5°C and the Global NZE post 2050 assumes around 1.7°C.

July 11, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Why Australia’s Labor government refuses to defend Julian Assange

WSWS Oscar Grenfell@Oscar_Grenfell, 6 July 22, When the Labor Party scraped into office following the May 21 federal election, some supporters of Julian Assange voiced hopes that the new government would defend the WikiLeaks publisher because he is an Australian journalist and citizen undergoing persecution abroad.

The crudest and most thoughtless expression of these hopes came in the form of an update to a petition demanding that the Australian government act to free Assange. Over the course of almost three years, the petition has been signed by more than 730,000 people, and has served as an important focal point for the latent, mass support that exists for Assange.

But on July 4, the petition’s founder declared that it was no longer necessary to issue any demands on the Australian government. The sole evidence provided was that Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had purportedly signed the petition, and that some members of the government have hinted that it may engage in “quiet diplomacy” on behalf of Assange. “Now that we confirm that the Prime Minister of Australia is one of us and together with all of our collective 731,000 Signatories to this petition we will together move forward with direct representations to the responsible Public Officers in both the USA and Britain,” the update declared.

It was necessary to “understand that the Australian Government does have a right to negotiate the matter of freedom of Julian Assange in the best way they see to secure his freedom… We do not intend to work against any action being taken in different ways by any individual Signatory”—i.e., Albanese.

“[W]e will move forward in a peaceful, harmonious and inclusive manner,” the update declared, that is with regards to the Labor government.

To be blunt, such statements are exercises in wilful delusion. Since forming government, Labor has not issued anything that even could be described as weasel-words in support of Assange. Its attitude towards the WikiLeaks publisher is barely concealed hostility.

The greatest mistake defenders of Assange could make would be to allow a right-wing pro-war Labor government to lead them around by the nose. Such a course would serve to demobilise the mass backing that Assange has among workers and young people, and create the political conditions required for Labor to bury his plight and ensure that extradition from Britain to the US proceeds without hindrance.

The petition update promoted the latest comments on Assange by a member of the government. In an Australian Broadcasting Corporation “Law Report” radio program on June 28, Labor’s Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus again stated that the Assange case had “gone on for too long.” It was this comment that was highlighted on the petition.

But what, of substance, did Dreyfus actually say?

Introducing the subject of Assange, midway through the interview, the host noted warnings that the attempted US prosecution of Assange would set a dangerous precedent of US law being imposed globally.

Assange, an Australian citizen, is facing prosecution in the US, for documents he published while in Europe, exposing American war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Citing Assange legal advisor Greg Barns, the interviewer asked if Dreyfus was troubled by this attempt to extend the reach of American legislation to an Australian citizen with no legal connection to the US?

The attorney-general brushed the question aside. “The United States has long legislated in an extra-territorial way and I think that all other countries have understood that for a long time,” he said. In other words, the US government can do what it likes.

Dreyfus continued: “It is not open to the Australian government to directly interfere with either the jailing of Mr Assange in the United Kingdom or the extradition request that has been made by the United States.”

As with all other Labor ministers, Dreyfus presented Assange’s imprisonment and threatened extradition as a bona fide, lawful procedure. But Assange’s detention, in a maximum-security British prison, without conviction, has been denounced by outgoing United Nations Rapporteur Nils Melzer as state torture.

The US extradition effort is akin to a pseudo-legal lynching. Assange is to be imprisoned, for 175 years, under the draconian Espionage Act, for publishing true information revealing the illegal actions of the American government. Such an operation recalls dissidents being hurled into a dungeon cell, with the key thrown away, during medieval times.

Credible allegations are now on the public record, moreover, that the Trump administration and the CIA discussed kidnapping or assassinating Assange in 2017, before filing an indictment and an extradition request.

Dreyfus again made reference to the possibility of diplomatic representations on Assange’s behalf.

In a highly revealing exchange, the interviewer noted: “The government has said it would like to see this matter brought to an end, but hasn’t exactly said how it would prefer it to come to an end.” Would the government seek to have the charges against Assange dropped in the United States? she asked. “I am not going to canvas what will be the resolution of this case,” Dreyfus replied.

In other words, the attorney-general’s vague statements are worthless. Why would anyone believe that a government minister, who will not even state publicly that the charges against Assange should be dropped, would be fighting for his freedom behind closed doors?

Dreyfus’ vague references to “representations” are like a bone to a hungry dog, meant to placate Assange’s supporters, as is the cloak and dagger operation of Albanese possibly signing the petition.

The real position of Labor has been spelled out by two of its most prominent leaders, Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Defence Minister Richard Marles.

Marles stated last month: “This is a matter for the United Kingdom. Like any Australian citizen facing legal proceedings abroad, he will be provided consular assistance.”

The position is identical to that of the previous Liberal-National Coalition government. Consular support means monitoring the extradition case and the decline of Assange’s health. It is the antithesis of a diplomatic and political intervention to free Assange.

For his part, Albanese has sought to dodge the issue of Assange for the past six weeks. He refuses to mention the WikiLeaks founder’s name, even when directly questioned about the topic. The only passionate comments he has made on the case were in an angry denunciation of Twitter users calling on the Labor government to take action.

It is hardly a mystery why Labor refuses to defend Assange.

The primary focus of the new government has been a foreign policy blitz, orchestrated in the closest of collaboration with the Biden administration, which is seeking Assange’s extradition.

Wong and Albanese have been on one foreign visit after another, seeking to shore-up US dominance in the Indo-Pacific, and to further American imperialism’s confrontation with China, which threatens nuclear war.

The highpoint came last week, when Albanese attended the NATO summit in Madrid. There, he gave full support to a new NATO doctrine, which labels Russia and China as threats and calls on member states to prepare “for high-intensity, multi-domain warfighting against nuclear-armed peer-competitors.”

