Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wastewater well suspended after “frackquakes” rock Colorado -

Wastewater well suspended after “frackquakes” rock Colorado -

The (literally) earth-shattering implications of fracking have officially hit Colorado, where officials suspended a well used to dispose of wastewater from oil and gas drilling after researchers linked it to seismic activity in the area.
A 3.4 magnitude earthquake rocked the typically “aseismic” Greeley on May 31, its epicenter about 2 miles from the wastewater injection site. But it was a second, 2.6 magnitude quake this past Monday, picked up by a team of researchers from the University of Colorado that had been monitoring the area, that convinced regulators to take action.
In a statement, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission explained that it ordered High Sierra Water Services, the well’s operator, to stop disposing wastewater for 20 days, “as a cautionary step.”
“In light of the findings of CU’s team, we think it’s important we review additional data, bring in additional expertise and closely review the history of injection at this site in order to more fully understand any potential link to seismicity and use of this disposal well,” said COGCC director Matt Lepore.
A spokesperson for COGCC told Reuters that this is believed to be the first time that wastewater injection has been tied to seismic activity in the state. But it’s not the first time Colorado’s experienced drilling-related quakes, as DeSmogBlog notes:


  1. CalEnergy gets semisub for Browse drilling

    US player CalEnergy has contracted a semi-submersible rig for exploration drilling in Australia’s Browse basin.

    Australian partner IPB Petroleum said on Wednesday that the joint venture had secured the drilling rig Stena Clyde for its Pryderi-1 oil exploration well, which is expected to spud in Block WA-424-P October.

    CalEnergy is now planning to submit an application for a suspension and extension to the permit terms to allow sufficient time for drilling and evaluating the well results.

    The company has estimated that it would take about 11 days to drill the well on a dry hole basis.

    Pryderi-1 lies in 75 metres of water and holds best estimate prospective resources of 32 million barrels, according to IPB. The prospect is located about 10 kilometres from the permit’s existing Gwydion oil discovery.

    “The Pryderi-1 oil exploration well is aimed at not only testing a prospect but a play,” IPB managing director Brendan Brown said.
    “If we have success at Pryderi, then the follow up potential in the rest of our acreage could be very substantial.”

    WA-424-P is operated by CalEnergy with a 25% interest. IPB holds the remaining 75% stake.


    Cal Energy a Warren Buffet company.


    The Stena Clyde

    Two die on Stena Clyde drilling rig; fire strikes after work is suspended

    August 29, 2012

    By Dorothy Davis

    Australia’s National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) has launched an independent investigation into the deaths of two workers on the Stena Clyde offshore drilling rig.

    NOPSEMA reports the workers were fatally injured on Aug. 27 during drilling operations being carried out at the Geographe 2 development well for Origin in the Otway Basin.

    All work has been suspended and the well secured.

    In a separate release, NOPSEMA then reported the Stena Clyde rig had been struck by an electrical fire on Thursday (Aug. 29) after work had been suspended due to the deadly accident two days before. In an update on it's website the regulator said the fire stemmed from a circuit-breaker in the switch control room and was quickly extinguished. Only minor damage was reported.

    Built in 1976, the Stena Clyde drilling rig is one of the oldest in operation in Australia with production work scheduled through the second quarter of 2013.

    There is currently no time frame on how long it will take to conclude the investigation or repairs so operations can resume.


    1. "Built in 1976, the Stena Clyde drilling rig is one of the oldest in operation in Australia ............"


    A year on, answers are needed on Stena Clyde deaths

    ......................The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) investigation into the Stena Clyde incident has been the most remarkably secretive I have witnessed in my many years as a union official.

    Over the past 12 months NOPSEMA has released two media statements and made two announcements on the Stena Clyde incident and the on-going investigation. When you read between the background information such as the location of the rig, and the functions of NOPSEMA, all we are left with are three short lines of inquiry that NOPSEMA are following: communication between the operator and its workforce, the operator’s risk assessment processes and other courses of action that could be taken rather than those that led to the incident.


    Have any of the five offshore unions been asked to provide any comment or opinions on these matters? No.

    Have the families of the workers who were killed been involved in the investigation of informed of its progress? No.

    On Tuesday – the first anniversary of his 32-year-old son’s death – the father of Peter Meddens was interviewed on ABC Radio. He said that he had waited three days before the operator admitted his son had been killed and has not heard anything from the operator or NOPSEMA since.

    Unions don’t want to run the investigation – but we do want to be involved in finding solutions. Our members know how to improve their health and safety because they live the potential risks every working day. Our health and safety regimes recognise that it is impractical to seek the view of every individual worker and establish representative structures with health and safety reps and safety committees both supported by their union as pathways to securing input from a workforce.

    Despite repeated requests from unions to be involved in the Stena Clyde investigation, NOPSEMA has remained as good as silent on what it is doing.

    We think 12 months of silence is enough.

    Australia is a country that abides by the rule of law. Our society expects that those who breach our laws will be fairly penalised in proportion to the breach.

  3. The Wilderness Society says the WA government has concealed plans to allocate more water to agriculture and industry.

    The Wilderness Society's Marine Conservation Officer Jenita Enevoldsen

    “The new report predicts there is twice the amount of water available for use in the Kimberley region than the predicted sustainable demand scenario from the Department of Water ‘Kimberley Regional Water Plan 2010-2030’,” state director Jenita Enevoldsen said.

    “Conservationists say it’s ironic that today Water Minister Hon. Mia Davies has put out a media release calling for aged-care facilitates , sports clubs and schools to save precious drinking water and money – but didn’t deem a recent report ‘Water for Growth’, seemingly doubling previous water allocations for regions like the Kimberley, important enough for a media release.”

    You can read that statement here:


    Turning our taps off – so industry can turn theirs on


     Huge state-wide water reform planning document – ‘Water for Growth’1 kept under wraps, released at a private industry function.

     The new report predicts there is twice the amount of water available for use in the Kimberley region

    (1081-1617 GL/yr) than the predicted sustainable demand scenario from the Department of Water

    ‘Kimberley Regional Water Plan 2010-2030’: 566-597 GL/yr2.

    Conservationists say it’s ironic that today Water Minister Hon. Mia Davies has put out a media release calling for aged-care facilitates , sports clubs and schools to save precious drinking water and money – but didn’t deem a recent report ‘Water for Growth’, seemingly doubling previous water allocations for regions like the Kimberley, important enough for a media release.

    Jenita Enevoldsen, State Director, The Wilderness Society WA, said, “We need to ensure that the process of water reform is transparent and based on the best available science. The ‘Water for growth’ report seems to have been announced only to industry, with no references to any studies but bold statements about ensuring certainty for industry, which ignores previous key messages about the cautious development of our limited groundwater.

    “Groundwater is a key water asset in the Kimberley but development of these resources should proceed with caution as their assessment requires further investigation3.” Department of Water (2011)

    “Water reform has been on the agenda for 20 years in WA and new legislation is needed to be able to ensure our precious water is conserved, especially as we face a changing climate, with unpredictable rainfall in the south and the boom and bust cycle of the north.”

    “The Kimberley and northern Australia will never be the food bowl of the Asia. The Ord River scheme is testament to

    this – with over $1.3 billion dollars being poured into a series of failed crops, including rice, cotton and sugar.

    “We need to ensure that any plans for irrigated agriculture consider allocations for environmental and cultural flows, as

    well as future water demand.

    “With the just-announced federal axing of the National Water Commission, which will be wound up by the end of the

    year, we have real concerns for the future of water reform in WA. This water reform paired with the federal

    government’s plans to hand over environmental approvals to the States takes us one step closer to extinction of

    Western Australia’s endangered species and destruction of the places we all love as Western Australians.”

    “We can have both a healthy economy as well as a healthy environment; it need not be one or the other.”

    - See more at:

  4. Glencore tax bill on $15b income: zip, zilch, zero

    Australia's largest coalminer, Glencore, paid almost zero tax over the past three years, despite income of $15 billion, as it radically reduced its tax exposure by taking large, unnecessarily expensive loans from its associates overseas.

    At up to 9 per cent, the interest rates on these $3.4 billion in loans were double what the company would have had to pay had it simply borrowed the money from the bank.

