Sunday, September 29, 2013

Save the Arctic - Free our Activists | Greenpeace Australia Pacific

Save the Arctic - Free our Activists | Greenpeace Australia Pacific

Activists held at gunpoint in the Russian Arctic. Help set them free.

On 20 September the Russian Coast Guard illegally boarded the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise while in international waters and arrested 30 activists on board at gunpoint.  The activists were protesting Arctic oil drilling on the Gazprom platform, Prirazlomnaya, in the Pechora Sea off the Russian coast.

Alex Harris, a staff member from our Sydney office, and Colin Russell, an Australian radio operator, bravely locked themselves in the ship’s radio room to keep communications open before they were rounded up with the rest of the crew.

Right now, all around the world, hundreds of supporters are flooding the streets outside the Russian embassies in their countries, to demand the release of the people who put their bodies on the line to protect the Arctic from oil destruction.

We are demanding the urgent release of all activists, the immediate withdrawal of the Coast Guard from our ship, and an end to offshore oil drilling in the Arctic for good.

Together let’s show we are stronger than those who want to destroy the Arctic, and will not be intimidated into silence.

UPDATE: 27/9/2013
Following a preliminary court hearing in the Russian port town of Murmansk, most of our activists have been remanded in custody for two months, facing investigation for possible piracy. We are demanding the immediate release of all activists, our Arctic Sunrise ship, and an end to offshore drilling in the Arctic for good.
Over 500,000 people around the world have sent emails to Russian embassies around the world. Please send your message today then share this with everyone.


  1. The great "gas crisis" swindle

    The gas industry and the NSW Government wants us to believe the more gas that is drilled, the lower the local prices. This simply isn't true in a global market, writes Mark Ogge.

    Today, 150 select invited guests from the coal seam gas and LNG industries, politics and finance will gather in Sydney for an "energy security summit" headlined by the new federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane and NSW Resources and Energy Minister Chris Hartcher.

    The summit is a response to the much vaunted "gas crisis" in New South Wales - a crisis concocted by an industry determined to entrench its interests in the economic fabric of the state.

    If you can create a "crisis", offer a snake oil solution, and make a lot of money out of both, then you are onto a good thing. All the better if you can blame someone else for causing it in the first place.

    That's exactly what the coal seam gas industry is doing, in partnership with Chris Hartcher. Remember, it was Hartcher's department that, in an Orwellian briefing note leaked last week, sought to 'disappear' community concern about the encroachment of CSG by re-branding it as "natural gas from coal seams".

    The real problem here stems from the gas industry's plan to export massive amounts of CSG as LNG from Gladstone in Queensland, starting next year, where some of the world's biggest gas export terminals are currently being built.

    This isn't about Australian companies exporting gas for Australia's benefit. These gas exporters are overwhelmingly foreign-owned and include several huge Asian state-owned companies like Malaysia's Petronas, Korea's Kogas, Petrochina and the China Petroleum Corporation. They will demand local industries compete with Asian customers for Australian gas. Almost all of the gas exported from Australia will go to Asia, where the wholesale gas price is currently around four times that in Australia.

    The Australian Industry Group (AIG) has reported that a handful of industries, including the aluminium and chemical industries, account for about 85 per cent of industrial gas consumption in Australia. A big increase in the gas price will significantly increase their costs and make them less competitive.

    In other words, the opening up of the LNG export industry in Queensland will deliver a windfall profit to the gas exporters at the expense of these other industries. Every dollar of additional profit to the gas exporters will be at the expense of Australian manufacturing and consumers. If Australian manufacturers are not prepared to pay these prices, they won't get the gas.

    Not surprisingly, the manufacturing industry is up in arms that the gas exporters are demanding they pay billions of dollars more for gas every year.

    Having created the "gas crisis", the gas exporters are attempting to deflect blame for the rising prices onto "environmentalists" - largely regional communities working to protect their groundwater, land, health and livelihoods from the rampant expansion of CSG.

    And the gas exporters' "cure" for the "crisis": allow them to drill for more gas.

    This would be achieved by winding back even the most basic protections, such as the two kilometre exclusion zones that applies to CSG around residential areas in NSW.

    This proposed "cure" assumes that the more gas is drilled, the more gas will be available for local consumers and the lower the prices. It ignores the simple fact the gas will still be part of the same gas market that covers all of Eastern Australia, which will be linked to global prices.

  2. Greenies to blame for reading crisis?

    Thought their pals at Woodside said JPP was to expensive?


    Gas deal failure threatens reading scheme

    Andrew Burrell •
    The Australian •
    September 24, 2013 12:00AM

    ENERGY giant Woodside Petroleum's decision to walk away from its historic $1.5 billion native title deal with Kimberley indigenous groups could lead to the collapse of a groundbreaking literacy program that has helped hundreds of Aboriginal children in the region.

    Reading Recovery, which offers one-on-one teaching to children struggling with literacy, has been funded by Woodside as part of its now-aborted plan to build a $40bn gas plant at James Price Point, 60km north of Broome.

