Australian news, and some related international items

The Finkel Report: Back To The Future And The 1960s

Ian McAuley, 20 June 17
The Finkel Report is not only too accommodating of the Coalition’s coal fetish, as Ben Eltham points out. It’s also too conservative from an engineering perspective because it’s constructed around a 1960s model of electricity supply

June 21, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

PM urged, by small business, to decide on Finkel

Small business is urging Malcolm Turnbull to haul his backbench into line and bring forward a decision on energy policy……

June 21, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The risks, if a poorly designed energy scheme is rushed through Parliament

While the politics of Queensland’s Liberal National Party has our country subsidising the enormous Adani coal mine, the science of climate change says we must urgently act to reduce emissions. But if we rush a poorly designed scheme through Parliament, we might encourage the construction of new gas and even coal-fired power stations that would lock in higher emissions for decades to come.

Making a meal out of energy policy, Canberra Times, Richard Denniss, 17 June 17  “…..For more than 20 years now, the Australian political and business elite have been unable to act on the clear scientific evidence of the risks of climate change and the clear economic evidence that taxing pollution provided a simple, and lucrative, solution. The Turnbull government has tied itself in bigger knots than most. John Howard invented the renewable energy target that his Coalition now rages against. John Howard, Brendan Nelson, Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott all spent time supporting, and opposing, emissions trading. Abbott once even expressed a preference for a simple carbon tax. Josh Frydenberg was briefly a fan of an emissions intensity scheme until Cory Bernardi convinced him otherwise and now the Coalition may, or may not, support a clean energy target. When it comes to climate policy, the Coalition have been pretty fussy eaters.

For a government that opposes carbon taxes, emissions trading and expanding the RET or an EIS, a CET may well be the best way forward. But whether the Coalition can build both public and parliamentary support for such a scheme is yet to be determined.

Chief Scientist Professor Alan Finkel proposed the design principles of a clean energy target with the specific intention of helping the Coalition navigate around its own self-inflicted dietary constraints. It’s a strange task to set for a chief scientist, but he did it pretty well……. Continue reading

June 19, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Finkel Energy Review – a test of Australia’s political system

Does our political system still work? Finkel test will provide the answer, Guardian,  Katharine Murphy, 16 June 17 Neither the Coalition nor Labor has the perfect solution for a pressing energy problem that is affecting everyone in the country “…..The challenge imposed by the Finkel review is more substantial than whether Australia should adopt a clean energy target to deliver policy certainty and help reduce carbon pollution.

I’ve said before it is a litmus test of whether our political system still works.

The case for action is obvious. Australia needs an energy grid that functions and we need to reduce carbon emissions. No ifs, buts or maybes – for any responsible government, that’s the task.

But climate policy remains a form of political kryptonite. Rational action must always run the gauntlet of, first, the blowhards of the reactionary, hate-spewing media, intent on substituting culture war for fact and wrapping their thuggishness in a cloak of victimhood; and, second, the lingering fog of special interests.

Past dynamics have poisoned this debate so comprehensively that we are now reduced to squabbling over a third or fourth best policy option to solve a pressing problem that directly affects every person in the country.

That’s what a clean energy target is. It’s not a magic bullet, or a perfect solution that has fallen, fortuitously, from the sky.

In fact as policy goes, it’s pretty suboptimal.

It’s what you get when you reach a policy nadir so shameful that even the immaculately suited short-termists, who worked to sink Labor’s carbon price a couple of years ago, are too embarrassed to own their own misjudgment, and are largely lining up on the side of action.

So, as both contributor to the sum of these parts, and inheritor of the consequences, the Coalition has to work out whether it can set aside its taste for lethal factionalism, for jostling, preening and indulging its own operatic yet entirely dull and predictable feelpinions – and remember that the voting public wants answers……..

in the real world, it’s clear that no one wants to build a new “clean” coal plant, given the risk of it being a stranded asset. Governments could, of course, intervene if they were inclined to make a deeply stupid investment more attractive, but the economics of coal investment won’t shift decisively as a consequence of coal-fired power operators being eligible for a small proportion of certificates under a clean energy target.

