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July 30th, 2019 by admin

Call to’unveil nuclear plans’

News Limited newspapers reported the wealthy businessmen are examining the viability of setting up a power plant in either Victoria or South Australia to generate electricity.


Former federal Liberal Party treasurer Ron Walker, Hugh Morgan and Robert Champion de Crespigny are the key shareholders in Australian Nuclear Energy Pty Ltd, a private company reportedly behind the plan.

While the government-commissioned Switkowski report gave a cautious green light to the viability of nuclear-powered electricity generation, the government has given no endorsement to proceed with the construction of reactors.

Labor’s environment spokesman Peter Garrett said he was surprised plans to build a plant were so advanced.

“The prime minister must make clear whether or not Mr Walker has had discussions with the prime minister, the treasurer, any senior cabinet ministers or their staff in relation to these proposed plans,” Mr Garrett said.

The reports said a source close to the group claimed the company had raised its plans with the federal government and the Victorian and South Australian governments.

Both state governments quickly turned their backs on any such proposal.

SA Premier Mike Rann said there would be no nuclear power station in his state while he is premier.

“I have to say I was somewhat amused when I picked up the paper this morning,” he said.

“We have a very strong and clear policy in South Australia that we don’t intend to embrace a nuclear power plant because it would just be economically irresponsible, financially unviable and of course also force up the wholesale price of electricity by about 100 per cent.”

“They won’t be building a nuclear power plant in South Australia while Labor is in office.”

Victorian Premier Steve Bracks is to introduce laws into parliament Tuesday to give Victorians a voice on whether they want a nuclear power plant in their state.

Mr Bracks has announced he will hold a plebiscite if the federal government tries to override state laws and establish a plant in Victoria.

“There’s no safe way of storing radioactive waste, number one,” he said.

“Number two, the general safety of the plan is questionable and number three the economics are just not there, it actually would require a doubling of the price of electricity in Victoria.”

Greens leader Bob Brown said the cost of a reactor would be greater than even these wealthy men could handle, and would ultimately have to rely on taxpayers’ money.

“What the Melbourne business investors, if they’re really serious about this, need to do at the outset is sign on the dotted line for (the) decommissioning bill and the waste storage bill,” he said.

“The taxpayers, the ordinary families of Australia will end up paying for the folly of these people who apparently have got more money than sense.”

Late last year, Dr Ziggy Switkowski released his committee’s report on a possible nuclear energy industry in Australia, concluding 25 nuclear reactors could produce a third of Australia’s electricity by 2050.

It said the plants would have to be placed within tens of kilometres of the east coast national electricity grid.

A subsequent Australia Institute report named 19 likely sites, including four in Victoria and three in South Australia.

Cabinet minister Kevin Andrews ruled out a nuclear power plant in his Melbourne electorate.

“There’s probably not much room for a nuclear power plant in my electorate,” he said.

July 30th, 2019 by admin

Tributes for rock legend

The 60-year-old rock legend died early today from a massive heart attack at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, a hospital spokesman said.


He was rushed from his Darling Point home in Sydney’s east by ambulance just after midnight suffering from chest pains.

He later died with his family at his side.

“It seems impossible to comprehend,” Mr Baker told ABC Radio.

The music journalist was to accompany Thorpe to Morocco, where Thorpe was working on a recording project.

“Thorpe was just always involved in something,” he said.

“He had so much music in him and there was just such an extraordinary sort of appetite for what he was doing.”

Thorpe was born in England but emigrated to Brisbane with his family in the 1950s and later moved to Sydney in 1963 to jumpstart his music career.

Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs became a major rock outfit, selling out concert venues and producing chart-topping songs in the 60s and


“Thorpe came up in that crop of 60s teen idols but there was a greater dimension to him,” Mr Baker said.

“After he was a teen idol he went to Melbourne for a few years … he completely re-orientated himself and then turned Australian rock on its ear with a thunderous, pulverising music.”

“The Aztecs just become a byword for really the origins of Australian pub rock.

“It’s the one form of music we’ve done better and more convincingly than any other.

“This sort of loud, roaring, howling, ferocious, sort of pub-based bluesy rock and roll and Thorpe was that incredibly powerful voice.”

“There was something that was just primal about Thorpe’s blood-curdling roar. There was nobody like him on the stage.”

July 30th, 2019 by admin

Hicks is being abandoned: Mori

Major Michael Mori, the US military lawyer representing David Hicks, has described as "strange and foreign" comments that Australia has no legal obligation to help him.


The US Marine Corp lawyer was in Melbourne today to deliver a speech to more than 300 delegates at a human rights conference which marked 30 years of equal opportunity laws in Victoria.

