Thursday, June 21, 2018

Plastic bag ban at Woolworths' starts today in Queensland

I was there yesterday on the first day of the new regime so I was given a free re-usable plastic bag -- made in Germany, curiously.

It was a bit thicker than the condemned bags but not by a lot. But I suppose that if you keep re-using it, it would cut down on waste. 

I will probably keep it in my car and dutifully re-use it as intended.  If I forget it on some days I will simply leave my goods in my shopping trolley and wheel it out to my car and load my stuff into the boot. I do that most days already and I keep bags in my boot anyway.

Supermarket giant Woolworths will ban single-use plastic bags at all stores across the country from today, as Queensland prepares for a state-wide ban to take effect next month.

From July 1, 2018, retailers will no longer be able to supply single-use lightweight plastic shopping bags less than 35 microns in thickness.

The bags will be banned at all Woolworths stores from today, while Coles will follow on July 1.

Over 3.9 billion plastic shopping bags are used in Australia every year and the majority go to landfill.

They take years to break down, and many end up in the environment polluting oceans, rivers and beaches.

Similar laws already exist in other parts of the country including South Australia, the ACT, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

Western Australia and Victoria will also ban plastic bags this year, leaving New South Wales the only state where lightweight plastic bags will be allowed.

Which bags will be banned?

Single-use plastic bags
Degradable and biodegradable lightweight plastic shopping bags
Which bags will not be banned?
Garbage bags
Bin liners
Bags for food such as fruit and vegetables
Nappy bags
Dog poo bags
Department store plastic bags

What happens if I forget to bring my own bags? You can purchase thicker plastic bags at the big supermarket chains, including Coles and Woolworths for 15 cents. Other foldable bags and freezer-type bags will also be available for purchase.

But to avoid a fee, the best thing to do is keep your reusable bags in the car or in your hand bag. You can also bring your own plastic bags to all shops.

What happens if someone breaks the rules? Retailers found to be supplying the banned bags face a $6,300 fine.

National Retailers Association chief executive officer Dominique Lamb said retailers had taken to the bag ban with "gusto".

"We're seeing new recyclable bags with new branding … we are seeing all different types of bags appearing in the market and so far we've had quite a positive response to the change."

She said some small businesses were concerned about the change but generally they were embracing it. "They're really keen to get this right and to make sure they don't find themselves captured in the sense of being fined," she said.

What should I do with my plastic bags at home?
You can take the plastic bags you have stored in the cupboard or under the sink to the shops with you and use them to carry your groceries home. Or you can recycle them at the bins situated in some stores.

But if you use them for other things like bin liners, over time you will have to change that habit too.

Not everyone is happy with the move to go plastic free. Logan resident Rodney Black said he was annoyed by the ban and was not convinced it would do much. He has been hoarding the bags in his shed to use as bin liners.

"We use plastic bags well, we use them more than once usually," Mr Black said. "Eventually we'll be forced to buy plastic bags for certain kitchen rubbish bins."


Solar farm to integrate pumped hydro storage facility in Australian first with $500m loan

Pumped storage is a good idea in theory but when you realize that it involves building TWO dams you get an inkling of the fact that it is a hugely expensive way to provide electricity.  But the good ol' taxpayer is generous

Australia's first renewable energy project to combine solar energy and pumped hydro storage will receive half a billion dollars in funding.

The Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) is planning to provide $516 million for the Kidston solar project near Georgetown in far north Queensland. It will be one of the largest loans made by the NAIF.

Once built, the project will be the first in Australia to combine solar energy and pumped hydro storage.

Genex Power executive director Simon Kidston said the loan was a significant step for the company as it develops the project's second phase — a 250 megawatt pumped storage hydro project that's fully integrated with an expanded solar farm.

"So what we're seeking to do is use the hydro as a giant water battery," Mr Kidston said. "All of the energy from the solar farm is used to pump the water from a lower reservoir to a higher reservoir, then we can release that water and generate power at peak demand."

Mr Kidston said it took the NAIF just six months to assess the company's application for a loan. "They did take their time to understand the risks, understand the opportunities," he said.

"I think they worked through in a very methodical and professional way, so full credit to NAIF for that."

The funding is subject to several conditions, including due diligence and a cost benefit analysis.

State-owned energy corporation Powerlink is planning a 125-kilometre transmission line to run from the Kidston Solar power project, 200 kilometres west of Townsville, to connect with the national grid at Mt Fox.

Landholders have previously raised concerns about potential biosecurity issues during construction, as well as the impact on cattle station management.

Genex Power is also in discussions with banks about providing the rest of the funding needed for the project.

Mr Kidston said once complete, the project will provide reliable energy to the country. "Pumped storage hydro is the most efficient mature technology to store energy, and integrating this with solar and potentially wind over time, we can deliver the holy grail of renewable which is dispatchable reliable energy," he said.

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad welcomed the announcement but criticised the Federal Government for the time it has taken to deliver NAIF projects for Queensland.

"Five billion dollars was announced in 2014 under NAIF and this would represent less than 20 per cent of that money out the door," Ms Trad said.

NAIF chief executive Laurie Walker said the project would provide substantial benefits to Northern Australia.

"NAIF sees the project as important for the transition of the market to lower emission renewable energy sources," she said. The NAIF would provide a long-term debt facility for more than twenty years, at concessional interest rates.


A new/old route to university enrolment

The ATAR is nationally-based evaluation of High School achievement.  It is a percentile score given between "less than 30" up to 99.95 (in a minimum increment of 0.05) which denotes a student's ranking relative to their peers upon completion of their secondary education. For example, an ATAR score of 99.0 means that the student performed better than 99% of their peers. 

The True Reward program admits students to Western Sydney University, a "new" university.  It considers students based on their HSC score, not their ATAR. It appears to be a less scientific evaluation of High School Performance, much like old-time reliance on unweighted exam results

Knowing he was doing his best, Shawcross felt confident he would perform well in his exams, particularly those for the subjects he was most passionate about – legal studies and history – but not entirely sure he would attain the ATAR score needed for the degree he really wanted: the Bachelor of Policing (Leadership Program) at Western Sydney University (WSU). WSU is the only university in metropolitan Sydney to offer the degree.

To give himself the best chance of fulfilling his ambitions, Shawcross applied for a place under WSU’s True Reward initiative, an early offer program that considers students on the basis of their HSC score rather than their ATAR. The program is unique in NSW and generated more than 1900 student enrolments in 2018, its inaugural year.

“The ATAR scaling process can be confusing and not always a true reflection of students’ performance in individual HSC subjects,” says Angelo Kourtis, vice president (people and advancement) at WSU.

“As a result, we believe talented and capable students are missing out on receiving an offer to the degree of their choice. At Western Sydney University we believe in the unlimited potential of every student and the importance of rewarding hard work. In our opinion, the current ATAR scaling system does not support this broadly enough.”

Kourtis says the True Reward program has been in development for a number of years. The university looked closely at its current students to determine the link between their performance at university and the related subjects in the HSC. It conducted a comprehensive analysis of students who maintain a grade point average necessary to successfully complete their degree, correlating this with subject band performance in the HSC.

“Our early offer program not only gives HSC students the chance to plan their futures early, but also considers the results that truly matter. We believe this is the first step towards a more transparent entry system that will set more young people on the path to success, and the future they have worked hard for and deserve,” Kourtis says.

Shawcross won the place he wanted on the basis of his HSC achievements: Band 6s for his strongest subjects: legal studies, ancient history, modern history and studies of religion, and Band 5s “for all the rest”.

Shawcross is now at the end of his first semester and looking forward to exploring his future career options. “I have always wanted to do something that involved the legal system,” he says. “And in policing, there are a lot of different avenues you can go down.

“I’m not exactly sure which area of policing I want to go into yet, riot squad or bomb squad or tactical response or even prosecution. The paths are all very interesting.”


Fifteen more Aboriginal children removed from families in Tennant Creek area following rape of toddler

Note the silence below about where the kids were sent.  They  were almost certainly sent to WHITE foster families.  And some fool will call that racist.  The Left just cannot digest the fact that Aborigines are NOT equal in important ways

Since the rape of a two-year-old girl in Tennant Creek in February, 15 other children have been removed from their families by child protection workers, the Department of Territory Families has revealed.

