Archive for the ‘secrets and lies’ Category

The Defence Strategic Review – Australia is becoming a proxy or is it a patsy for the US in a possible conflict with China

September 16, 2022

Pearls and Irritations By John Menadue, Sep 16, 2022

The Defence Strategic Review must warn Minister Marles about the dangerous path he is committing Australia to. We are becoming a spear carrier for the US.

  • Fearing its world hegemony is under challenge the US is goading China at every opportunity. Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was but the most recent example of this goading.
  • The threat we face from China is if we continue to act in our region as a proxy for the US. Other regional countries are not doing so.
  • The ‘China’ threat is a rerun of the shameful and earlier ‘yellow peril’. China is not a military threat to Australia.
  • The US is the most violent and aggressive country in the world, almost always at war. Its  military empire includes 800 foreign military bases.

  • We need a strong US presence in our region but not the provocative and dangerous behaviour we see time and time again.
  • We are attaching ourselves uncritically to a declining  but dangerous hegemon.
  • Our ‘Washington Club’ has been on an American drip feed for a long time.It has a ‘colonial’ mind set.It accepts without serious thought the US view of the world.
  • Northern Australia is becoming a US military colony.These points are developed further below.

Northern Australia is becoming a US military colony

In some political difficulty in 2011 Julia Gillard was anxious for President Obama to visit Australia and address the Parliament. Kim Beazley, our Ambassador in Washington was very keen to help. As part of the deal to lock in the Obama visit Gillard agreed to the rotation of Marines through Darwin with US hopes for more future basing in Perth and Cocos-Keeling.

This was the real door opening for the Americans.

The colonisation has continued apace since then with more and more Marines rotating through Darwin and USAF operations in Northern Australia.

But putting the foot on the accelerator of US military colonisation really came in September 2021.

On 16 September 2021, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin hosted Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women Marise Payne and Minister for Defence Peter Dutton in Washington D.C. for the 31st Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN 2021). The Secretaries and Ministers endorsed the following areas of force posture cooperation:

Enhanced air cooperation through the rotational deployment of U.S. aircraft of all types in Australia and appropriate aircraft training and exercises.

Enhanced maritime cooperation by increasing logistics and sustainment capabilities of U.S. surface and subsurface vessels in Australia.

Enhanced land cooperation by conducting more complex and more integrated exercises and greater combined engagement with Allies and Partners in the region.

Establish a combined logistics, sustainment, and maintenance enterprise to support high end warfighting and combined military operations in the region.

See the Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) joint statement.

We have committed ourselves to ‘high end warfighting and combined military operations and unfettered access for US forces and platforms’ in northern and western Australia.

Only yesterday the AFR highlighted the US focus on western and northern Australia. ‘Former foreign policy adviser to president George W. Bush and new United States Studies Centre chief executive Michael Green predicts the US will become more dependent on Australia for its military operations and intelligence. A shift in foreign policy focus from Asia-Pacific to Indo-Pacific meant that areas of western and northern Australia would be ‘‘critical’’ for the US and its allies. ‘‘We need access: we need purchase on the Indian Ocean and, so geographically, in technology, in terms of military operations and intelligence, the US is going to be more dependent on Australia,’’ Mr Green said. ‘‘There’s no two ways around it.’’

We have not seriously debated or considered the enormous and very risky consequences of all of this. Our sovereignty and integrity as a nation is on the line and at the whim of the US, a country that does not really know which path it is on, crypto-fascism, civil war or anarchy.

In AUKUS, at enormous cost and with great delay we are planning to fuse our future nuclear powered submarines with the US Navy to operate in the South China Sea against China.

Minister Marles has told us that we are not only working ‘inter-operatively’ with the US military in numerous ways but we are now committed to ‘inter-changeabilty’ with US forces. We are locking ourselves even more to a ‘dangerous ally’. Minister Marles seems unconcerned about the dangerous path we are on.Even worse he seems careless about surrendering our national sovereignty. He should be watched very carefully.

The US is the most violent country in the world and almost always at war

There is an enormous and powerful US constituency committed to continual war. We joined those wars in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. All were disastrous. Now the US is continually goading and provoking China and wants us to join it. And we are obliging…………….

In this blog, Is war in the American DNA?, I have drawn attention repeatedly to the risks we run in being “joined at the hip” to a country that is almost always at war. The facts are clear…………………..

Despite all the evidence of wars and meddling, the American Imperium continues without serious check or query in America or Australia………………………………………………………………

Australia is trapped within the American Imperium

This complex co-opts institutions and individuals around the globe. It has enormous influence. No US president, nor for that matter any Australian prime minister, would likely challenge it. Morrison and Albanese have the same view on the US imperium.

Australia has locked itself into this complex. Our military and defence leaders are heavily dependent on the US Departments of Defence and State, the CIA and the FBI for advice. We act as their branch offices.

…………………………………… AUKUS has locked us in even more. In AUKUS we are effectively fusing our Navy with that of the US so that we can operate together in the South China Sea and threaten China. We are surrendering more and more of our strategic autonomy by encouraging the US to use Northern Australia as a forward base against China as if the US does not have enough giant military bases ringing China in Japan, ROK and Guam.

A ’rules-based international order’; but not for America

The third reason for the continuing dominance of the American Imperium is the way the US expects others to abide by a “rules-based international order”………………………….

Derivative media compounds Australia’s lack of autonomy

A major voice in articulating American extremism and the American Imperium is Fox News and Rupert Murdoch who exert their influence not just in America but also in the UK and Australia. ………………………. But it is not just the destructive role of News Corp in the US, UK and Australia. Our media, including the ABC are so derivative. It is so pervasive and extensive, we don’t recognise it for its very nature. We really do have a ‘white man’s media’. We see it most obviously today in the way legacy media spew out an endless daily conveyor belt of anti-China stories…………………………………..

Read more in our Defence Strategic Review series of articles.  https://johnmenadue.com/the-defence-strategic-review-we-are-ceding-our-sovereignty-to-the-us/

How social media is censored by algorithms to effectively throttle dissent – in Australia, and everywhere.

July 16, 2022

ED note: This article is very personal for me. I’ve had the experience in the last few days of Facebook suppressing my post (posted as Noel Wauchope). The post was a transcript of a Youtube item ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5lVN03U6P0) by prestigious Australian journalist Michael West

It was an important article, showing up the hypocrisy of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, in this case , shamefully and inaccurately promoting nuclear power as ”cheap”

I can dispute this censorship – but that could take months – even if I succeed, it would be too late to matter.

Censorship By Algorithm Does Far More Damage Than Conventional Censorship, Caitlin’s Newsletter, Caitlin Johnstone Jan 25 2022

”…………………………………………………….’And Silicon Valley did eventually admit that it was in fact actively censoring voices who fall outside the mainstream consensus. In order to disprove the false right-wing narrative that Google only censors rightist voices, the CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet admitted in 2020 to algorithmically throttling World Socialist Website. Last year the CEO of Google-owned YouTube acknowledged that the platform uses algorithms to elevate “authoritative sources” while suppressing “borderline content” not considered authoritative, which apparently even includes just marginally establishment-critical left-of-center voices like Kyle Kulinski. Facebook spokeswoman Lauren Svensson said in 2018 that if the platform’s fact-checkers (including the state-funded establishment narrative management firm Atlantic Council) rule that a Facebook user has been posting false news, moderators will “dramatically reduce the distribution of all of their Page-level or domain-level content on Facebook.”…………………….

