Friday, July 25, 2008


Three current articles below

Conservative leader gets support on climate change policy

A COHORT of Queensland climate change sceptics will be Liberal leader Brendan Nelson's strongest allies next week. And the Coalition boss will need their help if he wants to back away from a 2012 deadline for emission trading. Senator Barnaby Joyce is the most forthright of the MPs growing increasingly hostile to an emissions trading scheme and claiming the jury is still out on the science.

National Party leader Warren Truss also appears to be siding with former Liberal Cabinet minister Kevin Andrews - a strong sceptic who is urging Dr Nelson to wait until other major polluters show their hand before settling on an ETS date.

Ron Boswell, Bruce Scott and veteran Liberal MP Ian Macfarlane have all consistently expressed reservations about climate change, while Liberals such as Andrew Laming don't want to comment on the issue until after next week's meeting.

But as federal Opposition frontbencher Joe Hockey was yesterday insisting, the Coalition wouldn't be forced into declaring an ETS date, Senator Joyce was calling for rationality to return to an issue with fundamentalist religious overtones. "And Garnaut has suddenly appeared as some sort of high priest," he said of the author of a draft report on an ETS scheme, Ross Garnaut. "Those who question are immediately attacked. It's all starting to appear a little Spanish Inquisitionish."

Senator Joyce said Labor had appeared to fall for a self-indulgent conceit in committing to a 2010 deadline. "And that is that the rest of the world cares what Australia is doing on the issue," he said. "Let's be honest here, the rest of the world doesn't give a toss what we're doing. They're not walking around Washington discussing an Australian ETS."

Senator Boswell said he and many of his colleagues wanted serious scientific proof of climate change before they started altering economic fundamentals to incorporate an ETS. "We're practical - we want to know what we're getting for our money," he said. Mr Truss has said any Australian scheme should move ahead hand-in-hand with other polluters. Dr Nelson had indicated earlier this month Australia should not move until other big polluters acted. But he modified his position to the 2012 deadline, which is supported by Opposition Treasury spokesman Malcolm Turnbull and Environment spokesman Greg Hunt. Mr Hockey said the Coalition could not be expected to commit to a specific date until the Federal Government released more information.


Huge cost of Rudd's Green dream

FOUR out of five power stations in Victoria's Latrobe Valley, both coal-fired power stations in South Australia and several generators in NSW and Queensland could close down under an emissions trading regime designed to meet even a modest greenhouse reduction target. New modelling for the electricity industry finds that Australia could achieve cuts of 10 or 20 per cent in its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared with 2000 levels - but only after a massive upheaval in the energy sector. Even the lower target of a 10 per cent cut would push the price of carbon emissions to levels that would close down 15 per cent of the nation's electricity generating capacity on the east coast and require $33billion in new investment in replacement clean energy generation, such as wind, solar, combined cycle gas turbine and geothermal power.

A 10per cent reduction target would result in a carbon price rising to $45 a tonne by 2020, the modelling found, pushing domestic power bills up by 24per cent, or an average of $250 a year. A 20per cent target would take the carbon price to $55 a tonne and push power bills up by 28per cent. Under an ETS, companies and industries that could not meet emissions-reduction targets - and were not exempt - would be forced to buy permits to continue polluting. Labor wants to create an ETS by 2010 but has not yet set the emissions targets that will underpin it.

The Energy Supply Association of Australia says the modelling, which it commissioned from analysis firm ACIL Tasman, proves the need for the Government to support players in the energy sector because it asks them to finance billions of dollars in new investment at the same time as government decision-making means existing plants are closed down early. "If the Government goes down this path, then it is vital that it offers support to recognise the impact on asset values so that investors can make new investments in cleaner generating capacity with confidence," ESAA chief executive Brad Page said.

The Government's climate change adviser, Ross Garnaut, argued against any compensation to the electricity sector under an ETS. But the Government's green paper on an ETS, released last week, acknowledged the need for "a limited amount of direct assistance to existing coal-fired electricity generators to ameliorate the risk of adversely affecting the investment environment". The green paper says it would deliver this assistance through a new fund - called the Electricity Sector Adjustment Scheme - but gives no indication of how much money could be set aside in it. It also promises "structural adjustment" money to help workers and communities in hard-hit regions.

Yesterday, Kevin Rudd reassured the LNG industry that the ETS would not threaten billions of dollars in new investments in the sector, saying he was "confident there is a way forward".

The Government has announced a long-term target of a 60 per cent cut in greenhouse emissions by 2050, but it is waiting for detailed Treasury modelling before committing to an interim target for 2020. A 10 per cent cut would be at the lower end of expectations for a 2020 target, even taking into account government assurances that an ETS will be brought in gently.

The ESAA modelling confirms Victoria's Latrobe Valley will be by far the hardest hit by the new carbon price, with the Loy Yang B, Hazelwood, Yallourn and Morwell power stations likely to close and only the Loy Yang A to continue in operation. South Australia would lose both its coal-fired power stations - Playford and Northern. NSW, which is in the process of trying to privatise its electricity generation, would lose Redbank in the Hunter Valley, with Lidell under threat if the emissions-reduction target was set at 20 per cent. Queensland would lose the Collinsville station near Mackay, Callide B near Biloela and, under the 20 per cent target, also Comalco's Gladstone plant.

The modelling also shows that the wholesale price of power would rise steeply to meet the 10 per cent target, with the increased costs varying greatly between states depending on the extent to which they have to rebuild their generating capacity. In Tasmania, with its hydro generation capacity, the wholesale power price is predicted to increase by 25 per cent, but in Victoria the hikes could be up to 55 per cent, under a 10 per cent reduction. In South Australia prices would rise 35 per cent, Queensland by 50 per cent and NSW by 52 per cent.

The ESSA modelling says the federal Government will also need to invest at least $4.5billion in extra transmission lines to remote locations, where wind and geothermal power is generated, and in new gas pipelines.


Immigration must be cut to fight climate change - uni study

This is going to perplex Kevvy. He likes both immigration AND environmentalism

IMMIGRATION must be slashed if Australia has any chance of seriously tackling climate change, says a Monash University study. The report said Australia's high population growth would be a major driver of greenhouse emissions, and would counter tough government measures to reduce carbon output, The Herald Sun reports. But the Rudd Government and its climate adviser Ross Garnaut were ignoring the population issue at their peril, said the study, entitled Labor's Greenhouse Aspirations, by Monash's Centre for Population and Urban Research.

The nation's migrant intake is at record levels, with the Government recently announcing an increase of 37,500 places for 2008-09. Given current migration and fertility rates, the population will increase by at least 10 million to 31.6 million by 2050.

Monash researchers Bob Birrell and Ernest Healy used computer modelling to predict the effect of population and economic growth on greenhouse emissions. If no carbon trading scheme is introduced, Australian emissions will reach 797 million tonnes - or four times Labor's target - by 2050, the researchers found. Emissions would only fall to 502 million tonnes if the nation managed to cut carbon intensity levels by one per cent a year under a tough cap and trade scheme.

"The problem with radical decarbonisation proposals is the limited political feasibility of these measures," the authors said. "It is hard to understand why the population driver has been ignored in the recent debate, including the work of the Garnaut climate change review." The authors said that net migration would contribute to most of the 50 per cent increase in Australia's population over the next 40 years. "Like all Australians they'll be living at twice the standard of living of current residents if the Government's predictions for per capita economic growth are correct," they said. "Clearly, it's not possible to achieve the Government's target of 60 per cent reduction in emissions at the same time we add an extra 10 million people living at twice the current income level."

The authors called for immigration to be slashed, and the population stabilised at about 22 million by 2050. Prof Garnaut has predicted the population will reach 47 million by 2100. The Monash report, which appeares in the latest issue of university journal People and Place, will be released today.


Men too afraid to teach

WHERE have all the male school teachers gone? Figures obtained by The Bulletin reveal there has been a consistent decline in male teachers across the Gold Coast region, with females outnumbering males by almost four to one in the classroom. Poor salary and a negative perception of the industry has been blamed for the drop in the number of males taking up teaching.

Since 2003, there has been nearly a 2 per cent decrease in the number of full-time male state school teachers -- from 29.1 per cent to 27.2 per cent. But figures reveal males still dominate the hierarchy in teaching with just 53 female state school principals in the south coast region compared with 80 males.

Queensland Teachers Union President Steve Ryan highlighted two main reasons for the dearth of male teachers. "The level of salary to attract particularly males to the teaching workforce is very low," he said. "Males tend to look at engineering and computer work because there is more money." Mr Ryan said the salary for a beginner teacher was about $48,000 and ranged up to $72,000 for senior teachers.

"Then you've got a principal of large school of about 1000 kids who would be on something like $100,000 with probably more than 150 staff. "The thing is, if you were running a company of that size you'd be on much more."

Mr Ryan said the other issue was that male teachers felt 'very vulnerable'. "The ongoing negative reports and emphasis on pedophiles and sexual assaults gives the job a bad name," he said. "For males there's a problem if a little Grade 1 kid comes up and grabs them on the leg. "It's got to be about changing the attractiveness of the profession and the perception, because right now people think you can't be a male in the teaching profession because allegations can be made against you."

Mr Ryan said increases in the quality of people entering the teaching profession was an essential step to changing the industry's image. "We'd like to see more of the higher OP people going through because it's important to have good quality teachers," he said. "We need to have this perception that this is a rewarding career."

An Education Queensland spokeswoman said the department actively promoted teaching, particularly for primary schools where there were fewer male teachers. "Positive male teacher role models are very important, both in terms of educational and social impacts and in demonstrating to our students that teaching is a vital and rewarding profession," she said. "The issue of male teachers requires particular attention and is one of the challenges facing the department."

Education Queensland said the proportion of male primary school teachers was about 18 per cent, about 40 per cent at secondary schools and 19 per cent in special education. The gender breakdown of staff in all of the classified teaching positions in the south coast region including principals, deputy principals, heads of department, heads of special education services and heads of curriculum is 440 female compared to 267 male.

In a bid to increase male teacher numbers, the department instigated a Male Teachers' Strategy which it conducted between 2002 and 2005. The department said Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre data indicated an improvement in the number of males seeking teaching qualifications. "Since 2002, the number of males enrolling in an education course has increased significantly by 365 (49.8 per cent)," said the spokeswoman. But local universities enrolments do not reflect this figure. Bond University reported nine males and 31 females were currently enrolled in education courses. At Griffith University there are 1082 males out of 4205 students studying education this year.


Cairns: War hero's tragic wait

Insufficient capacity for emergencies set aside. Cairns has lots of ambulances but most were acting as glorified taxis. Sending one down the mountain range from far-away Kuranda is absurd

A World War II Digger had to wait more than two hours for an ambulance the day he died this week. Changi prison camp survivor Bob Mutton, who lived in the city on Sheridan St, endured a two-hour-and-five-minute wait on Monday while he struggled to breathe. He died hours after finally arriving at Cairns Base Hospital.

Stretched to the limit, the Queensland Ambulance Service dispatched a vehicle from Kuranda, 25km northwest of Cairns, after Mr Mutton's first ambulance was diverted to a "higher priority case" of a man having a seizure. It took 54 minutes for the first ambulance to be dispatched to 88-year-old Mr Mutton. The crew was then diverted four minutes into the job. After another 71 minutes, the nearest available ambulance arrived from Kuranda.

"We're appalled . to have to wait more than two hours for an ambulance can't be acceptable," an upset friend, who did not want to be named, said yesterday. "The sort of duress Bob would have been under waiting all that time doesn't bear thinking about. "This man served his country (and) spent three and half years in Changi prisoner of war camp. He paid his taxes right up to the end and he gets treated like this."

Queensland Ambulance Service assistant commissioner Peter Cahill yesterday confirmed the long wait, blaming it on the number of ambulances delivering patients to Cairns Base Hospital on Monday morning. "The remaining ambulances in the region were dealing with higher priority call-outs," Mr Cahill said. "An ambulance was unable to be dispatched until 11.38am. However, four minutes later this ambulance was diverted to a higher priority case."

Mr Mutton's doctor rang the Far Northern Ambulance's communications centre on a patient transport line at 10.44am, saying Mr Mutton was "frail, delirious, with laboured breathing". A worried friend rang the ambulance about 45 minutes later, saying Mr Mutton still had "rather rattly breathing" and asking when help would come. Mr Cahill said the Kuranda ambulance had to be stood down from another job to finally get to Mr Mutton.

Disgusted friends said their mate had been "pretty crook". "We'll never know whether a quicker ambulance would have saved him," one friend said. "But we know he wasn't treated right. And we'd hate for someone else and someone else's friends and family to go through that." Cairns RSL sub-branch president Peter Turner described the long wait as unacceptable. "It upsets me that this would happen to anyone, veteran or no veteran," Mr Turner said. "Delays like that are a huge concern."


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