    The oil and gas company's decision this month to walk away from a 2011 native title agreement with Kimberley Aborigines after years of wrangling with environmentalists and some traditional owners over the James Price Point site has left elders worried the program could collapse.

    Kimberley indigenous leader Warren Greatorex, who chairs the incorporated body set up to administer the promised benefits package, said Woodside had committed $8 million to fund the program until 2016 but its future beyond that was now unclear. He feared the scheme was being jeopardised and Aboriginal groups in the region would now need to approach the state and federal governments to ask for funding for the scheme.

    "Woodside was going to fund it (Reading Recovery) for at least 10 years under the benefits package," he said. "Now it's just a couple of years that we managed to secure before Woodside's departure. We don't want to dissolve it because a lot of kids will miss out.

    "Students in 18 Kimberley schools receive help through Reading Recovery this year and more than 500 children have been in the program since 2006The students receive daily 30-minute lessons, which allow them to catch up to the class average, a benchmark some achieve within a few months.

    Coby Rhatigan, head of primary teaching at St Mary's College in Broome, said Reading Recovery was producing remarkable results among years 1 and 2 students. "These kids would have trouble accessing the curriculum without this intervention," she said.

    The threat to the program comes as Wayne Bergmann, the Kimberley indigenous leader who brokered the Woodside native title deal, declared last week that Aborigines were being condemned to live in poverty while the company chased profits and high-profile environmentalists retreated to their "beautiful houses in Sydney".

    Mr Bergmann, former head of the Kimberley Land Council, said it was "incomprehensible" that Woodside had abandoned the deal, saying the benefits package would have been life-changing for Aborigines.

    Woodside said last month it would process its Browse Basin gas reserves off the coast using radical floating LNG technology rather than building a plant at James Price Point. The move means only a fraction of the employment, health and education benefits promised to Kimberley Aborigines will be delivered.

    1. Any reasonable person would have to wonder where "Royalties for Regions" is in all this being these programs are so wonderful?

      Other than funding for drilling and mining companies that is.

  3. Barnett is blaming Woodside!


    James Price Point no loss-maker: Barnett

    WEST Australian Premier Colin Barnett claims the Woodside Petroleum-led Browse liquefied natural gas project would still have generated healthy profits if it had been built at James Price Point in the Kimberley.

    Mr Barnett said he believed the venture's controversial decision to build the project using floating LNG technology -- a move he opposes -- would be cheaper than an onshore plant, but there was not a huge difference in the economics of the two development options.

    "I understand the economics of the project," he told The Australian. "But bringing the gas onshore was not a loss-maker. That's been the impression created. It (the James Price Point option) had a rate of return of around 10 per cent. That may not be high enough but it was not a loss-maker.

    "The Australian revealed yesterday that Mr Barnett believed Woodside would be unable to market and sell gas from the Browse project while he refused to amend retention leases covering WA's share of the gasfields.

    Mr Barnett said the state had leverage over the project because it owned 30 per cent of the biggest Browse gasfield known as Torosa -- a figure that is higher than most industry estimates -- and 15 per cent of the total project.

    Most of the Browse gasfields, which cover seven leases and contain 15.9 trillion cubic feet of gas, are in commonwealth waters."At the moment I don't see how the Browse project could sell gas to an international customer because it doesn't have clear ownership of that gas," Mr Barnett said this week. "It does on the commonwealth leases but not on the state leases.

    "We believe that is about 30 per cent of the Torosa field, or . . . about 15 per cent of the whole project. That's not insignificant."The breakdown of the Browse gas ownership is unclear because it has not been formalised.A Woodside spokesman said: "The proportion of gas that is subject to state royalties is a matter to be agreed between the state and commonwealth governments.

    "Mr Barnett said last year he believed the state owned one-third of the Browse gas. Some industry sources say WA's share will end up being less than 10 per cent, while others suggested yesterday it was probably about 15 per cent.

    Industry sources also said Woodside might choose to place FLNG vessels over the two smaller Browse gas fields, Brecknock and Calliance, and leave Torosa until the dispute is resolved.

    Former federal resources minister Gary Gray agreed to amend the commonwealth leases last month, effectively paving the way for the Browse partners to adopt FLNG. Mr Gray's replacement, Ian Macfarlane, has supported the move and is planning to travel to Perth to speak to Mr Barnett about fast-tracking the project.

    Mr Barnett is opposed to FLNG for Browse, arguing it will deprive the state and nation of jobs as well as gas supplies. He is also angry that Woodside walked away from a $1.5bn native title deal.

  4. They all claim they care so much when mining is involved - but otherwise they just keep locking people up.


    Apology to John Pat's family but Aboriginal deaths in custody on the increase

    Aboriginal deaths in custody in WA are higher than ever, despite the Royal Commission.

    Maisie Pat was just 14 and at high school in Perth when she received a phone call to say her 16 year old brother John had died in the police cells in Roebourne.

    She flew home the next morning to a town in the grip of grief and anger.

    Numerous witnesses said that they saw off-duty police officers pick a fight with John Pat and his friends at the local pub on September 28, 1983.

