Australian news, and some related international items

A Secret Australia Revealed by the WikiLeaks Exposés Edited by Felicity Ruby and Peter Cronau Also available as an ebook from your favourite retailer.

In A Secret Australia, eighteen prominent Australians discuss what Australia has learnt about itself from the WikiLeaks revelations – revelations about a secret Australia of hidden rules and loyalty to hidden agendas. However Australians may perceive their nation’s place in the world – as battling sports stars, dependable ally or good international citizen – WikiLeaks has shown us a startlingly different story.

This is an Australia that officials do not want us to see, where the Australian Defence Force’s ‘information operations’ are deployed to maintain public support for our foreign war contributions, where media-wide super injunctions are issued by the government to keep politicians’ and major corporations’ corruption scandals secret, where the US Embassy prepares profiles of Australian politicians to fine-tune its lobbying and ensure support for the ‘right’ policies.

The revelations flowing from the releases of millions of secret and confidential official documents by WikiLeaks have helped Australians to better understand why the world is not at peace, why corruption continues to flourish, and why democracy is faltering. This greatest ever leaking of hidden government documents in world history yields knowledge that is essential if Australia, and the rest of the world, is to grapple with the consequences of covert, unaccountable and unfettered power.

The contributors include author Scott Ludlam, former defence secretary Paul Barratt, lawyers Julian Burnside and Jennifer Robinson, academics Richard Tanter, Benedetta Brevini, John Keane, Suelette Dreyfus, Gerard Goggin and Clinton Fernandes, as well as writers and journalists Andrew Fowler, Quentin Dempster, Antony Loewenstein, Guy Rundle, George Gittoes, and Helen Razer, and psychologist Lissa Johnsson.

May 5, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Australia is No1 on Transparency’s list of countries with developing public sector corruption

9 COUNTRIES TO WATCH ON THE 2021 CORRUPTION PERCEPTIONS INDEX , Transparency International  1 May 22

Troubling signs and key opportunities that can make – or break – the fight against corruption

What is a ‘country to watch’ on the CPI?

In this annual watch-list published alongside the CPI, Transparency International flags countries that need closer monitoring and attention in the coming year………


Australia (CPI score: 73) is one of the world’s most significant decliners, having dropped 12 points since 2012 to hit a record low this year. Its deteriorating score indicates systemic failings in tackling public sector corruption. Despite public calls and previous promises, last year Australia missed a landmark opportunity to establish a national anti-corruption agency with broad powers to investigate corruption…………………………………

May 2, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Australian government will not intervene as Australian citizen Julian Assange is extradited from UK to USA

Australia won’t interfere in Assange case, By Dominic Giannini, April 21, 2022 The Australian government will not make any representations to the British home secretary after a UK court approved the extradition of whistleblower Julian Assange to the US.

A British court has sent Mr Assange’s extradition order to Home Secretary Priti Patel, but the whistleblower can try to challenge the decision by judicial review if signed.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the government maintained confidence in the UK’s justice system.

“We trust the independence and integrity of the UK justice system. Our expectation is that, as always, it operates in the proper and transparent and independent way,” he told the ABC.

“It, of course, has appeal processes built into it as well. This is the legal system upon which our own has been built on and established and we have confidence in the process.”

Labor foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said it was ultimately a decision for the UK home secretary.

“I do understand why not only Mr Assange’s personal supporters but many Australians more generally are worried about this. It has dragged on a long time,” she told the ABC.

“As an Australian citizen, he is entitled to consular assistance. We also expect the government to keep seeking assurances from both the UK and US that he’s treated fairly and humanely.”

But Senator Wong stopped short of saying a Labor government would make specific representations about the case. 

“Consular matters are regularly raised with counterparts, they are regularly raised and this one would be no different,” she said.

The development comes 10 days after Mr Assange surpassed the three-year anniversary of his arrest.

The 50-year-old Australian was dragged from London’s Ecuador embassy on April 11 in 2019 to face extradition to the United States on espionage charges over WikiLeaks’ release of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has previously called for an end to Mr Assange’s extradition.

Mr Joyce said Mr Assange didn’t steal secret US files but only published them, which did not breach any Australian laws at the time, and he was not in the US when leaks were put online.

The Greens have criticised the extradition of Mr Assange, with senator Peter Whish-Wilson saying the US Espionage Act wasn’t intended to be used against publishers.

“We must support press freedoms and those who hold the powerful to account,” he said.

“Julian Assange’s prosecution has always been political. It needs political intervention of the highest order from our government to get justice for him.”

Assange Australia campaign adviser Greg Barnes says it’s important the matter has moved back into the political realm.

“Previously the Australian government has said we can’t even intervene because the matter is before the courts. It is no longer before the courts in that sense,” he told Sky News.

This is a political decision that will be made by Priti Patel and it’s a decision which the Australian government, and of course in this context the opposition, could influence.”

The Greens, crossbenchers such as Andrew Wilkie, and Liberal and Labor backbenchers had expressed support for Mr Assange, which could potentially influence a hung parliament in May, Mr Barnes said.

“That’s also an interesting factor as to what pressure is going to come on whoever gets elected in May to bring this Australian home.”

with Reuters

April 22, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international, secrets and lies, Wikileaks | Leave a comment

The Australian media colludes with USA, UK and Australian governments’ persecution ofJulian Assange -”Crikey journal” typifies this

Australian media must stand up for Assange’s freedom,,15918 By Matilda Duncan | 10 January 2022,  For far too long the Australian media has remained silent in the face of Julian Assange’s persecution and that must change, writes Matilda Duncan.

LAST MONTH, Crikey’s legal correspondent Michael Bradley wrote a bizarre analysis of Julian Assange’s impending extradition to the U.S. without any regard for basic facts.

It’s worth examining, as it typifies the failures and absurdities of Australian press responses to Assange going back a decade — filled with lies, smears and false narratives that prevent the public from understanding the significance and substance of his case.

In writing about one of the gravest threats to press freedom in years, Bradley went as far as to include a cringeworthy – if not downright pernicious, given Assange recently suffered a stroke and is in precarious health – reference to a Monty Python quote being inscribed on Assange’s tombstone that ‘he’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy’. 

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

In allowing his thoughts to remain mired in diversionary debates and myths about WikiLeaks and Assange, Bradley completely misses the point of the U.S. extradition case and fails to mention the dire threat to investigative journalism around the world it presents.

He does not confront or condemn the alarming legal precedent of the United States charging a foreign national, one of our citizens, with espionage under U.S domestic law — despite Assange not being a U.S. citizen and WikiLeaks not being a U.S.-based publication.

Bradley writes:

‘WikiLeaks broke new ground but mainly in volume and approach, not content.’

In 2010, Assange and WikiLeaks – in partnership with numerous mainstream media outlets, including The New York TimesThe Guardian and Der Spiegel – published a curated cache of 250,000 diplomatic cables revealing the corruption and destruction of the Bush-era and early Obama-era wars, into which Australia so subserviently followed.

Without Assange’s work, numerous war crimes, mass surveillance schemes and unreported civilian casualties would have gone uncovered. In one year, he generated more consequential journalistic scoops confronting Western centres of power than the rest of the world’s news organisations combined.

Some of the information published by Assange has since become the subject of criminal investigations into the CIA and U.S. authorities before the International Criminal Court, which, as lawyers for Assange testified during his extradition hearing, is further evidence that the U.S. case against him is politically motivated.

Further, irrefutable illustrations of the significance of the “content” of Assange’s work can be found in comparisons between it and the lies and deceptions fed to the Australian population by this country’s press in the Iraq War years. Consider, as just one example of many, WikiLeaks’ publishing of the detainee assessment briefs and manual for Guantanamo Bay, where children as young as 15 were held, in contrast with the vapid first-hand account of the illegal prison presented by one of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s top foreign correspondents, Leigh Sales.  

In 2007, Sales wrote of her second visit to Gitmo:

‘At the same time, my own eyes and ears led me to believe that Guantanamo wasn’t as barbaric as it was made out to be either. None of the detainees came running to the wire, begging for help to get out.’

One Guantanamo Bay prisoner has recently waived his right to appear in court on numerous occasions because he suffered “rectal damage” while in custody of the CIA that makes it too painful for him to sit.

According to Bradley, it’s Assange that’s the “problem”, not the CIA spying on Assange and planning to kidnap or assassinate him with the help of UC Global as he held political asylum inside the Ecuadorian Embassy. After UC Global installed microphones in 2017, all of Assange’s conversations were recorded, including those he had with his lawyers outlining his defence strategy for the current case against him.

This is likely a violation of attorney-client privilege in itself and might be reason enough to throw out the U.S. case against him.

Bradley wasted his words on puerile arguments about Assange being a “tarnished hero” instead of communicating the most pressing things to know about Assange: six of the 18 counts against him are Espionage Act charges that criminalise the obtaining of ‘national defense information’, something journalists that report on their governments do every day.

Ten other counts relate to  the disclosure of national defense information. Again, a regular task for many journalists. One further ‘conspiracy to commit computer intrusion’ count relates to Assange allegedly offering to help Chelsea Manning crack a security code to help her avoid detection while she was obtaining U.S. Government documents.

This is a charge that amounts to an attempt to criminalise a journalist assisting a source to protect themselves, yet another activity that responsible journalists regularly engage in.

Even more terrifyingly, the case against Assange centres around “national defence information”, a nebulous term that might be applied to whatever information the U.S. Government so chooses. It doesn’t even have to be classified or top-secret information — much of the information leaked by Manning was unclassified and widely accessible to others in government.

It has been recognised with press awards around the world for over a decade now, including a Walkley, and exposed human rights abuses globally. It is plain wrong to say that Assange did not redact the information he released — the compelling eyewitness testimony from Mark Davis can directly attest to that.

Further, there is no evidence of anyone becoming endangered by his reporting. In fact a 2013 investigation by McClatchy found officials couldn’t point to any examples of lives being endangered by WikiLeaks and in 2010, Obama officials privately admitted that any damage from the leaks was “limited” and that their public comments about the leaks having “seriously damaged American interests” were intended “to bolster legal efforts to shut down the WikiLeaks website and bring charges against the leakers”.

‘Like anyone who attains the status of iconic mystery, Assange  not actually seen freely moving in public in a decade  has become less person and more mirror reflecting the meanings we choose to attach to him and his experiences. What he actually thinks is known only to him, and his lawyers presumably.’

Bradley was correct on one thing: using the word “mirror” in connection with Assange. This citizen of ours bravely risked his life and liberty to tell us ugly truths about U.S. imperial power and military machinery, which this country so strongly enables and supports.

He reflected right back at this country snippets of the destruction and mass civilian deaths we willingly participated in. His brave journalism exposed the bulk of our country’s media as the petty, unserious talking heads they are: journalists that don’t actually serve the public, but parrot the lies they are told by governments.

Contrary to what Bradley says, what Assange “actually thinks” has been well-documented for years now.

After seven years of arbitrary detention followed by three years of solitary confinement and other tortures in London’s Belmarsh Prison, Assange thinks of suicide constantly. That the U.S. is slowly killing this Australian journalist, partner and father before our eyes for exposing war crimes while the Australian Government does nothing and the majority of our press either remains silent or – when they say anything at all – write flippant and inaccurate stories about him demonstrates just how broken this country’s media is.

It shows how unaware we are of the press freedom we are about to lose and how deeply needed the work of Julian Assange and others of his ilk is.

April 21, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, secrets and lies, Wikileaks | Leave a comment

Pine Gap’s role in China–US arms race makes Australia a target

Rakesh, April 15, 2022

Developments at the U.S.-Australian satellite intelligence base at Pine Gap near Alice Springs give the United States an unprecedented ability to detect Chinese spacecraft from space and potentially destroy them.

Previously, detection was mainly based on ground-based radars, which are no longer seen as suitable for identifying these spacecraft if they were weapons. China has said it has only tested new space vehicles.

As shown below, two different versions of the latest Pine Gap satellites can do this job together. The difficulty is how to further destabilize the nuclear balance between China and the United States in order to help maintain peace.

Last October, it was reported that China had tested a nuclear-capable highly maneuverable hypersonic glider after it was lifted into space by a missile. The nuclear warheads released from US intercontinental ballistic missiles are also manoeuvrable and independently targeted. But the United States sees a serious threat from these hypersonic vehicles that can drive at more than five times the speed of sound.

This development makes Australia more closely integrated with any American offensive in space, as well as with defensive capabilities. Yet there has been no political debate in Australia about the consequences of avoiding war. No senior politician is trying to create momentum to support a new arms control deal, as Presidents Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev did in 1971, when the number of nuclear weapons escalated alarmingly, to more than 30,000 each.

The latest arms build-up is highlighted by a meeting in late March between Australian intelligence and military officials and senior US military officers at Pine Gap. Although the United States clearly considers Pine Gap to be crucial in fighting war in space, these military officers did not speak to the Australian media. Instead, they choose to talk to a London-based journalist Financial Times.

It is unclear whether the government intends to inform the Australian public about developments at Pine Gap. These have implications for Australia’s own security and its potential obligations under the outer space treaty, which limits the militarization of space without completely banning it. If Pine Gap was not already a Chinese nuclear target, it probably will be now.

That Financial Times reported the head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral John Aquilino, said the United States wanted to integrate all elements of the U.S. military power with its allies. In this context, Aquilino said Australia has capabilities that make it an “extremely advanced partner”. He said increased visibility in space would help counter Chinese hypersonic weapons. “The ability to identify and track and defend against these hypersonics is really key.”

The head of the U.S. Space Command, General James Dickinson, was also interviewed for the play, saying Australia was a “critical partner” in efforts to improve space domain awareness and monitor Chinese space operations. He said, “This is the perfect place for many things to do.”

The deputy head of the U.S. Cyber Command, Lieutenant General Charles Moore, said digital convergence between the United States and Australia gives the Unit

Pine Gap’s own satellites also pick up signals from radars and weapon systems, such as ground-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft artillery, fighter jets, drones and spacecraft, along with other military and civilian communications. From Pine Gap, a huge amount of military data is fed into the American war machine in real time.ed States “the potential to conduct offensive operations.” He added that cooperation with allies created an “asymmetric advantage” over China, which lacks similar partnerships. One consequence is that China cannot gather near as much electronic intelligence from across the globe as the United States.

An idea of the growing importance of Pine Gaps for the United States is given by its extraordinary growth. Originally, it was a ground station for a single satellite to collect what is called signal intelligence as it orbited 36,000 kilometers above the Earth. There are now at least four much more powerful satellites connected to the base. Their antennas automatically intercept everything that is transmitted within their frequency range. This includes a large selection of electronic signals for intelligence analysis, including text messages, emails, phone calls and more. In addition, terrestrial antennas at Pine Gap and other Australian locations pick up a large amount of information transmitted via commercial satellites.

Pine Gap’s own satellites also pick up signals from radars and weapon systems, such as ground-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft artillery, fighter jets, drones and spacecraft, along with other military and civilian communications. From Pine Gap, a huge amount of military data is fed into the American war machine in real time.

