Australian news, and some related international items

Minister off-target with claim Labor cut billions from defence, William Summers  March 14, 2022,

WHAT WAS CLAIMED Labor cut billions of dollars from the defence budget when it was last in government.
OUR VERDICT Misleading. Labor cut defence spending in two years while in office, but overall real-term spending went up while in government.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton has questioned the opposition’s commitment to national security by claiming Labor cut “literally billions” from the Defence budget when the party was last in office.

The claim is misleading. Labor increased overall spending on Defence when in government between 2007 and 2013, both in nominal terms and real terms. However, Labor did cut $1.9 billion from the portfolio in 2012/13, its last full year in office.

Mr Dutton made the claim during an appearance on ABC’s Radio National on March 8 in response to comments made by Labor’s shadow defence minister Brendan O’Connor about the need to consider the future role of Australia’s military during natural disasters.

Mr Dutton said: “Defence has record funding. A bit ironic to hear that from Brendan (O’Connor) when (Labor) pulled literally billions out of defence when they were last in government.” (audio mark 6 min 45sec)

When contacted by AAP FactCheck about the basis of the claim, Mr Dutton’s office pointed to budget papers from Labor’s time in office without providing further information. By that measure, Mr Dutton’s claim does not stack up.

Historical Defence portfolio budget papers
 provide detailed figures on projected spending as well as actual spending that took place in the previous budget year.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) – a think tank majority-funded by the Department of Defence and other federal government agencies – has collated these figures going back to 1997/98 (see here). Its figures include spending on the Australian Signals Directorate, which provides cyber intelligence and other capabilities and falls under the Defence portfolio.

The previous Labor government was elected on November 24, 2007, and lost office on September 7, 2013. Therefore, to judge Labor’s spending record, AAP FactCheck looked at spending from 2007/08 – the fiscal year Labor first came into office – to 2012/13, Labor’s final full year in office.

……………………… Misleading – The claim is accurate in parts but information has also been presented incorrectly, out of context or omitted.

March 21, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, water | Leave a comment

Uranium miner BHP under criticism for guzzling precious artesian water, and for not keeping its word to Aboriginal native title holders

Environment campaigner and consultant David Noonan, who provided submissions to the Juukan Inquiry, is sceptical of the desalination plant announcement.

Mr Noonan says even if it was built, BHP could be taking GAB water until the end of the decade. He wants to hear a formal commitment about alternative water sources.

Why BHP is facing a minefield, CHRIS MITCHELL, Adelaide Now, 4 Mar 22,

AUSTRALIA’S biggest company and the world’s secondbiggest miner, BHP, may disappoint conservationists and Aboriginal native title holders who had hoped for commitments to reform of heritage issues and underground water use at its Olympic Dam mine before the March 19 state election BHP, the Big Australian, with market capitalisation of $230bn, paid the state government royalties of $136m last year. Its Olympic Dam project 560km north of Adelaide is South Australia’s largest mining venture and the world’s biggest uranium mine, a global top-four copper mine and producer of gold and lead. BHP is powerful in SA.

Premier Steven Marshall is Aboriginal Affairs Minister but it would be fair to say native title holders do not wield the sort of power in Adelaide that big miners do.

Yet BHP has flagged some changes to the way it operates that could reduce its own power over its own asset.

Under the 1982 Roxby Downs (Indenture Ratification) Act signed with former mine owner Western Mining, BHP, which bought the mine in 2005, has almost unprecedented powers over resources and water within its 12,000sq km Stuart Shelf exploration lease.

BHP has been criticised by conservation groups and Aboriginal interests in last year’s report into rival Rio Tinto’s destruction of Juukan Gorge in Western Australia. The report includes criticism from the Arabana tribe of the mine’s heavy reliance on water from the Great Artesian Basin (GAB), and particularly from the so-called “Mound Springs” Aboriginal heritage sites north of the mine.

