Wednesday, September 30, 2020

UQ physics student works out ‘paradox-free’ time travel

A young University of Queensland student says he has found a way to “square the numbers” and prove that “paradox-free” time travel is theoretically possible in our universe.

From Back To The Future to Terminator to 12 Monkeys, stories dealing with time travel invariably have had to grapple with an age-old head-scratcher.

The so-called “grandfather paradox” – that a time traveller could kill their grandparent, preventing their own birth – broadly describes the logical inconsistency that arises from any action that would change the past.

But Germain Tobar, a fourth-year Bachelor of Advanced Science student, believes he has solved the riddle.

“Classical dynamics says if you know the state of a system at a particular time, this can tell us the entire history of the system,” he said in a statement.

“This has a wide range of applications, from allowing us to send rockets to other planets and modelling how fluids flow. For example, if I know the current position and velocity of an object falling under the force of gravity, I can calculate where it will be at any time.”

Einstein’s theory of general relativity, however, predicts the existence of time loops or time travel, “where an event can be both in the past and future of itself – theoretically turning the study of dynamics on its head”.

Mr Tobar said a unified theory that could reconcile both traditional dynamics and Einstein’s theory of relativity was the holy grail of physics. “But the current science says both theories cannot both be true,” he said.

“As physicists, we want to understand the universe’s most basic, underlying laws and for years I’ve puzzled on how the science of dynamics can square with Einstein’s predictions. I wondered, ‘Is time travel mathematically possible?’”

Mr Tobar and his supervisor, UQ physicist Dr Fabio Costa, say they have found a way to “square the numbers” – and that the findings have fascinating consequences for science. “The maths checks out – and the results are the stuff of science fiction,” Dr Costa said.

Dr Costa gives the example of travelling in time in an attempt to stop COVID-19’s “patient zero” being exposed to the virus.

As the grandfather paradox shows, if you stopped that individual getting infected, “that would eliminate the motivation for you to go back and stop the pandemic in the first place”.

“This is a paradox – an inconsistency that often leads people to think that time travel cannot occur in our universe,” he said.

“Some physicists say it is possible, but logically it’s hard to accept because that would affect our freedom to make any arbitrary action. It would mean you can time travel, but you cannot do anything that would cause a paradox to occur.”

But the researchers, whose findings appear in the journal Classical and Quantum Gravity, say their mathematical modelling shows that neither of these conditions have to be the case.

Instead, they show it is possible for events to adjust themselves to be logically consistent with any action that the time traveller makes.

“In the coronavirus patient zero example, you might try and stop patient zero from becoming infected, but in doing so you would catch the virus and become patient zero, or someone else would,” Mr Tobar said.

“No matter what you did, the salient events would just recalibrate around you. This would mean that – no matter your actions – the pandemic would occur, giving your younger self the motivation to go back and stop it.”

He added, “Try as you might to create a paradox, the events will always adjust themselves, to avoid any inconsistency. The range of mathematical processes we discovered show that time travel with free will is logically possible in our universe without any paradox.”


Cardinal George Pell returns to Rome for first time since child sex abuse convictions quashed

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Sydney confirmed Cardinal Pell will fly out of Sydney today, but the purpose and duration of the visit is not known.

Cardinal Pell was leading the Secretariat of State, set up to reform the Vatican’s finances, when he took a leave of absence in 2017 to face charges of child sexual abuse.

The 79-year-old was convicted of sexually abusing two choir boys in the 1990s and was sentenced to six years in prison.

He had served 13 months of his sentence when his conviction was overturned by the High Court in April. He has been living in Sydney since his release.

Christopher Lamb is the Rome correspondent for Catholic news publication The Tablet and said all eyes would be on Cardinal Pell as he arrived in Rome. “The Cardinal has a number of supporters in Rome and some very loyal followers,” Lamb said.

“There will be a number of them who will be delighted to see him return — they always were very sceptical of the charges that were brought against him.

“However there will be others who will be concerned about the optics of a return by Cardinal Pell to Rome and the Vatican … particularly if the cardinal has a meeting, an audience, with Pope Francis.”

Vatican correspondent Joshua McElwee, from US newspaper the National Catholic Reporter, said Cardinal Pell was no longer employed by the Vatican and the reason for his visit was not clear. “At the moment he has no official role here,” McElwee said.

“Very likely he’s coming to put his affairs in order. I imagine he still has personal items here, things to bring home, perhaps an apartment to clean up. “I don’t know what else he would be doing other than those kind of things.”

Cardinal Pell’s return to Rome comes just days after the resignation of Cardinal Angelo Becciu who has been implicated in allegations of financial misconduct at the Vatican.

Cardinal Becciu previously worked in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State where he reportedly clashed with Cardinal Pell over reform of the Vatican’s finances.

But McElwee said it was not clear whether Cardinal Pell’s visit was connected to Cardinal Becciu’s resignation on Saturday.

“It’s known that Cardinal Pell and Cardinal Becciu butted horns when Cardinal Pell was in Rome,” McElwee said. “Becciu apparently was involved in some kind of alleged financial misdeeds and Pell has said that he raised issues about those at the time.

“It could be that Cardinal Pell is taking a victory lap here in Rome, but I don’t think it’s going to be more than a short visit.”

Lamb said Cardinal Pell’s visit coincided with a period of uncertainty in Pope Francis’s pontificate, with many speculating Cardinal Pell could be seeking to influence the outcome of a future conclave to decide the next Pope.

“Cardinal Pell is not someone who is openly disloyal to Pope Francis and has worked for Pope Francis,” Lamb said.

“But it is no secret that he has a different vision of the Church to the Pope and I suppose some people will be looking to see whether the Cardinal is involved in any pre-conclave manoeuvres, given we are almost eight years into Pope Francis’s pontificate. “There is a battle going on and the Cardinal is certainly seen by those who don’t like Francis as someone who is an ally.”


“One Nation” party gets academic freedom change in return for vote

A legal definition of academic freedom that some universities say will make it harder for them to discipline racist or sexist academics will be included in the Morrison government’s proposed university funding laws in exchange for One Nation’s support for the bill.

The measure is one of several commitments One Nation say they have extracted from the government, which will need three crossbench votes to get its reforms through the Senate as early as next week.

Senator Pauline Hanson said One Nation’s two Senate votes were also contingent upon the government reinstating a 10 per cent discount for students who pay their fees upfront, and reinstating a seven-year limit for full-time students to receive HECS-HELP before they have to pay full fees.

One Nation has fostered a close relationship with academic Peter Ridd, who was sacked by James Cook University in 2018 following his public criticism of colleagues’ research on the impact of global warming on the Great Barrier Reef.

“[Education] Minister [Dan] Tehan has shown a strong willingness to listen to the recommendations of [Senator] Malcolm Roberts and myself, and he’s proving to have the courage to take a tough stand with the inclusion of our amendments,” Senator Hanson said.

One Nation wants the definition of academic freedom inserted into the Higher Education Support Act 2003 to be in line with the wording recommended by former High Court Chief Justice Robert French in his government-commissioned review of free speech at Australian universities.

There has been an ongoing debate about free speech at universities, and the review was ordered following concerns among coalition MPs about the influence of left wing activists on campus after protesters targeted author Bettina Arndt at Sydney University.

In his 2019 report, Mr French proposed inserting a lengthy definition into the Act that included “the freedom of academic staff to teach, discuss, and research and to disseminate and publish the results of their research” and to “make lawful public comment on any issue in their personal capacities”.

Mr Tehan declined to comment on the specifics of his negotiations with One Nation, but said he would continue to work with the crossbench to secure passage of the legislation.

“The Job-Ready Graduates legislation will provide more university places for Australian students, make it cheaper to study in areas of expected job growth and provide more funding and support to regional students and universities,” Mr Tehan said.

The government was already examining whether it should proceed with legislating the French definition of academic freedom, and called for public submissions in January, but ultimately did not include the measure as part of its current reforms.

In its submission to the government, the Innovative Research Universities, a grouping of seven institutions including La Trobe University, Western Sydney University and James Cook University, opposed the move. It said legislating the freedom for academics to provide public commentary in a personal capacity had the “potential to create highly undesirable employment disputes.”

“As the wording stands, for example, it would seem that a university academic would be within her or his rights to publicly declare they hold a racial, sexuality or gender prejudice against one or more of the students they are teaching,” the submission said.

“If challenged about holding such a view, they would seem to be able to defend themselves by claiming to have spoken in a personal capacity, not an academic one.”

Senator Hanson said her motivation was to address concerns among university lecturers who were worried about “pressures they faced over ‘how’ and ‘what’ they could teach.

“My interest is in putting a stop to this Marxist, left-leaning approach to teaching in our universities and instead, protect educators who teach using methods based on science and facts rather than ideology,” Senator Hanson said.

In his review, Mr French, chancellor of the University of Western Australia, concluded that “claims of a freedom of speech crisis on Australian campuses are not substantiated”, but outlined a model code for protecting free speech and academic freedom, which all universities agreed to adopt by the end of 2020.

In September, Dr Ridd accompanied Senator Roberts on week-long tour along the Queensland coast, holding press conferences to question the scientific consensus on the poor health of Great Barrier Reef’s and threat posed by farmers. Dr Ridd said he was meeting with National Senator Matt Canavan and local LNP candidate Ron Harding to discuss the same issues on Tuesday.

Dr Ridd is now seeking leave to appeal his wrongful dismissal claim in the High Court, after his initial victory was overturned by the Federal Court in July. The university has maintained that he was not dismissed for his views, but for “serious misconduct” and breaches of the university’s code in how he expressed them.

