Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


NATION: Our little Aussie Bwana

First published September 11

His Pacific Leaders’ blue shirt a size too tight Malcolm Bligh Turnbull winces at the camera like Gulliver awakening to find himself tied to the ground by pieces of thread. He can only look up and the tropical sun prevents him from seeing anything but he knows the locals are hostile. He has never been more ill at ease in his political career.

It’s the 48th Pacific Islands Leaders’ forum in Apia. Neither the rig nor the gig are a good fit for our little Aussie bwana. Amidst the Islanders, the canaries of climate change, our coal-powered Prime Minister is way out of his comfort zone. Utterly exposed. Now the whole world can see he’s treading water; not waving but drowning.

He’s left Kiwi of the Year nominee, Barnaby, in charge just to stick it to the Labor Party. Anything could happen.

In other ways our PM is glad to leave Canberra. It’s his government’s 19th straight Newspoll loss; the eighth in a row where the margin is at least six points behind Labor. A one-point gain on the last poll is just a statistical blip.

Way things are, Ian Macdonald kindly tells the party room, at least 30 MPs stand to lose their seats next election.

Turnbull’s tight shirt looks as if it’s shrinking, like the emerald isle of Upolu itself, as climate change, helped by Aussie coal, raises sea levels; brings floods, and storms. The shrinking Samoan shoreline is confronting.

Help is needed. Twenty per cent of Pacific Islanders live in poverty and are unable to meet their basic needs.

… burned by an endless gallery of rogues; black-birders, corporate pirates, carpet-baggers …

Unsettling also is the bad vibe he’s getting from Pacific leaders, burned by an endless gallery of rogues; black-birders, corporate pirates, carpet-baggers and other invaders from the south. Above all, his hosts take Australia’s carbon emissions role in global warming seriously. It’s not a political game to these leaders. He looks pained.

This should be Mal’s happy place. He’s had a big week ranting about downward-pressure on power prices, putting the wind up Blackout Bill and a huge win in the High Court over the constitutionality of Dutto’s delaying tactic. The postal survey is in the bag. Respectful debate is off its leash.

Amanda Devine pens a piece entitled, Fascism has a new flag and it’s a rainbow, in an echo of a Breitbart piece from two years ago. She wins Orwellian double-speak of the week.

Reason, inevitably, flies out the window. Rich and powerful lobbyists such as the ACL whose mystery donors include mining corporations spend up big to create a tsunami of fear that a Yes vote will be the start of a slippery slope which could end with marriage to Sydney Harbour Bridge or the loss of religious and other freedoms.

John Howard, whose change of the Marriage Act in 2004 has helped to make marriage equality a matter to be decided by popular prejudice, helpfully says it’s disingenuous for the Yes campaign to argue that changing the law to ¬include same-sex marriage did not affect other rights and that the survey involved a simple yes/no question.

Yet, as former High Court justice Michael Kirby said in August last year,

“We didn’t do this for the Aboriginal people when we moved to give equality in law to them, we didn’t do it when we dismantled the White Australia policy … we didn’t do it in advances on women’s equality, we didn’t do it most recently on disability equality. Why are we now picking out the LGBT, the gay community?”

Howard’s dog-whistling about rights evokes Augusto Zimmerman’s Quadrant view that the welfare of children of parents in same-sex relationships are physically and emotionally at risk. In a not too distant echo, residents in Newcastle NSW receive No case propaganda suggesting that same-sex parents are likely to be paedophiles.

… recent Fairfax research suggesting support for the No case is growing …

More alarming for the PM and for most Australians but delighting Abbott and the right-wing of the party is recent Fairfax research suggesting support for the No case is growing, while only 65% who support the Yes case appear much less likely to complete their survey. Yet the shift needs to be seen in context of a strong majority for Yes.

Yes voters still make up nearly 60% of the poll, conducted for the Equality campaign by Newgate Research pollster Jim Reed between August 28 and September 6, with a sample size of 800 and a 3.5 per cent margin of error.

Marriage equality is not something the Australian PM can take on the road, especially given that homosexuality is illegal in Samoa but he’s got a lot of good tidings if only they could look past their hang-ups with climate change. The forum leaders are astonished that he could waste so much time avoiding the one issue that really matters.

You’d think, nevertheless, he could kick back and enjoy a South Sea Islands Friday happy hour with his Pacific-leader pals. It’s a chance for them to high-five him over the latest “good set of figures” the tiny rise in GDP created largely by government spending? Record profits. Lowest wages. Our economy is the envy of the world, he brays.

