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Kaye describes herself as a middle-aged woman in jammies. She knew Tony Abbott when they both attended Sydney University where she studied for a Bachelor of Science. After 20 years teaching mathematics, with the introduction of the GST in 2000, she became a ‘feral accountant’ for the small business that she and her husband own. Kaye uses her research skills “to pass on information, to join the dots, to remember what has been said and done and to remind others, and to do the maths.”

They just don’t get it

Watching the Senate inquiry into the sports rorts affair shows that the government has no understanding of what they have done wrong.

Eric Abetz, whose entire demeanour screams arrogance, tried to tell us that Senator McKenzie’s intervention had made the grants fairer because it increased the total number of electorates to receive funding and Labor-held seats got more grants from her decisions than from the recommendations of Sports Australia.

He repeatedly tried to get the Sports Australia representatives to agree that this was the case and they repeatedly answered that arbitrary electoral boundaries were not considered in their merit-based assessment which, instead, assessed community need and impact.

For Senator Abetz’s line of argument to be worthy of consideration, we would have to believe that every electorate is equally in need of sports infrastructure upgrades and that the political persuasion of their federal representative should be relevant.  This view only confirms that the Coalition consider political considerations more important than funding based on need.

The same thinking seems to apply to school funding and here, Labor are guilty too.  Our government offers a public school system available to all.  Some people choose not to use it, but still expect government funding to subsidise their choice.

Scared of the political consequences of cutting funding to private schools, governments of both persuasions have caved in to making special deals, especially with the Catholics who are just given a huge amount of money to spend as they will with no justification that it is going to the schools most in need.

It is unbelievably galling to hear about very high fee-paying schools being giving large amounts of government money as they install a sound-proof recording studio, buy new rowing sculls, and build another three squash courts.

As Gonski attempted to point out, not all schools are equally in need and if we are really serious about improving results, we would be giving the funds where there is the greatest need.

It is also unfathomable how the government can resist all the evidence about the urgent need to increase Newstart and the economic and social benefit that would follow.  Their opposition seems entirely ideological, pandering to the ‘dole bludger’ pejorative.  Drug testing?  Nation-wide income management?  Seriously?

The argument that the best form of welfare is a job makes no sense as an excuse not to make Newstart adequate – if they could get a job, they wouldn’t be on social security payments.  Employment aspiration doesn’t pay the rent or put food on the table in the interim.

We employ these people to invest the common wealth in the best interests of the country, not to spend it to prop up their electoral fortunes.

They just don’t get it.

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The advice the government won’t listen to

In dealing with the coronavirus, Scotty From Marketing has all of a sudden decided that, not only must we do what the medical experts’ advise, we must also concentrate our scientific resources on combating the cause rather than just reacting to the crisis.

Yet this same logic does not seem to apply to the existential threat posed by global heating.

In order to avoid taking any action on reducing emissions, the government is busily calling for more inquiries to ignore and more glossy brochures to hold up.

They try to deflect the urgent need for action by ridiculous calls to quantify the cost and its affect on power prices and jobs in three decades time, all the while refusing to acknowledge the cost and impact of inaction.

And it’s not like they don’t know.

In 2015, the government published a National Climate Resilience and Adaptation Strategy.  It identified the major risks for Australia:

  • increased frequency and intensity of flood damage to housing, roads and other infrastructure
  • increased illness, death and infrastructure damages during heat waves
  • constraints on water resources in southern Australia
  • significant reduction in agricultural production in the Murray-Darling Basin and far south-eastern and south-western Australia if scenarios of severe drying are realised
  • increasing risks to coastal infrastructure and low-lying ecosystems from continued sea-level rise
  • increased damages to ecosystems and human settlements, infrastructure, economic losses and risks to human life from bushfires in most of southern Australia
  • significant change in the ecological community composition and structure of coral reef systems
  • loss of mountain ecosystems and some native species.

Then in 2018, the government commissioned the National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework which further confirmed the huge costs of failure to act.  The following is an excerpt from that report.

Reducing disaster risk is critical to supporting communities and economies to be resilient when a shock occurs. Recognising this, in early 2018 the Australian Government invited all states and territories, local government, and key private sector representatives to work together to co-design and develop a National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework.

Many natural hazards are becoming more frequent and more intense, driven by Australia’s changing climate. The Bureau of Meteorology/CSIRO’s 2018 State of the Climate report describes the effect of Australia’s changing climate, including warming temperatures, rising sea level, more severe fire weather, and increased rainfall in Australia’s north and decreases in the south. It is predicted that these changes will continue, while new natural hazard threats will emerge. There is growing potential for cumulative or concurrent, large-scale natural hazards to occur.

In 2017 Deloitte Access Economics, reporting to the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities, found that over the past 10 years disasters have cost the Australian economy around $18 billion per year. Assuming current development patterns and population growth continue, this is forecast to reach $39 billion per year by 2050. This forecast does not account for the effects of a changing climate, which are expected to magnify these costs; nor does it account for losses that cannot be quantified but are no less important to people. Deloitte Access Economics found in 2015 that the intangible costs of disasters – including increased family violence, mental health impacts, chronic disease, alcohol and drug use, short and long-term unemployment, changes to school academic outcomes, and crime – are at least equal to, if not greater than, tangible costs.

There is significant momentum building across sectors to address climate and disaster risks. The release of the 2017 Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosure report increased market understanding of climate risk and demand for services to help identify and manage that risk. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority and Australian Securities and Investment Commission have stated that climate-related physical and economic transition risks are foreseeable and material financial risks that should be addressed by company directors alongside all other financial risks.

Mainstream investors are divesting from stock in exposed industries, credit rating companies are reassessing credit ratings to factor in climate-related risks and several banks have commissioned analysis of their mortgage books based on location. The Investor Group on Climate Change, in its 2018 Investing in Resilience report, predicts that the ability to differentiate investment opportunities by climate risks will be a key financial metric within the next 3-5 years. These developments provide additional reasons to take action to reduce disaster risk and position Australia for the future.

If they read their own reports, the government already knows the risks we face and how best to address them.  What is the point in more inquiries, more “road maps”, more glossy brochures, if they continue to ignore the science for their own political purposes?

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In amongst all the white noise about per capita emissions and emissions intensity and peak years, there is only one relevant sentence in the latest Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory:

Australia’s annual emissions for the year to September 2019 are estimated to be 530.8 Mt CO2 -e. This figure is 1.0 per cent below emissions in the year to June 2000 (536.2 Mt CO2 -e).

That is nowhere near the Kyoto promise we made to reduce emissions by 5% on 2000 levels.


Scott Morrison can’t look Australians in the eye

There are multitudinous more deserving reasons why Scott Morrison might not want to look Australians in the eye than the oft-repeated talking point that he can’t predict what jobs will be around and what electricity will cost in three decades time.

“I don’t sign up to anything when I can’t look Australians in the eye and tell them what it costs,” he said of a target of zero net emissions by 2050.  “None of that information is before me that would enable me to give any such commitment.”

And yet, when he got rightly hammered for his inadequate preparation for, and reaction to, the bushfire crisis, in trying to regain some semblance of leadership, ScottyFromMarketing had no such qualms.

“Today’s cabinet was one of great resolve; it was one where we stood together and said, ‘whatever it takes, whatever it costs, we will ensure the resilience and future of this country’, and we will do it by investing in the work that needs to be done,” Morrison said.  “The surplus is of no focus for me, what matters to me is the human cost and meeting whatever costs we need to meet.”

Considering the almost daily revelations about how the government hands out money – grants in marginal seats, contracts without tender, jobs for fellow travellers, subsidies for fossil fuels – it is obvious that Scotty is prepared to spend whatever it takes to protect his job.

Protecting the planet?  Not so much.

Scotty tries to tell us that we are meeting and beating our targets though I haven’t heard the “in a canter” talking point lately.  That’s probably because everyone knows it is bullshit.

Climate Action Tracker

The “Climate Solutions Package” announced in February 2019 confirms that the Australian government is not intending to implement any serious climate policy efforts. Instead, it wants to meet its targets by relying on carry over units from the Kyoto Protocol, which would significantly lower the actual emission reductions needed. The National Hydrogen Strategy released in November 2019 risks becoming a brown hydrogen strategy in favour of propping up coal and carbon capture and storage technology, rather than focusing on renewable energy and green hydrogen.

The government also wants to continue relying on the inadequate policy instrument, the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) now re-named the “Climate Solutions Fund” which is failing to contribute to any significant emissions reductions. Recent ERF auctions have seen fewer emissions abatements contracted, projects have been dropped from the fund for failing to meet abatements, there are issues of additionality, and the fund is dominated by land use sector abatements with a high risk of reversal, for example through bushfires.

The government continues to consider underwriting new coal fired power generation and extending the lifetime of old coal plants – completely inconsistent with the need to phase out coal globally by 2040 and in OECD countries by 2030. If all other countries were to follow Australia’s “Highly Insufficient” current policy trajectory, warming could reach over 3°C and up to 4°C.

In order to give Tim Wilson something to count off on his fingers when he is interviewed, we have a new slogan – ‘technology not taxes’.

‘Technology’ is held up like some shiny new bauble to bedazzle us.  It will be our saviour repeats everyone issued with the latest talking points.

Except they are ignoring the technology that could save us whilst promoting things that won’t.

When Elon Musk said he could build the biggest lithium battery in the world in SA in 100 days, Mike Cannon-Brookes immediately challenged him to deliver, and he did.

Scott Morrison’s reaction?  His best thing – mockery.

“I mean, honestly, by all means have the world’s biggest battery, have the world’s biggest banana, have the world’s biggest prawn like we have on the roadside around the country, but that is not solving the problem.”

In the lead up to the 2019 election, Labor set a national electric vehicles target of 50% new car sales by 2030, and 50% for the government fleet by 2025, as well as allowing business to deduct a 20% depreciation for private fleet EVs valued at more than $20,000.

Scott Morrison’s reaction? Mockery.

“Bill Shorten wants to end the weekend when it comes to his policy on electric vehicles where you’ve got Australians who love being out there in their four-wheel drives.”

The legions of fossil fuel lobbyists the government have hired to advise them are great on attack talking points but really crap at keeping up to date with what is actually going on in the world.

When Scotty says “None of that information is before me”, one would have to ask why not because it’s all out there.

As reported by Renew Economy:

In a landmark report last year titled the Australian National Outlook, the CSIRO – in conjunction with the NAB and former Treasury head Ken Henry – said 100 per cent renewables could be reached by 2050 and deliver a substantially lower cost of energy than we have now, and the whole economy could reach net zero emissions by 2050 and deliver a stronger economy and more jobs at the same time.

And the country’s Australian Energy Market Operator, whose prime responsibility is to manage the electricity grid and keep the lights on, has mapped out a blueprint to reach at least 90 per cent renewables in two decades.