During parliamentary estimates hearings in Darwin on Wednesday, the minister and department CEO outlined the state of child protection and what efforts were being made to improve what they said were antiquated systems that had been underfunded by successive governments.

The Northern Territory Children's Commissioner found in her report released last month that the child had been at foreseeable risk of harm which could have been managed or mitigated.

Colleen Gwynne's report found there had been 35 domestic violence incidents recorded against the parents, including eight aggravated assault convictions for one of them, and more than 150 recorded interactions with police.

The toddler and her four siblings had been the subject of 16 years of investigations into physical and sexual abuse and neglect in the lead-up to the rape.

The two-year-old girl and one of her siblings were removed from their mother's care by the Department of Child Protection South Australia on April 5.

Territory Families has learned from the incident and was working to review cumulative notifications against whole families dating back years in an effort to prevent another such incident occurring, CEO Ken Davies said.

"We have responded in terms of the cumulative harm and doing some deeper analysis of some of the case histories we've been looking at, and we have responded," he told the hearing.

"We have taken additional children into care since that incident as a consequence of the lessons learnt, 15 in fact [in the Barkly region].

"We've taken the lessons learnt very, very carefully, we're working very closely in terms of our relationship with the Aboriginal health service there … to get advice and support around early intervention and support for families."

He said that removing a child was the last resort, but the safety of the child was the priority.

In Tennant Creek in the nine months to March 31 this year, he said there had been 1,515 notifications to the Department, 578 child protection investigations, and 181 substantiations, which was an increase of 10 per cent.

Seven additional staff have been added to the town's office.

Independent Member for Araluen Robyn Lambley — a former Country Liberals Party minister overseeing child protection — asked the leadership of Territory Families why no-one had been disciplined or sacked over the failure to remove the two-year-old girl after years of notifications of abuse.

"It's about passing the pub test, isn't it, it's about perception," she said.

"Although you might not think it's necessary — a symbolic gesture, someone being suspended or in some way experiencing some sort of retribution as a result of this child's life being damaged forever — the wider public might think that."

The community wanted to see a penalty paid by paid poor judgement and a failure in the system, Ms Lambley said. "You're the ones responsible for the system, unfortunately it has occurred under your watch.

"When I was child protection minister I was lucky this didn't happen to me."

The problem was a systemic one rather than the fault of any individual case worker, Territory Families Minister Dale Wakefield said. "The decisions were made over long periods of time by multiple workers, therefore it really is a systems response we need to focus on," she said.

Mr Davies said the staff at the Tennant Creek office were also traumatised by the alleged rape.

"There haven't been specific consequences to an individual child protection worker because it was a very, very difficult context that team was operating in," he said. "There were huge community challenges, problems with alcohol, problems with service delivery.

"It was a community in crisis and it wasn't my place, in my opinion, to go and find an individual child protection worker and sack them."

But Ms Lambley rejected that, saying the buck stopped at the top.

"This is being played out on a national stage, you've got the Prime Minister who's being held to account this week for not turning up to Tennant Creek and not taking responsibility, [but] here we have the departmental executive of the Department of Territory Families saying no-one's to be held accountable, it's a systems failure. "Well, you guys are accountable, each and every one of you."


Commentary seldom gives Trump an even break

By CHRIS MITCHELL, a recently retired editor of "The Australian", well-known for his mockery of global warming

In 1989 when Frank Devine, former editor of the New York Post, was a newish editor-in-chief of this paper he asked me to arrange something we had never done in our daily editorials: he wanted to include a picture of the Berlin Wall and endorse president Ronald Reagan’s 1987 Berlin speech, “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

It was an important lesson: presidents can change history and editors need to be alive to the power of political outsiders to drive that change. Many people have compared Reagan to US President Donald Trump. Bret Stephens, formerly of The Wall Street Journal but now at The New York Times, wrote a piece published here in The Australian Financial Review last Thursday saying Trump was no Reagan.

Sure, Trump is from another, brasher era. Where Reagan was a B-grade movie star, Trump is a reality TV icon. Yet both were Washington outsiders and both used force of personality and personal relationships to try to tear down what previous administrations had seen as facts of life. As Stephens wrote, “The Cold War didn’t need to last forever. The sec­urity paradigms that defined it weren’t immutable laws of history.”

