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Harsher anti-protest laws targeting environmentalists are putting greed before green 

Guardian, Bob Brown 27 June 22,

Penalties for peaceful action are now the same as for aggravated assault.

Last Friday dozens of armed New South Wales police officers raided a camp near Sydney and arrested two environmentalists. One was Aunty Caroline Kirk, an Aboriginal elder. She was charged with “wilfully obstructing and intimidating police”.

“I can’t run, I can’t climb,” she said. “All I can do … is teach my culture. Why are they doing this?”

The answer lies in the showdown of our age between greed and green.

At the heart of this is greenophobia, the fear of things green, including environmentalists. It involves the blighted idea that people should be stopped from taking action to defend the environment, especially if it gets in the way of making money.

It has infected the world of natural resource extractors and they have found the established political parties around the world extra helpful. So, in this year’s Queen’s speech, Boris Johnson announced a bill to jail peaceful UK protesters for up to 10 years. The proposal of those measures was one of the triggers that brought 400 alarmed scientists out to support environmental activists last year.

Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, is a greenophobe who is letting the Amazon rainforest and its Indigenous cultures be destroyed. His nation has descended into environmental lawlessness in which two rainforest defenders, British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian Indigenous advocate Bruno Pereira, were murdered this month. Globally, 220 environmentalists were murdered last year and thousands more were injured, terrorised or imprisoned. Most of the perpetrators have not been arrested or charged.

MMG’s lobbying helped influence the Tasmanian parliament to vote last week for harsher penalties for the defenders of the Tarkine and its giant masked owls. A clear majority of Tasmanian MPs want MMG to get its toxic waste dump in the Tarkine and Tasmania’s defenders of nature to get a cell in Risdon prison.

Tasmania’s laws match those of NSW, with penalties of up to $11,000 for peaceful environmental protest and double that, or two and a half years in jail, for a second offence. Had these laws been in place in other jurisdictions at other times, the Franklin River would be dammed, the Daintree rainforest razed and much of Kakadu national park mined.

Victoria has also introduced legislation, one aim of which is to deter scientists who have previously gone into the highlands and found forests with protected species – such as the greater glider and the state’s critically endangered faunal emblem, the Leadbeater’s possum – being logged. That’s illegal. While the loggers faced no charges, the intention of the new laws is to stop or arrest those scientists next time.

In Newcastle last year a young man was sentenced to a year in jail for delaying a coal train. The court did not hear the assessment of the former chief scientist at Nasa who told the US Congress that, in this world of dangerous global heating, transporting coal is a criminal activity.  

Greenophobia is percolating down. On the Monday before Aunty Caroline’s arrest, 100 or so officers raided Blockade Australia’s camp for peaceful protest at Colo near Sydney after four undercover officers who failed to identify themselves “feared for their lives” – though the police had the guns and the people in the camp, including the children, had none……………………………..

Corporate PR machines, with the rightwing media ready to go, are developing greenophobia to divert attention to their business wellbeing and away from the graver threat of the collapse of Earth’s biosphere, including through global heating and species extinctions. As the NSW attorney general, Mark Speakman, put it: “What we are stopping, or criminalising even further, are protests that shut down major economic activity.” It’s money before the planet.22

The new federal environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, is now Australia’s most powerful environmentalist. She will decide if MMG should treat its toxic wastes inside or outside the Tarkine rainforest. In doing so she will also decide if Tasmania’s environmentalists will face the new draconian sentences there. Those penalties, for peaceful environmental action, are now the same as for aggravated assault or for threatening neighbours with a shotgun.

Such laws may be tested in the high court as earlier laws were, after I was among those arrested in Tasmania’s Lapoinya rainforest in 2017. The court found those laws unconstitutional because they took away the right to peaceful protest. Meanwhile the Lapoinya forest was flattened and burnt, along with its rare wildlife. No one was arrested for that… The court found those laws unconstitutional because they took away the right to peaceful protest. Meanwhile the Lapoinya forest was flattened and burnt, along with its rare wildlife. No one was arrested for that.

If MMG’s needless waste dump is given the go-ahead I, for one, will help defend that vital forest, its owls, kingfishers and Tasmanian devils. They can take us out of nature but they can’t take nature out of us.

As for the “terrifying” Aunty Caroline, I would like to meet her and thank her. She may not be able to run or climb but she is an inspiration.  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jun/27/harsher-anti-protest-laws-targeting-environmentalists-are-putting-greed-before-green-bob-brown

  • Bob Brown is a former senator and leader of the Australian Greens and is patron of the Bob Brown Foundation……

June 28, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, Legal | Leave a comment

A new era as Australia joins historic UN nuclear ban meeting

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 https://johnmenadue.com/australia-joins-historic-un-nuclear-ban-meeting/ By Tilman RuffJun 27, 2022,

This week in Vienna, Australia joined a landmark gathering of eighty-three governments to further implement and develop the treaty banning nuclear weapons.

In a stunning demonstration of resolve, goodwill and cooperation, with no shred or adversarial politics, the meeting adopted a realistic  action plan that breaks new ground. It maps out collaborative programs of work led by different states in key areas of treaty obligations: promoting treaty membership and norms, complementarity with other nuclear treaties, disarmament processes including verification, and assisting victims and remediating (where possible) environments harmed by nuclear weapons use and testing. States also made a  political declaration that is arguably the strongest and clearest rejection of nuclear weapons ever made by a multilateral gathering.

