Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Setting the record crooked

I've worked out why it is that these bloody Laborites, having left us behind in the flotsam and in Kevin's case, jetsam, of the shit fight they created, feel they have to madly get pen to paper quick smart. The tomes are literally queuing up at University Press and others in the wake of the worst 'Gummint' we have ever endured. Barbara Cartland has nothing on these pricks!

The reason is not only did they not get to finish the job (for which we can be eternally grateful) they didn't get time to explain themselves or justify what was six years of unmitigated garbage as a party before being elbowed off the rostrum by a happy, but extremely bewildered, Liberal Party.

The mess, when coupled with the residual joke that is today's Senate, is going to be the toughest that any government has ever had to deal with.

So our bungling Kruddsters have been belting their keyboards well into the night turning out volume after volume of fanciful crap, essentially a rewriting of history, except for the bits where they bag the man they all stood behind at some time or other. On that they are rock solid. Kev was a cretin. Kev was an arsehole. Kev was a control freak. And Kev was a bully.  A bad tempered one according to Wayno.

Which is undoubtedly why Kev hasn't written his book yet... although I will lay London to a brick that he will have the last word. It's his nature.

Former Governor General, Quentin Bryce will formally launch 'My Story', the memoir of former Prime Minister Julia Gillard next month. This will probably live in the fiction section of most libraries because if she actually tells the truth about anything she will be locked up.

The nine books by Labor figures, from 2012 to the present are:

 *  My Story, by Julia Gillard; a work I am sure of complete fiction. Probably about the fight against misogyny or something equally ludicrous.
 *  The Good Fight, by Wayne Swan; another work of fiction except for the bits about Kevin.
 *  Power with Purpose, by Lindsay Tanner (2012); A work about power withOUT purpose.
 *  Hearts and Minds, by Chris Bowen; A nice lead up to Bill Shorten's book, which may be called Tits and Bums.
 *  Diary of a Foreign Minister, by Bob Carr; a work of complete delusion by someone up the sharp end of a jet with too much time on his hands when he wasn't listening to opera or his wife snoring.
 *  The Fights of My Life, by Greg Combet; another 'fight' themed book. It's all about fighting in the Labor Party, but we knew that already.
 *  A Letter to Generation Next, by Kim Carr; er, generation next doesn't exist yet, basically more bullshit about Labor realignment strategies that will never work.
 *  Tales from the Political Trenches, b Maxine McKew (updated 2013); political trenches? Get outa here! The silly cow knew as much about politics as she did about responsible broadcasting! The only time she went near a trench was when she fell in the gutter carrying three bottles of bubbly from the Crow's Nest Deli.
 *  Glory Daze, by Jim Chalmers (former Swan adviser now an MP); Jim got that right at least. It was a daze! A complete daze. And we are still dazed. One thing it wasn't. Happy Daze!  Happy reading, NOT.


The crazy world of Renewable Energy Targets

Nothing makes sense about Renewable Energy Targets, except at a “Bumper-Sticker” level. Today the AFR front page suggests* the federal government is shifting to remove the scheme (by closing it to new entrants) rather than just scaling it back. It can’t come a day too soon. Right now, the Greens who care about CO2 emissions should be cheering too. The scheme was designed to promote an  industry, not to cut CO2.

UPDATE: Mathias Cormann later says “that the government’s position was to “keep the renewable energy target in place” SMH.  Mixed messages indeed.

We’ve been sold the idea that if we subsidize “renewable” energy (which produces less CO2) we’d get a world with lower CO2 emissions. But it ain’t so. The fake “free” market in renewables does not remotely achieve what it was advertised to do — the perverse incentives make the RET good for increasing “renewables” but bad for reducing CO2, and, worse, the more wind power you have, the less CO2 you save. Coal fired electricity is so cheap that doing anything other than making it more efficient is a wildly expensive and inefficient way to reduce CO2. But the Greens hate coal more than they want to reduce carbon dioxide. The dilemma!

The RET scheme in Australian pays a subsidy to wind farms and solar installations. Below, Tom Quirk shows that this is effectively a carbon tax (but a lousy one), and it shifts supply — perversely taxing brown coal at $27/ton, black coal at $40/ton and gas at up to $100/ton. Because it’s applied to renewables rather than CO2 directly, it’s effectively a higher tax rate for the non-renewable but lower CO2 emitters.

