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Australia’s bushfires could stay out of control for months

Australia fires could be out of control for months, says fire chief, Concern grows over wind changes and high temperatures forecast for later this week, Guardian,   Ben Doherty in Sydney @bendohertycorro
Wed 13 Nov 2019 It could be months before eastern Australia has more than a million hectares of bushfires under control, the New South Wales fire chief has warned, as the country faces one of its worst bushfire outbreaks.After relief that no further lives were lost on Tuesday, concern was growing over unpredictable winds worsening fires in the neighbouring state of Queensland on Wednesday, with much hotter temperatures also predicted for the Sydney area in the coming days.

Gusty winds changing direction are predicted to fan flames in new directions and widen “catastrophic” fire fronts in Queensland and northern NSW, where more than 100 fires – one more than 150,000 hectares (370,000 acres) in size – are burning.

Forecasters warned that “dry lightning” strikes could ignite new blazes, with fires worsening when hotter temperatures arrive over the weekend. Temperatures in Queensland are currently up to 8C higher than average.

Shane Fitzsimmons, the commissioner of the NSW rural fire services, said: “The real challenge is we have an enormous amount of country that is still alight. They won’t have this out for days, weeks, months. Unfortunately the forecast is nothing but above-average temperatures and below-average rainfall over the next few months and we’ve still got summer around the corner.”

The current fires in NSW cover four times the land area that burned during the whole of 2018, according to Fitzsimmons. There are also fires in Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

While the extent of the bushfires is less than those in New South Wales in 1974-75 , which destroyed 4.5m hectares (11m acres), forecasters and fire chiefs are concerned that so many fires are already under way before high summer………

Bushfires are a regular occurrence during Australian summers, but the intensity of this year’s fires, and how early in the season they have arrived, have unleashed an acute political debate over the impact of climate change in exacerbating Australia’s fire vulnerability.

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, whose conservative coalition government has been consistently criticised over its support for coal-mining and power plants, inaction on climate change, and Australia’s rising carbon emissions, has refused to answers questions on climate change worsening fires………

In one of the largest peacetime mobilisations of Australian forces, the defence minister, Linda Reynolds, is preparing to send army, navy and air force reserve forces – the equivalent of the UK’s Army Reserve – into the fire zone to assist with evacuations and logistics.

The military intervention might even include an unprecedented compulsory call-up of reserve forces, such is the scale of the fire damage. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/nov/12/australia-fires-rage-out-of-control-catastrophic-day

November 14, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Australia’s media on a campaign for freedom of press, but not when it comes to Julian Assange

Mainstream Media Fights for Own Freedom, But Not for Assange’s, Sydney Criminal Lawyers, 02/11/2019 BY PAUL GREGOIRE Major Australian mainstream media outlets joined forces a fortnight ago to launched the Right to Know campaign. It aims to see public interest journalism decriminalised, and safeguards for whistleblowers enhanced.This unprecedented display of unity has seen The Guardian, the ABC, Nine, News Corp, SBS and the MEAA join forces in calling on the government to enact reforms. And this is rather significant, considering some of these organisations have been much criticised for towing the party line.

The Right to Know has six demands: exceptions so journalists can’t be prosecuted under national security laws, freedom of information reform, defamation law reform, a narrowing of the information classified as secret, protections for whistleblowers and the right to contest warrants.

Of course, the campaign was sparked by the June AFP press raids, which saw agents rifle through the house of a News Corp journalist, as well as the offices of the national broadcaster, in what was understood by many to be a warning to the media and whistleblowers to keep quiet.

However, a glaring campaign omission is the case of an Australian publisher who’s currently being remanded in the UK over charges that apply in the US, which relate precisely to public interest journalism. Yet, the Australian media has all but forgotten their colleague, Julian Assange.

Silenced by association

“The Right to Know campaign drives to the heart of the matter more than many journalists realise,” remarked Ian Rose, a member of the Support Assange and Wikileaks Coalition.

“While on the one hand, they’re right to finally be calling out the creeping incursions and restrictions into media freedoms,” he told Sydney Criminal Lawyers. “On the other, they don’t have the inner fortitude to stand up for Assange.”

According to Rose, there are two reasons that the Australian media has abandoned the Walkley award-winning journalist. One is that he’s “an egalitarian”, which “frightens the hell out of the ruling class”, as most of the work of WikiLeaks has been all about exposing their lies.

The second reason behind the silence is that the “oligarchs” are the “journalists’ paymasters”. And for this reason – which is underscored by the justifiable fear of losing their lives – journalists have refrained from “calling these people out”.

