Showing posts with label Malcolm Bligh Turnbull. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Malcolm Bligh Turnbull. Show all posts

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Tweets of the Week



* Between 28 October 2014 and 20 August 2015, 2GB Radio and Alan Jones published 30 broadcasts. Twenty-seven of these broadcasts conveyed 76 defamatory imputations of and concerning the Wagner brothers according to the Court*



Friday, 6 July 2018

The Lib-Nats class war continues apace and General Turnbull reminds us of another victory


On 1 July 2018 Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull proudly reminded his fellow Australians that the planned personal income tax cuts had started that day.




He was careful not to point out that to get that $530 tax refund next year this nurse or school teacher would have to earn above the average full-time wage in their respective professions.

Turnbull was also careful not to mention that these personal tax cuts excluded the lowest income earners - many of whom would be hit with the second tranche of penalty rate cuts which came into force on 1 July as well.

While the fact that on 1 July he just happens to get a 2 per cent parliamentary pay rise for the third year in a row, during a period of extremely low wage growth for ordinary workers, passes without mention as well.

It did not go unnoticed...........

The Guardian, 1 July 2018:

This week saw criticism of Labor starting a class war. But the real class war is being fought by those who seek to erase people on low and middle incomes from the debate. And too often the media are willing participants in this erasure.

Let us be honest: Australia is a nation whose politicians are for the most part drawn from similar socioeconomic (and education) backgrounds, covered by journalists who (including myself) come from similar backgrounds, and where any interruption to this course of events – such as when Ricky Muir was elected to the Senate – is greeted with a barely disguised level of condescension that someone not university educated or white collar has deigned to enter the sanctum.

It is a situation of course not solely devoted to income – gender and especially race are also major factors at play. In positions of power we remain a very white, relatively well-paid male nation (and I speak as one of that group).

It is not a situation without consequences.

Retirement age of 70? Well, that seems doable to one who sits behind a desk. The shift of jobs to the services sector? Well, after all, who would want to work in a factory? Low levels of industrial disputes? That must be good – let me quote some measure of international competitiveness while I pass over these record low wages growth and wonder at the coincidence.

It’s the type of thinking that has journalists asking “Is $120,000 the new rich” because that will generate a headline without even caring that it is more than double the median income.

And it is why I have little time for the theatre criticism that can infest political coverage where journalists writing for publications whose target audience is the very wealthiest in our society talk about how Labor’s “class war” attacks on Malcolm Turnbull are poor politics that won’t fly, and are divisive.

That’s pretty rich given today low-paid fast-food, hospitality, pharmacy and retail workers around the country are seeing cuts to their penalty rates.

Let us not fall into the trap of believing we can’t suggest that the situation and wealth of those in power has no impact on the policies they put forward, even while such policies actually benefit those same people who are putting them in place.

Oh no, we must instead keep to the myth that Australia is some egalitarian paradise where our history is one of everyone buckling down and working together to forge a nation against the odds. Bugger the rum rebellion, put John Macarthur on the $2 note, and bask in the warmth of misremembered history……

We see this erasure in his speeches where he talks of “school principals and police superintendents” to describe those deserving of a tax cuts as being somehow not wealthy – indeed as very much middle class.

The base level salary for a Victorian police superintendent is $154,412, the median salary for a Victorian school principal in 2015-16 was $113,446. That someone would use such incomes to talk up tax cuts says all you need to know about who he sees as the most deserving.

And here I must admit the media is often hostage to this erasure as well.

Upon the passing of the income tax cuts, one newspaper ran the line “What do low-medium income earners get?” and noted that “From July next year, Australians who earn up to $125,333 will get up to $530 cash-back when they lodge their tax return”.

In 2017 the median income was $52,988 and the top 10% of employees earned more than $109,668. Congratulations to those in the top 10%, you’re now officially middle-income Australia.

It means those who are actually middle and low-income workers are effectively erased from the debate – their situation ignored, and where to even raise it draws a rebuke – how dare you play the class war card! Why do you hate deserving middle class like the police superintendent?

The budget, despite what we might be led to believe, given the tax cuts that have just been passed without any savings measures attached, is not a magic pudding. Money spent on tax cuts to those presented as middle class but who are actually wealthy, means less money for those on actual low and middle incomes.

We do have a class war in Australia, and right now it is being won by those who not only would have you believe it is not occurring – and should not be mentioned – but who also would have you believe that those who are actually well off are doing it tough.

We need to be honest about who makes decisions in this country, how they are made and who they benefit. And we need to be honest about what is the reality for people on low and middle incomes. Failure to do so not only erases them from the debate, it ensures the system remains unchanged.

Read the full article here.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Quotes of the Week


"We have, as you know, taken a very strong line on national security and border protection here and when I was speaking with Jared Kushner just the other day, and one of your immigration advisers in the White House, we reflected on how our policies have helped to inform your approach," Mr Turnbull told the president. We are very much of the same mind."  [Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull speaking with US President  Donald J. Trump in early 2017, quoted by the Newcastle Herald, 21 June 2018]

"You ever notice they always call the other side 'the elite'…The elite! Why are they elite? I have a much better apartment than they do. I'm smarter than they are. I'm richer than they are. I became president and they didn't."  [US President  Donald J. Trump speaking at a Minnesota rally,  The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 June 2018]

“It's what Labor used to stand for, but no more. This privileged elite opposite wants to keep the workers in their place. I remember when the Labor Party had members that had really worked. I look at this group of university-educated apparatchiks and I don't see any Jack Fergusons there. I see an educated, privileged class that wants to kick the ladder out so that others can't realise their dreams.”  [Malcolm Bligh Turnbull in a moment of political projection, Hansard, 19 June 2018]

Thursday, 28 June 2018

So that champion of silvertails Malcolm Bligh Turnbull thinks mentioning his wealth in public is a form of class warfare?


“They want to attack me having a quid…They want to attack me and Lucy for working hard, investing, having a go, making money, paying plenty of tax, giving back to the community." [Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, The Guardian, 25 June 2018]

“The honourable member has asked about my investments, which are set out in the members' interests disclosure….. If honourable members opposite want to start a politics-of-envy campaign about it, I don't think they'll be telling people anything they don't know.”  
[Malcolm Bligh TurnbullHansard25 June 2018]

“It has embraced the politics of envy and class war”;
[Malcolm Bligh Turnbull speaking about the parliamentary Labor PartyHansard25 June 2018]

“He says I'm a snob." [Malcolm Bligh Turnbull speaking about Labor leader Bill Shorten, Hansard, 19 June 2018]

I can’t speak for anybody else. However I would gladly “attack” the vainglorious Malcolm Bligh Turnbull - not for being wealthy but on the basis that:

(i) during his time practising law he was allegedly not above abusing the legal process, a judge stating in 1984 that he “managed effectively to poison the fountain of justice”;

(ii) he reportedly made millions from the logging industry in the Solomon Islands in the early 1990s – when Hong Kong-listed Axiom Forest Resources of which he was chair virtually clear-felled its holdings and, whose logging practises were considered "amongst the worst in the world";

(iii) he was at the centre of Australia’s biggest corporate failure to date in 2001, as chairman of investment bank Goldman Sachs Australia, and many ordinary working class people lost everything while he walked away virtually unscathed;

(iv) as Water Minister in the Howard Government in 2007 he wanted to wreck water sustainability in the Clarence River catchment area on the NSW Far North Coast in order to satisfy Liberal-Nationals supporters in the Murray-Darling Basin;

(v) as an independently wealthy federal minister in 2007 Malcolm Turnbull was submitting claims to the Dept. of Finance for $175 accommodation costs per night while in Canberra even though he was staying at an ACT residence owned by his wife and, until he was caught out in 2014 also submitted claims of $10 per night if his wife came to stay at his ACT penthouse;

(vi) as chair and managing director of Goldman Sachs Australia and partner in New York-based Gold Sachs and Co. from 1998 to 2001, he helped lay some of the early building blocks for the Global Financial Crisis;

(vii) his political judgement was so poor that, after meeting then public servant and Liberal Party supporter Godwin Grech in private on or about 12 June 2009, he asserted to parliament on 22 June that a forged email was a true document in an effort to bring down the government of the day; 

(viii) he and his government opposed any real wage increase for workers on the minimum wage in a submission to the Fair Work Commission and went on to actively support a cut to penalty rates – safe in the knowledge that their own parliamentary salaries would increase at fairly regular intervals;

(ix) he resisted the creation of the Banking and Finance Royal Commission and set up terms of reference which sought to nobble that commission;

(x) as Communication’s Minister and then Prime Minister he deliberately wrecked Australia’s hope of having world-class Internet connections;

(xi) he continues to move forward with imposing a punitive cashless welfare payment system on the majority of welfare recipients while also continuing the reduction of funding to vital social services; and

(xii) his first response to any challenge to his world view is to sneer at both the questioner and the content of the question.

An more authentic telling of Malcolm Turnbull’s own ‘poor boy made good’ story

Malcolm Bligh Turnbull went to a public primary school at Vaucluse in Sydney’s affluent Eastern Suburbs for about three years. During this period the family income was in the vicinity of £8,700 to £9,700 a year – with his mother earning four times the average female wage as a successful screenwriter.

Then from the age of eight he went to Sydney Grammar School as a border during and after his parent’s divorce proceedings. He received a scholarship for at least part of that time.

When Malcolm was in Year 10, his father bought a luxurious three-bedroom apartment in Point Piper. The apartment had extensive water views and cost Bruce Turnbull est. $36,000. Before that both he and his father had lived in a flat belonging to his mother.

He graduated from university during the years when undergraduate and post-graduate tertiary education was free of course fees in Australia. All this is on the public record.
Malcom Turnbull purchased his first house while still a university undergraduate.

At age 23 he bought a semi-detached house in inner-Sydney Newtown for almost $50,000 and at age 25 he bought a Redfern terrace for $40,000. He bought his own first home as a married man, for an undisclosed sum in Potts Point, after returning from his stint as a Rhodes schlor at Oxford University.

Malcolm Turnbull inherited assets worth an est. $2 million from his hotel-broker father before he turned 29 years of age according to one of his biographers, Paddy Manning.

He went into  a cleaning business with former NSW premier Neville Wran. After the sale of his co-founding interest in IT company Oze Email Ltd for a reported $60 million, he also founded a merchant bank with Nicholas Whitlam, son of the former prime minister (both Packer and Larry Adler gave their financial backing for a short time). 

In 2008 BRW reportedly estimated Malcolm and Lucy's joint wealth as $133 million and, in 2010 he was included in the BRW Rich 200 list for the second year running for having a personal fortune of $186 million. He and his wife Lucy went on to greater wealth which was last jointly estimated to be in the vicinity of $200 million.

His last Statement of Registrable Interests lists a veritable slew of financial investments and an expensive property portfolio shared between he and his wife. 

Malcolm Turnbull’s annual salary as Australia Prime Minister places him in the Top 10 for world leaders and even the most conservative estimation of his total annual income places him in the top 5 per cent in this country.

In the second half of 2016 Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull made a political donation towards the Liberal Party federal election campaign of $1.75 million.

It has been reported that Malcolm Turnbull and his wife give $550,000 annually to charity via the Turnbull Foundationtheir "private ancillary fund" which apparently has a family corporation/s as trustee/s and appears to act as a tax minimisation scheme as the entire $550,000 is potentially 100 per cent tax deductible.

The personal income tax ‘cuts’ recently pass by the Australian Parliament will potentially benefit the Prime Minister, as will the proposed company tax cuts as he owns or co-owns a number of active corporations.

I say potentially, because during the Panama Papers exposĂ© it was revealed that Malcolm Turnbull is not adverse to availing himself of the advantages of international tax havens and likely already pays little tax on much of his financial interests.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull supports an attempt by former prime ministers Howard and Abbott to impose an elitist world view


Here is public comment on and by the main characters in what looks remarkably like an ill-considered and rather crude attempt at a beer hall putsch against academic freedom.

With one of the eight Ramsey Centre directors, Tony Abbott, giving the game away when he revealed that half of the proposed four-person Partnership Management Committee had an expectation that this committee would directly set the Bachelor of Western Civilsation curriculum and hire academic staff.

An expectation which appears confirmed by a statemet attributed to the Ramsey Centre CEO that; “If we feel like it’s not going to go to appreciation of Western Civilization, then we can withdraw the funding.”  

Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation vision statement:

Paul Ramsay was a leading Australian businessman who was passionate about education and wished to educate future generations in the traditions and practices of western civilisation: its history, philosophy, literature, science, theology, music, art and architecture.

He also wanted to create over time a cadre of leaders – Australians whose awareness and appreciation of their country’s Western heritage and values, of the challenges that have confronted leaders and people, with that broad heritage in the past, would help guide their decision making in the future.

The Ramsay Centre Scholarships will provide students from across Australia the opportunity to study western civilisation in this spirit at one of our partner universities. Places will also be available within the BA degrees to non-scholarship holders. [my yellow highlighting]

The ANU Observer, 8 March 2018:

ANU announced plans for a $25,000 a year scholarship associated with a proposed Bachelor of Western Civilization on Tuesday, subject to student consultation. The announcement occurred at a forum for staff and student feedback, where more details of the proposed program were given, though some students voiced concerns.

At $25,000, the scholarship is the largest ever offered at ANU. It will be larger by just above 15% than the Tuckwell Scholarship, which is set at $21,700 for 2018.....

In a question at the forum, one attendee quoted the CEO of the Ramsay Centre, Simon Haines, as saying, “If we feel like it’s not going to go to appreciation of Western Civilization, then we can withdraw the funding.”  [my yellow highlighting]


*The proposed program comprises 16 core courses, typically taken over three years, with an additional Honours year sequence open to outstanding students. Students may replace up to 4 of the 16 BWC courses with 4 courses of classical or modern European language study. Students will be able to take the program alongside other disciplines offered by the University and (in the case of double-degree students) other degrees.

*The different courses within the program consider books from a variety of genres or disciplines (predominately works of literature, history, philosophy, religion, politics) but also including architecture, art and music, 

*The program will be capped at 60 students consisting of up to 30 scholarship recipients in the first year and up to 30 non-scholarship recipients. Up to 10 further scholarships will be made available to students in the second year of the degree.

*A distinct aspect of the proposed program is the use of the ‘Socratic’ approach. The program aims to create active learners engaged with primary texts in classes of no more than six to eight students. These small-group discussions will be supplemented by a series of panel-style discussions where academics from different perspectives engage in discussion with each other and with students.

*Curriculum recommendations will be made by the Partnership Management Committee (consisting of two academic staff from the Ramsay Centre and two academics from the ANU, one of whom is the Dean of CASS) and considered through the normal ANU academic processes[my yellow highlighting]

Liberal MP for Warringah Tony Abbott in Quadrant Online, 24 May 2018:

“The key to understanding the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation is that it’s not merely about Western civilisation but in favour of it. The fact that it is “for” the cultural inheritance of countries such as ours, rather than just interested in it, makes it distinctive. The fact that respect for our heritage has largely been absent for at least a generation in our premier teaching and academic institutions makes the Ramsay Centre not just timely but necessary. This is an important national project. It’s not every day, after all, that such a big endowment is dedicated in perpetuity to raising the tone of our civic conversation…..

A management committee including the Ramsay CEO and also its academic director will make staffing and curriculum decisions.” [my yellow highlighting]

Brisbane Times, 7 June 2015:

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will personally intervene in the ANU's decision to pull out of a controversial new degree in Western Civilisation, saying he wants to talk to the university's vice-chancellor about it directly.

On Thursday, Mr Turnbull became the latest Liberal politician to wade into the furore over the course, which was to be funded by the John Howard-headed Ramsay Centre.
The Prime Minister said he was "very surprised" by the ANU's decision last week to end six months of negotiation with the centre and would be speaking to vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt personally "to get his account of it".

"I find it very hard to understand why that proposal from the Ramsay Foundation would not have been accepted with enthusiasm," Mr Turnbull said….
[my yellow highlighting]

Professor Brian Schmidt AC, Vice-Chancellor and President, Australian National University, writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 June 2018:

The news came yesterday that Australian National University remains ranked by QS as number one in Australia and in the top 25 universities in the world. It is a global reputation we take seriously. One that is built on the basis of academic autonomy and free academic inquiry.

ANU has declined donations in the past and will again where we are unable to meet the wishes of the donor within our normal practices. It is right that we explore opportunities openly and in good faith, but it is also right that we let prospective donors know when we cannot provide them with what they want.

Our decision to end negotiations with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilization has attracted a great deal of interest. In this case, the prospective donor sought a level of influence over our curriculum and staffing that went beyond what any other donor has been granted, and was inconsistent with academic autonomy.

This would set a precedent that would completely undermine the integrity of the University.

While there has been plenty of noise from all ends about the merits of the study of Western civilisation, the decision at our end has nothing to do with the subject matter.

In fact, the reason we entered into discussions and, no doubt, why we were of interest to the donor, is our global reputation for scholarship and teaching across the full breadth of the Western liberal tradition from classics, history and literature to philosophy, art and music. We offer more than 150 courses in western scholarship. It would take 18 years of study to complete all of those courses.

The opportunity to augment our teaching and research in these areas, along with a generous scholarship program for students, was an attractive proposition for ANU and we were grateful to the Ramsay Centre for considering ANU as a partner.

But at the end of the day, the University operates on the same principles with all donors, whatever their area of interest. Whether it is funding to support the study of Persian language or the study of classics, the same principles apply. The University retains full control of all curriculum and staffing decisions. This actually gets to the crux of the issue here for us. In this case, the donor sought a level of influence over our curriculum and staffing that went beyond any existing arrangements we have.
[my yellow highlighting]

UPDATE


On 1 June The Australian National University announced that it was withdrawing from negotiations to create a degree program with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation. We took our decision for no other reason than the Centre's continued demands for control over the program were inconsistent with the University's academic autonomy.
We anticipated attacks from some for even contemplating introducing the degree, and from others for being anti-Western civilisation. What we had less reason to expect was the protracted media firestorm which has continued daily for nearly a month, in certain sections of the press, with ANU constantly assaulted for capitulating to pressure from those hostile to the Ramsay Centre, but without evidence or new information being offered. Scrutiny from the press is crucial in western democracies in holding public institutions to account - and universities should not escape it. But does stating over and over again a false narrative make it true? 
We have intentionally refrained from going into the details of the University's negotiations with the Ramsay Centre, partly because of our respect for what we had understood to be the confidentiality of those negotiations, partly to allow the Centre clear air to rethink its position after exploring options with other institutions, and partly because of our unwillingness to personalise the arguments in the way that others have been all too ready to do. But it has become obvious that we need now to further explain our decision "in the public square".
If ANU had withdrawn from the program simply because some people within our ranks were uncomfortable, for essentially ideological reasons, with the very idea of it, we would deserve all the criticism hurled at us.  But that was absolutely not the case. There was, and remains, strong support across the University for a major enhancement of our teaching and research capacity in the area of Western civilisation studies. We are attracted by the wide-ranging liberal arts courses taught in some prominent American universities, and remain wholly willing to craft a similar degree course here. Designed to convey understanding and respect for the great Western intellectual and cultural traditions - albeit in our own way:  analytically rigorous, not triumphalist, and open to comparisons being drawn, as appropriate, with other major intellectual and cultural traditions.
ANU has long been ranked number one in Australia in humanities disciplines, and we already teach some 150 undergraduate subjects addressing Western civilisation themes. The attractiveness of having major new resources to advance them, is why an enormous amount of effort has been invested by our staff in developing a very detailed proposal, including a draft syllabus, in support of a Ramsay gift, and why negotiations for common ground continued as long as they did.
So what went wrong? We withdrew from negotiations because there were irreconcilable differences over the governance of the proposed program, not its substance.  We were willing to accept the Ramsay Centre having a voice in curriculum design and staff appointments. But only a voice, not a controlling influence. From the outset, however, the Centre has been locked in to an extraordinarily prescriptive micro-management approach to the proposed program, unprecedented in our experience, embodied in a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of some 30 pages with another 40 pages of detailed annexures.
It has insisted on a partnership management committee to oversee every aspect of the curriculum and its implementation - with equal numbers from both the Ramsay Centre and ANU, meaning an effective Ramsay veto.
It has been unwilling to accept our own draft curriculum, and has refused to accept our preferred name for the degree ('Western Civilisation Studies')While acknowledging that any curriculum would have to be endorsed by the ANU Academic Board, it has made clear that to be acceptable to the Ramsay Centre it would have to find favour with the joint management committee - with its representatives being able to sit in the classes that we teach and undertake "health checks" on the courses and the teachers.
It became clear that there are fundamental differences in our respective conceptions of the role of a university.  The Centre has gone so far as to insist on the removal of "academic freedom" as a shared objective for the program: this remains in the draft MOU as an ANU objective, not a Ramsay one. For us academic freedom doesn't mean freedom to underperform or to teach without regard to the disciplines or agreed objectives of a particular syllabus. But it does mean appointment or retention of staff on the basis of their demonstrated academic merit, not political or ideological preference.
A continuing concern has been that the proposed Ramsay funding is provided short-term, up for renewal in eight years. A time-limited gift is not in itself problematic, but building a major program involving the hiring of a dozen staff, and then being held hostage to its continuation by a donor whose most senior and influential board members appear to have manifestly different views to ours about university autonomy, is not a happy position for any university to be in.
Ramsay CEO Simon Haines, in an interview in last weekend's Fairfax Press (The Age, 23 June), has now at last engaged in a little circumspect distancing from the Tony Abbott article in Quadrant, which was very explicit about the controls envisaged. But that dissociation has been a long time coming, and it remains to be seen whether there will in fact be a change in the Ramsay board's position.  In successive conversations with the Centre, ANU sought public assurances that Ramsay's position had been misstated, and that the University's autonomy in actually implementing agreed objectives would be fully respected.  But no reply we have received has given us any cause to believe that the MOU, with all its over-reach, would be fundamentally revised.  In the result, it was simply impossible on our side to believe that there was sufficient trust and confidence for the project to proceed.
We withdrew from the negotiations for governance reasons of this kind. Boiled down, the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation simply did not trust the ANU to deliver a program acceptable to it, and consequently asked for controls on the University's delivery of the degree that ANU could not - and should not - agree to.  
ANU, accepts gifts from individuals, foundations, groups, entities, government agencies, and foreign governments. In no cases are these gifts allowed to compromise the University's academic integrity, nor are they allowed to impose on our academic freedom, or autonomy. Regarding historical gifts surrounding our Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (CAIS), Australia's leading academic capability in its area, let us be clear: if the Ramsay Centre were to take the same approach to a gift to ANU as the donors to CAIS, we could reach an agreement in less than 48 hours.
The University has never accepted gifts with such restrictions as demanded by Ramsay, and under our watch as Chancellor and Vice Chancellor we never will.
Let us offer this frank assessment as things stand at the moment, as the Ramsay Centre seeks other partners: to succeed, either they will have to change its approach and trust its partners to deliver a program in Western Civilisation studies, or be limited to a university willing to make concessions on academic autonomy. If the Ramsay Centre and its board are prepared to understand and respect the autonomy of Australia's national university, our door remains open.
Professor the Hon Gareth Evans AC QC and Professor Brian Schmidt AC are Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor, respectively, of The Australian National University.
 [my yellow highlighting]

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Is Turnbull laying the groundwork to throw Joyce under a bus if it becomes neccessary?


A very careful choice of words on the part of the Prime Minister leaves the door open to walk back support of his Deputy Prime Minister if Joyce is found to be telling the Australian Parliament untruths.

House of Representatives Hansard, excerpts, 13 February 2018:

Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth—Prime Minister) (14:25): The honourable member refers to some statements attributed to a spokesman of mine yesterday. Those statements, I'm advised, followed a background discussion. They were not authorised by me, but I will answer the question. As the Deputy Prime Minister confirmed in his statement of Saturday, 10 February, and again in his statement this morning, The Nationals are responsible for decisions relating to staffing the office of Nationals members. He confirmed that the Prime Minister's office has an administrative role in informing the Department of Finance of changes. All ministers are bound by the ministerial standards.

All ministers are bound by the ministerial standards. The Deputy Prime Minister has today explained his circumstances as it relates to the standards, and I refer you to that statement. I would add that whether somebody is a partner of another for the purposes of clause 2.23 is, of course, a question of fact. The facts of the relationship which you're referring to are, of course, known to the Deputy Prime Minister. It is his responsibility to address it and comply with the standards, and he addressed that in his statement today.  [my yellow highlighting]

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Quote of the Week


“Malcolm Turnbull fooled many into believing he was a moderate. But he was lying. Malcolm Turnbull is not a kinder, gentler conservative. He has not been a moderate prime minister. He is a wealthy lawyer and businessman whose main policy commitment appears to be to staying in power.” [University lecturer & journalist Ben Eltham writing in New Matilda, 9 January 32018]

Monday, 15 January 2018

Remember the man who spent millions unsuccessfully seeding clouds and more money chasing the myth that NSW coastal rivers could be turned inland?



Well, Mr. Turnbull as Australian Prime Minister returned to his favourite pastime last year - spending other people’s money on dubious water projects - and is holding fast to yet another hare-brained proposal, Snowy 2.0.

Financial Review, 4 January 2018:

Nine months ago Snowy Hydro, the electricity generator and retailer owned by the Commonwealth, Victoria and NSW governments, announced that it would be carrying out a feasibility study into a massive expansion of the Snowy hydro generation system to add 2000 megawatts of pumped hydro generation capacity. Snowy Hydro's announcement of the feasibility study followed an earlier announcement from the Prime Minister that Snowy 2.0 was expected to cost $2 billion.

The feasibility study was published shortly before Christmas and the final investment decision is expected by the end of 2018. All economic analysis has been excluded from the public version of the feasibility study. But the publicly available version does report the "base cost" of Snowy 2.0 (to Snowy Hydro) is likely to be in the range from $3.8 billion to $4.5 billion. This "base cost" excludes land and developments costs, funding and financing costs, GST, project management or hedging costs. And the feasibility study warns that there are risks, opportunities and contingency amounts that significantly affect this range.
In addition to the costs that Snowy Hydro incurs, Snowy 2.0 will be the largest point connection in the National Electricity Market's history and will require massive transmission expansion along the Great Dividing Range. TransGrid in NSW provided early estimates of transmission costs in NSW related to Snowy 2.0 of $0.6 billion to $1.4 billion. Estimates of the requirement in Victoria are not yet known but are likely to be even higher because the necessary upgrade to Victoria will be even larger.
So, in round numbers, a conservative estimate of the total capital outlay attributable to Snowy Hydro 2.0 will be at least $8 billion, four times more than the prime minister suggested when announcing this project. It would be surprising if the estimate at the time of the final investment decision is any lower than this, and the actual build cost will surely be yet higher, quite possibly significantly so.

Will it nonetheless be money well spent? This is very unlikely. Pumped hydro is an inefficient storage technology. Australia already has significant pumped hydro capacity – 900 megawatts (MW) at Tumut 3 in Snowy and 500 MW at Wivenhoe in Queensland. Both are rarely used because they are inefficient.
The feasibility study says that at capacity, Snowy 2.0 will only produce about 1 kilowatt hour for each 1.5 kilowatt hours needed to pump water to the top reservoir. Add to that 10 per cent for losses in transmitting electricity from generators in the Hunter and Latrobe valleys to pump the water uphill. And then add another 10 per cent for losses in transmitting the stored electricity back to the main load centres in Sydney and Melbourne where most of it will be consumed. In other words, Snowy 2.0 will use about 1.8 kilowatt hours for each kilowatt hour that it actually delivers to consumers. By comparison, a battery installed on a customer's premises or on the local grid can be expected to use about 1.1 kilowatt hour for each kilowatt hour delivered.
It is inconceivable that Snowy 2.0 will produce revenues that are vaguely close to that needed to compensate its capital outlays. This is because the volume of electricity it can produce, valued at the difference between the price paid to pump water uphill and the price received when running the water back down the hill again, will be much too small.
Experience in other countries is also instructive. The feasibility study likens Snowy 2.0 to the Dinorwig pumped hydro plant in Wales. Dinorwig, along with the smaller Ffestiniog, has comparable capacity to Snowy 2.0. In its most recent market transaction six months ago, the market value of Dinorwig and Ffestiniog was established at $236 million, a small fraction of its initial build and subsequent refurbishment costs.
It is almost certainly the case in Australia that the market value of Snowy 2.0 will be a small fraction of its likely construction cost. If they decide to proceed with Snowy 2.0, the Commonwealth, NSW and Victorian governments will be forced to substantially write down their investment, at tax payers' expense. Or, if they can not stomach that, electricity consumers will be forced to fund the deadweight.
There is time to dodge this bullet. At the very least, independent investment advisors should now be asked to opine, in publicly available reports, on likely market valuations of Snowy 2.0, before any further contemplation of this project.
The Snowy 2.0 feasibility study can be found here.
A word of warning to readers. SMEC (formerly the Snowy Mountains Engineering Company and now a member of the Subarna Jurong Group) has been involved in the Snowy 2.0 feasibility study since May 2017.