Archive for the ‘National’ Category

Documents show no sign Albanese government lobbied the US to bring Julian Assange home

January 26, 2023

 https://michaelwest.com.au/documents-show-no-sign-albanese-government-lobbied-the-us-to-bring-julian-assange-home/, by Rex Patrick | Jan 24, 2023

The government is hosting a media freedom roundtable yet Freedom of Information inquiries show no evidence of entreaties to the Biden administration to free Australia’s number one victim of political and media persecution, Julian Assange. Actions speak louder than words, writes Rex Patrick.

When Independent MP Monique Ryan stood up in the Parliament in late November and asked Prime Minister Anthony Albanese if his Government would intervene to bring Australian journalist Julian Assange home, those in the community that care about freedom of the press were provided with a glimmer of hope.

The PM answered: “I, some time ago, made my point that enough is enough. It is time for this matter to be brought to a conclusion. In that, I don’t express any personal sympathy with some of the actions of Mr Assange. I do say though that this issue has gone on for many years now, and when you look at the issue of Mr Assange and compare that with the person responsible for leaking the information, Bradley Manning, now Chelsea Manning, she is now able to participate freely in US society.”

He went on to say:

The government will continue to act in a diplomatic way, but can I assure the member for Kooyong that I have raised this personally with representatives of the United States government. My position is clear and has been made clear to the US administration that it is time that this matter be brought to a close.

Press protections or press protection?

When the Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus MP, KC announced on the 19th of this month that he was calling together media organisations to discuss improved protections for press freedom, Assange supporters could also reasonably crack a smile. Dreyfus pronounced:

“The Albanese Government believes a strong and independent media is vital to democracy and holding governments to account. Journalists should never face the prospect of being charged or even jailed just for doing their jobs.”

But it’s now clear there’s a big difference between saying, and doing. A set of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests has bought the Government’s Assange façade crumbling to the ground.

In response to a Freedom of Information request to the Prime Minister for all correspondence or other records of communication sent after 23 May 2022 by or on behalf of the Prime Minister, the Hon Anthony Albanese MP, to United States President Joe Biden that related to Julian Paul Assange, his office has come up with nothing.  

In response to a Freedom of Information request to the Attorney General for correspondence or records of communication between him and his US counterpart Merrick Garland that relates to Assange his office also came up bare.

FOI Response from Houston Ash, Senior Adviser to the Attorney-General

It’s a response that’s left independent MP Monique Ryan disturbed. 

“The US Government’s prosecution of Australian journalist and publisher Julian Assange poses a major threat to press freedom around the world. Unfortunately, the evidence now available shows that, contrary to their statements, Prime Minister Albanese and his Ministers have done little to secure Mr Assange’s freedom. None of them has written to their US counterparts to press for the espionage prosecution to be dropped”said Ms Ryan.

She’s now rightly called on the government to disclose exactly what they have done, and will do, to secure Assange’s release.

In media statements she referred also to a further request made to Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s office for Assange related correspondence between her and United States Secretary of State Antony J Blinken. It also drew a blank.

Ms Ryan observed:

If the Albanese Government was serious about working to secure an end to the US prosecution and Mr Assange’s release, then he and his Ministers would have raised the matter formally, in writing, with their counterparts at the top levels of the US Government”, It is now confirmed that they have not done so via any formal means.”

Ms Ryan went on to highlight the Attorney’s duplicitous stand. “Last week, in announcing a forthcoming national media roundtable, Attorney-General Dreyfus declared that ‘Journalists should never face the prospect of being charged or even jailed just for doing their jobs‘.” Julian Assange is an Australian journalist who faces lifelong imprisonment for doing his job.

The Independent MP for Kooyong has signalled her intent to take the matter further. “When the Federal Parliament reconvenes in February, the Government will need to explain – in much more detail – when we can expect to see Mr Assange return to Australia”

The Albanese Government has been caught out saying something but not meaning it. They just want to appear that they’re doing something, when behind the scenes they’re doing very little, if anything much at all.  

Nothing is to be gained by the continuing prosecution of Julian Assange. The US espionage prosecution sends precisely the wrong message at a time when freedom of the press is under threat in many countries worldwide. 

The Albanese Government serve the United States better, and promotes a solid position itself, in pressing for the attack on Assange and media freedom to stop.

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Push in US Congress to exempt Australia from International Traffic in Arms Regulations, so that it can import nuclear submarines

January 21, 2023

Democrat push to grant Australia a waiver to import nuclear subs earlier than expected


SMH, ByFarrah Tomazin, January 21, 2023 —

Washington: A maze of US regulations and export control laws stand between Australia and the multibillion-dollar AUKUS submarine agreement, prompting a key ally of the pact in Congress to propose a blanket exemption to accelerate delivery of the nuclear-powered fleet.

Democratic congressman Joe Courtney, who recently spearheaded a bipartisan defence of the Australia-UK-US pact amid jitters from some of his Washington colleagues, wants Australia to be given a waiver from strict US export controls that could otherwise derail the agreement.

The International Traffic in Arms Regulations is one set of rules which could delay for years the transfer of crucial technologies at a time when Australia is racing to bolster its submarine capacity before the retirement of its Collins-class fleet.