With that in mind, hard heads in Labor will say sign on, because we have to hold coal seats ourselves at the next election, we are only really talking about theoretical coal, and we can also reserve the right to adjust the scheme in government.

But that won’t be the universal view in the opposition.

For MPs defending seats targeted by the Greens, defending support for a clean energy target with coal in the mix is a pretty tough proposition.

Labor has been trying to hover at a point in its own climate policy deliberations where it can sound negative about coal without totally abandoning coal.

But at some point that artful levitation will have to end – and clear lines will have to be drawn.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia’s politicians protect the coal industry, not the Australian people

Politicians protecting coal industry at our expense , stop wasting precious time and money on protecting this un-investable industry. more  Andrew Bray, 18 June 17 The level of ‘stupid’ engulfing Canberra has hit new heights. No matter what problem with energy policy is raised, some politicians instantly shout “coal!”

Businesses and householders across the country are screaming at the government for relief from spiraling electricity bills. A broad and unlikely coalition of bodies representing industry, energy users, farmers and social services have all come together to call for policy certainty around a low emissions electricity grid.

But the government is ignoring their pleas and are instead obsessed with whether the coal industry is being properly looked after.

Coal doesn’t stack up economically or environmentally, so it’s time to stop wasting precious time and money on protecting this un-investable industry.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

How plastic is taking over the world

Plastic is everywhere; here’s how it conquered the world ABC, RN  By Keri Philips and Tiger Webb for Rear Vision, 15 June 17 A hundred years ago, almost everything in our daily lives would have been made of natural materials like wood, leather and cotton. Today, the world we live in is full of things made of plastic. The first plastics were developed as an alternative to ivory. One of the earliest was called celluloid. Semi-synthetic, it was made through mixing camphor and cellulose into a material that, according to historian Jeff Meikle, resembled a kind of baking dough……

June 16, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Energy policy now a denialist shitshow

Coming soon, from the people who gave you massive power price rises — still more increases. Energy policy is being hijacked by climate denialists who feign concern about households but are engaged in a culture war.  Bernard Keane Politics Editor  16 June 17 

As Tony Abbott and a group of climate denialists look to hold the government to ransom over energy policy, it’s worth remembering just how comprehensively they’ve failed in policy terms since Abbott destroyed Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership the first time around over the issue in 2009…(subscribers only) 

June 16, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Tasmanian Liberals plan to reduce mining hurdles

LEGISLATION that would reduce environmental “red tape” and limit grounds for appeal over mining lease approvals will be introduced to State Parliament. (subscribers only)

June 16, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australian company Incitec Pivot invested in US anti-Paris lobbying

Australians invested in US anti-Paris lobbying, REneweconomy, By Dan Gocher on 15 June 2017, In response to President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, thousands of American organisations, including corporations, states, municipalities and NGOs publicly declared their support for the accord, by throwing their weight behind the #WeAreStillIn movement.

However, as reported by The Intercept, several corporations – including Dow Chemical and Corning Inc – had previously lobbied the Trump administration to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Both are members of the Industrial Energy Consumers of America (IECA), an industry body representing large energy users. The IECA had written to the White House on several occasions, arguing that the accord would negatively impact competitiveness and jobs.

More importantly for Australians, ASX-top 50 company Incitec Pivot is also a paid up member of IECA. Incitec Pivot manufactures fertilisers, industrial chemicals and explosives, including those used for blasting in mining; making it a significant energy user both in the United States and Australia. As a major Australian company, most superannuation funds will have their members’ retirement savings invested in the company.

That Incitec Pivot indirectly lobbied for the US to withdraw from the Paris Agreement is surprising, but not entirely out of character. CEO James Fazzino previously described Australia’s energy policy as a ‘train wreck’ and has criticised state bans on unconventional gas.

 Incitec Pivot is also an associate member of the Minerals Council, which in the wake of the Finkel Review, has been decrying the lack of support for “clean coal”. In an editorial on Tuesday CEO Brendan Pearson argued, not for the first time, why so-called “High Efficiency Low Emissions” (HELE) coal generation should qualify as ‘clean energy’. The Minerals Council has been one of the most effective lobbyists on energy policy in recent years, essentially providing the talking points for the members of the Liberal and National Parties.