    He was then arrested and taken to the police lock-up, where he died of massive head injuries later that night.

    Four officers and a police aide were later charged with his manslaughter but acquitted at trial.

    John Pat's death was one of a number of Aboriginal deaths in custody that sparked the Royal Commission from 1987-1991, making 339 recommendations, including that police take Aboriginal people into custody only as a last resort.

    But 30 years after John's death, his family say the grief is still raw and the hope that the Royal Commission would bring about change has faded.

    Speaking at a rally outside WA parliament, Maisie Pat says nothing has changed.

    "There's no justice for my people and all people of today. My brother's life was taken, it only seems like yesterday it was taken from me and I still wish I had my big brother here today."

    Every year John's mother, Mavis Pat, has travelled to Perth to mark his death.

    Last year she said, "My son has never left me, I remember him every day. There forever remains a hole in my heart. I had hoped much would change with the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody but sadly it appears little has changed."

    Yesterday in Perth the Pat family did receive an unreserved apology, moved by Labor MP Ben Wyatt and passed unanimously by the Parliament, but it's only a partial comfort.

    "I'd like to see those policemen pay the time, for their crimes," Maisie Pat said.

    "They are the ones who need to apologise to me, my Mum and my family."

    Marc Newhouse from WA Death in Custody Watch Committee, which formed in 1993, says sometimes he does feel like he is banging his head against a brick wall in the committee's campaigns.

    "The problem is that there have been some useful changes but overwhelmingly the situation has become worse."

    "There are more Aboriginal people dying in prison today, and there's a direct correlation with the almost doubling of the number of Aboriginal people in prison."

    In 2008, 25 years after Pat's death, the community reeled again after Aboriginal elder Mr Ward (his first name is not published for cultural reasons) died in horrific circumstances in a prisoner transport van in the goldfields.

    Mr Ward died of heatstroke after a four hour journey in the back of a prison van without air conditioning where temperatures reached over 50 degrees.

    He sustained a third degree burn to his abdomen, caused by the heat of the metal seat, and collapsed shortly before the prison van arrived in Kalgoorlie.

    In that case, there was a damning coronial inquiry, successful civil prosecutions and the state government offered a record ex gratia payment to the family.

    However Newhouse says governments are failing to take step to reduce Indigenous disadvantage.

    "It seems to be blatantly obvious to a lot of people in the community what needs to be done and that is to set targets around reducing the number of people coming into contact with the criminal justice system and to invest resources into building communities, not more prisons."

  5. Budget crisis - so why do we still have this waste on the books ?


    Military watchdog voices concerns over safety of F-35 jets

    THE US military's bureaucratic watchdog has accused companies building the F-35 fighter of shoddy management that could jeopardise the reliability, performance and cost of the aircraft, which is also destined for Australia.

    - See more at:


    Is this man wasting money ?


    Attorney-General George Brandis defends $13,000 taxpayer-funded library

    Attorney-General George Brandis has defended as within his rights spending nearly $13,000 of taxpayer funds over the past four years on his personal library.

    "All of the acquisitions are clearly within the entitlement," Senator Brandis told Fairfax Media on Tuesday, two days after paying back nearly $1700 in entitlements that he claimed after attending the 2011 wedding of radio announcer Michael Smith.

    Senator Brandis and Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce could face an investigation into their use of travel entitlements for the Smith wedding. On Monday, Mr Joyce, the Agriculture Minister, said he had sent a cheque for about $650 to the Department of Finance.

    The funds cover the use of a Commonwealth car to drive him to and from the wedding, held on the Central Coast of NSW.

    Responding to reports of his $13,000 taxpayer-funded library, Senator Brandis pointed out that in most years he had spent significantly less than the $4948 annual allowance that Senators were entitled to spend on publications.

    According to the Department of Finance rules, books must relate to "parliamentary, electorate or official business".

    Last year Senator Brandis charged the taxpayer $24.54 for the political thriller The Marmalade Files, written by press gallery journalists-come-novelists Steve Lewis and Chris Ulhmann.

    In 2011, he spent taxpayer funds on the Best Australian Political Cartoons; A Dictionary of Modern English Usage and an international edition of Roget's Thesaurus.

    The Attorney-General also billed the taxpayer for So Greek – 'Confessions of a Conservative Leftie' by newspaper columnist Niki Savva. A testimonial blurb describes the book as being a treat "for lovers of scuttlebutt everywhere".

    Other taxpayer-funded purchases include John Howard's autobiography Lazarus Rising and Simon Schama's collection of essays on "ice cream, Obama, Churchill and my mother''.

    A Fairfax Media analysis of Senator Brandis' expenses shows that he has spent $12,808.35 on publications between July 2009 and December 2012.

  6. WE all know Barnett has wasted money - the mining boom now seems pointless - remember he was going to give Woodside $125 million for a haul road to JPP;he gave shale drillers untold millions towards drilling;refuses to raise mining royalties on the worlds richest companies;$ billions on the Perth stadium;close to a $ billion on the Elizabeth Quay "smoko spot";untold $ millions on ex Woodside staffers; - the list of waste is endless.........

    Ironically the Pilbara loses out big time just like the Kimberley......


    A pre-election commitment to build two regional mental health facilities pushed back

    The State Government has pushed back a pre-election commitment to establish two mental health facilities in regional WA with the Minister Helen Morton admitting there is no money in the budget.

    In February, Ms Morton said the Government would allocate $9 million for the facilities to provide around the clock support for people with mental illnesses in Karratha and Bunbury.

    However, the Minister now says there is no money for these services in this year's budget or in forward estimates.


    Residents finding it difficult to access doctors in the Pilbara and the Kimberley

    A report has found people living in rural Western Australia have the worst access in the country to general practitioners.

    The report, by the independent think tank the Grattan Institute, found the shortage of GPs in regional areas around Australia is imposing severe costs on individuals, doctors and the health system.

    The nationwide doctor shortage is being felt most in the Kimberley and the Pilbara.

    The Institute's health program director Stephen Duckett says residents in the north of WA are worst off.

    "In the Kimberley and Pilbara there's only about 50 GPs per hundred thousand population," he said.

    "You compare that with the Sunshine Coast or Sydney where there's about 120 so it's about half the access that people in the eastern states have."


    Union questions whether clinical services have been sacrificed for new ward at the children's hospital

    The Health Services Union has criticised the State Government's decision not to build an extra floor at the new children's hospital, saying it will not be able to cope with future demand.

    The Government says it could not justify spending $70 million on an extra storey, given its current financial position.

    It will instead spend $38 million creating a new ward with 24 extra beds within the existing plan.

    The union's secretary Dan Hill says that is not enough.

    "I think it's an indictment on their management both of the health system and the health budget that they can't find the extra now to ensure we've got acute beds that are needed to service the health needs of our children into the future," he said.

    Mr Hill says the union will be asking the Government how it has come up with the space to create the extra ward.

  7. LNG World News

    Shell, Challenger Develop FLNG Training Programs, Australia

    Shell Australia and Challenger Institute of Technology have committed to a multi-year partnership to develop training programs for the technicians who will operate and maintain the energy giant’s revolutionary Prelude Floating LNG facility.

    Shell and Challenger will jointly develop the training programs, which will be rolled out from 2014 as Shell completes the construction and commissioning of the Prelude FLNG facility, to be stationed in the East Browse Basin off WA’s Kimberley coast.

    Challenger’s Australian Centre for Energy and Process Training (ACEPT) at the Australian Marine Complex will be the home base for the delivery of the programs. Challenger will deliver the training, assessment and assurance of process and maintenance technicians so they will be ready to work on the commissioning and startup of the Prelude facility.

    Prelude FLNG Asset Manager, Jim Marshall, said the establishment of the world’s first FLNG specialist training courses in Perth would help cement WA as the world’s leading centre of Floating LNG operations.

    “In ACEPT, Challenger has a world-class facility for vocational training in the FLNG industry,” Mr Marshall said. “We are pleased that through Prelude we have the opportunity to train our people locally, where our Prelude operations team will be based.”

    The four year agreement will see Challenger deliver training for an expected 200 technicians working in the production, mechanical, instrument-electrical and service areas. The training program will also feature a strong health, safety and environment focus.

    Shell has already recruited its first wave of process and maintenance technicians for Prelude’s operations phase. Recruiting will step up over the next 18 months, as Shell builds up its expected workforce of 350 people, which will be complemented by around 650 contractors.

    Mr Marshall said Shell would work closely with Challenger to integrate the Institute’s training program with Shell’s internal quality assurance processes.

    “It is an exciting and unique opportunity to build and deliver the training program in conjunction with our first floating facility,” he said. “Challenger’s role in providing training for our process and maintenance technicians will be fundamental to the success of Prelude.”

    Challenger Institute CEO Liz Harris said ACEPT – Australia’s leading provider of process manufacturing training – was well placed to deliver technical training for Shell’s FLNG operations, having trained 4,000 oil and gas workers since its inception in 2008.

    “ACEPT is working closely with Shell on a workforce development strategy and to ensure that we understand the workplace competencies required for FLNG workers as well as the health, safety, security and environment requirements,” she said.

    “I am excited by this partnership, which is a fantastic example of a responsive collaboration between industry and the training sector to develop a relevant, highly skilled and job-ready workforce.”

  8. Shell Plans to Sell Stake in Eagle Ford Shale - WSJ

    Sept 30 (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell plans to sell its 106,000-acre stake in the Eagle Ford shale formation in South Texas, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

    Shell's decision comes after it took a $2.2 billion charge against its U.S. shale business in August.

    Major oil companies have struggled in oil-and-gas rich regions such as the Eagle Ford, where smaller energy firms have thrived. BG Group and BHP Billiton have also taken impairment charges against their U.S. shale assets.

    Shell told the Journal that Eagle Ford holdings did not meet the company's targets for size and profitability.

    The stake "offers a valuable growth opportunity for another experienced operator," Shell spokeswoman Kelly op de Weegh told the paper.

    Shell representatives could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters outside of regular business hours.

    The company will continue to operate its 150 production wells in the Eagle Ford while allowing potential buyers to review technical data on the holdings, the Journal reported. The value of the assets wasn't clear, it said.

    Writedowns by Shell and some other majors are a sign they came to the shale boom late in the day, overpaying for lower-quality and less well-explored assets – not that the shale revolution is stuttering, according to a Reuters Breakingviews column published in August.


    Canadian company begins study on LNG plant to tap into Indonesian CSG resources

    Monday, 30 September 2013

    CBM Asia Development Corp., a Vancouver, Canada-based unconventional gas company with significant coal-seam-gas assets in Indonesia is studying the prospects of an LNG project.


    Two US Northwest LNG projects making progress and await export licence decisions

    Monday, 30 September 2013

    The Oregon LNG project, one of two being developed in the Northwest US state, is finally making progress with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission currently preparing a draft environmental impact statement to be released for public comment.


    Rig count points to LNG moves

    Sept 30 (LNGJ) - Baker Hughes, the US energy services company, said the Canadian rig count was up 31 rigs from last year at 359, with oil rigs down 38 and natural gas rigs up 70 as Canada explores for more shale-gas for LNG exports.


    Abbott’s cuts hurt Greenearth

    Bianca Bartucciotto
    Tuesday, 1 October 2013

    THE “slash and burn” mentality of the federal government in regards to funding for renewable energy projects has hit Greenearth Energy and its Geelong geothermal power project.


    Rosneft, Exxon Select Contractors for LNG Project

    ExxonMobil announced Monday that it and Rosneft have selected CB&I UK and Foster Wheeler Energy as contractors for the initial phase front-end engineering and design (FEED) for their proposed Russian Far East liquefied natural gas project.

    The two partners in the project intend to finalize its design by the end of 2014. This will include FEED documentation for the LNG plant, associated facilities and a gas pipeline, as well as engineering studies and an environmental impact assessment.

    CB&I UK and Foster Wheeler Energy will be awarded separate contracts for the initial phase FEED. The scope of work covers a conceptual project that includes finalizing details for an LNG plant site, gas liquefaction technology and construction method. Following submission by the companies of their respective concepts and design, Rosneft and ExxonMobil will evaluate the companies' work prior to awarding a contract for the second phase of FEED.

    The plant design capacity of the project is expected to be five million tons per year and may be expanded in the future. The liquefaction plant will receive natural gas feedstock from Rosneft's reserves in the Far East and Sakhalin gas reserves.

  9. Ocean acidification due to carbon emissions is at highest for 300m years

    Overfishing and pollution are part of the problem, scientists say, warning that mass extinction of species may be inevitable

    The oceans are more acidic now than they have been for at least 300m years, due to carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels, and a mass extinction of key species may already be almost inevitable as a result, leading marine scientists warned on Thursday.

    An international audit of the health of the oceans has found that overfishing and pollution are also contributing to the crisis, in a deadly combination of destructive forces that are imperilling marine life, on which billions of people depend for their nutrition and livelihood.

    In the starkest warning yet of the threat to ocean health, the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) said: "This [acidification] is unprecedented in the Earth's known history. We are entering an unknown territory of marine ecosystem change, and exposing organisms to intolerable evolutionary pressure. The next mass extinction may have already begun." It published its findings in the State of the Oceans report, collated every two years from global monitoring and other research studies.

    Alex Rogers, professor of biology at Oxford University, said: "The health of the ocean is spiralling downwards far more rapidly than we had thought. We are seeing greater change, happening faster, and the effects are more imminent than previously anticipated. The situation should be of the gravest concern to everyone since everyone will be affected by changes in the ability of the ocean to support life on Earth."

    Coral is particularly at risk. Increased acidity dissolves the calcium carbonate skeletons that form the structure of reefs, and increasing temperatures lead to bleaching where the corals lose symbiotic algae they rely on. The report says that world governments' current pledges to curb carbon emissions would not go far enough or fast enough to save many of the world's reefs. There is a time lag of several decades between the carbon being emitted and the effects on seas, meaning that further acidification and further warming of the oceans are inevitable, even if we drastically reduce emissions very quickly. There is as yet little sign of that, with global greenhouse gas output still rising.

    Corals are vital to the health of fisheries, because they act as nurseries to young fish and smaller species that provide food for bigger ones.

    Read more at :

  10. Tuna nations urged to agree on Pacific conservation measure

    Greenpeace has accused the 24 nations responsible for managing the world's biggest tuna fishery of failing to ensure the industry fishes legally.

    China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States, Europe and the Philippines are all big players in the Pacific tuna fishery.

    The countries have just finished five days of negotiations at the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in Pohnpei, in the Federated States of Micronesia.

    Officials had been working to come up with new conservation measure to protect the three key tropical tuna species; Yellowfin, Bigeye and Skipjack.

    Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner Duncan Williams, who is in Pohnpei, says the biggest problem is that fleets are not living up to their responsibilities to provide important data.

    "We heard that vessels weren't supplying basic information such as locational data," he told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat.

    "So this is quite worrying given that we have heard that there have been record catches over the last year coupled with record number of fishing boats operating in the Pacific.

    "So there needs to be a look at vessels and fleets, particularly the distant water fishing fleets supplying basic mandatory data to the commission for them to be able to manage the fishery appropriately and effectively."

    Previous failure to agree on catch limits has resulted in fisheries in the Pacific being managed under a weak interim agreement.

    Mr Williams says it is "completely and utterly urgent" that member nations agree on a conservation measure at a full commission meeting in Cairns in December.

    "The science committee meeting that was held in August this year showed there were significant declines in the fishery," he said.

    "There wasn't any stock assessments done this year but indications from the scientific committee meeting point to significant declines in the Bigeye fishery and this is quite concerning."

  11. Koalas face 'huge' fall in numbers as climate change bites, study warns

    Call for change in Australia's land management practices to maintain shaded trees for animals to shelter in by day

    Koalas could suffer a "huge reduction" in numbers unless Australia changes its land management practices to help mitigate the impact of climate change, a study has found.

    The research, led by the University of Sydney, involved the tracking of 40 koalas via GPS over three years on farmland around Gunnedah, in north-west NSW.

    The results showed that the koalas moved between various trees to feed on eucalypts during the night, before moving to more shaded trees during the day to shelter from the rising temperature.

    Koalas prefer trees in cooler low-lying areas such as gullies, rather than in open plains or hilltops, to shelter in, according to the study.

    The research shows koalas are at heightened risk of heat stress, dehydration and eventual death if these shaded trees are cleared.

    This risk is set to be compounded by the predicted increase in heatwaves due to climate change. In 2009 a heatwave killed a quarter of the koalas tracked by the University of Sydney study.

    "Koalas have a fussy diet of eucalypts, so they need a range of these food trees, but they need shadier trees too such as the Belah and Kurrajong varieties," Matthew Crowther, who led the study, told Guardian Australia.

    "One of the biggest problems we face is the loss of these trees. As heatwaves increase, we'll need more of these trees to maintain a healthy population as koala distribution changes.

    "Koalas have to weigh up a lot of things. They rest for 20 hours a day and do most of their feeding at night, moving between a number of trees to meet their nutrient requirements. They need that mixture of trees to survive.

    "If we don't plant enough big trees, we will find koalas perish if heatwaves increase. They are large animals that live in trees, they can't burrow down or fly away to get away from the heat. We could see a huge reduction in numbers if habitat is not kept properly."

    In the short term, koalas face the threat of shrinking habitats but they are also considered particularly vulnerable to climate change owing to their limited diet of eucalypts and their tree-dwelling nature. Studies have shown that the composition of eucalypts changed in warmer temperatures, degrading it as a food source for koalas.

  12. Will New South Wales run short of gas by 2016?

    Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has made a series of dire predictions about the future of gas supply in New South Wales.

    Mr Macfarlane says the state will run short of gas by 2016 leaving hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs at risk unless the coal seam gas industry is developed.

    "We've got 4,000 agreements between farmers and the gas industry in Queensland to co-exist and that's allowed the LNG industry to develop," he told ABC Radio.

    "Without that in NSW, we've seen the CSG supplies stay in the ground and NSW is facing a situation now where it will run short of gas by 2016.

    "Literally hundreds if not thousands of jobs will be put in jeopardy in Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong, as a result of low gas supplies and high prices that come from that."

    Claim 1: NSW will run short of gas by 2016

    NSW has very little conventional gas supplies of its own.

    The federal Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics says NSW imported 95 per cent of its gas from other states in 2009-10.

    "Historically, NSW has not been a significant gas producer," the bureau said in its July 2012 gas market report.

    A parliamentary inquiry into downstream gas supply and availability in NSW was established in April this year.

    The NSW Department of Trade and Investment's submission to the inquiry foresees change ahead.

    "Supply contracts are coming to the end of their terms with a huge decline in available supplies at current prices expected around 2016," the submission says.

    At the same time, the dynamics of the eastern gas market - Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia, ACT and Tasmania - are being altered significantly.

    The development of large new liquefied natural gas facilities in Queensland will allow the state to liquify and therefore export its natural gas for the first time.

    A report from the Grattan Institute, a think tank funded by government and private sector donors, on Australia's energy challenge says strong Asian demand and high prices are "inducing" Australian producers to export their gas. This will mean higher prices for customers in Australia.

    The institute estimates that over the next couple of years gas prices for households on the east coast will rise by up to $170 a year.

    The report also says large industrial users of gas will come under pressure from equally significant price increases.

    But the institute's Tony Wood says there is no fundamental shortage of gas on the east coast of Australia.

    The BREE report has a similar view on availability.

    "While the eastern gas market is likely to tighten over the next five years, overall gas availability does not appear to be the issue. Rather, it appears to be a question of price," it says.

    Claim 2: Jobs in jeopardy

    ABC Fact Check asked Mr Macfarlane for the basis of his claim that "hundreds, if not thousands" of jobs would be at risk with "low gas supply and high prices" in NSW.