On February 15, The Advertiser revealed BHP would back a new $15m study, partly funded by state and federal governments, into a Spencer Gulf desalination plant to pump water to SA’s northern mines. But BHP is still far short of publicly committing to end its use of GAB water.

Conservationists say BHP is trying to control the water agenda, to maintain its privileges under the Indenture Act. But some hope it will be pragmatic enough to cut water demand from the GAB if it eventually decides to proceed with its Oak Dam copper-gold-uranium mine 65km southeast of Olympic.

Asked last week if BHP was formally committed to ending GAB water use, a spokesman said: “We continuously monitor and publicly report our water draw under a program approved by the SA government.”

BHP is not just under pressure for environmental reasons.

It is in discussion with three native title groups about the Olympic Dam Agreement it settled in 2008 with the Kokatha, Barngarla and Kuyani.

Of these, only the Kokatha have been granted formal native title over parts of BHP’s Stuart Shelf.

BHP’s problem now is how to balance the very valuable 40-year-old legal rights it has under the indenture with rights found in a native title determination in favour of the Kokatha in 2014……….

The Kokatha fought a long, 18-year battle to win their native title in 2014. Kokatha directors say dealing with BHP on the ODA before and after their native title court win has been challenging.

At this point, they are not receiving mining royalties and are unhappy with employment opportunities for Kokatha people.

Michael Turner, a former Kokatha director and current adviser on the Kokatha Native Title Compensation Settlement and Kokatha Charitable trusts, says he has been dealing with BHP for much of his adult life.

At this point, they are not receiving mining royalties and are unhappy with employment opportunities for Kokatha people………

negotiations on BHP’s Olympic Dam Agreement had been disappointing.

“We have been calling for a review of the ODA for many years and it has constantly been deferred,” he said.

“They’re refusing to move forward. It would be great if BHP could keep to its word and respect the wishes of the Kokatha people and review the ODA for the benefit of generations to come.”…………….

The final report into the May 24, 2020 destruction by Australia’s second-biggest miner, Rio Tinto, of the Juukan Caves in Western Australia’s Pilbara was released in October. In it, Arabana chair Brenda Underwood says: “Unfortunately, our springs are disappearing. The cause … is water taken from the GAB by BHP’s mine at Roxby Downs.”

BHP and the state government believe the springs remain healthy but environmentalists fear a possible expansion to the Oak Dam could take daily GAB water use well beyond 50 million litres a day. BHP says it is averaging 34 million litres a day.

Environment campaigner and consultant David Noonan, who provided submissions to the Juukan Inquiry, is sceptical of the desalination plant announcement.

Mr Noonan says even if it was built, BHP could be taking GAB water until the end of the decade. He wants to hear a formal commitment about alternative water sources.

BHP’s Aboriginal engagement team is mindful expectations have changed across the industry since Juukan and BHP will need to be seen to be engaging seriously with traditional owners. Some believe an ODA negotiated before the Kokatha achieved native title should be written off and a new agreement established………………………………………


March 5, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, environment, South Australia, uranium, water | Leave a comment

Amid climate change threat to the Murray Darling river system, the States haggle

April 18, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, environment, water | Leave a comment

Drinking water threatened by forest fires

As forests burn around the world, drinking water is at risk

By TAMMY WEBBER Associated Press | Friday, January 31, 2020 Fabric curtains stretch across the huge Warragamba Dam to trap ash and sediment expected to wash off wildfire-scorched slopes and into the reservoir that holds 80% of untreated drinking water for the Greater Sydney area.

In Australia’s national capital of Canberra, where a state of emergency was declared on Friday because of an out-of-control forest fire to its south, authorities are hoping a new water treatment plant and other measures will prevent a repeat of water quality problems and disruption that followed deadly wildfires 17 years ago.

