Monday, September 24, 2018

Australia set to run on 100% renewable energy within 15 years

How the Green/Left can blind themselves to the obvious is a wonder. Do they seriously think that any population would settle for an electricity supply that only worked when the sun shone and the wind blew?  Yet that is what we would have with 100% renewable energy.  "Renewables" will always need to be backed to 100% of demand by conventional generators

Australia is set to reach its target of 100% renewable energy by the early 2030’s, provided current uptake of renewable energy options in the residential and commercial sectors remains strong.

The Australian renewables energy industry will install more than 10 gigawatts of new solar and wind power before the end of 2019 and if that rate is maintained, Australia would reach 50% of its renewables target in 2025.

The reduction target, set under the famed Paris Agreement into global climate change, forms part of a commitment made by Australia in 2015 to cut carbon emissions nationwide by up to 28% of 2005 levels by the year 2030.

It represents reductions of around 52% in emissions per capita and around 65% in the emissions intensity of the economy between 2005 and 2030.

Homeowners and industry have embraced the renewables challenge so well that it now seems possible the nation will reach the equivalent of 100% renewables for its electricity supply well before then.

A report by the Energy Exchange Institute at Australian National University, says merely keeping up the current rate of renewable energy deployment – roughly divided between solar photovoltaics (PVs), wind farms and rooftop solar PVs – would meet the country’s entire emissions reduction task for the whole economy by 2025.
New global energy capacity additions 2015 2017 solar wind
Net new global generation capacity additions in 2015 and 2017.

That doesn’t take into account recent announcements at State level to make solar a more attractive option to consumers.


University free speech charters must be more than mere words

Federal education minister Dan Tehan has proposed that Australian universities be required to adopt new codes to protect freedom of thought and expression.

This is in response to the growing campus activism against free expression; typified by last week’s disgraceful scenes at Sydney University, when left-wing students violently tried to stop social commentator Bettina Arndt from making a speech questioning the idea of a ‘rape culture’ at universities.

Tehan’s proposal would be a timely initiative to help our universities avoid the kind of full-blown free speech crisis occurring in universities in North America.

But to prove effective and uphold the principles of rational inquiry and civil debate that all universities should stand for, university freedom codes or charters cannot be toothless tigers—all platitudes and no action.

Universities that don’t defend freedom of thought and expression should have some of their $17 billion in public funding cut by the federal government, as is starting to happen in other countries.

We simply cannot rely on universities to defend free speech when the anti-free speech culture in contemporary universities is so deeply mired in political correctness and identity politics.

At Sydney university, more than 100 academics have opposed working with the Ramsay Foundation to teach students about the history of Western civilisation because this would supposedly violate the university’s commitment to “diversity and inclusion.”

This is the same rationale offered at American universities to justify ‘no platforming’ certain speakers.

So-called controversial thinkers and writers are denied the right to speak on campus because they are accused of allegedly promoting racist, patriarchial or homo- or trans-phobic ideas claimed as ‘offensive’ or ‘hurtful’ to some students.

The dire implications of this for free speech prompted the University of Chicago to conduct a special inquiry into freedom thought and expression in 2015.

The resultant Stone Committee Report—which Tehan’s university freedom charters should take a leaf from—rightly argued that concerns about students being exposed to ideas they disagree with or deem offensive should never justify shutting down free and open inquiry, because universities should guarantee “the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn.”

Tehan should also look closely at the new approach to defending free speech on campus in the Canadian province of Ontario, which requires universities to develop free speech policies as a condition of taxpayer-funding.

More importantly, the Ontario government’s commitment to promoting free speech on campus not only has teeth, but also practical bite: universities that do not develop, implement, and comply with free speech policies will face funding cuts.

It might be pitiful to think that universities need to sign up to a freedom charter—let alone be threatened with financial penalties—to defend freedom of thought and expression. And this is not to advocate that government uses public funds to censor universities.  Instead it is about universities fulfilling their traditional obligations as institutions of intellectual freedom.

But if we are going to address the anti-free speech culture on campuses, the government—on behalf of all citizens and all taxpayers—needs to hold universities to account to protect the free speech of all.


Liberals in bid to reverse collapse in support from older voters

Scott Morrison has moved to ­reverse a collapse in support for the Coalition among senior Australians with his decision to call a royal commission into the aged-care sector in addition to jettisoning Abbott-era plans to raise the pension age to 70.

Coalition sources say internal polling and focus group research confirms a weakness in support among seniors — a voter group that was generously rewarded under the Howard government and which became its strongest bulwark of support.

The Coalition has always held a dominant share of the vote among senior Australians, while Labor has consistently led among younger voters. However, the ­Coalition’s margin among older voters has narrowed significantly over the past five years.

Newspoll does not separately identify the over-65 age group, but among the over-50s, primary support for the Coalition peaked at 54 per cent under the Gillard government, when the impact of the carbon tax was being felt, having held at just under 50 per cent under the Howard government.

Support for the Coalition among this age group dropped to 44 per cent after the Abbott government’s “tough medicine” 2014-15 budget. It now languishes at ­between 40 and 43 per cent.

Malcolm Turnbull moved to shore up support in this age group last month when he announced the retention of the pensioners ­energy supplement, worth about $366 a year to single pensioners. Morrison’s decision to probe the aged-care sector and keep the ­retirement age at 67 has intensified those efforts.

Liberal backbencher Ann Sudmalis, who last week announced she would leave parliament at the next election in response to ­alleged bullying at a local level, highlights the government’s vulnerability to a backlash among older voters.

The census shows 34 per cent of voters in her electorate of Gilmore, which covers a stretch of the NSW south coast including Batemans Bay and Nowra, are aged 65 years or over, far in excess of the 23 per cent national average. Department of Social Services data shows that almost a quarter of Gilmore voters receive the Age Pension. Once a safe Coalition seat, Sudmalis now holds it by just 0.7 per cent. Labor analysts have the seat chalked into their column.

The senior vote is increasingly important. Since the 2013 election, the number of people on the electoral roll has increased by 10 per cent but the number of voters aged over 65 years has risen by 17 per cent. Senior voters represent about 23 per cent of the electorate, while policies directly affecting them also influence the votes of people in their 50s who are planning for retirement.

The Abbott government’s first budget, in 2014, came as a tremendous shock to older Australians. In pursuit of the senior Australians’ vote, the Howard government had legislated generous indexation, setting the Age Pension at 25 per cent of male total average weekly earnings. Wages almost always rise faster than consumer prices, and men’s wages rise faster, and are set higher, than women’s. The Rudd government raised the benchmark to 28 per cent.

However, the Abbott budget ordered an immediate shift to indexation based on the consumer price index, which abandoned any relationship with earnings.

ANU economist Peter Whiteford estimated that over the time scale of the government’s intergenerational reports, the value of the pension would drop to just 16 per cent of male earnings.

To make matters worse, the Abbott budget proposed raising the pension age from the 67 years to 70 years.

With 2.5 million recipients of the Age Pension, or about 15 per cent of the electorate (and the measure affecting a further 1.5 million people on disability and other pension payments), the Coalition government was taking electoral pain for very little gain. Although the change would make a huge difference in the long term, the measure was only saving $450 million over the budget period.

As social services minister from late 2014, Morrison took on the task of devising an alternative saving to the indexation cut, which had no chance of winning support in the Senate. His cleverly crafted response retained the long-established pension indexation, but ­adjusted the rate at which a part pension would be withdrawn under the assets test.

There would be an increase in the pension for those with low assets and a cut for those with high assets, apart from the family home.

The Department of Social Services calculated that 170,000 people would get more, while 320,000 would get less. Figures given to an estimates hearings this year suggest the initial impact hit 50,000 more people than expected.

Chief executive of the Council of the Aged Ian Yates said the first Abbott budget and the asset test changes cost the government political support. “There was a significant slippage of the older primary vote at that time,” he says.

Newspoll ratings among the 50-plus age group rose sharply following the ouster of Abbott by Malcolm Turnbull in 2015. They again topped 50 per cent. But Morrison, who was appointed treasurer following the leadership coup, made the reform of superannuation an early priority. The aim of superannuation was to reduce the 80 per cent of the aged population dependent on the pension rather than wealth creation, he said. “It is not an estate planning tool. It is to help people have a pool of retirement savings that they can draw down to live on,” he said.

His superannuation reforms were deeply unpopular with the Liberal Party base, imposing limits on the amount of non-concessional contributions and placing a $1.6 million cap on what could be transferred into a tax-free retirement-phase fund. Although share investors are typically strong ­Coalition supporters, analysis by Australian National University professor Ian McAllister found that in the 2016 election, the holders of self-managed superannuation funds were no more likely to vote for the Coalition than for Labor. “Controversial changes in Liberal policy effectively neutralised the electoral advantages that the party would otherwise have enjoyed on the issue,” he wrote.

Funding changes affecting the 65,000 aged-care residents add to the picture of a government seeking savings from a section of the population unable to lift their incomes to compensate. The reality is that the 2016-17 budget, saving $1.2bn, echoed similar moves under the Gillard government.

COTA’s Yates emphasises that Morrison has been responsive to the needs of senior Australians. This year’s budget included a package of measures to help older Australians remain in the workforce — an unusual social policy initiative for a treasurer.

Yet McAllister believes the damage has been done and Morrison’s efforts to cauterise the loss of votes will be ineffective. He suspects many of the Coalition votes among seniors have gone to One Nation, particularly in Queensland. “It has gone on for too long and people are not listening.’’

The Coalition is hoping Labor's plan to stop cash refunds of dividend imputation credits will help it turn the tide. Labor is untroubled. Its officials note the Coalition campaigned hard on the dividend imputation policy in the Longman by-election. But on Bribie ­Island in the electorate, where voters aged over 65 years represent 48 per cent of voters, booths showed an 11 per cent swing from the Coalition and a 4 per cent gain by Labor.


Scott Morrison’s marketing campaign targets the pain points

We have an election coming. And this time it’s different — our sitting prime minister is a marketing man.

A simple campaign strategy is emerging. Stripped down, this strategy is systematically to go through all the pain points of the Coalition out there in voter land and remove them. This is more than barnacle scraping because these pain points are not just slowing down the good ship ­Coalition — the ship is taking on water after a bloody mutiny.

However, once you remove the pain points, you take the oxygen from Labor on policy criticism. And once you do all of that, what this election comes down to is a battle between two personalities, Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten. And we know what the polls say about that.

If this sounds crude, look at what the Morrison government has been addressing.

First, the drought, a particular pain point for the Nationals, whose support Morrison desperately needs after the bitter personal spat between Barnaby Joyce and Malcolm Turnbull.

Next, ditching the hugely ­unpopular big company tax cuts, an albatross weighing heavier as each day of royal commission scrutiny passes. Enter Scott “Cry Me a River” Morrison, the man who put the levy on the banks.

Third, electricity prices, perhaps the single-most critical pain point to address in a campaign. Enter Angus “Down Down” Taylor, the new energy minister who now only has two targets: price and reliability. Emissions are not a pain point.

Then there is the royal commission into financial services in itself, which the Coalition fought off for so long: clearly in hindsight the wrong call. When he responds to Kenneth Hayne’s interim report next Friday, ­expect the PM to deliver at least as much theatre as counsel Rowena Orr has manufactured.

Fifth, the PM ups the stakes by announcing a new royal commission into the elderly and nursing homes, nipping in the bud the growing anguish of baby boomers and their parents, and getting in ahead of Labor. The government has also ditched its zombie measure of raising the retirement age. That’s not a bad pitch to boomers, particularly if you toss in a robust scare campaign against Labor on franking credits and negative gearing.

At number six, Morrison has now quelled the Catholic school funding issue, worth every cent in campaign terms.

There will be other pragmatic decisions to come, many pitched at delivering greater fairness­ ­between haves and have nots. Certainly, Cassandra Goldie at ACOSS is seizing the day: her joint call with Deloitte’s Chris Richardson for a $75 a week rise in Newstart is a strong candidate for a policy change that received no love in the May budget. But these are different times.

If Team Morrison can rid ­itself of the key electoral pain points, then the Morrison-Shorten face-off may be troubling for Labor. Turnbull versus Shorten opened up all manner of class-warfare opportunities that no longer are in play with the boy from the Shire.

A brilliant display of Team Morrison’s marketing deftness was the strawberry scandal, a genuine crisis for growers and a disturbing new threat of economic terrorism. The timing of the announcement by the PM and Attorney-General Chris­tian Porter to come down hard on these terrorist “grubs” with 15-year jail terms completely overwhelmed Labor’s new policy around getting rid of the gender gap through super contributions during maternity leave.

Now you’d think that at a time when the Morrison government is under fire for bullying, women are jumping overboard and the PM’s own directive for a woman in Wentworth went ignored, Labor’s announcement would have cut deep, but no. On his way to question time on Wednesday, Morrison did a walking, talking flawless piece to camera on strawberries worthy of any media professional, now sitting on the PM’s Twitter.


ABC’s undergraduate-style bias goes off the charter

Imagine if you had been stranded on an island for the past few years with nothing to watch, listen to or read from but Australia’s public broadcaster.

You would be under the false apprehension that our navy tortured asylum-seekers who were then raped on Nauru. You would think the people-smuggling trade was impossible to stop and that if boats were turned back there would be a conflict with Indonesia. You would think climate change was the greatest threat to the country, region and the world, and that it was already making our lives worse; on the bright side you would have faith that a carbon tax, emissions trading scheme or national energy guarantee would put an end to droughts, floods and bushfires while saving the Great Barrier Reef. You might be under the impression that our dams were dry and $12 billion of desalination plants were supplying us with water.

For a moment, you would have believed that the Donald Trump “nightmare” ended on the day he lost the election. But now you would be confused as to how he fired up conflicts on the Korean peninsula and in Iran without any hostilities eventuating.

There is a good chance you would be unaware of the US’s economic recovery but you would know the ins and outs of every crackpot allegation about Russian interference in American politics. Julia Gillard and Hillary Clinton would rank among your pantheon of political winners and role models. Profit and revenue would be interchangeable business terms and you might not comprehend that businesses must recoup losses before paying tax.

The Liberal Party coup that toppled Tony Abbott would stand as an example of a sorely needed and democratically orthodox leadership switch while the felling of Malcolm Turnbull would rank with The Dismissal as a repudiation of all that was acceptable in political affairs. While you would recognise Abbott as the “most destructive” politician of our time, you would see Turnbull as a victim who was knifed for no apparent reason. Still, that confusion would have ended this week when you heard that the real reason we changed prime ministers was because a couple of media moguls decided they wanted to — all you need the ABC to tell you next is why they did it, and how.

This update falls a long way short of an exhaustive list of the public broadcaster’s litany of errors and unrepented deceptions. To be fair, all journalists and media organisations make their mistakes. It is the unrelenting and undisclosed ideological bent of the ABC’s errors that is so infuriating. The lack of intellectual integrity is less than we might demand of ­undergraduates.

The transgressions are so regular that to consume ABC news and current affairs is to enter an ­alternative reality of facts and expectations. Take the 7.30 interview this week with West Australian businesswoman Catherine Marriott, who had levelled allegations of sexual harassment against former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce. Leigh Sales declined to press her for any details about her claim. Allowed — nay, encouraged — to smear Joyce’s reputation without even a hint of what allegedly transpired, Marriott was not interrogated about why she did nothing for almost 1½ years before lodging a complaint with the Nationals in February this year, when Joyce was at the eye of a political storm over his personal life.

There was no scrutiny, no natural justice, no accountability — just a free opportunity to claim victim status and attack someone else’s reputation. Issues around the reporting of alleged sexual transgressions and how we treat alleged victims are difficult and sensitive, to be sure, but common decency and fairness demand that public allegations need to be sufficiently detailed to allow rebuttal, provide context and be tested.

An ABC News Twitter account this week circulated a picture of a delegation of six men and two women at Parliament House with the comment: “A ­visiting Saudi Arabian delegation has a higher proportion of women than the Coalition.” Really, the Coalition falls behind the Saudis on women’s rights? What an ­insult, not just to the Coalition, but to the women who suffer in that country. The ABC later deleted the tweet.

On Radio National’s Big Ideas this week, Paul Barclay spoke with US journalist David Neiwert, ­author of Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump. “I think he’s frankly too stupid to be an ideologue,” Neiwert said of Trump. And so it went.

Barclay invoked Germany in the 1930s and talked about white extremist terrorism as the greatest threat in the US at a time we are “obsessed by Islamic terrorism”. According to Neiwert, “fake news and alternative facts” were all part of a plan to create “chaos” to “introduce fear” so that “fear induces this authoritarian response”. He said there was a “crisis for democracy”, overlooking the fact Trump was elected democratically.

This taxpayer-funded media world sure is a topsy-turvy one, full of conspiracies, evil far-right groups, climate threats, misogynist conservatives and governments talking up terrorism to increase their power and authority. It is what you might hear at a meeting of university activists, a GetUp sub-branch or perhaps a Greens protest. Thousands of adults on dozens of television, radio and online platforms propagate this stuff at our expense, 24/7.

Still, the story this week about Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Stokes dictating the prime ministership of this country takes the cake. It was laughable when it led ABC TV news bulletins on Tuesday night, extraordinary when it was presented prominently online and humiliating that the reports came not from some eager kid but from the ABC’s political editor, Andrew Probyn.

Apart from the teenage silliness of pretending that Murdoch and Stokes could just phone a few underlings to create a false media dynamic and force serious journalists to conjure up stories and commentary that then swung the votes of more than 40 MPs to change the leadership of the Liberal Party, Probyn had obvious facts wrong. In these pages during the week I detailed how his claim that this newspaper had been “unabashed in its advocacy for an end to the Turnbull prime ministership” was not only wrong but the opposite to what transpired.

Across three years of the Turnbull prime ministership and about 936 editorial columns, Probyn will not find a single editorial calling for this outcome.

Nothing else in Probyn’s piece rang true either, detailing as it did third-hand accounts of alleged conversations that only could have taken place after the leadership trauma was already playing out, and ­ignoring all the events that led to that denouement.

This was the sort of conspiracy theory that belongs on Twitter or intheGreen Left Weekly. It is not the sort of reporting that can be taken seriously or should be promoted to grown-ups. Naive, jaundiced and implausible, it also was wrong. To lead major bulletins with this was to seriously mislead the public and plunge the ABC’s reputation to new lows.

But it soon got worse. Stokes denied the communications, comments and interventions attributed to him. Probyn’s piece served only to demonstrate how the ABC’s reaction to Turnbull’s demise has started to mirror the reaction of liberal media in the US to the election of Trump: indignant denial triggering irrational and misleading reportage.

The worry is that this goes much deeper than one ill-advised and poorly edited piece by Probyn. It is the latest in a series of ideologically convenient false reports. Intriguingly, it acted as an irresistible lure, drawing praise and endorsement from other journalists and demonstrating how their political bent distorts their journalistic scepticism. Radio National host Hugh Riminton declared it was “good, detailed reporting” and another RN voice, Paul Bongiorno, retweeted the story, claiming it shed “more light on dark places”.

MediaWatch host Paul Barry retweeted the story with this recommendation: “Read this and weep. Australia’s media moguls plotting who should be PM. Important story from ABC News and Andrew Probyn.” Even ABC News director Gaven Morris pushed the story around, noting that Probyn had “worked for these two guys” and that his version of events was “worth a read”.

Interviewing senator Eric Abetz on Melbourne ABC radio, Jon Faine said, “We’ve got Scott Morrison as Prime Minister ­because Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Stokes decided.”

Oh dear. The Left loves conspiracy theories. Gore Vidal said he wasn’t so much a conspiracy theorist as a conspiracy analyst. The ABC ought to be wary of conspiracies lest its wishful thinking reveals too much about a corporate view of the world that, according to its charter, should not exist.


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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