Archive for the ‘spinbuster’ Category

Meet Australian Public Affairs, the lobbying firm that pushed the Kimba nuclear waste dump for the Federal Government

February 24, 2022

The representation by Australian Public Affairs of companies working within or directly linked to the energy, mining and uranium mining industries—many of which obviously have an interest in a nuclear waste dump—does not appear to have been disclosed to the public at any stage of their lobbying work for the federal government on the campaign for a national nuclear waste management facility.

Meet the lobbying firm that pushed the Kimba nuclear waste dump for the Federal Government while claiming “commitment to Indigenous Australians”. Matilda Duncan, 24 Feb 22,

Australian Public Affairs company officers: Tracey Cain, Phillip McCall, Kathryn Higgs, Nick Trainor, Paula Gelo, Matthew Doman, Dominique Wolfe,

Having pocketed six years worth of consulting fees campaigning on behalf of the federal government for their proposed nuclear waste dump in SA, Australian Public Affairs claims “success” as the Barngarla people of the Eyre Peninsula continue to fight the dump through the courts.

It’s a grim project brief few public relations firms would want: convince Australia it’s acceptable to establish not just a national nuclear waste dump, but an international dump site that would potentially accept nuclear waste from the United Kingdom and France.

The requirements of the job: advocate for a radioactive waste facility being built in the middle of one of Australia’s largest wheat and agricultural belts. Urge locals to support a nuclear waste dump near Kimba, despite the site neighbouring both a conservation park and a national park. Avoid publicly questioning why the company the federal government hired to assess the shortlisted dump sites has a U.S. parent company that manufactures nuclear weapons.

Think up methods of pushing the dump in a state that has already been subjected to the stress of a government nuclear waste dump site selection process an inexplicable 4 times in 23 years—and rejected it, to the point the Olsen Government passed legislation to prevent radioactive waste being brought into the state: the Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000, which was subsequently strengthened by the Rann Government.

Sell the nuclear dump to the public in a state in which traditional owners have already been subjected to decade upon decade of trauma thanks to the nuclear industry and materials for nuclear weapons being sourced from their lands. Avoid mention of the damaging mining conducted at Radium Hill, the uranium mining that continues to this day at Olympic Dam, the grotesque takeover of land to establish a weapons testing range double the size of England, or the hideous government decision to allow Britain to test 7 atomic bombs at Maralinga and Emu Field without adequately warning the Indigenous people living there—bombs that, in a full circle of destruction, were made using uranium sourced from Radium Hill.

In the face of this depraved and dark history of governmental abuse, the job: tell the locals it will be worth it because the nuclear waste dump will bring “45 jobs”.

Tracey Cain and Alastair Furnival willingly took on the work.

For the past seven years, their lobbying firm Australian Public Affairs has been working behind the scenes for the Federal Government, providing media and campaign strategy advice to help the government promote the nuclear waste dump—presented as the “National Radioactive Waste Management Facility”—and steer them through what continues to be a long, flawed and troubled dump site selection process.

A married couple, Cain and Furnival share a property worth $5 million in Cremorne and equal ownership of Australian Public Affairs Pty Ltd. Furnival is also a staffer at another consulting firm, Elevate Consulting.

Their company made national headlines in 2014, during Furnival’s time as a federal government staffer. That year, Cain and Furnival’s company was lobbying for the junk food sector, representing Cadbury, the Australian Beverages Council and Mondelez Australia (formerly Kraft), while Furnival was working as chief of staff for the federal assistant health minister, Fiona Nash.

According to media reports, Senator Nash and Furnival intervened to pull down a food health star rating website less than 24 hours after it was launched, despite it having been in development for two years and approved by state and territory food ministers.

Furnival owned half of Australian Public Affairs while intervening in public policy decisions as Nash’s chief of staff. Furnival resigned in the wake of the scandal.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT STAFFERS VS. LOBBYISTS WRITING SPIN

The Morrison Government appear to have given Australian Public Affairs plenty of latitude to complete their work promoting the nuclear waste dump, extending permission to act directly as Government spokespeople.