    As it was claiming tax breaks in Australia on these inflated interest payments, the secretive Swiss-based multinational actually increased its lending to other related parties interest free. This may include its executives. Nobody from Glencore, which used to be called Xstrata, was available for comment despite repeated requests.

    The aggressive tax avoidance tactics of Glencore Coal International Australia Pty Ltd have been identified in an independent analysis of the company's accounts for Fairfax Media by an expert in multinational financing.

    Along with the blatant irregularities in its borrowing and lending, the study also found a hefty increase in Glencore's coal sales to related companies (up from 27 per cent to 46 per cent of total sales, with no explanation), indicative of transfer pricing - also known as profit-shifting - and an activity that appears to breach Section IVA of the Income Tax Assessment Act - the part that deals with schemes designed to comply technically with the law but whose ''dominant purpose'' is really to avoid tax.

    ''The reality is that the whole of the Glencore Xstrata Group is now run as a series of business units controlled by one company (Glencore Xstrata Plc, incorporated in the UK, listed on the London and other stock exchanges), with its registered office in Jersey (a tax haven) and its head office is in Baar (Switzerland),'' the report said.

    ''The truth is that Glencore Coal Investments Australia's operations in Australia are, because of the Group's business model, branch operations of the Swiss-domiciled parent entity, which uses the now dormant legal shell of an Australian body corporate in an attempt to hide the reality of its branch business in Australia.

    ''There also appears to be an increase in transfer pricing activity which may explain differences in revenues disclosed in the Australian accounts versus revenues reported as being from the same source in the group's consolidated accounts.''

    Read more:




    But will further action be taken ?
    The GFC was the biggest heist in history - anyone doing time for that ?


    The Federal Government has rejected a bipartisan call for a royal commission into the corporate watchdog and the Commonwealth Bank.


    THE Abbott government has played down the prospect of a royal commission into the Commonwealth Bank, but says ASIC investigators must “lift their game”.

    A cross-party Senate inquiry yesterday slammed the conduct of Australia’s biggest bank and said a royal commission was the only way to properly investigate the scandal involving rogue planners in its Commonwealth Financial Planning unit.

    The report also recommended a wide-scale overhaul of the corporate regulator, urging it to implement a “user-pays” approach, impose harsher penalties on rogue financial planners and change the way it deals with whistleblowers.

    The Senate inquiry was launched after more than 1000 customers of the unit lost millions of dollars when they were deceived into putting their savings into high-risk, high-margin funds by “cowboy” planners.

    ASIC: Calls for changes

    CBA: Royal commission recommended

    Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said today he was still considering the Senate committee’s 61 recommendations, including the proposed royal commission.

    However, Senator Cormann noted Liberal deputy chairman David Bushby’s dissenting view that such an inquiry would “incur significant cost to taxpayers without delivering any greater level of understanding or financial restitution”.

    “Senator Bushby … did make a very persuasive argument that yet another inquiry might not be the best way forward,” Senator Cormann told ABC Radio.

    “He is the chair of the (separate) Senate economics legislation committee; he is a very senior senator that has of course been involved in these sorts of inquiries for a long time.”


    Committee member and Nationals senator John Williams wants a royal commission into the finance industry, saying investigations should not be limited to the Commonwealth Bank.

    “There’s certainly a lot of concerns about wrongdoings; forgery, fraud. And I believe if that has been carried out, and I certainly do believe that, then these people must be made accountable for their actions,’’ Senator Williams told ABC radio.

    “I think white collar crime is systemic in Australia. As I’ve said, many years ago we heard of robbers with pistols and guns and rifles, well now it seems to be a biro and a computer is the way people lose their money and are robbed of their savings.’’

    Whistleblower James Wheeldon said he was shocked by what he witnessed while working at ASIC, describing a culture of “incompetence, laziness and lack of intellectual rigour’’.

    ASIC had a “cosy’’ relationship with the banks through secondment programs that were not disclosed to the public, he said.

    “I was shocked by the ... inability to satisfy basic legal obligations that people had as members of the public service,’’ Mr Wheeldon told ABC radio.

    “I couldn’t believe that what I saw was going on in an advanced, industrial democracy with rule of law and powerful democratic institution.’’



    BBC star Jimmy Savile 'committed sex acts on dead bodies' while volunteering at hospital


    a series of reports covering 28 hospitals where he worked shows Savile used his fame and charitable work to get unsupervised access to patients, raping and sexually abusing boys, girls, men and women aged between five and 75 in wards, corridors and offices.

    Some of the victims were attacked as they lay on hospital trolleys after operations.

    There are also suggestions that Savile, who had publicly spoken of his fascination with the dead, sexually abused bodies in the mortuary of Leeds General Infirmary in northern England, taking advantage of his role as a volunteer porter.


    "He [Savile] was saying that they used to put the bodies together, male and female, and he also said that they took photographs and also that he got involved in some of the photographs … I was a little bit upset because I had no concept, in those days, of necrophilia. Several of the Broadmoor patients would have been diagnosed with that, but I didn't fully understand what it meant, and partway through I just wandered off.

    "[Savile] talked about gamaroosh ... It means oral sex ... that he [Savile], he would go down on them and gamaroosh and muck about."

    Separately, the independent investigation was told that Savile had removed glass eyes from the bodies and used them as jewellery.


    AND if that hasn't got you spewing then his account of the "best 5 days of his life" he spent locked in his house with his dead mothers body surely will.


    Saville a great friend of the Royal Family and highly connected conservative pollies especially Thatcher (spent many a Xmas with them) and Heath (used his yacht to rape kids from a childrens home in the Channel Islands)

    Devil Worship - but don't go there as 007's real job is cleaning up after these scum.

    1. This is getting uncomfortably close to Lord McAlpine and his poofdah mates in the House of Lords.

      UK politician abuse allegations: British PM David Cameron under pressure to launch inquiry

      By Europe correspondent Mary Gearin

      British prime minister David Cameron is facing calls to launch a full-scale inquiry into allegations well-known politicians abused children in the 1980s, after an official said the government had lost files that may shed light on the matter.

      Tory Lord Norman Tebbit was in cabinet during the 1980s when hundreds of documents were given to his colleague, Leon Brittan - now Lord Brittan - alleging paedophile activity in and around Westminster.

      It has been revealed that more than 100 of those files have gone missing and Lord Tebbit says it is possible there was a cover-up.

      "At that time, I think most people would have thought that the establishment, the system, was to be protected," he said.

      "But it was almost unconscious. It was the thing people did at that time." *(IS HE SERIOUS?)*

      The Labour opposition has called for an "overarching review" into the child abuse allegations, accusing Mr Cameron's Conservative-led government of not doing enough and of failing to grasp the matter's gravity.

      "Given the extent of concern about this, [home secretary] Theresa May should not simply be leaving it to officials and to the prime minister to resolve," Labour's home affairs spokeswoman, Yvette Cooper, said in a statement.

      "She needs to make sure there is a process people can feel confident in, to get truth and justice, but also to protect children in future."

      Independent judge appointed

      One of the country's top civil servants, Mark Sedwill, has written Mr Cameron to say he was appointing a "senior independent legal figure" to judge whether the conclusions of an internal review into the matter last year remained sound.

      Mr Sedwill said that person would be appointed "within the next week".

      He said in another letter that the review last year had concluded that Britain's Home Office had passed nine allegations about child abuse onto the appropriate authorities at the time.

      Mr Sedwill said the review had uncovered a further four pieces of information, which had not been previously disclosed, which had since been passed to the police.

      In comments which prompted some politicians to talk of a possible cover-up, he said 114 "potentially relevant files" had been destroyed, were missing or could not be found.

      Education minister Michael Gove said that while he thought it was important the allegations were looked at, he did not think a full-scale inquiry was necessary.

      "It's also important, I think, to emphasise that many of the allegations that are being made are historic and that what we do now ... in order to keep children safer is immeasurably better and stronger than was the case 20 or 30 years ago," he told the BBC.

      The way the public perceives the government's handling of the allegations is important for Mr Cameron, who is up for re-election next year.

      The allegations have resurfaced at a time when British authorities are investigating and trying to prosecute celebrities and other public figures over other unrelated historic allegations of sexual misconduct.

