Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Power price hikes bite in Queensland

QUEENSLANDERS face a dramatic hike in power bills with the start of the new financial year, and households with solar panels are also likely to take a hit to the hip pocket.

The average power bill is expected to rise by $191, or 13.6 per cent, pushed up by green policies and the increasing cost of poles, wires, and electricity generation.

However, prices will only go up by about 5.1 per cent if the federal government's carbon tax is repealed.

Queensland's Energy Minister Mark McArdle has blamed much of the hike on the former Labor government's over-investment in the power distribution network.

"Every power bill that is issued, 54 per cent of that bill relates to the cost of poles and wires - the gold-plated legacy of Labor that we're now having to unravel," Mr McArdle told ABC radio.

Pensioners and seniors will be able to apply for an electricity rebate of $320 after the government upped concessions to $165 million for this financial year.

"The Queensland government promised to lower the cost of living wherever we could and we're making sure that pensioners and other vulnerable Queenslanders get some relief on household costs," Mr McArdle said.

Consumers are forking out 50 per cent more for electricity than they did three years ago, and shadow treasurer Curtis Pitt says price hikes under the Newman government total $560.

"Campbell Newman arrogantly promised to lower Queenslanders' electricity bills, yet ever since he's become premier they've just gone up and up and up," he said.

This financial year, about 50,000 homeowners who have solar panels will no longer be guaranteed a feed-in tariff of eight cents.

Government-owned distributors will no longer be responsible for paying the tariff and households will have to negotiate directly with electricity retailers for the price they are paid for the solar power they generate.

The 44 cent tariff, paid to some 284,000 people who were first to sign up to the scheme, will remain unchanged.

Australian Solar Council chief executive John Grimes says consumers need to shop around, or join forces to negotiate as a block with electricity retailers.

"As an independent customer, with an average-size system on your roof, you really have little leverage when talking to a utility," Mr Grimes told ABC radio.


Liberal MP Sarah Henderson blasted for response on welfare, jobs and asylum seeker policy on ABC

What would you expect on the ABC?

HER appearance on ABC talk show Q&A sparked both cheers and jeers.
But it was Sarah Henderson’s comments on welfare which really made people sit up and notice.  The Federal member for Corangamite appeared on the show last night, filmed live from Geelong, to discuss the decline in the manufacturing industry and job opportunities in the Victorian regional city.

Ms Henderson was joined by Shadow Immigration Minister Richard Marles, Greens Senator Richard Di Natale, Geelong Mayor Darryn Lyons, and Geelong Region Alliance CEO Elaine Carbines on the ABC show.

And while the panel members were all vocal in their opinions on the future of Geelong, it was Ms Henderson’s comments which caused the most reaction and saw her still trending on Twitter this morning.

The show began with Ford workers asking Ms Henderson what the Government was doing about job creation, before moving on to youth unemployment, asylum seeker policy and the welfare system.

While maintaining her composure Ms Henderson appeared slightly ruffled when quizzed about the death of Tamil asylum seeker Leo Seemanpillai, who committed suicide last month, and when questioned by university student Nicholas Slugget on welfare policy.

Her responses caused both laughter and some shock within the audience while others on Twitter reacted with anger with some viewers questioning her sense of compassion.

Mr Slugget who is due to finish his degree in two years said his parents aren’t financially capable of supporting him, yet he would have to wait six months to secure Newstart if he didn’t find work when he graduated.

He said he feared he would be facing a "six-month black hole.”

"I feel you’re punishing me for furthering my education,” he told Ms Henderson before asking how he was expected to compete with older workers when he graduated (such as ex-Ford employees) who had more experience.

She said the Government offered a range of support for job seekers, before adding that the best form of welfare was work.
"You will have to wait six months but there are a whole range of exemptions such as if you’re a parent or disabled,” she told him.

The answer sparked audience laughter with the young student seeming lost for words before saying he didn’t fit into either category and kids weren’t on his agenda.

Even host Tony Jones seemed amused when he said "I don’t think he’s intended to have children.”

However, it was comments from a former Liberal candidate which really hit home.

Mark Horstead told the audience he deeply ashamed on the government's attack on those receiving welfare payments.  "I would remind you and your colleagues it’s a cornerstone of liberalism that the strong have a duty to protect the weak and vulnerable,” he told Ms Henderson.  "These are people who are our fellow Australians who need our respect.”  "When did your party receive the mandate to attack people in this way?”

Ms Henderson’s comments drew a raft of responses on Twitter with most shocked by her response to the welfare question.


Socialist Alternative withdraws violent Tony Abbott cover

The Leftist hate never stops

The Socialist Alternative has withdrawn its newspapers featuring a violent image depicting Tony Abbott getting his throat cut following a public backlash.

The image was accompanied by the headline "One cut we'd like to see” and was on the front page of its paper Red Flag.

The organisation posted the image last night on its Facebook page, prompting more than 200 comments, most of them negative.

One user said: "Oh ... not cool. I’m no fan of the LNP — policies, parties, associates or leader — but this seems unnecessarily violent.”

Another said: "dreadful picture. DO NOT CONDONE violence to anyone. Even Abbott. You LOST me off this page and as a supporter.”

The Socialist Alternative released a statement this morning saying it would withdraw the cover, citing "legal concerns”.

"The razor was and is clearly metaphorical. Just as cartoons that depict Bill Shorten knifing Julia Gillard in the back are not suggestive of an actual physical attack but merely are visual representations of perceived betrayal, so the razor in both our cover and the original poster suggest that the prime minister should be cast aside,” the statement said.

"However, due to legal concerns, we are withdrawing it.

"But while we are withdrawing the cover, we make no apology for our hostility to this government and their supporters in the right wing press.”

The organisation said the artwork drew inspiration from Michael Callaghan’s classic 1977 poster "Give Frazer the Razor”, which today hangs in the National Gallery.

The poster was prompted by Malcolm Fraser’s decision to block supply, leading to the dismissal of the Whitlam Labor government in 1975, which inspired the rallying cry "Give Fraser the razor!”.

The phrase was "chanted by demonstrators in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane at mass rallies and strikes for years to follow.  "The slogan appeared on placards, posters, and graffiti. It was even set to music,” the Social Alternative said.

"Tony Abbott’s budget, and the Liberal plans for slashing welfare and cutting wages, is far worse than anything that Frazer carried out when prime minister.”

"It is the height of hypocrisy to make a song and dance about an allegorical newspaper cover, while defending a government which just last week announced that it wishes to deport asylum seekers who have anything less than a 50/50 chance of being tortured or persecuted if they are returned to their "home country”.

"The difference between this threat of actual violence and an allegorical cover could not be plainer.”


Clive Palmer faces arrest unless he can explain in court how he spent $12 million

CLIVE Palmer could face arrest unless he fronts a secret arbitration hearing with chequebook stubs that show how he spent $12m that a Chinese company has accused him of taking during last year’s election campaign.

Sino Iron yesterday swamped the Queensland Supreme Court with 15 applications, including a personal subpoena for the federal politician, demanding he produce butts for two cheques numbered 2046 and 2073.

The National Australia Bank has also been subpoenaed in relation to the same cheques, which relate to the withdrawal of $10m on August 8 and $2.167,050 on September 2.

The chequebook belongs to Mr Palmer’s parent company, Mineralogy Pty Ltd.

CITIC Pacific, which operates the Sino Iron Project in the Pilbara on Mr Palmer’s leases, has accused Mineralogy of wrongfully removing the money from one of its mine operating accounts.

The subpoenas claim the $10m was paid to one of Mr Palmer’s company’s, Cosmo Developments, which with Mineralogy and another of his companies, Queensland Nickel, had "purported” contracts to provide port management services at the Cape Preston mine.

Mr Palmer’s right-hand man, senior Mineralogy executive and unsuccessful Palmer United Party candidate, Clive Mensink, has also been ordered to produce documents relating to the $10m and all contracts relating to the port deal.

Sino has also subpoenaed Media Circus Pty Ltd, from Brisbane, which ran advertising and produced campaign material for the Palmer United Party in 2013.

The subpoena demands full disclosure of all details relating to the second cheque for $2,167,050, which CITIC says was drawn on the Mineralogy account on September 2 and "presented for banking by Media Circus on or about 2 September 2013.”

Mr Palmer said he was unaware of Sino’s legal move, which has brought some of the secret arbitration hearing into the open.

"I have no knowledge of any of this,” he said. "I’m in my electorate working for people here. All the best, seeya.” He has previously denied taking CITIC’s money.

The dispute between CITIC’s Sino, and Mr Palmer and his companies, is being held in camera before retired Supreme Court judge Richard Chesterman, QC, though it appears the tribunal has been frustrated in getting to the bottom of where the $12m went.

On Friday, the tribunal gave Sino permission to issue the numerous subpoenas to produce information.

Mr Palmer’s subpoena, and others, stated: "Failure to comply with this subpoena without lawful excuse is contempt of Court and may result in your arrest.”

It was not clear from Mr Palmer’s redacted subpoena when he was required to appear but the NAB and others were told to front the tribunal on or before July 11.

The Australian newspaper, also published by News Corp Australia, has previously published that Mr Palmer’s companies neither operated nor managed the Pilbara port for Sino.


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