Sunday, June 30, 2024

Gas plant building boom to fuel renewable revolution, says energy grid chief

Craziness: Greenies don't like coal because it is a fossil fuel. But natural gas is a fossil fuel too! It's a theology that's beyond me. I don't agree that either are "fossil" fuels but that's what Greenies call hydrocarbons

The east coast of Australia will need 13 gigawatts of new gas fired electricity generation - the equivalent of building 26 new gas plants - within the next 25 years to back up the rollout of renewables.

The Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) finding that an extra 13 gigawatts would be needed was contained in its latest energy grid road map, released last week. It also warns that eastern Australia’s gas supply is running so low that emergency diesel fuel supplies would need to be built next to each new gas plant.

AEMO’s warning is a high stakes challenge to the Albanese government and Peter Dutton’s opposition given just one gas plant was completed in the past 10 years, with one more in development at Kurri Kurri in NSW.

With 10 months before the election, neither major party has detailed their plans to build crucial energy infrastructure or boost gas supplies.

AEMO said new gas powered capacity must be constructed between now and 2050 so the fuel source can continue to produce 5 per cent of the total energy mix in the grid. These plants will be needed in addition to a huge boost in batteries and pumped hydro.

The figure of 26 gas plants is extrapolated from AEMO’s report. Assuming that each plant can generate about 0.5 gigawatts, a total of 26 plants is needed to deliver 13 gigawatts of capacity – a tenfold increase on the current rate of construction given only gas plant to be built in the past decade.

The number of gas plants is a conservative figure, given the only plant built in the past 10 years, EnergyAustralia’s Tallawarra B gas plant, was 0.3 gigawatts.

AEMO’s Integrated System Plan found the “optimal development pathway” for the lowest-cost energy grid would be powered almost completely by renewables and backed with gas, batteries and pumped hydro.

The road map said gas would continue to play a small but crucial role. It will back up the vast bulk of renewable electricity under the Albanese government’s ambitious target to more than double the proportion of renewable electricity in the grid to 82 per cent by 2030.

Gas peaking plants can respond almost instantly when needed during periods of extreme demand or periods of low renewable generation, especially in winter when low wind and sunshine coincide with cold weather, and households switch their heaters on all at once.

However, AEMO is warning supplies of the fuel are running out – driven by dwindling reserves from Bass Strait fields, which have been the mainstay of the east coast gas market for decades.

AEMO said in March that the entire east coast gas market would be in annual deficit by 2028 unless new supplies are tapped, forecasting the supply gap to increase over time.

That is why AEMO said new gas plants should be built with onsite storage for extra diesel or hydrogen fuel to keep the turbines running if gas runs out – although it noted that hydrogen was likely to be too expensive in the coming decades.

“A typical gas generator may generate just 5 per cent of its annual potential, but will be critical when it runs. Most of that will be needed to support some winter days of low renewable energy output,” AEMO said.

A spokesperson for the Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen said the government was aiming to boost gas supply under its future gas strategy and that gas power would play a small but significant role in an energy grid dominated by renewables.

“AEMO estimates just 1.4 per cent of our 2050 demand will be met through flexible gas or hydrogen generation to support the transformation to reliable renewables that’s underway,” they said.

Former prime minister Scott Morrison’s “gas-fired recovery” policy vowed to open up new gas fields, including the Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory, but no new gas field was developed during that term of government.

Dutton must convince industry and voters he can reverse the record of the Morrison government, when four gigawatts of generation capacity left the grid and only one gigawatt was added.

Opposition energy spokesman Ted O’Brien has promised to release a gas policy before the election. He was contacted for comment.

Not everyone agrees that more gas is needed. Renewable and climate advocates argue that pumped hydro dams coupled with batteries can provide the storage needed to back up renewables, coupled with policies to reduce energy demand with increased energy efficiency.

“A national support program for home batteries will ease the power bill shocks in people’s homes, further stabilise the grid, and cut pollution,” the Smart Energy Council said last week.

‘No shortage’: Producers reject minister’s gas supply claim
Grattan Institute energy and climate policy expert Tony Wood said the government’s policy to encourage more renewables, known as the Capacity Investment Scheme, risked leaving the grid in a mess because gas was excluded.

Wood warned the opposition’s nuclear policy, a plan announced earlier this month to use public funds to build reactors on seven sites across the country, could leave the taxpayer on the hook for inefficient technology that private investors wouldn’t back.

“What we should be saying is we want to design a market with a reliable, low emissions mix and leave it to the market to solve the problem,” he said.

“But we seem to have got ourselves in a situation where the Labor government is arguing more for the private sector and the Coalition is arguing for the public sector investment. How weird is that?

“If the government’s going to decide what the mixture of technology is then we’re in a really bad place.”

The Albanese government approved last week Senex Energy’s long-delayed $1 billion Atlas project in Queensland’s Surat Basin gained federal environmental approval and is set to supply 60 petajoules a year from the end of 2025.

Renewables are driving coal plants out of business at a rapid rate with 90 per cent of the grid’s coal plants expected to be gone by 2035 and all of them shut by 2040. These plants currently supply 60 per cent of electricity.


Dr Nick Coatsworth makes major admission about Covid-19 pandemic

A top doctor who led Australia's response to Covid has admitted governments and health officials lost the trust and goodwill of the public over their handling of the virus.

Dr Nick Coatsworth, who was the deputy chief medical officer during the pandemic, said draconian measures to contain the virus dragged on too long and caused people to tune out.

In an interview with Body and Soul, Dr Coatsworth said Australians were on board with what was being done to promote 'public health' for the first year of containment measures.

'They were open to what we were doing,' he said.

'I think, honestly, if we'd taken the foot off the restrictions a little bit earlier in 2021, then we would've had a lot more people stick with us.

'We had an opportunity to really change the way that people think about health, but I think we lost that in 2021 - the consequence being people just mentally blocked out 2020 and 2021 entirely.'

Dr Coatsworth has previously stated 'group think' and exhaustion led to poor Covid responses in a 10-page submission to the special commission of inquiry being held into the pandemic.

He also made the stunning admission that imposing vaccine mandates was wrong, following a Queensland Supreme Court finding in February that forcing police and paramedics to take the jab or lose their jobs was 'unlawful'.

Although Dr Coatsworth said Australia had assembled a top team of medical experts to advise on managing the pandemic they lacked an ethical framework meaning the focus became too narrow.

'This allowed the creation of a "disease control at all costs" policy path dependence, which, whilst suited to the first wave, was poorly suited to the vaccine era,' he said.

Dr Coatsworth argued the restriction and testing policies adopted to constrain the first deadliest strain of Covid in 2020 lingered well past their relative benefit.

He also thought the differing approaches among states and between them and the Federal government confused the public and eroded human rights.

'I strongly encourage the inquiry to recommend amendment of the Biosecurity Act to ensure that all disease control powers are vested in the federal government during a national biosecurity emergency,' Dr Coatsworth wrote.

This means the federal government would be in control of state border closures during a pandemic.

Outside of 'biosecurity emergencies' states would retain their disease control powers.

Dr Coatsworth has previously taken particular aim at the Victorian government, under then Labor premier Dan Andrews, over its harsh Covid reactions while hosing down criticisms of Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison during the pandemic.

'Scott Morrison didn't issue fines to children for crimes against disease control, and Scott Morrison didn't shut down two towers full of refugee and migrant Australians,' Dr Coatsworth said.

'There were very real democratic rights that were trammelled in the course of this pandemic.'

Dr Coatsworth was referring to the July 2020 lockdown on Melbourne public housing towers in Flemington and North Melbourne, which eventually led to the Victorian government offering a $5million settlement to those affected.

After the Covid inquiry was announced in September 2023, Dr Coatsworth took aim at Mr Andrews who 'thinks that the Covid inquiry should focus on vaccines, national medical stockpile and PPE'.

'It is a word that he would prefer never enter into the historical record on our (and his) pandemic response. But it will,' he said.

'None of those are related to the core question. Proportionality,' Dr Coatsworth added.

'It is a word that he would prefer never enter into the historical record on our (and his) pandemic response. But it will.'

In his latest interview Dr Coatsworth admitted the public profile he gained from the pandemic has led to media opportunities such as being a fill-in host for Channel Nine's Today program and making a new show, Do You Want to Live Forever?.

'The opportunity arose out of the pandemic [because] people knew my face,' he said about the new documentary series focusing on how to extend lifespans.

'I love what I do in the hospital, but it’s often too late.

'Once someone’s got a chronic disease, you can’t really make a difference. You make the biggest difference if you can stop them getting the chronic disease in the first place.

'So, I figured television was the best way to get that message out and communicate how to live a healthier life.'


Jewish groups turn on Sydney University

A rare coalition of Australia’s peak Jewish groups says it has “lost confidence” in the University of Sydney to provide for the safety of Jewish people, and that the organisations “stand ready to provide support to Jewish students and staff … who now wish to leave the university”.

The move follows the university’s controversial agreement with the Muslim students society, which defied university orders to pack up its pro-Palestine encampment protest and has been implicated with extremist organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir.

In a significant escalation of pressure on Australia’s oldest university, six Jewish organisations, including some of the most powerful in the country – the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the Australasian Union of Jewish Students, the Zionist Federation of Australia, the Australian Academic Alliance Against Anti-Semitism, and the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council – said they were “appalled and deeply concerned” by the university’s agreement.

“Many of the protesters were from outside the university, yet they were allowed to menace the university community and disturb campus life without challenge,” their joint statement reads.

“They have now been ­rewarded for doing so.”

The groups said they had rejected the University of Sydney’s offer to participate in a working group to review defence and security related investments and called on others not to partake in the “sham” and “fundamentally flawed process”.

The university has pledged to grant a seat on that working group to the Sydney University Muslim Students Association under last week’s agreement. It has also promised a suite of other measures in return for an end to the encampment protest after almost two months.