That’s the biggest loophole the so-called free democracies of the western world have found in their quest to regulate online speech. By allowing these monopolistic megacorporations to become the sources everyone goes to for information (and even actively helping them along that path as in for example Google’s research grants from the CIA and NSA), it’s possible to tweak algorithms in such a way that dissident information exists online, but nobody ever sees it.

You’ve probably noticed this if you’ve tried to search YouTube for videos which don’t align with the official narratives of western governments and media lately. That search function used to work like magic; like it was reading your mind. Now it’s almost impossible to find the information you’re looking for unless you’re trying to find out what the US State Department wants you to think. It’s the same with Google searches and Facebook, and because those giant platforms dictate what information gets seen by the general public, that wild information bias toward establishment narratives bleeds into other common areas of interaction like Twitter as well.

The idea is to let most people freely share dissident ideas and information about empire, war, capitalism, authoritarianism and propaganda, but to make it increasingly difficult for them to get their content seen and heard by people, and to make their going viral altogether impossible. To avoid the loud controversies and uncomfortable public scrutiny brought on by acts of overt censorship as much as possible while silently sweeping unauthorized speech behind the curtain. To make noncompliant voices “disappear from view so slowly you won’t even notice,” as Cook put it

The status quo is not working. Our ecosystem is dying, we appear to be rapidly approaching a high risk of direct military confrontation between nuclear-armed nations, and our world is rife with injustice, inequality, oppression and exploitation. None of this is going to change until the public begins awakening to the problems with the current status quo so we can begin organizing a mass-scale push toward healthier systems. And that’s never going to happen as long as information is locked down in the way that it is.

Whoever controls the narrative controls the world. And as more and more people get their information about what’s happening in the world from online sources, Silicon Valley algorithm manipulation has already become one of the most consequential forms of narrative control.

 https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/censorship-by-algorithm-does-far

Michael West busts the spin of Murdoch media’s nuclear marketing

July 14, 2022

It’s the nuclear debate. On the one hand, we have all the scientists, and experts on finance and energy.. And on the other hand we have Rupert Murdoch’s experts – Chris Kenny,  Caleb Bond and  the whole Sky News team. These people are experts in nuclear energy.

And so we have one side saying ”No Australia should not build nuclear power plants because they are too costly and there’s the issue of how to dispose of the nuclear wastes

But on the other hand – we have new evidence, unveiled by Sky News – by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, that nuclear energy is actually the cheapest new  form of energy

Australian nuclear engineer Tony Irwin [of Small Nuclear Technologies company] has crunched the numbers and it’s turned out – that in the long term nuclear energy is the cheapest form of energy. Daily Telegraph’s Piers Ackerman reported on all these numbers, – on the capacity factor, the estimated plant life, line transmission costs and all the other factors that are considered in the cost of building nuclear power stations is cheaper than wind and solar and vastly more efficient than pumped hydro 

  All prevailing wisdom – the science indeed would say that nuclear is the most expensive.

Why are we having thi debate?    If we were to build a NPP right now, it wouldn’t be up and running for 10 years they cost $20 billion to build.

Here we have Caleb Bond from Adelaide Advertiser – no need for a university education. Chris Bowen described nuclear energy as a complete joke. ” Doesn’t he have egg on his face right now” –  Caleb’s take.

Most experts think nuclear energy is a joke, too expensive  Who are the people quoted here?

The Australian and The Murdoch publications ……………..rabbiting on about how we have to go nuclear for baseload energy 

Where do they get their experts from?

We are getting to Murdoch’s experts,  Caleb Bond cited in evidence  a story in the Daily Telegraph  another Murdoch –  ”New research reveals that nuclear energy is actually the cheapest form of energy”        the expert here is pre-eminent global expert Piers Ackerman, one of Muroch’s greatest lackeys. – saying the nuclear energy is the cheapest.

The CSIRO value nuclear energy at 128-330 MW per hour .  9()% wind and solar they valued at 55-80 MW less than half. Coal is cheaper – they all are cheaper. Backing up the CSIRO is the world economic  forum  -is the IEA  the International Energy Agency. They base their decisions on the science

Nuclear is not only dangerous because of the wastes, but it is also perilously expensive to build, and it won’t be done before the climate is irretrievably damaged.in 2030

This is a complete distraction and it’s utter nonsense . And the Murdoch people actually understand this – they understand that it is never going to happen.

This is quintessential Murdoch stuff.  It’s a distraction.They know that nuclear energy is not viable,  It does not make commercial sense. The debate was over at least 2 years ago.  Solar is the cheapest, then wind, and hydro and so on.

Despite people like Matt Canavan. Barnaby Joyce, playing up to their coal donors, their vested interests – the problem is in the grid now, that coal is not viable.

2 years ago the IAE declared in its world energy outlookj solar as the  cheapest.energy in history

Murdoch’s nuclear push is a distraction. They know it will never happen. They need to have  a hat at the table.  They come up with a contrarian view –   to create division and debate. Murdoch creating enemies –  our experts like Piers  have told us that this is so-  the enemy is renewable energy everyone else are all woke latte-sipping lefties -anybody that doesn’t like coal.  They’ve lost that debate, They know that they have no basis to push coal and  gas will be next.

So what they’re doing now is promoting SMRs.  Lets’ build smrs.  This has been tried elsewhere hasn’t been seen to work efficiently –  If the Chinese the Russians, the Americans and Brits can’t get it going – why are we even talking about them?  When we have free solar and wind Because Murdoch wants to be a player in this debate. it’s all about media creating goodies and baddies, Liberal good, Labor bad, Green terrible. 

Thanks to Giles Parkinson at REneweconomy.  we quote his research into this.

The track record of smrs around the world has been pitiful. Just a handful of projects most or all suffering massive cost overruns and multi years delay. Russia’s floating nuclear plant  was 9 years behind schedule, more than 6 times over budget and the electricity it produces is estimated to cost  an exorbitant US $200 per Megawatt hour.- according to the OECD;s nuclear energy  agency –   a source that Murdoch minions would be fleeing from. Why would you when you have Chris Kenny Piers Ackerman and the lobbyists from ANSTO?   

The only other operational smr anywhere else in the world, China’s high temperature gas cooled smr, was 2 to 3 times more expensive than initial estimates. It was 8 years behind schedule and plans for additional reactors at the site have been dropped . Argentina’s smr is 7 years behind schedule , billion dollar cost overruns, current cost 23 times beyond preliminary estimates. . The cost exceeds A$1billion for a plant with the capacity of 2 large wind turbines.

By the time we did it in Australia and spent $5 billion on our smr that would have gone out to $20 to $30 billion for a small nuclear reactor when the climate has been destroyed by 2035. Not a very sensible policy outcome. 

China recently began construction of an smr based on conventional light-water reactor technology.  According to China National Nuclear Corporation, construction costs per kilowatt (kW) will be twice the cost of large reactors and the levelised cost of electricity will be 50% higher than for large reactors.

So not only do they take a long time to build, are hugely expensive, they’re not efficient either, So there you have it. It doesn’t work, like carbon capture and storage.