Five years ago, by a vote of 122 to 1 in the United Nations in New York, the first treaty to ban the worst weapons of mass destruction was born: the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). For its role in bringing about the treaty, the Melbourne-born International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) became the first Australian-born entity to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The treaty entered into legal force last year, and this week for the first time, governments gathered to discuss and decide how to promote and implement the treaty.

The Australian delegation to Vienna was led by NSW Labor MP Susan Templeman, federal member for Macquarie, who last year said Australia “can and should lead international efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons”. She  told the Blue Mountains Gazette this week: “It was great to be in Austria to observe the first Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) on behalf of Australia. … Australia shares the ambition of TPNW states parties of a world free of nuclear weapons.”

The Vienna meeting from 21-23 June was the first intergovernmental gathering focused on addressing the threat of nuclear weapons since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and multiple threats by President Vladimir Putin to use nuclear weapons. Other “nuclear-endorsing” states attending the meeting as observers included NATO members Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Belgium. Sweden, Finland and Switzerland also joined.

Shamefully, the previous Australian government boycotted the negotiation of and opposed the TPNW, the first time Australia has ever boycotted multilateral disarmament negotiations. This stands in stark contrast to Australia under governments both Labor and Coalition having joined the treaties that ban biological and chemical weapons, landmines and cluster munitions.

In 2018, the ALP adopted unanimously a national policy platform commitment to sign and ratify the TPNW. It reaffirmed that policy at its national conference in 2021. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is a long-term champion of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and moved the new policy in 2018. Over three-quarters of all members of the new government have personally backed the treaty. In this they have strong public support – opinion polls over recent years have consistently shown 70-80% of the public want Australia to join the TPNW – in the most recent poll 76% of those asked want Australia to join the nuclear weapon ban, with only 6% opposed (Ipsos, March 2022).

Fifty-five Australian former ambassadors and high commissioners this week released an open  letter to PM Albanese urging him to sign and ratify the TPNW without delay.

The meeting in Vienna and a new more constructive era in Australia’s approach to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation could not come at a more critical time. With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine accompanied by repeated threats to use nuclear weapons, the world faces the greatest evident danger of nuclear war since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. Russia’s threats should shatter any misplaced sense of complacency or denial that somehow the risk of nuclear war is a faded relic of the past that no longer demands our urgent attention.

Russia’s threats have upended decades-old assumptions about security and deterrence, with Russia using nuclear weapons not to deter but to coerce and intimidate, and provide a cover for war crimes and gross violations of international law and human rights.

But as former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said, “There are no right hands for the wrong weapons.” Every day that thousands of nuclear weapons remain launch-ready, two thousand of them ready to be launched within minutes, they remain the most acute existential threat to humanity and our planet. The leading scientists behind the Doomsday Clock have set it at 100 seconds to midnight, further forward than ever before. None of the nine states wielding nuclear weapons are disarming or negotiating for disarmament as they are obligated to do. To the contrary, all are engaged in upgrading and modernising their arsenals with new, more accurate, flexible and ‘usable’ weapons. Kinds of nuclear weapons the world has never seen before are being developed and deployed, including hypersonic missiles, nuclear-armed cruise missiles powered by nuclear reactors, and nuclear torpedos. And the number of usable weapons in military stockpiles is again increasing.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in a  report released last week documented that last year the nine nuclear-armed countries spent US$82.4 billion (A$116 billion) on nuclear weapons – A$220,000 per minute – an inflation-adjusted increase of A$9.2 billion from 2020.

The day before the treaty meeting, the Australian delegation also joined a  Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons hosted by Austria, which provided compelling updated evidence from scientists, emergency responders and other experts on the catastrophic consequences and growing risks of use of nuclear weapons.

The TPNW provides our best hope to control our worst weapons, and is currently the only bright light in an otherwise bleak and darkening nuclear landscape. Hopefully this early positive step will be promptly followed by the new government signing and working towards Australia ratifying the treaty, in line with its pre-election commitments. 

TILMAN RUFF

Tilman Ruff AO is Co-President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (Nobel Peace Prize 1985); and co-founder and founding international and Australian Chair of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, the first to an entity born in Australia.

June 27, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A big win for Yeelirrie — Beyond Nuclear International

Indigenous community keeps door closed to uranium mining in Australia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We’re really glad to hear the news that Yeelirrie’s approval has not been extended. It was a bad decision in the first place and after years in court and fighting to defend our country this news is a great relief. We will really celebrate properly when this government withdraws approvals altogether and then we can have more confidence the threat is over…” – . – Vicki Abdullah, Tjiwarl Traditional Custodian.  https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72759838/posts/4098309284

June 27, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear, Uranium | Leave a comment

If Australian Prime Minister Albanese asks for Assange’s freedom, Biden has every reason to agree: Bob Carr

The Age, 20 June 22, “…………………….. It was the Trump administration – probably at the insistence of then-CIA chief Mike Pompeo – that pursued Assange’s extradition. The Morrison government declined even the faintest whinny of protest. It was as if we were not a sovereign government but some category of US territory like Puerto Rico and an Australian passport holder didn’t rate protection from the vengeful anger of one corner of the American security apparatus. A France or Germany – a New Zealand  would not have been as craven.

Here lies Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s most potent argument as he proceeds to winkle out of the Biden administration a decision to quietly drop its pursuit of Assange, even after Britain announced on Friday that it had approved his extradition to the US. Albanese can say that, to Australian public opinion, it looks like one rule for Americans, another for citizens of its ally.

Albanese can gently remind Washington that President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning. That is, he lifted her sentence for gifting to Assange the material that he published on Wikileaks in 2010. This was the collateral murder video that showed soldiers in a US Apache helicopter mowing down civilians with their automatic weapons in Iraq in 2007. The video exposed America’s lack of rules of engagement but, more than that, tore away the justification for the neocon high adventure of the Iraq war.

Manning, the American who slipped the material to Assange, goes free while the Australian who published it faces extradition, trial in Virginia and the rest of his life in cruel confinement in a high-security prison, likely on the plains of Oklahoma.

Albanese doesn’t have to state – because the Americans know it – that we are a darn good partner. A request on Assange is small change in such an alliance relationship. We host vital US communication facilities that likely make Australia a nuclear target. We host ship visits, planes and marines, about which the same baleful point could be made. And, as the capstone, we are spending about $150 billion purchasing US nuclear submarines……………..

In the context of Australia’s role as an ally – the heft we deliver for the US empire – a decision to let Assange walk free rates about five minutes of President Biden’s Oval Office attention. ………………….

The military in the US and Australia have had to admit no lives were lost because of Assange. But we wouldn’t have heard of serious war crimes in a counterproductive war were it not for the haggard prisoner in Belmarsh.

Our new prime minister can say: “We’re not fans of the guy either, Mr President, but it’s gone on long enough. We’re good allies. Let this one drop.“

And if Albanese asks, my guess is America will agree.  https://www.theage.com.au/national/if-albanese-asks-for-assange-s-freedom-biden-has-every-reason-to-agree-bob-carr-20220619-p5autd.html

June 20, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Australian government lobbying behind the scenes for Assange’s freedom

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

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

further appeals in British courts could rely on media reports last year that the CIA had planned to assassinate the Wikileaks founder. “There’s absolute validity to these matters .

https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/federal-government-lobbying-behind-the-scenes-for-assange-s-freedom-20220618-p5auq3.html By James Massola and Latika Bourke, June 19, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 18, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, investigative journalism, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties | 1 Comment

Why nuclear energy won’t work in Australia

Scott Ludlam,  https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/opinion/topic/2022/06/18/why-nuclear-energy-wont-work-australia#mtr  Scott Ludlam is a writer and activist, and a former Greens senator. 18 June 22,  There is something almost comical about the Liberals and Nationals throwing the forlorn spectre of nuclear power back into national energy debates, right after their loss in the 2022 “climate election”.

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

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

Can this technology compete against low-cost renewables?

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 18, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics | 1 Comment

Can Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese save Julian Assange?

New Prime Minister Anthony Albanese,  has said he couldn’t see any purpose in keeping Assange in gaol, stating “enough is enough”. In the first week of the Albanese Government, the ABC reported: ‘Mr Albanese is also a signatory to the Bring Julian Assange Home Campaign petition.’

Questioned by The Guardian – Albanese replied that it was his position that “not all foreign affairs is best done with the loudhailer”.

So – we are now getting used to an Australian Prime Minister who values thinking and diplomacy rather than bull-dozing and bullying tactics . So there’s hope.

On the other hand, there’s the determination of the U.S.military-industrial-complex, which rules U.S. politics – to punish Julian Assange for exposing U.S. military’s war crimes. And the subservience of the U.K. to USA, now vested in just oned person, Home Secretary Priti Patel, who shows no sign of having the integrity to stand up for justice.

It is ironic that everyone is now (rightly) jumping up and down about Russian military atrocities, and praising reporters who reveal these – but it seems it’s OK to persecute Assange for revealing U.S. military atrocities?

June 16, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Christina's notes, civil liberties, media, politics international | 1 Comment

Julian Assange is still in jail, but the new Australian government has the power to act to help him.

 https://michaelwest.com.au/assange-is-still-in-jail-what-can-the-new-government-do/ by Greg Barns | Jun 7, 2022 

There are signs that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese seems more interested in dealing with the plight of Julian Assange than was the Morrison government. UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has to decide whether or not to sign off on Assange’s extradition to the US by the middle of this month. Albanese must act now, writes Greg Barns.

Julian Assange is an Australian citizen facing over 170 years in a US prison for revealing the truth about US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. His case is important for a number of reasons, including the inhumanity of keeping him locked up in the notorious Belmarsh prison in the UK as his mental and physical health declines. Assange’s case is an attack on freedom of speech. It also represents a dangerous development for citizens, journalists and publishers around the world because the United States is using its domestic laws to snare an individual who has no connection to the jurisdiction. This is the sort of law which Australia has condemned in the context of Beijing imposed laws on Hong Kong.

Tonight, the ABC broadcasts a documentary Ithaka, a film by Julian’s brother Gabriel Shipton which follows their father John Shipton across the world as he campaigns for his son. The broadcast is a milestone in the Australian campaign to free Assange from the shackles that the US and UK have bound him since 2012, when he sought asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, fearing, rightly, that he would extradited to the US.

Anthony Albanese is taking an interest in this case, in contrast to Scott Morrison’s government that showed little interest in pushing Washington on behalf of an Australian citizen facing cruel and unusual punishment in the US It was manifested in an answer he gave last week in a media conference and was  confirmed by his Foreign Minister Penny Wong in an interview on the ABC last Friday.

Asked whether he would intervene with the US to save Assange, Albanese replied that his “position is that not all foreign affairs is best done with the loudhailer.” In other words, as one foreign affairs expert told this writer, Albanese is rightly respecting the US-Australia relationship by raising the Assange issue in private with the White House.

Wong’s comments last week should also be seen as a positive sign that, at last, some action will be taken to stand up for freedom of speech by ending the Assange case. Speaking on Radio National last Friday, Wong said:

The Prime Minister has expressed that it’s hard to see what is served by keeping Mr Assange incarcerated and expressed a view that it’s time for the case to be brought to an end.

As former Labor foreign minister Bob Carr has written, it is perfectly legitimate for Australia to ask the US to withdraw its case against Assange. Carr has also pointed to the dangerous precedent set by the case – the extraterritorial reach of the US to seize anyone anywhere in the world who exposes something which embarrasses Washington. On September 8, 2020 Carr told The Sydney Morning Herald:

If America can get away with this — that is digging up an Australian in London and putting him on trial for breaching their laws — why can’t another government do the same thing? For example, an Australian campaigning for human rights in Myanmar, that Australian in theory could be sought by the government of Myanmar and brought back to Myanmar from London and put on trial there for breach of their national security laws.

Ironically the Morrison government opposed the security law that China imposed on Hong Kong in 2020 in part because it includes a provision which catches foreign citizens who criticise Beijing’s rule in Hong Kong.

The case of Assange cannot be allowed to continue. It represents an affront to fundamental democratic values and it shows Washington to be no better than authoritarian regimes that hunt down critics the world over. The early signs are the Albanese government is uncomfortable about the case, which is a welcome development, but there is little time to do so.

June 9, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Australia’s new government must act to save Australian citizen Julian Assange, where the previous government failed

By John Jiggens   https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/assange-albanese-must-act-where-the-coalition-failed,16446 9 June 2022, The Morrison Government failed Julian Assange. Supporters of the persecuted publisher are looking to Anthony Albanese to make good on his statement that “enough is enough”, writes Dr John Jiggens.

AFTER 20 APRIL, when a UK court formally approved the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States, mainstream media presented a narrative that claimed UK Home Secretary Priti Patel would have until 31 May to rubber-stamp Assange’s extradition.

That date has now come and gone and we still await Patel’s decision.

But is this all there is to it?

The victory of Anthony Albanese’s Labor Party in the Australian Federal Election has brought new hope to supporters of the Australian publisher.

Last year, our new Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus issued a statement saying that Labor wanted the Assange matter brought to an end. His leader, our new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, said he couldn’t see any purpose in keeping Assange in gaol, stating “enough is enough”.

In the first week of the Albanese Government, the ABC reported:

‘Mr Albanese is also a signatory to the Bring Julian Assange Home Campaign petition.’

However, the ABC gave no source for this claim. (The Bring Julian Assange Home Campaign petition –‘Free Julian Assange, before it’s too late. Sign to STOP the USA Extradition’  – is an online petition that has now garnered over 715,000 signatures.)

Phillip Adams – not the popular ABC Late Night Live host – who originated the online petition, this week published an update stating firstly that he was not the source of the ABC’s information, but then added, rather coyly, that the ABC report gave him ‘great confidence’ that the campaign had ‘turned a corner’ and had brought a smile to his face.

That smile no doubt broadened when PM Anthony Albanese replied to a question fromThe Guardian, which asked whether it was now his position that the U.S. should be encouraged to drop the charges against Assange and whether he had made any such representations to the U.S. Government.

Albanese replied that it was his position that “not all foreign affairs is best done with the loudhailer”.

So, there is still no confirmation that Anthony Albanese signed the online petition. Although, signing a petition which would ultimately go to himself (as the PM) seems an odd way for  Albanese to indicate his support for Assange when he could have joined the Bring Julian Assange Home Campaign parliamentary group. That certainly isn’t a loudhailer approach.

The battle to stop the extradition of Julian Assange hangs, intriguingly, in the balance.

June 9, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international | Leave a comment

Julian Assange’s family says Australia’s election result brings renewed hope for WikiLeaks founder’s release

 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-05-27/julian-assange-release-family-election-result-brings-hope/101100860, By Brendan Mounter and Adam Stephen, 27 May 22,

Key points:

  • The family and supporters of Julian Assange are hopeful of securing his release following a change of government
  • Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has previously expressed support for efforts to secure the WikiLeaks founder’s return to Australia
  • Mr Assange has spent the past three years in the UK’s Belmarsh Prison

The family of Julian Assange is hopeful the election of a federal Labor government will pave the way for the WikiLeaks founder’s eventual release and a return to Australia. 

It has been almost a decade since Mr Assange, who originally hails from Townsville in north Queensland, has been a free man.

For the past three years, he has been in high security detention at Belmarsh Prison in the United Kingdom, after seven years of asylum within London’s Ecuadorian embassy in a bid to avoid arrest.

United States authorities have sought Mr Assange’s extradition from the UK so he can stand trial on charges of espionage and computer misuse relating to hundreds of thousands of leaked cables from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

His brother, film producer Gabriel Shipton, said Mr Assange had been persecuted for publishing the ugly truths of war.

“Julian is accused of what investigative journalists do all the time, which is sourcing and publishing materials from a source, Chelsea Manning,” Mr Shipton said.

“Those releases exposed war crimes in Iraq, undocumented civilian deaths in Iraq, corruption, government malfeasance … all sorts of things.”

American prosecutors allege Mr Assange unlawfully helped US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal classified diplomatic cables and military files that WikiLeaks later published, putting lives at risk.

Family urges incoming government to act

Lawyers for Mr Assange fear he could face up to 175 years in jail if he is extradited to the US and convicted.

But the weekend’s election result has buoyed his supporters, with the hope that the new Labor government will intervene and help secure his release.

While in Opposition, newly elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is reported to have told a February 2021 caucus meeting that “enough was enough” and he “can’t see what’s served by keeping [Assange] incarcerated”. 

Mr Albanese is also a signatory to the Bring Julian Assange Home Campaign petition.

Senior Labor MP Mark Dreyfus, who is expected to be appointed Attorney-General, has also expressed a need to “bring the matter to a close”.

Mr Shipton is calling on the new government to turn those words into action.

“That was the Labor position before the election so we’re very hopeful when there’s a new administration, a new government coming in there’s always a lot of hope that they will live up to their promises,” he said.

May 28, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Australia’s new Labor government urged to act to prevent Julian Assange extradition

  https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2022/05/28/labor-urged-act-prevent-julian-assange-extradition#mtr, 28 May 22, The legal case against Julian Assange is a game of luck and whim. Any day now, the British home secretary, Priti Patel, is expected to rubber stamp his extradition to the United States. What will happen to him there is uncertain.

The Westminster Magistrates’ Court formally approved his extradition on April 20 and Patel has until May 31 to announce whether it will happen. If convicted of espionage in the US, Assange could be sentenced to 175 years in prison. His legal team argue he would likely kill himself.

There is one glimmer of hope for the WikiLeaks founder, however, bound up in last weekend’s Australian election result. The victory of Anthony Albanese, a supporter of the journalist, has reignited calls to halt the extradition.

Albanese has said that while he didn’t sympathise with Assange for some of his actions, he could not see any purpose to keeping him in jail.“Assange’s appeal is like a game of extradition snakes and ladders. He managed to take his argument about US prison conditions all the way to the door of the Supreme Court, but they rejected it, so he slid back down to the magistrates’ court where he started.”

“The prime minister, Mr Albanese, has previously said ‘enough is enough’. [Then shadow] Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus issued a statement last year confirming that Labor wanted the matter ‘brought to an end’,” says lawyer and human rights activist Kellie Tranter, who is a former WikiLeaks Party senate candidate. “So it remains to be seen whether such statements will result in the new government requesting that the US drop the case.”

She was “cautiously optimistic” about the case of Assange, who faces 17 charges under the US Espionage Act relating to the publication of classified documents and information related to US war crimes.

“It is helpful that the Greens – who have been calling for the Australian government to take action in the Assange case for some time – may hold the balance of power in the senate,” Tranter added.

Earlier this week, Albanese travelled to Japan for a meeting of the Quad leaders – from India, Japan, the US and Australia – to deliver a message about Australia’s policy changes.

Supporters including Tranter had urged the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to include the whistleblower on the agenda, and not just as a sideline issue.

The meeting was the “ideal opportunity” for Albanese to speak with US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to request that Assange be allowed to come home, said Greg Barns SC, an adviser to the Australian Assange campaign.

A spokesperson for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet said they were unable to provide comment on Quad agenda items. Comment was being sought from DFAT.

Stella Assange, who married the WikiLeaks founder in Belmarsh prison this year and is the mother of their two children, told The Saturday Paper the case had become political. She insisted the government had a duty to protect its citizens.

“By failing to act, it’s not just negligent; it shows that whoever is in office that isn’t acting is not fit for office,” the human rights lawyer said. “This can end today if the Australian government decides to do something about it.”

Every human rights organisation in the world had said the extradition of the Townsville-born computer hacker, editor and publisher should be stopped, she said. The latest to speak out is the Council of Europe.

Earlier this month, then Foreign Affairs minister Marise Payne and her Labor shadow, Penny Wong, claimed Australia couldn’t intervene, as the matter was before the courts.

But former British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, speaking to The Saturday Paper, rubbished the claim. The MP pleaded to Australia to “speak up for your own”.

“Whilst in Britain there are – for good reason – constraints about raising [it] in parliament because it’s a sub judice matter, that does not apply in Australia,” Corbyn said.

“There is no legal case in Australia. So there’s nothing to stop every Australian politician speaking up with Julian Assange, and I think they should. Please do, because it will help the freedom for journalists everywhere.”

Barns said there was “plenty of political support” for Albanese to ensure the whistleblower does not face an effective death penalty in the US. He pointed out that the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group had 30 members from every party before the election. This is expected to increase, Assange’s brother, Gabriel Shipton, said.

“Ultimately I don’t think Albo wants to become another Australian prime minister who is complicit in Julian’s persecution and more broadly the Western descent into barbarity that has been taking place ever since the Iraq invasion,” he said. “Whether he has the power to resist that is up to us.”

