When the wind does not blow

When Barnaby Joyce talked to Barrie Cassidy on Insiders last Sunday he said:

    I flew in this morning Barrie, it was a beautiful day, not a puff of wind and if memory serves me correct, it was dark last night, so you switched off your coal-fired power stations, how do you switch on the lights?

Giles Parkinson worked over his “idiocy” in Coalition’s war on cheap power: When fools design energy policy, and everything Parkinson says is true. Renewables, even with “firming” as required by Finkel, are cheaper than coal, but Barnaby may still have a point. You see there has been a ruddy great high sitting over the continent for the last couple of weeks.

Rainfall in the south of the continent with two-thirds of the month complete is only 20% of average. However, the lows have been pushed down towards Antarctica, and the wind has not been blowing very much. When I read Parkinson’s article on Monday night I checked NEM Watch. This is what I saw:

Green is wind, blue is hydro, red is gas, brown is brown coal and black is black coal.

Next day the wind had picked up a bit in Victoria, but even though there was cloud in Brisbane our sunshine was producing more than SA’s wind.

As it happens I took a screen shot back on 5 June, and this is what I saw:

You’ll note that Queensland’s small-scale solar is roughly equivalent to SA’s gas, and again wind is sadly missing. Usually SA’s wind is up there with or ahead of its gas, but for the last few weeks it has been a bit pathetic. Today around midday it’s the most pathetic I ever recall seeing it:

While the sunshine state is feeding 832 MW into the system from roof solar panels, the whole country is only generating 152 MW from wind. Ideally these things are meant to balance, but Queensland is a long way from South Australia.

The Finkel Review gives a lot of space to considering intermittency, the need for dispatchable power and strategic reserve capacity. The relevant recommendations are:

    3.3 To complement the orderly transition policy package, by mid-2018 the Australian Energy Market Commission and the Australian Energy Market Operator should develop and implement a Generator Reliability Obligation.

    The Generator Reliability Obligation should include undertaking a forward-looking regional reliability assessment, taking into account emerging system needs, to inform requirements on new generators to ensure adequate dispatchable capacity is present in each region.

    3.4 By mid-2018, the Australian Energy Market Operator and the Australian Energy Market Commission should assess:

    • The need for a Strategic Reserve to act as a safety net in exceptional circumstances as an enhancement or replacement to the existing Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader mechanism.

    • The effectiveness of the new licensing arrangements being developed for generators in South Australia and whether they should be applied in other National Electricity Market regions.

    • The suitability of a ‘day-ahead’ market to assist in maintaining system reliability.

So, in sum, AEMO would have the responsibility of assessing reliability on a regional basis, and specifying just what form ‘firming’ (new buzzword) would be required of new renewables, which could be in any form, according to Finkel, including batteries, pumped hydro, molten salt or a contract with a gas-fired generator, who would then be required to have gas on hand or contracted, rather than go out and buy it on the spot market.

All this would be overseen by an Energy Security Board (recommendation 7.2) which:

    should be comprised of an independent Chair, supported by an independent Deputy Chair, with the Chief Executive of the Australian Energy Market Operator and the Chairs of the Australian Energy Regulator and the Australian Energy Market Commission as members.

The Finkel recommendations are highly supportive of distributed electricity generation, which he also considers at length, in spite of the Jacobs forecasting pretty much ignoring the impact.

In general, the organisational changes and the tasks to be undertaken recommended by Finkel make a lot of sense. It is pleasing that the LNP party room has adopted 49 of Finkel’s recommendations, leaving the emissions intensity level of the CET (Clean Energy Target) to be worked on.

This is all very well, but Turnbull and Frydenberg have been giving the impression the Finkel is doing the review for them. In fact he’s working for the COAG Energy Council. The LNP government wants states to stop freelancing on electricity matters, but wants to retain the right to do so themselves.

Barnaby Joyce has been calling for a coal-fired power station to be built in North Queensland. Turnbull is now starting to talk about “continuously dispatchable synchronous power”, which is a euphemism for baseload power supplied by coal, gas (which is too expensive) or hydro (which has limited availability with the possible exception of Snowy 2.0, which is still a dream).

Giles Parkinson in Turnbull caves in, declares support for new “clean coal” generator reports that the Government has asked AEMO to identify upcoming gaps in base-load power.

This is not Finkel and Turnbull should not be asking anything of AEMO, they don’t work for him.

Now Turnbull appears amenable to the notion of using a reverse auction scheme to fill the gaps identified. From Parkinson:

    “It would be good if we had a state-of-the-art clean coal power station in Australia,” Turnbull told journalists at a media conference in Canberra on Tuesday.

    He said that this did not necessarily mean the federal government would build it, although the question remains if an auction is held, who would be the counter party. He noted that Snowy Hydro plans to build 2GW of pumped hydro with storage, and Canberra is looking to take on full ownership.

    Turnbull insisted any auction would be technology neutral, but when asked what technologies could provide “continuous” and “synchronous” power, he mentioned only “clean coal”, gas and hydro, although he noted that gas would be too expensive.

Please note that Turnbull did not rule out government investment. He could just call it ‘good debt’ and virtually print the money.

If Turnbull goes down this track it would be a complete turn-off for private investors.

Meanwhile we have ventures such as the Nowingi solar project a new $660 million large-scale solar and battery storage project in Victoria’s north-west south of Mildura. The plant will have a capacity of 250 megawatts of generation, and an 80-megawatt/160 megawatt-hour battery system. I’m not clever to work out what this means, but I suspect stored power is in single-digit figures as a percentage of plant generating capacity. Given my random observations of the NEM performance above, I tentatively question whether that will be enough, but am mollified by the notion that Finkel would put a skilled group on the job with the ability to make the right calls, rather than just leave it to the market.

I suspect the 3% storage figure used by BZE is imported from the European experience, where the weather is different and the system overall is more dense and interactive. Anyway, if Finkel’s recommendations are followed we’ll learn as we go.

147 thoughts on “When the wind does not blow”

  1. Chief scientist Alan Finkel has been trying to explain, as loudly and forcefully as he can, that wind and solar are the cheapest form of new energy. But in the Coalition, they can’t hear you scream that particular message.

    Remove all subsidies and Capitalism will be the judge.
    Uncorrupted markets are your friend.

  2. Uncorrupted markets are your friend.

    From “The Wealth of Nations”:

    People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.

    How do you propose we ensure that your ideal market remains uncorrupted?

  3. Stop voting for it to be corrupted.
    Do you really believe people would rather pay more for electricity ?

    Consumers vote with their $$ on individual value judgements.
    Pure market democracy is the goal.

  4. Ive said it before and I’ll say it again, remove ALL subsidies on energy.
    If ‘renewables’ are more attractive then they will prevail.

  5. What is this “Wealth of Nations” of which you speak, zoot? Is it a work of fiction, of dark Swiftian satire upon the worthiest of men, the noble capitalist; whose sweat we are not fit to glance upon; whose entrepreneurial power we can but imperfectly appreciate; whose beneficence and magnificence we fortunately hear of so often in the daily papers?

    If so, let it earn the scorn of all proud yeomen of this land, ever free and worthy of our hire.

  6. and I quote

    “ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices….”

    what, pray tell, say you to that assertion?
    Is it sometimes correct,
    usually accurate,
    or just never happens?


    Over to you, sir.

  7. Ambigulous, I was under the impression that “Wealth of Nations” was holy writ.
    Apparently I was mistaken.

  8. I’m not one to tag myself to anyones authoritative statements, I make my own purely based on my position.
    It’s an easy game playing duelling quotes but gets us nowhere.

    So now I ask directly as me ” should Australia eliminate all subsidies in the energy market ? ”
    Yes or no ?

  9. Jumpy my point, which you seem determined to miss, is that subsidies are only one of many ways that markets become corrupted.
    Governments are not the only bad guys here. As Adam Smith pointed out, capitalists corrupt markets too.

  10. After some extensive inquiry I came to believe that grid batteries will handle brief tasks only – say when there are sudden demands of power and there is a ramp-up period. Big batteries are helpful to maintain supply and hold up the quality (volts and cycles) until the demand subsides or grid power is increased to meet the higher demand. Or peak shaving.
    I now believe that pumped hydro is the best option. The Snowy is the only working example right now but have a look at the Kidston project. It is pretty neat.

    Here you have two ugly holes that once held gold. Now played out the plan is to flow water from top to bottom and produce a lot of power for six hours. The pump power comes from two solar farms adjacent to the project.
    Now there is a current study in South Australia and I thing they have identified around 130 potential sites. One or more scenarios proposes using sea water.

    Australia has a mighty row of hills running north-south. There will be countless places to set up hydro systems, many of which would in all likelihood not be too environmentally awful.

    Certainly it would be expensive to set up but what a great clean on-going generation system. Beats giving a billion dollars to Adani. And if the new ultra-super-critical so-called clean generation costs billions for about 40 years compared to “forever” pumped hydro it should really have a high spot on the agenda.
    Always the naysayers talk of cheap power. Yet I have never heard those people acknowledge the environmental cost of burning coal. The true cost of burning coal is massive. Pumped hydro is a powerful option. I guess we need a government that the same quality ‘nads that built the Snowy scheme.

  11. Geoff,
    Just as a side point, I bet that Snowy scheme had bipartisan support.

    Lots of foreign workers brought to the enterprise, but their labour and skills were welcomed in a bruised nation; many arrived from places very badly damaged.

  12. Yep, because it is the duty of every citizen to pay as little tax as possible. Taxation is theft!

  13. Ambigulous – Not sure but I think you’d be right because the scheme officially kicked off October 1949 by Chifley but continued under Menzies from December 1949. (51%/49%).
    The project was completed in 1974 after 25 years of toil and a (then) huge cost of $820 million. (Can anyone here convert that to present day value?) It was as we know, a massive and extensive project.

    So my looney project of a series of pumped hydro dams down our coast may not be without a precedent of sorts where a long-term view was adopted that has for the most part been very beneficial to Australia.

  14. Perhaps if we called it “legitimate tax deductions” instead of subsidies, like the Minerals Council of Australia does, it maybe more palatable to our resident freemarketeer.

    No, he’d never be silly or mendacious enough to say taking less is giving.

  15. Jumpy what if less is more?

    And about your energy subsidies – do you have a list of them? That would be helpful before attempting to answer a yes/no question

  16. Geoff
    One side is saying ” fossil fuel is uncompetitive without subsidies !”, the other is saying ” renewables are uncompetitive without subsidies !”
    Each side produces volumes of evidence ( both real and confected ) yet neither side has the guts to prove it.

  17. Pumped hydro storage has its attractions but it does need a sure supply of water to make up for evaporation and seepage losses. Keep in mind that climate change may increase the risk of drought in some locations.
    In the case of pumped salt water storage there will be risks of salt water getting into the water table and the idea becomes more less attractive the further the storage is from the sea/tidal estuaries.
    It is also worth remembering that solar towers store heat in molten salt. Low cost storage because both the salts used and the storage talks are cheap. Backup molten salt heating can be used to allow solar towers to keep on producing power indefinitely.

  18. True enough John, pumped is not the only option. But it is pretty efficient, more so than salt I would think. Without serious investigation we can’t be sure but we should be finding right now.

  19. Sure Jumpy, but who says they are equal? A list will help settle that question

  20. One side is saying ” fossil fuel is uncompetitive without subsidies !”, the other is saying ” renewables are uncompetitive without subsidies !”

    A simple dichotomy which ignores the elephant in the room:
    If we don’t reduce our carbon emissions to pretty much zero, pretty much now, humans will vanish off the face of the earth.

  21. Ah yes Zoot but we won’t be here to notice so it won’t matter will it? Even though of course we have been here for generations.

    Zoot’s point also goes to cost – whatever solution we come up with, we will have to pay that price or kark it.

  22. Salt, pumped storage, batteries, smart grid … horses for causes. That is the beauty, once you get your head around ‘centralised power’, so many options and technologies become available to choose from to fit purpose. As they say in finance and investment don’t put all your eggs in one basket. BTW I wish we’d have more freemarket options available for the NBN fraudband courtesy of Abbott, Turnbull and Murdoch.

    The massive energy price hikes and supply insecurity, which has been brought on by the abysmal politics of Abbott and Co, have some interesting effects in as much consumers and industries start to look at using energy more efficiently as well as going off the grid. I mean even Cory Bernardi has put solar on the roof, now wait for him to install batteries 🙂

    The idea that fossil fuel and centralised power generation/distribution is a free market is just absolute phantasy akin to perpetual motion. And as pointed out by others, ‘the freedom’ to pollute and destroy vast tracts of public and private land in the process while relying on public funding is a mind boggling. Such blindness and fanatical reactions to renewable energy is very much in the same league as religious extremism.

  23. The developing nation will by far cause most of the co2 emissions growth over the next decade. If renewables are indeed cheaper than fossil fuels then why would they go fossil fuels ?
    Only because polititions have the power to give some fossil fuel Corporation huge slabs of tax money.
    Remove that power and the corruption all but stops and renewable spread at rates that will astound you.

    I’ll say again, I’m a Capitalist not a Corporatist, huge difference.

  24. Jumpy do you ask us to believe that capitalists are not corruptible? That they don’t collude to set prices?

  25. Oh and the developing Nations are best placed to produce renewable domestically due the lower wage burden ( which will rise but nowhere near the developed Nation level )

  26. Jumpy do you ask us to believe that capitalists are not corruptible? That they don’t collude to set prices?

    Geoff, collusion and price fixing are anti free market.
    I’m not asking ” us ” to believe anything, I’m just telling the truth.

  27. What Ootz said above is correct in my view and aligns almost exactly with what I’ve been saying.
    Well put Ootz.

  28. Geoff H at 9.30am

    According to an ‘Inflation Calculator’ at the Reserve Bank website, the cost in 2016 would have been
    $6,456 million.


  29. Geoff, collusion and price fixing are anti free market.

    Which brings me back to my original question –
    Jumpy, how do you propose we ensure that markets are truly free (as in free from corrupting influences such as collusion and price fixing; subsidies are a whole order of magnitude easier to eliminate).

  30. Gee, I dunno zoot.

    The US has decades of anti-monopoly legislation and prosecutions, decades of anti-cartel operations internally; complains that OPEC is a giant cartel.

    EU prosecuted Microsoft last year, oui? ASIC has various powers here…..

    I get the impression various gubblements are very well aware of potential low acts by big companies and tax avoiders of every size, of insider trading and listed companies fibbing to the Exchange, or trading while insolvent or stealing from shareholders, or raiding the superannuation funds. Now getting onto “phoenixing” which sounds a tad like poor behaviour to me.

    Anyway, seems like they reckon there’s a bit of crookery about, even if they’ve never read The Wealth of Nations.

    and a big Thank You to Brian for gubblement, another gem!

  31. Thanks Ambigulous – ~$6.5 billion blended with vision and a few ‘nads would be good for us.

    Zoot it is not a question that can be answered even by Jumpy. Fact is the forces of self-interest and avarice are too powerful to resist.

  32. Fact is the forces of self-interest and avarice are too powerful to resist.

    Agreed Geoff, which is why I think the term “free market” should be banished (or laughed out of existence) so we can concentrate on getting the real world operating efficiently and in the best interests of all people. [Yeah, I know – bloody hippie socialist pinko dreamer 🙂 ]
    For the survival of our species we need to harness the forces of self interest so they work to the benefit of all of humanity,
    “Free” (i.e. unregulated) markets don’t do that.

  33. The Economic freedom list.
    Go right to the bottom and see all the humanitarian utopias.
    Obviously too they are far less polluted than the ones at the top.

    Im sure we can organise a Go fund me for a one way ticket.

  34. And getting back to my original point, find a list of most renewable energy Countries and lets see where they are on the list, how about that ?

  35. Jumpy, I can’t see any relevance between your two lists. The one on renewables is out of date (2012) and it is not clear how ‘freedom’ is scored in the other one.

    I’m posting here also the item on Ifigen, posted by John D on Saturday Salon.

    Infigen Energy has been forced to downgrade its full-year profit forecast due to what it says has been the least windy period it has endured put its current capacity together in 2012.

    “Production for the 4th quarter is expected to be … approximately 40 per cent below the previous corresponding period and 30 per cent below the historical 4th quarter average,” it told investors in a statement to the ASX.

    “The current quarter is expected to include two of the lowest production months for Infigen’s current Australian operating assets.”

    Infigen’s 4th quarter started on April 1, a few days after Hazelwood closed.

    Here’s the graph:

    The weather pattern looks like an effect of climate change, where the tropics expand, the strong winds below the first southern jet stream move south, and then the jet stream gets stuck, making the same pattern endure longer than usual.

  36. Jumpy, I can’t see any relevance between your two lists.

    Can’t see ?
    It pretty clear that more Capitalism ( individual economic freedom ) = more renewable energy and less pollution deaths + less poverty and higher Human rights conditions.
    It’s undebunkable!

  37. Dunno, Jumpy, what you say is appealing but it’s not watertight.

    Why are France and Italy so low within the OECD?

    And if you looked what’s happening now I think you’d find India and China high on renewables, perhaps because of pollution deaths.

    To what extent is China both capitalist and free?

  38. We’ll have to add another category to the old saying:
    Lies, damn lies, statistics and Jumpy’s statistics.

  39. Brian

    Dunno, Jumpy, what you say is appealing but it’s not watertight.

    There are always anomalies but we smooth them out to see the trend more clearly.
    France and Italy rank terribly on Economic Freedom Index.
    This is a more recent article on solar and wind production per capita and China and India are tiny. ( Italy does great at solar )
    Most of Chinas production, I believe, is hydro from dams the environmentalists roasted them for building in the first place.

    Other than Italy having a spot in solar rankings the trend is economic freedom results in more renewable energy.

  40. Just so we know what we’re talking about will somebody please define “economic freedom”.

  41. Brian

    So why does Germany have 3.6 times the USA when you combine wind and solar?

    Anomalies due to local forces ?
    You’ve already pointed our Germany irrationally replacing nukes with renewables instead of FFs.
    For the irrationality in the US you’d have to look at the President that was in charge for the best part of a decade just past.

  42. Brian
    I’m certainly not trying to insult you and I hope that’s not the outcome.
    The doubts you’ve raised to an obvious phenomenon are the same as a ” climate denier “.
    Localised anomalies don’t debunk an observed empirical trend.

  43. Thank you Jumpy. A creation of the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal – what could possibly go wrong? (Yes, that’s playing the man, not the ball)
    Luckily your link led to an actual definition here which in the first paragraph lists three different approaches to quantifying “economic freedom” (only one of which involves laissez-faire capitalism), all of which sound ridiculously wooly. Sorry, I gave up at that point.
    Have we finally found your preferred replacement for GDP as a measure of national well-being?

  44. GDP was never a measure of National well-being nor Individual Economic Freedom.

    Tell you what zoot, find me an alternative and I’ll consider it.
    How are the Countries at the bottom performing?
    And when are you immigrating to one of these paradises?

  45. Brian re
    “I can’t see any relevance between your two lists. The one on renewables is out of date (2012) and it is not clear how ‘freedom’ is scored in the other one.”

    Would somebody point out to the self authorised armchair analyst that correlation does not imply causation, as I am getting sick of him dragging the discussion down constantly. It’s Stats 101, but then he’ll probably argue what would these eggheads know, when one can so rely on ones own redneck home cooked zombie opinions and on and on and on he will go.

  46. ‘an observed empirical trend’

    One problem with that, Mr J, is that correlation does not imply causation.

    Or to put it more simply, just because A seems to be strongly associated with B, it does not necessarily follow that B causes A (or indeed that A causes B).

    Regardless, it’s still interesting to see how various nations are doing, with solar, wind, hydro, tidal, geothermal etc. Hydro depends very much on topography and rainfall; both unaffected by human economic arrangements?

    Geothermal less common: Iceland, Yellowstone NP, Rotorua. How does Maori society rate on the ‘economic freedom’ tables?

    Wind strengths variable with seasons, location, weather, climate. Solar varies with latitude and cloud cover.

    Lots of variables to consider, sir.

  47. correlation does not imply causation.

    Debunk it with evidence then Ootz, it’s a theory.
    Oh, and please lay off the insults, this is not that kind of place.

  48. In hindsight at least the admission of correlation is finally achieved, progress!

  49. Thanks for the invitation jumpy, but if you cared to read my comment it is abundantly clear that I consider you an ideological self centred waste of time and effort. I have been there done that too many times.. Look if you want to to play with your own little coal generator in the backyard and have a Mackay chapter of the Capitalism Forever Society you are welcome.

    Let’s move on into the real world and back to the topic. It would appear The question is not wether wind and solar can carry the can. It is more like wether consumers and industry will pay for the luxury of 19th century technology or prepared to hang around for the clean coal fairy.

    Here is a IEA report which highlights measures on how to maintain cost-effectiveness and reliability of the power system over four phases of intermittent energy deployment. The four phases are differentiated by an increasing role of growing intermittent capacity in power systems.

  50. In hindsight at least the admission of correlation is finally achieved, progress!

    Not really. Correlation on its own is pretty much meaningless.

  51. Here the third link to my argument that price has become the focal point not reliability. Bills have become centre of the energy discourse galaxy in Australia

    Reality is boring: new technology gets cheap, simple and, increasingly, fit for purpose. There’s nothing magical, mystical or fantastical about this.

    Helming your prediction-exercise of the cost of decarbonisation with someone who believes greenhouse gases have no impact on climate makes no difference to the outcome. The numbers come out roughly the same, every time. Nor does helming it with an eminent scientist and engineer, who gladly accepts the science of the issue. The numbers don’t care as much as you might expect.

    The thing is, we care. People couple their support for the clean energy target to how it affects their bills, as shown in Essential’s latest poll:

  52. Lol did somebody mentioned India my suggested soundtrack to below 🙂

    Adani Power has approached state-run Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam (GUVNL) to bail out its Mundra plant. According to reports, one option for GUVNL is to take a majority stake in the plant post a write-down of equity.

    Likewise, Tata Power has written to the central government proposing to sell 51 per cent equity of its ailing asset for a nominal fee of Re 1, citing challenges faced by the company since Indonesian coal prices doubled.

    According to Buckley, a written-down plant can be reconfigured to be viable, particularly if cheap ($20/tonne) domestic coal can be procured in proximity to the plant without exorbitant rail freight costs.

    However, a key requirement is that blending in low energy and high ash Indian coal requires high quality existing Australian thermal coal which is high energyBSE -4.21 % and low ash.

    But coal from Carmichael would be low energy and high ash and far from ideal for blending with cheap domestic Indian coal, he said.

    “As proof of the gradual success of this program to protect India’s current account deficit and currency, Indian coal imports peaked in 2014-15, and have progressively declined since then. May 2017 saw a six per cent year-on-year decline for the month,” said Buckley, who is in Mumbai and New Delhi this week.

    For India, tapping renewable energy sources is a great opportunity, he said.

    “The move away from thermal fuel imports improves the balance of payments, helps improve the currency and hence reduces imported inflation generally,” Buckley added.

    An IEEFA report titled “NTPC as a Force in India’s Electricity Transition” showcases how the Indian government is shifting rapidly towards a low-carbon economy — a step towards achieving the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement aim of cutting greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels.

    And zoot would you please be so good and take the stats lecture to the Saturday lounge where it belongs, as I said I am over it. Thanks buddy.

  53. To Jumpy I say the past is history. The whole deal changed when wind and solar became cheaper than new gas and coal.

    Also, Jumpy, you don’t need a grid to get started with solar in developing countries, which is going to make a difference.

    Ootz thanks for the links. I’ve been meaning to post the one about Telstra going solar in Emerald. I was going to link it with the threat from Glencore to pull out of copper processing in Mt Isa, and developments planned by the Queensland government, plus Senator Canavans desire to build new coal electricity in the north.

    I’d missed the one from the IEA, which is worthy of closer attention.

  54. Another business fed up with the federal governments ideological wrecking and dilly dallying.

    “There were a lot of jobs at stake. The combination of price and reliability of renewables makes the business viable.”

    It looks more and more in the absence of federal leadership, that the states are taking up the slack and providing jobs (just like in the US). Vic Government announced

    Backed by the Labor Government’s Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund, Nectar Farms is currently undertaking Stage 1 of their major project, which will use the latest in hydroponic glasshouse and plant technology to create a 10 hectare state-of-the-art facility.

    Adding to the wind farm building blitz in Western Victoria, the 56 turbine $350 million wind farm is expected to create another 800 direct and indirect jobs during construction, with a further 19 ongoing once built.

  55. Mr J

    I did not “admit” correlation.

    What I meant was, IF you claim there’s a correlation, it DOES NOT follow that there is a cause-and-effect link.

    That’s all.
    It was a quibble about reasoning [see: “reasoning, faults in”].

    Past Chair,
    Pedants Anon
    Victorian Branch

  56. Brian

    To Jumpy I say the past is history. The whole deal changed when wind and solar became cheaper than new gas and coal.

    I’m not quite sure of that. Let’s remove the subsidies for both so we can be sure.
    But it’s true that solar and batteries have gotten way way cheaper and way way more efficient in a relatively short period of time. And improving all the time, yay !
    I have no doubt this would have occurred without Government intervention. In fact, I believe it would have been faster if Governments stayed out of energy altogether.
    Too may times Governments have given huge amounts of subsidies to Companies, stifling their superior competitors in the field, only to see them go broke or piss off overseas.

    Remembering, Governments stayed out industries that spread the World like wild fire ( internet, moblie phones, home PCs, bloody yo yos and finger spinners…) because people want them, not because of subsidies or mandate.
    And I also believe they want clean, reliable, independence in energy.

  57. Mr J

    Mr Abbott, a Federal Liberal backbencher, today advocated that the Federal Govt build a new coal-fired power station. Subsidy? Level playing field? Conservative policy?

    What say you to Mr Abbott?

  58. But it’s true that solar and batteries have gotten way way cheaper and way way more efficient in a relatively short period of time. And improving all the time, yay !

    Jumpy, I’d never had you down as to fall for fake news. never.ever! But granted, one can never be too sure with you and your rhetorical trickery.

    With regards to capitalism, granted it is the current dominant economic system, and as such a fact one has to engage and live with. It is also a great economic enabler and importantly some tenets of capitalism are cornerstones of representative government. However, capitalism’s sole focus or addiction to profit is corruptive, encourages excessive consumption with associated pollution evidently at such a level, as to threatening to bring to end an entire epoch of earth history and with it very likely humanity of which capitalism is part of apparently, if capital has its own way. It needs decent governing, just like socialism. And if you are a pragmatic eclectic like me, you would have to argue it probably needs a good mix of all three. Hope that helps 🙂

  59. Let’s remove the subsidies for both so we can be sure.

    We are not conducting an experiment here.

    We have massive market failure, and a resulting existential crisis. Governments have a responsibility to act.

  60. Ootz 9:49pm well expressed indeed. Jumpy I trust you can see the worth in Zoot’s comment. And the earnestness in Brian’s following remark.

    Sadly government abdicates their responsibility to act in the best interests of Oz. And the worst that can happen to them is that they lose their jobs and have to put up with their pensions.
    I might as well bitch that the pay for a back bench member now exceeds $200K, with no KPI’s to satisfy.

    I’m in the US right now and the sense that Trump is crazy pervades the area I’m in (Washington state – D). But republicans are still largely supportive of Trump – maybe because they only watch Fox News or they have diminished capacity. It is an uneasy feeling to have a seemingly unstable government here. No one has a clear idea about where the inquiries will go nor how long it will take. You do get the sense that the WH is bunkering down for a serious fight. Scary too is the thought that Trump, if found guilty, may still continue as President if republicans won’t support impeachment.

  61. Geoff, I was struck by an American commentator who said Trump was interested in being president, but not in doing the necessary work.

    Apparently there were over 500 positions in the WH to be filled and over 400 are still vacant. The implication is that Trump is simply not fit for purpose in the job and has no idea how to run that sort of operation.

    I guess this is OT here, but you raised it and I thought I’d respond.

  62. Yes sorry to be off topic Brian. I’m just struck by surreal political/social atmosphere.

  63. Jumpy?

    “You’ve already pointed our Germany irrationally replacing nukes with renewables instead of FFs.
    For the irrationality in the US you’d have to look at the President that was in charge for the best part of a decade just past.”

    Really? Are you totally incapable of learning ? You dare to call Obama irrational in the presence of Trump? I’m struggling to be nice to and about you.

    Japan was extremely lucky that the winds were offshore when their reactors blew up, but the US fleet just happened to be in the area at the time and had to flee for their lives. Regardless several ships were coated in radioactive fallout and now we are learning about the number of sailors from those ships who are presenting with radiation related diseases. We are only hearing about this as the US government has been forced due to the weight of evidence to consider compensation to the victims.


    You dare to call Germany irrational in their choice to protecdt their citizens from such risks?

    I’ve got no “nice” words for such idiocy.

  64. Brian with your image of the Antarctic air flow systems you have demonstrated a full appreciation the issues of cliamte change. I haven’t read the whole thread because I am a lot distracted at present, but the only point you missed (I think) is that we only have part of a renewables system thanks to the many negative players working to destabalise rational decision making. Wind is only part of a complementary renewables package. When the weather is as it has been in a more complete system solar PV and thermal picks up the load. We don’t yet have that part in place for the grid side of he renewable solution.

  65. Hey BilB, I think I was the one that called the Germans irrational for cancelling all their nukes. They don’t live in a tectonically unstable area with nukes near the sea.

    Also I’d back their safety culture in operating and monitoring nukes. From memory, they did an audit after Fukushima, which indicated that a few should be closed, but Merkel chose to close the lot in the pursuit of Green votes.

    Sweden is looking at building more.

    I’m not too happy about places like Indonesia or India building nukes.

  66. Brian, Germany’s nukes were built (I believe) on the same flawed model as Three Mile Island and Fukushima facilities, and Merkel moved immediately to remove the most dangerous flaw, that of not venting the reactor building to prevent hydrogen build up, but the many other fundamental mechanical flaws in the mechanisms were still in place. The most dangerous failure at Three Mile Island was not the reactor meltdown, but the failure to register the importance of the reactor building hydrogen explosion, which as a very minor one, was disputed and covered up FMROI (from my reading of it). That failure to act on the risk with a design change directive (as would be standard in the aviation industry) turned Fukushima from a bad accident into a major catastrophy ( a meltdown is very bad but blowing up the whole structure creates an impossible situation). Go to the wiki and look at the causes of the three mile island failure and you will understand the basis of Germany’s dilema. A huge string of circumstances led to the failure of the facility starting at the top with a decision to operate the reactor at 97% capacity to maintain earning power while the second reactor was being refuelled through an illegal operating practice used in a routine maintenance action (probably caused by the high reactor operational load) down to a wiring design fault on how an indicator light was wired up, all building to a disastrous cascade of consequences. And, yes, Germany’s safety culture has probably prevented possible failures over time, but even the most careful people can make mistakes.

    People and nuclear reactors just don’t mix.

    I do feel that nuclear energy has a place to resolve very specific problems, and as I have said a number of times I think small reactors for shipping will be Nuclear Energy’s opportunity in the future.

  67. Giles Parkinson alludes to Australia’s real problem of institutionalised stupidity in the linked article, and Barnaby Joyce being the present front person for that syndrome, with all of the other “Stupies” hiding behind his loud mouth and lack of knowledge.

    Joyce has used the “where does the energy come from when the sun goes down and the wind stops blowing” argument before, and as GP points out these Stupes just cannot learn, cannot be told, and mostly because their ignorance gives them (they think) plausible deniability for when reality forces change around them. “How could we have predicted that?”

    The answer to wind not blowing and sun going down is Hybrid Solar Thermal just as it has been for well over a decade. But in the face of the failure of government an industry players to build such, the answer is the domestic comprehensive distributed PVT system with microgrid structure, battery and connected gas backup. The secondary consequence of this is the diminishment and breakup of the national grid with a significant cost increase to business for electrical power.

    I have been looking at how the microgrids can be connected with an underground structure and how to install that. It may not be very expensive.

  68. In a strange and stupid way, BilB, I prefer Mr Joyce’s “when the sun doesn’t shine….” to Mr Hockey’s, “Wind turbines are just so ugly, I can’t stand seeing them!” when he was Federal Treasurer.

    Because the public are becoming more and better informed about energy supplies and competing technologies, all the better to see through Mr Joyce’s silly comment.

    Whereas Mr Hockey was expressing an aesthetic judgement, and every one of us has our own tastes in art and architecture. We could scarcely challenge his taste, stubborn and blunt as he was.

    The caravan has moved on: now the criteria in public discussion are cost, reliability, emission reduction, safety, co-operation, innovation…. Mr Hockey’s personal tastes are over there in the corner, lurking in the rubbish bin.

  69. BilB at 11.37am

    “… a significant cost increase to business of electrical power.”

    Are you aware whether anyone has audited businesses in Australia to assess what proportion could set up their own electricity supplies and be relatively or wholly independent of grid power? (Or have already done so?)

    Some small businesses could, innit?

    Not Al smelters, but……

  70. Absolutely correct, Ambigulous. And that just makes the grid maintenance that little bit more expensive for the rest. The greedies haven’t thought their strategy through all that well. I think their approach is to profit at the max rate while they can then when the reality of the distributed grid hits attempt to use their weight to force back to the mandated compulsory grid use scenario of the past. This has already been mooted with the highly risky flag fall charges if cables are connected strategy.

    Some years ago I assessed my small business to have a 2.5 Kw 24/7 power consumption and that was at a time when I was running my machinery on a more continuous basis. Now they are predominately support for design and development and so the power consumption has dropped off dramatically, so I could easily cover my consumption with solar panels and a RedFlow battery, though I would probably need two RedFlow batteries to cover the current draw from some machine types. I have two machines with 15Kw spindle motors, though they are never used to capacity and most motors are soft starts.

    Has any one done an audit? I would imagine so, the grid suppliers could do it in with a report from their customer database in an instant! But have they done so and made that public? I don’t know.

  71. I beg to differ with the theory that the Government, Turnbull and key ministers, past and present, are “idiots” or stoopid. Don’t forget BJ is known as a brilliant “retail politician”. He is the ultimate snake oil peddler to the regional rural colonials who love his tonic. These are the “idiots” who are gatekeeping the responses to rapid social, environmental as well as economic changes going through our world on unprecedented and pervasively global level. Barnaby does a brilliant job for the Nationals, the regional hoi polloi loves him. He get’s their votes, he unseated Tony Windsor, yet in reality the regions struggles to keep up with the rapid new developments which also increase the complexity of live we are living now a days.

    And so on .. look at the just recent LNP and ALP resource ministers, they have got it made on the relevant corporate career path. Were they stupid, don’t think so and neither is Frydenberg. Good only knows what Malcolm’s rational is? And then there is Murdoch, how would a person like that maintain their integrity. Perhaps B F Skinner right in his book Beyond Freedom and Dignity and famously questions the ” making a good case against the autonomy of man, which confirms that it is in all of us that sometimes in some circumstances we just can’t help ourselves. So , there is always more complexity to a situation which is worthwhile to reflect on. It also lines up with my previous comment above re capitalism.

  72. OK, Ootz. Not stupid,….. but ……mendacious, manipulative, and self inerested to the point of corruption? Is that a clearer set of descriptors to capture your impressions?

  73. Goodness!!
    This may be a good time for people to reexamine the Comments Policy.

    In particular-

    The aim is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.

    Do not comment on other commenters with negative implications.

    I’m sure Brian would have brought this to everyones attention himself but he’s a very busy Man.

  74. Ootz,

    There is one area where Aussie farmers are pretty much up-to-date, and that is using the Internet for weather forecasts, price watches, training, etc and using all sorts of gizmos e.g. laser levelling for better overland water flow management, soil moisture monitors to advise irrigation, detailed soil analyses to optimise fertiliser use (and reduce costs, wastage).

    So rural internet speeds and coverage are a business factor.

    There are hundreds of others I’m not aware of, I’m sure. The modern farmer is modernising at a rate hard to appreciate at a distance. Lowers her costs, increases her output, looks after her animals better, maintains more healthy soils, reduces pollutant runoff from farm, provides wildlife corridors and/or stream protection measures, etc.

    She’s clever.

  75. If there’s a bright note in all of this, it’s that when Nature’s winds don’t blow, Barnaby and Tony blow very hard, to compensate.

  76. Ambi, I am living in the middle of a major national agricultural and horticultural rural area, one hours drive from an international airport. A quarter of my way there on a national hwy, I have no mobile reception. A report in our local newspaper recently echoed the story I am getting from the locals, people and business have to be prepared to be for a moth with no phone connection either when switching to NBN or when sorting out problems when on it. Have any of your farmers in the region have to rely on skymuster? How are their kids doing distance education? I am living in deep Katter and one Nation country and also participating in the local startup group which is lead by a young smart farmer- business woman. She is tearing her hair out in frustration in the lack of interest in emerging markets here. There is a massive brain drain going on. The clever youth are studying and making a live in the big smoke. We see less wealth moving into the region because of our lack in services. Cluster suicide of youth in the region is common as is in farming, last year it was popular doctor. Most manual work in farming is done by young travellers on work visa. But it is not all bad, but if it get’s any worse … I usually remind people to read local history of what happened during the great depression, as it pays to be prepared.

  77. What is thought to be the cause of the suicides, Ootz? Is it isolation, loneliness, lack of opportunities, the heat?

  78. Good question BilB. I had a few friends and acquaintances being affected and everyone is looking for answers. There were several civic meetings including various relevant agencies and support groups particularly after the doctor’s suicide to look at the overall picture, but mainly to create awareness of depression and how it can lead to suicide. With the clusters there seems to be some copycat behaviour involved, one reason why not much is covered in the press and schools and close community extensively debriefed. Overall though, the reasons maybe all of what you said and more.

    When Orygen, a youth mental health service, carried out a report in which it has found the system is not working and a new suicide prevention strategy for young people is needed.

    Jo Robinson, head of Orygen’s suicide prevention research, said of the current system: “We’re clearly not getting things right.”

    “We really lack national leadership when it comes to youth suicide prevention.

    “So despite a lot of investment, despite a lot of talk at government level … we really need a reinvigorated approach to youth suicide prevention.”

    There is a new briefing paper out from the
    Rural Suicide Prevention Forum
    . It quotes the Garvan Institute saying “The health of Australians in rural and remote areas is generally poorer than that of people who live in major cities and towns.” and lists social determinants, such as
    • lower levels of income, employment and education
    • higher occupational risks, particularly associated with farming and mining
    • geography and the need for more long-distanced travel
    • poorer access to fresh foods
    • poorer access to health services
    While there are many positive aspects of living in rural areas, lack of control over economic future and work, the vagaries of weather, seasons and markets, loneliness due to drive, or fly into work on mines or long distance transport, general rural decline and disruption by large developments like mining, rural decline weakens both the economic and social capital of the area.

    Also it finds, apart from the reluctance to admit that they may have a problem there is also the perception that services may not be helpful.
    “Reluctance to expose their private lives to strangers or acquaintances from locally based services, or to undertake the journey to distant services where cultural or behavioural differences could be misunderstood, may impact on rural dwellers’ wellbeing.”

  79. Re the last point in my comment above, that reluctance to admit the existence of a problem may also play into the climate change debate as well as the deep distrust of experts and scientist from the big smoke with their alien hocus pokus. That is why their leadership, these tough political warriors, are letting common rural folks down. They profoundly trust their leaders and so these are in a perfect position to communicate the dimension of the threat of CC and negotiate an economically better deal for them in the big change we are undergoing. But their leaders have been bought out by big industry and the old settler aristocracy to further their agenda.

  80. BilB, further up, on nukes, I’m not an engineer and had been persuaded by Robert Merkel way back when that nukes were OK in safe hands.

    Now I’ll put it back in the doubtful category. Luckily for Oz they are not really in the frame.

  81. Ootz, I grew up in the bush and still have rellies there. It’s been bad at times, and the changes are huge, but not as bad as your experience. So I’m left staring at the screen and feeling helpless.

    On the NBN, we’ve had repeated sessions on local radio talkback, and the stories are bad beyond ridiculous, even in the city.

    For mobile coverage, I’ve done a lot of work in Upper Brookfield, which is a Brisbane suburb. As you drive across the creek and see the Upper Brookfield sign, mobile coverage drops out. That would be less than half an hour’s drive from the GPO. On the way you’d drive past John D’s place, which I understand is in a dead spot.

    Mark was Thailand a couple of years ago and reckoned the coverage was better there.

  82. Ootz @ 8:40pm
    Thanks for a very insightful and sensitive post Ootz. Back in the day, well 1970 actually, a visiting British authority on suicide addressed we undergrads. He was emphatic that the major “ingredient” (my word) in suicide was “isolation” of the individual. That isolation I thought at the time was psychological isolation and I think that might be correct, but not the only component. That personal isolation can have a myriad of origins but your dot points covered a lot of them. Factors like those can, over time, pervade the psyche and develop powerful depressive tendencies. Our veterans were isolated when they returned from Vietnam and many have suicided since then.
    I don’t have answers and suspect it would take a therapist years of training and experience to unravel the complexities of the issues.

  83. Ootz, there is a lot of food for thought there. The total lack in this country of anything other than a token gesture of regional development is the real cause of all of those deaths, in my opinion. We need to have a balanced landscape with a full mix of opportunities in every community.

    Brian, you should please notice that I only see nuclear having a place for circumstances where there is no other alternative. Most especially shipping where there is absolutely no realistic other sufficiently energy dense renewable solution. There is absolutely no justification for land based nuclear energy on Australian soil.

    As for Abbott you will notice that he is attempting to channel Trump’s tactics of building a following by picking up disparate followers by fawning to lost cause interest groups one after another pretending to be interested in them. The press wrote of Trump with his outlandish remarks, but for each offensive display there was a group who only heard their particular cause being praised and ignored all of the rest, then they voted for him as being their only hope of representation, representation that they will never get.

    So today’s Abbott nuclear thought bubble was another of those performances. Take a note of what each new Abbott outburst is about and you will see the tactic. It does not work in Australia, though, because we have compulsory voting and he cannot run, much and all as he would love it, to be a president, but Abbott thinks it will somehow work and boost his support. I imagine that he is hoping for a chanting crowd, his chanting crowd.

  84. Brian, about telephones…as a boy we waited two years for a landline connection in Ryde, Sydney. Just saying…

    I have a loathing for Telstra that now resides in my DNA. But having tried the others in the regions, they are really the best choice in my experience.

    I’m on NBN, graduated from ADSL+ January this year. Actually getting connected – well I could write a small book about the fumbling incompetence involved.

    But the NBN (via iPrimus) service has been OK – we get 80% of the promised speed and good response (ping) times of around 40 m/s. It works for our domestic needs.
    At JCU if you use an ether net connection you can get speeds beyond 500 Mbps, making NBN’s dramatic 100 Mbps look ordinary.

  85. Geoff, on the suicide issue, on reflection ‘isolation’ is probably the best one-word descriptor.

    As it happened last nigh late one of my favourite RN programs All in the Mind was on depression, with a particular focus on research to find genetic markers associated with depression.

    Genetic inheritance does not cause depression, but they think it is associated with susceptibility.

    That may sound a bit abstruse, but they explained that there were many paths the disease takes, which are difficult to distinguish from the behavioural symptoms. Problem is different drugs are used and if the wrong drug is applied the depression can actually be made worse. They are hoping that the different types on depression will be associated with different genetic markers. A simple DNA test (which are becoming simple) could assist in diagnosis, because there is a fair bit of hit and miss at present, even with experienced expert practitioners.

    On isolation, one of the subjects interviewed said she eventually wrote out a list of people she could contact and talk to when she was down, the list being important because during a depression event she couldn’t remember the names of people who could help. She said this simple technique probably saved her life.

    Luckily she did have a network of people with a sympathetic ear. Not everyone does.

    The program said that depression was on the increase worldwide.

    I think some of that has to do with social change, the breakdown of traditional support institutions, greater individualism, and frankly the spread of rapacious capitalism, which reduces individuals to units of labour, and hence a commodity.

    Now increasingly this commodity is no longer required, or if it is required it is increasingly done so on terms that pay no respect to human dignity of the workers.

  86. That is a good observation, Brian (last two para’s). Obviously it is a marginal effect and non uniform, but very real. I’ll ponder that.

  87. Thank you folks for a very thoughtful discussion of suicide. Excellent points all round. I just want to add a note of caution in that depression does not equal suicide.
    According to Beyond Blue at any one time in Australia 2 million people are coping with depression yet the annual rate of suicide is only (only?) around 2 thousand. Clearly depression is a contributing factor but it is not the “cause” of people taking their own lives.
    FWIW I agree with Brian that Geoff’s cite of isolation is probably the best one word descriptor.

  88. Good discussion but sorry for having derailed the thread by bringing suicide up. But it is having a devastating effect in the rural areas and is symptomatic to situation of rural communities. We can take this discussion in three ways:

    First, suicide is an existential important and commonly little understood subject, that it would deserve its own post. Sure in general, social isolation increases vulnerability to suicide, so do issues with mental health, drugs (legal&illegal) and alcohol, employment, relationships, genetics, family, lifestyle, traumatic experiences PTSD. And when you look at treatment or prevention you have to consider the wider spectrum of interventions that are available. I happen to come from integrative biopsychosocial model in mental health and so there are a range of specific evidence based psychological approaches with high efficacy available and generally we know education and prevention is one of the most effective health intervention interms of cost and outcome. The tragedy is that the political focal point is not on the latter, despite Beyond Blue. It is still about making headlines: beds for the front line, a war on cancer with a medical industry which is akin to the military industrial complex. Yet still ‘gay’ people get stigmatised, we still call young boys to toughen up and men to fight the good fight against windmills. I can tell you the green armband bashing here is rampant. It seems an effective outlet for bottled up emotions, like cursing the devil or god.

    So second, my argument is, that the longer this quixotic war on windmills is going on, the more it will hurt regional and rural areas disproportionally to urban ones.

    Thirdly, I would be interested if rural ares would do better under a future Labor government or independent like Tony Windsor.

  89. I don’t think using suicide, as Ootz did, for political proposes is helpful.
    Surely we can rise above that sort of thing.

    ( don’t even start with the empathy bullshit or me not caring about suicide either )

  90. I don’t think using suicide, as Ootz did, for political proposes is helpful.

    Of course you had to bring the thread back to relevance, to the centre of attention where almost every thread here ends up about: YOU and that stubborn single mind of yours, rooting for some capitalistic neoliberal economic powerhouse.

  91. Good article, Ootz.

    The one kind of project that should be built in the north and across the centre are solar energy projects. The article closes with an image of a coal loading facility, hardly a community and nation building initiative. Solar energy on the other hand is a class of industry and investment that is perpetual and guaranteed to grow.

    A coal loader or a mineral extraction operation is certain to become a stranded asset whereas the Solar Renewable energy direction is permanent. I am predicting inland cities based on solar energy production initially then becoming intensive cultivation water efficient food production powerhouses, all bringing a high degree of vibrance to the inland. The inland is the old outback.

    Community, opportunity, human energy and vibrance are the cure for depression. And solar energy is the cure for our fossil fuel dependence, as well as keeping the lights on when the wind stops blowing.

  92. I will never accept politicising suicide, as you did, ever.
    And if you think a Government slush fund to pork barrel and buy rent seekers is in line with Free Market Capitalism then your medication may need reviewing in dose or type.

  93. Plant 2 tomato seeds a month so you don’t have to by them.
    1 Rogue de Marmande.
    1 Roma.
    Old bush turkey nest is great compost, no chook poo.

  94. And African Marigolds fend of the nematodes and crushes egg shells do many things to help.

  95. Thank you Jumpy for your advice.

    However I have a Certificate in Horticulture, which I passed with honours, have managed a botanic gardens, done my Permaculture designer course with Bill (god bless his illuminated pumpkins) and given hundreds of gardening advice and lectures etc., but you know what? The discussion on here is not about you and me .

    Further, you obviously AGAIN did not read my comments , before you prematurely shoot off the hip again. It is not me politicising suicide, it is the experts on the coal front, so to speak.

    “We really lack national leadership when it comes to youth suicide prevention.

    “So despite a lot of investment, despite a lot of talk at government level … we really need a reinvigorated approach to youth suicide prevention.”

    It is so tiresome to discuss with you, I must have told you before. Up your game mate.

  96. Ootz on suicide-

    Thirdly, I would be interested if rural ares would do better under a future Labor government or independent like Tony Windsor.

    THAT is as blatant as it gets. Drop the charade.
    No one with an ounce of objectivity is buying it.

  97. The discussion on here is not about you and me .

    …..we are paying around $10 for a kilo at present.

    $3 bill stuff.

  98. I don’t know what your narrow and enraged mind reads into this quote of mine.


    Besides that, here another example of politics and suicide and how this government is miserably failing the vulnerable ones in our society, by the former Chief of Army Peter Leahy, who said in your beloved Australian:

    …the government needed to step up and own the problem.

    “The number of suicides and the incidence of despair, depression and broken lives among our veteran community is a national shame,” the retired lieutenant-general said.

    The investigation found that families are forced to look after sick and suicidal veterans with no offer of help or training from the defence force, and charity groups are also having to fill the welfare void.

    So if they are capable to fail veterans, despite all the Lest we Forget rhetoric, it is not a long stretch of imagination for them to be capable to hurt the regions.

  99. I don’t understand Jumpy’s comments either, Ootz. Its like he writes them with his mates at the pub on a ouija board.

  100. Jumpy I have lost your line of thought – please forgive me, I am a bear of aged faculties.
    Would you please clarify for me just what position you are taking or re-state your most recent posts in less cryptic tones so I can respond.
    Many thanks

  101. Ootz, that Sundrop Tomato link is awesome. Thanks for that. The other link is paywalled, though. What was the essential substance from it?

  102. Ootz at 3.54pm two days ago,

    Thank you for your dismal observations on agriculture in your area. Many difficulties and obstacles, NBN being only one.

    Here in Gippsland, Victoria we have quite different conditions: more reliable rainfall (at least in West and Central Gippsland); very good soils in particular areas, for dairy, potatoes, asparagus for example; access to highway and railway transport; not huge distances to Melbourne, Avalon airports and port of Melbourne; farmers able to make a living on relatively small acreage.

    Mobile coverage patchy but that seems to be a nationwide problem.

    Regional development policies have been a bugbear for decades. Premier Hamer led a push for State Govt departments to decentralise circa late 70s.

    The Latrobe Valley was dominated by one employer, State Elec Commission, for decades. Planning and agriculture was stymied there. In 90s the Latrobe Regional Commission attempted valiantly to attract new industries and companies to the Valley for many years, with scant success.

    Now the closure of Hazelwood is concentrating minds, but we’ve been there before (privatisation in early 90s) there are several more brown coal mines still operating……..

    Your discussion of rural suicides is valuable. Very complex. Very sad.

    Thank you.

  103. Goeff
    Thanks for asking nicely, I’ll try.

    The thread turned to suicide, a valuable topic to discuss, and one very close to the bone for me ( and I suspect everyone else here )
    At JUNE 30, 2017 AT 4:56 PM Ootz opined that “We can take this discussion in three ways:”
    His third was

    Thirdly, I would be interested if rural ares would do better under a future Labor government or independent like Tony Windsor.

    Directly linking suicide and politics to plug one side.
    Disgraceful in my eyes

  104. Jumpy please read my relevant comments again, they are much more nuanced than what your single one track mind perceives.

    In what shape or form is it not legitimate to ask if the regions would not not do better under another government. (Perhaps you need to read my second point where I refer to regions being hurt disproportionally hurt more than rural by quixotic war on windmills.)

    That is the problem with you and all the quixotic warriors, you engage emotions first and see what you want to see.

  105. Your personally insulting me ( again ) doesn’t change a thing.
    Let’s just ignore each other.

  106. Jumpy, there are now four people on the thread wondering what is going on inside your head. Add me as a fifth.

    I’m trying to finish the new Saturday Salon, so if you could take your own advice it would be helpful.

  107. … your dismal observations on agriculture in your area.

    Sorry Ambi, that is not the picture that I was painting of agriculture, more so of the region. The cane cockies and the cattle barons seem to do alright and there are many doing the FIFO in the mines. But you scratch under the surface and look at the large proportion of the lower socio economic population in our region, it is another story. With regards to the suicides, they are shocking, however, they are a reality and have to be addressed thoroughly and with sensitivity.

    I did also say “But it is not all bad … ” and ” there are many positive aspects of living in rural areas. ” 🙂

    As I suggested, in my ‘three points’ comment: 1. suicide should be discussed in a seperate thread. 2. ask the question how much does this quixotic war on renewables “hurt” the regions and rural areas? 3. and the question in that context, would regions do better under a labor or independent political leadership?

    I won’t respond any further, to the emotional outrage and false indignation, wether suicide and politics are out of bound for discussion wether in terms of rural areas or returned service men and women. Suicide is a stark reality of living in these areas and if it is good enough for the experts in the field and relevant community organisations and leaders to so, then I can’t see why we should not. However, that requires a certain decorum and decency and as suggested a seperate post and discussion with an appropriate preamble setting the context.

    On this thread here, I am first and foremost interested to discuss and debate the two questions I posed in 2 and 3, which are very relevant to the topic at hand.

  108. Sorry Bilb for not responding earlier, such is the effect of having a habitual emotional and irrational interlocutor on the thread, it tends to bury and highjack reasonable discussion and debate. Hence my comment re his “clever response”, at times I question his motives and whether he deliberately does so to stifle reasonable debate and fair exchange of ideas on here.

    Anyway, the paywalled link is to an article in the Financial Review, Oct 4 2016. Read below in full:

    “A $200 million solar-powered mega-greenhouse backed by private equity fund KKR in northern South Australia – which supplies Coles with 16,000 tonnes of tomatoes annually – was able to keep operating through the recent power blackout.

    But while this showpiece of modern technology from Sundrop Farms – which is being officially opened on Thursday – operated smoothly as mining giants BHP Billiton and OZ Minerals had to shut their mines in northern SA, it still has a connection to the state’s electricity grid, for back-up generation to supplement its energy needs from time to time.

    The Sundrop Farms plant, about 15 kilometres south-east of Port Augusta, harnesses the sun’s power by using 23,000 mirrors that are each two square metres in size. It has a thermal desalination plant that strips the salt from nearby seawater.

    KKR has invested $100 million in the plant, which is spread across 20-hectares.

    It is just 75km from the crippled Whyalla steelworks, which on Tuesday was slowly getting extra power back, reducing the daily damage from the blackout for administrators KordaMentha to about $2.5 million from the $4 million per day at which it was running last Friday.

    An independent review – announced on Tuesday by South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill – into the severe storms that cut power to the entire state at 3.48pm on September 28 will be headed by former South Australian police commissioner Gary Burns.

    It is separate to an inquiry by the Australian Energy Market Operator into technical issues surrounding the blackout, and a third examination by the Council of Australian Governments’ energy ministers council.

    South Australian Liberal MP Corey Wingard, the shadow minister for manufacturing, said the inquiry needed to be widespread and answer several key questions, including how a transmission failure in one part of the state resulted in a state-wide blackout.

    Port Augusta mayor Sam Johnson said there had been significant imposts to business and households from the blackout in the regional city, which is part of the Iron Triangle, which also encompasses Port Pirie and Whyalla.

    But he said the Sundrop Farms solar-powered greenhouse was a groundbreaking project that showed the technology could work on a large scale in a location where there is, on average, 300 days of sunshine a year.

    “This is living proof that it does work,” Mr Johnson said. (bold my emphasis, to contrast the irresponsible scaremongering of “Whyalla being wiped off the map”)

    Sundrop Farms, which is headed at a global level by founder Philipp Saumweber, began making its first deliveries of truss tomatoes to Coles supermarkets in Victoria, NSW and South Australia in June, but a formal opening will be held this week to mark the project’s full completion.

    The decision by Coles to sign a 10-year supply contract was instrumental in enticing the investment by KKR into increasing the plant’s size by 100 times.””

  109. New Saturday salon is now up.

    Ootz, I think Jumpy is strongly libertarian, and Labor or anything associated with ‘the left’ seems to offend him.

    I have to do some work this afternoon, so will not be online.

  110. Jumpy 8:28. Sorry Jumpy, I still don’t get it.
    “Directly linking suicide and politics to plug one side.
    Disgraceful in my eyes”. How do tomatoes fit in there? They can be dangerous (See the film Attack of the Killer Tomatoes). But never mind.

    I don’t see how you can dissociate suicide with politics. It is a matter of public interest and health. The government is bound to act. To speculate that care under one political party might be better than another is a very reasonable thing. That what we do as we prepare to vote – or should do.

  111. Geoff
    If there is a link to political influences regarding suicide then it needs to be articulated.
    I linked to suicide rates around the World and don’t see any trend that could be directed at any Political environment be it far Left or far Right or anything in-between.
    We all have the urge to find blame is such a deeply complex and emotional area, that’s very natural.
    If Political flavour or their likelihood of creating an atmosphere where suicide is reduced, I’ll be the first to embrace it, but some evidence would be needed first.

    Assuming ‘our’ team is better is also natural, yet flawed.
    The Libertarian approach is to look at all the sides and match it up with evidence. That’s why they cop flake from the right for being too left and from the left of being too right.

  112. If there is a link to political influences regarding suicide then it needs to be articulated.

    SIGH, and again (third time^^)

    the former Chief of Army Peter Leahy, who said in your beloved Australian:

    …the government needed to step up and own the problem.

    “The number of suicides and the incidence of despair, depression and broken lives among our veteran community is a national shame,” the retired lieutenant-general said.

    The investigation found that families are forced to look after sick and suicidal veterans with no offer of help or training from the defence force, and charity groups are also having to fill the welfare void.

    If that does not articulate a link to political influences regarding suicide, then I don’t know how anyone can reach your required ‘evidence” of “political flavour or their likelihood of creating an atmosphere where suicide is reduced!

    And I think most of us got it that you are kicking goals for “team”
    libertarian. Wether you understand its economic gameplay, that is questionable. Most frustratingly though, it would appear from your participation here, you lack a grasp of the basic rules of discussions and debate, which is essential for a good “game” and thus all the teams.

    For your information, I am debating for the “team -who ever is reasonably bringing the best outcome for our nation and community in the long run”.

    In other words I am in it for the good of the game and not any particular team. In appropriate moments I root for the team -devils advocate and occasionally in sacred moments play in team John Lennon and dare to imagine …

  113. Ootz, for the last time, I DO NOT subscribe to the Australian!
    He DOES NOT mention ( in your cherry picked snippet ) any political Party or philosophy!
    From now on any comment I make is not intended for your eyes and I’ll scroll past yours.

    You are a deeply malicious person I want NO interaction with.

  114. Ootz: You asked:

    how much does this quixotic war on renewables “hurt” the regions and rural areas? 3. and the question in that context, would regions do better under a labor or independent political leadership?

    A few quick answers: Firstly there are some regional areas where the war on renewables may help in areas where coal mining is an important part of the economy by slowing the decline of the contribution that coal mining really is making to the local economy. However, growing automation and fly in fly out means that local employment per tonne of coal is declining.

  115. John, on automation, Jerome Fahrer, Adani’s own consultant, told the Queensland Land Court that there would be around 1464 net jobs, direct and indirect, but did not say where they would be.

    That’s according to Anna Krien’s Quarterly Essay. She says think mining engineers, geologists, geophysicist, and what she calls university-educated “aspirationals”.

    The latter are probably software developers and screen jockeys.

    I suppose there have to be some maintenance people on the ground to keep the machines running.

  116. Many of the problems I used to travel to Central Qld to fix I could fix now by linking to the control system from my home in Brisbane (or Delhi)
    I wonder how many of the jobs Adani is talking about will be jobs for Queenslanders?

  117. Probably not Adani related but I was chatting to a HR Lady last week that said she’s been flat out for months now finding mining people, they’re advertising heavily on radio too.
    That’s despite strikes Tieri.

  118. In some ways this thread has been a train wreck. I’ve had four days, Wednesday to Saturday, when I had work, and today my sister and brother-in-law, who live in the bush outside the interwebs, called in for lunch on one hour’s notice.

    I’m the boy in the middle of a family of five. Amazingly for our age all of us and our partners are still here, but I don’t think that will last for long. So tonight I’ll have to spend some time letting the rest of the family know how they are travelling. A new post may have to wait until tomorrow night.

    I’d have to re-read all the comments to before making a full statement, but the Comments policy remains.

    There has been too much emotion for mine. I can’t ask people to feel differently or less, but how we express emotion is within our control, or should be, and can act as an incendiary in discussion.

    I’ve also added a bit to the comments policy – see the second last paragraph. Climate plus is not an ideologically neutral place. I have been a card-carrying member of the ALP for several years (I joined when Abbott became PM). I get a lot of stuff via email, but have not joined a branch, when they ring and ask for help so far I’ve said I’m too old and wished them well. John D last time I checked was an active Green.

    My elder brother has been active in the National Party for about 50 years. We at times have conversations about how our parties are stuffing up.

    However, I have to say that I think the emphasis on individualism and small government on the part of libertarians is a fair portion of what is wrong with the world. So being ‘corrected’ in a peremptory manner from a libertarian perspective is more than tiresome.

    Other than that stoushes are good for the statistics, which yesterday doubled. However, the statistics also showed that we had 22 visitations emanating from searches and links. 16 posts in the archives were visited. For some reason it is rare that these people reveal themselves. If they read the comments threads, and they well may not, I wonder and worry a little what they think.

  119. Firstly there are some regional areas where the war on renewables may help in areas where coal mining is an important part of the economy by slowing the decline of the contribution that coal mining really is making to the local economy. However, growing automation and fly in fly out means that local employment per tonne of coal is declining.

    John, as I understand the peak of the economic flow and population is during the development of the mine, once the mine is operational it drops of dramatically. I remember at the beginning of the decade reading a BIS Shrapnel report which was making that point. It also mentioned, that once mines were operational they do not really contribute much to economic growth nationally. Most remarkably the author also predicted pretty accurately peak mine developments and when we will hit the skids re structural deficit, because of that. I would be interested in your take on that, John and Brian.

    In the larger picture, by the looks of how other industries have been restructured or simply closed down, in manufacturing for example, Australian governments could do better. Our history of transitional planning is really almost as comical as the ABC TV series UTOPIA accurately characterises it with infrastructure planning. I am looking forward to the news series.

    Industry knows how important transitional planning is. For example, in the recent Final Report Retirement of Coal Fired Power Stations to the senate, even Alinta Energy stated:

    An area for further thought and improvement to consider is in the area of planning the transition to closure where orderly exit can be greatly enhanced by an effective generator transition plan published in advance for the entire market and an appropriate energy and renewable policy framework.

    I mean, that report was only tabled end of last year. How long did we know that we have to retire our ageing fleet and how does it take to replace a generator. In truth our government has been a sleep and now covers its arse by blaming everyone else, including the quickest and cheapest solution. What for, to keep the LNP party base and corporate donors happy with their ideological and vested interests respectively. Can we expect to care more about the down stream effects on the supply side of it in the mines? Not likely, so we can expect a rather rapid casement of major coal mining development and operation down the track some times following classical boom and bust cycles. Rather than a slow tapering down, with ample time and resources to build in some resilience into the effected economic communities and developing new opportunities. I mean we missed the boat before (listen to or read transcript, well worth it). We don’t want to miss these new robotisation and startup opportunities, which are fuelled by the exploding global digitalisation, too.

  120. … being ‘corrected’ in a peremptory manner from a libertarian perspective is more than tiresome.

    Brian, interesting you mention that. I have done some research on the net and it would appear your observation is rather universal on the blogosphere. There are plenty of sites discussing and exchanging ideas of how to come to terms with the libertarian the pugnacious single code of political engagement. There is definitely a pattern, so rather than boring I find our libertarian interlocutor rather interesting to study and learn. Some of your search statistics may have been me; you know, know they enemy 😉

    The other good thing about it is I have been beefing up on libertarianism. One striking feature of it’s practice, as opposed to theory, is that libertarians amongst themselves thrive to be individuals in interpreting what the theory of libertarianism is and is not. On the other hand, many foundational concepts of libertarian ideology are deeply contradictory. It is the source of our libertarian interlocutors bane, when he laments the Libertarian cop it from all ends. I do understand why he sees me as evil and feel his pain.

    Anyway, he will recover, as always, and encouragingly after every major stoush, he appears to be somewhat more thoughtful and reasonable in his comments for a short while. As for me, I come to recognise that many of the frustrating common social behaviour of libertarians very much fit into symptoms of Borderline Aspergers Syndrome. I just recently had an Aspi staying with us for two weeks and the similarities are astonishing and equally “tiresome”. Hence I have reacquainted myself with the tenets of 5 Tips for Loving Someone with Asperger’s Syndrome. They very likely work for loving a libertarian interlocutor too 🙂

    So, far from being a train wreck, I find this thread extremely enlightening. Thanks Brian for putting op with us.

  121. Ootz, on mining, I think many if not most commodities are now in oversupply around the world. Hard to know what the future will bring.

    Saturday salon 24/6 #5 showed manufacturing in some recovery, and somewhere along the line I read that mining had actually increased by over 3000 jobs also.

    Not a lot, and the contribution of mining is over-rated. Anna Krien in her Quarterly Essay cites Ross Gittins as saying that mining contributes only 7% of our GDP and employs 230,000 people, or 2% of the workforce.

    She also says that mining employed only 7,000 Indigenous workers in 2012, or 4% of Indigenous employment. So she’s saying that Marcia Langton has the story wrong. She says Pearson sees mining as “an enormous swindle perpetrated against Aboriginal Australians”. Effectively in native title negotiations the law and the power differential is such that the companies get what they want. The companies also fund the process of negotiation, which can involve payola, and divide and rule.

    There no doubt more work should be done than there is on cleaning up and rehabilitation. I believe this is an issue world-wide, and our competitors’ practice is often (typically?) ordinary, to put it mildly.

    There has been a recent report on innovation, but all I can find is a 2016 report from the Chief Economist.

    We are fifth in terms of number of companies involved in innovation. We are good with small companies, but not so good with large companies. As a result:

    In 2014–15, income from new or significantly improved goods and services was only around 7.2 per cent of total sales. With this estimate, Australia ranks 20th out of 23 countries in the OECD. The average of the top five OECD countries is 19.1 per cent.

    Most of our innovation is applying good ideas which come from elsewhere, and we are process innovators, rather than product innovators.

    Anna Krien reports that Townsville has only two big new things going for it. One is the $250 million football stadium, and the other is Adani.

    She describes it as “a spaghetti western town”, with wide, hot empty streets. It does, of course have a university, which is growing, and an army base.

    I recall Howard saying that we should be “relaxed and comfortable”, but it’s not working out too well.

  122. I am not now and have never been a card carrying ALP member.

    statement before the House UnAustralian Activities Committee

    I can’t tally them up now, but I’ve handed out HTV cards for several different mainstream parties, donated to a few, etc. Neither here nor there.

    I admit it is amusing to read about late nineteenth century anarchists being termed ‘libertarian’ or ‘libertarian socialists’. **

    These included socialists who would have no truck with Karl M or (later) the Bolshevik coup leaders.

    Examples: the author of Mutual Aid, Prince Petr Kropotkin; the author of Diary of a Chambermaid, Monsieur Mirbeau. [Third film version directed by Luis Bunuel, Spanish anarchist, starring the exquisite Jeanne Moreau; 1964]

    ** amusing only because Mr J uses the term in a somewhat different manner.

    Don’t apologise to the posters Brian.
    I hope the visitors get good value.

  123. I admit it is amusing to read about late nineteenth century anarchists being termed ‘libertarian’ or ‘libertarian socialists’. **

    It is funny, Libertarians are minarchists, and ‘ libertarian socialists ‘ are anarchist wolves in Libertarian clothing.

    I think something we all recognise is if someone brands you ” the enemy ” and insults you at every opportunity, they’re not interested in being enlightened nor open to ideas.

    Happy 4th of July everyone.
    If it wasn’t for the US War of Independence Australia wouldn’t be what it is today.

  124. If it wasn’t for the US War of Independence Australia wouldn’t be what it is today.

    True, but let us also remember the contributions of laissez faire capitalism which ignored the needs of the underclass and led to an increase in crime; and the “tough on crime” laws which filled the prisons to overflowing and made a penal colony an attractive proposition in the first place.

  125. And remember that the burden of Kropotkin’s argument in Mutual Aid concerned the cooperation and interdependence of populations of living species; not only direct symbiosis, but wider relationships for mutual benefit.

    Where Darwin wrote of “Nature, red in tooth and claw”, Kropotkin’s saw as many instances of cooperation, albeit through long held instincts rather than conscious individual decisions.

    The modern science of ecology bears out his vision of the living world; but is silent on his social prescriptions.

    Why, as I understand it, ecology claims that huge numbers of species breathe from the same, shared atmosphere; globally distributed in constant motion and mixing. And therefore through this and countless other mechanisms, affect each other. It behoves a sentient species, then, to consider how its activities might benefit or harm other species.

  126. Where Darwin wrote of “Nature, red in tooth and claw”,

    I must respectfully offer a correction to m’learned colleague.
    It was in fact Alfred Lord Tennyson who penned those immortal words in his poem “In Memoriam A. H. H.” (1850).
    The Origin of Species” was published 9 years later, and to the best of my knowledge doesn’t contain the phrase.
    But we are way off topic. Any further discussion of Mr J’s derailment should really happen on a Saturday Salon.

  127. Many thanks for that correction, zoot.

    (‘unlearned’ would be closer to the mark)

    As a confirmed pedant, I must prize above all else accuracy.
    If I am to demand it in others, I should endeavour to achieve it.

    I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never read The Origin of Species, but did enjoy the Sydney based novel, Darwin’s Shooter. Them’s deep questions, them is.

    As an aside, I think the scourge called social Darwinism may not be too far from the Heart of The Very Model of a Modern Libertarian.

    But who can surmise??

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