Renewable energy future uncertain as investment falters

solar stations

Just as Australia was too optimistic in its Renewable Energy Targets, plans are falling apart with a significant dropped in renewable investments last year.

Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) is facing an uncertain future with a recent report showing that investment in large-scale renewable energy has nose-dived over the past year.

Investment in renewable energy worldwide is up by 16%, in a stark contrast with Australia’s figure which dropped by 88%.

The Climate Council said the future of Australia’s renewable energy industry remains highly uncertain due to the lack of a clear federal government renewable energy policy.

The RET aims to achieve 20% of the country’s power supply from renewables. About 89% of Australians support the initiative.

Activist group GetUp blames Prime Minister Tony Abbott, along with his pro-capitalist, pro-coal agenda which favours power companies such as Origin, AGL and Energy Australia.

GetUp said since 2001 the RET has been responsible for a massive $20 billion in investment into the Australian economy creating over 24,000 new jobs and lower power bills for consumers.

Nearly 24,000 GetUp members made their voices heard by making a submission to the government’s review of the RET. In addition, over 5,000 GetUp members have switched from Origin, AGL and Energy Australia to renewable energy companies such as Powershop as part of a campaign to make consumers’ voices heard.

With the RET’s future hanging in the balance new investment in renewables has fallen to a 13-year low, the group said.

GetUp noted this is ironic considering the fact that the Government’s former Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Liberal Party Senator Simon Birmingham admitted in 2013 that the real driver of investment in renewable energy has been and continues to be the RET. The senator was quoted as saying, “We have always supported the RET and continue to offer bi-partisan support for this scheme. It has been interesting to note the claims being made about what the Coalition will or won’t do. All of it is simply conjecture. The Coalition supports the current system, including the 41,000 giga-watt hours target.”

Workers check on solar panels in Yulin, northwest China's Shaanxi Province. In 2014, President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao met to agree on mutual cooperation to reduce carbon emission before the G20 meeting in Brisbane. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Liu Xiao)

Beyond Zero Emission (BZE) is also driving a campaign to discourage Australians from supporting the three main power companies. Although the three companies provide energy to the majority of Australians, the group said they have been actively campaigning to dismantle the RET.

Many Australians can opt for greener alternatives to the big three power suppliers. Victoria residents can switch to Powershop or Diamond Energy while consumers from South Australia, New South Wales or South East Queensland can switch to Diamond Energy.

World leaders will gather in Paris in December this year to determine the rules for a new global agreement to limit global greenhouse emissions and temperature below two degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Australia’s major trading partners have been building significant momentum to make ambitious contributions toward their post-2020 national targets. The Climate Change Authority (CCA) suggests that nationally determined contribution to reduce emissions, agreed by Australia, will be central in determining the climate policy framework that will cover and impact companies covered under any emissions reduction initiative. The Authority adds:

This is an important time to convene business, government and NGOs for a mature, constructive dialogue about what should be the nature of Australia’s commitment, why it is in our best interests to actively participate in the negotiations and to share views to understand the economic, environmental and social implications for business.

The CCA finds Australia’s emission reduction target (5 % reduction by 2020) to be too low and out of step with its allies and trading partners.

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Families, kids join People’s Climate March

Families and children were ubiquitous in Melbourne’s climate rally held on Sunday as part of the People’s Climate Mobilisation Australia.

Around 30,000 people gathered in Melbourne  while huge crowd also converged in other cities including Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, and Canberra. Organised by GetUp! and 350.org, the rallies were held in conjunction with People’s Climate March organised in major cities worldwide–  a prelude to the UN Climate Summit which will  kick off on Sept 23.

Parents join the rally the fight for the future of their children. (Photo: R. Yoon/The Green Journal AU)

The rallies and the UN summit call for an agenda to cut carbon emissions and a shift to renewables.

In Melbourne, Professor Tim Flannery spoke before the crowd standing side by side with Greens Senator Christine Milne. Both thanked supporters and urged the Tony Abbott Government to save the Renewable Energy Target (RET). The RET pushes for 20 percent of Australia’s energy that comes from renewables. Prime Minister Abbott has already abolished the carbon tax in July to encourage businesses, including investment in the mining sector. The RET is now on the chopping board awaiting its fate.

Unlike most rallies, families with children stole the show in Melbourne. Children marched alongside their parents and little ones rode on prams. A banner flashed, “I am here for my kids!” while kids were also carrying a sign, “Use crayons not coal!”

