Thursday 30 June 2022

A reminder of just how long the global political class have been fully aware of the "Possibility of Catastrophic Climate Change"


Memorandum to United States of America President James "Jimmy" Carter, dated 7 July 1977


SUBJECT: Release of Fossil co2 and the Possibility of a Catastrophic Climate Change 

Memorandum to United States... by clarencegirl


How the US National Academy of Sciences saw author of this memo, Frank Press:

Frank Press [4 December 1924 – 29 January 2020] served as the 19th president of the National Academy of Sciences from July 1, 1981 to June 30, 1993. As NAS president, Press also led a reorganization of the Academy’s operating arm, the National Research Council. He believed that the landmark 1986 report, Confronting AIDS — which warned that the toll of the AIDS epidemic would become far worse and urged a massive national response — was the most significant report issued while he was president. In fact, he told the Research Council’s governing body that the report, “may well rank among our most important contributions to the public welfare.” A report examining the cause of the 1986 space shuttle Challenger explosion was another key report issued during his tenure.

From 1977 to 1981, Press was national science adviser to President Jimmy Carter and the second director of the recently formed White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. In this role, Press was key in establishing a science and technology exchange agreement between the U.S. and China, which enabled thousands of Chinese students to study in the U.S. — many of whom went on to become U.S. citizens. He also focused on “increasing government commitment to basic research, evaluating the impact of federal regulations on the economy, and providing analyses of a national energy policy,” according to documents at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. In addition, Press was on the presidential science advisory committees during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and served on the National Science Board under President Richard Nixon.

Press was among the first generation of geophysicists who benefited from and contributed to revolutionary developments associated with the evolution of the field of plate tectonics, and he quickly became a leader in this area of research. He received the National Medal of Science in 1994 “for his contributions to the understanding of the deepest interior of the earth and the mitigation of natural disasters.” He was the recipient of many other awards and honors, including the gold medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, the Japan Prize, and the Vannevar Bush Award.

Prior to his positions in Washington, D.C., Press was professor of geophysics and chair of the department of earth and planetary sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1965 to 1977. He had also held academic appointments at Columbia University and the California Institute of Technology, and was the chair of the U.S. delegation to the 1960 Nuclear Test Ban Conference in Geneva. Press received his undergraduate degree in physics from the City College of New York in 1944 in his Ph.D. in geophysics from Columbia University in 1946.

Upon completing his service as NAS president at age 69, Press accepted a four-year appointment as the Cecil and Ida Green Research fellow at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, and remained active as an adviser to several organizations — both public and private — for many years.

A Glimpse at Official Highlights of the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021 Census


The last national Census night was Tuesday,10 August 2021.

 This census counted 25,417,978 Australian residents who were in Australia on Census night (including people imputed for non-responding dwellings). The Post Enumeration Survey (PES) estimate for the same population was 25,608,022 persons.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), National, state and territory population

  • Australia’s population was 25,766,605 people at 31 December 2021.

  • The quarterly growth was 63,400 people (0.2%).

  • The annual growth was 128,000 people (0.5%).

  • Annual natural increase was 138,500 and net overseas migration was -3,600.

Australian Bureau of Statistics, media releases, 28 June 2022, extracts on the broad subjects of:


The 2021 Census counted nearly 25.5 million people (25,422,788) in Australia, excluding overseas visitors, on Census night. This is an increase of over two million people (2,020,896), or 8.6 per cent, since the 2016 Census.

Australia’s Census count has more than doubled in the last 50 years, with the 1971 Census counting over 12 million people (12,493,001).

The Census counted more than 800,000 (812,728) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on Census night, 3.2 per cent of the total people counted. This is an increase of over 25 per cent (25.2 per cent) since 2016.

Australia continues to become more diverse, with over 1 million (1,020,007) residents arriving in Australia from 2017 to 2021. Over four out of every five (83.7 per cent) of these arrivals were in 2017 to 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

With these new arrivals, we have seen the proportion of Australian residents that are born overseas (first generation) or have a parent born overseas (second generation) move above 50 per cent (51.5 per cent).

Beyond these headline numbers the Census provides rich information about the nation, giving insight on cultural diversity, families and homes, to how we changed during the pandemic.

