Sunday, December 03, 2017

NSW National  party pushes for new coal-fired power station

NSW Nationals will push Premier Gladys Berejiklian to build a coal-fired power station in the Hunter region using proceeds from the $2.6 billion sale of the Land and Property Information service.

Ms Berejiklian announced on Friday that $2.3bn would be spent on Sydney stadiums — using the proceeds from the sale of the LPI service — but under the agreement on asset sales with the ­Nationals, one-third of sale proceeds needs to be spent in the bush.

The Restart NSW fund, topped up with money from the sale of the state’s electricity and port businesses, as well as NSW government windfall gains, is distributed two-thirds to the city and one-third to the bush. Deputy Premier John Barilaro is said to have raised the issue of a potential publicly funded coal-fired power station or a public-private partnership at a cabinet meeting this month.

Energy Minister Don Harwin and other Liberals are said to have spoken against the proposal.

At that meeting, the Premier pledged to hold a cabinet meeting specifically to address energy to discuss the proposal.

“The Nats want our share of the LPI funding to go to a coal-fired power station,” a senior NSW ­Nationals source said.

The push for a coal-fired power station follows a Queensland election that saw One Nation take conservative votes from the Liberal and National parties, and also follows two NSW state by-elections, in Cootamundra and Murray, in October at which the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers ran the Nationals close.

Queensland LNP leader Tim Nicholls flagged in September that a government led by him would consider diverting taxpayer funds from renewable energy into a new, privately owned coal-fired power station.

Conservative parties such as the Shooters promise to be a challenge for the Nationals in the 2019 NSW election. One Nation will be a challenge if it is registered in NSW by March next year.

The idea would be to build at the Liddell power station site — with the station due to reach the end of its life in 2022 — or another location in the seat of Upper Hunter. Nationals MP Michael Johnsen holds Upper Hunter by 2.2 per cent and is under threat from ­either Labor or the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party.

“From my perspective, I think we should be building two or three of them (coal-fired power stations) to increase capacity, increase supply and reduce prices,” Mr Johnsen said yesterday.

“I’m going to keep advocating for it and ‘Barra’ (Mr Barilaro) is as well. It would make sense to put a new station where existing infrastructure is. There may be some opposition (by the Liberals); not necessarily principled opposition but policy opposition ... the state doesn’t own power stations but my comment to that is, so what?”

In an interview with The Australian during the Murray by-election campaign, Mr Barilaro confirmed he had discussed with Ms Berejiklian the NSW government building of a clean coal-fired power station rather than wait for private sector interest.

“I hope the federal government — or at a state level — someone builds a clean-coal power station and gives confidence to the sector that clean coal is palatable, that gas is palatable,” Mr Barilaro said at the time.

“Why can’t the government build it? We could always onsell it later but we need to disrupt the energy sector and I think Australian people and Australian industry are jack of governments not showing leadership.” The Premier declined to comment last night.


Phonics check is crucial in early years education

A key policy proposal of the CIS’s FIVEfromFIVE literacy project is a Year 1 Phonics Check. The rationale for the Check is that phonics (sounding out words) is an essential skill for proficient reading, and there is good reason to believe that many teachers are not teaching phonics well. A simple assessment administered towards the end of Year One — a crucial point in learning to read — would show which students have not acquired this skill and are therefore likely to struggle with reading throughout their schooling.

The Year One Phonics Check has been implemented in all primary schools in England since 2012 and has been shown to be an effective tool for identifying struggling readers and for guiding teaching and intervention. There has also been an improvement in reading comprehension in later years of school since the Phonics Check was introduced.

Despite this, there has been a concerted campaign against the Phonics Check in Australia from teachers unions and professional associations, who claim it is unnecessary and even ‘harmful’. Some opponents appear to object to the Check on the basis that they don’t like the people who are promoting it. The most likely reason they are opposing the Check is that they are worried about what the results might show.

Those who claim the Phonics Check is unnecessary state that teachers already assess phonics in the early years, and that the Check is an affront to teachers’ professionalism. If teachers are already assessing phonics, they have nothing to fear from the Check. However a review by an expert advisory panel appointed by the Australian government found that there is no consistent systemic assessment of phonics in Year 1 in Australian schools.

