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Sep 8, 2010

Climate change policy set to steam up Canberra

One of the biggest questions for arising out of the ALP’s day of deliverance by the two country independents is this: what does it mean for climate change and clean energy policies?


One of the biggest questions for arising out of the ALP’s day of deliverance by the two country independents is this: What does it mean for climate change and clean energy policies?

That will likely depend on how long this minority government can survive. At the very least, these issues are now back on the agenda, which is a big step ahead of where we would have been with a majority government of either ilk.

Having shied away from climate change and clean energy policies during the election, the major parties are now faced with a greener parliament than they could ever have imagined. And there is every reason to believe that discussions will now focus on the policy, rather than the naked politics that blighted and finally hopelessly compromised the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

The key to bringing that debate to life will be the “climate committee”, a condition laid down by Greens climate change and energy spokesman Christine Milne, who drew on examples from Norway and Sweden in her attempt to find a mechanism that can leverage the multi-party dynamic that will be a feature of this parliament, at least until the next election.

Quite how this climate committee will work is not yet clear. Parliament is entering virgin territory. The broad agreement between the Greens and Labor provides only that they will decide on the mechanism by the end of September, which gives them three weeks to sort it out.

Milne’s vision is that it will include representatives from the ALP, the Coalition, the Greens, and the two country independents — Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott — who made climate change one of the key considerations for their decision to ditch the rural conservatism of their constituents in favour of the ALP. She also wants a panel of experts — like Ross Garnault, for example — to sit on the committee.

Milne is aware of the time constraints, and that this is possibly a one-term opportunity that needs to be seized. “This is the best political opportunity we’ve ever had. We’ve got a minority government for three years, then we are going back to majority rule.”

How the Coalition plays its hand will be interesting. Milne wants the pre-condition of membership of this government committee to be acceptance of the science of human-caused climate change and the need for a carbon price. The Coalition’s spokesman on climate change Greg Hunt is not happy.

“I don’t believe that parliament should ever have a committee where a belief test is a prerequisite,” he said yesterday. “Parliament should be place for free thought, …it is completely inappropriate.” His colleague, Malcolm Turnbull, might have a different take on the matter.

Milne, though, had a word of warning for the clean energy industry yesterday, saying that it needed to be forceful and speak with one voice, which it has conspicuously failed to do till now. She pointed to the debate on the renewable energy target, for instance, where there was no clear stance by the industry and it ended up being outmanouvered by the aluminium industry, which won major concessions.

This was a sentiment echoed, extraordinarily, by a government bureaucrat, Greg Nielsen, the head of Queensland’s Office of Clean Energy, who told the EcoGen conference. “I see a lot of good intent. What I don’t see is the amount of collaboration that we need. It’s not just about renewables, or energy efficiency or peak demand management or R&D. It is about all of these. Can we please have greater unity on this agenda.”

They are both absolutely right. The proponents of clean energy and climate change policy have been comprehensively outplayed by their opponents in the public policy debate. The lack of a coherent strategy has meant that the economic and environment opportunities of a low carbon economy have struggled to gain traction in the media.

The Rudd government can take much of the blame for that, but Milne says it also comes down to the quality of industry leadership. “Everyone is scratching around for small outcomes. That is not the strategy. Get yourself unified. If you can’t get (a representative body) that can agree, get one that will agree.”

That sentiment is one that is widely shared, and will make for some interesting positioning in coming months. The Clean Energy Council is presumed to be the industry representative, but it is distrusted by many, particularly those in emerging technologies such as solar and geothermal who see it as a vehicle primarily for the wind industry and the established players in the energy market.

The CEC membership criteria is a particularly sore point, and smaller players accuse it of effectively selling its policy positions to the highest bidders. Those with the means, pay a $49,000 annual fee to gain special privileges, such as input into policy formation and 20 votes at the AGM. Smaller players pay a $12,000 fee but get no direct policy input and just two votes.

Little wonder that a number of alternative groups continue to proliferate in their place. There are several solar groups — and another one soon to be formed to represent large-scale solar developers — a geothermal organisation and others representing biomass, and most recently hydrogen. The WA Sustainable Energy Association, an effective voice for the WA industry, is considering going national.

But much will also depend on how mainstream businesses — the property groups, retailers, manufacturers, and the finance industry who are not afraid of a carbon price and see it as essential to remain internationally competitive — are able to gather their forces as an effective voice in favour of such policies. Even if the opportunity for a more considered debate is afforded by the new parliament, the public positioning of industry groups will be crucial.

*This article first appeared on Climate Spectator


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45 thoughts on “Climate change policy set to steam up Canberra

  1. Jim Reiher

    There are a lot of very powerful and well financed groups who have a lot at stake: they will want this new minority government to fail as quickly as possible. Controlling (or at least … “inputting”… or “guiding”…) a Labor or Liberal majority is much easier for them.

    All the more reason for the diverse alternative energy groups to work better together.

  2. twobob

    Great point Jim
    It is such a shame that the team supporters don’t recognise this fact. Simply too many of them just vote as their parents did completely unaware that liberal now means business first and labor means centre right.

  3. Meski

    Don’t be too sure about the time limit, Christine. If this government doesn’t absolutely balls it up, we might repeat the experiment. Many of us were tired of majority rule politics, anyway.

  4. Alex H

    Meski, we might have the sentiment that a minority government is a good thing, but we can’t vote for one. It is only a chance thing where roughly the same number of electorates go each way that we get one. In order to increase the chance of having a minority government people need to vote away from the major partys, get more indies and Greens in (difficult with our lower house voting system).

    We can always hope though…

    What we can be moderately sure of is that the Greens will continue to hold the balance of power in the Senate which would still act as an effective check on a majority government – the government either needs to get the opposition or the Greens on side to pass legislation, so they shouldn’t be able to do anything too outrageous.