Dr David Gruen AO, Australian Statistician, said “Every stat tells a story and today we are sharing a glimpse into the stories of almost 25.5 million Australians. This accurate and valuable data reveals who we are as a nation and how we have changed.

Thank you to the millions of people across Australia who completed the 2021 Census. It was important that everyone participated to ensure that every community is represented in the Census data.

Census data is used to inform important decisions about transport, schools, health care, infrastructure and business at the community and national level. The high response rate means that Census data provides accurate insights to tell your community’s story.”

The 2021 Census achieved a response rate above the Australian Bureau of Statistics target obtaining data from 10 million (10,852,208) dwellings during the height of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The dwelling response rate was 96.1 per cent, up from 95.1 per cent in 2016.

The Statistical Independent Assurance Panel, established by the Australian Statistician to provide assurance of Census data quality, concluded that the 2021 Census data is fit-for-purpose, is of comparable quality to the 2011 and 2016 Censuses and can be used with confidence.


The 2021 Census of Population and Housing has delivered a snapshot of the different generations that make up Australia.

The latest data reveals that, within a very small margin, numbers of Millennials (25-39 years old) have caught up to Baby Boomers (55-74 years old) as the largest generational group in Australia. In the 1966 Census, nearly two in every five people (38.5 per cent) were Baby Boomers.

Baby Boomers and Millennials each have over 5.4 million people, with only 5,662 more Baby Boomers than Millennials counted on 10 August 2021. Over the last ten years, the Millennials have increased from 20.4 per cent of the population in 2011 to 21.5 per cent in 2021. In the same time, Baby Boomers have decreased from 25.4 per cent in 2011 to 21.5 per cent in 2021.

Dr David Gruen AO, Australian Statistician, said “The data collected by the Census assists governments and community organisations to understand the needs of each generation. We see that an increasing number of Baby Boomers are needing assistance with core activities – with 7.4 per cent reporting a need for assistance, compared to 2.8 per cent across the younger generations. This information will help frame policy that delivers positive outcomes for our communities.”

Census data shows the important role Baby Boomers are providing in caring for other peoples’ children, often their grandchildren. Around one in eight (12.8 per cent) Baby Boomers reported caring for other peoples’ children, and of these two thirds are female (67.5 per cent). They are also the generation most likely to volunteer and provide unpaid assistance to others.

Millennials are of working age and are upskilling, representing 40 per cent of people attending vocational education, including TAFE, and 48 per cent of people currently serving in the regular service of the Australian Defence Force.

Millennials and Baby Boomers report quite different religious affiliations, with nearly 60 per cent (56.8 per cent) of Baby Boomers reporting a Christian religious affiliation compared to 30 per cent of Millennials (30.6 per cent). More than 45 per cent (46.5 per cent) of Millennials reported that they had no religion compared to 30 per cent of Baby Boomers (30.7 per cent).

Generation Z (10-24 years old) represent 18 per cent of Australia and 30 per cent of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.



The 2021 Census provides an updated snapshot of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said today.

The Census found that 812,728 people (3.2 per cent of the population) identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, an increase of over 25 per cent (25.2 per cent) since 2016.

Of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people counted, 91.4 per cent identified as Aboriginal, 4.2 per cent identified as Torres Strait Islander, and 4.4 per cent identified as both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

The Census also revealed growing numbers of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, with over 47,000 (47,677) aged 65 years and over in 2021, up from 31,000 in 2016 and 21,000 in 2011. The median age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people increased slightly to 24 years in 2021, up from 23 years in 2016 and 21 years in 2011.

Traditional languages continue to be an important part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households, with 167 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages spoken at home in 2021 by over 78,000 (78,656) people.

The most widely reported language groups spoken were Arnhem Land and Daly River Region Languages, Torres Strait Island Languages, Western Desert Languages, Yolngu Matha and Arandic.

The 2021 Census introduced a new question on service with the Australian Defence Force (ADF). It found that over 3,000 (3,159 or 3.7 per cent) currently serving members and over 11,000 (11,610 or 2.3 per cent) former serving members identify as having Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin.

