Australian news, and some related international items

Police agree on ‘right to protest’ – but block off road 4Km from Olympic Dam uranium mine

Police block mine road to protesters, BY: MARK SCHLIEBS  The Australian July 12, 2012   POLICE will set up roadblocks around BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam mine in outback South Australia, creating further anger and warnings of confrontations with anti-uranium activists who plan to “shut down” mining operations during a five-day protest at the site.

Two roads leading to the Roxby Downs mine, in the state’s remote centre, have been blocked ahead of the first day of the protest on Saturday. The road protesters planned to use has been blocked 4km from the mine’s southern gates.

Only mine workers, emergency services workers and people individually approved by police can use the roads.

Protest organisers had hoped between 200 and 2000 activists would attend the demonstration and a music festival. One organiser, Nectaria Calan, said yesterday the police were being deliberately antagonistic.

“They’re blocking a public road,” she said. “On the one hand, they’re saying we’ve got the right to protest but on the other hand they’ve already made moves to prevent us from doing so.” She said the activists would decide how the protest would proceed once they reached Roxby Downs, but would not rule out blockading the roads.

Hundreds of police reinforcements, including special operations officers, have reportedly been sent to the town….. A company spokeswoman would not confirm whether hundreds of private security contractors had been flown to Roxby Downs but said preparations had been made.

July 12, 2012 Posted by | civil liberties, Opposition to nuclear, South Australia, uranium | , , | Leave a comment

Peaceful anti-nuclear protest in South Australia might be met with police violence, as in the past

Still fresh for many campaigners are the memories and scars of an anti-nuclear protest  at the Beverley Uranium Mine in May 2000…. a nasty example of police violence 

we should also try to engage genuinely with the important moral issues that the protestors are highlighting.

Their agenda is quite public , which is more than could be said for the private sector interests they are protesting. We might also question why the police are deploying over 200 personnel to “manage” a peaceful protest and what violence police have instigated during similar events in the recent past.

Peaceful dissent and a lizard’s revenge  PETER D. BURDON ABC   10 JUL 2012 Protesters at the Beverley uranium mine were treated in a “degrading, humiliating and frightening” manner in 2000, according to a later judgement.

THE ANTI-NUCLEAR MOVEMENT in Australia can be characterised by several key themes – colour, lentils, solidarity and a commitment to nonviolent acts of resistance. Another pervasive theme that characterises the past forty years of activism is power imbalance. On one side of the struggle you have poor and sometimes dislocated indigenous people, students and concerned community members (greenies). On the other side there are billion dollar companies, the Government, State police and the media.

Such is this power imbalance that many campaigners will spend decades resisting without reward. Those who are fortunate to be involved in a campaign victory (or even a slight concession) have also seen promises betrayed and decisions reversed.

Yet, despite many crushing defeats, antinuclear activists continue to resist. They do so, not because they have nothing better to do, or because they are violent delinquents (the images commonly portrayed in the media), but because they are acting in accordance with their conscience. Continue reading

July 10, 2012 Posted by | civil liberties, South Australia, uranium | , | 1 Comment

Western Australia’s repressive police regime, in the interests of mining companies

So is this the new Australia, produced by the longest mining boom in our history? One in which the views of residents and traditional owners are meaningless and where the state provides armies of foot soldiers, free of charge, to the big end of town? All this while the companies behind the project remain stony silent about actions taken in their name to divide and destroy Broome.

Not a word when last year Aboriginal women and their grandchildren were dragged away by tactical response police to allow the safe passage of Woodside’s contractors down the access road to James Price Point.

Miners hiding behind Barnett’s police army BY:LYNDON SCHNEIDERS . The Australian , May 19, 2012 THIS week the government of Western Australia dispatched about 200 police officers to the sleepy tourist town of Broome to do the dirty work for several of the world’s largest oil and gas companies.

This mini army has been assembled on the doorstep of the Kimberley wilderness for one purpose — to suppress the widespread opposition of the Broome community to the construction of the proposed $40 billion James Price Point industrial precinct.

In a startling admission, WA police commissioner Karl O’Callaghan confirmed earlier this week that the decision to drag police off their beats across the state and send them to Broome would cost taxpayers $100,000 a day, for an undisclosed period and with no cost to the companies involved in the project. The final bill will likely be several million dollars.

All this to move away and silence a dogged and growing band of locals who have stood in the way of the plans of a consortium of the world’s biggest companies, including Shell, Chevron, Woodside, BP and BHP Billiton, to build this massive gas plant in a beautiful and sensitive part of the remote Dampier Peninsula. Continue reading

May 19, 2012 Posted by | civil liberties, Western Australia | | Leave a comment

Australia’s Energy Minister pushes for government spying on behalf of energy companies

Protests against coalmining so far have been peaceful. Resources and Energy Department briefings show that only four protests have interfered briefly with electricity generation.

