Saturday salon 28/11

1. Red Kezza moves on

Kerry O’Brien is moving on from Four Corners after 40 years of working for the ABC. He says he is not retiring from journalism, just moving on to other things.

He’s being replaced by the redoubtable Sarah Ferguson. Amanda Meade at The Guardian backgrounds Sarah Ferguson and her making of the series on domestic violence Hitting Home.

I think Sarah Ferguson is in a class of her own.

It seems we have Tony Jones to thank for her presence in Australia. The two met in France, got married in Essex and she came to Australia with him.

2. Sediment is killing the Great Barrier Reef

Alluvial gully erosion is reckoned to be the largest land-use driven contributor of fine sediment to the reef.

    the Burdekin River catchment alone sends enough sediment towards the reef lagoon each year to fill a line of dump trucks extending from Perth to Sydney and back again.

This is a sample of what it looks like:


Remediation can reduce soil runoff by 75% but costs $25,000 to $30,000 per hectare. Only $5.5 million is currently earmarked to address the problem – a fraction of the $100 million needed to make a real difference.

3. Transgrid sold for $10,26 billion

The NSW government has sold the backbone of the nation’s electricity network, Transgrid, to a consortium of local and offshore buyers for $10,26 billion.

    It will now move to sell half of Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy, which distributes electricity to households and businesses in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong. The Ausgrid sale is expected to be concluded by mid-2016.

    All up the NSW power network assets are expected to fetch more than $20 billion over the next 18 months.

4. Pizza Hut franchisees using ‘sham’ contracts to underpay drivers

Competition is supposed to be good for everyone, but sometimes the workers get screwed.

    Over the past five years, Pizza Hut has faced fierce competition from rival chains, particularly from the fast-growing Domino’s chain and premium pizza chains. The increased competition has led to Pizza Hut closing some of its restaurant stores to focus on home delivery and introducing steep discounts to win customers.

Franchisees have been ordered to slash prices by 50% to take market share of rivals, according to Fairfax. Drivers are being offered a variety of contracts, which leave them earning as little as $12 per hour without super or WorkCover.

SDA national secretary Gerard Dwyer says the current agreement with Pizza Hut does not allow for contractors. A new agreement is being negotiated, but

    under the current EBA delivery drivers at Pizza Hut are to be paid $20.35 per hour if employed as a full-time worker or $25.44 per hour if employed as a casual worker. Drivers also receive $2.13 per delivery on top of the hourly rate to cover vehicle costs.

At the same time Pizza Hut is fighting its franchisees in the Federal Court after they launched a class action against head office alleging unconscionable conduct under the franchising code.

5. Mali attack

Nineteen people were killed plus two Islamist militants in an attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, the capital of Mali.

Back in 2012 al-Qaida-linked militant Islamists had taken over a large swathe of northern Mali. Early in 2013 France deployed 3,700 troops to help the faltering efforts of Mali’s military. In 23 days they retook the territory.

    Al-Mourabitoun – which claimed it carried out the hotel attack – is a more recent incarnation of militant Islamism. Based in northern Mali it is made up mostly of Tuaregs and Arabs and was formed about two years ago.

Introduction to Saturday salon

Because of the way the blog currently presents posts on the home page I think it’s better to remove the introductory material to a different place. For new readers, here’s the rationale for this space.


An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.

Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.

The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

    The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.

10 thoughts on “Saturday salon 28/11”

  1. “The specific heat of water is 1 calorie/gram °C = 4.186 joule/gram °C which is higher than any other common substance.”

    This one statement is all of a fact, a definition, and a broadly influencing scientific curiosity. You can find, for those interested in extending their knowledge, it along with most science related facts here

    I am throwing this out there as it is part of the solution to battling with the energy monsters of the future. Not unrelated but an energy monster of a different kind google


  2. About reef sediment and the Burdekin. For some interesting background see:
    Joh haters may bolster their loathing because the invention of chain clearing is attributed to a land-clearing contractor called Joh, yes that one.
    Here is a sat-pic that shows one example of the plume of sediment that can flow from the catchment into the lagoon.
    Encouraged by government the environment has been so degraded from its natural balanced state that we now see the on-going disastrous land and water quality issues raised by Brian.

  3. Just wanted to say here, I’ve been flat chat with work, health and family matters. Currently we have Mark staying here for a few days.

    As a result I haven’t been able to get near the computer as much as usual.

    Weather has been hot and enervating too!

  4. Thanks, Geof H, I’ve saved that image for future reference. Californians right now are beginning to appreciate the benefits of land water and soil retention techniques.

  5. Brian, I have bought a number of small floor standing air conditioners for the factory and one for home. Now that I have solar on the roof we are leaving the aircon on while the sun is well above the horizon. It makes such a difference and the coolth is free. I don’t have solar for the factory yet but that will not be far off.

    This year coming I will be doing real experiments with solar PVT’s and thermal energy ballasts, hot and cold. The plan is to build 2 tanks with a small heat pump between them to move the energy from one (the cold tank) to the other (the hot tank) so while the sun is shining there is energy (hot and cold) being stored in both for summer. In winter both tanks will become hot tanks with energy coming from the thermal collectors on the roof. The hot tank may well contain something other than water to enable heat storage above 100C. Batteries aren’t the only way to store a lot of energy.

  6. That all sounds good, BilB.

    We had pink batts installed about 30 years ago, which took about 3-4 degreed off the top and bottom temps.

    I guess we are at a time of our lives where we don’t have a long-term commitment to the house, so will be reluctant to spend too much.

  7. Bilb: You might be interested in this post on the use of phase change materials to store energy. Think of all the energy stored in the ice water transition except that it works at different temperatures.
    It means that heat/cold can be stored in much smaller containers than the equivalent water tank and that the heat pump can be run at times when the difference between storage temp and outside temp is minimized.
    If you look at the temp range in many parts of Aus you may even get away with leaving the heat pump off most days.

  8. BilB here is a bit more on air con options. This one is pretty large scale but I think Murdoch uni in Perth has a small scale research unit.
    Please see:
    More detail here:,-cairns-campus

    The James Cook system takes advantage of excellent off-peak power rates to chill water overnight. I was told that the rate was around 6 c/kWh.

  9. Here’s the BoM rain guesses for December ( screen shotted for posterity )
    Not what I would consider a Godzilla El Nino panic situation.

    So panic not, as they claim their own accuracy is very good, lol I’d say fantastic.

    Perhaps China has been hacking them all this time.

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