Sunday, 7 March 2021

Nationals MP for Page Kevin Hogan again reminded of the Federal Government's "lack of effective action on climate change"


Nationals MP for Page Kevin Hogan has been in the Australian House of Representatives since the September 2013 general election and, as far as I can tell has never voted against the wishes of his masters in Canberra.

Which means that Mr. Hogan does not support genuine climate change mitigation measures.  

However, the Knitting Nannas Against Gas (KNAG) have never stopped reminding him that it is his duty to represent the people in his northern NSW electorate not a particular political party.


 

Knitting Nannas Against Gas
Grafton Loop

C/- PO Box 763
Grafton 2460





__________________________________________________________



4th March 2021

---- COPY ----


Mr Kevin Hogan MP

Member for Page

63 Molesworth St

LISMORE 2480


Email: kevin.hogan.mp@aph.gov.au


Dear Mr Hogan


Grafton Nanna Concerns


The Grafton Nannas have written to you a number of times over the years expressing their concern about the Federal Government’s lack of effective action on climate change.


We are dismayed that your Government is still ignoring the scientific advice about the need for urgent action on reducing Australia’s carbon emissions.


Your Government is at odds with the States and Territories which are all committed to net zero emissions by 2050 - irrespective of the party in government. Furthermore these governments are all taking action to ensure that they achieve this important goal.


Your Government is also at odds with many major companies in the private sector which understand that they need to make changes in their operations to survive – and prosper – in a carbon-constrained world.


It’s way past time that your Government stopped pandering to the fossil fuel lobby, dropped its ridiculous and damaging “gas-led recovery” and pursuit of futile pie in the sky nonsense such as carbon capture and storage and took its responsibility to the Australian people and future generations of Australians seriously.


We Nannas are particularly concerned for today’s young people who will inherit a world which is set to be irretrievably damaged by the selfishness and folly of you and your Coalition colleagues.


Do you, Mr Hogan, feel any personal responsibility for your Government’s failure to act effectively for our young people?



Yours sincerely


Leonie Blain

On behalf of the Grafton Nannas



Friday, 5 March 2021

Saffin points out underspending by Deputy Premier & Minister for Regional New South Wales John Barilaro on the 2019 promise of faster mobile and internet coverage in regional areas

 

Office of NSW Labor MP for Lismore Janelle Saffin, media release, 3 March 2021:


Saffin applauds action group for tackling digital divide


A RECENT Parliamentary speech by Lismore MP Janelle Saffin on the digital divide in rural and regional New South Wales has put her in touch with an action group helping isolated communities to access suitable broadband.

During a public interest debate on regional mobile and digital connectivity, Ms Saffin took NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro to task for only delivering $50 million of $400 million the Nationals promised in February 2019 for faster mobile and internet coverage in regional New South Wales.

Ms Saffin said health was one area where the digital divide can mean life or death, so for that reason we have to ensure good connections.

“How many times can the Deputy Premier announce this? We have heard announcement after announcement, but we want to see runs on the board. We want to see connectivity.

 “All members must work together to ensure that the people of rural and regional New South Wales have strong digital connectivity for jobs, business, health and safety.”

Coverage of the debate found its way into the Information Age as an article titled, "Rural MPs lambast Govt. broadband 'BS’”, prompting Jon Gough, of the Wamboin Communications Action Group (WCAG), to contact Ms Saffin.

WCAG has done a lot of good work over some four years and is now in the process of obtaining suitable broadband for their rural community,” Ms Saffin said.

Their particular focus has been on the Wamboin, Bywong and Sutton region around the ACT, which had a particular satellite NBN allocated to their area and which the local community stated was not fit for purpose for the residents of the area.

They have focused on obtaining a service that could traverse challenging terrain and how to deliver fibre connectivity to rural areas at a similar price point to that of city residents.

“Their website contains information about WCAG that I found very interesting:
https://sites.google.com/site/wamboincommunications/home

When I spoke with Jon Gough, he asked me if there any communities in our area which would be interested in receiving assistance from them.

The WCAG secured an Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) grant to help them document what they had done and success with the NSW Government.

The purpose of this is to help other, similar, rural communities get recognised by both government and non-government organisations to deliver suitable, robust, future-proof digital communications.

WCAG were successful in this endeavour and are now reaching out to find other communities that need assistance in raising their profile such that they are recognised as being in need of assistance.”

Ms Saffin said if there are any groups in the Electorate of Lismore who are interested and have the capacity to work on such a project, please contact her on 02 66 213 624 and she shall put them in touch with WCAG.


A perennial problem of dirty water in the Clarence Valley

 

The Clarence Valley hasn't had an official "boil water alert" in any of its towns or villages since January through to May 2013. 


Although in the chaos of the 2019-20 bushfire season water could not be drawn from a number of local water sources for a while due to ash, debris and fish kills.


However, that doesn't mean there aren't times in uneventful months when the house water coming out of the taps is discoloured, tastes musty or has a slight odour, which has some of us reaching for the emergency stash of bottled water and deciding that doing the laundry is not on the agenda.


Clarence Valley Council is again discussing the dirty water situation and I wince on reading of this discussion - because some of the worst episodes of dirty water tend to occur after a 'fix' has been applied.


The Daily Telegraph, 24 February 2021:


Surrounded by plentiful river systems, a large scale water supply dam and a longing for a time when anecdotally we had the best water in the country, many have questioned what Clarence Valley Council are doing about the ongoing issue.


Councillor Karen Toms took the opportunity at last week’s committee meetings to question general manager Ashley Lindsay about proposed plans to help with fixing the issue for residents.


Mr Lindsay explained that items in the upcoming budget would help address the problem, and that a much talked about water filtration system would not be a definitive solution to all the problems.


In response, The Daily Examiner put forward a series of questions to Council, to which manager of water Cycle Greg Mashiah responded.


It was said there were items coming up in the budget to do with fixing the water problem – what specifically will be proposed?


There is a proposal in the draft 2020/2021 operational budget for targeted air scouring of mains in Yamba and Iluka to reduce sediment deposits.


Do you believe there is a water quality issue?


One of the most challenging water quality issues faced by council is a dirty water event which is impossible to predict in duration, frequency and location through the pipeline. During these events, the water quality exceeds the aesthetic criteria of the Australian Drinking Water Guideline and creates numerous problems for the end user. Council’s main goal is to provide drinking water that is in compliance with the Australian Drinking Water Guideline and in line with our adopted standard of service which means the water is less than 5NTU (a measure of turbidity) 95 per cent of the time. In order to address the issue, council undertakes routine and targeted flushing of the mains, selectively draws water from the source with the best quality, monitors chlorine residual to the end of the pipeline and strategically plans water mains to reduce dead ends where possible.


Why is a $40 million filtration system being bandied around in the community as a solution?


Having a water source that is both clean and secure is one of the most important factors contributing to drinking water quality. The majority of Clarence Valley is privileged to have access to the water of the Nymboida River and the storage capacity of Shannon Creek Dam which provides us with valuable water security.


However, our existing treatment methods do not entirely protect us from the potential risk of poor water quality resulting from the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation. For example, council is restricted under its license from taking water from the Nymboida River when the flow is less than 225ML/day, which historically has occurred 5 per cent of the time.


During these periods, Council relies on the Shannon Creek Dam storage as a water source. The Shannon Creek Dam holds plenty of water, however the quality of the water is reliant on many factors including weather (especially rain), environmental contamination, algal growth and bush fires which could make the water unsuitable for use with our existing treatment system.


Our existing methods of treatment have a limited capacity to adjust to raw water changes. The main way Council currently manages its water quality is by “selective extraction”, where water is generally only taken when the turbidity is less than 5NTU. As outlined in Table 11 of the interim Drought Management Plan adopted by Council in October 2020 (page 35 of https://www.clarence.nsw.gov.au/page.asp?f=RES-GKQ-61-55-36), in the period 2013-2020 the Nymboida flow and turbidity was only suitable for extraction (ie flow >225ML/day and turbidity <5NTU) 76.5 per cent of the time, and if the Nymboida volume limit where extraction is permitted is changed to 430ML/day (which is foreshadowed in the Shannon Creek Dam water licence), Council could only have extracted water 44.2 per cent of the time in the last 7 years.


Council is undertaking a “secure yield study” as the first stage of updating its Integrated Water Cycle Management (IWCM) strategy which we believe will demonstrate that an upgraded treatment plant is required to enable extraction of water when turbidity is >5 NTU to ensure the system has sufficient capacity for current and future demands. The state government regulator (DPIE – Water) will require Council to adopt its IWCM strategy to demonstrate there is a requirement for a major treatment upgrade.


The investigation of further treatment (filtration) was also included as a risk management strategy in the new Drinking Water Management System which was adopted by Council in May 2020.


Council has allocated funds in the 2020/2021 budget for scope and design of Rushforth Road 32ML replacement reservoir, and the scoping study includes concept design of a possible future treatment upgrade including filtration to ensure future treatment is feasible with the replacement reservoir.


Will it fix the problem, or is there another underlying matter?


There are many contributing factors associated with dirty water events in the pipeline including but not limited to historical accumulation of sediment in the pipeline, a vast distribution system which challenges chlorine residuals in areas, changes in flow rates during peak periods of usage, seasonal fluctuations in water temperature, natural biofilms forming in the pipeline and natural and added minerals in the water. A filtration plant will improve water quality by reducing the turbidity of the treated water, improve our capacity to remove potential pathogens in the raw water, improve water colour and organics, improve taste and odour associated with algae and our protection against potential algal toxins.


While a filtration plant will improve water quality as a whole, Council cannot guarantee that it will completely eliminate all dirty water events due to the additional contributing factors, but there should be a significant improvement. Even if a filtration plant is constructed, because the natural water supply is very soft Council will need to continue to add lime to the water to increase its hardness. Council has added lime to its water supply since 2008 because the soft water means that over time the water dissolves metals such as iron, zinc and copper that make up water pipelines and fittings.


Even with the added lime, our water is still classified as “soft”. Properties which have water sitting in their household pipelines may still have these metals dissolved out due to the soft water. Customers may see the lime as a brown scale in their kettles or, if they have a water filter installed, the filter generally removes the lime which is why water filters clog up so quickly in the Clarence. Even if a filtration plant was constructed, because we will continue to add lime customers will still find they have a brown scale in their kettles and their filters will still clog up quickly. The best way to remove the iron scale from kettles is to boil vinegar in the kettle……..


Thursday, 4 March 2021

REX Regional Express Airlines walks away from its Clarence Valley airline route for a second time, yet again trying to blame others for its decision



Rex will stand by all regional communities that have stood by Rex during this global and national crisis” [Rex Express Holdings Deputy Chairman and former Nationals MP for Hume, the Hon John Sharp AM, company media release, 29 April 2020]


Stirring words in that quote at the top of this post, however the reality was somewhat different for two regional communities on the NSW North Coast - Clarence Valley and Lismore City.


Lismore Airport services a city and population on the banks of the Wilsons River and is a gateway for both business travel and holidaymakers.


While Grafton Airport in the Clarence Valley is predominately used by state authorities and local government.


Having received financial assistance from Clarence Valley Council as well as nearly $24 million from the federal government’s $198 million Regional Airline Network Support Program (RANS), $53.9 million from the $100 million COVID-19 Regional Airlines Funding Assistance Program (RAFA), Jobkeeper workforce wage subsidies, and  unspecified funding through Australian Airline Financial Relief Package (AAFRP), Regional Express Airlines (REX) suddenly decided to cease flights into Grafton Airport on 3 July 2020.


Apparently it had decided it wished to expand its presence on other routes where it could compete with a pandemic-weakened Qantas Airlines.


It reversed its decision to abandon Grafton Airport in August 2020 – promising to operate return services three days a week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday on a Sydney-Grafton Lismore route commencing 17 August 2020


Coincidentally REX's re-entry followed on the heels of negative publicity and media reports that Clarence Valley Council had begun looking for another airline to take its place.


Now seven months after its return, the predominately foreign-owned REX is withdrawing from its Sydney-Grafton-Lismore route as of 23 March 2021.


This time all but admitting that having milked the federal government for as much funding as it could, it was again abandoning both Grafton and Lismore just days ahead of the cessation of the emergency regional airline funding streams it had previously accessed.


In a media release dated 22 February 2021 REX stated:


Rex will, from April, commence new services to ports where Virgin Australia has retreated, leaving Qantas as the sole or dominant operator. The new services are from Sydney to:

Coffs Harbour (330,000 passengers pre-COVID)

Port Macquarie (190,000 passengers pre-COVID)

and will be available for sale from tomorrow.”


Other routes under active consideration where Qantas is the sole or dominant carrier include:

Sydney - Tamworth (175,000 passengers pre-COVID),

Perth - Geraldton (110,000 passengers pre-COVID),

Melbourne - Devonport (146,000 passengers pre-COVID), and

Sydney - Canberra (930,000 passengers pre-COVID).”


We will be launching services to these cities once a partnership agreement is concluded with the local councils or airport owners.”


Our plans to commence domestic jet services on the Sydney-Melbourne route on 1 March are still firm barring further border closures.”


In another media release dated 1 March 2021 REX stated:


Adelaide and the Gold Coast as they have been chosen by Rex to receive domestic jet services just in time for the Easter rush.


Rex today announces that it will commence new services between Melbourne and Adelaide from 31 March, whilst the Gold Coast will receive services from Melbourne commencing 29 March and from Sydney commencing 1 April 2021…..


I wish to thank both Adelaide Airport and the Gold Coast Airport who have worked tirelessly with us to make this happen in such a short time frame.”


One has to wonder how long the honeymoon will last for Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie and Gold Coast airports and, whether airport managements realise just how many times REX will seek financial concessions from local government to keep flying these routes.


In the Clarence Valley the honeymoon is long over and personally I'm hoping we have finally seen the last of REX.


BACKGROUND


According to Regional Express Airline’s 2019-20 Annual Report its largest shareholders are:


MR KIM HAI LIM with18,998,346 fully paid ordinary shares – 17.25% of total shares issued

BNP PARIBAS NOMINEES PTY LTD with 16,234,094 fully paid ordinary shares – 14.74% of total shares issued

THIAN SOO LEE with 7,722,181 fully paid ordinary shares – 7.01% of total shares issued

JOO CHYE CHUA with 7,454,362 fully paid ordinary shares – 6.77% of total shares issued

MING YEW SEE TOH & HUI ING TJOA with 7,454,362 fully paid ordinary shares – 6.77% of total shares issued

MS HUI LING TJOA with 5,755,513 fully paid ordinary shares – 5.22% of total shares issues.


Something for the Morrison Government to think about....

 

In February 2021 the alleged 2019 sexual assault of a female ministerial staffer at Parliament House in Canberra became public knowledge. Within less than two weeks the public also became aware of the alleged 1988 sexual assault of a 16 year-old girl in Sydney by a man who is now a cabinet minister in the Morrison Coalition Government.


The first allegation can be investigated by police and if charges are laid it can be tested at law, the second allegation cannot be investigated or tested at law because the alleged victim died in 2020 and therefore NSW Police cannot lawfully investigate the claims made before her death.


Essential Research conducted an online survey of 1,074 respondents from 24 February to 1 March 2021.


According to The Guardian on March 2021, about 65% of those surveyed agreed with the statement: “The government has been more interested in protecting itself than the interests of those who have been assaulted.”


A gender breakdown showed that level was 68% among women and 62% of men.


Based on federal voting intentions, the statement was backed by 76% of Labor supporters, 51% of Coalition supporters and 88% of Greens supporters.


Again according to The Guardian; nearly seven in 10 respondents agreed with the statement that “it’s wrong that the Liberal party did not notify the police to launch a criminal inquiry immediately after the allegations were made” – a view that was backed by about six in 10 Coalition supporters.