Friday, June 24, 2022

Qld picks fossil fuel over energy storage

Is there no such thing as an intelligent journalist left? OF COURSE nobody much is investing in energy storage. Either it is useful only for a few hours (batteries) or its costs are astronomical (pumped hydro). Coal, gas and nuclear are the only reliable power sources. All the rest is fantasy

The Queensland government has prioritised coal and gas-fired generation over energy storage

Twice as many taxpayer dollars will be spent on Queensland coal and gas-fired plants this year as they will on installing new renewable energy storage in the state.

Queensland already has the nation's highest wholesale electricity prices, which experts say is mostly due to its reliance on fossil fuel and lack of energy storage.

Household electricity bills will rise by 10 per cent, while power bills for businesses will soar 20 per cent from July.

Treasurer Cameron Dick will partly offset that by wiping $14.58 off household monthly bills for the next 12 months.

However, businesses won't get any support and will likely pass on their extra costs to consumers.

Over the long term, the state government will need to transition to renewable energy sooner if it wants to spare consumers further price pain.

Vast renewable generation projects are under construction, but the state needs about 6.5 gigawatts of energy storage as well.

Mr Dick promised $35 million in funding for a feasibility study on a 5-7GW pumped hydropower storage project in Tuesday's budget.

Another $13 million will be spent on finalising a study for a proposed 1GW pumped hydro project near Gympie.

However, the three public electricity generators will also spend $480 million with the majority of that propping up ageing coal and gas generation, rather than storage.

Stanwell Corporation, CS Energy and CleanCo will spend about $232.7 million on maintenance, upgrades and spare parts for coal and gas plants in 2022/23.

Stanwell will pour $21 million into the Meandu coal mine and CS Energy will invest $1.2 million on the Kogan Creek coal mine.

CleanCo - originally set up to be a renewable energy firm - will spend $13.6 million on the Kogan North Gas Field, which it jointly owns with Arrow Energy.

The big investment in fossil fuel generation comes with the government expecting to bank dividends from the generators in 2022/23, and for those to rise in 2023/24.

"This trend reflects earnings growth of these businesses, with the current wholesale market environment supporting returns in the next couple of years, and a return to more stable levels over the forward estimates," the budget said.

Meanwhile, the three generators will invest less than half the amount they spend on fossil fuel generation than they will on increasing renewable energy storage capacity.

About $122.5 million will be spent on two batteries at Chinchilla and on the Darling Downs, which will eventually be able to store about 500MW, in 2022/23.

Queensland will need about 14 times more storage than that to transition to renewable energy and phase out coal generation.

The three generators are also investing about $85.1 million in the Wambo and Karara wind farms, which will eventually generate 353MW of electricity.

In total, the state government will invest $281.8 million on renewable energy and $232.7 million on fossil fuel generation in 2022/23.


Queensland government to scrap gendered language like 'maternity leave' and 'she' as part of major shake up to industrial laws

The terms 'she' and 'maternity' are set to be replaced in a series of changes to Queensland's industrial relations laws proposed by the state government.

The changes were put forward by Queensland's Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace on Thursday, reports The Courier Mail.

It comes after the government's five-year independent review into state workplace laws was released by Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk and Miss Grace in February.

The review resulted in 40 recommendations to Queensland's industrial relations laws to 'better reflect evolving community standards for the workplace'.

Among the changes, gendered language will be removed and replaced with gender-neutral terms.

The word 'she' will be scrapped and replaced with the term 'the employee'.

'Maternity leave' will also be cut and changed to 'birth-related leave'.

In another clause in the recommendations, 'maternity leave' was swapped with the term 'pregnancy-related'.

It was explained in the Bill that these changes were being made to 'remove language implying gendered divisions of parental leave'.

Other recommendations not related to the removal of gendered language included strengthening protections of employees subject to sexual harassment and gender pay equity changes.

There was also improvements to adoption leave entitlements and unpaid leave entitlements for a parent whose child was stillborn.

Queensland's Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said: 'The Palaszczuk Government is committed to doing all we can to prevent sexual harassment and gender inequity.'

'That's why I am proud that the Palaszczuk Government is introducing nation-leading reforms which provide workers subject to this type of abhorrent conduct a variety of remedies available through the QIRC.'

Miss Grace noted that the government had taken action because a 'lack of regulation' can 'create safety risks' and affects the 'financial security' of employees.


Alarming warning over new Omicron sub-variants on the rise across the country with fears infections will rise - and no one is safe

Health authorities have issued a warning over a new Omicron subvariants on the rise across the country as experts expect they will soon become the dominant strains.

Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 have been both detected in Queensland and NSW, with cases rising in recent months.

On Thursday, authorities from both states on issued an alert amid concerns the variants could result in a wave of new Covid cases.

'It is expected the Covid-19 sub-lineages BA.4 and BA.5 will become the dominant strains in coming weeks,' NSW Health tweeted.

'This is likely to result in an increase in infections, including in people who have previously had Covid-19.'

In a similar warning, QLD Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard estimated the variants would become the main strain within 'two weeks'.

However, he stressed that intensive care admissions remains low for all strains of the virus, which was a testament to the efficacy of vaccines.

'We must stress that all Covid-19 variants can cause severe illness, especially in vulnerable people,' Dr Gerrard said.

'We strongly encourage Queenslanders to remain up to date with their boosters, particularly those over 65 years of age and those with impaired immunity,' he said.

'This virus will continue to mutate so we all need to remain vigilant and responsive by staying home when sick, washing your hands regularly, keeping your distance from others where possible and wearing a face mask when you can’t.'

Queensland recorded 4970 new Covid cases overnight and five deaths, with 512 people in hospital, including six in ICU.

In NSW, there were 9203 positive tests, 26 deaths, and 1500 hospitalisations, with 53 ICU patients.

The alert comes as Australia's chief medical officer warns older Australians and people vulnerable to Covid should have a plan to combat the virus before they test positive.

Like asthma and other respiratory illnesses, people should have a treatment plan in place if they're more at risk of severe disease from the coronavirus, Professor Paul Kelly said.

Two oral antiviral treatments - Lagevrio and Paxlovid - are available for people vulnerable to severe effects of Covid.

Since the treatments were added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme there has been increased use, but more people are eligible, Prof Kelly said.

'Now is the time if you're in those vulnerable groups to have that conversation ... (so you) know exactly where you can access those medications and know exactly how to use them,' he said.


Australia Post parcel's 'laughable' 9000km journey: 'Been more places than us'

This sort of bungling is why I rarely buy anything online

“Your birthday present is in the mail,” is an excuse many Aussies may be familiar with.

But for one Gold Coast man it’s a line he’s been forced to give his wife for the last 20 days as his parcel makes an astonishing 9,000 kilometre journey across the country.

“It’s gotten to the stage where it’s laughable,” Nick Goodrick told Channel Nine.

“It’s like a guessing game of where it will be each day.”

The 58-year-old bought the birthday present online from Western Australia at the end of May.

Since then, it has passed through three states with no end in sight.

According to A Current Affair, Mr Goodrick’s tracking number showed the parcel left Geraldton, a country town about 400 kilometres north of Perth, on May 31. Six days later, it was processed at a facility in Sydney’s west, and less than an hour later it was on its way to Brisbane.

By June 7, it was bound for its final destination, the Gold Coast, but somehow ended up back in Sydney.

Within a minute, reportedly, it was sent back to Brisbane where it arrived a day later.

Hopes were high in the Goodrick household but they were quickly dashed when the parcel was spotted en route back to Sydney.

Then, like clockwork, the parcel was redirected back to Brisbane, ACA said.

“It’s been more places than we’ve been during the last couple of years,” Mr Goodrick’s wife, Kirsten, added as she awaits her much delayed birthday gift.

Unfortunately, they aren't the only Aussies waiting by the mailbox.

Bruce Greenaway, also from the Gold Coast, said his package made 24 stops before it reached his home.

After leaving Yamba on the NSW North Coast on May 20, the 68-year-old's parcel passed through Sydney, the NSW Central West, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane on repeat for 18 days.

“According to Australia Post’s tracking, it travelled somewhere around 18,000 kilometres,” Mr Greenaway told Channel Nine.

Even more straightforward journeys seem to be causing headaches for Australia Post customers.

Andrew Lindsey had been waiting for a package from Rochedale in Brisbane to arrive in Jimboomba, just south of the city.

It’s only a 30 minute journey by car.

But for Australia Post, the parcel went interstate, travelling to Chullora in NSW and Fyshwick in the ACT before reaching its final destination back in Queensland.

“They are so full of excuses,” Mr Lindsey wrote on Facebook, “no one knew where my parcel was.”

His story was slammed as ‘typical’ by other social media users.

“It would have been quicker to drive to Rochdale to pick it up,” one person said.

In a statement to Yahoo News Australia, Australia Post says it processes and delivers up to 14 million parcels each week, with the majority arriving safely and on time.

“Sometimes issues such as incorrect address details, smudged or ineligible writing or an incorrect postcode can create challenges for us, and occasionally our sorting machines can get it wrong,” it said.

"When we were alerted to the issue, Australia Post located both customers packages. One of these packages has now been delivered and we are working to get the remaining package delivered as an urgent priority."


Qld kids failing to meet basic literacy, numeracy targets

Queensland children are failing to meet basic literacy and numeracy targets, with new data showing the alarming levels state school students are falling behind.

This week’s state government budget papers have revealed in every instance, Queensland state school students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 missed the department’s targets on the percentage of students meeting the national minimum standard in reading, writing and numeracy.

The 2021-2022 statistics showed older students were falling behind the furthest, with less than 90 per cent of year 7 students meeting the minimum standard for numeracy, well below the 96 per cent target. Just 82.9 per cent of year 9 students met the standard for reading, compared with a target of 90 per cent.

Writing also proved to be an area of concern with just 72 per cent of year 9 students achieving the minimum standard – compared with a target of 86 per cent – and 83.4 per cent of year 7 students, against a target of 92 per cent.

Indigenous student levels were also below the department’s targets of students hitting the national minimum standards in key numeracy and literacy areas.

Less than half of all year 9 Indigenous students met the national minimum standard for writing, well short of the target of 69 per cent. Just two thirds of year 9 Indigenous students met the national minimum standard for reading, against a target of 78 per cent.

LNP education spokesman Christian Rowan said the results were “extremely concerning”.

“More worrying still, there is no comprehensive plan from the state government to address this steady decline,” Dr Rowan said. “Queensland’s students, parents, teachers and school staff deserve a world-class education system that exceeds targets.”

But Education Minister Grace Grace commended students and staff for grappling with the “incredibly challenging circumstances” during the Covid-19 pandemic, and insisted NAPLAN results proved there had been “significant improvements”.

“Online learning, staying home when sick, and isolating as close contacts have all had an impact,” she said.

“We make no apologies for setting ambitious and stretching targets, many of which we are very close to achieving after consistent improvements over a number of years.”

The state government also missed its employment and training targets with thousands of students failing to complete apprenticeships or traineeships.

About 3400 fewer students completed their studies than expected, and just 79 per cent of graduates were able to gain employment or continue studies – well below the targeted 87 per cent. Only 73 per cent of employers were happy with apprentices and trainees – below the targeted 83 per cent.

The proportion of Queenslanders with higher qualifications reached 64.9 per cent, above the 62 per cent target.




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