Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

The Greens oppose nuclear waste dump on Kimba, South Australia

May 5, 2022

Ukraine war – a boon for Morrison to campaign on fear and war with China?

February 26, 2022

This changes everything, from the world stage to polling booths far from the fatal steppes, MICHAEL SWEST MEDIA, By Mark Sawyer, February 25, 2022   As the world watches in horror the Russian assault on Ukraine, it seems crass to discuss what it means for a little election in faraway Australia. But local political operators in the big parties and the small will be doing nothing else this weekend, writes Mark Sawyer.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a disaster for more than 40 million people, a threat to Europe, a challenge to the US and a catastrophe for the world.

It’s hard to imagine that Vladimir Putin’s war, while just about as far away from Australia as any world event could be, would have no bearing on the thoughts of voters in the expected May election. And it’s clear we were already gearing for a security election. The Coalition has installed one of its head-kickers, Peter Dutton, in the Defence post and his warnings are as much about the dangers of a Labor government as any foreign foe.

The government has stooped to describing Labor leader Anthony Albanese as China’s preferred Australian leader and deputy Labor leader Richard Marles as the Manchurian candidate. (A term now synonymous with being a traitor in the service of China, but its provenance is from a book and film about US soldiers brainwashed during the Korean War to become assassins back home). Memories of former senator Sam Dastyari’s dalliance with Chinese interests remain fresh enough for the government to exploit.

Opponents of the Morrison government will be wondering whether the Coalition will be saved by a military crisis. Labor fears being robbed of victory. Both sides will be thinking of the same election: 2001.

Khaki elections, Australian style: est 1914

In fact khaki elections have not always been bad for Labor.   In 1914 Andrew Fisher won the federal election held just a month after the outbreak of the Great War. He pledged Australia would ”stand beside the mother country [Britain] to help and defend her to the last man and the last shilling”. A year later, an exhausted Fisher handed over to Billy Hughes, who tried to introduce conscription……………….

   Billy Hughes, [originally Labou) styled as ”the Little Digger”, became the personification of the Australian war effort. In 1917 he won a decisive victory, and another one in 1919, fresh on the back of his participation in the postwar treaty negotiations.In 1943 Labor under John Curtin won a thumping vote of confidence for its handling of the most serious threat to the nation in white history. (The negative role of militant unions on the home front is a less storied aspect of Labor history.)…………………………………………………………………..

The last word should go to Calwell again. Remember, this speech was made in 1965:

The government justifies its action on the ground of Chinese expansionist aggression. And yet this same government is willing to continue and expand trade in strategic materials with China. We are selling wheat, wool and steel to China. The wheat is used to feed the armies of China. The wool is used to clothe the armies of China. The steel is used to equip the armies of China. 

Yet the government which is willing to encourage this trade is the same government which now sends Australian troops, in the words of the Prime Minister, to prevent ” the downward thrust of China “. The government may be able to square its conscience on this matter, but this is logically and morally impossible.https://www.michaelwest.com.au/ukraine-attack-changes-everything-including-australian-election/

WASHED AWAY – Minister Keith Pitt’s grand dream of a Kimba nuclear waste dump

January 27, 2022

there is now no earthly hope of it ever being established at Kimba.

It is all over for Pitt so he should pick up his marbles and go home.

Peter Remta, 27 Jan 22, The recent events at Kimba resulting from the severe flooding have exposed a number of aspects included in the planning of the waste management facility that had been either inadequately covered or
completely ignored in the planning and accompanying studies.

While there are several instances of these insufficiencies it becomes most concerning that the federal government has spent huge amountsof money on developing its South Australian proposals and more
importantly has failed to inform the communities of the true situation

There will no doubt be attempts to downplay any forewarning of the flooding possibility at Kimba but the fact remains that none of the government studies gave much credence to the Pirie – Torrens corridor
which has always been a risk as to flooding and rising water tables for a large part of the Eyre Peninsula

MINISTER’S COMMENTS

Minister Pitt tweeted on 24 January 2022:
” It’s been a challenging couple of days for communities around Kimba inmSA after a big rain event. Thanks to those who took time out to joinmdiscussions for the new radioactive waste facility. It’s a critically important piece of national infrastructure #auspol

The mention of “a big rain event” sounds more like some ancient tribalnwar dance than the devastating flooding in the Kimba region while thenrest of his tweet is hard to follow.

Surely he must be extending his thanks to those who previously joined in the past discussions for the waste facility as there is now no earthly hope of it ever being established at Kimba.

It also undoes the years of disingenuous exaltations of the facility by the government which in many instances were an insult to the community.

It is all over for Pitt so he should pick up his marbles and go home.

His biggest fault besides his numerous and unfounded statements was that he never gave the community the opportunity to get is ownnindependent assessment of his government’s proposals as is required by
all international prescriptions in these situations

OPINIONS
In closing here are a couple of comments by leading international experts whose anonymity I have preserved for commercial confidentiality:

A. Kimba – What a perfect site with floods – has groundwater at 20 mnand within 20-30 km of towns and wheatfields.

B. ……if the plan is to store waste fractions from spent fuel reprocessinginto what qualifies as intermediate level near-surface facility, and thennplace this facility in an area of obvious flooding risk … …it seems to
reach internationally competitive levels of stupidity. And …… it doesn’t help if it’s only interim storage, since we are not looking long term but a risk that would be well plausible during our generation

Kimba flooding: Australian government must immediately abort nuclear waste dump project.

January 25, 2022

Peter Remta 25 Jan 22, Is this where the federal government should be placing its proposed above ground nuclear waste management facility?

There is no doubt that the sever flooding caused by the heavy rains in South Australia which included the Kimba district is a serious and essential reason for immediately aborting the proposed nuclear
waste management facility at Napandee farm.

From expert advice it is quite clear that Kimba as a whole – and not just Napandee – is far too dangerous to be an installation for theholding of nuclear waste particularly as the results of the present flooding may take up to ten years to overcome without any further flooding

This is especially the case as nuclear isotopes are dispersed and travel freely in water which can affect and contaminate all the surrounding land for many centuries making it completely unusable.

The federal government as the proponent of the Kimba nuclear waste facility cannot deny knowledge of floods and fires as risks for the purposes of the safety requirements for nuclear waste in Australia

As a result of advice by overseas experts that these two major risks are far more pertinent to Australia than other countries with nuclear waste the regulatory bodies should or must include these risks
within the Australian Radioactive Waste Management Framework and other applicable prescriptions and and standards for the longterm management of Australia’s radioactive waste including the storage or disposal of this waste at suitably sited facilities

I informed the officer at ARPANSA in charge of the Kimba facility development about formal inclusion of these risk and the requirement for the long overdue start of the safety case and her response was:

‘I think that it is not necessary at this stage however will take you up on the offer when we feel is the right time’

In view of the drastic situation that has now developed it is it is imperative that the federal government provides immediate funding to the Kimba community for an independent assessment and review of the government’s proposals



Australia’s nuclear-free collective efforts and achievements in 2021.

January 1, 2022

Dave Sweeney, 31 Dec 21,

  • Nuclear weapons made illegal: Climate change and nuclear weapons are the two existential threats facing our planet – one reduces our chances every day while the other could end our chances in a day. ICAN – the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons – was recognised with the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force and became part on international humanitarian law in January 2021. Our planets worst weapons are now illegal.
  • International support is growing for the Treaty and the first meeting of state parties is planned to be held in Vienna in March – https://icanw.org.au/
  • Superannuation and pension funds are among those divesting from companies involved in nuclear weapons – https://quitnukes.org/
  • Pushing for the Treaty is an important counterpoint to the AUKUS driven lurch to ever greater militarisation
  • Resistance, rehab and repair: our efforts to stop further, and clean up former, uranium mines saw important results. 
  • All mining and mineral processing at the Ranger mine in Kakadu ceased in January 2021. Nuclear free advocates are now working closely with the Mirarr Traditional Owners to ensure that primary mine owner Rio Tinto does a credible and comprehensive rehabilitation and in supporting an Aboriginal centred post mining regional economy in Kakadu.
  • A federal commitment to ‘full’ funding of a new clean up of the former Rum Jungle site in the NT was confirmed in the 2021 budget
  • Despite extensive efforts there was a disappointing outcome in WA with the recent further approval of the Mulga Rock project east of Kalgoorlie. It is a long journey from a signed paper to a commercial mine and the project faces strong contest – https://www.ccwa.org.au/nuclearfreewa
  • International collaboration continued with efforts to track the impacts of Australian uranium miners in Africa, Spain and Greenland. Opposition to the planned Kvanefjeld uranium project, driven by Perth based Greenland Minerals, was a dominant issue in the 2021 Greenland election which was won by nuclear-free politicians who have since introduced a national ban on uranium mining.

  • Responsible radioactive waste management: 
    the federal government push for a national radioactive waste facility in regional South Australia is not responsible or necessary.

2021 saw deeper co-operation with Barngarla Traditional Owners and Kimba region farmers along with media and political advocacy to highlight and delay the heavy handed federal legislation. Movement advocates welcomed the federal budget allocating $60 million to advance extended interim waste storage at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s Lucas Heights nuclear site. This means Australia’s worst waste can effectively stay in place until a longer term approach is developed and that Kimba is a political choice, not a nuclear necessity.

Unsurprisingly, the federal government has to date ignored the potential this move offers for a constructive circuit breaker in this debate.

2022 will see elevated attention to radioactive waste issues with a Barngarla legal challenge – kick in if you can at – https://www.gofundme.com/f/nbp8f8-barngarla-help-us-have-a-say-on-radioactive-waste – the SA state election in March and growing community awareness and engagement – https://nodumpalliance.org.au/

  • Renewable, not radioactive: in the year that saw the 10th anniversary of Fukushima lots of work went into keeping the door closed to domestic nuclear power and contesting nuclear industry promotion of SMR’s – so called small modular reactors – and other distractions to effective climate action. Efforts have focussed attention on the urgent need for proven and renewable energy solutions – renewable, not radioactive. Australian advocates played a key role in a new dedicated website and co-ordinated the development of a global civil society non-nuclear statement released at CoP 26 in Glasgow that was endorsed by 480 organisations across multiple nations – https://dont-nuke-the-climate.org/   There was increased collaboration with regional partners in Japan, the Pacific, the Philippines and Taiwan – including around next steps in the Fukushima waste water story and the recent positive referendum that has ended plans for a new reactor in Taiwan. 2022 is sure to see more chatter and challenge on the domestic nuclear front ahead of the federal election.

LNP Donors are just giving freely…. wink.

October 27, 2021

Politicians playing dress up, as Australia’s ”leaders” pretend they’re interested in climate change

October 19, 2021

Collapse of the nuclear industry’s ”golden hope”

October 14, 2021

Nuclear industry isn’t offering the ‘golden hope’ it promised  https://www.skynews.com.au/opinion/paul-murray/nuclear-industry-isnt-offering-the-golden-hope-it-promised/video/2d7dd9a7b928b85657fe94df1483c459, October 12, 2021  

Former NSW premier Bob Carr says cost blowouts and huge delays around the world are showing the nuclear industry is not offering the “golden hope” it promised. “In the whole of the United States there is only one nuclear power plant under construction and it is being subjected to the most extreme delays and cost blowouts,” he told Sky News host Paul Murray. “And meanwhile there are six currently being taken out of commission.

“In France there hasn’t been a new power plant added to their grid since 1999 and they’re taking at least three, perhaps six out of it. “The only new plant to be built in western Europe has been in Finland it was supposed to be operating in 2009 and there’ve been huge cost blowouts there.

“That’s why I say the industry is not offering us the silver bullet, the golden hope that we were led to believe and which persuaded me 15 years ago.” Mr Carr argued renewables backed up by batteries are Australia’s “safest bet” for pulling off a transition to net zero emissions.

Nuclear power for Australia? It’s not going to happen!

October 8, 2021

Nuclear enthusiasts and fellow travellers like me once said of solar it’s the greatest future source of power and always will be. Solar investors may aim that rhetorical dart at small modular reactors and, indeed, the nuclear sector as its energy share, for years stagnant, proceeds to go backwards.

In Australia nuclear attracts not the remotest investor interest. If nuclear were an option a merchant bank or superannuation fund might be manoeuvring to own the space. They might have formed a consortium with a miner and a construction company or two, with a brace of lobbyists at work. It’s not happening.

The contrast with the surge to renewables is stark………..

[ED. An interesting and important piece here re the failure of nuclear power in today’s Australian.
Important because Bob Carr used to be pro-nuke and has changed in response to evidence.
This is timely and a good reinforcement to federal Labor re their strong opposition to any domestic nuclear industry.
]

Nobody’s really interested in the nuclear option

BOB CARR, OCTOBER 7, 2021,THE AUSTRALIAN

Australians may be open to nuclear power, as evidenced by Tuesday’s Newspoll. But nuclear is not open for them.

Globally the industry is moribund. “The dream that failed,” says The Economist magazine, concluding it needs government money for life support.

In 2010 one enthusiast predicted within 10 years fourth-generation reactors and small modular reactors would be commonplace, including in Australia. None exists, here or abroad.

More damning, the industry lacks a single example in a Western country of a new power plant being built remotely on time and budget. According to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report, 94 plants were to come on line across the last decade but 98 get decommissioned. Yet 48 of those to be built are to be in China. Remove them and that leaves 46 coming online and – stubborn fact – 98 being decommissioned in the rest of the world.

In 2019, for the first time, renewable sources, excluding hydro, generated more power than nuclear.

In Australia nuclear attracts not the remotest investor interest. If nuclear were an option a merchant bank or superannuation fund might be manoeuvring to own the space. They might have formed a consortium with a miner and a construction company or two, with a brace of lobbyists at work. It’s not happening.

The contrast with the surge to renewables is stark. Andrew Forrest and Mike Cannon-Brookes are prepared to put their own funds into a vast solar farm in the Northern Territory and Forrest to make a huge commitment to hydrogen. There is no single investor with a comparable zest for nuclear power, either high net worth individual or institution.

Ziggy Switkowski produced a report on nuclear power for John Howard in 2007. It was to be the foundation of Australian nuclear power, a decades-long dream. Even with a partiality for the industry Switkowski could only conclude nuclear power, at double the price of coal and gas, would require a price on carbon – and even additional government subsidy.

Three prime ministers – Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, Scott Morrison – have not reopened the debate. For his part, by becoming chair of Crown in August, Switkowski seems to demonstrate more confidence in gaming-based tourism than the commercial potential of the nuclear fuel cycle.

I argued a pro-nuclear case within the Labor Party and scorned what I saw as the left phobia against the nuclear option. Like British scientist James Lovelock I thought coal more destructive and nuclear the bridge to the era of renewables.

But it’s now clear nuclear is lumbering, subject to breakdowns and cripplingly expensive. New renewable sources such as wind and solar increased by 184 gigawatts last year while nuclear grew by only 2.4GW. The number of active reactors has barely changed since the 1980s.

France was the poster child. But no new reactor has been connected to its grid since 1999. It closed its pressurised water reactor in 1991 and followed by terminating two fast breeder reactors and a small heavy-water reactor.

Poor reliability plagues the fleet. On any day at least four plants are at zero output because of technical failures. The average per plant is a month per year at zero production. But investment in upgrades faces competition from renewables and tough new EU energy efficiency standards.

Not even Scandinavian efficiency can provide a happy pro-nuclear narrative. Finland became the first country in western Europe to order a new nuclear reactor since 1988 but it’s running 13 years late, plagued with management and quality control issues, bankruptcies and investor withdrawals.

Who could have the faintest confidence that Australia could throw up a nuclear reactor with more panache – exceeding with efficiency not only the Finns but the British with their delays and cost blowouts and the Americans with their construction disasters in Georgia and South Carolina?

Doing big complex projects is hardly an Australian competitive edge. Think of the 50 years opining about a second Sydney airport, or – killer fact – the fumbling with submarines.

Where is the shire council putting up its hand to host a nuclear power plant? Harder to find than a sponsor for a high-temperature toxic waste incinerator.

Nobody in the Hunter Valley has urged nuclear for the Liddell site, even on the footprint of this coal-fired power plant scheduled to close. And not even invoking the prospect of a small modular reactor that 10 years back was the vanguard of the nuclear renaissance. About to be planted across the Indonesian archipelago and the rest of Asia, we were promised. Today they exist only on the Rolls-Royce drawing boards they have adorned since the 1970s.

Nuclear enthusiasts and fellow travellers like me once said of solar it’s the greatest future source of power and always will be. Solar investors may aim that rhetorical dart at small modular reactors and, indeed, the nuclear sector as its energy share, for years stagnant, proceeds to go backwards.