February 3, 2020 Posted by | ACT, climate change - global warming, water | Leave a comment

A foreign corporation gets 89 BILLION litres of Australia’s water, as drought worsens

December 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming, environment, water | Leave a comment

Unacceptable levels of uranium in drinking water for several remote communities

‘Our kids need proper water’: Families plead for action over uranium in drinking water, ABC, 7.30  by Indigenous affairs reporters Isabella HigginsBridget Brennan and Emily Napangarti Butcher, 19 June 18, 

June 19, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, uranium, water | Leave a comment

Uranium mine- Australia’s largest water guzzler – it’s criminal in a dry climate

text-relevantOlympic Dam Mine: Largest User of Energy in S. Australia; Largest User of Australia’s Precious Water Resource – The Great Artesian Basin 31 Friday Jul 2015 by miningawareness  The largest single user of electricity in South Australia is the Olympic Dam uranium, copper, gold, silver mine. Almost 60% of the energy in South Australia comes from renewables! Why would they need nuclear? Why a “Royal Commission”? They clearly want nuclear power so that they can sell their uranium to make energy to mine more uranium. Furthermore, the wise shun uranium, so to keep mining it in Australia, they need to dump it on Australia in the form of depleted uranium from enrichment, nuclear power, and the too often forgotten nuclear waste, to go with the radioactive tailings which they already have.


The largest user of underground water in the Southern Hemisphere is the Olympic Dam! Australia has a generally dry climate, and is highly dependent upon the same groundwater, underground aquifer, which is pumped for mining and most assuredly polluted by mining. Wikipedia says the Olympic Dam mine is the largest industrial user of underground water in the Southern Hemisphere. But, no single individual would use so much, so it much be the largest single user. Thus, it is also the largest single user of Australia’s precious Great Artesian Basin water.

Nuclear anything is even more dangerous in a dry climate, so prone to bushfires, and even fire tornados! Using up the precious water resource of the Great Artesian Basin by uranium, or any other mining, is criminal….

August 1, 2015 Posted by | South Australia, water | 2 Comments

South Australia’s contaminated groundwater – thousands of sites

polluted-waterToxic sites in Adelaide’s suburbs number in their thousands BRAD CROUCH THE ADVERTISER JULY 22, 2014  THE Opposition has demanded a statewide audit of contaminated sites, as it emerges the dangers of trichloroethene entering groundwater was suspected as far back as the 1940s.

The call for an audit comes after Environmental Protection Authority chief executive Tony Circelli confirmed that “thousands” of sites were contaminated with various chemicals and the EPA received about 100 new notifications each year.

The State Government and Environment Minister Ian Hunter are under increasing pressure over the contamination scandal in Clovelly Park , where dozens of people have been forced to leave their homes because of health risks from the vapours of trichloroethene (TCE) rising up through the soil from industrially poisoned groundwater.

Mr Circelli, was responding to a claim by UniSA Professor Ravi Naidu, the managing director of the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation, that there are about 4000 contaminated sites in SA.

Mr Circelli said that claim was incorrect, but conceded the number “is in the thousands”.

Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said an audit was needed to clarify the exact number of contaminated sites and their locations. “The purpose of conducting a statewide audit would be to establish a hierarchy of sites based on potential public health risks,” he said.

“As well as playing an important community awareness role, the audit could also provide a benchmark for ongoing monitoring and evaluation of contaminated sites for the EPA and assist with any future contamination investigations………

July 23, 2014 Posted by | environment, South Australia, water | Leave a comment

Water shortage problem for Australia’s uranium miners in Africa

Rio Tinto, Paladin Uranium Mines in Namibia Face Water Shortage, Bloomberg News By Felix Njini November 18, 2013 Uranium mines operated by companies including Rio Tinto Plc (RIO) and Paladin Energy Ltd. in Namibia face a water shortage as a drought in the southwest African nation curbs supply to the operations and three coastal towns. Continue reading

November 19, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, water | Leave a comment

Queensland government guts laws protecting water from coal seam gas operations

water-dropshighly-recommended      Australia: Wide-ranging changes to Queensland’s land and water legislation passed, Clayton UTZ 11 May 2013 A petroleum tenure holder in Queensland will now be able to use associated water “for any purpose”.

The Land, Water and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2013 (Qld) was passed by Parliament on 2 May 2013 and introduces a large number of legislative amendments across a wide range of Acts impacting, primarily, the land and water regulatory portfolios, but also making important amendments that impact upon the petroleum industry, particularly in relation to water bores and the use and transportation of CSG water.

Some of the key amendments in this Act for petroleum industry proponents are outlined below.

Removal of restriction on use of CSG water Continue reading

May 13, 2013 Posted by | Queensland, water | Leave a comment

Resources scientist questions management of tailings and water for Wiluna uranium project

water-drops Dr Mudd also highlighted the use and contamination of ground water
sources in the area as a key issue, saying there have been issues at
other uranium mines across Australia and it remains unclear where
water for this site will come from or what techniques will be used to
source it

Monash mining expert examines Wiluna uranium proposal
Science Network, 23 December 2012 AN AUSTRALIAN expert on mining
sustainability has highlighted some of the key environmental aspects
for West Australia, as the state moves closer to its first uranium

Resources company Toro Energy recently received state government
environmental approval to develop WA’s first uranium mine near Wiluna,
with the company now seeking federal environmental approval.

Monash University mining expert Gavin Mudd says the primary issues
concern the management of tailings and waste rock, as well as water
use, contamination and other aspects local to the mine site. Continue reading

December 23, 2012 Posted by | environment, uranium, water, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Protesting BHP’s Olympic Dam – its special privileges, water guzzling, uranium to Fukushima

Mythical lizard haunts Australian uranium extractors Infoshop News, July 22 2012  Anti-nuclear protesters camping at what they describe as “the gates of hell” — that is, on the edge of BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam uranium mine in the desert of South Australia — decided to play a game of cricket on Tuesday, July 17, in order to publicize their message: Uranium isn’t Australian.

“It’s just not cricket,” they chanted, “and that’s why we picket.”

by Peter Rugh  Waging Nonviolence   “…….There’s no room for nature’s business in the uranium business. That’s why BHP is digging into the belly of Kalta, the sleeping lizard who, according to aboriginal legend, lives under the rocks at Olympic Dam. BHP is sucking yellow uranium poison out of Kalta’s belly and feeding it to nuclear reactors around the world.

It already takes about 9 million gallons of water a day to wash all that poison down the throats of global markets — water sucked out at no cost to BHP from the region’s only reliable freshwater source, the Great Artesian Basin. But the Melbourne-based multinational plans to expand its mining operations at Olympic from an area of about 1,700 square miles to a terrain roughly eight times that size. The $30 billion expansion would make Olympic Dam at Roxby Downs the world’s largest open-pit mine.

An additional 53 gallons of water a day will be used up should mining at Olympic expand. The amount of diesel required to extract and transport BHP’s uranium would cause South Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions to skyrocket by 12 percent.

Olympic currently operates under the Roxby Downs Indenture Act of 1982, which granted BHP exemptions from laws covering native sovereignty, public disclosure, environmental impact and water preservation. The Indenture Act was amended in 2011 , when BHP began scouting out more land. Critics say the law is essentially a contract between BHP and the South Australian government for the corporation to do what it likes.

Meanwhile, the effects of BHP’s mining are felt far beyond the Outback. Approximately 4,400 tons of Australian uranium per year are used to feed aging reactors in the United States, which jeopardize the civilian population centers that they surround . A major portion of the stuff comes from BHP. The company is to Australia’s uranium industry what Nirvana was to grunge; they’ve cornered the market…..

Prior to the Fukushima disaster , Japan — after the United States and the European Union — was Australia’s third best uranium customer, importing nearly 2,700 tons a year. The uranium fuel pellets that melted down three reactor cores at Fukushima on March 11 of last year were from Olympic Dam.

Dr. Jim Green, an anti-nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia, accuses BHP of turning a blind eye to fraud and safety problems in Japan’s nuclear industry in the run-up to the meltdowns. Despite widespread documentation of data falsification and safety breaches, he says  BHP continued to peddle its toxic product to the quake-prone nation in the run up to the Fukushima meltdowns….


