Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

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


“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.

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!


Nuclear zealot Jonathon Mead – in charge of the nuclear submarine deliberations? Wants to “cultivate a nuclear mindset”

October 27, 2022

Mead’s Nuclear Powered Submarine Taskforce will deliver recommendations on options to the government….. it can only be done with the unfettered support of all three nations.…… the support of the Australian people will be essential for the plan to work.


Cultivating a nuclear mindset, By Brendan Nicholson, October 27, 2022

After a year of intense research, the head of a 350-strong Defence taskforce is confident the Royal Australian Navy will be equipped with nuclear-powered submarines.

Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead tells The Australian’s Defence Special Report he believes “absolutely” that the massive and highly complex industrial-scale endeavour is viable.

Set up after the AUKUS technology sharing agreement was signed by Australia, the US and UK a year ago, Mead’s Nuclear Powered Submarine Taskforce will deliver recommendations on options to the government by March next year and he says the work is on track.

The government will choose the design. Mead says a range of options has emerged. He won’t be drawn on specifics but says it can only be done with the unfettered support of all three nations. “We are providing options to our government on what we think is the optimum pathway, and we are working on that with our partners. I am very confident that we will be in a position for government to make an announcement next year on an optimal pathway, in conjunction with the other nations’ leaders.”

Mead cautions that a whole-of-government approach with very strong backing from industry and the support of the Australian people will be essential for the plan to work. “Defence cannot do this by itself. This social licence is a very important aspect for us. We need Australians to have confidence in our ability to build and operate these submarines.”

Submarines operate at the highest end of war fighting capability, says Mead, and they deliver significant deterrence. “When you put a nuclear-powered submarine (SSN) in the mix, you’ve got almost an exponential increase in speed, manoeuvrability, survivability, endurance, lethality in their ability to launch long range missiles, to operate around the region and to protect Australia.”

The government had made it clear that submarines were a fundamental part of Australia’s defence capability. Defence Minister Richard Marles has said the need for haste is dictated by deteriorating strategic circumstances, sharpening competition and rapid military modernisation.

The task force recommendations will go to the government at the same time as the Defence Strategic Review by former defence and foreign minister Stephen Smith and former Defence force chief Sir Angus Houston.

“We are briefing them so that they can take on board our body of work as well,” Mead says.

Members of Mead’s team often work through the night in talks with the US and UK partners. They include personnel from all three services, the Lucas Heights reactor, from the nuclear regulator and a range of departments.

He won’t comment on the argument that an interim conventionally powered submarine will be needed to avoid a capability gap, but he says the government has given him very clear direction to develop options that will deliver the nuclear-powered capability “in an expeditious manner”.

“I’m only looking at nuclear,” he says. “We are working with the US and UK on a range of options that we think can deliver the capability in an expeditious timeframe.”

Any decision to opt for an interim conventional submarine would be up to the government and Defence.

No one doubts that the submarine force will be eye-wateringly expensive.

The taskforce proposal will be presented to the government at the same time as the results of the Smith/Houston strategic review – and at a time of economic pressures and invidious trade-offs when the world is emerging from the Covid pandemic while facing a dangerous strategic environment. Marles has undertaken to strengthen the lethality and deterrent effect, but that assurance comes as demands for support for services such as the NDIS and veteran’s welfare increase.

With a strong social agenda, the government faces painful choices as it deals with a complex set of interlocking problems, and clear choices on ADF capabilities will be vital.

The review will focus on strengthening the ADF’s deterrent effect by getting sophisticated weapons and platforms into the hands of its men and women faster. Areas for rapid development include hypersonics and cyber. Some programs will be accelerated. The reviewers will be looking at options, possibly other than submarines, for long range strike capability. Missiles and long-range bombers such as the B-21 will be in that mix.

Australia needs to be able to defend itself against sophisticated threats – and to give an adversary pause to consider whether an attack is a good idea. While much is discussed about potential flashpoints such as Taiwan, Australia must be able to defend itself against unexpected threats.

Threats may come in the traditional “domains” of sea, land and air – or in the shape of cyber-attacks, or threats to democracy. Greater interdependencies mean threats coming from different domains at once, more lethal and with greater range. Great power adversaries can operate in all these domains making defending against them much more complex and expensive.

While there’s a need for hard power to deter, that can’t be the only focus. Defending the nation means putting more resources into diplomacy to develop deeper relationships with neighbours, and improving intelligence gathering to ensure threats are identified and understood as they develop. While Australia must be strong enough to deal with actors who see conflict as a means of getting their way, it needs to reassure friends that it has a defensive mindset…………………………

As these debates evolve, Mead has identified the optimal pathway to SSNs, with nine components underpinning the daily work of the task force. “If we can’t put a green tick to each of those nine components, then the boat becomes almost a meaningless concept,” he says.

First is Australia’s strategic situation and the policies set by the government to deal with it.

………. Mead won’t say where the design choice will land – on the US Virginia or the SSNX to follow it, Britain’s Astute which is about to go out of production, or the SSNR which will follow it. Or something else.