Calculating the true cost of electricity is fiendishly difficult. “Levelized costs” is the simple idea that we can add up the entire lifecycle cost of each energy type, but it’s almost impossible to calculate meaningful numbers. Because wind power is fickle, yet electricity demand is most definitely not, the real cost of wind power is not just the construction, maintenance and final disposal, but also the cost of having a gas back-up or expensive battery (give-us-your-gold) storage. It’s just inefficient every which way. Coal and nuclear stations are cheaper when run constantly rather than in a stop-start fashion (just like your car is). So the cost of renewables also includes the cost of shifting these “base load” suppliers from efficient to inefficient use — and in the case of coal it means producing more CO2 for the same megawatts. South Australia is the most renewable-dependent state in mainland Australia, and it’s a basketcase (look at the cost stack below). Real costs only come with modeling, and we all know how difficult that is.

If the aim is really the research and development of renewables (and not “low CO2″) then I’ve long said that we should pay for the research and development directly, not pay companies to put up inefficient and fairly useless versions in the hope that companies might earn enough to pay for the research out of the profits. Tom Quirk points out that it’s all frightfully perverse again, because most innovations come from industry, not government funded research, but in Australia we hardly have any industry making parts used in power generation — we don’t have the teams of electrical engineers working on the problem anymore. I suppose the theory is that Chinese companies will profit from solar panels and do the R&D for us (keeping “our” patents too)? It would be cheaper just to gift them the money direct wouldn’t it — rather than pay an industry to produce and install a product that no one would buy, which doesn’t work, and hope that the “profits” translate into discoveries that will produce royalties and jobs for people overseas. I’m sure Chinese workers and entrepreneurs will be grateful. Yay.

Meanwhile, Green fans have suddenly discovered the idea of sovereign risk (where were they while the Rudd-Gillard team blitzed Australia’s reputation for stable, predictable policy?). According to the AFR, the government is scornful (and rightly so):

"The government source said the market was oversupplied with energy and there was no longer any cause for a mandated use of any specific type of power. The source said while there would be investment losses if the RET was abolished, or even scaled back, investors “would have to have been blind to know this wasn’t coming’’.

On Catalaxy files, Judith Sloan mocks the Fin for pushing a press release from a rent-seeking firm, and guesses the Abbott government will be too “gutless” to ditch this economic and environmental dog of a policy.

More HERE  (See the original for links)

Sacked SES whistleblower Tara McCarthy in limbo as government claims it is powerless to reinstate her

The corruption watchdog found she was improperly sacked from the State Emergency Service as a "reprisal" for exposing potential misconduct in the ranks.

But Tara McCarthy is still waiting to be reinstated in the "job of her dreams" – and the government says it is powerless to do so.

Ms McCarthy, the first female deputy commissioner of the SES in its 60-year history, was vindicated in May when the Independent Commission Against Corruption found her boss Murray Kear had acted corruptly by sacking her a year ago for making allegations against his "mate" Steve Pearce.

"I can't believe that they can't just reappoint her, given that the ICAC found the original sacking was a corrupt sacking," Public Service Association general secretary Anne Gardiner said.

Emergency Services Minister Stuart Ayres says he is unable to give Ms McCarthy her job back because it is a matter for the head of the Justice Department, Andrew Cappie-Wood, and Public Service Commissioner Graeme Head.

Ms McCarthy said she had been negotiating with the men "for three months and it feels as if I am on a merry-go-round, going nowhere ... with no decisions made and no offer of reinstatement".

A former paramedic and a mother of two teenage boys, Ms McCarthy said her "unlawful and corrupt sacking was devastating enough, but now the failure of the government to provide me with the protections they promise to whistleblowers is soul-destroying".

"All I ask is to be reinstated to the job I loved, a job I should rightfully have," she said.

She said she would also consider a permanent position of equivalent rank and responsibility. But the only offer on the table has been for a  temporary and more junior role at another organisation.