    Hopefully the days of one party controlling both houses (Howard ’04-’07) or the balance of power being shared by a rag-tag group of senators (Rudd ’07-’10) are over for a while. It remains to be seen how the rag-tag minority government works for Gillard… but don’t forget that the independents and the Greens all have a significant interest in making it work.

  5. Meski

    Well, you can vote for them by voting independents ahead of the main parties. (there’s a marginal risk you might get an all independent parliament that way, but it’s unlikely)

  6. Alex H

    As regards the content of the article, if the independents are serious about supporting climate change action there is a good chance that there will be significant policy advances. The Greens will have genuine input, the ALP need to keep the Greens on side and the Libs can’t stop them as long as the independents remain on side. The Libs will have their work cut out to be relevent over the next three years.

    The comment about having a greener parliament than either party could have imagined couldn’t be truer.

  7. Wagram

    Thanks Gyles. I’m relatively new to Crikey and am enjoying the informative articles.

    It looks like Greg Hunt needs a reality check. Why have a member of a committee that has no interest in the subject? Clearly the Greens are right in wanting the Committee to discuss progressing outcomes, rather than the time waste of disputing the science.

    AlexH is perfectly correct when he says the Libs will have to work to be relevent over the next three years. Considering the laziness of their performance in the last three it is difficult to see how they can achieve this. The Greens and Independents will have more power than the Coalition, unless the Coalition become a participative group in the Parliament (in this circumstance that involves having real policies that can work and being able to prove it) as opposed to the game playing obstructionists they were last term.

  8. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Wagram, it’s risky to propose that a political party that went from dead to breathing in three years is lazy. Maybe resurrection is a piece of piss, who knows?

  9. Flower

    We can continue playing ducks and drakes with the climate by concentrating on the emissions of the fossil fuel industry while ignoring the reality, and that is that the influential agriculture industry (holding this country to ransom), is the second largest emitter of green house gases – methane, nitrous oxide and CO2.

    Leon Bradley of the WA Pastoral and Graziers Association said that excluding agriculture from the CPRS obligations “is a win win outcome for agriculture and the climate because including farming would have had no effect on the climate, in the same way that the inclusion of all other Australian industries will have no beneficial effect.”

    Bradley said that: “Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull had been pushing Australia towards an ETS because they see a massive new funding source as well as a new potential for political control over business and individual activity.”

    Doctor: Spell ‘simple’. Cowpoke: Huh? Doctor: That’ll be a ‘yes’ then.

    Sorry Julia – it’s hard being Mrs Nice Gal!

    The livestock industry occupy nearly 60% of Australia’s landmass, and a massive amount of crops are grown to feed them, yet this industry’s main objective is to increase the numbers of livestock.

    The state of WA is some 2.5 million square kilometres – one third of australia’s land mass and has a major influence on the nation’s climate. Due to WA’s pastoralists and graziers’ failure to consider drought and climate change, there’s been a mass exodus of sheep in the last couple of months, from farms with little water and no feed.

    More than 150,000 emaciated ewes from WA have been trucked thousands of kilometres to pastoralists in South Australia and Victoria and don’t you worry about those transport emissions- ‘it’s the economy stoopid.’ Disappointed stud breeder Ray Lewis from WA said “all the hard work in increasing sheep numbers in the west is going to waste.” Huh? No matter that the south west of WA is officially listed as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. To qualify, the hotspot must have lost at least 70% of its primary vegetation.

    In addition, WA is losing the equivalent of 19 football fields a day to dryland salinity but what the heck – who’s counting while we salivate over that quarter pound tournedos rossini whilst retaining the ignominious title of the most obese nation on the planet.

    Recently a Netherland’s politician suggested that if people in the US, (which slaughters 10 billion livestock a year), ate one meat-free meal a week, it would be equivalent to taking 500,000 cars off the road. An excellent suggestion and not only for the climate but public health too since livestock owners in the US, coupled with other contaminants, feed chicken poop to commercial animals!

  10. Meski

    You’re cut and pasting from somewhere in the USA, Flower, to be talking about a quarter pound tournedos rossini, it’d be grams if it was here (or France, where it originated). I’d doubt if a dish served with black truffles is the cause of obesity anywhere, it’s simply too expensive. As for one meat free meal a week, I’d imagine a lot of people would exceed that fairly easily already, so statistics about it removing 500,000 cars off the road are dubious at best. (Assume 3 meals a day, that’s 21 per week, assume a proportion of people eat cereal/toast for breakfast, that’s 7 meals, assume a proportion eat sandwiches that don’t contain meat, that’s another 7, 14/21, then assume that you don’t necessarily eat meat every dinner, I’ll be kind to your figures and say 2 meat free dinners, that’s 16/21 meat free meals a week. For someone that isn’t even a professed vegetarian/vegan)

  11. Flower


    The tournedos rossini was used as a metaphor and it was not a cut and paste from ‘somewhere in the USA’ as you so incorrectly presumed. In fact it was a favourite of patrons at Momma Rosita’s restaurant in Kalgoorlie during the 70s and more particularly, during the nickel boom.

    Recipe: Oil, butter, beef stock, foie gras, prosciutto, white bread, brandy, madeira, filet mignon and black truffle and clearly not a recipe with which you are familiar given your silly comment about obesity. And any discerning person would understand that the Netherlands politician would have been referring to the main meal of the day which remains, predominantly animal flesh. And no, I am not a vegetarian – yet!

    Furthermore, you will find restaurants and cafés all over Australia do roaring trades with their 500 gram prime steaks, twelve inch meatball rolls and takeaways and food halls packed to the rafters with patrons getting their meat fix.

    Meat consumption per capita in Australia in 1969 was 91 kilograms. In 2006 it increased to 110 kilograms. And that does not include seafood or the millions of livestock grown for live, chilled or frozen meat export.

    1. At a national level, Western Australia has 8 of 12 Australian biodiversity hotspots.
    2. WA currently has 362 threatened plants, 199 threatened animals and 69 threatened ecological communities.
    3. Recovery plans have been developed for less than one-third of threatened species and ecological communities.
    4. There is ongoing loss and degradation of biodiversity in WA. (EPA State of the Environment Report 2007).

    Your nonsense has little to do with statistics, the information I provided, the reviews currently being conducted on the carrying capacity of livestock in these arid lands, factory farming, zoonoses, pollution, livestock in transit, massive land grabs to grow fodder worldwide, soil erosion, salinity, desertification and consequently, the impacts on climate change.

  12. Frank Campbell

    “The Clean Energy Council is presumed to be the industry representative, but it is distrusted by many, particularly those in emerging technologies such as solar and geothermal who see it as a vehicle primarily for the wind industry”

    Exactly. The wind scammers have the CEC by the balls. The MRET now exists solely for these rorters. Many billions are now being wasted on useless wind- yet just yesterday the German govt. in effect admitted that the vast investment in wind had been pointless, with the result that their 17 nuclear plants would now not be shut down but refurbished. That’s where the Bob Brown mentality is taking us. Baseload renewables don’t exist and the research necessary to develop them is not being done.

    As for the current Govt. by Pandemonium, the hubris of the Greens is hilarious: the bizarre vote was certainly no endorsement of “carbon tax” or phony wind turbines or and ETS… yet “Milne wants the pre-condition of membership of this government committee to be acceptance of the science of human-caused climate change and the need for a carbon price. ”

    They just don’t get it. Turnbull and Rudd were destroyed because they misunderstood the politics of climate change. Insulting and excluding a doubting population is a guarantee of yet more failure. Arrogant condescension makes matters worse.

    It’s time for a Real Green Party. I’m sick and tired of being lectured at by zealots like Brown and Milne while the real environment is trashed. Look at the pomposity and condescension of Ross Garnaut: finally, his environmental hypocrisy has got a run in the media (7.30 Report)- a director of the foul Ok Tedi gold mine and chairman of Lihir Gold, which dumps toxic mine waste offshore in PNG.

  13. Meski

    @Flower: You miss the point, decadent though it may be, people aren’t going to order Tournedos Rossini often enough to become obese on it. Coca Cola, Big Macs, Mars bars, fries, sedentary lifestyle, these are more likely to contribute to obesity. I’m familiar with the recipe (admittedly only by googling, I’ve never tried it, but if I see it on a menu sometime, I might. My point, though, is that it isn’t going to be something I’d eat every week, or even every month. Look for items that people consume weekly)

    My example was valid. Many people, not vegetarians, would consume less than 25% of their meals with meat. For your stats to be right, and I’d expect you looked them up, that means there’s some people consuming a lot more. I was referring to myself not being a vegetarian, actually, not you, the example I was using being a thumbnail sketch of my past meals.

    I didn’t address biodiversity, so I can’t quite understand your responding as if I did.

  14. Flower

    Meski – I reiterate – my reference to tournedos rossini was used as a metaphor so give it a rest pal since I really don’t give a fig if *you* plan to try it or not. And there is little need for you to remind me that your post was all about ‘I, me, myself.’

    In fact your responses are entirely irrelevant to my attempts to question the sustainability of an industry that significantly elevates anthropogenic greenhouse gases. In addition it is an industry that has and continues to severely impact on biodiversity with impunity, despite the industry spin and one which has significantly contributed to changes in climate. But then anthropologists will tell you that man is but a monkey shaved.

    Alas, this topic appears to conflict with your self-interests and is clearly beyond any capacity you may have for intellectual curiosity.

  15. Meski

    Condescended much, recently?

  16. John Bennetts

    Here we are, after a medium length article and a bunch of comments about climate change and so forth, yet there has been not a word about the safest form of energy on the planet – nuclear.

    This also happens to be the only form of electrical energy generation that can carry our civilisation towards lower CO2-e emissions, yet it has not been mentioned. In fact, it has been shunned by the Greens, who made up their minds collectively based on 1960’s data. There has not been a single large environmental issue with nuclear power since Chernobyl, and no generators in the Werst or under construction or planned are susceptible to such asn incident, regardless of the stupidity of its operators.

    Christine Milne and the remainder of the Greens may have stars in their eyes, but facts speak louder.

    This planet is doomed to a couple of hundred years of shocking decline unless the GHG emissions are drastically reduced and then kept down. That’s demonstrated science.

    Our societies have no way of achieving this sort of reduction in GHG without nuclear power. That’s engineering.

    We won’t get there. That’s politics.

    I am very sorry for my grandchildren and their neighbours. We are failing them all.

  17. AR

    How did that spam from “amydroste” get in? Like those shoes/handbags last year snuck in.

  18. Damo

    I’m sorry John but 4th G nuclear is still decades away.

    Then I wish you the best of luck finding a suitable site. If the government can’t convince the people of the severity of GW, how are they going to convince the people to let them build a ‘Chernobyl’ in there back yards.

    Now who are you going to get to build it? Dodgy Aussie tradesmen? Don’t they have a wonderful track record.

    I am not anti-nuclear. The reality is, that by the time its switched on it will be to late. We need to move forward with the technology we have now.

  19. Flower

    The cult of nuclearists who want to swap one destructive hazard for another feign superior knowledge but know nothing about chemistry, biology, physiology, pharmacology, ecology or uranium mining that is pushing civilization one step closer to the abyss.

