Sunday, November 21, 2010

Billions of dollars likely to be wasted on Qld. water projects

All this has been caused by a Leftist government believing the Warmist crap about ever-worsening drought -- ignoring the traditional observation that Australia is a land "of drought and flooding rains". The government failed to anticipate the "flooding rains" that we have now just had -- and are continuing to have. Only someone blinded by ideology would be unaware that droughts and floods alternate in Australia -- which is why Australia has so many dams and weirs

BILLIONS of dollars worth of newly built Bligh Government water projects responsible for driving up household water bills could be shut down and become white elephants.

A leaked Queensland Water Commission report, submitted to State Cabinet last week, proposes "mothballing" a raft of major water-treatment plants, all but closing the $1.2 billion Tugun Desalination Plant, and deferring building another water plant for 18 years.

Described as "Cabinet-in-confidence", the report gives three options to cut bulk-water prices after an update last month showed the price should be $133/ML less than the 2008 forecast after the aborted Traveston Dam.

The revelations come as the Government scrambles to stem the fallout over soaring water bills, with households hit with rises between $100 and $300 a year to pay for building the water grid.

The report's first option says do nothing, pay off water grid debt two years early and do not risk the "high probability" of reversing cuts if conditions change.

The second option outlines household savings of $4.62 in 2011-12 and $9.23 in 2012-13 - but only if the Tugun plant is run at 33 per cent for 10 years and then 67 per cent thereafter.

An extreme alternative - allowing a $11.53 household saving in 2011-12 - involves a "hot standby" by stopping the plant from feeding into the grid but being available on 24 hours' notice.

Set for mothballing are the Bundamba water treatment plant, either the Gibson Island or Luggage Point plants, and the Brisbane Aquifer Project. The first stage of the Cedar Grove plant at Wyaralong Dam near Beaudesert would be delayed until 2014-15 instead of 2012, with other stages to follow in 2028-29. But the extreme plan defers the whole plant until 2028-2029.

A third option for Cabinet is to announce an "intention" to reduce the destination bulk-water price by $37/ML in 2013-14.


Fruit-Loop Mayor of Sydney wants to swap harmless CO2 for dangerous nitrogen oxides

Clover Moore has heard of co-generation (widely used in Russia) and wants to build a plant in Sydney city. That it would have to be shut down most of the time (whenever atmospheric NOx levels in the CBD exceed permissible limits) she is turning a blind eye to.

THE network of gas-fired engines that are planned to power the Sydney CBD could emit up to 660kg of harmful nitrogen dioxide every hour. That is more than the combined emissions from the Shell and Caltex oil refineries in the region.

Estimates of the pollution produced by these new-generation power plants are contained in an interim policy paper by the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change.

The City of Sydney has pledged to install more than 100 trigeneration turbines - which burn gas to generate electricity and then capture the exhaust to heat and cool buildings as necessary - in a bid to reduce carbon emissions and ease the strain on the existing electricity grid.

They also potentially pose a risk to air quality - and in turn the health of all those who live and work in Australia's largest city.

The network, championed by Lord Mayor Clover Moore, is expected to generate 330 megawatts of electricity, meeting about 70 per cent of Sydney's energy needs.

But, according to the DECC interim paper, the Sydney CBD could accommodate uncontrolled emissions from just 10MW of "co-generation" (a similar engine that heats but doesn't cool buildings) before "health-based nitrogen dioxide goals" are possibly exceeded. Furthermore, emissions from about 200MW of power would result in those nitrogen levels being breached "across the CBD".

High levels of nitrogen dioxide (NOx) and other nitrogen compounds in the atmosphere are linked with a raft of serious health issues, such as respiratory illness and asthma. Children are considered particularly vulnerable.

The City of Sydney defended its plans, saying in a statement last night that the figures cited in the interim report were based on untreated emissions which "are not relevant" to the energy proposal. "Our master plan . . . will comply fully with . . . NOx guidelines," the statement said.

However, that report specifically cites the council's trigeneration strategy by name and was cited in the council's own briefing paper, entitled Removal of the Barriers to Trigeneration. "On an hourly basis 330MW of gas-fired co-generation (the amount envisioned in the City of Sydney strategic plan) could emit up to 660kg per hour of NOx; this is more NOx than the combined emissions from the Shell and Caltex oil refineries in Sydney," the department's report reads.

It also highlights that the proposal is centred on the CBD, where pollution levels are already the highest. "As a result there is little 'headroom' available to accommodate uncontrolled emissions from cogeneration without causing local health impacts," it says.

The National Environment Protection Council has developed air quality standards that govern the allowable levels of nitrogen dioxide that can be released. The benchmark is 0.03 parts per million, averaged over a year.

The City of Sydney would not comment on the implications of meeting the NEPC standards. However, the council said it would find reductions in NOx emissions from cars through its integrated transport plan. "The vast majority of NOx come from motor vehicles. The city's cycling, walking, car-share and public transport strategies will also see real reductions in local NOx," the statement said.


Patients waiting up to 55 hours for a hospital bed

Ain't socialized medicine grand?

EMERGENCY patients in WA are waiting up to 55 hours for a hospital bed, according to new figures that come as a blow to Health Minister Kim Hames. The latest snapshot of emergency departments by the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine found that two-thirds of Perth patients waiting for a hospital bed spend more than eight hours in the emergency department.

The figures, to be released in Canberra tomorrow, have exposed how the WA Government's much-vaunted "four-hour rule" has made little difference to the health system.

Ten emergency departments across WA were surveyed by the ACEM on August 30. On average, there were six patients in each department waiting longer than eight hours for a bed, and at least one patient in each emergency department waiting more than 24 hours. In the worst case, a patient was waiting more than two days for a bed. Another snapshot, conducted in May, found that a WA emergency patient waited 55 hours for a bed.

Australian National University medical professor Drew Richardson, who compiled the figures for the ACEM, said WA had barely improved on previous years when the state was dubbed the worst in the country for hospital patients waiting for a bed. This is despite a State Government campaign requiring WA hospitals to admit or discharge emergency department patients within four hours.

Dr Hames staked his portfolio on the success of the four-hour rule shortly after the state election two years ago. He originally promised that 98 per cent of patients would meet the target by April 2011. However, Dr Hames recently backed down from that and set a new target of 85 per cent.

Prof Richardson said even the watered-down target was unrealistic. "I would like to see the four-hour rule work, but I don't think there has been adequate resources put in place to make it work," he said.

Australian Medical Association state president David Mountain said there had been no significant improvement in the ratio of hospital bed numbers to patients in WA for more than a decade. He said the four-hour rule was doomed unless more doctors, nurses and hospital beds were introduced into the system.

"I'm sure the minister and his spin team will try to say WA is doing better than other parts of the country," Associate Prof Mountain said. "But figures speak for themselves. Things aren't improving and, if anything, they're going backwards."

Dr Hames labelled the ACEM figures "irresponsible" because they were based on snapshots of isolated periods. "Patient surveys report better experiences and greater satisfaction," he said. Dr Hames said 58 new hospital beds had been provided [Is that all?] in WA this year, with an additional 74 due to open in the next few months.


The disaster that is Australia's present Green/Left government

Column by Senator Barnaby Joyce, Leader of The Nationals in the Senate, recently published in the Canberra Times

Certain things paint an indelible image in your mind. One happened to me lately when my mother in law told me that whilst doing meals on wheels in winter there was always a place you could find pensioners, in bed. This was not because of an infirmity but because they could not afford the price of the power to stay warm outside bed. How completely self indulgent and pathetic we have become that in our zealous desire to single-handedly cool the planet we have pandered to those who can afford the power bill over those less fortunate to avoid privation. How pathetic we are that South Korea, using our coal, can provide power cheaper to their citizens after an 8,300 km sea voyage than we can with power stations in our own coal fields.

Oh yes, aren’t the solar panels doing a great a job. In Canberra last week it was revealed that they would add $225 to the average electricity bill, and that the Government's proposed carbon tax would raise them by a further 24%.

It is just that the poverty creep is making its way up the social strata, though I doubt it will reach the most affluent group The Greens. Bitterness on my part I suppose but I represent a party that represents the poorest electorates. Now what other lunacy are we considering, none other than shutting down the Murray Darling Basin so you can have a diet that suits the misery of the winter nights temperature in the unheated house..

Yes we have become so oblivious to the obvious because the loudest voices are not necessarily the neediest. We spend, sorry borrow, for school halls that do not make students more competitive in competency. No school hall taught a student a second language or a higher level maths. We borrowed for ceiling insulation and burnt down 190 houses and 4 installers died.

We borrowed for aimless $900 cheques as we decided that somehow imported electrical goods to Australia would reboot the US economy. We borrowed so much that we are now 170 billion dollars in gross debt. We are told not to worry about gross debt, its net debt that counts. Well try that out on your local bank manager. Try paying him back what you think you owe him, because of what you think others may owe you. Not surprisingly he will direct you to what is noted on your loan statement.

It is funny how the people who try to assuage our concerns with the net debt myth can never clearly identify what are the items that make up the difference between the figure on the Office of Financial Management website as Australian Government Securities outstanding and their miraculous net debt figure.

Since the election, the Labor-Green government has borrowed an average $1.6 billion each week. Every fortnight that amounts to three new major public hospitals or the inland rail from Melbourne to Brisbane. Not bad going for a country that can not keep its pensioners warm.

Whilst we are waiting we are merrily selling at a record rate our agricultural land, mines and now the hub of commerce the ASX, so that when the day of reckoning for or children comes they can try and get out of trouble by working fastidiously for someone else and hoping they feed them. The average foreign purchase of agricultural land over the past two years is 2.7 billion a year or more than 10 times that of the average of the previous 10 years.

So when is all this going to change? When are we going to shake ourselves out of this dystopia that we are inflicting on others less connected but more affected by the self indulgent political delusion. What is our current solution to the very real problems becoming more and more apparent at the bottom end of the lucky country?

Well apparently it is gay marriage. Yep I am sure that will warm the cockles of their hearts, if not their living rooms, that our nation’s wisest are going to engage in hours, possibly days at the end of the political year on gay marriage. Then when we are finished with gay marriage we may have enough time to engage the remainder of our time on euthanasia.

You can not reduce power prices without increasing the supply of cheap power. No other nation has an earnest desire to feed you before they satisfy their own. It is a fluke of history that you are here in this nation but luck is easily lost with bad management and naive aspirations.

Nationals deserve praise for vetoing police state

THANKFULLY, a draconian law backed by WA's Liberal government has been thwarted. WHILE most political commentary is understandably focused on the national stage as Julia Gillard tries to hold together her loose alliance of Labor, Greens and rural independents, last week another minority government faced a split of its own. It was an important moment for good law-making in this country.

In Western Australia, the Nationals refused to support Colin Barnett's controversial stop-and-search provisions, the Criminal Investigation Amendment Bill. It was the minor party's finest hour, exposing the heavy-handed and out-of-touch willingness of the Liberal government to trample on the civil liberties of its citizens.

In this column last year, when the issue began to be debated, I wrote about the dangers of the proposed stop-and-search laws, aimed at giving police the powers to frisk anyone in certain parts of Perth without the centuries-old requirement of reasonable suspicion.

Just stop and think about that for a moment. The Liberal government in WA wanted to give police the power to frisk and search whoever they wanted: a good-looking woman, a kid who looked at them the wrong way, or a couple that for no particular reason the police officers just didn't like the look of. It is one hell of a law for a government to try and inflict on the population that elected it.

The stop-and-search bill was a ham-fisted effort by Police Minister Rob Johnson and Attorney-General Christian Porter.

Johnson is a maverick from way back. He has variously advocated crushing cars and leaving them on speeding drivers' front lawns, chemical castration for sex offenders, and the re-introduction of the death penalty. While extreme, at least none of these targets innocent bystanders, as the stop-and-search provisions would have.

But what on earth is the more rational Attorney-General doing supporting these laws? Porter studied for a masters in political philosophy at the London School of Economics. He understands the writings of 18th and 19th-century thinkers such as Thomas Paine and John Stuart Mill, writings about rights and freedoms basic to Western democracies. He should hand his qualification back.

The Johnson and Porter argument is that the intention of the law isn't to do anyone harm. Rather, it is to make crime trouble spots safer. But that misses the point.

History is littered with examples of well-intentioned moves that led to unintended consequences. As the 19th-century writer Thomas Aldrich noted: "The possession of unlimited power will make a despot of almost any man." Police in WA shouldn't be put in the situation where they have such powers.

Just to be clear, the laws, had they come into effect, would have meant an innocent couple walking through the streets could be stopped simply on a police officer's whim. The woman (or man) would then receive a full body frisk, the contents of her purse could be tossed and both parties would be ordered to turn out their pockets. For doing what? Based on what suspicion of wrongdoing? Nothing and none are the answers.

It could be an older couple out for their anniversary, a woman going to church, a young couple on their first date. Anyone and everyone becomes a target.

And people wouldn't have needed to be walking through one of the no-go areas to be violated. While driving through the suburb (perhaps without the intention of stopping in the area), they could have been pulled over and subjected to the treatment outlined above, with their car being thoroughly searched as well.

If that isn't the stuff of a police state, then I don't know what is. No wonder the opposition and the Nationals refused to support the bill. It is hard to believe educated legislators could come up with such a law, much less get into a situation where the entire Liberal parliamentary party endorsed it.

Another argument used to justify the laws by their proponents is that it is no different to giving police the powers to conduct random breath tests. Apart from the fact you don't get felt up in a random breath test, there are other important differences, too. When you drive a car or take an aeroplane flight, you effectively sign a contract with the state that you will play by the road or air rules, such as being breath-tested or walking through metal detectors. But the stop-and-search provisions would have applied to anyone who simply wanted to walk on the streets. It would have been a contract with the state that no citizen could have chosen to opt out of, a contract would have allowed police to frisk you at will, unless you wanted to stay housebound for the rest of your life.

Removing the reasonable suspicion test from policing is draconian. Anyone who enjoys basic freedoms should be affronted by the Liberal government's attempt to introduce such laws, and the desire to do so by the Liberal Party leadership group should lead to more questioning about other legislative initiatives it pursues. If Barnett is prepared to do this, what else might he be prepared to do?

The Nationals took the view that the bill should be opposed on the back of an upper house committee that considered the proposal for 12 months. Despite many submissions to the committee raising concerns about the proposed laws - with the one exception: the police union (surprise, surprise) - the Liberals on the committee fell into line with the desires of their executive and recommended the bill become law.

The Labor, Greens and, most significantly, Nationals members on the committee disagreed, and Nationals MP Mia Davies managed to convince her colleagues to join her in opposing the proposed law, thereby killing it off. For that, West Australians, should be eternally grateful.

It isn't just that the laws would have violated the rights of free citizens. Overseas evidence suggests such laws don't work anyway.

Britain trialled similar laws to deal with terrorism. But it's terror law watchdog, Lord Carlile QC, found them "poor and unnecessary". In 2008, British police used the powers on 170,000 occasions without one conviction, but with many complaints registered.

That's what happens when people are stopped without reasonable suspicion: citizens lose confidence in the state and the state doesn't improve its policing, because it isn't targeted.

WA has dodged a policy bullet, but the public should never forget what their government tried to do to them.


No comments: