Category Archives: Politics & Government

Gas to burn

Jay Weatherill’s energy plan involves the construction of a government-owned 250MW gas-fired power plant to provide emergency back-up power and system stability services for South Australians, and power for his resources minister to instruct the owners of Pelican Point to turn it on. Yet his plans for cheaper gas, or any gas, will not work quickly and possibly will not work at all. Laura Tingle in an excellent article published under the title of Power sources: steaming Premiers and Pumped PMs tells us that on the futures market on Wednesday, the June contract for electricity in Victoria hit $147.50 per megawatt hour, compared to a price for the March contract of just $80 as energy traders put a price on the closure of Hazelwood in Victoria at the end of March.

Meanwhile a group of former BHP Billiton and BP executives is consulting with SA to build a private equity funded power station, using gas from a floating regasification plant sourcing gas from the North West Shelf and from Singapore, some of which may actually come from the Cooper Basin in the state’s north via Gladstone.

Is this for real, and how did we get into this ridiculous mess? Continue reading Gas to burn

Solutions to the energy crisis

Malcolm Turnbull has now, for reasons best known to himself, elevated “energy crisis” to a “national security” issue. Ben Potter puts the situation well:

    A decade of fighting over renewable energy, carbon prices and fossil fuels has left Australia with some of the world’s dirtiest and costliest energy – a bitter yield from historical abundance.

    Three years ago, manufacturers began complaining they couldn’t get gas, and 18 months ago the South Australian grid started to wobble.

    Now, electricity and gas prices across the eastern states are two to three times their levels only a couple of years ago.

    Gas exporters overcommitted to foreign buyers; the federal government mismanaged renewable energy and the regulatory apparatus – and politicians responsible for it – are frozen in the headlights.

Continue reading Solutions to the energy crisis

How Bill Clinton and Barack Obama prepared the ground for Donald Trump

Thomas Frank has recently been in Australia, spruiking his book Listen, Liberal or Whatever Happened to the Party of the People. He told Richard Fidler that

    the Democratic Party has drifted away from its working class roots and been captured by technocrats — lawyers, financiers and professionals.

    As a result, the Democrats have lost interest in the problem of inequality and the increasingly stressful lives of the everyday people who used to vote for them.

He told Fidler that Democrats believed that if people felt they had been left behind (“the deplorables”) it was because that is what they deserved. They had made the wrong choices, studied the wrong subjects, or hadn’t tried hard enough. Continue reading How Bill Clinton and Barack Obama prepared the ground for Donald Trump

What is Trump up to?

It has emerged that Donald Trump was from youth a regular church-goer and an enormous admirer of his pastor, one Norman Vincent Peale, whose 1952 book The Power of Positive Thinking was translated into 15 languages, remained on the New York Times best-seller list for 186 weeks and sold 5 million copies.

Peale’s son is not so keen on Trump, but Trump is very keen on himself. His biographer says Peale’s influence is the source of Trump’s boundless self-confidence, and is the key to his persona, along with his father’s modus operandi and interest in branding.

Trump’s “America first” meme presented as somewhat isolationist. What has emerged in his recent speech to the joint houses of Congress, is that Trump has in fact embraced American exceptionalism, the notion that America has a special role in the world to lead the all peoples and countries to the sunny uplands of peace, justice and freedom. Trump is going to save the world. Continue reading What is Trump up to?

Poll stuff: the redhead on the surge

The dominant media narrative has been that the voters continue to desert the main parties, especially the LNP, in droves, mainly to One Nation. Reality is a bit more complex, and recent polls have thrown up other interesting results, like 64% of people overall, and 56% of LNP voters, support a royal commission into banking.

Let’s look at Newspoll first, where Labor has opened up a yawning two-party preferred gap of 55-45, up from 54-46:

Continue reading Poll stuff: the redhead on the surge

Henry: politicians fail while Australia burns

That was the title of Phillip Coorey’s article in the AFR about Ken Henry’s withering speech to the Committee of Economic Development. For those who came in late, Dr Ken Henry was secretary of treasury from 2001 to 2011, appointed originally by Peter Costello and served during the Rudd/Gillard years. He is now chairman of the NAB board.

I think it was the news story of the week. Continue reading Henry: politicians fail while Australia burns

Saturday salon 25/2

1. Abbott’s full frontal attack

Tony Abbott obviously feels he has to save the nation from his successor Malcolm Turnbull, with a five point plan. Here’s four:

    The policy manifesto, which was splashed across the front page of Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph on Friday morning, included freezing the renewable energy target, slashing immigration numbers to improve housing affordability, cutting government spending and abolishing the Human Rights Commission.

Sorry, he wants to abolish the Renewable Energy Target and let the market do whatever it does. James Massola at the SMH has the fifth: Continue reading Saturday salon 25/2

Pauline Hanson now normalised in the Liberal firmament

Michelle Grattan makes the case that the WA preference deal, (putting One Nation ahead of the Nationals in the upper house regional seats in return for One Nation preferencing against Labor in the lower house, which they probably would have done any way), has ‘normalised’ Pauline Hanson in the Liberal firmament.

The question now is whether One Nation has matured, whether the Liberal Party has moved towards them politically, and whether ON is actually working in the interests of the battlers Pauline Hanson claims to represent.

Continue reading Pauline Hanson now normalised in the Liberal firmament

Saturday salon 18/12

1. Millennials lack hope

I heard it on the radio, and have tracked it down, I think, to The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017. It depends where you live:

    Millennials in emerging markets generally expect to be both financially (71 percent) and emotionally (62 percent) better off than their parents. This is in stark contrast to mature markets, where only 36 percent of millennials predict they will be financially better off than their parents and 31 percent say they’ll be happier.

Continue reading Saturday salon 18/12

Politicians lie, while corporates game the electricity system

I can’t make up my mind whether Malcolm Turnbull’s brains have fried, or whether he is just plain evil. I think of Godwin Grech, and think the former. My wife is convinced it’s the latter, and she’s usually right about people.

Anyway politics reached a new level of absurdity last week, as Scott Morrison brought a lump of coal into the parliament, which ended up between a crazed Barnaby Joyce’s legs, while in Question Time Turnbull’s answer to every question about the omnibus bill to change social security entitlements (and save a heap of cash) was to rant about Bill Shorten, blackouts and dreaded renewable energy in South Australia.

All the while, fossil fuel generators are gaming the system, to extract more from electricity consumers, while the market regulator ends up splitting the profits.

Two politicians from South Australia, Premier Jay Weatherill and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis, are very angry, and they’ve had enough. Continue reading Politicians lie, while corporates game the electricity system

The Case for 3 Member Electorates

Queensland’s parliamentary system is based on single member electorates. All you can really say in praise of this system is that it reliably provides all Qld voters with a local member. There is no guarantee that the winner of the two part preferred (2PP) vote will form government nor that the parliament will function as a check and balance against government excesses.

This post looks at how a parliamentary system based on 3 member electorates could overcome most of the shortcomings of the current system.

Continue reading The Case for 3 Member Electorates

Saturday salon 11/2

1. Royal commission into child sexual abuse

I haven’t been able to bring myself to post anything on the Royal commission into child sexual abuse so far. The sheer horror if it has been too much for words.

Now we have some numbers in relation to the Catholic Church. Continue reading Saturday salon 11/2