Bob Carr is the longest-serving premier of NSW and a former Australian foreign minister.

Can the Australian government ignore this powerful letter exposing the foolish decision to ”go nuclear” with submarines and AUKUS?

October 5, 2021

Ed. note. Here I summarise the points in this well-researched letter: Diplomatic Repercussions –  Geopolitical Tensions and Australian National Security(Why the decision makes Australias national security worse not better)  – We now have No Submarine Program at All.  – But Is Nuclear the Best Stealth? – Can we Build them at Osborne?  -Time to re-evaluate our Submarine Program? –The worst option is to do as we have now done. – Conclusion – This decision  should be re-visited

Conclusion

The submarine decision, especially within the context of the new ‘AUKUS’ grouping, but even taken on its own:

Worsens rather than improves Australias own national security, making us (more of) a nuclear target than we have ever been, and extending the targeting potentially from joint facilities to Australian cities and naval bases.

Worsens rather than improves regional security, adding impetus to regional arms racing, and increasing the likelihood that other Governments may decide they would like to have submarines fueled by HEU 

Leaves Australia currently with no replacement program for the Collins Class submarines

Makes no sense even within its own restricted terms of reference because it does not offer a submarine with the best stealth

—Requires a submarine  that may not be possible to construct even in part at Osborne. 

Letter Sent 5 October to Cabinet Security Cttee, Senate, Reps, DFAT, re Nuclear Subs, AUKUS,

PEOPLE FOR NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

HUMAN SURVIVAL PROJECTNUCLEAR SUBMARINES, AUKUS

Dear Prime Minister Scott Morrison, other decision-makers on the Australian nuclear submarines project, Cabinet National Security Committee, AUKUS:

Summary:

The decision to establish a new diplomatic/military grouping, AUKUS, deepens confrontational tendencies in the Indo-Pacific region and is hence destabilizing, and worsens rather than improves Australia’s national security. It helps to ‘paint nuclear targets on Australia’s backside’.

The decision to equip Australia with nuclear submarines fueled with highly enriched uranium is both destabilizing and proliferative even if technically within the letters of the NPT.  The decision to go with HEU fueled subs in particular opens a proliferation ‘pandoras box’.

https://thebulletin.org/2021/09/the-new-australia-uk-and-us-nuclear-submarine-announcement-a-terrible-decision-for-the-nonproliferation-regime/

The decision to ‘go nuclear’ with submarines has been justified on the supposed technical superiority of nuclear over conventional subs. However a look in detail at the real – world technical and operational characteristics of advanced conventional and nuclear subs shows clear technical superiorities on the part of advanced conventional submarines exactly where we are being told nuclear subs are superior – in the area of quietness and non-detectability. The technical case for nuclear over conventional submarines is not established.

No analysis, and no thought, has been given as to what are Australia’s real security needs, and into whether submarines of any description fit into it.

The decision leaves Australia with currently NO replacement program for the Collins Class subs.        

The Submarine Decision and AUKUS

The decision to cancel an existing, well – established, contract with the French Naval Group for a diesel version of the Suffren class attack submarine has not met with universal acclaim, particularly from the French.

At the same time, the  closely related decision to establish a new military/diplomatic grouping to be known as ‘AUKUS’ (Australia-UK-US) has also raised questions as to its  geo-strategic impact, and contributed further to the deterioration of our relations with China, and possibly with Russia, with potentially catastrophic implications for Australias national security and the safety of all Australians.

It has quite reasonably been suggested that the establishment of ‘AUKUS” cements Australia into an ‘Anglo-sphere’ that is intrinsically limited in scope (how for example, does it relate to the ‘quad’ of India, Australia, Japan, US?), that excludes other nations that have strong Indo-Pacific interests and are allies (including France itself, now snubbed and smarting), and above all, that deepens confrontational attitudes in the region, especially with China.

It is by no means clear that the decision to substitute nuclear powered submarines is even the best decision on technical grounds, or that nuclear powered submarines are necessarily superior in the respects that might be important to Australia and particularly in extreme stealth – to conventionally powered submarines, either the existing Collins class, the erstwhile projected French submarine, or to an evolutionary successor to Collins.

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