Pine Gap operates in connection with similar interception satellites attached to a base at Menwith Hill in England. Their use to lead counterfeit drone strikes that have killed a large number of civilians has been much debated in England. The combined coverage of the two bases includes the former Soviet Union, China, Southeast Asia, East Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and the Atlantic landmass.

Pine Gap is also linked to infrared satellites, which are of great interest to Americans. Their original function, which is still important, is to provide early warning of the firing of nuclear-armed Russian or Chinese ballistic missiles. Added options now allow them to use their infrared telescopes to detect and track heat from spacecraft as well as from large and small missiles and military jets. Some satellites have very elliptical orbits that can go close to Earth instead of being 36,000 kilometers above Earth.

These satellites now provide highly coveted information about Chinese spacecraft, amplified by the data from the signal intelligence satellites. Taken together, this gives access to signals and infrared intelligence, and its location relative to China, Pine Gap plays a crucial role in the United States’ plans to fight wars in space. This capability will be enhanced by a new space-based detection and tracking system called Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next-Gen OPIR).

On April 6, the leaders of the AUKUS pact – Boris Johnson, Scott Morrison and Joe Biden – announced that they would develop hypersonic missiles and subterranean robots after previously promising to supply Australia with nuclear submarines from around 2040.

These new missiles will also travel at more than five times the speed of sound, but are air-breathing unlike those designed for use in space. The United States and Australia had already developed hypersonic cruise missiles using ramjet engines.

No figures are available, but the cost of developing, building and testing very long-range missiles will be high. A large part of the test is expected to take place in Australia. The new missiles are also intended for use against Chinese targets.

Again, China can be expected to build more missiles with the ability to target Australian and US forces in the region. Separately, Secretary of Defense Peter Dutton announced that the Australian government will spend $ 3.5 billion on new missiles with a longer range of 900 kilometers for Australian ships and fighter jets.

The background to what is happening at Pine Gap illustrates how much more important the base is to the United States than any contribution Australia may have made by a pair of fighter jets or frigates to the United States’ integrated international force that was at a distance from China. At this stage, neither side of Australian policy seems willing to refuse participation in yet another US-led war that violates Australia’s obligations under both the UN Charter and Article 1 of the ANZUS Treaty. Both documents oblige Australia to reject the use of force in international relations, other than defensively.

Although rarely mentioned, Pine Gaps’ growing importance to the United States increases Australia’s leverage with the United States to refuse to contribute ships, aircraft and troops to an integrated military force should it violate international rules. It may be harder to dismiss some aspects of Pine Gap’s operations. But there are provisions in the ground rules that Australia only acts with “full knowledge and agreement” with what is happening. Australia does not have to agree.

A further question is how to revive arms control negotiations between Russia and the United States and include China. The two large ones have 1550 intercontinental warheads, but they also have smaller ones. According to the Pentagon, China had only about 100 intercontinental ballistic missiles by 2021 and about 200 smaller warheads. This gives China reasonable cause for concern that it does not have enough strategic warheads to be able to retaliate against a US first attack and thus perpetuate deterrence.

To overcome this, the Pentagon projects that China will have around 1,000 intercontinental warheads by 2030. All sides must reach a new agreement to make major cuts in the number of warheads if the chances of nuclear war are to be reduced.

Whether or not China develops hypersonic spacecraft, it is already committed to getting more traditional intercontinental ballistic missiles that can disperse maneuverable warheads. Restraint on all sides is necessary.

I asked the Secretary of State, Marise Payne, and her Labor counterpart, Penny Wong, if Australia could refuse to integrate with the United States and other forces if they considered a proposed deployment in violation of Article 1 of the ANZUS Treaty or the UN Charter. I also asked if Australia could withdraw its military assets from integrated US operations if there was a more urgent need for Australia to confront a local threat that was not of interest to the US. None of them responded before the print deadline.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on April 16, 2022 as “Mind Pine Gap”.

April 18, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, religion and ethics, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Strong security measures for secret transport of nuclear waste from Port Kembla to Lucas Heights

There was a large land, air and sea police presence at the port including PolAIr, maritime police officers on jet ski and in large and inflatable vessels, as well as officers on the ground

Police jet skis, helicopter and boats accompanied the ship into the Port. Police officers lined the port banks.

Roads were closed on Saturday night and into the early hours of Sunday morning

Roads closed for nuclear waste transportation from Port Kembla to Lucas Heights, Illawarra Mercury, Ashleigh Tullis,  13Mar 22 A container of nuclear waste has been safely transported to Lucas Heights, a spokesperson for ANSTO has confirmed.

The container, which was transported from Port Kembla overnight, will be stored at ANSTO until a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility is operational.

ANSTO’s group executive for nuclear operations and nuclear medicine, Pamela Naidoo-Ameglio, said as part of international treaties, countries are required to take responsibility for the disposal of any nuclear waste they produce.

Ms Naidoo-Ameglio was tight-lipped about what might happen if the waste were to get into the environment.

“There is no credible risk of that happening,” she told the media.

EARLIER: Bystanders looked on as a nuclear waste ship docked in Port Kembla on Saturday, carry reprocessed radioactive waste.

The bright blue ship was an unusual sight in the Port as full scale police operation was carried out to make sure it was safely docked.

Police jet skis, helicopter and boats accompanied the ship into the Port. Police officers lined the port banks.

Roads were closed on Saturday night and into the early hours of Sunday morning.

The waste was unloaded and transported during a police operation overnight to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO)’s interim waste storage facility in Lucas Heights.

The waste – encased in molten glass, canisters and steel casks – left the United Kingdom on January 20 on a specialist nuclear vessel, bound for Port Kembla.

A shipment of the waste, which stems from Australia’s production of nuclear medicine and other products, docked at the port about 11.30am on Saturday.

There was a large land, air and sea police presence at the port including PolAIr, maritime police officers on jet ski and in large and inflatable vessels, as well as officers on the ground, ensuring the safe entry of the ship.

A small crowd of people gathered to watch the ship dock, with some fisherman surprised at police presence.

Live Traffic reports the police operation will see major roads closed between Port Kembla and Lucas Heights for an “oversize vehicle movement”.

Closures will be in place on the northbound lanes of the M1 Princes Motorway between West Wollongong and Waterfall, up Mount Ousley from 11:30pm and 4am.

Southbound traffic on the M1 will remain unaffected.

Motorists are being diverted northbound along Memorial Drive through to Bulli Pass, then Princes Highway to Waterfall.

This detour is not suitable for B-doubles which should travel before the closure commences or delay their journey.

Heathcote Road from Heathcote to Lucas Heights, and New Illawarra Road between Lucas Heights and Menai will also be closed between 1am and 4am on Sunday.

Diversion for Heathcote Road require drivers to travel on the Princes Hwy, River Rd, Menai Rd, Alfords Point Rd, Davies Rd, Fairford Rd, Canterbury Rd, Milperra Rd, Newbridge Rd and Nuwarra Rd.

Heavy vehicle detours including B-Doubles up to 25m will be in place along Princes Hwy, King Georges Rd, Canterbury Rd, Milperra Rd, Newbridge Rd, Nuwarra Rd.

Local residents will be allowed access to Voyager Point, Pleasure Point and Sandy Point only.

Motorists needing to use New Illawarra Road should travel via the alternative route of the Princes Hwy, River Rd and Bangor Bypass.

ANSTO’s group executive of nuclear operations and nuclear medicine, Pamela Naidoo-Ameglio this week said significant expertise would be involved in the transportation of the waste………..