People with long memories will recall how vicious the progressive media was about Reagan, who they treated initially as a buffoon. They mocked his challenge to Mikhail Gorbachev and ridiculed his plans to build a “star wars” missile defence shield that would have forced a financially strapped Soviet Union to respond.

The liberal media was wrong. Reagan and his ally, Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, proved strong individuals could change history. The Soviet Union disintegrated. This was not a small rogue state like North Korea. It was a giant of 390 million people that included the Baltic states, the Caucasian states of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, the east European countries of Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine, and Soviet Central Asia.

So here’s the thing. When Trump faced down “Little Rocket Man” last year he was threatening “fire and fury” against a state with nuclear weapons, but only a fraction the size of the colossus Reagan and John F. Kennedy before him had faced down. Trump’s threats worked, and Korean peninsula denuclearisation is now possible. What to make, then, of media reaction to last week’s summit in Singapore between Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un?

This paper’s foreign editor Greg Sheridan, no US-style left-liberal media type, was rightly cautious about what Trump might be giving away, especially in pledging to abandon joint military exercises with South Korea. It is in Australia’s interests that the US-led alliance system remain strong in the Pacific and South Korea is a key part of it. But Sheridan made another point: “Part of the problem with much analysis is that people approach it as pro or anti Trump.”

Just as they did with Reagan and Thatcher. The Pacific alliance has not solved the North Korean problem. Neither Kim nor his father, Kim Jong-il, or grandfather Kim Il-sung has ever been brought to heel by sanctions. Presidents since Bill Clinton have expended enormous effort and money to try, unsuccessfully, to prevent the hermit kingdom from acquiring nuclear weapons. Barack Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, at least partly for his efforts to settle the North Korean issue. Yet he warned in 2016 that North Korea remained the world’s most intractable problem.

The North conducted its first successful nuclear test under Kim Jong-il in 2006 (after withdrawing from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in 2003) and now probably has 20 warheads and missiles capable of travelling 13,000km. It is unclear whether they would be capable of carrying a nuclear payload that far.

No serious editor will want to be proved wrong in declaring Trump a failure or a success before either becomes clear. Yet as people gravitate to news they agree with, newspapers reap rewards for commentary that really is no better than last week’s puerile attack by actor Robert De Niro, who received a standing ovation for saying two words: “F..k Trump”.

This paper’s associate editor Chris Kenny, who visited North Korea when a staffer for former foreign minister Alexander Downer, wrote about Trump’s strategy last Thursday, arguing Trump could not receive a fair appraisal from most media. Trump was a dangerous warmonger last year when he threatened Kim Jong-un but is soft on dictators this year for giving Kim a place at the negotiating table. Surely decades of failure of talks and refusal to meet Korean leaders should suggest to a normal person (not of the foreign policy establishment) that a different course might be worth exploring.

Some commentators were even silly enough to point out the North Korean media had trumpeted the summit as a win for Kim. They would, wouldn’t they, given they are state controlled. And the US needs a partner to deal with so a positive reaction in Pyongyang is crucial to preserve Kim’s leadership. The media’s Trump derangement is just as bad in discussion of Trump’s business dealings with Russia and special counsel Robert Mueller’s examination of potential involvement by parts of the Trump campaign in Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Which brings us to Sarah Ferguson’s three-part series for Four Corners. The first two episodes have been entertaining even if they have revealed nothing new.

The program has left itself wriggle room by airing background material on key players that runs counter to the prevailing narrative on the Russia story. Except so far for one person, and it is the one Ferguson has used as an honest broker, former Obama national intelligence director James Clapper. Whether discussing Trump’s attempted property dev­elopments in Moscow in episode one or the role of low-ranking Trump staff George Papadopoulos and Carter Page in episode two, Four Corners really should have pointed out some facts about Clapper’s role in the affair. He is accused of leaking the discredited Christopher Steele dossier about Trump to CNN, then lying to congress about it. Ferguson admitted her main source in part one, Trump property development associate Felix Sater, has been a 20-year informer for the FBI and intelligence source for other agencies. Part two also admitted Papadopoulos and Page were junior staff with almost no influence.

While Twitter took all this to be incriminating, I thought it raised an obvious question: how is some big-noting and financial cadging by staff on the periphery of the campaign the “story of the century”, as the series has been branded?


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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