In a letter to Mr Head on July 15, Mr Cappie-Wood said it was his "firm view" that Ms McCarthy's "well-being and safety" would be at risk if she returned to the SES.  But he said in a statement that he and Mr Head remained in "active discussions" with Ms McCarthy about her future.

A spokeswoman for the Public Service Commission said that existing whistleblower laws – introduced 20 years ago – did not have a mechanism for reinstating senior executives "where removal has occurred contrary to the legislation".

"Hence there is no legal capacity to reinstate Ms McCarthy in the role she held in the NSW State Emergency Service or an equivalent role," the spokeswoman said.

The commissioner was finalising advice for the government's consideration "on mechanisms that would enable reinstatement", including where a person was sacked as a reprisal for whistleblowing.

 Ms Gardiner believes "a good option" would be for the Minister to intervene and exercise his power to appoint Ms McCarthy as commissioner or acting commissioner of the SES. Mr Kear resigned as commissioner earlier this year following the ICAC's findings. Mr Pearce remains on leave with full pay.


NSW school principal calls students with mental health issues 'morons' and 'village idiots'

It was clearly a joke but jokes are unwise these days

Chris Cundy, head of Calare Public School in Orange, wrote to teachers announcing a mental health and social skills workshop to be held at the school.  In the letter, he appears to have considered it humorous to speculate about students with "two heads" and "webbed feet" requiring special assistance.

Mr Cundy dubbed the program "Operation Nutcase" and asked teachers to "start identifying students at our school with the following characteristics:

suffering from undue anxiety

lacking any resilience

poor socialising skills

2 heads

webbed feet

village idiots

"I would like to start Operation Nutcase in week 5 but this might be a bit ambitious," Mr Cundy wrote.  "All victims, er candidates must have a signed form from their parents before we commence. We will have groups of roughly 10. (but in the two headed group there will only be 5)."

The DEC spokesperson said Mr Cundy had not been suspended, but had been formally counselled by the department.

"The department stresses that the material is contrary to the values of public education and the school's track record of support for students with disabilities and other learning needs," the spokesperson said.


More relationship education needed in schools

The Deputy NSW Coroner will recommend that the Department of Education introduce the topic of domestic violence and abusive relationships into the NSW school curriculum, after finding that Sydney woman Kate Malonyay was murdered by her ex-boyfriend.

Coroner Hugh Dillon revealed that he would personally write to Education Minister Adrian Piccoli to make the request, following a coronial inquest in which it was revealed that Ms Malonyay's ex-boyfriend, navy analyst Elliot Coulson, had not only abused her, but also another woman from a previous relationship.

"It will be no panacea but may help over time [to] engender respect between boys and girls and increase the self-confidence of young women in seeking the protection of the police and the law courts against domestic abuse," he said.

Mr Dillon found that Coulson murdered the 32-year-old sometime between April 17 and 19 last year by means of strangulation and the infliction of a head injury caused by blunt force.

Coulson killed himself days later as police closed in by jumping from a high-rise hotel room on the Gold Coast.

The coroner's findings reveal that, while Coulson had only once been physically violent towards Ms Malonyay, she had complained to friends that he was sometimes aggressive, controlling, jealous and verbally abusive, particularly in text messages.

They also show that Coulson had previously subjected another ex-girlfriend, Anne Thoroughgood, to more overt physical violence.

This included one occasion when the heavily built naval employee threatened to kill her, shoved her against a door frame and then later began to strangle her.

The coroner noted that each woman contemplated seeking an Apprehended Violence Order but did not do so.

"It appears that Ms Thoroughgood was deterred from taking action because she thought she would have to disclose her home address to get an AVO and was nervous about confronting Elliot Coulson face to face in court," Mr Dillon said.

"It is not entirely clear why Kate did not proceed with her AVO application. Like many other women, Kate may have found the process too daunting and stressful or lacked confidence in the AVO system ..."

A police officer told the inquest that, based on his experience, had Ms Thoroughgood proceeded with the AVO it may have made a significant difference for both women.

"A woman in genuine fear of domestic violence should never be dissuaded from approaching the police and the courts for an AVO," Mr Dillon said.

He determined to recommend the addition of domestic violence education to the school curriculum after Ms Malonyay's mother, Wendy, made a powerful verbal statement to the court.


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