Good news ignored by Queensland media

In a one newspaper town, the Courier Mail will never miss an opportunity to slam the Palaszczuk Labor government, even if they have to distort or mislead, while generally neglecting good news.

So we’ve had another front page headline:

Screenshot of Courier Mail Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Most of the CM article comes from a good news media release from the Queensland Government, plus the information that the Queensland publicly-owned electricity assets returned $333 million more than Treasury had originally forecast.

Here is the media release in full:

Government pays forward energy dividends

Almost $1.5 billion in dividends from Queensland’s publicly-owned electricity assets have been reinvested in driving down power bills.

Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said annual reports tabled showed dividends in 2018-19 had subsidised regional power bills, provided two annual $50 discounts for Queensland households and provided discounted electricity for regional customers.

“Because the Palaszczuk Government stopped the LNP from selling our electricity assets, dividends can be directed to households where they’re needed most,” Dr Lynham said.

“This investment of dividends is part of the Palaszczuk Government’s Affordable Energy Plan to put downward pressure on electricity prices for all Queenslanders.”

Dr Lynham tabled the annual reports of the government’s five energy government-owned corporations: Energy Queensland Ltd, parent company of Energex and Ergon; Powerlink, CS Energy, Stanwell and CleanCo.

“In 2018-19, energy dividends enabled the Palaszczuk Government to deliver $465 million in subsidies to ensure families in regional communities across Queensland paid a similar amount for their power to those in the south-east of the state.

“For the most vulnerable electricity customers in our community, $267 million in dividends was reinvested for affordability programs and initiatives under the Affordable Energy Plan.

“And in 2018-19, $100 million in dividends was paid straight back into Queenslander’s pockets with $50 wiped off 1.9 million household power bills.”

Dr Lynham said funds had also been reinvested across the electricity supply chain, from generation, transmission and distribution to, improve, maintain and deliver reliable power.

“More than $226.3 million was invested into capital projects at Stanwell and CS Energy to keep generation assets running safely, reliably and efficiently,” he said.

“Another $210 million was invested in our poles and wires across Queensland with Powerlink and Energy Queensland.”

For the 2018-19 financial year, the publicly-owned assets employed 9160 Queenslanders across the state and trained 547 trainees and apprentices.

“Queensland’s power assets are owned and run by Queenslanders” Dr Lynham said.

“Because we own our power assets, Queenslanders are paying the lowest average electricity prices of any mainland state in the National Electricity Market.

“The Palaszczuk Government will continue to use public ownership of energy assets to back Queenslanders and put downward pressure on energy bills”

In 2018-19, Under the Affordable Energy Plan, the Queensland Government delivered:

  • $17 million in grants and interest-free loans to install rooftop solar panels and batteries.
  • $1.6 million for Queenslanders who took up EasyPay Reward, with residential customers receiving $75 credit each year and business customers receive $120 credit each year until 2020.
  • $2.5 million – of the total $4 million Energy Savvy Families Program – to help low-income families better manage their power bills.
  • $143, 000 in Solar for Rentals trial providing 42 rebates to help renters and landlords enjoy the benefits of solar.
  • $700,000 to deliver the Business Energy Savers Program to benefit agricultural customers and large businesses.

“The LNP still have not revealed how they will find $7 billion in commitments it has already made.

“Will they cut the subsidies our electricity companies provide, sack the people who work there or sell the income-generating asset altogether?”

End of media release.

The Courier Mail is either ignorant or wilfully ignores certain facts about electricity consumer prices in Queensland.

The first is that regional prices are regulated, and set each mid-year by the Queensland Electricity Authority. These prices then become the basis of the standard offer in SEQ. Regional consumers benefit from a $465 million subsidy. They don’t retailers touting for business, the bills are sent out and collected by Ergon, the network distributor. Many, if they hhad to pay the full cost of electricity, would not be able to afford to live where they live.

This year the news was good:

    Electricity prices for most regional customers will fall in 2019–20. The typical customer on the main residential tariff (tariff 11) will see a decrease of 4.4%, and the typical customer on the main small business tariff (tariff 20) will see a decrease of 5.8%.

Second, voters have made it clear that they want public assets like those in the electricity sector to remain in public hands so that we can finance important infrastructure and services, like education, health, police etc. In other states such profits go mainly to international companies. The CM editorial terms them a “cash grab”, showing their ideological orientation and pig ignorance.

When I looked into prices two years ago, for example in Electricity bills – Queensland acts because it can, I found that the Newman government was taking $5 billion per annum from the system. This was decreased to $3 billion under the first Palaszczuk government. My understanding is that this has been reduced by a further billion.

I stand to be corrected on these figures, which come from secondary sources.

Third, in recent years when interstate comparisons are made Queensland prices and bills are always competitive, usually the lowest. Lynham’s claim that Queenslanders are paying the lowest average electricity prices of any mainland state in the National Electricity Market accords with what I have seen in the last few years. Most recently this comparison of wholesale prices was given in an AFR article Outages drive brown coal power to new low:

That article also tells a tale of how generation source has changed in the past year:

Hydro output has been lower because of the weather, but coal plants have been unreliable in NSW and Victoria, with increased solar, wind and gas making up the difference.

Queensland has been almost all the time a net exporter of energy, and much of the new network solar now comes from there. This day in August has been fairly typical of what happens (from the NEMWatch site):

A total of 1995 kWh of large solar was being generated, 946 of it from Qld. During the day SA is often an exporter, but at times at night it is around 95% gas, and is effectively being propped up by imports of hydro from Tasmania, via Victoria.