Numerous times over the past 2 years, media enquiries about the national nuclear waste management facility sent to the federal Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS) and it’s superseding [new] department have been responded to directly by an Australian Public Affairs staffer rather than federal government staff.

Media enquiries from this journalist were responded to directly by Australian Public Affairs Director Nick Trainor, who in an introductory email two years ago claimed to “work with” the federal government.

Trainor provided a response on behalf of DIIS and the “National Radiactive Waste Management Facility Taskforce” in that email, without disclosing that he was in fact working for a lobbying firm representing the federal government on the nuclear waste dump project…………………………………

A DISAPPEARING ETHICS POLICY

Sometime after 2015, Cain and Furnival removed an ethics policy for Australian Public Affairs from their company website.

The policy claimed Australian Public Affairs was ‘committed to an ethical and quality approach to servicing our clients’. The company would ‘refuse causes, ideas or programs which pose harm to the community’, the policy claimed, ‘never promote deception or unsupportable claims’ and ‘at all times act as a leader in the pursuit of ethical practice.’……………………………………

Australian Public Affairs’ Deputy CEO, Phillip McCall, previously worked for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) with oversight of the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor . APA’s client list has also included mining, gas and energy giants such as Santos—Australia’s second largest independent oil company and owner of the Moomba oil and gas fields in South Australia’s north-east.

APA staff were registered as lobbyists with the South Australian Government on Santos’ behalf from 2017 to late 2018. Uranium mining exploration projects in Santos’ Moomba gas fields were announced the following year, in 2019

APA also represented Santos on their Narrabri coal seam gas project.

Earlier this year—as their work for the Morrison Government on the nuclear waste dump continued—Australian Public Affairs began representing MaxMine (Resolution Systems), a mining technology company with offices in South Australia and South Africa. The company claims its “mission is to become the world’s biggest miner without owning a mine.”

MaxMine has been linked to Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group, after—according to MaxMine’s own promotional material—conducting work on their technology with Fortescue in 2010.

WASTE DUMP POLITICAL CONNECTIONS

Andrew Forrest has invested in uranium mining for years. In 2014, he bought EMA, the company that owned uranium deposits at Mulga Rock in Western Australia. Just two months ago, a new uranium mining operation commenced there. Forrest’s private company, Squadron Resources, has an interest in the uranium mining company working at Mulga Rock, Vimy Resources.

The former Premier of South Australia, Jay Weatherill, was appointed to a CEO Position with Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation after he left public office.

Weatherill was behind the “unusual step” of setting up a Royal Commission in 2015 to consider South Australia’s potential role in the nuclear industry—despite the aforementioned decades of proposals for nuclear waste dumps being rejected by the community and legislation being enacted to ban nuclear waste being brought into the state. Weatherill spen much of his time as Premier pushing a proposal for a high-level nuclear waste storage facility in South Australia.

Weatherill has further personal connections to the current nuclear waste dump proposal. During his tenure as SA Premier, his wife Melissa Bailey was appointed to a position at AECOM Australia Pty Ltd—the company commissioned by the federal government to write site assessment reports for each of the shortlisted nuclear waste dump sites, covering topics like environmental impacts, climate change and wildlife impacts…………………………..

Questioned about the employment of Jay Weatherill’s wife at AECOM Australia Pty Ltd and why the federal government hired the company to assess the nuclear waste dump sites despite its association with nuclear weapons development, Australian Public Affairs responded on behalf of the federal government to both queries with the same phrase: “AECOM Australia Pty Ltd was selected to provide the required services through an open tender process and evaluation conducted in accordance with an approved procurement plan.”


The representation by Australian Public Affairs of companies working within or directly linked to the energy, mining and uranium mining industries—many of which obviously have an interest in a nuclear waste dump—does not appear to have been disclosed to the public at any stage of their lobbying work for the federal government on the campaign for a national nuclear waste management facility.

THE KIMBA COUNCIL

Remarkably, Cain has already claimed her company’s work on the government’s nuclear waste management facility project to be a “success”—even as the Traditional Owners, the Barngarla people, are again challenging the project through the courts.

