Category: Environment

The Keep QLD Nuclear Free network hosted a conference today to welcome Naoto Kan to Brisbane and to ask Mr Kan about his position on nuclear power. Mr Kan was Prime Minister of Japan during the Fukushima Nuclear disaster.

Mr Kan spoke of the failure of TEPCO and authorities to contain the disaster and of the affects on the prefecture of Fukushima. He described the Fukushima disaster as without precedent and without any technology yet capable of cleaning up the site. The cores of several reactors continue to melt down without any real ideas on how to stop the process, and top soil removed from the site will have to be stored for thousands of years.

When asked about his position on Nuclear power now compared to before the disaster, Mr Kan said his view had changed 180 degrees. As of today, no nuclear power plants are operating in Japan, having been mothballed while a decision is made about how or if the plants can be operated safely.

Earlier this week Mr Kan visited northern Australian Indigenous communities to talk with Elders about the issues of Nuclear power and nuclear mining.

Below are photos from the conference:

Naoto Kan Brisbane (1)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (2)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (5)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (6)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (8)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (10)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (11)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (12)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (14)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (15)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (16)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (18)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (19)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (20)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (21)


EMBARGOED 6:00AM | Friday 22 November 2013

Malaysians to Occupy Lynas HQ in Sydney:
Protest shareholder meeting, divest from Lynas

SYDNEY | Eight representatives from Himpunan Hijau, one of the largest environmental movements in Malaysia, will be travelling to Australia to protest against Australian rare earth mining company, Lynas Corporation. Lynas has started exporting its toxic and radioactive rare-earth pollution to it’s controversial refinery, the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Kuantan, Malaysia.

Himpunan Hijau will be joined by Friends of the Earth Australia, Beyond Nuclear Initiative, AidWatch and The Greens.


Occupation outside Lynas Headquarters
ALL DAY Tuesday 26 – Thursday 28 November 2013
56 Pitt Street, Sydney

Press conference hosted by The Greens
Thursday 28 November 2013
10AM behind NSW parliament

Protest outside Lynas Corporation Annual General Meeting
Friday 29 November
Opposite Establishment Hotel,
252 George Street Sydney

On August 4th 2011 Australian company Lynas Corporation officially opened its Mt Weldrare earth mine in Western Australia. Lynas has started exporting rare earth concentrates, through the port of Fremantle in Western Australia to the port of Kuantan in Malaysia, to their polluting, energy intensive and highly controversial rare earths processing plant, the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP).

The LAMP is vehemently opposed by at least a million Malaysians. It was constructed without any public consultation and near fishing communities. Its pollution and waste management are seriously deficient according to a scientific report[1] by Germany’s Oeko Institute.

More info and for interviews with Himpunan Hijau representatives contact:
Tully Mcintyre,
An affiliate campaign of Friends of the Earth Australia
0410 388 187

[1] “Description and Critical environmental Evaluation of the Rare Earth Refinery Plant LAMP near Kuantan/Malaysia”

*Note: Press Releases are authored by contributing organisation.

The March Against Monsanto international initiative hit Brisbane CBD Today (Saturday 12).  An energetic group of about 150 people took to the streets to protest GMO’s produced by Monsanto.

The group’s stance is that Monsanto GMO’s are untested and present potential health dangers.  Other issues such as Monsanto’s lobbying against labelling legislation and efforts to have governments implement Monsanto protection acts which limit Monsanto’s exposure to action by individual or class action are also on the group’s hit list.

More information about the group can be obtained here:

Pictures of the Brisbane march can be found here:

Stop Monsanto March Oct 2013

Stop Monsanto March Oct 2013

Stop Monsanto March Oct 2013

How will the environment fare under Abbott?  Well this is very much the sixty four thousand dollar question, but short answer; not well.

Photo Abbott courtesy MystifyMe Concert Photography

Photo Abbott courtesy MystifyMe Concert Photography

There are several factors in play.  The first is whether passage of a bill to rescind the ETS will prompt a double dissolution.  The second is the question of how the LNP will perform on environmental issues generally.  For example will they proceed with the treatment plant for outflow proposed by Rudd for Gladstone (to protect the reef from nitrogen and other pollutants)? The second question is a bit larger in scope and will be difficult to answer in the short term.

Tony Abbott’s ‘direct action’ plain is patently inadequate.  He is committing $3 billion to carbon abatement programs, which essentially amounts to planting trees and soil sequestration.  The CSIRO report ‘Soil Carbon Sequestration Potential: A review for Australian agriculture’ makes the point that soil carbon storage predictions are difficult to make:

There is a strong theoretical basis partially supported by a limited number of field studies for significant SOC sequestration potential in several Australian agricultural sectors. However, a general lack of research in this area is currently preventing a more quantitative assessment of the carbon sequestration potential of agricultural

And it’s doubtful $3 billion would be able to achieve the level of abatement possible.

The other thing completely missing from Abbott’s plan is investment in renewables.  While the rest of the world is investing at a breakneck speed in Solar and Wind technology, Australia is faltering.  Germany just recently reached 51% home rooftop solar panels.  They have a firm target for being 100% reliant on renewable energy.  That includes a program of closing down all nuclear power plants by 2022.  Meanwhile viable projects such as the proposed conversion of Port Augusta Coal power plant to Solar Thermal go wanting for funding.  Solar and Wind technology is likely to be largely ignored by the Abbott government.

So what of the Carbon Tax and possible double dissolution?  For Abbott to push his legislation through the senate he will need 39 votes.  Currently, with postal votes still being counted, the senate looks like this: 25 Labor, 9 Greens, 32 Liberal, 6 independent or single issue and 4 too close to call.  Of the single issue we have Nick Xenophon, Palmer United Party, Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party (AMEP), Australian Sports Party (ASP), Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Democratic Labor Party (DLP), and two unknowns (though looking like another Palmer, and a Nick Xenophon ally).

Palmer United state in their policy document that they strongly support an abolition of the carbon tax.

The AMEP don’t make a specific statement about the Carbon Tax.  They do however list as amongst their core values low taxation, small government and minimal government intervention.  They will probably try and get something from Abbott in return for their vote on ditching the Carbon Tax.

The Liberal Democratic party not only promised to support any legislation to dismantle the Carbon Tax, they also go the extra step of insisting that they will vote against Abbott’s Direct Action measures: “We wouldn’t stop him from getting rid of the carbon tax,” David Leyonhjelm said.  “But when it comes to his big spending plans he may be in trouble, such as direct action on climate change and his paid parental leave – he won’t be getting any support from us.”

ASP have exactly zero information on their website about their Carbon Tax position. They are likely to use their vote as a bargaining chip to get concessions for their sporting policies.

The Democratic Labour Party is fairly conservative.  They support same sex civil unions as a solution to the gay marriage issue.  They have a pro-active Coal and Gas policy and support developing Australian self-reliance on Gas and Coal.  Neither their energy policy nor environment policy mention anything about Carbon Tax.
Nick Xenophon has stated that he does not support the Carbon Tax in it’s current form, whether he meant as a Carbon Tax or also in it’s ETS form is unclear.  He does have this on his website:

“While I would support the repeal of the current carbon tax, it must be replaced by something more efficient for the economy and more effective for the environment.”

He goes on to say he supports the system that Turnbull had proposed:

I support the model developed by leading economic think-tank Frontier Economics that I commissioned jointly in 2009 with then Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull. This scheme rewards low-emission industries while punishing high-emission industries. It involves carrots and sticks, and unlike the Government’s scheme it doesn’t involve the massive taxing and wealth distribution associated with Government’s carbon tax.

The Frontier Economics scheme is smarter, cleaner and cheaper.

While I support the current renewable energy target, its current rules are stacked against baseload renewables such as geothermal and solar-thermal. The problem with an over reliance on wind energy (leaving aside community and noise concerns) is that its power generation is intermittent and it makes power much more expensive than it needs to be.

So far that is a clear 34 senate seats that will vote against the abolition of the Carbon Tax, and a fairly certain 38 (including DLP) who will support the abolition.  If even 1 of the remaining 4 vote for abolition, then there will be no double dissolution, and no Carbon Tax/ETS.

If Xenophon decides to favour an ETS, and/or other seat counts go unexpectedly, we may yet see a hung senate on the issue of the Carbon Tax, which would force a double dissolution and potentially a new election.  A new election would possibly galvanise a little extra support for Greens/Labor as voters reassess the loss of the Carbon Tax. Or it may go the other way.

Another possibility is that it won’t be the Carbon Tax that forces a dissolution but some other issue that displeases the loose alliance of independents.


Peace Convergence Media Release 21 August 2013
Jury unable to reach verdict after six hours in Rockhampton Tiger Ploughshares Trial 
After six hours on day three of the Rockhampton Tiger Ploughshares Trial the jury was unable to deliver a unanimous verdict. The jury was sent out twice and returned both times without a decision reached – ten voting guilty and two not guilty. The judge sent the jury home and will seek further clarification from the defence and prosecution on how to proceed in the morning. 
Evidence in the landmark trial has included the now infamous WikiLeaks “Collateral Murder” footage leaked by Bradley Manning (to be sentenced tonight). The footage shows Iraqi civilians being gunned down by US military in an Apache helicopter. Baptist Minister Reverend Simon Moyle (Voices for Creative Non-violence delegate in Afghanistan) and journalist Donna Mulhearn (former human shield and human rights observer in Iraq) also gave evidence of their experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq. 
Mr Dunstan (71) of the Tiger Ploughshares Action was charged with damage to Commonwealth property during the Talisman Saber exercise in 2011. Mr Dunstan assisted the now deceased Bryan Law who rode a large red tricycle across the Rockhampton airport tarmac and disabled an Australian Army Tiger Attack Reconnaissance Helicopter in a creative act of disarmament. Mr Law used a garden mattock to deliver a blow to the military helicopter. The action was inspired by the biblical prophecy of ‘Beating Swords into Ploughshares’ meaning taking action to convert killing machines such as the Tiger helicopter into ploughshares or agricultural tools that promote life.
Mr Dunstan of is representing himself with the help of a legal support friend Sean O’Reilly of Brisbane. 
Supporters of Mr Dunstan will gather on 
Thursday 22 August
9am Procession from ‘Havachat’ 20 East St to Rockhampton District Court
9.30am Peace Vigil outside Rockhampton District Court 
Photos available on request and on:

Further information 

Simon Moyle 0407 951 688 or Treena Lenthall 0447 851 858
Downloadable flyer:

Peace Convergence: Media Release 10 August 2013

Melbourne Baptist Pastor to defend Ploughshare accused

The Reverend Simon Moyle of the GraceTree Community in Melbourne will be coming to Rockhampton to support and defend Graeme Dunstan in the Tiger Ploughshare trial which will begin the Rockhampton District Court on Monday 19 August

Mr Dunstan is charged with a wilful damage of an Australian Army Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter on the tarmac of Rockhampton airport during Talisman Sabre 2011. His co accused, Bryan Law, who actually struck the blow with the garden mattock, died last Easter.

The Reverend Moyle describes Mr Dunstan as “a spiritual companion” and says Dunstan’s willingness to risk jail and suffering in order to arouse the conscience of the Australian community on war demonstrates integrity of the highest order, not to mention exemplary citizenship.

“Civil disobedience is generally not well understood in this country,” observes the Rev Moyle. “But it is one of the highest duties of any person when their government is acting immorally or unjustly.”

Ploughshares actions take their inspiration from the Biblical books of Micah and Isaiah, which speak of a day when “swords will be beaten into ploughshares, and spears into pruning hooks”.

There have been more than 80 such actions since 1980, with three common elements:
1. being absolutely nonviolent towards people;
2. to remain and take responsibility for the action; and
3. to make some attempt to disarm a weapon and begin its transformation into something useful.

Disarmament is often seen as an impossible dream; desirable, certainly, but utterly unrealistic. It is precisely this societal torpor that Ploughshares actions seek to address.

Ploughshares actions are an indictment on the imagination and moral commitment of contemporary society just to the extent that they are seen as outrageous, destructive, or utopian.

While most of us ask, “Why would we reduce or even give up our ability to kill?”

People like Graeme Dunstan and Bryan Law gift us with a confluence of flesh, steel and carbon fibre, and ask, “Why not?”

“In a time of perpetual war, it is high time we took that question seriously,” said the Rev. Moyle.

See full statement here.


Further information

FaceBook event

Simon Moyle 0402 857 915

Graeme Dunstan 0407 951 688

Members of Peace Convergence, The Greens and other anti-war groups met today at Luggage Point to share their message of peace.

Headline for the protest from Robin Taubenfeld: “US nuclear warship in our port? US-AUS games in our region? Bombs dropped on the reef? Bradley Manning in prison? Live firing and bombing practice are planned for this weekend at Shoalwater Bay! Just say no! ”

The protest was small but attracted interest from sightseers, including a US navy sailor scrutinising the protesters through Binoculars.

Photos below.

(full photoset here)


Anti-War Protest USS George Washington
Protester show pictures of war affected children from Iraq.

Anti-War Protest USS George Washington
Displaying the banners.

Anti-War Protest USS George Washington
Peace Flag.

Anti-War Protest USS George Washington

Anti-War Protest USS George Washington
Andy Paine sings some peace songs.

The nuclear powered USS George Washington is docked at Patrick’s wharves for the week after participating in the Talisman Sabre 2013 war games.  The George Washington is a Nimitz class nuclear powered aircraft carrier, with a complement of roughly 5000 crew and 90 aircraft.

Environmental and peace groups protesting Talisman Sabre are calling for an end to the exercises. Robin Taubenfeld of Peace Convergence 2013:  “USS George Washington is in Brisbane port – taking part in some of the world’s largest war rehearsals – Talisman Saber. Stop the exercises, close the bases, end the wars”

(more stories to follow on the environmental impacts of Talisman Sabre)

(Full photoset here)

USS George Washington

USS George Washington

USS George Washington

USS George Washington

USS George Washington

USS George Washington

3.30pm 25 July, 2013

Police Prosecution claims Talisman Saber protesters halted millions
of dollars of equipment and personnel

Greg Rolles and Graeme Dunstan appeared in Rockhampton Magistrates Court this morning after blockading a convoy of US Marine Humvees inside Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area yesterday.

The police brief of evidence tendered in Graeme’s case stated that “By conducting these activities, the defendant has disrupted the exercise Talisman Saber 2013 and has caused many millions of dollars of equipment and personnel to be put on standby whilst they were dealt with. This was the intention of the defendant in a bid to bring attention to the cause which he passionately supports”.

The Prosecution applied for bail conditions aimed at preventing Mr Dunstan from inciting others to protest. However the Magistrate stated that it is “a free country” and refused the application.

Greg Rolles was charged with Trespass on Commonwealth Land under the Commonwealth Crimes Act, to which he entered a plea of guilty. An hour before court Greg was also charged with a crime under the Defence Act (1903) relating to the possession of a photographic device, one he will contest. His matters have been adjourned for two weeks, and Greg was released on bail.

Graeme Dunstan was also charged with trespass, possessing a photographic device and breaching bail conditions resulting from his involvement in a Ploughshares action in which an Australian army Tiger Attack helicopter was disabled with a blow from a mattock during the 2011 Talisman Sabre.

He pleaded guilty to all charges and was fined a total of $940. In his pre-sentencing statement, his lawyers tabled print outs of Graeme’s Peacebus website which he said detailed 38 years of committed peaceful action (

In his final statement, the Magistrate referred to the Nuremberg principles which compel citizens to disobey bad or unjust laws. He indicated that he did not see that those principles applied here.

There are currently 28,000 Australian and US troops undertaking joint military training in Australia, with a focus on the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area.

Mr Rolles and Mr Dunstan cite their opposition to the current wars that Australia had been led into by the US military alliance as key reasons for their action.

“Talisman Saber is about the US military training the Australian military to fight future US wars,” said Mr Dunstan.

For further media comment, contact Graeme Dunstan 0407 951 688

Photos of the pair on their release and time in Shoalwater Bay are available on request

Peace activists Graeme Dunstan and Greg Rolles after appearing in court

Peace activists Graeme Dunstan and Greg Rolles after appearing in court

Peace Activists Disrupt Talisman Sabre War Games

Peace activists Graeme Dunstan and Greg Rolles appear to have been successful in their efforts to disrupt the Talisman Sabre War Games.  After having spent two days within the Shoalwater Bay training grounds see here, ignoring “No Entry” signs and eventually being arrested for trespass, the pair have had their cases heard in court this morning.

During the prosecution brief, police stated that the activists had disrupted exercises and halted the activities of millions of dollars worth of military equipment and personnel: “By conducting these activities, the defendant has disrupted the exercise Talisman Saber 2013 and has caused many millions of dollars of equipment and personnel to be put on standby whilst they were dealt with. This was the intention of the defendant in a bid to bring attention to the cause which he passionately supports”.

While it seems likely the prosecution has overstated the case, as police prosecutors intent on prosecution are want to do (the disruption was likely of minimal consequence to the carrying out of war games), it would appear that the Peace Activists have caused at least some disruption to the exercises.

The police prosecution sought to have bail changed, on the basis that Dunstan may incite further protests.  The Magistrate refused to oblige, stating “we live in a free society”.  During sentencing the Magistrate referenced Nuremberg, saying that sometimes bad laws need to be broken, but also suggesting that this wasn’t one of those times.

Dunstan pleaded guilty to three offences; trespass under the Commonwealth Crimes Act, breach of bail conditions, and offence relating to a camera under the Defence Act and was fined $940.  Rolles was charged with  Trespass under the Commonwealth Crimes Act and offence relating to a camera under the Defence Act.  Rolles pleaded guilty to trespass but is challenging the camera offence charge.  Hearings are adjourned for 2 weeks.

[story edited 3:38PM 25 July to add new information]