Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Greenie white elephant mothballed in NSW

Can the ones in Qld. and Vic. be far behind?  Desalination plants  were all built to avoid the need for new dams (which Greenies hate) but  we are now in a rainy climate cycle so they are not needed.  The official meteorologists (the BOM) had their brains so mushed by Warmism that they didn't warn the politicans of natural climate cycles (El Nino, La Nina) and pretended instead that the "drought" was permanent.  Huge waste of taxpayer funds  resulted

Sydney's desalination plant will be mothballed this weekend even though taxpayers will keep having to pay off its construction costs.

BUT NSW Finance Minister Greg Pearce says the $2 billion development hasn't been a waste of money.   "The fact that the desal plant will be turned off from the first of July will save Sydney Water customers $50 million a year," he told ABC Radio on Tuesday.  "But we'll still have the security if we ever or when we eventually need to turn the desalination plant back on again."

Mr Pearce said it could be up to three years before the Kurnell plant operated again.

"At the moment of course the dams are full, so it won't go back on until they drop below 70 per cent, and then the desalination plant operates until they're up to 80 per cent again," he said.

Mr Pearce confirmed the government was still paying $16 million a month for the cost of building the plant and pipeline.

Greens MP John Kaye told ABC Radio the plant was expensive and completely unnecessary.  "The problem we have now is that we're paying tens of billions of dollars to keep this plant when we don't even want to operate it," he said.

In May, the NSW government announced a 50-year, $2.3 billion deal to privatise the plant, netting it $300 million to build more roads, rail and other infrastructure.


Sad solar in Qld

Queensland solar businesses fear a dramatic boom and bust after the state government slashed the solar feed-in tariff.

MORE than 180,000 Queenslanders are in the solar bonus scheme.    Those who provide power back to the grid will keep the 44 cents per kilowatt hour payment from July 9, but anyone who joins after that date will get an eight cent rate.

Stuart Stratton of Green Initiatives says the future is now uncertain for his 100-plus employees.  He's "extremely disappointed" the government drastically changed the main drawcard for households.

"Where it drops over time and it's predictable, the market can shift and your business can plan for staffing levels and training," Mr Stratton told AAP.  "When something like this happens out of the blue and you've got two weeks to adjust, it has potentially a massive downward impact on the business."

He imagines the next two weeks will be like "Christmas in July" - followed by silence.

Energy Minister Mark McArdle says Queensland households are subsidising the solar sector to the tune of $54 a year and it's unsustainable.

The Clean Energy Council says 4500 jobs could go as a result of the move but Mr McArdle has told ABC Radio he hasn't been briefed on possible job losses.

The Australian Solar Energy Society's John Grimes says his group had called for a graduated withdrawal down to about 20 cents per kilowatt hour.  "It would have allowed solar to compete and wouldn't have resulted in, sort of, this mini boom and bust," he told ABC Radio.


Hate speech against Christians in Australia

Leftists accuse conservatives of "hate spoeech" at the drop of a hat so I like to record occasionally where the real hate speech comes from:

The Australian Christian Lobby’s state director Wendy Francis says she was subject to a barrage of abusive emails and calls to her mobile phone after the LNP announced changes to surrogacy laws.

Mrs Francis started receiving the phone calls on Friday morning and estimated they were coming in every five to six minutes and she was also sent emails with pornographic images attached.

She tried to answer as many phone calls as she could but saved voicemails left on her mobile while she was talking to other abusers.

In one of the voicemails listened to by brisbanetimes.com.au, the caller says: "You’re an evil slut and you’re going to f--king hell you dirty, f--king scraggy b--ch."

Another caller said: "I don’t know how you can go to sleep at night when there are people who are suffering, families who love each other dearly and they’re suffering because of your discrimination, because of your fear and because of your bigotry."

The calls came the day after Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie announced intended changes to altruistic surrogacy laws to exclude same sex couples, single people and couples in a de facto relationship of less than two years.

The ACL supports the changes.

"I also got three email messages with porn and the porn was disgusting," Mrs Francis said.

More here

How to escape a conviction for murder in corrupt Victoria

PEOPLE are potentially getting away with murder in Victoria because of secret plea bargaining deals being done by prosecutors, a study has found.

The study, by two Melbourne criminologists, has raised serious questions about the consequences of laws passed seven years ago that introduced the defensive homicide concept to the state's criminal statutes.

At the time of their introduction, the laws were hailed by then Victorian attorney-general Rob Hulls as "the most significant reforms to homicide laws since the death penalty was abolished 30 years ago".

Defensive homicide was intended to apply in cases where a killer acted in the belief that his or her actions were necessary to defend themselves or someone else - such as a victim of prolonged domestic violence.

Since 2005, prosecutors have had discretion to offer people charged with murder the option of pleading guilty to the lesser charge of defensive homicide.

But criminologists Asher Flynn and Kate Fitz-Gibbon, in a study published in the Melbourne University Law Review, have questioned the secret deals with defence lawyers in such cases. "Criminal cases in Victoria, including those involving the most serious homicide offences, appear to be resolved on the basis of unscrutinised decisions in a largely unregulated and non-transparent process," they wrote.

"Prosecutors can effectively be viewed as 'the key gate-keepers who ration criminal justice … Their discretionary powers allow them to play a more prominent and significant role in the delivery of modern justice than the traditional involvement of the community in a jury trial.

"As a result, the jury, and the community input, is largely silenced."

A key case that influenced the then government to change the law involved Bendigo woman Heather Osland, who was found guilty of murdering her husband in 1996 following years of repeated physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

At trial, she unsuccessfully argued self-defence. She was released after serving her minimum 9½ years' jail.

The change also followed debate about the partial legal defence of provocation, used by killers such as James Ramage who was acquitted of murdering his wife Julie Ramage in 2003.

He was found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter after his lawyer successfully argued Ramage had not intended to kill her, but she provoked him to lose control.

But an analysis of defensive homicide convictions between November 1, 2005, and April 30 this year by Dr Flynn and Dr Fitz-Gibbon has found 16 convictions resulted from the Crown accepting a guilty plea from the accused to the lesser charge.

Defensive homicide carries a maximum penalty of 20 years' jail, while the maximum sentence for murder is life.

Plea deals are generally done to save resources and financial expenditure, reduce court backlogs and prosecutorial workloads, and spare accused people and victims from lengthy and often emotionally-charged criminal proceedings.

But Dr Flynn and Dr Fitz-Gibbon say that because such deals are shrouded in secrecy, there is limited transparency and accountability. They are concerned about unintended consequences. "People could be getting away with murder," Dr Fitz-Gibbon said last night.

"Because these deals are so secretive, we don't know the circumstances therefore we don't know otherwise."

In Victoria plea deals are not recognised in, or controlled by, any legislation. The only controls that directly apply are contained within the Public Prosecution Act (1994) which alludes to matters being dealt with in an "effective, economic and efficient manner".

In addition, The Victim's Charter Act (2006) stipulates a statutory requirement to inform victims of any alteration of charges, but neither statute defines or acknowledges plea bargaining.

Dr Flynn and Dr Fitz-Gibbon have called for a formal policy to be developed to "encourage prosecutors to use their discretion consistently and in line with the ideals of justice".

In the United Kingdom there are mandatory guidelines for prosecutors on plea deals that are intended to provide transparency and uphold public interests, and that have been endorsed by the courts as best practice.

The Melbourne academics have suggested such a system be introduced here urgently.

They have also suggested a legislative change that would place a "statutory obligation on prosecutors to, in effect, explain when and why they resolved a case through plea bargaining".

A review of defensive homicide cases was announced by Mr Hulls in 2010 after it was revealed the majority of people convicted of the charge up to that point had been men convicted of defensive homicide against men.

But the review, which aimed to determine whether defensive homicide was being inappropriately applied to cases of male-perpetrated killing, has not been completed following the subsequent change of government.


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