ASIO eyes green groups, The Age, Philip Dorling, April 12, 2012 AUSTRALIA’S leading counter-terrorism agency has been providing intelligence to the federal government on environmental groups that campaign against coalmining.

Greens leader Bob Brown said yesterday it was ”intolerable that the Labor government was spying on conservation groups” and condemned the ”deployment of ASIO as a political weapon” against peaceful protests……

ASIO is exempt from freedom of information laws and is described on
its website as ”the only agency in the Australian intelligence community authorised in the normal course of its duties to undertake investigations into the activities of Australian persons”. Other FOI documents confirm that Mr Ferguson pressed then attorney-general Robert McClelland in September 2009 to see whether ”the
intelligence-gathering services of the Australian Federal Police” could be used to help energy companies handle increasing activity by coalmining protesters….. Continue reading

April 12, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, secrets and lies | , | Leave a comment

Australia, Cocos Islands and our regional neighbours do not need USA drones

Stop pandering to the Americans  The Age, Adrian Jackson, March 30, 2012 SUGGESTIONS that the Cocos Islands could be abase for US drones is not in Australia’s national interest (”Australia may host US drones at Cocos”, The Age, 28/12). We have good relations with China and India, the new superpowers of the 21st century as the US and Europe decline. Why antagonise large nations in our region which are also good trading partners?

Australia is capable of patrolling the Indian Ocean off our west coast. If drones are to be operated from Australian soil, let it be drones owned by the RAAF, not the USAF. Have the Australian residents of the Cocos Islands been consulted?

We know how the residents of Diego Garcia and Bikini Atoll suffered forced relocation and how Okinawa has been treated by military base occupation. Many Okinawans loathe the Americans. Even the construction of the detention centre on Christmas Island causes problems for Australians, particularly house rent prices. Australians on the Cocos Islands deserve better and our government should not pander to the paranoia of the US.

March 31, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | | Leave a comment

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) bullied employees, to shut them up about radiation concerns

In their statement to Comcare’s investigator, Mr Howe and Mr Bourke said that while they had been reinstated, they were still being harassed.
The case follows that of David Reid, a former staff-elected health and safety officer who was suspended in June 2009 and sacked last June. He had also raised concerns about contamination in the ARI.

Lucas Heights nuclear reactor bullying exposed
BY: LEIGH DAYTON,  The Australian March 16, 2012
  ADMINISTRATORS at Australia’s only nuclear reactor facility used findings of an inaccurate, biased and partially fabricated in-house report as the pretext to suspend – and recommend the dismissal of – two employees who raised health and safety concerns over the mishandling of radioactive materials. Continue reading

March 16, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | | Leave a comment

Intimidation tactics against climate scientists

“I have been subject to all sorts of personal attacks, threats to my safety, my life, threats to my family, and it’s not just me, it’s
dozens of climate scientists in the US, in Australia and many other regions of the world where our findings are finding that climate change is real and potentially poses a threat to civilisation if we don’t confront that challenge. That represents a threat to certain vested interests and they’ve tried hard to discredit the science, often by discrediting and intimidating the scientists. “

VIDEO  Climatologist slams intimidation of scientists Australian Broadcasting Corporation Broadcast: 15/03/2012
Reporter: Emma Alberici Climatologist and director of the Earth System Science Centre in Pennsylvania State University Michael Mann joins Lateline.
Transcript Continue reading

March 16, 2012 Posted by | Audiovisual, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, climate change - global warming, secrets and lies | , , | Leave a comment

Look out: Australia’s National Open Source Intelligence Centre is watching you

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I for one, will be piqued if I am not on  Jody and Amanda Lambden’s list of secret “issue monitoring”.  I know that the big corporations run a list of “hostile websites” – and I am a proud member of that list.

But I didn’t know that Martin Ferguson had couple of pals in my very own home town, watching us evil environmentalists. I’ve been at least 5 years on the job, and I expect to be included. 

It’s only fair, Martin Ferguson. After all, we’re all watching you and your  subservience to the nuclear lobby. – Christina Macpherson

The watchdog’s kennel in clandestine CroydonThe Age, Philip Dorling  January 7, 2012 AN INCONSPICUOUS Melbourne apartment block is home to a monitoring service that keeps watch on environment groups at the request of the federal government. The National Open Source Intelligence Centre, a private intelligence company, works under contract for the Australian Federal Police and Federal Attorney-General’s Department to monitor activist websites, blogs, Facebook and Twitter to provide warning and analysis of protest activity.

Owned jointly by Croydon couple Jody and Amanda Lambden, NOSIC has been operating since 1999. It aims to provide law enforcement agencies and other private clients with internet monitoring and analysis directed at groups engaged in
”radical activism, criminal (terrorist) activity or unlawful behaviour”.

Services provided by NOSIC include ”issue monitoring”, ”tactical intelligence”, ”threat analysis” and ”trend analysis and
forecasting focus on emerging patterns and trends in activism”. NOSIC has been engaged on contract by the AFP and the
Attorney-General’s Department since at least 2003. From 2006 to 2008, it was paid $184,800…..

NOSIC’s website does not identify its director, Mr Lambden, and provides no phone number or business address.
However, corporate records list the company’s principal place of business as a residential apartment block on Hewish Road, Croydon….
Federal security sources told The Saturday Age that NOSIC provided a ”cost-effective service” that ”frees AFP analysts from spending time chasing publicly available information”.

January 7, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Christina reviews, civil liberties | | 1 Comment

Martin Ferguson pushing for increased surveillance of environmental activists

The Greens leader, Bob Brown, condemned the surveillance, saying it was “intolerable that the federal Labor government is spying on conservation groups” and wanting to “criminalise political protest”……

AFP spies targeting green activists SMH, Philip Dorling January 7, 2012 THE Resources and Energy Minister, Martin Ferguson, has secretly pushed for increased surveillance by federal police intelligence officers of environmental activists who have been protesting peacefully at coal-fired power stations and coal export facilities. Continue reading

January 7, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | | 1 Comment

Greens Senator helping Julian Assange, amid silence from Australian government on Assange’s human rights

Scott Ludlam (left) in Europe to ‘protect Julian Assange’s human rights’ Herald Sun, : AAP December 26, 2011 SWEDISH officials have met an Australian senator to discuss the future of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. As extradition proceedings against the 40-year-old Australian continue in London, Greens Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam has
embarked on a European mission to secure guarantees about Assange’s human rights, should he be extradited to the Nordic nation. Swedish prosecutors want Assange in Stockholm for questioning over allegations that he sexually assaulted two women in the capital inAugust 2010.

Assange denies the claims and is refusing to return to Sweden, fearing that the country will hand him over to the United States, where his secret-leaking website is the subject of a major investigation……

From February 1, Assange will face a panel of seven British supreme court justices for a two-day hearing where he will appeal the rulings of lower courts that he should be extradited to Stockholm.

Senator Ludlam plans to take the information he has learned in Stockholm to the Australian Parliament and seek cross-party support for the Government to do “everything possible to prevent this

Experts said the evidence may open Assange to a charge of conspiracy to commit espionage. Assange to face US spy charges Courier Mail,   December 25, 2011 JULIAN Assange may face spying charges in the US for his alleged role in stealing military documents. During this week’s hearing into the Private Bradley Manning case at

Fort Meade, Maryland, lawyers produced online chat logs which purport to show that the 40-year-old Australian coached Mr Manning on how to break passwords and gain anonymous access to military computer networks, The (London) Times reported. Continue reading

December 26, 2011 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | | Leave a comment

Australia’s civil liberties under threat – the case of Julian Assange

Assange’s extradition will have broad implications, not only for the exercise of free speech, but also for all Australians — as it will bring into stark relief our own government’s commitment to our rights as citizens…

If he is sent to Sweden, Assange’s extradition must be conditional on him not being subject to the “temporary surrender” clauses in the bilateral treaty between the USA and Sweden….

Kevin Rudd.., unlike the Prime Minister and Attorney General, knew he was obliged to presume Julian Assange innocent
before proven guilty. Instead of threatening to cancel this Australian passport, the Foreign Minister said publicly that his responsibility was to attend to his legal and consular rights.

While the world watches events unfold in London, we have a singular responsibility here in Australia for the protection the citizenship entitlements of one of our own. The next move is squarely in the court of the Australian Government.


Why Julian Assange Could Be You, New, By Scott Ludlam, 3 Nov  Australians should watch closely how the Gillard Government responds to Julian Assange’s extradition . It will test Labor’s commitment to all of our rights as citizens Continue reading

November 3, 2011 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | | Leave a comment

CHOGM: police target peaceful protestors (Are they hoping for violent ones?)