Dr David Gruen AO, Australian Statistician, said “The Census collects vitally important information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that will help governments and local organisations plan for health, education and community services into the future.

The ABS is undertaking further analysis of the insights that Census data provides for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We look forward to sharing these in our future releases.”



The Census provides a snapshot of the cultures and languages that make up Australia by providing data on cultural diversity, country of birth, ancestry and languages used at home.

The 2021 Census found that almost half of Australians have a parent born overseas (48.2 per cent) and the population continues to be drawn from around the globe, with 27.6 per cent reporting a birthplace overseas.

The Census shows that Australia has welcomed more than one million people (1,020,007) into Australia since 2017. The largest increase in country of birth, outside Australia, was India with 220,000 (217,963) additional people counted. India has moved past China and New Zealand to become the third largest country of birth behind Australia and England.

The second largest increase in country of birth was Nepal, with an additional 70,000 (67,752) people, meaning the population of Nepali born has more than doubled since 2016 (an increase of 123.7 per cent).

The top five reported ancestries in the 2021 Census followed previous trends and were English at 33.0 per cent, Australian at 29.9 per cent, Irish at 9.5 per cent, Scottish at 8.6 per cent and Chinese at 5.5 per cent.

The number of people who used a language other than English at home has increased by nearly 800,000 (792,062) from 2016 to over 5.5 million people (5,663,709). 850,000 (852,706) of this group reported that they do not speak English well or at all.

Mandarin continues to be the most common language other than English used at home, with nearly 700,000 (685,274) people using Mandarin at home. This is followed by Arabic with just over 367,000 (367,159) people. Punjabi had the largest increase, with the 2021 Census showing over 239,000 (239,033) people using Punjabi at home, an increase of over 80 per cent (80.4 per cent) from 2016.

Dr David Gruen AO, Australian Statistician, said “The Census captures the extent of the linguistic diversity across Australia. 2021 Census data collected information on over 250 ancestries and 350 languages.

The information collected in the Census provides important data to help plan services and support for culturally and linguistically diverse communities at the local level. For example, by understanding the growing population groups in their area, community groups can provide in-language services at the local level”.



There were nearly 11 million (10,852,208) private dwellings counted in the 2021 Census, an increase of nearly one million (950,712) since 2016. These dwellings were comprised of separate houses (70 per cent), apartments (16 per cent) and town houses (13 per cent). The proportion of apartments continues to increase, with apartments accounting for nearly one third (30.9 per cent) of the increase in private dwellings since 2016.

The 2021 Census separately identified high rises (nine or more storeys) for the first time and found that over half a million people (550,592) live in Australia’s 370,000 (368,943) high rise apartments. Over 2.5 million people (2,620,903) or 10.3 per cent of us now live in apartments.

Not all dwellings were occupied on Census night (such as vacant holiday homes or vacant investment properties), with the 2021 Census finding more than one million (1,043,776) unoccupied dwellings.

Many alternative dwellings were also counted on Census night, including caravans (58,155), cabins and houseboats (29,369).

Two thirds of households (66.0 per cent) own their home outright or with a mortgage, very similar to Censuses back to 1996 (67.8 per cent). However, the proportion of households that own outright has dropped from 40 per cent in 1996 (41.6 per cent) to 30 per cent in 2021 (31.0 per cent).

Households that own with a mortgage have increased from about a quarter of all households (26.2 per cent) in 1996 to 35 per cent (35.0 per cent). Over the last 25 years, the number of homes owned outright has increased by 10 per cent, while the number owned with a mortgage has doubled (increased by 96.8 per cent).

When travelling to and from our homes, we are a nation of drivers. 91 per cent of households (91.3 per cent) reported having at least one vehicle and more than half (55.1 per cent) reported having two or more vehicles.

Dr David Gruen AO, Australian Statistician, said “The Census provides a unique snapshot of where people slept on Census night. During the Census, we reached people staying in hotels, those travelling on Census night, and even Australians working offshore.

The information collected about how people live and what type of home they live in will help inform community planning for new housing and support existing living arrangements within the community”.



2021 is the first time Census has collected information on diagnosed long-term health conditions. Over two million people reported having at least one of the following conditions - mental health (2,231,543), arthritis (2,150,396) or asthma (2,068,020), with these being the most reported long-term health conditions.

Almost 4.8 million (4,791,516) people reported having one of the ten long-term health conditions listed on the Census form, while nearly 1.5 million (1,490,344) had two of these health conditions and over 750,000 (772,142) had three or more of these long-term health conditions. A further one million (1,009,836) indicated that they had at least one other long-term health condition that was not listed on the form.

The proportion of those with a long-term health condition increased with age. More than three out of every five (62.9 per cent) people aged 65+ reported having at least one long-term health condition compared with one out of every five (22.1 per cent) 15–34 year olds.

Females were more likely to report a long-term health condition than males, with 34 per cent (33.9 per cent) of females having one or more long-term health conditions compared with 30 per cent (29.5 per cent) of males. Males most commonly reported asthma and mental health conditions, while the most commonly reported long term health conditions reported by females were arthritis and mental health conditions.

Asthma is the most commonly reported health condition for 0–14 year olds, with a notable difference between male children with 7.4 per cent reporting asthma compared to 5.3 per cent of female children.

Census data on long-term health conditions can be split by other characteristics such as geography, cultural background or family type. For example, the 2021 Census shows over half of people born in Greece (56.1 per cent) and Italy (53.7 per cent) reported one or more long-term health conditions.

Dr David Gruen AO, Australian Statistician, said “For the first time, we have data on long-term health conditions across the whole population. This is critical data to inform planning and service delivery decisions about how treatment and care is provided for all Australians.

Census data will help provide a more detailed picture of Australians’ health. Census data complements existing ABS health surveys by providing additional insights about the communities that require services to support complex health needs”.


For further information about 2021 Census data go to:


  • The Census net undercount was 0.7% (190,044 persons).

  • The Northern Territory recorded the highest net undercount (6.0%) while the Australian Capital Territory recorded a net overcount (-0.6%).

  • Males were more likely to be missed in the Census (1.3% net undercount) compared with females (0.2%).

  • The net undercount for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 17.4%.

The total net undercount on the night in New South Wales was 0.0%. This was attributed by the ABS to people having limited movement across the state due to COVID-19 lockdowns in place at the time.

Wednesday 29 June 2022

Blockade Australia members were before Sydney Central Local Court this week - face prospect of two years gaol and $22,000 fine


The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 June 2022:

A car has driven through in Sydney's CBD as unrest continues.

A car has driven into a march by a climate activist group in Sydney’s CBD on Monday morning. NSW Police said they were aware of the incident and had commenced inquiries.

The Harbour Tunnel was earlier blocked by a member of the group Blockade Australia, while other CBD streets were obstructed during a morning of protest.

The woman, 22, from Lismore, blocked the southbound entrance to the tunnel by chaining herself to the steering wheel of her parked white car just after 8am.

The tunnel reopened after police arrested her. Southbound traffic on the Warringah Freeway and Gore Hill Freeway has since cleared.

The woman, named Mali, live-streamed the event in which an unknown man repeatedly approached her car to yell obscenities at her.

So far, 10 people have been arrested after participating in the unauthorised protest. They are awaiting charges at Surry Hills and Day Street police stations.

I’ve watched much devastation with two one-in-100-year floods. This is climate change. I cannot stay silent any more. I cannot be complacent any more. The colony of Australia, this destructive colony system landed here, hellbent on spreading exploitative practices all over the earth,” Mali told viewers.

To those people who are really angry right now, I understand, and it’s not a good thing to be experiencing. You know what? Climate change isn’t a good thing to be experiencing.

There’s a lot of people yelling, it’s quite overwhelming, but it’s been an overwhelming year. I was lucky in Lismore, but I’ve seen people that I love lose everything and places I love be destroyed.”

The Blockade Australia protest began at Hyde Park at 8am and quickly moved across the city’s CBD towards the harbour. Streets were obstructed with wheelie bins, plastic crates, and other items.

The protesters began to disperse in the CBD just before 9am. According to internal communications seen by The Sydney Morning Herald, the group intended to reconvene at lunchtime. NSW Police estimate about 50 to 60 people were involved in the protest….