Children join the climate march along Swanston St. in Melbourne. (Photo: R. Yoon/The Green Journal AU)

ac3

The UN climate summit aims to galvanise a new international treaty to cut carbon emissions beyond 2020. The final stages of the agreement will be sealed at the Conference of Parties (COP) in Paris next year.

About 125 leaders are expected to attend, but Australia’s prime minister chose to snub the meeting. He will join Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, President Xi Jinping of China, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who will not show up in the event.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop will represent Australia in lieu of Abbott at the climate conference.

See more photos at  The Green Journal AU Gallery

WA election: a hope for the environment

Western Australians are going to the poll on Saturday, April 5,  to elect six senators to represent the State to Federal Parliament. Environmental groups nationwide are hoping it will be a historic day to defeat  Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his power over the Upper House.

Kimberley landscape

After six months or so in office, the Abbott’s Coalition Government has been under fire from various sectors due to what their call anti-human policies. These include  uncompassionate treatment of asylum seekers detained in Manus Island, unnecessary job cuts, gay rights and bigotry, ignoring child care workers, and reckless participation in TPP, among many other issues,

Conservation groups are especially disappointed at how the Government disregards pressing issues such as environment and climate change. They accused Abbott of callousness with “unprecedented attack on the natural environment.”

Among environmental attacks include:

  • the intention to log World Heritage forests in Tasmania;
  • the anomalous approval of the world’s biggest coal port next to the Great Barrier Reef which include dredging and dumping waste into the world heritage area; and
  • the slaughter of endangered marine life such as the great white shark

Former Greens Senator Bob Brown joins the crowd to oppose the gas hub project. (Photo: Supplied)

Perth protest against shark cull. (Photo: Stu Rapley /Flickr CC)

Wilderness Society (WA) campaigner Jenita Enevoldsen reminds voters that Abbott also wants to hand environmental approval powers to the States, which are incapable of handling nationally significant environmental matters.

A reminder of the Coalition Government’s free market thinking with no regard to legality and decency, Enevoldsen brings up WA’s Barnett Government which approved to bulldoze ancestral lands in James Price Point to build a gas hub.  The courts, however, ruled the multi-billion dollar project illegal.  She warns, “WA’s beautiful south west forests are also under threat given the Prime Minister’s recent extraordinary comments about logging and national parks.”

Last month, various groups across  political parties held a huge rally nationwide in protest to the Government’s policies. March in March , for one, is a demonstration against policies that degrade the most vulnerable. ”This signifies the people’s vote of no confidence in policies of the government that go against common principles of humanity, decency, fairness social justice and equity, democratic governance, responsible global citizenship and conserving our natural heritage,”  its website reads. March in March is just a beginning. Bigger assemblies are coming up.

But before West Australians are going to the poll this weekened, the Wilderness Society and GetUp are out to thwart Abbott’s grip of power over the Senate.

A gas exploration clearing in James Price Cook (Photo: Julia Rau)

They launched a new campaign made up of a TV ad and a website to gather supporters. The TV ad targets younger voters: “Do Australia a Favour – Don’t give Tony Abbott control of the Senate.” The Wilderness Society spearheaded Thunderclap .

Sam Mclean, National Director of GetUp, said West Australians had a second chance to create balance in the Senate this weekend.

There are 77 candidates contesting for the Senate with six candidate from the Greens, four from the Australian Labor Party, and four from the Liberal.  The rest come from a diverse political parties. View list HERE

Blog LInk: The Green Journal / Asian Correspondent

 

Australia disappoints at global climate talks, grassroots take action

As the UNFCCC Conference of Parties 19 (COP 19) wraps up in Warsaw, Poland, close to a thousand activists have walked out , grossly disappointed with the results.

The rift between rich and poor nations intensified with no major compromise on key issues. Many developed countries turned their backs from their commitments,  including emission caps and funding mechanisms.

Oxfam International, joined by more than a dozen of civic international groups, released a statement saying the Warsaw Conference saw participants with conflicting interests. More notably, the interests of dirty energy industries were more visible than that of global citizens – with a “Coal & Climate Summit” being held in conjunction. It said corporate sponsorship from big-time polluters could be seen everywhere and that the Poland Presidency that is beholden to the coal and fracking industry.

Members of civil society movements walk out out of the U.N. talks on global warming held at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland on Thursday. Pic: AP.