Those measures include a pledge to disclose defence and security related investments and research ties and to double its expenditure to support academics under its scholars-at-risk program with a particular focus on Palestinians.

The agreement came a week after the university ordered the campers off the lawns, threatening that failure to comply with directions to leave would constitute an offence. Everyone but the Sydney University Muslim Students Association left following that order. That group defied orders and camped out another week until the agreement was struck.

They said in a statement last week that this defiance “worked in our favour across many fronts, most particularly being the catalyst for negotiations with the uni”.

The Jewish groups said the agreement would “only act as an incentive for further and more extreme disruption at the university in the future”.

“Based on our interactions to date, we have lost confidence in the capacity of the university to provide for the physical, cultural and psychosocial safety of Jewish students and staff members.

“This is not just our view. We have been made aware that several academic staff, some of them leaders in their fields and employees of long standing, have already notified the university of their decision to leave the institution. We have also been informed that a number of Jewish students are now considering shifting to other universities.

“We have also rejected the university’s offer, extended to us after an agreement had been reached behind our backs, to participate in the proposed process to review the university’s investment and research activities. “The process is in our view a sham and we will have nothing to do with it. We encourage individuals and groups of standing likewise not to engage with or lend credibility to such a fundamentally flawed process.

“We continue to explore all options to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff at the University of Sydney and stand ready to provide support and assistance to Jewish students and staff at the university, as well as those who now wish to leave the university.”

The University of Sydney has repeatedly said the working group will not review the university’s research activity.

When contacted for a response to the letter, a university spokeswoman said: “These are deeply challenging times and we recognise the significant distress relating to this conflict and also the way the university has managed the encampment.

“We deliberately took time to listen and understand our community’s concerns with the intention of coming to a peaceful resolution.

“We are pleased the encampment was resolved without violence. The ending of the encampment is the first step, and we know we need to work hard to rebuild our relationships with some members of our university community.”

One Jewish student at the University of Sydney, Zac, told The Australian that he was considering transferring following the last few months of tensions on campus. He did not want his face photographed or his surname published for fear of reprisal.

“I’ve been harassed,” he said. “They had a protest. I was filming the protest just in case anything happened. I got told I wasn’t welcome here and that I had to leave – I said, I’m a student at the university and they didn’t care. And I got pictured and posted on Instagram and they called me a ‘Zio’.”

Zac said the university’s deal with protesters announced last Friday confirmed to him that the university “didn’t care about me personally”.

“I guess the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If they complain loudly enough, it doesn’t necessarily mean their opinion’s right or anything they do is right. They’re just the loudest.

“I’ve looked into it a lot, into transferring to UNSW, or UTS, or Macquarie. When you don’t feel comfortable walking around campus, and your classes are on campus, and there are people who you thought were friends who now you don’t talk to or they don’t talk to you, it sort of makes it hard to want to keep coming to uni.”


My street library was just a family project. What happened next, well, you wouldn’t read about it

As I have spent most of my life reading, I really like this story -- JR

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Amy Adeney

I’ll be honest – my motives for installing a street library outside my house were not particularly community-minded. At the time I was really into “projects”. We’d just finished transforming our swimming pool into a trout pond (yes, really), and I was looking for something new to keep my kids busy during the summer holidays. As a picture book reviewer, my bookshelves were overflowing, so a street library felt like a two-birds-one-stone solution.

I’d heard about street libraries and noticed the occasional book box on side streets – but I didn’t know much about the movement, or how they worked. I purchased a large ready-made raw timber unit from the Street Library Australia website and got to work on the fun bit – bringing it to life. We chose a deep purple paint colour called Dumbledore and adorned the doorframe with mirrors and jewels.

The website advises that it’s a good idea to give your street library a name, and Dumbledore felt perfect – a font of wisdom and knowledge, like the books that it would hold. When the paint and glue were dry, Dumbledore was glorious to behold, and once it was installed on a post behind our front fence with a bunch of books inside, I dropped a note in every letterbox on the street informing residents of the new street library. At that point I was ready to sign off – mission accomplished.

What came next was entirely unexpected. Notes and cards began to appear in our letterbox, thanking me for “adding a touch of beauty to our neighbourhood,” for initiating such a “fabulous venture,” and promising to add and swap books. The cards were mainly from strangers. We had lived in the house for six years but had never spoken to many of our neighbours.

Suddenly, we found ourselves striking up conversations with people as they browsed the library, chatting about books and offering recommendations. On days when the box was full, small piles of books would be left on our doorstep, to be squished into the shelves when there was space available.

The library took on a life of its own, and the turnover of books has never slowed. During lockdown, an elderly lady I spoke with on the street told me all her friends from the aged care home around the corner would walk to my house to find things to read. Far from just being a place to rehome kids books, Dumbledore is also stacked with adult options, from thrillers to cookbooks.

While my initial motive may not have been altruistic, as a lifelong reader, primary teacher and children’s author, I’m now so glad that we joined the growing network of street librarians. Like all libraries, our lovingly decorated installations are a wonderful way to increase literacy and provide easy access to books for members of the community who may not have other avenues. I also love the way that street libraries introduce readers to new authors and genres that they may be reluctant to try while browsing in a bookshop – I have certainly found some unexpected gems on Dumbledore’s shelves. Most importantly, this experience has shown me that, far from being a solo pursuit, reading can be a fantastic way to foster connection with others.

These days, the trout are long gone, but the street library is in full swing. A couple of weeks ago, as I headed out for a walk, a new neighbour was peering through Dumbledore’s perspex window. Her daughter-in-law was in labour, and she was killing time as she waited for a phone call announcing the birth of her twin grandchildren. We exchanged details so that I could share some recommendations of my favourite books for newborns, and a few days later she texted me a beautiful photo of the babies. I can’t wait for the time those babies are old enough to toddle up to Dumbledore and choose their own books. And I’m forever grateful for the random impulse that inspired me to introduce this little box of bookish magic to my street.




Thursday, June 27, 2024

Anthony Albanese’s cost of giving: rise in inflation raises risk of rate hike

Like most Leftists he is living in the present only. His big spending accompanied by no rise in productivity has got to mean more inflation

Anthony Albanese’s claims that billions of dollars in cost-of-living measures are helping fight inflation are in tatters, after new figures revealed a shock jump in consumer price growth that economists say could force the Reserve Bank to deliver another rate hike as early as August.

Official data on Wednesday revealed inflation jumped to 4 per cent in the year to May, from 3.6 per cent in the month before, as the end of energy rebates drove energy bills higher, petrol prices soared, and rents continued their rapid upward march.

With inflation trending higher for three consecutive months and well above the 3.4 per cent rate last December, NAB analysts delayed their prediction for any mortgage relief by six months to May 2025 after the latest date the next federal election could be held.

Analysts from UBS and Deutsche Bank joined Judo Bank chief economist Warren Hogan to predict a 14th rate hike next month.

Despite climbing worries that cost-of-living pressures are proving harder to shift, the Prime Minister in a speech on Thursday morning will spruik his government’s record of economic management, boasting that “inflation is down” since Labor took power.

In a speech to a CEDA conference in parliament on Thursday, Mr Albanese will talk up cost-of-living measures starting from Monday – including extending $300 energy bill subsidies to every household from July, a big boost to rental assistance and broadening the stage three tax cuts to include all workers.

Mr Albanese will say the measures are part of a package that has been calibrated “so that it takes pressure off people, without putting pressure on inflation”.

“Since we came to government, just over two years ago, nearly 880,000 jobs have been created – more than half a million of them, full time jobs,” Mr Albanese will the conference.

“Inflation is down. Annual real wages growth is back. Unemployment remains at near 50-year lows. And the gender pay gap is at a record low. My colleagues and I are proud of this record.”

Sky News Political Reporter Cameron Reddin says RBA Governor Michele Bullock has got her finger “on the button” to raise rates.

Independent economist Chris Richardson criticised the decisions by federal and state governments in recent budgets to pour billions of additional dollars into the economy under the guise of cost-of-living relief that could ­ultimately make life harder for struggling households by keeping inflation higher for longer.

“Governments are throwing a lot of money at the symptoms of the cost-of-living crisis, but that worsens the cause of it. And the cause is too many dollars chasing too little stuff,” Mr Richardson said. “Governments have abandoned the field in the inflation fight. We are fighting the inflation fight one-handed.”

Mr Richardson said the RBA’s battle to keep the nation on the “narrow path” to taming inflation without the need for a damaging recession was now more like “threading a needle”. And as inflation threatened to prove more difficult to budge, there was increasing risk of a monetary policy “mistake” that would eventually lead to a recession as the central bank was forced to hike rates to regain control.

“I don’t think the Reserve Bank will raise rates at its August meeting, but there’s now clearly a chance that they will,” he said. “And the bigger point is not whether rates go up or not in ­August, it’s that mortgage relief is a very, very long way away.”

Sky News Business Editor Ross Greenwood says the monthly inflation number gives a “snapshot” of trends.

Immediately following the ­release of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ consumer price ­report on Wednesday, traders in financial markets ramped up bets on the likelihood of a rate hike to approaching 50 per cent by ­September, and to 40 per cent as early as next month’s board meeting – or twice the roughly 20 per cent chance priced in for August before the release of the figures.

The ABS data showed that among the largest price rises over the past 12 months was a 5.2 per cent jump in housing costs, including a 7.4 per cent increase in rents and a 4.9 per cent rise in home-building costs – testament to both a lack of homes for lease and the shortage of workers and materials that continue to plague the construction sector.

The gradual end of government energy subsidies – to be renewed at commonwealth and state levels next financial year – explained a 6.5 per cent ­increase in power bills in the year to May, well up on the 4.2 per cent in April.

Confirming the intense pressures on household budgets, still high petrol prices meant fuel costs were 9.3 per cent up on a year earlier, the ABS data showed, even as pump prices eased through the month.

Betashares chief economist David Bassanese described the latest consumer price report as “a shocker”, saying it “places huge pressure on the Reserve Bank to raise interest rates in August”, although “it is still not a done deal”.

The monthly figures offer only a partial read on inflation and tend to be more volatile than the more complete quarterly figures, but the increase is well above the 3.8 per cent consensus forecast by economists leading into the release and enough to further worry an RBA board that has become more “vigilant” about the risks of inflation proving more persistent.

RBA governor Michele Bullock said last week “we need a lot to go our way” to bring inflation under control without having to hike interest rates again, while the central bank board for the first time flagged big-spending budgets may be making its job harder

Mr Hogan said there was now a 75 per cent chance of a rate hike at the RBA board’s August 5-6 meeting. He said it was now clear “the inflation trend in this country is back up, not down”.

“I just can’t see how they (the RBA board) can walk away from this and have any kind inflation-fighting credibility intact,” Mr Hogan told Sky News.


Minister Raises AUKUS Concerns Amid University Deal With Islamist Group

A move to re-establish attempts at a judicial inquiry into antisemitism at Australian universities has exposed questions around what has been called a “major national security issue” for the nation.

Federal member for Berowra Julian Leeser addressed Australia’s parliament on June 25 as he attempted to re-introduce the Commission of Inquiry into Anti-Semitism at Australian Universities Bill 2024.

The bill revolves around concerns of anti-Semitic behaviour at Australia’s universities, many of which have been the sites of pro-Palestinian encampments across the nation.

The government did not agree to bringing the bill for debate earlier in the month.

In attempting to open the topic up to debate once more, Mr. Leeser queried the relationship between the University of Sydney and the Australian branch of Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Hizb ut-Tahrir self-describes as an Islamic political party that “works globally to resume the Islamic way of life.” It has been deemed a terrorist organisation in the UK.

Mr. Leeser told Parliament about his concerns, saying the Albanese government needed to list Hizb ut-Tahrir as a terrorist organisation (pdf).

He quoted comments from the UK Minister of State for Security, Tom Tugendhat, who said, “Free speech includes neither the promotion of terrorism, not the celebration of terrorist acts.”

Mr. Tugendhat added that it was “not acceptable” to describe Hamas as Palestine’s heroes or call the Oct. 7 events a victory. “To that, I say hear, hear,” Mr. Leeser said.

The Liberal MP said Hizb ut-Tehrir opposed democracy and embraced anti-Semitism.

Yet despite this reputation, Mr. Leeser said Hizb ut-Tehrir was now playing an “oversized” role in the University of Sydney after talks that followed encampments which were organised by the group.

He noted that every other group had packed up and left when told to, except for Hizb ut-Tehrir, which refused.

“That resistance has worked in our favour across many fronts, most particularly, being the catalyst for negotiations with the uni,” the group wrote on its Instagram account.

Most disturbingly, Mr. Leeser said, was Hizb ut-Tehrir’s success in securing a promise from the university to establish a group to review its defence investments and research.

“That’s bad enough, but this is now a major national security issue at our oldest university,” he told Parliament.

“It’s an extraordinary capitulation, at a time when the AUKUS agreements require the focus and attention of our best and brightest minds Sydney university is allowing an extremist group—an organisation listed as a terrorist organisation by our oldest ally—to run the ruler over every defence agreement.”

Mr. Leeser questioned why anyone involved with AUKUS would want to work with the University of Sydney in the wake of the agreement, and accused the university of ignoring the group’s anti-Semitic actions on campus.

Hizb ut-Tehrir, which dismissed the government’s crackdown on the swastika and Nazi salute as “virtue signalling,” were the first to announce the partnership with the University of Sydney on Friday night.

“Be in no doubt, whilst the university may be enjoying its new agreement with Hizb ut-Tehrir, the university’s relationship with the Jewish community is in absolute tatters,” Mr. Leeser said, adding that Jewish employers were leaving the university, and Jewish students had been transferring away.

“In such an environment, the government cannot just sit on their hands and do nothing,” he said.

A spokesperson for the University of Sydney denied allegations that its affiliation with Hizb ut-Tahrir would compromise Australia’s security.

“We are in constant contact with the police and the safety of our community is our absolute priority at all times,” they said in a statement provided to The Epoch Times.

“If we are given cause to believe there is a risk to our community, we act immediately and proportionately.”

The spokesperson said no adverse events on campus had been reported to them in the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel by Hamas.

“The university is not itself in a position to identify organisations that may be extremist, radicalised or potentially violent,” they said.

“This identification is made by governments and police, and we are directed by them.

“We have been assured by police we would be notified about extremist, violent or radicalised behaviour that we need to be aware of.

“No concerns have been raised with us by police or other government intelligence agencies at any time since the distressing events of Oct. 7.”

The university also noted that Hizb ut-Tahrir had not been deemed a terrorist organisation by authorities in Australia, and as a consequence, members of the group were legally able to appear at rallies and events across New South Wales.

“Our priority has always been a peaceful resolution and the agreement aligns with similar offers made at leading universities from around the world, including Harvard University and the University of Melbourne,” the spokesperson said.

“Our proposal emphasises transparency around partnerships and does not include a review of our research partnerships, including those with our valued defence and security industry partners.”

The university said suggestions the working group members would have access to sensitive information were incorrect—and that the focus would be on human rights and participants would be carefully chosen to represent the university’s student, staff, and alumni communities, as well as university leadership and independent members.


Physics students in catastrophic decline in senior high school

A catastrophic decline in the number of students studying physics in senior high school is ringing alarm bells, with one eminent scientist fearing Australia will lose the expertise it needs to be competitive as an advanced economy.

The University of Western Australia’s David Blair, who won a Prime Minister’s science prize for his role in the discovery of gravitational waves, said if school physics enrolments continued to fall at their current rate there would be no female school leavers qualified to study physics at university by 2032 and no males by 2035.

“We are on track to having no young medical physicists, no physicists to become tomorrow’s astronomers, no physicists to support the energy transition, no physicists to support the nuclear industry – not just submarines but crucial medical products – and no climate scientists,” he said.

“Hospitals employ medical physicists who are essential for producing the short-life radioactive isotopes for medical diagnoses and PET scans.

“Our mineral industry depends on a huge number of physicists.”

Data from WA, which Professor Blair said was representative of Australia as a whole, shows year 12 physics enrolments fell from 3868 in 2015 to 2436 in 2023. The number of girls studying physics fell even faster over the ­period. Girls made up 42 per cent of the year 12 physics cohort in 2015 but only 31 per cent by 2023.

Professor Blair and a fellow Prime Minister’s science prize winner, Susan Scott from the Australian National University, are pushing for a rethink of school ­science to keep children interested so more choose to study science in their senior years.

The pair are leaders of the Einstein First program which, backed by UWA, now operates in 55 schools, teaching year 3 to year 10 students modern physics topics that engage their interest, such as black holes.

Figures show that 14-year-olds are far more interested in physics after doing Einstein First. Before the course, only about a third of the girls and half the boys found physics interesting. After the course about 80 per cent of both girls and boys were interested.

A $1.5m Australian Research Council grant for the Einstein First team was announced on Friday for them to revitalise school science education and improve the training of teachers to teach modern science.

Einstein First and UWA have also just launched 12 Quantum Explorer STEM clubs, which are particularly aimed at sparking the interest of girls.

The Australian Academy of Science is also part of the push to improve science and maths education in schools, and on Tuesday launched two free online “toolboxes” for primary school teachers to help them teach these subjects.

Academy CEO Anna-Maria Arabia said that the science kit (Primary Connections) and the maths kit (reSolve) catered for teachers at whatever level of science understanding they had and helped them teach in effective ways regardless of where their ­students were at.

“We would love all teachers to be trained in science and maths but that is long-term,” Ms Arabia said.

The academy’s secretary for education and public awareness, Lyn Beazley, said the new resources were needed to fill a gap.

“Today’s teachers work so hard, but they are extremely time – poor, with many competing demands. This can lead to teachers preparing for what their students need to know, rather than designing how students will best learn,” Professor Beazley said.

Launching the new toolboxes at Hughes Primary School in Canberra, federal Education Minister Jason Clare said the resources were designed to take the load off teachers and engage students and help them to fall in love with science and maths.


Who is Matt Kean and what is the Climate Change Authority?

He has drunk deep of the Kool-aid

The federal Labor government has appointed prominent New South Wales Liberal Matt Kean as the new chair of the Climate Change Authority.

Here’s a short explainer on Kean and the agency he will chair.

Who is Matt Kean?

Kean, 42, had been a Liberal MP in the NSW parliament until announcing his resignation last week. He gave his valedictory speech to parliament on Friday.

Kean entered politics in the 2011 landslide as the member for Hornsby, a seat in northern Sydney. His first major appointment was as minister for innovation and better regulation in 2017, a role that suited his education, including gaining a graduate diploma from the Institute of Chartered Accountants and his time at consultants PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

He found his calling and gained a higher profile after the 2019 state election when he became energy and environment minister. As head of the Liberal’s moderate faction, and being close to then-premier Gladys Berejiklian, Kean was able to implement far-reaching changes – particularly in the energy sector – that had eluded similarly inclined moderate Liberal ministers.

He secured cross-party support for an ambitious road map to drive renewables into the grid in NSW – a state that had been slow to decarbonise – and a large expansion of national parks.

Increasingly alarmed at the scale of the 2019-20 black summer bushfires, Kean spoke out against the lack of climate action including by his federal counterparts in the Morrison government. Morrison bristled in response that “most of the federal cabinet wouldn’t even know who Matt Kean was” – helping to boost Kean’s national profile.

When Berejiklian resigned following revelations the state’s corruption commission was investigating whether she had been involved in “a breach of public trust”, Kean was elevated to treasurer and deputy Liberal leader under Dominic Perrottet. After the March 2023 election ended the Coalition’s 12 years in office, Kean took a much less publicised role as shadow health minister.

Why did Kean leave politics now?

Kean had made no secret of his wider ambitions – including a potential tilt at federal politics.

He could have chosen to challenge sitting Liberal MP Paul Fletcher for pre-selection in the federal seat of Bradfield, for example, arguing his track record on tackling climate action would help counter any threat posed by an independent teal candidate.

However, Kean’s climate stance would have put him at odds with the federal opposition, not least its plans to build nuclear power plants at seven sites across Australia.

Close observers have noted Kean’s resignation as a Liberal MP came just a day before that policy was announced. It also came not long after Peter Dutton announced a federal Coalition government would ditch Australia’s 2030 emissions target under the Paris climate agreement.

“My grandparents’ generation fought for freedom in the second world war,” Kean said in his valedictory speech. “My parents’ generation saw off the threat of communism during the cold war.

“It is incumbent upon our generation to take decisive and responsible action on climate change. It is the biggest challenge that will face our society and economy in our lifetime.”

Speaking on Monday after his new role as the chair of the Climate Change Authority was announced, Kean noted he had previously asked his state’s chief scientist, Prof Hugh Durrant-Whyte, to examine nuclear’s prospects. (Durrant-Whyte reiterated the points here last week.)

Standing alongside the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, and the federal energy minister, Chris Bowen, in Canberra, Kean said nuclear energy didn’t make economic sense. “I did not want to bankrupt the state and I did not want to put those huge costs on to families.”

What is the Climate Change Authority?
The authority was set up by the Gillard Labor government in 2012 to provide independent advice on what Australia’s carbon emissions reduction targets should be.

The Abbott government sought to scrap the authority – and other emissions-reducing bodies such as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation – but was stymied by the Senate.

However, the Coalition made it clear the authority’s advice wasn’t welcomed, with one after another of the authority’s board members resigning, including former Reserve Bank governor Bernie Fraser.

Since April 2021, the authority has been chaired by Grant King, a former managing director of Origin Energy for 16 years. During that time, Origin expanded rapidly, particularly in coal seam gas for export.

King, though, has held other roles, including chairing CWP Renewables, and Kean too may take up roles in clean energy. King’s term was scheduled to run until April next year but Bowen said the current chair had sought to leave the role early.

The authority reviews Australia’s national greenhouse gas reporting and the safeguard mechanism aimed at forcing industry to cut carbon emissions over time. It can also order its own research or act on requests for analysis from the government.

Perhaps as a signal to how Kean will view his new role as authority chair, he had this to say in his valedictory speech:

“For critics who complain of an economic and financial cost of acting on climate change, I say as treasurer I saw the catastrophic cost of not acting—the cost of rebuilding infrastructure, towns, lives and livelihoods. There is no comparison.”




Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Assange revealed truthful, newsworthy information’: Assange lawyer says

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Julian Assange’s legal team have left the court and are now speaking on the case before the media.

“The prosecution of Julian Assange is unprecedented in the 100 years of the Espionage Act, it has never been used by the United States to pursue a publisher, a journalist, like Mr Assange,” Assange’s US lawyer Barry Pollack said standing next to Assange’s UK and Australian counsel, Jennifer Robinson.

“Mr Assange revealed truthful, newsworthy information, including revealing that the United States had committed war crimes,” Pollack continued.

“He has suffered tremendously in his fight for free speech, for freedom of the press, and to ensure that the American public and the world community gets truthful and important newsworthy information.

“We firmly believe that Mr Assange never should have been charged under the Espionage Act and engaged in [an] exercise that journalists engage in everyday – and we are thankful that they do.”


AEMO warns of immediate gas shortfall threat as cold snap, renewable lulls and outages bite

On Thursday morning, in an extraordinary step, the Australian Energy Market Operator issued a "risk or threat notice" for east coast gas supplies amid a looming shortfall of the fuel in southern states such as Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia.

The warning was sparked by a spike in gas demand following a cold spell, a lack of renewable power in recent weeks and an outage at the Longford gas plant in Victoria – the biggest source of gas in southern Australia.

Combined, the shocks to the system have led to a run on Victoria's most biggest and most important gas storage facility at Iona, about 230km south-west of Melbourne.

They have also sent the gas market skywards, with prices trading at almost $30 a gigajoule today – levels last seen during the energy crisis two years ago.

AEMO said the disruptions were of a "nature and magnitude" significant enough to threaten gas shortfalls on days of peak demand for the next three months or more.

"The likely duration of the identified risk or threat is from 19 June 2024 and is expected, on the basis of current information, to continue until no later than 30 September or as otherwise advised by AEMO," the agency said in a statement.

According to the market operator and industry observers, gas storage levels were being rapidly depleted as pressure came on to the system from all angles.

A recent run of cold weather has caused a spike in demand for gas for heating across many of the southern states.

At the same time, seasonal lulls in wind and solar output has led to a big increase in the amount of gas being burnt to produce electricity.

Meanwhile, AEMO noted, production at the Longford gas plant operated by US oil and gas giant ExxonMobil had been severely reduced because unplanned maintenance requirements.

This comes on top of the declining output from Longford, which ExxonMobil and its joint venture partner Woodside are planning to progressively shut down in the coming years as gas reserves in the Bass Strait fall away.

An Exxon spokesman said the outage at Longford was planned to allow maintenance to take place at the company's offshore facilities.

The spokesman said that work had been completed and the plant would be "resuming" its full operations over the coming days.

"Our team has worked hard to limit any impact on supplies to customers by increasing production from other offshore facilities while the restart progresses," the spokesman said.

"We expect to return to full rates by 1 July.

"As we have noted publicly for several years, having multiple supply sources across the domestic energy market is critical to ensure system reliability."

Shortfalls 'entirely predictable'

Rick Wilkinson, the chief executive of consultancy EnergyQuest, said the risk of shortfalls was worrying for gas users but ultimately predictable.

Mr Wilkinson said the security of Australia's east coast gas market had been getting worse for years as investment in new supplies dwindled.

"The lack of investment, and some would say outright hostility to gas industry investment in the southern states has left south-east Australia closer to gas supply shortfalls," Mr Wilkinson said.

"The margin for safety continues to be eroded.

"Today's gas market operator's notice of a gas system risk or threat for the southern states is the next real example of what is to come more regularly.

"We have lost the gas safety margin for reliable supply, and what we have been doing for the last five or more years has not worked to address the gas shortfalls — expected in 2028, and earlier for peak demand conditions as we are currently experiencing.

"This risk will get progressively worse as Longford gas fields deplete, and there is no investment in more gas supply, storage or other gas options such as LNG imports."

In its notice, AEMO foreshadowed it may need to take measures to prop up the supply of gas to the east coast market, where the fuel is used by millions of households and thousands of often major businesses.

Among those measures were requiring producers, pipeline operators, storage providers and other market players to take "reasonable steps" to ensure there was enough supply.

This could include producers in Queensland, where much of Australia's east coast gas supplies are turned into super-chilled liquid form and sent to North Asia on ships


Victoria must consider the Exxon gas plan


Many years ago, after I first published that Exxon was prepared to spend $100m to develop Victoria’s deep water dissolved gas in Gippsland, I was at a business function when a top Australian Exxon executive quietly took me aside and said: “Robert, you got your facts wrong in that article. We planned to spend $200m not $100m.”

Exxon’s enthusiasm for the deposit extended to doing a joint venture with BlueScope Steel which operates a steel rolling mill at nearby at Western Port Bay.

A company known as Ignite, through its wholly owned subsidiary Gippsland Gas had spent some millions researching the deposit and earlier Exxon data. Exxon on examining the results, combined with Gippsland Gas to put the $200m proposal to the 2014 Victorian Coalition government.

The Premier faced with making the 2014 decision was the Liberal’s Denis Napthine but in matters like this the Premier was greatly influenced by his Deputy Premier and leader of the Nationals Peter Ryan.who was also the member for South Gippsland.

Ryan feared any development of onshore gas would frighten farmers who did not want gas development and believed (incorrectly) it would require the fracking process to extract the gas. Napthine blocked Exxon, Gippsland Gas and BlueScope.

Daniel Andrews became Premier in December 2014 and continued the ban and made it very clear to Exxon that he would attempt to stop any drilling and, if he failed Exxon would not be given a production licence.

The giant multinational has oil and gas prospects around the world and had no interest fighting an Australian state government. It backed out. And because the original ban decision had been made by the coalition of Liberals and Nationals, the Victorian Opposition was reluctant to make it a major issue.

Ten years have passed and there has been no detailed drilling.

The $200m Exxon development plan of 2014 first required wells to be drilled to determine permeability. If those wells failed then obviously Exxon would have considered walking away.

Its $200m plan involved bringing the fields to full development stage and of course proving the extent of the gas reserves.

Given the Victorian government headed by Daniel Andrews spent $42m concealing any gas reserves and was adamant they should not be developed, no one in their right mind would spend money to prove or disprove the initial estimates provided by one of the world’s greatest gas reserve estimators, MHA Petroleum Consultants, (now part of the giant Sproule group).

Those suggesting that MHA Petroleum would publish estimates of gas as part of a marketing exercise don’t understand the traditions of both MHA and Sproule.

With Bass Strait gas now running out and the Victorian government in a mess, it’s time for the Australian Energy Market Operator to step in and review the MHA calculations and the 2014 Exxon plan.

The first step in any intervention must of course be to alert the community to the looming crisis but there is no point in continuing to do that when the first obvious solution – the 2014 Exxon plan – is gathering dust in the files.

The looming gas crisis is so serious that current Victorian Premier Jacinta Allen and her deputy Ben Carroll need to combine and take personal charge.

They should review the 2014 Exxon plan and perhaps raise a small amount of money to drill a few wells – the first stage of the plan.

If the gas flows as it has in earlier wells, then it will be possible for Victoria to do a lucrative deal. It certainly needs help.


Feds approve gas expansion plans

Senex Energy, owned by Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart and South Korean steel maker Posco International, has been given the go-ahead for its $1 billion plan to expand its gas fields near Wandoan, about 400 kilometres north-west of Brisbane.

The company had put the project on hold in December 2022 in response to the federal government's intervention in the gas market.

However, it said the development would proceed after receiving all the major approvals needed.

"We now have the necessary investment confidence and regulatory approvals to proceed with our expansion and deliver sorely needed natural gas supply to the east coast market," said Senex Energy CEO Ian Davies.

"This announcement is especially timely given the current pressures that the east coast energy system is experiencing, particularly in southern states."

The expansion is set to produce enough electricity to power more than 2.7 million homes each year, equivalent to more than 10 per cent of the east coast's annual domestic gas requirements.

It comes after a warning from the Australian Energy Market Operator about a gas shortage across southern states.

The federal government said the decision to approve the project was lawful.

"This project will primarily contribute domestic gas supply to households and Australian manufacturing – including for glass, bricks, cement and food packaging," a spokesperson for Ms Plibersek said.

"Under Labor, we've already seen a 25 per cent increase in renewable energy in our grid. We are ticking off renewable energy projects at record rates, outstripping coal and gas projects seven to one."

Mr Davies said the expansion would begin delivering 60 petajoules of gas to the market by the end of 2025 and would create more than 900 jobs over the project's lifetime.

"The expansion will drive a significant boost in natural gas supply for Australia, demonstrating Queensland is continuing to do the heavy lifting for the east coast," he said.

The project was approved with 75 conditions, including a prohibition on the discharge of coal seam gas-produced water to surface water and a ban on clearing any koala foraging and breeding habitat.

The company has also been ordered to implement a water monitoring and management plan to watch for issues such as subsidence where land sinks.

Environmental lobby group Lock the Gate said it was concerned the project could lead to further subsidence across the region.

"The more the gas fields spread, the more problems of subsidence and groundwater loss and depletion we're going to see," said member Georgina Woods.

Ms Woods said the project's approval showed Australia continued to put off the hard decisions on transitioning the economy away from fossil fuels.

"If fossil fuels continue to expand, Australia has lost its way in its climate change action," she said.

"The job (of transitioning the economy) is very difficult, but it has to done because the consequences for Queensland from global warning will be catastrophic."




Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Julian Assange reaches plea deal to free himself

I am rather pleased to see this. He was to a degree a free speech warrior and to think of a fellow Australian in a horror American prison was very unpleasant

Julian Assange has boarded a plane out of the UK after leaving the maximum security prison he spent almost 2000 days in, as part of a US plea deal over espionage charges the WikiLeaks founder has pleaded guilty to.

Assange has spent more than a decade holed up and imprisoned in London, largely to avoid being sent to the US.

Assange is expected to plead guilty to a felony charge of conspiring to obtain and distribute classified information, according to a court document and people familiar with the matter, over the website’s publication of thousands of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables about America’s actions in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 2000s.

The plea is expected to take place on Wednesday morning in Saipan, a US territory in the western Pacific.

Assange is believed to be en route to Bangkok, from where he will head to Saipan, which is the largest of the Northern Mariana Islands and an estimated 18 hours flying time from Sydney.

He is expected to be sentenced to the 62 months he has already spent in a London prison, and be allowed to return to his native Australia after his sentencing, according to the people.

Prosecutors had been in talks with Assange to resolve the 2019 case, The Wall Street Journal reported in March, with one sticking point being Assange’s desire to never set foot in the United States.

To enter a felony plea, defendants generally have to show up in person in court.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange accepts US plea deal
Assange’s team had floated the possibility of pleading guilty to a misdemeanour, the Journal reported, which would mean Assange could enter the plea remotely.

The Justice Department and Assange’s legal team reached a compromise under which Assange wouldn’t have to travel to suburban Virginia, where the original case is filed, and prosecutors could still get a felony plea, the people said.

The plea deal offers a neat solution to what was becoming an increasing political headache for the US government.

Earlier this year, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he hoped the US could find a way to conclude the case against Assange, and lawmakers there passed a motion calling for Assange to be allowed to return to his native home. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has also weighed in, saying that the British courts should not extradite Assange to the US.

In February, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Alice Jill Edwards, said Assange shouldn’t be extradited to the US to face trial, saying he suffered from “depressive disorder” and was at risk of being placed in solitary confinement.

“Politically he is in a much better position than he was six months ago,” says Stella Assange, Julian Assange’s wife, during an interview with the Journal last month. Stella Assange hinted that their family was willing to accept a plea deal to get him out of a British high security prison where she said he is suffering health issues and lives in a cell alone.

“As his wife and the mother of his children … I want him to be free,” she said.

Assange’s mother, Christine Ann Hawkins, hailed the “quiet diplomacy” that helped secure her son’s freedom, and said she was “grateful” his ordeal was over.


Actually speaking your mind? Now there’s an idea

The pitchfork brigade is coming, but Danielle Harvey doesn’t care.

Harvey, who is director of the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, says she is determined to push back against “cancel culture” by platforming “contrarians”.

“I really don’t want to live in a world that doesn’t allow people to ask questions and hear different opinions,” she told The Australian, as she prepared to unveil a line-up of speakers that includes Jews concerned about rising anti-Semitism, defenders of JK Rowling, and men speaking out about a more positive masculinity.

Harvey says she wants to bring “hard conversations” to the masses, adding: “It’s up to you whether you want to buy a ticket.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by former editor of The Age Michael Gawenda and headliner Josh Szeps – both journalists who ­believe many festivals have a “lack of respect for an audience’s intelligence”.

Her stance comes after anti-­Israel agitators this year interrupted theatre events; annoyed audiences by jeering at Jerry Seinfeld; and targeted writers festival organisers in the hope of cancelling events by Jewish authors, among them Deborah Conway.

Big Oil protesters have thrown paint at the Mona Lisa and Stonehenge, and anti-Israel forces have caused havoc in Britain, with the Hay, Wimbledon and Edinburgh writers festivals suffering a catastrophic loss of funding.

The UK investment firm, Baillie Gifford, this year cancelled all of its sponsorship deals with literary festivals and while few organisers have been prepared to speak about the issue, the Edinburgh festival director, Jenny Niven, said there had been “intolerable” pressure on her team.

Gawenda, author of My Life As A Jew, said he was disappointed not to be invited to speak at the Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide festivals this year. He rejects the notion that ideas can be “dangerous” saying: “Why can’t you discuss these things without people being bullied into silence? I think it’s ridiculous to call these ‘dangerous ideas’. The only thing that’s dangerous about them is that some people will want to cancel you for discussing them.”

Gawenda mourns the performance of “bravery” akin to discussing such concepts in the festival’s line up, suggesting “we’ve reached a point now where people feel unable to discuss virtually anything without feeling threatened that they will be targeted for holding this position … (it’s) a pretty pathetic point in terms of public debate that you need a festival to discuss these issues (that are) being faced every day in universities, in work, in the media. We can’t be dictated to in this way.”

Harvey laments the habit of arts festivals “blasting themselves” by being reluctant to platform “challenging ideas”, telling The Australian the contest of ideas was paramount.

“If we provoke ire from different corners of society, so be it. I think more arts festivals need to realise you’re not actually meant to be for everyone,” she says, adding: “One of the hardest things to do is to be curious these days.

“We try and make space for all sides to be represented – we look at it as less of a binary and more of people’s disciplines and ideas rather than their views; what are they experts in, tackle the same problems from multiple angles and test ideas.”

In response, FODI has invited resident “bad feminist” Roxane Gay, host of The Witch Trials of JK Rowling podcast Megan Phelps-Roper, black conservative Coleman Hughes, and Jews Don’t Count author and comedian David Baddiel.

Also invited is podcaster Szeps, who quit the ABC earlier this year, saying he wanted to be able to have “free conversations about controversial issues”.

“My whole professional mission is about having conversations that aren’t cookie cutter or predictable like I would have to do at previous jobs, particularly the public broadcaster,” he says.

“We need to find a way to have conversations without constant fear of having our lives ruined for not sticking to a script.”

He says he has experienced a “relaxation” in the shoulders since quitting his old job to charge towards an “intellectually diverse community.”

Under the theme “sanctuary”, the festival attempts to create an “alternative safe space” for attendees, where contentious ideas come to the forefront and are ­discussed.

US psychologist Jean Twenge will unravel the impact of smartphone access on young people, while Talking Politics podcaster David Runciman flirts with extending the vote to six-year-olds (and considers the impact it would have on democracy).

She aims for events in which “point-scoring and gotcha moments” are absent.

“We’re letting everybody say their piece, speak to their area of expertise and it’s their ideas,” she says.

The move isn’t without trepidation, since the inclusion of ­iconoclasts can have “serious consequences” she says.

The festival has previously hosted Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie and anti-Putin punk band Pussy Riot.

Last year’s controversy centred around the inclusion of “the last taboo” – a conversation about intimate connections between humans and animals, wrongfully condemned as a celebration of bestiality.

“We don’t seek out controversy,” says Harvey, but “shining a light on certain topics will force people used to not having nuanced conversations into state”.

“It’s a really complex time,” she says, adding: “If you don’t get out of the news that you consume and seek out different opinions, you may be unwittingly walking towards a very, very bad path.

“We’re not here to preach. We’re here to inspire. This festival exists because people still need to make a choice to be critical and curious. To me, that’s what the sanctuary needs to be.”

The festival program also includes “Stacks of Danger” tours affording punters the chance to peek at concealed works at the State Library NSW, hidden for “various sensitivities”, and an intimate Last Supper dinner where guests – without phones – can participate in dinner party conversation with stars of the line-up.

A horror film night, curated by Talk to Me writer-director Danny Phillippou, will canvass the best psychological primal fear narratives of all time.

“We’re looking for people who are genuinely curious, have experience and expertise, whether that’s through study, lived experience – we want them to tell us their thoughts,” Harvey says.


The Callide disaster

In a government-owned business, nobody cares

A damning report has found organisation chaos and cost-cutting at the Queensland government’s CS Energy were major contributors to a power plant explosion that pushed up energy prices for consumers across the east coast.

The findings are contained in a draft report of forensic engineer Sean Brady, released by CS Energy on Tuesday after months of pressure from The Australian newspaper, amid a fight for control of the privately-owned half of the Callide C plant.

The release comes after Queensland Premier Steven Miles ordered a review of the operations of state-owned power provider CS Energy, and said special advisers will be appointed to the board in the wake of revelations its own decisions have been blamed for the catastrophic explosion at the Callide C power plant in 2021.

Dr Brady’s draft report found that CS Energy failed to “implement effective process safety practices that would have increased the likelihood of identifying and managing the risks” associated with installing new equipment at the plant.

The explosion was caused when Callide’s main turbine tripped, and back-up battery systems failed to alert workers that the generator was drawing - rather than delivering - power to the grid.

The turbine subsequently exploded after hydrogen used to cool the turbines caught fire. The catastrophe took out power to almost 500,000 Queensland customers, and the loss of Callid C - still to return to full capacity - has helped push up energy prices across the National Electricity Market.

Dr Brady’s draft review points to a litany of failures across CS Energy, with the failure to source an adequate battery charging system that was “fit for purpose” leading directly to the explosion.

But the forensic engineer’s review of organisational factors also pointed to major failings by the company’s management, board - and of the state government, which is CS Energy’s sole shareholder.

CS Energy has two significant structural influences. As a government-owned corporation it is obliged to meet shareholder mandates, as well as meet the annual performance indicators contained in the Statement of Corporate Intent,” the draft report says.

“In the years leading up to the incident, these mandates focused on cost savings, and performance indicators were dominated by financial and production metrics, as well as personal safety-related metrics.”

The company’s board responded by setting management metrics focused on personal injury, plant availability and financial performance - which did not include a focus on the management of process safety, the draft report says.

“Between 2017 and the incident in 2021, Callide experienced significant turnover of key roles. This turnover would make it difficult to maintain a process safety focus,” Dr Brady’s report says.

Between 2017 and the May 2021 explosion, Dr Brady says, the Callide power station had four different general managers, three different maintenance managers and five different production managers.

“CS Energy implemented a swirl of at least 6 major initiatives across the organisation which impacted sites in a short period of time prior to the incident. This would also make it difficult to focus on process safety.”

Mr Miles said on Tuesday the government will appoint special advisers to the CS Board and ordered the Queensland Treasury department to review CS Energy’s management and structure to ensure the company is “aligned to deliver on the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan, optimise energy transition and ensure downward pressure on consumer prices, while maintaining operating and business performance”.

“The maintenance of directions date back to 2012 when Tim Nichols and the LNP were in charge,” he said.

“What we take responsibility for is what we do now and it makes sense that for the last period of time our focus was getting the generators back up and running and that will be done in the next few weeks.”

The Premier’s decision comes after The Australian revealed the draft conclusions of forensic engineer Sean Brady into the Callide C explosion included criticism that CS Energy’s purchasing decisions led to the disaster and were not “fit for purpose”.

CS Energy has previously said the explosion was ultimately caused by the failure of battery back-up systems, but – based on draft findings by Dr Brady – the federal court was told on Monday that the systems failed because a battery charger installed by CS Energy was “not fit for purpose”.

CS Energy has fought for months to keep Dr Brady’s report from public view, but findings read to the court – in a hearing aimed at slowing the sales process of the half of the generator owned by private investors – include criticism of both CS Energy and its board, and the state government mandate that helped strip the company of cash.

“The decision to replace the battery charger was made by someone not responsible for that process. In going to market CS Energy focused solely on price, with little or no technical input or oversight. The technical specifications that had been submitted for the charger did not establish or require that the battery charger could actually operate within its systems,” the court was told.

“And unsurprisingly, the product they got was not fit for purpose.”

Mr Miles on Tuesday stood by Energy Minister Mick de Brenni and said he remained the best person to lead reforms in the energy sector.

“I haven’t yet been able to read the entire technical report, but it finds that it was caused by a new battery charger, an upgrade to the battery charger, replacement of the battery charger,” he said.

“Mick De Brenni is the minister best placed to implement these strong reforms.

“He’s overseeing the recommissioning of the Callide generators that will occur, that will be finished over the next few weeks.”


Odd verdict: Former pilot Greg Lynn found guilty of murdering Carol Clay, not guilty of murder of Russell Hill

I felt very sorry for the couple concerned in this. A terrible way for love to end

image from

The high-profile trial of a former pilot has ended after a jury found he murdered one half of an elderly couple on a camping trip, but not the other.

For the past five weeks, Gregory Stuart Lynn, 57, had been facing trial after denying he was responsible for the deaths of Russell Hill, 74, and Carol Clay, 73, in the state’s remote High Country.

The couple, childhood sweethearts who had reconnected later in life, vanished a day after arriving at Bucks Camp in the Wonnangatta Valley on March 19, 2020.

Mr Lynn was taken into the court room by security shortly before 1pm on Tuesday, wearing a black suit, blue shirt and silver tie.

He remained emotionless as the jury foreperson delivered their verdict: not guilty of the murder of Russell Hill, but guilty of the murder of Carol Clay.

The group was thanked by Justice Michael Croucher and led from the room.

Mr Lynn’s son, who attended to hear the verdict, remained silent as he left the courthouse alongside one of his father’s lawyers.

Mr Hill’s family took a back exit out of the court precinct to avoid the pack of about 15 reporters and camera operators. They are expected to release a statement through Victoria Police later on Tuesday.

Mr Lynn’s barrister, Michael McGrath, and counsel assisting did not entertain any questions of appeal or reaction from the press pack. Mr McGrath marched away from the courthouse, mute and expressionless in the wake of the verdicts.

For much of the trial, Mr Lynn kept his head down and could be seen writing notes in two packed yellow manila folders titled, in block letters, “Greg Lynn court records”.

Led into court by two custody officers daily, the former Jetstar captain would smile and wave at his wife, Melanie, as she stood waving enthusiastically from the upstairs public gallery.

It was a simple defence put forward by his legal team; could the prosecution disprove his account of their deaths being accidental beyond reasonable doubt.

Taking the stand at his trial, Mr Lynn maintained he was innocent of murder but said he deserved to be punished for the efforts he took to hide his involvement.

“All I can say to their families is that I’m very sorry for your suffering,” he said.

Prosecutors, led by crown prosecutor Daniel Porceddu, had alleged the former Jetstar captain killed the pair deliberately and without lawful justification in the evening of March 20.

They were unable to outline the specific circumstances of the deaths, other than Mrs Clay was shot in the head, but argued it was likely after a dispute with Mr Hill.

After his arrest in November the following year, Mr Lynn told police Mrs Clay was accidentally killed when his shotgun discharged as the two men struggled for control.

He said Mr Hill had made a “ridiculous” accusation he was hunting too close to camp, and threatened to lie to police that Lynn had shot through camp.

Mr Lynn said he was annoyed, and made the “childish” decision to blare music from his car, where Mr Hill stole the hunter’s shotgun between 9pm and 10pm.

“I wasn’t trying to provoke a response. I just thought if he could be rude, I could be rude too,” he said.

After the accidental discharge, Mr Hill, he said, came at him with a knife screaming; “she’s dead”, and fell on the blade as the two men fought a second time.

The jury heard Mr Lynn took steps to hide he was involved, including cleaning and burning the campsite and dumping their bodies off the Union Spur track after driving throughout the night.

He then went home and attempted to move on with his life.

“My plan was to disappear and, um, for a long time I thought I had,” he said.

At trial, Mr Porceddu alleged Mr Lynn’s efforts were taken because he knew the forensic evidence would be able to prove or disprove his account.

He suggested the only reasonable explanation for the “extreme” acts was because Mr Lynn knew he had murdered the pair.

“The accused’s story is indeed a series of very unfortunate events. Like the book series of that name, it is also a complete fiction,” Mr Porceddu had argued.

Defence barrister, Dermot Dann KC, told the jury his client believed his career and home life would be ruined and that he feared he would be wrongly blamed for the deaths.

“He thought he was going to be blamed for the deaths and he was 100 per cent correct,” he said.

After his arrest in November 2021, the jury was told, Mr Lynn had answered questions from detectives over a two-day period and directed them to the location where he burnt the bodies.

“I didn’t want to have to do it. It was a horrific thing, I was sick several times,” he said.

Mr Dann said police had two and a half years to test whether his client’s account was false and were unable to prove anything he said was a lie.

He told the jury the prosecution had asked the jury to fill the gaps in their case with speculation, breaching rules by “making things up”.

“It just smacks of a prosecution case that’s just gone off the rails,” he said.

He said his client had been “overcharged” and had offered to plead guilty to a destruction of evidence charge before the trial began.




Monday, June 24, 2024

Major IVF company accused of using 'wrong sperm' to create children and failing to warn of donor's potential genetic issues

This is a real horror story. Any case of an IVF clinic using the "wrong" sperm shows unbelievable lack of care. It is particularly poignant to me because, for medical reasons, my wife and I used IVF to conceive our son, and QFG was the clinic we used

Fortunately our son is now tall, bright and good looking but the donor sperm issue does not arise in our case. But what if QFG had mixed up my sperm with someone else's? On the account below they might have. Fortunately my son has characteristics that are identifiablly from me so there is no doubt about the matter.

