Tuesday, October 13, 2020

$1 billion pumped hydro scheme would open up NSW grid, backers say

Another idea that is great in theory but big in cost and unreliable in output. Pumped hydro requires the building of TWO dams -- and we all know how much Greenies love dams.

And in the end it only works when there is a substantial flow in the river. What happens during one of our frequent droughts? It's a nonsense

The Berejiklian government has given accelerated approval status to a billion-dollar pumped hydro project that will unlock twice as much renewable energy investment and reduce grid congestion.

The venture, backed by Alinta Energy, would generate as much as 600 megawatts of electricity by releasing water between two reservoirs near the Macleay River between Armidale and Kempsey.

Developed by the same consultancy EMM that is working on the larger Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro scheme, the Oven Mountain energy storage project is expected to support a further $2 billion in new solar and wind farms in the New England Renewable Energy Zone.

The closed-loop or off-river system would could also boost the water security of Kempsey, located about 75 kilometres to the south-east of the freehold site.

Among the benefits would be the displacement of some 876,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, and a reduction of load-shedding risk to some 770,000 customers as coal-fired plants shut, according to an accompanying document seeking government fast-track approval for the project.

The new plant is within the New England Renewable Energy zone, one of three designated regions for supporting clean energy in the state. Its development would enable more clean energy to be added to the grid.

"[T]he current capacity to [can] host only 300 MW due to insufficient network infrastructure," the document says. "The project’s 12 hours of flexible and fast=acting
storage will directly help to overcome this challenge and accelerate the implementation of the [zone]."

Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean said that pumped hydro was "essential for the state’s energy future", using off-peak power to pump water to the higher dam and releasing it went prices rise.

“The Australian Energy Market Operator says that NSW needs more than twice the energy storage of Snowy 2.0 again by the mid-2030s and projects like Oven Mountain can help us reach that goal,” Mr Kean said in a statement.

“It can take about eight years to deliver massive pumped hydro projects and we need to get going now to create jobs and improve the reliability of the energy grid.”

Adam Marshall, Agriculture Minister and the MP for the Northern Tablelands, said regional NSW had some of the best pumped hydro resources in the world. It would also support the local economy by creating some 600 new jobs during construction alone.

“This project is the jewel in our region’s renewable energy crown and cements the New England as the renewable energy powerhouse of Australia," Mr Marshall said.

“We’re already home to the two largest wind farms in NSW and the largest solar farm in Australia is about to start construction, so this project is the cherry on top of us.”

The government is providing about $2.5 million to support the Oven Mountain project's feasibility study from its $75million Emerging Energy Program.

The program is supporting investigations into the prospects for three pumped hydro projects in NSW.

The proponent will still need to request assessment requirements for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement Once received, the EIS will then on exhibition for community feedback and detailed assessment by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment before a final decision is made, the government said.


'We may slip sometimes': WA university leaders talk free speech after whistleblower saga

The leader of a Perth university which sued a whistleblower for speaking out about questionable international student intake practices says “we may slip sometimes” but freedom of information was taken very seriously.

WA university vice chancellors were questioned in September about transparency and freedom of speech policies at a Committee for Economic Development Australia panel where Murdoch vice chancellor Professor Eeva Leinonen said she “absolutely” believed in academic freedom and freedom of speech.

It comes about three months after Murdoch withdrew all its legal claims against Associate Professor Gerd Schröder-Turk who blew the whistle over “moral concerns” about international student recruitment practices at the WA university in ABC’s Four Corners segment titled ‘Cash Cows’ in May 2019.

The university refuted Mr Schröder-Turk's claims and later sued the mathematics academic for what could potentially have been millions of dollars.

In June, Dr Schröder-Turk said he and the university had decided to drop all legal claims against each other as part of an agreed resolution.

Associate Professor Schröder-Turk had been supported by more than 50 Laureate professors around the country, who signed an open letter calling for the university to drop its case against him months before the institution did.

At the CEDA event, Professor Leinonen said universities had academic freedom and freedom of speech constrained in their policies, strategies and enterprise agreements.

“We also have a national model code for freedom of speech and academic freedom that universities are currently considering whether to adopt or adapt that code and that is a requirement by the current government that we consider that code,” she said.

