Sunday, February 27, 2022

Wivenhoe dam is safe this time

This time the flood comparment has not been compromised for water storage. The previous Labor government of the clueless Anna Bligh tried to use the flood compartment as a substiute for building a new dam -- meaning that there was no flood control capacity when the big rains came. The present labor government has left the dam alone, mercifully

Releases from Wivenhoe a decade ago were blamed for contributing greatly to the flooding that inundated Brisbane and other parts of the South East in 2011. This is what is different this time around.

The dam’s storage can take millions more megalitres of water before any repeat of the catastrophe of the floods still fresh in the minds of South East Queensland residents.

Releases from Wivenhoe a decade ago were blamed for contributing greatly to the flooding that inundated Brisbane and other parts of the South East in 2011.

However, Graham Fraine, director-general of the department of water, said the current storage capacity of Wivenhoe meant there was no immediate threat of a repeat of that disaster, despite the grid’s main dam jumping from about 60 per cent to 100 per cent of capacity in a matter of days.

“For those interested in how that compares to the 2011 event, there is a lot more, in fact about two million megalitres more of supply that this dam can take at this point in time,” he said.

“There were some releases from Wivenhoe during the course of last evening and they were done at the time to do some strategic releases in order to manage water flow levels between the various parts of the SEQ network.

“Future releases will be looked at through the lens of the flood manuals that SEQ water operates by and through the lens of when rain and water levels subside.”

SEQ Water Chief Operating Officer Stuart Cassie said modelling showed Wivenhoe should be able to cope with the extra floodwaters without posing a risk to communities downstream.

“The current modelling that we’re using in conjunction with the BOM is not predicting that that capacity will be filled up,” he said.

“We’re playing a balancing act in terms of making sure that we’re not increasing the flows downstream unnecessarily so we will wait for the rains to subside and the flows in the rivers to subside and that’s the point that we will release water in accordance with the flood manuals.”


Former deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth has taken aim at Daniel Andrews for making it compulsory for school students to wear face masks

Chairman Dan is an obnoxious tyrant

Dr Coatsworth took to Twitter on Saturday to retweet a scathing post made by Crikey columnist Adam Schwab.

Schwab condemned the requirement that school students above Year 3 must continue to wear the extra layer of protection in classrooms across Victoria.

The mandate comes despite the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the peak national health agency in the US, relaxing its face mask recommendation.

The CDC announced face masks were no longer necessary in most classrooms.

'Meanwhile, in Victoria, with only 38 people (0.0006%) in ICU with Covid, Dan Andrews and Brett Sutton still demanding small children where masks for 7 hours a day.'

The CDC announced on Friday it does not recommend students to wear face masks if their school is located in suburbs with 'low' or 'medium' Covid-19 cases.

Victoria recorded 5,874 cases on Saturday - one of its lowest figures since February 21.

Hospitalisations have dropped to 281 - down from 301 - while ICU rates have slightly risen to 43 - up from 38.

The US continues to record tens of thousands of new cases a day with its seven day case average at 75,208.

Dr Coatsworth retweeted the post made by Schwab to his 21,400 followers on Twitter in an apparent swipe against the premier.

The online dig is the latest attack made by the top doctor after he accused Mr Andrews of scaremongering and using the mask mandate to boost vaccine rates in children.

'I haven't been a big fan of masks in primary school age children and that's because the disease is mild in that age group and we know the disease spreads far more readily in adults,' Dr Coatsworth told the Today Show on Wednesday.

'In my view, it doesn't make a lot of sense. It does trouble me that this is a sort mandate in a way to create the impetus for people to go and get their kids vaccinated when, really, it should be a choice.'

About 54 per cent of children aged five to 11 are vaccinated against Covid in Victoria, compared with 93.9 per cent aged 12 and over.

Other experts argue requiring some students to wear masks while their older siblings are exempt from the rule is impractical and unfounded.

Mr Andrews pointed to lower vaccination rates as a driver behind the decision and the risk of the virus spreading from children to the elderly or immunocompromised.


The stampede of green lemmings

No country on Earth relies entirely on wind and solar energy, but Australian politicians aim to achieve this miracle.

They are leaders in the ‘Stampede of the Green Lemmings’.

Solar energy has a huge problem. Even on sunny days almost nothing is generated to meet the demand peaks around breakfast time and dinner time – the solar energy union only works a six-hour day, goes on strike with little warning, and takes quite a few sickies.

So, for at least 18 hours of every day, electricity must come from somewhere else. Then at around noon millions of solar panels pour out far more electricity than is needed, causing electrical and financial chaos in the electrical grid.

Naturally, our green ‘engineers’ see wind power as filling the solar energy gaps. But wind power has a union too and they take lots of sickies when there is no wind over large areas of the continent. And they down tools in storms, gales, or cyclones in case their whirling toys are damaged.

So the green planners claim that batteries can solve these intermittent problems of the green energy twins.

They will need to be humungous batteries.

Batteries are just a crutch for a crippled generation system. And with fierce lithium battery fires reported regularly, who wants a humungous fire-prone battery over the back fence or in the basement?

A battery is not a generator of electricity – every battery (including Snowy 2.0) is a net consumer of electricity. Batteries are very expensive, most lose capacity as they age, and every conversion between DC storage and AC transmission triggers energy losses. To collect, back up, and re-distribute green electricity will require a continent-spanning spider-web of transmission lines with all the costs and energy losses that network entails.

Still nights and calm cloudy days are what really expose the problems of wind-solar-plus-batteries.

Suppose electricity consumers require 100 units of electricity every day. A well-designed coal, nuclear, or gas power station can do that, 24/7, day after day, whatever the weather.

But to insure a wind or solar system against, say, 7 days of calm or cloudy weather would require a battery capable of storing 700 units of electricity. To re-charge this huge battery while still supplying consumers will require much larger wind or solar generating capacity. However, if several weeks of windy or sunny weather then occur, this big battery will sit idle, connected to a bloated expensive generation system that is capable of delivering far more power than is needed.

Sunny or windy weather brings a deluge of green energy, causing power prices to plunge at irregular intervals, and forcing reliable generators to stop producing and lose money. Eventually they will close. Once all coal-gas generators are all gone, every (inevitable) green energy drought will awaken the spectre of extensive blackouts.

On top of all these practical problems of green energy, we have the massive carbon credits scam, where speculators sell green fairy stories to greedy bankers, and real producers are forced to buy these fictitious ‘products’, passing the costs onto real industry and consumers.

Australia is following the green energy lemmings of Europe.

Germany once produced abundant reliable electricity from coal and nuclear power – the backbone for German industry. Then green ants started nibbling at this backbone, replacing it with wind-solar toys. Now, Germany has expensive electricity – a grid in danger of collapse and must rely on imported gas from Russia, nuclear power from France or hydro-power from Scandinavia.

UK is also following similar foolish energy policies, even banning exploration of their own oil and gas resources.

Australia is almost alone in the Southern oceans, with no near neighbours to buy, beg or borrow electricity from. We cannot afford to follow the green energy lemmings or their billionaire pied pipers.


Want to ‘think bigger’? Switch off the ABC

Earlier this month, ABC Managing Director David Anderson delivered the startling news to a Senate Committee that, ‘Now, more than ever, the ABC belongs to all Australians, wherever they live.’

Anderson’s platitudinous refrain is as useful and potentially misleading as so much else that is said by the ABC about itself on all its platforms – but most importantly, its television platforms.

Does Anderson want us to ‘relate’ to the ABC much as we might relate to the Australian flag, the national anthem, or perhaps even to ANZAC Day itself?

Taxpayers know full well they pay for the national broadcaster – even the legions of people across this country who never engage with the broadcaster know it. Taxpayers also know the ABC stands alongside the Australian Tax Office, the Weather Bureau, and ASIO as ‘belonging’ to them. If not belonging to us – then who? The Managing Director of the public broadcaster it seems, was attempting to say the ABC means something more to taxpayers. What precisely, he never actually articulated.

Anderson went on at the hearing of the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee on February 15: ‘The ABC entered 2022 with the value of its services widely recognised and appreciated across the Australian community. Against the backdrop of a challenging year, the ABC achieved its highest reach in a decade in 2021.’

Lofty claims indeed.

Media organisations like nothing more than spruiking ‘dramatic’ and positive figures about audience reach and impact. Along with the claims about audience segmentation and market share from non-public broadcasters – audience members are right to be sceptical. Ask the right question and you’ll get the answer you’re looking for. Several people are employed at the ABC generating and collating audience data which, hardly surprisingly, is sliced and diced to be favourable to the ABC.

While the ABC’s commitment to higher staffing levels in rural and regional Australia is commendable – as is shifting some of the high-paid presenters out of their Sydney bunkers at Ultimo to Parramatta – it is on content the ABC should rightly be judged. In this – ABC television news and current affairs is consistently and comprehensively failing those who pay for it. The omission by Anderson to specifically mention ABC television current affairs in his opening remarks is itself telling.

Anderson, at no point during the hearing, revealed that ABC news rates third in Australia on a nightly basis with Channel 7 easily achieving in excess of one million viewers each night and Channel 9 not too far behind. The ABC, it has to be said, does sit ahead of Channel 10 – which astoundingly is watched by fewer people than live in the City of Geelong. (This data, which is not easy to obtain, was made available via sources that measure audience participation across Australia.)

The ABC makes much of trust. The broadcaster takes every opportunity to remind viewers and listeners how ‘trusted’ it is. Precisely how it measures this is not revealed and we are left to either ‘take it’ or ‘leave it’. Over the years 2019-21 – the ABC did increase its market share marginally, but then fell back again to 2019 numbers. Anderson failed to tell the Senate committee what the numbers are showing in 2022. In fairness, perhaps it’s too soon.

Interestingly, Anderson made much of truth and its relationship with democracy. It seems – according to Anderson’s logic – by committing oneself to the waves of verbiage from the ABC you can be sure of getting the truth, and this, in turn, builds and buttresses a flourishing democracy. Needless to say, reporters, presenters, producers, and so-called ABC ‘fact checkers’ love this notion as they can feel entirely virtuous for their role in building a stronger democracy. The ABC, so we asked to believe, is the bulwark against a sea of dangerous, unreliable junk (my words) from commercial TV land.

Audience members are repeatedly bombarded with exhortations to ‘think bigger’ by tuning in to ABC networks. Without a shred of humility, the ABC wants all of us to believe that by accessing the array of ABC platforms our minds will be expanded, our thinking deepened and presumably our knowledge more elevated. Implied also is that by tuning to non-ABC networks our thinking will not ‘get bigger.’

Some of what makes it to air on ABC current affairs television is of very high quality, but quite a deal isn’t. Foreign Correspondent is outstanding – showcasing the talent and experience of offshore ABC correspondents.

When a previously highly respected program such as Four Corners becomes embroiled in litigation and defamation action as it has over recent years, viewers rightly begin to ask if they are seeing the beginning of the end of a once world class production. It has been especially galling that taxpayers have picked up the costs in the majority of these matters.

More immediate current affairs offerings such as 7.30, The Drum, and Q&A have become formulaic, predictable, and each of them attract criticism for leaning to one side of politics over the other.

Not infrequently, such criticism would seem to be justified particularly in regard to 7.30’s coverage of national politics which has become strident, bitter, and decidedly lop-sided. That the ABC repeatedly tells its audience that these shows are ‘world class’ and ‘outstanding’ does not make them so. Viewers make these assessments, not the broadcaster.

The television current affairs model is clearly under pressure and all broadcasters – public and private – are having to rapidly adapt to survive contemporary and likely future upheavals.

Australians should both expect and demand so much more from the publicly funded broadcaster than it is currently getting. The parallel universe in which the ABC sees virtue in all that it does – minus the bloopers, barnacles, and blemishes – is no longer credible.

Something else that might exercise the minds of ABC executives and programmers is that young people are no longer accessing their news or current affairs from television.

They find the regimentation of television constraining and time consuming. In other words – the ABC’s so-called ‘flagship’ news and current affairs shows may well find themselves on a media scrap heap within a relatively short time. By the time news goes to air these days the vast majority of viewers already know it.

The rapidly changing tastes and habits of Australians, young and older, make the ABC’s vision to become the ‘most trusted digital content provider within five years’ all the more urgent and commendable.

Without a doubt, public broadcasting and digital news and current affairs provision are vitally important and Australians should be encouraged to demand of their ABC the very best that is reasonably affordable and deliverable.




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