Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Aussie EV drivers will soon benefit from nation-wide fast charging program

This is amusing. It's like a dog chasing its tail. It never catches up. The facility will entice more people to go electric, which will heighten the chance that when you roll up to recharge there will always be someone there recharging ahead of you. Frequently spending hours waiting to refuel will not tbe attractive. Electric cars are ok as suburban runabouts but are a pain for long trips

Electric car owners will be able to drive from Adelaide to Alice Springs, cross the Nullarbor, and run from Tasmania to Far North Queensland without stressing about charging, thanks to a new network coming to Australian roads.

A Federally funded program working with the NRMA to put 117 fast chargers on Australian highways will bring an end to “range anxiety”, according to Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen.

“EVs aren’t just for the cities, and Australians who drive long distances either for work or for holidays should be able to reap the benefits of cars that are cheaper and cleaner to run,” he said.

“We’re making range anxiety a thing of the past. This project will help close the gaps and known black spots in the network and make it possible to drive from Darwin to Perth, Broken Hill to Adelaide, and from Brisbane to Tennant Creek in the NT.

“This national rollout will help put more Australians in the driver’s seat of cheaper and cleaner cars.”

The Federal Government’s “Driving the Nation” fund will spend $39.3 million ensuring electric car chargers are placed at 150 kilometre intervals on national highways.

Full technical details – including the charging speed of the network – have not been released.

The NRMA will be using purpose built charger models for various public charging locations depending upon environmental conditions, location and power availability, sourcing chargers from manufacturers including Tritium, Kempower and ABB.

A spokesman for the organisation said plug power for the public charging locations “will initially range from 75kW to around 300kW”.

The fastest chargers currently used in Australia can add around 300 kilometres of range in about 20 minutes to high-end electric cars with more than 500 kilometres of range.

Cheaper models such as the Nissan Leaf, that can’t handle the flow of energy at need about an hour to add around 200 kilometres of range.

Mr Bowen drives a Tesla Model 3 – Australia’s most popular electric car.

Priced from about $64,000 drive-away, the Tesla offers around 491 kilometres of driving range.

Tesla has a widespread “Supercharger” network that is not available to owners of other electric cars.

Carly Irving-Dolan, NRMA chief executive for energy and infrastructure, said the network would be the charging backbone of Australia.

“The NRMA is excited to be partnering with the Australian Government to grow our regional network of fast charging stations across the country because we fundamentally believe that regional Australia should not be left behind,” she said.

“Australia’s expansive landscape presents some unique and local challenges to ensure that we are ready for more electric vehicles on our roads.

“NRMA has over 100 years’ experience helping Australia address transport challenges and we are committed to building on this work through this national charging network.”


Tradesmen happier, richer in their 20s than university grads

New research from the Ai Group shows that nearly half of all 25 year olds have a degree level qualification but are less likely to be in full-time employment.

Bachelor's degrees are a popular option among young students, but new data claims university might not be the best option for those seeking happiness and wealth in the early years of employment.

Almost 3,000 young people were surveyed as part of Australian Industry (Ai) Group's research into the "real trajectories and early career pathways" of 25-year-olds, with nearly half holding a Bachelor or postgraduate degree.

Tradies performed better than their tertiary-educated counterparts, with a difference of 16 per cent between the groups' wages at that age.

Feeling like the grass – and hip pocket – was greener on the other side, Braidan Quinlan dropped his teaching studies to undertake a carpentry trade.

It's a path he almost never explored, having been pressured in high school to attend university. "When I was in year 12, there wasn't really any talk of a trade or TAFE – it was more just pushing for university," Mr Quinlan said.

"Everyone wanted to go to university, everyone thought it was the right way to go, but if I could go back I would've started an apprenticeship when I was [a teenager]. "It would've been a good way to get ahead, I think."

The third-year apprentice was fed up with the narrative he needed a degree to "get forward in life". "I went [to university] for a few years … but found it really wasn't for me," Mr Quinlan said.

"I got offered this great apprenticeship at HNT Builders and have been enjoying it ever since."

One of the key findings in Ai Group's report was the benefit of "learning in a real-world setting", with almost all postgraduates and apprentices reporting full employment by 25 – meanwhile, only 92 per cent of those holding a Bachelor are employed at this age.

Postgraduates and apprentices also recorded the highest levels of job satisfaction, with respondents particularly pleased with the opportunities for further training as well as the chance to use their skills and experience on the job.

"I'm loving it," Mr Quinlan said. "The skills I've developed, both from trade school and on-the-job, have been phenomenal."

Although he admits a teaching salary would've been "a lot nicer" than the apprentice wages he started on, Mr Quinlan has his eyes set on the big picture. "Long-term, I feel there's so many more avenues to potentially make more money [as a tradie]," he said. "You can start your own business or jump over to the commercial sector.

"There's just more opportunity to make a better living, and that's part of why I moved away from [studying to be a teacher]."

Putting in the hours

The data shows, although tradies are raking in the cash, they also work the most hours. Apprentices undertake an average of seven additional hours, increasing their work week to 42 hours.

"These findings are a strong endorsement of the apprentice/trainee pathway and the many benefits that can follow, including higher pay," Ai Group said.

In the long run

"We should exercise some caution in drawing conclusions comparing pay at age 25 [as] other evidence suggests higher-qualified workers are likely to have stronger wage growth over their careers," the report notes.

But, in those early career years, the job satisfaction of university graduates often suffers as a result of being over-qualified for the positions they hold.

"A total of 36 per cent of Bachelor's degree holders [are] working in jobs below the skill level aligned with their qualification," Ai Group reported.

"Higher education students likely need to combine the deep knowledge of a degree with other types of learning and experience to forge a career.

"This suggests we need a more flexible education and training system that allows young people to acquire knowledge, skills and capabilities throughout their time 'learning' and to continue while they are 'earning and learning'."


Energy Minister Chris Bowen’s price caps won’t get more gas out of the ground

The one consistency in Chris Bowen’s attempt to force down gas prices is that the planned $12 cap will be in place in time for the next federal election that is due by 2025.

That’s the reality about today’s energy market, which is more about politics than getting more gas out of the ground and into the domestic market.

The second round of proposals for the mandatory code of conduct for the east coast gas market doubles down on pricing caps, extending them to more than two years. But the Albanese government and Climate Change and Energy minister Bowen is offering little in the way of a solution to create a sustainable longer-term gas market after nearly a decade of energy dysfunction across all levels of government. Bowen’s intervention is a heavy handed attempt to fix the outcome of the dysfunction, not the cause of it.

A price cap for another two years is a hard swallow for an industry that plans and builds cycles that range from five to 10 years. That and a myriad of subjective exemptions for smaller producers has added more uncertainty. Bowen argues the cap will ensure domestic prices are reasonable by establishing a price anchor.

But it is paving the way for more damage. There is little incentive for big producers to get more gas out of the ground and send it into Victoria and NSW, where it is badly needed. That will only serve to compound credible forecasts of gas market shortages.

Players like Woodside have effectively put on hold efforts to unlock more gas from the vast but rapidly maturing Bass Strait field that would be earmarked for the domestic market.

In a recent investor briefing Woodside chief Meg O’Neill confirmed their study of an LNG import terminal on the east coast had been “paused” as a result of the gas market intervention. At the same time the Bass Strait joint venture with Woodside and ExxonMobil was operating under six-month budget cycles. That’s not a lot of long-term planning there.

Other projects from other companies from Santos to Cooper Energy, as well as Queensland onshore development, remain in limbo.

“It’s very difficult to make investment decisions when there’s this residual uncertainty around the prices that we will be able to get for our commodities,” O’Neill said in February.

She also highlighted how many alternative growth projects including hydrogen were available to the energy major – which will require big spending but are set to deliver energy to international markets.

It was the global tensions of the Ukraine war that was the trigger for sending global gas prices soaring as Russian gas no longer flowed into Europe. Prices were already falling fast as the global market adjusted and Europe had a mild winter highlighted the unnecessary nature of the intervention.

Still the price is already skirting the price cap which could risk having the unintended effect of also putting a floor around prices. Figures from the Australian Energy Market regulator show in early December spot gas prices were averaging $15/GJ and then have fallen further to be stuck at the $12/GJ figure into the new year with several domestic deals struck at the price. There will be pressure for prices to rise in coming months as demand for heating increases, delivering the first winter test for the gas price caps.

From a hard gas price cap, to expected overhaul of the PRRT in Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ upcoming budget and so far lack of interest in a response to a US-style Inflation Reduction Act all add up to be a collective disincentive for energy operators to spend money here where it is needed.

And the bigger threat to Australia is the loss of export capacity where emerging players such as the US are eyeing export contracts to Asia and PNG is fast developing its own industry.

The gas industry is desperate for a sign to work with the government in order to fix the supply logjam to feed the domestic market. But that is unlikely to make for great politics.


Three cheers for Jacinta!

Three cheers for Jacinta! Her promotion is good for Dutton, good for the Coalition, and good for the country.

The rise and rise of Jacinta Nampijinpa Price from deputy mayor of Alice Springs to Country Liberal Senator for the Northern Territory, and from there to Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians is one of those rare rapid ascents in political life that promises to be good for the Liberal party, good for Opposition leader Peter Dutton, and good for the country.

Prime Minister Albanese’s brazen request for a blank cheque to create a disembodied Indigenous Voice to Parliament is disingenuous, dangerous, and many would add racist. Price’s opposition to Albanese’s half-baked plan is deeply personal. She is the living incarnation of reconciliation with a Warlpiri mum and an Anglo-Celtic dad. She went on create her own ‘blended family’ with her musician husband who is not Indigenous. As she says in the ‘No’ campaign ad, which is being run by Fair Australia, it was love that brought her parents together and love that brought she and her partner together and none of them want to see the family divided along the lines of race.

Price is a gifted speaker. At the CPAC conference in Sydney last year she and Warren Mundine provided a hilarious double act, brimming with good humour and incisive commentary. They plan to go on tour across the country reminding Australians that there is more to unite us than divide us. The pair will provide ‘Yes’ campaigners with a formidable challenge.

Labor has turned smearing Liberals as racist and sexist into an art form, but the promotion Price makes that task a whole lot harder. Leftists looked stupid, vicious, and paternalistic when they tried to claim that she was providing cover for racists.

Price has been a godsend for Dutton. His new Clark Kent-style black glasses have helped him shed the Voldemort look and with Price at his side, Labor has been put on the back foot in its campaign of character assassination that it perfected in relentless attacks on Scott Morrison. And to Labor’s chagrin Price has been joined at the hip to Dutton on his frequent trips to Alice Springs.

Price has been equally helpful to Dutton within his party. He has been faced with the same rancorous divisions that poisoned the prime ministerial tenure of the last three Liberal leaders. The Voice threatened the usual tectonic divide between the Woke, wet left, and the dry right. After the dismal drubbing in the Aston by-election, Price is the inspirational figure the Coalition needs to bring its warring tribes together. Perhaps not Julian Leeser, who quit the shadow front bench to campaign for the Voice, but Price, a Country National, was backed by the majority of Liberals even though it meant the Nationals have exceeded their quota on the front bench.

Leeser’s departure has also allowed Dutton to promote the very capable Kerrynne Liddle to Shadow Assistant Minister for Child Protection and the Prevention of Family Violence and make the battle-hardened former attorney-general Michaelia Cash the new shadow attorney-general.

And just like that, Dutton has added three impressive women to the ministry making Labor’s stereotypical attacks that much harder.

The announcement by Karen Andrews, the former and then Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, that she will quit the front bench and not contest the next election opened the way for Dutton to promote talented China hawk Senator James Paterson to Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Minister for Home Affairs and cyber security.

Paterson did an impressive job when he was chair of the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security. He scored a major hit on the government in February when he raised the alarm about the threat posed by almost a thousand Chinese-made cameras in Commonwealth buildings.

He joins Andrew Hastie, Shadow Minister for Defence, who gets kudos for being attacked by the overtly pro-China Premier of Western Australia, Mark McGowan, this week. McGowan, either accidentally or on purpose, announced over a hot microphone at a China-Australia Chamber of Commerce lunch during his first trip to China since the pandemic that Hastie had ‘swallowed some sort of Cold War pills back … when he was born, and he couldn’t get his mindset out of that’. Who knows what was going on. What is certain is that most Australians share Hastie’s concerns about the CCP and would see McGowan’s comments in an unimpressed light within the context of his visit to China.

Price, Liddle, Paterson, and Hastie are all part of a younger generation that will eventually carry the Liberals back onto the government benches. A successful campaign against the Voice is a critical first battle and Price is the best person to lead them to victory in that campaign.




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