Yet some of the Minerals Council’s largest member companies, including BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, have declared their support for the Paris Agreement. When questioned how their support for the Paris Agreement reconciles with the lobbying efforts of the Minerals Council, responses are inevitably some variation of “the Minerals Council represents many members” or “we don’t agree with everything they say”. At what point in time then, do the lobbying efforts of industry bodies actually represent the views of its members?……

June 16, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry has a scandalous history in Australia

Paul Waldon, Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA   June 12   Tests on Australia and its citizens. Tests on soil and food were recorded in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, Tests were carried out on the bones of 21,830 babies, infants, teenagers and young adults without consent or knowledge to parents or loved ones. The word that comes to my mind is desecration, which is the ultimate act of disrespect and would not happen if there was any regard for any dichotomy, and was this validated by the Australian government. The promotion of death and rape of all our rights are affiliated to the nuclear industries true manufactured product, being forever deadly radioactive waste

June 14, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Congratulations to those who received Queen’s Birthday awards for work on the environment

from Maelor Himbury , 12 June 17 :
Ms Catherine Elise BLANCHETT (NSW)
Professor Ross Gregory GARNAUT AO (VIC)
Professor Lynette SELWOOD (VIC)
Professor Philip Noel PETTIT (ACT)
Mr David John THOMAS OAM (QLD)
Mr Reece Samuel FLAHERTY (NSW)
Mr Maurice Francis HAGARTY (NSW)
Mrs Kathleen Margaret HASSELL (VIC)
Dr Gregory Murray MOORE (VIC)
Mr Frank RIGBY (VIC)
Mr Donald Kimberley SARTI (WA)
Mrs Margaret Ann WILKSCH (SA)
Mr Leslie Walter SMITH (VIC)
Mr Stephen John BEAMAN (NSW)
Mr Robert Anthony LAWRENCE (QLD)
Mr Ian Clifton CARROLL OAM (NSW)
Ms Bridgit (Penny) Mary HUSSEY (WA)
Ms Rosemary Margaret BIRNEY (VIC)
Mr William Andrew HANDKE (ACT)

June 11, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Green light for massive coal mine? Adani has not secured the financing it needs for the project

Gautam boys, It was a stunt. This fact makes the legitimacy given to it by Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and federal resources minister Matt Canavan doubly galling.

Adani claims it has given the “green light” to its huge mine in the Galilee Basin. Palaszczuk repeats the lie that this is a boon for jobs. Canavan calls it “a great future now that we can all get along and work on”.

The support of both governments for this project is pathological. It speaks of the sickness at the heart of our politics. This is not about the meagre jobs the mine might create. It is about punishing the environment as if it were an enemy.

The desire to build this doomed mine, to cut its useless rail line halfway across the state, is about saying to a handful of backward voters that contemporary thought won’t trouble a people who can’t imagine a life that isn’t dug from the earth. It’s about saying the modern world can go on everywhere but rural Queensland.

Adani has not secured the financing it needs for the project. Contractor Downer EDI has no binding deal from the company.

Loans have been refused by 19 banks, the most recent being Westpac. In Gujarat, in India, the power station that was to take more than half the mine’s coal looks unable to justify the import costs.

Rising debts mean Adani may have to begin selling assets. The coal terminal at Abbot Point is one of these. Meanwhile, renewable energy is ever cheaper.

Adani’s announcement this week was like a historical re-enactment, like a few excited mates putting on pantaloons and false beards and having their sepia picture taken in a replica saloon. It was an announcement from a different time, unbound by reality.

This mine is a farce. The coal it would excavate grows more worthless each day. The desire to see that excavation becomes more desperate and illogical.

In making this week’s announcement, Gautam Adani had the defiant air of an industrialist gone mad. His announcement was as much about business as about the imagined enemy of the environmental movement.

“We have been challenged by activists in the courts, in inner-city streets, and even outside banks that have not even been approached to finance the project,” he said. “We are still facing activists. But we are committed to this project.”

The company’s choice of the phrase “green light” for this project was unfortunate. But there it was in the press release: “Adani Project Gets Green Light.”