July 23, 2012 Posted by | South Australia, uranium, water | 3 Comments

It looks as if the Northern Territory govt will allow uranium mining in water catchment area!

Exploration in dam catchment NIGEL ADLAM   |  April 18th, 2012 TEN mining exploration licences have been granted in the water catchment for a possible new dam. Resources Minister Kon Vatskalis denied any of the licences had been issued specifically for uranium. “Rather the authorisation allows the holder to undertake exploration within a specific area,” he said.

The licences are in the catchment for Warrai Dam, 8km upstream from Adelaide River township, 100km south of Darwin.
Power and Water Corporation boss Andrew Macrides said the $500 million dam may not have to be built for at least 20 years – and possibly not at all.

April 18, 2012 Posted by | Northern Territory, uranium, water | | Leave a comment

Australia’s Northern Territory allows free groundwater to mining companies, not to any other users!

Mataranka residents surprised by mining’s right to ground water, ABC Rural News, By Steven Schubert, 02/12/2011 Members of a committee formed to develop a water plan for the Northern Territory town of Mataranka say they were never told mining operations could gain unrestricted access to ground water.

Mining operations don’t require a licence from the water controller under the NT Water Act, while other users have to apply for an allocation of ground water. Committee member Hamish McFarlane says if a mining project is formed near the town, there could be less water for irrigators and other users.

“Keeping in mind that you said before that the Water Act gives priority to mining, if a mining company came in here at this point in time and took the consumptive pool there would be no growth in Mataranka outside the mining industry.”…

December 3, 2011 Posted by | Northern Territory, water | | Leave a comment

Obscenity of BHP Billiton’s Control of Huge Water Resources in Olympic Damn Uranium Mine Deal

VIDEO Mine expansion draws more water from basin ABC News, Paul Klaric, October 14, 2011 Scientists are concerned that the the proposed Olympic Dam mine expansion will put a strain on Australia’s greatest underground water supply.


. On 13 May 2011 the company announced a proposal for six-fold expansion of Olympic Dam Mine in South Australia – to extract the most valuable single mineral deposit in the world. The mine will consume up to 42 million litres of water a day from the Great Artesian Basin for plus 40 years.

On 10 October 2011 the South Australian (SA) Government granted approval for the BHP Billiton (BHP) Olympic Dam expansion.  The  Indenture Bill, signed on 12 October by representatives of BHP and the State Government, will now be submitted to vote in the SA Parliament. The SA government will not terminate or suspend the current licence which entitles BHP to take 42 million litres of water each day for Olympic Dam from the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) – but BHP will in the future pay for GAB water. This failure of the SA Government to protect the best interests of the GAB represents an enormously significant strategic win for BHP.

With the value of the Olympic Dam resource now standing at $1.4 trillion (an increase by a factor of 155 over the $9 billion acquisition price in 2005) free GAB water for the past 6 years has been an irrelevant bonus. But whilst future payments for GAB water will be marked with a miniscule book entry in the accounts of this massive mining operation, the concept of paying for GAB water will certainly be of concern to every single pastoralist, country town, and family that actually NEEDS GAB water.
But it is the strategic significance of the position in which these SA Government decisions have placed BHP that may have some of the most wide-ranging and long-term consequences in this potentially mineral-rich desert region of SA.  The enormous amount of surplus water that BHP will own or control will be sufficient to support two mining operations of the size and scale of the current Olympic Dam mine.  As railway lines were once of such commercial significance to BHP in the competitive iron-ore regions of NW Australia, in these parts of SA it has long been the fact that whoever controls the water controls the commerce.  Perhaps this is not the first time in the history of flawed government decision-making that the seeds of an anti-competitive beast have  been planted.
The true obscenity of what occurred in South Australia these last few days is that, by any measure, the best interests of the GAB have once again been trampled by a State government in the rush to accommodate the wishes of a miner.

October 15, 2011 Posted by | politics, reference, South Australia, uranium, water | , | Leave a comment