Tasmanian Times

Editor's Choice - Row 2

No ScoMo, you can’t make Tassie the nation’s battery and fund coal-fired power, too

Scott Morrison, PM. Pic: ABC

“What we are talking about here is reliable, renewable, energy,” gurgles a pumped PM , Tuesday. He stands in the same spot as Turnbull, before ScoMo deposed him; the same huge penstock steel pipes arch back behind him like some gigantic, shamanic, horned headdress.  The pose gives pause for thought. As does ScoMo’s pivot; his sudden switch from bearer of the black rock in parliament to ScoMo of Snowy 2.0, a study of calculation in concrete brutalism.

In an incredible back-flip, Faux-Mo re-invents his carbon-emitting, coal-powered government as climate and environmental custodians. Snowy 2.0 is the site of Turnbull’s nation-building pet project. Is his an act of homage, or  usurpation? Yet it could be a lemon. Neither the Coalition, nor its wholly owned Snowy Hydro, will reveal any financial models. Giles Parkinson notes that there’s a fair bit of red tape to clear, not to mention environmental issues to resolve.

No financial modelling? No worries. Whether nation-building with your ego or your energy policy, it’s the vibe that matters. And the mix. A “technologically neutral” ScoMo-government may green-wash itself overnight but it’s careful to leave black or brown coal-fired power generation still in the energy mix. It prolongs the hoax that coal and wind and solar can somehow co-exist, whatever the market is saying about the need to invest in renewables to make a profit.

Naturally a few false prophets must be ignored. The Australian‘s Chris Kenny is all for a nuclear option, safe, cheap; a boon, environmentally, as Fukushima and Chernobyl attest, with only a few drawbacks including toxicity, short life-span, long build time and prohibitive price as demand for electricity diminishes. Nuclear is so yesterday. As for green, any saving in daily running cost is offset by a large environmental debit incurred in the massive concrete construction.

But is our new ScoMo Coalition with clean, green, pumped snowy hydro 2.0 fair-dinkum? Giles Parkinson drily notes,

“…a government that “scrapped the carbon price, tried to kill the renewable energy target, defenestrated the Climate Change Authority and tried to scrap the Clean Energy Finance Corp and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency appears to be taking note that climate focused independents are posing a real threat to incumbent MPs.”

Is it green? Will our unreliable, coal-fired clunkers such as Liddell be taken off life support? (Liddell’s expected life-span was 25 years, when built in 1973.) Will filthy, new, polluting smoke stacks rise phoenix-like from the ashes, as the Coalition honours Matt Canavan’s recent pledge to fund ten new coal-fired power plants? Funding? Banks won’t touch them. China doesn’t love us any more and the Russians have already been well-tapped by Trump.

Government funding is promised to those keen to build new coal-fired power projects – but is it legal? In a startling new piece of legal advice from barristers Fiona McLeod SC and Lindy Barrett, The Australia Institute reports  McLeod and Barrett argue that the government will need parliament’s approval before it can underwrite any new coal fired plant.

The only existing authority for such appropriation of funds is the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, a body set up to encourage investment in energy-efficient; low energy or low emission technology. Coal or gas projects are excluded.

The barristers hazard that “Energy Minister Angus Taylor is in such a rush to funnel taxpayer funds to new coal fired power stations before the election, he seems to have overlooked that he has no constitutional authority to do so.”

Assistance for new coal fired power projects, it is argued, will require “some form of supporting legislation”, reports Katharine Murphy, either new or existing, to operate and fund the program, otherwise the arrangements would be open to a high court challenge. Certainly, Energy Minister Angus Taylor is coy about new build details.

Taylor, is tight-lipped on ABC Insiders, Sunday. Incredibly, after six years in government and with an election in May, he acts as if he is being put on the spot by a key question on major policy. Perhaps he is. Has no-one done the research?

“I’m the energy minister, I am not going to commit to a number here and now.” An evasive Taylor sees fit to use the Westminster code of ministerial responsibility to parliament to weasel out of a simple question in the national interest.

Instead, Trump-like, the Energy Minister spins a web of lies. He risks ridicule in pretending that the Coalition is reducing its carbon emissions. The government’s own figures show a five-year increase. (Emission rose again when, then PM, Abbott “axed the carbon tax: a lie which even former Chief of Staff Peta Credlin now admits was untrue – “just brutal retail politics” – by which she means ruthless, self-serving, pragmatism. Any means to win an election is OK.)

Yet Taylor’s cool with coal and pumped hydro competing. Has he read Tassie’s Project Marinus’ feasibility study? It’s clear from the project brief that the interlink will be economically viable only if coal is taken out of the mix – and soon.

“… when approximately 7,000MW of the national electricity market’s present coal-fired generation capacity retires”,

Pouncing, like a terrier, on the word “competition”, the topic of his M.Phil from Oxford where, like Abbott, he was a Rhodes Scholar, Taylor offers a touching non-sequitur, “You put your finger on it – we want more competition, Barrie.” Perhaps coal can compete with pumped hydro in the parallel universe of the coal lobby shill or the Kelly “ginger group”.

Taylor has ScoMo’s biggest lie off pat. “We will reach our Paris targets in a canter.” The Coalition knows that with repetition the lie will become orthodoxy  – as has the false narrative that our energy policy is a failure because “both sides” have been bickering, a point repeatedly made by Coalition MPs and their supporters on mainstream media, including the ABC’s The Drum and Q&A. No. It’s a Coalition wedded to its coal sponsors causing the damage.