Government lawyer, Solicitor-General David Bennett QC, told the Federal Court in Sydney yesterday that a general obligation for the federal government to protect citizens abroad "is simply something that the law has never recognised".

Major Mori said he was surprised by the comment.

"As an American, that seemed strange and foreign to me," Major Mori told reporters in Melbourne.

"It's frustrating for me to see an Australian being abandoned and being pushed towards a cliff for this system that is not acceptable for Americans."

A team of lawyers has launched legal action against the federal government, federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock and Foreign minister Alexander Downer in a bid to force the government to take steps to bring Adelaide-born Hicks home.

The 31-year-old Muslim convert Hicks has been detained without trial at the US naval base since January 2002, the month after he was captured with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Major Mori said he had not met with Prime Minister John Howard nor the attorney-general during this visit to Australia.

He said he was still trying to get an independent psychological examination carried out on Hicks.

"This March will be one year in solitary confinement where he sits in a concrete room with a steel door for 22 hours a day," he said.

"No window to the outside. That's his life."

'Cherry picking Geneva Convention'

Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne Phillip Freier, who was also at the conference, said he was concerned that the US had "cherry picked" certain parts of the Geneva Convention in regards to prisoners of war and their treatment of Hicks.

"My concern is what is being offered is not a fair system," Dr Freier said.

"Any sportsperson, such as an AFL footballer appearing before a tribunal, will be guaranteed much better procedural fairness than David Hicks or the other people who might appear before these proposed military commissions.

"It seems to me an unacceptable situation for Australians to tolerate."

July 30th, 2019 by admin

Claims of more boat people

Fairfax newspapers quote sources in Melbourne's and Sydney's Sri Lankan communities as saying the Sri Lankans are all men under 25, mostly of Tamil descent and are claiming they are escaping persecution at home.


Some of the asylum-seekers were under 16 and have been waiting for five months to be taken by smugglers to a third country like Australia, the report said.

The Sri Lankan community figures said the parents of the young men had mortgaged their houses and possessions to send their sons away from their homes in the nation's troubled northern and eastern provinces, fearing they would be killed if they stayed.

They were targeted by security forces "because of their age and ethnicity" because of reports Tamil rebel forces forcibly recruit young men to their ranks.

One of the asylum-seekers, 23-year old male Subhas Yokeswaran, flew to Jakarta with 55 other youths in October and told Fairfax yesterday he was seized by the Sri Lankan army on suspicion of being a Tamil Tiger member, simply because he was a Tamil.

The exodus of young Tamils followed the resumption of hostilities last year between the Tamil Tigers and government forces.

News of the latest asylum-seekers comes after a boat containing 83 Sri Lankan asylum-seekers was intercepted by Australian authorities off Christmas Island last week.

Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews has signalled the government is focused on returning the 83 to Indonesia, saying it was important to send the "strongest possible message of deterrence".

But Mr Andrews said that would be ruled out if Indonesia would not agree to process the asylum-seekers under United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee guidelines, which it has ruled out.

July 30th, 2019 by admin

Thorpe memorial concert plans

The Australian rock legend’s promoter and long-time friend Michael Chugg says the response to the sudden death was overwhelming and plans for a memorial concert are already underway.


Chugg said he had fielded calls from some of the world's greatest acts including British musician Mick Fleetwood, the drummer of rock `n roll band Fleetwood Mac.

Chugg says musicians all around world offering to get involved in a big concert, but right now they're concentrating on the Thorpe family.

Thorpe died earlier today in a Sydney Hospital after a massive heart attack.

It's expected the family will issue a statement with details of the musician's funeral service soon.

Rocking Memories

Meanwhile tributes for the 60 year old are flowing in from Australians of all walks of life.

Prime Minister John Howard says he's saddened at the death of Billy Thorpe, a giant of the Australian music industry.

"He earned his great success with The Aztecs and shot to national prominence in the 1970s with a string of brash albums and songs and powerful performances at the Sunbury Music Festival," he said in a statement.

"Billy Thorpe was an accomplished guitarist with an unmistakable voice.”

"Perhaps though his fans will remember him for one thing above all else, the ear-splitting volume of his concerts."

Mr Howard said Thorpe was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Hall of Fame in 1991.

"On behalf of Janette and myself and the Australian government, I extend my deepest sympathies to Billy's family, friends and fans," he said.

Music Promoter Michael Chugg says Thorpe will be remembered for his legendary contribution to music, as well as paving the way for future Australian rock bands including Cold Chisel, AC/DC, Rose Tattoo and Midnight Oil.

He says Thorpe started the pub rock scene in Melbourne in the early 1970s and created the door deals to stop promoters ripping off the bands.

Former Midnight Oil front man turned politician Peter Garrett says "Thorpie" and the Aztecs were loud and proud and very Aussie and when they played at the Sunbury music festival in the early 70s they did it full frontal.

He says Thorpe’s transition from a pop singer and pop idol to a full blown in-your-face rocker was incredible to see and he inspired many bands.

Australian music legend Col Joye says Mr Thorpe leaves the music industry with some great memories.

Col Joye and the Joyboys were the first Australian rock band to reach the American Billboard chart in 1959 and toured with Thorpe and the Aztecs in the mid-60s and early 70s.

Joye says Thorpe came along at a time when rock and roll was just starting in Australia and he had a style about him that was different to anybody else.

Iconic singer/songwriter Brian Cadd says he'll remember the fellow 60s' music legend as an inspiration to the rock and roll industry.

Cadd who co-wrote the hit "Little Ray of Sunshine", says Thorpe was his rival from the Sydney rock scene and an inspiration.

Music journalist and historian Glenn A Baker says there was something primal about Thorpe’s blood-curdling roar, and he turned Australian rock on its ear with a thunderous pulverising music.

Thorpe's music career spanned five decades including more than 10 years recording concept albums in the US.

With the band, The Aztecs he scored huge hits in the 60s and 70s with songs like "Most People I Know (Think That I'm Crazy)".

Thorpe was born in England and moved to Australia with his family in the 1950s.

He is survived by wife Lynne and daughters Lauren and Rusty.

Watch an interview with rock historian Glenn A Baker as he pays tribute to the Australian rock and roll legend.

June 30th, 2019 by admin

Hail pelts nation’s capital

The wild weather left hail drifts up to one metre deep around city streets.


Bulldozers were being used to clear ice in the city centre, causing traffic chaos and very long delays for commuters.

The city remains on alert with the Bureau of Meteorology issuing a road weather alert because of ice and fog.

Canberra’s major retail precinct, The Canberra Centre, has been forced to close as has the Australian National University’s city campus, as crews check buildings are safe.

Schools including Canberra Grammar and Campbell High, near the Australian War Memorial, also have been closed.

Government offices affected by the storm include the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and the National Health and Medical Research Council.

“We have had some flooding … it was an enormous electrical storm,” a spokesman for the Canberra Centre said.

ACT State Emergency Service (SES) chief officer Tony Graham said the SES had received about 100 calls for assistance with 40 officers working through the night.

“The majority of jobs have been for flooding and hail damage with a number of residential properties sustaining collapsed ceilings,” he said in a statement.

Numerous roads were closed overnight including Parkes Way and Vernon Circle in the city, he said.

Bunda Street in Civic was shut this morning as emergency crews worked to clean up.

Fire fighters from the ACT Fire Brigade and crews from Roads ACT worked to clear hail and debris off roadways.

Mr Graham said the storm struck late last night causing widespread damage from Civic through to Belconnen in Canberra’s north.

He said the ACT SES expects more calls for assistance to come in later this morning as people wake up to discover damage to their properties.

Canberra’s commercial centre of Civic, experienced unspecified but extensive damage as hail blocked gutters which then overflowed into shops and offices.

Nature strips across the city’s inner northern were pounded by the hail, leaving little more than mud in places where drought had stripped away top soil.

A spokesman for the territory’s water authority, ACTEW Corporation, was unable to confirm if any rain had fallen over the Canberra catchment area because the ACTEW building has been flooded.

June 30th, 2019 by admin

PM won't name nuke locations

Mr Howard said to name possible locations of any nuclear reactors would harm the prospects of a sensible debate on the issue.


The opposition party meanwhile released a list of government MPs it says have publicly declared they would not want a nuclear reactor in their electorates.

Those listed are Greg Hunt, Kevin Andrews, Peter McGauran, Russell Broadbent (Victoria), Joanna Gash (NSW), Julie Bishop (WA) and Warren Entsch (Queensland).

But Mr Howard says there's no point in the government indicating where power stations might be located.

"I do not intend … to engage in an exercise in saying nuclear power stations won't be here or won't be there," he said.

"I do not intend to engage in the game of ruling out the location of nuclear power stations in any particular part of this country because that will take with us a sensible debate about this issue."

The government says Australia cannot overlook the use of electricity generated by nuclear power because of its low greenhouse gas emissions.