      In 2012, police said Jimmy Savile, one of Britain's best-known TV presenters in the 1970s and 1980s, had sexually abused hundreds of victims, mainly youngsters, at hospitals and BBC premises over six decades until his death at the age of 84 in 2011.

      Last week, entertainer Rolf Harris was jailed for almost six years for repeatedly abusing young girls over decades as a host of children's television.


  7. MP urges more 'transparent' mining contamination disclosure

    Updated Thu 26 Jun 2014, 2:28pm AEST

    The Member for Moore says the WA Government needs to examine mining legislation to ensure incidents of environmental contamination are made public.

    It has been revealed it took more than two years for the Minister for Mines and Petroleum to be notified about a contamination incident in the Gingin area.

    The Department of Environment and Conservation was made aware of the contamination at an Empire Oil and Gas well in 2011 but the Minister was not aware of the incident until the second half of 2013.

    Water testing has since been undertaken in the area but under the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act, the test results remain confidential.

    MP Shane Love says that needs to change.

    "Well I think what that shows is there's a siloing of the information and that shouldn't be occurring, it should be fully transparent and public in terms of any impact on the environment," he said.

    He says local landholders and the broader community should be able to access the information.

    "I think it should be public disclosure of these matters when they occur because that's the only way that we as the community can be assured that we have a full understanding of the situation," he said.

    The Minister for Mines and Petroleum, Bill Marmion, says under the Act, there is a two-year confidentiality period after the information has been provided to his department.

    In a statement, Mr Marmion says the Department of Mines and Petroleum was advised of a potential contamination incident in April, 2011.

    He says the department has improved the regulatory processes for onshore gas projects by developing new environmental management regulations.

    Mr Marmion says the regulations ensure petroleum and geothermal operations are carried out in accordance with best practice and provide a more transparent regulatory framework.

    Australia's peak body for the oil and gas industry, APPEA, has been contacted for comment.

  8. Oklahoma earthquakes linked to fracking wastewater wells, study says

    Fifth of the quakes that helped turn the state into the earthquake capital of America were caused by just four wells

    Scientists have, for the first time, linked hundreds of earthquakes across a broad swath of Oklahoma to a handful of wastewater wells used by the fracking industry.

    The research, published in the journal Science on Thursday, said about one-fifth of the quakes that helped turn Oklahoma into the earthquake capital of America were caused by just four wells.

    Oklahoma has had about 240 magnitude 3.0 or higher earthquakes just since the start of the year. The state now has twice the number of 3.0 earthquakes as California.

    Before 2008, when the oil and gas boom got underway, the state averaged about one a year.

    The researchers from Cornell University and other institutions traced a large number of earthquakes through 2012 to just four wells, south-east of Oklahoma city.

    Those wells were pumped with significantly higher volumes of fracking wastewater and chemicals than the thousands of other disposal wells in the state.

    The findings were the first to show such waste wells can trigger earthquakes up to 40kms away from the injection site.

    They are bound to further deepen the controversy surrounding fracking, which has vastly expanded America's oil and natural gas production, but with rising consequences for health, safety and the environment.

    Another Cornell-led team this week found that 40% of the fracked wells in north-eastern Pennsylvania were at risk of leaking methane into groundwater and air.

    The researchers said faulty cement casings could be responsible.


    He ruled out a natural explanation for the spike in earthquakes. “This many earthquakes over and over again is not really something we have seen in a natural system,” he said.

    Instead, the researchers found the earthquakes over the last five years were triggered by a relatively small number of the thousands of injection wells drilled across the state to dispose of the mix of water and chemicals used by drillers to flush oil and gas from layers of rock.

    The researchers said the four Oklahoma city wells raised underground pressures, triggering a swarm of earthquakes across nearly 2,000 square kilometres.

    In some instances, the earthquakes were more than 30km from the disposal site – much farther than researchers had expected.

    The first earthquakes known to be caused by a fracking waste disposal well, occurred in Youngstown, Ohio. Scientists registered at least 109 earthquakes after the injection well came into operation in December 2010 until it was shut down a year later, following an earthquake that registered a magnitude of 3.9.

    Those earthquakes were localised, however, the researched noted.

    In their study, earthquakes travelled great distances from the disposal sites. There was also a time lag.“This is a situation where the pumping starts months or a couple of years before the earthquakes are observed at all,” Abers said.

    The researchers found the areas of underground pressure continually expanded, increasing the likelihood of encountering bigger faults, and the risks of triggering higher-magnitude earthquakes.





    Department of Environment makes 250 leading specialists reapply for their jobs

    Staff earmarked for redundancy after audit office finds department overstretched and failing in several of its functions

    The federal Department of the Environment will make 250 of its leading specialists reapply for their jobs and make 30 of them redundant in the latest round of cost-cutting measures.

    The department, which was recently judged by the audit office to be overstretched and failing in several of its functions, has a target of shedding 250 staff by Christmas.

    A cadre of high-level specialists has been earmarked for redundancies, with Guardian Australia learning that unique research roles will be cut.

    Staff working in areas such as environmental radioactivity, ecotoxicology, landscape ecology and Antarctic glaciology are among the 250 who have been asked to reapply for their jobs.

    A letter sent by management to one member of this group, seen by Guardian Australia, states: “I am now formally declaring you potentially excess to the department’s requirements to ensure you have as much notice as possible should you wish to consider the option of seeking redeployment.”

    Staff made redundant will have the opportunity of moving elsewhere in the public service, although those affected fear their specialist skills will probably not allow them to transfer to a suitable role.

    Beth Vincent-Pietsch, deputy secretary of the Community and Public Sector Union, said morale within the department, which unveiled Gregory Andrews as the new threatened species commissioner on Wednesday, was “terribly low.”

    “[Staff] are anxious and depressed that the crucial work that they do is not being valued by this government,” she said. “Environment is already taking a big hit to jobs and now it stands to lose some of its best and brightest people through an entirely unnecessary and divisive process.

    “When 250 people walk out of environment’s doors by the end of the year, they take with them hundreds of years of accumulated knowledge and experience that will take years to replace.

    “These people are some of Australia’s top scientists, many of whom are internationally recognised for the crucial work they do in, for example, tracking the melting of glacial ice, or coming up with new ways to protect aquatic ecosystems.”


    An internal government review in April concluded that the environment department’s budget should be slashed from $460m in 2013-14 to $361m in 2017-18, requiring the loss of 670 jobs over this period – a quarter of the department's workforce.

    A report by the Australian National Audit Office in June found the department did not have the right tools to assess environmental damage and was “passive” when dealing with business compliance with conditions.

    According to the report, "the increasing workload on compliance monitoring staff over time has resulted in [the department] adopting a generally passive approach to monitoring proponents' compliance with most approval conditions”.


  10. Mine plan a test for EPA

    WA's environment watchdog is facing a big test over plans for an iron ore mine in an ecologically sensitive part of the Goldfields it has previously vowed to safeguard.

    Polaris Metals, a subsidiary of mining junior Mineral Resources, referred plans to the Environmental Protection Authority this week to develop an iron mine in the Mt Manning region, about 550km north-east of Perth.

    The area, which has some of the world's oldest land formations and is home to rare plants and animals, has long been earmarked for conservation because of its environmental significance.

    In its annual report last year, the EPA said it would take a "presumption against" any mining developments in the region until protection had been put in place.

    Polaris' referral, which would see between 65 and 115 million tonnes of iron ore mined over the project's life, is set to test the watchdog's resolve.

    The area forms an important part of the Yilgarn iron ore province, which the State Government hopes can help underwrite the business case for the long-awaited Oakajee port north of Geraldton.

    Mining would be centred on a part of the area called the Helena Aurora Range, also known as Bungalbin.

    According to the Wilderness Society, Polaris' proposal would determine whether the EPA had any credibility.

    "Bungalbin is an ancient jewel within Western Australia's global biodiversity asset of the Great Western Woodlands," the society's WA director Jenita Enevoldsen said.

    "The Helena Aurora Range is so important that there have been calls to formally protect it for more than half a century."

    EPA chairman Paul Vogel noted Polaris' referral, which would be followed by a seven-day public comment period, was the first stage in the environmental approvals process.

    Once public submissions closed, the EPA would decide the level at which it would assess the proposal, or whether it would assess it at all, Dr Vogel said.

    Polaris was contacted for comment.


    Prehistoric Australia's fish species in danger of extinction

    One of the oldest fish species in Australia that predates the breaking up of Gondwanaland, is under threat.

    The salamander type fish is found in an isolated pocket of Western Australia in an area known as the Southern Acid Peat Flats, west of Albany.

    The fish, and another minnow type fish, are under threat because of a drop in rainfall and the sudden appearance of an introduced pest.

    Brad Pusey is a Research Professor at the University of Western Australia. He has been studying the fish for close to three decades.

    He says the fish hibernate underground in sandy soil for up to seven months of the year.

    'The flat swamps fill up in winter when it rains and that's when the two species, the lepidogalaxias salamandroides and the galaxiella nigrostriatus, surface,' he said.

    But Professor Pusey says the amount of rain falling in autumn is in decline, which is forcing the fish to stay underground in dry conditions for much longer.

    If the fish are forced to stay underground for longer than seven months, it leads to higher mortality rates.

    Adding to the fishes woes is the unexpected presence of an introduced fish.

    'For the first time we've found mosquito fish in the area which is a pest and responsible for decimating native fish around the world,' Professor Pusey said.

    Last month Professor Pusey and colleagues visited a particular section of the peat flats and at times struggled to find the two fish species.

  11. Memories of JPP -

    Why don't they just follow Barnett's advice and have the ships steer around them ?

    Simple !


    Great Barrier Reef ‘whale zones’ proposed to reduce deadly ship strikes

    Conservationists urge boat speed limits as report reveals whales suffering propeller lacerations, blunt trauma and severed spines

    Speed limits for ships travelling in special Great Barrier Reef “whale zones” should be introduced to reduce the number of the animals being maimed or killed, a conservation group has urged.

    A report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare warns that whales are facing a growing threat of being seriously hurt from colliding with large cargo ships.

    The report cites evidence of whales suffering deep propeller lacerations, blunt trauma and even severed spines as a result of being hit by boats.

    A total of 1,340 ships passed through key humpback whale habitat in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park between June and September last year, the report records, an average of 11 a day.

    While some of these vessels reached speeds of up to 64 knots, most were travelling at around 12 to 14 knots. Should a ship strike occur at these average speeds, a whale faces a 50 to 70% chance of dying, the IFAW report found.

    The problem is set to get worse, IFAW argues, because shipping lanes and humpback whale habitat directly overlap. Shipping passages through the reef are estimated to almost double by 2020 to around 8,500 transits a day, while the humpback whale population is growing at a rate of 11% a year.

    Speed limits of 10 knots or under should be introduced in vital humpback whale breeding and nursing areas near the Whitsunday Islands and Gladstone, according to the report.


    “Some of these cargo ships are 300m long, while an adult humpback whale is 18m long, so the ships may not notice if they’ve hit them,” Matt Collis, marine campaign manager at IFAW, told Guardian Australia.

    “There needs to be speed restrictions in whale zones, similar to the concept of speed limits around schools to protect children. It’s really unfortunate that some of the largest ports in Queensland, in Gladstone and Hay Point, cut right across humpback habitat.”

    Collis said similar speed restrictions in New Zealand and the east coast of the US have resulted in a sharp drop in the number of whale strikes.

    “With the growth in shipping and whale numbers we need to sort something out now or we will see a lot more whales die in ship strikes,” he said. “This could become a major issue for humpback whales.”

    A data analysis conducted by Guardian Australia last week showed that whales are more likely to be hit by whale-watching vessels than any other type of boat.

    A total of 43 whales were reported being hit in Australia between 1885 and 2010, compared with 205 in the US.

    “There is a massive under-reporting of whale strikes,” said Collis. “Whale-watching boards are more likely to report because they would feel a significant bump, but a large tanker may not notice it.

    “In Australia, most whale strikes are reported by scientists on examination of stranded animals which have had their insides turned to mush by being hit by a boat. We need better awareness of the issue and better reporting.”

  12. THE STUCK UP POM RIDES AGAIN.................


    Tony Abbott says Australia benefited from foreign investment because it was 'unsettled' before the British

    Prime Minister Tony Abbott says we have all benefited from Britain’s original foreign investment because Australia was “unsettled” before the British arrived.

    Delivering the keynote address at The Australian-Melbourne Institute conference on Thursday night, Mr Abbott was asked about the importance of foreign investment in residential real estate and its contribution to economic growth.


    "“Our country is unimaginable without foreign investment.”

    “I guess our country owes its existence to a form of foreign investment by the British government in the then unsettled or, um, scarcely settled, Great South Land,” he said"


    Read more:

  13. World's top marine biologists, scientists call for end to Western Australia's controversial shark cull

    By environment and science reporter Jake Sturmer

    July 4, 2014

    Hundreds of the world's top marine scientists and researchers are calling on the West Australian Government to scrap its controversial shark catch and kill policy.

    The state's Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is assessing a proposed three-year extension of the program, but there are serious questions about the science that has gone into it.

    The ABC has obtained a copy of their submission, which argues that there is no evidence it is making beachgoers safer.

    The EPA is accepting submissions until Monday for its assessment.

    Federal approval for the policy has expired, so the program will also have to face a full environmental assessment under Commonwealth law.

    More than 250 scientists and researchers have signed the submission to the EPA, including US marine biologist Dr Elliott Norse.

    Dr Norse worked for several presidents and was a key force behind the scenes in president Barack Obama's push to preserve vast parts of the Pacific Ocean.

    "I think killing sharks is not a good idea," he said.

    "I think killing apex predatory sharks like tiger sharks is a terrible idea.

    "Apex predators are really important in ecosystems and when we kill them what we often find is really bad things happen."

    Catching sharks has no impact on attacks: experts

    During the State Government's 13-week trial which was finished earlier this year, 172 sharks were caught, of which 163 were tiger sharks.

    Not one was a Great White, the species thought to be responsible for most attacks on humans.

    Fifty tiger sharks larger than 3 metres were killed, with the biggest measuring 4.5 metres.

    The State Government introduced the policy of setting baited drum lines off five Perth beaches and two in the south-west following an increase in fatal shark attacks in the past 10 years.

    In the submission co-ordinating scientist Professor Jessica Meeuwig said Hawaii was an example of drum lines having no effect on safety.

    "In Hawaii they spent 16 years killing tiger sharks through a hook and line program very similar to what we're doing. And it had no impact on the number of incidents with sharks," she said.

    The WA government says it based its policy on Queensland's use of drum lines, where there has been only one fatal attack at a controlled beach since 1961.

    "This is one we've followed because we didn't need to reinvent the wheel in following what Queensland's been doing," the Fisheries Minister Ken Baston said.

    Mr Baston was unable to point to any studies about the efficacy of drum lines in Queensland.

    "All I can say is that what their record is in actually protecting human beings and as I've said to various people that may knock it, what value do they put on human life?" he said.

    Since 1962, the Queensland Government has also been using nets to protect swimmers - something that WA decided against.

    Professor Meeuwig said that was a critical difference.

    "If you look at the locations that are only protected by drum lines, so leaving nets aside, again there's no evidence that we've had improved safety outcomes from killing 1,000 sharks a year," she said.

    Catch-and-kill policy remains controversial

    In March, the EPA ruled out assessing Western Australia's controversial shark cull, saying it posed a negligible risk to the species.

    The decision to cull has been controversial and there have been a number of public protests.

    Earlier in March, Sea Shepherd failed to get a Supreme Court order to stop the cull.

    It had argued the catch-and-kill policy had been improperly introduced, but the Supreme Court ruled the introduction of the drum lines was valid.

    ◾Do you know more? Email*

  14. Joint Strike Fighters: US grounds entire F-35 fleet following engine fire

    The US military says it has grounded its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fleet following a fire on board one of the multi-million-dollar jets.

    Directives ordering the suspension of all flights were issued after the fire at Eglin air force base in Florida.

    The Pentagon said officials had not been able to pinpoint the cause of the fire, which occurred as a pilot was preparing for takeoff. The pilot was not injured.

    Australia announced in April that it would buy 58 of the fighters, in addition to 14 ordered in 2009, at an extra cost of more than $12 billion.

    The Pentagon said preparations for F-35s to participate in two air shows in the United Kingdom later this month would continue, with a final decision to be made early next week.

    At $US398 billion, the F-35 program has become the Pentagon's costliest.

    The fire was the latest incident to hit the program and followed an in-flight oil leak that triggered mandatory fleet-wide inspections of the jets last month.

    "Additional inspections of F-35 engines have been ordered ... return to flight will be determined based on inspection results and analysis of engineering data," the US Defence Department said in a brief statement.

    The Pentagon's F-35 program office said determining the root cause of the fire and potential mitigating actions were its highest priority.

    It said impacts to flight test, training and operations of the radar-evading warplane were being assessed.

    1. F-35 Joint Strike Fighters grounded after engine fire

      Read more:

      ................However, a source close to the program said the planes were too expensive and were beset with too many problems.

      The source said the basic problem was the single engine which meant power failure automatically resulted in the loss of the $120 million plane if an engine broke down in flight.

      Proponents of the F-35 say one of its greatest selling points is its claimed "inter-operability" which means its super-sophisticated computer and combat systems can "talk" to other planes and ground-based assets allowing for greater co-ordination.

      But the source said it had never achieved these goals and was lagging behind in testing which explained why not one single F-35 was in service in the US.

      According to Reuters news agency, the grounding has thrown into doubt plans for the F-35 to feature in two British air shows later this month.

      In a prescient move, former defence minister Brendan Nelson overruled military advice during the last years of the Howard government to order FA18 Hornets to make up for a capability gap if the F-35 proved problematic.


    Woodside strikes deal for new HQ

    Woodside Petroleum has struck a deal with the owners of the old Emu Brewery site at the western end of St George's Terrace for its new headquarters.

    In a move flagged by WestBusiness last month, the company has signed a memorandum of understanding with Malaysian property developers AAIG to build a $1 billion complex at the corner of Spring and Mount streets, to be named Capital Square.

    Morocco farm-in ‖ 60th birthday celebration

    Woodside is expected to move into a 31-level office block on the site, occupying 55,000sqm of space.

    The company's staff are expected to begin moving into the new building in 2018, a year before Woodside's existing lease at Woodside Plaza expires.


    Former prime minister John Howard was last night due to headline the 60th birthday celebrations for what arguably has become WA's most important company, Woodside Petroleum.

    About 300 invited guests, including former Woodside directors and senior managers, joined an evening hosted by chairman Michael Chaney and chief executive Peter Coleman to reflect on a corporate life that began as Woodside (Lakes Entrance) Oil in Victoria in 1954 before the com- pany became the driver of Australia's LNG export industry.

    Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane, who was a minister in the Howard government, was also due to address the crowd, along with Premier Colin Barnett.

    1. Woodside to explore in Morocco with Chariot

      The Australian |
      July 05, 2014

      THE MAN in charge of Woodside Petroleum’s expansive worldwide exploration hunt has taken the company into familiar territory, striking a deal between Woodside and the company he used to chair.

      Woodside yesterday announced a joint venture in Morocco with London-listed Chariot Oil & Gas as part of its efforts to bolster its growth prospects with a series of early stage exploration ventures around the world.

      Phil Loader, Woodside’s executive vice-president of exploration, who is responsible for the company’s global exploration portfolio, was the chairman of Chariot until he joined Woodside on July 1 last year.

      The deal will see Woodside take an initial 25 per cent interest in Chariot’s Rabat Deep permits, which cover almost 11,000sq km off the Morocco coast.

      Woodside also has an option to acquire a further 25 per cent and operatorship of the licences. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.


      Offshore Morocco has had little oil and gas exploration in the past but the region has attracted oil and gas majors such as Chevron and Repsol in recent years on the back of several promising leads.

      Mr Coleman described the Doukkala Basin, where the Rabat Deep permits are located, as an emerging petroleum province.

      “Exploration in this basin aligns with our strategy to secure new international growth opportunities in frontier and emerging basins characterised by materiality and quality,” Mr Coleman said.

      “This opportunity has been supported by Woodside’s disciplined approach to studying regional petroleum systems, including the Atlantic margins, and is a good fit with our core capabilities in deepwater exploration and production.”

      Perth-based oil and gas explorers Tangiers Petroleum and Pura Vida Energy are among the junior companies exploring off Mor­occo.


      Mr Coleman has set about rebuilding Woodside’s exploration arm after several years of below-expectation performance.

  16. Abbott the stuck up Pom and the mess of his own making.


    Abbott trapped in downward spiral all of his making

    The Australian |
    July 05, 2014

    ACCORDING to the Newspoll released on Tuesday, if an election were held last weekend Tony Abbott would have suffered the largest two-party-preferred defeat since Gough Whitlam’s in 1975. Worse than Paul Keating’s in 1996, worse than John Howard’s in 2007 and worse than Kevin Rudd’s in September last year.

    Of course it was only one poll, and there are more than two years to go before an election is due. But a worrying trend of Coal­ition unpopularity is forming within the Abbott government’s first year in office.

    This week’s two-party-preferred vote of just 45 per cent for the Coalition emulates the first Newspoll after the budget in mid-May. At the time, senior ministers, including the Prime Minister, sought to mislead the public by suggesting that tough budgets always result in a dip in the polls.

    They pointed to Peter Costello’s first budget in late 1996, which was certainly tough. But in fact after that budget the Coal­ition’s polling improved, Howard’s satisfaction rating increased, and polls evaluating the fairness of the budget were also positive.

    Team Abbott needs to decide if it deliberately sought to rewrite the history books, or simply wasn’t aware of what happened in a first-term Howard government of which many of the team were members.

    It is tempting to blame the current generation of voters for being more selfish than the last, and therefore unable to grasp the need for the fiscal belt-tightening contained within the budget. But that’s a one-dimensional analysis. The budget also represents brok­en promises, poorly crafted polic­ies, numerous contradictions and woefully sold initiatives.

    It took Howard eight years after being elected as prime minister to see the Coalition’s two-party vote dip to 45 per cent, in March 2004. It took Abbott’s government just eight months, and the poor result was reflected again this week, as mentioned.

    Howard’s two-party-preferred Newspoll dip of March 2004 wasn’t repeated until December 2006, when Rudd was elected Labor leader and the Coalition had been in power for nearly 11 years. Abbott hasn’t even been in office for 11 months.


    Understanding why people are turning off a leader and a government — and finding a way to respond to them without losing philo­sophical purpose — is the art of professional politics. One good reason why Howard endured as PM for so long at the same time as legislating reforms of substance was because of the (mostly focus-group) work done by his pollster, Mark Textor. Abbott and Textor don’t get on, to say the least, and as a consequence Abbott’s tin ear is showing.

    It is hard to think of a PM in greater need of the advice of someone such as Textor on how to better connect with voters.

    This week’s Newspoll also revealed that Abbott’s dissatisfaction rating with voters has slumped to 62 per cent. After a similar amount of time as PM, Howard’s was 35 per cent. Gillard prematurely aged as a PM because of the way she took office (deposing Rudd in his first term and immediately fighting a difficult election). She also broke her election promise not to introduce a carbon tax.

    Yet even Gillard’s dissatisfaction rating this far into her prime ministership was only 47 per cent, compared with Abbott’s 62 per cent. If the government sticks to its mantra that the budget was both necessary and well-crafted, it will meet its proverbial political maker, perhaps becoming the first one-term government in this country since James Scullin’s in 1931.


  17. Prime Minister Tony Abbott's comments on British settlement 'highly offensive', says Nova Peris

    Aboriginal Labor Senator Nova Peris claims bipartisan efforts to recognise Indigenous people in the Australian Constitution have been set back by the Prime Minister's comments on British settlement.

    In comments after an economic speech in Melbourne on Thursday night Tony Abbott said Australia had been "unsettled" before the arrival of the First Fleet.

    "I guess our country owes its existence to a form of foreign investment by the British government in the then unsettled or scarcely settled great south land," Mr Abbott told the Melbourne Institute Economic Conference.

    In a statement, Senator Peris hit out at Mr Abbott's comments, saying they had offended Aboriginal Australians and many other people around the country.

    "The comments were highly offensive, dismissive of Indigenous peoples and simply incorrect," Senator Peris said.

    "British settlement was not foreign investment. It was occupation.

    "Current foreign investment in Australia can be defended, promoted and debated without such insensitive statements from the Prime Minister."

    Mr Abbott's chief Indigenous adviser Warren Mundine, who was in the audience for Mr Abbott's speech, has also described the comments as "silly".

    Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said: "This was an offensive thing to say, especially from someone who proclaims to be Prime Minister for Indigenous Australia".

    Mr Abbott's office declined to comment, as did Reconciliation Australia.

  18. AND it's not just the sucking up to his colonial masters that are making people spew - Abbott and the sick f*cks who suck up to the Yanks are about to cost us all big time again - never mind the pilots who will lose their lives in these lemons.


    F-35 Joint Strike Fighter purchase 'a great national scandal' says Coalition MP

    Government backbencher Dennis Jensen has condemned the Prime Minister’s $12.4 billion plan to buy 58 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets as a “great national scandal” and “worse than a disgrace”.

    In an extraordinary broadside in Parliament on Monday night, Dr Jensen warned that Australia’s national security was being corrupted by an “industrial-military complex” interested in promoting the global arms trade.

    Fairfax revealed on Monday that Australia was now the seventh-largest importer of large-scale military materiel in the world, and also the biggest customer of the world’s largest weapons producer, the United States. Australia buys 10 per cent of all American weapons exports.

    Australian purchases of major arms – such as warships, fighter planes, and tanks – increased by 83 per cent from 2004-08 to 2009-13.

    In April, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the government would buy an additional 58 F-35 Join Strike Fighter jets at a cost of $12.4 billion. It will cost another $12 billion to keep the fighters operational over their active lifetime. The 58 aircraft are an addition to the 14 F-35s Australia already had on order.

    Mr Abbott described the F-35 as the most advanced fighter in production anywhere in the world. “The F-35 will provide a major boost to the Australian Defence Force’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance,” he said.

    The F-35 will replace the Hornet F/A-18, set to be retired from 2022, and will fly alongside 24 Super Hornets and 12 Growler radar-jamming aircraft.

    But Dr Jensen argued the F-35 was an inferior aircraft to those being developed by “potential threat nations”.

    He said the F-35’s US manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, had misled countries seeking to buy the jets over their cost, capability and readiness. He cited a RAND Corporation assessment of the F-35 as a fighter that “can’t turn, can’t run, can’t climb”.

    “The simple fact is, Lockheed Martin and the military-industrial complex may be selling the US, Australia, and allies a pup, but nations that may not be friendly to us are not buying the pitch.”

    “It is time to end the madness,” Dr Jensen told Parliament. “It is time to scrap the JSF.”

    Quoting former US President Dwight Eisenhower, Dr Jensen warned that the influence of arms manufacturers on governments would lead to the “disastrous rise of misplaced power”.

    “Unfortunately, we see this unwarranted and dangerous influence of the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned about, in evidence today.

    “There are forces at work that let convenience, pride, and unwise loyalty override the safety of our nation and its allies.”

    Australia’s increased spending on major weapons comes as countries throughout Asia boost military spending, and tensions over territorial and maritime disputes flare across the region.

    India, Pakistan and China are the three largest buyers of military hardware in the world. They are also the only three countries actively increasing their nuclear arsenals.

    Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore have all significantly increased military spending in recent years, particularly in response to disagreements with China over territory and sea rights in the South China Sea.

    Defence Minister David Johnston declined to comment on Australia’s increased spending on military hardware.



    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
    June 2014

    One Dead Pilot
    Single-Engine F-35 a Bad Choice
    for Canada’s Arctic
    Michael Byers

    About the author
    Michael Byers holds the Canada Research Chair in
    Global Politics and International Law at the University
    of British Columbia. He recently won the Donner
    Prize for the best book on public policy in Canada:
    International Law and the Arctic (Cambridge
    University Press, 2013).


    2. History
    A. CF-104 Starfighter: The ‘Widow Maker’
    Canada operated the CF-104 Starfighter from 1961 to 1987. The aircraft was designed
    by Lockheed Corporation, the predecessor of Lockheed Martin — the
    company that now manufactures the F-35. The Starfighter had small, thin
    wings that gave it a high “wing loading”, which reduced manoeuvrability
    and made the aircraft susceptible to stalling.5
    The Starfighter had just one engine, any failure of which would lead
    to a crash. The single engine also made it vulnerable to crashes involving
    bird strikes. As a tactical strike aircraft, the Starfighters flew fast at low altitudes,
    exacerbating this risk.6 During the 26 years of operation, about onequarter
    of Canada’s 110 Starfighter crashes were attributed to bird strikes.7
    Although Canada’s Starfighters never saw combat, 39 Canadian pilots
    lost their lives while flying these planes.8 Nearly half the fleet (110 out of 239
    aircraft) was also lost.9 But it was the significant number of casualties that
    earned the aircraft the nickname the “Widow Maker”.10


    As early as November 1978, The Globe
    and Mail reported: “The lack of a second engine as a backup for long-distance
    continental air defence applications has caused concern among the
    military.”15 In March 1980, the same newspaper reported: “Most pilots who
    are willing to discuss the matter say they prefer the F-18” because “the aircraft’s
    two engines are safer than the F-16’s single engine over the barren North”.16 The next month, The Globe and Mail again reported that the F-18
    “is preferred by Canadian Forces pilots on the ground that for long Arctic
    patrols two engines would be better than one.”17
    A similar preference was expressed in the United States with respect to
    fighter operations over the ocean. While the US Air Force procured the F-16,
    the US Navy insisted on a twin-engine aircraft — the F-18. The following excerpt
    from a Congressional sub-committee hearing is illustrative:
    Chairman McClellan. The plane the Navy rejected — the F-16 — was a oneengine
    plane, was it not?
    Senator Goldwater. That is right.
    Chairman McClellan. And the Navy insists, I believe, that their planes have
    two engines.
    Senator Goldwater. Well, any pilot can understand that............

  20. ANOTHER catch - the F-35 needs the F22 to look after it !
    MORE money MORE billions $$$$$$$$$

    One Dead Pilot
    Single-Engine F-35 a Bad Choice
    for Canada’s Arctic

    In this context, it is also noteworthy that the US Air Force accepted the
    single-engine design for the F-35 alongside an advanced twin-engine fighter.
    Indeed, the US Air Force plans to use its larger, faster, more manoeuvrable
    and safer F-22 to protect the F-35 from enemy fighters. As General Michael Hostage, the head of Air Combat Command, told the Air Force Times: “The
    F-35 is not built as an air superiority platform. It needs the F-22.”


    Engine problems with the Joint Strike Fighter program have resulted in the
    fleet being grounded numerous times, while other quality and accounting
    issues have caused the Pentagon to withhold payments to Pratt & Whitney.
    Last year, the Pentagon grounded the fleet twice. In January 2012 the problem
    was a crimped hydraulic hose in an engine, and in February 2012 it was
    a crack that appeared on an engine’s turbine blade.67


    Bird strikes are a particularly important consideration for a “strike fighter”
    like the F-35, which will be flown fast and close to the ground. Bird strike
    rates increase dramatically when aircraft are close to the ground, especially
    at higher speeds.70 Losses of the CF-104 Starfighter increased dramatically
    after that single-engine jet was re-tasked from high-altitude interception
    to low-altitude tactical strike. Indeed, about one-quarter of Canada’s
    110 Starfighter crashes were attributed to bird strikes.