The government’s bill proposes a major restructuring of university funding by hiking fees for some courses, including by 113 per cent for humanities, in order to pay for cuts to STEM, nursing and teaching courses.

The government says the reforms will fund an extra 100,000 university places for domestic students by 2030, but universities have complained that total funding per student will decrease by six per cent on average.

In addition to securing One Nation’s two votes, the government will need to secure the support of either Tasmania Senator Jacqui Lambie or Centre Alliance Senator Stirling Griff, who are yet to public reveal how they intend to vote.


Queensland Government grants approval for state’s third-largest coal mine with 1,000 jobs promised

Construction will soon get underway on what will become Queensland’s third-largest coal mine, 40 kilometres south of Moranbah in the Bowen Basin.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the State Government had signed off on a mining lease for the Olive Downs Coking Coal Project, run by Pembroke Resources.

The central Queensland mine will have a production life of 80 years and the Government says it will create 1,000 jobs.

The Government did not provide forecasts for how much it would collect in mining royalties, but the number is expected to be in the billions.

“Let me say very clearly that not only do I support the coal industry here, but I’ve also been over to the steel mill in Japan,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Nearly every single household utilises steel in some form or another, and steel is going to be part of our lives for many years to come.”

Pembroke said it would produce up to 15 million tonnes of metallurgical coal per year.

It will be exported to international markets in Japan and China.

Pembroke CEO Barry Tudor said the mining lease approvals were the final hurdle to beginning stage one of the project.

“We are extremely pleased to have been granted the mining leases, having consulted extensively with the local community over the past four years,” he said.

“In addition to our commitment to the environment, we have focused on creating local jobs and proactively engaged with all stakeholders.”

Mr Tudor said the company had established a relationship with the traditional owners of the land, the Barada Barna.

“We have an Indigenous Land Use Agreement and Cultural Heritage Management Plan in place,” Mr Tudor said.

Ms Palaszczuk said she expected construction would start within months. “There’s no legal action with Olive Downs — Olive Downs is good to go,” she said.

Opposition leader Deb Frecklington criticised Ms Palaszczuk for her record on advancing resources projects, but said she supported the mining lease for Olive Downs.

Once complete, Olive Downs will be around the same size as the proposed Adani project.

Ms Palaszczuk said her Government had approved $21 billion in resource projects in the current parliamentary term.


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

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Australian firm says its nasal spray reduced coronavirus growth in animal study

Australian biotech company Ena Respiratory said on Monday that a nasal spray it is developing to improve the human immune system to fight common cold and flu significantly reduced the growth of the coronavirus in a recent study on animals.

A study on ferrets showed the product dubbed INNA-051, which could be used complementary to vaccines, lowered the levels of the virus that causes COVID-19 by up to 96%, the company said. The study was led by British government agency Public Health England.

Ena Respiratory said it would be ready to test INNA-051 in human trials in less than four months, subject to successful toxicity studies and regulatory approval.

The company has raised A$11.7 million ($8.24 million) for the development of the spray. Investors include venture capital firm Brandon Capital Ltd, the Australian federal government, pension funds and biotech giant CSL Ltd .

Several companies across the world are in the pursuit of developing a coronavirus vaccine. Australia has entered into agreements with some drug companies investing billions to secure potential vaccines for COVID-19, which has killed over 992,000 people worldwide.

Australia has so far reported 875 deaths and just over 27,000 coronavirus cases, far less than the numbers reported in other developed countries.


The despicable Punchard is still not out of the woods

The Queensland Police Service is appealing a court judgment relating to the sentencing of a police officer who leaked the home address of a domestic violence victim to her ex-partner. A court had previously heard Senior Constable Neil Punchard had called the victim a “b*tch”.

The court this month overturned the suspended jail sentence and conviction handed to Senior Constable Neil Punchard for computer hacking after he searched the police computer system and leaked an address of a domestic violence victim to her former partner.

“This has taken some time due to the seriousness of this matter and the need to give it thorough consideration in the context of a complex legal framework.

“Once the appeal process has been finalised, the Commissioner will then consider the effect of the decision on the assessment of the suitability of the officer to remain employed by the QPS. The officer remains suspended from duty.”

In September, his conviction and sentence were overturned on appeal, leaving the furious victim demanding his dismissal.

Punchard has been stood down on full pay for more than two years.

In a hearing in July, barrister Angus Edwards, who appeared for the QPS, said Punchard inflamed an acrimonious situation by sending messages to his friend, calling the victim a “b*tch”.

“The complainant didn’t provide her address subject to those court orders for reasons that she is the subject of domestic violence orders,” Mr Edwards said.

“Now he (Punchard) didn’t know that but he didn’t bother to inquire.

“All he did was take one side of the story as a serving police officer and unilaterally decided he was going to breach the trust that he had been given and provide information …

“He called her a b*tch, he said to f**k … her over, he said ‘the b*tch needs to fall on her own sword for the battle she started’, and he’d say things to (the man) like ‘I know you’re screaming inside, let loose on her’.

“So he knew there were issues there. He might not have known there was domestic violence but he took that risk.

“And his job was rather to protect members of the community from those risks and he behaved in the exact opposite way of what was expected of him.”


Muslim gang accused of stabbing teen in Queen St Mall face court on attempted murder charge

A Brisbane high school student accused of a brazen stabbing of a teenager in the CBD has been granted bail on an attempted murder charge after a court heard he is set to sit his final year exams in the coming weeks.

The Brisbane Magistrates Court heard on Monday Somali-born Sade Mohamed, 18, is alleged to have been the main offender in the brazen attack at Queen St Mall on Friday night, during which a 16-year-old boy was stabbed in the chest and back.

Four charged with attempted murder after CBD stabbing

Mohamed is one of four men — aged between 18 and 19 — who have been charged with attempted murder, armed robbery, acts intended to cause grievous bodily harm and going armed so as to cause fear after the 16-year-old suffered a collapsed lung after being stabbed on the corner of Albert and Queen streets.

The court heard police claim the attack on the boy was “retribution” after he allegedly hit another person with a stick at a nearby Brisbane hotel.

Mohamed was granted bail by Magistrate Anne Thacker on strict conditions, including that he live with his aunt across the road from Logan Central Police Station and report daily.

The other three men – Said Mohamud Abdi, 18, Aden Abdirahan Warsame, 19, and Mohamed Kenneh, 19 – were also granted bail on Monday.

Mohamed was described by police prosecutor Matt Kahler as the alleged main offender in the attack, saying he was the “the doer of the stabbing”.

But defence barrister Sam Di Carlo claimed this allegation was “conjecture and wishful thinking”.

Mr Di Carlo told the court his client trained in basketball before and after school and was set to sit his final Year 12 exams in the coming weeks.

He said Mohamed attended St James College at Spring Hill on a basketball scholarship and downplayed any allegations the alleged brazen weekend attack was gang-related.

“This can be distinguished from the case of two gangs at war,” Mr Di Carlo said. “This arises over an incident and is immediate retribution. “This is a one-off event and it’s not related in any way to the event that happened in Zillmere.”

Magistrate Anne Thacker said she was concerned there could be retaliation against Mohamed, after the court heard the alleged victim had made a number of threats on social media since being stabbed.

“What is a bail consideration is the risk of reoffending and that being driven by ongoing fighting between these two groups by way of ongoing retribution behaviours,” she said.

“That’s the sticking point in my view.”

Mohamed must abide by a curfew, have no contact directly or via social media with his co-accused and report to police daily as a condition of his bail.

The court heard Kenneh worked in the CBD raising money for charity and studies at university.

He was not alleged to have had a knife during the fight.

Abdi is alleged also to have used a knife on the 16-year-old victim, the court heard.

Meanwhile, Warsame, who is studying accounting, can attend university at QUT by the Goodwill Bridge from Southbank but is not allowed to enter Queen St Mall.

All men will return to court on October 26.


Travel within Australia opening up

Travelling overseas has been an Australian rite of passage since the 1960s when London’s Earl’s Court was known as Kangaroo Valley. These days touring Australians are just as likely to be found in Bali or Los Angeles or a Mediterranean cruise.

There was a time when overseas travel was the preserve of the rich but cheap airfares opened overseas destinations to middle Australia.

Deep down, Australians are conscious of their distance from the rest of the world and equate exotic travel with success and sophistication. Aussies love nothing better than planning for, talking about and sharing photos of their most recent overseas trip.

But the coming of the coronavirus has changed this core element of the Australian way of life. Savings otherwise allocated to “a big trip OS” are now parked and some siphoned for home improvements.

And while such projects certainly fill a lockdown vacuum, they don’t fulfil the brief for time out, a change of scenery, the delivery of carefully curated Instagram moments projecting fun, success and worldliness.

What is required is a reimagination of an Australian holiday that is coronavirus safe and offers something new and unexpected.

But where to go? Some are doing a bit of a try-before-you-buy by hiring an Airbnb to experience the lifestyle, even to feel the serenity.

And if Airbnb listings are any guide there’s no shortage of destinations.

Between the end of July and the end of August the number of Airbnb properties listed in postcode 4870 (Cairns) jumped by 33, according to data accessed by Ripehouse Advisory. Excluding ski and university postcodes, this makes Cairns the number one destination for a local holiday.

These listings show Australians are as fixated as ever on traditional tropical, seaside and treechange destinations.