For years the Barngarla people have repeatedly stated they have not been consulted about the storage of radioactive waste on their land. Representatives of the Barngarla people were excluded from a community vote to gauge local support for the nuclear waste facility—after the District Council of Kimba decided to exclude native title holders from the vote.

Despite major mainstream news outlets including the ABC, Guardian, Channel Ten’s The Project and NY Times visiting Kimba and publishing coverage of Jeff Baldock—the man who volunteered to sell his land at Napandee to the government for the nuclear waste management site—no attention was given by these outlets to his relative and business partner Graeme Baldock, a member of the Kimba Council that determined the Barngarla people would be excluded from the community vote on the nuclear waste dump………..

Graeme and Jeff Baldock had previously purchased thousands of hectares of land in the region near Kimba—in the region where the dump site is set to be established—according to information published in 2015 by the Baldock family farming company, Karinya Agriculture.

A member of the District Council of Kimba since 2010, Graeme Baldock was communicating directly with the federal government agency responsible for the nuclear waste management facility site selection process, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS), between 2017 and 2019.

In response to a freedom of information application made in early 2020 seeking access to Graeme Baldock’s emails with DIIS over two years, DIIS stated that the “documents contain personal information of certain individuals” and due to privacy provisions in freedom of information legislation, “8 third parties” would need to be consulted before the government might consider releasing the documents.

The Department of Industry then sought to impose administration charges of $500 to process the request for Graeme Baldock’s emails.

“COMMITTED TO CLOSING THE GAP”

As the Barngarla traditional owners pursue some semblance of justice through the courts, Tracey Cain continues to advertise her company’s services in the “Indigenous Affairs sector” today, writing: “Australian Public Affairs has extensive communications expertise with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, on behalf of traditional landowners and Indigenous organisations, and for governments, corporates and NFPs wishing to engage with these communities.”

It’s not just the Barngarla people APA’s work on the nuclear waste dump process has affected—the traditional owners of other sites shortlisted for the dump, like South Australia’s Adnyamathanha people, have already publicly described the stress it caused. “The emotional stress we’re feeling is off the charts,” Regina McKenzie, an Adnyamathanha traditional owner, told the ABC in 2016. “We’re still the custodians here; we’ve always looked at it that way.”

Australian Public Affairs’ company spiel continues: “Within this work, APA is particularly committed to social and economic initiatives which support the Closing the Gap agenda, to provide Indigenous Australians with the same level of opportunity as the rest of the nation: including in health, mental health, education and social policy.”

In another section of APA’s website, the company characterises an “increase in environmental concern – not least amongst farmers and indigenous communities” as leading to “a rise in red tape and cost of compliance”.

In addition to APA working on projects that have contributed to the disenfranchisement of Indigenous communities, Furnival—Cain’s husband and co-owner of Australian Public Affairs—worked for the Abbott Government, an administration that cut $535 million from Indigenous programs.

Cain was contacted for comment about her husband’s role with the Abbott Government and asked if APA staff were directly involved with negotiations with the Barngarla people and other local communities involved in the nuclear waste dump site processes.

Cain was asked if Australian Public Affairs staff made it clear to these communities that they were a lobbying firm, not federal government staffers, when responding to their enquiries and concerns about the nuclear waste dump. She did not directly address these questions.

HISTORY REPEATING

Australian Public Affairs is not the only public relations firm to have chosen to assist the Government to continue perpetuating the toxic legacy of uranium in South Australia. Michels Warren have taken on the task too—an Adelaide PR firm that first represented the Howard Government during their attempt to establish a dump in South Australia from the late nineties until at least 2004. Freedom of information applications revealed the company’s dirty campaign to “soften up the community” and sell something its own staff knew had no benefit to South Australians: “The National Repository could never be sold as “good news” to South Australians. There are few, if any, tangible benefits such as jobs, investment or improved infrastructure. Its merits to South Australians, at the most, are intangible and the range and complexity of issues make them difficult to communicate.”