From day one, Australia showed no interest to take part in the climate event; it did not send a minister representative. The Tony Abbott coalition government instead prioritised the repeal the carbon tax at its first parliamentary session. As the Warsaw Conference ends, the carbon tax repeal has already passed the Lower House, although it is still to go before the Senate.

The Climate Action Tracker (CAT) gave Australia a high ranking for creating the framework for strong action when it introduced the carbon tax in 2011. The CAT saw the new climate legislation as a historic breakthrough for the nation – putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions ranks alongside any of the “big” reforms of the past 30 years.

The CAT said the study is the first of a series of independent, science-based country assessments looking at each country’s international climate change action, comparing it to its pledge and to what’s needed to keep global warming to below 2°C (and 1.5°C, as called for by the most vulnerable countries).

In Doha last year, Australia made a non-binding pledge to reduce emissions by 5% on 2000 levels by 2020, irrespective of international action, and said it will reduce emission levels by 15-25% from 2000 levels by 2020 if other countries make significant commitments.

Greg Combet, then Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, told delegates at CarbonExpo in Melbourne on November 9, 2012 that Australia would sign on to a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol with specific conditions.

Most Australian economists agree that the country cannot achieve its voluntary target of reducing emissions by 5 per cent by 2020 without industry paying a price on carbon.

Under the new Abbott Government, however, the CAT ranked Australia’s climate change efforts as inadequate.

The CAT said repealing the carbon tax would dismantle most of the present policy framework, including present fixed carbon prices and the cap-and-trade system put in place in 2011.

The CAT speculates

Australian Coalition Government at present does not have the majority in the Senate for repeal and will not do so until at least July 2014, after which time it will need to be negotiated with minor Parties to achieve this. However, the Government has insisted that it will call a fresh general election should the Senate not support repeal.  Given this situation, it is clear that the present assessment may not stand, given the significant chance that present policies could be dropped or not implemented. The new Government has committed only AU$3.2 billion (capped) to meet the 5% reduction target and has indicated that no further funding will be made available should this fall short of meeting this goal. Several analyses indicate that this so-called ‘Direct Action’ policy will fall far short of the 5% goal.

Australia was already mocked for garnering the most Fossil of the Day awards during the summit. It has so far won half of the “illustrious accolades”, handed out on each day of negotiations by the Climate Action Network to the country who has done most to block progress at the UN climate negotiations.

During one of the sessions, Australia’s team was accused of lacking respect after delegates turned up to critical discussions wearing shorts and teeshirts. They also “gorged on snacks” during negotiations on whether developed states should make reparations to vulnerable countries as the impacts of climate change become more severe, according to a spokesperson for CAN International. Their behaviour caused over 130 developing nations to abandon discussions on the controversial issue of climate compensation at 4am last night.

Abbott is pushing to scrap the carbon tax following an election campaign promise. Repealing the carbon is an effort to keep Australia’s businesses competitive in the world market. The Australian noted Abbott saying:

… without the carbon and mining taxes, “and without the sovereign risk issues that this government has created”, Australia would once again be among “the most attractive places in the world to invest”.”The Olympic Dam mine expansion, Port Hedland Harbour expansion, and the Browse gas-field development can’t be guaranteed to go ahead — but they can almost certainly be guaranteed not to proceed while the carbon tax, mining tax and job-destroying industrial regulation remain in place.”Mr Abbott, who has threatened a double dissolution election if the Coalition’s repeal of the carbon tax is frustrated in the Senate, was “confident” Labor would learn the lessons of an election defeat.

A banner at Treasury Gardens in Melbourne during the National Day of Climate Action. (Photo: R. Yoon/the Green Journal)

Abbott abolished the Australia Climate Commission shortly after he took office in September. The Commission was set up to advise on the science and economics of carbon pricing.

Greens and grassroots movements have taken action in response to the new government’s actions. The National Day of Climate Action (November 17) saw more than 60,000 people gather in major cities and towns nationwide to urge the government to take action on climate change. The event was organised by GetUp, Australia Youth Climate Coalition, and the Australian Conservation Foundation.

GetUp supporters raise banners in Melbourne. (Photo: R. Yoon/The Green Journal)

“60,000 Australians from every corner of our sunburnt (and, in places, rain-soaked) country came together for climate action on Sunday, and as climate activists we’re now being described as ‘Abbott’s Worst Enemy’,” GetUp said.

GetUp is now spearheading a drive to raise $22m to keep up the fight.

 If we are going to keep up the fight, we need the resources to keep going. If all of us who came chipped in just $1 a day we’d have $22 million to fund a campaign for climate action – matching what the mining industry has spent to stop climate action. We have to step up and fight even harder on climate change. We believe that means we need a movement of people who are connected, empowered, inspired and informed. GetUp’s infrastructure allows us to connect and empower.

More photos: National Day of Climate Action (Melbourne)

Blog Link: The Green Journal at Asian Correspondent

Australia snubs global climate summit in Warsaw

It is official: Australia’s new government denies global warming.  The Coalition Government will not send its environment minister to the 19th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 19) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which will kick off  in Warsaw, Poland from 11-22 November 2013.

The National Stadium in Warsaw

Environment Minister Greg Hunt will stay at home to expedite the processes involved in repealing the carbon tax, a top election promise made by his big boss, Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

However, a representative on his behalf has been dispatched to take part in the annual event. Hunt will be busy repealing the carbon tax while the conference is underway. The carbon tax was passed by the Australian legislature in 2011 under former Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Since Abbott won the federal election in September this year, scrapping the carbon tax has topped his priority agenda.

Australia will be represented by Australia’s Climate Change Ambassador Justin Lee from the Department of Foreign Affairs. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will also not attend.

The Coalition Government of Tony Abbott (center) is up to repeal the carbon tax. (Photo: Courier Mail)

Climate observers said this will send a wrong signal of Australia walking away from its commitment on climate action and it may set a precedent for other countries to backslide.

Climate skeptics and right-wingers are already cheering on Australia’s unprecedented example. Recently, former PM John Howard also scoffed at ”alarmists” in a climate skeptics’ gathering held in London and admitted he is “unconvinced” of an impending ”global warming catastrophe.”

The COP19 expects to bring together around 40,000 attendees from government, academia, business and advocacy groups to advance international agreements that aim to mitigate climate change and adapt to its effects.

In the past, a government minister represented Australia to the UNFCCC.  Ian Campbell headed the delegation under John Howard’s first government in 1997.  Labor Climate Change Ministers Penny Wong and Greg Combet, respectively, attended the conference from 2007, although in  2012, the Gillard government’s parliamentary secretary on climate change Mark Dreyfus attended the conference on behalf of Combet.

Oppositions and environmental groups are wary of the bad signal Australia will be sending to the summit. Opposition climate spokesman Mark Butler said “Other countries are going to read into it at best with confusion and at worst that the Abbott government is walking away from global action on climate change, ” Australia’s leading media The Australian quoted him as saying.

Greens MP Adam Bandt also said it was “understandable” that Minister Hunt was “embarrassed” by his government’s decision to scrap the carbon tax, but it was no excuse to skip the global summit. While no major decisions will be made at Warsaw, the meeting will build momentum in the lead-up to major negotiations for a global agreement on cutting greenhouse gases in Paris in 2015.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt during a media interview (Photo: SBS)

Businesses support repeal of carbon tax

PHP Billiton, among other businesses under the Australian Business Council,  supports the dumping of carbon tax. While backing the Federal Government’s plan, the mining giant, however, urged scrapping the price of carbon should be done as soon as possible. It warned of a possible  complications if it is not done by mid-2014. The mining firm said it still believes in having a price on carbon, but any policy should be trade friendly and revenue neutral.

BHP Billiton noted that repealing the carbon tax will get rid of the current problem of Australian firms paying a higher cost on pollution than their international competitors.  The company shares concerns already expressed by others businesses about the uncertainty that will be created should the legislation not pass by mid-next year.

Climate action nationwide rally

Amid plans to scrap the carbon tax, a climate action is brewing nationwide. Various environmental groups are set to mobilise rallies in every major city nationwide on November 17. It is a collaboration of GetUp, the Australian Conservation Foundation,  the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Environment Victoria, Fire Brigade Employees Union, Greenpeace, 350.org, Oxfam Australia and many other groups. ACF said they intend to make this event as big as they can.

The ACF wants to keep Australia’s carbon tax. It said that while the tide of history is flowing towards pricing pollution, Australia is turning back the clock. Along with the climate action rally, the Foundation also supports an online petition to the prime minister, environment minister, and environment decision makers from all parties.

GetUp who is spearheading the climate action  rally said 2011 was a turning point for Australia.  Climate scientists warned it was the beginning of the critical decade for climate change and thus required stronger action to avoid the catastrophic effects of rising emissions. Australians responded to this warming by enacting the carbon tax.