The phrase recalls the pass Roger Rogerson gave to Neddy Smith in the 1970s, a kind of licence to commit violent crime in exchange for stability in the underworld. Rogerson is now disgraced, serving life for murder, regarded as a serial killer.

The green light was never about the law. It was about rank opportunism. The same could be said of the Adani mine and the politics that supports it. Rogerson’s green light is regarded now as a shameful relic; Adani’s will soon be, too.

June 11, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia should not mindlessly copy USA policy on North Korea

We need only look back to 2003 to see the dangers of a PM who, bedazzled by the power of our ally and its ignorant and reckless leader, overlooked the wishes and wisdom of his own people. Trump has made our need for independent thinking even more urgent.

Australia’s Double-Standard When It Comes To Regional Security Has Gone Nuclear, Australia has defended US nuclear weapons and our own reliance on them, as if a nuclear apartheid is the natural order of things., Margaret BeavisPresident of the Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia),Sue WarehamVice-President, Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia) 07/06/2017    If there’s one thing we should have learnt by now, it’s how easily a heavily-armed world can sleepwalk into disastrous wars that settle nothing, are much harder to stop than to start, and cause unimaginable human suffering.

 As tensions simmer between the US and North Korea, we in Australia have every reason to reject warmongering, brinkmanship and punitive measures, and to pursue every possible effort to help stabilise the Korean peninsula.

The current tensions are fueled by mutual provocations and the volatile temperaments of two unpredictable and dangerous heads of state. However, they are also fueled by blatant double-standards, to which Australia contributes.

 While we have been quick to condemn — for good reason — North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and all the steps taken to strengthen it, Australia has defended US nuclear weapons and our own reliance on them, as if a nuclear apartheid is the natural order of things.

On 26 April and again on 3 May, as rhetoric against North Korea ramped up, the US tested Minuteman ICBM nuclear launch missiles from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Australia was silent. The US Congressional Budget Office estimates an expenditure of US$400 billion over the next decade on modernising the country’s nuclear forces.

A strong majority of nations have declared that nuclear weapons should never be used again, under any circumstances. Australia has refused to support this declaration. By thus promoting the notion that nuclear weapons have a legitimate role — a notion that is rightly seen by most countries as discriminatory, provocative and dangerous — Australia has forfeited any right to preach disarmament to North Korea. Continue reading

June 9, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

How much you’re paying for Adani’s polluting mine to save Turnbull and Palaszczuk’s jobs

Crikey, Bernard Keane, 7 June 17  It wasn’t so long ago we were told it would cost too much to save jobs in car manufacturing, now we’re spending even more per job on a mine that will damage the Great Barrier Reef….. (subscribers only)

June 9, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Tesla charge points for electric cars being installed in Stockland shopping centres

Stockland to install Tesla charge points at 31 shopping centres across Australia, The Age 8 June 17  Carolyn Cummins
When visiting a Stockland shopping centre, customers will soon not only say “charge it” when making a purchase, they’ll also be able to keep their electric car fully firing…….

Other retail mall owners are rolling out similar programs, with GPT Group offering chargers for electric cars at its Rouse Hill town centre, and Wollongong Central, NSW. Vicinity Centres has installed chargers at Chadstone in Melbourne.

Stockland chief executive, commercial, John Schroder said in the ever-changing retail landscape, technology was increasingly critical to drive innovation, efficiency and engagement with customers….

Just one hour connected to a Tesla Destination Charger provides up to 110 kilometres of range,” he said.

“We know EV vehicles are part of the future and we look forward to offering more features like this to meet continuing Australian demand.”

Stockland already has 17 free Charge Point facilities in 10 locations throughout Australia, including Stockland Cammeray and Stockland Balgowlah. These Chargepoints can be used for all EV vehicles.

Stockland will continue to roll out both Chargepoint and Tesla Destination Chargers across its centres to support the growth in EV Vehicles in Australia.”

And with the move by Tesla to deliver its first cheaper Model 3 electric saloons, there will be more demand for chargers across all shopping centres and in the future, offices, hotels and residential towers.

Stockland will install the chargers in centres ranging from Cairns to Balgowlah, Cammeray and Green Hills, in NSW and the The Pines, Traralgon in country Victoria……

June 9, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment