Friday, August 31, 2018

Why your power bills are set to drop more than $400: New Energy Minister has 'one goal' for the job - and it's good news for consumers

Household energy bills could drop by as much as $400 under Federal Minister for Energy Angus Taylor's new plan. Mr Taylor set out his priorities before his first speech to parliament today after being sworn into the role.

He will outline the plan, which is focused around better competition, better reliability, a price safety net for consumers, and steps to end price gouging, at a small business summit in Sydney.  

'I'm focused on getting prices down while I keep the lights on. I've got one KPI. I've got one goal,' he told on The Australian on Thursday.

'At the end of the day, we just want to get prices down. We're not going to get ideological about it; we just want to get the outcome. It's very pragmatic,' he said.

Mr Taylor says reducing emissions in line with Paris Climate Agreement targets, which previous plans had said was needed to provide certainty to the industry, is not part of his brief.  'Frankly, I think there is some naivety in the idea that governments can largely eliminate uncertainty, or should even try,' Mr Taylor said.

The price safety net Mr Taylor wants to implement is based around the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission's proposed default market price to replace unregulated standing offers, which could save households up to $416 a year and small businesses up to $1457.   

Mr Taylor takes charge of energy after it was broken off from the Environment portfolio by new PM Scott Morrison in a gesture signalling major market reform.

While working as a financial analyst for Port Jackson Partners in 2013, Mr Taylor authored a report that suggested the costs of electricity could be reduced by dropping the Renewable Energy Target. Speaking at an event in 2013, Mr Taylor said dropping subsidies for wind farms would cut energy bills by more than $3billion. Mr Taylor also argued emission targets could still be met and the savings could be up to $300 per household by 2020.

Energy and emissions targets have long been a dividing issue in party rooms with policies going as far back as the Rudd government's proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme failing to gain consensus.

The latest iteration of the policy, which Mr Turnbull called the National Energy Guarantee, was instrumental in his downfall because the conservative faction in the Liberal Party is staunchly opposed to the plan.

A key point was to legislate a reduction in emissions of 26 per cent, a number in line with the Paris Climate Agreement, but one critics said was pointless if big emitters did not follow suit.

As the new front bench was sworn in on Tuesday, Mr Morrison labelled Mr Taylor his 'most important minister'.

'A tough job, but an extremely important one that has a big impact on so many Australian households and businesses,' Mr Taylor tweeted of the appointment.

Many see Mr Taylor, who has a Master of Philosophy in Economics from Oxford University, as the man to bring sense to the debate.

'The problem with energy policy for years is it doesn't focus on the energy, it focuses on if you are in favour of coal, wind, solar or hydro,' Mr Taylor said. 'What we should be wanting is reliable, affordable power that brings down our emissions.'

The 'Minister for getting energy prices down' as the new PM labelled him when he announced his new front bench on Sunday, has long been a critic of rushing into a transition to renewable energy, particularly the wind farms being built in his electorate of Hume.

'The obsession with emissions at the expense of reliability and affordability has been a massive mistake,' he told radio shock jock Ray Hadley two weeks ago.  


'Would they do this if he was Muslim?' The ABC is slammed for using taxpayer dollars to mock Scott Morrison's Christian faith in axed comedy show

The ABC has been slammed after its comedy show Tonightly with Tom Ballard targeted new Prime Minister Scott Morrison's Christian faith.

The skit, performed on Monday night by comedians Bridie Connell and Wyatt Nixon-Lloyd, tried to connect the nation's refugee policy to Mr Morrison's religious beliefs.

A song by the duo, who dubbed themselves the 'Shadow Ministers', featured lyrics such as: 'ScoMo is under the spell of Jesus' charm, and kids are under safety watch for self-harm.'

Other controversial lyrics included: 'We love Jesus, Jesus, but not refugee-us' and 'to do what pleases Jesus, deny them all visas.'

Mr Morrison is Australia's first Pentecostal Prime Minister, and vowed in December last year to fight back against discrimination and mockery of religious groups. In his maiden speech, he said: 'My personal faith in Jesus Christ is not a political agenda.'

However, some have been quick to use it against him.

Many on social media were quick to defend the new Prime Minister, who is less than a week into his term.

On a Facebook response to the Tonightly act, one wrote: 'This is abhorrent editorial garbage. Completely disrespecting the views of many Australians and faith.' 'Would they do this if he was a Muslim?' another asked.

Their sentiment was seconded by Peter Kurti from the Centre for independent Studies.

'The show would probably not mock the ­religious beliefs of Ed Husic, Islam, or Josh Frydenberg, Judaism,' he said, the Daily Telegraph reported.

NSW opposition education spokesman, Jihad Dib said: 'I think once it gets into a personal issue about someone's faith … then I think we're going down the wrong path.'

According to the Daily Telegraph, an ABC spokesman defended Tonightly, saying it regularly satirised 'people in positions of authority, regardless of their race, gender or religious beliefs'.

Tonightly was earlier cancelled after two seasons, with its final show scheduled for September 7.

'Tonightly deliberately pushed boundaries to inform and entertain,' an ABC spokesperson said.


Leftist hot air in Victoria

AN UNDERGROUND rail network billed as the “biggest project in state history” has Melburnians talking about its one big flaw.

IT’S slaps on the back, high fives and “job well done” at the Victorian Premier’s office this morning after arguably his biggest announcement since taking the state’s top job.

Daniel Andrews shocked the electorate and shook up the race ahead of November’s state election with plans to build a $50 billion underground rail network to revolutionise the way Melburnians travel.

The plan, dubbed Victoria’s “biggest public transport project in history”, would include 90 kilometres of new trackwork, 12 new stations and an airport link.

Importantly, it would cut out the need for travel from suburban centres through the city before connecting to other lines — a longstanding bugbear for commuters.

But hold the applause. There’s a giant criticism befitting a project of this magnitude: It’s going to take way too long to build.

Mr Andrews said commuters could expect to take a ride on the proposed line by the middle of the century. Yep, 2050.

Victorians waiting for a faster train trip will have to wait 32 years.

Provided the Labor Party is reinstated in November, work still won’t begin until 2022 at the earliest, just in time for the next state election.

“It’s a fantastic idea, but running 20 years late,” a reader told Others shared that sentiment.

“Many will be dead before it’s built,” a reader wrote.

“Thirty years is a long time for disruptive technologies to emerge that have the possibility of making this obsolete,” another wrote.

The state’s public transport minister Jacinta Allan tried to quell concerns that the project would be outdated by the time the first train departs.

“2050 is not that far off,” she said. “These big projects take time.”

The state opposition lashed the announcement, labelling it “a plan for the next generation”.

“At the moment, the Andrews Labor Government can’t say how much it will cost, how it will be funded or when it will be finished,” the Liberal Nationals said in a statement.

“They have no business case, no engineers report and they won’t rule out more sky rail across Melbourne.”

The Suburban Rail Loop is still in its early planning stage, so it’s normal for some details to remain guarded.

What we know so far is that it would link every major train line in Melbourne and carry an estimated 400,000 passengers every day.

The loop would start near Cheltenham in Victoria’s southeast and travel all the way to Werribee, 32 kilometres south west of the Melbourne CBD.

The loop would link through new stations at Clayton, Monash, Burwood, Glen Waverley, Box Hill, Doncaster, Heidelberg, Bundoora, Reservoir, Fawkner, Broadmeadows, Sunshine and Melbourne Airport.

“The suburban rail loop includes connections to major jobs precincts, universities and TAFEs, hospitals and retail centres,” a promotional video released on Tuesday explains.

“When complete, it will … take thousands of existing passengers off city-bound trains and 200,000 vehicles off congested roads.”

Mr Andrews revealed little when making the announcement on his Facebook page.

“We’ll build an underground suburban rail loop connecting Melbourne’s train lines,” he wrote.

“It will get you where you need to go, wherever you live — and that’s what our growing state needs.”

But he later delivered more detail at a press conference in Box Hill. He said the government had committed $300 million and that “all the geotechnical work, engineering, design and planning will be done beginning first thing next year”.

He said construction will be underway in 2022 “if not sooner, if we can manage it” and the first stage of the project will be to build the 25 kilometre line between Cheltenham to Box Hill.

“We’ve spent the last 12 months … doing the hard work to determine whether this project makes sense,” he said.

“Does it actually stack up? The answer is yes, it does.”

The public response was fast and mostly favourable.

“Mind blown,” one commenter wrote below the announcement.

“About time … we shouldn’t need to travel into the city before we travel to outer suburbs,” another wrote.

However, some were sceptical.

“Dan … the pigs flying past the window are screaming ‘Tell ‘em they’re dreaming’. This will never happen,” one wrote.

One said it was a “great idea” but “kind of seems like a pipe dream” and another said it will be the “most expensive white elephant since NBN”.

Mr Andrews responded: “This is happening. It won’t be finished overnight, but I promise you this: we will start it.”

Ms Allan said the project was required to meet the demands of the city’s booming population. It’s expected 8 million people will call Melbourne home by the time the project is complete.

Public transport is expected to be a major battleground at the state’s November election. Earlier this year, the government revealed futuristic metro station concept designs for the state’s $11 billion Metro Tunnel project.

That project includes new stations at North Melbourne, Parkville, Royal Melbourne Hospital, State Library, Town Hall and Anzac.

Construction is well underway on that project with the Metro Tunnel and it’s new stations expected to open to passengers in 2025.


Sudanese mother and son who were stealing $440,000 a WEEK from taxpayers at height of childcare scam are jailed over $6M fraud

Another example of how Africans thank you for helping them

A South Sudanese mother and son defrauded the Australian government of $440,000 a week at the height of a childcare scam that pocketed them $6million dollars.

Rosa Riak and Kuol Deng were both sentenced to four years in jail at Melbourne County Court on Wednesday for making false subsidy claims through different childcare businesses.

Riak's daughter Achai Deng was also sentenced to 18 months in jail, but released immediately on a good behavior bond.

The court heard claims were made for children who were never cared for at their centres - with some of the staff abroad or in a different state at the time.

One business claimed just $45,000 over 12 months before being bought by the Deng's - but in the next year claimed $6.2million.

Justic McInerney said $950,000 of that amount had been falsely claimed.

Deng spent $165,000 on a Range Rover, and asked his mother where he should store $80,000 in cash - according to Channel 7.

The trio told the court they were 'ashamed' for defrauding the country which gave them citizenship in 2006. They had fled from a Kenyan refugee camp in 2004.

According to The Australian, the judge said Deng had called investigators 'stupid' and indicated they weren't smart enough to catch them.

He said: 'Your community has undergone unjustified vilification in recent times - you have added to the trauma your community must endure.

Justic McInerney also criticised the Commonwealth Department of Education - questioning how Deng and his sister were able to start various businesses after a previous one had been closed.


National educational testing under attack because it exposes the truth

The latest skirmish in the never-ending war against NAPLAN is being fought on the grounds of "comparability". According to American consultants commissioned by the NSW Teachers’ Federation, this year’s NAPLAN results “should be discarded” because around 20 per cent of students completed NAPLAN online while the rest used paper and pencil. The consultants claim that “enormous” differences between the two test formats make any comparison between them misleading.

Curiously, the offshore consultants reached their conclusion without any reference to the 2018 NAPLAN results. Instead, they relied on a few studies of other tests, including some 30-year-old ones — what sort of computers were around then? — their own opinions, and some gratuitous comments about the incompetence of Australian statisticians.

The consultants’ report is riddled with errors. Despite the report’s claims to the contrary, students sitting the online test can in fact go back to review and change answers to previous questions. More importantly, there are numerous examples of large-scale assessments like NAPLAN that have been able to draw valid comparisons between online and paper results. These include the Program for International Assessment, or PISA, and the Trends in International and Science Study, or TIMMS.

ACARA has now released this year’s results and they clearly show that the online and paper and pencil tests are indeed comparable.

This does not mean that the paper and pencil and the online test are identical — they are different — but they are comparable because both measure the same underlying skills: numeracy and literacy. Comparing NAPLAN scores across testing modes — or across years, for that matter — is like comparing length using centimetres and inches. They are different, but they can be compared because they both measure the same thing (length).

As it turns out, there was a difference between the paper and pencil and the online version of NAPLAN, but it was not one that the union’s consultants predicted. Based on a 1992 study, the consultants claimed that typewritten essays receive lower marks than handwritten ones. The year 9 NAPLAN results showed just the opposite — students who completed their writing tests online scored higher on the average than those who wrote by hand. This result reflects older students’ experience with writing on computers and the ease with which computer writing can be reviewed and edited.

The ability to write clearly is a vital skill; it is essential to success in practically all lines of work, yet this year’s NAPLAN results show that writing scores are at their lowest level since NAPLAN testing began. Because students are more likely to review and edit their work when writing on a computer, online writing has the potential to improve both instruction and assessment. Instead of criticising word processing and online writing, we should be harnessing this technology to improve writing skills.

The online version of NAPLAN offers numerous benefits. Results will be available much earlier in the school year to facilitate earlier intervention, and they will also be more precise. In contrast to the present one-size-fits-all paper test, NAPLAN online is tailored to the abilities of each student. Teachers receive a more precise picture of each student’s strengths and weaknesses. Also, for the first time, NAPLAN will be able to be tailored to the individual needs of students with disabilities.

Like the legendary Rorschach inkblots used by psychiatrists, NAPLAN elicits radically divergent responses from different observers. Depending on whom you ask, the tests are too short, too long, too soft, too difficult, too narrow, too broad, too frequent or too rare. And now we are told that they cannot be compared. None of this is true.

NAPLAN exposes the truth. This year it exposed a persistent lack of improvement in writing in the 10 years since the assessment started, with one in five Year 9 students failing to achieve the minimum benchmark. Without NAPLAN we would be in the dark about these parlous education outcomes, which risks seeing our students continue to fail.

NAPLAN holds teachers, principals, schools and governments accountable. And it ensures the transparency of education results — allowing parents to be well informed. Many people find this uncomfortable, so they attack the assessment using every argument that they can mount.

It is time for parents, policymakers, and community leaders to make their voices heard. This battle will likely not be the last skirmish in the war on NAPLAN. But if the battalions that are attacking NAPLAN win, it is our students who will lose.


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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