    In 1999, the US Federal Trade Commission concluded that the Nuclear Energy Institute was guilty of falsely implying that nuclear energy is ‘environmentally clean’ and supplies electricity ‘without polluting.’

    There is nothing hidden that shall not be manifested. Stay tuned.

  20. Meski

    @Flower: Consider it the lesser of two evils. And 1999 was 11 years ago, nothing has happened in the meantime? (apart from moratoria not to use nuclear fission, and fiddling a few steps closer to global warming) Anti-nuclear people want it both ways: “It will take too long to build” *and* “we need to wait and study it more”. You can see both arguments here. I suspect nuclearists is a made-up word, the spell-checker does not recognise it.

  21. John Bennetts

    You have your preconceptions, quite likely I have my own. I changed my mind after many hours review of current literature, not a small personal expense incurred travelling to attend meetings and the like so that I could meet with the public figures and discuss the energy needs and options of a future Australia and I have changed my mind.

    Note, I do not denigrate non-nuclear options, though many are extremely expensive window dressing and nothing more, eg domestic 1kW photovoltaic and wind power without 24/7 backup in the form of gas turbines. Currently, wind generation is nought but show ponies with huge up-front carbon footprints in the form of metals and concrete for paltry returns, but the real culprit is the lack of a carbon price.

    A carbon price is essential for at least two reasons: One, to actually put aside some money to put a price on the damage being caused by CO2-e emissions as a step towards actually driving closure of the coal, oil and gas industries wherever possible. Secondly, a price is needed to indicate the maximum extent of support for non-polluting technologies. For instance, after very substantial up-front support of the capital cost of rooftop solar PV, the feed-in tarriff of 50 or 60 cents per kWh represents a 1200 % subsidy by retail customers. We are all paying 12 or more times the wholesale value of this energy just to support a feel-good PV industry. This cannot possibly continue.

    The Australian Government was lampooned and very nearly voted out of office because some of the BER came with a high price – reported to be 5% higher than the business as usual price. Imagine the opprobrium which would and should be heaped onto any government which supports rooftop PV at 1200% above market prices!

    Which leaves nuclear, currently Type III and very soon, as commercial Type IV come from being technological rarities, to commercial use world-wide. These beauties actually consume the 99% of uranium left behind after conventional power generation has done with it.

    As for your “Chernobyl” comment, please come back to the real world. You have selected the ONLY ever lethal nuclear power station incident. There are close to nuclear power plants in service throughout the world. Chernobyl was one of a very few which were so poorly designed, incompetently operated and under-maintained.

    The truth is, that nuclear power is by far the safest form of electrical power and/or process heat, Chernobyl is not an example of nuclear power as envisaged, and the longer Australia puts aside the opportunities presented by the nuclear route, the worse the climate damage which will have to be confronted and lived with (or perhaps not) while nay-sayers scrabble around in La-La land with incomplete responses to the energy challenge.

    So, Flower, please stick to relevant matter, avoid accusing all apples in the barrel of being as poor as the single rotton Chernoble incident, and deal with fellow contributors as people, not as targets.

    The subjects of energy and greenhouse gas response are far too important to be reduced to slogans.

    How many people have been or will be killed or maimed through falling off roofs Australia-wide due to unsafe work practices while constructing and maintaining solar PV panels? The tally of broken families because their (mainly) menfolk fall, uninsured, off the roof of the family home, will surely grow substantially in the near future. Promotors of installation of these things in locations which are not designed as workplaces are culpable in NSW (for example) under the OH&S Act and Regs. How about designers’ Risk Assessments covering lifetime risks? Now, there’s a real hazard waiting for action, not imaginary anti-nuclear waffle.

    1.Working at heights. http://www.workcover.nsw.gov.au/aboutus/howdoi/Pages/HDIHeights.aspx
    2. Designer’s responsibility. See in particular Clauses 85 to 97 of the NSW OH&S Regulation 2001. http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/fragview/inforce/subordleg+648+2001+ch.5-pt.5.2+0+N?tocnav=y

    Similar legislation exists in all States and Territories. I wouldn’t have one of these death traps on my roof at any price.

  22. Flower

    Nuclearist: A person who believes in or is an advocate for nuclearism. (Source: World Book Dictionary – Page 1424 – Edition: 1978)

    Pork for the nuclearist cult deviates? I don’t think so:

    (1) 2/2010: ERA (Rio Tinto) says “the Ranger uranium mine is one of the most environmentally regulated mines in the world.” Tsk tsk!

    2/2010: The Office of the Supervising Scientist in Australia advised a Senate Committee that the solution leaking from the ERA Ranger Mine in the NT has about 5,400 times the level of uranium than the natural background level. Senator Scott Ludlam advised that the environmental regulator told the committee that about 100,000 litres of water seeps from the tailings dam every day.

    (2) 9/2010: Nukes and Nitwits – “Three in a row – ERA’s Ranger Mine wins NT Export and Industry Award” (and is handsomely rewarded for contaminating the Kakadu World Heritage National Park and beyond for years):

    “For the third consecutive year Darwin based mining company Energy Resources of Australia Ltd (ERA) has won the Mining and Energy Award at the 2010 Northern Territory Chief Minister’s Export and Industry Awards. “

    (3) 7/2010: Skulduggery prevails in the 21st Century: WA MLC Robin Chapple said radiation at the former uranium exploration site, near the Lake Way, 11km from Wiluna, peaked at 143 times the normal range for that area. Chapple who served on the ARPANSA Radiation Health Council between 2006 and 2008, took issue with WA Mining and Resource Minister, Norman Moore’s dumbing down and his distortion of radiation science. He said that Norman Moore’s claims about the radioactive sites at Lake Way WA indicated a comprehensive lack of radiation knowledge and of the Lake Way area.