The persecution of Assange is retribution for his exposure of past war crimes. But it is also a preparation for new, and even greater crimes, associated with these US-led plans for what is nothing short of a global war. The aim is to intimidate the mass anti-war sentiment that exists among workers and young people, and to establish a precedent for further frame-ups and victimisations. The Labor government is fully committed to Washington’s war measures, so it is hostile to Assange. …………………………

July 9, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Liberal National Party, led by Dutton and Littleproud vote on support for Queensland nuclear plants

LNP vote on support for Qld nuclear plants, Marty Silk  July 8, 2022,

Liberal National Party members are set to vote on whether to make it easier for nuclear power plants to be built in Queensland.

The party will use its annual convention in Brisbane this weekend to decide on motions that could come to define its climate change and energy policies at the next state and federal elections.

They include a call to commit to net zero emissions by 2050 ahead of the 2024 state election and to repeal any law preventing the construction of a nuclear power plant in Queensland.

“So that it authorises the construction or operation of the following nuclear installations: a nuclear fuel fabrication plant; a nuclear power plant; an enrichment plant; and a reprocessing facility,” the motion put forward by three LNP branches says.

Other motions call for an end of government subsidies for renewable energy and for domestic coal, oil, gas and uranium reserves.

The LNP motions could be decisive in determining the federal coalition’s energy policies as both the Liberal and National leaders – Peter Dutton and David Littleproud – are members.

Mr Littleproud last month wrote to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese urging him to consider small-scale nuclear plants to reduce emissions and improve reliability.

Formed in a merger of the two parties 14 years ago, the LNP currently holds more seats in Queensland than the coalition does in any other state.

The Queensland party’s three-day annual convention starts in Brisbane on Friday will begin charting a course for its return to power.

Opposition Leader David Crisafulli is hoping to lead the LNP to victory in two years’ time against what will then be a nine-year-old Labor government.

Federal Opposition Leader Mr Dutton is on leave and will miss the convention, but his deputy Mr Littleproud will speak on Saturday………………………………

There are also motions to water down land clearing laws and to oppose any increase of national park areas in Queensland…………………………

July 9, 2022 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Albanese’s extreme language against China is out of place now, and against Labor tradition

Even the hawkish former defence Minister Peter Dutton told National Press Club that he did not believe China wanted to occupy Australia. Why then do both sides of politics go out of their way to make an enemy of China. It is a recklessly provocative policy that could cause many Australians to die unnecessarily.

Albanese blasted China for not condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but exempted India which did the  same.

China has not been in major war since 1950. Nor has it  killed anyone in the South China Sea or near Taiwan,  where it is accused of behaving more aggressively. All major countries accept Taiwan is part of China.

What is Anthony Albanese up to! By Brian Toohey. Jul 6, 2022

Anthony Albanese has shown during his recent trip to Europe that he is a prime minister addicted to hyperbole and oblivious to how countries can change in unexpected ways.

He told NATO leaders China aimed to become the most powerful nation in the world and its strengthening relations with Moscow “posed a risk to all democratic nations”. It’s most unlikely all democratic countries will be at risk. For a start, Russia will be in no condition to go to war with any other country after its abhorrent decision to invade Ukraine. It could be bogged down for years in a guerrilla war. China faces  a growing number of countries, including those in NATO, which are committed to containing its military and economic growth.

Albanese said in Europe that China is trying to “build up alliances to undermine what has historically been the Western Alliance in places like the Indo Pacific”. Historically, however, most Asian countries, including India and China, have been there a lot longer than the Western intruders are likely to last. The US may be the exceptional state. It annexed Hawaii in 1898 and made it an American state in 1959. But there is a plausible chance America will not  remain a democracy in coming years. While nothing is certain, China may become a democracy sometime after a discredited President Xi is deposed or dies. If so, it is entirely feasible the public may elect a majority Communist government led by a moderate reformist. No one knows. Alternatively, the US may become an autocratic state with a feral Supreme Court while China remains an autocratic state with an unpopular and futile determination to achieve “Zero Covid”.

The story of other members of the Western alliance is one of momentous change. Britain took Hong Kong by force in 1842 as a base for peddling opium produced in India by the British East India Company. India won its independence from Britain in 1947 and Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1977. France had a cumulative 100 years as the colonial power in Indochina until booted out by the Viet Minh in 1953. However, it retained its colonial possessions in the Pacific Islands. Albanese told President Macron in Paris that France was an Indo Pacific power which could help contain China’s “growing ambitions” in the region.

Albanese told President Macron in Paris that France was an Indo Pacific power which could help contain China’s “growing ambitions” in the region.

Albanese blasted China for not condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but exempted India which did the  same. Labor’s Defence Minister Richard Marles earlier warmly praised India and said it is “central to Australia’s worldview and defence planning”. It also has a Hindu supremacist government that actively discriminates against Islamic members of the population.

While in Europe, Albanese falsely claimed that Australia always obeys the international rules. If it had, it would not have helped the US and the UK invade Iraq. The invasion killed or seriously injured large numbers of people and rendered even more homeless. It also allowed terrorist groups to operate in Iraq when none were present under Saddam Hussein.  Albanese’s misleading assertion dishonours Labor’s leader at the time, Simon Crean, who opposed the invasion as a breach of the rules forbidding the use of military aggression in international relations.

Albanese caught the attention of his European audience when he complained that China had “economically coerced” Australia. A fuller picture would have acknowledged Australia officially took more than 100 anti-dumping complaints against China, despite usually frowning on such measures as potentially harming free trade. China eventually retaliated with tariffs and anti-dumping measures on some Australian exports to China. Albanese gives no sign that he understands China is not the only one who should back off.

China has not been in major war since 1950. Nor has it  killed anyone in the South China Sea or near Taiwan,  where it is accused of behaving more aggressively. All major countries accept Taiwan is part of China. Some of China’s opponents, including senior US Republican politicians, seem intent on goading it into using military force against Taiwan. Fortunately, Taiwanese leaders seem to understand that the island will not be attacked unless they declare independence. China could make this less likely by granting Taiwan a genuine status as autonomous region. One reason China won’t grant independence is this would make the island a convenient base to stage attacks against the mainland. Nevertheless, an experienced observer Geoff Raby says China won’t attack the island as this would involve the killing fellow ethnic Han Chinese which would be highly unpopular.

China makes claims to territorial waters in the South China Sea that other littoral countries also claim. The Pentagon acknowledges China withdrew six land claims to settle borders disputes. If it wants to be more accommodating, China could settle some of the extreme territorial sea claims that were originally made by the Communist Party’s political opponent, the Nationalist Party, before 1949. Taiwan also makes these claims. Ideally, China Sea could follow the Antarctic example and offer to turn South China Sea into a demilitarised zone beyond the 12 nautical mile offshore line.

There is no dispute that China is building up its armed forces. But its spending is no match for the US which is spends as much as the next nine countries together, including China. China has good reason to respond to a US military build up. In 2009, the US announced it had developed an Air/Sea Battle Plan for a war with China, to destroy much of its air and naval forces and blockade all its ports and maritime routes. The details have changed, but in 2011 the US also adopted  a “pivot” to the Pacific with goal of deploying  60 per cent of its forces there. It is also actively engaged in building new bases on Pacific islands within striking distance of China while the Albanese government loudly opposes any hint that China might try to build naval base in the Pacific, or even in nearby Cambodia. US and Australian forces also constantly undertake surveillance missions close to China.

In these circumstances, it is vital to try to ease tensions on all sides to avoid what would be a terrible war. In the past, Labor would be among those urging support for new arms control agreements and expanding all channels for the potential combatants to talk. Ben Chifley, Bert Evatt, Gough Whitlam, Bill Hayden, Gareth Evans and Paul Keating all made significant efforts to actively promote peace. Anthony Albanese is supporting a large arms buildup, which is not the same thing.

Well before Albanese’s European trip, he stressed the Labor government would support the Coalition’s new security pact between Australia, the UK and the US (AUKUS). No one has given a convincing explanation for why we need AUKUS on top of the Australian New Zealand US (ANZUS) security treaty signed back in 1951.

The UK adds nothing of value. In 1968 the then Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson announced that Britain would withdraw its military bases from “East of Aden”. This was a good policy reflecting the fact that Britain no longer ruled the waves. Wilson also refused to send British troops to the Vietnam war, partly because the country couldn’t afford it. Yet Britain retained its “special relationship” with the US. A subsequent government restored a military base in the Middle East, but now Boris Johnson, a disastrous prime minister, has given British military forces a role in confronting China in the Asia-Pacific.

Although the text of AUKUS has not been released, it states the US and UK are prepared to sell nuclear submarines to Australia. They would’ve done that without AUKUS. They would also have done so for other countries such as Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Singapore, but they see more advantages in writing operating modern conventionally powered ones. NATO members without nuclear subs could buy them, but don’t because it doesn’t make military or financial  sense. Yet Labor still wants buy eight nuclear subs, almost certainly from the US, so it can fire cruise missiles from nuclear submarines operating far from Australia into China. This is an extremely bad idea on both strategic and cost grounds.  It will only provoke China which çan fire more missiles into Australia than Australia can fire into it. We could do more to defend Australia from closer to home with a mix of weapons at a much lower cost. Moreover when our nuclear submarine fires the first missile into China it will be detected and almost certainly sunk.

Plausible estimates put the cost of eight US nuclear submarines at $171 billion. (This is from a government that says it can’t afford to increase the miserable level of the New Start Allowance.) The risks of buying nuclear are on the upside, particularly as Australia wants to build them here.

The first submarine, probably a version of the US Virginia class attack ones, will not be operationally available until the early 2040s and the last by 2060. A leading US defence analyst Winslow Wheeler cautions that the Virginia class has maintenance problems and is not available for much of the time. He says that over 33 years they have only  performed 15 six monthly deployments.

The former Senator Rex Patrick, an ex-submariner, says that conventionally powered submarines are now commonly equipped with air independent propulsion (AIP), which makes them quieter than nuclear submarines which have to keep their reactor cooling pumps going and use noisy big meshing gears between the steam turbines and propellers. Others point out that nuclear subs can be detected by their constant release of hot water; by leaving wakes on the surface when run at high speeds and by blue green lasers that will penetrate water by 2040.

Patrick says that figures given to the parliament show Australia could buy 20 modern off-the-shelf conventional submarines for $30 billion – not $171 billion for nuclear submarines that don’t meet our requirements.

Another downside of buying nuclear subs is that we would have to meet our obligations to declare any fissile material under our control to the International Atomic Energy Agency which acts on behalf of the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). However, the US will refuse to give us the required information about the highly enriched,  weapons grade uranium in the reactors.

A further problem is that several Pacific Island leaders don’t want Australia to buy nuclear submarines. Nor, as Foreign Minister Penny Wong discovered on her recent visit to Malaysia, do its leaders.

Australian public opinion does not unambiguously support Labor’s strategy. The latest Lowy Institute’s annual poll shows over 51 per cent believe Australia should remain neutral in a military conflict between China and the US.

Even the hawkish former defence Minister Peter Dutton told National Press Club that he did not believe China wanted to occupy Australia. Why then do both sides of politics go out of their way to make an enemy of China. It is a recklessly provocative policy that could cause many Australians to die unnecessarily.

July 7, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A big win for Yeelirrie — Beyond Nuclear International

Indigenous community keeps door closed to uranium mining in Australia

A big win for Yeelirrie — Beyond Nuclear International Cameco delays mean uranium mining permit not extended
By Maggie Wood, Acting Executive Director, Conservation Council of Western Australia
On April 6, we celebrated a huge step forward in our sustained campaign to keep the door closed to uranium mining in Yeelirrie. 
The Minister for Environment has rejected an application by the Canadian mining company Cameco to extend their environmental approval for the Yeelirrie uranium mine. 