Australia does not have the ability to reprocess spent fuel rods from nuclear operations, so they are sent to facilities overseas where any uranium is stripped and recycled, and the remaining waste is processed…..

Following treatment and reprocessing in the United Kingdom, the material will be temporarily held at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights campus until a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility is built.

“International best practice is that radioactive waste should be stored in a single facility, and we welcome the Federal Government’s recent strong steps to site and build that facility,” Ms Naidoo-Ameglio said.

ANSTO’s last repatriation effort in 2015 saw the waste safely brought into Port Kembla and transported to Lucas Heights.

March 14, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies, wastes | Leave a comment

Huge cask of nuclear waste to be quietly transported to Sydney

Nuclear waste shipment bound for Sydney, Tracey Ferrier March 11, 2022,

Police are preparing to escort a monolithic steel cask of nuclear waste to Sydney this weekend, reigniting debate about Australia’s plans for the toxic material.

The hulking capsule resembling something from NASA’s space program contains two tonnes of intermediate-level radioactive waste that will need to be isolated from the environment for thousands of years.

But for the time being it will be stored at the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor compound in southern Sydney.

The waste is being returned under the international principle that countries must take back their nuclear leftovers after reprocessing. In Australia’s case that’s been done offshore.

Kimba will be a near-surface facility and a permanent solution for low-level waste only. The intermediate material will once more be in storage.

The federal government has committed to developing a separate end solution for the more toxic stuff. It will involve deep burial but so far there’s no firm plan, and no site has been identified to take it.

Australian Conservation Foundation campaigner Dave Sweeney says the nation’s most potent nuclear waste should not be moved to Kimba.

He says the problem is being kicked down the road, for some future government to sort out.

We believe there’s a very real risk that this material gets stranded in sub-optimal conditions at Kimba. Move it once, move it well, and move it permanently,” he says.

“Our position is that the Lucas Heights facility is the best place for Australia’s most serious waste. It has the highest security, the highest emergency monitoring and response capacity. It is staffed 24/7, and 95 per cent of the stuff is already there.”

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation operates the Lucas Heights reactor, which supports nuclear medicine and science.

Resources and Water Minister Keith Pitt said it was international best practice to consolidate radioactive waste at a single, safe, purpose-built facility.

“That is what the government is delivering,” he said, while noting it would take several decades to find an end solution for intermediate waste.

He said ANSTO had warned it would need to build three additional waste storage buildings at Lucas Heights if the national facility wasn’t built.

For security reasons, ANSTO won’t confirm when the cask will be moved from Port Kembla to Lucas Heights.

It said the cask is so well shielded that someone could stand next to it for 25 hours and get the same radiation dose as a nine-hour flight to Singapore.

Police have told AAP an operation is planned for Saturday to aid the transportation of cargo to ANSTO’s Lucas Heights campus. It said no further details would be provided.

March 12, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, safety, secrets and lies, wastes | Leave a comment

Lies leave the Assange case exposed – this is a political persecution

Lies leave the Assange case exposed – this is a political persecution,

John Rees on how a false testimony has further confirmed that the Assange case is a political attack against critical journalists

Watching the US government’s case against Julian Assange is like watching a levitation act at the music hall. You can see that the object floats, but you’ve no idea how. If normal gravitational laws applied, the Assange case would have crashed to the ground already.

After all, a leading prosecution witness has admitted lying in his evidence to the court and the defendant and his lawyers have been spied on by the intelligence agency of the government attempting to extradite him. In any other case, the mere facts of these revelations would be enough to halt court proceedings, but the detail makes the case for abandonment of the extradition even more compelling.

The most recent bombshell is that Sigurdur ‘Siggi’ Thordarson has admitted to Icelandic journalists at Stundin that he lied when he gave evidence alleging that Julian Assange had instructed him to hack US government accounts. Thordarson’s evidence is not marginal to the US case: it’s woven all through the prosecution’s argument, and it is specifically referred to by the judge in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in those parts of her judgement which are hostile to Assange.

Indeed, when the Trump administration realised that their case was weak, they specifically sought out Thordarson in Iceland and reissued their charges against Assange so that it would be, they imagined, strengthened by his evidence. They should have known better.

To say that Thordarson is an unreliable witness is a very considerable understatement. His allegations had been reviewed by the Obama administration and found too problematic to be taken seriously. Trump’s administration re-animated Thordarson in an attempt to breathe life into their flagging case.

Thordason had been a volunteer for WikiLeaks, working to raise funds. He stole some $50,000 from WikiLeaks and he misrepresented himself to the outside world in order to embezzle money. He was also convicted of sexual abuse of children. On both counts, Julian Assange helped put him in jail. His motive for lying once again for the Trump administration is plain: revenge. And his false evidence is meant to bolster a central contention of the US case: that Julian Assange is a hacker, not a journalist.

Quite what has now convinced this serial liar to admit that he invented the material on which the US case so heavily relies we cannot know. But his decision to do so blows a hole through the centre of the case for extradition.

Thordarson admitted to the Stundin investigative team that Assange never asked him to hack anything. In fact, he now says that his previous claim that Assange had instructed or asked him to access computers is false.

Yet this is precisely the evidence on which the US prosecution relies. Indeed, it was so important to them that they tore up their original indictment of Assange on the very eve of the extradition hearing so that they could reissue a second indictment specifically including Thordarson’s evidence – evidence now admitted to be a total fiction.

At this point most cases which had been exposed as relying on perjured testimony would collapse. Not so the Assange case, which is now heading to the Appeal Court where the US will try to overturn the decision of the Magistrates’ Court at the start of this year, which found that the US prison system is so ‘oppressive’ that Assange would be a suicide risk were he committed to it.

It’s not even as if the Thordarson revelations are the first time that evidence has emerged which would normally halt court proceedings in their tracks. It is already a matter of record that Assange and his legal team were spied on by a Spanish security firm reporting to the CIA. The firm, UC Global, were employed by the Ecuadorean embassy to protect Assange when he was granted asylum. They were suborned by the CIA and then supplied them with both audio and video recordings of Assange and his legal team in the embassy. All this has been revealed in an ongoing court case in Spain.

Again, in any normal trial, the revelation that attorney-client privilege had been abused in this way would have been grounds for dismissal. But not in the Assange case. The court seems content to accept the US government’s argument that the CIA would respect departmental boundaries and never tell the Department of Justice any information obtained from the spying operation on Assange. This excuse beggars belief, since the exact function of the CIA is to tell the US government about the threats to national security, as they see it.

And there is the whole core of the problem: the US government under Trump allowed the fiction to develop that the fundamental business of investigative journalism is a threat to national security. Accordingly, Julian Assange became reclassified as a ‘cyber-terrorist’, not a journalist.

In pursuit of this dangerous fantasy, the US government is keeping a multiple award-winning journalist banged-up in a high security jail specifically used for terrorists, in spite of the Magistrates’ Court decision against them.

It’s time that both the US government and the British government brought this embarrassing farce to an end. Every major human rights organisation on the planet has said it is wrong. Journalists’ unions across the globe say its wrong. Parliamentarians in Italy are protesting in their legislature to says its wrong. German MPs are demanding Angela Merkel tells Joe Biden its wrong. Australian MPs are campaigning for Assange’s release in unprecedented numbers. British MPs have been protesting outside Belmarsh because they are not even being allowed a briefing with Assange.

As the Assange case goes to the High Court, we are reaching a critical moment. This is the crucial freedom of the press case of the twenty-first century. If it is lost, the shadow of authoritarian government will be cast longer and darker over the body politic. We should not allow that to happen.

March 10, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Australian Security Policy Institute – funded by weapons corporations, and federal govt – drumming up the frenzy for war with China

Guns still point to China: Ukraine a backdrop for national security panic merchants, Michael West Media, By Marcus Reubenstein, March 4, 2022   

After a two-decade wait, Australia’s ”defence and strategic policy think tank” ASPI finally has a new war, one that will be a financial boon for its murky weapons maker backers. Backed also by Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton, this “independent” think tank is a key player in drumming up a pre-election China threat, writes Marcus Reubenstein.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) is busy not so much with a conflict on the other side of the globe but finding a way to spin the misery of the people of Ukraine into anti-China propaganda. It’s just the kind of propaganda Scott Morrison wants, and the prime minister clearly thinks he needs, in the run up to a likely May federal election.

For years ASPI has suckled at the teat of the weapons industry; but far and away the most generous of ASPI’s benefactors is the Morrison government.

That makes sense because ASPI is not an independent research group. It is an Australian Commonwealth company, which reports directly to Defence Minister Peter Dutton and the appointment of its executive director must be ratified by cabinet.

When Morrison replaced Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister in 2018, ASPI was receiving around $1.6 million in annual government contracts over and above its core Defence Department funding of $3.5 million.

Faced with the real prospect of losing the 2019 election, Morrison and then defence minister Christopher Pyne changed the funding agreement to lock in $4 million of Defence funding for each year over five years.

What both ASPI and the government failed to mention was the Morrison government was about to embark on a gargantuan funding top-up strategy through the awarding of numerous government contracts.

Department of Finance figures show ASPI was awarded $9,497,783.88 in Commonwealth contracts in the 2020-2021 financial y

The 500 per cent increase in Commonwealth contracts awarded to a group parroting, and amplifying, the key national security message of the Morrison government suggests ASPI has been politically shifted from strategists to propagandists.

Prior to a detailed examination of ASPI’s funding sources published by Michael West Media in 2020, there had been zero disclosure as to the level of funding ASPI received from its benefactors.

These amounts are not insubstantial; in total ASPI has generated more than $100 million in revenue.

With a light shining on its finances ASPI now discloses the payments it gets from its funders. Outside Australia, that is principally a handful of foreign governments, weapons makers, and tech companies with a vested interest in crippling China’s rise as a global technology provider.

Buried on page 152 of the latest ASPI annual report is the claim that it received $2,620,978.73 in funding from government contracts. This does not reconcile with the Department of Finance’s figure of almost $9.5 million.

According to the Department of Finance, ASPI racked up 25 Commonwealth contracts while ASPI claims the figure is 21 contracts. ASPI’s accounts are audited by the Australian National Audit Office and there is no suggestion of impropriety in its reporting of income.

Three substantial contracts, two from Defence and one from the Department of Foreign Affairs, were multi-year agreements totalling $8,969,783.80. For reporting purposes, it appears there’s no requirement for disclosure of these specific payments in that reporting period.

One oddity is a contract of $1.5 million (CN3757203) awarded to ASPI in March 2021. Outside Defence, it is far and away the biggest single Commonwealth contract ever awarded to ASPI, yet there is not a single mention of it in the 2020-2021 annual report.

Transparency has never been ASPI’s strong suit.

Putin, payments and propaganda

No sooner had Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Australian taxpayers were doling out $70 million to NATO for weapons to be sent to Ukraine, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) jumped in with its comprehensive analysis.

n line with its constant drone of “independence” from Canberra policy thought, ASPI challenged the wisdom of Defence Department policy. However, the main tenet of its criticism was that the Australian government has not bought enough missiles.

And who makes the shoulder-launched anti-tank Javelin missilesen “kangaroo” route to Kyiv? Long-time ASPI sponsors Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

The latter for years was the world’s biggest manufacturer of child-killing cluster munitions. Though they stopped making them in 2016, Raytheon cluster bombs have been stockpiled and reportedly are still being launched on civilian targets in the forgotten war in Yemen. 

Raytheon is no longer an ASPI sponsor but there was zero disclosure in the ASPI missile piece that it took money from Raytheon between 2013 and 2019. Annual reports reveal Lockheed Martin – which makes the dud F-35 Strike Fighters which have soaked up billions in Defence spending – has been pouring money into ASPI’s coffers for the past 18 years.

ASPI presumably justified its non-disclosure of these sponsors because it had not identified they manufactured the Javelin missile in the report.

In late January, independent US website In These Times reported the CEO’s of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin both “boasted” on conference calls with Wall Street analyst that conflict between Russia and Ukraine was a “boom for business.”

One analyst reported Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes had said, in reply to a question about arming US allies: “Obviously we have some defensive weapons systems that we could supply which could be helpful, like the patriot missile system”. While commenting on rising geopolitical tensions, including both Ukraine and China, he said: “I fully expect we’re going to see some [financial] benefit from it.”

Spike in spruiking

When ASPI criticises Australia’s armed forces for the purchase of one type of weapons system it usually suggests an alternative — often the alternative just happens to be made by an ASPI sponsor.

In this case, ASPI’s Marcus Hellyer argued Australia’s shoulder-launched Javelin missile largesse had missed the mark. According to Hellyer, Australia has the wrong missile; instead we should be armed with Israeli-built Spike missiles, which were ordered two years ago by the ADF. There’s no sign of them yet.

And who makes the Spike? Another ASPI sponsor, Rafael. ASPI did disclose this at the end its article, in rather meek terms, that Rafael had hosted a workshop for the think tank in the previous year.

One thing ASPI has consistently never publicly discussed is the money its weapons industry sponsors get from the Australian government. In its 2018-19 annual report, ASPI boasted that it facilitates access to highly placed government officials for its sponsors. Between ASPI’s establishment and 2020, its sponsors collected more than $80 billion in Defence Department contracts.  

ASPI’s China syndrome

ASPI’s analysts have been all over this latest conflict running two familiar lines: Western nations need more weapons and China is the real threat.

On  February 24, ASPI executive director Peter Jennings, who is a columnist at Murdoch’s The Australianwrote an opinion piece in which he asserts “China wins from this conflict.” Clearly there are geopolitical ramifications for China that will concern Australia, but to effectively put China front and centre in an eastern European conflict is straight out of the ASPI playbook.

In that same article Jennings argued that the failure of the Afghan military forces against the Taliban boiled down to one crucial factor — a lack of military hardware.

Imagine the price tag on hardware needed to fight a war with China that some of our politicians and security establishment as apparently salivating for.

March 5, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s Defence Department silent about its slippery dealings using tax-payers’ money, involving Russian contractors

With very little disclosure, the contract was awarded to Vertical Australia, a company newly minted as the local agent for a Russian company, Air Company Vertical-T. The services would include the use of a Russian Mil Mi-26, the largest and most powerful helicopter ever produced.

And now the Australian partners, Michael West Media and CrikeyINQ have found a disturbing story about the Australian Defence Force and a web of intrigue involving contracts that include Russian contractors and what appears to be money laundering using Australian taxpayers money…………………

Operation Slippery: Russian aviation magnate diverts Australian Defence profits to tax havens,  Michael West Media  By Michael West|, December 4, 2019   Australia’s Department of Defence is keeping silent. Yet it has serious questions to answer over its dealings with an elusive Russian aviation tycoon, an American mercenary outfit and a money trail which winds from Canberra to the Seychelles via Cyprus. Thanks to the #29Leaks data leak unveiled today in a global collaboration of investigative journalists by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting ProjectMichael West Media and Crikey INQ raise serious questions about how the Government is spending our taxes. Kim Prince, Suzanne Smith and Michael West report.

In late 2010, a Department of Defence tender was issued for cargo helicopters to support Australia’s war effort in Afghanistan. At the time, Operation Slipper was in full swing, an operation notable for the first deaths of Australian soldiers in battle since the Vietnam War: 41 soldiers died and 261 were wounded fighting jihadist groups during the operation which began in October 2001 and ended in 2014. 

With very little disclosure, the contract was awarded to Vertical Australia, a company newly minted as the local agent for a Russian company, Air Company Vertical-T. The services would include the use of a Russian Mil Mi-26, the largest and most powerful helicopter ever produced.

The businessman behind Vertical Australia was a Russian aviation entrepreneur, Vladimir Skurikhin, who is connected to a slew of companies and partnerships around the world, from Cyprus to the Seychelles to the City of London. His deal with Australia’s Defence Department appears to involve leasing high-tech helicopters replete with pilots and crew.

On the face of it, the defence contract proceeded unremarkably; with the exception of a minor dispute that found its way to the NSW Supreme Court. The dispute was not between the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and its supplier Vertical Australia, but within the supplier’s own payment chain, which included a mysterious entity in Cyprus, a banking haven for Russian oligarchs. 

Vladimir Skurikhin, the General Director of Vertical-T, would later attest that the complex chain was in place due to a mistaken belief that Australian companies were forbidden from making payments directly to Russia.

The upshot of the dispute was twofold. Firstly, Vertical Australia paid more than $2.3 million into the Supreme Court of NSW, leaving the court to decide to whom it should be remitted. Should it be paid directly to the Russian supplier Vertical-T, or to its erstwhile intermediary, Wellman Limited of Cyprus? On this score, the court would ultimately rule in favour of Vladimir Skurikhin’s military contracting company Vertical-T.

The second effect was that DynCorp Australia was appointed as Vertical-T’s new agent, and Vertical Australia folded. DynCorp, part of the controversial US defence contractor DynCorp International, had been trying to get a foothold in Australia for eight years. Its parent, DynCorp International, which is owned by a New York private equity firm Cerberus Capital, has been embroiled in a suite of scandals including corruption allegations over US military contracts in Iraq and sex-trafficking in Bosnia. It has been labelled a “mini-Blackwater”, a reference to its history of providing mercenary services.

All of this was water under the bridge until October this year, when Michael West Media and Crikey INQ were invited to participate in a cross-border investigation. The Sarajevo-based Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) had received a massive leak of data from UK-based Formations House. It would require an international team of investigative journalists to extract maximum advantage from it.

Formations House

Formations House is a company formation agent, sometimes referred to as a shell company factory. They offer a range of services for creating and operating corporate entities in a number of countries including offshore secrecy jurisdictions, aka tax havens, such as the British Virgin Isles and the Seychelles. 

Although legitimate companies use the services of Formations House too, many others enlist  it to hide their murky deals, to avoid tax and inspection from financial regulators. Part of the lure for business people keen to hide things is the prestigious address, — number 29 Harley Street in London. Besides the offer of an upmarket address, Formations House provides a local phone number, a bank account, and preparation of annual accounts and company filings. For those seeking a business façade and a degree of anonymity, this is a one-stop-shop.

Although legitimate companies use the services of Formations House too, many others enlist  it to hide their murky deals, to avoid tax and inspection from financial regulators. Part of the lure for business people keen to hide things is the prestigious address, — number 29 Harley Street in London. Besides the offer of an upmarket address, Formations House provides a local phone number, a bank account, and preparation of annual accounts and company filings. For those seeking a business façade and a degree of anonymity, this is a one-stop-shop……………..

And now the Australian partners, Michael West Media and CrikeyINQ have found a disturbing story about the Australian Defence Force and a web of intrigue involving contracts that include Russian contractors and what appears to be money laundering using Australian taxpayers money…………………

STS Corporation and the MH17 disaster

Deep in the Formations House leak is a UK-based company, STS Corporation. Its bank statements show tranches of cash arriving from various countries including Afghanistan, Russia and Australia.  There are also frequent outbound transfers from STS to entities in tax havens where, in many cases, the real beneficiaries of the money are simply unknowable……………

Defence Department refuses to respond

Questions were put to the Department of Defence about its knowledge of the beneficiaries of the Vertical Australia contract payments and the money trail through tax havens. No answer has been forthcoming, including answers to questions about money-laundering and the flow of Australian taxpayer dollars to Russian interests in tax havens. …………………….

Contacted for this story, Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick said the intrigue surrounding the Skurikhin transactions reflected the urgent need for greater transparency in Defence and in the way the Federal Government went about its procurement…………….

“I will be making further inquiries in the Parliament in relation to this procurement. Part of the solution to this is my ‘Tax Transparency in Procurement and Grants” bill which requires companies to disclose their structure, particularly in respect of related entities domiciled in tax havens, as they tender for work.”

The Seychelles Connection……………..

The rise of DynCorp 

On the Australian front, the Formations House leak includes an agreement, signed by a former director of DynCorp Australia, in which STS is to act as agent for DynCorp Australia, representing the company in business dealings in Europe and the Middle East. 

On its website, DynCorp says it “…sustains and improves the ADF’s operational capabilities through logistic support, facilities maintenance, and project management services”. So what products or services would this defence contractor, who is presumably entirely dependent on the public purse, have to export via its agent? We attempted to contact the Dyncorp director, and later put this question to an associate, but at the time of publication there had been no response. …………………….

Spectre of money-laundering through Australian courts

So, what are two companies controlled by a Russian tycoon doing soaking up the resources of Australia’s court system in a dispute and why would the payments be described as refunds on legal fees?

Around the time in question, sham litigation had become a popular tool for money launderers. ………………………

March 3, 2022 Posted by | secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s collapsing reputation – way way down on Transparency International Corruption Index

The way ahead

This report from an influential global agency adds weight to increasingly urgent calls for an investigative commission with similar powers at the federal level to Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission and the Independent Commission Against Corruption in NSW.

Australia should be able to do at least as well as Estonia

Australia hits new low on Transparency International Corruption Index

MICHAEL WEST MEDIA, |By Alan Austin, January 27, 2022  The decline of political and corporate standards in Australia over recent years is not just in the imagination of some critics. Transparency International released its annual corruption report yesterday which gives Australia the lowest score and global ranking since the series began in 1995.

The Corruption Perceptions Index is widely regarded as the leading global measure of public sector corruption. It offers an annual snapshot of the relative extent of corruption by ranking 180 countries and territories. Its methodology allows for comparison of scores across nations and from one year to the next.

Australia’s severe decline

Australia ranked seventh in the world in 1995 with a creditable score equivalent to 88 out of 100. Only New Zealand, Denmark, Singapore, Finland, Canada and Sweden scored better, but not by much.

Through the late 1990s and early 2000s, Australia slipped significantly in both scores and ranking, falling as low as 13th in 2000. But by 2007, Australia had recovered to 11th, and thereafter advanced further. Australia ranked eighth from 2009 to 2011 and resumed seventh slot in 2012. For the seven years from 2014 to 2020, Australia ranked between 11th and 13th.

Then suddenly last year, in just the one year, Australia tumbled from 11th to 18th in the global ranking. Its score fell from 77 where it has stayed for the last four years to a lowly 73. 

The seven countries which overtook Australia in combating corruption last year were the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Austria, Canada, Estonia, Ireland and Iceland.

Worst decade collapse in the developed world

Over the last ten years, the deterioration in Australia’s standing is the deepest of all advanced nations. From a 2011 score of 88, Australia tumbled 15 points to just 73 in 2021.

No other developed member of the Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) has fallen that far in that period. Of those 38 countries, 15 increased their scores over that time, 21 saw a decline and two remained unchanged……………..

Corruption on the public record

The specific reasons for Australia’s decline are not spelled out in Transparency’s report. Regular readers of MWM will, however, be familiar with the likely causes. They include the “sports rorts” affair, the highly problematic sale of floodwater rights, international money launderingpork barreling selected electorates, corrupt allocation of grant funds, allowing criminals to hide money in Australia’s property market, political fundraising, influence peddling, the East Timor electronic surveillance scandal and the outcomes of inquiries by state investigative commissions.

Some of these were identified in Transparency’s annual report last year, which reported:

“Australia faces several corruption challenges, including anonymous company ownership and money laundering. Following the FinCEN files, where thousands of leaked financial documents exposed a vast paper trail of money laundering across the globe, more than US$150 million were traced back to Australian banks.

“The country also shows severe deficiencies when it comes to corruption in international real estate. As a result of a 2006 law, properties can be bought and sold without due diligence and real estate agents, lawyers and accountants are not required to report suspicious activities. …………………………

“Despite multiple commitments, 131 countries have made no significant progress against corruption in the last decade. Two-thirds of countries score below 50, indicating that they have serious corruption problems, while 27 countries are at their lowest score ever.”

These include Australia.

The way ahead

This report from an influential global agency adds weight to increasingly urgent calls for an investigative commission with similar powers at the federal level to Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission and the Independent Commission Against Corruption in NSW.

Australia should be able to do at least as well as Estonia.

January 29, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

The Australian government has breached the rights of both black and white people of Kimba in depriving them of access to independent information on nuclear wastes.

Nuclear waste is considered a highly toxic and dangerous material which it is acknowledged requires geological burial for long term storage and disposal which is not the case at Kimba

I wonder how our government so highly regarded overseas as a beacon for justice and democratic principles has not just allowed but actively participated in depriving the Barngarla as well as the general community of their rights to properly ventilate their concerns 

It is quite clear from the settled overseas requirements that the federal government as the proponent of the nuclear waste facility at Kimba must enable the Kimba community including the Barngarla to seek their own independent assessment and advice as to the government’s proposals with the government providing all the necessary funding and access to all information for that purpose 

It should be relatively straightforward for the community generally which includes the Barngarla to establish that the government has failed to assist them in getting the independent assessment and refusing the funds for that purpose when requested on several previous occasions 

In addition to obviously being a major ground for the judicial review the government’s conduct is tantamount to a seemingly serious deprivation of the human rights of the Barngarla and the Kimba community .

While this breach of human rights applies to the whole community the Barngarla can additionally claim that their human rights were breached and that the mandate created to overcome the discriminatory conduct towards them covering

  • implementing international standards concerning the rights of indigenous peoples;
  • making recommendations and proposals on appropriate measures to prevent and remedy violations of the rights of indigenous peoples;
  • reporting on the human rights situations of indigenous peoples around the world; and
  • addressing specific cases of alleged violations of indigenous peoples’ rights.

Francisco Cali Tzay is the current mandate holder as Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples 

The mandate on hazardous substances and wastes 

relates to the exposure of people to a myriad of harmful substances without their prior informed consent which is a human right that can be satisfactorily solved if identified in its early stages

Dr Marcos A. Orellana is the current mandate holder as Special Rapporteur on toxics and wastes as human rights 

Nuclear waste is considered a highly toxic and dangerous material which it is acknowledged requires geological burial for long term storage and disposal which is not the case at Kimba

December 27, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Australian government and Labor opposition ignore the suffering of Julian Assange. Can they afford to, as election looms?

If he dies, his death will have been caused by, among others, politicians in Australia who have the diplomatic power to bring him home,” Pilger said.“Scott Morrison, in particular, will have Julian’s life and suffering on his hands, along with those in the Labor opposition who have kept a cowardly silence.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, among others, has said that Scott Morrison must urge the US and Britain to release Assange and let him return to Australia.

the “noise” in parliament combined with more public awareness of Assange’s dire state may present a headache for the government as polls loom.

Saving Julian Assange,  Last week, the British High Court ruled that Julian Assange can be extradited to face charges in the United States. His fiancée, Stella Moris, vows to continue the fight alongside his network of supporters. By Amy Fallon. This week, Stella Moris said she and Julian Assange still intended to marry in the new year, although they have not set a date. She is currently speaking to the prison about arrangements. Moris hopes it will be a ceremony attended by close family and friends, with their children, Gabriel, 4, and Max, 2, taking part.

“The High Court ruling has made things even more precarious than before,” she tells The Saturday Paper.

“But that has only strengthened our determination to celebrate what is constant and certain in our lives – our love and support for each other.”

Moris is a South-African born lawyer and an activist in her own right. Her family were involved in the anti-apartheid battle. After the British High Court ruled that her fiancé could be extradited to the United States, her response was simple: “We will fight.”

“History will not spare them if we lose a man who is not only innocent of any crime but a genuine hero in the extraordinary public service he has performed for millions of people.”

She sees the case in these terms: “Every generation has an epic fight to fight, and this is ours, because Julian represents the fundamentals of what it means to live in a free society.”Last week’s decision was made after two of Britain’s most senior judges ruled Assange, earlier deemed a suicide risk, had received assurances from the US that he would not face the strictest measures before a trial or once convicted. They found a lower court had erred in offering him protection.

“That risk is in our judgement excluded by the assurances which are offered,” one of the judges, Lord Burnett, said. “It follows that we are satisfied that, if the assurances had been before the judge, she would have answered the relevant question differently.”

British Home Secretary Priti Patel must now approve Assange’s extradition. Lawyers for the 50-year-old are appealing the decision. Subsequent hearings are likely to raise the issue of free speech, which campaigners say is at the heart of the case involving the Walkley Award-winning journalist.Many around the world are now calling on the Australian government to intervene and save Assange’s life before it’s too late.

“There seem to be no limits to the savagery of the Anglosphere – US, UK, Australia – in exacting revenge for the crime of informing the population of what the powerful want to conceal,” the intellectual and activist Noam Chomsky later told The Saturday Paper.

He urged followers of Julian Assange, wanted by the US for breaking espionage laws after publishing hundreds of thousands of Afghanistan and Iraq war logs and diplomatic cables, to “get organised”.

“And act,” added Chomsky, because there was “not much time”.
Another two to three years may drag on before the extradition is resolved. Australian journalist John Pilger, who described Assange as “frail and skeletal” the last time he hugged his friend in 2020, said the fact he was still alive was remarkable.

Last weekend’s revelation, that Assange had suffered a stroke in October, didn’t shock the veteran reporter. A month earlier, a Yahoo News report revealed that the CIA allegedly planned to assassinate Assange.

“If he dies, his death will have been caused by, among others, politicians in Australia who have the diplomatic power to bring him home,” Pilger said.“Scott Morrison, in particular, will have Julian’s life and suffering on his hands, along with those in the Labor opposition who have kept a cowardly silence. History will not spare them if we lose a man who is not only innocent of any crime but a genuine hero in the extraordinary public service he has performed for millions of people.”

To Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s brother, Julian, is a “bad dancer” with a “dorky sense of humour”. But, he says, “he is very sweet with his children, very good with kids, and a very principled man”.

Shipton produced the recent documentary Ithaka, which tells the story of Gabriel and Julian’s father’s struggle to have Assange freed.“Often people lose sight that these are actual real people involved, not just a head on a screen, or a headline, that this is a person’s father, brother, partner,” Shipton says. “Once people find out about how tragic the actual injustice that Julian suffered [is], and through no fault of their own his family are suffering, they’re quite confronted that they’ve allowed it to carry on for as long as it has.”

Shipton concedes the fight is just as much or even more political than legal, and others echo this. “There is no doubt that [this] aggressive and relentless pursuit is driven by the US security and defence state,” said Greg Barns, a barrister and adviser to the Australian Assange campaign.

A bipartisan Australian Parliamentary Friends of the Bring Julian Assange Home group comprises 25 senators and MPs, but was adding “about one member or so monthly”, says Shipton. In the past week, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has spoken out against Assange being sent to the US. Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, among others, has said that Scott Morrison must urge the US and Britain to release Assange and let him return to Australia. The opposition has urged the government to encourage the US to close the matter, although it has not elaborated on what it means by this.According to Kellie Tranter, a Maitland-based lawyer, human rights activist, researcher and former WikiLeaks Party candidate, the “noise” in parliament combined with more public awareness of Assange’s dire state may present a headache for the government as polls loom.

“If the level of interest keeps increasing, the government may feel obliged to act as the Howard government did in the case of David Hicks,” she says, referring to the former Guantánamo Bay detainee. “The last thing the government wants is this case soaking up oxygen in place of its policies. It’s public criticism, which is exactly what they wanted to avoid in the case of Hicks.”Tranter points out that progressive campaign group GetUp! played a critical role in Hicks’s repatriation by making his detention by the US an election issue, mobilising public opinion against his mistreatment. They may be the only organisation capable of doing the same in this case, she said. GetUp! said they had no comment on Assange.

In Britain, Assange has admirers from all walks of life. Sadia Kokni, 40, is British-born with African, Indian and Middle Eastern heritage and the managing director of a cosmetics company. Despite having a disability, she attends twice-weekly protest vigils at the Australian high commission with “Team Assange”, comprising about 50 people, including bus drivers, graphic designers, nurses and artists.

“I campaign for nothing, I only campaign for Julian,” Kokni says. “Unlike when people campaign against a war – it’s a nation against a nation – when it comes to Julian it’s the most powerful nation in the world against one man and he’s exposing the atrocities of global governance and things that every living person should be aware of.”

Although Kokni acknowledges Assange’s predicament could be treated with greater urgency by the British parliament, she also feels disbelief over Australia’s inaction.“They could be doing a lot more, Australia. I find it ridiculous,” she said, singling out the high commissioner, George Brandis. “Brandis – what is he actually doing? Has he written any letters?”

The Australian high commission in Britain did not respond to requests for comment.

December 23, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media, politics, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

A free press, a free Julian Assange – would be the best gift for the world

Cartoon by Badiucao, in The Age 20 December 21.

December 20, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, personal stories, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

The disgraceful case mounted against Assange by a corrupt U.S. Department of Justice and their hired guns in Britain.

It is this institutional lying and duplicity that Julian Assange brought into the open and in so doing performed perhaps the greatest public service of any journalist in modern times.

JOHN PILGER: U.S. wins extradition appeal against Julian Assange, Independent Australia, By John Pilger | 11 December 2021,  ”…….. Miscarriage of justice is an inadequate term in these circumstances. It took the bewigged courtiers of Britain’s ancien regime just nine minutes on Friday to uphold an American appeal against a District Court judge’s acceptance in January of a cataract of evidence that hell on Earth awaited Assange across the Atlantic: a hell in which, it was expertly predicted, he would find a way to take his own life.

Volumes of witness by people of distinction, who examined and studied Julian and diagnosed his autism and his Asperger’s Syndrome and revealed that he had already come within an ace of killing himself at Belmarsh Prison, Britain’s very own hell, were ignored.

The recent confession of a crucial FBI informant and prosecution stooge, a fraudster and serial liar, that he had fabricated his evidence against Julian was ignored. The revelation that the Spanish-run security firm at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where Julian had been granted political refuge, was a CIA front that spied on Julian’s lawyers and doctors and confidants (myself included) — that, too, was ignored.

The recent journalistic disclosure, repeated graphically by defence counsel before the High Court in October, that the CIA had planned to murder Julian in London — even that was ignored.

Each of these “matters”, as lawyers like to say, was enough on its own for a judge upholding the law to throw out the disgraceful case mounted against Assange by a corrupt U.S. Department of Justice and their hired guns in Britain. Julian’s state of mind, bellowed James Lewis, QC, America’s man at the Old Bailey last year, was no more than malingering — an archaic Victorian term used to deny the very existence of mental illness. 

To Lewis, almost every defence witness, including those who described from the depth of their experience and knowledge the barbaric American prison system, was to be interrupted, abused, discredited. Sitting behind him, passing him notes, was his American conductor: young, short-haired, clearly an Ivy League man on the rise.

In their nine minutes of dismissal of the fate of journalist Assange, two of the most senior judges in Britain, including the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett (a lifelong buddy of Sir Alan Duncan, Boris Johnson’s former Foreign Minister who arranged the brutal police kidnapping of Assange from the Ecuadorean embassy) referred to not one of a litany of truths aired at previous hearings in the District Court.

These were truths that had struggled to be heard in a lower court presided over by a weirdly hostile judge, Vanessa Baraitser. Her insulting behaviour towards a clearly stricken Assange, struggling through a fog of prison-dispensed medication to remember his name, is unforgettable.

What was truly shocking on Friday was that the High Court Judges – Lord Burnett and Lord Justice Timothy Holroyde, who read out their words – showed no hesitation in sending Julian to his death, living or otherwise. They offered no mitigation, no suggestion that they had agonised over legalities or even basic morality.

Their ruling in favour, if not on behalf of the United States, is based squarely on transparently fraudulent “assurances” scrabbled together by the Biden Administration when it looked in January like justice might prevail.

These “assurances” are that once in American custody, Assange will not be subject to the Orwellian SAMs – Special Administrative Measures – which would make him an un-person; that he will not be imprisoned at ADX Florence, a prison in Colorado long condemned by jurists and human rights groups as illegal: “a pit of punishment and disappearance”; that he can be transferred to an Australian prison to finish his sentence there.

The absurdity lies in what the Judges omitted to say. In offering its “assurances”, the U.S. reserves the right not to guarantee anything should Assange do something that displeases his gaolers. In other words, as Amnesty International has pointed out, it reserves the right to break any promise.

There are abundant examples of the U.S. doing just that. As investigative journalist Richard Medhurst revealed last month, David Mendoza Herrarte was extradited from Spain to the U.S. on the “promise” that he would serve his sentence in Spain. The Spanish courts regarded this as a binding condition.

Medhurst wrote:

‘Classified documents reveal the diplomatic assurances given by the U.S. Embassy in Madrid and how the U.S. violated the conditions of the extradition. Mendoza spent over six years in the U.S. trying to return to Spain. Court documents show the United States denied his transfer application multiple times.’

The High Court Judges – who were aware of the Mendoza case and of Washington’s habitual duplicity – describe the “assurances” not to be beastly to Julian Assange as a “solemn undertaking offered by one government to another”. This article would stretch into infinity if I listed the times the rapacious United States has broken “solemn undertakings” to governments, such as treaties that are summarily torn up and civil wars that are fuelled. It is the way Washington has ruled the world, and before it Britain — the way of imperial power, as history teaches us.

It is this institutional lying and duplicity that Julian Assange brought into the open and in so doing performed perhaps the greatest public service of any journalist in modern times.

Julian himself has been a prisoner of lying governments for more than a decade now. During these long years, I have sat in many courts as the United States has sought to manipulate the law to silence him and WikiLeaks…………..,15842

December 16, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, secrets and lies | Leave a comment