    “nothing has happened in the meantime” says Meski? Errr….I reiterate: “There is nothing hidden that will not be manifested.”

    Current radiation leaks, spills, accidents, shut-downs and cover-ups for this decade – Issues 4 – 20>: Available on request.

  23. John Bennetts

    @ Damo:
    1. Chernobyl references are absolutely inappropriate, for many reasons. The nuclear power industry currently includes amost 500 NPP’s, has existed for more than 50 years, and has only ever had one fatal accident. Most stretches of highway have poorer records than that.

    2. Keep stirring the NIMBY pot. It makes no sense, but continue anyway. Nuclear powerplants are amongst the better industrial developments that can visit some place near you or me. Having said this, let me go one further. Existing coal burners are already surrounded by land – often much of it. They already have transmission lines, operators, switchyards, maintenance staff close by, cooling water, etc. There is a very strong argument for siting at least the first dozen or so NPP’s where coal burners now are. Cheapest option, quickest option, best option.

    3. Your slur about “dodgy Aussie tradesmen” is both unwarranted and incorrect. For example, when Bayswater Power Station was built in NSW, the first unit was commissioned on time, on budget and without any significant technical glitches. It was constructed at world record pace and all 4 units were commissioned in 2 years – a notable success. It is quite reasonable to expect completion of nuclear modules, on time, on cost and of superb quality, within 5 or 6 years of commencement on site. Especially will this be true if the site is as I suggest, thus drawing upon local companies and construction staff who have already proven themselves capable of working with the international and capital city lead contractors which would, of course, head the design and construction teams.

    As a construction engineer and project manager, I have nothing but respect for almost all of the trades and subtrades persons I have met along the way, including (you guessed it) at Bayswater during the 1980’s and elsewhere since then.

  24. Flower

    “As for your “Chernobyl” comment, please come back to the real world. You have selected the ONLY ever lethal nuclear power station incident. There are close to nuclear power plants in service throughout the world. Chernobyl was one of a very few which were so poorly designed, incompetently operated and under-maintained.”

    John Bennetts – Nowhere in my writings of more than twenty years on uranium have I referred to the Chernobyl catastrophe. Until you publicly acknowledge that you have deliberately and purposely distorted the contents of my post and until you acknowledge that you have thrown in the cult’s typical red herring of Chernobyl to sway readers, will I respond to your argument on nuclear energy, duplicitous as it is.

  25. Meski

    @Flower: It’s all me me me? It wasn’t you that made the reference to Chernobyl, but Damo. So there is nothing duplicitous there at all, despite your use of negative words like cult. Hmmm, you’ve been writing for 20 years about nuclear energy? What qualifications do you have for these writings?

    As for nuclearist (or nuclearism), the online dictionaries don’t like it much. Particularly the *reputable* ones.

  26. Flower

    “Flower: It’s all me me me? It wasn’t you that made the reference to Chernobyl, but Damo. So there is nothing duplicitous there at all.”

    Meski – Tell that to John Bennetts who duplicitously accused me of referring to Chernobyl. Then wipe the egg from your face.

    And well done Meski because you’ve won the prize for being the most alliterate poster on-line. One who must resort to a quick google to feign knowledge of subjects he doesn’t read and on which his intellectual contributions are precisely zilch and his ad homs, many. No facts, no figures – nothing! Google away Meski!

  27. John Bennetts


    I am too unworried by your claptrap to check whether it was you or Meski or Damo or… who mentioned Chernobyl. So, take it as rerad that I mucked up. So what?

    Meski, please don’t go away. Even Flower needs someone to call “alliterate”, presumably to demonstrate her knowledge of arcane dictionaries doesn’t end with use of “nuclearist”.

    Perhaps we should all revert to the english language from here on, in order to limit further confusion.

    So, Flower, now that you have read my contribution and after due allowance for my mistookenness re Chernobyl, do you understand and accept my position? If not, what exactly is your solution to the world’s problems of GHG and climate change? Where should we start?

  28. Meski

    Egg is on your face, Flower: Here’s a quote from what John said:

    @ Damo:
    1. Chernobyl references are absolutely inappropriate, for many reasons. The nuclear power industry currently includes amost 500 NPP’s, has existed for more than 50 years, and has only ever had one fatal accident. Most stretches of highway have poorer records than that.

    You see the @Damo?? That means he’s addressing Damo.

    As for your calling me alliterate? That is the pot calling the kettle black, because I think you meant illiterate.

    Alliterate would mean I stressed the use of a consonant at the beginning of words, repeatedly. I’d give you an example, but you’d exclaim that I must have googled it. too tired to try, TTFN.

    Or maybe you meant the most prolific? Just what do you want facts and figures on, that google would not provide?


  29. Damo

    It was John who first brought up Chernobyl. Because I think he subconsciously knows, regardless of the facts, it is the single biggest stumbling block. So no egg on Flowers face at all.

    Regardless of the science the ‘not in my backyard crowd’ will fight a reactor site every step of the way.

    You are forgetting the single biggest factor in any system. The Human factor, its based on emotion not facts or science.

    Of course its poor Peter Garrets fault for the insulation problems, the collins class submarine debacle, the Burnley tunnel leaks, the Sydney Olympic site etc. I’m sure there some good tradesmen out there, I’ve even meet a few, but the vast majority I’ve worked with will take every short cut they possibly can.

    You can now quote what ever statistic or facts you like, and I’ll agree with them, because I’m not opposed to the idea of a 4g Reactor, but I’ll place a wager that there won’t be a second nuclear rector on Australian soil before 2050. When they do build it I’ll be moving to the other side of the country.

