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Issue #1721      March 2, 2016

Dingo

The Defence White Paper which envisages spending billions of dollars on new military equipment, personnel and God knows what else has made military contractors very, very happy. They don’t have to beg for funds and put up with diminished services. Everything they want, they get. The track record of military wastage is legendary and the latest project will be no different. We are told there is no money for the sick, the poor, the homeless, the young and the old but there is always plenty for another submarine. Mind you, there is no military threat, even according to the military itself. There are real dangers that are not dealt with. Sydney with its current population of 4.5 million has lost five of the six leading scientists in charge of monitoring the quality and purity of Sydney’s water. How this is not putting at risk the health of Sydneysiders is not made clear by the NSW government. “When minor things go wrong they will turn into major disruptions,” Dr Stuart Khan, an associate professor at UNSW and a water contamination expert, warned. We are experiencing unusual weather conditions and the impact of climate change is still largely unknown.

Taking of national threats – BP is planning to drill for oil in Australia’s remote, wild and pristine Great Australian Bight off the coast of South Australia. The drilling will start as soon as an environmental plan is approved by regulator the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA). The environmental plan is prepared by – wait for it – BP, and it is unavailable for public scrutiny! The responsibility for overseeing the preparation of the environmental assessment for BP drilling was taken from the Federal Environment Department following the election of the Abbott government in 2013. Early in 2014 Environment Minister Greg Hunt formally delegated responsibility for environmental assessment and approval to NOPSEMA as part of the Abbott government’s initiative to remove the national government’s responsibility from environmental decision-making as part of “green tape” reduction. NOPSEMA was originally established to oversee workplace health and safety for workers on offshore drilling rigs. BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded in 2010 with 11 workers missing, presumed dead. The oil rig sank to the bottom and oil gushed out of control for 87 days. By the time the oil stopped gushing, the US government estimated that about 4.9 million barrels of oil had contaminated the Gulf of Mexico. An inquiry established by President Obama found the disaster could have been prevented and “the immediate causes can be traced to a series of identified mistakes by BP, Halliburton and Transocean that reveal such systemic failures in risk management that they place in doubt the safety culture of the entire industry”. After all this – welcome to Australia to drill in more severe conditions and in deeper waters without any environmental assessment or control. With politicians and policies like that, who needs enemies?

Next article – Region Briefs

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