    His office said the statement was based on briefings with industry.

    Manufacturing Australia, an industry body, says with no limitations on exports of Australian gas, local manufacturers cannot secure long term contracts for gas.

    It says "what gas is available is skyrocketing in price by up to 200 per cent. Left unchecked this crisis will permanently push many manufacturing businesses over the edge, costing Australia 200,000 manufacturing-reliant jobs and $28 billion in economic value."

    Many high energy using companies are calling for a national reservation policy, similar to a system in place in Western Australia.

    A national reservation policy would require major LNG projects to set aside 15 per cent of gas production for local industry and households.


  13. Will New South Wales run short of gas by 2016?


    Claim 3: 4,000 agreements between farmers and gas producers in Queensland

    Land access conduct and compensation agreements in Queensland are legally binding contracts between the landholder, in this case a farmer, and a resource company seeking to access the land "to conduct authorised activities" such as gas exploration.

    "The agreements cover the conduct of the resource company on the land and fair and reasonable compensation that would be paid to the landholder for any damage that impacts on the landholder's business or land," says the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

    It says farmers do not have the right to refuse access to their land by gas companies.

    Recent figures from the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association show Queensland landholders have signed almost 4,000 land access agreements with natural gas companies since 2011.

    Fact Check asked the department whether APPEA's figures were correct. It does not keep records of the agreements.

    "Companies and landholders are not currently required to register a completed Conduct and Compensation Agreement with the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines," a spokesperson from the department said.

    The Queensland Farmers Federation says the fact 4,000 land access agreements have been signed does not mean there are 4,000 "happy landholders".

    Queensland farmer David Hamilton heads the basin sustainability alliance, whose website says it represents "landholder, community groups and individuals with serious concerns about the unrestrained development of the coal seam gas industry across Queensland".

    Mr Hamilton told Fact Check some landholders are happy with the their land access agreements, but others are not. "The unhappiness arises because farmers do not have the right to say 'no'," he said.

    Could coal seam gas meet demand in NSW?

    Mr Macfarlane suggests a lack of progress in the coal seam gas industry is responsible for the looming problems in NSW.

    APPEA says government regulation in NSW "continues to send the signal that the state is closed for business".

    The industry employs "fewer than 300 people and has signed just 285 agreements with landholders," it said.

    The NSW Government implemented a policy which requires coal seam gas development proposals on or within two kilometres of strategic agricultural land to be assessed by an independent expert panel prior to proceeding with development applications.

    Gas producer Santos has the potential to develop significant coal seam gas resources around Narrabri that in the first phase of development alone can supply in excess of 25 per cent of NSW's gas needs, according to the company's Eastern Australia vice president James Baulderstone.

    However the Grattan Institute's Mr Wood says there are alternatives to coal seam gas that could boost gas supply in NSW. He says it's possible to develop more gas from the centre of Australia, the Northern Territory, or from Victoria.

    The verdict

    Many contracts for gas supply in NSW are due to expire in 2016. If the coal seam gas stays in the ground, NSW will be able to secure further supply from other states. The question will be whether it can secure supply at a cost acceptable to NSW domestic and industrial customers. This cost will be determined by many factors. These include international oil and gas prices, gas industry developments in other states and investment in infrastructure such as pipelines.

    When it comes to job losses, there are too many variables to be definitive. In addition to the factors just mentioned, these include innovation and price movements in alternative forms of energy.

    Mr Macfarlane's alarmist prediction of ruinously high prices unless NSW develops its coal seam gas reserves cannot be verified.

  14. CSG limits to 'cost jobs, lift gas prices'

    Sid Maher and Sue Neales •
    The Australian •
    October 04, 2013 12:00AM

    BUSINESS has warned that the NSW government's move to protect a further one million hectares of prime agricultural land from coal-seam gas extraction risks jobs, plant closures and imposing higher energy costs on households and manufacturers.

    Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox warned there was a "real risk" of industrial closures sparked by steeply rising gas prices within a couple of years as he criticised the NSW government for proceeding with "the most restrictive elements of its revamp of coal-seam gas regulation, regardless of the looming and intense gas-supply issues facing NSW".

    NSW Resources Minister Brad Hazzard announced that hundreds of horse studs and vineyards would be "off limits" to coal-seam gas extraction activities as he increased to 2.8 million hectares the amount of valuable agricultural land that has been deemed "strategic".

    The move increased by one million hectares the amount of land for which CSG companies will be required to have their plans reviewed by a "gateway panel" consisting of six state-appointed groundwater, agricultural and mining experts. While business and the CSG industry attacked the move as economically damaging, farmers argued prime agricultural land remained under threat.

    Premier Barry O'Farrell seized on the dissatisfaction from both sides as evidence that the government had got its regulation right.

    "Today we have both farmers and miners criticising the government's moves," Mr O'Farrell said. "It sounds as though we have achieved the balance we want."

    - See more at:

  15. "We are finding issues of violence and child abuse in Indigenous communities and we're seeing instances of amphetamines use but also prescription drug use and a whole range of crimes that are happening, as they do in other communities across Australia," he said.


    I guess then one of the differences would be dealing with crime with a police presence and dealing with crime without a police presence.

    Then there is access to good water and reasonably priced fruit and veggies - amongst other things - including a safe place to live and sleep.

    The continuing story of neglect in order for the colony to march forward with as little resistance as possible.


    Taskforce moves closer to revealing Indigenous crime findings

    Posted Thu 3 Oct 2013, 2:22pm AEST

    An Australian Crime Commission unit, investigating child abuse and violence in Aboriginal communities, is getting closer to releasing its findings.

    The National Indigenous Intelligence Taskforce was created in 2006 to provide the Federal Government with an overview of the types of crime occurring in Aboriginal communities across Australia.

    Since then, investigators have spent time in 140 communities, which the commission will not identify.

    Acting manager Hamish Hansford says the taskforce is compiling its findings for a report due mid-next year.

    "We are finding issues of violence and child abuse in Indigenous communities and we're seeing instances of amphetamines use but also prescription drug use and a whole range of crimes that are happening, as they do in other communities across Australia," he said.

    Mr Hansford says getting people to trust authorities is one of the biggest challenges.

    "I think the trend is there's a general under-reporting of crime in Indigenous communities," he said.


    Survey shows Indigenous people in remote WA communities ageing at quicker rate than others

    A survey has shown that Indigenous people living in Western Australia's Kimberley region are ageing at a much quicker rate than other Australians.

    Ruth Crawford, who manages the Kimberley Aged and Community Service, is not surprised by the results.

    She says the agency has 60 clients in remote Aboriginal communities from Bidyadanga to Kalumburu, who need a high level of care starting at an early age.

    "We have people from the age of 45 right up to in their 90s," she said.

    "Some people might need help having a meal or they might need help having a wash, they might help getting to the shop to buy their groceries."

    Researchers conducted surveys in a number of remote communities, visiting Ardyaloon, Looma, Wiramanu, Warmun, Janjuwa and Mowanjum.

    The team was led by geriatricians from the University of Western Australia's (UWA) Centre for Health and Ageing.

    Melbourne Health's Associate Professor Dina LoGuidice says they asked people aged 45 and over about their general health, whether they have had falls, and about their memory and thinking.

    "We also interviewed their family or a carer to find out what assistance they needed, whether they felt burden caring for their relative and what services they required," she said.

    Rates of dementia and depression higher

    UWA's Winthrop Professor Leon Flicker says the results were concerning.

    "We've known the rates of dementia are very high but our more recent research suggests that the rates of falls, bladder problems, pain, pervasive pain and depression are also a fair bit higher than in the non-Indigenous communities in the rest of Australia," he said.

    "And, the other thing that's very concerning is [it is happening] at an earlier age.

    "We're looking at [Aboriginal] people over the age of 45 years versus non-Indigenous people in the rest of Australia, over say the age of 70, and they're having similar percentage proportion of problems."

    See more at :

  16. Another one bites the dust......


    Barnett stance on rail lines angers farmers

    Farmers and road safety campaigners have accused Colin Barnett of putting lives at risk by trying to "weasel out of" an election promise to keep grain freight lines in the Wheatbelt operating.

    The Liberal Party took out front-page advertisements in rural newspapers two days before the State election, stating it would keep viable Tier 3 lines open and provide funding to maintain them if re-elected.

    The pledge appeared next to a picture of the Premier, who refused to answer questions yesterday on whether his cash-strapped Government would keep its word. CBH, which uses the lines to cart grain, and peak lobby group WAFarmers said it was obvious the lines were viable.

    Brookfield Rail - which operates the lines under a lease from the Government - agreed they were viable, with Tier 3 freight rates cheaper than road freight.

    However, Brookfield chief executive Paul Larsen said an investment of more than $90 million to put new sleepers on the ageing lines was needed for rail to remain a cheaper option.

    Mr Larsen said that under the terms of Brookfield's contract the Government was responsible for major expenditure on grain freight lines but could choose whether to do the work.

    Brookfield said this week it was closing the York to Quairading and Merredin to Trayning lines because it was not safe or sustainable to keep them open without government investment. It is in talks with CBH about the remaining Tier 3 lines.

    Shadow transport minister Ken Travers and the Wheatbelt Rail Retention Alliance said the closures would create thousands of extra truck movements on poorly maintained country roads and put lives in danger.

    WAFarmers president Dale Park said the Government was trying to "weasel out" of its election commitment by suggesting the lines were not viable.

    "These lines are viable and the Government has to be held to account," Mr Park said.

    CBH operations manager David Capper said all the lines it used were viable long term.
    "Over the past 10 years grain growers in WA through CBH have paid almost $500 million in access fees to use the lines and we have spent $175 million on state-of-the-art, purpose-built rolling stock and given opportunity in the last 12 months we have moved 650,000 tonnes on the Tier 3."


    The continuing story of how Barnett and Buswell sent the state backwards during the once in a century boom.