However, Australia faces another turning point this year– which is poised to “go backwards on climate action at a time when the government’s own independent climate policy advisory body has warned the nation’s current emissions reductions targets are “inadequate” and what it needs is stronger and more ambitious targets.”

Blog Link: The Green Journal/Asian Correspondent

Bushfire season is on

Following the change of Australian Government, policy changes on climate and environment have taken place. The Green Journal takes a break to wait for further developments. Meanwhile, here’s from From GetUp!–

Is climate change making bushfires worse?

Yes. ABC’s headline today: “Scientists say climate change link to bushfires demands action”.

As we think of the hundreds of families losing homes in these fires, and the heroic fire fighters giving their all, we know that our climate will only get more dangerous unless we take strong action now.

We have a plan – I recorded this short video to give you the details:


www.getup.org.au/climateaction

Former Rural Fire Services Commissioner, Phil Koperberg, spells it out: “This is a feature of slowly evolving climate. We have always had fires, but not of this nature, and not at this time of year, and not accompanied by the record-breaking heat we’ve had”.[1]

The science and the impacts are clearer than ever, but many of our political leaders are stepping back. We won’t make progress by waiting for them. I can’t see a path to climate action that doesn’t involve a huge, strong movement of Australians standing up. Let’s start a summer of action with these huge rallies.

Can you help?

Sam,
for the GetUp team

[1] We need to talk about bushfires and climate change – if not now, when?, The Guardian, 21 October 2013

PS. Stay turned over the coming days for information about how you can be involved in our huge climate action mobilisations or host your own.

Original email

Dear Rowena,

We have a bold plan to kick off a huge climate campaign – but we need your help.

The last month was the hottest on record.
The last 12 months were the hottest on record.
The last summer was the hottest on record, breaking 120 extreme weather events.

This month? Summer seems to have come early and bushfires are already burning.

Meanwhile, Tony Abbott has just released his legislation to scrap the carbon price – but there’s no sight of a solid plan that would replace it or even meet our current targets to reduce emissions.

Politically, things might be a bit grim. But this is no time to give up on fighting for a safe climate – it’s time to step up. We have bold, exciting and massive things planned. Watch the video to find out how you can get involved:

www.getup.org.au/climateaction

We’re holding huge climate mobilisations across the country on 17 November. It’s an ambitious plan, and we can’t sign up for it without your support. Are you in?

GetUp! Team

Wind power activists gather in Canberra

Supporters and detractors of the Julia Gillard Government’s clean energy plans will converge into the Australian capital Canberra Tuesday to hold  two separate rallies in a showdown of rhetoric on wind power turbines.

Australia targets to get 20 percent of power source from non-renewables such as wind power by 2020. (Photo: Supplied)

The Green bloc led by Friends of the Earth and citizens’ watchdog GetUp! are rallying supporters nationwide to join the march to Garema Place at noon to face the anti-wind turbine top guns.

“Tuesday’s rally will be the biggest moment this anti-wind ‘movement’ has ever had, and it’s our job to make sure it stays that way. If they gather in opposition to renewables, it’s our job to gather in support [of renewables],” GetUp! said.

One group which opposes wind energy  and runs a website called Stop These Things, boasts of its  parliamentary members from the opposition coalition. Their rally will kick off at 10am on the lawns to the north of Parliament House. Their agenda is to thrash the “unreliable” and “costly ” wind power industry. They claim “wind turbines are not clean, not green and the cost consumers are forced to pay for the unreliable and intermittent power they produce is ridiculous.”

The anti-wind power group accused the industry and its benefactors of raking in about, “AU$50 billion  worth of consumers money in the form of REC tax”.

Supporters are instructed to take bring cameras and capture any misbehaviour from the Green bloc and spot their “Ditch the Witch”-type placards – or “equally unsavoury material.”

Bring a camera or use your phones to capture any misbehaviour from wind industry goons and their supporters – STT will have a name and shame spot where we will post photos and videos of any thugs in action…O ur fine people are smart enough to know that the Green-Labor Alliance is over and that – with a little more help – the Coalition will make energy policy work  again for all Australians – not against them – as is the case now.

Anti-wind power groups alleged wind turbines are threat to health and well-being. (Photo: Supplied)

The pro-wind groups shot back saying the Coalition’s anti-renewables crusaders are peddling misinformation to try and erode support for clean energy sources. The Gillard Government wants to achieve 20 per cent of energy sourced from renewables by 2020.

Anti-wind crusaders include Alan Jones of 2GB Radio; Victorian Senator John Madigan; South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon; Alby Schultz MP, member for Hume: Craig Kelly MP, member for Hughes and an early anti-wind fraud warrior; Chris Back, Liberal senator for Western Australia; Mary Morris – campaigner and community representative for Waterloo in SA;  Alan Moran of the Institute of Public Affairs; and other anti-wind turbines.

Opposition Leader Tonny Abbott earlier admitted he will scrap the price of carbon if elected in this year’s Federal election. He has described climate change as “absolute crap”.  Meanwhile, Crikey alleged that Abbott’s wife is linked to Jeanette Newman who is active in organising anti-wind power movement. She is married to Abbott’s business tsar, Maurice Newman – the former chair of the ABC and the ASX, and chair of Abbott’s proposed business advisory council.

Anti-wind turbines march to the Parliament House in Canberra. (Photo: Supplied)

The Guardian reports Newman earlier claimed that government subsidies for renewable energy is tantamount to a “crime against the people” because higher energy costs hit poorer households the hardest and there was no longer any logical reason to have them.

Blog Link: Asian Correspondent

Unusual political parties up for 2013 federal poll

“Are you a joke party? Not at all! We’re a formally registered party with the Australian Electoral Commission.”

The Pirate Party Australia (PPA) introduces itself as a party of pirates. To elaborate this, a pirate is an adorable character that steals goods from the rich and distributes them to the poor. Pirates are not bad people— they are heroes. The PPA loves to copy and reproduce digital contents–DVD, CD, MP3, computer software, and the list goes on— and wants to share them with the people they love.

Little pirates join the party to support piracy. (Photo: blacknova.com.au)

Registered with Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) early this year, this is what the party is standing for and it is now selecting candidates to contest Senate seats in four states- New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and Tasmania. The 2013 federal poll is scheduled on September 14. If PPA wins, it will introduce reform bills on copyrights, patents, privacy, surveillance and all other relevant issues related to Internet use. The party said copying and reproducing contents are not crimes but an act of charity and generosity when they are shared with loved ones.

On a more serious note, Brendan Molloy, a lead candidate for NSW stated, “Australia needs strong representatives that actually stand for principles … pushing back on the encroaching surveillance state of data retention and Internet censorship, while offering positive and much needed reform for copyright, digital liberties and civil liberties.”

WLP Founder Julian Assange (Photo: AP)

The WikiLeaks Party (WLP) is also fired up in the campaign. Although registration is yet to be completed, WLP spokespersons Cassie Findlay and Sam Castro said the party  will immediately introduce a national shield law for journalists if the party wins. They said this law will be the ultimate protection for journalists and their sources from any prosecution or intimidation.

“The WLP’s ultimate aim is the constitutional enshrinement of freedom of the press and freedom of speech. We insist on these primary rights to be written into the constitutions of emerging nations, yet they still haven’t been adopted in our own constitution. This historic anomaly has to be addressed and fixed eventually.”

The spokespersons also said WLP gives unconditional support to journalists currently facing court action and severe penalties for refusing to disclose their sources. Findlay adds, “Politicians in a liberal democracy should be the principal custodians of the right to free speech and the freedom of the press.”

Citing super-rich plaintiffs such as mining billionaire Gina Rinehart using the courts to intimidate journalists for doing their job, Findlay said t is high time for the federal parliament to provide journalists with ironclad legal protection.

Meanwhile, GetUp! drew attention early this week with its list of “unheard” political parties who are aiming to run in this year’s election.

In an email, GetUp! clarifies that while some of the parties’ political agenda resonate with what GetUp has been fighting for, it is not endorsing any party.

Anti-seam coal gas rally down King Street, Newtown NSW. (Photo: Dan Himbrechts/ The Daily Telegraph)

Listed are:

  • Stop Coal Seam Gas – ”This party will work to protect communities and farmland from invasive coal seam gas mining by pressuring government to ban CSG.”
  • Single Parents’ Party – “Parenting is hard. Especially for the 950,000 single parent families living in Australia. Its becoming even harder as the government continues to cut support for single parents and their children. We will advocate to reverse the cuts that are forcing families like ours below the poverty line.”

Lamington cake for the Lamington Party

  • The Lamington Party – “For Australia… where the regional cities are connected to the capitals … our government is a case study for democracy and efficiency… and one where we all have a strong social safety net and equal opportunity to succeed in life.”
  • Voluntary Euthanasia Party – “Over four in five Australians are in favour of new legislation and we wish to allow that sentiment to be clearly demonstrated at the ballot box. The Voluntary Euthanasia Party aims to ensure dignity in the final years of life, by raising the profile of this issue in order to engender the necessary political will for change.”
  • Australian Sovereignty Party – Stand for “no carbon tax”, “no personal income tax”, and “no GST”; “no more wide open borders”, and “no treaties without referendums,” among other policies.
  • The Future Party – “The Future Party is a new movement of people who are dedicated to thinking of long term solutions to advance our society. The Future Party believes quality of life is improved primarily through technological developments, sourced through a scientific approach to knowledge in the context of democracy and peace.”
  • WikiLeaks Party – “The WikiLeaks Party stands for unswerving commitment to the core principles of civic courage nourished by understanding and truthfulness and the free flow of information.”
  • Palmer United Party – Clive Palmer’s party with policies including “Abolish carbon tax;” “ensure refugees are given opportunities;” “creating mineral wealth;” and “develop right across Australia where the wealth is.”

Clive Palmer with Jim Mclnally and Sisie Douglas announcing the United Australia Party in Brisbane, 26 April. (Photo: Mark Calleja/ goldcoast.com.au)

The Rise Up Australia Party has already got its fair share of media attention in February during its launch in Canberra’s National Press Club. It is now rallying more immigrants and voters to become more Australians. Founder Pastor Daniel Nalliah has said immigrants should “adapt” to the Australian way of life: Australia for Australians!

Full party list HERE.

Anti-Muslim election campaign gone berserk

As political campaigns for this year’s federal election kicked off, an unorthodox political party emerged to attack Muslim immigration and multiculturalism.

Sri Lankan-born Pentecostal Pastor Daniel Nalliah launched his Rise Up Australia Party (RUAP) early this week to unite and urge Australians to protect “Australian way of life” which he said is being destroyed by Muslim immigrants. The slogan: “ Keep Australia Australian.”

RUAP candidate Daniel Nalliah with Lord Christopher Monckton during the party launch. (Photo: RUAP)

RUAP already boasts about 1,500 members and plans to field 65 candidates in the upcoming federal election slated in September.

RUAP is fighting against multiculturalism, gays and lesbians, abortion, carbon tax, asylum seekers, and other left-wing issues.

Nalliah said multiculturalism is assimilating the “silent majority” to accept minority culture. This, he said, has never worked in many countries in the West. He declared “Australia for Australians” to the cheers and uproar of supporters at the National Press Club in Canberra.

Supported by UK-born climate sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton,  RUAP has also launched the Victoria State Campaign on September 16.

“It is not for me as a Brit to endorse any Australian political party, … but I’m going to anyway, ” Monckton said.

Many are wondering how the two are related.

Monckton has been invited to speak about climate change before the congregation of Nalliah’s Catch the Fire Ministries in the past.

The political platform of Nalliah resonates with the political interest of Monckton – anti-carbon tax, pro-mining, and pro-small businesses, to name a few.

Official logo of RUAP

Morbid commentator Adrew Bolt can only expressed a deep sigh labelling the two as “fringe dwellers”.

Why on earth was Christopher Monckton endorsing the nationalist Rise Up Australia Party? Great chance for warmists to paint climate sceptics as fringe dwellers.

Demosblog puts it that Bolt is rather distracted:

….rather than denouncing the extremist views of Pastor Danny Nalliah, Andrew Bolt instead is most immediately concerned that Lord Monckton’s endorsement of Rise Up Australia might be bad PR for climate sceptics

Another blog commented on the party launch:

It was hard to tell what was a more pitiful spectacle at the launch of Pastor Danny’s new rabid party of zealotry and prejudice – Monckton or the aging grey-haired audience of true believing loons.

If there is Monckton and Bolt, the people’s watchdog called Getup is sure to be watching.

GetUp is mobilizing a multitude to stop what it calls “madness.” RUAP’s political platform runs counter to what GetUp has been advocating- violation to human rights.

“Rise Up” ….is waging a war against multiculturalism, marriage equality, climate action, and pretty much everything we stand for. Best of all, cringe-worthy climate denier Lord Monckton is touring our country again. Appalling? Yes. It’s time to rally the troops…. Now more than ever we need to mobilise and prove that racism, intolerance and hate isn’t the norm. Among the rising tide of intolerance, let’s show Australia that these people don’t speak for us.