    The Melbourne University’s Energy Research Institute’s 10 year plan for 100% renewable at $37 billion seems a better way to go. Not that I think that will happen either, the coal and fossil fuel industry will see to that.

  30. Flower

    “what exactly is your solution to the world’s problems of GHG and climate change? Where should we start?”

    John Bennetts – I suggest that we dispense with the sophistry for the time being and start at the front end of nuclear energy. In debate one generally expects a response to the argument initially raised by an opponent, however, you have rumbled along, having done no such thing which suggests that your evasive and subsequent argument is implausible.

    Could you advise why you are avoiding the issues I have raised in the mining of uranium? You would understand the inference of course i.e. that one who tries to put lipstick on a pig that has and continues to foul itself, is not considered a credible opponent.

    These red herrings (or porcine treats) merely present obstacles to progress where by now, one could be offering solutions to mitigating CO2 or even asking why the nuclear industry are the noisiest corporate screamers on the planet? “amost (sic) 500 NPP’s”, John? What’s with the hyperbole? It’s more like 436 operating plants (8 less than in 2002) and a piddling 16 out of more than 190 nations having sixty one plants under construction where one quarter of the plants have been under construction for more than 20 years.

    Forty one of the plants above are in China, Russia, India and South Korea, and none of those countries are transparent about construction costs or schedules. The ignominious and big polluters, the multinational corporation, Areva boasts of its Flammanville 3 project which is in a big mess – hundreds of flaws and huge cost overruns and but then perhaps an optimist could twiddle his thumbs while expecting to witness fusion energy by the year, 2090?

    Tripling the current worldwide capacity by 2050, I’m advised means building more than a thousand new plants, and would only reduce atmospheric CO2 loads by 12% to 20% on 1990 levels. A thousand new plants operating in 40 years? Ahem!

    Since the dawn of the nuclear age, nuclear energy advocates have dreamed of a reactor that could produce more fuel than it used. More than 60 years and $100 billion later, that vision is not a reality yet billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money continues to be squandered on a flawed technology. U beaut Gen IV reactors ? Where are they John Bennetts?

    Government figures show that only 35% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions come from electricity production but the nuclear proponents ignore the fact that sixty-five per cent of emissions come from transport, landfill, mining, industrial process emissions, agricultural processes and land clearing. So what’s with the obsessing over just 35% of the problem while the nuclear shills provide uranium to clean up other nations by converting this nation into a radioactive wasteland?

  31. Meski

    1000 new plants of what generating capacity? Specifics, not this bland “I am advised” Generation IV reactors? If people of your ilk would stop raging against them, we might get some built. Really, though, at my age, it’s someone else’s problem. Do what you damned well like, and live with the consequences.

  32. Flower

    “Really, though, at my age, it’s someone else’s problem. Do what you damned well like, and live with the consequences. ”

    Err Meski if we hadn’t allowed the greed barons in the pollutant industries (including the nuclear spinners) to do what they damned well like, we wouldn’t be living with the consequences now, nor would we be debating climate change, would we?

    Could you contribute something intelligent or at least relevant to the topic Meski because your ad homs are like water off this old duck’s back.

    Lift your game old timer.

  33. John Bennetts

    Flower, I choose not to devote my afternoon to stripping the vitriol, hyperbole and just plain cr_p from your rants.

    Suffice to say that I know that your mind (or lack of same) is made up, your list of quotes is bookmarked for future reference and nothing will drag you voluntarily towards a solution which actually works.

    The Melbourne Uni proposal is similar to the ZCA one in one important regard – it does not offer to provide the marketplace with the energy which is demanded. I prefer not to sit and shiver in the dark. I prefer not to have rolling blackouts. I prefer not to bounce between non-workable solution after solution. I choose to look after the world which my grand-children may inherit.

    In particular, your repeated nonsense about piddling releases of matter into a poofteenth of a tiny bit of a part of the outback pales into insignificance and irrelevance when compared against the actual, current, continuing, release of fugitive metals, radiation and dust from coal fired power stations. If the choice was between 100% coal and 100% nuclear power production, by some magic wave of a wand, the world would be a far nicer place with the latter.

    cradle to grave analyses of copeting technologies is preferable to snapshots, I am sure that you will agree, however a couple of snapshots of mining storytelling versus whatever I am able to bring to the table will not provide certainty.

    Try, for example, Ian Lowe and Barry Brook’s opposing presentations in “Why Vs Why”, Pantera Press, 2010, on the shelves now for less than $20. They are both rational professors and agree to disagree. I happen to agree with one of them.

    It is an excellent read: short, pertinent and contains points in rebuttal. There simply isn’t room here for 100 pages.

  34. Meski

    Again with the reference to ad hominems? Sigh, is that really the best you can do? How has the nuclear industry contributed (significantly, mind) to GHG emissions? Do not mention construction, as all power plants need to be constructed. Do not mention mining, as coal requires far more ongoing mining to keep its plants running. Try and avoid references to porcine treats, yes I know it’s a favourite of yours, but try, just this once.

  35. Flower

    “In particular, your repeated nonsense about piddling releases of matter into a poofteenth of a tiny bit of a part of the outback pales into insignificance and irrelevance when compared against the actual, current, continuing, release of fugitive metals, radiation and dust from coal fired power stations”

    Terrific duckshoving John Bennetts and spoken like a professional nuclear shill. No naughty corner for you eh? Well not from your dastardly leaders but allow me to enlighten you on at least one of those ‘piddling’ and ‘poofteenth’ matters in the ‘outback’ and your reference to coal mining where you appear too obtuse to realise that a major source of heavy metals, dust and radiation are from metal ore mining (including uranium mining). Catch on? One example follows which no doubt will be a total waste of my valuable time:

    HEAVY METALS: Major Sources – Australia

    1. MERCURY: Basic Non-ferrous Metal Manufacturing: 9,900 kgs, Metal Ore Mining: 680 kgs, Coal Mining: 120 kgs. (Note: Barrick/Newmont Gold Super Pit managed to dump 14 tonnes of mercury over Kalgoorlie during 2004/2005).