Again, this is the cheapest option, as the combined research of the CSIRO and AEMO, with the input of dozens of energy experts and research groups, shows clearly that decarbonising through renewables is the quickest and cheapest path to cutting emissions.

More than $500 million has already been spent on CCS without saving a single tonne of emissions, or with any credible plan to do so, and another $500 million is going to a hydrogen pilot to sequester just three, yes, just three, tonnes of emissions from a brown coal generator.

Scott Morrison’s fear of setting a zero emissions target has nothing to do with jobs or cost or a lack of information and everything to do with trying to deflect any action away from the solutions we could already be implementing.

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Why ScottyFromMarketing’s latest sales pitch is such a farce

In a belated attempt to look like he cares, ScottyFromMarketing has latched onto a new line to justify his government’s abrogation of its duty to take urgent action to protect us from the ravages of global heating.

SFM can’t commit to adequate targets for emissions reduction because he “can’t look Australians in the eye and tell them what it will mean for their electricity prices, what it will mean for their jobs.”

He won’t even entertain a goal of net zero emissions in thirty years’ time unless someone can tell him exactly how much that would cost, what electricity prices will be three decades into the future, and provide a guarantee that, unlike workers in the auto industry or tens of thousand of public servants who have lost their jobs under the Coalition’s stewardship, coal miners’ jobs will be protected in an industry that has already slashed its workforce and announced its intention to become fully automated.

Considering Treasury has not made an accurate prediction about anything in living memory, it is a ridiculous demand.

But SFM insists he has a plan – technology!

Well, yeah….but we may need a little more detail than that Scotty.

The media is saying that “The coalition is expected to release a new technology road map charting the way forward in hydrogen, solar, batteries, transmission, large-scale energy storage and carbon capture.”  This appears to be based on hopeful speculation rather than anything concrete.

The head of the Investor Group on Climate Change – which manages more than $2 trillion worth of assets – agreed that “technology development and deployment is critical” and said its members were “crying out” for investments in zero carbon opportunities and climate resilience measures in Australia.

“But to attract investment the credibility test is whether technology planning is embedded in a long-term strategy consistent with a smooth transition to net-zero emissions by 2050.  The lack of large-scale deals and policy instability remain critical barriers to opening up multi-billion-dollar investment in new industries, jobs and technologies across our country.”

It seems investors are not impressed with slogans and glossy brochures.  It is the government’s own lack of genuine policy and commitment that is costing this country investment and the jobs that would come with it, not to mention saving the planet as an added bonus.

How can they trust that the government wants to back new technology when, in their first budget, they cut $459.3m over three years from the carbon capture and storage flagship program, leaving $191.7m to continue existing projects for the next seven years.

Tony Abbott said at the time: “For now and for the foreseeable future, the foundation of Australia’s energy needs will be coal. The foundation of the world’s energy needs will be coal.”

When Matt Canavan attended an energy conference in Houston in 2018, he mocked the world’s largest lithium battery that had been built in SA by Elon Musk to provide storage for renewable energy.

“It’s the Kim Kardashian of the energy world: it’s famous for being famous. It really doesn’t do very much.”

Matt’s always great with his disparaging one-liners.  It would be even better if he looked at the evidence occasionally.

The AEMO said in October 2018 that the battery’s performance was “very encouraging”. It:

  • Made $13 million in revenue during first six months of operation.
  • Saved SA Government $33 million by stabilising the grid super-fast.
  • Helped prevent SA blackouts during peak demand.
  • Led to 57% drop in Frequency Control Ancillary Services costs.

When Labor announced a 50 per cent renewable energy target for 2030, the government described it as “reckless” and an “economy wrecker.”

Angus Taylor even went so far as saying that that level of renewables would “de-industrialse the economy”. Now, it turns out, Taylor is relying on Australia reaching 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 to deliver the only physical cut in emissions that he expects to achieve in the next 10 years.

From the government’s 2019 emissions projection report:

“Emissions are projected to decline to 511 Mt CO2 -e in 2030 which is 16 per cent below 2005 levels. This is driven mainly by declines in the electricity sector because of strong uptake of rooftop solar and the inclusion of the Victoria, Queensland and Northern Territory 50 per cent renewable energy targets.”

Even when they try to do something that may be worthwhile, like the second interconnector between Tasmania and Victoria, policy inconsistency makes the viability uncertain and scares off private investment.  The huge cost is not justifiable until some of the coal fleet retires and, even then, that gap in supply might be filled by more economical means on the mainland.

So whilst the government continues to talk about extending the life of aging coal-fired power plants, or opening new ones, large capital investment is unlikely.

There is a lot of hype lately, mainly driven by Alan Finkel, about increasing gas supply as a “transition” fuel and about hydrogen as the industry of the future, but not all agree that this is the right direction.

As Ronald Brakels explains, “if other options cost less and are more energy efficient than expanding natural gas generation or making hydrogen, then those two things aren’t likely to happen.”

Investors aren’t buying SFM’s latest ad campaign and neither should we.

History shows us that a Coalition government is incapable of dealing with the future of energy and emissions reduction.  Until we get rid of them, we will be stuck gazing into the rear view mirror and listening to a bunch of crap from fools who, by their own admission, do not rely on evidence.