A spokesperson for DFAT said the government had “consistently raised the situation of Mr Assange with the United States and the United Kingdom”. The spokesperson said the government “conveyed our expectations that Mr Assange is entitled to due process, humane and fair treatment, access to proper medical and other care, and access to his legal team”. However, “The extradition case regarding Julian Assange is between the United States and the United Kingdom; Australia is not a party to this case.”

US–Australian relations are one of many matters that will test Albanese’s leadership. According to Tranter, freedom of information requests show “that consecutive governments have long held the view that the Assange case has strategic implications for the alliance”. She says this is why no Australian government had spoken out in support of his human rights or provided diplomatic assistance to him.

“Mr Albanese should take a stand consistent with his stated ethos of protecting the persecuted and not forsake any Australian citizen to personal abuse for political purposes,” Tranter said.

As he awaits his fate, Assange is incarcerated in London’s maximum security Belmarsh prison. He was taken there after seven years in the Ecuador embassy in London, where he sought asylum to prevent extradition to Sweden over now-abandoned sexual assault charges.

“Assange’s appeal is like a game of extradition snakes and ladders,” says Nick Vamos, the former head of extradition at Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service. “He managed to take his argument about US prison conditions all the way to the door of the Supreme Court, but they rejected it, so he slid back down to the magistrates’ court where he started.”

Assange “can’t climb that particular ladder again”, Vamos says. “But he can still appeal on the other grounds that he lost originally, so there are likely to be a few more ups and downs before this process is finally over.”

The partner and head of business crime at London firm Peters & Peters said the attempts to persuade Home Secretary Patel not to order the extradition would not be successful – “not in a million years”.

Vamos says that if there is another appeal in Britain it could take another six months to be heard. If it is denied, another avenue is the European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg, France, which could issue an order directing Britain not to extradite Assange until its case is heard.

Jennifer Robinson, part of Assange’s legal team, has confirmed this is a path being considered.

“This case is too important from a free speech point of view, but also from a humanitarian point of view,” she said.

“We know what the medical evidence is about Julian’s mental health, and that he will find a way to commit suicide if he’s extradited.”

In all, Vamos says, these appeals could take another two years. But once Assange’s extradition has been signed off, he says, US Marshals are free to fly to Britain to arrest Assange: “It will normally happen within a couple of weeks of Patel making the order.”

At an EU Free Assange rally in Brussels, on April 23, Assange’s wife wiped away tears as she spoke to the crowd. The event was aimed at targeting European leaders, with speeches by politicians from various countries. “In the end this will end up in Europe,” Stella Assange said. “Europe can free Julian. Europe must free Julian.”

She recalled that 15 years into his 27-year imprisonment, people thought Nelson Mandela would never be liberated. “But he was, because decent people in that case came out and they shouted for his freedom, even if they were the only person in the square to shout,” she said.

“The fact is, it takes a few decent people to show the way and what we stand for, because we create the reality around us.”

Activists were defending “not just decency and the memory” of all the tens of thousands of victims of the Iraq and Afghan war, caught up in the crimes that WikiLeaks exposed; they were also standing up for the right to a free future.

“What has been done to Julian is a crime,” Stella Assange said. “The law is being abused in order to keep him incarcerated, year after year, for doing the right thing … When will it end? Will it end?”

May 28, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Anthony Albanese has the power to save Julian Assange. But will he?

We’re all enormously relieved that the corrupt #ScottyFRomMarketing has gone.

And we like Albanese, I think.

But – will he have the guts to help our Australian hero, Julian Assange?

Albanese had the perfect opportunity in Tokyo on Tuesday, meeting the U.S. president. He could have raised the matter with Biden.. But he didn’t.

When will he? Will he speak up for Assange at all?

Now is the time for Australia to intervene, and to demand the repatriation of Julian and an end to his persecution. It’s about time our mealy-mouthed and pathetic media and politicians broke their silence and cringing subservience to the USA.

May 26, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia’s new Prime Minister backs the UN Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty

 https://icanw.org.au/new-prime-minister-backs-the-ban/?fbclid=IwAR0PloEtGAvJE3z3fK3Lvb01JmlIbIJ2MXeAoT4KBjIBe3AMTGretVOISV8 24 May 22, The election of the Albanese Labor Government heralds a new era in Australia’s approach to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. While the previous government shunned the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the Australian Labor Party has committed to sign and ratify it in government. Recent polling demonstrates ¾ of the Australian public support this action. 

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is a long-term champion of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, inspired by his late mentor Tom Uren, a former Labor Minister who witnessed the atomic bombing of Nagasaki as a prisoner of war. In proposing the resolution committing to the treaty in 2018, he said the new policy is “Labor at its best” and that “nuclear disarmament is core business for any Labor government worth its name”. In 2016 Albanese launched the Tom Uren Memorial Fund with ICAN, and has spoken out in support of the treaty in parliament, at public events and demonstrations since its negotiation in 2017.  

A majority of the new government members have signed the ICAN Parliamentary Pledge to work for Australia to sign and ratify the Treaty. It has been backed by two dozen unions, including the national peak body, the Australian Council of Trade Unions. The Victorian, Tasmanian, Australian Capital Territory, South Australian, Northern Territory and Western Australian Labor branches, as well as over 50 local branches have passed motions declaring their support and calling upon Australia to join the ban without delay. Many have called for signature and ratification to be completed in the first term of the new government.

Following a decision of the Australian Parliament, signature and ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons can now proceed under the Albanese Labor Government. 

In addition to the incumbent signatories of the ICAN Parliamentary Pledge, we are delighted to welcome the following new parliamentarians that have committed to work for Australia to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons:

Boothby, SA         Louise Miller-Frost, Labor

Bennelong, NSW          Jerome Laxale, Labor

Chisholm, VIC          Carina Garland, Labor

Cunningham, NSW          Alison Byrnes, Labor

Goldstein, VIC         Zoe Daniel, Independent

Higgins, VIC         Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah, Labor

Hunter, NSW          Daniel Repacholi, Labor

Kooyong, VIC          Dr Monique Ryan, Independent

North Sydney, NSW         Kylea Tink, Independent

Pearce, WA          Tracey Roberts, Labor

Robertson, NSW          Gordon Reid, Labor

Wentworth, NSW          Allegra Spender, Independent

ENATE, ACT          David Pocock, Independent

SENATE, QLD          Penny Allman-Payne, Greens

SENATE, NSW          David Shoebridge, Greens

SENATE, SA          Barbara Pocock, Greens

SENATE, VIC          Linda White, Labor

May 26, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Painful defeat of Australia’s right-wing Morrison government, as new Labor government vows action on climate change.

Anthony Albanese, Australia’s new Labor prime minister, vowed to end the
country’s “climate wars” after he ousted Scott Morrison’s conservative
government on Saturday night. For the first time in nearly a decade, the
Labor party will lead Australia after a general election that delivered a
bruising defeat to Mr Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition.

At the latest count on Sunday afternoon, Labor had won 72 seats – just four short of the
half-way mark required to form a majority government in the 151-seat lower
house. It is likely that they will have to go into coalition with
independents – who performed particularly well – or the Greens Party to get
over the line. Morrison suffered the most painful defeat at the hands of
climate-focused independent candidates in a string of once ultra-safe
conservative urban constituencies including
Josh Frydenberg, the deputy leader of the Liberal Party,

. So-called “teal independents”, campaigned on
demands for tougher action on climate change, a major political issue in
Australia, which has suffered severe drought, catastrophic bushfires and
major flooding in recent years. Labor intends to cut its emissions by 43
per cent within the decade, well in excess of the Liberal Party’s goal.

Telegraph 22nd May 2022

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/05/21/vote-us-migrant-boats-will-come-says-australias-liberal-la

May 23, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s AUKUS nuclear submarine double-dealing and deception .

When this masthead’s then Europe correspondent Bevan Shields asked Macron if he thought Morrison had lied to him, the French leader replied: “I don’t think, I know.”

In the White House, everyone who’d worked on the deal felt let down by the Australians. Biden felt blindsided

AUKUS fallout: double-dealing and deception came at a diplomatic cost,   Scott Morrison’s efforts by stealth to secure the AUKUS deal had global ramifications, with the French president enraged and the US president blindsided. SMH, By Peter Hartcher, MAY 15, 2022  

While Scott Morrison was secretly pursuing the AUKUS deal with Washington and London, the French ambassador in Canberra was starting to fret. President Emmanuel Macron had charged him to act with “ambition” in expanding the relationship with Australia, yet Jean-Pierre Thebault was finding it impossible to get access to cabinet ministers except for fleeting handshakes and “how-do-you-dos” at cocktail parties.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne would not agree to see him, nor would then defence minister Linda Reynolds. Yet the nations were supposed to be strategic partners on a high-stakes, $90 billion “Future Submarine” project. As 2020 became 2021, Thebault was feeling stonewalled. What was going on?

Morrison was confidentially exploring the prospect of nuclear-propelled submarines with the US and Britain. Yet a Defence Department official says: “The PM was still telling us, ‘I’m not cancelling anything ……… The Defence Department handled the duality – or perhaps duplicity – of the two projects by setting up compartmentalised working groups.

One, led by former submarine skipper Rear-Admiral Greg Sammut, continued working with the French towards the delivery of 12 French “Shortfin Barracuda” subs.

Sammut had no knowledge of the other project, led by one-time clearance diver Rear-Admiral Jonathan Mead, who was pursuing the idea of nuclear-powered subs with the Americans and the British.

The two were kept in strict separation. Both reported to defence secretary Greg Moriarty and the Chief of the Defence Force, General Angus Campbell…………..

Morrison saw an opportunity. US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson would be at a G7 summit in the quaint English seaside resort of Carbis Bay in Cornwall in June. Australia, not a member of the G7, was invited as a guest, along with India and South Korea.

Morrison used the meeting of 10 democracies to highlight the China threat………..

Morrison organised a smaller meeting with Biden and Johnson to drive his submarine ambition. Biden and Johnson had been briefed.

Morrison pitched two ideas. One was the request for the two countries to help Australia get nuclear-propelled subs. The other was a wider project for the three nations to develop other, cutting-edge technologies crucial to future warfare, such as quantum computing, artificial intelligence and other undersea capabilities…..

Morrison wanted a commitment; he didn’t get it. Biden’s big concerns remained. He said that he needed to be satisfied that the three countries would meet their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. He wanted more work done on this in the White House.