Defence Minister Richard Marles has said the government will announce by March which type of submarine it will acquire, after receiving a recommendation from Jonathan Mead, the head of the Nuclear Powered Submarine Taskforce.

The announcement is expected to provide the first concrete insights into the cost, timing and procurement of the AUKUS deal. The modelling so far has suggested that if the submarines are produced in Australia, as the government has suggested, the earliest possible delivery date would be 2055.

While President Joe Biden supports AUKUS, he needs the backing of a divided Congress to make good on his promise to share American submarine secrets with Australia.

Courtney, who co-chairs the bipartisan “AUKUS caucus” and is regarded as one of Congress’ top navy experts, said a potential solution to the difficulties posed by US law would be to pass an exemption, with the support of the Pentagon, allowing Australia to bypass rules such as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations and related nuclear submarine laws, for the strict purpose of advancing AUKUS……………………………….

Australian officials have for years been pushing their US counterparts to reform their treatment under arms regulations, and the issue was front and centre of the December Australian-US Ministerial consultations between Marles and US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin…………

In response to questions from this masthead, a spokesman for the Australian Department of Defence said it was anticipating that export arrangements would need to change “to ensure technology and expertise could be transferred seamlessly and effectively among AUKUS partners, as well as their respective industrial bases, within a suitably designed protective framework”…………

At a seminar last week, Democratic congressman Adam Smith, a ranking member of the House of Representatives armed services committee, also warned that while AUKUS was “a great idea, with a lot of promise” it “could also go bloop” unless some regulatory restrictions were eased.

And Mark Watson, the director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Washington office, suggested that “an AUKUS express lane is what we need” to avoid delaying or derailing the project due to the maze of red tape and complex US laws surrounding it.

But the regulatory hurdles are not the only difficulty the alliance faces.

One of the concessions Republican congressman Kevin McCarthy made this month to secure the speakership of the House of Representatives was a vote on a framework that caps discretionary spending at fiscal 2022 levels. Some fear that this could result in the US defence budget being cut in real terms, which Courtney warned “could have a very negative effect on AUKUS”.

Helping Australia acquire nuclear submarines will also test America’s submarine manufacturing industry, which has already been strained by the COVID pandemic.  https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/democrat-push-to-grant-australia-a-waiver-to-import-nuclear-subs-earlier-than-expected-20230120-p5ce4e.html

Nuclear submarines deal an exercise in futility and should be sunk

January 19, 2023

This decision – conceived in secrecy, born in controversy, and destined to become the hallmark of futility – will damage Australia for generations to come.

 https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/nuclear-subs-deal-an-exercise-in-futility-and-should-be-sunk-20230117-p5cd3y.html David Livingstone Former diplomat 18 Jan 23,

The decision for Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines has taken on a life of its own, divorced from disciplined considerations such as cost, effectiveness, and alternatives. At best, the decision is ill-considered. At worst, it’s Treasury-busting lunacy.

Former head of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute Peter Jennings has claimed that Australia’s purchase of the subs – eight in total at an estimated cost of an additional $20 billion per year, out to about 2050 – is necessary to “deter” China. That’s a big call in a number of ways.

In particular, what would the submarines deter China from doing? Is it to deter China from attacking Australia? There is no evidence that China even dreams of such a misadventure.

Australia is thousands of kilometres from China, and its approaches are characterised by maritime choke points and potential killing zones. That’s thousands of kilometres where its forces would be exposed to attack; thousands of kilometres of stretched supply lines requiring enormous and sophisticated logistics.

We have seen Russia’s logistical challenges in conducting a land war just across its border, logistical failures have been a key reason for Russia’s military underachievement. The challenge for China in attacking Australia would dwarf anything Russia has experienced in Ukraine.

China would clearly fail in any attempt at a meaningful maritime assault on Australia. And that outcome is within Australia’s existing military capabilities, including the conventionally powered Collins class submarines. With the acquisition of advanced missiles and drones, Australia will be even more secure.

So, what are nuclear-powered submarines supposed to deter China from doing? The answer, apparently, is to prevent China from attacking Taiwan.

But where in the universe of rational thought is Australia’s acquisition of fewer than 10 submarines over the next two or three decades meaningful in China’s equation about attacking Taiwan? By even generous estimates, the first boats are years away. The full complement of eight could be several decades away. And then what is the actual impact of the new additions to the fleet?

Operationally, you can expect that only one-third of the nuclear-powered submarines would be actively deployed at one time. That is likely to be about three submarines, somewhere closer to the turn of the mid-century than today. Is that really the defining regional capability that will keep China in check?

To think it might be is to cringe at the folly of the idea. To say it out loud is to invite ridicule.

Has Australia suddenly and mistakenly taken on the mantle of the “indispensable country”? Does Taiwan’s future hang on Australia’s purchase of a few eye-wateringly expensive submarines?

The balance of submarines that Australia’s acquisition is claimed to upend so dramatically as to “deter” China includes: China, up to 79 submarines; the US, 68 submarines; Japan, about 20 (and growing); and South Korea, about 20. And that does not include Taiwan’s submarines, or those of the self-proclaimed Indo-Pacific power, the UK. That is well over 100 for Australia’s friends, and they are generally of better quality than the Chinese subs.

Moreover, the US and Japan are taking significant and meaningful steps to increase their capacity to defend Taiwan. Foremost among them is the restructuring of US Marines to counter a Chinese maritime threat, and deploying to islands close to Taiwan.

And Japan, long constrained by its non-aggression constitution, will double its defence spending over the next five years. That is a massive increase for a country that already has one of the largest and best equipped maritime forces in the world.

If this brief review of some of the characteristics of the military balance affecting China’s calculations about attacking Taiwan indicates that Australia’s purchase of nuclear-powered submarines is insignificant, it is because that is precisely what it is. Militarily meaningless. Now and into the future.

It is Australia’s version of Don Quixote jousting with windmill sails.

But this folly would come at a ridiculous cost. Projections of $170 billion are likely well off the mark, with the potential for double that cost.

The opportunity cost foregone would include the acquisition of more meaningful defence capabilities, including smart sea mines that lie undetected in strategic approaches, only activating in times of conflict and only targeting enemy vessels; off-the-shelf conventional submarines; long-range missiles and rockets; more fighter aircraft to dominate the sea-air gap between Australia and Indonesia; aerial and maritime drones.

And with the amount saved there would be money to retire national debt, build and adequately equip and staff schools and hospitals, and rebuild Australia’s failing national transport infrastructure. Greater national security would be achieved through investing in a better Australia than in throwing vast amounts of national wealth at the chimera of security through acquiring nuclear-powered submarines.

But there is one aspect on which both proponents and opponents of the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines agree. The purchase will deeply integrate Australia’s Defence Force with the US to the point where Australia’s participation in a conflict between the US and China would be automatic.

The only difference is that the proponents cite it as a benefit to be celebrated, while opponents rail against the derogation of one of the most important elements of Australia’s national sovereignty – the decision to commit Australia to war.

This decision – conceived in secrecy, born in controversy, and destined to become the hallmark of futility – will damage Australia for generations to come.

Fake, dishonest ‘Australian Greens for Nuclear Energy’ group

December 26, 2022

 https://nuclear.foe.org.au/fake-greens-group/?fbclid=IwAR0HrgSSduu8dLrYSebJa7MAFIcjTWvqjewphjAGjpQI3PTswPfzm6_JN0E

The Australian Greens have strong, principled anti-nuclear policies (with some obvious allowances for the beneficial uses of nuclear technology e.g. nuclear medicine).

A group called ‘Australian Greens for Nuclear Energy‘ has nothing to do with the Australian Greens. The spokesperson for the group, Tyrone D’Lisle, is NOT a member of the Australian Greens. He resigned as convener of the Queensland Young Greens in 2013 following behaviour which he attributed to stress and exhaustion. A Greens representative said: “Mr D’Lisle’s views do not represent Greens policies.” D’Lisle resigned from the Greens altogether in 2017.

It is unclear if there are ANY members of the Australian Greens in ‘Australian Greens for Nuclear Energy’. The group is either partially fake (it includes non-members of the Greens) or completely fake (with NO members of the Greens). We do not know if the group is breaking any state or federal laws by calling itself ‘Australian Greens for Nuclear Energy’ when some or all members of the group are not members of the Australian Greens.

We’ve only come across two people who identify as members of ‘Australian Greens for Nuclear Energy’. They may be the only two people in this group. ‘Australian Greens for Nuclear Energy’ acknowledge that they are a “relatively small group”.

Update: ‘Australian Greens for Nuclear Energy’ claim that the ‘real’ name of their group is ‘Greens for Nuclear Energy Australia’ but they can’t change their facebook group name ‘Australian Greens for Nuclear Energy’! Evidently the group has tried to change its name, an implicit acknowledgement that they have been falsely misrepresenting themselves as members of the Australian Greens and as a sub-group of the Australian Greens political party.

Furthermore, they are shifting their propaganda over to new sites called ‘Australians for Nuclear Energy’ … another implicit acknowledgement that they have been falsely misrepresenting themselves as members of the Australian Greens and as a sub-group of the Australian Greens political party.

It was only after Friends of the Earth exposed the fakery of this ‘Australian Greens for Nuclear Energy’ group that they announced that their ‘real’ name is ‘Greens for Nuclear Energy Australia’ and decided to shift their propaganda to new sites which make no mention of the Greens.

What to make of the new name ‘Australians for Nuclear Energy’? As far as we know there are only two members in the group, so it should be called ‘Two Australians for Nuclear Energy’. Or to use their own terminology, ‘A Relatively Small Number of Australians for Nuclear Energy’.

The Big Lie

‘Australian Greens for Nuclear Energy’ lie. For example, they claim that “senior people within environmental organisations like Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth have stated they don’t want to change [their position regarding nuclear power] because they will lose funding.”

D’Lisle has been asked on countless occasions to substantiate or retract that claim but he has done neither. There is no truth to the claim. It is a fabrication. It is a lie.

D’Lisle claims he was not responsible for the lie but he refuses to say 1) who was responsible for it, 2) who else apart from him posts on facebook as ‘Australian Greens for Nuclear Energy’, and 3) whether anyone other than D’Lisle posts on facebook as ‘Australian Greens for Nuclear Energy’.

The claim about Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace is a dishonest fabrication and it is also defamatory. Perhaps that is why ‘Australian Greens for Nuclear Energy’ are concealing authorship of the lie.

Perhaps D’Lisle was responsible for the lie, in which case he has lied about Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace and then lied about lying. Or perhaps another member of ‘Australian Greens for Nuclear Energy’ was responsible for the lie, in which case D’Lisle is concealing the deceit of another member of his group.

D’Lisle acknowledged in correspondence with Friends of the Earth that he has zero evidence to support the accusation against Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. So why no public retraction and apology?

As for the contributions of ‘Australian Greens for Nuclear Energy’ to energy debates, it’s a concoction of misinformation, half-truths and outright lies:

* They claim that “civilian nuclear energy programs don’t lead to nuclear weapons programs” even though they repeatedly have.

* D’Lisle thinks “the world is going nuclear”. In fact, nuclear power has been stagnant for the past 30 years and its future is bleak, largely because nuclear power is far more expensive than renewables (including storage and transmission costs).

* They claim there were no radiation deaths from the Fukushima disaster DESPITE BEING WELL AWARE of the World Health Organization report which concluded that for people in the most contaminated areas in Fukushima Prefecture, the estimated increased risk for all solid cancers will be around 4% in females exposed as infants; a 6% increased risk of breast cancer for females exposed as infants; a 7% increased risk of leukaemia for males exposed as infants; and for thyroid cancer among females exposed as infants, increased risk of up to 70%.

* They make dishonest claims about the Chernobyl death toll. They suggest a death toll of less than 100. Blatant deceit. They ignore studies such as: the estimate of 16,000 cancer deaths across Europe in a study published in the International Journal of Cancer, and the World Health Organization’s estimate of “up to 9,000 excess cancer deaths” in Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. For a longer discussion on pro-nuclear deceit regarding Chernobyl, click here.

* ‘Australian Greens for Nuclear Energy’ trivialise Chernobyl (and other nuclear disasters) by peddling the argument that the psychological trauma was greater than the biological effects from radiation exposure. There’s no dispute that, as the World Health Organisation states, the relocation of more than 350,000 people in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster “proved a deeply traumatic experience”. How to compare that psychological trauma to estimates of the cancer death toll from radiation exposure, such as the UN/WHO estimate of 9,000 cancer deaths in ex-Soviet states or the International Journal of Cancer study estimating 16,000 deaths across Europe? They can’t be compared. Apples and oranges. Most importantly, why on earth would anyone want to rank the biological damage and the psychological trauma from the Chernobyl disaster? Chernobyl resulted in both biological damage and psychological trauma, in spades. Psychological insult has been added to biological injury. One doesn’t negate the other.

* And they make false and indefensible claims about numerous other nuclear-related topics.

Australia a”pot of gold” for America’s military section to wage war in space

December 3, 2022

US Space Force eyes ‘prime’ Australian real estate for future warfare operations, ABC News, By defence correspondent Andrew Greene 3 Dec 22

Visiting senior US military officers believe Australia is a “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow”, as they eye off this continent’s “prime” geography for future space operations.

Key points:

  • US military officials visiting Australia say conflict in space in the next few years is a very real prospect
  • They believe the war in Ukraine is demonstrating the growing importance of space as a new war-fighting domain
  • Australia’s southern location and potential launch sites near the equator make it an attractive prospect for future operations

Top-ranking members of the US Space Force are warning of China’s growing capability in the emerging military domain as they meet defence counterparts and local industry representatives.

“I’m visiting my allies and we’re talking about future partnerships that we can have,” US Space Force Lieutenant-General Nina Armagno told reporters in Canberra.

“This is prime country for space domain awareness,” the director of staff of the US Space Force added while speaking at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.  

The three-star general has travelled to Canberra along with Lieutenant-General John Shaw, the deputy commander of the US Space Command who is responsible for America’s combat capabilities above Earth……………………………..

Both of the visiting military officers believe the war in Ukraine is demonstrating the growing importance of space as a new war-fighting domain…………………………..

Australia’s own Defence Space Command was only formally stood up in March, but General Armagno says this country already has the natural advantage of its southern-hemisphere geography and potential launch sites close to the equator.

“It seems as [if] Australia is sitting on a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, really, for our common national security interests,” she said.   https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-02/us-space-force-eyes-australian-real-estate-future-warfare/101724368

Australian PM Anthony Albanese urges US government to end pursuit of Julian Assange

December 1, 2022

Prime minister says he raised Wikileaks co-founder’s case with US representatives recently and will continue to push for it to be ‘brought to a close’

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2022/nov/30/australian-prime-minister-anthony-albanese-us-government-julian-assange-wikileaks Daniel Hurst 30 Nov 22

The Australian prime minister, Anthony Albanese, says he has personally urged the US government to end its pursuit of Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange.

In his most in-depth comments about the diplomatically sensitive issue in months, Albanese said he had raised the Assange case “recently in meetings” with US representatives and he vowed to continue to press for it to be brought to a close.

Assange, an Australian citizen, remains in Belmarsh prison in London as he fights a US attempt to extradite him to face charges in connection with the publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents about the Afghanistan and Iraq wars as well as diplomatic cables.

Albanese was responding to a parliamentary question from the independent MP Monique Ryan, who said public-interest journalism was “essential to democracy” and declared that Assange’s freedom “will only come from political intervention”.

Ryan asked: “Will the government intervene to bring Mr Assange home?”

The prime minister acknowledged the case was “an issue of great interest to many Australians and of interest to people across this chamber”.

“The government will continue to act in a diplomatic way, but can I assure the member … that I have raised this personally with representatives of the United States government,” the Labor leader told parliament on Wednesday.

“My position is clear and has been made clear to the US administration – that it is time that this matter be brought to a close.”

He did not state explicitly whether he had raised it with the US president, Joe Biden, or with other US representatives such as the ambassador to Australia, Caroline Kennedy, with whom he also met recently.

Albanese’s most recent meeting with Biden was in Bali, Indonesia, two weeks ago.

Albanese contrasted Assange’s legal situation with that of the former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who was released in 2017 when Barack Obama commuted her 35-year military prison sentence for leaking the information.

Albanese said he did not have sympathy for Assange’s actions “on a whole range of matters”, but he asked: “What is the point of this continuing this legal action which could be caught up now for many years into the future?”

The UK’s minister for the Indo-Pacific, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, and its high commissioner to Australia, Vicki Treadell, were in the audience in the House of Representatives during Albanese’s comments.

When he was the leader of the opposition, Albanese spoke out against the ongoing pursuit of Assange, declaring “enough is enough”.

But since being sworn in as prime minister, Albanese has indicated he would pursue quiet diplomacy, saying: “My position is that not all foreign affairs is best done with the loudhailer.”

The White House has previously said Assange was facing an “ongoing criminal case” and Biden was “committed to an independent Department of Justice”.

What’s happening with the radioactive waste facility in South Australia?

November 19, 2022

Ed. I always like it when the nuclear lobby brings up their tired old argument about bananas. It shows their contempt about the intelligence of ordinary people

“Australian Radioactive Waste Agency CEO Sam Usher standing in front of a 100-tonne TN-81 transport and storage cask that contains intermediate level waste (ILW) at ANSTO’s Interim Waste Store.

The container is so well shielded that a person standing 10m away for one hour would receive the equivalent radiation dose to eating half of one banana. Credit: ARWA.”

When high level nuclear waste is returned to Australia ANSTO reclassifies it as intermediate level on the very weak argument of the classifications in Europe being different to Australia……  it seems ludicrous that it should assume its own manner of classification and against the treaty adopted classifications of IAEA and adhered to by other countries.

Cosmos By Clare Peddie / 18 November 2022,

Multiple hurdles stand in the way, but the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency is pressing ahead with plans for Kimba.

More of a mausoleum than a crypt, the burial chamber planned for Australia’s decaying radioactive waste will consist of free-standing concrete vaults, above-ground, on agricultural land near Kimba on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula.

The first National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) will be 1710km west of Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), by road. That’s an 18-hour drive from Lucas Heights in Sydney, across the Hay Plains and through the Riverland, on the most direct route.

While precise transport routes remain undecided, the federal government is clear that the vast majority (97%) of the waste destined for Kimba will come from ANSTO.

The NRWMF will be the final resting place for Australia’s low-level waste (LLW) and a secure half-way house for intermediate-level waste (ILW), which will be interred for 50 years before being moved to a more suitable facility, below ground.

At least, that’s the current plan. There’s a court case to be heard, a public inquiry to be instigated and a series of regulatory hurdles to be cleared before construction can begin.

2021 Radioactive Waste Inventory

Australia’s National Inventory of Radioactive Waste 2021 reveals ANSTO is expected to produce 12,972 cubic metres of LLW and 3753 cubic metres of ILW. (That adds up to 16,725 cubic metres, out of the national total 17,163 cubic metres.)

Australia has no High Level waste. [ed note: The government and ANSTO reclassify spent nuclear fuel as not being high level waste, but “Intermediate Level“]

OWNERFUTURELEGACYTOTAL
ANSTO10,6652,30712,972
Defence8870158
CSIRO404484
ARPANSA6666
Hospital23*
Other Commonwealth22
Research and education112
Total10,7962,49013,286

Australia’s low level waste, in cubic metres. Source.

OWNERFUTURELEGACYTOTAL
ANSTO2,1981,5553,753
CSIRO621274
Defence22123
ARPANSA2222
Industry33
Hospital1*
Other Commonwealth11
Research and education
Total2,2651,6113,877

Australia’s intermediate level waste, in cubic metres. Source.

On November 29, the Morrison Government’s Resources Minister, Keith Pitt, declared the NRWMF would be established 24km west of Kimba at Napandee, a 211 hectare property.

But the Traditional Owners, the Barngarla People, did not provide consent. And they had made their opposition abundantly clear, in the lead-up to the announcement.

So within a week, the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC) announced their intent to challenge the Minister’s decision. The application for judicial review was lodged in the Federal Court on December 20 and a separate constitutional challenge followed. The case will go to trial in March.

Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King says she “will not pre-empt the outcome of the court process currently underway” and has repeatedly refused requests from BDAC, conservationists and Greens Senator for SA, Barbara Pocock, to halt work on the project until the case is heard…………………………..

Australian Radioactive Waste Agency (ARWA) Chief Executive Officer, Sam Usher, says the declaration of the site was a “significant milestone for Australia and its nuclear industry” and the “culmination of a long process” of site selection.

But it’s also the start of another lengthy process, with many regulatory hurdles along the way…………….

“Even going through the construction, we still need to apply for operating licences for the facility through ARPANSA (the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency) … We are not anticipating the facility to become operational until early in the next decade.”

Key regulatory and approval steps

  • Draft Environmental Impact Statement
  • EPBC Environmental Impact Assessment
  • NRWMF Siting License 
  • Safeguards Permit 
  • Public Works Committee Approval
  • NRWMF Construction License
  • NRWMF Operating License

Recruited from the nuclear waste industry in Britain and appointed in January, Usher was called to address the Committee to help resolve the timing of a public inquiry required under state law.

The Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000 seeks to “protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of South Australia and to protect the environment in which they live by prohibiting the establishment of certain nuclear waste storage facilities in this State”.

It states: “If a licence, exemption or other authority to construct or operate a nuclear waste storage facility in this State is granted under a law of the Commonwealth, the Environment, Resources and Development Committee of Parliament must inquire into, consider and report on the likely impact of that facility on the environment and socio-economic wellbeing of this State.”

When the Committee sought Usher’s opinion on the timing of a public inquiry, he suggested the Environmental Impact Statement, “expected to be completed in the next three or four years or so”, would address the “environmental and socio-economic wellbeing impacts” on the state.

But he added that “delivery of the facility is a matter of national importance” and override powers within the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 would be used where necessary.

As ARWA Principal Legal Counsel Kirsty Braybon put it: “Commonwealth legislation puts in place a process whereby we can effectively override the state laws that stop us from doing what we need to do.”

On reflection, Committee chair and Labor MP Jayne Stinson told Cosmos that she felt the “threshold” for a public inquiry had not been met and would not, for a long period of time.

“It’s really the most massive exercise in ‘How long is a piece of string?’. There are so many movable parts in this equation that it’s very difficult to tell, but it is most likely that this could stretch out well beyond the next term of parliament,” she said.

She said the phrase “construct or operate” was significant, pushing the timing of the inquiry further into the future. The Committee would also want to see the court case resolved first, especially as the Premier recently reinforced SA Labor’s long-held position that the Barngarla People should have the right to veto the project.

“In this day and age, when we’re talking about Voice, Treaty and Truth, we can’t just turn around and say, ‘Oh, well, those are our values but in this particular instance, we’re going to ignore the voice of Aboriginal people’. I think that’s just preposterous and it’s inconsistent with what most South Australians would think,” Stinson said.

“So yes, we do think that the voices of Aboriginal people should be front centre in this debate, and I would say that’s not just the view of the Premier, but of our Cabinet and also our Party.”

Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation Chair, Jason Bilney, is frustrated about having to fight another legal battle so soon after the two-decade effort to win native title.

While it is true that there is no native title on the site in question, that’s because it is freehold land. The former farm is surrounded by parcels of native title land, within the Barngarla Determination boundary. (Native title is extinguished by certain forms of property tenure).

Mr Bilney maintains that the site is a “very significant place for Barngarla people, we’ve travelled through it, it’s part of our songlines, our storylines and it’s connected to female dreaming, through the aquifers running underneath it”.

Objections to the facility also run deep, because there is a history of past injustices surrounding nuclear weapons testing, so any talk of radioactive waste reopens old wounds. And then there are questions around the “temporary” storage of long-lived radioactive waste.

“We don’t want the dump on our country, and we were excluded from the start,” he says……………………….

Nuclear industry expert  Professor Ian Lowe, says ILW “needs to be securely stored for many thousands of years in a properly engineered site”.

He agrees that the “sensible approach … would be to continue storing the ILW securely at Lucas Heights while there is a proper process of designing a permanent disposal site and consulting communities to negotiate informed consent for a location”.

ARWA is working with CSIRO to review and assess technical ILW disposal options, but this process has barely begun………………………

Money is flowing into the town, with the third round of community grants announced on November 2 injecting a further $2 million into projects such as upgrades to the Kimba District Hospital facilities, a new Kimba Youth and Community Hub, a ‘shop local’ marketing initiative to support local businesses, and refurbishment of the Kimba Op Shop. This builds on $4 million of grants and 50 projects already funded in Kimba under the program.

There’s the promise of 45 ongoing jobs in the facility, plus all of the construction work.

And there’s plenty of work for scientists in the next phase of “site characterisation works” to begin this week…………..  https://cosmosmagazine.com/technology/radioactive-waste-facility-australia/

The Australian nuclear lobby is at it again. Nine right-wing rural senators push to change the laws on nuclear activities

November 12, 2022

Senator Matt Canavan has a chequered history when it comes to his attitudes and statements on energy and resources

Sept 2021 Canavan cold on the push for nuclear power – and talked up the prospects of coal exports. “Obviously, if we can’t find a long-term solution for that level of waste it’s pretty hard to fathom that we could go beyond that for the production of nuclear energy that does produce a larger amount and more waste of a higher category to manage.”

Augus 31 21 Canavan tweeted called on Australia to boycott Glasgow, labelling the conference a “sham” 

August 28 21 – lead the charge in his party’s anti-science war, with the CSIRO a main target

August 11 21 “Myself and Member for Flynn, Ken O’Dowd, we’re happy to have a nuclear power station in our backyard.”

Canavan was called out, in March 21 for his inaccurate hype about small nuclear reactors

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“On 27 October 2022 the Senate referred the Environment and Other Legislation Amendment (Removing Nuclear Energy Prohibitions) Bill 2022 to the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 31 March 2023.

The close date for submissions is 12 December 2022.

About this inquiry:

The bill would amend the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998 to remove the prohibition on the construction or operation of certain nuclear installations; and Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 to remove the prohibition on the Minister for Environment and Water declaring, approving or considering actions relating to the construction or operation of certain nuclear installations.  https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Environment_and_Communications/Nuclearprohibitions?fbclid=IwAR1ZJyT5tShsXWXm9q2XGv4aHPnN7r_gj6V1VNNNmET3YAfCQWG7RSJ21bQ

The leader is this push is Senator Matt Canavan, Strangely, Canavan resigned from the task of being in charge of the nuclear waste dump program, in order to pursue his own politcal ambitions in a spill in the National Party.

Others include Jacinta Yangapi Nampijinpa Price– Country Liberal Party, (Northern Territory)
David Julian Fawcett – Liberal Party,( SA),  Alex Antic Liberal (SA) David Van -Liberal Party (Victoria), Ross Cadel – National Party (NSW), Gerard Rennick – Liberal National Party ( Queensland)

  ·Note from Kazzi Jai – at Fight to stop a nuclear waste dump in South Australia

I’ll get back to you on this, but judging by last Thursday’s Senate Estimates, it sounds like there is again a push for nuclear energy by vested interests….Seems people like Matt Canavan – the Senator who RESIGNED from being Minister in charge of the dump SO THAT HE COULD PURSUE HIS OWN POLITICAL AMBITIONS in a spill in the Nats….and now crows about putting SCIENCE into these debates AND NOT POLITICS – absolutely LAUGHABLE….anyway he OPENED the Global Uranium Conference 2022 last week

AND he was in my opinion disruptive in the Senate Estimates sitting, interjecting when Minister Ayres was answering a question FROM A DIFFERENT SENATOR! Matt Canavan was given A LOT OF LATTITUDE in my opinion from the Seat…..GIVEN ALSO THAT BOTH HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT ARE NOT RULED BY THE COALITION! Seems OLD HABITS die hard!

USA intimidating Australia – warning Australia not to join the U.N. Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

November 10, 2022

Australia “should not face intimidation from so-called allies under the auspices of defense cooperation,” said Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. “The TPNW offers the best chance for lasting global peace and security and a clear road map for nuclear disarmament.”

So Irresponsible’: US Condemned for Warning Australia Against Joining Anti-Nuclear Treaty.

Australia “should not face intimidation from so-called allies under the auspices of defense cooperation,” said one advocate. https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2022/11/08/russia-us-eye-nuclear-arms-reduction-talks-in-coming-weeks-kommersant-a79313 JULIA CONLEY, November 9, 2022, Anti-nuclear weapons campaigners rebuked the Biden administration on Wednesday over its opposition to Australia’s newly announced voting position on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which could signal the country’s willingness to sign on to the agreement.

As The Guardian reported, the U.S. Embassy in Canberra warned Australian officials that the Labour government’s decision to adopt an “abstain” position regarding the treaty—after five years of opposing it—would obstruct Australia’s reliance on American nuclear forces in case of a nuclear attack on the country.

Australia’s ratification of the nuclear ban treaty, which currently has 91 signatories, “would not allow for U.S. extended deterrence relationships, which are still necessary for international peace and security,” the embassy said.

The U.S. also claimed that if Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s government ratifies the treaty it would reinforce “divisions” around the world.

Australia “should not face intimidation from so-called allies under the auspices of defense cooperation,” said Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. “The TPNW offers the best chance for lasting global peace and security and a clear road map for nuclear disarmament.”

The TPNW prohibits the development, testing, stockpiling, use, and threats regarding the use of nuclear weapons.

The Australian chapter of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) noted that Albanese’s vocal support for achieving nuclear disarmament puts him in line with the majority of his constituents—while the U.S., as one of nine nuclear powers in the world, represents a small global minority.

According to an Ipsos poll taken in March, 76% of Australians support the country signing and ratifying the treaty, while only 6% are opposed.

Albanese has won praise from campaigners for his own anti-nuclear advocacy, with the prime minister recently telling The Australian that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear saber-rattling “has reminded the world that the existence of nuclear weapons is a threat to global security and the norms we had come to take for granted.”

“Nuclear weapons are the most destructive, inhumane, and indiscriminate weapons ever created,” Albanese said in 2018 as he introduced a motion to commit the Labour Party to supporting the TPNW. “Today we have an opportunity to take a step towards their elimination.”

Labour’s 2021 platform included a commitment to signing and ratifying the treaty “after taking account” of factors including the development of “an effective verification and enforcement architecture.”