“Clearly these are decisions for government, and not just our government, but also the partners. They need to put it through their political systems.”

He says nuclear submarines will be built in Australia. “That’s very important to ensure Australia has a sovereign capability. They are likely to be built on land earmarked for the previous Attack-class submarine project on land adjacent to South Australia’s Osborne Naval Shipyard.”

Number five is the need to set up an industrial base that can support nuclear-powered submarines and a supply chain to build and maintain them – and to provide components for partner submarines, optimising the industrial bases of all three countries.

“If we are building a component for an Australian build and that’s what our partners need, then it would be wise for us to identify things we can assist them with. All countries have constrictions and bottlenecks.”

Teams from the US and UK have visited Australia to see what might be available here………….

An option is for Australia to do a deeper level of maintenance on US and UK submarines during their visits to bases such as HMAS Stirling, in WA. That could gradually increase to major maintenance.

“We need to start sending people from our industrial base to the US and UK to be embedded in their construction and maintenance yards so that when submarines visit Australia our people will have the necessary experience. ……….

For six months, Australian submariners have been working in US submarines “at the back end where the reactor is”. The UK has also committed to embarking Australians on its boats.

…………….There are signs all over the task force precinct stressing the importance of building a “nuclear mindset”, and each member’s ID card comes with that message.

Mead notes a report by the US director of Naval Reactors that in 65 years of operation, US Navy nuclear-powered warships and their support facilities have had no discernible effect on public health or the environment.

“It’s safe for the people, and it’s safe for the environment. We intend to learn from the US and UK so that we can demonstrate identical standards,” he says. “This nuclear mindset is a way of thinking within our people, within navy, and within other areas of the department…………..

………………………..Mead says the ninth crucial element is the need to clearly explain to Australians, and to the US and UK, what the program is all about and how the safety and reliability of the submarines can be assured.

-Brendan Nicholson is editor of ASPI’s commentary and analysis site, The Strategist.

Just like the Liberal Party, the Australian Labor Party appoints a pro-nuclear stooge (Madeleine King) as Resources Minister

October 22, 2022

New Resources Minister backs Kimba nuke dump, by Nick G, June 6, 2022

The ALP’s new Resources Minister Madeline King has wasted no time in showing her support for the proposed nuclear waste dump at Napandee, near Kimba on Eyre Peninsula.

In response to an appeal to herself and PM Albanese from the disenfranchised and ignored Barngarla traditional owners, King has today stated that the nuclear waste dump was “a step forward” in the management of nuclear waste.


Napandee was one of three sites proposed by the former Coalition government for the storage of intermediate and low-level nuclear waste. Two, including Napandee, were at Kimba, whilst a third was at Wallerberdina in the Flinders Ranges.  

The operation of any of the three sites in SA was illegal under SA law.

Under state legislation introduced by the Olsen Liberals and strengthened by Rann Labor, it is illegal to operate a nuclear waste facility in SA or to import or transport nuclear waste in SA.

The legislation is quite clear and states:

8—Prohibition against construction or operation of nuclear waste storage facility. A person must not construct or operate a nuclear waste storage facility. Maximum penalty: In the case of a natural person—$500 000 or imprisonment for 10 years. In the case of a body corporate—$5 000 000.

 9—Prohibition against importation or transportation of nuclear waste for delivery to nuclear waste storage facility. A person must not— (a) bring nuclear waste into the State; or (b) transport nuclear waste within the State, for delivery to a nuclear waste storage facility in the State. Maximum penalty: In the case of a natural person—$500 000 or imprisonment for 10 years. In the case of a body corporate—$5 000 000.

This legislation came about largely through the actions of the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta (the Anangu women of Coober Pedy) who led a campaign against a 1998 Howard Government proposal for a nuclear waste dump in SA.

In 2004, following Howard’s conceding defeat on the issue, three of those women, Eileen Kampakuta Brown, Ivy Makinti Stewart and Angelina Wonga issued a statement that began: “People said that you can’t win against the Government. Just a few women. We just kept talking and telling them to get their ears out of their pockets and listen. We never said we were going to give up. Government has big money to buy their way out but we never gave up…money doesn’t win.”

In 2016, SA Labor Premier Jay Weatherill set up a Royal Commission into SA’s nuclear energy future which included a proposal for a dump for high level overseas nuclear waste. Massive protests were held and a “citizen’s jury” effectively knocked all talk of nuclear waste dumps on the head.

The resurrected SA site proposals were met with further protests. The Adnyamathanha peoples led opposition to the Wallaberdina site and were successful in winning the vote in a community consultation of people in the Flinders Ranges.

The initial Kimba sites were rejected by former Minister Josh Frydenberg in 2016 due to a lack of broad community support; however in 2017 his replacement Matt Canavan revived the proposal and accepted Napandee as the site for the dump.

Barngarla Pushed Aside

Approval for the Kimba site required broad community support through a community consultation. In preparation for a local vote, millions of dollars of federal funds were poured into Kimba for “social and economic development” during the consultation process. Community facilities were upgraded, footpaths and gutters put in, and the town generally given a face lift. 

No definition of “broad community support” exists in legislation, but Canavan mentioned a figure of “around 65%”.  Kimba Council defined those eligible to vote as ratepayers living within a prescribed area and excluded the Barngarla native title holders on the grounds that they lived in other towns on Eyra Peninsula.

The Barngarla appealed to the Federal Court which upheld the Council’s decision on the grounds that the Barngarla would be “too difficult to identify”. A vote was held, resulting in a 61.5% vote for the dump with a majority of 70 in favour. 

The Barngarla commissioned the Australian Election Company to poll people identified as Barngarla by the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation and identified 209 eligible voters. There were no votes for the dump, and 89 against it.

Had those 89 Barngarla votes been included in the Kimba Council “consultation”, the outcome would have been a “no” vote carried by a small majority. 

Labor Opposition facilitates Napandee declaration

In Opposition, Labor had the opportunity to block the declaration of the Kimba site. However, Madeline King did a deal with the Coalition in June 2019 that allowed new Resource Minister Keith Pitt to declare Napandee as the site for the dump. Under the original federal legislation, an aggrieved party to the declaration had no right of judicial appeal.  King negotiated to provide the appeal right and withdrew Labor opposition to the declaration despite saying that Labor would not pass the bill unless traditional owners were comfortable with it.

They clearly were not, and neither did they have the resources to properly fund a judicial appeal, although that process has now begun in the Federal Court.

Who is Madeline King?

Madeline King is a right-wing Labor politician with close ties to the mining industry and pro-US lobbyists.

She is a commercial lawyer who immediately prior to entering parliament was the chief operating officer of the Perth USAsia Centre, a think tank based at the University of Western Australia.

King was a ministerial adviser to federal Labor MP Gary Gray from 2011 to 2012. Gray had been National Secretary of the ALP from 1993 to 2000, but resigned to take up a position with fossil fuel giant Woodside Petroleum. As its Director of Corporate Affairs, he was an executive at the time when, in 2004, Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer ordered the bugging of the East Timorese government during negotiations aimed at depriving the island nation of desperately needed revenue from underwater gas deposits. Gray was part of the Woodside negotiating team. 

In 2007, Gray contested the WA seat of Brand and became part of Rudd’s Labor team. He retired in 2016 to take up a position with Mineral Resources, but was appointed Australian Ambassador to Ireland by Scott Morrison in 2020 in what some people have said was a move to prevent him having to testify in the case against Bernard Collaery and possibly incriminating Downer under cross-examination. 

King’s employment as advisor to Gray has made her no stranger to the interplay between the corporate world and the benefits that accrue to Labor politicians who do their bidding.

No need for a Kimba dump

Opponents of the Kimba dump point out that much of the low-level waste (some of which needs to be stored for up to 300 years) is already safely stored at Woomera in SA.  Some of it is stored at facilities at which it is produced. Medical nuclear waste accounts for only around 1% of the total and is short-lived and decays quite safely at the hospitals and treatment centres at which it is generated.

Intermediate level waste is generated at Lucas Heights in Sydney. Its decay time is far longer and needs to be kept from contact with humans for 10,000 years. A 2020 federal parliament inquiry confirmed that ANSTO, the operator of Lucas heights, has the ability to manage its waste onsite for “decades to come”. Ultimately, it will need to be stored in an underground repository. The government says this will take decades while the federal nuclear regulator says it could take a century to identify and construct.

If intermediate level waste is transported the 1700 kilometres from Lucas Heights to Kimba, it will be stored there as a temporary measure, in drums above the ground, pending its removal at some future stage to a permanent underground facility.

It therefore makes no sense to move these drums of intermediate level waste across the continent when there is storage capacity at Lucas Heights. Kimba is a temporary solution to a non-problem.

The issue of nuclear waste storage is one that must be referred to nation-wide community consultation. It is not a matter to be placed on the shoulders of this or that “remote” community to decided. We are all involved and we should all decide.

SA Unions made their position clear on March 15 when they unanimously supported a motion standing with the traditional owners.  SA Unions Secretary Dale Beasley said “South Australian unions are completely united in their support of the Barngarla Traditional Owners and their opposition to the proposed nuclear waste site at Kimba”.

Let’s make this year’s Hiroshima Day (August 6) a day for concerted action against nuclear energy, nuclear waste dumps and nuclear-powered submarines. 

Let’s keep alive the spirit of the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta.

Kimba community groups need to pose these hard questions to Ministers Madeleine King and Ed Husic, and to ANSTO ARWA and ARPANSA

September 22, 2022

In order to establish fully and properly the breaches by the federal government as to its Kimba nuclear installation, community group opposing the installation proposals need to immediately send out this formal request to the various persons and organisations listed below

Formal requests for Kimba proposals:

  1. What are the earthworks being carried out or planned in connection with
    the government’s proposed nuclear waste facility
  2. Are these earthworks confined to the Napandee farm site
  3. If not what other land in the Kimba region is affected by the earthworks
  4. How much actual physical work has been carried
  5. By whom and how was this work authorised
  6. Was any licence issued by ARPANSA for his work
  7. If not and why not as is required by the guidance codes and standards of
  8. Was a progressive safety case started for these earthworks
  9. If not how was the work justified without community consultation and
  10. How have the environmental aspects of these earthworks been dealt with
  11. Have there been any environmental studies done
  12. Has the community generally been consulted on the environmental studies
    or referrals
  13. Will the community be involved by consultation as to all aspects of the
    earthworks as to the environmental implications

PLEASE immediately provide:
• the plans and other details for for the earthworks
• the environmental studies and assessments for this work
• any licences or applications for licences
• a full copy of the environmental referral

This list of requests should given to:
Hon. Madeleine King Hon. Ed Husic as the responsible ministers
The chief executive officers of ARWA ANSTO and ARPANSA
Meghan Quinn PSM as the Secretary of the Department of Industry, Science,
Energy and Resources
Andrew Metcalfe AO as the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Water
and the Environment

Greens Senator Barbara Pocock calls on the Federal Government to suspend work on South Australian nuclear waste site

September 22, 2022

Call to suspend work on SA nuclear waste site InDaily , Stephanie Richards, 20 Sept22, The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation in December applied for judicial review in an attempt to thwart construction of the controversial radioactive waste storage facility at Napandee near Kimba on the Eyre Peninsula, arguing they weren’t properly consulted before the site was selected.

Despite the active legal challenge, the Federal Court was told in June that the government had already approved plans to begin earthworks.

That prompted South Australian Greens Senator Barbara Pocock to last week write to federal Resources Minister Madeleine King asking her to commit to suspending all preparatory work and construction at the site pending the outcome of the court proceedings.

“The Barngarla people are unanimously opposed to the waste dump,” she wrote in the letter, seen by InDaily.

“The site is an important part of their culture and heritage, yet they were not consulted on the proposal.

“In light of the Barngarla opposition and lack of consultation, I write to ask that you commit to suspending all preparatory work and construction in relation to building the waste dump at Napandee, pending the outcome of the current judicial review and court proceedings underway.”

……………………….new information released by the federal government reveals it is spending three times more than Barngarla Traditional Owners fighting the project in the Federal Court.

In response to a question on notice lodged by Pocock, the government stated that between December and July, it had spent $343,457.44 on legal fees.

That compares to the approximate $124,000 spent by the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation over the same period.

The Native Title group estimates that the total cost incurred by the federal government would run into the millions.

Pocock said the disparity between the spending was “disproportionate and just unfair”.

“This is a David and Goliath case,” she said.“The spend so far shows that the government is doing all in their power to minimise the voices and traditional rights of the Barngarla people.”…………….

The Napandee site was selected by the former Morrison Government in November last year, with then Resources Minister Keith Pitt saying the government had secured “majority support” from the local community after more than “six years of consultation”.

But Barngarla Traditional Owners opposed the project and argued they were not included in the consultation.

South Australian Labor has long called for Barngarla people to have the right to veto the project, with Premier Peter Malinauskas telling ABC Radio Adelaide this morning that the state government had expressed its views to the federal government…………..

Don’t mention the war powers: what’s behind Labor’s silence on inquiry?

September 12, 2022 by Zacharias Szumer | Sep 12, 2022,

Last year Labor committed to holding an inquiry into war powers reform. A hundred days into taking power, there is no indication of when the inquiry might happen, but the reintroduction of the Greens’ bill into the Senate may put some pressure on Labor to clarify its plans, writes Zacharias Szumer.

At Labor’s 2021 conference, federal MPs Josh Wilson and Julian Hill put war powers on the agenda. They put forward a resolution that promised that “during the term of the 47th Parliament” a Labor government would “refer the issue of how Australia makes decisions to send service personnel into international armed conflict to an inquiry to be conducted by the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.” The resolution was passed and the inquiry was added to Labor’s policy platform.

However, as we enter the fourth month of the Albanese government, there is still no confirmation that the inquiry will go ahead.

MWM recently contacted Wilson and Hill, both now members of the joint standing committee, to ask when the inquiry would take place. Wilson’s media adviser said that his office was “unsure about the timing of an inquiry” and Hill said it was a question for the Minister of Defence.

MWM has reached out to Defence Minister Richard Marles but is yet to receive a reply.

Reintroduced Greens bill may put heat on Labor

Meanwhile, the Greens plan to reintroduce their long-running Defence Amendment (Parliamentary Approval of Overseas Service) bill into the Senate. If passed, the legislation would mandate that “service of members of the Defence Force beyond the territorial limits of Australia in warlike actions would require the approval of both houses of the parliament,” with exceptions for emergency situations.

Over the past several decades, various iterations of the bill have been introduced to the parliament by the Greens and, before that, by the Australian Democrats. According to the bill’s explanatory memoranda, revisions to the original bill consist mainly of:

more detailed provisions relating to emergency situations which occur when the Parliament is not meeting and the information which is required to be provided to the public and the Parliament

The bill’s progress has always been stymied by the two major parties, and there’s no indication that its fate will be any different this time. However, the bill’s reintroduction may put pressure on the Albanese government to clarify when, or perhaps if, they plan to launch their promised inquiry.