“So we are taking it very seriously and, you know, we may slip sometimes, but it actually is not intentional. We absolutely believe in academic freedom and freedom of speech.”


Leftist judge wants more controls on the media

A High Court judge has come out swinging at the freedom of the press but his comments reek of a misunderstanding to the media’s role and his words should not go unchallenged, writes Des Houghton.

High Court judge Pat Keane has savaged the media, and suggested new laws to curb its powers.

And he has taken a swipe at the media industry’s Right-to-Know campaign, following the Australian Federal Police raid on journalist Annika Smethurst, cynically suggesting the crusade was motivated by “dollar signs”.

Keane goes further, saying that “it would not be surprising” if the High Court accepted a tort (a civil wrong) of invasion of privacy. He quotes from records that show judges favour protecting an individual’s private life “free from the prying eyes, ears and publications of others”.

His outspoken comments came in his Griffith Law School Michael Whincop memorial lecture. It was a scholarly, entertaining and dangerous speech in which he quoted some of civilisation’s greatest thinkers including Plato, Socrates, Sigmund Freud and Thomas Jefferson, and jurists like Louis D Brandeis, one of the great figures of the United States Supreme Court.

Keane said the electronic and print media cared little for the private lives of citizens.

“Should the law aid individuals to profit from the commercialisation of their intimate moments?” he asked.

Keane said drawing “satisfactory boundaries” between our private and public lives is one of the great challenges of Western civilisation.


He added: “The position taken by the media in Smethurst is a reminder, if one were needed, that, when the owners of the media are faced with a choice between the right to know and the right to privacy, they can be expected to favour the right with the dollar signs attached - and that will be so wherever one might think the balance of the public interests lies. The legitimate self-interest whose energy we need to harness is the interest that all of us have as citizens.

“It is definitely not the interest of media outlets, such as Fox News, which lies in pandering to the prejudices of its audience and stoking their distrust and disapproval of their fellow citizens.”

And others will see Fox as a bulwark against the increasingly left-wing media bias in the US led by the New York Times that routinely stokes distrust and disapproval against Republicans.

I could say that the ABC also stokes distrust and disapproval as it panders to the green-left.

Keane says laws to protect privacy had been “hit and miss”.

For me, his comments reek of a misunderstanding to the media’s role. His words should not go unchallenged.

True, the media sometimes does intrude. But it does not do so unless there is a strong public interest.

Much of the reporting of the intimate affairs of celebrities comes from the stage and screen and sporting luminaries themselves. They crave the limelight.

They frequently leak to the media because publicity feeds their egos and their bank balance.

Those of us who lead comparatively humdrum lives may find their trivialities an entertaining distraction. There is no crime in that. Not everyone spends their days off reading Plato, Your Honour.

While the media should not pander to the basest of instincts, nor should it be expected to change human nature and stifle an inquiring mind.

Paradoxically, much of the salacious gossip and scandal Keane seems to be complaining about comes directly from juicy court cases presided over by his fellow judges. There is an especially rich serving of the most intimate detail delivered weekly by Appeal Court judges of the Supreme Court as they forensically analyse the evidence.

More scandal, spice, humiliation and shame is delivered in Parliament in the time-honoured ritual of bucket-tipping.

In journalism, muckraking is a most noble art.

Keane puts a persuasive intellectual case, but an impractical one.

This is odd for a man who obviously has a brain the size of a planet.

He grew up in dreary, working-class Wilston in inner-city Brisbane and attended St Joseph’s Gregory Terrace where he was (of course) dux of the college. At the University of Queensland he won the university medal and then a scholarship to Oxford where he won the Vinerian prize for outstanding scholarship.

Later he was appointed Queensland Solicitor-General then a judge of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court.

Next he was appointed Chief Justice of the Federal court of Australia before ascending to the High Court in 2012.

The Australian reported in November 2012 that he was “a Labor man” and a friend of Kevin Rudd, although his appointments met with bipartisan support.

Keane spoke just as Crime and Corruption Chief Alan MacSporran ludicrously suggested that the media be gagged from reporting on matters he was investigating. I found his comments astonishing and arrogant.

Are MacSporran and Keane suggesting we curtail free speech, and therefore your right to know? I’ll quote Jefferson back at them: “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

MacSporran already has extraordinary powers of investigation. He can drag innocent people from the street and compel them to give evidence in a so-called Star Chamber court that the media is forbidden from covering. What would life be like without a free press? Perhaps we should go to China or Russia to find out.

However, tensions between the media and the judiciary may not be a bad thing.

For all their legal smarts, I have a hunch that Keane and MacSporran know very little about journalism or the million wrongs we right every year.

Any more restrictions on the press would kill investigative journalism. A shackled press would not have uncovered the Watergate case that toppled Richard Nixon. Senator Ted Kennedy would not have been exposed as the Chappaquiddick Island coward who fled the scene and tried to cover up his part in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.

Without intrusive journalism, The Sunday Times in England would not have exposed the cover-up of the thalidomide children who were born with shocking deformities.

Without dangerous and meddling journalism, The Courier-Mail would not have exposed the corruption in the Bjelke-Petersen era that forced the Fitzgerald Inquiry which led to the Police Commissioner and several Cabinet ministers being sent to jail.

But MacSporran and Keane ought to reflect on what they are suggesting. They want to edit our papers, just as bureaucrats do in China.

Could MacSporran’s gag proposal be in breach of the new Human Rights Act that guarantees my freedom of thought and freedom of expression?

As irksome as it might sound to the MacSporran and Keane, they are often in the same boat as journalists. This is because journalists, judges and police ultimately strive to serve the same ideals.

If the press is seen to have too much power, so are the courts.

There is dangerous, totalitarian thinking in the belief that the media can somehow be “managed”.

The independence of the judiciary is paramount, as is the independence of journalism.

In protecting the citizenry from wrongdoing and injustice, may I humbly suggest, Your Honour, that the intrusive media quite often does a better job than your courts.


Closures undermined education

New CIS research confirms the breadth of educational damage of school closures — especially troubling for Victorian students finally returning to class next week.

The analysis paper Parents’ perspectives on home-based learning in the covid-19 pandemic revealed that around 1.25 million students (over 40% ) across NSW, Victoria, and Queensland may have fallen behind while learning at home. It’s estimated Victoria’s disadvantaged students may have gone backward up to six weeks in their progress over the extended period of closures.

The new research makes clear that the quality of schools’ support to children and parents is decisive in how students fared with their learning — and that the quality of this support was mixed.

The secrets to success with home-based learning are sophisticatedly simple: students need regular interaction online with teachers, and parents need regular contact with schools.

Yet, a concerning number of students — as high as 30% in Queensland — didn’t have regular contact online with their teachers. Instead, they were relegated to completing worksheets and working independently. It comes as no surprise that these students were much more likely to have fallen behind.

Parents who were regularly contacted by teachers felt more informed and confident helping supervise learning. However, while many parents were contacted daily or most days, some weren’t contacted at all. Over 50% of parents who weren’t regularly contacted by schools say their child fell behind.

The better equipped parents are, the more effective support they can provide for their child’s learning — a fact that’s as true during the pandemic as it is in more normal times.

It’s clear that the school closures experience will leave lasting impressions to schooling; for students, teachers, and parents.

In households where the home-based learning wheels were well-oiled, parents gained more positive opinions about teachers’ work and schools’ education standards, compared to pre-covid. That’s evidence that parents appreciate the lengths many teachers and schools went to under such difficult circumstances.

It also shows there’s goodwill to be tapped in order to forge more constructive relationships going forward. Capitalising upon this would better support the work of schools, see parents as informed participants in schooling, and ultimately be more conducive for students’ learning.

The pandemic has been an unwelcome disruption to students, teachers, and parents.

Not only is there students’ learning loss for schools to now contend with, but also an imperative that lessons are learnt so that more effective schooling may yet be a silver lining.


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

1 comment:

Paul said...

“So we are taking it very seriously and, you know, we may slip sometimes, but it actually is not intentional."

He accidentally wound up in a Gulag. It wasn't intentional. Our bad. You may have his remains right after reimbursement of the transport fee.