Australia’s decision to change its voting position comes as the U.S. is planning to deploy nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to the country, where the weapons will be positioned close enough to strike China.

Gem Romuld, Australia director of ICAN, said in a statement that “it’s no surprise the U.S. doesn’t want Australia to join the ban treaty but it will have to respect our right to take a humanitarian stance against these weapons.”

“The majority of nations recognize that ‘nuclear deterrence’ is a dangerous theory that only perpetuates the nuclear threat and legitimizes the forever existence of nuclear weapons, an unacceptable prospect,” Romuld added.

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of ICAN, called the U.S. embassy’s comments “so irresponsible.” “Using nuclear weapons is unacceptable, for Russia, for North Korea, and for the U.S., U.K., and all other states in the world,” said Fihn. “There are no ‘responsible’ nuclear armed states. These are weapons of mass destruction and Australia should sign the TPNW!”

‘Target Oz’: Defence Strategic Review must address nuclear risks

November 3, 2022

Pine Gap near Alice Springs, RAAF Base Tindal for US B-52’s near Katherine, Darwin Harbour, North-West Cape near Exmouth, and the Stirling submarine base near Fremantle are all potential targets for a strike by China in a conflict with the US over Taiwan or the South China Sea

Pearls and Irritations, By David Noonan, Nov 3, 2022

The Defence Strategic Review must act in accordance with Australia’s commitment to sign the UN “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” (the ‘Ban Treaty’) and not seek to compromise that path by supporting roles in nuclear warfare alongside the US.

Anthony Albanese made a commitment in his “Changing the World” Speech (ALP National Conference, 18 Dec 2018), stating:

“We have on our side the overwhelming support of the Australian people. …

Our commitment to sign and ratify the nuclear weapons ban treaty in government is Labor at our best”

The ALP National Platform (2021, p.117) commits “to sign and ratify the Ban Treaty” and Australia must do so in this term of the ALP in federal office.

The Ban Treaty Article 1 Prohibitions require nations to never under any circumstance use or threaten to use nuclear weaponsOR to assist or encourage, in any way, anyone to do so.

To come into compliance with the Ban Treaty, the Defence Review must evolve our Alliance with the US to put an end to defence reliance on US ‘nuclear deterrence’.

The US ‘nuclear weapons umbrella’ is a threat to use nuclear weapons in Australia’s defence policy – a threat that has long been contrary to International Humanitarian Law and is now illegal since the Ban Treaty came into force as a permanent part of International Law from 22 January 2021.

The roles of Pine Gap and the North-West Cape communications base must evolve to exclude military operations related to the use, or threat to use, nuclear weapons.

The ICAN Report “Choosing Humanity” (July 2019) best sets out the case for Australia to sign the Ban Treaty. Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong should now refer the Ban Treaty to an Inquiry by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties as a proposed treaty action.

 Australians have a right to know the risk exposure we face in peace time and in war:

While preparing for war, a second lead task for the Defence Review is to provide transparency on the consequences for Australia as a target in an escalating conflict between the US and China.

The Review must report on the scenarios, risks, and consequences of a nuclear or conventional attack by China on bases in Australia and on the potential resultant health calamity.

Both China and Russia’s priority and capacity to attack US bases in Australia has long been recognised. An ASPI Report (Sept 2022) states Pine Gap is a high-level nuclear target, noting:

“We need to understand what the implications would be for Alice Springs, which is a town of 32,000 people only 18 kilometres from the base.”

The lead author of the report, Paul Dibb has stated: “The risk of nuclear war is now higher than at any time since the Cold War. … Australia should not feel its geographic distance from the epicentre of conflict affords it any significant protection. … We need to plan on the basis that Pine Gap continues to be a nuclear target, If China attacks Taiwan, Pine Gap is likely to be heavily involved.”

A Lowy paper (09 August 2021) also cites Darwin as a potential target in a US-China conflict:

The arena of hostilities for any such conflict would be mostly confined to East Asia, with the possible exception of strikes against US forces using Darwin as a rear-area staging base.

No doubt Australia acquiring nuclear powered attack submarines and visits or basing US or UK nuclear subs at Stirling naval base near Fremantle escalates the risk profile we face.

Beijing’s Global Times “China needs to make a plan to deter extreme forces of Australia” (07 May 2021) threatened “retaliatory punishment” with missile strikes “on the military facilities and relevant key facilities on Australian soil” if Australia coordinates with the US in a war over Taiwan:

“China has a strong production capability, including producing additional long-range missiles with conventional warheads that target military objectives in Australia when the situation becomes highly tense.”

Pine Gap near Alice Springs, RAAF Base Tindal for US B-52’s near Katherine, Darwin Harbour, North-West Cape near Exmouth, and the Stirling submarine base near Fremantle are all potential targets for a strike by China in a conflict with the US over Taiwan or the South China Sea……………………more

David Noonan B.Sc., M.Env.St., is an Independent Environment Campaigner and was a long-term campaigner for Australian Conservation Foundation.

See the public submission to the Defence Review by David Noonan (29 Oct 2022).

 https://johnmenadue.com/target-oz-the-defence-strategic-review-and-our-risk-exposure-with-the-us-and-china/