Despite having their ugly tactics exposed, Michels Warren chose not to leave their involvement with the nuclear industry and nuclear waste in the past. They went on to represent the Weatherill Government’s aforementioned unusual Royal Commission into nuclear power in 2016—a decision that might be explained, in part, by their previous campaigning on behalf of the corporate owners of the Beverley and Honeymoon uranium mines in South Australia.

 IRATI WANTI

Almost two decades ago, the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, a council of senior Indigenous women based near Coober Pedy in South Australia, were into their eighth year of fighting the Howard Government proposal to dump nuclear waste from the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor on their traditional lands.

In April 2003, the council’s founders, Eileen Kampakuta Brown and Eileen Wani Wingfield, received the Goldman Prize for environmental activism—an award akin to the Nobel Prize—and $US125,000 to continue their campaign against the nuclear waste dump. The women were fighting the Howard Government into their seventies, with a campaign slogan of “Irati wanti” which roughly translated as “The poison – leave it”.

The founder of the prize, Richard Goldman, said the women had been chosen for a campaign that “exemplifies how much can be accomplished when ordinary people take extraordinary action to protect the health of our planet”.

Mrs Brown said at the time that she was talking on behalf of her ancestors so that her children and grandchildren might also be able to live on the land, telling the Sydney Morning Herald in 2003 through her granddaughter: “There’s a lot of life out there.” https://matildaduncan.net/stories/22/feb/23/australian-public-affairs-tracey-cain-nuclear-waste-dump

Correcting Alan Finkel’s nuclear fallacies

October 30, 2021

30 Oct 21 Friends of the Earth has written to Dr. Alan Finkel, Special Adviser to the Australian Government on Low Emissions Technology, correcting a number of his recent statements regarding nuclear power. The letter is online.

Dr. Jim Green, national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth, said:

“Dr. Finkel is honest and intelligent ‒ which is more than can be said for some of the ideologues and idiots promoting nuclear power ‒ but his recent statements regarding nuclear power contain a number of inaccuracies.

“Dr. Finkel’s claim that the Fukushima disaster resulted in a “handful” of radiation deaths is inaccurate. The World Health Organization projects increases in all solid cancers, breast cancer, leukaemia and thyroid cancer. In addition, around 2,000 indirect deaths have been recorded. The economic costs amount to hundreds of billions of dollars and there is an incalculable human toll for the 160,000 evacuees from the disaster.

“Dr. Finkel’s claim that safety is the number one imperative underpinning the design of modern reactors is an industry claim that cannot be substantiated. Nuclear power is, in the words of Bob Carr, “cripplingly expensive” and far more expensive than renewables. The nuclear industry is trying to compete economically ‒ mostly by gouging taxpayers and electricity ratepayers ‒ and that is the number one imperative driving everything the industry does.

“Dr. Finkel’s comments about the ‘beauty’ of small modular reactors ignore the fact that the only SMR operating anywhere in the world, a Russian plant, was nine-years behind schedule, six times over-budget, produces power at an exorbitant A$270 per megawatt-hour, and is used to power fossil fuel mining operations in the Arctic. It is ugly in every respect.

“Dr. Finkel’s claim that high-level nuclear waste is being disposed of in a deep underground repository in Finland is false. The 2006 Switkowski report anticipated completion of this repository in 2010. Now, completion is anticipated in the mid-2020s. No waste has been disposed of.

“The only operating deep underground repository for nuclear waste is in the United States and was closed for three years after a chemical explosion in an underground waste barrel in 2014 ‒ the culmination of staggering mismanagement and regulatory failures.

“Here in Australia, the federal government is trying to establish a national nuclear waste dump on farming land near Kimba in SA despite the unanimous opposition of Barngarla Traditional Owners and NH&MRC guidelines which state that farming land should not be used for nuclear waste repositories.”

“The viability of renewables coupled with multiple storage technologies and demand management is a work in progress but there are promising signs. For example, South Australia has reached a 60% renewable share and the Liberal state government is enthusiastically pursuing a 100% net renewables target by 2030. Moreover, the SA Liberal government states that nuclear is not viable now and will not be viable for the foreseeable future.