    2. ARSENIC: Basic Non-ferrous Metal Manufacturing: 47,000kgs, Metal Ore Mining: 44,000kgs, Coal Mining: 2,6000kgs, Elect. Gen. 920 kgs.

    3. CHROMIUM III: Metal Ore Mining: 130,000 kgs, Coal Mining: 28,000 kgs.

    4. LEAD: Basic Non-Ferrous Metal Mfg: 260,000, Metal Ore: 150,000, Coal Mining: 11,000.

    5. NICKEL: Metal Ore Mining: 180,000, Basic NF Metal Mfg: 67,000, Coal Mining: 16,000, Electricity Gen: 6,700.

    6. CYANIDE: Metal Ore Mining: 1,000,000 kgs, Basic NF Metal Mfg: 550,000, Coal Mining: 0.5kgs.

    Source: National Pollutant Inventory Australia

    I remind you John Bennetts that I deal in documented facts therefore and unlike the jabberwanky you spruik, I am able to substantiate my claims. Naturally your response to the facts I have provided was precisely as I anticipated – evasive, false, misleading and just plain ignorant. A typical shill for the most devious industry on the planet.

    Hasta la vista!

  36. Meski

    How many of those heavy metals actually get produced when mining uranium?

    I’d refer you to this, as well.

    “Heavy metals” a meaningless term? (IUPAC Technical Report)

    Abstract: Over the past two decades, the term “heavy metals” has been widely used. It is often used as a group name for metals and semimetals (metalloids) that have been associated with contamination and potential toxicity or ecotoxicity. At the same time, legal regulations often specify a list of “heavy metals” to which they apply. Such lists differ from one set of regulations to another and the term is sometimes used without even specifying which “heavy metals” are covered. However, there is no authoritative definition to be found in the relevant literature. There is a tendency, unsupported by the facts, to assume that all so-called “heavy metals” and their compounds have highly toxic or ecotoxic properties. This has no basis in chemical or toxicological data. Thus, the term “heavy metals” is both meaningless and misleading.


    And IUPAC are quite a credible body.

  37. Flower

    “How has the nuclear industry contributed (significantly, mind) to GHG emissions?

    Ya – right dude, this is so much… like… ‘scientific.’ I feel much better already. That stuff the other man’s talking about just freaked me out so here’s a little bit of trivia for you on GHG emissions emitted by the nuclear industry:

    “WA Hansard – Hon Giz Watson (North Metropolitan) November 2008:

    “Uranium Mining Urgency Motion:

    “Olympic Dam has generated 60 million tonnes of radioactive waste covering several hundred hectares. It is growing at the rate of eight million tonnes a year and will eventually cover 700 hectares to a height of 30 metres.

    “This one mine in South Australia currently consumes 10 per cent of South Australia’s electricity. So much for a greenhouse-friendly industry! The proposed expansion of Olympic Dam will result in it consuming 50 per cent of South Australia’s electricity. Olympic Dam is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in South Australia. It is also a huge consumer of water, consuming 35 million litres of water” (and plans to increase this to 150 million litres per day.)

    Of course the Olympic Dam mine enjoys a range of exemptions from the South Australian Environmental Protection Act, the Water Resources Act, the Aboriginal Heritage Act and the Freedom of Information Act. A 2003 Senate inquiry into the regulation of uranium mining in Australia reported “a pattern of under-performance and noncompliance” but don’t tell that ‘crap’ to the other man now ya hear?

    Hey and just imagine if the 450 uranium projects in WA ( currently reporting to the global financial market) came into operation, we could manage to keep our CO 2 emissions up and our population down eh?

    Of course I now realise that you had no idea that without uranium, there is no nuclear energy and why are you talking about coal? I thought we were over it. Perhaps I could I offer you a mercury, lead and arsenic club sandwich and may I call you Mr Squiggles?

  38. John Bennetts

    Flower, you who deals only in facts, have you realised that Type IV NPP’s will totally do away with the need for mining for our fuels? For millennia? These will consume the remaining 99.3% of the uranium which is not fissioned in existing reactors.

    Your stories about mining, skipping blithely across the WA landscape without thought for relevance or continuity of storyline, are as nought when compared with this fact.

    60 million tonnes of overburden? Fantastic. Take a look at Google Earth and read up or listen to some, such as I, who live in the primary coal mining areas of the eastern states. 60 million tonnes are but a pinprick.

    Yes, Flower, you are the same person whose depth of knowledge was acquired by sitting at a table of community reps (whingers?) thousands of kilometers away from the object of your complaints. Was the air conditioning not to your liking? The tea too cool? Try actually mining and earning a living in the centre of Australia, trying to keep your lights on and your city functioning. I have done so, in several states including your own, and am proud of the light footprint which I have left upon our land.

    I am proud also that I have taken various tertiary courses which enable me to actually gain perspective on these matters, not just to regurgitate bile from some other’s open wound.

    Flower, your sucking out of the juice of life from this debate is not an achievement – it is the act of a vandal. A clean, cheap and safe nuclear future it will be, else be prepared to sit in the dark and shiver as you wonder why the lights are not on.

  39. Flower

    John Bennetts – You’re living proof that evolution can go backwards. And just in case you missed it while beating your chest and screeching ‘look at me, look at me,’ I was born and bred into mining as were five other generations. And yes we miners are used to big shots like you who swagger onto mine sites and then blow up gelignite in the porta-potty so give it a rest pal.

    Meanwhile get your facts straight or at least acknowledge the irrefutable evidence of the state of the nuclear industry and stop the B/S if you want to feign expertise on nuclear energy:

    27 of 104 plants in the US leaking radioactive tritium, a carcinogen. Enough is enough!

    Remember back in 2004, when it was announced that a U beaut PBMR would be built at Koeberg, South Africa by Eskom? It takes 380,000 tennis ball sized pebbles to fuel a reactor of 120 MW. Wow! Well in September 2009 the power plant was postponed indefinitely. In February 2010 the South African government stopped funding of the PBMR because of a lack of customers and investors. Tut tut.

    The acting director of PBMR Ltd resigned on March 8, 2010 and PBMR Ltd started retrenchment procedures and reduced the 800 employees by 75%. But South Africa is widely recognised as world leaders in the field of high temperature reactor design. Yeah right so millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money used again on a dud project with yet another cash grab by a duplicitous nuclear industry that presents every obstacle to the commencement of renewable energy, and whose shills are braying donkeys and snarling Rottweilers!

    So stop sucking the life out of renewable energy John Bennetts and stop pretending that uranium mining and the nuclear industry are clean and green. We’re not the stoopid ones!

  40. Meski

    That’s a really good example of an ad hominem that you’ve used right there, Flower. Dive in and attack the man, not the argument. So much for you constantly twitting me for using them.

    Tritium is a by-product of fusion, so that’s interesting.

    Your screed of how the nuclear industry contributes to GHG is all about mining. *ANY* type of nuclear power system uses less ongoing raw product, in other words, less mining, than fossil fuel systems. I did point this out, when I asked the question, but you ‘conveniently’ overlooked it as unhelpful for your argument.

    Why was it postponed, Flower? Well, because of green groups complaining about it, mostly.

    There is opposition to the PBMR from groups such as Koeberg Alert and Earthlife Africa, the latter of which has sued Eskom to stop development of the project

    Makes your argument about it being a dud ring somewhat false.

  41. Flower

    ‘Why was it postponed, Flower? Well, because of green groups complaining about it, mostly.’

    Dear Mr Squiqqles

    It’s widely recognised that you are a cheery, scatter-brained character with very long pencil for a big long nose like Pinnochio’s and who’s often distracted and goes on space-walks.

    Making up stories appears to be your God given talent too but since you’ve been indoctrinated by the sleazy, crafty and tyrannical nukes, I think for the sake of the kiddies, it’s a citizen’s responsibility to expose you as a big fat liar:

    “Since its establishment in 1999, Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (Pty) Ltd has grown into the largest nuclear reactor design team in the world. In addition to the core team of some seven hundred people at the PBMR head-office in Centurion near Pretoria, more than a thousand people at universities, private companies and research institutes are involved with the project. Around the world, scientists and governments are looking to South Africa with great interest to see how the local nuclear reactor developments unfold.

    “PBMR has not been able to acquire additional investment into the project since government’s last funding allocation in 2007, nor has it been able to acquire an anchor customer, despite revising its business model in 2008/09,” the department said. Because of this, government had allowed the company to retrench most of its staff, but still allowed it to continue being part of the US’s “next generation nuclear plant” project as part of a consortium.

    “But the situation was made worse when a key member of the consortium pulled out of the US project, which led government to begin winding down the PBMR company completely.

    “This comes after government spent R9 billion of public money on the PBMR company, which hoped not only to build 24 pebble bed nuclear plants for South Africa, but to build nuclear plants for export and earn “billions” in foreign exchange. None of this happened.

    “One of the critics, Stephen Thomas, professor of energy policy at the University of Greenwich in the UK, told the Cape Times that it was clear at least six years ago that the PBMR project was going badly wrong. Yet the government continued to pour public money into it, indeed about 80 percent of all the money spent on the pebble bed was spent in the past six years. Thomas said it appeared government had learned “little or nothing” from the experience of the pebble bed.

    “Tristen Taylor, of Earthlife Africa, said “sanity has finally prevailed and the PBMR experiment has come to an end, along with the scandalous waste of public funds. We hope that this will also mark the end of the South African government’s love affair with nuclear energy and that taxpayer funds can now be spent on clean, proven and reliable forms of renewable energy”.

    Goodbye Mr Squiqqles and remember, when you lay with dogs you get fleas – my humble apologies to the fleas!

  42. Meski

    Lets see, when I get a reply like that, I consider my work here is done, in exposing you for what you are.

  43. Flower

    “Lets see, when I get a reply like that, I consider my work here is done, in exposing you for what you are.”

    Ya Mr Squiggles – the above denial and duckshove reminds me of another pathological liar – Cogema (now Areva) exposed by the French courts as an underhanded dealer in illegal nuclear waste.

    In 2005, and after four years of appeals, the La Hague nuclear plant was correctly described as a nuclear dump – and an illegal one at that. The French energy giant was ordered to sort out their spent nuclear fuel rods, or end up paying a penalty every day.

    Bt 2005, Areva, had been illegally importing and storing Australian nuclear waste for four years. The Court of appeal also ordered Areva to produce an operating authorisation for the reprocessing of the Australian waste within three months. After this deadline, Areva was given two months to remove the waste from France. I hear tell that they’ve recently been caught out dumping depleted uranium in Siberia but of course, the usual denials of pathological liars prevail – “No sir, I did not have sexual relations with that woman!”

    Onya Mr Squiggles (or should that be Mr Bean?) – ‘birds of a feather, stick together.’

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