The British were keen to proceed. Johnson even told Morrison that the UK would be prepared to build nuclear-propelled subs for Australia….. Johnson also saw it as an opportunity for British industry.

Morrison started to think of a British sub – smaller than the American nuclear-powered subs (SSNs) – as the working model for Australia’s fleet………

But the nuclear-propulsion technology was American and veto power rested with Washington…………

After Carbis Bay, Morrison had a dinner date with Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris. ………  he might have been honest, but not fully so……………..  He left open the prospect of walking away. Deliberately.

That gate was three months away. Morrison pushed hard to get the assurances Biden needed. He had a vital friend at court: Kurt Campbell, the White House’s Indo-Pacific Co-ordinator and the man the Lowy Institute’s head, Michael Fullilove, calls “Mr Australia in Washington”.

Agreement had to be reached between the three countries, but, just as importantly, within the US group. The director of the US Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, Admiral Frank Caldwell, custodian of the late Hyman Rickover’s crown jewels, had to be thoroughly satisfied. It took four consecutive full-day sessions to complete the work.

The nuclear Navy, once committed, committed fully………

Each government sent a team of 15 to 20 people drawn from multiple agencies. They were told to set aside eight to 10 business days.

Secrecy was paramount. The naval officers, led by Mead in Australia’s case, were told to wear civilian clothes so as not to draw attention to themselves in the streets of Washington.

………..They met at the Pentagon in August………………

The delegations initially sat in national groups around the room, co-chaired by Campbell, Mead and Vanessa Nicholls, the British government’s Director General Nuclear. 

One by one, Biden’s four big concerns were met. Experts on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty were consulted. They agreed that if the reactors on the submarines were run as sealed units, installed and later removed by the US or UK at the end of their 30-year life, then the treaty would not be breached. Australia may have use of, but not access to, the nuclear technology and materials. “The Australians will never have to handle any of this material, it can’t be lost or stolen,” a US official explained…………..

The second concern was China’s reaction. “We assessed with our intelligence community that blowback from China would be manageable,” says a White House official……..

Third was Australia’s capacity. There were questions about Australia’s ability to recruit, train and retain the talent needed to maintain SSNs. However, the Americans’ biggest reservations were over Australia’s finances and politics. 

The US wanted to avoid being entangled in any local budgetary disasters. A preliminary guess at the price of acquiring the nuclear subs ranges from $116 billion to $171 billion, including anticipated inflation, according to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Incidental extras would include the $10 billion cost of a new subs base on the east coast, as flagged by Morrison in March. The cost of training, crewing, operating and maintaining the boats would not be small

………. Ultimately, Washington decided that Australia could manage the cost, but it was an act of faith in Australia’s future economic strength.

Of the hot potatoes tossed around by the US administration, Australia’s political commitment was the hottest of all. The Americans had tested their own political support. The White House confidentially consulted Trump-aligned Republican senators. They found them supportive, even enthusiastic.

But Biden’s people had reservations about Australia’s political stability. There were concerns about the Labor Party, about the churn of prime ministers in both parties in the last decade, and about the Coalition’s serial dumping of submarine agreements, first with Japan and now with France.

The cone of silence prevented direct US contact with Labor. They called on a National Security Council staffer who’d been posted to Australia, Edgard Kagan, for his view. He consulted the US embassy in Canberra and observed that the Australian government seemed confident that Labor would support such a deal when they were eventually informed.

The Americans could see that if Labor baulked, Morrison would use it as a wedge against opposition leader Anthony Albanese in the approach to an election, to frame him as weak on national security……………

That just left Paris. The White House had pressed the Australians on the need to consult closely with the French. To satisfy the Americans, Canberra went so far as to give the NSC a list of all dealings the Australian government had had with the French on the submarines.

In the end, France’s Naval Group gave Morrison no excuse for detonating the deal. It delivered all its contracted work on time. Australia’s Admiral “Greg Sammut reported that we’d received the report from the French and it met our requirements,” a department official said. “The reply was, ‘very good, the government will be advised’.”

………..  Macron felt set up nonetheless. Payne and new Defence Minister Peter Dutton had met their French counterparts just two weeks earlier and given no sign of what was to come.  Admiral Morio de l’Isle had been in Canberra just a week earlier to make sure that Naval Group was delivering as agreed, and the Australians had certified that they were. It was scant comfort that Moriarty confirmed that “the program was terminated for convenience, not for fault”.

It was a harsh blow to French pride and to Macron personally. He felt the US had connived with Australia against France. He withdrew his ambassadors from both countries in protest. When this masthead’s then Europe correspondent Bevan Shields asked Macron if he thought Morrison had lied to him, the French leader replied: “I don’t think, I know.”

In the White House, everyone who’d worked on the deal felt let down by the Australians. Biden felt blindsided. He mollified Macron. It was “clumsy, it was not done with a lot of grace,” Biden said. “I was under the impression that France had been informed long before that the [French] deal was not going through.”

Macron relented with the Americans. Morrison could not bring himself to show remorse. Macron has not yet forgiven him…….    https://www.smh.com.au/national/aukus-fallout-double-dealing-and-deception-came-at-a-diplomatic-cost-20220513-p5al95.html


May 16, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international | Leave a comment