During August, Airbnb listings jumped by 30 properties in the Victorian goldfields town of Castlemaine (postcode 3461), by 27 in Western Australia’s lifestyle town of Busselton (6281), by six in South Australia’s Yankalilla, by eight on Tasmania’s St Helen’s (7216), and by seven in Alice Springs (0870). In the ACT the greatest increase was in the suburb of Phillip (postcode 2606).

Australia’s holiday idylls have existed in our hearts and minds since our childhood.

But now it’s time to rediscover, to see anew a place, a destination, a piece of pure Australiana that hasn’t stood still but which has evolved into something that has the capacity to engage the worldliest of travellers.

Why, I have heard that in many of these places they offer smashed avocado with crumbled feta at knockdown prices.

Who wouldn’t be up for a bit of rest and recuperation, for a bit of a reprieve from the lockdown madness, to support a local business, to help our fellow (small-business) Australians, doing it tough in the regions and in the heartland of this blessed spot, this Australia.


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

Monday, September 28, 2020

Qlders say private education is too expensive, experts warn the extra cost brings little benefit

This is transparent nonsense. It included ALL Queenslanders when it is only middle class parents who can afford it. What people think who cannot afford it is irrelevant. Around 40% of Queensland teenagers go to a private school so there are plenty who think it is worthwhile, almost the whole of the middle class, one surmises.

I sent my son to a private school and thought nothing of the fees. I got value for money in several ways — including orderly classrooms and some male teachers

I am also sponsoring a very bright lad in Scotland to the tune of $33,00 a year. With my help he is going to a top private school so that his opportunities in later life will be commensurate with his abilities. What school you went to is immensely important in Britain

Queenslanders have sounded the alarm over exorbitant school fees, with 60 per cent of Sunshine State residents saying the price of private education is too high, The Courier-Mail’s Your Say sentiment survey has found.

The survey, which garnered responses from 8000 Sunshine State residents, revealed 60 per cent of Queensland parents thought private schools were too expensive.

The Courier-Mail this year revealed that All Hallows’ School increased fees by 5.5 per cent to $11,450 for Year 7 in 2020.

Elite Brisbane Grammar School secondary fees are $27,540 per year, while sister school Brisbane Girls Grammar’s fees for Years 7-12 are $25,782 per year.

Southwest Queenslanders felt private education would cause the most hip pocket pain, with 64.72 per cent saying private education is too costly, followed by those who live in other southeast areas at 63.61 per cent.

Queenslanders in northern Greater Brisbane areas were the third most likely to think private school is too expensive with 60.85 per cent of residents in the area sounding the alarm over fees.

Sunshine Coast residents followed closely behind with 59.93 per cent objecting to private education costs, only slightly ahead of 59.08 per cent Central Queenslanders, and 59.03 per cent Far North Queenslanders.

Of those living in south Greater Brisbane, 58.8 per cent objected to private school costs, followed by 57.64 per cent of Gold Coast respondents.

The Sunshine State residents least likely to object to fees were North Queenslanders with just 54.14 per cent objecting to the costs of private education.

Southern Cross University associate professor David Zyngier said the average cost of educating a high school student was around $15,000 per annum.

“That’s the set costs for the average student so any private or non government school that charges more than $15,000, one has to ask the question what are they doing with that,” he said.

“If they’re charging $25,000 or $30,000, then parents should be asking themselves what they get for that additional money,” he said.

He explained that while parents pay more fees at independent schools, both public and private education outcomes balance out.

“Parents have been sold a story that private is better and unfortunately it is not,” Prof Zyngier said. “When you compare private schools (and public schools) with the same socio-economic status … the public school does better.”

UQ senior lecturer in education Dr Anna Hogan said there had been a trend of increasing public school enrolments.

“There seems to be an understanding in the public school sector, that middle-class parents who have the choice to pay for school fees are actually starting to more closely consider what they’re paying for education,” she said.

Parents were questioning why they would pay $30,000 in elite school costs when their children could have a good education at a select public school, she said.

He said private education meant smaller class sizes, more extra-curricular and sporting activities and more opportunities for their three children.

“There’s a strong sense of community and connections for later in life,” he said.

“I didn’t go to a private school but I personally feel the opportunities of private schools are better than what I had.”


Call for Australia to adopt new ‘ring fencing’ virus approach

One of Australia‘s top health experts has called on the Australian government to introduce a new technique to contain the COVID-19 virus as the country moves towards reopening.

Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, an epidemiologist and World Health Organisation advisor, said “ring fencing” of certain hotspots should be adopted moving forward.

“We have at least a year-and-a-half before the vaccine is found and produced in large enough numbers to be rolled out and I can only say that really we are a small country with a population, but a larger physical country,” Prof McLaws told ABC.

“We need to have a national approach to reduce borders so that people can move around and have a national agreement to what is a rapid response so that we can just ring-fence small clusters so that Australians can freely move around our country for work and pleasure.”

Prof McLaws also warned against fast-tracking Victoria‘s roadmap out of lockdown, saying it could undo all the work residents have done to reduce virus cases.

“Given the numbers and the success that the Victorians had to date, I can‘t see too many restrictions being eased other than the 5km area that people are allowed to move around in because Victorians, and particularly the Melbourne public, only have 26 more days to go until they reach their goal of less than five cases per day,” she said.

“If they continue on the downward decline in numbers, they will get there. I would just recommend sticking with the plan and maybe letting them move more than 5km to give them a compassionate break from the challenges that they have had to deal with so far.”


Better than Sweden

While Sweden is often cited in debates over how best to balance health and economic considerations in response to the coronavirus, Prime Minister Scott Morrison doesn’t think Australia should be following that country’s model of lax restrictions.

Speaking on Sky News this week, the Prime Minister said June quarter GDP showed Australia’s economy had experienced one of the “lowest falls of any developed country”.

“Our economy fell by 7 per cent. Devastating, absolutely devastating. But compared to the rest of the world, it was one of the lowest falls of any developed country,” Mr Morrison said.

“And when you look at our health results, both on the case incidents in Australia of COVID and the upsetting number of deaths that we’ve had compared to overseas, I mean, I know a lot of people on your program talk about Sweden. Well, Sweden has had a bigger fall in their economy and they’ve had almost 20 times the number of deaths.”

Indeed, Sweden’s economy tumbled 8.3 per cent in the June quarter, compared with Australia’s drop of 7 per cent.

However, Mr Morrison’s claim that Sweden has had almost 20 times the number of deaths is wide of the mark.

According to data compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University, Australia had recorded 859 COVID-19 deaths (as of September 23), while Sweden had suffered 5,870 deaths. While Sweden’s death count is much higher than Australia’s, it is only seven times the number of deaths seen in Australia.

While Mr Morrison referred to the number of deaths when comparing the two nations, a comparison of the rate of deaths in both countries more closely aligns with his claim.

On those figures, Sweden’s rate of deaths per million people is 576.62 compared with Australia’s rate of 34.37. That means the Nordic nation has suffered a death rate more than 16 times that of Australia.


Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon threatens to quit shadow cabinet over emissions target

The veteran New South Wales Labor rightwinger Joel Fitzgibbon has threatened to quit the shadow cabinet if the opposition adopts a medium-term emissions reduction target he cannot live with.

In a significant escalation of Labor’s internal dispute about climate and energy policy, Fitzgibbon made the threat during an interview with Guardian Australia’s politics podcast.

The shadow resources minister said he would not quit the party over the issue. “I’m 58 years of age… I’ve been in the party for almost 40 years, I am too old to rat.”

But he said if Labor’s landing point on an emissions reduction target for the 2030s was “so offensive to me, if it didn’t keep faith with our traditional base, if it was fundamentally wrong and harmful, I would not criticise it from the shadow cabinet, I would have no choice but to go and do so from another position”.

Fitzgibbon said if the forthcoming shadow cabinet deliberation on the medium term target was a “fair fight and I just lost” then he would sell the collective decision even though it was “not my preferred position obviously”.

But asked whether the party leader, Anthony Albanese, would continue to enjoy his support if he insisted on Labor adopting a target Fitzgibbon could not live with, the shadow resources minister said: “I’d have to consider my position at the time.

“I wouldn’t overtly challenge it from the shadow cabinet, I’d have to make a decision about that”.

Albanese told the National Press Club in June Labor would set a medium-term target for the 2030s “based on science”, and the climate change spokesman, Mark Butler, has made that commitment several times since the 2019 election.

Fitzgibbon said he accepted the science of climate change, and had signed off on Labor’s policy of net zero emissions by 2050. But he has dug in his heels about the medium term target, first saying Labor should adopt the same position as the Coalition, then arguing Labor should not set one at all.

On the podcast, Fitzgibbon said first that he would accept the collective decision on the medium term target, pointing with unusual candour to his record of selling policies he didn’t support after collective decisions, including during the 2019 election.

“Gee I wish I could show you videos of me before the last election backing in things I hated, standing at the National Press Club and debating David Littleproud and ferociously backing in Labor’s policy.”

But later his position hardened, with the clear threat about quitting the shadow cabinet if the policy is not to his liking.

Fitzgibbon suffered a significant negative swing in his safe Hunter Valley seat at the 2019 election, and he contends ambitious climate change policies have contributed to Labor’s election defeats federally since 2013. He said voters in the regions now think Labor panders to inner city interests and disdains workers in traditional industries.

He argues Scott Morrison has made it much harder for Labor to resolve a medium term target by promoting a gas-led recovery from the coronavirus. While colleagues have criticised the prime minister’s announcements, arguing they lack substance, Fitzgibbon said Labor should let the prime minister roll out his agenda.

Fitzgibbon said it was unlikely Morrison would be able to implement many policies to lock in gas before the next election, but “if he rushes along that path, what does the Labor party do then? Do we say we are going to pull all that back and go down our own path?

“Now that’s an open question, and I don’t mind saying I will be internally urging my people to let him go his way, let this be his problem now, he’s the government, we lost. One of the consequences of losing … is you don’t get to call the shots.”

While Fitzgibbon’s front-running has some support within the caucus, and among some in the trade union leadership, his campaign has also infuriated and dismayed many colleagues. While his views have grabbed the headlines, many in Labor believe the party cannot retreat from climate action both on the merits of the issue, and politically.

Australian political history shows internal fights about climate change can be lethal for leaders of the major parties. But Fitzgibbon said Albanese would lead Labor to the next election.

“I’ve been around these games for a long time and there’s not even a hint, or a whisper, and very importantly he continues to enjoy my support.”

But Fitzgibbon suggested there was room to improve. “I think Albo is doing as well as an opposition leader could in Covid. I think this is a period where the power of incumbency is very, very significant.

“Not even a young Bob Hawke as opposition leader would be cutting through too much. But there’s a message in that for us too, to have a bit of a rethink ourselves about our approach. The last thing the Labor party can afford to be at the moment is a party of protest. It has to look like an alternative government.”

He said voters federally only “come to us when they are tiring of or angry at the other mob and when we don’t look too scary, and at the last election we made ourselves look as scary as we possibly could”.

“It’s as if we worked at it.”


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

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Australia’s great and costly retreat from coal

The biggest story of the moment, the biggest structural change in our politics, is that the Morrison government has admitted comprehensive and probably permanent defeat on coal. It seems like a different era in history when Scott Morrison as treasurer proudly brandished a lump of coal in parliament to demonstrate his party’s commitment to our black gold.

Still the largest source of our power, still our second biggest export, coal has been placed in the Coalition’s fantasy technology basket, to be revisited one day in the mythical future when renewables don’t need subsidies, pumped hydro creates more energy than it consumes, China’s carbon market comes into operation, and Australia wins soccer’s World Cup 6-0 against Brazil.

The new lowest common denominator on coal is we continue to export it but there are no circumstances in which we build a coal-fired power station. This is how conservative governments embrace long-term strategic defeat. They win a thousand tactical victories as they march backwards. The Coalition has lost the coal argument. It came into office in 2013 never dreaming it would abandon coal, but that is what it has done.

Labor and the Greens have won the argument even as they have lost the elections. The conservatives — meaning the Liberals and the Nationals — have accepted defeat. The Coalition has a good chance of retaining government by arguing that it will implement the left’s policies more carefully, cautiously, modestly, competently and with less economic damage than Labor would.

The abandonment of coal has serious strategic implications for Australia. We will never recover a robust manufacturing industry without cheap energy and we won’t have cheap energy without coal. The day after the government announced its wish list of fantasy technologies of the future — which any Labor government would have been proud to unveil — AGL Energy dumped a plan for a discounted electricity contract for Victoria’s Portland aluminium smelter. The long and the short of it is that unless the government shells out massive subsidies we are likely to lose aluminium and then steel as we continue, suicidally, our march away from any manufacturing capability.

Don’t think that in abandoning coal-fired power we are reflecting a global trend. The only people who think that are those whose globalism em­braces New York and Los Angeles, London and Paris, and almost no other part of the world. This year Germany has opened a new coal-fired power plant. Japan has 20-odd in the works over the next five years.

Ultra-supercritical coal-fired plants — the so-called high-efficiency, low-emissions plants — create about 30 per cent fewer emissions than old coal and a similar amount more than new gas. Such plants are being built in many parts of the world. It is a crazy woke fantasy to think coal is being phased out. Such thinking reflects a spectacular ignorance of Asia, which is becoming an ever bigger part of the global economy.

Not the only story about coal but by far the biggest is China. The Asia Society’s Policy Institute in New York has rounded up the figures in an extremely useful paper, China’s Response to Climate Change. Almost every climate commentator in Australia refuses ever to confront the China figures. Let me offer you a few of them.

This year alone China has approved new coal-fired power plants that can produce 17 gigawatts of energy. That is a huge capacity. And China is accelerating its approval and construction of coal-fired power plants, for that is more than it approved in the previous two years.

Kevin Rudd, in a recent oped in The Washington Post drawing on the Asia Society paper, pointed out that the new coal-fired power plant capacity being developed in China “is larger than the remaining fleet in the United States”.

The Asia Society records that China has 1040GW of coal-fired energy capacity, but this will be 1100GW by the end of the year. The China Electricity Council and the China State Grid both suggest raising this to 1300GW by 2030. Coal is declining slowly as a proportion of China’s energy mix but it is continuing, as these figures show, to increase rapidly in absolute terms.

The report also demonstrates the massive increase in coal, and other fossil fuel use, taking place as part of Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative. Specifically, Chinese finance and support is involved directly in new coal-fired power plants in The Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Mozambique, Malawi, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Serbia. Beyond China, Indonesia has a huge program of coal-fired power plants being built. Before COVID-19 knocked everything off balance, India was planning to increase its coal-fired electricity generation by almost a quarter over three years.

COVID-19 will slow all this, but only temporarily. What is clear is that coal is booming in most parts of the world not ruled by The New York Times or the BBC. Our corporate leaders, or many of them, are happy to recite the mantra that coal has no future, partly because they want to avoid social media campaigns against them. In the West coal is moving away from public companies and into private equity hands, or into Asian investments directly. None of the expansion of coal outlined above has been denied finance because some Western banks now find coal politically inconvenient.

UN projections are that Africa’s population will increase to 4.5 billion by the end of this century. If any of them want to live above subsistence level they will need cheap energy. Coal is sure to play a big part.

If you are a friend of the environment, indeed if you want to moderate greenhouse gas emissions, you will want Australian coal to be used everywhere that’s possible because ours is the cleanest coal in the world. It’s just a geological fact. If a coal-fired power station in China or India is using Australian coal it will generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy produced than if it is using Chinese or Indian coal.

And as the biggest exporter (though by no means biggest producer) of coal, we could make a contribution by doing something clever on the technology of getting ever lower emissions from ultra-supercritical coal-fired energy plants. By not doing this we make ourselves poorer economically and weaker strategically, while our competitors, economic and strategic, become richer and stronger.

The Liberals, and even more the Nationals, know all this at some level but can no longer make a fight of it. Their political judgment is probably correct. Political parties must always deal with political reality. Gas is at least better than complete renewables madness. But the Coalition had no thought of this when it entered government. Its surrender on coal ought, though, at least be noted, given its grave implications for the national interest.


NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has defended police after a judge threw out charges against Canberra Raiders player Curtis Scott and described his arrest as ‘sickening’

Amazing. But cops stand up for cops

Scott, who joined the Raiders from the Melbourne last off-season, was found passed out drunk under a tree by police in Sydney’s Moore Park in January.

After attempting to wake him up, officers handcuffed and pepper sprayed the disoriented Scott, also stunning him with a taser, all while he was sitting on the ground.

Police were later left red faced when footage of the arrest was played in court, with the judge throwing out several charges, including two counts of assaulting a police officer, and describing the bungled arrest as ‘sickening’.

Despite the embarrassing criticism, Police Commissioner Mick Fuller told 2GB he was ‘sympathetic to police’ while avoiding answering a questions as to whether it was appropriate for officers to use a taser on a man who was sitting handcuffed on the ground.

“I watched the entirety of the event and I think sometimes you need to watch the entirety of the event to get it in context,’’ Fuller said.

“In these situations, if someone is trespassing in your front yard, they are asleep, they are intoxicated, they’re a young fit man, there are only a couple of ways to get them out.

“And one of those is for them to stand up and come with you.

“Often in these situations, it does escalate — there’s nothing we can do about that, if the individual is not going to comply with a reasonable direction.”

NRL player to launch civil action against NSW Police
Scott is reportedly set to sue the NSW Police for more than $100,000 in damages over the incident.

Magistrate Jennifer Giles said she did not have the “stomach” to watch the 22-year-old being tasered a third time after two separate videos showed Scott being pepper-sprayed and tasered after he was handcuffed.

A drunk and disorientated Scott can be heard saying “I’m getting dressed” before repeating that he has “done nothing wrong”.

Trying but failing to drag him onto his feet police administer pepper spray into his face which causes him to moan and yell he is “f***ing dying”. He swats police away with his hands in cuffs.

Mr Macedone says the tasering that follows was inappropriate and unwarranted after Scott followed officers’ instruction not to resist arrest and merely “raised his voice”.


Your bureaucrats will protect you — NOT

Outrageous photo shows an EPIC council fail after $1,232 child safety gate is installed at a local playground without a proper fence

A local council has been left embarrassed after images of a newly-installed child safety gate showed how completely useless it is.

The gate, which cost $1,232, was installed at Windsor Siding Park near Prahran and St Kilda East in Melbourne as part of a $300,000 upgrade by Stonnington Council.

An image of the gate shows it placed next to evenly spaced wooden stakes which revealed the awkward blunder.

The gaps in the makeshift fence mean children can easily escape the playground even if the safety gate is locked.

Stonnington Council spokesman Jim Carden said the gate looked ‘odd’ and the issue will be rectified. ‘Obviously the gaps in the adjoining ”fence” would appear to make the gate a bit redundant, so we have been looking at how to tidy it up without losing what is a nice design,’ he said. ‘So we are just adding some plants to fill in the gaps.’

