Friday, December 09, 2016

Monash University raises over $200 million in US market in "Green" bonds

This is certainly extraordinary.  Borrowing a lot of money that you may never have to pay back -- because you can "roll over" the debt -- must certainly be superficially attractive but it means that a lot of money will be spent on paying interest -- money that could be used for other things. One would have thought that taxpayer funds given to a university would be spent on buildings, teaching and services only -- without a slice being cut off to pay international financiers. 

But that is what Monash has done.  In order to have the money now, they have agreed to have less of it for their own use. And  because of the immediacy of their thinking, Leftists like borrowing.  They seem incapable of imagining either the past or the future so a loan seems like free money to them.  And the Daniel Andrews government that agreed to this is nothing if not Leftist

What makes the bond "green" is a little unclear.  The money will actually be spent on new buildings.  But perhaps the buildings will have the sort of impractical frills that Greenies like --   Pink batts everywhere and a windmill on top of every building?

In a world first, Monash University has raised A$218 million through a climate bond issued in the US private placement market to fund further sustainable development projects across its campus network.

Monash is the first university in the world to raise funds by issuing a climate bond.

The University’s historic achievement in raising development funds in this way follows its success in 2014 when it became the first Australian tertiary institution to raise debt capital in the US private placement market. The proceeds from the University’s issue were used to construct award-winning student residential buildings at the Clayton Campus.

The climate bond was certified by the 'Climate Bond Initiative' (CBI) and a Green Bond assessment [accreditation] from Moody's Investor Services. The University structured the bond to provide the market with investment options in US and Australian dollars over 15 years, 17.5 years or 20 years.

The President and Vice-Chancellor of Monash University, Professor Margaret Gardner AO said the University’s long-term debt raising initiatives, approved by the Treasurer of the State of Victoria, have provided Monash with secure and cost effective access to development capital.

Professor Gardner said the success of the Climate Bond Initiative reflects Monash as a global University. The funds would add to the university’s transition to net zero emissions.

“As a truly international university, Monash has a responsibility to provide strong and visionary leadership on sustainable development. We want our campus network to be exemplars of environmental, social and economic best practice,” Professor Gardner said.

Monash University has an annual operating revenue of more than $2 billion and its total assets are valued at $3.7 billion.

David Pitt, Monash’s Chief Financial Officer said the University was delighted with the outcome of the financing.

“The Monash issue was very well received by the investor community reflecting the University’s high credit quality based on its standing in international markets.  This was a great collaborative effort with Commonwealth Bank Australia receiving in excess of A$900 million of investor bids for the issue,” Mr Pitt said.

Professor Gardner said Monash’s investment in sustainable development had been prioritised in the University’s new environmental, social and governance policy statement.

“Monash has a sustainability plan that will include a target date for net zero emissions to be announced next year,” Professor Gardner said.

Over the next two years, Monash University will allocate capital raised through the Climate Bond to a portfolio of projects that achieve certification in accordance with the standards of the Global Climate Bond Initiative.

Development projects at Monash to benefit from the climate bond funding will include:

A major new learning and teaching building targeting 5 Star Green Star Certification at the Clayton campus $180 million
Caulfield campus library redevelopment $43.4 million
Solar panel installation $6.6 million
External LED lighting project $3.5 million.

A requirement for issuing Climate Bonds is the capital raised must be spent on projects that achieve measurable sustainability outcomes in line with the global Net Zero Emissions by 2050 target.

The University will outline progress on the Climate Bond projects in its annual report.

Monash was advised on the financing by DTW Capital Solutions.

Press release from Leigh Funston ( on behalf of Monash U.

More deliberate ignorance from the Left

It's been known for years that PISA results are a pretty good proxy for IQ but Leftists hate anything that contradicts their "all men are equal" fantasy.  So differencres below that are largely reflective of IQ are explained in all sorts of other bullshit ways -- not enough money being spent being the front runner, as usual. 

The two main differences highlighted below are both an example of IQ effects:  East Asians are brighter than we are and poor people and their children are a lot less bright than top earners and their children.  That's why the poor are not top earners. Awful stuff to say, I know, but that is the reality -- and disliking reality won't change it

Most of the remaining variance in educational results is probably due to teaching methods.  Australian classrooms are still very low discipline and permissive and that can have a very depressing effect on educational results.  Bringing back corporal punishment for disruptive students would undoubtedly bring standards back up to what they once were

Another bit of bullshit below is the call for "high quality early childhood education".  Have none of these galahs heard of America's "Head Start" program?  It's been going for many years with nil results.  It's kept going mainly as a child-minding service

Spare a thought for Australia's 15-year-olds. If they don't have enough to contend with, between the immediate demands of Snapchat and a future of robots stealing their jobs, now they have to bear the brunt of a nation's slighted pride.

The latest PISA results are out, and they are not good.
What PISA says about Australian schools

The major global test of student achievement reveals just how far Australian high school students are behind their peers in the world's best performing countries.

The real-life problem-solving skills of Australia's teenagers are declining in the fields of maths, science and reading, according to the global Programme for International Student Assessment that's taken by over half a million 15-year-olds.

Australian students have gone backwards relative to their international peers, but also relative to Australian 15-year-olds in 2000 when PISA started.

This has implications for literally everything, from the way we fund schools, to our future competitiveness in the global innovation economy, to the way we market ourselves as a major exporter of quality higher education to the world.

The data churned out by PISA is rich and deep, and education experts will be wading through it for years to come. Rather like the postmortem of an election, interested parties can slice and dice the data in many ways to find evidence to back their preferred argument.

So the federal education minister Simon Birmingham will quite reasonably point out that at a systemic level we have record levels of funding, but that money hasn't led to improved results.

But Labor, who suspects the government of sophistry to justify not funding the full Gonski, will see confirmation of why it introduced needs-based funding in the first place.

Researchers will point out that the money has often not been going where it would make the most difference.

Some will blame teachers, or the shortage of qualified maths teachers, or the education unions, who themselves will point out that our culture undervalues teachers compared with high-performing countries like Singapore and South Korea. And places a higher burden of paperwork on them.

And some will argue with the ref: questioning the cultural bias or methodology or legitimacy of the test.

One problem with that, though. Countries reasonably comparable to Australia did better than us, like Canada and Ireland. (Even though some are sliding backwards too.)

The international league tables get the headlines – can we really have been beaten in maths by obscure upstarts like Estonia? Poland? Vietnam? And, god help us, New Zealand?

But there's actually a bigger problem than being worse at maths, reading and science than literally all of east Asia.

It's buried in the Results by Student Background part of the report.

If you compare Australian students in the top and bottom quarter by their parents' socio economic background, the bottom 25 per cent are on average three years of schooling behind the top 25 per cent.

That's in all three tested areas in PISA: scientific, mathematical and reading literacy. And it means that a kid born poor, by no fault of their own, is on average getting a far crappier education than a kid born rich. The achievement gap is almost as bad for indigenous kids.

You don't need to smash your PISA results to see that's deeply unfair, and a waste of human potential.

As Dr Sue Thomson from the Australian Council for Education Research points out, we're just not dealing with the equity gap.

"I was quite saddened to look at that data," she said. "There's no difference over 16 years of reading, 13 years of maths – no changes. We are still not attending to those gaps."

So why is this everyone's problem? If you're not moved by the fairness argument, try broad self-interest.

The PISA results deal in averages.

"The deterioration in Australia's performance is because we now have more low performing students and fewer high performing students," as Dr Jennifer Buckingham from the Centre for Independent Studies said.

So just leaving the bottom quartile to languish drags the whole system down, and that impacts on everyone.

But there is no future in promoting anti-elitism in the name of egalitarianism, either.

We have to do both: improve Australia's results by lifting the bottom end, as well as the top. An OECD report from 2012 revealed that the world's best-performing education systems actually have both high quality and high equity, or access for all.

As for the top end, most of the states have a gifted and talented education policy, but there's virtually no systemic investment or resources to back it. That needs action. Needs-based funding should extend to the needs of high-potential kids too.

As for the bottom, the evidence suggests two things will make the most difference. Systemic investment in universal high quality early childhood education; and needs-based funding.

So the policy debate circles back to Gonski. A genuine sector-blind, needs-based funding model would distribute government funding by metrics of student need, with additional loading for remote and regional schools, disabled students, indigenous students and low SES students, wherever they are at school.

If there is to be no more money than the government has already committed for school funding, then that means one thing: redistributing the funding available on a more effective and equitable basis.

Easy, right?

But there's logic, and then there's political reality. The school funding debate is at a stalemate.

The country's education ministers have their work cut out for them at COAG next week.


South Australian Left unrepentant about its energy failures

Malcolm Turnbull has launched a strident attack against the South Australian Labor government’s “appalling” approach to energy security, as premier Jay Weatherill warns the states could defy the federal Coalition and introduce their own carbon prices in their respective electricity sectors.

A clash between the federal and state leaders is unfolding after the Prime Minister was forced to clarify there would be no carbon tax, emissions trading scheme or emissions intensity scheme under his government in the wake of an internal revolt over energy policy.

“What South Australia is doing is putting at risk the jobs of South Australians, the prospects of South Australian business. Jay Weatherill’s approach to energy has been condemned by the business community in South Australia, they’re appalled,” Mr Turnbull told 3AW radio.

“Major industrial centres — Whyalla, mines, Nyrstar mine and so forth — have had to close down because they don’t get reliable power.

“The South Australian Labor government has delivered an absolute double whammy of not being able to keep the light on and having the most expensive electricity in Australia.”

His comments followed a declaration by Mr Weatherill, who will join his state and territory colleagues at a Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra tomorrow, that he would be “pressing” for states to implement their own emissions intensity schemes in electricity sectors.

While Mr Turnbull yesterday shifted the spotlight onto Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg’s handling of the climate change review, he defended his minister today, insisting he had not “advocated” a change to the government’s policy.

“I know that everyone wants to jump on Josh Frydenberg, he’s a very capable, very talented minister, he works very hard and he understands that our policy is to support lower electricity prices,” Mr Turnbull said.

Mr Weatherill said his warning on carbon pricing came “in the absence of national leadership”.

“Our first instinct is of course to seek a national scheme, a national scheme that should be bipartisan in its character so that there can be long-term certainty so that investors can make the much-needed investment in new forms of generation,” he told ABC radio this morning.

“Instead we have a federal Liberal government which is very firmly bought and sold by the coal club. We’ve seen that in the space of the last 48 hours. An emissions intensity scheme that they were going to press ahead with, they’ve binned.

“We have in the same few days approving $1 billion worth of investment in a coal mine in Queensland and essentially a government that’s beholden to sectional interests and is not prepared to act in the national interest.”

Scott Morrison retaliated, saying the state governments were “running around” with renewable energy targets set at 50 per cent, which he claimed were “completely driven by ideology”.

“We’ve got the Labor Party saying the same thing at the commonwealth level. We’re interested in the outcomes, which is lower pressures on energy prices for families and households,” the Treasurer told ABC radio.

“If you’re a business in South Australia then the biggest problem you’ve got is the Labor Party’s RET policy.”

The states had received advice they could simply “join up together” and exercise their own carbon emissions intensity scheme, the Labor Premier said, but he would not reveal which counterparts he had been discussing the idea with.

A review of the national energy market led by chief scientist Alan Finkel will assess options to cut emissions.

Mr Weatherill said almost any informed commentator was “calling for a clear signal for a price to be put on carbon”.

He said he had received advice that household electricity prices in South Australia, which was hit by a statewide blackout in September, would go down under an emissions intensity scheme applied to power generators.

“It would do three things: it would clean up our energy system, it would make it more secure because it would encourage more base load gas generation, which is half as carbon polluting as coal fired generation, and it would put downward pressure on prices because you would introduce more competition into the South Australian electricity market,” Mr Weatherill said.

“Our advice is it’s similarly beneficial for other jurisdictions to join with us.”

The fight over an emissions intensity scheme comes as deputy leader Julie Bishop dismissed outspoken senator Cory Bernardi’s call for the government to follow the promised lead of US president-elect Donald Trump and abandon the Paris climate accord. The agreement locks Australia into reducing its emissions by 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.

“I was a member of the cabinet and the Coalition partyroom in August 2015 that decided on our 2030 targets, which are part of our commitment to the Paris agreement,” Mr Bishop told ABC radio.

“196 countries signed up to the agreement, it has been ratified by well over 100 countries so it is in effect now and Australia will meet our targets, our commitments under the Paris agreement.”

Ms Bishop also hit out at the South Australian Premier, declaring there had been “appalling examples” of the state government being unable to keep the lights on.

“Energy has to be as affordable as possible for the sake of businesses and families and communities,” she said.

“We believe our Emissions Reduction Fund is working well. We’ve beaten our Kyoto target by something like 128 or 130 million tonnes. We’re on track to beat our 2020 target by something like 78 million tonnes and so Australia under the Direct Action Emissions Reduction Fund, which has been part of our policy since 2010 I believe, is actually meeting the targets.”


ABC runs bias and weepies in place of news

The nightly ABC News television showpiece — the statewide local half-hour from 7pm — has lost its way, writes Mark Day

I don’t normally pay much heed to the incessant grizzling and grumbling about the ABC and its programming. Everyone’s entitled to their opinions and with 24 million of us accessing five TV networks and umpteen radio outlets, there’s plenty of scope for some folk to find something to complain about.

You’ll never please all the ­people all the time, so incessant grizzling will forever be the default position.

But from time to time events conspire to put the spotlight on Aunty so that we ask whether it’s on the right track, meeting the demands of its charter and meeting the needs of its viewers, who also happen to be its owners.

In the past few days we’ve had Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson excoriating the ABC for what he called its “misery-laden” coverage of indigenous affairs.

Former PM Paul Keating followed up with a blast, saying the ABC’s news services were a throwback to the 1970s and were “full of hard luck stories”.

Maverick senator David Leyonhjelm last week exchanged his support for legislation to reinstate the building industry watchdog with a “freedom offset” whereby the boards of the taxpayer-funded ABC and SBS will be bound to hold at least three open public ­forums in various cities and towns around the nation annually, to ensure they keep in touch with their audience and owners.

It was pure political grandstanding, of course, but it may pay dividends if the boards embrace it. The final element that raised the hoary old “whither the ABC” question came from within Aunty.

Last week I was sounded out about addressing an end-of-year meeting of senior ABC news staff — news executives, state editors, current affairs executive producers — to give a “perspective of an informed outsider on ABC News, what it is and isn’t doing well, the ‘elite media’ issue … all off the ­record/Chatham House rules”.

I was unable to accept, but what follows is an outline of what I would have said.

The nightly ABC News television showpiece — the statewide local half-hour from 7pm — has lost its way.

Keating is right. Story selection is confused and inconsistent; one night excitedly leading on a truck crash or a breaking news story of no real consequence; the next night launching an expose of misdeeds, such as the maltreatment of greyhounds.

I fully accept that people now have many ways of accessing the news, but older people still like the time-honoured format of a news package that starts with the most important story of the day and then tells us all the significant things that happened in the past 24 hours.

Even if younger people are shifting away from this format to consult their Facebook news feeds, the ABC should maintain its formal bulletin style because it provides an important balance to the drip-feed, multi-source inputs obtainable elsewhere.

Sometimes the influence of 24/7 rolling news coverage takes over. Aunty tries to ape the gee-whiz commercial approach with live crosses — always hard to do and often stumbling because of poor communications backup — which are purely visual window dressing and unnecessary to tell the story.

The main nightly news bulletin should be determinedly free of opinion and bias. It’s not.

There should be no place for questions dripping with opinion, bias, elitism and vitriol like this from Chris Uhlmann to Malcolm Turnbull last week: “You’re planting the flag of victory on a molehill half as high as the one you started on. How is that a victory?” (The PM was speechless … all he managed to say in reply was, “Well, there you go”).

Uhlmann, as a senior correspondent, should have known better. He should not have asked the question in that form and his editors should never have allowed it to air.

There is room for opinion in interpretative pieces more ­suited to 7.30 or other current affairs programs, so long as it is clear that reporters state an opinion based on the facts they have revealed. Let’s not allow the post-truth world of emotion to infect the nightly news.

In my view the news/caf executives are bewitched by a perceived need to have at least one emotional story a night.

They’re known in the trade as do-gooder, weepie or gimp stories, highlighting some poor bastard’s misfortune — an invitation to the viewer to slash their wrists or take on the emotional baggage and negativity in the same way that Pearson criticises the ABC’s “misery-laden” indigenous coverage.

The ABC’s vast resources are matched only by its news/caf ­output, so there is great scope for slackness, grammatical errors, laziness and short cuts to creep in. What is needed is a tighter focus and an enforcement of standards — and that has to come from the top. Someone who knows a bit about grammar should start wielding the whip.

Beyond the news and current affairs area lie more complex and concerning issues.

I fully appreciate the need for any media organisation to be noticed, for that is how audiences are attracted. Nobody is interested in the boring middle; you get attention by testing boundaries, pursuing programming that is “out there”, controversial and on the edge.

Within the ABC, pursuit of the edge seems to lead us directly into the world of minorities. Most of them settle somewhere in the LGBTIQ world — that’s lesbian, gay, bi, trans, intersexual and queer to the uninitiated.

I uphold the rights of minorities. I get it that they have had a case about their past invisibility, but it remains a fact of life that the minorities are not the majority and many people who count themselves in the majority feel they are being forced, or unwillingly led, into minority worlds.

In this era of content abundance, it’s one thing for SBS to take on the Viceland alternative view of the world, but quite another for the ABC to try to ­emulate it. Its first job is to service the mainstream and I don’t believe the mainstream is fixated on minority issues.

I also think the ABC could do much better by telling Australian stories rather than buying so many cheap BBC programs. If Foxtel can make a four-hour series on Australian bushrangers, why can’t Aunty?

There are so many great yarns that are not misery laden, soft-left ideological or raise on-the-edge gender questions, and they’re being ignored.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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