“Calls for a discussion about nuclear power overlook the fact that there have been four inquiries over the past five years. The Prime Minister said just a few days ago that the federal government has no intention of repealing legislation banning nuclear power, and no state government is interested.

“Surely this is the time to have a breather from the seemingly endless nuclear debate, rather than starting yet another discussion?”

#ScottyFromMarketing’s propaganda triumph -nuclear submarines

September 19, 2021

Sloppy and unconvincing pro nuclear propaganda from the Australian Nationals and the Murdochracy

September 9, 2021

The Australian nuclear promotion is less persuasive. Coming predominantly from Murdoch media, the content of nuclear propaganda is sloppy, inaccurate, and at times downright weird

The Nationals and Murdoch media support nuclear power ahead of COP26, Independent Australia,By Noel Wauchope | 9 September 2021.

On 1 September 2021, Senator Matt Canavan called for Australia to boycott the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) to be held in Glasgow in November. 

Was he speaking on behalf of the coal or oil industries? Well, not exactly. 

This was the latest and strangest call from Australia’s noisy little band of pro-nuclear promoters. Canavan was responding to the news that the nuclear industry has been banned from having exhibits at COP26. He complained that the Climate Summit was a ”sham” for excluding nuclear power, a view supported by MP Ken O’Dowd.

O’Dowd said that nuclear power should be at the top of the climate agenda. Other National Party notables, David Littleproud and Bridget McKenzie, recently spoke out for nuclear power.

Like the nuclear industry worldwide, they are now taking up the cause of climate action with a vengeance. The nuclear lobby’s motives are clear. First, they likely want the tax exemptions and other subsidies that come with being declared as clean and sustainable. Secondly, they need that seal of approval, the public respectability which goes with acquiring the clean and green label.

The global lobby’s most persuasive argument is that a nuclear reactor’s operation generates a lot of electricity, with only a minuscule production of CO2

They don’t, of course, talk about the processes of the nuclear fuel chain from uranium mining through to demolition of dead reactors and disposal of wastes. Their favourite phrase ”emissions-free energy” doesn’t count emissions of radioactive strontium-90.

The Australian nuclear promotion is less persuasive. Coming predominantly from Murdoch media, the content of nuclear propaganda is sloppy, inaccurate, and at times downright weird. The Australian newspaper provides two outstanding examples

The first is this eye-catching article Savvy activists cast nuclear benefits in a fresh green light  subtitled:

‘For baby boomers, nuclear weapons and nuclear energy were conflated as an existential risk. This created an irrational fear that persists today.’

From the outset, the argument is an attack on anti-nuclear activists, instead of arguing the case for nuclear power.

The hero of the piece is Zion Lights, formerly of Extinction Rebellion, who created her own pro-nuclear group, Emergency Reactor.

She works closely with Michael Shellenberger, who, himself, has lost the support of the general nuclear lobby, due to his many inaccurate statements. Zion Lights and The Australian go into a lengthy digression on the foibles of the baby boomers, who have ‘conflated nuclear weapons and nuclear energy as an existential risk that could wipe out humanity’.

The health effects of the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters are minimised and renewable energy is rubbished as being ineffective.

The author, Claire Lehmann, concludes that the too-slow movement towards carbon neutrality is the fault of the misguided anti-nuclear baby boomers.

The second article is ‘Nuclear stacks up — cue the meltdown‘ by Greg Sheridan, who starts by accusing Australians as being ‘environmental outliers’ for prohibiting nuclear power…………..

the main thrust of this pro-nuclear argument moves on to an attack on Labor, the Greens and so forth:

‘… the deadly, wretched, wholly negative, nihilistic scare campaigns and demonising that the ALP left and its Green allies have conducted against nuclear energy.’

There is no attempt to address any of the worrying issues that surround nuclear power  costs, safety, environmental damage, radioactive waste. He reminds us that Bill Gates backs nuclear power. Well of course Gates does  he owns a nuclear power company, Terra Power.