Ratepayers Stonnington president Dean Hurlston said that council workers should have spotted the gate’s uselessness immediately. ‘Surely council staff or contractors can see the glaring error of judgment,’ he told Herald Sun. ‘It’s another example of council being out of touch with responsible spending and execution of projects. ‘It’s a good concept which has totally failed upon delivery.’


Reading wars rage on

Despite decades of bruising battles, the reading wars rage on — with a new review exposing persistent opposition to evidence-based reading approaches in schools.

The NSW Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE) has put the contentious L3 (Language, Learning, and Literacy) programe under the knife. As many as three in five NSW government schools subscribe to the reading program — fully or partially — which ignores what’s clearly been identified as the best way to teach children to read.

L3 has persisted thanks to apparent pressure being placed on schools to participate in it, rather than it being backed by evidence.

Considerable taxpayer support has been committed for years to maintain the program, and the NSW Education Department has done little to deter educators from implementing the wayward method.

CESE’s move is a considerable blow to those who have resisted the phonics wave, as well as vindication for those who have been awake to L3’s evident flaws from the outset.

CIS research forcefully argued the case for reviewing the program in 2018 — pointing to the lack of evidence underpinning it at the time. The case against it has only mounted since then.

If it sounds like we’ve been here before, it’s because we have. A similarly dysfunctional programme — Reading Recovery — became defunct in 2018. Similarly, CIS research identified the lack of evidence supporting it as well.

As ever, children’s success in reading has been sabotaged by ideological commitment to constructivist learning approaches from a loud minority of education insiders.

A key battleground of the persistent reading wars is the role of phonics — the understanding of written letter and sound relationships — in learning to read.

One could be mistaken for assuming the war had already been won. Evidence from decades of research has stacked heavily behind use of explicit and systematic phonics as key to young learners’ reading success. And a growing number of policymakers — most notably the federal government — now actively promote the approach as a priority matter.

It’s well past time that education departments across the country better signal to teachers and schools which approaches have proved to be effective in the classroom — and those that aren’t.

Australian students have been denied the opportunity to become proficient readers and enjoy their best chance of educational success.

The task of reversing the damage caused by education’s evidence deniers remains a work in progress.


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

Friday, September 25, 2020

The terrifying police state Daniel Andrews wants to create: How innocent Victorians can be arrested and detained indefinitely without evidence – on the word of power-hungry public servants

The “Chairman Dan” name is well earned. Communist party bosses were usually named as chairmen

Innocent Victorians could be arrested in the street or at work and detained indefinitely by power-crazed officials under a new law Daniel Andrews wants to pass, top lawyers have warned.

The proposed new law, which will be debated in the Victorian parliament next month, would allow the government to give anyone it chooses – such as public servants – the power to enforce coronavirus restrictions and make arrests.

The unprecedented plan would also allow officials to detain people they suspect may spread coronavirus even if they have done nothing wrong.

Officials would also be able to follow up on tip-offs that Covid rules have been breached at a home or a workplace without needing the police to accompany them.

Eighteen esteemed former judges and lawyers have written an open letter warning that the law is ‘unprecedented, excessive and open to abuse’.

One of those lawyers, Ross Gillies QC, told Daily Mail Australia he fears power-hungry officials who enjoy exerting authority may abuse the powers given to them.

‘I don’t trust someone who is nominated by a public servant with the power to make arrests. I have real abiding concern that power is a very dangerous thing,’ he said.

‘Some people are excited by power and the ability to exert authority over someone else. There is the potential for enormous injustice.’

‘Someone might grab someone and say “I have reason to believe you are a Covid carrier or know someone who has Covid and I apprehend you”.

‘There would be no remedy in that situation. That may be the worst-case scenario but we know that can happen.’

Mr Gillies described the law, which has passed the lower house, as ‘draconian’ and urged the upper house to vote it down or amend it next month.

James Peters QC, who also signed the letter, expressed similar concerns. ‘Power is very intoxicating and only some people can exercise it carefully such as very well trained groups,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.

Asked if the new law could see innocent Victorians being arrested in the street, he said: ‘That’s right, that’s a very big risk.’

Mr Peters said normally when somebody is arrested they are brought before a bail justice but the proposed law does not say that would happen.

Asked if it allows officials to indefinitely detain people under state of emergency powers, he said: ‘It could be read that way, yes.’

He also said it was unclear what redress people who are wrongfully arrested would have. ‘We have a traditional understanding of police power and redress to the courts if you have concern about how powers are exercised,’ he said.

‘But how are you able to effectively test the belief upon which you were restrained? ‘You might not find out about it [why you were arrested] until you get to court.’

He flagged that there could be a legal challenge if the law passes, saying: ‘When excessive powers are legislated, there is often a legal challenge.’

Asked if all 18 signatories to the letter would launch legal action together, he said: ‘I can’t speak for everyone I can only speak for myself.’

The proposed law does not specify who will be authorised to make arrests.

‘We just don’t know, that’s one of the vices. They could be anybody,’ said Mr Peters.

‘It’s not enough to say the problem can be managed without specifying who could be given the powers.’

In a press briefing on Wednesday, Mr Andrews suggested the power to make arrests would be given to WorkSafe officials and health department workers.

At the moment police need to be present to make an arrest but Mr Andrews wants public servants to have that power on their own.

He said currently when a workplace is inspected to see if it is abiding by Covid-19 rules ‘there’s got to be someone from police, someone from WorkSafe, somebody from the Health Department, that doesn’t make any sense.

‘If we can essentially double or triple the resource available to you, it stands to reason that we’ll have more people doing the right thing. ‘

Mr Andrews said he wants to make sure supermarkets, abattoirs and other workplaces are adhering to strict rules including social distancing and limits on the number of workers on the premises at once.

Asked why he needs to give powers to detain people before they do anything wrong, he said: ‘They’re based on a reasonable belief principle and proportionality principle about the risk of spreading Covid.

‘There are some people who are not compliant, refuse to act in a responsible and safe way. Those powers would not be frequently used. They would be, I think, rare. But they are important.’

Those who could be arrested include positive patients or close contacts who officials suspect may refuse to self-isolate, such as protesters or people with mental health difficulties.

They could be taken to a hotel for mandatory quarantine for as long as the authorised officer believes is necessary.

Critics say Mr Andrews wants to create his own version of the Stasi, the East German secret police force which spied on citizens through a network of informants and arrested more than 250,000 people between 1950 and 1990.

The measures are outlined in the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2020, which will meet resistance when read in the upper house next month.

Liberty Victoria president Julian Burnside has raised concerns that government workers authorised to make arrests may not be able to accurately determine whether someone poses a risk of spreading Covid-19.

‘The bill introduces a preventative detention regime which appears to have little protections or oversight, and provides far too much discretion to people who may lack the necessary expertise to determine risk, including police officers,’ he said.

Victoria’s state of emergency and disaster powers, extended until October 11, give police the power to detain someone ‘for the period reasonably necessary to eliminate or reduce a serious risk to public health’.

Police officers can also search people’s homes without a warrant and restrict movement between locations such as between regional Victoria and Melbourne.

Gideon Rozner, Director of Policy at free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs told Daily Mail Australia the legislation was ‘extremely dangerous’ and would create the ‘Daniel Andrews Stasi’.

‘It will allow Dan Andrews to effectively appoint anyone he wants as an authorised officer, with extraordinarily broad discretion to enforce Victoria’s emergency powers,’ he said.

‘Union leaders could be appointed to unleash retribution on small business owners who speak out against lockdowns.

‘Labor Party officials could be appointed to intimidate political opponents. ‘I Stand With Dan’ types could be appointed to spy on their friends and neighbours.

‘Not since East Germany have we seen such a monstrous web of government surveillance. The Victorian Parliament must vote down this bill and say no to the Dan Andrews Stasi.’


Leftist State government suppports copper miner

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday scored a trifecta — a high-vis jacket, a hard hat and a marginal seat.

The setting was a copper refinery in southern Townsville, and the announcement was an undisclosed “one-off incentive” payment to global resources company Glencore.

The 2020 state election campaign is indeed ramping up.

The reason for handing over taxpayers’ money to a global company is to “secure the jobs of more than 1,000 people”, but the public is given no opportunity to scrutinise this.

In effect, we’re being asked to accept Glencore’s assertion it needs the money to continue its Australian copper operations and to accept the Government’s word it has secured the best deal possible.

But in the context of the looming election, the Government’s bargaining position doesn’t look strong, with hundreds of jobs at stake in some of the state’s most marginal seats.

Glencore has been threatening to shut down its Mount Isa copper smelter and Townsville copper refinery for the best part of a decade.

A planned closure in 2016 was staved off when the Queensland Government agreed to amend environmental-licensing conditions — a deal which ensured the smelter and refinery would stay open until at least 2022.

With that deadline approaching, Glencore this year announced its copper operations were again under review, with a final decision to be made just before the state election.

The Glencore refinery is smack bang in the middle of the electorate of Mundingburra, and a short drive to the nearby electorates of Townsville and Thuringowa.

All three seats are held by Labor by the smallest of margins, and given Labor only has a majority of two seats in Parliament, it’s impossible to underestimate the refinery’s political importance.

Government ‘leaving Queenslanders in the dark’
At a media conference on Tuesday, the Premier said the “investment” in the copper operations was “commercial in confidence”.