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The pretentious “pretender”

In his book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines, Michael Mann describes the six stages of climate change denial:

  1. CO2 is not actually increasing.
  2. Even if it is, the increase has no impact on the climate since there is no convincing evidence of warming.
  3. Even if there is warming, it is due to natural causes.
  4. Even if the warming cannot be explained by natural causes, the human impact is small, and the impact of continued greenhouse gas emissions will be minor.
  5. Even if the current and future projected human effects on Earth’s climate are not negligible, the changes are generally going to be good for us.
  6. Whether or not the changes are going to be good for us, humans are very adept at adapting to changes; besides, it’s too late to do anything about it, and/or a technological fix is bound to come along when we really need it.

Government rhetoric seems to have progressed to number 6 on the denial ladder, though most members of the Nationals, along with Craig Kelly, are still lagging a good way behind.

Even Andrew Bolt has decided it’s time to move up a rung or two, penning an article last week that began, “We sceptics can’t go on like this.  These bushfires demand we all stop pretending and face the facts.”

Oh, so he’s finally realised that his “pretending” has consequences?

Andrew graciously goes on to admit that the planet has warmed, that this warming could affect a lot of people, that man’s emissions probably played some role, and that the Liberals’ response has been hopeless and MUST change.

He then pretentiously informs us that he advised the Prime Minister before the last election that he “desperately needs a new line.”

And that’s where Andrew slides back down the ladder.  He’s not looking for more action, just a new line about why we can’t take any and how beneficial warming will be to lots of people.

In 2002, Frank Luntz advised the Republican Party that the there was only a small window of opportunity to challenge the closing window of scientific evidence and urged politicians to double down on their efforts to deny the consensus behind global warming.

With that argument now debunked to all but the most ignorant, they have moved on to the last ditch effort – cast “reasonable doubt” to convince members of the public that it is too expensive to take action.

Andrew Bolt wants a cost/benefit analysis.  I’m sure he thinks that sounds clever.  And unsurprisingly, Andrew seems to come down on the side of the benefits of doing nothing about global warming.

He asks how many coal power stations must go?

Well the answer is all of them – they have a finite life span – but no-one, not even the Greens, are suggesting they close overnight.  No private investor is interested in opening new plants unless they get a lot of government assistance and, even then, no-one has a proposal on the books.

Andrew also wants to know how many people will lose their jobs and how high electricity prices will go, before quoting a flawed paper by Brian Fisher telling us that workers would, on average, be earning $9,000 less a year than we should have been by 2030 if Labor had its way.

Then Bolt asks by how much would the world’s temperature then be cut before telling us the answer is zero.

And if we do limit temperature rise, would we get fewer bushfires and fewer droughts or would we have more cyclones and smaller crops?

Andrew finishes with a certainty that he used to devote to the old argument about there being no consensus.

“See?  Suddenly it’s not so clear as warming extremists pretend.  That’s why they hate talking like practical adults, not religious zealots.

So for Morrison’s Liberals, it’s confession time:  say that global warming is not just about costs but benefits too.  Or must hysterics dominate?”

I would kind of prefer the experts to advise us than the “practical adults” on Sky After Dark.

Bolt is just an ordinary person making his name through expressing ignorant opinions loudly.  Matt Canavan and Craig Kelly are about the only people who take him seriously.  Someone really needs to ram home to these idiots a dollar figure of how much their inaction will cost.  If they won’t believe the scientists, perhaps the insurance actuaries should have a word about cost and risk management.

If this country is to survive, we need urgent action and persuasive global leadership on emissions reduction, and we need a government who cares enough to lead us through the transition to a zero carbon economy and the new industries and jobs it will provide.

What we don’t need is pompous pretentious asses “pretending” they know what they are talking about.

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Having a go or having a lend?

The following is a tale of men who are living testament to the government slogan that “ïf you have a go, you’ll get a go”.

The first is John Maitland.

In 2008, former NSW resources minister Ian Macdonald signed over a valuable coal licence to a company part-owned by former union boss and good friend, John Maitland.

As reported by Kate McClymont:

Ostensibly Doyles Creek had been granted as a “training mine” but once he had acquired the licence, Maitland’s company sold the rights over the coal deposits for a huge profit and the former union boss instantly became a multimillionaire.

Enter the next character in our tale, mining magnate Brian Flannery, who had written a letter to Macdonald to say what a valuable resource Mailtand’s “training mine” would be – a letter for which Maitland had provided the template and which ICAC Commissioner David Ipp concluded was used by Macdonald to give an air of legitimacy to what was a dubious decision.

A few months later, Mr Flannery had an extraordinary stroke of luck.

Kate McClymont again:

In August 2008, Mr Flannery and Mr Duncan’s company Felix Resources had lost the right to mine at Moolarben, near Mudgee, after mining giant Xstrata won a case before the NSW Court of Appeal. The appeal court ruled that the Mining Act prevented the granting of mining leases to Felix on land owned by Xstrata. But a fortnight later Macdonald introduced amendments to the Mining Act which effectively overturned the court’s decision. “The amendment will provide certainty for mineral exploration and mining in this state,” Macdonald told Parliament.

The following year Mr Flannery and Mr Duncan debuted on the BRW Rich List having each pocketed $530 million from the $3.5 billion sale of their company Felix to Chinese miner Yanzhou Coal.

And in August 2010, at Macdonald’s instigation, 70 hectares of government land at Cessnock was sold to White Energy, a company with which both men were associated, for the sum of just $1.

Mr Flannery and Mr Duncan later featured in another corruption inquiry – this time having to explain how it was that Cascade Coal, a privately owned mining company in which they had invested, came to be granted the Mount Penny coal exploration licence that lay right over the top of a farm which just happened to be owned by the family of disgraced former powerbroker Eddie Obeid.

There has been no finding of any wrongdoing by Mr Flannery and the case involving Mr Obeid and Mr Macdonald is currently before the courts where they are pleading not guilty.

Moving on to 2015 when Brian Flannery and, our next character, Liberal donor Trevor St Baker, bought the Vales Point Power Station from the NSW Liberal government for $1 million, a decision approved by then treasurer, Gladys Berejiklian.  Two years later, after posting a $113 million profit, it was valued at $730 million.

When, in March last year, the government revealed its shortlist of 12 projects that could receive government funding through the Underwriting New Generation Investment program, it included a turbine upgrade for the Vales Point coal-fired power plant to improve its efficiency.

One would have thought with the profit they have made, they might have been able to fund their own upgrade but Mr St Baker is never backward in coming forward to benefit from government decisions.

When the federal government announced a $1 billion grid integration fund in October last year, it was to be for storage and network options to help with the integration of renewable energy into the system.  The next day, St Baker’s Delta Energy put its hand up for a pair of batteries that it says will reduce wear and tear on the ageing coal plant.

Then on Friday, it was revealed that, as part of the $2 billion deal that Scott Morrison signed with Gladys Berejiklian to increase gas supply and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector, the Vales Point coal-fired power plant will very likely get an $11m grant – $9.84m to upgrade turbines and another $1.2m grant to fund high pressure heaters.  That’s grant, not loan.

This plant is due to close in 2029.  In another stellar decision by Gladys, the sale contract limits the owner’s liability to decommission the plant and rehabilitate the site to $10 million with the state to pick up the tab for further costs.  Costs for rehabilitation of the similarly sized Hazelwood power station exceeded $300 million. Rehabilitation of the Liddell power station is expected to be even higher, with Delta Electricity advising it expects costs to exceed $500 million.

Our characters all made a great deal of money from government decisions.  But still, they want more.

‘If you have a go, you’ll get a go’ could be interpreted as ‘Privatise the profits and socialise the costs’ – or how to become a millionaire with the stroke of a pen.

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We don’t need more political gamesmanship – we need integrity

I can understand Labor being skittish about releasing policies more than two years out from an election considering how they fared last time.  It is also reasonable to say they want to see what the state of affairs is closer to the time.

But I am disappointed that, rather than realising their communication was in any way to blame or that they were ineffectual in countering lies, they seem to be backing away from genuine tax reform.

I can understand that they must address the employment fears of regional Queenslanders, but pretending that there will be an increasing, or even ongoing, number of jobs in the coal industry is not helping anyone.

I can understand them wanting to put the focus on the government because they have been responsible for the last six and a half years of stewardship.

But I am disappointed that, instead of offering alternative approaches, they seem to be devoting their energy to trying to humiliate a government that has no conscience.

What a waste of time.

Who cares about them “defeating the government” in a vote about who will be Deputy Speaker?

Who cares about whether or not Matthias Cormann is banned from sitting in the swivel chair for three weeks?

Certainly, the grants programs (aka political slush funds) have drawn deserved attention – but do you hear Labor saying the power should be taken away from government ministers to overrule a merits-based appraisal?

As Steve Jobs said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do.  We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

When they pour scorn on Coalition jobs for the boys and girls, do you ever hear Labor saying that politicians should not be the ones handing out these jobs?

Labor have also not been convincing in their response to community calls for a federal integrity body. They seem to be vacillating on emissions reduction targets. They won’t commit to increasing unemployment assistance.

These things are dangled in the wind but, when push comes to shove, Labor seems to want to be more like the guys who won the election.

Labor has many very good MPs but their strategists suck big time and their pandering to factions leads them to bad decisions.  What is the point of Richard Marles?

Here’s a tip.  If you find the government doing something wrong, and Lord knows, it ain’t that hard to find, tell us how you would change things.  Counter their arguments that ‘you did it too’ by offering us a new way.

Don’t be afraid to show compassion to people who aren’t farmers, or fire or flood victims.  You must have the courage to stop persecuting people in the name of “strong borders.”  You must do more about affordable housing in the cities and crisis accommodation for victims of domestic violence.  You must empower Aboriginal Australians to have some say in their own lives.

So many things are more important than trying to humiliate your opponents.  That’s their MO.  The country is sick of it.

This Otis group who want to move Labor further towards what they call the centre are endangering your support from your base.  They are thinking about their own re-election rather than the direction the country must head.

We don’t want another party vying for a centre that keeps moving further to the right.  We want people with integrity who make decisions based on expert advice about the best interests of the nation, not on how to appeal to people who will never vote for you.

Offer us an alternative rather than a squabbling rabble only interested in themselves.

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The incestuous circle of political slush funds just gets worse

Looking at the Federal government’s various grants schemes, it’s no wonder the Nats end up with a disproportionate number of seats in parliament.  They have had a fortune to throw around.  Regional areas have been literally showered with money from a variety of schemes.  No doubt many worthy projects have been funded but some just leave you going WTF?

The largest single grant given under the Regional Growth Fund was $28.5 million to Rhinemetall Nioa Munitions Pty Ltd for the construction of a “projectile forging plant” to create large calibre military projectiles in Maryborough in Queensland.

“The forging and manufacturing facility will produce artillery shell cases and other munitions-related products for supply to the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and for export to allied nations around the world.”

This was announced by Michael McCormack and member for Wide Bay, Llew O’Brien – the guy who just had a hissy fit and found himself Deputy Speaker, a role he may struggle with as he has only been in parliament for three and a half years.

The aim is to boost local employment though it is rather confusing as to just how many jobs it will provide.

The company says it “will create up to 100 direct, long term and highly skilled jobs in the Maryborough and Fraser Coast region.”

Llew O’Brien says that the project will “support 78 jobs through the construction phase, including 27 direct construction positions” and, once operational, “the plant is expected to create 100 direct manufacturing positions.”

In the same media release, Michael McCormack said the grant would “create an anticipated 24 direct jobs and support up to 100 ongoing roles once the project is complete.”

They use the words “up to” and “support” a lot which, along with the different figures they are quoting, makes it sound like they are just making up numbers as Adani did.

Some people may recognise the name Nioa – he’s Bob Katter’s son-in-law, the biggest gun importer in the country apparently.

His partner in this venture, German company Rhinemetall, generated sales of €6.148 billion in 2018, so they’re not short of a quid.

Aside from the $28.5 million gifted to them by the Federal government, the project was also given $7.5 million by the Queensland government from its “Jobs and Regional Growth Fund”.

On top of that, the Queensland government also forked out $9 million to upgrade energy supply and connection for the plant.

Mr O’Brien said the project would potentially add “more than $100 million in economic output, including $36 million within the Wide Bay region alone.”

So we have paid out $45 million to get a potential return of $36 million for the region?

Construction hasn’t even begun yet even though the grant was handed out a year ago.  Nice little earner in the meantime.

Even if the 100 jobs actually eventuated (highly doubtful), that’s $450,000 of public money per job we have paid to two very successful companies, one of whom will take their profits offshore.  It makes the subsidies to our lost car manufacturing industry seem miniscule.

As a business owner and employer in a regional area, I have never received any assistance from the government and I don’t expect any.  Either the business is viable or it’s not.

But then again, I don’t have relatives in politics.

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Connie Fierravanti-Wells hits peak weird

Backbench Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells has just raised, or is that lowered, the bar on fake news.

In a painfully obvious attempt to move the conversation from climate change and emissions reduction to national security and law and order, Connie has used a speech in the Senate and her twitter account to warn us all of a “sinister collective” of ecoterrorists who are responsible for the bushfires and to reassure us that our tough pollies on the beat will save us by looking at metadata – seriously!

Extreme activism & perhaps “eco-terrorism”? With satellite data showing 87% of #bushfiresAustralia man-made (40% deliberately lit), it’s time to use communications meta-data in the investigation of arsonists.  Are they lone actors or part of a sinister collective? #auspol

The police have tried in vain to point out to the politicians that most of the people cautioned or charged with fire-related offences were for failure to comply with fire bans (e.g. lighting BBQ grills or campfires in ban areas) or reckless disposal of lit cigarettes or matches or trying to do unauthorised hazard reduction burning on their own property.

The fire chiefs have said arson has played a very small role with dry lightning and fallen power lines starting most of the fires.

Regardless of the ignition source, climate change has unquestionably contributed to the ferocity and extent of these fires.

As for the Senator’s conspiracy theory that environmentalists are deliberately lighting the fires in a co-ordinated attempt to….what Connie?  Destroy ecosystems?  Drive species to extinction?

It’s you guys who are doing that, and unlike Keating, you aren’t doing us slowly.

The ecoterrorists are those who rape and pollute our environment for their own profit.  They are not oblivious to the harm they are causing – they just don’t care.

Do the Coalition draw straws in the morning to see who will take one for the team by doing or saying something so weird it deflects attention from the real disasters?

Anyway, Connie, you get the Pathetic Piffle award for today.  Congrats.

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The sheer idiocy of Barnaby and the Joycettes

In order to shut Barnaby Joyce and the Joycettes up, we will fork out $4 million for a feasibility study into a new coal-fired power station.

For some unknown reason, the Joycettes think this will reduce power prices.  But, as Jim Molan confessed, they aren’t relying on evidence.

And there was a time when Scott Morrison knew this.

Less than two years ago, then treasurer Morrison smacked down a backbench push for the Turnbull government to back a new coal plant, arguing that high-efficiency coal does not mean cheap energy, and taxpayers would also be left on the hook.

At the time, Morrison rightly said that a new high-efficiency plant would take years to build and would end up bidding into the system at about double the price of existing plants.

“So you don’t just open up one down the road and all of a sudden it is producing power at the same price as Bayswater or any of the others,” Morrison said. “That is just not an economic fact.”

Morrison declared the government was not interested in subsidising any source of energy.

“The days of subsidies in energy are over, whether it is for coal, wind, solar, any of them,” the treasurer said.  “That is the way I think you get the best functioning energy market with the lowest possible price for businesses and for households and that is what the national energy guarantee and our energy policies are designed to achieve.”

But dangle the bauble of leadership and watch how quickly he changes his tune – just like Tony Abbott did.

This is all about politicians’ ambition and nothing to do with reality.

The latest Quarterly Energy Dynamics from the AEMO shows just how out-of-touch the Joycettes are.

During the fourth quarter in 2019, wholesale electricity and gas prices fell sharply.  According to the AEMO, “a key driver of this outcome was increased supply from wind farms, solar farms, and gas-powered generation (GPG), with combined grid-scale wind and solar output increasing by 39% compared to Q4 2018.”

They go on to say that “Lower prices occurred despite a high number of coal-fired generator outages, increased underlying demand, and record-breaking high temperatures.”

“Although maximum demands were generally higher across the NEM, average operational demands were lower, due to sunnier than average Q4 conditions coupled with a record amount of rooftop photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed in 2019.”

South Australia has come in for a lot of criticism from ignorant politicians and commentators who should appraise themselves of the facts.

“South Australia set a new all-time minimum demand record of 458 megawatts (MW) at 1330 hrs on 10 November 2019, 141 MW lower than 2018’s minimum. During this trading interval, rooftop PV provided an estimated 832 MW of output (64% of South Australia’s underlying demand).”

The idea that coal provides reliability is blown away by the increasing number of outages at old coal-fired power plants – the ones the Joycettes want to keep operating past their use-by date.

“Average black coal-fired generation decreased by 1,061 MW this quarter, reaching its lowest level since Q4 2016. The decline was due to a combination of coal supply issues, unit outages, and displacement by solar output.

Brown coal-fired generator outages remained high this quarter, with units on outage for 20 days on average, compared to the 10-year average of around 10 days on outage per unit per quarter.

Average gas-powered generation (GPG) remained at comparatively high levels, providing cover for coal-fired generator outages.”

Prolonging the life of old coal-fired power generators will not improve reliability.  Building new ones won’t reduce energy prices.

So what the fuck are these idiot Joycettes on about?

They talk about saving jobs.  The only jobs they are trying to save are their own and they are doing it by bullshitting us all with what Queensland MPs think sounds good to their coal-mining constituents.  Their denial of the reality will not serve these constituencies well.  What they need is vision for the future and proactive planning and involvement in helping these communities transition to new industries.

Oh for some informed decision-making based on what the country needs rather than the propaganda fed to and regurgitated by idiot Nationals MPs like Llew O’Brien and George Christensen.

If they are incapable of reading what all the experts and regulators are saying then they should be ignored rather than having this handful of ignoramuses threaten us with their childish ego-driven tantrums.

What are you, Scotty – a Prime Minister or a lackey to the Joycettes?

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Adapting to the “new normal” in politics is not an option

The government wants us all to adapt to the new normal, whether that’s the consequences of out-of-control global heating or equally uncontrolled political corruption.

Veteran political journalists, who literally have seen it all before, say this level of blatant corruption is unprecedented.

Katherine Murphy writes that “standards that were once considered essential are being replaced by new norms that might work for powerful people but don’t serve the rest of us.”

Laura Tingle bemoans “the growing chutzpah of governments who think they can remain unaccountable.”

One way to avoid breaching guidelines is not to have any, as has been exposed in #poolgate.  Not taking applications also saves so much work.

Another way to make a problem go away is to not investigate it because it would take too many resources to ask Angus Taylor who gave him the forged document.  Any notion of impartiality by the AFP has been shredded by that stellar decision.

One of the most concerning articles quoted University of Melbourne’s vice-chancellor, Professor Duncan Maskell, about the “politicisation of knowledge”.

“We are seeing much more challenge now coming especially from politicians and commentators, journalists and others … Some commentator can say, ‘Well I don’t believe that, actually it’s like this’. And that’s given credence,” he said.  “If society decides it is not going to operate on the basis of knowledge, then universities are really challenged in terms of why we are here.”

As the country faces simultaneous crises, the egomaniacal Barnaby Joyce decided now was a good time to make everyone look at him.

In 2018, Barnaby blamed a hectic travel schedule that saw him spend as little as 22 nights at home in a year for being the “substantial cause” of the breakdown of his marriage to wife Natalie.  Now that he has two new babies with Vicki, it seems he is ready to get out of the house more again.

Once again, we are distracted from addressing anything substantive by the circus in Canberra.  Once again, the noisy few hold the leader to ransom and take siege of parliament.

What we need is some hazard reduction and dead wood clearing in government.  And perhaps some form of income management – quarantine 80% of government revenue that can only be spent on things that benefit the community and we will decide what they are.

Whatever we do, it is up to all of us to stop this rot.

The standards we walk past are the standards we accept.

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There will be no climate change policy under this government

As I have reported before, climate change has now been moved to the Department of Industry.  A phone call to the climate change division revealed they are as bemused as me by the shift and are having glitches in information transfer so couldn’t tell me where or when quarterly emissions data will now be published.

These are hard-working people who do a good job in reporting on our GHG emissions and progress towards targets.  Their time is now taken up moving office and changing headers.

Emissions reduction is in a different portfolio, under the auspice of the energy minister, Angus “I hate wind farms” Taylor.

Water is now lumped in with resources and the responsibility of a guy who quit the ministry last time in protest over our emissions reduction targets, Keith Pitt – a nuclear devotee who voted against marriage equality.

David Littleproud has got agriculture and disasters – probably a fitting pair to put together with the way we are headed.  He has just reaffirmed his support for the live export trade.

And then there is Sussan Ley flitting around as minister for the environment.

Barnaby Joyce, George Christensen and Llew O’Brien are openly threatening to hold the government to ransom if it does anything to reduce emissions and Matt Canavan is not happy about being left out.  These guys want more coal and gas and they will blow the government up to get it.

There will be no coherent policy or direction or action on climate change come from that rabble.

They are so ego-driven, so wealth obsessed, so addicted to power, so arrogantly certain of their right to rule, so fearful of losing any of their privilege, so beholden to their backers, that they are incapable of governing.

We cannot afford their self-obsession and incompetence any longer.

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If this country saves itself, it will not be thanks to the Coalition

The Coalition have become so entrenched in maintaining the status quo that they have forgotten what it means to govern.  Their fetish to be a “small” government has seen them all but disappear from policy development, concentrating purely on electoral strategy.

The last time a Coalition government acted decisively to do something to benefit the country was when John Howard introduced gun laws.  He would not have been able to get that through without the support of Tim Fischer who copped enormous flak from his constituency.  Could you imagine the current Nats having the courage or the will to do that?

We have universal healthcare and compulsory superannuation thanks to Labor – initiatives that the Coalition fought tooth and nail against.

Labor acknowledged the Stolen Generation and apologised – something Howard refused to do.

Julia Gillard, in a hung parliament, introduced a price on carbon, tripled the tax-free threshold, got the NBN and NDIS started, introduced paid parental leave, started the RC into child sex abuse, put a tax on mining superprofits, and got part way towards education reform with funding based on need – amongst many other things.

Since the Coalition took over in 2013, what have they done?

A whole heap of axing of things, lots of feasibility studies and inquiries and reports, plenty of announcements that have no detail or timeline, contracts given to connections without tender, and loads of grants handed out to marginal seats.

All amidst constant ego and scandal-driven leadership coups.

We will never be in front of the curve with a Coalition government because they are more focused on watching each other and protecting their place at the trough than looking where we are going.  No-one’s navigating because they like where they are right now.

The car industry is a perfect example of just how clueless they are.

Their latest report on the Australian Automotive Industry shows how much time, expertise, money and opportunity was lost by not supporting the domestic auto industry to innovate for the future.

“Going forward, the Australian Government will continue to encourage innovation, build industry capability, and assist future emerging industries such as autonomous vehicle and related technologies; hydrogen and electric vehicles and related technologies.”

Continue to encourage???  The people who screamed blue murder when Bill Shorten suggested we should be moving towards electric vehicles?  He was stealing our weekends!  He was taking tradies’ utes!

What message does that send to investors considering building the infrastructure to support the transition to electric vehicles?

Despite the government’s inaction, figures from the Electric Vehicle Council show 6718 electric cars, including hybrid plug-ins, were sold nationwide last year, up from 2216 in 2018.  Meanwhile, new combustion engine vehicle purchases dropped by 7.8 per cent in 2019.

Amazon announced last September that it was buying 100,000 electric trucks from US electric-vehicle startup Rivian as part of its effort to eliminate the carbon footprint of the company by 2040.

This trend will only continue.  But with a Coalition government, we will be, as we are with everything, behind the rest of the world.

Businesses are trying, experts are trying, individuals are trying to drag this government kicking and screaming to face up to doing their job of preparing this country for the future.

They are worse than just dead weight holding us back – they are exacerbating the risks we face and the eventual cost to address them.

If we survive, it will not be thanks to the muppet show that calls itself our government.

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The problem with ministerial discretion

As scrutiny grows on the political nature of grants schemes, Coalition MPs are ramping up their attacks on “bureaucrats” in defence of “ministerial discretion”.

“We are the chosen ones” they cry – not those faceless backroom people who just put hurdles in the way of decent folk wanting to have a go.  They don’t know what the people want.

Well that’s all very well, but that implies that decisions will be based on what people who have access to the minister want rather than on considered appraisal of different priorities, alternative approaches, and their wider impacts and consequences on other stakeholders.

Ministers have no particular expertise in their portfolios as shown by how often they swap them around and some of the ridiculous appointments, obviously doled out with anything but aptitude in mind.

Yet they want us to trust that they know better than the experts and the people with actual experience in the field and in administration.

This government has decimated and sought to undermine the public service and unions.  They have ignored court rulings and been threatened with contempt charges for criticising the courts.  They blame the media when they are exposed and hunt down leakers rather than punishing wrongdoers.  They block freedom of information requests and refuse to release reports.  They regularly and blatantly lie to the public through their preferred tame media outlets.

What qualifies these people to ignore advice and dictate what will happen in every aspect of running this country?  Have a look at them.  Most of them can’t run their own lives successfully.

Transparency and accountability?  Their actions make a mockery of the words.  They want to govern without scrutiny or criticism.

For some reason, the “climate change function”, whatever that means, has been taken away from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and transferred to the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.  It remains to be seen what this will mean but the divorcing of climate change from agriculture, water and the environment seems very strange.

In what can only be described as a complete lack of anything remotely resembling understanding of science, the Nationals are surging forward with calls for more coal mines, more coal-fired power stations, more gas fields.

No amount of adaptation or resilience can prepare us for the holocaust these fools will inflict on us with their addiction to the donations from those who profit from exploiting our resources.

As our rivers dry up and our towns go thirsty, the Nats call for more dams, completely ignoring the damage caused by their handing out of hundreds of millions of dollars to people to build private dams which have destroyed the natural water flow and which are hugely inefficient because they are shallow and evaporate.

This water should have flowed to much deeper catchment dams to supply towns and to be stored and released when appropriate for farmers.

This shocking misuse of public money and mismanagement of water resources has been detailed in a report by the Australia Institute called Dam shame and in a Four Corners report Cash Splash

There has been justifiable criticism of the complexity in applying for disaster relief and the delay in receiving assistance but it has been unfairly targeted at bureaucrats who usually find out what the government is announcing in the Murdoch press and then realise that it is up to them to find a way to put into train a thought bubble with no detail.

Ministerial discretion is the antithesis of evidence-based decision making.  As they have shown time and again, and actually admitted, they have no problem in using public money to prop up their political careers – the only excuse offered being that everyone does it.

If you want ministers to have more discretion, you should exercise some in who you entrust with the role.  The current bunch are just pigs at the trough.

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