Hospitals normally do multiple and repeated checks to see that the right treatrment is paired with the right patient so it seems to me that the mistakes reported below are clear evidence of negligence. QFG did NOT use the orthodox heavy precautions. Instead of being defensive about the matter, QFG should be energetically trying to track down the erring staff members

Anastasia and Lexie Gunn love their three children no matter what, but the mystery of what went wrong with their conception at one of Australia's biggest fertility clinics haunts them.

"We had IVF and got the wrong sperm," Lexie said.

"It's shattered what we all believe to be true."

Their three sons were conceived through donor sperm at the Queensland Fertility Group (QFG) between 2006 and 2014.

The couple paid for the same donor to be used for each child.

But DNA testing now shows their oldest son is not biologically related to their two younger boys, who have both been diagnosed with serious health conditions.

Anastasia and Lexie discovered their two younger children were not related to their older brother.(Four Corners: Ron Foley)
"It's a catastrophic error … how could they have used the wrong sperm to make children?" Anastasia said.

A Four Corners investigation into the lucrative IVF industry has found when things go wrong, corporate giants like QFG don't always own up. There's a lack of transparency and companies aren't being held to account.

'There was no match'

When Anastasia selected a sperm donor for her family in 2006, she took great care. "I went to QFG and they had a big book with the donor profiles."

"There's an age bracket for the donor, their educational background … and the health history as well. Medical background was definitely of concern to me."

Anastasia decided on Donor 227 — a fit, healthy Caucasian male 25–30 years old.

Four years after their first son was born, Anastasia and Lexie decided to have more children.

"We contacted QFG to check that we could use the same donor," Anastasia said. "We wanted them all to have the same biological father to tie them together so that then when they have children, their children are all tied together with biological history."

The couple had two more sons, born two years apart. Both had serious health issues from birth.

"Our middle child is diagnosed with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome," Anastasia said. "Our youngest son … has joint hypermobility syndrome also. He also has a diagnosis on the autism spectrum and ADHD."

As the diagnoses kept adding up, Anastasia and Lexie wanted to find out if other children of Donor 227 had similar problems.

They sent their sons' DNA to an ancestry website to connect with other families.

The results floored them. "I was completely perplexed," Anastasia said. "I could see that there was no match between our eldest boy and our younger two."

At first, QFG doubted the reliability of DNA results from the ancestry site. Anastasia and Lexie then had their children tested at an accredited DNA testing lab used by the Family Law Court. Those results were the same.

"[QFG] have not provided any response to that legal DNA testing whatsoever," Anastasia said. "They have offered no rationale."

QFG maintains that its records show the same donor was used for all three children.

QFG is owned by Australia's largest IVF provider, Virtus Health, which has clinics all around the country. The fertility giant was taken over by private equity firm BGH Capital in 2022 following a heated bidding war.

Embryologist and IVF Patient Advocate Lucy Lines said the big business of baby-making had changed the way corporate clinics responded to mistakes. "I suspect that possibly profits are impacting the way these things are handled," she said.

Emeritus Professor Bill Ledger, a fertility specialist who's worked for 30 years in public and private IVF clinics, said transparency was vital when errors occurred.

"If you have a clinic or clinics where mistakes keep happening, then there has to be a significant inquiry and that should be external and it should be visible and 100 per cent transparent," he said.

There is a national regulator, the Reproductive Technology Accreditation Committee (RTAC), but it isn't independent. RTAC is part of the industry-funded peak body the Fertility Society of Australia and New Zealand.

RTAC's primary role is to audit clinics against a Code of Practice and grant licences that allow IVF companies to claim millions of dollars in Medicare rebates.

"RTAC has no power to govern the corporate nature of IVF," Ms Lines said. "It looks after the scientific and the medical side of the clinics. And they're very well-respected in that space, but when it comes to the corporate decisions of the businesses, they don't have that power."

Single mum Danielle Patorniti has her own battle against QFG. She's fighting to warn other parents.

Danielle's son was conceived with donor sperm. He was diagnosed with level 3 autism spectrum disorder, the most severe form, as well as hypermobility, ADHD and apraxia of speech.

In 2019, she informed QFG of her son's medical update.

"Early intervention is so important," Danielle said. "I thought there was a process where the information was passed on [to other families]."

At the time, QFG told her there were no other reports of medical issues with the donor's offspring.

Two years later, Danielle connected with another mum who'd used the same donor to conceive her son. Nikita Taylor's child also had a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, speech delays and ADHD.

"We started comparing them … and they were almost identical. Different severities but identical presentations," Nikita said. "That's when we started getting worried that other families needed to be contacted."

Danielle and Nikita asked QFG to share information about their sons' matching health issues with other families. But QFG determined there was no clinical requirement to notify patients.

"They pretty much told us it is just something that happens, 'autism is a neurological condition, it happens to lots of kids'. And we just continued to say 'this is just not autism, though. We are talking about apraxia of speech, we're talking about motor dyspraxia. We're talking about severe anxiety,'" Danielle said.

Late last year, they connected with a third family who used the same donor.

Maree Anderson's daughter had recently been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder as well as speech difficulties, anxiety and was being assessed for ADHD. Her four-year-old son's autism diagnosis was also pending.

"When Maree told me about her children, I literally felt sick," Danielle said. "It just felt like for those three years that we had been fighting, she'd missed out on those years."

Months after Maree informed QFG about her two children, the fertility giant finally decided other families with donor-conceived children should be informed, but only about the clinical diagnosis of autism.

"I did ask about why I wasn't told about all of this other information, and they've never specifically answered that question," Maree said.

"There's been things that have been uncovered that weren't disclosed and I think QFG are forgetting that these are people, these are children, born thanks to them, and I'll be forever grateful for that. "I don't think the duty of care ends when the baby is born."

The donor is still being used by QFG to conceive more children.

In a statement, QFG told Four Corners the donor sperm was only available to patients who had previously used the donor and wanted more children.

"Patients … are required to undertake further clinical and genetic counselling so they have all relevant information to make informed decisions as to whether to proceed."

The three mums are extremely concerned. "There is apparently someone that's pregnant, and there's three embryos that have been created sitting in a freezer ready to make another three families," Danielle said.

"It's continuing to be sold as probably gold-class Australian sperm. "I just don't understand how they can create kids with something that there's a higher chance of it turning into disability. It's just money. It's all it is."

Following further questioning by Four Corners, QFG conceded that there was still one family who used the donor who it had not informed of the diagnoses.

Anastasia and Lexie Gunn are now suing QFG in an attempt to hold the clinic to account.

The fertility giant refuses to concede it used the wrong sperm to conceive two of their children


Conservative activists launch pre-election attack on the Greens

The conservative activist group that torpedoed Anthony Albanese’s voice referendum will pump millions of dollars into a sole election campaign vehicle designed to drag down the Greens’ vote and expose the party’s radical policies.

The Australian can reveal that Advance, backed by 306,000 supporters and 32,000 donors, will spend $5m on phase one of a national election campaign titled “Greens Truth”, aiming to inflict “significant damage” to the left-wing party’s brand.

Armed with a post-voice war chest and new research showing voters remain disillusioned by the major political parties, Advance is launching its pre-election campaign to disrupt and halt the expanding electoral success of the Greens.

Amid rising speculation of an early election, and Peter Dutton’s Coalition making ground on the Albanese government, there is growing probability the Prime Minister could be forced into striking a deal with Adam Bandt to form minority government in a hung parliament.

With Greens preferences helping Mr Albanese claim victory after Labor secured a paltry 32.6 per cent primary vote at the 2022 election, Advance is warning voters of “catastrophic” outcomes for families if the left-wing party’s agenda is implemented.

The Greens, who have come under fire over accusations they are fanning anti-Semitism, push a range of extreme economic, defence, health, education and social policies that the major parties warn would wreck Australia’s economy and undermine national security.

Advance, initially established as a rival to left-wing activist group GetUp, has raised just over $900,000 from more than 5000 donations since soft-launching the Greens Truth campaign with supporters in May.

New donations data obtained by The Australian shows Advance continues to attract grassroots backing following its influential role in the Indigenous voice referendum campaign.

In the past 12 months, 18,492 out of 22,485 donations up to $499, were received, 3652 of $500-$4999, 329 of $5000-$24,999, 71 of $25,000-$99,999, and 31 of $100,000-$999,000.

A key driver of the anti-Greens campaign, which has been in the works since January, is the dramatic shift away from major parties and rise in protest voting.

Almost 32 per cent of Australians voted for a minor party or did not vote at the 2022 election, representing the biggest drift from the major parties in a century. Highlighting the protest vote trend, almost 258,000 people voted for the Greens in 2022 but preferenced the Liberal Party higher than Labor.

Research by Advance reveals 52 per cent of voters still believe the Greens look after the environment, water and wildlife, 26 per cent think they take action on climate, 20 per cent feel they stand for nothing, 8 per cent believe they look after the disadvantaged and 6 per cent categorise them as left-leaning, progressive and socialist.

Advance executive director Matthew Sheahan said the Greens Truth campaign would be an “all-out assault on the party that is a toxic and extreme influence on Australian politics”.

The campaign is targeted at erasing House of Representatives and Senate electoral gains made by the Greens over eight years and shining a light on extreme policies and culture, with Advance warning voters the party founded by Bob Brown is “not who they used to be”.

“Australian voters need to know that every election sees the Greens with more influence and closer to implementing their full agenda, which would be catastrophic for mums and dads, and their kids,” Mr Sheahan told The Australian.

“The Greens are not who they used to be, and there is no greater threat to Australia’s freedom, security or prosperity. This election day no reasonable Australian mum or dad should be voting Green.”

The campaign will publicise darker sides of the party, including “the lie that the Greens are a party of transparency and integrity (and the) litany of cover-ups of toxic and sexist behaviour”.

Mr Sheahan said this includes “the cover-up of assaults, accusations of bullying, claims of rape, and even MPs resigning over sex scandals”.

“The Greens have a track record of being a disgraceful and dysfunctional party that has failed its female supporters, volunteers and candidates time after time,” he said.

Advance said the Greens, who have won major concessions from the Albanese government in return for their votes, have been left unchecked for more than 40 years.

With the Greens eyeing off government seats Macnamara and Richmond at the next election, after winning Griffith off Labor and Brisbane and Ryan from the Liberals in 2022, Mr Sheahan said the left-wing party’s free ride “ends today”.

A campaign priority is exposing the Greens’ “fraudulent brand positioning as a party that is only concerned with the environment”. Advance research shows when voters think of the Greens, “they think of who they used to be – an environmental movement who fought against the Franklin Dam in the 1980s, who stood in front of old-growth forests”.

“Forty years later, this is obviously untrue and, when tested, voters start looking for an exit.”

Mr Sheahan said Advance research shows “Australians are not across some of the Greens’ more extreme policies including defunding non-government schools, implementing an inheritance tax and decriminalising hard drugs including ice and heroin”.

“Australian families have every reason to fear this agenda and its impact on not only cost of living, but the future and safety of their children.”

He said another major line of attack focused on debunking the Greens’ “outsider reputation”.

“The Greens like to perpetuate the idea that they are a protest party with no influence. The reality is much different. The Greens are already deciding what legislation passes or at least having a major say in parliaments across the country.

“Their policies are already being implemented as they hold Labor governments to ransom with their preferences all over the electoral map.”


Fresh warning over ‘politicised’ schools

Lowering the voting age to 16 could “politicise” schools and divide teachers and students, a leading constitutional law expert has warned.

University of Sydney professor Anne Twomey, appearing before a House of Representatives inquiry into civics education in Australia, said a push to lower the democratic franchise from 18 to 16 had some “upsides” but also contained a sweep of risks.

Chief among them, schools could become political zones, as “political parties see a new market for voters”, she said.

The professor added teachers could be swept up into politics and find themselves accused of political activism.

The inquiry, chaired by Labor Jagajaga MP Kate Thwaites, is conducting hearings into how to support greater democratic engagement and participation in an era of escalating misinformation and disinformation.

“In a time when we’re seeing challenges for democracies across the world, and a rise in mis and disinformation, it’s important that every Australian has the opportunity to be informed about and engaged in our democracy,” Ms Thwaites said when starting the inquiry.

“The committee wants to hear Australians’ experiences of civics education and what we can do better to support democratic engagement and participation.

“So many young Australians are passionate about social and political issues, but they may not have access to relevant and reliable information about democratic and electoral processes.”

Some witnesses, including youth democracy organisation Run For It, have argued the voting age should be lowered to engage youngsters in the democratic process.

“Lowering the voting age is not a groundbreaking idea – this policy has already been implemented across many countries,” the group said in its submission to the committee.

“Argentina, Ecuador and Brazil, who also have compulsory voting, have all lowered the voting age to 16.

“Other countries that have enfranchised 16 and 17-year-olds include Cuba, Nicaragua, Austria, Ecuador, Argentina, Malta, Scotland and Wales.

“These countries have seen meaningful benefits as a result of lowering the voting age, including increased political engagement from young people. In some cases, young people participated in elections at higher rates than older age groups.”

The Greens Party supports lowering the voting age, and independent Kooyong MP Monique Ryan has also expressed support for the idea.

Professor Twomey, a leading expert in constitutional law, said the move could make voting seem more important to 16 and 17-year-olds and trigger more interest in civics education.

But she also said it would be “wrong” to fine school-age teens for not voting, the current system in place for Australia’s compulsory voting laws.

She also flagged issues of “maturity and influence” and said young people were sometimes not as sophisticated as they might believe themselves to be.

“I am very embarrassed by some of the views I had at that age,” she said. “That also gives me some pause to think as well. “I really wasn’t as sophisticated as I thought I was.”

Professor Twomey recommended critical thinking courses be included in school curriculums to help youngsters defend themselves from wild conspiracy theories and slovenly thinking on the internet.

She also argued social media companies had a “responsibility” to keep discourse civil.

She said anonymity on the internet was “corrosive” and those participating in online discussion should also post their names.

“You need to do that openly, you need to do that with your name and your face,” she said.

She said social media companies should accept they were a “part of the community” and uphold civil standards on their platforms.


Pandemic: Government Misinformation On Australian Excess Mortality

Written by Dr Wilson Sy

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has deviated from international standards of calculating excess deaths during the pandemic (based on 2015-19 average) by using computer
models ‘adjusted’ for factors like population growth, resulting in significantly lower statistics

The ABS approach, questioned by the Australian Senate inquiry, effectively reduces excess deaths to merely COVID-19 fatalities.

Both the Australian Government and ABS have conflated scientific theory with statistical data. Unlike scientific research bodies, the ABS’s role is in national statistics collection and publication.

Despite this, the ABS has proposed a hypothesis that its model assumptions adequately explain Australian excess deaths as attributable solely to COVID-19. Hypothetical estimates have been published as data.

The disclosure of excess death data should initiate rigorous scientific inquiries into their underlying causes, rather than conclude them. By endorsing ABS’s interpretations, the Government will risk misleading the public into believing that Australian excess deaths require no further investigation.

I formally addressed these concerns in an individual submission to the Senate Committee on excess mortality, highlighting the Government’s inadequate scientific approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although my submission was censored, its content is reproduced below.

My main concern is the lack of scientific rigour in the Australian response to the COVID pandemic, in which misguided government policy has caused high excess mortality.

Flawed COVID Data

The health policy response to COVID in Australia has been marred by reliance on selective and biased research, leading to misinformation. Official COVID data, upon which much of this research is based, has been shown to be flawed and unreliable due to inadequate scientific rigor in data collection processes [1].

In the realm of formal logic, it’s well understood that a false premise can be used to validate any arbitrary conclusion. This concept, epitomized by Bertrand Russell’s famous quip which demonstrated that from the false statement “1=0,” one could deduce absurdities like he was the Pope.

This fallacy is commonly summarized as “garbage in, garbage out.” During the COVID crisis, Australian authorities have relied on flawed data to draw conclusions, resulting in numerous erroneous assertions.

A critical flaw in much of published research is the failure to cross-validate official COVID data against independent sources. Despite the availability of alternate datasets often aligning more closely with common sense and broader empirical observations, these were systematically disregarded. Such selective acceptance of evidence, without rigorous scrutiny or falsification, undermines the integrity of scientific inquiry.

Cherry-Picking Evidence

The practice of cherry-picking evidence by purported “experts” lacks scientific validity. In genuine scientific practice, the collective body of evidence, not the opinions of select individuals, guides conclusions. Without proper evaluation, the Australian government has dismissed contrary evidence of elevated excess deaths during the pandemic, which is antithetical to sound scientific methodology.

Through flawed research methodologies, the Australian government has misled both itself and the public, asserting that elevated excess deaths can be solely attributed to COVID-related fatalities. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has further exacerbated this issue by manipulating raw data through complex modelling, resulting in significantly diminished excess death statistics [2]. Such manipulations obscure the true extent of excess mortality and hinder meaningful investigations into its causes.

Comparisons with pre-pandemic all-cause mortality benchmark (2015-19 average) reveal a stark increase in excess deaths during and after the COVID outbreak, far exceeding benchmark figures. This high excess deaths suggest a systemic failure in accurately recording COVID-related deaths, which fall short of being able to account for Australian excess deaths.

Unreliable COVID Deaths

Contrary to official narratives, substantial evidence challenges the assertion that COVID alone is responsible for excess mortality. Instances such as the spike in deaths in England in April 2020, coinciding with the widespread misuse of Midazolam and opioids in elderly care, underscore the errors in attributing deaths to COVID [3]. Similarly, evidence from Australia suggests that a significant portion of reported COVID deaths may actually be misclassified cases of influenza and pneumonia [4].

While COVID may indeed contribute to excess mortality, the rush to attribute all excess deaths to the virus overlooks other potential causes, including systemic issues within healthcare systems and inappropriate medical interventions. The correlation between rising excess deaths and the rollout of mass vaccination campaigns warrants thorough investigation, particularly considering the possibility of adverse effects associated with vaccination.

A different approach is needed, not relying on flawed official COVID data, to address the issue of Australian excess deaths in the pandemic.

Granger Causality

Granger causality analysis, named after a 2003 Nobel Laureat, offers a methodological framework [5] for examining causal relationships between variables, such as COVID vaccination and excess mortality. By analysing independent time series data, it’s possible to establish temporal associations and assess the likelihood of causality. Granger causality hinges on the principle that a cause must precede its effect, and that the causal variable should consistently lead the outcome variable by a fixed period with high correlation.

Our Granger causality analysis reveals a significant relationship between Australian COVID vaccination and subsequent excess deaths, with a lag time of five months or 21 weeks and an accuracy rate of approximately 70 percent. In our initial study [4], we shifted the COVID vaccination data forward by five months or 21 weeks and observed a strong and consistent correlation with excess deaths, as depicted in Figure 1.

Notably, the vaccination data, extending until May 2023, which also provides an out-of-sample prediction of future excess deaths.


Due to flawed official COVID data, Australian governments and the public have been misled by research based on that unreliable data. The numbers of COVID deaths are inaccurate, probably exaggerated, but regardless, the numbers fall well short of being able to explain excess deaths.

Australian excess deaths may have several causes, but we have shown by Granger causality that COVID vaccination explains about 70 percent of Australian excess deaths. The issue extends beyond my individual submission.

The government’s practice of collecting data to support its policies raises concerns about potential conflicts of interest, particularly regarding accountability.

Australia requires a data integrity commission to rectify official data inaccuracies.