Archive for the ‘National’ Category

Australia just can’t wait to sell uranium to unstable Middle East region

April 23, 2014

Robb Fast-Tracks UAE Uranium Deahttps://newmatilda.com/2014/04/23/robb-fast-tracks-uae-uranium-dea  By Dave Sweeney, 23 April 14 The Federal Government has signed another uranium export deal with a dubious overseas partner – and without inspecting the country’s facilities. We need an independent inquiry, writes Dave Sweeney

In a move that marks the first time Australia uranium would be sold to the Middle East, Trade Minister Andrew Robb is fast-tracking a nuclear cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Last week hesigned a new treaty in Dubai worth 800 tonnes of Uranium a year from 2020. But in doing so, the Minister is treating our Parliament as little more than a radioactive rubber stamp.

Aust-two-faced-on-peace

The foundation for these sales was laid by former foreign minister and airline food critic Bob Carr, who signed the initial agreement with the UAE — a country with a secretive, unelected government situated in one of the world’s most insecure regions.

Consequently, the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties recently recommended that prior to any ratification of the sales plan, the International Atomic Energy Agency undertake physical inspections of UAE facilities.

But the Federal Government’s failure to take this or any other prudent step, in favour of providing “certainty” to the ailing uranium sector shows it has confused the commercial interest of Australia’s small, high-risk low-return uranium sector with our national interest. Uranium is a small contributor to Australian export revenue and employment, but when it comes to global impact and risk Australian uranium is playing in the major league. The Australian Conservation Foundation has used industry data to examine the sustained gap between the sector’s promise and performance.

The report, Yellowcake Fever: Exposing the Uranium Industry’s Economic Myths, highlights the urgent need for an independent cost-benefit analysis and a comprehensive and transparent assessment of Australia’s uranium trade. The sector’s employment contribution is tiny: the World Nuclear Association estimates there are less than 1800 jobs in Australia’s entire uranium industry, representing just 0.015 per cent of Australian jobs. From 2002 to 2011, uranium sales averaged $627 million annually and accounted for only 0.29 per cent of all national export revenue: small beer, but with a big hangover.

Why sell to the UAE? The seven emirates, including Abu Dhabi and Dubai, have one of the least participatory political systems in the world. In 2012, more than 50 human rights activists in the UAE were rounded up and detained without charge following calls for political reform. The Human Rights Watch 2013 world Report describes a worsening human rights situation in the country, with labour rights a particular issue.

The planned uranium sale treaty doesn’t take into account local human rights issues, political changes or broader social upheavals in one of the world’s most volatile regions. It states that the agreement “shall remain in force for an initial period of thirty years and upon expiry of this initial period shall be renewed automatically for successive thirty year periods”. If this is advanced Australia would be locked in. As Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said, the Federal Government should “take a deep breath” and ask “do they really want to be selling ­uranium into the Middle East at the moment?”

Despite the Federal Government’s repeated insistence that the uranium must and will only be used for peaceful purposes, there is clear evidence that international nuclear safeguards are stressed, under-resourced and effectively impossible to police. To simply state that Australian uranium will not be misused is dangerously naïve.

In the shadow of Fukushima — a continuing nuclear crisis directly fuelled by Australian uranium — we need policy based on evidence. Instead of fast-tracking irresponsible uranium sales to the UAE and India — or continuing to provide nuclear fuel to nuclear weapon states — we urgently need an independent assessment of the full impacts of Australia’s radioactive and risky uranium trade.

Australia’s scientifically illiterate Prime Minister advised by climate denialist Maurice Newman

April 23, 2014

No evidence that man has caused warming Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Lateline  Broadcast: 22/04/2014 Reporter: Emma Alberici

Maurice Newman, the chairman of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council discusses climate change and says that there is little correlation between carbon dioxide and the warming of the planet.

Transcript

EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: One of Tony Abbott’s first acts in Government was to appoint Maurice Newman as the head of his Business Advisory Council. Mr Newman is the former Chairman of both the Stock Exchange and the ABC. He’s our guest this evening and he joined me earlier in the studio for this exclusive interview. ……..
EMMA ALBERICI: It’s no secret that you don’t agree that man-made CO2 is causing global warming. Given there is now consensus among 97 per cent or so of climate scientists across the world that the view – around the view that human activity is responsible for climate change, what would it take to convince you?………

MAURICE NEWMAN…………the 97 per cent doesn’t mean anything in any event because science is not a consensus issue. Science is whatever the science is and the fact remains there is no empirical evidence to show that man-made CO2, man-made emissions are adding to the temperature on earth. We haven’t had any measurable increase in temperature on earth for the last 17.5 years……
EMMA ALBERICI: ……..Now 195 countries contribute to that. Nineteen academies of science across the world, including I have to say the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the CSIRO, NASA, the American Academy of Sciences, the British equivalent, the Canadian equivalent, some really reputable bodies around the world are now agreeing that it’s human activity that’s causing climate change. So I’m wondering, who is it that’s influencing you so that is so convincing you otherwise? 

MAURICE NEWMAN: I just look at the evidence. There is no evidence. If people can show there is a correlation between increasing CO2 and global temperature, well then of course that’s something which we would pay attention to. But when you look at the last 17.5 years where we’ve had a multitude of climate models, and this was the basis on which this whole so-called science rests, it’s on models, computer models. And those models have been shown to be 98 per cent inaccurate.

Newman-Moaurice-climate
 

EMMA ALBERICI: By?

MAURICE NEWMAN: By Roy Spencer, who’s carried out a thorough review of all of the models and the empirical data which against both land-based and satellite-based measuring. And they were found to be wrong………

MAURICE NEWMAN: Yes he is a climate scientist.


EMMA ALBERICI: He is. He was at NASA. His colleagues at NASA disagree with him…………

 http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2014/s3990190.htm

Pro nuclear advertising infiltrates The Age TV

April 22, 2014

Noel Wauchope, 22 April 14, And, more importantly, when will The Age restore balance with an Australian documentary on nuclear/uranium issues, such as one of David Bradbury’s films?

Early this month The Age TV prominently featured “Pandora’s Promise”, so people across Australia could watch this glossy piece of advertising from the American nuclear front group, The Breakthrough Institute.

Today, I wasn’t able to find that nuclear infomercial on The Age’s TV site. Which is a little reassuring – they seem to be not continuing the promotion.

However, I am disappointed that I have not received a reply to my fully addressed, signed and posted.letter to The Age:

The Age  

Online Editor

PO Box 257 Melbourne VIC 3001

3 April 2014

 I came across The Age TV site, and found the Breakthrough Institute’s film “Pandora’s Promise” there.

 I had recently reviewed this film, on its Australian premiere in Melbourne, and found it to be very glossy and engaging, but essentially  a promotional feature for the nuclear industry.

 So it would bring in some balance if The Age were to show a film with a different point of view – and perhaps an Australian film, rather than American.   David Bradbury, for example, has made a number of films on nuclear/uranium issues – http://www.frontlinefilms.com.au/

 Can you tell me how The Age came to be showing this film?  I assume that Robert Stone and the Breakthrough Institute did not pay The Age to show it

 Sincerely

 Noel Wauchope

As bottom falls out of Small Modular Nuclear Reactor (SMR) plan, Australia is urged to buy them!

April 22, 2014

In 2014, it was becoming clear that Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) were not likely to become an operational reality for many decades — and perhaps never.

America was the pioneer of small reactor design in the 1970s.  Again recently, Westinghouse and Babcock and Wilcox have been the leaders in designing and developing SMRs.

But in 2014, the bottom has fallen out of these projects (more…)

Corporate irresponsibility – that’s one thing that Energy Resources of Australia is good at

April 17, 2014

handsoffhttp://www.mirarr.net/media_releases/held-to-ransom-rio-tinto-s-radioactive-legacy-at-kakadu hTHThe Mirarr Traditional Owners of Kakadu National Park (Australia) have accused mining giant Rio Tinto of holding the World Heritage area to ransom by revealing it will not guarantee the rehabilitation of the controversial Ranger uranium mine unless the company’s plans to expand operations at the site are approved. 

ERA, 68% majority owned by Rio, has revealed in its annual report that funding for 
rehabilitation, despite being legally required, is now likely contingent on securing approval for the proposed ‘Ranger 3 Deeps’ underground expansion of the mine. 
…if the Ranger 3 Deeps mine is not developed, in the absence of any other successful 
development, ERA may require an additional source of funding to fully fund the rehabilitation of the Ranger Project Area. (ERA Annual Report p.17) 
At its London AGM this week Rio Tinto boss Sam Walsh attempted to distance the parent company from Ranger’s rehabilitation, saying it was an issue for ERA. However, Mirarr Traditional Owners said the company has failed in its obligations despite profiting massively from mining the area for the past 30 years. 

“The attitude of Rio and ERA demonstrates little has changed in the more than three decades since Galarrwuy Yunupingu described talks over the Ranger mine as ‘like negotiating with a gun  to my head’,” CEO of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation Justin O’Brien said. 
“The mining giants have made enormous profits at the expense of Mirarr traditional lands and are now holding the Word Heritage listed area to ransom.” 

This comes just months after the spill of 1.4 million litres of toxic slurry, while the mine is shut down and under investigation and while ERA develops its proposal for further mining at Ranger. 
“Rio Tinto is a tenant on Mirarr land. They come and they go. If a tenant told you they weren’t  prepared to fix the damage they caused to your house unless you agreed to give them a longer  term lease, you’d laugh them out of the building – what does this type of announcement say  about these tenants?” asked Mr O’Brien. 

“It is inconceivably thoughtless and arrogant of any mining company to manage its corporate  social responsibilities in this way and regrettably brings to mind the comment made by Mirarr Senior Traditional Owner Yvonne Margarula in 2003: ‘The promises never last, but the problems always do’”. 

For further information or comment: Justin O’Brien on 08 8979 2200 or 0427 008 765

Yeah – let’s mine in radioactively polluted nuclear test site – says Australian Labor Party

April 17, 2014

TweedleDum-&-DeeLabor pushes for more mining in South Australian nuclear weapons test range Australian Mining, 16 April, 2014 Ben Hagemann Labor has renewed calls to allow more in the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA), urging the Coalition to pass a bill that will facilitate easier access.

Earlier this month a bipartisan committee recommended that the Senate should not support Labor’s WPA amendment bill, raising doubts about access arrangements……..

Mining is currently allowed in the Woomera Protected Area, however the applications process is difficult, and mining companies have been easily rejected on grounds of national security, as was the case in 2009 when a Chinese investor was rejected on those grounds……. The WPA is a military testing range used by Australia and its allies for long range and experimental weapons, and is notorious as the site of nuclear weapons testing during the Cold War.

The site is 450 kilometres from Adelaide with an area of 124,000 square kilometres. …..http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/labor-pushes-for-more-mining-in-south-australian-n

Greens’ Senator Scott Ludlam urges Australia to face the facts on Climate Change

April 17, 2014

Ludlam-in-SenateGreens senator Scott Ludlam says global warming will kill and Australia will cook http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/politics/greens-senator-scott-ludlam-says-global-warming-will-kill-and-australia-will-cook/story-fnkerdda-1226887324936 APRIL 17, 2014

AUSTRALIA is going to cook and people will die through global warming, West Australian Greens senator Scott Ludlam says.

Senator Ludlam said Australia needed to stop giving climate sceptics airtime and just get on with the job of responding to climate change.

He said the weather had become a political actor.

“We are swinging back into an El Niño cycle, this country is going to cook and people are going to die. It will be, I think, much harder to sustain the argument that nothing unusual is going on,” he said.

Senator Ludlam rejected suggestions that he was being alarmist or extremist.

“We are in steep trouble here. I don’t think I am being an extremists in just stating the bleeding obvious. The weather is turning violent on us because we have left this for decades,” he said.

Senator Ludlam, re-elected with an increased vote in a re-run of the West Australian senate election, said the solution, renewable energy, was available, but that Prime Minister Tony Abbott was trying to decapitate the industry.

“That’s why people are responding to the sense of urgency that the Greens bring to the table,” he said.

Australia’s “Environment” Minister, Greg Hunt is but a puppet of the coal and nuclear industries

April 17, 2014

Hunt commits to ‘cleaner’ coal, as renewables despair deepens,REneweconomy,  on 16 April 2014 Australian environment minister Greg Hunt, the man most likely to be sympathetic to renewable energy in the current conservative Coalition government, has effectively thrown his lot in with the coal industry. In an interview with the Murdoch-controlled Sky News, Hunt said coal would be a fundamental part of the energy mix for decades and decades, and added algae and coal drying technologies would be the focus of the government’s emissions reduction efforts. Not so much “clean coal” as “cleaner coal”. He also said nuclear energy could provide “relatively low-cost, low emissions or zero emissions energy”, although he said it would not occur in Australia without bipartisan support. Hunt-direct-action The comments from Hunt – once considered a relative moderate in a hard right conservative Coalition government – came as the renewable energy industry reports that large-scale developments are at a standstill, with no new projects committed in Australia during the first quarter of 2014, despite the need for some 8,000MW of new capacity by 2020 to meet the renewable energy target as it now stands. However, the industry is convinced that this target will be diluted following the completion of the current RET review headed by climate change sceptic and pro-nuclear advocate Dick Warburton. The industry is increasingly pessimistic about its prospects. Insiders say recent meetings with various ministers and advisors have increased the gloom, with promises only made that projects already built would not be affected by any changes. Hunt, when pressed on the issue in the Sky interview, said only that the government would be able to offer the renewables industry “certainty” – which could, of course, mean that the target will be less, with no further review for another four years…….. No mention of renewables – or a carbon price – despite new data (quietly) released by Hunt’s department on Tuesday showing that electricity emissions fell 5 per cent in the last calendar year – a fall no doubt due to the combined impacts of the carbon price, renewable energy and falling demand. As this graph below shows, Australian electricity emissions are down nearly 20 per cent from their peak in 2009 (coincidentally the time that solar began booming and demand started to fall).  The big increases have come in transport (53.5 per cent) and fugitive emissions (43 per cent) from coal mines and gas extraction. (The Abbott government’s policies on these sectors are to build more roads and to “extract every molecule of gas” that it can). (graph) Asked specifically about the IPCC’s recommendation of a four-fold increase in renewables, Hunt talked only about cleaning up brown coal power stations. He implicitly dismissed carbon capture and storage (CCS), but embraced coal “drying” – see this story from Crikey’s Paddy Manning for an assessment of this – and repeated his long-held fascination for algae technology, which has yet to move beyond a few small pilot projects. Pressed again about renewables, Hunt said “the extraordinarily prospective technology is about cleaning up the coal fired power stations and Australia is right at the forefront of this.”Australia is also at the forefront of deploying rooftop solar, and in South Australia is at the forefront of integrating high levels of wind and solar energy into the grid. As the energy market operator and statistics have shown, not only has this reduced emissions dramatically, and lowered wholesale electricity costs, it has also forced the early closure of two of the dirtiest power stations in the country – and elsewhere too. Asked again if renewables could reach 80 or even 100 per cent of Australia’s electricity requirements, as AEMO has said is possible, and how various energy research institutes have also pointed out would be lower cost than business as usual, Hunt said:

“Look, I don’t want to make predictions about 2100. What I do think is that we can have a dramatically lower profile for our energy sector. Now, that will be a combination of reduced cost renewables over time. I think that some areas will reduce cost, others may not. It will also be a combination of energy efficiency and then the other part here is cleaning up the existing sources.”

The protection of the Australian coal industry is now the clear policy priority of the new government. Australia’s coal-fired generators, already with nearly one-tenth of their capacity sidelined and the rest with much lower usage – have been pushing back against both the deployment of large- and small-scale renewables, and policies that encourage energy efficiency: both policies that groups from the IEA, the UN, and numerous research institutions have stated are the most cost effective. But, as we have mentioned before, the emergence of solar as a common energy currency, and a potential voter issue means the government needs to tread carefully. As the Australian coal industry has found out to its embarrassment, campaign slogans like “Save our coal” don’t have quite the same ring as, say, “save the reef”. And, as the Guardian and others have pointed out, is open to ridicule. http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/hunt-commits-to-cleaner-coal-as-renewables-despair-deepens-7583

Rio Tinto won’t bail out ERA’s Ranger uranium financial mess?

April 16, 2014

Ranger-uranium-mineRio chief tight-lipped on Ranger mine, SMH April 16, 2014 - Peter Ker Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh has refused to guarantee that his company will cover the cost of rehabilitating the Ranger uranium mine near Kakadu, building on uncertainty that was created last month by the Rio subsidiary in charge of the mine.

Energy Resources of Australia – which is 68 per cent owned by Rio – raised eyebrows when it revealed it may need to find new sources of money to meet its rehabilitation commitments for Ranger, which is entirely surrounded by Kakadu National Park.

Under the Ranger permit, ERA must have rehabilitated the site by 2026, and a review of the rehabilitation strategy in 2013 found the cost would be $603 million on a net present cost basis. ERA has $357 million on hand and has ceased mining at Ranger, with the company now exploring for more uranium underground in a bid to find future revenue streams.

In an unusual move, ERA appeared to link the success of that exploration project – known as Ranger 3 Deeps – to its ability to pay for the rehabilitation of the site. “If the Ranger 3 Deeps mine is not developed, in the absence of any other successful development, ERA may require an additional source of funding to fully fund the rehabilitation of the Ranger Project Area,” the company said in its annual report.Such an outcome would be unusual, as miners are typically compelled to pay for the rehabilitation at the end of a mine’s life through provisions that are made each year.

In ERA’s case, some rehabilitation is already underway and it maintains a trust with the Australian Government which was holding $63.9 million at December 31.

When asked at Tuesday night’s annual meeting of Rio shareholders in London, Mr Walsh indicated he was in no mood to pick up the tab for ERA, particularly after Rio took part in a $500 million equity raising for the company in 2011. “There was a rights issue at ERA to fund the rehabilitation work and those funds are still sitting within that business,” said Mr Walsh.

”(ERA) is a public Australian company and clearly that is an issue for them.

“We are clearly shareholders, but it’s a matter for all shareholders and a matter for the ERA board.”

Environmental sensitivities of another kind were also raised at the AGM, with Rio executives forced to defend the company’s continued involvement in coal mining.

Mr Walsh said Rio did accept that “man made emissions” were responsible for changes in the climate, but the company believed the challenge could be resolved through technological developments rather than by ceasing coal production………

Rio’s Australian AGM will take place on May 8. http://www.smh.com.au/business/mining-and-resources/rio-chief-tightlipped-on-ranger-mine-20140416-36qfi.htmlSMH 

Australia’s top 10 Anti Climate Action activists – named and shamed

April 16, 2014
The Dirty Dozen: Australia’s biggest climate foes, part 1 CRIKEY, CLIVE HAMILTON | APR 15, 2014  Who are the 12 people doing the most to block action on climate change in Australia? With a new government in place, and Australia’s emissions stubbornly high, we name and shame a fresh Dirty Dozen …

Who has been most responsible in recent times for preventing progress in the reduction of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions? The Dirty Dozen — which I originally named in 2006 and updated in 2009  —  are the people who have most effectively denied the science of climate change, lied about its implications, lobbied to water down laws, or provided cover for weak policy.

They are doing most to help turn Australia from a reluctant leader into a proud laggard in responding to the most dire threat to the world’s future. Some are well-known — even if their links and tactics are not — while others do their dirty work behind the scenes. Here is my Dirty Dozen for 2014, in no particular order …

Chris Mitchell

Where to start with The Australian’s editor-in-chief? How about herehere,hereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehere,herehere or, if you can’t be bothered clicking on all of those, look here or here………

Tony Abbott

What to say that everyone does not already know? ……

Ian McNamara

For too long the presenter of ABC Radio’s Sunday morning program Australia All Over has flown under the radar. When not chatting about the weather in Nuriootpa, Macca’s huge cohort of two million listeners (enough to make other shock jocks weep) is prone to debunking climate science and ridiculing renewable energy. He draws in his salt-of-the-earth listeners with a kind of folksy bush wisdom that has little time for eggheads with PhDs in atmospheric physics. Periodically, listeners complain to the ABC about McNamara’s “pot shots“ at global warming and his penchant for inviting on his right-wing mates……..

….The influence of Bolt on the landscape of climate denial has been exhausted.

Gina Rinehart…….Rinehart is a major funder of the Institute of Public Affairs, the primary conduit of denier talking points in Australia. The IPA’s 70th birthday partylast year was a love-in for the nation’s most powerful climate deniers; Murdoch, Pell, Bolt, Rinehart, Abbott, all co-ordinated by IPA executive director (and former Rio Tinto employee) John Roskam.

Innes Willox……The Australian Industry Group ……Willox has made himself into the enforcer of the greenhouse mafia, pushing the hardest line against measures to limit emissions…….

Ian Plimer

Plimer is the chief ideologist of climate denial in Australia. ….

*Clive Hamilton is professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University in Canberra and author of Requiem for a Species: Why we resist the truth about climate change. For the second instalment of the Dirty Dozen, read Crikeytomorrow … http://www.crikey.com.au/2014/04/15/the-dirty-dozen-australias-biggest-climate-foes-part-1/


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