An excuse for silencing

Attorney general Christian Porter spoke out against the Right to Know campaign, claiming that by providing the media with the right to contest warrants could hinder criminal investigations. And he also asserted that the campaign demands could lead to national security threats.

As an example of how the media could become such a threat, Porter pointed to Assange having published leaked classified documents on WikiLeaks. The top lawmaker further set out that while this act of publication was widely condemned, the local industry still awarded Assange a Walkley……..

Neglecting an ally

And as for what the Australian media should be doing about one of its own locked away in isolation in circumstances that undermine the rule of law, Mr Rose says that it “ought to get over its jealousy and unite to support Assange”.

Indeed, the Right to Know campaign should embrace Assange’s cause, as it’s the quintessential example of the concerted crackdown on journalists that’s currently taking place across the western world. And there’s a clear correlation between his silencing and the local AFP raids.

“The way Assange is being treated is the way journalists are starting to be treated, and the way all of society will be treated if we don’t collectively call for a stop to the new dictatorial world order,” Rose warned.

And as an example of how this silencing of dissent is spreading beyond the media, Rose pointed to the recent assault on nonviolent climate activists, which has seen the application of ongoing arrests,  draconian bail conditions,  intimidatory procedures and the passing of restrictive laws……..https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/mainstream-media-fights-for-own-freedom-but-not-for-assanges/

November 11, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

Australia’s out of control bushfires (all along the region where the nuclear lobby wants to put reactors!)

‘Uncharted territory’: Dozens of out of control bushfires burn across New South Wales and Queensland,  https://www.sbs.com.au/news/uncharted-territory-dozens-of-out-of-control-bushfires-burn-across-new-south-wales-and-queensland    Hot, windy conditions are wreaking havoc across New South Wales and Queensland.

Australian firefighters warned they were in “uncharted territory” as they struggled to contain dozens of out-of-control bushfires across the east of the country on Friday.

Around a hundred blazes pockmarked the New South Wales and Queensland countryside, around 19 of them dangerous and uncontained.

“We have never seen this many fires concurrently at emergency warning level,” New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told the ABC. “We are in uncharted territory.”The RFS said on Friday afternoon it received multiple reports of people being trapped in their homes at several locations.

Homes have also been destroyed, the RFS added.

A mayor on New South Wales’ mid-north coast said on Friday the bushfires ripping through the region were “horrifying and horrendous beasts”.

MidCoast Council mayor David West said a fire near Forster threatened a council building on Thursday night.

“It was literally a wall of yellow, horrible, beastly, tormenting flames,” the mayor said.

The mayor was particularly concerned about an out-of-control fire burning near Hillville south of Taree.

November 9, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Australia’s bushfire risks – threat to planned 1700 km transport of nuclear wastes

Kazzi Jai    Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste In The Flinders Ranges, 4 Nov 19 In an inquiry tabled with the NSW Parliament in 2004, asserting exactly the same containers for the transport of the Nuclear Waste from Lucas Heights as proposed now….

“The Fire Brigade Union contradicted this view stating that everything burns under the right conditions and that an accident, particularly with a fuel tanker, could generate enough heat to burn concrete and steel containers and vaporise the waste. This would transform the waste into a form in which it presents the greatest risk to human health.

“Concrete burns, it spalls, it expands and it explodes. That is what happens to it if it is subject to fire for long enough. You can put it in concrete and you can have steel mesh holding the whole thing together, but when you apply heat, the granules grow and things start spalling, just throwing out bits of itself everywhere until, in the end, that concrete or the integrity of the structure that encases it is broken.
Steel burns as well. It does not surprise many firefighters but steel burns. Anything burns, distorts, warps, breaks and spalls. Maybe that is why we have a fascination with it, but in our society nothing is safe from fire. There is nothing in this world that is safe from fire” https://www.facebook.com/groups/941313402573199/

November 4, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, safety | Leave a comment

Suppression of media freedom in Australia

‘It is all part of the same disease’: media and other key institutions under threat, https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/it-is-all-part-of-the-same-disease-media-and-other-key-institutions-under-threat-20191028-p534z6.html, By Nick O’Malley, October 28, 2019 —The prosecution of journalists, cuts to the ABC budget and the appointment of “dud” politically connected officials to roles in key agencies present an unprecedented threat to democracy in Australia.“Media provides crucial accountability and transparency functions,” said a report by the Centre for Public Integrity, due to be released this week. “Investigative journalists often unearth wrongdoing long before any public integrity agencies investigate, for example the recent Crown Casino investigation by Nick McKenzie at The Age [and The Sydney Morning Herald], and the Four Corners investigation of police corruption in Queensland that triggered the Fitzgerald Inquiry.

“Media outlets have faced attacks in the form of centralisation of private ownership, funding cuts to public broadcasters, and potential prosecution of journalists, including News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst.”

One of the report’s authors, Geoffrey Watson, SC, former counsel assisting the Independent Commission Against Corruption, said he had been shocked by how quickly the brutal type of politics that evolved in the United States and the United Kingdom, and partly led to the ascendancy of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, had taken root in Australia.

“One day you see the judiciary attacked and the next someone in the media,” said Mr Watson, who is a director of the Centre for Public Integrity. “On the third day it might be the CSIRO, they even attack our scientists. Some people don’t recognise it as the same problem, but it is all part of the same disease.”

He said the effectiveness of the media in Australia as a watchdog was not only threatened by personal and legal attacks by the government, but by regulations that had allowed ownership of newspapers to be reduced to an effective duopoly.

The report, entitled “Protecting the Integrity of Accountability Institutions”, said that a range of institutions – including the judiciary and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the public service, integrity commissions such as the ICAC, statutory authorities such as the Human Rights Commission and the Fair Work Commission, and the CSIRO – had all been targeted in recent years by interested parties seeking to undermine their independence and public trust.

“These institutions are important not only because they ensure actual accountability, transparency and good governance but because they build confidence and trust within the Australian community,” it said. “When this confidence and trust is diminished, divisiveness and conflict increase. This impacts social cohesiveness and the economy, and the welfare of all Australians suffers. Ultimately, as international experience has shown, it is a threat to democracy itself.”

It cited as examples of interference attempts by federal ministers to influence the Victorian Court of Appeal in 2017 terrorism cases, sustained funding cuts and personal attacks on the ABC, and the de-skilling of the public service through the outsourcing of up to 50 per cent of government departments to contractors.

The report listed a series of principles that needed to be respected in order to protect the independence of the threatened institutions. They include protection from political retribution, secure and sufficient funding, secure tenure of senior officials and public access to advice to the government from accountability institutions, as well as the creation of an effective federal integrity watchdog.

The Centre for Public Integrity, a independently funded think tank, was formed earlier this year in part to champion the case for a such a body. The report comes in the midst of a campaign by Australian media, including the Herald and The Age, to defend the public right to information in the face of increasing attempts by government and government agencies to suppress information, prosecute whistleblowers and criminalise legitimate public interest journalism.

October 29, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

Prominent Australians, including politicians, call on their government to save Julian Assange from extradition to USA

Growing calls for Australian government to defend Julian Assange   https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/10/19/assa-o19.html?fbclid=IwAR2smK6ChQzsIB7Ndld4N_No68RpVViDz5V-RH7qTiYfWmFWFdqkThOA-DQ

By Oscar Grenfell, 19 October 2019 Over the past week, several prominent public figures, including federal members of parliament, have called on the Australian government to fulfil its obligations to defend WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange, including by taking steps to prevent his extradition from Britain to the US.

The statements come in the lead-up to British extradition hearings in February, that will decide whether Assange is dispatched to the US. He faces a maximum sentence of 175 years in an American prison for exposing US war crimes and diplomatic intrigues.

There are concerns within the Australian political and media establishment that the refusal of successive governments to defend Assange, an Australian citizen and journalist, has generated widespread anger and opposition. The fear in ruling circles is that if Assange is extradited, or if his parlous health continues to deteriorate, the latent support for him will coalesce into a political movement against the entire official set-up.

In a statement to the House of Representatives on Wednesday, independent MP Andrew Wilkie declared that Assange is “an Australian citizen and must be treated like any other Australian. He was not in the US when he provided evidence of US war crimes in Iraq. He can’t possibly have broken their laws.”

Wilkie said that if Assange is extradited to the US, he “faces serious human rights violations including exposure to torture and a dodgy trial. And this has serious implications for freedom of speech and freedom of the press here in Australia, because if we allow a foreign country to charge an Australian citizen for revealing war crimes, then no Australian journalist or publisher can ever be confident that the same thing won’t happen to them.”

He concluded by stating: “Put simply, he must be allowed to return to Australia.”

Wilkie, a former intelligence agent who resigned to speak out against “weapons of mass destruction” lies used to justify the illegal 2003 invasion of Iraq, has previously condemned the assault on democratic rights. In 2010 and 2011, he made statements and spoke at public events in defence of Assange. Alongside the Greens and a host of civil liberties organisations, however, Wilkie has largely remained silent about the WikiLeaks founder’s plight for a number of years and has boycotted all actions taken in his defence.