Ms Palaszczuk argued it was about “securing the jobs of more than 1,000 people in Mount Isa and Townsville for the next three years”.

Treasurer Cameron Dick would only go as far as revealing it was a “multi-million-dollar” deal.

“We enter into a number of arrangements with corporations and companies which support jobs, and we don’t make any apologies for that,” Mr Dick said.

Glencore Australia provided more detail in its public statement, describing the Government’s contribution as a “one-off incentive”.

“In addition to this incentive, Glencore will invest more than $500 million for the continued operation of the copper smelter and refinery,” the statement said.

“This incentive will partially mitigate the negative cost of continuing these assets which face high costs and struggle to compete internationally.”

Professor of economics at the University of Queensland John Quiggin said it was “pretty striking” this deal was announced as global copper prices had surged.

The business news service Bloomberg reported the global copper market could be “on the cusp of a historical supply squeeze as Chinese demand runs red hot”.

Professor Quiggin said the Mount Isa smelter had repeatedly been on the brink of closure since 2011.

“So, this decision isn’t really related to the pandemic or the global market,” he said.

Economist Fabrizio Carmignani from Griffith University said a subsidy from the Government made sense if the operation was facing some temporary difficulty.

“[However] from the statement of Glencore, it would look like their problems are structural — high fixed costs, unable to compete,” he said.

While he understood the need to protect jobs, Professor Carmignani said structural problems needed to be tackled by longer-term plans.


Brisbane Residents fear 30m tall Moreton Bay fig tree will be bulldozed to make way for a 15 storey unit tower

Brisbane people love their figtrees, which are native to the area. There is always a furore if a big one is threatened with being cut down. The developer should have been aware of that

Woody Point residents fear Traders in Purple are about to bulldoze a 120-year-old fig tree to make way for a 45m tall unit tower, which is yet to get the tick of approval from the courts.

The 30m tall tree sits on the site of the former Palace Hotel at Gayundah Esplanade Woody Point, north of Brisbane.

Traders in Purple hope to knock down the tree to make way for a 15 storey 158-unit tower and 13 two-bedroom townhouses.

The development was approved by Moreton Bay Regional Council late last year, despite residents’ objections.

Residents’ main concerns were loss of lifestyle, traffic and the fact the development is more than double the height recommended under the council’s planning scheme.

Group president Derek Catterall says they were still waiting on a decision to be handed down by the judge. Mr Catterall, who lives behind the proposed development, said the tree was part of the region’s history.

“WPAG had tried to get the tree listed as ‘significant’ with council, but was told by the Strategic Planning and Place Making Team Leader that this complicated process could take several years,” he said.

“We don’t have several years, as (Traders in Purple) has already been given the go ahead by council to build the Gold Coast-style high-rise towers,” he said.

“Apparently the development approval did not require the tree, which is an important food source for native birds, flying foxes and butterflies, to be retained.”

Mr Catterall said WPAG members had met with Division six Councillor Karl Winchester asking him to investigate options to either save or relocate the tree.

“It’s also ironic that a magnificent tree of this age, size, and historical significance is directly opposite the Woody Point Arboretum and yet is earmarked to be destroyed,” he said.

Mr Catterall said the magnificent tree could be seen from many residences and streets of the southern area of Woody Point including the foreshore at Crockatt Park, the Woody Point Jetty and Gayundah Lookout. “It’s so substantial it can even be seen above the skyline from the beaches at Clontarf,” he said.

Mr Catterall said an Eco Arboriculture Australia report found that this type of tree could live to 500 years of age and, with regular maintenance, could be retained for future generations and the local habitat.

The report also stated a vegetation protection order should be placed on the tree and heritage listed with the Council as it was a natural asset to the entire area.


Barrister With ‘Offensive’ Number Plate In Legal Battle Over Free Speech

A high profile barrister has found himself caught in a legal battle because of his ‘offensive’ private number plate which reads ‘LGOPNR’.

Peter Lavac, from Palm Beach in Sydney, has managed to successfully challenge the order from Transport NSW, but it still wants them to be banned.

If you hadn’t already worked it out, the letters ‘LGOPNR’ mean ‘leg opener’ (vom) and Mr Lavac claims that he was ‘taking to p***’ out of himself by attaching them to his yellow Lamborghini.

He claims that 99 out of 100 people wouldn’t know what the letters actually stand for, adding that it’s ‘tough s***’.

Transport NSW gave him 18 days to change the number plate and in a letter, they wrote: “Transport for NSW determined that these number plates could be considered offensive and must be returned.”

But Mr Lavac, a defence barrister and former Hong Kong crown prosecutor, was having none of it and told The Sunday Telegraph: “I resent anyone who’s trying to violate my freedom of speech and expression.

“They [the number plates] are meant to be humorous, tongue-in-cheek, funny and entertaining. That is how most people find them when it’s explained to them.


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

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Shifting Leftist climate policies

If you don’t like Labor’s climate policies, just wait a few months. They’re bound to change.

They’ve been changing since 2007, when Kevin Rudd identified global warming as “the great moral challenge” of our generation. Labor threw him out just three years later. Rudd as Prime Minister was a challenge too great even for his own Labor colleagues.

Replacement PM Julia Gillard’s flexible climate policies doomed her from the start. Just days before the 2010 election, Gillard famously declared there would be “no carbon tax” under her leadership.

To a certain extent, Gillard kept that promise. It’s just that Labor outsourced leadership and climate policy to the Greens, with whom Labor briefly formed a ruinous partnership.

“It was the Greens who put this on the table after the election,” then-Greens leader Christine Milne said in 2011, referring to the carbon tax. “It’s part of our agreement with the Prime Minister.”

Labor was noticeably quiet on climate change in 2016. Running against PM Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten found other issues more compelling. So did voters, as results showed.

Barely half a per cent of Shorten’s campaign launch speech that year covered climate concerns, and even then only in generalities (“we want real action on climate change”, “we choose renewable energy”).

It almost worked. Shorten missed out by a single seat, leading to Turnbull’s celebrated Night of the Long Sulk and the saddest victory speech in Australian political history.

Labor should have learned from that outcome. Instead, Shorten in 2019 went full rapture. “Ignoring climate change is simply not an answer,” the then-Labor leader declared.

But it might be if the question is: “How do we win a federal election?”

“Labor is committed to reducing Australia’s [carbon dioxide] pollution by 45 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 and net zero pollution by 2050,” Shorten continued.

His campaign speech that year was loaded with climate talk, up to 6.6 per cent from .5 in the previous campaign.

“I promise all of those Australians who want action on climate change, and I promise the young people in particular, all Australians: Labor will stand its ground,” Shorten said. “No retreat on real action on climate change.”

Shorten dismissed as “dumb” any questions about the cost of his climate promises and otherwise carried on like Greta Thunberg with slightly fewer personality disorders. And Labor lost big time.

A funny thing happened recently to Labor’s commitment to a 45 per cent emissions reduction by 2030. It’s completely disappeared from the party’s draft policy platform.

The ground upon which Labor stands has shifted once more. A climate change retreat is underway.

“It’s all about the jobs after COVID. It’s all about the jobs,” Shorten, now the former leader, told Nine this month. “In all seriousness, that’s what I think.”

Current Labor leader Anthony Albanese would be wise to adopt “it’s all about the jobs” as a party directive. He’d find a receptive audience among voters who’d appreciate a viable non-Coalition option.

The suburbs and regions are loaded with swing voters who no longer swing because Labor isn’t swingworthy. That’s why Labor’s primary vote in 2019 looked like Joe Biden’s score in a Sudoku tournament.

Those same voters are increasingly wary of squishy Libs who agree with the global climate agenda. If Albanese wants to become a John Curtin figure rather than bring down the curtains on Labor, he’ll find that path in pro-jobs, pro-manufacturing policies.

Of course, that will mean surrendering the inner-city vote to the Greens. But so what? The Liberals don’t win inner-city seats, yet they keep winning elections.

Besides, on current trends our inner city areas are probably only a few years away from turning into our own versions of leftist-ransacked Portland, Oregon. Smart residents should escape now while their houses can still be sold with intact windows and at least one floor that isn’t ablaze.

“Our world is on fire, the Liberals are pouring fuel on the flames and Labor is egging them on,” Greens leader Adam Bandt claims. “Under Anthony Albanese, Labor risks becoming just as bad for the climate as the Liberals.”

Translation: Under Anthony Albanese, Labor risks becoming electable. Some within Labor remember what happened when their party last followed Greens instructions.

Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon, among quite a few of his less-public colleagues, would prefer to win. Labor can do so by shunning the Greens and wedging the Coalition.

The coronavirus gives Labor some cover here. As Shorten put it: “It’s all about the jobs after COVID.”

Labor can justify throwing out all of its climate nonsense — not just the 2030 target, but everything — because the extreme demands of a post-COVID recovery demand it be so.

The Coalition’s enviro faction, and party heavyweights who give that faction credibility, would be absolutely stumped by a vote-scoring populist jobs-over-climate push by Labor.

They’d be blindsided. And, after 2022, they’d be gone.

Imagine a party founded on the ideals of working-class advancement actually committing itself to … working-class advancement. It’s an idea so crazy that it might actually work


Coalition’s NBN backflip will cost billions of dollars more

Just seven years after Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull scrapped Labor’s original national broadband rollout to deliver superfast speeds to the family home, it’s back.

Two million Australian households will be able to demand fibre-to-the-home internet by 2023 in suburbs across Australia under the Morrison Government’s new plan to be unveiled today.