There are no reputable scientists or economists who believe we will meet our Paris target to reduce our emissions by 26%, based on 2005 levels, by 2030 in a canter. Now the talk is of carry-over credits.

The question has Taylor talking about The Kyoto agreement to Australia fudging its figures; being allowed a credit for land-clearing and forestry in article 3.7 of the Kyoto Protocol, known but not fondly, as The Australian Clause and inserted at the behest of Senator Robert Hill. In brief, we chose 1990, a year when land-clearing had been high as our base, thus giving the impression of progress even if we did nothing. The Coalition’s attitude remains unchanged.

We did not do nothing. The Hawke government introduced policies to restrict land-clearing and established Landcare. When Kyoto was officially ratified in 2008, under Rudd, Australia was able to claim “emissions from Land-use, Land-use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) had fallen by over 80 million tonnes CO2-e … an almost 15 per cent reduction in Australia’s emissions – enough to offset the significant growth in emissions from electricity generation over the same period, which had added 82 million tonnes CO2-e by 2009.”

Because we will beat our 2020 Kyoto targets by 240 million tonnes of CO2, the Morrison government will carry these forward against our 2030 Paris pledge, if other countries are weak enough to allow this. The 26 to 28 per cent target effectively turns into a 15 per cent cut on 2005 levels.

It seems like sharp practice – and in terms of our real contribution to curbing global warming it is a shamefully weak effort, yet our environment minister, “Invisible” Melissa Price, says “it’s a great result for the environment and for the economy”, helping prosecute the fallacy that curbing emissions acts as a break on prosperity, a myth so widely and frequently circulated that it is Coalition and mainstream media orthodoxy.

Bill Hare, director of Perth-based global consultancy Climate Analytics, says there’s no chance we can meet our target without new policies.   Most other experts agree. Yet the Coalition is a policy-free zone, especially around energy.

Barrie tries to chat about rats leaving the sinking Coalition ship. Ten faux-green bottles no longer hanging on the wall. More to accidentally fall? Taylor recycles ScoMo’s spin that while the faces may change, the policies remain “focused”. Yet  coal is in now out of-focus while hydro gets a spin.  And since Taylor’s debut in August, energy is an enigma. Even Frydenberg didn’t try to ride two horses at once. You can’t burn coal and pump hydro. It’s one or the other.

Unless it’s for show. This week the Coalition puts another $1.6bn into the kitty for Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro. Invests $56m in interconnector 2.0, or the Marinus link to make little Tassie a powerhouse; “the battery of the nation”.

Marinus will carry power not only from pumped hydro, moreover, it will be able to conduct electricity from wind-power projects in the pipeline. But it won’t be economic; it can’t pay its way unless coal-fired power generation is retired. The costs of the poles and wires are extra.  These, ScoMo generously makes clear, are to be borne by the relevant states.

For Tassie’s Marinus 2 project to work, however, its feasibility report says its necessary or our nation to get out of coal-fired power generation. Fast. 2020 is suggested. Yet Angus Taylor suggests there may be ten coal-fired plants which the government may subsidise. Again, it’s impossible to have an each-way bet. Giles Parkinson sums up: Snowy 2.0 and the Tasmanian scheme only make economic and financial sense if coal-fired power production ceases.

“There is no place in the schemes if coal-fired generators remain.”

That’s entirely at odds with Coalition policy. This includes a type of state aid to Trevor St Baker, the billionaire who bought Vales Point from the NSW government for a song – and poised to set up some new ones; a white knight of the black rock and a Liberal Party donor just battling to make a quid by keeping old stations such as Liddell running well past their use-by date.   No wonder the government is releasing no feasibility study. What they propose is impossible.

At base, however, Snowy 2.0’s just another show.  “Getting on with the job”, as Showboat ScoMo pitches his cynical faux humility. Typically, “the job” entails the hard slog of deception, disinformation and spin but the old stager knows no sort of performance can distract from the reality that at least ten of his Coalition crew are madly stampeding for the exits.

“Jobs for the boys” are what we are in fact talking about, as Labor’s Penny Wong never tires of reminding us.

Wait, there’s more good news. “A record seven women in cabinet”, boasts Nine news. ScoMo boldly overpromotes rookie WA Senator Linda Reynolds straight from assistant Minister for Home Affairs, to Minister for Defence Industry.

“When you can call up a brigadier, in the form of Linda Reynolds, to take on the role of defence minister, it shows we have a lot of talent on our bench to draw from” Morrison lies. It does show the Liberals’ fetish for militarism. Above all, it rewards Reynolds for quickly abandoning her complaints of bullying in the Liberal Party.

“As a soldier I believe you go through a chain of command and you do things internally,” she says. Her cryptic comment may make sense to a part-time army reservist on a weekend camp but how is this Liberal individualism?  Of far more concern, is how the potential Minister of Defence would respond to whistle-blowers.

Alarmingly, Reynolds repeats Morrison’s myth that voters have no interest in the internal workings of the party – a nonsense given the party’s commitment to transparency  – and given the ways our choices of candidate and party are justly informed by insights into party culture – or as Kelly O’Dwyer put it, ways votes are lost by a popular perception that the Liberal party is a mob of “homophobic, anti-women, climate-change deniers”.

ScoMo promises to make Reynolds Defence Minister after Christopher Pyne tidies up his sock drawer and ties up a few other loose ends such as our $79 billion submarine contract. Can he get the boats built in Australia by Australians – preferably in his own state, if not his own electorate? How will we provide crews? A lot for the Fixer to work through.

Reynolds is also – gasp – a woman and a Brigadier in the Army Reserve – irrefutable proof of the Liberals’ egalitarian democracy, despite only nineteen MPs being women.  And a reservist Brigadier will instantly win over any full-time ADF member. Yet the PM fails to cut a dash given the splash as rats desert HMAS Chum-bucket his sinking submarine.

The week in politics sees the federal Coalition frantically green-wash its cred – even recycling the direct action scam, a monster magic soil boondoggle only Hunt could flog, as it struggles to “get on with the job” as ScoMo puts it.

Everyone else lost interest long ago. Or they’re jumping overboard or already off-grid, as a weary nation battles fair-dinkum fatigue, a torpor not even Snowy Hydro 2.0, a Sisyphean marvel now bigger than ANZAC, Phar Lap and Kokoda put together can shift.

“It’s absolutely fair-dinkum power. It doesn’t get more fair dinkum than this,” gurgles ScoMo, who transforms, this week, into state socialist as he widens the sluice-gate of government funding on a project which has already cost a mozza; $6 billion for the Commonwealth just to buy out NSW and Victorian states’ investments.

This week’s capital transfusion transforms Malcom Turnbull’s pipe-dream into a Ponzi scheme. Snowy 2.0 will pump water uphill when power is cheap and let it rush downhill again when the price is right driving whirling turbines to produce top dollar power which cannot but help drive up power bills.

“We don’t need Morrison’s money”, carps Snowy Hydro CEO, Paul Broad, to News Corp, rejecting the Coalition’s sudden, unbidden injection of $1.4 billion part of a largesse which includes glad-handing $440 million to The Great Barrier Reef Foundation, a sign that the outfit may be struggling to stay afloat; struggling to make its numbers add up.

Pumped hydro schemes are generally not profitable, reports Giles Parkinson. Last year, data from the Australian Energy Market shows that existing pumped hydro schemes made almost no money from this activity. In the last quarter, they actually lost money and over the previous four quarters made virtually no money. Paul Broad is less expansive.

“The government decided the way it wanted to balance out the funding. It wanted to sustain dividends,” Broad says. “It wanted to support the project with equity. These things are part of negotiations that go on. We never asked for it. We never asked for anything.” Keeping financial modelling secret only fuels suspicion that Pacific Hydro’s in trouble already.

 Our PM quickly whips up a succession of other phantasmagorical stunts, this week, ranging from Monday’s Climate Solutions fund to spruik the ERF’s resurrection, an Abbott scam for channelling funding to Big Agriculture and even Big Coal amongst other worthy Liberal donors and supporters. It would cost $200 bn to use it to reach our Paris targets.

In other words, it’s “a recipe for fiscal recklessness on a grand scale and a fig leaf to cover its determination to do nothing”, as Malcolm Turnbull proclaimed of Abbott’s ERF plan prior to the 2013 election.

An emission-abating nation gasps as “showboat” ScoMo simultaneously flogs a dead horse, puts lipstick on a pig and executes a reverse pork barrel dive with pike all in free-fall off Mount Kosciuszko in the Snowy Mountains region.

“Magic-soil” Morrison rebadges Abbott’s quick and dirty emissions reduction fund (ERF) boondoggle as a $2bn Climate Solutions Fund (CSF) whilst slashing its annual budget from $510 million to $200 million.  Sheer genius.

It’s half of the funding Abbott committed in the 2013 election campaign. The Kiwis are right. ScoMo’s a phenomenon; a force of nature; a cunning stunt and not a one trick pony after all.

If there’s less pork to fork, what’s left is spread more widely; farmers, whose fingers are already worked to the bone filling in drought-relief forms can now apply for a CSF handout to “drought-proof” their farms, whatever that means, or just do a bit of re-vegetation. Businesses get handouts for “energy efficient projects” and not just planting for trees they would have planted anyway. Given that ERF farmers are agri-businesses, also, a double dip may well be possible.

The Wilderness Society calls on the invisible Environment Minister Melissa Price, former  to review the channelling of funds into paying farmers to protect native vegetation after Queensland satellite data suggested recipients of such money were clearing other parts of their land. What could possibly go wrong?

“Our analysis shows that 13,317 hectares of forest and bushland clearing has occurred across 19 properties in the same year or years subsequent to winning ERF contracts for funding under vegetation methodologies,” Glenn Walker, climate campaign manager for the group, says in a letter to Minister Price.

Not to be outdone, Home Affairs Super-Minister, one trick pony, Peter Dutton doctors up his fear campaign Thursday, with another populist dog-whistle from Dutts Unplugged, a long-running White Australia revival tour.

“People who need medical services are going to be displaced from those services, because if you bring hundreds and hundreds of people from Nauru and Manus down to our country, they are going to go into the health network,” Uncle Dutts tells a fawning of loyal reporters in Brisbane. Doctors respond that the claim is nonsense.

Oddly, not a word of support is heard from anyone, not even Craig and the rest of the Kelly gang, a sect whose job it is to invite climate-change deniers to parliament to mislead policy-makers and to hold Morrison to ransom on energy, a kindness paid forward by the PM and his federal energy minister, Angus Taylor in dictating to the states.

Nobody’s talking. It’s an “announceable” – not a discussion topic. Flanking his PM in the photo opportunity, is Angus, “Squizzy” Taylor, our federal energy enforcer. Was he in witness protection since his rout late last December’s COAG meeting? Then he refused NSW energy minister, Don Harwin’s call for a new national zero emissions policy?

“Industry is spooked by poor policy”, Harwin holds; a circuit-breaker is needed. Squizzy shoots him down. Out of order.

December’s COAG meeting does not even hear NSW’s point of view. Taylor tells Harwin to zip it, citing procedural grounds. Vetoes discussion. “It got ugly very quickly. It was a full-on revolt”, a source tells Fairfax, now Nine Newspapers.

Happily Craig Kelly’s not worried. “I know how [Taylor’s] mind works”, he explains to Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy. Murphy wisely leaves this alone. On Sky, Taylor won’t divulge how many Coalition coal projects are planned but Matt Canavan blabs that the government is looking at including ten in the underwriting scheme. Someone needs to talk to Canavan but only after voters are sold on the wave of jobs that will flow from so many new automated hell-holes and black-lung health hazards.

But it’s not Handbrake Kelly’s backbench committee to abort any change in energy or environment that Morrison really needs to win over. Nor is it the cabal of climate deniers Buzzfeed dubbed “The Dirty Dozen”, in 2016. Still in parliament, at least until May, are Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz, Craig Kelly, Zed Seselja, Peter Dutton, Barnaby Joyce and George Christensen. Senator Linda Reynolds must surely get a Dirty Dozen supporter lapel pin for disinformation,

“Remember when the coalition repealed the carbon tax? It led to the largest fall of electricity prices on record,” she lies.

ScoMo’s Snowy Hydro 2.0 reboot is a bid to woo Kooyong, Warringah, Wentworth, Higgins and Tasmanians who’ll be pumped to be included, even if they’ll have to pay for the bits to make the interlink link anywhere. Knit their own cables.

The media narrative that both major parties’ squabble threaten the development of a sound energy policy is a myth invented by those reactionaries and others who call themselves conservative parties. Conservative?

The lack of progress towards renewable energy is no fault of partisan politics or any 24-hour news cycle, but an outcome actively planned and funded by key stake-holders whose institutes, associations and think tanks enjoy remarkably success – if you can count the win of the mining lobby, (just for example), as a win and not an irretrievable, egregious loss in terms of global warming, environmental vandalism and humanity.

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.

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


  1. MJF

    August 9, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    Mr Langfield, I find your responses quite uncouth and very ignorant of other people’s views. It’s as if there’s only the Langfield way to do things, and I wonder why you are of this disposition.

    The stone tools, if you please. How long to make ?

    BTW, burning wood produces carcinogenic smoke and fine particulate matter which is bad for human health in any volume. Ask Clive. You surprise me.

    The ‘unnatural poisonous monstrosities’ line amuses me, though. All is not quite lost with you, Mr Langfield.

    • Russell

      August 10, 2019 at 10:30 am

      Obviously I don’t make stone tools, and for you to infer such seems to make you the uncouth and very ignorant git.

      If you can’t post something on-topic, without sarcasm and with evidence to back your statements, then DON’T.

      “The ‘unnatural poisonous monstrosities’ line amuses me”

      And what would you call a tomato genetically crossed with a fish, or any of the other GMO abominations which have unnaturally brought new allergies into the natural world by spluicing poisons like Roundup into every cell of plants which end up in people’s food?

      If you think all this is OK, people should judge you accordingly.

      Your trees would be a good example of these abortions, and would be better cut down once and for all to be sold as firewood .. after all, that’s the only way you’ll actually make a profit from them.

  2. MJF

    August 8, 2019 at 10:59 am

    Mr Langfield,

    As previously mentioned, those who choose to live in bark dome huts with perhaps a hollow log for a room extension, and eating nutritious free food (home grown bracken, stinging nettles and possum) should feel rightly proud of their small achievements, although I’m not sure eating resident possum can be classified as growing your own. Do you wish to rethink that one ?

    Such a spartan existence is however not for everyone. You can applaud yourself all you like, but your way is not the answer for the majority. Don’t feel sorry for me thank you. I’m quite OK, but it’s encouraging that you’re concerned even though I mow down a few trees.

    I feel sorry for the pensioners, the homeless, the mentally ill, the destitute and the abandoned families who struggle to meet day to day costs of living. They are the ones in need of your well informed recommendations on lifestyle and budgetary constraints. These are the demographics which continually suffer regardless of which government is prevailing.

    BTW, in your experience – (1) how long does it take to knap a useable a stone tool? (2) of an evening, after hunting, do you have a campfire burning solid fuel such as wood ?

    • Russell

      August 9, 2019 at 10:55 am

      “Such a spartan existence is however not for everyone.”

      Really? Growing and eating the most varied, nutritious and wholesome food on the planet is “spartan”? I assure you I lack nothing from what I grow and eat, and I am sure you would be a very sad and unhealthy comparison.

      I suppose you consider consuming the poisons of fast, processed, chemical-laden and nutritionally DEAD food to be the pinnacle of your own achievements – which isn’t a difficult task to top your career.

      Children naturally understand the beauty and wonderment in how and what nature grows from tiny seeds, while people like yourself only find pleasure in cutting it down or manipulating it into unnatural poisonous monstrosities.

      Yes, I burn wood, but unlike you I only use that which has naturally died and fallen .. just as all traditional societies did. I don’t take more than I need just to sell it for profit.

      How long does it take for you to grow up, or to begin to appreciate and care for what nature has provided without interference?

      You poor, wretched soul.

  3. Russell

    July 2, 2019 at 2:44 pm

    A typical off-topic non-answer, Martin.

    YOU were the one who posted “I say Mr Hawkins, I do hope you and Mrs Hawkins are looking forward to each receiving your $62.50 by June 30 from our re-elected PM Morrison to assist with rising power costs .. if you’re eligible, that is.”

    I merely answered that very post completely .. and TO THE POINT. But you’re so myopically sarcastic and out of touch with reality, and too lazy to do anything for yourself (because of your vocation) that you wouldn’t be able to recognise that, or even DREAM of growing your own nutritious food (for free) and putting solar panels on your roof (so that you weren’t affected by any energy cost increases) and making your own bio-fuel, or looking past the rumps of those who pay you.

    By all means live in your parasitic, selfish little world, but don’t expect anyone to even give you the time of day when you crawl begging for assistance when your virtual out-of-touch-with-reality world comes tumbling down all around you.

    Those (in your so-called majority) who choose to walk around with their heads in the clouds, and expect everyone else (in your so-called minority) to do all the heavy lifting for you parasites, deserve what is coming to you.

    I really feel so sorry that you’re such a compulsive sad-sack with nothing in your bleak little life to bring you any happiness.

  4. Russell

    July 1, 2019 at 10:37 am

    Stupid question. What’s the subject, Martin?

    • MJF

      July 2, 2019 at 12:24 pm

      Uninformed answer Mr Langfield. Never heard of the ever increasing cost of living ? Annual CPI ? Rate rises ? Insurance premium increases, food, fuel etc etc Ring any bells ? Electricity is but one of many increasing living costs. Such imposts however may go unnoticed to those living in solar powered bark huts and living on fern root soup. But of course, that demographic represents only a very small minority and is hardly an indicator of wider society, don’t you agree ?

  5. Russell

    June 25, 2019 at 9:46 am

    Wow Martin! The equivalent of a $1.20 per week handout for one year!

    Gee! What will the pensioners lash out on with this one-off cash windfall?

    How much had their quarterly electricity bills gone up since the Liberals last took the reigns from Labor?

    • mJF

      June 30, 2019 at 12:58 pm

      Why single out electricity bills, Mr Langfield ?

  6. MJF

    June 18, 2019 at 6:42 pm

    I say Mr Hawkins, I do hope you and Mrs Hawkins are looking forward to each receiving your $62.50 by June 30 from our re-elected PM Morrison to assist with rising power costs .. if you’re eligible, that is.

  7. John Hawkins

    June 18, 2019 at 9:14 am

    Here’s a further thought …

    Is there a financial link between Adani and Palmer?

    If so, who funded his political play at the last election? Fifty million dollars is a very big punt!

    Is the last election null and void if Adani is linked in any way?

    I suggest that this may be a very rewarding story for our investigative journalists.

    • Kelvin Jones

      June 18, 2019 at 5:53 pm

      Is Clive Palmer possibly a new face of the the hidden fossil fuel industry defence against greenhouse induced obsolescence?

      The fossil fuel industry had a great innocent, surrogate ally in the Greens who were already vehement against the only direct plug in clean fuel replacement for fossil fuel .. nuclear.

      I believe that the fossil fuel industry understood that there are serious future problems in current renewable energy technology for industrialised societies, problems that would be exposed as more renewables were rolled out on an extensive Green, politically driven, highly government subsidised basis.

      By quietly supporting the Greens’ push against fossil and nuclear fuel, plus the Greens’ promotion of wind and solar energy, the fossil fuel industry laid a long term strategy for their retention of long term energy control.

      This brings us to date wherein renewable technology, whilst useful, is showing the significant limitations I believe were foreseen by the fossil fuel industry at least two decades earlier.

      Having ensured that huge public sums have been spent on a commitment to limited performance renewables, the fossil fuel industry ensured that the only other paths to a green future, that is large scale energy reduction programs .. particularly on the domestic and commercial front, is also blocked. This latter approach to carbon reduction is also opposed almost universally by conventional economists as is significant world population curtailment (on a natural basis, I hasten to add) which would be the ultimate demand reduction policy.

      With most western countries including Australia now having vacillated too long on replacement for the aged and worn out power plants, the choices to re-stabilise the power grids guaranteed to the standard to which we have become accustomed is now limited to gas and coal. Nuclear plants take ten years to build .. against five or less for coal and gas.

      Having now re-established their control of energy production by need, the fossil fuel industry is now consolidating its position by phasing out low grade products and securing supplies of high grade coal such as through the Adani, Queensland project. India has plenty of low grade coal .. as confirmed in the recent Credlin interview on Sky News.

      To me the fossil fuel industry has out-manoeuvred political opposition, and while the future will have a greater energy mix in which renewables will play a part, fossil fuels will still be a significant part of our energy security.

      I think it is abundantly clear in whose interest Clive Palmer acted. In the scheme of the circumstances as you have outlined in your comments John, $50 million is small change.

      There is one other significant use of high grade coal for which there is no substitute, and that’s the 800 million tonnes used annually for steel reduction!

      • MJF

        June 19, 2019 at 9:24 am

        Good point, Kelvin.

        The ongoing need for metallurgical coal is, in part, represented by approximately 200 tonnes consumed for every average sized wind turbine leg that’s assembled.

        I have previously raised this point only to be informed that the world’s steel needs can be comfortably met by recycling old steel, ad infinitum, with new steel not being needed at all .. according to those in the know!

        • Kelvin Jones

          June 20, 2019 at 1:05 am

          MJF …

          If I remember rightly scrap steel is recycled in arc furnaces. These, like aluminium smelters, are one of the heaviest consumers of electricity requiring very heavy electric currents. Furthermore, they require a consistently heavy supply during a smelting. It cost Arrium and Blue Scope in SA $350M because of the grid shut-down in lost production and repairs to plant.

          Whilst big hydro is able to supply, the variable outputs of solar and wind pose severe problems. Of course steam and gas turbines are the mainstay for these types of heavy industrial loads. Whilst renewables may be able to cope with non-industrial societies, they have significant intrinsic problems with heavy loads.

          Also it is a myth that steel can be recycled over and over. Without the introduction of a significant amount of new iron into the mix the strength of the product diminishes for a number of metallurgical reasons.

          Whilst engineering sincerely endeavours to build a new electrical system based on renewables, it does so with the motivation of huge monetary subsidies. They are building a new system which is not only consuming more money but has only marginal system cost effectiveness and is still inferior to steam. It is also starting to need more and more energy to be fed back in building, with operations having a short equipment life. It is absorbing more manpower.

          Coal, wind, gas, solar and water are all free. It is the total manpower involved in systems that has to be paid for. Saleable electricity output is essentially constant, therefore all those salaries, including those of system administration and corporate need for profit or effective hidden tax for power controlled by state owned generators, has to be paid for by the consumers. Currently, that increasing cost of electricity is being masked by subsidies.

    • Peter Black

      June 18, 2019 at 7:33 pm

      ” … a very rewarding story for our investigative journalists.”

      I like this one, and I look forward to the next instalment.

      Here are fresh documents in Morrison’s sacking:

      The Saturday Paper: https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2019/06/08/fresh-documents-morrisons-sacking/15599160008252

      • Bulmer J

        August 7, 2019 at 4:44 pm

        should be booted out until he stops selling Australia off to Chinese takeover. Our government is too gutless to say NO to China.

        We will be slaughtered once they get a hold.


        Ms Bulmer, please name the subject of your Comment above.

        — Moderator

  8. John Hawkins

    June 17, 2019 at 12:53 pm

    When all is said and done, a hung parliament that would have kept the bastards honest was avoided by the Liberals winning Bass by 563 votes using preferences from Palmer’s owned financed and run personal political party.

    This is a win by a nose giving no right of tenure .. only an obligation to a very rich man.

    The Libs in 6 years have doubled the National Debt and fudged the figures over a surplus which would have vanished if they had legislated the tax cuts in this financial year.

    The coal-carrying Morrison has overseen what is currently a free gift by our pollies without a signed, sealed and delivered Royalty Contract to mine coal in the Galilee Basin .. the future site of the world’s biggest coal mine.

    It’s funny how Clive Palmer holds an adjoining lease.

    Palmer could make millions, if not billions, out of the Adani approval.

    The Liberals are in power courtesy of a preference deal with Palmer. Now for the railway line .. and who pays?

    Palmer knows how to use an asset to gain a benefit .. just ask the Chinese.

    Will Palmer negotiate with Liberals, theoretically on his behalf, but in fact on behalf of Adani for the construction of the railway line?

    No one is going to truck all that coal to the coast.

    No railway line .. no deal. Welcome to the wedge politics platform for the next Federal Election.

    Palmer is far too clever for the Lib/Lab Zombies currently in power.

    The potential smell of corruption wafts across this deal.

    “The Joke” is now on all Australians, for we allowed this to happen when an individual can spend $50 million, for no apparent reason, to buy an election.

    I suggest the reason is coal .. a railway line and leases with no Royalty Contracts.

    • Peter Black

      June 18, 2019 at 7:34 pm

      “… a hung parliament that would have kept the bastards honest.

      Look to the Senate John, at Rex Patrick from Centre Alliance. They need his vote. A Man of obvious integrity, one who is/will be holding them to account.

      In addition, as for their one seat majority/mandate .. ha ha! One seat is not a long-term safe guarantee. Look back at the last Parliament.

  9. max

    March 7, 2019 at 9:33 am

    The massive Chinese state-owned China Energy Engineering Corporation (CEEC) plans to build 2000MW of new coal generation in the New South Wales Hunter Valley, north of Sydney.
    Craig Kelly calls the plan “fantastic” and is urging Prime Minister Scott Morrison to pour taxpayer subsidies into it.
    What is wrong with the Liberal Party, their neoliberalism policies created the hike in power prices and now they are signing a memorandum of understanding to under write two Chines coal fire power stations.
    In the first place we should be buying back all power utilities so our government can control charges for all utilities not only those of power. Chinese owned power station, Chinese owned wind farms and Chinese controlled wharves, where does it end.
    Not only are coal fired power stations destroying the world with CO2, they are becoming uneconomical and cost billions to build at a cost to taxpayers and China will own them.
    My question is, can we afford another term of Liberal ideology that has increased our national debt, lowered our standard of living by wage stagnation, sold the farm and still brag they are economical gurus?

  10. Clive Stott

    March 6, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    “One of the factors that is making it difficult is the volume of information”!!
    This is the latest excuse why my Right to Information request on the Basslink failure has not been reviewed by the Ombudsman. Previously I was told the delay was because requests have to be dealt with in the order they are received.
    What is difficult is that the Liberals must not release any information whilst Basslink 2 is on the table.
    So all they can do is not review or release anything.
    I can afford to be patient, however, there is an election coming up and that might change the whole dynamics….for them!

    From: Clive Stott
    Sent: Monday, 25 February 2019 11:13 PM
    To: Cain, Mike (OHCC) Mike.Cain@ombudsman.tas.gov.au
    Subject: RE: Hydro Review
    Good evening Mike,
    Looks like we last made contact four months ago.
    Would you be so kind to give me an update please on my Hydro review?
    Thank you.

    From: Mike.Cain@ombudsman.tas.gov.au
    Tue 26/02/2019 8:04 AM
    Hi Clive,
    Thanks for getting in touch. This matter is still pending a decision to be drafted. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it should not be much further away. Your matter has been open for a considerable amount of time – 740 days. One of the factors that is making it difficult is the volume of information. That will not stop us, it will just slow us down unfortunately. In light of being the only officer here that processes RTIs, the value trade off that is sometimes required between processing a large request utilising six exemption categories versus a small request with one category.

    I don’t say this to justify our unacceptable timeframe that you are experiencing, but rather to say that the reality of trying to balance the workload as a single officer forces my hand to make these sorts of unfavourable decisions. Having said that, I will make a point of prioritising your request in the immediate future as you have waited, rather patiently I might add, well beyond what is a reasonable period of time to wait.

    From: Clive Stott
    Mon 4/03/2019 9:36 AM
    Hi Mike,
    Thank you.
    After 740 days+ are you now in a position to give me a date please?

    From: Mike.Cain@ombudsman.tas.gov.au
    Mon 4/03/2019 8:00 PM
    Hi Clive,
    No, no further action has occurred at this stage. I’m afraid I’m not at work for this entire week. As there is no one else there to do the work, nothing will happen while I’m away I’m afraid.
    Regards, Mike

    • Kelvin Jones

      March 8, 2019 at 10:07 am

      Hi Clive .. Ted Mead, yourself, John Hawkins and my self have ringed this issue, even the independent consultants have effectively abandoned the State Gov and Basslink around Nov last year (thanks Ted for that update). Since then all is silent, should there not be a court case about now?

      I think that there is intense gravitational force being generated by the black hole effect.

  11. Tony Stone

    March 5, 2019 at 7:16 pm

    Why can’t those on the big island just get a few backup diesel generators and strategically place them round the grid area, that’s what the fools governing this state did when hydro dam levels reached critical lows, only costs a few million a day. Then you can add another $100 million a year we pay bass link whether we use it or not, that money could be putting solar and batteries onto rural homes and towns then in urban areas.

    All boils down to the fact, our governments give away and waste billions a year, which should be used for essential services and health systems. The true aim of government should be to improve the lives of constituents, provide responsible freedoms, clean safe sustainable environments, improve infrastructure and services. Whilst reducing costs to the people, not the opposite as they do now.

    We’d be better off, putting solar and batteries on every home and building, reducing power costs dramatically for all. Then we could provide low cost hydro energy to new 21st century industry. Rather than waste billions on a second cable disaster.

    • Mike Seabrook

      March 5, 2019 at 11:56 pm

      the back up diesel generators – full absorption cost est. 30c per kwh and est.60% of the output sold to a couple of bludgers at est. 4c per kwh

  12. phill Parsons

    March 5, 2019 at 8:00 am

    Stored hydro is not bad in itself but with mega schemes are we thinking ahead. Besides transmission losses are the planners preparing for decreasing snow falls feeding into the two major systems. less snowmelt means the water will have to be used more efficiently to get a return on the investment. Energy to pump can come from the wind and the sun.

  13. Mike Seabrook

    March 4, 2019 at 6:01 pm

    and hydro electricity without pumping – remember tassies gordon-below-franklin hydro scheme

    • Russell

      March 5, 2019 at 3:13 pm

      Where is the water coming from Mike? We’ve just had the three hottest driest Tasmanian years EVER within the last four years!

  14. Kelvin Jones

    March 4, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    A couple of points. Firstly new Basslinks are for Tax coffers profit. Hydro is the perfect peak load generator and Victoria will pay dearly for clean peak power and we buy back at low. The big expense is in the 10 % energy lost each way warming the bottom of Bass straight.. There are deeper sociological reasons which center around mega cities everywhere.

    Secondly I was a trainee engineer at the company in UK where Liddell’s turbine generators were manufactured. I think I worked on the the No2 generator for a few weeks as part of my basic shop floor experience. Far as I know a 50 year design life was the norm at the time and similar generators in the UK have been decommissioned about the fifty year mark both coal fired and nuclear.

    • Pete Godfrey

      March 4, 2019 at 6:15 pm

      Hi Kelvin, the problem with the national electricity market is that power is bought and sold by the second. Often we have sold power to the mainland over Basslink for as low as $35 a megawatt hour, only to buy it back later at $1000 per megawatt hour.
      Last time I looked rates were between $35 and $10,000 a megawatt hour.
      Just plain lunacy for something that should be owned and run as an essential service.
      Privatising the electricity market was a very stupid decision.
      It appears that the way things are going in Tasmania that our water will be privatised too.
      Your points about the life of generators is a good one.
      Basically the insulation breaks down , the laminations get rusty and no longer maintain their insulation integrity and the bearing surfaces fail too. Most of the large generators I worked on as an apprentice had plain bearings. Over time the shaft wore down and needed to be repaired. After a while the machines just get too old to be worth repairing.
      Decisions about selling power stations to private companies will also come back to bite us on the backside. Seems that it is happening already with large ancient power stations in Victoria.

      • Kelvin Jones

        March 4, 2019 at 11:07 pm

        Hi Pete… Privatisation was totally stupid… It has compounded coping with changes to a renewable system. Economists cannot get it through their head that energy in all it’s forms, that must include our food energy powers all the economy. They treat it as any other commodity as they have had the luxury for 300 years of ever gratuously expanding energy supply. Effectively this crisis is starting to contract energy supply which threatens the economy. It is interesting that saving energy to cut greenhouse has not been put forward on a mass scale. If it were it would collapse the economy and all current economic theory would collapse.

        The plain bearings on the 500mW sets at Liddell were ground to 1 tenth of thou. The No1 generator on test never reached full output for reasons I believe were never resolved. I am not sure but it may have replaced by a Toshiba a number of years ago.

        I interesting the pricing of energy swaps, rather odd. Makes one ask the question in whose interest is that done.

  15. Clive Stott

    March 4, 2019 at 12:39 pm

    Our coal-spitting PM forgets to mention how Basslink ‘failed’ and we still haven’t been told why.

    We are out of pocket down here in Tas because of Basslink.
    Perhaps he should fund us for what we are owed before he spends it on more coal plants and an unreliable sub-sea cable to give us what he says will be “reliable power”.

    What a desperate Government. They still rabbit on about South Australia’s power shortage when it was the towers that came down.

    Just you watch the number of ‘power shortages’ that are flicked on between now and the election to ‘condition’ people to the fact that we must have Basslink 2 and new coal power plants.

    • mike seabrook

      March 4, 2019 at 6:03 pm

      act of god – or was it the large fishing trawler which fled australia

  16. max

    March 4, 2019 at 10:04 am

    “CSIRO Chief Executive Larry Marshall was one of the first to ride in the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo vehicles powered by ultra-high purity hydrogen, produced in Queensland using CSIRO’s membrane technology.
    This technology will pave the way for bulk hydrogen to be transported in the form of ammonia, using existing infrastructure, and then reconverted back to hydrogen at the point of use.
    In addition to its membrane technology, CSIRO is applying its expertise to all stages of the hydrogen technology chain (including solar photovoltaics, solar thermal, grid management, water electrolysis, ammonia synthesis, direct ammonia utilisation via combustion and/or fuel cells, as well as hydrogen production).”
    This is possible the biggest break through in recent times. Hydrogen has to be the future of energy. Australia has the potential to be the the new fuel source for all energy needs and where is Morrison.
    Morrison is waffling on about pumped hydro, a highly unreliable and expensive pipe dream when we could be the leading exporter of hydrogen, the future of energy.
    As usual this government will do nothing, China will grab our future because our government is to stupid to grab a once in a life time chance.
    The neo-liberal Liberal Party free-market capitalism stupidity has seen the sale of our electricity utilities and sky rocketing power prices as a result. I have now doubt they will let this hydrogen breakthrough slip through their fingers.

  17. Pete Godfrey

    March 4, 2019 at 9:39 am

    The idea that Tasmania can be the battery of the nation is just ludicrous.
    At the moment Australia wide electricity consumption is around 27,000 megawatts.
    Basslink does something like 600 megawatts maximum.
    Basslink two even if it is capable of over twice that say 1400 megawatts then we would be able to supply a maximum of 7% of the total usage of the country.
    May as well sell packs of D cells to the far flung energy users.
    It is just another stupid election ploy, spending vast sums of taxpayers money on a giant white elephant.

    • max

      March 4, 2019 at 12:56 pm

      ScoMo, he is all bluff and bluster without a coherent thought in his head, other than how to to con the public into giving his failed government another go.
      Pumped hydro is only possible where there is an abundant source of power going to waste. If Tasmania has more wind and solar than they can use, they stop generating hydro, why pump it back up at a loss. I suspect the snowy scheme would operate the same. Pumped hydro and the massive costs of implementing it, is the deranged thinking of someone who will never pay the bill.

      • Simon Warriner

        March 4, 2019 at 6:23 pm

        One engineer I know describes pumped hydro in tassie as “about as smart as trying to levitate by pulling on your boot laces.”

        Go scomo

  18. Chris

    March 4, 2019 at 9:20 am

    Marinus Project.
    “Under the present framework, allowed revenues are recovered from Victorian and Tasmanian customers as part of the network charge component of bills.”

    This means we are going to pay for the cost of the infrastructure in our Tasnetworks accounts.
    Will we rent from another Hong Kong owner, or will we own it?
    Will the present policy of discouraging Household Solar be continued in order to divert revenue to the Pokiethon Administration?

    • Mike Seabrook

      March 4, 2019 at 6:07 pm

      household solar sell backs to the grid is onsold to a couple of bludgers at est. 4c per kwh delivered which is why tasmanians are squealing

To Top