Wilkie said that if Assange is extradited to the US, he “faces serious human rights violations including exposure to torture and a dodgy trial. And this has serious implications for freedom of speech and freedom of the press here in Australia, because if we allow a foreign country to charge an Australian citizen for revealing war crimes, then no Australian journalist or publisher can ever be confident that the same thing won’t happen to them.”

He concluded by stating: “Put simply, he must be allowed to return to Australia.”

Wilkie, a former intelligence agent who resigned to speak out against “weapons of mass destruction” lies used to justify the illegal 2003 invasion of Iraq, has previously condemned the assault on democratic rights. In 2010 and 2011, he made statements and spoke at public events in defence of Assange. Alongside the Greens and a host of civil liberties organisations, however, Wilkie has largely remained silent about the WikiLeaks founder’s plight for a number of years and has boycotted all actions taken in his defence.

Joyce, a populist who has sought to build a base of support in rural areas, was well aware of the sentiments in favour of Hicks among workers in regional centres and country towns. He played a role in the sordid agreement brokered by Howard, which saw Hicks returned to Australia in 2007. Hicks was forced to serve out a bogus prison sentence in Australia and was banned for a year from speaking to the media.

In comments to the media on Monday, former Labor foreign minister Bob Carr hinted at the concerns animating the comments in defence of Assange by such figures from within the political establishment.

Carr told the Sydney Morning Herald that ordinary people would be “deeply uneasy” about the prospect of an Australian citizen being handed over to the “living hell of a lifetime sentence in an American penitentiary.” He criticised current Foreign Minister Marise Payne over her claim that she made “friendly” representations on behalf of Assange to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Pompeo has denounced Assange as a “demon” who is not entitled to any democratic rights and labelled WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service.”

Carr stated: “I think the issue will gather pace, and in the ultimate trial there will be a high level of Australian public concern, among conservative voters as much as any others.”

In his strongest comments in defence of Assange yet, Carr declared: “We have an absolute right to know about American war crimes in a conflict that the Australian government of the day strongly supported. We wouldn’t know about them except for Assange.”

Carr is no political innocent. During his decades in the Labor Party, he functioned as a secret informant for the US embassy, beginning in the 1970s. He was a leading minister in the Gillard Labor government which refused to defend the WikiLeaks founder and instead pledged to assist the US campaign against him.

That Carr has spoken out now is a measure of the fears within the ruling elite that the defence of Assange will animate millions of workers, students and young people in the coming period.

In keeping with the central role of Labor in the US-led pursuit of Assange, no prominent current figure in the party has joined the calls for him to be defended. When the WikiLeaks’ founder was illegally expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy and arrested by the British police in April, Labor MP Tanya Plibersek shared a Tweet denouncing his supporters as “cultists.”

Julian Hill, a little-known federal backbencher representing a working-class electorate in outer Melbourne, is the only Labor MP to have spoken out. He told the Guardian on Thursday that Assange is “an Australian and, at the very least, we must be vigorously consistent in opposing extradition to countries where he might face the death penalty.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison responded this week by blandly declaring that Assange must “face the music” in the US. Senior government ministers have previously maligned Assange, repeating the lies concocted by the US intelligence agencies to discredit him.

Liberal Senator James Paterson attempted to provide a more sophisticated argument for the government’s refusal to defend Assange, telling the Sydney Morning Herald last week that both Britain and the US were “rule-of-law countries.”

Paterson piously stated: “This is not the case in many other countries in the world. Sadly, we know there are Australian citizens detained right now in China and Iran who are not facing free and fair legal systems … and the Australian government does have a greater obligation to assist those citizens.”

The suggestion that the Australian government has a responsibility to defend its citizens in some jurisdictions, but not in others, is a legal fiction that has no basis in Australian or international legislation.

Paterson’s statements, moreover, fly in the face of repeated warnings by United Nations officials and human rights organisations that Assange’s legal and democratic rights have been trampled upon by the British and US authorities.

Paterson’s comments point to the real reason why successive Australian governments, Labor and Liberal-National alike, have joined the US-led vendetta against Assange. Their participation in the attacks against him has gone hand in hand with unconditional backing for the US alliance and support for Washington’s military build-up in the Asia-Pacific region, in preparation for war against China.

The record demonstrates that no faith can be placed in any section of the political or media establishment to defend Assange or any democratic rights. All the official parties and institutions in Australia are implicated in the persecution of the WikiLeaks founder. They will take action only to the extent that they fear the political consequences if they do not.

Workers, students and young people must be mobilised as part of an international movement demanding the immediate freedom of Assange and all class war prisoners. This is the only way that an Australian government will be forced to uphold its responsibility to prevent Assange’s extradition to the US and allow him to unconditionally return to Australia.

October 21, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

USA’s “outrageous” claim to “universal jurisdiction over every person on earth”- plea from Australia to save Julian Assange

 

October 15, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

At long last – some Australian politicians speak up for Australian Julian Assange

Barnaby Joyce joins calls to stop extradition of Assange to US, The Age, By Rob Harris, October 13, 2019 Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has joined calls for the Morrison government to try to halt Julian Assange’s potential extradition from Britain to the United States on espionage charges, as the WikiLeaks founder’s supporters intensify their campaign to bring him to Australia.

Mr Joyce joined former foreign minister Bob Carr in voicing concerns over US attempts to have the 48-year-old Australian stand trial in America, where he faces a sentence of 175 years if found guilty of computer fraud and obtaining and disclosing national defence information.

Also seeking to increase pressure on the federal government is actress Pamela Anderson, who is demanding to meet Prime Minister Scott Morrison to request he intervene in the case. She plans to visit Australia next month.

Assange’s supporters say they are increasingly concerned about his health and his ability to receive a fair trial in the US………

Mr Carr has challenged Foreign Minister Marise Payne to make “firm and friendly” representation to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, believing Australians would be “deeply uneasy” at a fellow citizen being handed over to the “living hell of a lifetime sentence in an American penitentiary”.

Mr Joyce, who in 2007 was the first Coalition MP to call for the then Howard government to act over the detention of Australian David Hicks in Guantanamo Bay, said his position was principled and he gave “no opinion of Mr Assange whatsoever”.

“If someone was in another country at a time an alleged event occurred then the sovereignty of the land they were in has primacy over the accusation of another nation,” Mr Joyce said.

“It would be totally unreasonable, for instance, if China was to say the actions of an Australian citizen whilst in Australia made them liable to extradition to China to answer their charges of their laws in China. Many in Hong Kong have the same view.”

Assange is serving a 50-week sentence in Belmarsh Prison in south-east London for bail violations after spending seven years inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden to answer allegations of rape and molestation in 2012.

In June, the then British home secretary, Sajid Javid, signed an extradition request after the US Justice Department filed an additional 18 Espionage Act charges over Assange’s role in obtaining and publishing 400,000 classified US military documents on the war in Iraq in 2010.

Mr Carr, the former NSW premier who served as foreign minister in the Gillard government, said he understood many people would have reservations about the “modus operandi” of Assange and his alleged contact with Russia.

“On the other hand, we have an absolute right to know about American war crimes in a conflict that the Australian government of the day strongly supported – we wouldn’t know about them except for Assange,” he said.

Mr Carr said the Morrison government should make strong representations to the US on behalf of an Australian citizen who “is in trouble because he delivered on our right to know”.

“I think the issue will gather pace and in the ultimate trial there’ll be a high level of Australian public concern, among conservative voters as much as any others.”……..

Mr Carr said the Morrison government should make strong representations to the US on behalf of an Australian citizen who “is in trouble because he delivered on our right to know”.

“I think the issue will gather pace and in the ultimate trial there’ll be a high level of Australian public concern, among conservative voters as much as any others.”…….https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/barnaby-joyce-joins-calls-to-stop-extradition-of-assange-to-us-20191013-p53080.html

October 14, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Pamela Anderson to take on Australian Prime Minister over his neglect of Julian Assange’s plight

Pamela Anderson coming to Australia to petition the Prime Minister to Help Free Julian Assange, Phillip Adams, [No. I don’t think that he is that Phillip Adams] Brisbane, Australia OCT 11, 2019 — By Monique St Clair 

Pamela Anderson is on her way to Australia, and she’s challenging our Prime Minister on entry.

The former Baywatch superstar is headed to the Gold Coast next month to shoot a series of ‘Unexpected Situation’ commercials for Ultra Tune.

The ads are expected to air over summer, in conjunction with the 2020 Australian Tennis Open and Big Bash Cricket.

She’s no stranger to the land down under, after her affiliation with jailed Wikileaks founder and Australian, Julian Assange, gained world-wide attention.

Late last year, Anderson made a public plea on 60 minutes for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to do more to help.   “Defend your friend, get Julian his passport back and take him back to Australia and be proud of him, and throw him a parade when he gets home,” Ms Anderson said.

Scott Morrison then told 1029 Hot Tomato’s Flan, Emily Jade and Christo that he’s had “plenty of mates who’ve asked me if they can be my special envoy to sort the issue out with Pamela Anderson.”

Ms Anderson called out the comments as ‘disappointing’, ‘smutty’, and ‘unnecessary’, and is now – a year later – wanting to address them face to face.

She’s announced she’ll again be petitioning him to intervene on Julian Assange’s behalf.