    According to The Globe and Mail, Canadian government officials claim that
    having a single engine makes the F-35 lighter and more manoeuvrable.72 In
    actual fact, the F-35 is as heavy or heavier than its twin-engine competitors.
    The conventional landing version of the F-35 weighs in at 29,300 pounds;73
    the F-18A Super Hornet at 29,513 pounds;74 the Eurofighter Typhoon at 22,000
    pounds;75 and the Dassault Rafale at 22,000 pounds.76
    Nor is the F-35 more manoeuvrable than the alternative twin-engine aircraft.
    77 In 2008, the RAND Corporation said: “It can’t turn, can’t climb, can’t
    run.”78 According to the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation,
    the US government was forced to downgrade the requirements for the
    F-35’s turn performance “from 5.3 to 4.6 sustained g’s”.79
    Canadian government officials also argue that a single engine aircraft
    will be less expensive to maintain.80 However, the operating and sustainment
    costs of F-35s are in fact higher than its twin-engine counterparts. For
    instance, according to information from the US government, the operating
    and sustainment costs of the F-35 are approximately twice those of the
    F-18A Super Hornet.81

  21. One Dead Pilot
    Single-Engine F-35 a Bad Choice
    for Canada’s Arctic

    11. Conclusion
    The single-engine versus twin-engine issue has not been resolved by improvements
    in the reliability of jet engines. Engine failures will still occur, and
    when they do so away from an airport, a second engine is the only thing that
    can prevent a crash. The issue is especially important for Canada, which has
    the longest coastline in the world and vast Arctic territories. As one former
    CF-18 pilot told FrontLine Defence in May 2011: “A single engine is stupid.
    There’s no backup. If it fails, you’re dead.”88

  22. Buyer’s Remorse: How Much Has the F-22 Really Cost?

    The 196th and final F-22 Raptor has rolled out of Lockheed Martin’s factory in Marietta, Georgia. That means yesterday marked an end to more than 14 years of production for what’s widely considered the most fearsome jet fighter in history. And also one of the costliest.

    So what’s the cost? As little as $137 million per jet and as much as $678 million, depending on how and what you count. The thing is, the best way of calculating the F-22′s cost may be the most abstract. But any way you crunch the numbers, the world’s best dogfighter has also been one of the most expensive operational warplanes ever.

    Over the years, the Raptor’s cost has been the subject of intense debate in the Pentagon, the White House, Congress and the media. But advocates and critics tend to quote different figures to serve their various agendas. Fans of the twin-engine fighter usually refer to the “flyaway cost” — that is, how much Lockheed charged the government to piece together each Raptor after all development has been paid for. In other words, just construction spending.

    By that reckoning, each of the last 60 F-22s set the taxpayer back $137 million, only slightly more than the roughly $110 million apiece Americans pay for a new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — a plane specifically designed to be “affordable,” whatever that means. (All figures are in roughly constant dollars.)

    Haters cite “unit cost,” which includes development and production spending divided by the number of jets built. F-22 production and development, including currently approved upgrades, totals $74 billion, resulting in a unit cost of $377 million.

    And just because the last Raptor left the Marietta factory doesn’t mean the unit cost is fixed at $377 million. If the Air Force ever gets around to adding a long-planned-for datalink, the unit cost could increase slightly. Tweaks to prevent future groundings — like those that occurred this year — would also push the unit cost up.

    By contrast, the F-35′s unit cost should stabilize at around $157 million, owing to a massive 2,443-plane production run. That’s assuming the Joint Strike Fighter doesn’t get canceled or curtailed following revelations of new design flaws.

    There’s a third way to calculate the F-22′s burden on the taxpayer. “Lifecycle cost” adds up the price of fuel, spare parts and maintenance during the jet’s projected 40-year lifespan. The Government Accountability Office estimates it will cost $59 billion to fix and fly the F-22s until they retire. If you add unit cost and per-plane lifecycle cost, you get the total amount the United States spends to design, produce and operate a single Raptor: a whopping $678 million.

    F-35 lifecycle plus unit cost, assuming nothing else goes wrong? $469 million, according to Air Force figures quoted by the GAO.

    The fourth and final approach to calculating the Raptor’s price takes into account its effectiveness. It’s a trickier measurement. But it might be the best one to consider. It asks: How much value does the U.S. government get from its investment in F-22s?

    While it’s undetectable in isolated flyaway, unit and lifecycle cost figures, value is inarguably important. A cheap used car that never leaves the driveway is, in a real sense, more expensive than a car you pay sticker price for and drive every day.

    So consider this: since the F-22 entered service in 2005, every other operational warplane in the U.S. arsenal has seen action in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or other conflict zones. But the tiny fleet of pricey F-22s, optimized for ultra-rare dogfighting missions, missing key upgrades and frequently grounded, hasn’t flown a single combat sortie.

    That should be the real source of buyer’s remorse.

  23. F-22 Raptor Loses $79 Billion Advantage in Dogfights: Report

    The United States has spent nearly $80 billion to develop the most advanced stealth fighter jet in history, the F-22 Raptor, but the Air Force recently found out firsthand that while the planes own the skies at modern long-range air combat, it is “evenly matched” with cheaper, foreign jets when it comes to old-school dogfighting.

    The F-22 made its debut at the international Red Flag Alaska training exercise this June where the planes “cleared the skies of simulated enemy forces and provided security for Australian, German, Japanese, Polish and [NATO] aircraft,” according to an after-action public report by the Air Force. The F-22 took part in the exercise while under strict flying restrictions imposed by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in light of mysterious, potentially deadly oxygen problems with the planes — problems that the Pentagon believes it has since solved.

    READ ABC News Investigation: The F-22′s Fatal Flaws

    The Air Force said the planes flew 80 missions during the event “with a very high mission success rate.” However, a new report from Combat Aircraft Monthly revealed that in a handful of missions designed to test the F-22 in a very specific situation – close-range, one-on-one combat – the jet appeared to lose its pricey advantages over a friendly rival, the Eurofighter Typhoon, flown in this case by German airmen.

    “We expected to perform less with the Eurofighter but we didn’t,” German air officer Marc Grune said, according to Combat Aircraft Monthly. “We were evenly matched. They didn’t expect us to turn so aggressively.”

    The F-22 is the single most expensive fighter jet in history at a total acquisition cost of an estimated $79 billion for 187 planes, meaning each plane costs approximately $420 million. Estimates for the Eurofighter Typhoon – the premier fighter for several allied countries including the U.K., Germany and Italy – put that plane at just under $200 million each, according to an April 2011 report by England’s Public Accounts Committee.

    “[Red Flag was] a mission to get to know each other, the first contact by German Eurofighters in the continental U.S.,” Grune said of mock-fighting the F-22s. “We are not planning on facing each other in combat. We want to work together but it was a starter for us to work together. They were impressed, as we were impressed by them.”

  24. AS if that wasn't enough there's the damn submarines yet !


    Collins-class submarine critic calls in AFP over navy ‘plot’

    A FORMER submariner and a confidant of Defence Minister David Johnston has accused ­senior naval officers of trying to muzzle his public criticisms of the Collins-class submarine.

    Rex Patrick has asked the Australian Federal Police to examine the conduct of the navy, which he claims tried to coerce him into withdrawing from public debate by reviewing and ultimately terminating his contract to train sub­mariners.

    A series of emails between naval officers reveals a high-level navy plot to silence Mr Patrick ­despite the fact that he was a civilian and not bound by rules that prevent uniformed personnel commenting on defence policy.

    Mr Patrick told The Weekend Australian he believed the navy’s conduct was inappropriate, and he had asked the minister to ­review it.

    Mr Patrick, who was once ­offered a role as an adviser to Senator Johnston, has been a thorn in the navy’s side since 2009, when he began writing articles calling for Australia to buy cheap, off-the-shelf submarines from Europe rather than build new subs in Australia. The navy disagrees with that position.

    Documents obtained under Freedom of Information reveal that senior officers believed Mr Patrick’s public comments were “impacting adversely on the Royal Australian Navy’s reputation (and) our capability”.

    In late 2012 and early last year, the navy investigated Mr Patrick with a view to silencing him.

    It checked the clause of his $90,00-a-year contract to provide sonar and acoustic training to ­submariners, but was advised his public commentary was not in breach of his contract. The navy then tried to change the terms of his contract to prevent him making public commentary.

    In February last year Commodore Michael Noonan, then head of navy training, told Mr Patrick in an email that navy would ­­re-examine his contract if he did not sign a separate agreement preventing him from making public commentary on submarines. “If (this) agreement cannot be reached, I will consider other ­options available to the navy in ­relation to the contract,” the ­officer wrote.

    But when Mr Patrick lodged an FOI request soon after to uncover the email trail that led to this decision, the navy backtracked.

    It withdrew the officer’s letter and, then, on the eve of the release of the documents, it set up a meeting with the then navy chief Vice Admiral Ray Griggs who told Mr Patrick the navy would be taking no further action.

    But a year later — in May this year — Mr Patrick was told his training contract would not be ­renewed when it expired in June.

    Defence says this has nothing to do with its previous dispute with Mr Patrick. It says the navy plans to conduct its sonar and acoustic training in-house, and it no longer needs a contractor such as Mr ­Patrick’s company Acoustic Force.

    “Freedom of speech is a concept that members of the Australian Defence Force must give regard to,” Mr Patrick said.

    “I presume that, from (the navy’s) perspective, the public is better served if debates about ­defence are devoid of any contributions from people who know about the subject.”

  25. Tony Abbott says Australia was 'unsettled' before British arrived

    'Our country is unimaginable without foreign investment,' prime minister says in Q&A after speech urging infrastructure spending

    Australia was “unsettled” before the British arrived and owes its existence to Britain’s “form of foreign investment” in the land, Tony Abbott has said.

    The prime minister delivered the keynote address to the Australian-Melbourne Institute on Thursday evening and during a question and answer session he was asked about foreign investment in real estate.


    Professor Michael Dodson, director of the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at the Australian National University, said Abbott’s comments were “an unfortunate slip of the tongue”.

    “It’s a typical European colonial thing to say and it probably has its origins in the way in which history, for too long, has been taught in this country,” Dodson told Guardian Australia.

    “The British view that the place was terra nullius and unsettled still lingers in the minds of people like our prime minister, I’m afraid. It’s very disappointing. I mean he corrected himself, but even ‘scarcely settled’ isn’t quite accurate either because some areas were heavily settled,” he said.

    Dodson, who was also Australia's first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner at the Human Rights Commission, said the lie of terra nullius as the foundation for colonisation is still being perpetuated, despite the high court overturning it in the historic Mabo ruling in 1992.

    Dodson said he did find the other portion of Abbott’s comments – that the British arrival was a “form of foreign investment” – highly offensive.

    "Foreign investment of troops who slaughter the bloody populace," he said.

    "The first encounter James Cook had with Aboriginal people was to shoot this ancestor of the Sydney people in the back. This hankering for a mythical past is disturbing.”

    The Labor senator and first female Indigenous parliamentarian Nova Peris condemned Abbott's comments and said they set back efforts to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people recognised in the constitution.

    “British settlement was not foreign investment. It was occupation,” Peris said in a statement.

    “Current foreign investment in Australia can be defended, promoted and debated without such insensitive statements from the prime minister.”

    The opposition leader, Bill Shorten, labelled the remarks “offensive”.

    The prime minister’s actions on Indigenous Australia are just as concerning as his words,” Shorten said.

    “The PM cut $500m from Indigenous programs in his very first budget. The prime minister’s Indigenous cuts aren’t just unfair, they will rob the next generation of Indigenous kids of a fair future.”


    In the lead-up to December’s G20 summit in Brisbane, Abbott called for other governments to “get the settings right” for private business to play a bigger part in infrastructure investment.

    “Governments can’t finance the world’s infrastructure needs on their own – as we have found in Australia and seen elsewhere,” he said. “The private sector must do more.”

    Abbott also signalled further welfare reforms “based on the work of Patrick McClure and Andrew Forrest”.


  26. Families lose up to $3500 a year in end of mine, carbon taxes

    DateJuly 5, 2014


    Projected annual savings in electricity costs of $550 per household from scrapping the carbon tax may be dwarfed by the withdrawal of up to $3500 per household in other government payments linked to it and the mining tax, according to new research.

    The Australian Institute modelling, based on a low-income family with two working adults and three school-age children, has concluded the withdrawal of several payments and offsets associated with the clean energy package and others notionally funded by the Minerals Resource Rent Tax will take away more money than will be saved after the carbon tax is repealed.

    The government has convened a two-week session of the Senate from Monday with the prime purpose of repealing Labor's two most unpopular and politically costly taxes, the carbon and mining taxes.

    Both repeals were clear Coalition promises before the election but have been blocked in the Labor-Greens dominated Senate.

    But with the new Senate, the government believes it has the numbers to dump both taxes and a raft of measures associated with them.

    The original version of the mining tax was projected at one point to have been capable of raising up to $12 billion before a series of changes negotiated under extreme political duress resulted in a truncated version, which has raised almost nothing.

    So poorly has the tax performed in revenue terms that the Coalition has claimed its repeal, along with the spending programs supposedly funded by it, such as the School Kids Bonus, would actually save the country $13.4 billion.

    There appears to be Senate support for removal of the unpopular mining tax, particularly because the Palmer United Party bloc of four votes is lined up with the government.

    But less appreciated in the broader electorate is the cumulative cost to families of its removal.

    The Australian Institute assessment of the financial impact has tallied this as high as $3500 in one year alone based on a family with three children, one at primary school and two in high school, and where both adults earn just above the minimum wage of $37,000.

    The bulk of that loss comes by removing the School Kids Bonus, which, for the above family, is currently about $2050.

    That household will also lose $1000 from the repeal of the low income superannuation contribution scheme, which pays $500 to low-income individuals to boost inadequate retirement savings.

    Another $456 will be lost by the scheduled $1200 rise in the tax-free threshold next year to $19,400, which will go as part of the clean energy repeal package.

    The findings are unlikely to dissuade the government from proceeding with the two repeals, despite last-minute attempts by the opposition and the Greens to frustrate that goal.

    A Senate committee was denied a quorum on Friday when Greens and Labor refused to attend the meeting.

    The government had hoped to use the changed numbers on the committee to alter its carbon tax repeal bill report date from July 14 to July 7. That would have enabled debate on the repeal to start on Monday rather than a week later.

    The government is desperate to have the carbon tax repeal through the Senate in the next fortnight because it has been advised that to delay beyond July means companies have to allow for the tax for up to another year.

  27. AND of course turn a blind eye to the massive White Collar Crime - a few thousands $$$ vs. a few 100 millions or billions (or trillions) $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ !!!


    Nationals John Williams calls for a royal commission into white collar crime in wake of Commonwealth Bank scandal

    DateJuly 5, 2014

    The Nationals senator key to last week's bombshell report into fraud, forgery and a cover-up in the financial planning division of the Commonwealth Bank has called for a royal commission on white collar crime as shockwaves from the debacle spread to other banks.

    Senator John Williams said a royal commission should cover areas including the banks, Ponzi schemes and liquidators. ''Anyone who is robbing with a pen needs to be looked at,'' he said.

    Senator Williams said he was sick of hard-working Australians or retirees having money they worked all their lives for lost due to widespread white collar crime.

    He said widening the royal commission to include Macquarie Group, CBA, ANZ and phoenix companies and liquidators would send a message that things needed to be cleaned up.

    One of the terms of reference would be vertical integration, where planners employed by a bank sell investment products cooked up by the same financial institution.

    Finance Minister Mathias Cormann does not want a royal commission into the Commonwealth Bank scandal but has left the possibility open as a ''nuclear option'' if he feels a new compensation scheme unveiled by chief executive Ian Narev on Thursday fails to perform as promised.

    Senator Williams' call comes as Macquarie scrambled to respond to last Thursday's Senate committee report, which said its financial planning division should be subject to intensive scrutiny by the regulator.

    It has also emerged that an internal review at ANZ Bank has reported multiple breaches of its obligations in its financial planning arm to the corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

    Managers at Macquarie's financial planning division Macquarie Private Wealth are believed to have held a meeting on Monday to deal with the report, which raised concerns there may be more problems than were discovered in a previous ASIC investigation.

    The Senate committee said it was ''concerned with Macquarie's failure to report and particularly the breakdown in its compliance regime''.

    It is believed Macquarie has put together a team to re-examine client files.

    In January last year Macquarie agreed with ASIC to lift standards after the regulator found it ''had failed to address recurring compliance deficiencies that involved a significant number of its advisers'' and remediation of affected clients had been ''ineffective''.

    ANZ spokesman Stephen Ries said the bank began reviewing thousands of files last year and first notified ASIC of ''irregularities'' in August that year.

    ''We found some instances where we hadn't delivered all the services that we said we would,'' he said.

    ''We promptly reported that to ASIC and we are continuing a review of all our files and reporting that to ASIC.

    ''We are keeping them regularly updated on our progress.''