Monday, March 28, 2016

Busybodies want to limit other people's choices

A small, low-cost inner-city "pied-à-terre" might be just what is needed for someone who works in the city during the week but who spends the weekend at a pleasant rural property.  Many men work away from their families during the week.  My father did

THEY’VE been labelled “crappy” and “dog boxes in the sky”, apartments so small and badly designed there’s barely enough room to swing a cat — let alone a pooch.

There’s no space for luxuries like, you know, a dining room table, while some rooms don’t even sport windows.

The tiniest units in Australian cities are so small they would be illegal in crowded Hong Kong and New York.

But far from being spurned, compact flats are being heralded by some as the solution to the growing demand for city living.

However, there are moves afoot to clamp down on so-called “micro apartments” with calls for a minimum size for flats to stop developers squeezing more people into ever smaller spaces.

Earlier this month, Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle criticised developers who were sacrificing design for density.

“I am pro-development but some of the developments that have been put before us are shameful”, he told the Urban Development Institute in Adelaide.

Talking to he reeled off a list of developer requests he was outraged by, including windows separated from the rooms they were supposed to illuminate by a corridor so long it was “like something out of Alice in Wonderland”, glass walls whose role it was to filter light into windowless bedrooms but actually created “little caves”, and fridge doors that couldn’t open because of the cramped space.

There was even the builder who created a micro apartment without a kitchen with the reason that it would be ideal for someone who enjoyed eating out.

A critic of unchecked development, Mr Doyle said good design needed to be at the centre of new apartments to prevent “building the slums of tomorrow”.

Yet, for 24-year-old public relations consultant Elena Eckhardt, her tiny Sydney apartment, which she shares with her partner, is a bijou beauty.

“The apartment has a double bedroom, bathroom, laundry, joint kitchen and living room and balcony,” she told

“Despite it being so small I’ve decorated it so it feels very personal.”

At 48sq m her flat is skirting the regulations in NSW, known as SEPP 65, that set a minimum apartment size. One bedroom units can be no smaller than 50sq m but studio apartments can go down to a super snug 35sq m.

Ms Eckhardt’s bedroom is partially separate with openings in the wall letting some natural light “borrowed” from the living room which has large windows.

“It’s the smallest place I’ve lived,” she said of the unit in the city fringe suburb of Chippendale. “We wouldn’t be able to afford a big apartment in the CBD so I do definitely like being here at this stage in our lives.”

Ms Eckhardt said she could walk to work and any number of pubs and shops were in the local area. The couple are out most nights, so see the flat as less a place to linger and more somewhere to bed down in.

Nevertheless, they’ve had to make compromises. “We decided not to have a kitchen table because it’s too cluttered so we only have a table on the balcony and eat there or on the couch”.

“But having a separate bedroom was really important because there is two of us so it doesn’t feel like we’re sharing one room.”

Ms Eckhardt’s 48sq m are an indulgence of open space compared to an apartment advertised for rent in Melbourne CBD that was just 20sq m, or roughly the size of two car parking spots, the Age reported.

In Victoria, unlike NSW, there is no minimum apartment size. In the Victorian Government’s ‘Better Apartments’ consultation, Planning Minister Richard Wynne raised the prospect of a new apartment code which could see minimum sizes alongside a raft of other measures around natural light, noise and outdoor space.

The consultation found daylight and space were the top concerns for apartment dwellers with 76 per cent of respondents calling for a minimum apartment size.


Why women are the enemy of working mothers

It's broader than enmity to new mothers who work.  Women are great at tearing ALL other women down.  The "Sisterhood" is a myth.  Even your friends probably bad-mouth you behind your back.  Consciously or subconciously, most women see themselves as engaged in a never-ending competition for the affections of men, so regard all other women as potential rivals who have to be torn down.  And it's not unreasonable.  When men are inclined to "stray", there is usually a woman willing to stray with them

NEW mothers who return to work beware — women are out to get you.

Only 41 per cent of women would support a friend who chooses to go back to employment after having kids if they are not the primary breadwinner, according to a new survey.

But that figure rose to 89 per cent if the woman earned more than her partner, according to the survey of 2000 women by cosmetics company Heat.

Only about 14 per cent of households with dependent children under 15 are headed by a female breadwinner in Australia, although it is closer to 27 per cent in inner Sydney.

New mum Vilja Roman had little choice but to go back to work fulltime when her son Feliks was less than a year old. Under the terms of her contract, she would have had to pay back her maternity leave if she didn’t.  But Ms Roman, 35, felt judged.

She said: “I remember some of my colleagues were a bit surprised that I was going back fulltime. In my mothers’ group, others went back part-time or stayed at home, I was the only one who went back fulltime.

“The decision to go back fulltime is where I felt most judged. I don’t know how much of that was my personal feelings, as opposed to how much others judged me.”

Heather Gridley, an honorary ­fellow in psychology, said judgment often came when women felt pressured to defend their own choice.

“In doing that, you point to the other person as having made a less valid choice,” she said.

“Often, they are not choices at all. It can be quite painful. When you don’t get validation, self-doubt starts to emerge. I think women are particularly vulnerable to that.”

Anita Vitanova, founder of inner, said she found mothers felt judged “constantly”.

“Women do judge each other, mainly to justify and validate their own choices,” she said. “Very often it won’t be a direct attack but it will be more of the ‘I would never’ dig.

“It takes a lot of confidence to know who you really are when becoming a mother and it’s not something you can prepare or practise.”

Gillian Franklin, the chief executive of the company that carried out the survey, said women should be ­encouraging their friends.

