Friday, July 22, 2022

Queensland teachers strike gold

Teachers have won a 3 per cent “cost-of-living’’ bonus in Queensland after union leaders accepted an inflation-busting pay offer that will put pressure on ­public sector payrolls and other industries.

Queensland teachers and principals will pocket the highest salaries in Australian schools through pay rises ranging from 11 per cent to 20 per cent over the next three years, pegged to the rate of inflation.

The Palaszczuk government has broken ranks with other states, with the inflation payment smashing the 2 per cent annual pay rise accepted by Victorian teachers in May, and the 3 per cent pay rise offered to striking ­teachers in NSW. The inflation bonus could potentially blow out Queensland’s public education sector wage bill – currently more than $8bn – by more than $1bn over the next three years.

The Queensland Teachers’ Union has recommended its members accept the pay deal of a 4 per cent pay rise this year, backdated to July 1, with rises of 4 per cent next year and 3 per cent in 2024. The pay package includes a “cost of living adjustment” worth up to 3 per cent each year, to be paid to teachers in a lump sum if the annual consumer price index in Brisbane outstrips the pay ­increase.

Should inflation hit 7 per cent this year, as forecast by some economists, starting salaries will soar by as much as $100 a week to $78,783 a year – more than the ­average wage for newly graduated doctors, lawyers or engineers.

Beginner teachers in Queensland would pocket a $2945 pay rise, plus a cost-of-living bonus worth an extra $2297.

Lead teachers would get a $5001 pay rise plus an inflation bonus of $3900, boosting their pay to $133,926 this year – the highest teacher salary in Australia.

Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace, who is also the Minister for Industrial Relations, on Thursday boasted about the generosity of the pay deal that also offers bonus payments to teachers who move to regional or remote schools.

“This is an offer that includes some of the highest pay increases and best working conditions for teachers in Australia,’’ she said.

“The Palaszczuk government is committed to making the Queensland Department of Education the employer of choice for teachers in Australia.’’

Teachers in Queensland have until July 29 to vote on the offer.

NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos on Thursday dismissed the NSW government’s 3 per cent pay rise offer as a “pay cut” because it failed to keep pace with inflation.

He refused to rule out ongoing strikes to secure more money, nominating an increase of 10 per cent or 15 per cent over the next two years as a “starting point’’.

“Our claim is more than reasonable considering the inflationary pressure that exists today,’’ he said.


The argument for nuclear power generation in Australia

Eleven years after the Fukushima disaster, nuclear energy is making a comeback in Japan. To mitigate possible electricity shortages in Japan’s winter, which runs from December to March, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has pledged to have nine nuclear reactors up and running by the end of the year. It’s an ambitious target and may not be reached. But it is not as ambitious as that of Japan’s closest neighbour. China is planning on building 150 nuclear reactors over the next 15 years. That’s 10 new reactors a year, on average, at a projected cost of $636bn.

Changing geopolitical realities have forced nations to make tough decisions about their energy security. Energy security has always been paramount to national security, but since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this relationship has become more stark.

During the past four decades, countries have taken a range of approaches to energy security. Some countries’ decisions, made decades ago, are paying off in prosperity and security dividends, while other countries are suffering losses from their bad investments. The German strategy of going all-in on renewables, shutting down coal and nuclear plants, then relying on Russian gas for backup has been shown to be a catastrophic failure.

Not only has Germany’s policy sent electricity prices sky high – contributing to inflation and declining standards of living – it has made the country vulnerable to Russia’s manipulation. Its policy of relying on Russian gas has funded Russia’s war machine, which is targeting women and children in Ukraine. Yet the ultimate salt in the wound is the fact, despite Germany’s dogmatic focus on scaling up renewables, its greenhouse gas emissions still remain more than double that of their closest neighbour, France.

In 1974, following the 1973 oil crisis, French prime minister Pierre Messmer decided all France’s electricity should come from nuclear. This was a stroke of genius. Since the 1980s, France has flattened its greenhouse gas emissions while becoming the largest net exporter of power due to its low cost of generation. While other nations are telling their citizens to ration energy in winter, France exports electricity to the tune of $4.4bn a year.

One of the most perplexing aspects of Australia’s climate policy debate is the dismissive attitude towards nuclear energy of those who are most alarmed about climate change. Nuclear energy has the potential to slash emissions, but also power an advanced economy that is strategically secure.

There are, of course, legitimate risk management concerns that need to be dealt with carefully and intelligently. Nobody who advocates for nuclear energy denies this. And nuclear reactors are not cheap. They come at a significant cost and require public investment. Nevertheless, the reflexive dismissal of nuclear energy in a country that is home to 33 per cent of the world’s uranium (the world’s largest repository) reflects an ignorant parochialism that will need to be rectified if we are going to thrive in the 21st century.

Opposition to nuclear energy in Australia is based on three key arguments. The first is that nuclear plants are too expensive and take too long to build; second, that nuclear waste is radioactive and therefore bad for the environment and citizens’ health; and third, that nuclear energy is not truly renewable. Each of these claims rests on flimsy reasoning.

While it is true building nuclear plants can be extremely expensive, a 2015 study by two French economists that examined past nuclear construction in France and the US found costs can be controlled by building the same design with the same team repeatedly. This method of scaling up using the same designs and the same teams is what the US and France have done in the past, and is what China and Japan plan on doing in the future. The argument that Australia cannot do what our neighbours are doing becomes an implicit argument for our technical and managerial inferiority.

The second reason – that nuclear plants pose a risk to health and the environment – also does not stand up to scrutiny. Since the 1950s, the US has received about 20 per cent of its electricity from nuclear. The entire volume of waste this has produced could fit in a single football field to a depth of less than 10m, according to a US government website. Only a tiny percentage of that spent fuel is actually toxic, and it is stored in steel-lined concrete pools of water or in steel and concrete containers. Of course accidents can happen, and contingency plans must be made for worst-case scenarios.

Yet keep in mind that France has not yet had a serious accident that has caused significant environmental or health damage. The burning of fossil fuels is estimated to kill a million people a year from air pollution, whereas the combined loss of life from Chernobyl, Fukushima and Three Mile Island is 32 people. This has led environmental researchers to conclude nuclear power is the safest way to make reliable electricity. (More people have died as a result of construction accidents installing solar panels than have ever died from nuclear accidents.)

The third argument, that nuclear power is not renewable, is simply false. France has been recycling spent nuclear fuel for decades. Seventeen per cent of France’s electricity comes from recycled nuclear fuel.

Tanya Plibersek this week told the National Press Club in relation to climate change: “If we continue on the trajectory we are on, the precious places, landscapes, animals and plants that we think of when we think of home, may not be here for our kids and grandkids.” In light of this, a smart country would invest in the safest and most reliable clean energy known to man. The models already exist. We just have to look to our allies of France, Japan, and the US for guidance. While some will argue that it is too late, we should keep in mind the wisdom of an ancient Chinese proverb: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”


Aussie dad and radio host is FURIOUS after learning a childcare centre is teaching kids about kids about transgenderism and sexual identity: 'Five-year-olds DON'T need to be learning about gender theory'

Ben Fordham has lashed out at an after school centre for teaching children as young as five about radical gender theory and sexuality.

The 2GB host, who's also a dad of three, slammed staff for exposing students to the material at Roseville Kids Club, which operates at Roseville Primary School, on Sydney's upper north shore.

A display has been set up inside the centre with the pride flag pinned to the wall next to complex gender theory terms such as 'Abrosexual', 'Transexual' and 'Neptunic'.

Neptunic refers to an individual who is attracted to both Nonbinary and Female genders.

Meanwhile, abrosexual refers to an individual whose sexuality is changing or fluid. For example, someone could be gay one day, then be asexual the next.

Transsexual people experience a gender identity that is inconsistent with their assigned sex and desire to permanently transition to the sex or gender with which they identify.

'I know this: five-year-olds don't need to be learning about gender theory at after school care,' Fordham said on Friday. 'Do parents consent to this stuff? Are carers actually qualified to explain what it means to be pansexual or transgender? 'Is there any evidence that this stuff is age-appropriate?

'Once upon a time - these conversations happened in families. And yes, times have changed and they also happen in schools. It started in high school. Then primary school. Now it’s happening in the KIDS CLUB for kindergarten kids,' Fordham said.

'A quick look at their website says: “Roseville Kids Care… where kids can be kids” They may want to practise what they preach.

Fordham slammed the childcare centre after a father claimed staff had made a complaint to police when he confronted them about the material.

'I visited it and was shocked that there was a giant out-size pride flag, it was the biggest flag in the room, far bigger than the Australian flag,' he told Daily Telegraph.

'When I went in there was an entire wall describing different sexualities giving definitions of things like 'pansexual' and 'lesbian'.'

Fordham argued there was no place for the material to be taught in a 'kid's club attended by Kindergarten kids'.

'I know that these are questions my kids are going to ask themselves or someone else one day, but NOT at the age of five,' he said.

'This stuff is plastered across the wall of a kids club!'

The father said the childcare centre had lodged a complaint with local police before he received a call from the constable saying no offence would be recorded.

The NSW Department of Education told Daily Mail Australia the material being taught to children was provided by an out-of-hours school care provider.

The content has been taken from 'My Time, Our Place' - the national curriculum developed by Australian Children's Education & Care Quality Authority.

Pauline O'Kane, who is the CEO of Network of Community Activities, which represents out of school hour care facilities, said the material helped to foster 'inclusive attitudes' among children.

'Do you shut the conversation off or do you educate and inform in a positive way so they feel like they can ask questions?' she said. 'I don't think we should curtail childrens' inquisitiveness, and I am sure this centre did this in a positive way.'


Australia's Greenie Luddites

Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio certainly has chutzpah. This week she demanded the Australian Energy Market Operator be given stronger powers to make sure that there’s enough gas in Victoria to keep the lights on. Queensland LNG exporters are being forced to bail out Victoria, but the state’s pain is all self-inflicted.

Nobody bears more responsibility than Ms D’Ambrosio for the farcical reality that Victoria is sitting on top of massive onshore reserves of natural gas in the Gippsland and Otway basins, while power prices skyrocket, industries shut down, and the poor shiver in unheated homes.

But there’s plenty of blame to share around. For more than a decade Victorians have voted in governments of the right and left that have banned the fracking of unconventional gas and then enshrined the ban in the constitution to make it harder to undo. They even put a moratorium on conventional gas exploration and when it ran out, government incentives all subsidised the development of renewable energy.

Australia has built four to five times more solar and wind energy than Europe, the US, Japan or China but now hapless Victorians are discovering that to get through a ‘renewable drought’ which analysts forecast could cause a one-terawatt shortage between now and September, the state would need about 7500 batteries like the one Elon Musk built for the South Australian government, after it cheerfully blew up a coal-fired power plant. The cost? A cool $700 billion.

The energy shortfalls come because our giant energy producers across the National Electricity Market – stretching from South Australia and Tasmania through Victoria and NSW to Queensland – are accelerating the closure of coal-fired power plants.

Liddle in NSW shut a 400MW unit in April. It will shut another 1200MW next April and in 2025, Eraring, the largest plant in Australia will close, seven years earlier than expected, taking out 2922MW, around 20 per cent of NSW’s power. By 2030, two-thirds of our coal-fired power will have been blown up by our latter-day Luddites.

You can hardly blame the providers. Ever since the introduction of the federal renewable energy target by the Howard government in 2001, followed by state targets, governments have ensured power companies receive hefty subsidies for unreliable renewables and crushing penalties for reliable fossil fuels. Why wouldn’t they shut down coal and not build gas when there was an 85 per cent increase in power prices after the accelerated closure of Victoria’s Hazelwood power station?

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews sneered when former federal energy minister Angus Taylor tried to get the states and territories to see sense and sign up to an energy security mechanism that would prevent power companies closing coal-fired power plants until they were replaced with dispatchable energy. One of its biggest critics was none other than Ms D’Ambrosio who sniffed that the Andrews government wouldn’t support a scheme which delayed the clean energy transition or locked in ‘outdated’ technology. Mr Andrews dubbed the scheme ‘Coalkeeper’ because for green zealots coal is a four-letter word. Victoria was hardly alone. Others, including NSW Liberal Treasurer and Energy Minister Matt Kean, were equally dismissive.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has provided a brutal wake-up call to Europe, the UK, and the US. Faced with soaring energy prices enriching Mr Putin and funding his war, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, and Austria opted to fire up their coal-fuelled power generators. Indeed, 345 new coal-fired power stations are being built around the world and China and India are expanding their coal mining operations by 700 million tonnes a year, almost twice Australia’s annual production.

Yet Australian politicians seem oblivious to this reality, still in the grips of carbon dioxide-driven delusions, with Prime Minister Albanese fighting to legislate his economy-killing emissions reduction target of 43 per cent by 2030 while the Greens push for a target of 75 per cent.

‘Democracy’, said H.L. Mencken, ‘is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.’ Today, Australians are getting good and hard the policies for which they voted. Let’s hope next time Australians vote for a party that will keep the lights on.




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