Monday, September 16, 2013

Minister Bill Marmion offers to drink fracking fluid | Perth Now

Minister Bill Marmion offers to drink fracking fluid | Perth Nocapes blasted by 130km/h gales
MINES Minister Bill Marmion has offered to drink fracking fluid to prove it poses no threat to the state's underground aquifers.
 at a conference in Fremantle this week, Mr Marmion said WA's vast resources of undeveloped shale and tight gas offered significant economic benefits to Australia, but there were challenges reassuring people that fracking  the process to release it  was safe.
Opponents of fracking argue it is a major threat to groundwater.

"I met the NSW Minister for Resources and Petroleum this week and he suggested the challenge we might have to take up ... is to do what he has done and also (ConocoPhillips boss) Todd Creeger  pick up a glass, have a drink of it and tell everybody, 'I have just drunk some fracking fluid'," Mr Marmion said.
While a State Government committee investigates the science behind shale and tight gas safety, Mr Marmion accused the conservation movement and the Greens, who are opposed to fracking, of using the issue to "drum up" membership numbers.


  1. Something we all knew.....Barnett is a horrible anus.


    Annus horribilis continues for WA premier

    THE 'annus horribilis' for West Australian Premier Colin Barnett shows no sign of abating, with another budget backdown, a looming teacher's strike and internal dissent over council amalgamations dogging the Liberal leader.


    Premier delay vote on council merger plans as he faces a backbench revolt


    School fees for children of 457 visa holders delayed by year


    Barnett bites back at striking teachers

    .....State School Teachers' Union president Anne Gisborne said she wanted the premier to acknowledge the issues his reform would present to hundreds of schools.
    "We have got a belligerent premier and a belligerent minister who are holding the line that there will be no cuts and everything will be hunky dory," Ms Gisborne said.


    O'Callaghan concedes watch house staff levels inadequate


    BARNETT has easily surpassed even Gillard and Rudd for bungles and broken promises.

    But of course as far as the Emperor is concerned he is still on a perfect score - it's everyone else that has stuffed it up...not him!


    Abbott in it and not sworn in yet.


    Liberal backbencher Dennis Jensen hits out at science 'confusion' in new ministry


    Bronwyn Bishop defends male-dominated Cabinet amid Ita Buttrose's 'glass ceiling' criticism


    Sue Boyce and Judith Troeth express dismay over Tony Abbott's male-dominated Cabinet


    Coalition won't be asking for Indonesia's permission on asylum seeker policies: Bishop


    AFTER all the corruption we have seen why not start with corrupt pollies?


    Incoming Employment Minister Eric Abetz pledges to stamp out union corruption



  2. HERE we go....


    Industry Minister dismisses coal seam gas protests

    The incoming federal Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, says the development of Australia's natural gas industry will be a priority.

    The resources, science and manufacturing portfolios have now all been rolled into the Industry portfolio, as announced by the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, yesterday.

    In particular, Mr Macfarlane says he plans to push hard for New South Wales farmers to rethink their opposition to coal seam gas.

    He says he'll travel the state of NSW and tell farmers there first hand how CSG, coal mining and agriculture coexist alongside each other in his home state of Queensland.

    Mr Macfarlane says there are 4,000 farmers in Queensland who have signed access deal with CSG and other mining companies and are reaping the economic and social benefits.

    He's dismissed the opposition to the CSG industry as unscientific and driven by small but vocal interest groups.

    "I'm not interested in noisy protesters, minority groups, with no interest in the development of regional Australia and the economic progress of agriculture and mining together.

    "They simply want to politicise this issue and tell lies."


    MORE on the subject of "absolute crap"


    Scientists conclude humans key factor in global warming

    A report by a team of international scientists concludes there now is no doubt climatic changes are due to humans rather than any other natural factors.

    Their report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, builds on work previously done by scientists in the United States and presents a clear pattern of warming in parts of the atmosphere that is indicative of a human effect.

    The only Australian researcher who was part of the team, Professor Tom Wigley of Adelaide University, says it analysed satellite temperature data over 34 years.

    He says the team showed there was no other way to explain climatic changes at various atmospheric levels.

    Professor Wigley said by looking at temperature changes across atmospheric layers from the Earth's surface to about 20 kilometres skyward the results show clear characteristics of human interference.

    "If the sun were the cause of the changes then one would see warming at the surface and in the lower atmosphere and in the upper atmosphere and in fact what we see is the opposite," he said.

    "We see warming at the surface and cooling in the upper atmosphere, so that immediately discounts the sun as a causal factor.

    "One of the standard sceptic arguments is that all the observed changes are caused by natural variability and often supposed to be due to solar activity. What we have shown beyond a shadow of doubt is that the climate changes we are observing cannot be due to the sun or any other natural factors."

    Professor Wigley said the scientific team had concluded there was simply no other way to explain the changes that had occurred since 1979 when weather satellites were introduced.

    The team found human influences, primarily greenhouse gases and related pollutants such as sulfur dioxide emissions and gases, had affected the atmospheric concentrations of ozone.

    Scientists said study was comprehensive

    Professor Wigley said it was probably the most comprehensive study yet done to try to identify the human influence on climate.

    "The main thing is that we can identify what is called a human fingerprint, or a distinctive pattern of change in the observational record, and that pattern is derived from climate modelling experiments," he said.

    "We look at patterns of change that can be attributed to other things, such as changing output of the sun for example, and we show that those cannot be identified in the observational record.


    "We can see the human fingerprint, we can't see the fingerprint of any other cause, and so it's pretty obvious that the only explanation is there's been a very distinctive human influence on the patterns of climate change."


  3. More news from the boom state.


    The loss of Aboriginal teacher aides predicted to impact Indigenous students learning

    There are fears Aboriginal students will be worst affected by education budget cuts.

    The loss of Indigenous teacher aides is causing concern in the state's north.

    The Education Minister last month announced 500 education jobs would be axed across the state.

    Of that total, the positions of 350 teacher aides will go.

    Some of them are Indigenous teacher aides who, in the Kimberley, assist students who struggle with English and are among the worst performing students in country.

    The State School Teachers Union's Pat Byrne says it is a terrible way to try to save money.

    "These people perform a significant role in schools with a high Indigenous population," she said.

    The Education Department's district director Greg Robson says the impact in the classroom will be minimal.

    "There'll be a reduction in support but that doesn't mean that support vanishes," he said.

    Teachers in remote Aboriginal communities across the north-west are planning to go on strike tomorrow.


    Barnett gets the riot squad ready for Perth protestors this time.


    Residents prepare to take direct action over Roe Highway extension

    Residents in Perth's south are preparing to take action to stop work to extend Roe Highway in Perth's south.

    The Environmental Protection Authority has given conditional approval to the extension from Jandakot to Coolbellup.

    The community group, Save Beeliar Wetlands, held a meeting last night which was attended by more than 100 people, representing more than 20 organisations, unions, political parties and MPs.

    The group's Kate Kelly says radical steps to protect the wetlands are being considered.

    "Well, there's a lot of dismay, a lot of people assumed the EPA would protect these wetlands, I guess because they have in the past," she said.

    "But, it's very obvious to us now that we need to take up these kind of radical pathways to get rid of this terrible prospect."

    The group's Kate Kelly says direct action is necessary.

    "We're now actively looking at non-violent direct action training," she said.

    "We've asked all those groups to come along and attend those sessions; it's an unusual step for such a peaceful and ordinary people I guess but we would be willing to enact arrestable actions, it's quite a step forward I guess."

  4. Use it or lose it, miners warned by Coalition

    RESOURCE giants will be told to step up their spending on mammoth new projects or risk losing their rights to tap the deposits, under an Abbott government plan to accelerate investment and kill off fears of an end to the boom.

    The incoming government aims to use its power over the vast gas deposits to bring forward up to $180 billion in new investment, sending a blunt message to companies to develop rather than hoard the nation's resources.

    As Tony Abbott and his ministers prepare to be sworn into office today, the resource plan marks another stage in an economic agenda that promises to lift growth, but will depend on stronger business investment to deliver results.

    The policy is also set to reignite debate on the cost burdens - including high salaries - that global companies blame for stalling Australian projects and diverting their investments into cheaper projects in Africa and Asia.

