Sunday, October 14, 2012

Tasmanian dams exporting electricity to the mainland

If you want to get Greenies frothing at the mouth about this, just say "Lake Pedder".  Even better, say "enlarged Lake Pedder".  Greenies hate dams, even ones that just enlarge an existing lake

HYDRO Tasmania has sold $41 million worth of electricity across Basslink in the first three months of the carbon tax.

In a bonus for the state, a wet spring means that despite the exports, Hydro storages are higher than at June 30.

Hydro had stored water equivalent to 8890GWh of electricity on October 12 compared with 7794GWh on June 30 -- the highest level since 2006.

Hydro exported an average of 63GWh a week in the first quarter of the financial year, a total of 836GWh, at an average price of $49 a megawatt hour.

The carbon tax appears to have boosted spot prices on the National Electricity Market with the average price of $49 a megawatt hour comparing with last year's average for the same period of $31 a megawatt hour.

The carbon tax helps Hydro because it receives the higher price for electricity without having to pay the carbon tax, because water and wind generation does not produce carbon dioxide.

With an ability to store power, Hydro is well placed to export in summer when prices can shoot up to $12,500 per megawatt hour as Victorians and South Australians turn on air-conditioners.

In the mid-financial year report last year, the State Government increased the dividend it expected from Hydro from 50 to 70 per cent of underlying profit.

A State Government spokesman said recent Treasury modelling suggested that increased dividends from the government business enterprise would be worth $60 to $70 million a year to the Tasmanian budget.

"Dividend tax and rate equivalent income from GBEs is estimated to be $233 million in 2012-13 an increase of $14.8 million," the spokesman said.

"Beyond 2012-13, the forward estimates indicate that dividend, tax and rate equivalent income is forecast to grow to $310.7 million by 2015-16."


Sri Lankans not genuine refugees

ELECTRICIANS, security guards, government workers and businessmen were among a wave of middle-class asylum seekers caught leaving Sri Lanka by boat, the country's navy has revealed.

In a briefing to a Liberal MP on a study tour, Sri Lanka's navy revealed that most of the 2279 people arrested leaving on 52 boats this year from 24 locations were "economic migrants" looking for a better life in Australia.Sri Lankan authorities believed the asylum seekers had mortgaged property, taken out loans, pawned jewellery and received support from others to fund the $10,000 payment for people smugglers to take them to Australia.

The navy claimed in a briefing that asylum seekers chose to board unseaworthy one-engined boats for the dangerous 25 to 30-day journey to Australia in "appalling conditions" because of the "success rates" of Australia's asylum processing claim system.

Almost 100 of those arrested were businessmen, 179 were fishermen, 27 government workers, 87 drivers, 158 labourers, 15 electricians, 87 farmers and 43 masons.

Photographs taken by the navy (above) show filthy hulls into which dozens of people had been crammed along with pictures of each boat and a separate image of the asylum seekers, sometimes more than 100 from each boat, including pregnant women and very young children.

Sri Lankan officials have arrested eight people-smuggling kingpins, six of them in the Sri Lankan port city of Trincomalee.

Despite the arrests, 4109 Sri Lankans have reached Australia this year, including one boat carrying 70 people which arrived at the Cocos Islands yesterday. An unknown number have drowned.

Sri Lanka's High Commissioner to Australia, Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe, said yesterday there was no way of knowing how many had died on voyages but that relatives had reported family members missing to police.

Liberal MP Don Randall was briefed two weeks ago by the head of the navy in a region of Sri Lanka.

He spoke with 36 asylum seekers who had been arrested, including a man with his children. All said they wanted to come to Australia for a better life. Others who had been arrested were fishermen wanting to earn more.

"He had the rest of his family with him, he had sold his house, he resigned from his public service job," Mr Randall said before adding the asylum seekers who were arrested were not tortured or mistreated upon their return. Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said that after the largest refugee camp in Sri Lanka was closed last month, following the end of the nation's civil war in 2009, the government had an opportunity to return asylum seekers.

"Labor's inaction is encouraging more people to ... undertake a voyage even more dangerous than the one from Indonesia," Mr Morrison said.Asked about the report, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen declined to comment.

The UNHCR has recently returned more than 230,000 internally displaced Sri Lankans to their villages and assisted 873 who voluntarily returned from overseas.

A spokesman said the UNHCR still recommends "all claims by asylum seekers from Sri Lanka be considered on their individual merits", which the Australian government said it complies with.

Meanwhile, an Iranian man attempted suicide yesterday at the Nauru processing camp.Refugee advocates said the asylum seeker was "blue" when found. A Department of Immigration spokeswoman said he suffered no injuries.

When asked about the report, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen declined to comment.


Schools go man hunting as male teacher numbers sink to all-time low

SALARIES of up to $99,000, 12 weeks holiday and the chance to shape the next generation: they're the selling points that will be put to WA students to boost the number of men taking up teaching.

In the wake of new lows in male teacher numbers, Education Minister Peter Collier met the heads of the Catholic and public primary school principal bodies this week to map out a plan to stem the exodus.

Mr Collier said the state's brightest teachers would be sent into schools to sell the profession to high school students.

He said the teachers would correct misconceptions about the profession, including that it was low paid. Graduate starting salaries would be $60,545 from December.

"My view is we have to market (teaching) and I just don't mean an advertising campaign," he said. "I mean getting out there and marketing it within our school environments and that's what we've come up with.

"It's the best job on Earth. There are so many positive attributes to a teaching career. Our teachers are now the highest paid in the nation, the conditions are really good and there are a raft of different opportunities.

"And the rewards (are) every day you're dealing with a group of children who have got energy. You can make a seismic difference in terms of the direction those kids take," he said.

The latest statistics show men make up 12.21 per cent of teachers in public primary schools and 36.5 per cent in secondary schools. The figures do not include deputy principals and principals.

Men represent 19.72 per cent of the teaching workforce in all public schools, compared with 21.44 per cent five years ago.

WA Primary Principals Association president Steve Breen will meet Education Department and Catholic and independent schools representatives this week to discuss the plan.

Mr Breen said it was the first step in turning around "scary" statistics.

"It's one little cog," he said. "Once people start retiring, I think the percentages will be worse. The next issue will be how do we target the people in other professions who want to come in as career-changers."

Senior teachers earn up to $91,567, but that will increase to $99,201 by the final year of their pay agreement.


Father given apology over 'missing' girl put in care

Slovenly "child protection" again

Child protection authorities were forced to apologise to a Canberra father for placing his three-month-old daughter in foster care without his knowledge.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had reported his wife and child missing to police when the girl was taken into care after his estranged wife had a breakdown in 2010.

It wasn't until this year that a Family Court process informed the father his daughter had been voluntarily entered into care for about three months in 2010.

The man concedes there were allegations of domestic violence against him, but says a police report found them to be unfounded.

In a letter to the Community Services Directorate after a complaint by the father, Children and Young People commissioner Alasdair Roy recommended care and protection services review the case and "give serious consideration to providing an apology".

Mr Roy found the father "should have been contacted by CPS, formally assessed as to whether he was a suitable placement option, and been given the opportunity to respond to any concerns or allegations about his suitability".

In an apology to the father, care and protection services director Helen Pappas said: "I acknowledge that communication should have taken place with you from the very start. I would like to advise that the relevant policies are being reviewed in light of your experiences."

The man, who also lodged a complaint with Community Services Minister Joy Burch, said yesterday his rights as a father had been denied.

"It was only when Alasdair Roy said you've breached the legislation and I strongly recommend that you apologise that they did," he said.

"How many times has this happened before and these people are not accountable? Hopefully by raising this we can make some positive changes."

Canberra Liberals community services spokeswoman Vicki Dunne said Ms Burch was "ultimately responsible" for the matter.

"Apologies after the fact are not going to put this family together," she said. "I think this is an utterly horrifying case but it's an example of all the things that go wrong in the care and protection system.

"This is a matter of leadership. How many times do things have to catastrophically go wrong in her department before this minister will take responsibility and take hold of this department and turn it around?"

Ms Burch said the matter had occurred more than two years ago and reforms to the care and protection sector had been made since. She said an unreserved apology had been made and accused Ms Dunne of politicising the case.

"For the Canberra Liberals to play politics with a sensitive case without knowing the circumstances, and to attack the difficult decision made by a front-line worker without knowing the context is deplorable," she said.

"A week out from the election we are yet to see a single policy from the Canberra Liberals on vulnerable families or care and protection.

"All we get is more attacks on front-line staff whose jobs would be at risk under a Liberal government."


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