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Australian nuclear lobby manipulates the internet – The Liberal Party’s nuclear dreams: The strange case of Dr John White and Ignite

Sandi Keane

http://www.independentaustralia.net/article-display/the-liberal-partys-nuclear-dreams-the-strange-case-of-dr-john-white-and-ignite,6270

Why were Ignite Energy so desparate to dissociate their director Dr John White from both the nuclear industry and the Liberal Party? Deputy editor Sandi Keane investigates.

IS THE nuclear fantasy that has taken hold in South Australia poised to slip under Victoria’s ‘no nukes‘ radar?

More to the point, is the iconic Ninety Mile Beach region of Gippsland being eyed off as a future source of thorium – uranium’s young sister – the substance hailed by nuclear proponents as the green energy source of the future?

The story begins back in August last year, when Independent Australia managing editor David Donovan received a surprising complaint from the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA):

Dear David

I bring to your attention an error in the article at http://www.independentaustralia.net/2013/politics/premier-napthine-ignores-gippsland-gas-concerns/

A reference is made to Dr John White from Ignite Energy as being the same person as the Dr John White formerly of the Uranium Industry Framework under the former Howard Government and indeed casting aspersions on the former John.

The John from Ignite is not the same person.

I would be grateful if you correct this error in the article.

Regards

Megan Davison

Executive Director – Victorian Division

David duly passed the complaint on to me as the co-author of the article.

I responded with some incredulity:

Dear Megan

I refer you to Ignite Energy’s own website which lists Dr. John White as former chairman of the Uranium Industry Framework.  

I’m rather surprised that you failed to check his credentials and background before writing to us. Here’s the link to Ignite Energy’s key people:

http://www.igniteer.com/about-ignite/key-people.html

The article describes him as having Liberal party connections. No-one can dispute this. Apart from heading up John Howard’s Uranium Industry Framework, he also travelled with John Howard to Washington to help set up the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership.  I’m happy to supply full details.

Regards, 

Sandi Keane | deputy editor

Independent Australia

It beggars belief that the powerful peak mining industry body could screw up so spectacularly. As the investigative journalist who documented former Prime Minister John Howard’s and John White’s plans to turn Australia into a nuclear waste dump, the last organisation I’d expect a tip-off on another potential nuclear controversy is the Minerals Council, but my interest was piqued.

The first thing I noticed after the Minerals Council’s complaint was the removal of all reference to John White on Ignite Energy Resources’ website — not just the Uranium Industry Framework reference but any association with Ignite.

Enquiries to both the Sydney and Melbourne offices of Ignite confirmed that, yes, Dr White was still one of its key people — manager, government and community liaison. Less than five months ago, he was introduced as Ignite’s “executive director” in an interview with the ABC’s The World Today on 17 October 2013. Indeed, the receptionist at Ignite thought that the ‘executive director’ title was still listed on Dr White’s CV.

So, why delete it from the website and have conniptions over us publishing his connections to the Uranium Industry Framework? Also, what did Megan Davison mean by ‘casting aspersions’? Was it the reference to his being ‘a key Liberal Party adviser in the Howard-era’?

As chair of Howard’s Uranium Industry Framework and mastermind of the business plan for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (now renamed the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Co-operation), ‘key adviser’ hardly seems to do him justice.

Is this a reaction to the claims by members of the Gippsland community that Ignite is getting favourable treatment because of John White’s special relationship with the Liberal Party?

ELA4968’s thorium prospects

Further cross-referencing of Ignite’s website with pages downloaded months earlier provided further clues.

The details of one of IER’s leases, ELA4968 – which covers the iconic Ninety Mile Beach, Maffra, Sale, Bairnsdale and Orbost – had also disappeared.

The old website listed this exploration licence as including

‘… heavy minerals such as ilmenite, leucoxene, rutile, zircon and monazite.’

The revised website simply says:

‘… both EL 4416 and EL 4968 are prospective for world-class heavy mineral sands deposits.’

Delving further, I saw on the Victorian Government’s Department of Energy and Resources website that [IA emphasis]:

‘Recently there has been renewed interest in monazite as a source of thorium (my emphasis) for possible use to generate electricity in thorium nuclear reactors.’

India plans to source thirty per cent of its energy needs from thorium-based reactors by 2050. Ignite’s large marine terminal at Victoria’s Barry Beach, which is currently being developed to export brown coal products such as briquettes to China, would also prove very handy for shipping thorium.

Bid to overturn the Prohibition on Mining Thorium in Victoria

Clearly, the nuclear lobby is desperate to claw back public confidence after the nosedive it took post-Fukushima. Enter thorium as uranium’s ‘new black’. As Noel Wauchope reported recently in Independent Australia:

‘… thorium reactors are the latest flavour in nuclear power hype.’

There is no production of thorium in Australia but Australia (Victoria especially) is ranked as one of the richest sources in the world. Monazite, as a source of thorium, can be found in the Murray Valley and Gippsland and Otway Basins.

So what, exactly, is the stumbling block?

It’s called the Nuclear Activities (Prohibitions) Act 1983, which effectively prohibits the exploration and mining of thorium and uranium in Victoria.

It was then that I found a submission from the Minerals Council of Austral dated March 2012, which recommends the Victorian Government:

‘Actively considers the removal of the prohibition on exploring for uranium.’

On checking with Victorian minister for energy and resources, Nicholas Kotsiris, IA was assured that:

‘The Victorian government has no plans to undertake a review of the Nuclear Activities (Prohibitions) Act 1983 – s.5. The ban on the exploration for uranium or thorium remains in place.’

The Shadow Minister, Lily D’Ambrosia, was just as reassuring:

‘Victorian Labor is opposed to uranium/thorium exploration and mining in Victoria and we have no intention of changing that.’

Influential (former) MCA boss Mitch Hooke

But we’d be foolish to underestimate the powers of persuasion of the Minerals Council of Australia.

In 2008, former Independent Tony Windsor put up an amendment to the water bill that was subsequently carried by the Senate. In an interview with the ABC’s Fran Kelly, Windsor reported that the Coalition (then in opposition) initially supported the deal and, indeed, praised themselves for saving the Liverpool Plains and Darling Downs.

Then, according to Windsor:

“… that night, Mitch Hooke from the Minerals Council invaded the premises and, next morning, I think for the first time in political history, the Nationals and the Liberals recanted on their vote of the night before and the bill was defeated.”

That the mining industry is the largest donor to the LNP is already well documented. As the maxim goes, if you take the king’s shilling, you do the king’s bidding. We’d do well to remember that.

Thorium-fuelled nuclear power

Then there’s the ultimate wet dream of the thorium lobby — a thorium-fuelled nuclear power station drawing its water from that white elephant turned potential golden goose, the Wonthaggi Desalination Plant.

In an article in SBI Markets, dated 14 December, 2011, Sam Barden questions why the world’s second largest producer of uranium has no nuclear power plants and asks whether

‘Victoria’s white elephant [the desal plant] might, in fact, be the site for Australia’s first nuclear power station, and in so doing, create the grounds for a transparent, and dare I say exchange traded market in uranium and nuclear energy?’

Environmental filmmaker Peter Downey told Independent Australia that two unconnected electricians working on the desal plant confirmed that a cable had been laid in the trench to take power away to a potential gas or nuclear plant. And according to an article in the South Gippsland Sentinel Times on 7 November, 2006:

‘Wonthaggi was named along with the Latrobe Valley, Avalon, Hastings, and Portland, in a secret report to the Federal Government compiled by nuclear experts.’

It’s no secret that Howard was intent on retaining his cosy relationship with the mining industry by eventually replacing coal-fired power with nuclear when push came to shove to act on global warming. And as Tony Abbott’s “Direct Action” plan continues to attract derision, we shouldn’t forget he’s on record repeatedly pitching nuclear power as the only realistic way” for zero-emissions baseload power.

Since making that statement, the Abbott Government has continued to systematically dismantle Australia’s renewable industry, forfeiting our slice of the future low carbon economy to appease its paymasters in the mining industry.

Fukushima was a set-back, but it hasn’t stopped former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer continually advocating nuclear power — I’ve counted up to a dozen articles spruiking nukes. It’s all part of the softening up process. Having demonised the wind industry and done away with the RET, nuclear will, of course, be the only alternative.

But we shouldn’t forget where the real money is to be made.

Howard may have gone but the legacy of his ‘cradle to the grave’ nuclear fantasy lives on, never having been fully shelved by the Liberal Party. Storing the world’s spent fuel was estimated by Dr White back in 2006 to be worth $6 billion per annum.

Dr John White

Or, as he said in an interview with The Australian:

“This is business worth hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 50 years.”

John White invested $45million in his Nuclear Fuel Leasing Group. No-one would invest that sort of money without some surety the laws outlawing the industry will be changed in his favour.

The Australian public didn’t get a debate on Howard’s nuclear plans — he made sure of that. The culture of secrecy especially on nuclear matters lives on. When the Coalition laid out its nuclear ambitions in the Liberal Party’s July 2010 election policy, it included the promise of a debate on nuclear power.

We’ve heard nothing since. So, isn’t it time the Liberal Party at state and federal levels came clean about its nuclear ambitions, which also include dusting off the  global nuclear waste dump idea in South Australia?

But whether they choose openness or continue the secrecy, I think we can expect White to continue to beaver away as quietly as possible to further the Liberals’, the mining lobby’s and his own nuclear ambitions.

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April 5, 2014 - Posted by | Uncategorized

11 Comments »

  1. We are so deep down the rabbit hole now that I can only hope that I’m dead before we reap the whirl-wind of what we are sowing and have sowed. I’m 52 and have stood still long enough to see how the world is at the mercy of the powerful elite. Unless they change their thinking we are headed for an oblivion that will be easy to see but forced to ignore until it’s too late.
    Humanity seems lost.
    We can’t seem to stop polluting to exist?
    Why are we so stupid, stupid, stupid?
    Why do we worship money so much that we will sell our ethics for a price?
    It’s embarrassing to be part of a so-called sophisticated and complex civilization that is capable of being destroyed by it’s own greed (Demonic influence?).
    Is this why we are not part of a greater galactic civilization?
    Maybe they have just given us the weapons/technologies with which to more effectively destroy each other so as to remove a “Great Wound” from the galaxy.
    Or maybe it’s the cosmic order to make money from death and disease.
    In that case, let’s get it on!
    I’m already tooled-up for Armageddon.
    Just don’t call me a ‘Toolie’!

    Comment by Anon | April 7, 2014 | Reply

    • hi anon
      I am afraid you will still be alive when the waters rise..

      ever put an ice cube into water? it doesnt change the levels.. when it melts the water rises rapidly in a swift motion.. maybe thats what the military industrial complex is aware of and why they have decided to militarise the human response… instead of urging co-operation and freedom of knowledge they will fight for the scraps of land left over.. I certainly wouldnt risk buying beach front property imo

      Comment by arclight2011part2 | April 7, 2014 | Reply

      • Hi arclight, thanks for the reply.
        If I had to take a stab in the dark about all this, I would have to say that the elite have the historical knowledge to know that the world’s climate is going through a period of change. I believe they have chosen CO2 levels as the scapegoat so that we even go harder on each other being led to believe that those who emit CO2 are the only villains of the peace.
        You can already see the battle-lines being drawn.
        Renewable vs Nuclear to replace reliance on fossil fuels.
        We all know who will win.
        This is Hell on Earth.

        Comment by Anon | April 7, 2014

      • A puzzling reply.
        The evidence is in. Carbon and other emissions are going up in tandem with global average temperatures. They act like a blanket, keeping some of the solar radiation in the atmosphere, rather than passing out to space. The science makes sense. The evidence is there.
        Of course Co2 is not “guilty”. The human species is guilty. The corporate setup means that powerful bodies like the fossil fuel and nuclear lobbies run the world.
        And we’d better all wake up.
        Renewables will win.
        Even if only for the sickly reason that nuclear is uneconomic, and even nuclear weapons are useless in this age of terrorism fears.

        Comment by Christina MacPherson | April 7, 2014

      • hi anon
        the CO2 issue is contentious ,, I tend to side on the general view that CO2 is a problem but the important thing is that global warming is happening.. If you have been following some of my research you will remember my posts on the Science Media Centre UK and irs cover up of the Fukushima disaster.. A very successful campaign i am sure we can agree on that! Fionna Fox gets money from various nuclear and fossil fuel corporations and if you see the bbc coverage they play down the climate warming facts even in the face of the UK flooding .. and they play down the effects of the fukushima health effects..
        these details are the important issue.. and causes of climate change are becoming mute as the oil and nukers are old technology.. we need to stop polluting the planet with a huge amount of chemicals etc and start caring more for our environment.. stop relying on mega electricity projects and make energy safer, cheaper and more reliable..

        thanks for your comments and i am sure we are heading in the same direction regardless of the details

        peace

        Comment by arclight2011part2 | April 7, 2014

    • Hey Anon, not only is it to late, [ Methane plumes in the Siberian Ocean were seen to be 100 kilometers wide last summer. The summer before the were 1 kilometer wide. The year before they were only 10 meters wide. A 50 mega ton release of methane will warm the earth 8 to 10 degrees C.] ,When we cannot maintain 400 plus nuclear reactors they all melt down with enough radiation to sterilize earth for 500 MILLION YEARS!
      Enjoy what we have left and be kind.

      Comment by jim | April 7, 2014 | Reply

  2. […] by arclight2011part2 posted to nuclear-news.net help with headline by Sandi Keane […]

    Pingback by Nuclear Hotseat website hacked!! Plea for support from Libbe Halevey “SEE” USA SCARED!!!! | alvindavis99 | May 21, 2014 | Reply

  3. After I initially commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now whenever a
    comment is added I get 4 emails with the same comment.

    There has to be a way you can remove me from that service?
    Kudos!

    Comment by domain | August 25, 2014 | Reply

    • I don’t know any way that I can do it. It’s a WordPress thing. surely people have given up commenting on that article by now?

      Comment by Christina MacPherson | August 25, 2014 | Reply


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