Monday, September 26, 2022

Former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard reflects on her blistering 'misogyny speech' 10 years on

Amusing. Omitted below is that the views she criticized were widely held among Australian men. So her popularity among male voters dropped to only 10%, fatal for the next election. So her own party then booted her out of the PM job

The former Australian Prime Minister - the first and only woman to hold the role - famously delivered a blistering speech on sexism in Australian politics during a session in parliament in October 2012.

The comments sparked a debate that reverberated around the world.

A decade later, the 60-year-old says that she did not realise at the time how significant her words would be.

'Giving the speech, I didn't have any sense of the impact it would have' Gillard tells this week's issue of Stellar Magazine.

'If you'd asked me 30 seconds after I sat down, "How is the press gallery going to report this? How is it going to reverberate?" I would have said, "I don't see that this is going to reverberate in the world." So I didn't have that sense about it.'

Within minutes, Gillard realised the true impact of her rousing words. 'Even by the time I'd walked back to my office from the chamber – which is only a two- or three-minute walk – there were starting to be calls and a reaction beyond Canberra' she tells the publication. 'So I got an early inkling from that, that it was going to have some sort of emotional resonance beyond the confines of Parliament House.'

Gillard believes her speech resonated with women around the world who shared her experiences.

'I think its power has been that there are millions of women – and I feel like I've met millions of them – who have lived through sexist experiences, misogynistic experiences' she said.

Julia served as prime minister from 2010 to 2013. In 2012, she was praised for her strong stance on sexism in government during a heated debate on the parliamentary speaker's text scandal.

Gillard spent 15 minutes attacking leader of the opposition Tony Abbott before the Australian House of Representatives during a debate over a motion to sack the Speaker of the House, Peter Slipper after a series of text messages he sent to his male assistant referring to women in a derogatory way were made public.

She accused Abbott of sexism, addressing the former Liberal prime minister throughout her speech.

Among her comments she said: 'I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. I will nota nd the government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. Not now, not ever.

'If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn't need a motion in the House of Representatives. He needs a mirror.'

Gillard was widely praised for her speech, with New Yorker Magazine even suggesting at the time that then-American President Barack Obama could learn a thing or two from Gillard in politics following the heated debate.


Climate models ‘a global bank risk’

Bank regulators could cause “major systemic risk to the global financial system” if they continue to use climate models with little understanding of the uncertainty inherent in model projections, some of Australia’s most senior climate scientists have said.

The warning, published in the August issue of the journal Environmental Research, comes as ­efforts to assess risks to the financial system associated with climate change are growing.

Lead author Andy Pitman, ­director of the ARC Centre of ­Excellence for Climate System Science, told The Weekend Australian: “Climate models are very valuable tools for many applications but they are not something I want used to decide investment strategies for my superannuation.”

The central issue is the difference between weather and climate and the inability of models to predict weather events at city scale.

Professor Pitman said attempts to use dynamical downscaling to get far higher resolution data was “excellent science but not science designed for the financial sector”.

Climate risk is a growing concern for financial market regulators and central banks.

In 2017 a group of central banks and financial supervisors formed the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS), to work out how to future-proof the global financial system from climate change.

The network hypothetical scenarios provide a common reference point for understanding how climate change (physical risk) and climate policy and technology trends (transition risk) could evolve in different futures.

The network’s climate-risk methods are rapidly emerging as the de facto standard.

The Reserve Bank has said it will use network-derived climate scenarios in its internal analysis of climate-related risks.

According to the Environmental Research paper, the network’s efforts commonly combine the use of integrated ­assessment models to obtain changes in global mean temperature and then use coupled climate models to map those changes on to finer spatial scales.

But the UNSW scientists, warn that deep uncertainty exists in climate projections, at local scales, that cannot be ignored.

The paper said “if all central banks use a methodology that is systematically biased, this could itself lead to major systemic risk to the global financial system”.

The main problem is that climate models are not designed to predict the weather.

“While it is understood that ‘weather’ (the day-to-day variability) and ‘climate’ (the average of the day-to-day variability over several decades) are not interchangeable, and despite acute risks being weather-related, ‘weather and climate’ tend to be combined when discussing material risks to the financial sector,” the paper said.

“Unfortunately, physical climate models do not represent weather-scale dynamical responses or how weather changes the interactions between the thermodynamic and dynamical responses to global warming ­reliably. This is linked, in part, to the spatial resolution used by the models (approximately 100 × 100km pixels) which are too coarse to capture weather-scale processes.

“Broadly, this introduces a ­serious limitation in determining future climate risk for the financial sector.

“Material extremes will almost always be weather-scale phenomena which are least skilfully simulated by existing global climate models.”

The paper said the current NGFS scenarios do not represent the range of plausible climate outcomes at a country level and most banks, insurers and investors are using these scenarios without fully accounting for uncertainty.


Grid renewal generates billion-dollar shock as costs of energy transition become clear

Australian consumers have been told to brace for big hikes in their power bills after a watchdog revealed the true costs of overhauling the grid to deal with the renewable energy transition.

In a decision heralded as a landmark, Western Australia's economic regulator this month said the state's major electricity network provider should be allowed to spend $9 billion over the next five years – $1 billion more than it requested.

Network— or poles and wires — costs typically account for up to half the average electricity bill, with the rest made up of costs associated with generation, retailing and environmental policies.

Economic Regulation Authority chairman Steve Edwell said the draft decision reflected the urgent need for upgrades to Western Power's network to ensure it could handle the surge of renewable energy flooding onto the system.

But Mr Edwell, who was also the inaugural chairman of the Australian Energy Regulator, said it was also a sign of what was to come around the country, where poles-and-wires companies face a race against time and a huge increase in costs to make sure they can keep up with the energy transition.

"The period between now and 2027 is pivotal," Mr Edwell said. "We've got to get it right and we've got to make sure the grid is in as good a shape as it can be to enable this transformation to continue at pace. "That's the broad context and it's a context which is repeatable across the nation.

"With a whole bunch of new technologies coming in and the generation mix fundamentally changing rapidly, we're in a different paradigm."

Throughout Australia, poles-and-wires companies that transport electricity between generators and consumers are required to have their spending plans vetted by regulators.

This is because network providers are considered what are known as natural monopolies, which would otherwise not face competitive pressures in their spending and pricing decisions.

Biggest shifts at the small scale

Under its draft determination, the ERA said Western Power's five-year spending plans to 2027 would be allowed to rise significantly compared with the past five years.

The watchdog noted that while much of the increase accounted for the effects of higher inflation and interest rates, there also needed to be a "material bump" in spending on new pieces of kit.

Chief among them were renewable technologies such as medium and large-scale batteries to help "firm" the network as the amount of wind and solar on the grid increased.

But Mr Edwell said there was also an allowance for smart meters, which gave those responsible for keeping the lights on much greater visibility over things such as rooftop solar output.

On top of this, Western Power would be allowed to spend more putting power lines underground to reduce the risks from storms, floods or bushfires, while the utility would be able to fast-track the rollout of so-called standalone power systems in regional and remote areas.

Crucially, Mr Edwell said there would also be room for a big bump in spending on cyber security – an area identified as a key risk as things such as smart meters made the grid more vulnerable to attack.

Widespread adoption of rooftop solar panels and smart appliances are increasing the risk of crippling cyber attacks on Australia's electricity grid, say experts.

As a result, he said capital expenditure by Western Power would rise from $2.9 billion between 2017 and 2022 to $3.7 billion over the next five years.

"What's happened is the distribution system, the small poles and wires, hasn't had a lot of visibility before," he said.

"In some respects it's been the quiet part of the network – all the action is happening upstream in the transmission area.

"What's happening now with so much solar PV and two-way energy flows and then battery storage ... is that distribution network owners have got to have a lot more visibility over what's happening in that part of the network."


Cashless debit card users voice anger, apprehension about its looming end

It's what kept the women and children fed in many Aboriginal communities

As Labor moves to axe the cashless card, there is apprehension in northern Australia about life after the controversial form of compulsory income management.

The scheme quarantines 80 per cent of people's welfare pay onto the card which can't be used for alcohol, gambling or cash withdrawals.

More than 17,000 people in Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory use the card – and once it's gone, Labor says income management will be made voluntary in all of those sites, except the NT and parts of Far North Queensland.

In those areas, a "new enhanced" income management card will be rolled out next year.

Mixed feelings on card's demise

In Kununurra, views of those on the cashless debit card are
nuanced and varied.

Some are glad to see it go, while others fear its removal could cause mayhem in an area that has long grappled with domestic violence and social dysfunction.

For Mr Green, he said he eventually appreciated the card, as it helped make sure he always had rent money, and enough funds to see his kids through school.

"To me it was a lifesaver ... it controls my spending," he said.

Labor went to the recent election pledging the card's end, citing reports it stigmatised people and failed in its bid to break the welfare cycle and reduce social woes.

Legislation is before the Senate which, if it passes with amendments this week, will mean people can transition off the card from October.

Miriwoong woman Majella Roberts said the card helped her save money for her six children. "On pay day you save it for a couple of days ... without people asking for it," she said. "Use it in the shops, clothing shops, even for cabs as well."

Now, however, she is happy it is being scrapped, because she is sick of struggling to find cash when she needs it. "Some shops, like the garage, they don't use those cards. You have to have cash," she said.

About 30 kilometres away in Cockatoo Springs community, elder Ben Ward said the card should go, and agreed with the move towards a voluntary system.

"It's not giving us our freedom and self-determination," the senior Miriwoong man said. "If we don't have the choice then why the hell are we here?"

Under Labor's new voluntary system, the government said those who choose to be on income management will have 50 per cent of their income quarantined, as opposed to 80.




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