He also quotes the European Union (EU) as backing nuclear power. While several EU countries do have nuclear power, the EU as a whole is not recommending nuclear powers as a climate solution. In fact, the nuclear industry is banned from exhibiting at the green zone at COP26………

As I write this comes the breathtaking news that the Murdoch media is changing its attitude to global warming. From a rather crude sort of climate denialism, they will likely move to supporting technical “climate fixes” spruiked by the fossil fuel industries. This is a more subtle way of sabotaging real climate action. 

Perhaps we can expect them also to provide something more credible on the nuclear issue in the future. https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/the-nationals-and-murdoch-media-support-nuclear-power-ahead-of-cop26,15496

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.

Australia represented (by Ben Heard) in Moscow in launch of Rosatom’s pro nuclear propaganda campaign.

May 4, 2021

Thousands Join Launch Of Rosatom’s Atoms For Humanity Nuclear Awareness Campaign, By India Education Diary Bureau Admin  May 3, 2021  Moscow: On April 30, over 3200 people from some 40 countries watched Rosatom’s Atoms for Humanity new nuclear awareness campaign launch event. The project is aimed at demonstrating the importance of nuclear technologies in achieving the UN Sustainable Goals through human-centered stories.

The project launch event Why Humanity Needs Nuclear brought together Polina Lion, Chief Sustainability Officer at Rosatom, Sama Bilbao y León, Director General of the World Nuclear Association, Dr. Maher Aziz, member of the World Energy Council, Ben Heard, founder of the Bright New World and Sergio Orlandi and Head of Central Engineering and Plant Directorate at ITER. Heroes of Atoms for Humanity joined the event to share their experiences participating in the campaign.

The [?] esteemed speakers discussed social, economic and environmental benefits of nuclear technologies and their invaluable contribution to solving the most urgent challenges of today and tomorrow.

Fossil fuel fans give Rupert Murdoch a phoney “Australia Day Award”

January 28, 2021

Murdoch’s Australia Day award — brought to you by miners and bankers
Those who promote and profit from fossil fuels have appropriated the phoney awards handed out by the obscure Australia Day Foundation.  
https://www.crikey.com.au/2021/01/27/rupert-murdoch-australia-day-foundation/ DAVID HARDAKER, JAN 27, 2021

There’s no faulting the Australia Day awards for throwing up some real doozies but lost in the Margaret Court drama this year has been a so-called lifetime achievement award for Rupert Murdoch from the Australia Day Foundation.

On the face of it it looks to be an extraordinary decision: a prestigious honour bestowed on the media mogul whose recent hits in the United States include helping fan an insurrection against democracy via Fox News and in Australia leading the way on climate change denialism in cahoots with the Morrison government it supports.

The Australia Day Foundation, though, is not as it seems. It is a not-for-profit organisation in the UK, set up as a networking base for Australian business and high achievers. Losers need not apply.

The foundation and its awards are backed by a group of international conglomerates including mining giants BHP, Rio Tinto, Woodside and Anglo-American. Australia’s big banks, the National Australia Bank and Westpac, are also in on the act. Another leading name is CQS, the wealthy London hedge fund founded by Australian business figure Sir Michael Hintze.

Hintze is not well known in Australia, but he is at the centre of a powerful network of business and conservative UK and Australian politicians. As we reported last year he has been a force behind the climate-sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation which has given voice to the views of Tony Abbott and Cardinal George Pell.

Nominally a business outfit, the foundation also blurs the lines with government. It is sponsored by Austrade and uses Australia House, home to the Australian High Commission, in London to hand out its “Australia Day” awards to UK and Australian figures of its choosing.

This year it gave its honorary Australian of the Year in the UK award to Conservative British MP Liz Truss who promoted the cause of Abbott as a trade adviser to the UK government. Past recipients have included Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Hintze is not well known in Australia, but he is at the centre of a powerful network of business and conservative UK and Australian politicians. As we reported last year he has been a force behind the climate-sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation which has given voice to the views of Tony Abbott and Cardinal George Pell.

Nominally a business outfit, the foundation also blurs the lines with government. It is sponsored by Austrade and uses Australia House, home to the Australian High Commission, in London to hand out its “Australia Day” awards to UK and Australian figures of its choosing.

This year it gave its honorary Australian of the Year in the UK award to Conservative British MP Liz Truss who promoted the cause of Abbott as a trade adviser to the UK government. Past recipients have included Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Hintze is not well known in Australia, but he is at the centre of a powerful network of business and conservative UK and Australian politicians. As we reported last year he has been a force behind the climate-sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation which has given voice to the views of Tony Abbott and Cardinal George Pell.

Nominally a business outfit, the foundation also blurs the lines with government. It is sponsored by Austrade and uses Australia House, home to the Australian High Commission, in London to hand out its “Australia Day” awards to UK and Australian figures of its choosing.

This year it gave its honorary Australian of the Year in the UK award to Conservative British MP Liz Truss who promoted the cause of Abbott as a trade adviser to the UK government. Past recipients have included Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Australian government hypocrisy about its new nuclear reactor deal with China

January 8, 2021

Double standards on research cooperation with China, Independent Australia 4 January 2021,   The Government is hypocritical in its approval of Australia’s nuclear research body to work with China on the development of nuclear reactors, writes Noel Wauchope.

PRIME MINISTER Scott Morrison’s Liberal Coalition Government seems to remain in silent approval of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s (ANSTOpartnership with a Chinese company to develop Generation IV nuclear technologies such as small nuclear reactors.

But it’s a different story when it comes to the Morrison Government’s concern to put a stop to the Victorian Labor Government’s cooperation with China in developing agricultural, communications and medical research.

We hear very little about the Australian Government’s research connections with China, managed under the Australia-China Science and Research Fund (ACSRF), which has the aim of ‘supporting strategic science, technology and innovation collaboration of mutual benefit to Australia and China’.

One remarkable collaboration between Australia and China is in the strategic partnership between ANSTO and the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (SINAP) to develop the Thorium Molten Salt Nuclear Reactor (TMSR) and other Generation IV nuclear reactor designs.

In March 2019, Dr Adi Paterson, then CEO of ANSTO, welcomed renewal of this agreement and was reported as stating that it was “consistent with ANSTO and Australia’s interest in and support of Generation IV reactor systems”. This statement was made at a time when Australia’s federal and state laws clearly prohibited the development of nuclear reactors.

The Age quoted anonymous senior Federal Government sources who reveal that the Australian Government may use its powers to tear up a research agreement between the Victorian Government and China’s Jiangsu province. This agreement was signed in 2012 and renewed in 2019……….

The USA partly funds the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which strongly advises against cooperative research with China. And, of course, Victorian Liberal Opposition leader Michael O’Brien was quick to join in the chorus, condemning the Labor Government for having the deal with China.

All this makes it all the more inexplicable as to why the Australian Government should have an agreement with China to develop nuclear reactors. Under federal law, Australia prohibits establishing nuclear installations.  ……..

There has been virtually no media coverage of Dr Adi Paterson’s deal with China, which goes back to 2015. I have previously written about this and the secrecy under which it was conducted.

Indeed, ANSTO’s operations and its funding have been conducted in secrecy, under the comfortable shroud of national security.

Right now, there is a move to corporatise the nuclear medicine facility at Lucas Heights as a separate entity to ANSTO. At the same time, the Government is in an unseemly rush to set up a nuclear waste dump near Kimba in South Australia. In the midst of all this came the sudden unexplained resignation of the CEO, Dr Adi Paterson.

The silence on all this is disturbing. It must be especially so for the small rural community of Kimba and for the Indigenous Title Holders as they wait in limbo for the vexed question of the nuclear waste dump to be solved. For the rest of South Australia, that is a concern, too. Victorians may well wonder why their medical research cooperation with China is seen as so dangerous. Meanwhile, is it okay for Australia’s nuclear research body, ANSTO, to work with China on the development of small nuclear reactors?  https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/double-standards-on-research-cooperation-with-china,14664

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) – lying and incompetent over Napandee nuclear waste dump fiasco