Row over timing of inquiry

As the debate over nuclear energy heated up, the opposition also challenged the government to reveal what talks it had with a company promoting nuclear energy, which was co-founded by a former Liberal Party treasurer.

Labor leader Kevin Rudd says the opposition can be excused for being suspicious about government links with the nuclear energy company.

The prime minister and Treasurer Peter Costello confirmed that Liberal powerbroker Ron Walker told them of his decision to register a company promoting nuclear power in the middle of last year.

That was about the same time that Mr Howard called an inquiry into the feasibility of an Australian nuclear energy industry.

But Industry and Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane yesterday told parliament that he had not held any discussions with anyone involved with Australian Nuclear Energy (ANE) Pty Ltd.

Mr Rudd said the opposition had been trying to establish when the government had conversations with ANE and where that sat with the commissioning of the Switkowski inquiry into the nuclear industry.

Mr Howard earlier denied setting up the inquiry into nuclear power to benefit Liberal Party powerbroker Ron Walker.

Mr Howard conceded that he called the inquiry into nuclear energy's feasibility about the same time that Mr Walker told him he had registered a nuclear energy company.

But he said he had not been influenced by Mr Walker's decision to start Australian Nuclear Energy (ANE) Pty Ltd.

"There was absolutely nothing riding on my conversation with Mr Walker," Mr Howard told Sky News.

"I didn't decide to have an inquiry into nuclear power in Australia because Mr Walker told me that he and a couple of his business associates (were registering a company).

"I decided to have the inquiry because I thought it was in the national interest to do so."

ANE was registered on June 1, 2006 – five days before Mr Howard announced his prime ministerial taskforce to review the feasibility of a nuclear energy industry.

Mr Howard pointed out that then science minister Brendan Nelson had proposed an inquiry in November 2005.

"The idea that I thought gee, let's have an inquiry as a result of my conversation with Ron Walker is just ridiculous," the prime minister said.

"They didn't seek any assistance. They don't need the permission of the prime minister to incorporate a company."

Mr Howard also denied discussing possible government subsidies to make nuclear power economical with Mr Walker.

" Southcott simply repeated that it was too early to discuss that aspect.

Watch a debate on the pros and cons of nuclear energy with anti-nuclear campaigner Helen Caldicott and the head of the government's taskforce on nuclear energy Ziggy Switkowsky.

June 30th, 2019 by admin

Underworld figure confesses

Victorian police, charged with investigating Melbourne's underworld, have warned the war is not over despite claiming a major scalp, gangland kingpin Carl Williams.


On Thursday Williams pleaded guilty in the Victorian Supreme Court to the murders of Lewis Moran, 58, his son Jason, 36, and a third man who cannot be named.

The confessions were a major breakthrough for the Purana gangland taskforce charged with investigating Melbourne's underworld wars.

But the taskforce's head, Deputy Commissioner Simon Overland, said today the battle was not over and can never be won.

"No, they never end actually and I've never really liked the term war, it sort of suggests that it is something we can win," he told the Nine Network.

"The point is this is entrenched organised crime that we're dealing with; we know that it never goes away.

"It became pretty public down here, obviously that's put a lot of pressure on us to be seen to deal with it, I think we're now doing that.

"But it's not going to go away and neither are we."

Jason Moran, 36, and his bodyguard Pasquale Barbaro, 40, were shot dead as they sat in a car watching a children's football clinic in Essendon in June, 2003.

Lewis Moran was shot dead in the inner-city Brunswick Club on March 31, 2004.

Details of the third murder are suppressed.

Williams faces spending the rest of his life in jail following the guilty pleas.

He is already serving at least 21 years for the 2003 murder of Michael Marshall, who was gunned down outside his South Yarra home in front of his five-year-old son on October 25, 2003.

The outcome of that trial had been suppressed until yesterday.

Mr Overland said Williams' confessions were a great victory for police and he thanked the officers and law enforcement agencies involved.

"It is a great day for our people, it's a vindication for their efforts and the work they've done," he said.

June 30th, 2019 by admin

Rudd defends Burke meeting

Labor leader Kevin Rudd says he's guilty of nothing more than good manners and bad judgment in his dealings with disgraced former WA premier Brian Burke.


As the Burke scandal derailed Mr Rudd's dream start as opposition leader, the federal Labor leader said he was unaware of a ban on state Labor MPs contacting Mr Burke when he met him three times in 2005.

But Mr Rudd rejected as "an absolute lie" government claims that he went to Perth to enlist Mr Burke as his numbers man for his leadership challenge against Kim Beazley a year later.

Mr Rudd was subjected to a bruising parliamentary attack on his honesty today over his links with Mr Burke, whose activities as a lobbyist are under scrutiny by WA's Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC).

He later called a press conference and said: "Would it have been better for me not to have met with Mr Burke, had I known what Mr Burke was up to at the time? Of course.

"Did I have the faintest idea that Mr Burke was engaged in activities which are now the subject of the CCC? Of course I did not.

"So therefore, with the benefit of 20:20 hindsight, of course I would not have met with Mr Burke. I had no knowledge of those matters then."

Mr Burke, a convicted fraudster, has already brought down three ministers in the WA Labor state government, sacked during the inquiry into his lobbying activities and those of his business partner Julian Grill.

Mr Rudd admitted meeting Mr Burke three times in Perth in 2005 – once at breakfast, once over coffee and once at dinner – through federal Labor backbencher Graham Edwards, a close friend of both men.

But he said he had done nothing wrong, other than suffering a lapse in judgment.

Mr Rudd said he felt an "obligation of friendship" to meet with Mr Burke because of their strong mutual friendship with Mr Edwards.

"Sometimes we do things out of friendship and politeness," he said.

But he rejected the chance of a fourth meeting when Mr Burke offered to organise a dinner for him with journalists when he was next in Perth.

"I thought it was going a step too far," he said.

"Having a discussion with someone at a social gathering is one thing, then taking someone's assistance to organise a meeting with journalists in Western Australia I thought was going too far.

"I felt uncomfortable about that and in this business you make judgments about whether that level of assistance is appropriate."

Mr Edwards and a second Labor backbencher, Mark Bishop, have been "counselled" for remaining in contact with Mr Burke since last November, when then Labor leader Kim Beazley banned all MPs from dealing with Mr Burke.

But Treasurer Peter Costello said Mr Burke was a convicted criminal and Mr Rudd should be tainted by his association with him.

"Those who understand politics in this house will say that it was no coincidence in 2005, when the leader of the opposition was looking for numbers for his leadership bid, that he happened to be going regularly to Perth and meeting with Mr Brian Burke," Mr Costello told parliament.

"Mr Brian Burke never does something for nothing. Mr Brian Burke has now been fingered by the crime commission in Western Australia and four (sic) ministers have lost their jobs because of their contacts with him, because anyone who deals with Mr Brian Burke is morally and politically compromised."

Labor tried to turn the attack back on the government, asking Prime Minister John Howard about coalition MPs' dealings with former Liberal Party powerbroker Noel Crichton-Browne, who has also been implicated in the CCC inquiry.

Mr Howard said the two cases were not comparable because Mr Crichton-Browne had not been jailed for fraud and the Liberals had expelled him from the party more than a decade ago.

"Anybody who has any understanding of Australian politics would suspect that what the leader of the opposition was about was touting for preferment and favour from a man of influence in the Labor Party in Western Australia," Mr Howard told parliament.

June 30th, 2019 by admin

Thorpe service 'no rock gig'

Sunday's memorial service in Sydney for rock legend Billy Thorpe will be open to the public but won't be a tribute concert, manager Michael Chugg says.


Details were still being worked out today for the memorial service at Sydney's Entertainment Centre on Sunday afternoon, which is also expected to be televised live.

VIDEO: Glenn A Baker pays tribute

Titled "Over The Rainbow", after Thorpe's cover of The Wizard of Oz trademark tune "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", the March 4 service will begin at 3.45pm (AEDT).

Thorpe, 60, died at St Vincent's Hospital yesterday after a massive heart attack.

Tickets to the hour-long memorial service will be made available to the public from tomorrow.

As tributes poured in for Thorpe, Chugg made it clear the event would be a memorial service, not a rock concert.

"We are working through all this and locking it all in stone, we will release the details on various websites over the next few days," Chugg told the Nine Network.

"Again, I must stress it is not a concert, we want you to come along because we want you to pay your respects to a great person.

"We have been very, very conscious of how Billy would have seen it."

The memorial service is expected to feature tributes and performances by some of Thorpe's closest friends and family.

A spokeswoman for Chugg Entertainment said the service would be telecast live on one of Australia's major networks – Ten, Nine, Seven or ABC – and an announcement would be made later today.

Australian pop star Olivia Newton-John today joined the tributes to Thorpe.

"I was shocked and still am," Newton-John told Nine.

"Billy was so full of life, it's just so hard to imagine. He was always so energetic and alive, it's incomprehensible yet.

"I have lots of fond memories of Billy."

A decision is also expected soon on the release date of Thorpe's last album, Tangier, which was in the final stages of mixing before he died.

Thorpe is survived by his widow Lynne and daughters Rusty and Lauren.