Labor opposed the bill when it was last read in August 2021, with then deputy opposition leader in the Senate Kristina Keneally saying that “Labor believes that this bill leaves too many unanswered questions and may have unforeseen and unintended consequences.”

Keneally also said that “federal Labor have supported and continue to support this power remaining a prerogative of the executive.” However, given that Hill and Wilson proposed the resolution calling for an inquiry at the ALP conference only months earlier, there is possibly some division in Labor over the issue.

Consider the contrast between Keneally’s statement and Wilson’s response when asked by MWM on this issue:

The very mild checks on Australia’s executive war-making power that have been in place through legislation and parliamentary convention have arguably weakened in the course of the 21st century, and it’s time to have a hard look at how we might turn that wheel in the direction of greater parliamentary involvement in the name of better and more transparent decision-making.”

Public and parliamentary attitudes

In late 2020, civil society group Australians for War Powers Reform commissioned a Roy Morgan poll that found that 83.3% of Australians want parliament to decide whether troops are deployed into armed conflict abroad. Around 30% said that parliamentary approval should always be required, 52.4% said that approval should be required unless there was immediate danger to Australia and 16.7% said parliamentary approval was not needed.

However, according to MWM’s ongoing survey of parliamentarians, this degree of support for war powers reform is not shared by MPs and senators in Canberra. Or, if it is, they’re not willing to tell the public about it.
The majority of respondents said they had no comment, but an even larger number didn’t respond at all. Of those that did offer a response, their position could be fairly assumed based on their party allegiance: Greens supported reform, LNP members opposed it, and Labor members emphasised the complexity of the issue and consequent need for an inquiry.

MWM recently asked newly elected Teal candidates about the issue, but most did not offer a public response. The Independent member for Warringah, Zali Steggall, said:

“I strongly support war powers reform as other than in exceptional and urgent circumstances, the decision to commit Australians to an armed conflict or war should be made by the Parliament, in an extraordinary sitting and not just be the decision of the prime minister of the day.”

The Independent member for Indi, Helen Haines, told MWM that, while “there is no easy yes or no answer to the question on war powers reform”, she supported holding an inquiry into the issue. The newly elected Independent member for North Sydney, Kylea Tink, also said that she “would likely support an inquiry if called by Labor.”

PM grills Peter Dutton on location of power plants amid Coalition’s nuclear push

September 8, 2022

Albanese said after “22 failed plans” the Coalition now wants “to go towards nuclear energy”………………. we know they have to be near urban areas and water.”

the shadow climate change minister, Chris Bowen, ruled out consideration of nuclear power because he said “it is by far the most expensive form of energy”.

Guardian, Paul Karp, @Paul_Karp,Wed 7 Sep 2022

Peter Dutton has doubled down on Liberal support for nuclear power, pre-empting a review of its energy policy by arguing nuclear will be needed to support renewables.

Dutton told the Minerals Council on Wednesday that Australia needs a “frank debate” about nuclear energy, suggesting that it has a “wonderful opportunity to add value” to its uranium resources.

The comments sparked a demand from the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, in question time for the Liberals to nominate “where the plants are going to be”.

The Coalition didn’t do much on nuclear energy while in office. Why are they talking about it now?Read more

On Wednesday Dutton confirmed that he appointed Ted O’Brien as shadow energy minister in part because a committee inquiry he chaired in 2019 recommended the partial lifting of the moratorium on nuclear energy to allow for “new and emerging nuclear technologies”.

Dutton suggested nuclear energy could also help Australia “power up irrigation and open up thousands of square kilometres of export opportunities” before concluding the government should “at least allow” the community to have a debate about it.

In August the shadow climate change minister, Chris Bowen, ruled out consideration of nuclear power because he said “it is by far the most expensive form of energy”.

“I mean, this is economic illiteracy from an opposition searching for relevance,” he told ABC News Breakfast.

“[Nuclear] is slow to deploy. It couldn’t be deployed in Australia until 2030.

“The CSIRO has made it very, very clear renewables are the cheapest form of energy. Nuclear is the most expensive. Why with rising energy prices you would put in the most expensive form of energy available is beyond me.”

Albanese replied that the government stands by the modelling supporting the claim, and that Labor’s policy was based on the systems plan of the Australian Energy Market Operator, which identified it would “promote investment in renewables which is the cheapest form of energy”.

Albanese said after “22 failed plans” the Coalition now wants “to go towards nuclear energy”.

“And they can say, if you like, where the plants are going to be. I’ll look forward to their review, letting us know … [because] we know they have to be near urban areas and water.”

While Labor raised the spectre of campaigning on the location of putative nuclear power plants, Dutton accused the government of asking Australians to sign up to an Indigenous voice to parliament “sight unseen”.

“We have no idea what it means for the mining sector,” Dutton told the Minerals Council earlier.

“We don’t know whether a voice that doesn’t represent the elders that you negotiate with or that your agreement is with in a particular location, now, they might be usurped and [the voice will] exercise a veto, right? That would damage your employees, that would damage your business.”

Earlier, Dutton said it was an “inconvenient truth” for climate activists that “decarbonisation will require more mining”, due to critical minerals’ importance in renewable energy, batteries and electric vehicles.

“I take some delight knowing it must keep them up at night.”

Dutton said the Liberals don’t support “locking in” the 43% emissions reduction target in legislation because the “inflexible position” might disadvantage Australia if competitors did not meet their targets and it would make it “harder if not impossible” for government agencies to fund resources projects………………………


Labor should halt plans to dump nuclear waste on South Australia – Greens Senator Barbara Pocock

July 31, 2022

29 July 2022

Greens Senator for SA Barbara Pocock has called on the Albanese Labor Government to abandon plans to dump nuclear waste on South Australia, after it was revealed the environmental impact statement won’t consider shipping and transport routes for the toxic waste.

The latest concerns have arisen while the Traditional Owners of the selected waste dump site at Kimba on SA’s Eyre Peninsula were visiting parliament this week. The Barngarla people were not consulted before the site was selected and are in the midst of a Federal Court battle opposing the dumping of waste on their traditional lands. They were in Canberra asking the new Minister to listen to them and halt the plans of the Morrison Government.

Senator Pocock said:

“The Albanese Labor Government should stop the pursuit of the Morrison Government’s plans to dump on SA.

“If this dump goes ahead, radioactive waste will be transported through South Australia’s regional roads, streets and waters for decades to come, yet these towns and cities – and most South Australians – have never consulted.

“Now it’s also clear the new government has no plans to consider the environmental impact of the shipping and transport of the waste throughout our state. This is unacceptable.

“This week I met with the Barngarla People who were again in Canberra pleading for the government of the day to listen to them.

“The Labor Party continues to talk about giving First Nations People a voice to the parliament yet is failing to listen to their voices right now, on a current issue. The Prime Minister is addressing the Garma Festival on implementing the Statement from the Heart this weekend. His words will be hollow if his government does not listen to the voice of the Barngala people and instead pursues the radioactive waste dump rejected by Traditional Owners.

“The Greens will fight to ensure that all South Australians have a say about this dump and we will keep listening to the voice of the Barngarla people who, to a person, oppose this dump.”

Defence Minister Richard Marles is confident about AUKUS, nuclear submarines, and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Not everyone is so sure.

July 23, 2022

Australian National University emeritus professor of strategic studies Hugh White argues there are risks in making the AUKUS agreement at all.

In his new Quarterly Essay, Sleepwalk to War – Australia’s Unthinking Alliance with America, White warns it takes the alliance too far in the strategic contest with China.

Richard Marles on AUKUS nuclear safeguards , The Saturday Paper, By Karen Middleton. 23 Jul 22

” …………………………… “Non-proliferation was a condition of our support for AUKUS from the outset, when we were in opposition,” Marles says in an interview with The Saturday Paper, on his return from Washington, DC, this week.

While there, he discussed progress on the trilateral nuclear technology transfer agreement between Australia, Britain and the United States……..

The first non-nuclear country to seek nuclear-powered submarines, Australia will be required to sign a special International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards agreement. The document is likely to run to hundreds of pages, specifying in minute detail how the material will be handled – accounting for every gram – and with the tightest restrictions on its use. Amid some concern among international law specialists about exploiting existing treaty language around “peaceful use”, the wording will be designed to leave no wiggle room for more malign countries wanting to follow suit.

The greatest potential legal obstacles lie in the fact that the nuclear material is for use on a military platform. Australia’s lack of a nuclear power industry could be a reassurance, reducing the risk. Every aspect of the use and management of the enriched uranium – including in the event of an emergency – will need to be codified.

Marles says Labor’s party room will demand further assurances before consenting to move to the agreement’s next stage, which will involve the choice of future submarine design and how to resolve any capability gap in the meantime. He is confident the concerns can be addressed……………..

Navigating the non-proliferation safeguards with the IAEA is just one of the challenges for the new government in seeking to enact the monumental security agreement it has inherited.

Marles will not say if a Labor government would have taken the same decision as then prime minister Scott Morrison and his Defence minister Peter Dutton to dump the multibillion-dollar French contract for conventional submarines and switch to an American or British nuclear-powered option instead………………

“We have been supportive of the AUKUS agreement when it was announced, and we are supportive now.”

It’s clear that it wouldn’t have happened the same way, not least because of Labor’s volatile internal politics around nuclear energy.

In senior levels of the new government, there is a view that this is part of what motivated Morrison in pushing for the nuclear option to be sealed and announced with such haste. Some are convinced he believed it would wedge Labor on nuclear energy, an intergenerationally contentious issue within the party and particularly in Albanese’s Left faction.

……………….. in Labor’s upper ranks, suspicion about Morrison’s motivation raised further questions about the then prime minister’s attitude to national security.

Now in government, Labor is focused on bringing the wickedly complex submarine acquisition to completion and ensuring national security is not compromised any further along the way.

There’s a high pile of issues to be resolved before Australia has nuclear-powered submarines in the water. With the contract to buy up to 12 Attack-class submarines from France now scrapped in favour of the AUKUS agreement, the government has to decide whether to opt for the American Virginia-class boat or the British Astute-class alternative. While it hopes to get the first of whichever it chooses by the late 2030s, Marles has warned it could be the early 2040s.

That means filling the gap in the meantime.

With the existing six Collins-class submarines already extended from their initial retirement date of 2026 into the 2030s, there is a growing view in government that they will have to be extended again. What else may be required – in the form of some other possible stopgap purchase – is still unclear.

In an apparent bid to force Marles to clarify options, Peter Dutton wrote last month that he had planned to buy two American submarines to plug the capability gap. He said he had “formed a judgment that the Americans would have facilitated exactly that”.

The Saturday Paper understands that Dutton’s public commentary angered Britain, because of its presumption that Australia would choose the American option…………..

Just back from US consultations, Marles dismisses outright Dutton’s assertion about planning to buy two early American boats……………………

there are expensive decisions to be made with enormous consequences for Australia’s security.

By March next year, Marles wants to be able to announce which submarine he has chosen and when the first one will be in the water, quantify the capability gap and explain how it will be filled, outline the cost, describe industry arrangements for construction and detail the undertakings to be given to the IAEA to meet non-proliferation obligations. All this in the next eight months.

He has also vowed to produce a new force posture review in the wake of the 2020 Defence strategic update, which raised fresh questions about the strategic landscape in the region. …..

Delivering submarines makes AUKUS central to that. There is much debate on what else the agreement is meant to be and whether it makes Australia more or less dependent on the US.

In the AUKUS paperwork that has gone before the parliament so far, the submarine deal is described as its “first initiative”.

“AUKUS is about much more than submarines,” says Asia Society Australia executive director Richard Maude, who was foreign policy and security adviser to prime minister Julia Gillard and chief author of the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper.

“AUKUS is a central platform for more co-operation and sharing of technologies that the Australian Defence Force wants.”

Maude says the issue is the nature of the submarines, not AUKUS. “The risk in AUKUS stems not from the agreement itself but from the decision to jump from a conventional to a nuclear-powered submarine.”

He points to concerning reports from the US that the Virginia-class submarine program’s production time line and costs are blowing out, raising further questions about delivery of an American boat.

“So, it’s not just our capability,” Maude says. “It’s our partner’s capability.”

Australian National University emeritus professor of strategic studies Hugh White argues there are risks in making the AUKUS agreement at all.

In his new Quarterly Essay, Sleepwalk to War – Australia’s Unthinking Alliance with America, White warns it takes the alliance too far in the strategic contest with China.

Maude says the issue is the nature of the submarines, not AUKUS. “The risk in AUKUS stems not from the agreement itself but from the decision to jump from a conventional to a nuclear-powered submarine.”

He points to concerning reports from the US that the Virginia-class submarine program’s production time line and costs are blowing out, raising further questions about delivery of an American boat.

“So, it’s not just our capability,” Maude says. “It’s our partner’s capability

Defence Minister Richard Marles downplays any broader binding role for AUKUS.

“AUKUS is not a security alliance. That’s not what it is,” he says. “Sharing capability and building technology – it doesn’t seek to be any more than that.”

Asked if it will mean an expansion of the US bases at Pine Gap or North West Cape, he would not comment…………………..

At the top of the decision pile for the “first initiative” is which submarine to buy. Neither the British nor the American version is exactly the right fit in size, crewing requirements or capability.

Whichever way they turn, the cost is horrendous at a time when the nation is a trillion dollars in debt…………………….

In Jakarta, there were assurances about respect, in the wake of Indonesian anger that it was not given an AUKUS heads-up. When AUKUS was announced last year, Indonesia said it intended at the next NPT review conference to seek to address what it calls the treaty’s “loophole” that would allow Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines. Dealing with nuclear weapons, proliferation and “peaceful use”, the NPT does not specifically go to the issue of nuclear-powered vessels. Rescheduled from January, the conference is in the US next month.

The new government has also had to reassure the nations of the Pacific.

At the recent Pacific Islands Forum, secretary-general Henry Puna, from Cook Islands, presented a report on the South Pacific nuclear treaty, known as the Treaty of Rarotonga, and “other nuclear issues”. The Saturday Paper asked the forum secretariat this week for a copy of the report but did not receive a response before time of press.

Ahead of the forum – and after a visit from Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong – Samoan Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa voiced the concerns of some Pacific countries that they were not consulted on AUKUS.

Dr Tess Newton Cain, project leader of the Pacific hub at Griffith University, says there is some unhappiness about a US pattern of using Australia as a diplomatic and defence conduit instead of approaching Pacific nations directly.

“Some of this reflects a belief in the US administration and the US policy community that a good way of understanding the Pacific is to listen to Australia and New Zealand,” Cain says. “From the Pacific side of things, that’s not necessarily how people would see it.”

Overlaying that, Pacific nations have a heightened sensitivity to nuclear matters. Having been the unhappy historical hosts of nuclear testing, they’ve had their own experience with the mushroom cloud.

More scathing comments from readers, about Scott Morrison’s foolish nuclear submarine deal

May 18, 2022

Here is another bunch of the many comments from readers, in reaction to Peter Harcher’s article

Lorenzo the Mag That’s what you get when you hire a marketing person.

KEEPITREAL Australia is facing an unprecedented debt disaster. Already $1.2 Trillion dollars in Sovereign debt the LNP want to add to that with perpetual weapons acquisitions that will cost hundreds of billions of dollars and lock Australia into agreements spanning many decades with evermore additional associated expenses. The 2024 Stage 3 tax cuts / vote buy will cost $20 billion / year in lost budget revenue whilst entrenching poverty.
This LNP insanity has to stop, their debt consolidation would only make sense if their plan is for Australia to become the North Korea of the South Pacific

Kim Australia is committed to paying whatever the US military complex want to charge, not just for the submarines but all the add ons as well. A blank cheque for the US to fill in the figures. No wonder the US official asked if Australian taxpayers can sustain the cost. How stupid is this government?

David AUKUS or in order of importance USUKA (you sucker) will cost us mega billions, only to see the subs never delivered because they will be yesterday”s technology by the time they are delivered.

MM55 Sooner or later nuclear subs have to return to base. They could be destroyed by hypersonic missiles sent from China direct. In 10 years they will be obsolete. Technology will see to that. In the meantime we keep the workers in the US submarine industry in a job.

Tahoe Why the need for absolute secrecy? Such strategic decisions need proper analysis.

The thing that Labor failed to understand is that the American subs use weapons grade uranium. It was never going to get past Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, not as far as Iran was concerned. The French *nuclear* subs used non-weapons grade uranium.

These US submarines ain’t never going to be actually delivered.

Terryroger#2 Last year, Morrison and Dutton effectively shunned and insulted France the only European power and the only nuclear power with territory and military and naval bases in the South Pacific. We’re now on the hook to buy nuclear submarines that were intended to be integrated into the US Navy to blockade China’s sea lanes. As a result China is building the capacity to block our sea lanes to the US. .
The French Barracuda subs would be far more suitable for defending and monitoring the maritime approaches to Australia, which is what our defence priority should be – independent self-defence.
Morrison and Dutton have shown themselves to be nothing more than ventriloquist dolls for Uncle Sam for it was they who were ‘conned’ by Trump and Bannon and Pompeo in to leading the way in the call for a Covid inquiry – well ahead of the rest of the world and of course the results were that Australia lost trade with China while the US gained those lost markets – some ally!
If Labor win the election, they could do worse than prepare a current Defence White Paper, based on the circumstances we now face and on our own interests rather than those of the US, and tell Macron that we may yet take the more useful, appropriate and delivered-on-time French subs.

fizzybeer…. anti lies and rorts, pro ICAC I would have expected a thousand comments on this series of revelations about the Morrison lies and incompetence with defence purchases and national security, are we becoming used to the lies or too tired of Morrison to take an interest?

EVAN SMITH Thanks Peter,
As if more proof was required about the PM’s unfitness for office, then this article by Peter Hartcher exposes it concisely and succinctly in this article.

The duplicitous conduct and lack of decency and respect that the Pm has for others, is laid bare by Peter Hartcher!

Vote this useless LNP mob out and restore Australia’s tattered reputation as a trusted ally!

@therealmclovin Another really important aspect to all of this, which I’m surprised isn’t even alluded to given what has been happening in our region in the last few weeks, is that France has a significant regional presence. New Caledonia and French Polynesia are both French territories. Setting aside which boats we needed to buy, if putting a regional partner offside seemed like a bad idea last year, it seems spectacularly idiotic now. Surely there could have been another way of handling this. We’ve created significant rifts within our region, this being just another example, that are being exploited and will continue to be exploited and we won’t even see these boats for 15 -18 years or more!

Even if the idea and technologies aren’t obsolete in two decades (and I’m not opposed to nuclear subs), given the amount of coastline we have (or the amount of area of the SW Pacific we operate in), we may in retrospect conclude we would have been much better off with 20 French subs for the price of 8 US/UK ones and in a conflict continue to be able to build and importantly fuel them ourselves.

Lorne Green As we have seen its not only the French who have been deceived but possibly the whole of the South Pacific region, not to mention a large chunk of the Australian population.
Well detailed analysis of the level of underhandedness our government went to in this affair – sounds like a masterstroke of deception worthy of intelligent services in WW2.
Is this a forewarning of the way we will be treated by the LNP, when they decide there is something we don’t need to know – there is a danger that we end becoming like our worst enemy.

No vision- No policies- No direction – How good is that! This confirms it – we have to get rid of this LNP rabble.😠
They can’t be trusted are underhanded and make terrible decisions that we will live with for the next decades.