“We need to release women from the guilt, and help them make choices on their own terms,” she said.


Tasmania is on the brink of an entirely avoidable power crisis

Because of Green bribery for "renewable" power from the former Gillard government, Tasmania ran down its big hydro dams.  So the water is not now there when it is needed to cover a drought

Tasmania appears to be on the brink of a crisis, with the island state only weeks away from serious blackouts if there is no significant rainfall.

The seriousness of the issue at hand isn’t suggested by Techly as being down to mismanagement by Tasmanian officials, simply a sequence of unforeseen problems.

Multiple sources in Tasmania and the mainland describe the situation as dire.

Tasmania has just two months supply of water to feed its hydroelectric dams, unless there is significant rainfall. Energy storage, or the level of water available to generate hydro-power, is at historic lows. Rainfall into catchment areas in the past 12-months has been around one-third of projected rainfall, based on thirty-year modelling. Without hydropower, Tasmania’s energy demands at normal peaks far exceed current generation.

Dam levels were reduced during the carbon tax era, where hydroelectric or carbon neutral power generation was extremely valuable. Hydro Tasmania, the body who maintain and run a series of 55 major dams and 30 hydropower stations within, was very profitable during this time, as it drained water for great revenues.

Indeed, in the quirks of the carbon tax arrangements, the sale of renewable energy certificates or RECs accounted for more than 70 per cent of revenue inflows. (It is not suggested that reducing dam levels during this time was malfeasant.)

Basslink. Tasmania is supplied both power and data connections via the Basslink submarine cable. That cable is no small matter – it runs for 370 kilometres undersea, it is rated to 500MW and cost over a half a billion dollars to install between 2003-06, including testing and commissioning.

However, on 21 December 2015, it was announced the Basslink was disconnected due to a faulty interconnector. Given the cable is underwater, and the fault was located as around approximately 100 kilometres off the Tasmanian coast, the Basslink controlling body called Basslink first announced that it would be repaired and returned to service by 19 March 2016.

That date has since fallen into the abyss as more than 100 experts, including 16 or more from Italy, plus a specialist ship, try to fix the cable. Basslink advised on March 13th that the cable would be fixed by late May.

Normally, a Basslink outage isn’t a big deal. The mainland has to adjust how it distributes power across the Eastern Seaboard, and given the cable supplies an absolute peak of 500MW, it doesn’t shoulder the entire load, but provides greater flexibility for operators, and reduces the average cost of power. It also helps to balance peak and off-peak loads across the grid.

Additional power from non-renewables in Tasmania includes three significant gas turbine and thermal power stations which provide 535 MWh of power at full capacity.

But Tasmania has far more hydroelectric power – more than 2300MW of hydropower at full capacity.

Techly understands that if Basslink can’t be fixed for an economic cost, it may not be fixed at all, depending on the assessments currently underway.


Federal election 2016: Bernardi risks Lib split with new group

Rightwing Liberal senator Cory Bernardi has laid the groundwork to launch a new political force, the Australian Conservatives, to “give a voice back to Australia’s forgotten people”.

In a move that risks further splintering the Turnbull government, a company controlled by the South Australian senator’s wife has applied to trademark the name and logos of the new group, with the stated aim of providing the “services of a political party”.

Senator Bernardi, who in ­September warned of a possible schism of the Liberal Party if Malcolm Turnbull did not uphold the party’s “distinctly conservative” character, yesterday described the Australian Conservatives as a program of his existing Conservative Leadership Foundation.

He would not provide further details about what the program ­involved or give an assurance he would not leave the Liberals to lead a breakaway party.

In a rousing email to supporters on Monday, Senator Bernardi ­referred repeatedly to the “silent majority of Australian Conservatives” who were challenging “the leftist agenda of big government and decaying society”.

“Unless the mainstream parties connect with the ‘forgotten people’ they will choose a different path. It’s a global phenomenon and would be foolish to think it won’t emerge in Australia,” he wrote, citing the rise of Donald Trump.

“My mission (is) to build a movement that will change politics. To fight against the tyranny of political correctness and give a voice back to Australia’s forgotten people.

“That’s what Sir Robert Menzies sought to do over 70 years ago in forming the Liberal Party. It’s time Australian Conservatives ­reclaimed Menzies’s vision.”

After Mr Turnbull seized the prime ministership in September, Senator Bernardi raised the prospect of a split in the Liberal Party unless it maintained a “distinctly conservative vision”.

“I don’t want it to come to that,” he said at the time. “I want us to be a mainstream conservative party, rather than just a vehicle for ­‘anything goes, as long as I can climb the greasy pole’.”

The senator yesterday would not say whether the risk of a party split had subsided.

Senator Bernardi, a conservative stalwart, regards Islam as a ­“totalitarian political and religious ideology” and strongly opposes gay-friendly initiatives such as same-sex marriage and the Safe Schools Coalition anti-bullying program. His foundation aims to train young conservatives to effectively advocate political change through business, media, academic, political and community organisations.

Senator Bernardi is not due to face re-election until 2019 in a standard half-Senate election, but would be up for election this year if the Prime Minister proceeds with his threat of a July 2 double dissolution.

The Liberal Party’s conservative fringe is being wooed by the Australian Liberty Alliance, which draws inspiration from populist Dutch MP Geert Wilders and champions a 10-year moratorium on Muslim immigration.

Tony Abbott in February warned the Liberal base would “flirt” with “more extreme alternatives” such as the ALA unless the Turnbull government maintained tough immigration and counter-terrorism policies. Mr Abbott has long cautioned against allowing fringe politicians to erode the Liberal base.


No comments: