Wednesday, January 08, 2014

some of what the recently-elected conservative federal government are up to. . .

Tony Abbott, Australia's prime minister, has deployed the navy to force back boats carrying asylum seekers from Indonesian waters for the first time, leaving the boats to run aground on a remote island.
Indonesian sources said two boats carrying groups of about 45 Middle Eastern & North African asylum seekers were "pushed" back into Indonesian territory by the Australian navy.
Mr Abbott, elected last year after running on a hard-line pledge to "stop the boats", would not confirm the incidents.
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Federal ministers have held talks with BHP about ways to assist in the expansion of the South Australian uranium & copper project, including research & development aid, approval processes & political stability in decision-making.
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Businesses will not be punished if they fail to meet carbon emissions targets under the federal government’s Direct Action plan.
The Direct Action plan aims to cut emissions to 5% below 2000 levels by 2020 & is outlined in the Emissions Reduction Fund green paper which is now open for comment.
The Emissions Reduction Fund is set to commence on July 1, 2014 to coincide with the scrapping of the carbon tax & under it the government will “encourage” low-cost, effective emissions reduction opportunities.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt said there are no penalties for businesses which do not comply.
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Anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd says its three boats found all five ships from the Japanese whaling fleet, one with four dead minke whales onboard.
Sea Shepherd says the Japanese fleet was in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary & that the activist group was working to drive the fleet from the area.
It is the first time the environmentalists & the whaling fleet have crossed paths this season.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt last month said the Government would send a plane to monitor the fleet, despite promises before the election to send a ship.
A statement from Mr Hunt's office says the Federal Government is ready to start a "monitoring mission" but the whalers have not yet been in Australia's search & rescue zone.
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Under Labor's plans, dozens of areas around Australia were declared marine sanctuaries, or "no-take" zones, in which all forms of fishing & oil & gas exploration were banned.
In total, about a third, or 3.1 million square kilometres, of Commonwealth waters between three & 200 nautical miles offshore were set aside as marine reserves.
Commercial & recreational fishing &resource activity were allowed in most.
As part of a little-touted move that was derided as "sneaky" by some critics, Environment Minister Greg Hunt confirmed last month the Government would axe the sanctuary "lockouts".
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When the Russian scientific vessel MV Akademik Shokalskiy got stuck in ice earlier this week while hosting a mission to retrace the steps of Sir Douglas Mawson & to conduct research on climate science, the blogosphere & talk-back radio were quick to gloat. What would the scientists say now, the deniers demanded to know, as if the presence of sea ice was enough to disprove the entire theory of climate change.
Disconcertingly, these claims are no longer the province of bloggers, right wing media & talk-back radio. They now have currency in the highest corridors of power in Australia. Indeed, they are forming the basis of critical decisions being made on economic & infrastructure development in this country.
Earlier this week Maurice Newman, the head of Tony Abbott's hand-picked business advisory council, declared the science of anthropogenic climate change to be the world's greatest ever popular delusion, & accused the UN climate body of fudging data. Australia, he wrote in a column published in Rupert Murdoch's The Australian, had "become hostage to climate change madness."
He didn't stop there. He railed against "Himalayagate" & "Amazongate", accused state governments of a "cover up" over Australia's renewable energy policies, & even complained about a $60,000 grant given to help community groups pursue renewable energy installations. Many of his comments were repeated & given more prominence in a separate interview with the paper's environment editor.
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In October 2013, another statement on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons was delivered to the 68th session of the UN General Assembly First Committee by New Zealand on behalf of 125 nations.
“Unfortunately, not only did Australia fail to sign this statement, but it introduced its own rival statementdesigned to steer governments away from a ban on nuclear weapons. The much weaker statement by Australia was endorsed by just a small number of US allies, & had little impact. We were pleased that the New Zealand-led statement attracted the support of a large & diverse number of governments committed to delegitimising the use & possession of nuclear weapons.”
Proponents of nuclear abolition find it disappointing that Australia appears desperate to thwart the efforts of many countries to highlight the devastating effects of nuclear weapons & the need to ensure they are never used again.

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