It follows widespread concerns during the coronavirus pandemic over slow internet speeds and millions of Australians were forced to work from home.

The upgrade is expected to deliver a further eight million homes access to broadband speeds of up to one gigabit per second by 2023. Currently the mandatory minimum is 25 Megabits per second.

The only problem is the announcement by the Morrison Government today is billions of dollars more expensive than the original proposal the Coalition scrapped.

Labor was set to spend $45 billion on its original plan, while the Coalition will end up spending $51 billion.

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who has never stopped complaining about the decision to reverse his original policy, was quick to pounce. “What a mega backflip on the part by Morrison,’’ he said.

“For 7 years they’ve botched my government’s 2009 plan for fibre to the premises, instead wasting billions with fibre to the mythical ‘node’, giving us the worst speeds in the world. Now this! What total policy frauds.”

But the reaction online from internet enthusiasts has been just as brutal on social media with users complaining it was “too late” and “a joke”.

Ten years ago this month, it was former Liberal leader Tony Abbott who promoted Malcolm Turnbull back onto the frontbench with a mission to “demolish” Labor’s NBN.

“The Government is going to invest $43 billion worth of hard-earned money in what I believe is going to turn out to be a white elephant on a massive scale,” Mr Abbott said at the time.

“I’ve already described it as school halls on steroids, and we can be certain the NBN will be to this term of government what pink batts and school halls were to the last term of government.

Mr Abbott, who declared he was “not a tech head”, suggested it was a policy for video gamers and people who wanted to watch home movies.

“We are not against using the internet for all these things, but do we really want to invest $50 billion worth of hard-earned taxpayers’ money in what is essentially a video entertainment system?’’ he said.

After the Liberal Party won the 2013 election, Mr Turnbull was responsible for the policy switch in government.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher insisted today however that the demand among customers who were prepared to pay for superfast internet speeds wasn’t there 7 years ago.

“The 2013 decision by the Coalition to roll out the NBN quickly, then phase upgrades around emerging demand, has served Australia well,” Mr Fletcher said.

“The multi-technology mix was critical to getting the NBN rolled out as quickly as possible.

“When COVID hit, and millions of Australians shifted to working and studying from home, it was vital that we had good broadband as widely available as possible. If we’d stuck with Labor’s plan, it be would have been almost 5 million fewer homes.”

But Mr Fletcher said the connection would only be built if a customer ordered a high-speed plan, but there would be no upfront connection charge.

“Very importantly, it will be based on the principle of demand,” Mr Fletcher said.

“So we’ll roll the fibre down the street, but then the fibre lead into the home will only be built when there’s a customer order.”

Under the plan, the Morrison Government will also announce 130 zones including Rockhampton, Bunbury, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Mt Gambier and Devonport for upgrades with more to follow.

The zones were designated areas where there was a density of businesses within a “reasonable distance” of existing NBN infrastructure.

“For the first time, businesses outside capital city centres within these business fibre zones will have access to CBD zone wholesale prices, driving annual cost savings of between $1200 and $6000,” Mr Fletcher said.

But Labor’s communications spokeswoman Michelle Rowland said the new plan will involve duplicating both cost and time, to connect Australian businesses with fibre after the Liberals left them behind with copper.

“After spending $51 billion on a second-rate network, and wasting seven years, it turns out fibre is what Australian businesses needed all along,’’ she said.

“Labor welcomes this step and surely people are wondering — what on earth was the point of spending $51 billion of taxpayers’ dollars on the Liberals’ second-rate copper network to begin with?

“This has meant Australian taxpayers have paid more for a network that does less, and more money is now required to play catch up.”


Queensland Health IT bungle leaves hospital low on supplies, costs taxpayers $33m to fix, says Auditor-General

Government medicine at work

The bungled rollout of an online ordering system for Queensland hospitals that left doctors without supplies, and vendors not being paid, has cost taxpayers an extra $33 million to fix, according to an investigation by the Auditor-General.

The program was referred for investigation by the State Opposition last year, which claimed staff were running out of critical supplies and vendors were refusing to deliver stock because they weren’t getting paid.

The Auditor-General found $540 million worth of vendor invoices were paid late in the first three months after the new system went live.

It also confirmed hospitals had trouble ordering supplies in the right quantity, and discovered 14 out of 16 hospital and health services across the state felt the system wasn’t working as expected.

The Auditor-General’s report said fixing the issues of the IT bungle had come at a significant cost in time, resources and dollars, including to taxpayers.

“Not all costs can be quantified, but an extra $33.5 million was spent to go live and to provide heightened support to entities over the four-month hypercare and transition period,” the report said.

At the time it was referred for investigation, sources had told the ABC that health staff were having to ration some of their supplies because stock was running low.

Shadow Health minister Ros Bates also said, “nurses having to put Band-Aids on the corporate bank card is absolutely appalling. Last week I heard nurses were actually buying food for patients from Woolworths”.

The report said Queensland Health had indicated the system failures, “had little to no adverse impact on patient care,” but the department had underestimated the compounding issues, pre-delivery.

Staff, managers not prepared for system

It found both staff and managers weren’t prepared for the system to go live and as a result, system performance affected productivity.

“Entities reported low completion rates for user training. Users had poor understanding of their responsibilities and the system’s processes,” the report said.

“Chief executives endorsed their entities’ readiness to go live, with caveats, although none had fully completed their readiness activities.”

Health Minister Steven Miles said he believed the report found the system had been important, and necessary. “It by and large indicates that the process was managed well,” he said. “Of course there are recommendations about how it could be done better.”

Two recommendations were made by the Auditor-General.

One was for redesigning the governance and accountability frameworks around project delivery, and a second asking for a cost-benefit analysis to develop a system that better monitored stock levels and consumption in real time.

The latest bungle comes a decade after Queensland Health’s disastrous payroll system failure, where thousands of staff were overpaid by millions of dollars.

That scandal ended up costing taxpayers more than $1 billion and ended the careers of several senior bureaucrats.


‘Free speech isn’t free’ and Australians are ‘failing to defend it’: Credlin

Sky News host Peta Credlin says free speech is something which has been protected in blood by past Australian generations, but sadly the people of today take it for granted and fail to defend it.

“Even in my lifetime the change in what we can say, write, even read has been diminished,” Ms Credlin said. “And the threat just seems to be accelerating.

“Free speech isn’t free, it’s something that’s been protected in blood by Australians in generations past who have fought in our name.

“To give us the sort of liberty today – free speech today – that sadly I think many of us take for granted, and even worse are failing to defend.”

Ms Credlin spoke with Tasmanian Senator Claire Chandler, who was hauled in front of the Tasmanian Equal Opportunity Commission after publishing an article about what she labelled the “reality of biological sex”.

“I’m certainly not going to be backing down on my views around women’s sports and women’s sex-based rights,” Ms Chandler said. “Nor will I be apologising for holding a view and advocating a view that the majority of Australian’s agree with.

“This is a ridiculous situation we find ourselves in, where unelected bureaucrats … are able to put people through the legal ringer, such as myself … in an effort to shut down debate about genuine public policy matters.

“It is deeply concerning in terms of the effects that this is going to have on free speech in this country.”


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

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Dracula runs the blood bank

Bettina Arndt

Do survivors of unwanted staring really have trouble passing exams? Well, that’s the inherent assumption in a submission from End Rape on Campus to the Federal Government objecting to their Job-Ready Graduates legislation which proposes to remove government-funded loans from students who can’t pass half their subjects.

The submission claims to be advocating for survivors of sexual violence, suggesting they fail or drop out of most of their courses while dealing with the universities complaint processes, and can’t support themselves through regular employment due to the effects of the trauma. “EROC Australia believes that the measures relating to academic performance would have a devastating impact on the ability of students who have experienced sexual violence to gain an education.”

Note the careful use of the term “sexual violence.” End Rape on Campus deliberately uses this umbrella term to cover both sexual harassment and sexual assault, while implying they are only talking about rape victims. Sharna Bremner, founder of EROC Australia, actually tweeted this week that the government legislation would “punish student survivors for being raped” but her use of language in the submission is far more slippery.

It was the Australian Human Rights Commission which latched onto the term “sexual violence” to cover up the disappointing result of their million-dollar survey into what was widely called the “campus rape crisis.” They found 99.2 % of students surveyed reported no sexual assault. Most campus victims turned out to be survivors not of assault but low grade sexual harassment which the survey found to be mainly unwanted staring.

So unwanted staring is actually at the heart of the campus crisis but naturally EROC activists are reluctant to admit their case rests on proving a leering male gaze can derail a student’s education. So they fudge things by throwing in a few points about the special trials faced by actual sexual assault victims – which are no doubt very real – midst sweeping claims about the shattering impact of “sexual violence”.

These are very tricky operators. That’s why Bremner and her cronies have not only managed to hoodwink most of the mainstream media into taking seriously their claims about a campus rape crisis but also have become major players in tertiary education policy.

Dracula running the blood bank

Amazingly, Sharna Bremner is fourth in the list of 13 authors on the recent “Good Practice Note ” on sexual assault and harassment recently issued by our university regulator TEQSA.

This alarming document encourages universities to keep adjudicating rape on campus, showing a total disregard for last year’s Queensland Supreme Court decision which determined these kangaroo courts to be illegal and thumbing its nose at Education Minister Dan Tehan’s instruction that these matters should be handled by criminal courts.