Yet it is being feverishly espoused in the Murdoch press. They’re coming out with nuclear energy stories daily. Their copy is pay-walled. it is losing influence. The ABC has just said it doesn’t want to showcase Murdoch newspapers in its breakfast television. 

These guys are in a bind and they have to be controversial, combattive even, to maintain their tiny Sky News audience, which they package up as recent research found, and send it all around the world as evidence that their climate-denying analysis has legs. It is a classic misinformation – propaganda machine.  which is subsidised by us, the tax-payer.  They are looking for a cause celebre. looking for relevance Their bullying tactics are on the way, They will come up with any proposition possible to create a difference, to create a media narrative and this nuclear narrative despite it being majestically ill-conceived has no legs  but that will not stop then from carping on about it.

The disgraceful case mounted against Assange by a corrupt U.S. Department of Justice and their hired guns in Britain.

December 16, 2021

It is this institutional lying and duplicity that Julian Assange brought into the open and in so doing performed perhaps the greatest public service of any journalist in modern times.

JOHN PILGER: U.S. wins extradition appeal against Julian Assange, Independent Australia, By John Pilger | 11 December 2021,  ”…….. Miscarriage of justice is an inadequate term in these circumstances. It took the bewigged courtiers of Britain’s ancien regime just nine minutes on Friday to uphold an American appeal against a District Court judge’s acceptance in January of a cataract of evidence that hell on Earth awaited Assange across the Atlantic: a hell in which, it was expertly predicted, he would find a way to take his own life.

Volumes of witness by people of distinction, who examined and studied Julian and diagnosed his autism and his Asperger’s Syndrome and revealed that he had already come within an ace of killing himself at Belmarsh Prison, Britain’s very own hell, were ignored.

The recent confession of a crucial FBI informant and prosecution stooge, a fraudster and serial liar, that he had fabricated his evidence against Julian was ignored. The revelation that the Spanish-run security firm at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where Julian had been granted political refuge, was a CIA front that spied on Julian’s lawyers and doctors and confidants (myself included) — that, too, was ignored.

The recent journalistic disclosure, repeated graphically by defence counsel before the High Court in October, that the CIA had planned to murder Julian in London — even that was ignored.

Each of these “matters”, as lawyers like to say, was enough on its own for a judge upholding the law to throw out the disgraceful case mounted against Assange by a corrupt U.S. Department of Justice and their hired guns in Britain. Julian’s state of mind, bellowed James Lewis, QC, America’s man at the Old Bailey last year, was no more than malingering — an archaic Victorian term used to deny the very existence of mental illness. 

To Lewis, almost every defence witness, including those who described from the depth of their experience and knowledge the barbaric American prison system, was to be interrupted, abused, discredited. Sitting behind him, passing him notes, was his American conductor: young, short-haired, clearly an Ivy League man on the rise.

In their nine minutes of dismissal of the fate of journalist Assange, two of the most senior judges in Britain, including the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett (a lifelong buddy of Sir Alan Duncan, Boris Johnson’s former Foreign Minister who arranged the brutal police kidnapping of Assange from the Ecuadorean embassy) referred to not one of a litany of truths aired at previous hearings in the District Court.

These were truths that had struggled to be heard in a lower court presided over by a weirdly hostile judge, Vanessa Baraitser. Her insulting behaviour towards a clearly stricken Assange, struggling through a fog of prison-dispensed medication to remember his name, is unforgettable.

What was truly shocking on Friday was that the High Court Judges – Lord Burnett and Lord Justice Timothy Holroyde, who read out their words – showed no hesitation in sending Julian to his death, living or otherwise. They offered no mitigation, no suggestion that they had agonised over legalities or even basic morality.

Their ruling in favour, if not on behalf of the United States, is based squarely on transparently fraudulent “assurances” scrabbled together by the Biden Administration when it looked in January like justice might prevail.

These “assurances” are that once in American custody, Assange will not be subject to the Orwellian SAMs – Special Administrative Measures – which would make him an un-person; that he will not be imprisoned at ADX Florence, a prison in Colorado long condemned by jurists and human rights groups as illegal: “a pit of punishment and disappearance”; that he can be transferred to an Australian prison to finish his sentence there.

The absurdity lies in what the Judges omitted to say. In offering its “assurances”, the U.S. reserves the right not to guarantee anything should Assange do something that displeases his gaolers. In other words, as Amnesty International has pointed out, it reserves the right to break any promise.

There are abundant examples of the U.S. doing just that. As investigative journalist Richard Medhurst revealed last month, David Mendoza Herrarte was extradited from Spain to the U.S. on the “promise” that he would serve his sentence in Spain. The Spanish courts regarded this as a binding condition.

Medhurst wrote:

‘Classified documents reveal the diplomatic assurances given by the U.S. Embassy in Madrid and how the U.S. violated the conditions of the extradition. Mendoza spent over six years in the U.S. trying to return to Spain. Court documents show the United States denied his transfer application multiple times.’

The High Court Judges – who were aware of the Mendoza case and of Washington’s habitual duplicity – describe the “assurances” not to be beastly to Julian Assange as a “solemn undertaking offered by one government to another”. This article would stretch into infinity if I listed the times the rapacious United States has broken “solemn undertakings” to governments, such as treaties that are summarily torn up and civil wars that are fuelled. It is the way Washington has ruled the world, and before it Britain — the way of imperial power, as history teaches us.

It is this institutional lying and duplicity that Julian Assange brought into the open and in so doing performed perhaps the greatest public service of any journalist in modern times.

Julian himself has been a prisoner of lying governments for more than a decade now. During these long years, I have sat in many courts as the United States has sought to manipulate the law to silence him and WikiLeaks………….. https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/john-pilger-us-wins-extradition-appeal-against-julian-assange,15842

New files expose Australian govt’s betrayal of Julian Assange and detail his prison torment

November 21, 2021

The documents obtained by Tranter and provided to The Grayzone provide an unobstructed view of the Australian junior ally’s betrayal of one of its citizens to the imperial power that has hunted him for years. As Julian Assange’s rights were violated at every turn, Canberra appears to have been complicit. 

New files expose Australian govt’s betrayal of Julian Assange and detail his prison torment https://thegrayzone.com/2021/11/17/files-australian-julian-assange-prison/ KIT KLARENBERG· NOVEMBER 17, 2021

Documents provided exclusively to The Grayzone detail Canberra’s abandonment of Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, and provide shocking details of his prison suffering

Was the government of Australia aware of the US Central Intelligence Agency plot to assassinate Julian Assange, an Australian citizen and journalist arrested and now imprisoned under unrelentingly bleak, harsh conditions in the UK? 

Why have the country’s elected leaders refused to publicly advocate for one of its citizens, who has been held on dubious charges and subjected to torture by a foreign power, according to UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer? What does Canberra know about Julian’s fate and when did it know it?

The Grayzone has obtained documents revealing that the Australian government has since day one been well-aware of Julian’s cruel treatment inside London’s maximum security Belmarsh Prison, and has done little to nothing about it. It has, in fact, turned a cold shoulder to the jailed journalist despite hearing his testimony of conditions “so bad that his mind was shutting down.”

Not only has Canberra failed to effectively challenge the US and UK governments overseeing Assange’s imprisonment and prosecution; as these documents expose in stark detail, it appears to have colluded with them in the flagrant violation of an Australian citizen’s human rights, while doing its best to obscure the reality of his situation from the public. 