A new IMF study shows lowering taxes for the wealthiest 25%, such as the Turnbull government’s $65bn corporate welfare tax cut may stimulate economic activity but will promote inequality. Such cuts never pay for themselves.

But not to worry, we can import cheaper workers. Mal announces an amazing self-help deal for Polynesian job-seekers. Islanders look warily at yet another Aussie con-man. AusAid 2.0? Or return of the blackbirders?

2000 workers from Kiribati, Tuvalu and Nauru may now spend up to three lonely years in remote parts of country Australia doing poorly-paid low and semi-skilled jobs. And it’s not just hard manual labour, some will work in aged care and tourism. Goodbye backpackers, hello Kanakas 2.0, another brilliant scheme to boost corporate profits, by providing contractors with a stream of docile Pacific labour to exploit in often dangerous, back-breaking work.

… the reality is near slavery

Pacific Islanders already throng to work on farms in their thousands, lured by word of high wages. Yet, reports reveal, the reality is near-slavery. An ABC investigation found Tongan and Fijian workers were picking fruit in Victoria for $9 a week after deductions for accommodation and travel and work equipment from their pay.

A 22-year-old Tongan national, Sione “Vaka” Fifita, who died after falling ill while fruit-picking, was left for eight days in a caravan park, according to The Salvation Army. Ten seasonal labourers have died in the past five years.

Twenty-two workers tell the Federal Court they often were given no food for entire days, moved from farm to farm without warning and forced to sleep on buses on the side of the road, or on chairs.

Silas Aru was paid $150 for six months work in Australia. Others were abused and threatened with arrest or deportation if they asked for food and water, or about their pay: “Stop asking questions about payment. If you keep asking I will send you back to Vanuatu,” said Emmanuel Bani, the contractor.

No-one from your village will get work in Australia again. It’s a powerful threat to a member of a small community.

A Senate inquiry last May heard evidence from Australian unions that exploitation of seasonal Pacific workers is widespread. Reports were heard of long hours, up to 60% deduction from wages for board and lodging, excessive hours, unpaid overtime and lack of access to health care. Yet the PM’s announcement is given hearty media spin.

Exploitation, neglect and abuse can be so spiritually uplifting. Minister for Utopia, Michaelia Cash talks of promoting economic resilience and improving livelihoods of ‘the citizens in the region’ as Islanders “access the Seasonal Worker Programme. Why it will even “pilot ways to lower upfront costs for employers”. You bet it will.

So why so glum? True, he’s missed four days of meetings but at least he’s here in time for the leaders’ retreat.

… the Turnbull government’s fiction that the detention centre is not our responsibility

And the camera. Mal’s shunted to one side, his ill-fitting shirt just shrieking exclusion in the forum leaders’ photo. Worse, the colourful Peter O’Neill ear-bashes him about Manus. Wednesday’s $70 m Victorian Supreme Court settlement puts the lie to the Turnbull government’s fiction that the detention centre is not our responsibility.

Our evasion of duty of care extends to having no plans for the refugees beyond telling them they’ll never come to Australia. One hundred men have been moved to Port Moresby, ostensibly, for specialist medical treatment. Immigration Minister – soon to be super-minister-indefinite-detention Dutton has nothing planned beyond that.

By contrast, in another state response to the failure of commonwealth will and compassion, Victoria’s Andrews government will find $600,000 for the asylum seekers living in Victoria so they “don’t starve on the streets”.

Andrews will also set up means whereby Pacific Islanders working in Victoria can be more carefully monitored and policed in order to end exploitative practices in the state. Yet there is no federal acknowledgement. Especially not from Peter Dutton.

It’s hard to conceive that Peter Dutton could think that forcing destitute refugees on to the street is an acceptable strategy but he spends much air-time this week defending his callous inhumanity while his shock-jock hosts nod along.

On radio 2GB with Alan Jones, Dutton defends the introduction of ‘final departure Bridging E Visa’, claiming that people are ‘ripping the system off’. It’s a cruel stunt which is part of a Coalition attempt to wedge Labor as soft on refugees while dog-whistling Pauline Hanson supporters. Yet it is a singularly degrading experience for all parties.

New Zealand Labour leader Jacinda Ardern renews former Kiwi PM John Key’s offer to take 150 men from Manus – possibly more – but the Turnbull government appears implacably opposed to any variation in its punitive detention policy. The dead hand of Dutton denies all compassion or humanity; the access and passage of remorse.

In absurdity of the week, Turnbull manages to insult the Kiwis and all refugee advocates and supporters by maintaining that a NZ solution would offer people-smugglers a “marketing opportunity” for backdoor access.

He makes policy not to govern the nation but to govern his party

Worse, like any shyster, our PM doesn’t care if the US takes a single refugee in the much vaunted refugee swap deal, another Dutton disaster. It’s the look of the thing that matters. Last month’s leaked transcripts of his call to Trump make his unconcern shamefully clear. He makes policy not to govern the nation but to govern his party.

Similarly, he’s unfussed how much Australia waters down any climate agreement Pacific leaders may propose.

Last month PICAN awarded the Australian government the inaugural “Pacific Fossil Award”, for repeatedly trying to kid Pacific island countries that it was serious about helping to slow climate change, while, in fact, making the problem worse by increasing coal exports, as well as promoting the use of coal abroad.

They’ve been kind to us. Ten million Pacific Islanders need our help. They can see what we’re up to.

The Islanders have seen how Abbott dismantled our price on carbon; how he crippled investment in renewable energy. Worse, they have seen how Coalition governments diverted public funds from genuine carbon abatement schemes by pretending that its Direct Action boondoggle was a legitimate mechanism to curb CO2 emissions.

Scott Morrison didn’t even mention climate change in his last budget. The climate change debate has been supplanted by the ‘energy debate,’ in line with world’s best practice in defending the use of coal by ignoring climate altogether and pursuing “energy solutions” instead.

The Pacific has been rising by 4mm per year since 1993. It will inevitably swamp Samoa and other Pacific Islands unless global warming is halted. Mad Mal’s response is to drown our neighbours by increasing carbon emissions – not because he believes in coal but because it fits his selfish political agenda. Talk about make yourself popular.

Island leaders remember last year, too when the PM misled Parliament that Australia’s emissions reduction targets of 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 are “credible and substantial” and ” second only to the cuts offered by Brazil.

… Liddell, Australia’s oldest, dirtiest, coal-fired power station …

His latest ploy to wedge Labor and to win over his own party’s right wing rump is to keep Liddell, Australia’s oldest, dirtiest, coal-fired power station burning.

The week is wasted with attempts to paint Labor as the party of blackouts while the Coalition is determined to roll up its sleeves to keep the power on. This means picking a fight with AGL over its decision to phase out NSW’s Liddell power station, only recently privatised by the former Baird NSW government.

Liddell is the oldest, dirtiest coal-fired plant in Australia. In the view of energy market regulator AEMO, it is likely to cause blackouts rather than supply additional electricity to the grid. Yet over the week it becomes a cause celebre. It will be sold, the government declares. Yet who will buy remains a mystery. It won’t be AGL.

The plant would require at least $1/2bn to keep going but offers investors only five years, operation in a market where profits on coal-fired electricity are harder to make than in renewables.

The crusade to save of Liddell will be a defining point in next week’s debate in the house – just as it stands as a defining point for this government which is so committed to pleasing its coal-lobby sponsors that it has abandoned all pretence at concern with carbon emissions and their role in global warming. No wonder Pacific Islanders see our PM simply as another palagi who is interested only in putting profits before people.

It’s not just home fires burning, moreover, our global warming Coalition promises to help Adani pollute the planet. Back out of Paris. Flunk even Finkel’s feeble CET, a type of Clayton’s carbon price Turnbull is rapidly giving up hope of sneaking past Tony Abbott and his cheer squad of delusional denialists and Minerals Council dupes.

The government pounces upon the Australian Energy Market Operator’s annual Electricity Statement of Opportunities which is released this week and within hours has its own spin on the report which predicts the likelihood of blackouts this summer given the age and unreliability of our national grid. It blames Labor.

What the report really says, the government doesn’t want to admit. It’s an indictment of the failure of Abbott’s war on carbon pricing, his so-called carbon tax that Peta Credlin now confesses was just a stunt. Without such a pricing mechanism, our nation’s progress towards renewable energy sources has been criminally sabotaged.

… governments have discouraged investment in renewable energy generation …

Equally damning are the ways in which the Abbott and Turnbull governments have discouraged investment in renewable energy generation. Alternative power sources should be available ready, now, to be phased in as we close the dirty, uneconomic fifty-year old coal-burning plants. Instead, the industry has been actively discouraged.

All of his could be foreseen; planned for. For all its attempts to rewrite history and blame both sides of politics, or even to just blame Labor, it is the Coalition with its coal-based ideology and its failure to develop a clear energy policy or a policy on carbon emissions which is responsible for the energy mess we are in now.

More will be heard of the Turnbull government’s baseload fetish; the technological nonsense that a stable power source is only possible through burning coal. Much less will be said about the fetish for the free market and for privatisation which helped it to set up an electricity supply which is either affordable or reliable.

And in the ledger of our international responsibility, our status as global citizens we face a growing deficit as polluters. Tuvalu’s PM, Enele Sopoaga, speaks of hypocrisy, of an Australia which is happy to preach renewable energy and emissions control to its island neighbours but which in practice does the very opposite itself.

“We’re simply seeking for the rights of small island states to survive,” he says.

Oddly, no-one in Apia looks overjoyed to have the big blue bwana in their midst. He has dropped in on the tail end of proceedings as if he still believes it’s the great white bwana, the palagi’s prerogative to be fashionably late.

Better late than never? We can’t even give him that. Leadership is what you do not what you preach. And your priorities. When there’s a clear choice between saving his own leadership and the chance to lead or even save others, Turnbull gives up a whole six hours of his time. Just enough time to announce a new kanaka recruitment drive.

*David Tyler (AKA Urban Wronski) was born in England, raised in New Zealand and an Australian resident since 1979. Urban Wronski grew up conflicted about his own national identity and continues to be deeply mistrustful of all nationalism, chauvinism, flags, politicians and everything else which divides and obscures our common humanity. He has always been enchanted by nature and by the extraordinary brilliance of ordinary men and women and the genius, the power and the poetry that is their vernacular. Wronski is now a fulltime freelance writer who lives with his partner and editor Shay and their chooks, near the Grampians in rural Victoria and he counts himself the luckiest man alive. A former teacher of all ages and stages, from Tertiary to Primary, for nearly forty years, he enjoyed contesting the corporatisation of schooling to follow his own natural instinct for undifferentiated affection, approval and compassion for the young.

Bernard Keane, Crikey: There might never be a deal to end the climate wars While everyone has assumed the Prime Minister wants to get a Clean Energy Target through his partyroom, what if his goal is actually to demonise Labor instead?

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Christopher Nagle

    September 21, 2017 at 12:12 am

    Robin, on the energy question, it seems to me that you have been reading too much Murdoch press, Heartlands Institute, Institute of Public Affairs, Exxon, Chevron, the Minerals Council of Australia, the US Eastern Coal Conference and the Koch Brothers.

    The Murdoch press runs about as unreliably on energy and environment questions as the venerable ‘Times’ was on ‘the German question’ in the 1930s; i.e., equally abysmal denialism in the face of an existential threat.

    And here is the rub: the market ‘progressive’ neo cons and their social ‘progressive’ antagonists each have a fabulously telling analysis of the weaknesses of the other but are totally blind to their own, which is why we have the kind of regime (because they are both regime players) grid lock we presently have; you know, each side preferring to eat glass than do some self reflection on the infallibility of their respective sacred sites.

    Neither side wants to be the first to own up as to just how much they have really screwed critical elements of their own sphere of influence under the aegis of indulgence capitalism.

    The result is that both are being chased by the same sustainability and legitimacy questions at about the same accelerating speed and no brakes. It is a kind of ideological church v crown style drag race where no one dares take their foot of the accelerator, despite the fact that the end of the road is in plain sight. And the end of the road is in about the same place, whether we are talking ecological/economic or social/existential infrastructure.

    We are faced with the terrible spectacle of ballooning baloney, bluff, palaver, crib and fudge, whether we are talking energy policy or aboriginals. Everyone is into it like their lives depended on it which in some ways they do, which is why the impasse we are in seems so diabolically insoluble.

    I may quarrel with Russell Langfield on aboriginal questions like cat and dog, but on this one mate, he and I are on exactly the same page. When it comes to energy and the environment, guys like Tony and Barnaby are into certifiable, ace in the hole loonytoonsville. And that is the best that can be said for them, because otherwise they would just be pimps for the coal industry.

    Robin, we do not have just a climate warming problem. Our species is trying to live on 1.5-2.0 planets. The biosphere is dying. We are facing the biggest species crash since the dinosaurs went. In the not far distant future a lot of us will go down with them. Anyone who cannot see, like the British Tories couldn’t or wouldn’t, that the Germans were coming, or in our case, global environmental disaster, is living in an ideological bubble which will sink like a stone once it is punctured by reality. And that will be soon enough.

    ‘Clean Coal’ is about as abysmal as ‘Marriage Equality’ and comes out of the same totalitarian propaganda mechanisms that have damned real debate on anything since the 1950s, when science driven promotion and marketing really started to hit its stride, and made the genius of guys like Joseph Goebbels obsolete.

    For Chrissake Robin….Wakey wakey….

  2. Robin Charles Halton

    September 20, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    #26 Russell, these days one has to be aware of the rat cunning of this pair as a part of a pack that includes billionaire Mr Paul Adani.

    Garnaut leeds in with his climate change Scare campaign, Gupta rescues Whyalla Steelworks to supply the rail and other constructionsteel for the Adani rail link from the Galilee Basin to the port at Bowen.

    All along Renewables get a government subsidy, Gupta gets a lions share, Adani gets the $1B loan from the Feds!

    Its nothing more than a pressure cooker to get Federal governments to cough up more money that they dont have.

    Oh, next excuse we wont have the steel to build our new warships in SA, the whole thing includes trade offs where Australia needs to be aware of more private power concerns that can continue to openly exploit the electricity market in Australia.

    Some thing challenging for sensible SA pollies Chris Pyne and Nick Xenophon to look into before SA Premier Jay Weatherhill gets into more strife with Renewable energy.

  3. Russell

    September 20, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Re #25
    Once again you are wrong, Robin, parroting Tony Abbott’s neanderthal slogans.

    Ross Garnaut, head of the first Climate Change report, saw so much potential in renewables that he put his money where his mouth is and is Chairman at Zen Energy.

    The Whyalla steelworks has recently been bought, along with two or three others in Australia, by British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta, and has now bought a majority stake in Adelaide-based energy company Zen Energy.


    Get with the times, Robin, the days of the fossil-fuel and Lieberal Party dinosaurs are over.

  4. Robin Charles Halton

    September 20, 2017 at 7:47 am

    #24 Max, Governments have to learn to deal with the present situation, pointless to blame past politics!

    Its happened and correction by claw back may be necessary to enable SA to get back on an even footing with electricity.

    SA remains open to high risk as 40% Renewables is unacceptable as Weatherill has caused the nations stand out case of potential failure of overindulging into Renewables to soon without satisfactory stable base load back up.

    Without the diesal generators backup, the SA system remains subject to disasterous economic and politically emmbarrising blackouts and power surges.

  5. max

    September 17, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    # 22 Robin
    In South Australia, Cheung Kong Infrastructure/Power Assets owns a 51-per-cent share, on a 200-year lease, The horse has bolted and Weatherill is frantically trying go grab the reins. It’s a bit like your beloved Tasmanian government forest industry.
    If you don’t own it how can you control it. Weatherill didn’t sell the power utilities, he inherited the mess that the Liberals created.

  6. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    September 16, 2017 at 3:14 am

    My only problem with Wronski is that he touches on a lot of issues without going into depth on any of them.

    I think he needs to focus a bit more so that we can actually tackle issues in seriatum rather than going all over the place in one hit.

    We are living inside a social and economic order that is crumbling, so it is very tempting to try and tackle all the issues at once.

    My take on that is that it is self defeating, confusing and compounds the general sense of mystification that characterizes our times. And I am probably as much of villain in this as he is. So I am not trying to upstage or play some power game in this. It is a problem for all of us as the post WW2 order disintegrates around us.

    Analysis has be disciplined and focused. When I have to deal with Wronski, I just move on to something more digestible. It is not a question of agreeing or disagreeing with him. It is the archetypal dream of trying to run through a boggy field and not getting anywhere.

    This criticism is offered with humility rather than anything else. We are living in a time when everything is out of sorts, so knowing our beginnings and ends is harder than usual. No blame is attached.

  7. Robin Charles Halton

    September 16, 2017 at 2:11 am

    Weatherill is scared stiff of electricity failure events due to his excessive investment in untried Renewables.

    it was reported in the Herald Sun on Sept 6th the Andrews government also in a state of panic after Hazelwood was closed down in March realising it could face the same scenario as SA.
    Labor is spending $350M to install generators in as its electricity supply is tight, the cost is to be borne by the taxpayer.

    The EMO has warned Victoria of its dire situation for extra supply leaving the State as high risk and this could extend NSW too if the Liddell situation is not resolved in the very near future by the PM.

  8. Russell

    September 15, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    Re #20
    You’ve still evaded answering any questions or points about jobs in Tasmania which would have come from renewable investment instead of the diesel generators, or the absurdity of costs and construction timelines for the coal wet-dream to become a reality.

    At least Weatherill is doing something positive, constructive and timely instead of talking shit year after year and actually doing nothing like Turdbull.

    The main difference between the two is that Weatherill is doing what his constituency and all the available science is demanding, while Turdbull is not. Note the hybrid plants you mentioned are gas fired, not filthy expensive coal.

    Talking about jobs in the Renewable Industry, Robin, guess where the next boom is?


    Please have a quick read up of those links I provided before to bring yourself up to speed on the subject.

  9. Robin Charles Halton

    September 15, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    Yes it did appear foolish of Hydro Tas to drain our lakes during drought to sell electricity to an incompatible joint network via Bass Link then having the Link break leaving Tasmania unable to import its shortfall back, having to hire diesel generators as an emergency backup. Stupid!

    You may not be aware your greenie Labor mate, the SA Premier, is worried stiff about electricity reliability so the SA government has invested in emergency back up power generation to prevent blackouts this summer.

    Two hybrid turbines will be installed at two locations, Lonsdall near Adelaide and the GMH site at Elizabeth.

    Weatherill’s $550M plan is capable of quickly producing 276MW during forecasted load shedding events.

    Installation is expected by Dec 1. The power plant with an expected 25 year span will act as the essential back up for SA’s inefficient, unreliable, expensive and ridiculous investment in 40% Renewables.

  10. Russell

    September 15, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Re #18
    Still you evade the facts! Still you have none of your own!

    Instead of wasting $180,000,000 last year on diesel generators, we could have installed either 9,000 totally off-grid systems OR 18,000 grid-connected systems which would still be feeding into the system!

    Don’t you want the jobs that come with it?

    How about answering the question?

    Regarding investment in renewables, the total Australian domestic investment so far could power the whole of Sydney! See the links in #12 & #13.

  11. Robin Charles Halton

    September 15, 2017 at 2:06 am

    #17 Max, I am sick of hearing about the blame games as you are!

    Energy is in a complete mess, you would agree as there was nobody competent enough within any government in recent times to create a coherent policy on electricity!

    As it is certainly not South Australia with 40% Renewables so early in the changeover game.

    Turnbull and Shorten will go neck to neck on this issue, voters like you and I will decide on what we believe is the best way foward.

    One thing I do sense the nation cannot afford to drive any more of our manufacturing and metallurgical industries off shore leaving us exposed within our region.

    National security issues will outweigh climate science issues, I can guarantee you that as global threats intensify!

  12. max

    September 14, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    #13 Robin
    I presume that you will vote liberal at the next election. It was the Liberals that created the problem with the ideology of selling the power utilities to private companies. Hazlewood and Liddel have given years of notice of the pending shut down, they gave plenty of time for the government to face up to the fact of closure. $2billion for a new coal fired power station and 5 or more years to build is not going to happen. The government in an unenviable situation, the price of power will sky rocket or taxes will go up to pay for their short sited policies of selling the utilities or do nothing which they have been doing for years and blaming Labor for the coming blackouts.

  13. Russell

    September 14, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    Re #13
    Lalaland again.

    Will take at least four years to build a new coal-fired power station.

    “The Australian Energy Council sees them as “uninvestable”. Banks and investment funds would not touch them with a barge pole.”

    “absurd to spend large amounts of taxpayers’ money on last century’s technology that will be more costly than renewable power and would lock Australia into a high-carbon trajectory.”


    Dream on.

  14. Robin Charles Halton

    September 14, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    #12 Max,
    It is in the national interest that a suitably revamped or a brand new state of the art coal fired power station needs to be available either central to both states, situated in NSW or Victoria.
    The government will most likely have to fork out or work within a JV framework to achieve it.

    It needs to be built and up and running within the next two- three years to ensure electricity certainty!

    Regardless of climatic variation, the national interest has to prevail first and foremost to ensure the government abides to providing a reliable electricity grid.
    Failure to do so will result in business chaos and most likely public disorder.

    The people of Australia need that option by the Coalition regardless of Blackout Bill’s unfettered support for Renewables.

    We all have a choice who we vote for at the next Federal election!
    I will vote for electricity certainty the way I see it.

    There is no way we should be completely locked into Renewables at this stage.

    Unfortunately without Hazlewood operating ,this summer may create hectic time for the SA,VIC and NSW grid interface causing blackout and shutdowns.

  15. max

    September 14, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    # 11 Robin
    The Liberal Party created the problem with their mania for privatising essential utilities, they even tried to force the sale of Hydro. Now the genie is out of the bottle Malcolm is pussy footing around with no ideas on how to solve the problem his government created.
    The $500,000 you mentioned the government may have to throw at Liddell needs a few more noughts.
    The government who advocated the privatisation of the power industry, now find that they may have to buy back or subsidies the power industry.
    Unlike hydro coal fired power stations can not handle fluctuating loads, it takes days to build up load or shut down. Now that renewables produce cheaper power, the wind blows or the sun shines coal fired power stations run at a loss and no private company can afford to continue with coal.
    Blackout Bill and his Green friends are heading directly for Renewables apart from SA investment is dreadfully slow if not dead! Investment is dreadfully slow if not dead because the coalition have refused to face up to the fact that climate change is here and some form of climate policy to give direction is causing a lack of investment.

  16. Russell

    September 14, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Re #11 – cont’d
    How much did those diesel generators cost us last year? Here’s a couple of facts about the cost of diesel generators:



    We could have had 9,000 homes gone totally off-grid and fully self sufficient for the same $180,000,000 it cost to have those generators, or 18,000 grid connected homes. And they would still be connected and producing energy, not packed up and sent back to Asia like the diesels. Just think how many jobs the solar installations would have created?

    I only wish Hydro Tasmania had have passed on the $1,163 per megawatt-hour to all Tasmanian grid consumers to recoup their losses and possibly wake up the neanderthals still grunting utterings from their cold fossil-fuelled caves.

    Regarding nuclear energy, would you like to educate us from your worldly experience on thorium reactors? And please, provide some actual facts and proof of it for once.

  17. Russell

    September 14, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Re #11
    Please provide those “facts” regarding investment for a change Robin.

    Please remove your blinkers first and look over the border into South Australia, many communities in Victoria, and all other states.

    Here’s a couple of little tasters:



    It seems those most affected by the ancient and inefficient fossil-fuelled energy supply away from the capital cities are the biggest investors. Who says country folk are slow? They’re just more in touch with reality than the city-dwelling flock of sheep.

    The only so-called ‘investment’ in coal seems to be coming from freeloading foreigners wanting $1billion of Australian Taxpayer money so that they can dig it up here and ship it back to India.

    That’s investment in India, not Australia, and it’s a poisonous loser investment, akin to selling (or giving away) publicly owned plantations on public land to foreigners. That’s not investment!!!


  18. Robin Charles Halton

    September 14, 2017 at 2:16 am

    #9 ,#10, The facts are that investment in Renewables is lagging so far behind leaving would be investors confused where the nation is going with affordable, reliable electricity which in the hands of a number of competing privateers who only look at the grid as if it is the stock market.

    This is the cumulative result of privatising a public utility where a number of providers compete with each other with profits in mind leaving service to the customer as a secondary concern.

    Turnbull has taken on a bold move by staying with coal but nevertheless he could be on a winner until Renewable investment actually occurs.

    Blackout Bill and his Green friends are heading directly for Renewables apart from SA investment is dreadfully slow if not dead!

    We are yet to address nuclear energy as an alternative for base load coal or gas firing.

    Turnbull has the envious job of trying to juggle the best options to keep the lights on.

    If a decision for investment is not forth coming by the next election, generator sales and solar panel installation by private households and businesses may be the next best thing.

    For the providers, massive diesel generators may be required as back up to avoid blackouts. during peak demand.

    Its interesting too the government may have to throw $500,000 at Liddell for some upgrading to ensure reliability of its aging infrastructure!

    We cant sit here and dribble over the keyboard by making outrageous claims of untried alternative technologies as we are intrinsically linked to nuclear, coal, gas wind and solar as a range of realistic options, but in what order is the question!

  19. max

    September 13, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    # 8 Robin
    Australia is positioned to be the number one renewable fuel provider in the world’s fastest growing region. Hydrogen can be produced from wind, solar and tidal power,converted to ammonia for storage and shipping and then converted back to hydrogen. Hydrogen converted to electricity through a fuel cell can be base load and water is a by product. The technology is there and inexhaustible.The only thing stopping it is a stupid government with a fixation on destroying the world with polluting coal.

  20. Russell

    September 13, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    Re #8
    Stick to the facts Robin.

    It was an extreme weather event which wiped out the SA grid last year. Once the transmission lines toppled in the wind it didn’t matter one iota how the energy was produced.

    The ever-increasing extreme weather events are a direct result of fossil-fuelled climate change.

    You’re in an ever-diminishing minority.

    Don’t whinge when the entire Pacific Island population arrives here by boat.

  21. Robin Charles Halton

    September 13, 2017 at 1:13 am

    #7 Most definitely the PM has made a sterling commitment to stay with coal after the SA outages with 40% unreliable Renewables last summer and the closure of Hazelwood loss of 24% of Victoria electricity in March this year.

    Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce and Deputy PM with Lee Sales of the ABC excelled with his interview on the electricity this evening, congratulations the government is now out of the woods and can comfortably lead the nation.

    Blackout Bill cannot possible stick with Renewables, the banter has to stop its now renewed coal fired electricity or continued uncertainty within the energy sector.

  22. max

    September 12, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    # 6. Yes Robin, you are 100% correct – gigantic decisions need to be put in place by government to ensure the lights don’t go out and it is a difficult if not impossible task to balance reliable electricity versus the effects of alleged world ending Climate Change!
    While people such as yourself think that climate change is an alleged effect the lights are going go go out in the same manner as hurricane Harvey and Irma have put the lights out in America, and if drastic changes with fossil fuels are not implemented then the lights will go out forever.

  23. Robin Charles Halton

    September 11, 2017 at 9:58 pm

    #5 I am aware of the labor exploitation that occurred last year to the Pacific Island group, it was aired on TV after being seconded out by a corrupt labor hire company to a corrupt vegetable growing company.
    Most definetely government oversight has to be provided for all overseas workers, employers and labor hire companies need to follow fair pay rates for fair work ethic.

    The PM is in a difficult position with balancing the continued use of reliable and less expensive coal fired base load power stations as there are still insufficient reliable Renewables to cope with power supply of high demand as power providers gamble with power pricing instead of acting like a public utility as we have seen in the past.

    Gigantic decisions need to be put in place by government to ensure the lights dont go out and it is a difficult if not impossible task to balance reliable electricty versus the effects of alleged world ending Climate Change!

  24. philll Parsons

    September 11, 2017 at 11:27 am

    #4. Inundating your country is bound to cause a questioning of your alliance. You may cope with some labour exploitation but when your supposed friend continues to contribute to sea level rise why would you not turn elsewhere. This is the potential realisation of the security implications of fossil fuels.

  25. Robin Charles Halton

    September 11, 2017 at 6:58 am

    The article by Urban Wronski makes a mockery of the objectives of the 2017 Pacific Islanders Forum held in Apia Samoa, among the 18 members from the largest to the smallest being Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Fiji including Nuie, Tuvalu and Kiribati.

    Obviously for purposes of strategic alliance Australia needs those nations support with the rise of China as the US focuses its attention towards security measures in the Pacific Region.

    The worry was that countries like Fiji who were known for political, legal and human rights abuses as they were suspended from the PIF from 2009 until they were returned in 2014 after holding general elections.
    Fiji almost went its own way and that could have been a security disaster for the region.

    An update of the aftermath of the 14 year long law and order conflict in the Solomon islands is another issue that needs to be discussed at these forums.

    Its the shift in the global power conflict and international relations that needs to be taken into account, particularly as China spreads its wings where ever it can.

    At the end of the day the democratic world as we know it will require the cooperation among these nations and with the bigger well organised players in the region being Australia and New Zealand that are being challenged by the rise of tensions in the South China Sea and across wider Pacific Region.

  26. Robert LePage

    September 10, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    1# please stop Schticking it to us.

  27. philll Parsons

    September 10, 2017 at 11:59 am

    #1 must have nought to refute.

    In a month we will know if it’s back to the polls for Barnaby, or indeed all of us, and whilst the Coalition does not wish to give a hint about the outcome in the Court we are in election mode with all the hoopla about energy prices and Shorten.

    There is no division within Labor that is pressing to see a change of leader so they are trying to kill Bill 2 years too soon because each failure of that armours Bill in the minds of the public. Soon enough the quiver empties and although Bill may not have become transformed into a super hero he is more firmly in the mind of the voter as tough.

    The confected energy crisis, the return of the $100 roast and Whyalla wipe-out, all lies at the feet of government and all Labor has to do is come out and storm that with the facts and figures about renewables to send Turdbull to the bottom.

  28. O'Brien

    September 10, 2017 at 9:43 am

    Schtick tedium

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