Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Queensland weather: Heatwave conditions as some towns reach 44C

This is a bit sensationalist. The bulk of the Queensland population is in the S.E. -- where I live. I watch my thermometer a lot and at no stage did it rise above 30C, a normal summer temperature

Temperatures in Queensland Outback towns are climbing toward the mid-40s and one town ‘feels like' nearly 50C with some places “on track” to break January records as a heatwave continues to develop across the state.

Longreach in Queensland’s north-west has already hit 43.6C after climbing above 40C by 10.20am, as the Bureau of Meteorology warns severe to extreme heatwave conditions have developed across central and northern Queensland.

Winton has climbed to 44.6C and Blackall is on 41.8C. Closer to the coast it is 39.1C in Innisfail.

Meanwhile, Lochington near Emerald had a scorching ‘feels like’ temperature of 49.8C at 2pm.

BOM meteorologist Helen Reid said the heatwave was “assisted” by ex-Tropical Cyclone Seth as record-breaking temperatures “picked up across quite a few locations”.

Ms Reid said the record heat could stretch across western Queensland as well as coastal regions.

“Over the last few days there have been big numbers recorded across western parts of the state such as Mount Isa and Longreach – an average of 44C,” she said.

“But what is noteworthy is by the time you get to the central coast, St Lawrence recorded 42.2C yesterday which is quite likely to be a record for the month.”

Mackay which is a bit further south picked up nearly 37C while Samuel Hill “which is normally known for its rainfall” recorded 37.9C.


Plan to prohibit repair of cars written off in crashes in doubt

A State Government plan to prohibit the repair of cars, vans and other light vehicles written off after a collision is in doubt, with fears it could cause insurance premiums to skyrocket and create a mountain of scrap metal.

Queenslanders should be able to continue to fix and drive cars written off in road smashes to stop insurance premiums skyrocketing and an avalanche of scrap metal blighting the environment.

A parliamentary inquiry into car theft has thrown a spanner in Transport Minister Mark Bailey’s plans to improve road safety by prohibiting the repair of cars, vans, four-wheel-drives and other light vehicles written off after a collision, even if just for insurance purposes.

The inquiry urged him to reconsider the ban, which would create “many unintended consequences”.

Their report, now being considered by Mr Bailey, said the plan could push up insurance premiums, wouldn’t improve safety, and “could impact the environment due to an increase in scrap metal”.

Instead, Mr Bailey should strengthen the inspection of repairable write-offs and prospective writers should be told of a vehicle’s history, it recommended.

Motoring bodies said unsuspecting buyers had unwittingly bought dodgy “potential death traps”, including with missing airbags, worked on by unscrupulous and untrained backyard repairers. But the industry rejected widespread problems.

The committee was told current checks weren’t able to actually identify quality repairs because of a lack of expertise.

Nationally, 10,500 passenger and light-commercial vehicles “vanished” in 2019-20, with 40 per cent assumed to have been exported, and about a quarter each dismantled for parts or sold for scrap metal.

The inquiry was called by Police Minister Mark Ryan after public outcry over the hit-and-run deaths of Matty Field, Kate Leadbetter and their unborn child at Alexandra Hills last year to consider how to stop car thieves.

It was specifically asked to consider the latest engine immobiliser technology but the committee found the technology was “not sufficiently developed to be a viable solution”.

Instead, it made a host of unanticipated recommendations, which also include changes to the scrap metal industry to discourage thieves who sell stolen cars for parts.

The committee also noted that the majority of vehicles were now stolen by someone with the keys.

“The committee is of the view that more can be done to reinforce the message to vehicle owners about the importance of keeping car keys secure both while at home and while out and about,” the report said.

That might include a wide-reaching government-sponsored campaign to highlight the importance of protecting the home, the types of cars thieves like to steal and where the theft hot spots are.


Indonesia bans coal exports amid global energy crisis

Indonesia’s shock coal export ban could deliver a New Year “gift” to Australian miners, amid crisis talks between the country’s producers and government over the weekend move.

Indonesia’s director-general of minerals and coal, Ridwan Jamaludin, said on Saturday that “everyone” with a coal mining permit in the country was banned from exporting in January, amid concerns that stockpiles at the country’s coal-fired generators were running low.

If the ban isn’t enforced, almost 20 power plants with the power of 10,850 megawatts will be out,” he said.

Indonesian law requires coal producers to deliver at least 25 per cent of their output to the state-owned electricity company at a mandated $US70 a tonne – less than half current market prices.

Mr Ridwan said less than 1 per cent of the 5.1 million tonnes expected to be delivered in December had been fulfilled, and stockpiles had fallen to critical levels.

“If strategic actions aren’t taken, there could be a widespread blackout,” he said.

The ban, which Mr Ridwan said would be reviewed on January 5, sent shockwaves through coal markets on the weekend.

M Resources boss Matt Latimore, one of Australia’s biggest coal traders, told The Australian it was too early to judge the full impact of the ban, but said it would be “a gift” for Australian coal miners.

“The market is tight already, given supply constraints,” he said.

“This move will strengthen demand and prices for Australian coal even further from the ­current record highs on December 31 of $US357 a tonne for premium hard coking coal and $US170 a tonne FOB for thermal coal.”

The ban builds on action taken by the Indonesian government in August, when it forbade 34 domestic coal miners from exporting for allegedly failing to meet domestic market obligations in the first half of 2021.

Sources say it is not clear whether Indonesian authorities intend to enforce the ban for the entire month, or whether the weekend announcement is simply intended to shock producers into complying with their domestic power obligations.

But it is understood Indonesia’s coal industry spent the weekend in crisis talks with authorities aimed at an immediate lift of the ban, after the Indonesian Coal Mining Association said the directive was “taken hastily without being discussed with business”.

Key customers for Indonesian coal – including China, India, Japan and South Korea – are already scrambling for supply amid an energy crisis in the northern hemisphere winter.

It could also add fresh fuel to China’s energy crisis, given China is the biggest customer for Indonesian coal.

China’s problems have been exacerbated by its ban on Australian exports, which have pushed up domestic prices despite a call from authorities for local miners to increase production.

Indonesia coal now makes up more than 60 per cent of Chinese imports, according to Bloomberg figures.


Australian restaurant owner calls for Covid-positive staff to be allowed to work because the virus is now 'everywhere'

A restaurant owner has called for workers to be allowed to work while Covid-positive to prevent staff shortages as the virus is rampant anyway.

Iyas Shaheen, the owner of Sorrento Restaurant and Bar in Airlie Beach, urged the government to allow people who are infected but don't have symptoms to work.

The boss said he had lost a quarter of his workforce over the busy Christmas and New Year's Eve period after staff were forced to isolate as close contacts.

Without enough staff, the restaurant was forced to turn away 400 customers as Mr Shaheen struggled to find replacements.

'If we're going to move on and let the virus run rampant, we should treat it like any other illness where you call in sick if you're sick, but if you have the virus and you're not sick you can come to work and it does not have to be dependent on a negative test,' he told the Courier Mail.

'It [the virus] is everywhere now – if you test positive but there's nothing wrong with you, you should be able to go to work.'

Mr Shaheen called for a change to the directive as both the Omicron and Delta variants quickly spread through Queensland.

Other venues were forced to temporarily close before the busy end-of-year trade to ensure there was enough staff to tend to the crowds of revellers, he said.

Mr Sheehan blamed the reopening of the border to southern states previously considered Covid hot spots by the Queensland Government.

He said the spread of the virus would have been less severe across the Sunshine State if the border had reopened after the festive period.

The Queenslander border was flung open to residents from NSW, Victoria and the ACT on December 13, reuniting families who had been separated for 141 days.

'This is going to be a very, very special time of the year,' Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said in the days before the reopening.

'I know people have said to me personally, some of them haven't seen their grandkids for the first time.'

Covid-19 case numbers continue to surge in Queensland causing chaos at testing facilities as 5,699 new infections were reported on Tuesday.

Clinics across southeast Queensland were unprepared for the onslaught of hundreds of people who queued for up to seven hours to get tested.

Health authorities pointed out that though the state is recording more than 20,000 active cases, the number of hospitalisations and ICU admissions is steady.




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