Sunday, 19 August 2018

The first unintended consequence of Malcolm Turnbull's perverse $487M grant to the small Great Barrier Reef Foundation surfaces


The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 August 2018:

The Turnbull government's claim its $444 million grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation would spur private donations has been disputed by a leading coral scientist who says funding for his own venture has dried up in the wake of the cash splash.

Charlie Veron, a marine biologist dubbed "the godfather of coral" for discovering more than one-fifth the world's coral species, said US donors to his Corals of the World website dropped plans to donate $60,000 once they saw "the Australian government was going to pour a fortune" into reef projects.

"My source of funding has completely stopped," Dr Veron said.

Dr Veron said his website, a decade in the making, would be crucial for any future recovery work on the reef, such as the $100 million reef restoration and adaptation program that will now be under the foundation's stewardship.

Dr Veron said he met last week the foundation head, Anna Marsden, who said she "didn't have any money that could go" to his project despite it needing $200,000, or one-quarter of 1 per cent of the government's largesse, to survive.

"The whole thing is just a mystery to me," he said. "It's a drop in the bucket if ever there was one."....

A foundation spokeswoman said Dr Veron had been one of "a number of organisations [that] have expressed an interest" in seeking funds.

"At a recent meeting, we advised Dr Veron that a process was being established to consider proposals under the Reef Trust Partnership," she said. "We will consider proposals for funding once the governance and advisory framework is established and a process for applications has been approved."

Fairfax Media approached Josh Frydenberg, the environment and energy minister, for comment.

"Perverse outcomes are going to be part of a process that wasn't thought through," Tony Burke, Labor's environment spokesman, said. "The due diligence [into the Foundation before the grant was made] was a joke."

Mr Burke said it was possible that less private funding would available for reef projects than before as a result of "decision making with almost no formal process".

The foundation spokeswoman said that the non-profit will continue to make the raising of private funds "a focus and responsibility, so we can amplify the impact of the government’s investment".....

Dr Veron said donors to his site had poured in $2.5 million to build the most complete record of corals that would be critical for efforts to restore reefs in the future. For instance, it has identified and made available information of eight coral species that appear to be able to resist bleaching.

Once more a Coalition federal government is promising savings on household electricity bills


“Throughout the 1980s, '90s, and most of the 2000s, electricity prices tracked fairly closely to general consumer price trends. In the past decade, however, electricity has shot off the charts. Since 2008 power prices have risen 117 per cent, more than four times the average price increase across sectors.” [ABC News, 18 July  2018]

All three major NSW political parties - Liberal, Nationals and Labor - along with their federal counterparts drank the Kool-Aid when it came to the alleged desirability of privatising state assets in the electricity and gas sectors of energy supply.

Here is a brief outline of the how and why...... 

DECEMBER 2010


"The completion of this first tranche of the energy reform process meets the government's objectives – we have exited electricity retailing, we have created a competitive market structure approved by the ACCC and we have received a strong financial return for the taxpayers of NSW,” he [NSW Treasurer] said…..

Earlier, the shadow treasurer, Mike Baird, said: "Whatever they finally announce, it is clear from the ongoing speculation that the receipts will be at the lower end of the $5 billion to $7 billion range, which is about half what these assets are worth – and that is before you take off the $2.3 billion in inducements for the new coalmine needed to get the deal away.

'The end result is billions of dollars lost forever."

A UBS analyst, David Leitch, said: "NSW households are in for higher electricity tariffs and more people at their front door, trying to get them to change electricity supplier."

NOVEMBER 2013


"When this bill is passed, this Government estimates that power prices will go down by 9 per cent, gas prices will go down by 7 per cent, and that means that the average power bill will be $200 a year lower and the average gas bill will be $70 a year lower," Mr Abbott said on October 15.

JUNE 2014


As of 12 May 2017, two government assets have been privatised in 2017. The most recent privatisation is the 99-year lease of a 50.4% share of Endeavour Energy. On 11 May 2017, the NSW [Berejiklian Coalition] Government announced that a consortium led by Macquarie Group's infrastructure arm had been successful in securing the tender for a price of $7.6 billion. Along with Ausgrid and Transgrid, the lease of Endeavour Energy represents the final of the three “poles and wires” sales – a key policy of the Liberal/National government in the 2015 State election. Announcing the sale, NSW Treasury stated:

The NSW Government will retain a 49.6 per cent interest in Endeavour Energy and will have ongoing influence over operations as lessor, licensor and as safety and reliability regulator.

June 2017


Electricity is now management heavy with a blow out in the number of managers relative to other workers. In addition electricity now employs an army of sales and marketing and other workers who do not actually make electricity. In addition the reforms seemed to encourage profit gauging on the part of companies in the industry who are able to inflate the asset base used in calculating the permitted return on assets. More than half the asset base appears to be ‘goodwill’ and retained earnings. There is a weird circular process in which high rates of return are capitalised in ‘goodwill’ and other fictitious or notional items while high profits guarantee high retained earnings which also feed into the asset base. In that way the unproductive capital base is allowed to increase and we are charged for capital that has no real function in producing electricity….

A host of factors have been blamed for the increase in electricity prices relative to other prices but we would point out that the main departure from the rest of the price index happened post privatisation and corporatisation.

JULY 2017


Origin, EnergyAustralia and AGL have all announced price increases for electricity and gas starting from July 1….

In NSW, residential EnergyAustralia customers will see electricity prices increase by up to 19.6 per cent. Origin Energy customers will get a 16.1 per cent rise.

DECEMBER 2017


The key supply chain cost components examined in the report include wholesale electricity purchase costs, regulated network costs and environmental policy costs.
Annual electricity prices for the representative consumer on a market offer in New South Wales:

* increased by 10.2 per cent from 2016-17 to 2017-18 due to higher wholesale electricity costs, driven by the retirement of Northern and Hazelwood generators and increasing gas prices

* are expected to decrease by an annual average of 6.6 per cent in 2018-19 and 2019-20. The expected decreases are largely attributable to decreases in wholesale electricity costs driven by expected new generation (approximately 4,100 MW across the NEM) and the return to service of the Swanbank E generator (385 MW in Queensland). In addition, in NSW, regulated network costs are uncertain in the two years to June 2020 due to the AER being required to remake revenue determinations for the NSW distribution network providers for the 2014-19 regulatory control period.

JANUARY 2018


The most significant price rises were electricity, up 12.4 per cent, fuel up 10.4 per cent, domestic holiday travel up 6.3 per cent and fruit up 9.3 per cent. 

Across New South Wales, we found theaverage annual electricity bill to be just over $1,667. However, we found that bill-payers aged in their 40s reported the highest average bills in NSW at $1,911.76. Those aged 70 or over reported the lowest average bills at $1,466.40.

JULY 2018


This was comprised of $120 due to the [national energy] guarantee and $280 due to new investment in renewable energy that was already planned, mainly because of the Renewable Energy Target, which will run to 2030….

The ESB [Energy Security Board**] proposal increases the annual average saving to $550 on 2018 prices, of which $150 is due to the guarantee and $400 due to renewable energy.


AUGUST 2018


After reading the National Energy Guarantee Consultation Paper as well as the 1 August 2018 Final Detailed Design and listening to statements made by the Turnbull Government, I personally find it hard to believe this change in federal government policy will significantly limit the rate of increases to household energy costs over time when this is based on an assumption that the market will respond by lowering prices across the Australian wholesale and retail sectors of energy supply.

Talk of money 'saved' by households is illusory as It will certainly see no reduction in the actual amounts listed on 2019-20 household electricity and gas bills once this guarantee comes into effect.

*KPMG Economics, November 2017, NEG and Electricity Pricing

Network charges represent on average about half of the electricity supply chain costs, with generation and retail costs (combined into the ‘competitive market’ category) accounting for 42%, and environment policies adding the remaining 8%, based on the latest AEMC Electricity Price Trend report.

The make up of the total average retail cost is shown in Chart 6 which reveals the single largest component of the price of electricity is distribution costs, which represented about 40% of the average cost of electricity. Over the AEMC forecast period to 2018/19, these costs are still expected to represent by far the largest component of the electricity cost stack, albeit fractionally lower in a couple of years’ time.

The next largest component is the wholesale price of electricity, which in 2015/16 represented about 28%. Under the AEMC Base Case scenario – which includes the retirement of the brown coal fired Hazelwood Power station in Victoria – this cost component had been anticipated to rise steadily over the forecast period to represent about 30% of the cost of electricity by 2018/19.

As shown in Chart 7 below, these three jurisdictions experienced higher than anticipated wholesale electricity costs in the order of between 30% and 80% when compared to original forecasts for FY2016/17. When considered on a weighted average basis, using the same methodology applied by the AEMC to estimate the values for the National Summary, wholesale electricity costs have therefore been about 17% to 20% higher than anticipated.
This increase in wholesale electricity costs pushed the bundled cost of electricity to rise by about 5% higher than anticipated by the AEMC, and shifted the relative importance of wholesale prices in the cost stack from about 28% to 31%.


Formed out of the Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market (the Finkel Review), the Energy Security Board comprises an independent chair and deputy chair along with the expert heads of the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC), the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

The current Board membership is Chair Dr Kerry Schott AO,  Deputy Chair Clare Savage, Australian Energy Market Commission Chair John Pierce, Australian Energy Market Operator Chief Executive Audrey Zibelman, and the Chair of the Australian Energy Regulator Paula Conboy.

Monday, 13 August 2018

North Coast Voices will resume posting after Sunday 19 August 2018


North Coast Voices apologises to its readers.

Due to ill health there will be no daily postings on this blog 

until after Sunday 19 August 2018.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Anthropomorphic Global Warming in Australia 2018


Australians have been told repeatedly that global warming leading to climate change is real.

The continent is becomng dryer, record air and ground temperatures are no longer novel, heavy rain events are predicted to become more destructive, mass flora and fauna extinctions are expected and the coastline is beginning to erode faster than at the historical rate.

It's not just happenng in Australia, other continents are also experience climate change and, the one factor most have in common is generations of ever increasing greenhouse gas emissions produced by both households and industries in metropolitan, regional and rural areas.

Everyone bears some responsibility for where the world finds itself......


In the first quarter of 2018 Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions will be over MT 7.3 CO2-e  higher than the national Paris ERT commitment made on our behalf by the Australian Government.

Over one quarter of Australia’s CO2-e budget for 2013 to 2050 has already been spent in the last 4.75 years.

AUSTRALIA’S ANNUAL EMISSIONS, CALENDAR YEAR TO SEPTEMBER 2017*


* This graph includes both published Government NGGI data and Ndevr Environmental projections for Q4/FY2017 and Q1/FY2018

BY  SECTOR 2005-2017
~~~~~~~~~~~

World-wide, land used for non-animal and animal-based agriculture in 2017 was estimated to produce 24% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.


66.3% from enteric fermentation in ruminant livestock (eructation and flatulence)

15.5% from agricultural soils

10.8% from prescribed burning of savannas

3.9% from manure management

2.4% from liming and urea application

and the remainder from rice cultivation and field burning of agricultural residues.

Total greenhouse gas emissions from world-wide food systems in 2012 contributed between 19% to 29% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. By 2030 the combined greenhouse gas emissions from global food production is expected to double.

~~~~~~~~~~~

National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting, Australia’s highest 10 greenhouse gas emitters 2016–17

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Quotes of the Week


“You can’t tell me what to do, you’re not my dog!”  [Anon]

“Take your hundred dollar hat on your 1 dollar head and get back to rorting the system for you own greed you lying, dribbling fraction of a man.”  [Self-confessed reformed journalist Ronnie Salt tweeting about the Nationals MP for New England NSW, 6 August 2018]

Tweet of the Week



Friday, 10 August 2018

The fight against Japanese whaling in the Antarctic continues....


Minke Whale Breaching at http://wildwhales.org/speciesid/whales/minke-whale/

Australia states its position……


Joint media release
Minister for Foreign Affairs, The Hon Julie Bishop MP
Minister for the Environment and Energy, The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP

2 August 2018

Australia is very concerned by Japan’s latest proposal to lift the global moratorium on commercial whaling at the next International Whaling Commission meeting in September 2018.

Australia remains steadfastly opposed to all forms of commercial and so-called ‘scientific’ whaling and continues to be a leader in seeking to strengthen the International Whaling Commission to protect whales.

We strongly support the 30-year global moratorium on commercial whaling and will vehemently oppose any attempts to undermine the processes that support it, including through changed voting regimes or the establishment of catch-limits for commercial whaling.

Australia and Japan enjoy a deep and strong bilateral relationship, but we disagree on the issue of whales. At the Commission meeting in September, Australia will be calling on like-minded nations to reject Japan’s proposal.

Australia has worked tirelessly to see an end to commercial whaling. We have co-sponsored resolutions to improve the operation and scrutiny of the Commission and its scientific committee; we have supported the establishment of new sanctuaries where whales can thrive in their own environment; we initiated the Commission’s twelve-nation Southern Ocean Research Partnership supporting non-lethal whale research; and we successfully took Japan to the International Court of Justice.

The Australian Government will continue to advocate strongly and consistently for the cessation of commercial whaling and so-called ‘scientific’ whaling. The science is clear, you do not need to kill whales in order to study them.

How one Japanese newspaper reported the issues……

The Japan Times, 4 August 2018:

SINGAPORE – Japan and Australia agreed Friday to make efforts to prevent their whaling dispute from hurting bilateral relations, a government official said.

During talks in Singapore, Foreign Minister Taro Kono briefed his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop about Japan’s proposal to restructure the International Whaling Commission to make it easier to resume commercial whaling.

But Australia is strongly opposed to all forms of whaling, raising concern that ties between Tokyo and Canberra could be strained by a practice that Japan says is a cultural tradition.

Last month, Japan proposed resuming whaling of some species of relatively abundant whales. The government halted commercial whaling in 1982, in line with the global moratorium adopted by the IWC, but has hunted the mammals since 1987 for what it calls “scientific research purposes.”

In September 2014, the IWC adopted a resolution saying Japan should abide by the International Court of Justice’s ruling earlier this year that its “scientific whaling” program was illegal and should be halted.

Bishop and environment minister Josh Frydenberg released a joint statement on Thursday condemning the proposal to lift the global moratorium on commercial whaling.

BACKGROUND