So, our major regulatory body with oversight of our vast tertiary sector sees no problem in proudly acknowledging this activist is instrumental in steering our universities still further into the illegal quagmire of our kangaroo courts. And it was her lobby group that was largely responsible for persuading the tertiary sector to buy into the manufactured rape crisis in the first place. Talk about Dracula running the blood bank.

It speaks to the extraordinary arrogance of TEQSA which sees no need to show any semblance of objectivity as they continue to lean on universities to ensure they usurp criminal law to appease the feminists.

And Bremner still isn’t satisfied. This week, EROC was on twitter arguing more needs to be done to force the universities to get more active in this area.

Australian feminists leading the way

This all dovetails neatly with my thinkspot conversation last week with Diana Davison, who is working in Canada helping falsely accused men in rape cases. Diana has a group of lawyers involved in her Lighthouse Project, trying to restore due process for the accused.

Here’s the video of our discussion: I hope you will make time to listen to our fascinating chat.

Diana has been tracking the incredibly successful efforts of feminist lawyers in Canada to tilt laws towards ‘believe-the-victim’ justice, undermining normal legal protections for accused men to ensure more rape convictions.

Diana revealed that Canadian feminists are working with law academics in the UK, USA and Australia, drafting new legislation and using the media to lean on politicians and law makers to enact laws to further this mighty enterprise. Interestingly she has evidence showing that Australia often leads the way in pushing these desired changes into law, which are then monitored by the feminists in the other countries before following suit.

We can observe this process in action in the current push for affirmative consent laws. Look at this revealing article in The Conversation, published late last year by Rachael Burgin, Executive Director of Rape and Sexual Research and Advocacy, who has conducted research on getting affirmative consent standards into law. In her article she proudly tracks the progress of this feminist endeavour to tilt the law to redefine normal sexuality so that every stage in every sexual encounter must be accompanied by constant checking for a green light.

It’s pretty funny how blatantly Burgin reveals her disappointment that Victoria’s changes to the laws haven’t come up to scratch in making it harder for alleged rapists to prove they had consent and her eagerness to bully NSW into line.

Terrible mistakes of feminism

Yet this is an endeavour which some feminist scholars now see as one of the “terrible mistakes” of the otherwise laudable project of entrenching feminist power.

In our conversation Diana recommended a powerful new book, Governance Feminism which offers a very frank assessment of the prevailing culture where feminists “walk the halls of power.”

“One can get a job in the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Criminal Court, the local prosecutors office and the child welfare bureaucracy for espousing various strands of feminism,” say Janet Halley and co-authors in their introduction. The authors see this as cause for celebration yet are refreshingly willing to properly examine who wins and who loses from feminism in governance.

There’s a brilliant chapter by the late London School of Economics law professor Helen Reece, which exposes the way feminists have found their way into the Crown Prosecution Service, or Judicial Training Board, allegedly not to propagate feminist propaganda but simply to instruct lawyers and judges on how to avoid “rape myths.”

Reece writes most entertainingly about an incident where UK television presenter Judy Finnigan dared to suggest on a TV discussion show that a rape involving professional footballer Ched Evans having sex with a woman too drunk to consent was not the most heinous form of rape.

Finnigan’s words: “The rape, and I am not, please, by any means, er minimizing any kind of rape, but the rape was not violent. He didn’t cause any bodily harm to the person. It was unpleasant, in a hot room, I believe, and she was, she had far too much to drink. And you know, that is reprehensible, but he has been convicted and he has served his time.”

Reece dissects the extraordinary outrage that greeted this remark, with the media running the “rape is rape” narrative denying that some rapes are more serious than others, and Finnigan eventually forced to apologise after being firmly told, “You can’t say that.” It’s a valuable expose of the censorship that now controls all public discourse on such matters.

Reece is also frank about flaws in the affirmative consent argument: “The problem is some women do like to indicate their consent to sex through subtle aspects of their behaviour.”

Young women, as well as young men, need to be taught to see consensual sex more responsibly, Reece argues. She suggests this might require “challenging the normative acceptance of entering into sexual relations with partners one hardly knows, of seeing alcohol as an integral part of a sexual encounter and misleading the partner about one’s sexual intentions.”

There’s much more of interest in this challenging book but useful indeed to see eminent scholars acknowledging that the feminist success in gaining power has come at considerable costs for society.

Email from Bettina Arndt:

La Nina summer expected as ‘inland seas’ form in Queensland outback

What happened to global warming? Global warming caused by increasing levels of CO2 was said to explain the droughts. So have CO2 levels dropped? They have continued to rise – so can they cause opposite effects? In the dream world of the Greenies maybe they can. But nobody can say how

The old truth that Australia is a place where “droughts and flooding rains” naturally alternate is what is really going on but the Greenies don’t want to know that

Minor flood warnings have been issued for the Bulloo, Thomson and Barcoo, and Diamantina rivers.

It comes as Australia braces for a La Nina summer, the same weather event that brought drenching conditions to Queensland between 2010 and 2012.

Graziers Andrea Curro and Peter Magoffin said over 80mm of rain has fallen on their property southwest of Longreach since Friday, forming vast flooded areas. Aerial pictures show vast areas of their property now inundated.

It’s the most rain they’ve seen in over a year, and is potentially drought-breaking for them. “It went from literally being a barren wasteland to 3.5 inches of rain,” Ms Curro said. “We’ve had nothing since January.”

“For a couple of days it just looks like an ocean,” she said. “It sets you up for summer,” she said.

It comes as the Bureau of Meteorology predicts a La Nina for Australia’s east coast over summer, bringing the possibility of rainfall well above average.

Bureau of Meteorology mapping shows rainfall totals of between 50 and 100mm of rain fell across vast areas of Queensland’s interior, with the system expected to impact the state’s southeast corner later today.

Longreach resident Jenna Goodman said the rain was “quite heavy at times.” “I think outside of town got more than we did in town which is nice,” Ms Goodman said. “Not a flood by any means, but hopefully we get some good follow up rain!”


Senator says Tasmania’s anti-discrimination laws pave ‘road to tyranny’

Victorian Liberal Senator James Paterson has written an opinion piece for The Australian published today, entitled Silencing dissent – now that’s a road to tyranny.

The article is a response an anti-discrimination complaint made against his Tasmanian colleague, Senator Claire Chandler, who has been called before the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission after complaints were filed over her recent article arguing against trans women’s inclusion in sports.

In the piece for the Hobart Mercury, Senator Chandler spoke against ‘cancel culture’, and shared her view that transgender women should not be allowed to participate in women’s sport, access change rooms or women’s toilets. Speaking in the Senate the politician said being called before the commission was an example of free speech being eroded in Australia.

Senator Paterson agreed with Senator Chandler’s sentiment in today’s opinion piece for The Australian.

“The anti-discrimination complaint against Tasmanian Liberal senator Claire Chandler is the latest example of the threat to free speech posed by Australia’s state and federal anti-discrimination laws, and the bodies tasked with enforcing them,” Senator Paterson wrote.


Why working from home could be a disaster for Australia’s electricity grid this summer

Air conditioners could send Australia’s power grid into meltdown this summer, as roughly one third of the workforce do their jobs from home, experts have warned.

But warmer weather has come with a warning that increased use of air-conditioning in homes could lead to more blackouts and higher electricity bills.

“Air-conditioning is what drives our maximum demand in Australia,” said Peter Dobney, the former founding chairman of the Energy Users Association of Australia.

“We can expect higher prices, in fact, I think that’s a certainty.”

Last summer was Australia’s second-hottest on record and spring temperatures have already been warmer than average in many areas, according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).

Dr Paul Bannister, an energy efficiency expert from consulting services company Delta Q, said that did not bode well for the months ahead.

Blackouts can be sparked when electricity infrastructure is overwhelmed by demand. When that happens, energy providers have to choose areas of the grid to turn off, Dr Bannister explained.

“And with more people working from home there will be a higher load in the residential areas,” Dr Bannister said.

“But there won’t be a comparable drop in the commercial load, because most of the buildings are still operating.”

Some companies, like Optus, have opted for socially-distanced floors in their Sydney headquarters, with rosters allowing 50 per cent of staff in the office.

Others, like ANZ, sent around 95 per cent of their workforce home at the beginning of the pandemic, and have flagged that some employees may never return to Melbourne and Sydney offices.

“It’s very clear there is a risk here, with the air-conditioning running in the home and in the building at the same time,” Dr Bannister said.

“And cooling a house, it’s not as well insulated as a building, and the home may be less energy efficient.”

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Energy politics in Australia has been divisive in recent history.

A storm-stricken South Australia experienced a statewide blackout in 2016, and a stoush erupted in the aftermath as some politicians blamed the incident on renewable energy sources they argued were unreliable.

The blackout led to Tesla founder Elon Musk building the world’s largest lithium-ion battery to store power for the state.

Meanwhile, AGL Energy had to turn off its Tomago Aluminium Smelter in NSW — which is responsible for using roughly 10 per cent of the state’s power — for several days in January in a bid to stop blackouts.

A woman plays with her son in the ocean.
The Bureau of Meteorology has already forecast above-average temperatures this summer.(Supplied: Scott Veitch)
Mr Dobney said there were other ways households could help, including going without air-conditioning for 15 minutes every hour in peak periods.

Some power companies offer a service where customers can order them to automatically turn off air conditioners.

It’s known as “load shedding”, and some large corporations already do it lower power costs.

“It would get the demand down by 20 per cent or more in those residential areas,” Mr Dobney said.

“And this idea would mean the grid could keep up with demand.”


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