On knowledge of CIA plot against Assange, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs issues snide non-denial denial

In the wake of Yahoo News’ startling September revelations of CIA plans to surveil, kidnap, and even kill WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, which confirmed and built upon a May 2020 exposé by The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal, officials in the NATO-oriented ‘Five Eyes’ global spying network struggled to get their stories straight.

William Evanina, Washington’s top counterintelligence officer until his retirement in early 2021, told Yahoo the Five Eyes alliance was “critical” to Langley’s dastardly plot, and “we were very confident” that Julian’s potential escape from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London could be prevented, by hook or by crook.


When asked
 whether the US had ever briefed or consulted the government of Julian’s native Australia on the operation, however, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) dodged the question. For his part, Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian Prime Minister at the time of these deadly deliberations, claimed, “the first I heard about this was in today’s media.”

It is certainly possible that elected officials in Canberra were kept in the dark about the CIA’s proposals. Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was unaware of the very existence of Five Eyes until 1973, 17 years after his country became a signatory to the network’s underpinning UKUSA agreement, following police raids on the offices of domestic spying agency the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, due to its withholding of information from the government.

Whether or not Turnbull was aware of the operation, DFAT’s response when a member of Julian’s family contacted the Department demanding Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne ask the Biden administration to drop the charges against him, and seeking comment on the Yahoo article, was disturbingly flippant.

“Just because it’s written in a newspaper doesn’t mean it’s true…the CIA has been accused of a lot of things, including faking the Moon landing,” a DFAT official quipped in a classic non-denial denial.

These crude remarks were recorded in a letter sent to Payne by John Shipton, Julian’s father. The missive is just one of many documents provided exclusively to Grayzone by Kellie Tranter, Julian’s legal authority in Australia.

Whether or not Turnbull was aware of the operation, DFAT’s response when a member of Julian’s family contacted the Department demanding Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne ask the Biden administration to drop the charges against him, and seeking comment on the Yahoo article, was disturbingly flippant.

“Just because it’s written in a newspaper doesn’t mean it’s true…the CIA has been accused of a lot of things, including faking the Moon landing,” a DFAT official quipped in a classic non-denial denial.

These crude remarks were recorded in a letter sent to Payne by John Shipton, Julian’s father. The missive is just one of many documents provided exclusively to Grayzone by Kellie Tranter, Julian’s legal authority in Australia.

For years, Tranter has filed freedom of information requests with the Australian government in a campaign to uncover its true position on Julian, and to what extent its intimate alliance with Washington has limited its ability or willingness to push for his freedom.

The documents acquired by Tranter expose Canberra as anything but an advocate for Assange, the Australian citizen. Instead, throughout Julian’s time in the Ecuadorian Embassy, and imprisonment at Her Majesty’s Pleasure in Belmarsh high security prison – “Britain’s Gitmo” – the Australian government has been determinedly committed to seeing, hearing, and speaking no evil in his regard, despite possessing clear evidence of his dramatically waning physical and mental health, and the torturous conditions of his confinement.

Assange informs Canberra of US violations of his rights: ‘This action was illegal’

The records of a brief visit by Australian consulate officers to Belmarsh on May 17th 2019, one month after Assange’s dramatic expulsion from the Embassy, are especially illustrative of Canberra’s attitude. Over the course of that meeting, Assange spoke in detail about prison conditions and his 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement.

“He remains in his cell most of the day, with 40 minutes allocated each day for ‘associations’,” the Australian consular officials noted. “He is allowed outside for 30 minutes each day, although he said at times this does not happen,” for reasons unstated. Unable to eat at all “for a long period,” he was now ingesting “small amounts”, collecting meals from the kitchen and returning to his cell.

Permitted just two personal visits each month, plus legal consultations, Assange mentioned his recent meeting with Nils Melzer and two medical experts specialized in examining potential victims of torture and other ill-treatment, and that he had so far been unable to speak to his family.

The WikiLeaks co-founder eschewed work programs “which would afford him the opportunity to get out of his cell more often,” according to the diplomats, on the grounds that he refused to engage in “slave labour” and needed time to prepare his legal case. Prisoners in British jails earn an average of $13 per week for hard, thankless toil on behalf of big business, which in turn profits immensely from their rank exploitation.

While mercifully prescribed antibiotics and codeine by prison doctors for an infected root canal, which can be life-threatening in the event the infection spreads, Assange was still waiting on reading glasses and had yet to see an optometrist. The jailed journalist went on to describe how one senior officer “has it in for me,” showing his visitors a charge sheet indicating that a search of his cell uncovered a razor blade, and he’d failed to tidy it after an inspection. 

A third infraction of any sort “would result in exercise privileges being withdrawn,” the document states. Possibly fearing reprisal, Assange asked that officials not raise these matters with prison authorities. Evidently, what might typically be considered an unambiguous indication of suicidal intentions was instead logged as a simple disciplinary matter.

Adding to his psychological toll, Assange reported that he had undergone blood tests, and been advised he was HIV-positive, a shocking diagnosis. However, subsequent examinations confirmed the test result to be a false positive, forcing Assange to wonder if the misdiagnosis was a mere error, or “something else.” It could well have been a grotesquely sick mind game, perhaps alluding to the bogus sexual assault allegations he had faced in Sweden, and intended to drive him toward madness.

Assange also presented the Australian consular officials with a recently-published UK Home Office deportation notice, informing him then-Secretary of State Sajid Javid had determined under the 1971 UK Immigration Act that his presence in the UK “was not conducive to the public interest, and he would be removed from the UK without delay,” with no chance of appealing the decision.

“Mr. Assange expressed concern about surviving the current process and fears he would die if taken to the US. He claimed the US was going through his possessions that had remained at the Ecuadorian Embassy. He said that this action was illegal,” the officers wrote. “He stated that his possessions included two valuable artworks he planned to sell to raise funds for his legal defence, the manuscripts of two books, and legal papers. He expressed concern his legal material would be used against him by the US.”

Assange was correct that sensitive documents were stolen by US authorities. Immediately following his arrest, his attorney Gareth Peirce contacted the Ecuadorian Embassy regarding this privileged material, demanding it be handed over as a matter of urgency. When at last his property was collected, all legal papers were missing save for two volumes of Supreme Court files “and a number of pages of loose correspondence,” making his extradition defense an even greater challenge than it already was.

Over the course of Julian’s initial extradition hearings in early 2020, assistant US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Gordon Kromberg implausibly pledged a “taint team” would excise material from these files so it would not be used in any resultant trial. Similarly feeble “assurances” of this ilk were offered during the recent appeal proceedings.

Conversely, there has so far been no unconvincing public guarantee against the abuse of any information illicitly obtained by UC Global, a CIA contractor, from its extensive surveillance of the Embassy. The Spanish private security firm went as far as bugging the building’s female bathroom, where the WikiLeaks founder conducted discussions with his lawyers, away from prying ears and eyes – or so he hoped.

Despite his situation, Julian somehow retained a vague shred of optimism about the future in discussions with consular officials, suggesting that the result of Australia’s federal election, which was held the very next day, “may present a window for a new government to do something supportive for his case,” asking that Marise Payne be briefed on developments.

As it was, Scott Morrison’s Liberal National Coalition retained its grip on power – and no alarm was publicly raised about anything learned over the course of the consular visit. Indeed, remaining tight-lipped on Julian’s suffering, no matter how horrendous, was to be a matter of dedicated policy.

Australia’s DFAT denies any role in “progressively severe abuse” of Assange

On May 30th that year, WikiLeaks’ made the shock announcement that Julian had been moved to Belmarsh’s medical ward, expressing “grave concerns” about the state of his health. Almost immediately, DFAT’s Global Watch Office fired off an internal email drawing attention to the post.

The following day, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Nils Melzer proclaimed “the collective persecution of Julian Assange must end here and now!” The international legal veteran added that, “in 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution,” he had “never seen a group of democratic states ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonize and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law.”

Next, Melzer fulminated against a “relentless and unrestrained campaign of public mobbing, intimidation and defamation” by the US, UK, Sweden and Ecuador, which had subjected him to “persistent, progressively severe abuse ranging from systematic judicial persecution and arbitrary confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy, to his oppressive isolation, harassment and surveillance inside the embassy.”

In response, Australia’s DFAT issued a statement rejecting any suggestion Canberra was “complicit in psychological torture or has shown a lack of consular support” in Assange’s regard, claiming to be “a staunch defender of human rights and strong advocate for humane treatment in the course of judicial processes,” and expressing confidence that he was “being treated appropriately.” 

Due to “privacy considerations” allegedly extended to all consular clients, the Department declined to divulge any further details related to his physical or mental state.

It added that the Australian High Commission in London “previously raised any health concerns identified with Belmarsh prison authorities and these have been addressed,” with further inquiries made following Julian’s move to the health ward. 

The documents provided to The Grayzone indicate Canberra did indeed make repeated enquiries to Belmarsh by phone and mail in the wake of Wikileaks’ announcement, all of which went unanswered for six straight days. So why did Australia’s High Commissioner not intervene, and demand immediate clarity on an issue of literal life-and-death urgency?

Whatever the reason for the Australian government’s foot-dragging, a consular file dated August 8th that year records how Shipton wrote to advise that Julian had been readmitted to Belmarsh’s sick bay, and a lawyer was drafting a letter to Marise Payne, requesting DFAT “use its diplomatic sources to seek an independent medical assessment (ie outside the prison).”


Then, 11 days later, Shipton mentioned that Julian’s brother, Gabriel, had recently visited the prison and was distressed by Assange’s “deteriorating condition,” leading him to write letters to both Australian Governor General David Hurley and Morrison raising his fears.

On October 21st, Assange appeared in court for a pre-trial hearing in his extradition case. As was widely reported in the mainstream media, he appeared frail and discombobulated, struggling to recall his own name and date of birth when asked by the judge. When the presiding justice enquired whether he even knew what was happening, Assange responded, “not exactly,” indicating conditions in Belmarsh left him unable to “think properly.”

“I don’t understand how this is equitable,” the imprisoned journalist stated. “I can’t research anything, I can’t access any of my writing. It’s very difficult where I am.”

Assange’s attorney, Mark Summers, argued that his initial extradition hearing, scheduled for February 2020, should be delayed by three months due to the complexity of the case – “the evidence…would test the limits of most lawyers,” he said, and discussed the immense difficulty of communicating with his client in the jail, given he lacked access to a computer. 

The judge denied the request. As a result, Julian would be deprived of “the most basic of access to the bare minimum needs for proper representation” until just weeks prior to the hearing.

Assange attorney warns Australia’s DFAT of “impending crisis”

Three days later, Assange attorney Gareth Peirce wrote to the High Commission, asserting that if consular representatives had attended court, “they will have undoubtedly noted what was clear for everyone present in court to observe” – that his client was “in shockingly poor condition…struggling not only to cope but to articulate what he wishes to articulate.” Unbelievably, a DFAT report on the proceedings unearthed by Tranter made no mention whatsoever of Julian’s disheveled appearance, or his clearly frayed mental state.

Peirce went on to argue that under the circumstances, it was unsurprising Julian had not authorized prison officials to provide the Australian government with information regarding his medical treatment, which had been “been grossly and unlawfully compromised over some time, including, disturbingly, even whilst he has been in Belmarsh prison, false information on at least one occasion having been provided to the press by very obviously internal sources.”

“We hope that what we are able to say…will be accepted by you as having been based on close observation, including by independent professional clinicians..Every professional warning provided to the prison, including by at least one independent doctor called in by Belmarsh, has been ignored,” she wrote. “We would be pleased to meet with you at any stage if by intervention in what is now an impending crisis [emphasis added], you can contribute to its amelioration and avoidance.”

And so it was that consular officials visited Belmarsh November 1st. In their exchange, Assange criticized false statements made to the media by DFAT which suggested he had rejected offers of their support. 

Next, he revealed that a prison doctor was “concerned” about his condition. In fact, Assange said his psychological state was “so bad that his mind was shutting down,” almost permanent isolation making it impossible for him “to think or to prepare his defence.” 

He did not even have a pen with which to write, was unable to do any research, could not receive documents during legal visits, and all his mail was read by prison officials before it was given to him.

The next month, Professor Michael Kopelman, emeritus professor of neuropsychiatry at King’s College London, prepared a report on Julian’s psychiatric state based on meetings throughout his first six months in Belmarsh, conversations with his parents, friends, colleagues and Stella Morris, his partner and mother of his two children. 

As was revealed in Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s January ruling on the US extradition request, Kopelman diagnosed Julian with a severe recurrent depressive disorder, which was occasionally accompanied by psychotic features such as hallucinations, and frequent suicidal thoughts.

His symptoms furthermore included loss of sleep and weight, impaired concentration, a persistent feeling of being on the verge of tears, and state of acute agitation in which he paced his cell until exhausted, punching his head or banging it against the wall. 

Assange commented to Kopelman that he believed his life was not worth living, he thought about suicide “hundreds of times a day,” and had a “constant desire” to self-harm or commit suicide, describing plans to kill himself that the professor considered “highly plausible.”

Calls to The Samaritans, a UK charity helpline providing emotional support to those in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide, were “virtually” a nightly occurrence, and on occasions when he had not been able to reach them, Assange had slashed his thigh and abdomen to distract from his sense of isolation.

Kopelman concluded that, if Assange was held in solitary confinement in the US for a prolonged period, his mental health would “deteriorate substantially resulting in persistently severe clinical depression and the severe exacerbation of his anxiety disorder, PTSD and suicidal ideas,” not least because various “protective factors” available to him in the UK would be absent Stateside.

“For example, he speaks to his partner by telephone nearly every day and, before lockdown, was visited by her and his children, various friends, his father, and other relatives…[Kopelman] considered there to be an abundance of known risk factors indicating a very high risk of suicide,” Baraitser recorded. “He stated, ‘I am as confident as a psychiatrist ever can be that, if extradition to the US were to become imminent, Mr. Assange will find a way of suiciding.’”

The professor’s reports were fundamental to the extradition order’s rejection – a surprising outcome, given Baraitser previously approved extradition in 96% of cases upon which she has ruled.