“What is also important to me about this visit is the opportunity to speak to the Australian people and petition Prime Minister Morrison to intervene on behalf of Australian citizen, Julian Assange, who is being made a scapegoat of and suffered inhumanely for disseminating factual information we all should know about.

“Mr Morrison made a series of personally, disparaging remarks about me and I’d like to challenge him to debate this matter in front of the Australian people,” Ms Anderson said in a recent statement.”

Sources of content : http://www.mygc.com.au/pamela-anderson-challenges-scott-morrison-ahead-of-australia-visit

October 14, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international | Leave a comment

Australian government warned about taxpayer burden if it chooses nuclear power

Nuclear inquiry hears cost, health risks   https://www.9news.com.au/national/environment-groups-front-nuclear-inquiry/79884d6e-f161-4624-9bac-b6f283d96598    By AAP Oct 1, 2019  Taxpayers would be bear the brunt of a potential nuclear energy industry in Australia, a parliamentary committee has been told.

Environment groups began the inquiry on Tuesday in Melbourne, a day after the committee was told the potential economic benefits of more uranium mining.
The various witnesses implored the bipartisan committee not to overturn Australia’s moratorium on nuclear energy, pointing to the huge health, environmental and financial risks.
Anti-nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia Jim Green said a potential industry would have to be propped up with subsidies because investors would steer clear of such a risky investment.
“Nuclear companies would descend on Canberra to try to gouge as much taxpayers’ money as they could possibly get from the federal government,” he said.
Dr Green told the politicians to be wary of submissions talking up emerging small modular reactors, particularly when calling them clean energy. “There isn’t even one prototype operating anywhere in the world,” Mr Green said.
The committee should also be sceptical about a company’s financial estimates of building them, he added.  “Add a zero onto the end and there’s a good chance your estimate will be better.”
The committee is looking at whether nuclear power is a feasible, suitable and palatable solution for Australia’s future energy needs.
The inquiry has so far been told a huge range of facts and figures – at times contradictory – from a wide spectrum of groups, industries and individuals.
Margaret Beavis from the Medical Association for Prevention of War highlighted that nuclear waste has to be stored for about 10,000 years.  “The Egyptian pharaohs were about 5000 years ago,” Dr Beavis added.
The environment groups pointed to a joint submission with scores of other civil society bodies including unions, indigenous representatives, health and faith groups.The submission represents millions of Australians who want a renewable energy future, not a radioactive one, the committee heard.
The inquiry will take place in Adelaide on Wednesday before a hearing in Perth on Thursday.

October 4, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, business and costs, politics | Leave a comment

Australian government ‘doesn’t give a damn’about rest of the world

David Attenborough says Australian government ‘doesn’t give a damn’about rest of the world, Telegraph, UK,  Giovanni Torre, perth

24 SEPTEMBER 2019 
Sir David Attenborough slammed the Australian government’s response to
climate change as the country’s prime minister Scott Morrison skipped
the United Nations Climate Summit in favour of a rally for President Donald
Trump.

While the United Kingdom has reduced its carbon emissions over the past 12
years, emissions from Australia have increased and the country is among the
worst polluters per capita.

Sir David said the current Australian government had departed from the
previous government’s commitment to tackling climate change.
“(They had been) saying all the right things… then you suddenly say, ‘No it
doesn’t matter… it doesn’t matter how much coal we burn… we don’t give a
damn what it does to the rest of the world’,” he said.

Sir David noted that Mr Morrison brought a lump of coal into one of
Australia’s houses of Parliament in 2017, calling out to the opposition:
“Don’t be scared, it won’t hurt you”.

“If you weren’t opening a coal mine okay I would agree, it’s a joke. But you
are opening a coal mine,” he said.

Sir David noted that Mr Morrison had campaigned for re-election on a
platform of support for new coal mines.

Speaking from Chicago, Mr Morrison defended his government’s record on
climate change…… https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/09/24/david-attenborough-says-australian-government-doesnt-give-damn/?WT.mc_id=tmg_share_fb&fbclid=IwAR0GancZNjQW1CgrE7UF2WExXW2B4HvkM9brL0huaFKom6msYAz79qtjjd0

 

September 30, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Donald Trump keen to build a military partnership with Australia’s PM ‘man of titanium’

Donald Trump suggests China ‘a threat to the world’ while praising Scott Morrison as a ‘man of titanium’  US president signalled he would raise with Morrison a military contribution in Iran but then indicated he did not do so, Guardian,  Katharine Murphy Political editor

 @murpharoo, Sat 21 Sep 2019 Donald Trump has declared China is a threat to the world “in a sense” and raised the spectre of Australia joining a coalition of military action against Iran as he characterised his ally Scott Morrison, as a “man of titanium”.

Following a ceremonial welcome for Morrison on Friday Washington time attended by more than 4,000 guests, Trump praised Morrison’s personal fortitude, describing him as “a man of real, real strength, and a great guy”.

The American president signalled he would raise with Morrison a possible military contribution in Iran beyond the current freedom of navigation commitment in the Strait of Hormuz, but later in the day indicated he had not, in fact, raised the issue during a bilateral meeting at the White House.

The Australian prime minister made a point of praising the president’s restraint in relation to Iran to date and made no commitment beyond saying the government would consider any request from the administration on its merits. …….

Trump said he was interested in building a coalition for military action with Australian participation, but then told reporters at a subsequent press conference Iran wasn’t discussed, and Morrison then described Australia’s possible participation as “moot”…….. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/sep/21/donald-trump-suggests-china-a-threat-to-the-world-while-praising-scott-morrison-as-a-man-of-titanium

September 22, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Embarrassing for Australia, Trump suggests they join USA in possibly nuclear war with Iran

Scott Morrison scrambles to contain political mushroom cloud after Trump raises nuclear option with Iran

The Australian press pack was hyperventilating when the US president made the suggestion Australia might be asked to join a coalition of the willing. Then collective amnesia set in, Guardian Katharine Murphy Political editor @murpharoo 21 Sep 2019 It seemed appropriate, albeit entirely surreal, to be inducted into the vagaries of the Trumpiverse by bearing witness, in the Oval Office, to the American president suddenly raising the spectre of using nuclear weapons against Iran.

Friday’s program in Washington ran like clockwork while everybody had a script. But once we’d cleared the pomp and circumstance of the ceremonial welcome for Scott Morrison on the South Lawn of the White House, once the Australian press pack tumbled out of the sparkling spring sunshine into the Oval Office – we discovered Trump in an expansive mood……..

The president then volunteered he intended to have a quiet word to Scott Morrison over the course of their meetings on Friday, Washington time, about potential military options in Iran, and whether Australia might be persuaded to join a new coalition of the willing. ….

Morrison maintained his best poker face as the president informed the hyperventilating press pack “I always like a coalition”…..

Before we could process the information that Australia might be off to war in Iran, things spiralled. The unheralded military action could be – wait for it – nuclear.

Trump noted America had renovated the arsenal and acquired new nuclear capability, and the rest of the military was “all brand new”……..

With vexed options now tumbling out of Trump’s mouth at a clip, it did seem prudent to check in with the prime minister at this point. What was his position on Australia joining military action in Iran?……

The politically vexed question about whether Australia would do more than protect freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz was therefore moot. If any request was forthcoming, Australia would consider it on its merits, through the prism of national interest, Morrison said, before gathering his host, smiling at the cameras, and exiting, stage right. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/sep/21/scott-morrison-scrambles-to-contain-political-mushroom-cloud-after-trump-raises-nuclear-option-with-iran

September 20, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

In Australia, millions unite in 40 organisations to say NO to nuclear power

Broad coalition representing millions of Australians opposes nuclear power,   https://www.sbs.com.au/news/broad-coalition-representing-millions-of-australians-opposes-nuclear-power  17 Sept 19, Some 40 groups have drawn up a statement calling on the federal government to embrace renewable energy rather than going down the path of nuclear.

More than 40 groups representing millions of Australians have come together to issue a clear message to the federal government that the nation’s energy future is renewable, “not radioactive”.

However, the mining industry is calling for the ban on nuclear energy to be lifted.

The coalition of groups has submitted a shared statement in response to the federal parliamentary inquiry into the prospects for nuclear power in Australia.

“The groups maintain nuclear power has no role in Australia’s energy future and is a dangerous distraction from real progress on our pressing energy and climate challenges and opportunities facing Australia,” the Australian Conversation Foundation said.

“[We call] for the federal parliament to embrace renewable energy as the cleanest, quickest, cheapest and most credible way to power Australian homes and workplaces, and re-power regional communities and the national economy.”

The ACF is joined by a broad coalition of faith, union, environmental, aboriginal and public health groups.

These include the ACTU, state and territory trade unions and councils, the Public Health Association of Australia, Uniting and Catholic church organisations, the Smart Energy Council, the Aboriginal-led Australian Nuclear Free Alliance, climate action groups and Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

Their statement raises concerns over the long-life of nuclear waste, the volume of water needed to cool a nuclear reactor, the time needed to build a reactor, the high cost of a plant, security and safety.

However, in its own submission, the Minerals Council of Australia called on the legislated ban on nuclear to be lifted and uranium mining to be mainstreamed with other minerals.

Council chief executive Tania Constable said nuclear energy should be considered as part of the energy mix if Australia is to retain its strong industrial sector with high-paying long-term jobs.

It will also encourage investment and maintain system and price stability through a stable and reliable electricity market while significantly cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

“Australia has lost its comparative advantage in energy,” Ms Constable said in a statement. “Rising prices and falling reliability are forcing businesses to invest overseas instead of Australia.”

September 17, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, opposition to nuclear, politics | Leave a comment

Thorium nuclear reactors – expensive, dangerous and leave dangerous radioactive isotopes with long half-lives

New nuclear power proposal needs public  debate   https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/new-nuclear-power-proposal-needs-public-discussion,13071   By Helen Caldicott | 4 September 2019  The prospect of thorium being introduced into Australia’s energy arrangements should be subjected to significant scrutiny, writes Helen Caldicott.

AS AUSTRALIA is grappling with the notion of introducing nuclear powerinto the country, it seems imperative the general public understand the intricacies of these technologies so they can make informed decisions. Thorium reactors are amongst those being suggested at this time.

The U.S. tried for 50 years to create thorium reactors, without success. Four commercial thorium reactors were constructed, all of which failed. And because of the complexity of problems listed below, thorium reactors are far more expensive than uranium fueled reactors.

The longstanding effort to produce these reactors cost the U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars, while billions more dollars are still required to dispose of the highly toxic waste emanating from these failed trials.

The truth is, thorium is not a naturally fissionable material. It is therefore necessary to mix thorium with either enriched uranium 235 (up to 20% enrichment) or with plutonium – both of which are innately fissionable – to get the process going.

While uranium enrichment is very expensive, the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel from uranium powered reactors is enormously expensive and very dangerous to the workers who are exposed to toxic radioactive isotopes during the process. Reprocessing spent fuel requires chopping up radioactive fuel rods by remote control, dissolving them in concentrated nitric acid from which plutonium is precipitated out by complex chemical means.

Vast quantities of highly acidic, highly radioactive liquid waste then remain to be disposed of. (Only is 6 kilograms of plutonium 239 can fuel a nuclear weapon, while each reactor makes 250 kilos of plutonium per year. One millionth of a gram of plutonium if inhaled is carcinogenic.)

So there is an extraordinarily complex, dangerous and expensive preliminary process to kick-start a fission process in a thorium reactor.

When non-fissionable thorium is mixed with either fissionable plutonium or uranium 235, it captures a neutron and converts to uranium 233, which itself is fissionable. Naturally it takes some time for enough uranium 233 to accumulate to make this particular fission process spontaneously ongoing.

Later, the radioactive fuel would be removed from the reactor and reprocessed to separate out the uranium 233 from the contaminating fission products, and the uranium 233 then will then be mixed with more thorium to be placed in another thorium reactor.

But uranium 233 is also very efficient fuel for nuclear weapons. It takes about the same amount of uranium 233 as plutonium 239 – six kilos – to fuel a nuclear weapon. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has already, to its disgrace, ‘lost track’ of 96 kilograms of uranium 233.

A total of two tons of uranium 233 were manufactured in the United States. This material naturally requires similar stringent security measures used for plutonium storage for obvious reasons. It is estimated that it will take over one million dollars per kilogram to dispose of the seriously deadly material.

An Energy Department safety investigation recently found a national repository for uranium 233 in a building constructed in 1943 at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

It was in poor condition. Investigators reported an environmental release from many of the 1,100 containers could

‘… be expected to occur within the next five years because some of the packages are approaching 30 years of age and have not been regularly inspected.’

The DOE determined that this building had:

Deteriorated beyond cost-effective repair and significant annual costs would be incurred to satisfy both current DOE storage standards, and to provide continued protection against potential nuclear criticality accidents or theft of the material.

The DOE Office of Environmental Management now considers the disposal of this uranium 233 to be ‘an unfunded mandate’.

Thorium reactors also produce uranium 232, which decays to an extremely potent high-energy gamma emitter that can penetrate through one metre of concrete, making the handling of this spent nuclear fuel extraordinarily dangerous.

Although thorium advocates say that thorium reactors produce little radioactive waste, they simply produce a different spectrum of waste to those from uranium-235. This still includes many dangerous alpha and beta emitters, and isotopes with extremely long half-lives, including iodine 129 (half-life of 15.7 million years).

No wonder the U.S. nuclear industry gave up on thorium reactors in the 1980s. It was an unmitigated disaster, as are many other nuclear enterprises undertaken by the nuclear priesthood and the U.S. government.

September 5, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Reference, thorium | 1 Comment