December 27, 2020

it does not matter what are the capabilities of the expert eventually selected by the tender offer as this will not overcame either the inherently unsuitable nature of Napandee for the government’s facility or the gross lack of regulatory compliance by the government of the internationally prescribed safety codes and regulatory requirements for the Napandee facility 

the disgraceful and insincere performance by the ANSTO management

28 Dec 20, It is amazing how much information you are given by various sources once you have begun to expose situations of improper or unfair conduct at a public level

I have just found out that ANSTO has approached two overseas experts in the field of nuclear waste to submit tenders in response to the tender offer published on 11 December 2021

In both instances the experts were told that their prime tasks would be  the corporatisation of the nuclear medicine facility at Lucas Heights as a separate entity to ANSTO and to establish the nuclear waste management facility at Napandee as planned by the federal government

It was suggested that the route to corporatise the nuclear medicine facility is now quite clear due to recent management changes at ANSTO

This probably relates to the resignation in rather unusual circumstances of Adrian Paterson as the chief executive officer of ANSTO since he was apparently against the corporate plans for the production of nuclear medicine

It was explained to the experts as to the other task that the Napandee facility has to reach operational status as quickly as possible and at the same time to discredit or prohibit the Azark Project underground repository at Leonora as this was proving a major embarrassment to the government

The words apparently used with regard to Azark were to “torpedo it” or “sink it”

It was suggested that the Leonora facility would cut across the efforts of the government to find a suitable location for the final disposal of the intermediate level waste which can only be stored at Napandee on a temporary basis

As neither of these experts has any presence in Australia which is a requirement of the tender ANSTO actually mentioned a couple of local groups who would be prepared to collaborate with those experts

While I am presently unable to verify this fact it seems that one of the overseas experts is linked with another expert group which is already a consultant for the Azark Project and it was also suggested that this consultancy be terminated as part of the tender process

If this can be established surely it is an attempt to lessen completion which becomes misleading and unconscionable conduct in trade or commerce under the Australian Consumer Law or is ANSTO exempt from any liability by Crown privilege?

However it does not matter what are the capabilities of the expert eventually selected by the tender offer as this will not overcame either the inherently unsuitable nature of Napandee for the government’s facility or the gross lack of regulatory compliance by the government of the internationally prescribed safety codes and regulatory requirements for the Napandee facility

You only need to watch the disgraceful and insincere performance by the ANSTO management at the Senate estimates committee hearing on 29 October 2020 including the inability to answer various questions which stemmed mainly from information I had given to the committee members

ANSTO has over 1,000 employees yet still suffers from gross errors in its operations and planning with seemingly little overview of its activities – moreover it remains a mystery what all these employees do because little realistic research and development has come from ANSTO.

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) – disingenuous and inept promotion of Kimba nuclear waste dump

November 6, 2020
it is very likely that the facility will not obtain the necessary licence for its establishment and operations and in any case the enabling legislation will be rejected by the Senate
If anyone has viewed the Senate estimates hearing on Thursday 29 October 2020 with regard to ANSTO then I am sure they will be concerned at the ill-prepared and unconvincing explanations by its management which at times verged on being completely disingenuous. If this is the major federal government entity on which there is so much reliance for the establishment of the planned nuclear waste facility at Kimba in South Australia then the whole nation and not just the local community should be seriously worried about the capability of ANSTO which contrary to its self serving promotion and publicity is not held in high regard internationally
This extends to the Department of Industry Science Energy and Resources and the other agencies involved with the proposed nuclear waste facility at Kimba and demonstrates the ineptness and lack of competence on the part of the government in its various capacities in trying to establish the facility
Because of this it is very likely that the facility will not obtain the necessary licence for its establishment and operations and in any case the enabling legislation will be rejected by the Senate.
It therefore defies logic for the government’s continued persistence with the Kimba proposal including the ministerial visit to Napandee farm yesterday which apparently failed to achieve anything as to a resolution of the inherent community problems – perhaps a political photo opportunity or confirmation at last that Napandee is a farm and not a community?
http://www.aph.gov.au Watch parliament Senate, Economics Legislation Committee

(Senate Estimates) Thu, 29 Oct 2020 Part 1 at 9.00 am EST