Pro-Muslim, pro-diveristy candidate – Dr Ahmed Berhan (Photo: Dr Ahmed Berhan FB Page)

Pro-Muslim Candidate

Does Nalliah know a pro-Muslim Independent candidate is running for Senate? Dr Berhan Ahmed is a former refugee who came to Australia over 25 years ago.  He was awarded the Victorian of the Year in 2009 for his work as an African community leader in which he is a lead think tank.

Ahmed is neither a pro or anti-assimilation. He sees a great mix of people who need a voice in State Parliament. He said, “The political system has become clogged by the same people with the same voice.”  He wants to show the people on the margins they  can participate and get involved.

Ahmed’s political agenda calls for the improvement of housing, employment and transport infrastructure.

Born in Eritrea, Ahmed’s first jobs were a tram conductor and taxi driver. He spent 10 years in Fitzroy public housing studying for his PhD and masters degree. He now works as a Senior Research Fellow in forest and ecosystem science at the University of Melbourne.

Freedom of Speech and Truth

Candidates for the upcoming election are truly diverse.

Julian Assange on live telecast from the UK. He tells his supporters in Melbourne, “To the Internet generation, this is our moment.” (Photo: R. Yoon/The Green Journo)

WikiLeaks founder and publisher Julian Assange will also run for the Senate in Victoria. He is the lead candidate of a newly formed WikiLeaks Party.

Assange’s application for electoral enrolment in Victoria was handed to the Australian Electoral Commission in Melbourne this week by WikiLeaks supporters including his father, Sydney architect John Shipton, who has been active in the initial organisation of the party.

Shipton said Assange’s enrolment was ”a first step” in a political campaign that would focus on ”the democratic requirement of truthfulness from government”.

Blog Link: Asian Correspondent

Greens join forces to save the Tarkine

The Wilderness Society, Tarkine National Coalition, and GetUp! joined forces in the campaign to protest the “out-of-control” mining ventures in the Tarkine in Tasmania and push for its enlistment in the World Heritage Site.

Convoluted rocks at the west coast off Tarkine. (Photo: Flickr)

Massive banners in front of a proposed Venture Minerals’ open cut mine in the Meredith Ranges have been unveiled as part of the Tarkine wilderness. Tarkine is claimed to have been recently assessed by the Commonwealth and Tasmanian Governments to have a national and World Heritage values prompting strong community oppositions to any developmental aggression.

Here’s from the campaigners:

Liz Johnstone, Tarkine campaigner for The Wilderness Society, said many of these values, however, are under threat from new open cut mines. Some are proposed in existing conservation reserves that have been watered down to allow mining and exploration.

Venture and a range of other companies have plans to build strip and open cut mines in the region, ahead of the findings of an Australian Heritage Commission assessment of the environmental significance of the area.

Miners, Australian Workers Union join forces to support mining in the Tarkine. (Photo: ABC)

Paul Oosting, campaign director for GetUp, said the Tarkine has evolved over 40 million years to be what is now one of the few last remaining wild places on the face of the planet, yet Venture Minerals wants to go into what is currently a conservation area and strip mine it for just 2-8 years.

“Today we have seen the Tasmanian community stand up and take action to not let this happen and we know that they have the support of people from around the country who want to see this area properly protected,” Oosting said.

Vica Bayley, campaign manager for Wilderness Society Tasmania, said that the event signals an escalation of the community campaign and a counter to the provocative actions of the Australian Workers Union and the mining industry who are pre-empting the current national heritage assessment and pushing ahead with risky mining proposals.

“The AWU, the mining lobby and companies need to back off and allow due process and the heritage assessment to conclude before locking in destructive proposals that threaten the values of the area and impact on the heritage listing that previous assessments prove this region deserves,” Bayley said.

GetUp’s “Save the Tarkine” campaign

The action before Monday’s (24 Sept) Extraordinary General Meeting of Venture Minerals’ shareholders in Perth, where a decision will be made on capital raising needed to kick start its mines in the Tarkine. “The company, its shareholders and financial backers must realise that mining World Heritage value wilderness is a risk not only to the environment, but also to their investment,” Bayley said.

More info about this campaign: Tarkine National CoalitionWilderness Society Tasmania, GetUp!

Tasmanian Premiere Lara Gidding maintains that the Tarkine is insignificant, with mining representing only one per cent of the region.

Blog Link: Asian Correspondent