The approval was controversially granted in 2017 in the dying days of the Barnett government and required Cameco to commence mining within five years. They have failed to do this and now they have failed in their bid to have this time extended.

This is a huge win for the local area, the communities nearby and for life itself. The special and unique lives of the smallest of creatures, endemic subterranean fauna found nowhere else on earth, would have most likely been made extinct had this project gone ahead, according to the WA EPA. 

For over five decades Traditional Custodians from the Yeelirrie area have fought to protect their Country and community from uranium mining. Over this time they have stood up and overcome three major multinational mining companies – WMC, BHP and now Cameco.

We have stood united with communities to say no to uranium mining and this consistent rejection of the nuclear industry in WA has helped secure the sensible decision to not extend the approval.

“It is possible to stand up to multinational companies and stop major mining projects from destroying sacred lands and environments – we do that from a base of strength in unity and purpose, from persistent and consistent actions and most of all perseverance against all odds to stand up for what is right …” – Kado Muir, Tjiwarl Traditional Custodian.

And this couldn’t have happened without you. Hundreds of supporters like you have spent time on country with Traditional Custodians – listening, walking, connecting with country and standing up for a nuclear free future. Traditional Custodians, unions, faith groups, health groups, environmental groups, the WA and Australian Greens and WA Labor – we’ve all had a big part to play. 

Thank you to everyone who has stood up, spoken out, donated, walked, written letters, signed petitions and online actions, bought artwork and t-shirts, volunteered, and organised to say no to uranium mining.

The campaign to protect Yeelirrie is not entirely over. While the approvals can’t be acted on currently, they do still exist, and an amendment could be made by a future government giving Cameco the greenlight to mine.

This is why we are now calling on the State Government to withdraw approvals for Yeelirrie along with expired approvals for Cameco’s Pilbara proposal at Kintyre and Toro Energy’s Wiluna uranium proposal. Doing this would be consistent with WA Labor’s policy and community expectations and – as Vicki Abdullah says – is the next step to a lasting solution.

“We’re really glad to hear the news that Yeelirrie’s approval has not been extended. It was a bad decision in the first place and after years in court and fighting to defend our country this news is a great relief. We will really celebrate properly when this government withdraws approvals altogether and then we can have more confidence the threat is over…” – . – Vicki Abdullah, Tjiwarl Traditional Custodian.

June 27, 2022 Posted by | politics, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Nuclear test survivors’ plea for Australia to sign treaty, as they speak at UN meeting

ABC North and West SA / 21 June 22, By Bethanie Alderson  Three generations of First Nations survivors of historic nuclear tests have told the United Nations that Australia must do more to address the devastating impact the tests have had on their families. 

Key points:

  • Three First Nations survivors of nuclear testing share their stories at a United Nations meeting
  • They are calling on the Australian government to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
  • The survivors say they are facing intergenerational trauma from nuclear tests carried out in the 1950s in outback South Australia

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) invited survivors to address a conference in Vienna, more than 60 years after nuclear bombs were detonated in the South Australian outback.

Yankunytjatjara woman Karina Lester, Kokatha elder Sue Coleman-Haseldine and her granddaughter, Mia Haseldine, shared their experiences via video link from Port Augusta.

The women told the conference how the tests conducted by the British government at Maralinga and Emu Field in the 1950s had affected the health of successive generations of Aboriginal families from the region.

They called on the Australian government to sign the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which came into force in January last year.

Intergenerational toll

Survivor June Lennon, who was in the audience, said she was only a week old when her father covered her with a tarp to protect her from a nuclear blast at Emu Field.

She told the ABC her family would continue to suffer physical and mental trauma from the testing for generations to come.

“Most of our grandchildren have got pretty bad eyesight, and we were born basically with epilepsy,” Ms Lennon said.

“It’s quite likely that I’m going to die because I’ve got bleeding from my kidneys.

“We want to live. We want our children to live after us. We’re losing them at really young ages now and some of that is mental health issues.”………………

‘We still eat the bush tucker’ in test zone

Ms Haseldine outlined gaps she believed the government needed to address to support the next generation of survivors, including a commitment to greater research and education with Aboriginal communities on the impact of the testing.

“If we can somehow link those scientists or researchers studying DNA into people that live on community, eat food from this community,” Ms Haseldine said.

“We still eat the bush tucker that’s out there where fallout probably landed.”

Last year, Australian researchers found that radioactive particles released during the nuclear tests remained highly reactive.

Second-generation survivor Karina Lester noted in her presentation the importance of language for Aboriginal communities who never gave consent to the testing.

Our mob were not informed of those tests that were about to take place on their traditional lands,” Ms Lester said.

“It’s important for information to be in traditional language so they know of the impacts it has on our bodies and our environment.”…………………………….

June 21, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

D’oh! David Littleproud’s nuclear comments insult our intelligence

D’oh! David Littleproud’s nuclear comments insult our intelligence Mia Pepper. CCWA Nuclear Free campaign coordinator.  

New federal Nationals leader David Littleproud made headlines this month when he suggested Australians’ collective aversion to nuclear power could be explained by its portrayal in The Simpsons.

“There’s this perception that’s been put around nuclear … etched into folklore from cartoons,” he said.

Perhaps Mr Littleproud would like to calm Australian nerves over rogue coyotes with boxes of TNT or bears swiping picnic baskets from unsuspecting members of the public.

Mr Littleproud’s comments were described as “bizarre” in the media. While he did also attribute nuclear’s image problem to concerns over Chernobyl and Fukushima, it is his comparison to Springfield’s crumbling and dangerous nuclear plant that drew the most ire.

To suggest Australians get their information on subjects like nuclear power from cartoons is to insult our collective intelligence. It might be more plausible to say – as Mr Littleproud did – that opinions have been formed around films and TV series like 2019’s Chernobyl.

However, if we were to follow that trail of thought to its natural conclusion, the only response to Mr Littleproud’s comments is, so what? Film and television comedy and drama enable exploration of many serious, complex topics without being mistaken for news or documentaries – though the creators of the Chernobyl miniseries did receive acclaim for their attention to detail, exhaustive research and stringent adherence to history.

The problem with Mr Littleproud’s points of reference – with the exception of The Simpsons, which is only a cutting parody of real-life incompetency in the nuclear energy industry – is that they are based in fact. Chernobyl and Fukushima really happened and really were as bad as their various dramatisations suggest – it could hardly be otherwise. Perhaps Mr. Littleproud would have been happier if, at the critical moment of the Reactor 4 meltdown, one of the Chernobyl workers had turned to another and declared, “not to worry, I’ll get this cleaned up in no time”?

Behind every dramatic interpretation of a nuclear disaster or depiction of incompetence in nuclear energy and uranium mining is a litany of real-life incidents that has created an enduring global movement against nuclear power. There have been more than 200 recorded nuclear accidents and events worldwide and with nuclear power plants vulnerable to threats exacerbated by climate change, similar incidents are a very real possibility. Climate-related shutdowns have been reported in France, Germany, California and Texas, leading the now-retired nuclear engineer David Lochbaum to state: “You need to solve global warming for nuclear plants to survive.”

Ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more than 300 organisations from 40 countries signed a joint declaration against nuclear power. Among them were 49 separate bodies from Australia, including unions, faith groups, environment and conservation bodies, Indigenous groups and health sector organisations representing millions of Australians.

Nuclear has been consistently proven deeply unpopular, ruinously expensive and too slow to implement to provide a serious solution to energy and decarbonisation needs.

By the time the legislation has passed, facilities have been built and workforces trained, 30 to 40 years will have passed along with the window of opportunity to prevent irreversible climate damage. Professor John Quiggin, an Australian laureate fellow in economics at the University of Queensland, has said the idea of producing nuclear power in Australia before 2040 is absurd.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency told a 2019 Senate inquiry into nuclear power that “Australia could not take much less than 15 years from the time a decision is taken to move in this direction; it is not unlikely that it would take longer.”

Even if it were possible to implement nuclear faster, the costs involved in delivering the energy into Australian homes and businesses would be utterly impractical, given the alternatives. In 2016, the South Australian Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle found “it would not be commercially viable to develop a nuclear power plant in South Australia beyond 2030.” In 2019, the Senate inquiry acknowledged “Over the past decade, levelised cost estimates for utility-scale solar dropped by 88 per cent, wind by 69 per cent, while nuclear increased by 23 per cent.”

Only this week, the new federal Minister for Energy Chris Bowen told the media that nuclear power is “the most expensive form of energy” – especially so given the current cost of living crisis.

Furthermore, every review into nuclear over the past two decades has acknowledged there is no bipartisan support for nuclear and strong public opposition. Doctor Ziggy Switkowski made this clear in his comments to the 2019 Senate inquiry, saying “there is no social licence at this time.”

June 20, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s Opposition Leader Dutton Says US Can Provide Two Nuclear Subs by 2030

Cartoon by Independent Australia’s MARK DAVID.

  • No confirmation of any such deal from US, despite claims
  • US, UK are ‘incredibly willing partners’: opposition leader
  • BySybilla Gross19 June 2022,   Australian opposition leader Peter Dutton reiterated his earlier claims that the US could provide Australia with two nuclear submarines by 2030, without providing material evidence that such a deal would occur. 
  • Speaking on the national broadcaster’s “Insiders” program Sunday, Dutton said he had visited counterparts in Connecticut and “spoken with them there” about acquiring the equipment, even though the proposition has attracted skepticism, given there’s been no indication from the US that it agreed to enter a sale. 
  • The US is “very keen to see the reality in the Indo-Pacific addressed and so I think that they would pull out every stop to support Australia acquiring the capability as quickly as possible,” he said.

Australia joined an Indo-Pacific security partnership with the U.S. and U.K. in September last year, allowing it to acquire nuclear-powered submarines. The move sparked a rift with France, which said the agreement scuppers an earlier deal Australia made in 2016 with a French shipbuilder to build up to 12 submarines.

Dutton, the former defense minister, wrote earlier this month that he believed it possible to acquire “the first two submarines off the production line out of Connecticut” this decade as an alternative to waiting until 2038 for domestic manufacturing to produce the first Australian-made submarine.

When asked on Sunday what information he had based his claims on, Dutton said, “I’m not going into conversations, but I formed a judgment that we could acquire two submarines quickly and I think it’s necessary that we do so.”  

The US and the UK are “incredibly willing partners,” he said.

The comments come as current Prime Minister Anthony Albanese prepares to depart for Europe later this month to attend a NATO meeting to discuss the war in Ukraine. The trip may also involve a visit to Paris to see President Emmanuel Macron, after Albanese said earlier in June he was looking forward to accepting an invitation from the French leader and that it was “absolutely vital” to reset the relationship between the two countries. 

June 20, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Federal government lobbying behind the scenes for Assange’s freedom.

  “in the end the Americans can’t say no [to his release], given that President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning for exposing the very war crime that Assange went on to publicise worldwide”.

“It was in Priti Patel’s power to do the right thing,” she said in a statement. “Instead, she will forever be remembered as an accomplice of the United States in its agenda to turn investigative journalism into a criminal enterprise.”

further appeals in British courts could rely on media reports last year that the CIA had planned to assassinate the Wikileaks founder. “There’s absolute validity to these matters . By James Massola and Latika Bourke, June 19, 2022

The federal government is lobbying US counterparts behind the scenes to secure the freedom of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, after the United Kingdom’s decision to approve his extradition to the United States.

The Trump administration brought charges against Assange under the Espionage Act relating to the leaking and publication of the WikiLeaks cables a decade ago.

The UK Home Office announced late on Friday (AEST) that “after consideration by both the Magistrates Court and High Court, the extradition of Julian Assange to the US was ordered”.

“In this case, the UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange.

“Nor have they found that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression, and that whilst in the US he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health.”

Assange’s legal team has 14 days to appeal the decision to the High Court and will do so while he remains in Belmarsh prison.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, while still opposition leader in December, said “enough is enough” and that it was time for Assange to be returned to Australia.

Asked about Assange’s extradition on Saturday, he told The Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age that he stood by the comments he made in December.

At the time, Albanese said “he [Assange] has paid a big price for the publication of that information already. And I do not see what purpose is served by the ongoing pursuit of Mr Assange”.

Albanese met US President Joe Biden at the Quad meeting in Tokyo in late May, days after the federal election, but there has been no indication that he raised the Assange matter with him during their meeting.

A source in the federal government, who asked not to be named so they could discuss the matter, has confirmed to The Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age that Assange’s case has been raised with senior US officials.

Former foreign minister Bob Carr said the discussions over Assange’s release would be “governed by sensitive, nuanced alliance diplomacy appropriate between partners”.

“I trust the judgment of Prime Minister Albanese on this, given his recent statement cautioning against megaphone diplomacy and his comments last December,” he said.

But Carr predicted that “in the end the Americans can’t say no [to his release], given that President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning for exposing the very war crime that Assange went on to publicise worldwide”.

“The Yank has had her sentence commuted; the Aussie faces an extradition and a cruel sentencing.”

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said on Friday that “Assange’s case has dragged on for too long and that it should be brought to a close. We will continue to express this view to the governments of the United Kingdom and United States”.

Albanese is due to attend the NATO summit in Madrid at the end of the month, which US President Joe Biden will also attend, though it is not clear if he will raise the matter there.

Assange’s wife, Stella Moris, hit out at UK Home Secretary Priti Patel for approving the extradition.

“It was in Priti Patel’s power to do the right thing,” she said in a statement. “Instead, she will forever be remembered as an accomplice of the United States in its agenda to turn investigative journalism into a criminal enterprise.”

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd tweeted that he disagreed with the decision to approve the extradition, even though he did not support Assange’s actions and “his reckless disregard for classified security information”.

“But if Assange is guilty, then so too are the dozens of newspaper editors who happily published his material.”

Labor MP Julian Hill said there could never be a legal solution to the case as it was inherently political and that “we should speak up for our fellow Australian and request that these charges be dropped and he not be extradited”.

Greens senator Jordon Steele-John said the extradition to the United States would set a dangerous precedent for press freedom and called on the prime minister to pick up the phone to his British and American counterparts.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, the chair of the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group, has called Britain’s decision an outrageous betrayal of the rule of law, media freedom and human rights.

“This matter is so deeply wrong on so many levels … time’s up for the new federal government hinting at caring and then doing nothing,” he said.

“The new Australian government is now to be condemned for abandoning an Australian hero journalist facing the very real prospect of spending the rest of his life rotting in a US prison.”

Amnesty International is urging the UK to refrain from extradition and the US to drop all charges.
The secretary-general of the human rights organisation, Agnes Callamard, says allowing the Australian to be sent to the US for trial would put him at great risk.

“Assange faces a high risk of prolonged solitary confinement, which would violate the prohibition on torture or other ill treatment,” Callamard said.

“Diplomatic assurances provided by the US that Assange will not be kept in solitary confinement cannot be taken on face value given previous history.”

Adviser to the Australian campaign to free Mr Assange, Greg Barns SC, says Britain’s decision is unsurprising given past approaches.

“The UK does not regard the extradition as being political when it clearly is,” he told ABC News on Saturday.

He says further appeals in British courts could rely on media reports last year that the CIA had planned to assassinate the Wikileaks founder.

“There’s absolute validity to these matters … the real issue is do we let this matter go back into the court system for another couple of years or do we say there are important principles here.”

There had been a change in rhetoric on the matter from the new government and statements from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Ms Wong had heartened the campaign, Mr Barns said.

“We’re certainly urging and hoping that now is the time for Australia to get involved with its key allies in London and Washington and bring this matter to an end.”

June 18, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics | Leave a comment

Why nuclear energy won’t work in Australia

Scott Ludlam, Scott Ludlam is a writer and activist, and a former Greens senator. 18 June 22,  There is something almost comical about the Liberals and Nationals throwing the forlorn spectre of nuclear power back into national energy debates, right after their loss in the 2022 “climate election”.

The incoming Energy minister, Chris Bowen, immediately slapped down the idea, calling it a “complete joke” and noting that nuclear is the most expensive form of energy. He’s right, and that should be the end of the argument, but we know it won’t be, because Peter Dutton and his colleagues are not engaged in a good faith debate about Australia’s future energy mix. For them, this is about something else entirely.

Not everyone who invites discussion on nuclear power acts in bad faith. In a climate emergency, it’s essential to have all viable, low-carbon energy sources on the table, which does entail a periodic assessment of where the nuclear industry actually stands. Has any progress been made on the intractable question of nuclear waste? How permeable is the barrier between civil and military applications? How are safety concerns over the world’s ageing reactor fleet being managed? How is the industry planning to clean up the enormous volumes of radioactive wastes left behind at uranium mines? 

Can this technology compete against low-cost renewables?

It’s tempting to imagine the nuclear industry stumbling around like the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, bleeding freely, mortally wounded and yet stubbornly defiant and refusing to die.

The best independent analysis of the state of the industry is provided by the World Nuclear Industry Status Report. Since 2007, these reports have provided an annual, country-by-country snapshot of nuclear plant construction, start-ups, accidents and closures. 

They make for forbidding reading, painting a picture of an industry in deep trouble. The number of reactors in operation has declined by two dozen since 2002, as the share of global electricity generation provided by nuclear power fell from about 17 per cent in 1996 to just above 10 per cent in 2020. Part of the problem is that the age of the industry is catching up with it. In the two decades to 2020, there were 95 new nuclear plant start-ups and 98 closures. As plants built in the 1970s and ’80s reach the end of their design life, and construction dries up nearly everywhere other than China, there is no real prospect of them being replaced at anything like the rate of closure. This decline is structural and inexorable.

There is an additional wildcard, which the industry refuses to acknowledge: the risk of future catastrophic reactor accidents. The industry insists it has learnt the lessons of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima, and it is true that plant redesigns and additional safety systems are a major factor driving up the costs of new reactors. But despite this, any accident, disaster or attack that shuts down the cooling system inside a nuclear power plant runs the risk of a meltdown. One study from 2017 analysed the frequency and intensity of 216 nuclear accidents between 1950 and 2014, estimating that “there is presently a 50 per cent chance that a Fukushima event (or larger) occurs every 60-150 years, and a Three Mile Island event (or larger) occurs every 10-20 years”.

These are shocking odds, both for host communities and for energy planners trying to manage the transition to zero-carbon electricity supply. People organising against nuclear power stations, waste dumps and uranium mines are commonly accused of being emotional, hysterical or delusional, when in fact these actions are usually informed by a willingness to look honestly at the difficult truths of this industry.

Someone who has seen those truths close up is Naoto Kan, who was prime minister of Japan at the time of the Fukushima disaster in 2011. In his introduction to the 2021 World Nuclear Industry Status Report, he writes: “The reactors in Units 1 to 3 suffered not only meltdowns, but also melt-through of the nuclear fuel, while the spent fuel pool at Unit 4 came close to evaporating entirely. Had this come to pass, it would have necessitated the evacuation of all residents within a radius of 250 kilometres – an area including the metropolis of Tokyo, the consequences of which would have been unimaginable.”

On the awful day we learn the name of the next Fukushima, whether it be in France, China, the United States or Russia, neither the industry nor its investors will be able to say they weren’t warned.

Surprisingly, it turns out these arguments are now accepted by a growing number of pro-nuclear advocates. Many of them tacitly or openly acknowledge that the technology they’ve been promoting for decades has no future. They have ceased arguing for the giant, water-cooled fission reactors that have been the backbone of the commercial nuclear energy sector since the 1960s.

Instead, they now advocate for a bewildering variety of experimental reactor types, fuelled by uranium or thorium or plutonium, cooled with helium or molten salt or liquid metal. These designs are proclaimed to be simultaneously cheap, safe and efficient, free of proliferation, waste and accident risks, and ready for commercial deployment any decade now.

What unifies many of them is not so much the technology type, but the smaller scale and the fact that they don’t really exist.

A pilot plant of one such small modular reactor (SMR) went into operation at Shidao Bay in China late in 2021, but outside the Chinese nuclear establishment, nobody knows how much it cost to build. According to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report, “There appear to be no plans to construct more reactors of the same design.” These plants are not an answer to climate change. Even the most ambitious estimates for commercial deployment of SMRs stretch into the 2030s and 2040s, long after the heavy lifting of global decarbonisation needs to have been done. Allison Macfarlane, the former chair of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, stated in 2021: “When it comes to averting the imminent effects of climate change, even the cutting edge of nuclear technology will prove to be too little, too late.”

This is where what Peter Dutton and his colleagues are really up to comes into sharper focus.

The speed and scale of low-cost solar and wind energy backed up by batteries and hydro power has hit critical mass worldwide. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, 2015 was the first year that more renewable energy capacity was added to the grid than non-renewable, including fossil and nuclear. By 2021, clean energy technologies accounted for 81 per cent of new generation capacity globally. Closer to home, the signs are everywhere, from the early closure of AGL’s coal-fired power stations to the announcement of huge new renewable energy zones across multiple Australian states.

 Into this fast-closing gap, the nuclear industry is making its final pitch before obsolescence: enormous public subsidies in exchange for an imaginary generation of small, cheap, safe reactors that exist nowhere but on paper. Complicating the message for those who still insist that there is no connection between nuclear weapons and nuclear power, the Morrison government’s reckless entry into the AUKUS agreement threatens to enmesh Australia in the trafficking and disposal of high-level spent nuclear fuel from submarine reactors, with all the public health, national security and proliferation risks this entails.

Importing this staggering debacle into Australian energy markets would be much more than just financially irresponsible: it would lock us into a high-risk dead end just as the clean energy revolution is finally under way at scale. But unlike the Black Knight, nuclear technology still retains the capacity to do enormous harm, even in its present enfeebled state. The UN Secretary-General’s special adviser on climate change, Selwin Hart, put it like this in a statement last year: “Where countries are depending on technologies that have not yet been developed, or indicating they intend to cut in the 2030 and 2040s, quite frankly, that’s reckless and irresponsible.”

The foundation of the global anti-nuclear movement has always been in the frontline communities that have suffered the harshest impacts of this technology. Whether it be the First Nations communities in Central and Western Australia, whose lands and health were sacrificed for nuclear weapons testing decades ago, or those who won an end to uranium mining in Kakadu or nuclear waste dumping in Central and South Australia: these debates are won and lost on Country, not in op-ed pages or analysts’ spreadsheets. So, while a combination of lived experience, mockery and hard data may be enough to put Dutton and his colleagues’ latest deranged foray to rest for the time being, the “debate” over nuclear power seems likely to hang around until the solar age puts it to the sword once and for all.

June 18, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s Energy Minister rejects nuclear power push

Hawkesbury Gazette By Paul Osborne and Dominic Giannini June 9 2022 

Energy Minister Chris Bowen has attacked the Nationals for suggesting nuclear power be considered in Australia’s energy mix, saying the party had no credibility after nine years in government.

Mr Bowen says nuclear would be the most expensive form of energy when Australians are already facing rising costs and inflationary pressures.

“Seriously? Nine years in office and then coming up with bright ideas on the other side of the election is point one. No credibility,” he said on Thursday.

“Nuclear is the most expensive form of energy. We have a cost of living crisis, energy prices going through the roof and what’s their big bright idea? Let’s have the most expensive form of energy we can possibly think of.”

…………………..  Labor has rejected the technology as too expensive and not a serious solution to reducing power costs or cutting emissions.

June 14, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Disgraced Victorian Liberal MP Tim Smith – quitting politics – backs Dutton’s call for nuclear power

Smith backs Dutton’s nuclear push as colleagues dodge debate, By Annika Smethurst, The Age June 12, 2022 Victorian Coalition leaders won’t endorse calls from their federal counterparts to consider nuclear energy generation, despite the plan having the support of several state MPs.

Following the federal election loss, newly installed Liberal leader Peter Dutton and Nationals leader David Littleproud have both hinted that nuclear energy could be part of the Coalition’s future policy platform…………….

While nuclear power has some support among Victorian Coalition MPs, the state opposition has attempted to distance itself from the federal push, repeatedly refusing to endorse or reject nuclear energy when approached by The Age.

In response to individual questions on the policy, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, Victorian Nationals’ leader Peter Walsh and shadow minister for energy and renewables Craig Ondarchie issued a joint statement claiming nuclear energy in Australia is regulated by the Commonwealth, and therefore not a state issue.

“As such any move would need to be taken at a federal level,” the Coalition spokesman said.

The statement was slammed by outgoing Liberal MP and former shadow attorney-general Tim Smith, who said: “Any serious opposition or government must at the very least put nuclear energy on the table.”

There is currently a federal ban prohibiting the use of nuclear materials for energy production, while Victorian legislation prohibits uranium and thorium mining and exploration………………………..

Another backbencher told The Age there should be an open conversation about the use of nuclear technologies given soaring energy costs.

Smith, who is quitting politics in November after crashing his car while drink-driving last year, agreed, saying the federal debate was both “timely and welcome” given the state’s baseload energy requirements……………………

June 14, 2022 Posted by | politics, Victoria | Leave a comment

Peter Dutton’s claim he planned to buy US nuclear subs is ‘political point-scoring’, defence experts say

These are sensitive negotiations and I think the great concern here is that Peter Dutton has basically worked against the national interest in an attempt for some domestic political point-scoring.”

Liberal leader is in damage control after his comments raised eyebrows, one analyst saying ‘there’s no way this is a plan’ Guardian. Paul Karp @Paul_Karp Fri 10 Jun 2022

Experts are critical of Peter Dutton’s claim he planned to buy two US nuclear submarines to plug a looming capability gap, as the Liberal leader goes into damage control over the disclosure.

Dutton has been accused of “political point-scoring” and being “unhelpful” in a campaign to pressure Labor’s Richard Marles to rule out other options to plug the gap between the retirement of Collins class submarines and Australia’s plan to build a nuclear fleet.

On Thursday Dutton, the former defence minister, revealed a plan he devised before the election to buy two Virginia-class submarines by 2030, claiming he had “formed a judgment the Americans would have facilitated exactly that”.

The comments raised eyebrows, both because Australia had not formally decided whether to opt for US or UK nuclear submarines and because experts have suggested it is unlikely the US would give up two of its own submarines by 2030.

Marles labelled the intervention “rank politics” and “completely inconsistent with everything Peter Dutton was doing and saying in government”…………….

Marcus Hellyer, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, told Guardian Australia Dutton had “put out an idea or concept”.

There’s no way this is a plan, it hasn’t been agreed by the US government, nor Australia, nobody has actually agreed to it.”

“If it were a plan it would be a pretty serious kind of breach or leak [to disclose it].”…….,

“No boats are available before 2030 unless the US gives up its own – that would be quite remarkable – the US has been clear there is no way they can build additional submarines.”

The chair of defence studies at the University of Western Australia, Dr Peter Dean, also expressed concerns about Dutton’s intervention.

“I’m sure that the UK wouldn’t be happy to learn from a newspaper article that, potentially, their submarine is not an option and I’m sure there’s plenty of people in the US Congress, the Pentagon and other parts of the US who were very interested to read these possible developments,” Dean reportedly told the ABC

These are sensitive negotiations and I think the great concern here is that Peter Dutton has basically worked against the national interest in an attempt for some domestic political point-scoring.”…………….

June 11, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Kerry Schott: why new coal or nuclear plants are a dumb idea

Mark Ludlow AFR, 7 June 22, ”…………………………………………It seems whenever there is an energy crunch or crisis, supporters of a nuclear industry say it would be the solution to Australia’s energy woes? Do you think nuclear will ever be an option in Australia?

My view of it, at the moment, is it’s a price thing. The last plant the English built cost an enormous amount of money. It’s much more expensive than coal.

It’s the cost of building the plant and dealing with the waste. Once up and running it’s not too bad, but the capital costs and the operating cost of dealing with the radioactive waste is a problem.

If you’re in the UK or France you have a population of 50 million. We don’t have that many people.

And the small-size modular plants they talk about are not being built because they are expensive.

Having gas as a standby is far cheaper. And nuclear, like coal, has to run all the time.

You still have the problem that it’s producing radioactive waste and not being dispatched.

Any other solutions to smooth out the bumps in the transition to a low-emissions economy?

The other thing we need is more transmission. To get prices down you need more zero-cost power, which is the wind and the sun. So, you need more of that in and need more transition.

Yes, there is a cost of transmission, but it’s bringing in many gigawatts of renewable energy at zero cost. So net-net, it’s a benefit.

The danger of building too much transmission is very slim because it takes ages to build it for starters. If anything, we’re lagging in the race rather than getting ahead of it……………………………

June 11, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics | Leave a comment