Barred CHOGM protestor ‘not a threat’, STEVE PENNELLS and JANE HAMMOND, The West Australian, October 25, 2011 The blitz started early – around 7am – when 56-year-old physically-impaired activist Seamus Doherty answered his front door to find four policeman holding a map of the CBD with much of it blacked out.

These were the places he couldn’t go, the police told him. If he walked into any of those areas during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting he faced 12 months in jail…..

Mr Gransch, a member of Forest Rescue, said he had no idea why he was targeted. “I don’t really understand why they have given this to me. Everything I do and everything we do in the Forest Rescue is non-violent,” he said.

At least 12 people have so far been identified as being on the excluded persons list, a police hit list which identifies them as potential threats and bans them for 14 days from much of the Perth CBD, including the foreshore and the river until five days after CHOGM has ended.

All said yesterday they had no idea why they were being seen as a threat and had no records – or intention – of violence.

“These people are activists who care about the environment and want to see a better world. Why should their democratic rights to walk around the city for days after CHOGM is over be impeded,” CHOGM Action Network spokesman Alex Bainbridge said. “From the people I know of, there is no record of violence or anything that would give cause for this”….

October 28, 2011 Posted by | civil liberties, Western Australia | | Leave a comment

As anti uranium protestors walk towards Perth, Western Australian police get extraordinary powers against protesors

Aussie police block “known protesters” from CHOGM venues, The Star Malaysia 26 Oct 11 PERTH: Australian police have served special notices to about 50 “known protesters” ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting here. The individuals are deemed “security risk” and prevented from entering major parts of the city until Nov 4.

Australian media reported that Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan was given extraordinary powers to create the list under a special Act of State Parliament passed specifically for CHOGM. CHOGM security areas include the University of Western Australia, Burswood, Kings Park, parts of St George’s Terrace, Adelaide Terrace and the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, the Western Australian reported…..

The CHOGM Action Network, a coalition of activist groups, is planning a march to the CHOGM venue at Perth’s convention centre on the first day of the summit, and has told police it is expecting 1,000 marchers to attend.

Spokesman Alex Bainbridge said the protest theme was “justice and climate action, not racism and war” and protesters hoped to get as close as possible to Commonwealth leaders to get their messages across.Aboriginal rights, freeing detained asylum seekers, ending the war in Afghanistan and promoting renewable energy would be highlighted during a number of protest events, he said….

October 27, 2011 Posted by | civil liberties, Western Australia | | Leave a comment

Civil liberties out the door as Australia prepares for Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

CHOGM protest organisers claim homes raided, phones confiscated, WA Today Courtney Trenwith October 14, 2011 WA Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan said police would use all the powers at their disposal in the lead up to CHOGM after three protest organisers claimed their Perth homes were unfairly raided and accused police of heavy-handed tactics including surveillance and harassment……

One of the protestors, Colleen Bulger, claimed while her house was being ‘raided’ police suggested they had been conducting surveillance on her.  “They kept asking about CHOGM and were very interested in leaflets we had around the house,” Ms Bulger said.

“When they arrested me they kept saying ‘we know more than you think’, and suggesting that I had been under surveillance. “It’s absolutely harassment and an attempt to intimidate us into stopping lawful activities.”

The group said their phones were confiscated in what they claimed was a move by police to download information in “an unnecessary breach of privacy”. Seamus Doherty said his car was confiscated after he was released without charge.

Mr Doherty, who is disabled, said he told the police that his car and phone were his lifelines to work and family and without them he risked losing his job and was stressed. The third member of the group, who did not want to be named, was not at home during the alleged raid but claimed he was followed by police to university where he was arrested on Thursday morning.

“They implied that the suspected offence wasn’t what concerned them, and that it was the protest that they were interested in,” he said.  Pearl Lim, from civil rights action group Search For Your Rights, which is not associated with the CHOGM network, said the police action was heavy-handed.

“How can we claim to promote civil democracy across the Commonwealth when peaceful activists are intimidated by police in our own state?” she said. :

October 23, 2011 Posted by | civil liberties, Western Australia | | Leave a comment

Western Australia’s police already targeting protest groups before CHOGM

Facebook intelligence used to target CHOGM protesters, WA Today, Aja Styles October 20, 2011  Police have been using social media to gather intelligence and monitor the movements of protest groups in a bid to quell troublemakers during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Yesterday the first of the 700 interstate and overseas police began to filter into Perth for the international event, with a specialist team from New Zealand due in the coming days……. protest actions, such as the Anti-Corporate Greed and Anti-Wall Street movements, have been widely monitored through Facebook and Twitter.  Read more:

October 23, 2011 Posted by | civil liberties, Western Australia | | Leave a comment