Read the full article here.

NSW Police Public Site – News, 27 June 2022, Charges laid following unauthorised protests, excerpt:

Police have made 10 arrests following unauthorised protests in the Sydney CBD and North Sydney this morning…...

Those arrested are:

  • A 49-year-old man from Williamstown, Victoria, charged with Enter etc Sydney Harbour Bridge etc disrupt etc vehicles etc; pedestrian obstruct driver’s/other pedestrian’s path (two counts). He’s been bail refused to appear in Central Local Court tomorrow (Tuesday 28 June 2022).

  • A 25-year-old man from Brandy Hill, NSW, charged with Enter etc Sydney Harbour Bridge etc disrupt etc vehicles etc; pedestrian obstruct driver’s/other pedestrian’s path (two counts). He’s been bail refused to appear in Central Local Court tomorrow (Tuesday 28 June 2022).

  • A 34-year-old woman from Leichhardt charged with Enter etc Sydney Harbour Bridge etc disrupt etc vehicles etc; pedestrian obstruct driver’s/other pedestrian’s path; and wilfully prevent free passage of person/vehicle/vessel. He was given strict conditional bail to appear at Downing Centre Local Court on 21 July 2022.

  • A 24-year-old woman from Preston, Victoria, charged with Enter etc Sydney Harbour Bridge etc disrupt etc vehicles etc; pedestrian obstruct driver’s/other pedestrian’s path; and wilfully prevent free passage of person/vehicle/vessel. He’s been bail refused to appear in Central Local Court tomorrow (Tuesday 28 June 2022).

  • A 26-year-old man from Ellinbank, Victoria, charged with Enter etc Sydney Harbour Bridge etc disrupt etc vehicles etc; pedestrian obstruct driver’s/other pedestrian’s path; and wilfully prevent free passage of person/vehicle/vessel. He was given strict conditional bail to appear at Downing Centre Local Court on 21 July 2022.

  • A 21-year-old woman from Lismore Heights charged with Enter etc Sydney Harbour Bridge etc disrupt etc vehicles etc. She’s been bail refused to appear in Central Local Court tomorrow (Tuesday 28 June 2022).

  • A 30-year-old woman from Carnegie, Victoria, charged with Enter etc Sydney Harbour Bridge etc disrupt etc vehicles etc; pedestrian obstruct driver’s/other pedestrian’s path; and wilfully prevent free passage of person/vehicle/vessel. She was given strict conditional bail to appear at Downing Centre Local Court on 21 July 2022.

  • A 22-year-old woman from St Lucia, Queensland, charged with Enter etc Sydney Harbour Bridge etc disrupt etc vehicles etc; pedestrian obstruct driver’s/other pedestrian’s path; and wilfully prevent free passage of person/vehicle/vessel. She’s been bail refused to appear in Central Local Court tomorrow (Tuesday 28 June 2022).

  • A 25-year-old man from Coburg, Victoria, charged with Enter etc Sydney Harbour Bridge etc disrupt etc vehicles etc; and wilfully prevent free passage of a person or vehicle. He’s been bail refused to appear in Central Local Court tomorrow (Tuesday 28 June 2022).

  • A 22-year-old woman from Petersham charged with Enter etc Sydney Harbour Bridge etc disrupt etc vehicles etc; and wilfully prevent free passage of a person or vehicle. She’s been bail refused to appear in Central Local Court tomorrow (Tuesday 28 June 2022).

Perth Now, 28 June 2022:

The young woman who locked herself onto the steering wheel of a car blocking Sydney's harbour tunnel in peak-hour traffic has been granted conditional bail along with fellow climate protesters……

Mr Davis outside court said his clients were brave in the face of the newly implemented penalties that target protests on major roads, ports and railways.

Some face two years in prison and a fine of $22,000.

The group will next return to court on July 19 where they are expected to enter pleas.

Bail conditions include reporting to police three times a week, restrictions from entering Sydney's CBD, and prevention from contacting co-accused.

Tuesday 28 June 2022

Almost two years after being opened Serco-managed Clarence Correctional Centre near Grafton NSW is still not a model prison when it comes to organisation, working conditions, prisoner health and safety

On or about 6 June 2022 a 29 year-old man, recently placed on remand in the 1,700 bed capacity Clarence Correctional Centre was found unresponsive in the medical holding room of the Serco-run facility before he was later pronounced dead by NSW Police.

This was the second death in custody at this privately managed gaol within the space of six weeks.

On 30 April 2022 a 41 year-old man had been found unresponsive in his cell and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

The leading cause of deaths in prison custody in Australia is now said to be medical issues and it appears that the death rate may be slightly higher in privately managed prisons.

On 9 February 2022 the Cootamundra Herald reported two deaths between 26 & 29 January at the 1,270 bed capacity Junee Correctional Centre which is privately managed by GEO Group Australia. The 48 year-old woman and a 47 year-old man were both found unresponsive in their cells. Three months later The Border Mail reported the death of a 28 year-old woman at the same prison who was found unresponsive in her cell on 3 May 2022.

Understaffing and staff turnover have also been issues at the not quite two year-old Clarence Correctional Centre, with 82 job vacancies being reported last month. Worker shortages are being blamed in part on poor pay and conditions.

The Daily Telegraph reported on 4 May 2022 that:

Whistleblowers inside Clarence Correctional Centre, run by private company Serco, alongside senior Corrective Services NSW staff, have lifted the lid on issues surrounding the safety and wellbeing of officers, staff and inmates in the north coast prison.

In June, officers at Australia’s second largest correctional facility sounded the alarm over claims officers were left “trapped in yards” after the door operating system crashed inside the facility. While in November, there were claims that staffing levels were so low that officers were running units with 40-plus inmates on their own.

A senior CSNSW source told The Daily Telegraph it was “not unusual” for officers to be left on their own to oversee up to 40 inmates in the privately run facility.

Former Grafton jail boss John Heffernan (pictured) is concerned about the lack of transparency within the facility. “The biggest problem with Clarence … is it’s totally non-transparent and they are such a big conglomerate they get away with it,” he said....

There has also been brief mention in the media of sexual harassment allegations concerning the Centre.

Monday 27 June 2022

"Since Premier Dominic Perrottet was appointed NSW treasurer in January 2017, he has presided over an unprecedented, $106 billion surge in taxpayer debt" and "has been systematically misleading" NSW voters about how he created this multi-billion dollar debt mountain

What the Premier is telling the people of New South Wales

Another perspective on the "transformation of our state" 

From the pen of Financial Review contributing editor, Christopher Joye, @cjoye, Portfolio Manager & Chief Investment Officer at Coolabah Capital…...

Live Wire, 25 June 2022:

In the AFR I write that after 12 years of Liberal leadership, encompassing four premiers and four treasurers, NSW is sadly degenerating into one of the worst run states in Australia.

Since Premier Dominic Perrottet was appointed NSW treasurer in January 2017, he has presided over an unprecedented, $106 billion surge in taxpayer debt. That means Perrottet and his fierce internal rival, Treasurer Matt Kean, will have saddled NSW residents with $13,000 of extra debt per person. One day, that debt has to be repaid.

If the annual interest rates on this debt converge to current levels around 4.2 per cent, NSW taxpayers will be paying almost $7 billion a year in interest alone. Put differently, NSW residents will be spending the equivalent of seven new hospitals each year in interest.

It is ironic that supposedly imprudent Labor leaders are running rings around NSW, with resource-rich states like Western Australia and Queensland reporting budget surpluses, which has allowed them to slash debt issuance as the economy rebounds post pandemic. Even Victoria is starting to look more fiscally conservative. In the coming financial year, NSW will issue twice as much debt as Queensland, one-third more than Victoria, and about six times more than Western Australia. It is also more than quadrupling South Australia’s debt supply.

In a desperate attempt to cling to power, Treasurer Matt Kean has blown a $7.1 billion improvement in NSW's budget with $8.8 billion in new spending next financial year alone. This means that NSW will issue almost $10 billion more debt in the 2023 financial year than it did in 2022 when the budget was smashed by COVID-19. Perrottet and Kean are literally stealing from future generations to bribe the current one to allow them to remain in power.

While some of this debt was unavoidable due to the pandemic, Perrottet’s government increasingly resembles a degenerate gambler, addicted to spending money they don't have.

As a lender to the state, my worry is that that this tale of mismanagement gets worse. It turns out that Perrottet’s government has been systematically misleading taxpayers. The 39 year old Premier promotes himself as the great "asset recycler". Perrottet claims he is selling taxpayer-owned infrastructure to invest this money in new infrastructure….

But this was untrue. Instead of funding new infrastructure, Perrottet took $7 billion of the $9.3 billion in WestConnex proceeds and put it in a speculative investment vehicle called the NSW Generations Fund (NGF). Technically, the money was actually allocated to a subsidiary fund inside the NGF called the Debt Retirement Fund.

Since 2018, not a single cent of the $7 billion has been used to pay for infrastructure. It has instead been gambled on stocks and illiquid junk bonds, amongst other risky assets. Amazingly, this has involved lending money to Russia ($75 million), Saudi Arabia ($45 million), China ($225 million), UAE ($15 million), Cayman Islands ($30 million) and Angola ($15 million).

Perrottet might have actually helped build President Vladimir Putin’s new palace rather than NSW roads, schools or hospitals. (After we expressly warned this was nuts last year, NSW has had to write-off $30 million of the money it lent to Russia.)…. [my yellow highlighting]

Yet in 2022, NSW taxpayer’s $7 billion still sits in the NGF. It is still invested in listed equities, private equity, and junk bonds. And it has lost money in 2022 (as it did in 2020) as markets have tumbled. In fact, since its 2018 inception, the NGF has now formally failed to meet its own performance benchmark of a return in excess of inflation plus 4.5 per cent.

The question is who benefits from this scheme? Who has a vested interest in it? Unsurprisingly, it is the folks punting the money. That is, TCorp. The NGF represents about 15 per cent of TCorp’s assets. Former Perpetual CEO David Deverall, who runs TCorp, has been desperate to turn it into a global asset manager, and aggressively grow its capital.

While TCorp blames NSW Treasury for the now-discarded plan for NSW to issue tens of billions in extra debt to enable TCorp to speculate on markets, the truth is that TCorp are the ones who directly benefit. Across TCorp’s 180 staff, the average compensation cost in 2021 was a staggering $323,000 per person. That is almost double the average pay of the RBA’s 1,300 plus employees.

The NGF is currently worth $15 billion, partly because it has been bolstered by the asinine decision to divert billions of NSW taxpayer royalties and income to it, and due to a debt-funded transfer of more than $2 billion to the NGF in 2020, despite the NSW budget being in record deficit.

This revenue had to be replaced with extra NSW debt, which explicitly contradicts the legislated objectives of the Debt Retirement Fund. These focus on three goals: maintaining NSW’s AAA rating, which Perrottet lost in 2020; reducing the cost of NSW borrowing, which has soared; and repaying NSW debt.

After widespread criticism last year, NSW suddenly stopped diverting taxpayer revenue to the NGF and then belatedly committed to using $11 billion from the sale of the second-half of WestConnex in 2021 to repay taxpayer debt.

Yet Perrottet and Treasurer Kean still refuse to invest the original $7 billion from the sale of the first half of WestConnex in 2018 into the infrastructure they promised. They also refuse to use this money, and the NGF’s remaining (partially debt-funded) $8 billion, to meet the Debt Retirement Fund’s legislated mission of repaying taxpayer debt.

We can quantify the cost of this madness: Perrottet and Kean would rather NSW taxpayers spend $630 million a year in extra interest on the $15 billion in new debt they will issue next year (but could have avoided) just to allow their TCorp pals to gamble this money on markets…..

Our interest in this matter is that as a fund manager, we lend money to all Australian states, including NSW. And we expect them to behave ethically from an ESG (specifically the “g” or governance) perspective. The huge ESG conflict of interest at the heart of the NGF—whereby NSW taxpayers have to pay $630 million a year in extra interest to allow TCorp to continue to punt their money—is unacceptable to all stakeholders.

Kean says he cares about ESG concerns. Time will tell if this is actually true.

Read the full article here.