    Incoming industry minister Ian Macfarlane told The Australian that companies should extract "every molecule" of gas to boost exports and supply the domestic market.

    Mr Macfarlane warned that companies that shelved their projects could lose the "retention leases" they held over the reserves, given the commonwealth's power to revoke the rights as they came up for renewal over the next few years. "I want to put the industry on notice that if the deposits are able to be developed they've got to be developed," he said yesterday as he arrived in Canberra for briefings."We've got to make sure that every molecule of gas that can come out of the ground does so. Provided we've got the environmental approvals right, we should develop everything we can."

    The policy is expected to be put into place in coming days as Mr Macfarlane meets officials to review a list of retention leases that expire during this term of parliament, triggering talks with companies over their plans.

    The priority is expected to be Woodside Petroleum's enormous Browse project, which is on hold as the company seeks approval from federal and West Australian governments to build an offshore "floating" LNG facility rather than build a hub at James Price Point north of Broome. Woodside's requirements include a variation in the retention leases over the Browse reservoir.

    West Australian Premier Colin Barnett objects to the offshore plan on the grounds that more jobs will be created if the gas is pumped through pipes to James Price Point, but Mr Macfarlane supports the floating LNG plan and is preparing for talks to reach a compromise."I'd expect Colin to speak up for Western Australia, but I'd expect there to be some middle ground," said Mr Macfarlane, who returns to a portfolio he held during the Howard government.


  5. Use it or lose it, miners warned by Coalition


    In his first interview since the election on the outlook for the resources sector, Mr Macfarlane rubbished Kevin Rudd's claims during the election campaign that the "China boom" was ending.

    Mr Macfarlane argued instead that Labor had slowed the sector by imposing the carbon tax, the mining tax and a tax on oil condensate, as well as launching personal fights with industry leaders such as Gina Rinehart and Andrew Forrest.

    "That whole chapter's been slammed shut," Mr Macfarlane said. "We're opening a new chapter about working with the industry, creating jobs and making Australia an energy superpower.

    "Companies across the sector are prepared for the talks over project timeframes and their retention leases, given pressure from former Labor resources minister Martin Ferguson to develop their deposits.

    "I want to do this in a structured way so we don't affect our investment profile," Mr Macfarlane said. "We don't want to scare the horses. I've got no targets, no hit list, but no sacred cows and everything is on the table.

    "The plan to spur investment depends, however, on overcoming cost barriers that companies blame for delaying their plans.

    About $200bn is being spent on seven LNG facilities across the country, according to the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association.Another $180bn would be invested if companies signed off on a further list of projects, according to a study for APPEA by consulting firm McKinsey, although this includes coal-seam gas projects as well as the offshore deposits covered by retention leases.

    Chevron Australia managing director Roy Krzywosinski, Origin Energy chief executive Grant King and former Shell Australia country manager Ann Pickard told The Australian in May that "significant national leadership" was needed to speed up projects by lifting productivity and improving industrial relations.

    While unions dispute the cost claims, company executives insist that most of their workers in Australia earn more than equivalent workers in the US and that it can be more cost-effective to develop LNG in other countries.

    APPEA external affairs director Michael Bradley said urgent steps had to be taken to fix the nation's "sliding international competitiveness"."It is critical that steps are taken to ensure Australia secures its share of the next wave of global oil and gas projects," Mr Bradley said yesterday.

    Mr Macfarlane said the Coalition was acting to cut industry costs by removing taxes that Labor imposed on the industry.He also intends to work with incoming environment minister Greg Hunt to streamline the green tape that companies must comply with to get environmental approval for their projects.

  6. Company hopes a Federal Court judgment will see fishing ban declared invalid

    A SUPER-TRAWLER factory fishing operation similar to that banned by the Gillard government could be operating in Australian waters by next year, with the Coalition moving to immediately conduct new fish stock studies and promising a decision based on science. Incoming parliamentary secretary for agriculture Richard Colbeck last night told The Australian he would try to organise new jack mackerel and red-bait stock surveys within weeks.


    Greg Hunt labels Clean Energy Finance Corporation a 'green hedge fund', says it will be shut down

    Incoming environment minister Greg Hunt says the new Coalition government is committed to clean energy targets despite its plan to scrap several government bodies set up to tackle climate change.

    Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott says abolishing the carbon tax will be at the top of his agenda once he and his team are sworn in today.

    He will formally instruct his department to prepare legislation for the repeal of the carbon tax.

    Treasury will also be told to prepare legislation to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which had been tasked with managing $10 billion to invest in renewable energy projects.

    Mr Hunt labels the corporation a green hedge fund, "borrowed in taxpayers' name for investing in speculative ventures".


    Tony Abbott will doom future generations if he ditches carbon tax

    David Suzuki

    .......From what I can see, it's a similar story in Australia. Half the coral on the Great Barrier Reef has disappeared in the past 27 years and its size could halve again in the next decade with degradation of the environment and the increasing frequency of cyclones.

    Bushfires in Australia are getting more severe and more frequent. I see in Sydney you have already had your first fires barely a week into spring. And what has your new government done in response? As soon as Mr Abbott won power, he promised to wind back Australia's recent efforts to combat global warming.

    His promise to scrap the carbon tax, a tax which had been a timid step in the right direction, to close down your green energy bank and to reduce the rebates for buying solar panels, all send a terrible signal to your entrepreneurs and to the community.

    And all of it is being done in the name of saving the economy.

    But for more than 20 years the insurance industry has been telling us we have all been paying more for changes in the climate. Why aren't we listening to the insurers, the hardest business heads of all?

    I would have thought Australia would be leading the world in developing a new economy because climate change is going to devastate Australia.

    Instead, mining magnates are manipulating the debate in Australia just like they are doing elsewhere. Like the tobacco industry before them, they have known for years that climate change is happening and that burning fossil fuels is at the heart of it. But to maximise their profits they have continued to sow misunderstanding and confusion, funding the sceptics to perpetrate the myth that global warming is junk science.

    They should be ignored because there is no confusion in the scientific community about what's happening to our planet and what the future holds unless we change the way we live.

    A carbon tax is just one small step to encourage companies and individuals to reduce dumping rubbish into the atmosphere.

    Don't Australians pay to put their junk into landfill?

    The consequences of dumping our junk in the atmosphere are far greater than leaving garbage in the streets so why don't we limit it by making people pay to dump it?

    It's the most basic lesson of economics. Anyone who understands and cares about the environment and economics will know ditching the carbon tax is not only crazy, it is absolutely suicidal.

  7. Santos NSW CSG plans unclear: greenies

    Mining giant Santos must come clean on its plans to deal with millions of litres of waste water it will produce at new coal seam gas (CSG) wells, NSW environmentalists say.

    The NSW government last month gave Santos approval for eight new CSG wells in the Pilliga forest, in the state's northwest, provided the miner meets strict environmental conditions.

    The miner also received approval for stage one of its water management plan.

    The Wilderness Society says the company's management plan is not clear, and Santos has repeatedly changed tack on how it will treat millions of litres of waste water the wells will produce.

    "One day it is sending 35 trucks of waste water per day to Sydney, the next day it is re-injecting water into aquifers, and the next it's going to build a reverse osmosis plant," Wilderness Society Newcastle spokeswoman Naomi Hogan said.

    "Santos should come clean with its water treatment plans for public, government and independent scientific scrutiny."

    NSW Trade and Investment said the wells and water management plan were approved on August 16, but Santos will not be able to operate the wells until it receives approval to transfer water to its Leewood ponds outside the Pilliga forest.

    Ms Hogan criticised the government for approving the proposal without first seeing firm plans for dealing with waste water.

    "Recently the NSW Chief Scientist outlined a range of concerns about the impacts and management of coal seam gas, yet the NSW government has made this new approval without any plans for treating waste water."

    Ms Hogan warned the Pilliga project would result in the forest being bulldozed, which would threaten native species including the koala.
    Comment is being sought from Santos.

  8. The Emperor is in for a "frank chat"


    New govt wants WA action on Browse

    Incoming Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane wants to have a "frank" private discussion with Colin Barnett to get the multibillion- dollar Browse liquefied natural gas project hurried along.

    In an interview with The West Australian on the eve of his swearing-in today, Mr Macfarlane confirmed that WA would get a slice of the royalties if the Woodside-led consortium's preference for floating LNG technology proceeded.

    But in a signal the Federal Government intends being a tough negotiator, Mr Macfarlane said the Commonwealth would claim ownership of most of the offshore gas fields that make up Browse.

    The Premier's preference for a gas processing plant at James Price Point was found to be uneconomic by the consortium earlier this year.

    "If (Browse) can't be done onshore I'm prepared to accept a floater and then it'll be a fight over royalties, remembering that with the exception of a small amount around one of the islands, the gas all belongs to the Commonwealth and will all be covered by PRRT (Petroleum Resource Rent Tax)," Mr Macfarlane said.

    "So that's a negotiation between Colin Barnett and Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey and probably (new Finance Minister and WA senator) Mathias Cormann - it'll be interesting to see what side he's on."

    Key to the royalty split will be establishing the proportional ownership of Torosa, the biggest of the Browse gas fields, which straddles State and Federal jurisdictions.

    Mr Macfarlane said that within two to three weeks he wanted to meet the Premier in Perth to discuss Browse, which he said was his "absolute priority in the West".

    "That's a discussion I want to have on his turf, in his office but with the door closed and no journalists within earshot - it might be a frank exchange but that's fine, I'm used to talking straight," Mr Macfarlane said.

    "I'm keen to make sure that Western Australia doesn't miss out but let's get the gas out of the ground and fight over the money later."
    Mr Barnett said last night: "The problem the Browse project now faces is it is no longer aligned on ownership, development, environmental or domestic gas requirements."

  9. SO much for the "boom state" - why do we even bother?


    WA loses its AAA credit rating as revenue declines and debt blows out

    Western Australia has been stripped of its triple-A credit rating by a global credit ratings agency which lowered its rating to double-A plus.

    Ratings agency Standard and Poor's says the downgrade has occurred because of declining revenues and a blowout in the state's debt.

    It is the first time in a decade that WA has not had a triple-A credit rating, and the Premier Colin Barnett has conceded he bears some responsibility.

    "What role did the government play in this downgrade?" he asked.

    "The only thing I can say is maybe we're guilty of trying to do too much too quickly, maybe we need to slow down a little bit."

    Mr Barnett has foreshadowed drastic budget measures to try to get the credit rating back up, including the potential sale of state assets.


    WA loses triple-A credit rating

    .....Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said the Government had inherited the “best set of books in Australia” when it came to power.

    “It is an embarrassment that this premier has driven this state into this condition. It is an embarrassment, it is shameful,” he said.

    “You have lost the triple-A credit rating in the best economic times the State has ever seen.”

    The August Budget revealed net debt is expected to climb over coming years, reaching $28.4 billion by 2016-17.

    The Government had previously pledged to bring down debt.

    But since then, the Government, under pressure from voters, has abandoned revenue raising measures introduced in the Budget. That includes changes to the feed-in tariff change on solar rooftops that the Government abandoned within days of announcing them.

    While supportive of the Government's efforts to control debt, Standard & Poor’s said there were signs of the troubles the Government was having meeting its commitments.

    "The lowering of WA's long-term issuer credit rating reflects our view that while the fiscal action plan announced in WA's fiscal 2014 budget improves the State's path, in our view there is likely to be slippage, reflecting our view of limited political will, as evidenced by the early revision of some budget revenue and expenditure measures," it said in a statement.

    "The ratings are constrained by our view of moderate budgetary flexibility and budgetary performance.

    "WA's debt burden is now at the high end of the domestic peer group, and in our view is likely to continue rising."

    Credit analyst Claire Curtin said while lowering the rating, the agency would now keep WA on a stable outlook.

    But even this was at risk unless the Government came up with a more convincing plan to cut debt.

    "The rating could be pressured if WA's consolidated cash operating balance looked likely to fall into deficit without a convincing plan to return to surplus," she said.
    Ms Curtin said it was unlikely the rating could be upgraded within the next two years.