Nonetheless, she accepted every other argument and charge put forward by the Department of Justice, in effect criminalizing a great many entirely legitimate journalistic activities, and setting the chilling precedent that citizens of any country can be extradited to the US for alleged breaches of its national laws, therefore implying Washington’s legal jurisdiction is global in scale.

Files on Australia’s DFAT discussions with US Secretary of State redacted in full


In response to the ruling, Australia’s Shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus issued a forceful statement, declaring the opposition Labor party believed “this has dragged on for long enough,” particularly given Julian’s “ill-health,” and demanding the Morrison administration “do what it can to draw a line under this matter and encourage the US government to bring this matter to a close.”

Conversely, DFAT published a characteristically laconic, soulless note, stating merely that Australia was “not a party to the case and will continue to respect the ongoing legal process,” and rehashing previous false claims that Julian had rejected multiple offers of consular assistance.

Canberra was simply silent when in June, the Icelandic publication Stundin revealed in detail how a “superseding indictment” levelled against Assange in September 2020, which charged that he and others at WikiLeaks “recruited and agreed with hackers to commit computer intrusions,” was based largely on the admittedly false testimony of fraudster, diagnosed sociopath and convicted pedophile Siggi Thordarson, who had previously embezzled vast sums from WikiLeaks and been recruited by the FBI to undermine its founder from within.

There is good reason to believe the Australian government knew the indictment was coming. In July that year, Foreign Minister Payne met with CIA director Mike Pompeo at an Australia–US Ministerial Consultations convention, “the principal forum for bilateral consultations” between the country and the US. 

Tranter submitted freedom of information requests for details of that rendezvous, but the documents she received in return were fully redacted. As were files released to her relating to the Foreign Minister’s summit with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in May 2021.

It was almost certain that Assange was a subject of these meetings. DFAT claims Payne “raised the situation” when she met Blinken again in September, and the minister herself alleges she specifically discussed Australia’s “expectations” regarding Assange’s treatment with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab when he visited Canberra in February 2020. Tranter requested records related to this meeting too, but was told none existed.       

Upon Julian’s arrest, Prime Minister Morrison alleged he would receive “the same treatment that any other Australian would get.”

“When Australians travel overseas and then find themselves in difficulties with the law, they face the judicial systems of those countries,” Morrison said. “It doesn’t matter what particular crime it is that they’re alleged to have committed, that’s the way the system works.”

However, an internal email dated April 5th 2019 secured by Tranter from the Australian Attorney General’s office was shot through with contempt for the Wikileaks co-founder. The note asserted, “FYI – Assange might be evicted. Not sure if his lawyers will make any (not very convincing) [emphasis added] arguments about Australia’s responsibilities to him but thought it was worth flagging.” 

As usual, Australian officials said nothing in public about Assange’s imminent abduction. 

Assange’s treatment, and the total lack of outrage over his incarceration, prison conditions, blatant procedural abuses engaged in by Washington in their relentless pursuit of him, and CIA plans to kidnap and/or murder the WikiLeaks founder, diverges starkly from Australia’s approach to Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Australian-British academic jailed in Iran for 10 years on questionable charges of espionage in September 2018.

Behind the scenes, Australian diplomats struggled for almost two years to secure her release, eventually brokering a prisoner swap, under which she was traded for three Iranian inmates in Thailand – two of whom were convicted in connection with a 2012 bombing plot in Bangkok. In a statement, Foreign Minister Payne expressed relief that Moore-Gilbert was finally free as a result of “professional and determined work,” noting Canberra had “consistently rejected” the grounds on which she was detained.

Meanwhile, the Australian government has consistently reinforced Washington’s position on Assange. In fact, officials have on occasion gone even further than their US counterparts in publicly condemning him and his actions.

In December 2010, then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard declared WikiLeaks’ release of US diplomatic cables meant Assange was “guilty of illegality,” and that Federal Police were investigating, to offer “advice about potential criminal conduct of the individual involved.” To be fair to Canberra though, elected representatives there may effectively have no choice in the matter.


According to
 investigative journalist Duncan Campbell, each Five Eyes member theoretically has the right to veto a request for signals intelligence collected on an individual, group or organization collected by another. However, Campbells explained, “when you’re a junior ally like Australia or New Zealand, you never refuse,” even in situations when there are concerns about what ostensible allies may do with that sensitive information.

The documents obtained by Tranter and provided to The Grayzone provide an unobstructed view of the Australian junior ally’s betrayal of one of its citizens to the imperial power that has hunted him for years. As Julian Assange’s rights were violated at every turn, Canberra appears to have been complicit. 

                               

Australian media part of the cover-up of Pandora Papers

November 2, 2021

Meanwhile, the 2016 Panama Papers remain under lock and key, unavailable to the public, secreted by ICIJ. The data is getting stale now. It is six years old. It is wasted, an insult to the people who risked their lives to put it in the public domain.

Pandora Papers: is the world’s biggest leak the world’s biggest cover-up?   https://www.michaelwest.com.au/pandora-papers-is-the-worlds-biggest-leak-the-worlds-biggest-cover-up/ , By Michael West|, October 8, 2021 

Where are the US billionaires, the Wall Streeters, the Big Four tax firms Deloitte, EY, KPMG, PwC? Michael West explores the mystery of the Pandora Papers in this first of a two-part series.

In the wake of the stunning Pandora Papers data leak this week, the ABC enthused, “Even by the ICIJ’s standards, this is big. If the documents were printed out and stacked up they would be four times taller than Sydney’s Centrepoint Tower”.

Probably not. If we assume Pandora is like its predecessors Panama Papers and Paradise Papers – where less than 1% of the data was made public – that would represent a stack of documents 12.2 metres high, not 1220 metres, which would get you up to Yogurt World on Level 5 of the Centrepoint food court.

Another “biggest data leak in history”, another trove mega-leaks where billionaires, celebrities, Italian mobsters, Russian oligarchs and foreign heads of state have been outed for their links to tax havens. 

But where are the US politicians? Where are the Wall Streeters? Where are the Big Four, the masterminds of global tax avoidance PwC, EY, KPMG and Deloitte?

Conspicuously absent, that’s where. Again.

Beating the B Team

Make no mistake this is fabulous, explosive stuff. The Pandora Papers, like Panama Papers and Paradise papers, are a spectacular data leak but, like the leaks before them, they have blown the lid on the world’s Tax Avoidance B Team.

And, like the others, the data has not actually been made public; not much of it anyway, maybe 1%. The rest is sitting with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in Washington. It has been leaked to the ICIJ alone which in turn leaks bits of it, presumably a very small part of it, to its “global media partners”.

n Australia, these are Nine Entertainment’s AFR, Guardian and ABC who are themselves keeping most of it a secret. This from Guardian Australia:

“Australians who appear in the data include senior figures from the finance and property industries. The Guardian has chosen not to identify them.

“About 400 Australian names are contained in the papers, a cache of 11.9m files from companies hired by wealthy clients to create offshore structures and trusts in tax havens such as Panama, Dubai, Monaco, Switzerland, the Cayman Islands and Samoa.”

Meanwhile Julian Assange

Meanwhile Julian Assange continues to rot in London’s Belmarsh Prison, facing extradition to the US, abandoned by successive Australian governments amid reports of a CIA plot to assassinate him. His crime? Wikileaks made public US war crimes; a real leak, documents actually made public.

In contrast, the Washington-based ICIJ has consistently refused to release its data to the public, preferring instead to conduct a choreographed media circus. Its director, Australian journalist Gerard Ryle, declined to respond to questions for this story, doubly ironic given we used to work together on the newsroom floors at Fairfax and the ICIJ is a self-styled beacon of journalistic integrity dedicated to “expose the truth and hold the powerful accountable, while also adhering to the highest standards of fairness and accuracy”.

One question we put to Ryle was whether ICIJ had received a subpoena from US authorities for this incredible trove of corporate information, say the Department of Justice. If not, why not?

The questions are many, not only because of the sheer magnitude of this set of leaks but also because the effect of the Pandora Papers is to, deservedly, trash a suite of non-US tax havens such as the notorious British Virgin Islands and the upshot will be to drive global wealth towards secrecy jurisdictions in the US such as Rupert Murdoch’s preferred haven of Delaware.

So, what is going on here?  

The way ICIJ works is they use a panel of 150 “media partners”, mostly large corporate media organisations around the world, to disseminate the information, or at least the bits of it they deem suitable. 

In the case of Panama Papers, an anonymous source dubbed John Doe hacked Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca and leaked the data to German journalists who got it to ICIJ for dissemination to its band of media partners. 

14 Mossack Fonsecas

This time around, there are 14 Mossack Fonsecas; that is, 14 “offshore service providers” have been hacked. This is hacking on an industrial, possibly sovereign, scale. It is possible these “offshore service providers”, from Hong Kong to the Caribbean, divulged the information voluntarily, but unlikely.

Who benefits? The US and the Big Four. Just as the Panama Papers helped to demolish Panama as a tax haven, compelling clients of Mossack Fonseca to flee to other secrecy jurisdictions to hide their money, the upshot of the Pandora Papers is that, right at this moment, the super rich who secrete their money in the British Virgin Islands, the Seychelles or Cyprus will be thinking long and hard about restructuring to hide their riches via Delaware or another onshore tax haven in the US.

They will also think long and hard about getting the Big Four global tax firms – PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG – to manage their affairs. The A Team.

This is of course a speculative conclusion but also, as one regulatory finance source confided to Michael West Media this week, just a matter of putting two and two together. The Washington-based ICIJ never seems to be harassed by US authorities, the Big Four are rarely named, US billionaires are rarely named, blue chip tax avoiders are rarely named, the identity of the vast bulk of wealthy Australians in the data are never named.

Foreign PEPs, mobsters and oligarchs

This is not to disparage the work of Gerard Ryle and his team. The latest mega-leak of almost 12 million documents from offshore finance firms has identified the usual high profile types: crooner Julio Iglesias, cricket star Sachin Tendulkar, pop music diva Shakira, supermodel Claudia Schiffer and “an Italian mobster known as “Lell the Fat One”.

Great headlines, and every one a worthy story, although many will have bona fide reasons for being in tax havens. Rich people avoid tax, full stop. We will discuss the mechanics of secrecy jurisdictions, how it all works and who actually benefits in the sequel to this story.

Besides the crooners, mobsters and Russian oligarchs however, the Pandora Papers have outed an array of ”politically exposed persons” (PEP); former politicians and present heads of state. From King Abdullah of Jordan, Azerbaijan’s ruling Aliyev family, the prime minister of the Czech republic, Andrej Babiš and Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to former British prime minister Tony Blair and three current Latin American heads of state, those identified publicly in Pandora Papers have sent shockwaves around the world.

The Aussie connection

A slew of tax authorities have vowed to take action, including the Australian Tax Office which, on Wednesday, froze more than $80 million in assets and companies linked to Gold Coast property developer Jim Raptis. 

Westpac director Steve Harker was also identified as a client of one of the offshore service providers Singapore’s Asiaciti. As the identities of most of the Australians remain a secret, Harker is probably feeling unfairly targeted. What of the other 400 Australians? 

No doubt the draconian defamation laws in this country, laws which protect the wealthy, played a part in the decision of local media to keep the names secret. Yet this also goes to the fundamental issue with ICIJ’s arbitrary arrangements and its media partners cherry-picking the data.

If ICIJ were truly fair dinkum about transparency and public interest, it would make the data from all its leaks public so that boffins from around the world, anybody for that matter, could hop in and dig around. 

Who is calling the shots? One man apparently, Gerard Ryle. In the wake of the Panama Papers, when we asked Ryle on a number of occasions for an ICIJ log-in to analyse the data, we were denied.

“My path, my call,” said Ryle. We already have our media partners, he said.

Meanwhile, the 2016 Panama Papers remain under lock and key, unavailable to the public, secreted by ICIJ. The data is getting stale now. It is six years old. It is wasted, an insult to the people who risked their lives to put it in the public domain.

In Part II: who guards the guards? The second story in our investigation of the ICIJ and its Offshore Leaks examines what is really going on with international tax avoidance.

Michael West

Michael West established michaelwest.com.au to focus on journalism of high public interest, particularly the rising power of corporations over democracy. Formerly a journalist and editor at Fairfax newspapers and a columnist at News Corp, West was appointed Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Sydney’s School of Social and Political Sciences. You can follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelWestBiz.

20 reasons why the Lucas Heights unviable production of medical isotopes is a sham and a dud.

August 31, 2021

The claim by Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) that it requires additional storage
capacity for intermediate level nuclear or radioactive waste at its Lucas Heights operations is completely false and consequently unjustified in all respects.
REASONS

  1. The present storage capacity at Lucas Heights is more than adequate for many years and even decades – this is the view of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANA) as the regulator and licensing authority
  2. The main undertaking representing 80% of its total operations and activity by ANSTO at Lucas Heights is the
    production of nuclear medicineThe main undertaking representing 80% of its total operations and activity by ANSTO at Lucas Heights is theproduction of nuclear medicine
  3. Only some 10% of this production annually is for local use in Australia
  4. The remainder is sold overseas but it is a very limited market
  5. The predominant purchasers of this production of nuclear medicine are third world countries
  6. These countries cannot afford to pay ANSTO for this nuclear medicine and hence it is treated as additional foreign aid by Australia
  7. The manufacture of nuclear medicine even in fully and proper commercial circumstances is a large loss making proposition
  1. It is estimated from authoritative overseas research that revenue from isotope production for nuclear medicine would likely offset only approximately 10% to 15% of the costs of the reactor used for the production and this does not include all the other costs associated with the production

9. Added to this ANSTO is regarded by world standards as an extremely high cost manufacturer of nuclear medicine

  1. ANSTO is fully funded as to its existence and operations by the federal government

11. On top of this ANSTO has proved to be a less than efficient producer of nuclear medicine due to the instances of shutting down of its reactor at Lucas Heights

  1. When this has occurred ANSTO purchased the nuclear medicine isotopes from overseas which has proved to be more efficient and cheaper than local production
  1. It was reported that ANSTO received $238 million last year as its annual funding from the federal government
  1. ANSTO because of this funding has no incentive or need to achieve profitability particularly in its production of nuclear medicine which represents its major undertaking and operational activity
  1. In any case there is a strong move in medicine throughout the world away from using nuclear medicine in all diagnosis and treatment due to its harmful nature
  1. Some countries are virtually banning nuclear medicine both in its manufacture and its use locally and for export because of its inherent dangerous nature
  2. An alternative permanent disposal would be better.
  1. The indisputable conclusion internationally is that the use of nuclear medicine generated by reactors is rapidly declining to a level where its future production will no longer be viable
  1. In view of the foregoing there are no justifiable or valid reasons or pretext for :
    (a) the continued production by ANSTO of nuclear medicine by using a nuclear reactor for whatever reasons at Lucas Heights or elsewhere in Australia;
    (b) the continuing loss making production of nuclear medicine by ANSTO at Lucas Heights for export overseas;
    (c) the need to increase the storage capacity at Lucas Heights for intermediate level waste generated by the production of nuclear medicine; and

20 No pretext for the establishment whatsoever of the nuclear waste management facility by the federal government at Napandee

The fake charity AMDA Foundation is exposed by Michael West Media’s Michelle Fahy.

