Thursday, March 03, 2022

South-east Queensland parents told to pick up kids from school NOW as Queensland cops ANOTHER huge storm in a matter of hours after being battered by a 'hail bomb' with floodwaters rising AGAIN

I am glad I no longer have little children to get to school. I am surviving this weather pretty well. I live on the side of a hill in an elevated area so I am above any floods. Even the hail would not bother me if it came my way as my little old Toyota already has hail dents from the big 2011 storm. A few more dents would make no difference. But my girlfriend lives in an area that is well and truly cut off. But we have just spent 4 days living together so I can handle that too. She got home just in time before the latest downpour

Queensland parents have been urged to pick up children from schools as soon as possible with flood waters rising yet again as another storm pummels Brisbane with up to 48mm of rain in just half an hour.

Brisbane, Ipswich, the Sunshine and Gold coasts are all being severely affected by the dangerous trough passing over the region.

At a press conference on Thursday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said residents of Grantham to the west of Brisbane will be evacuated and parents should collect students from schools north of the capital in expectation of more severe storms.

'These are unprecedented times. I have lived in Brisbane essentially all my life and I haven't seen storms and floods like this,' she said.

Ms Palaszczuk said storms of 'serious concern' are forecast to affect the northern Moreton Bay region, Sunshine Coast, Gympie, Wide Bay and coastal areas up to Bundaberg.

'As a precaution, we would like people to collect their children when they think it is safe to go out on the road and do so,' she said.

Schools in the affected areas will remain open for the children of essential workers


Australia to the rescue: Australia has a bumper crop of wheat while Ukrainian supplies are cut off

With wheat flows from the Black Sea region snarled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, buyers are starting to consider forward contracts for Australian grains as far out as the third quarter, said top shipper CBH Group.

The war in Ukraine has left the world’s biggest importers scrambling for grain as shipments from the two countries grind to a virtual standstill. Russia and Ukraine normally account for more than 25% of global wheat exports, and there are increasing concerns that the fighting and chaos in the country will also reduce prospects for the harvests this summer.

Buoyed by a bumper crop, from Friday CBH will offer more than 500,000 tons of capacity to meet new demand, in addition to about 17 million tons already anticipated to be shipped out of Western Australia, Ben Tiller, the shipper’s head of trading, told a conference Wednesday. That’s nearly a 20% increase on the previous record for export volumes out of the major wheat-producing state.

Satisfying demand in the near term, though, is a challenge, with export capacity limited in Australia and shipping slots fully booked for months. That’s already driven buyers to purchase positions much further out, with the Black Sea situation creating added pressure to secure contracts.

Wheat Trade Routes Set to Shift as Ukraine Crisis Upends Market

“We’re anticipating further demand here with the loss of Black Sea volumes in the short to medium term,” Tiller said. “The supply chain here is certainly trying its best to respond.”

As the market digests the upheaval in Europe, nascent demand for longer-dated contracts could become more pronounced, Tiller said. “Buyers have initially, I think, thought there is some time yet before they need to make a decision for positions that may be right out to quarter three of 2022.” he said. That sentiment has now shifted.

“We may start to see that accelerate as the reality of this massive disruption to the grain supply chains globally takes place,” Tiller said.

Security Crisis

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Europe’s worst security crisis in decades, leaves a vital source of wheat supplies hanging in the balance. Timing has an impact -- a large portion of the season’s exports from both countries would have already sailed by now. The next harvest from Ukraine and Russia would be around July and August, and there are fears of shortages.

Australia’s just wrapped up a record wheat harvest, with production this year estimated to be even larger than expected after mostly favorable weather, helping to ease global shortages caused by drought and the war in Ukraine.


Global scramble for Australian coal to replace Russian exports

Australian trade officials are in discussions with local coal producers as the federal government co-ordinates efforts to find supply for Poland and Asian trading partners amid a global scramble to replace Russian resources.

Officials from Austrade and the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources have been in contact with coal miners this week, asking whether capacity was available to supply Polish utilities – and whether coal promised into existing contracts could be diverted to Europe temporarily due to the Ukraine crisis.

The calls were made after high-level approaches by the Polish government seeking alternative sources to Russian coal used for heating and power generation.

Resources Minister Keith Pitt confirmed the government was “facilitating access to Australian thermal coal producers to interested parties as they seek alternative supplies from Russia”.

“Australian producers have indicated they are willing to help our friends and allies if they can,” Mr Pitt told The Australian.

Russia supplies up to 90 per cent of Poland’s coal but the country’s government has led the European charge to impose sanctions on Russia in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

Last week Poland proposed coal be included in a European Union sanctions list despite its dependence on imports.

Industry sources say officials also sought information on whether coal supplies could be made available to customers in South Korea and Japan, following requests from their counterparts in those countries.

A number of major Australian coal producers confirmed they had been approached by Austrade and senior DISER officials, although each declined to comment on the discussions due to the sensitive nature of the requests.

Coal producers have promised to weigh the requests in consultation with their marketing and trading teams, but industry sources say additional supply is unlikely to become free for months, amid tight markets for coal and soaring global prices.

Australian coal miners have been running at full tilt for the last six months as the coal price has surged, and say there is little capacity in the system to lift export rates. There is an additional bottleneck at Australian ports, with the largest, the Port of Newcastle, at 93 per cent capacity. The Port of Brisbane is closed due to flooding.

Italy and Croatia may also follow Poland’s lead and ask Australian producers for additional tonnes to be sold to their economies, amid talk Italy is about to announce to return a mothballed coal plant in Trieste to service. Bulgaria is also said to be scouring global markets for new sources of coal supply.

While no sanctions have yet to be levied on Russian energy exports, sources say major buyers of Russian coal in Asia and Europe have already begun to cancel shipments and seek alternatives in anticipation the crisis in Europe will intensify, setting off a global scramble for supply.

Coal producers say they have also begun receiving requests for additional supplies of coking coal, though the urgency of the requests is said to be lower than that of those seeking thermal supplies.

Russia produces about 75 million tonnes of metallurgical coal a year, according to recent Macquarie figures, and about 360 million tonnes of thermal coal. About 40 per cent of its coking coal is sent into export markets, along with just under half of its thermal coal production.

The benchmark price for high quality Australian coal hit a record $US256 ($353) a tonne on Friday, and thermal coal prices delivered to Europe have jumped by $US80 in a week to $US285 a tonne on March 1. Forward curves for Australian energy coal have shot up beyond $US300 a tonne this week, industry sources say, with one shipment of high grade thermal coal from South Africa reported to have changed hands for as much as $US350 recently.

The shock return of war in Europe has forced a short-term reshaping of global energy trade routes outside of coal. Qatar is rerouting some LNG shipments bound for Asia to European customers, with Australian producers stepping into the gap to make up for the regional shortfall.

But the crisis brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is also forcing a broader rethink of energy policy in the EU and beyond.

German Economic Affairs Minister Robert Habeck told the country’s parliament that it needed a new energy masterplan to end its reliance on Russian gas exports, flagging a potential reversal of policies to phase out nuclear and coal power stations.


Closing the border made 26m Aussies richer

Amazing per capita growth rate

The December quarter GDP numbers delivered two big ‘truths’ – one maybe a little fatuous, the other seriously and challengingly profound and bitingly relevant for decisions that are being made, right now in 2022, both for 2022 and indeed for all of the 2020s.

The first is the old truth of how great it feels when you ‘stop banging your head against a brick wall’.

For most of the last September quarter NSW and Victoria were in – let’s hope they were the last, ever – lockdowns.

That’s nearly 60 per cent of the national economy. As a result GDP fell 1.9 per cent in that September quarter.

Bad enough as that was, it was way better than the 6.8 per cent plunge in the June quarter 2020 when all of Australia – in sync with pretty much all of the world – was in the initial Covid-hysteria lockdown.

So, when Victoria and NSW came out of lockdown in the December quarter, GDP growth rocketed up 3.4 per cent – or, 13.6 per cent on an annualised basis, as the Americans report their GDP numbers – and making it 4.2 per cent for the year.

For comparison, US December quarter GDP growth was 1.7 per cent, making 5.5 per cent through 2021.

This meant that we were up 3.4 per cent on the last pre-Covid, December 2019 quarter. The US was up slightly less, 3.1 per cent over the two years.

So the bounce-back is great when you stop ‘banging your head’, so to speak; and the worse the head-banging, the bigger the bounce-back.

True, after both of those big lockdown-caused GDP plunges, GDP leapt the same 3.4 per cent in the immediate recovery quarter.

However, the national GDP increase would have been more than 5 per cent in the September 2020 quarter, but for of course, Chairman Dan keeping Victoria and one quarter of the national economy in its own specially curated lockdown, as he set after the world’s lockdown record.

He of course finally ‘achieved’ the world record after lockdown #26 - or something, I’m still too locked-in and locked-out punch-drunk to remember exactly.

The second, bigger, more telling, truth is more than a little awkward for our ‘Big Australia’ elites to contemplate.

Simply, that bigger is not just not better, it is categorically worse.

Through 2021 overall GDP growth was 4.2 per cent. GDP growth per capita (per Australian) was only slightly lower at 4.0 per cent.

Contrast that with the last pre-Covid year, 2019. Overall GDP growth was 2.2 per cent and per capita growth just 0.7 per cent; with the previous year almost exactly the same at 2.3 per cent/0.7 per cent.

Indeed, over the two years of Covid, per capita GDP growth has been almost double that of the previous two years, when immigration was running at 250k a year.

The only growth that really matters; the only growth that really delivers rising prosperity – and that doesn’t just mean bigger flat-screen TVs, but more and better hospitals and social services etc etc – is per capita growth.

There’s no point – there is no increase in either average or indeed aggregate prosperity - in doubling the size of the economy if you also double the population. Everyone stands still; and indeed would really go backward.

But that is exactly what we have been doing pretty much all of the 21st century, until March 2020 when Covid brought that game to an abrupt – and, I would hope, permanent - stop,

Indeed, much of that earlier ‘growth’ was simply building more and more infrastructure, just to keep up with the population, not more and better infrastructure for people generally.

Do we have to get to 20-lane toll roads for a 12m population Melbourne before that penny drops? And Sydney?




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