Here is the graph of power bills from the Qld Competition Authority’s 2019-20 Regulated electricity prices for regional Queensland:

In a conversation with electricity expert Hugh Grant last year, he told me that the network charges (transmission and distribution) are actually greater than shown on the bill. His report published last year The Winners and Losers of the Monopoly Game: How the Queensland Government profits from Queensland’s excessive electricity prices includes this graph:

He notes:

  • Queensland’s electricity prices doubled from 2007/08 to 2013/14
  • The price rises over the past decade have been predominantly driven by increases in network charges, which increased six-fold from 2004/05 to 2014/15, accounting for over 95% of the total electricity price increases during the period
  • As a result, network charges now account for over half of Queensland’s electricity prices, whereas in 2004/05 they accounted for around 20%
  • By contrast, generation and retail costs remained relatively stable over the period

It is fascinating that power generation is comparable to what retailers charge, who I regard as leeches on the system. On the face of it Peter Beattie’s introduction of full retail competition into the domestic electricity market in 2006 (in SEQ only) does not seem to have been a big success.

Whether the increased cost of networks was caused by gold-plaiting or not is another matter. Such is often claimed, but Queensland has the most decentralised population, unfavourable topography and weather, plus vegetation growth simply beyond the experience and imagination of most folk south of the Tweed.

However, I don’t have the time or the expertise to properly critique the whole area of electricity costs, prices and charges. The QCA document is 157 pages. Meanwhile my advice is, be suspicious of simple gereralisations. Choose your experts wisely – Hugh Grant is one of the most knowledgeable you’ll find.

What is clear from the graph that consumer bills increased during the Campbell Newman years of 2012 to 2015, and have been constrained since. Labor before last election claimed electricity prices had risen by 43% under the Newman/Nicholls government. Before the last election the LNP were are getting a free ride in the media with statements like ‘Prices increased 70% under Labor’ by cherry-picking spot prices. (See also Cherry picking electricity prices in Qld election).

If we want to argue whether network charges are presently too high we need to understand that in the NEM are they presently determined by asset valuations and rates of return set by the the Australian Energy Regulator, which is set up under the COAG Energy Council. That body is essentially a meeting of states, which have constitutional responsibility for electricity. As such the Commonwealth is a member of the Council with equal standing, albeit given the role of chair.

The notion the Commonwealth energy minister Angus Taylor is “minister for electricity prices” is wrong and misleading.

As a citizen looking for context I find economist Ian McAuley’s June 2017 article This time, let’s get electricity pricing right more than interesting. It includes this astonishing graph of consumer electricity prices:

Up until 1996 electricity was provided by state electricity authorities. At that time they decided to co-operate and the whole notion of privatisation and competition started to grip. It took until 2006 for the National Energy Market (NEM) to be launched, but NEM was not fully operational until 2009 when the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) was established to manage the National Electricity Market (NEM) and gas markets.

Time, I think, for a root and branch reform in view of new technology and the transition to decentralised renewable power.

But I digress.

The Courier Mail can only manage cheap partisan shots in favour of one political party. No good news allowed, for example:

Two huge renewable hydrogen projects planned for Queensland:

    Two huge renewable hydrogen projects have been planned for the heart of Queensland’s major coal and gas regions, with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency agreeing to initiate funding to support feasibility studies to use large-scale renewables for the production of ammonia.

    One proposal is to build a solar farm of up to 210MW along with a 160MW hydrogen electrolyser to produce renewable hydrogen and “green ammonia” at Dyno Nobel’s existing facilities at Moranbah in central Queensland, which currently rely on gas.

    The second proposal is to tap into wind and solar and storage facilities to be built by Neoen to use renewable hydrogen to supply one fifth of the ammonia needs from Queensland Nitrates ammonia plant near Moura, which also currently relies only on gas.

    The two Queensland projects add to a growing list of renewable hydrogen proposals across the country, not just for the purposes of storing wind and solar for electricity, but also to help reduce emissions in key manufacturing industries such as ammonia production, and for the export of renewable fuels.

Update: I’m aware that the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has just produced a report on the future of the grid (see Powering our future and Delivering the grid of the future) and there is a review being conducted by the Energy Security Board into a
Post 2025 Market Design for the National Electricity Market (NEM). It requires a lot of effort to get on top of what is happening, and I don’t presently have time to tackle it.

There has been some coverage at RenewEconomy, and in the AFR. There seems to be a stoush between Audrey Zibelman of the AEMO and John Price of the AEMC. Here’s a taste from an article by Angela Macdonald-Smith Battle lines form in debate on future power system:

    Electricity policymakers, enforcers and producers are forming battle lines in what is set to be a contentious debate over the future design of the National Electricity Market.

    Some are urging an overhaul to ensure investment in generators that will fill in the gaps between wind and solar power.

    Sources point to strongly diverging opinions over whether the NEM can be made “fit for purpose” with some tweaks to its design, or whether a more centrally controlled system that prioritises security of supply is needed, despite the possibility it may cost more.

    Debate has been sparked by a review led by federal policymaking body, the Energy Security Board, into what kind of NEM is needed after 2025 given the rapid transition towards renewable energy, which points to a possible accelerated exit from coal power generation.

    Firmly on the side of a more centrally controlled system that prioritises reliability is the Australian Energy Market Operator, whose chief executive Audrey Zibelman early this month spelled out the need for separate markets for reserve capacity, grid stabilisation services and to provide value for “firm” generation sources. The market operator would then be able to call on those to ensure security of supply.

    But the Australian Energy Market Commission, the rule-making body for the industry, is known to favour a more price-led system, based more closely on the spot market-based NEM, where the ability for spot prices to surge as high as $14,000 a megawatt-hour should provide incentives for developers to build new, fast-response gas and hydro plants.

    The conflicting views have come to light through instances such as the AEMC’s rejection in February of an AEMO campaign for a “strategic reserve” to deal with power supply shortfalls.

I’ll try to do a post when I get time.

Update 2 (7 Oct 2019):

AEMO also has Transitioning to a lower emissions power system as an item on its forward work program.

A Canberra Times article Bob Brown’s convoy hurt Labor, says Richard Di Natale makes reference to “a politically charged inquiry into transitioning jobs from coal to renewables” which I hadn’t heard about.

So far I’ve found this from Lock the Gate:


    Communities in coal mining regions have called for support from the NSW Government to diversify their economies, following the establishment of a parliamentary inquiry into the sustainability of the state’s energy industry and how communities can be better prepared for change.

    The inquiry, established today by the Environment and Planning Committee in the NSW Legislative Assembly and chaired by Independent member for Sydney Alex Greenwich, will look into trends and forecasts for energy supply and exports in NSW and opportunities for sustainable economic development in regional communities likely to be affected by changing energy and resource markets.

89 thoughts on “Good news ignored by Queensland media”

  1. I’ve just updated the post with information about reviews to the future of the grid, and indeed the whole power system, too long to repeat here.

    There seems to be a stoush developing between Audrey Zibelman of the AEMO and John Price of the AEMC.

    My predilection would be to back Zibelman, because she is generally more practical and less ideological than John Price, who I think tends to assume intelligent consumers acting in a perfect market, when most people just want to flick a switch, get some power that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

  2. Brian:

    less ideological than John Price, who I think tends to assume intelligent consumers acting in a perfect market, when most people just want to flick a switch, get some power that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

    What people like John Price need to understand is that the cost of household power is quite low. The last time i looked it was about $5/day. Most of us don’t want to spend time looking for minor savings in power costs.
    Last time I looked part of what we paid went to pay the cost of retailers competing against each other.
    We need to get rid of the parasitic retailers and start extending the things we can use controlled (off-peak) power for. More controlled power would reduce costs and make it easier for the system, reduce the variation in demand and respond to drops in generation.

  3. John, yes, most of us have better things to do with our lives than hunt around for the cheapest deal on power prices. I think they are perhaps artificially low at present because of threats of “big sticks” etc. and in fact Alinta are aggressively looking to extend market share. As such they are setting the floor because they are willing to forgo profits to gain market share.

    I’ve looked at AGL and Origin from an investment POV, not to purchase, just to look, and both have profits that are thin, flat and struggling.

    The other Gentailer who is supposed to be gouging us is EnergyAustralia, which is foreign-owned. I read that they were hoping to spin off the Australian operations with a public listing, but felt they couldn’t in the present climate because of risk stemming from the “big stick” and they unstable investment environment, because, frankly, no-one can anticipate what the federal government might do next.

    The electricity bills cited in the Qld Competition Authority’s report are about $1200 pa, or about $3.30 per day. This surprised me on the downside. The ACCC report a couple of years ago had them at about $1950, which had been derived from secondary sources, not by sampling actual households. At the time that was about $600 pa higher than four other reports around the same time.

    Whether $3 or $5 it’s not a big deal for middle-class people, but there are people who go to bed to keep warm. Qld has an extensive program of helping the poor and needy, but still people can have their power cut off.

  4. News that the CM wouldn’t be interested in – Magnis puts cost of Townsville battery “gigafactory” at $3 billion:

    Magnis Energy Technologies has put the cost of its proposed battery “gigafactory” in the north Queensland city of Townsville at around $3 billion, but says it should deliver a handsome internal rate of return of around 21 per cent to the consortium investors.

    Magnis has been looking at the so-called “gigafactory” for several years now, hoping to produce 15GWh, and now 18GWh of battery cells a year to meet the emerging storage needs for electricity grids in the shift to renewables, and the anticipated switch to electric vehicles.

    This week, Magnis said the Imperium3 Townsville (“iM3TSV”) consortium has completed a final feasibility study that puts the estimated construction costs at just over $3 billion, spread across three stages that would see initial production beginning towards the end of 2022, and full production by 2027.

    When fully operational, 1150 jobs, way more than Palmer’s defunct zinc refinery.

  5. Dare I suggest Magnis might be one of those Capitalist entrepreneurs Jumpy was hoping would save us?

  6. Brian
    Magnis may have startup dreams that you could put your money in.
    Buy low, sell high right ?

    Luckily we still have the free choice to gamble what’s left of our “ hard earned “ on what we think is best.

    Good for Magnis, I wish them well.
    Hope they don’t become a Suntech or Solyndra.

    Just out of curiosity, wouldn’t this battery gigafactory need a bit of refined zinc ?

  7. Hope they don’t become a Suntech or Solyndra.

    … or an Adani.

    [PS: I don’t think Jumpy appreciates the gravity of our situation yet.]

  8. Jumpy, mums and dads normally buy high and sell low.

    I’d say there is too much risk in this one for me. Also no dividends. Generally speaking I’d only buy stocks that have been producing $30 million pa + profit consistently for years. In those terms Magnis is a tiddler.

    Don’t know about zinc. It’s lithium-ion, and if I were a betting man I’d be tempted to put money on the notion that in 10 years time we’ll be using something else.

    So celebrations for now, but future indefinite.

  9. Brian
    Well Australia has an abundance of both lithium and zinc for use in the hot battery competition.
    Magnis may be chatting to Palmer.

    In any event, I’d have thought you’d put a renewables positive company over profit for yourself.
    I’d love to Fisk your portfolio, in a civilised way of course.

  10. Brian my power bill for just the two of us averages about $550 per quarter of ~$6/day. The supply charge (that I agree is fair enough) adds about $1.10 is included in the $6 above. We are thoughtful consumers using low energy lighting, low energy pool pump on off-peak rates, minimal air con and solar hot water.

    All the renewable stuff is exciting but I watch as the incumbent players like AGL are carving out dominant positions to be well positioned no matter how the power is generated.

    Interesting about Magnis. I see from the posted link that they have interests in lithium and graphite. Every day new battery technology is announced, much of it ten years ahead of commercial if it ever gets there. Some researchers put out their results as bait seeking funding from say Panasonic. As far as I can tell though, the good prospects for batteries seem to be with graphene components, zinc-air and zinc bromine gel.
    As battery technology matures I think home storage and vehicle use will bloom and prove very disruptive to the power industry. And of course if the new batteries are suited to car and home use, then we will see serious decline in fossil fuel use. At last a foil to our shameful environmental policy.

  11. I’d have thought you’d put a renewables positive company over profit for yourself.

    Jumpy, I’m self-funded. The tax payer does not support me. I have to live on something other than fresh air.

    Geoff H, our electricity bills are not suitable for comparison, because living in an old area we also have gas (shock, horror).

    It’s a tight block, roof orientation is bad for solar, which we do have some, but solar hot water is not a real option.

    So we live in sin.

    We do have a pool and I think they use a fair bit of electricity. If it was practical, which it isn’t, we’d probably fill it in.

    We also have an extra fridge, which is problematic.

    Life is full of compromises, but the good news is that I probably won’t be here for too long.

  12. Batteries aren’t “renewable positive”??

    I would have thought they were, but I haven’t the evidence to support such claims.

    I don’t know if the components that make up batteries are renewable resources but I’m guessing not.

  13. I have a book “Speeches that changed the World”. I look at it occasionally and last night I got a kick from reading a Nixon speech dated April 30, 1973. Here are bits that read in Trump-time I found especially wry:
    ” I was determined that we should get to the bottom of the matter, and that the truth should be fully brought out – no matter who was involved.”
    “But I knew that in the final analysis, the integrity of this office – public faith in the integrity of this office – would have to take priority over all personal considerations.”
    “…during my term as President, justice will be pursued, fairly, fully and impartially, no matter who is involved.”
    “There can be no whitewash of the White House.”

  14. Come to think of it, I can’t think of a “ renewable “ energy supply system in modern use that is made up of fully renewable components.

  15. Geoff,

    Please correct my poor memory if need be, but I think Richard Nixon proclaiming “no whitewash in the White House” was like a burglar loudly announcing that every family should be secure within their family home.

    I think that speech was one of several in which he misled the American public over what he knew and when he knew it, and what steps he had taken or authorised, in attempting to prevent his involvement becoming clear.

    But on the other hand, I do enjoy listening to recordings of those old speeches.

    “I am the first accused…..” Nelson Mandela at the Rivonia Treason Trial, around 1963.

  16. On the other hand Jumpy at 5.30pm, I can think of plenty of non-renewable energy technologies that use almost exclusively non-renewable resources in both their manufacture and operating.

    We just have to lift our game, Si??

    Over here in Queen Victoria’s State, we start Daylight Savings Time tomorrow morning. The Colony seamstresses have been working overtime to sew and repair our stock of non-fading curtains, in preparation for the big day.

    And I don’t know about you, but over here the Daylight is generally solar powered. Not that we would skite……

  17. I’ve been intrigued by Jumpy’s antagonism to Brian’s shareholdings and I think I’ve worked out the reason. Shareholders are a group of people who have pooled resources for the benefit of the group, i.e. a collective.
    In Jumpy’s universe shareholding must be tantamount to socialism.

  18. Good point, zoot. Capitalist promoted Commercial Collective Socialism. You only have to extend the concept to where the collective becomes dominated by an elite group and you have full blown communism. So a community dominated by corporations becomes a Mixed Member Communist State. Welcome to America.

    Corporatism = Communism

    Good to know.

  19. Corporatism = Communism

    Well, it’s a part of it that’s growing in the West, it’s the opposite of actual Free Market Capitalism.

    You see BilB, Socialism has always used force over individuals rights to choose. Whereas Capitalism uses persuasion.
    Those devotees of Marxist ideology always use force over free will. A short perusal of self proclaimed socialist leaders actions is enough proof.
    When socialists say “ public “ they really mean Big Brother ( Government), and by” civilising “ they mean control.

    If they keep it up we’ll be called Veneztralia soon.

  20. Those devotees of Marxist ideology always use force over free will.

    On the contrary, Jumpy. have a look at Paulo Friere and The pedagogy of the oppressed.

    He worked with Latin American peasants and workers, who were controlled by the internalisation of ruling class values.

    He taught them how to read, and in doing so become aware of their oppression through consciousness raising.

    That was true Marxism at work, or so I was told when I studied the philosophy of education in the 1970s and 1980s with “Red” Ted D’Urso at U of Q.

  21. That’s unfair Brian, trying to confuse Jumpy with facts.
    What’s worse, it won’t have any effect – he’ll ignore it here and in a week or two he’ll repeat the same baseless assertion somewhere else. He’s quite tiresome that way.

  22. We’re getting down to basics now.
    Human beings cooperate and have done so since our times in the forest as chattering apes. Language assists cooperation.

    So the weaker prosper when assisted or protected by the stronger. These weaker include infants, children, less experienced and less able. (In modern terms, the sick and disabled, for instance.)

    Benefits to the group – I’m back with the chattering apes – and hence benefits to every member of the group.

    We are the descendants of group members who not only survived but thrived. We share their propensity to cooperate.

    As wiser heads have pointed out, shareholding capitalism, huge markets conducted under agreed rules, etc. are as much a byproduct of cooperation as any social democratic or socialist or communist dispensation.

    Recently I read a short essay by an Aussie who was delighted to visit a bridge in Amsterdam, where centuries ago, wealthy burghers would gather to bid to join in mutual business enterprises. The beginnings, as he saw it, of mercantile companies open to sharing their risks and profits outside a family: the genesis of the modern share market.

    To point to nuances in the biological ancient history of the planet, and to oppose the widespread emphasis on “Nature, red in tooth and claw” in the late 19th century, Pyotr Kropotkin wrote Mutual Aid: a Factor in Evolution.

    The natural world is full of instances of biological mutual aid: symbiosis. It shouldn’t fill us with dread, or anger.

  23. Jumpy – “Capitalism uses persuasion”. Try not paying your tax and see how persuasive the taxman can be.
    Try starting another political party and watch the larger parties coalesce into a club to beat you down.
    Really, I think each system overlaps at the edges.

  24. Geoff, I haven’t studied this in detail, but I have heard that in the 19th century, especially in the US, a corporation was often formed in order to construct a large piece of infrastructure and then was disbanded when the job was done.

    Come to think of it, like the Snowy Mountain Corp.

    However, institutions have a tendency to perpetuate themselves, eg the The Halifax Relief Fund & Commission, which ran from 1917 till 1976.

    Mostly a good thing, preserving skills and competence. However, the state needs to regulate them, limit greed and rapaciousness.

  25. Brian

    On the contrary, Jumpy. have a look at Paulo Friere and The pedagogy of the oppressed.

    Well I wasn’t really talking of an outlier that almost nobody has heard of.
    More about Marxist devotees like Stalin, Lenin, Pol Pot, Mao, Charvez, Castro, all the Kims….those monsters, champions of the workers they said.

  26. Well I wasn’t really talking of an outlier that almost nobody has heard of.

    Hint for people who didn’t learn proper because one of their teachers kept bursting into tears: Those devotees of Marxist ideology always use force over free will includes every incident including every possible outlier.

    No, don’t thank me, always happy to help 🙂

  27. Zoot, instead of being a handful of sand in the conversational vagina, please give your thoughts about the implementations of Marxist ideology through history and it’s resultant death count compared to implementations of Free Market Capitalism.

    I’m doubtful you have an even vague concept of either but at least it’ll be entertaining rather than just shit posting.

  28. You want a treatise on the Opium Wars, the Great Potato Famine, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Rubber production in the Belgian Congo, strike busting through the ages, thalidomide, avoidable opioid deaths in 21st Century USA, Love Canal, the Flint Michigan water supply and that sort of thing?
    It’ll take a while, but I’ll get back to you.

  29. One more thing Mr J.
    Nobody here is carrying a torch for Stalin, Lenin, Pol Pot, Mao, Chavez, Castro, or all the Kims (even though your mate DJT seems to have a crush on the latest one). We agree that they are/were by and large bad people.
    Like you we have an aversion to totalitarianism, but unlike you we recognise it can occur in “free” market polities like Chile, the Philippines, Wehrmacht Germany and Persia under the Shah.
    Please stop using the same tired argument when you barrack for your team. You’re perpetuating a false dichotomy.

  30. Whatever troll, nothing you mention is Free Market Capitalism.
    You lie constantly out of ignorance and a totalitarian wet dream.

    I’m sorry I fed you.

  31. Is Free Market Capitalism an ideal so elusive that it has never actually been established (let alone continued) in a state?

    Does it have some characteristics that make it unlikely ever to be established by human beings?

    How did Chile under Pinochet differ from Chile under Allende? (just to take one of Mr zoot’s examples)

  32. I must admit I’m a trifle bemused as well. Perhaps Jumpy could help by giving us an example or two of what he believes to be “Free Market Capitalism”.
    (In passing, and in reference to m’learned colleague Ambigulous, I would just note that Baroness Thatcher judged Pinochet’s Chile to be an exemplar of the oeuvre.)

  33. Lord Jumpy, high priest of the Free Market Capitalist (FMC) Cult. My understanding of FMC is that it provides a veneer of respectability for members of the Greed is Good Cult who use FMC beliefs to justify making big mobs of money by avoiding tax and minimizing the amount they pay to their employees and small suppliers.
    Perhaps the reverend Ambi or your close friend Zoot could expand on this?

  34. No good asking me John, I have no idea what Jumpy is getting at since I apparently lie constantly out of ignorance and a totalitarian wet dream.
    I must admit I don’t know how one lies about something when one is ignorant of the subject, but I’m sure Jumpy knows what he means.

  35. Zoot, Jumpy only deflected to the “capitalism is pure” diatribe because he couldn’t cope with your “shareholding is socialism” reality check, and because he was embarrassed by the “fire wood is 100% renewable” revelation. But as you know only too well once he is deflected from his course, he ricochets wildly before finally flopping, spent of energy, into the grass somewhere.

  36. Shareholding is large scale cooperation, and some accountability is involved; The Queen’s Province, for example, has succoured a serial pest whistleblower who first came to attention by blabbing on his former boss (Premier J. Kennett), went on to “Crikey” and keeps turning up to Annual Shareholder Meetings to ask questions designed to embarrass the Directors/CEO and entertain the Press.

    He has also stood for local council and Parliament.
    Stephen Maine (?)

    But I hear that so many shares are tightly held by “institutional” shareholders (super funds? fund managers?) that it’s difficult for holders of smaller parcels – annoyed as they may well be – to muster a majority at an AGM.

    Rev Amb
    Learned Counsel for the Accused

    Disclosure: zoot and I have no financial alliances; he is a seeker after truth, as all here are

  37. I’ll ignore the banter as much as I can.
    Both socialism (as variously interpreted) and capitalism (ditto) seem to have run their course.
    Socialism failed to address inter alia, needs, ambition and equality. Capitalism gave everyone a chance to be rich, but has resulted in, over time, concentration of wealth in just a few hands. And those hands, by retaining such vast proportions of wealth, starve markets of would-be buyers of goods and services. So the economy slows and wealth stagnates where it is. The masses eat cake.
    Fair to say then that both systems are deeply flawed. But back in the day when there was the sole trader on the streets hawking veggies or bread or meat, there was competition and the chances of fair trade was reasonable. But as some traders grew and formed conglomerates the notion of fair competition was choked. The mechanics developed at that time became globalisation pathways and the small trader these days is always at risk of being overwhelmed by a larger entity.
    I think then that the failure of capitalism is linked to size and proportion, not forgetting greed and avarice and complicit government.
    The role of government, supposedly to make the ground fertile and arable for enterprise has become corrupted such that the lines of intervention (by government) have become blurred.
    That breeds mistrust that is quickly confirmed by government inaction (think climate for example) or actions (think covert and overt support of coal mining).
    Link to the amazing scenario in the US, not forgetting the questionable nature of Morrison’s relationship with Trump, and the growth of China as a presence and you see a good deal of uncertainty ahead. If geopolitics continue to fester, and then you factor in the adverse effects of global warming on the availability of water and food, the discussion of capitalism versus anything else might be rather inane.

  38. But I hear that so many shares are tightly held by “institutional” shareholders (super funds? fund managers?) that it’s difficult for holders of smaller parcels – annoyed as they may well be – to muster a majority at an AGM.

    Correct. The institutions own 80% + of the shares.

    Voting papers are sent out beforehand, so you can either vote ahead of time like a postal vote, assign a proxy, or assign the chairman of the meeting as your proxy, which I think is what happens by default if you throw your papers in the bin, or if ultra cautious shred them.

    So by the time of the meeting there is not much to decide, but opinions can be aired and are given space, because to suppress opinions is not a good look.

    Sometimes the instos get cranky and probably caucus, about things like excessive remuneration, bonusses etc, especially when the results are crap.

  39. Just an off-topic random thought, please don’t waste any time on it:
    I am told libertarians eschew any form of collective action, dedicated as they are to extreme individualism.
    This leads me to wonder if “libertarians” like Peter Thiele and Robert Mercer (to pick just two names out of a hat) can own shares and remain true to the ideals they claim to be promoting.

  40. I’ve done a second update to the post:

    AEMO also has Transitioning to a lower emissions power system as an item on its forward work program.

    A Canberra Times article Bob Brown’s convoy hurt Labor, says Richard Di Natale makes reference to “a politically charged inquiry into transitioning jobs from coal to renewables” which I hadn’t heard about.

    So far I’ve found this from Lock the Gate:


      Communities in coal mining regions have called for support from the NSW Government to diversify their economies, following the establishment of a parliamentary inquiry into the sustainability of the state’s energy industry and how communities can be better prepared for change.

      The inquiry, established today by the Environment and Planning Committee in the NSW Legislative Assembly and chaired by Independent member for Sydney Alex Greenwich, will look into trends and forecasts for energy supply and exports in NSW and opportunities for sustainable economic development in regional communities likely to be affected by changing energy and resource markets.

  41. GH: The socialism/capitalism division is a bit simplistic. For a start, it may be useful to divide businesses in the following way:
    1. State owned/controlled businesses. (Classic socialism.)
    2. Worker owned/controlled co-operatives. (Classic communes.)
    3. Business owned/controlled by people or organizations who put up some of the money to start/buy the business. (Classic capitalism.)
    In all the above governments may set boundaries that limits on what/where/when the business operates and the rewards given to the people who work for the business as well as charging taxes . Patent, brand holders, unions and other external entities may also have some control over what a business does.
    It is also useful to think about the relationship between the business and its employees. This may include:
    1. Slavery: The business have control over some of the people who work for it to the extent that it is difficult or even illegal for the employee to leave and get another job. (NOTE: Slavery is still a problem in modern Australia.)
    2. Free market employment. Wages and conditions are negotiated between individual employees and the employer. In extreme cases there is no legal limits on what can be agreed to.
    Howard’s “work choices” was trending that way. (Beloved of some capitalists – more so when there is a shortage of jobs.) The problem with free market pay setting is that it destabilizes the economy. Economy contracts, easier to negotiate low wages, falling wages contract the economy and vice versa.
    3. Safety net award systems: These provide a safety net while allowing individuals or groups to negotiate above award conditions.
    4. Rigid awards: Employees get the award without any scope for negotiating above award conditions. (Socialist?)
    Then there are labels like socialism placed on welfare and other systems aimed at helping people at the bottom of the pile.
    GH: Which of these do you want to talk about?

  42. John thanks for the veritable blitzkrieg response. Actually I appreciate the trouble you took to even read my rant.
    First thing I saw was how complicated it all seems to be, much of that is needless. I did include government influence as a factor and I don’t think they do a very good job of “managing” things.
    Secondly there are a lot of “ism’s”. I think that in many discussions’ isms are used to truncate argument e.g. communism can be a devastating term in its weaponised form, just as socialism is being used by my obsession, Trump.
    Third, I think the argument would be bottomless, and by the time we talked it through, the ground would have shifted anyway.
    Fourth, I’m not sure there is an ideal “approved model”. My preferred model though is one of mutual benefit to owners and workers, and a responsible attitude towards the public good. That twat in the US who escalated the price of life-saving cancer drugs in the US ought to be pilloried in the public square. Same for the purveyors of insulin in the US. I don’t think business should be conducted on a maximum profit basis and charge what the market will sustain. I don’t think public interest is given sufficient space.

  43. I would call welfare “welfarism” which in a broader context includes not only pensions or individual benefits or universal health care, but also subsidies to small and large businesses, tax breaks for favoured productive activities, charity work etc. Once were tariff protections….. for manufacturers.

    “What the market will bear” becomes a strange concept if/when the number afflicted by some rare, fatal illness number thousands or hundreds in the nation and there is only one suitabke medicine, priced in excess of $100,000 p.a. A free market? Scarcely.

    Perhaps old-fashioned, but the Hippocratic Oath still has admirers: first, do no harm.

  44. The way the Capitalism/Socialism divide, as it’s manifested over the last century is this, is quite evident in an economic sense.
    It’s become a difference between individual ownership and free will.

    Capitalism is like consensual sex, the most attractive alternative is a rarity and competition is fierce. Everyone has an option to opt in or out, some may see better value in a different partner, up to them.

    Socialism is like rape. Making it social democratic just validates gang rape. No opt in or out, no choice, less freedom and eroded personal rights.

    It all comes down to personal property rights V force like 3 wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch.

  45. Zoot ( im sure I’ll regret this attempt at civil engagement but whatever)

    I am told libertarians eschew any form of collective action, dedicated as they are to extreme individualism.

    That person that told you that is incorrect about Libertarians, best scrutinise any other thing they tell you from now on is my advice.

    No,no, Libertarians are involved in all sorts of collectives. Be is religious or commercial or sporting or charitable or many other groups. Even Workers Unions.
    But it has to be based on Liberty.
    Unions are a wonderful phenomenon until coercion happens.

  46. To expand: a group of farmers band together to form a cooperative (eg Wesfarmers or Cooperative Bulk Handling) or a group of people pool their resources to form a mutual financial fund (insurance or banking) and you characterise it as rape?
    Analogy is not your friend.

  47. Unions are a wonderful phenomenon until coercion happens.

    And what stops libertarians from being coercive?

  48. No,no, Libertarians are involved in all sorts of collectives. Be is religious or commercial or sporting or charitable or many other groups. Even Workers Unions.

    So there are libertarian rapists socialists.
    Who’d have thought?

  49. Well Ambi, such is the state of the debate in Australian politics; feel pinions, baseless arguments, simple sloganeering with meaningless labels and crude sexual references. And barely days since the sincere pledge to stay civil. Since sexual connotations seem to be important, I presume it is a form of auto-erotism. Another thread derailed, I am sure he is keeping an account.

    It is not about learning, putting together solid arguments or winning debates. Forget about his obsession on ‘socialism’, which one is he talking about anyway, and other -isms. What he is about, is politics as self amusement, not working towards sustainable outcomes. A different game, where nothing really maters, only the freedom to the gratification of winning, what ever. I’d say he is more of an anarchist than libertarian socialist.

  50. Jumpy: If welfare that helps people in need is rape what words do you use to describe free market capitalistic globalization?
    OR Are you simly overdue for a Bex and a long lie down?

  51. John

    Jumpy: If welfare that helps people in need is rape …

    A weird low way of putting words in my mouth. I’m sure ootz will point out the many ways in which that is a non valid argumentative approach.
    There are many wonderfully generous avenues of individual philanthropic giving we can all do.
    My issue is that a lazy person in abdicating that welfare giving duty to government rather than self burdening altruism gives a false sense of giving because it involves stealing.
    It has all to do with consent or force.

    To anyone that thinks they are Robin Hood to “ steal from the rich and gave to the poor “, your not.
    Robin Hood stole taxs back from the government to help the poor.

  52. Jumpy, when you said “Capitalism is like consensual sex…” I thought you had lost the plot well and truly, to use common language.

    Zoot calling it “tripe”. and “Analogy is not your friend.” I thought apposite, quite mild, and treating you gently.

  53. Jumpy:

    My issue is that a lazy person in abdicating that welfare giving duty to government rather than self burdening altruism gives a false sense of giving because it involves stealing.
    It has all to do with consent or force.

    I have often thought of charity as “voluntary taxation” and use it regularly to donate to both broad target charities such as the Smith family as well as more tightly targeted charities that work towards helping deal with particular problems. However, there a two problems with giving to charity. Firstly there are so many worthy causes that it is hard to do comparisons. Secondly raising money usually cost a lot of money.
    Me, I want a high taxing government like the Scandinavian governments that do their job properly and help the creation of egalitarian societies. Don’t have much sympathy with a tax whinger like yourself who is quite happy to take advantage of government services such as educating your workforce, keeping your workforce healthy and protecting you and yours from criminal gangs.

  54. As promised upstream (October 6, 2019 at 7:41 pm) I started looking at the number of deaths caused by capitalism vis-à-vis socialism and I stumbled upon this page, which I think addresses Jumpy’s question quite adequately.
    The author could have had Jumpy in mind when s/he wrote

    There seems to be an intellectual trend where any death occurring in socialism is attributed to socialism, whereas the routine murders of people in capitalism is either “not real capitalism” or “just a few bad people.

  55. Zoot: From your links it looks like estimates numbers killed by a specific country in a particular time slot and place is pretty sus. Trying to estimate how many of the deaths are due to where the country sits in terms of the countries standing on the socialist/capitalist continuem is even harder given that Australia’s medicare is considered raving socialism in places like the US. (As for the peace loving Scandinavians)
    The idea that colonialism was considered in the first link as being a automatic result of capitalism is questionable. (Did Russia and China become capitalist during their expansionist phases?)

  56. John
    I agree with summation of the article that zoot linked as sus, even to the point of ridiculous reattribution by an obviously brainwashed propagandists.

    Anyway, you wrote this,

    Me, I want a high taxing government like the Scandinavian governments that do their job properly and help the creation of egalitarian societies.

    Could you please nominate one Scandinavian Country for discussion and comparison, they do differ.

  57. I agree with summation of the article that zoot linked as sus

    There are two (count them) links in two (count them) comments. How do you intend to dismiss the other one?
    FWIW I think the first source (RedStar The Comrade!- really??) is obviously biased and I agree with John the bias shows, but I don’t believe that invalidates the whole article and I do think the passage I quoted at 12:35pm is on the money.

  58. Jumpy: Try comparing Sweden and the US if you want to. Been to both. Impressed much more by the Scandinavian one.
    Zoot: Sorry but the first link you sent set of my BS detector because it linked capitalism to colonialism. My guess is that, all else equal, capitalism as practiced by the US will have a higher death rate than a well run socialist country because fewer people will die because the very poor cannot afford good nutrition or good medical treatment. However, a well run capitalist country (think Sweden) with a good welfare system will kill a lot less people than an unfairly run one like the US.

  59. John, we are in furious agreement that there is no indisputable metric which proves capitalism’s death count is greater than socialism’s or vice versa; there are far too many variables.
    My quest was to answer Jumpy’s challenge (which I believe I have) and along the way I found these two articles. For me they both make valid points and raise issues which I find interesting, so strangely enough I have benefited from Jumpy’s binary thinking.
    I hereby offer my grateful thanks to the Mackay Mauler.

  60. Meanwhile back to the Courier Mail, laugh of the day.
    Seen on extinction rebellion social page

    Scientific fact…. dogs get more information from sniffing an other dogs arse, than humans reading the Courier Mail.

    Up here they had a demo in front of the Cairns Post calling Murdoch a climate criminal.

  61. Not sure of this, but Vladimir Ilyich Lenin may have helped keep the “capitalism feeds colonialism” story with his booklet Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism.

    In usual times a polemic published in Russian by the leader of a small revolutionary group would have sunk without a ripple; but the devastation of WW1 and the Bolshevik coup d’etat led by its author, suddenly made all the previous writings of the fellow world famous, mainly but not exclusively amongst socialists, trade unionists, anti-colonialists and the colonised.

    His thesis was crude.
    (but to a Leninist his writings are as scriptures. )

    As others have pointed out, colonialism or empire building had been going on for many centuries before capitalism developed, gor starters.

    Assyrians.
    Romans.
    Mongols.
    Alexander.
    Imperial China.
    Khmer empire.
    Incas.

    (Probably the Emperor Penguins too, though historical data is scant.)

    Cheerio

  62. Up here they had a demo in front of the Cairns Post calling Murdoch a climate criminal.

    That’s good, Ootz, but it is not good to block traffic in Brisbane. the Peaceful Assemblies Act of 1992 I believe is quite generous in allowing protesters to use the streets in reasonable ways to make a point.

    Stopping the roads so that ambulances and fire engines can’t get through, nor could a pregnant woman trying to get to hospital to give birth.

    Governments have an obligation to keep roads trafficable, and people have a right to use them. Those rights should not be trumped by someone deciding to lock everything down.

    They are pushing authorities into a position which make then less likely to give in to bullies. And rather than gaining support they are pissing people off.

    More directed action such as you describe in Cairns would be a better strategy.

  63. Ootz: When it comes to capitalism vs socialism I am a pragmatist who wants to look at particular cases before deciding. For example if we are talking about cars and roads I think that in most cases cars should be built by private companies (capitalist or worker owned) and the role of governments is to set design standards, the rules for building these cars etc.)
    On the other hand I think the bulk of roads should be owned by the government, built by private contractors and maintained by public or private depending on what maintenance work is being done.

  64. John

    Jumpy: Try comparing Sweden and the US if you want to.

    Well, we both live in Australia, so Sweden and Australia for comparison of tax rates is a better I think.
    Hope you agree with that.

    So you’d go with a rise in GST from a standard 10% to 25% but a drop in Corporate tax from our 30% to 21.4% for starters ?

  65. Brian @ 11:09 am,

    I think your correct so far as strategy is concerned.

    I one looks at any map about concentration of voters in a State one see a radiating pattern from the capital from green out to ALP then LNP.
    The green voters at the centre of these criminal blockages aren’t too bothered because they peddle, walk or train to work.
    The main LNP voters aren’t bothered because it doesn’t disrupt them much at all ( even the cute yelling at a Post Office).

    Nope, it’s clearly ( to me ) disrupting ALP voters the most.
    If that’s intentional or not I don’t know but I suspect it is.

  66. Jeepers Jumpy,

    I hope those Greensters are more likely to pedal to work, rather than peddle.

    You’re not saying they’re dope retailers, are you?

  67. 🙂 got me again.
    In my defence, every English class teacher I ever had, we had a personality clash.

    …come to think if it that’s not a defence but rather a lame excuse.

    Well done..

  68. Jumpy:

    So you’d go with a rise in GST from a standard 10% to 25% but a drop in Corporate tax from our 30% to 21.4% for starters ?

    In terms of “progressivness” a GST and company tax are much the same in that they both push up the prices companies need to charge to get a fair return after tax.
    In case you missed it what I want is for tax collected to be sufficient for governments to do their job properly including having a good welfare system.
    At the moment I am inclined to favour a flat tax for all except very very high earners combined with a universal basic income system that is high enough to make the overall tax/welfare system progressive. The big attraction is that both flat taxes and UBI are very simple to manage.

  69. Jumpy:

    I one looks at any map about concentration of voters in a State one see a radiating pattern from the capital from green out to ALP then LNP.

    Hate to mention it mate but in NSW the Greens are strongly supported in the Northern Rivers area which just happens to be on the border with Qld. Northern Rivers used to be Country Party heartland.
    Qld Greens only state member is the member for Maiwa (who beat the LNP member for Indooroopilly.) Conservatives from leafy suburbs don’t like the LNP right can bring themselves to switch to the Greens but not Labor.
    The poor inner city electorates of old that voted Labor are morphing into educated middle class voters who find Green policies attractive.

  70. If our criterion is solely the paucity of tax rates, we compare very badly with places like Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea and Equatorial Guinea.

  71. I one looks at any map about concentration of voters in a State one see a radiating pattern from the capital from green out to ALP then LNP.

    Got a link to that map? I’d like to have a look at it.

  72. I’ve only had a few of visits to NSW Northern Rivers, so I don’t know the place well. I wonder whether Nimbin stared something there.

  73. Brian: The Northern Rivers area is a very attractive to live. The people who moved there, rich and poor, want it to stay that way. The influx meant that farmers and people dependent on the farming industry became a more and more insignificant part of the population. My guess is that the Greens help maintain property values these days.

  74. John, every time I’ve been there the place has looked like a green paradise. Even the farming, including sugar cane, make the place look very green.

    So is seems likely that the people moving there have green values, and it’s only 2 hours from Brisbane, which is what many people in Sydney put up with as a daily commute.

  75. According to Wikipedia, the Northern Rivers area has 2 Federal MPs , 2 Nationals and 1 ALP.
    On a State level it has 2 National, 1 ALP and only 1 green.

    I doubt the greens have any real podium to stand on there with regard to how nice it is. The voters there determined that.

  76. Sorry 3 Fed electorates obviously , not 2.
    None the less, it more a National Party area than a green/alp one.
    Anyone willing to praise the Nats ?

  77. Jumpy: Add two lord mayors to the mix. The Greens get a lot of support along the coast and the foothills which fits in with the hippy+property value argument. The Nats are still hanging on the Western side which is more rural.
    Haven’t worked my way through the booth but the best booth for the Greens was Wilson’s creek at 95%. Still settling in.

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