June 6, 2021

Landforces’ brothers in arms: how a weapons peddler qualified for charitable status 

by Michelle Fahy | Jun 4, 2021  The Coalition is cracking down on charitable organisations. However, the Australian charity promoting arms deals on behalf of weapons makers that profit from humanitarian catastrophes is unlikely to be in the government’s sights. With the weapons expo LandForces wrapping up in Brisbane this week, Michelle Fahy delves into the charity behind LandForces.

The Morrison government has charitable organisations in its sights. It proposes to amend the legislation covering charities so that minor legal misdemeanours by staff or supporters of a charity could be used as a prompt by the regulator for a review of a charity’s privileged status.

St Vincent de Paul told The Saturday Paper that if an activist wearing a Vinnies T-shirt refused to move along when asked by police, Vinnies could risk having its charitable status removed.

Hands Off Our Charities, an alliance of Australian charities, said in a submission to government: “The proposal is a major overreach and the need for further regulation has not been (and in our view cannot be) properly explained.”

Yet consider the activities of a not-for-profit organisation that many Australians will be astounded to discover has gained privileged charitable status – AMDA Foundation Limited (AMDA).

AMDA is the organiser of Land Forces, a biennial military and weapons exhibition running in Brisbane this week showcasing organisations “operating across the full spectrum of land warfare”.

The 600 exhibitors at Land Forces include local and multinational weapons manufacturers and other suppliers to military forces. Event sponsors include global arms corporations such as Boeing, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Rheinmetall, General Dynamics, Saab and Hanwha, along with local companies Electro Optic Systems (EOS), CEA, and NIOA. Representatives from foreign governments and militaries are among the attendees.

Several of AMDA’s arms-maker sponsors have supplied their weaponry to the two countries leading the coalition fighting the war in Yemen – Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The UN has been pleading for years for countries to cease supplying weaponry to these countries.

In late 2018, the New York Times published distressing photographs of emaciated children in Yemen dying as a result of aid blockades during the war. The mass starvation continues. UNICEF has said more than 400,000 Yemeni children under five could die preventable deaths this year.

Promoting arms deals on behalf of corporations that have profited from this unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe is the antithesis of what an Australian registered charity should be doing.

But the political posturing evident in the government’s proposed changes is unlikely to result in any repercussions for the AMDA Foundation. Instead, it is ‘activist’ environmental charities that are being targeted by the changes. Which is precisely the problem with such sweeping broad powers. They can be implemented selectively to silence voices the government does not want heard.

“It is the principle that underpins the change that is wrong, regardless of who it is used to target,” said Matt Rose, Economy & Democracy Program Manager at the Australian Conservation Foundation.

Arms trade promotion a “charitable activity”?

AMDA runs numerous major military and weapons-related trade exhibitions around Australia. Its roster of events includes Avalon, a biennial aerospace military and weapons expo in Victoria, next slated for early December 2021. The Indo Pacific Expo, a maritime warfare exhibition, is scheduled for May 2022 in Sydney.

These and other industry trade shows bring together sellers and buyers of weaponry and other military and security-related equipment. “Doing business is easy at Land Forces,” says its website, noting that Land Forces serves as a “powerful promotional and industry engagement forum”.

AMDA says it exists to help the “general community in Australia”. But the general community is not permitted to attend Land Forces nor AMDA’s other arms exhibitions. (The public can attend the Avalon Air Show, a separate public event run at the same time as the Avalon arms expo.)

AMDA is part of a group of companies registered with ACNC which operates around the country. It had 24 full-time-equivalent employees and a gross income in 2020 of $11.7 million – 32% of which came from government grants and 61% from operating revenue. Its income in 2019 was $26.2 million, mostly from operating revenue.

Revolving doors and conflicted interests

The AMDA board is an all-male affair. Its chair is former chief of the Royal Australian Navy, Christopher Ritchie, who joined the board in May 2017 while concurrently sitting on the boards of Lockheed Martin Australia (until 2020) and German naval shipbuilder Luerssen Australia, both multibillion dollar contractors to the Defence Department.

Former chief of army Kenneth Gillespie sits on the AMDA board while also sitting on the board of Naval Group, the French multinational building Australia’s controversial new submarines. Gillespie is also chair of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) Council, the highly influential and supposedly “independent” think tank tasked with providing strategic advice to the government.

ASPI is sponsored by Naval Group as well as other global arms manufacturers including Lockheed Martin, Thales, Saab and Northrop Grumman. ASPI has been vocal in its anti-China ‘war drums’ rhetoric, stoking regional tensions, along with the Asia Pacific arms race.

Australian government’s Kimba nuclear waste plan. Questionable ”independence” of District Council, and dubious discussions with State Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan.

May 20, 2021
Dan van Holst Pellekaan, South Australian Minister for Energy and Mining

While I have not seen the details of the Supreme Court decision referred to below it should be a great boost for Kimba and of serious implications for the state and federal governments’

It is obvious that the South Australian government will have to publicly disclose all documents and information given or received by it which should presumably include all transactions with the federal government in its various guises

The disclosures will also include the Kimba District Council which will put its councillors in an invidious position in trying to give the Kimba community impartial and independent advice while at the same time trying to justify its past actions with regard to the federal government’s proposals for the nuclear waste management facility at Kimba

This untenable situation for the Kimba councillors may require them to stand aside while commissioners or administrators are appointed to run the Council 

Senator Rex Patrick should be resoundingly thanked and congratulated on his efforts in bringing this action in the face of dire threats by Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan

South Australian Supreme Court rules that information on the Kimba nuclear waste dump can be made public.

May 19, 2021

Senator Rex Patrick · SA GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY FAILURE, 18 May 21,

Yesterday a South Australian Supreme Court Justice overturned a decision by SA Energy and Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekann to keep information on the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) from the public. In August last year I made a Freedom of Information request to the Minister asking for access to correspondance between the SA and Federal Government relating to the establishment of a NRWMF facility at Kimba. In November he released four documents to me, with significant redaction on one of them.

When I challenged the redaction the Minister threatened me with legal costs. Yesterday Justice Hughes rejected the Minister’s arguments and found that the document he wished to keep secret was not exempt under FOI.People have a right to know what their Government is saying and doing so that they can properly participate in democracy. This is especially the case when there is a major issue being played out. Minister van Holst Pellekaan needs to rethink who he really owes a duty to. Ministers should serve the people, not their own narrow political interests. https://www.facebook.com/senator.rex.patrick/posts/924739811419769