Monday, December 04, 2017

PM wants changes to homosexual marriage bill

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has endorsed amendments to the same-sex marriage bill to ensure religious freedoms for celebrants and charities are protected.

Malcolm Turnbull wants to make sure celebrants don't have to preside over same-sex weddings and religious organisations don't lose charity status if they believe marriage should only be between men and women.

The prime minister will support changes to same-sex marriage legislation - similar to those moved unsuccessfully by Attorney-General George Brandis - for these religious protections when the bill comes before the lower house this week.

But he acknowledges the legislation put up by Liberal senator Dean Smith, which has passed the Senate, doesn't have anything in it that would force celebrants to oversee weddings against their will or strip charities of their legal status.

"A lot of the amendments we're talking about are really providing assurance that things that are unintended consequences are not going to occur," Mr Turnbull told Sky News on Sunday.  "(We should) make it clear there is nothing in the bill that prevents or inhibits or hinders anyone from expressing their views about what is the ... morally right form of marriage."

Manager of Opposition Business Tony Burke said on Sunday the bill should be moved through the House of Representatives this week in the same form it passed in the Senate.

"It would be absurd if we end up with the Senate approving marriage equality in one form, the House of Representatives approving marriage equality in a different form, and we will still not get the change through," he said.

He told reporters in Sydney his own view had long been that any amendments to the bill should be dealt with in the Senate rather than the House of Representatives.

The same-sex marriage bill passed the Senate 43-12 last Wednesday. Debate on it is expected to dominate the lower house's program for the entire next sitting week, the final one scheduled for the year.


Arrow Energy gas deal to generate 1000 new jobs

TWO Queensland natural gas companies have stitched together a $30 billion gas deal that will generate more than 1000 jobs in the Surat Basin.

The deal between Shell and Arrow Energy will mean the untapped gas reserves in the Surat Basin owned by Arrow will flow through Shell’s QGC LNG project, and will be sold into the export and domestic market from 2020.

It means the end of any ­ambition for Arrow to build its own LNG project and will allow QGC to sell some of the gas to the two other LNG companies, GLNG and APLNG. But it will reignite tensions with farmers in the Cecil Plains area, near Dalby, who have been fighting off CSG companies for years.

Basin Sustainability Alliance chairman Lee McNicholl said there were concerns the project would not mean cheaper gas for Queenslanders, but would further threaten agriculture’s priceless Great Artesian Basin water source.

“Most of the gas will be exported to the highest bidder, while landholders relying on the Hutton’s aquifer, which underlies the Taroom CSG zone, could see this vital resource permanently damaged,” he said.

He said Shell and Arrow had to disclose how much fracking would be done, and Origin’s APLNG had advised BSA members that it could frack up to 40 per cent of wells in its Taroom CSG zones.

The development will take place over 27 years and is likely to be done in a series of staged developments, each one creating about 800 construction jobs. About 200 operational jobs will be created.

It comes just days after QGC turned on its $1.7 billion Charlie gas project in the Surat. The deal will be a significant benefit to Queensland, but is unlikely to resolve the immediate gas shortage.

EnergyQuest’s Graeme Bethune said the deal represented about 12 per cent of Queensland’s known gas reserves. He said the collaboration was a good way forward. Shell owns 50 per cent of Arrow and is the parent company of QGC.

Shell chairwoman Zoe Yujnovich said gas from Arrow would provide more gas to Australian customers. “When more gas is developed, everyone wins. Australians win again because there is more gas to heat our homes and provide energy to our factories, and exporters win because they have more gas to feed their job-creating export projects.”


Club owner removes pizza ad after complaints to the Advertising Standards Bureau

The dishy club owner

A STRIP club owner has been forced to remove an advertisement from one of Brisbane’s busiest train stations after the advertising watchdog found it debased women by comparing pizzas to breasts.

Owner of The Grosvenor topless bar and strip club Jasmine Robson was stunned by the decision from the Advertising Standards Bureau who received complaints about the ad.

The poster shows two pizzas with pepperoni clustered in their centres under the words: “Pizzas or Jugs? Grab both for just $25”.

Ms Robson said the ads were displayed in Central Station recently, but were due to be removed yesterday following the ASB’s finding.

“Now I think this is political correctness/censorship gone absolutely mad,” she said.

“I am shocked that the ASB would determine that this ad is exploitative or demeaning to women in any way, especially considering there isn’t even a woman on the billboard.”

In their ruling, the ASB noted the image used in the ad was of a picture of pizzas with “strategically placed pepperoni for the purpose of creating the impression of breasts with pronounced nipples”.

“The Board noted the placement of the pizzas side by side was an element also adding to the suggestion that the pizzas were a depiction of breasts,” they found.

“The Board considered the use of the term pizzas or jugs and noted that the colloquial definition for jugs can include breasts.

The ASB found that the representation of womens’ breasts as pizzas did reduce women to an object which was exploitative by way of purposefully debasing women.


Australia is the new frontier for battery minerals

FORGET the "resource curse". Australia is blessed with the stuff. For more than a quarter of a century it has not had a recession, thanks largely to Chinese demand for its raw materials. It is only a few years since the end of one such China-led boom, in base metals such as iron ore. A new speculative flurry has started in minerals such as lithium, cobalt and nickel to feed another China-related craze-making batteries for electric vehicles (EVs).

Ken Brinsden, an Australian mining engineer, says he pinches himself over these remarkable turns of fortune. Until 2015 he was a boss at Atlas Iron, which shipped low-grade iron ore to China. In 2011, at the height of the China-led supercycle, it had a valuation of A$3.5bn ($3.8bn). This has now shrunk to A$167m. But he now heads Pilbara Minerals, whose Pilgangoora lithium mine in the outback of Western Australia lies so close to two of Atlas's former iron-ore mines that he can see them from the top of the dusty-red escarpment.

Since 2015 Pilbara Minerals' market capitalisation has jumped from A$25m to A$1.5bn, as the soaring price of battery-grade lithium has made the economics of producing it from Australia's spodumene, or "hard rock" reserves, more attractive. Great Wall Motor, a Chinese carmaker, recently bought a small stake in the firm and agreed to take a large share of its spodumene concentrate. Altura Mining, another favourite of speculative investors, is also developing a lithium mine in Pilgangoora, with much of its production already earmarked for China.

Clean TeQ, whose big shareholders are Robert Friedland, an American-Canadian billionaire, and Pengxin International Mining, a Chinese firm, is also on a battery-powered roll (see chart). Its value has soared by 240% this year to A$838m, based on its plans to produce nickel and cobalt sulphates, both key raw materials (along with lithium) for lithium-ion battery cathodes.

In most of the world cobalt is extracted as a by-product of copper and nickel, but it has recently become more valuable than nickel because of its scarcity. Such is the anticipated demand for it in the lithium-ion battery industry that shortages are expected within a few years. Clean TeQ says that at today's prices of $27 a pound (compared with $10 a pound in 2016) cobalt would be a bigger source of revenue from its mine in New South Wales than nickel.

In each case, the companies argue that they offer a more secure source of raw materials for Chinese battery manufacturers than foreign competitors. First, consider lithium. Although the raw material can be produced more cheaply from brine in South America, political, business and legal risks are lower in Australia. Moreover, Mr Brinsden argues that spodumene can be processed directly into lithium hydroxide, which is preferred by battery-makers to the lithium carbonate that comes from lithium chloride in brine.

Phil Thick, boss of Tianqi Lithium Australia, the majority-owner of Greenbushes, a lithium mine in Western Australia that is the world's largest, foresees no shortage of lithium itself-especially metal that is lower grade than that mined from Greenbushes. But he says there is a lack of processing capacity, so Tianqi, which is Chinese-owned, and its American partner, Albermarle, have plans to lift production of lithium hydroxide in Western Australia for export to China.

As for cobalt, Clean TeQ says that its production will have none of the ethical issues associated with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), from where 60% of today's supply comes. DRC cobalt is partly produced by "artisanal" miners that often use children with pickaxes to produce the metal. (This week it emerged that the London Metal Exchange has launched an inquiry into whether cobalt mined with child labour is trading on its exchange.) Ben Stockdale, the mining firm's chief financial officer, quips that the biggest risk with Clean TeQ is that its miners "die of boredom"-the mine is on flat, featureless land.

In fact, the biggest risk for all these projects is price, which in turn hinges on whether car firms make good on their plans for a big increase in investment in electric vehicles. That is still an open question. Though Mr Brinsden is convinced China will "surprise the world" with its role in the battery revolution, he also says Chinese carmakers such as Great Wall and Geely see hybrid vehicles as a stepping stone towards EVs, implying that full electrification will still take time to develop.

Another risk is that mining giants such as Rio Tinto will muscle in. Rio was recently rumoured to be contemplating a bid for SQM, Chile's biggest lithium producer, which the rest of the lithium brigade is uneasy about. Mr Thick, though, is confident: "It's a tough business. Even Rio with its huge chequebook won't find it easy."


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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