Those who claim the Phonics Check is harmful typically point to the inclusion of pseudo or nonsense words in the Check, claiming that teaching pseudo words is pointless. This is correct but misleading — the Phonics Check does not encourage the teaching of nonsense words but using them for assessment is a valid and accurate way of determining phonic knowledge because it reduces the possibility the child will be reading the word using their sight word memory.

There is however, strong support for the Year 1 Phonics Check from many academics, researchers, principals, teachers and parents. An online petition has garnered more than 3000 signatures and social media is alight with debate. The FIVEfromFIVE video explainer has had almost 13,000 views.

The Year 1 Phonics Check proposal will be discussed by education ministers at the Education Council meeting next Friday. The arguments for the Check are clear and compelling. At the very least, it is worth doing a national trial. Any objections to such a proposal can only be on political rather than educational grounds, and that would be a very disappointing result indeed.


Policy Shock – Greens are forcing Australia back to Mining and Farming

Once upon a time Australia was attractive to processing, refining and manufacturing industries using our abundant mineral and food resources, our reliable low-cost coal-fired electricity and a workforce trained in technical skills.

No longer.

Australia used to have 11 oil refineries, spread around the country. There are just 4 left, all over fifty years old, and all in danger of closing down. Green barriers to oil exploration have forced most of them to rely on costly imported crude oil.

We buy our jet fuel from North Asia and have just 19 days supply of aviation fuel in the country. Australia’s diesel supplies sometimes fall to just 13 days of consumption.

Now, for the first time in at least 60 years Australia no longer produces motor vehicles.

China and India have about 430 coal power plants under construction but Australia has not built a single coal-fired power station for seven years - some politicians even rejoice when they manage to close and demolish one.

Brisbane’s new trains are being made in India, Victa mowers are made in China and most coastal shipping died decades ago. Steel works and refineries producing aluminium, copper and zinc are under stress. All these industries are being pushed overseas by costly unreliable electricity and other government barriers and burdens.

Red-green policies being pushed by all major parties are making Australia more dependent on bolted-down industries such as mining and farming that can’t be sent overseas because their basic resources are here. And green opposition to nuclear power increases Aussie reliance on coal.

A century ago Australians relied on wool, wheat, gold, silver, copper, lead-zinc, butter, beef and timber – all products of bolted-down industries.

Red-green policies are pushing us back to those days. Politicians need to remember Newton’s Law of Bureaucracy – whenever the government tries to use the force of law to achieve economic goals the long term results will be equal and opposite to those intended.

So in the long run, red-green energy and environmental policies will make us more dependent on the bolted-down industries they now attack – mining, farming, forestry and fishing.


TV host slammed over ‘anti-Semitic’ comment

Old-fashioned humour is dangerous these days

BROADCASTER Eddie McGuire has been accused of making anti-Semitic comments during an episode of Millionaire Hot Seat.

The Anti-Defamation Commission confirmed to the Herald Sun it received several complaints regarding an exchange between the Collingwood President and a contestant this week.

During the show Serena Greenberg said she hoped to win $20,000 to help her parents pay for a trip overseas to visit their grandchildren.

“Your Dad’s not Jewish, is he?’’ McGuire asked.

She replied: “Yes.’’

McGuire responded: “So you have a Jewish father and a Scottish mother ... I reckon it would have been hard getting pocket money from them!”

Anti-Defamation Commission Chair Dr Dvir Abramovich said the comments were disappointing and he was surprised they made it to air.

“While we appreciate the value of humour and give entertainers a lot of leeway, public figures need to show sensitivity and be careful not to traffic in age-old hurtful and demeaning stereotypes, especially those commonly associated with anti-Semitic myths,’’ he told the Herald Sun.

McGuire told the paper it was meant to be a joke and he himself was Scottish. “It was about Scottish people, of which I am one,’’ he said. “It was a joke aimed at myself and my family. We had a laugh, we moved on.’’


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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