Friday, 17 June 2022

So Australia is in the middle of what is effectively an artificial gas-led energy crisis......

In the middle of what is effectively an artificial gas-led energy crisis, the Prime Minister and Energy Minister may be carefully avoiding stating a natural suspicion. However, as an ordinary citizen I am not.

It is no secret that some of the east coast energy producers and wholesale suppliers - who transmit electricity down the wires and gas down pipelines - view the Liberal and National political parties more favourably than they do the Labor Party.

It is also no secret that a bitter LNP is casting about for ways to do the new Labor Government harm.

When listing reasons for the “perfect storm” that is now engulfing half the country, it would be prudent to recall the four main reasons being commonly cited by the media and, add the distinct possibility that the Leader of the Opposition and his shadow cabinet actively encouraged the boards of east coast power generators to initially refuse to cooperate with the Australian Energy Market Operator. This refusal reportedly represented the loss of est. 20 per cent of the east coast’s needed power supply.

All in the hope of further destabilising energy supply. Thus heating up the political situation ahead of the first sitting of the 47th Australian Parliament. The LNP’s end game apparently being to create uncertainty in the minds of international investors and drive money out of the country, to the detriment of the national economy and the federal government’s ability to raise required funding.

This would not be the first time the Coalition parties have used this ploy - the events of 1972 to 1975 bear that out.

ABC News, 16 June 2022:

The Federal Energy Minister insists the unprecedented market intervention to avoid blackouts across the east coast will continue for as long as necessary, throwing his full support behind the nation's energy regulators.

Yesterday the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) took the extraordinary step of effectively seizing control of the energy market, suspending the spot price for wholesale electricity across the country.

It was the first time such a decision had been made, with the AEMO arguing it was impossible to ensure reliable power supplies without the intervention.

The AEMO had already been forced to put a cap on wholesale power prices, and had been ordering generators to continue producing power to ensure forecast shortages in supply in states such as New South Wales and Queensland were avoided.

Households and businesses have been urged to try to conserve power, switching off unnecessary appliances and lights in a bid to ease some of the pressure on the system.

Mr Bowen was asked whether it might be necessary to keep the market suspension in place for the duration of Australia's cold winter.

"I don't envisage that long, but it will be reviewed on a day-to-day basis," he said.

"I've been very clear with the chief executive of the operator. He has my full support for any action he deems necessary. The government will back the operator and the regulators 100 per cent.

"This intervention will not be lifted one day earlier than it needs to be, in his judgement."

What is the spot market for electricity?

After days of power uncertainty, the Australian Energy Market Operator yesterday declared it was suspending the spot market for electricity. So what does that mean for ordinary Australians?

Mr Bowen warned that NSW would be under "significant pressure" between 6pm and 8pm tonight, but that the market was working to avoid load shedding.

His NSW counterpart, Matt Kean, was confident there was enough reserve capacity despite a number of the state's generators being offline.

Mr Kean said that AGL's Bayside power station, which failed yesterday afternoon, would be online in time for the evening peak.

"We're cautiously optimistic that everything will be fine for the foreseeable future, but we're monitoring things closely because of the changed weather conditions and the unreliability of our existing kit," Mr Kean said.

Some generators have been accused of effectively gaming the system by refusing to produce electricity for the market, arguing the price cap means they are operating at a loss, and only switching back on when ordered to do so by authorities.

Those demand notices trigger the possibility of taxpayer-funded compensation for the energy companies.

Mr Bowen said there would be close scrutiny on energy producers.

"I'm not here to second-guess," he said. The energy regulator has our full support in monitoring all behaviour.

"I'm not here to make accusations. I'm here to say the regulator and operator has our full support in any action that they deem necessary — as they have done and as they'll continue to do."

Market rules could be rewritten after crisis

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the east coast electricity crisis could prompt a reworking of the National Energy Market (NEM) rules, including the incentives for generators to pump electricity into the system.

"There are weaknesses, clearly, that have been exposed, and all of the lessons of what is happening will be examined," he said.

"If there need to be any policy adjustments, then they'll be made."

The federal government has said the nation's energy woes are the result of a "perfect storm" — soaring international demand for Australian gas and coal prompted by countries weaning themselves off Russian energy supplies, the cold snap hitting a large swathe of the country, and unscheduled outages in Australia's ageing fleet of coal-fired power plants…..

Read the full article here.

ABC News, 16 June 2022:

.Tim Buckley, director at the IEEFA, said it was time these big companies were "called out".

"It's not about the energy not being there, it's about too much of it being suctioned out of our domestic east-coast market off to export," he said.

"I would be arguing we do need a carbon-export super-tax right now as a big stick to smash these multinational companies.

"They pay next to no royalties for our resources."…..



In 2022 most of Australia’s energy still relies on traditional sources, non-renewable fossil fuels. According to the Dept. of Industry, science, Energy and Resources coal and gas account for about 79% of all electricity generation.

According to a new study by The Australia Institute, Australians have just 4.3 per cent ownership in the companies extracting and processing natural gas across the country.

Three months after devastating extreme flooding on the NSW North Coast it appears that a co-ordinated effort to prepare state emergency services for the next extreme flood has not even begun

Lismore City and environs, 28 February 2022
IMAGE: Life Flight Australia

The NSW Legislative Council Select Committee Inquiry on the Response to Major Flooding across New South Wales in 2022 held a public hearing at Room 814-815, in Parliament House, Sydney on 14 June 2021.

This public hearing took evidence from expert witnesses in relation to events in Northern NSW during the period February-March 2022.

Hearing transcripts are not yet available.

However, here are mainstream and social media responses to evidence given by state emergency response agencies.


ABC News, 16 June 2022:

The chairman of a parliamentary flood inquiry has accused the NSW government and Service NSW of running a "cruel hoax" on financial support for flood victims.

Service NSW faced tough questions on why fewer than 20 per cent of applications for a 16-week rental support program had been paid out.

The inquiry heard 11,667 applications for the grant have been received.

About 1,900 have been approved but 7,467 have been deemed ineligible.

The inquiry heard just $18 million had been paid out from a $248 million grant program due to close in nine days.

Catherine Ellis, an executive director at Service NSW, told the inquiry applicants were typically given 28 days to provide documentation to prove they were eligible.

But inquiry chairman Walt Secord questioned what allowances Service NSW was making to help people who had lost paperwork and electronics to floodwaters.

"Isn't simply being in the community that had the worst flood in NSW enough?" he said to Ms Ellis.

"I put it to you that flood support and support from this government is a cruel hoax and that you have no intention of providing support."

Ms Ellis said that Service NSW assessed applications on the policy and guidelines that were set…..

Earlier in the hearing, the SES and other marine-based agencies were questioned about the rescue efforts during the height of the floods.

SES Commissioner Carlene York was asked why civilians were directed not to conduct flood rescues in their own boats.

"[There is] rubble, refuse, very swift-flowing water, contaminated water," she said.

"Going out is very dangerous so I have an obligation to try and keep the community safe."

The so-called "tinnie army" ignored directions from SES not to enter the water and has been credited with hundreds of rescues across the Northern Rivers region.

NSW Maritime was also asked why it did not participate in more flood rescues.

Executive director Mark Hutchings said his agency was not responsible or equipped for swift-water rescues.

"Operating in flood waters is the most dangerous, perilous thing that you can do," he said.

"As a government agency you would not recommend, nor would you deploy, untrained staff in inappropriate vessels into that environment.

"But Aussies will do what Aussies will do."

Mr Hutchings told the inquiry he could be charged and come before the Coroners Court if he sent his staff into dangerous conditions and something went wrong.

Mr Fitzsimmons spent most of the day in front of the inquiry as it examined the immediate emergency response and recovery and rebuilding plans.

The agency was formed in response to the Black Summer bushfires but has faced criticism throughout the inquiry for its performance.

Mr Fitzsimmons bristled at criticisms put to him by the inquiry that his staff treated the emergency as a typical nine-to-five job.

"We're not a 24-hour organisation, we don't have thousands of personnel, [but] we've been doing extraordinary hours and running after-hours arrangements," he said.

"I've had some staff sleeping in their vehicles overnight close to evacuation centres and other areas where they're providing support."

Today is the last day of the inquiry's scheduled hearings.

A report with recommendations is due to be handed down by August 9.

AAP News, 15 June 2022:

Labor MP Penny Sharpe said North Coast victims had been worn down by the bureaucracy.

"The level of frustration and distress as a result because they (residents) are being asked for paperwork they no longer have is extraordinary," she said.

"We've had people crying in front of us because they're being asked to provide the same documentation five times they don't have because their house or business has washed away.

"I just cannot overstate the level of trauma in the community ...They're in desperate circumstances in terms of housing."

Mr Secord described the slow drip of rental support provided to displaced residents as "a cruel hoax".

Ms Sharpe also levelled criticisms at the SES for not effectively communicating with flood-affected communities over which rescue agency would take the lead, describing the response as "confused"…..

ABC Radio, Australia Wide program,

A New South Wales parliamentary inquiry examining the devastating floods from earlier in the year, is hearing evidence from emergency services and non-government organisations on how the response to natural disasters can be improved. The inquiry has been told its madness to have a volunteer organisation as the lead response agency to a major disaster. Leighton Drury, from the Fire Brigade Employees' Union, told today's hearing the State Government must rethink the strategy that sees the SES take control of floods, storms and tsunami events. starting at 1:06 mins & finishes at 9:15 mins.

Twitter, 15 June 2022







Response to Major Flooding across New South Wales in 2022 public hearing transcripts can be found at:

Video recordings of public hearings are at:

Thursday, 16 June 2022

Ballina Shire waterways still showing signs of flood pollution - immune compromised people advised to avoid swimming

Echo, 13 June 2022:

Flood debris in Ballina, Richmond River, 1 March 2022. 
Photo David Lowe.

People with compromised immune systems were still being advised to avoid swimming in Ballina Shire waterways more than three months after catastrophic flooding in late February.

Advice from the council in early June said ‘those with lower immune function should avoid swimming within our rivers, bays and lakes’.

The advice came after the council’s most recent monitoring showed water quality at official levels of good or fair in all sampled waterways.

Fair water quality represented bacteria levels that indicated an increased risk of illness to swimmers, particularly those with lower immune function including the elderly and young children, council advice said.

The council said it could be several weeks before harmful bacteria and debris was flushed from Ballina waterways.

The worst water quality was in rivers, enclosed bays and lakes, the council said, but ocean beaches could still present risks visible signs of pollution were present.

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

Member for Lismore and Tweed City Council remain strongly opposed to "NSW Government's ill-advised proposal to close four Murwillumbah public schools and replace them with a mega campus"

It seems that less than ten months out from a state election the NSW Perrottet Government is still not listening to local communities in the Northern Rivers region.....

NSW Labor Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin, media release, 9 June 2022:

Janelle Saffin MP has reaffirmed her 'rock solid' opposition to the NSW Government's ill-advised proposal to close four Murwillumbah public schools and replace them with a mega campus. Tweed Shire Council is also opposed.

STATE Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin remains ‘rock solid’ in her support to maintain Murwilumbah’s four public schools.

The NSW Government’s plans to close these schools and replace them with a mega school campus is nothing but a cost-cutting exercise, Ms Saffin says.

They (the Government) have not demonstrated any educational benefit to students and to boot will sack 20 teachers and four support staff.”

Ms Saffin further reaffirmed NSW Labor’s commitment to keep Murwillumbah East Public School, Wollumbin High School, Murwillumbah Public School and Murwillumbah High School open for the community into the future.

Ms Saffin said Tweed Shire Council’s damning submission and formal objection to the Murwillumbah Education Campus development application, combined with the school communities’ concerns, should be enough for NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell to scrap the Government’s ill-advised plan and heavily invest in existing schools instead.

My position has not changed; if anything, my opposition to this proposal — which is half-baked at best, silly at worst, does not contain a performing arts centre as touted from the original announcement all the way along, is vague on assessing flood impacts and is generally lacking in detail — has solidified,” Ms Saffin said.

Some issues identified by Council include inadequate playing fields; indoor halls too small to be used as shared community spaces; a lack of shading for students; a 90-space shortfall in car parking spaces (which would put serious pressure on surrounding streets); and an incomplete bushfire management plan.

It all adds up to a half-baked plan which sells the local community short, prompting Tweed Mayor Cr Chris Cherry to say the State Government should be a ‘model applicant, but is flouting all of our requirements and at this stage is being anything but’.”

Ms Saffin noted NSW Teachers Federation Deputy President Henry Rajendra’s call for the NSW Government to immediately halt its merger plan, and engage with local parents and teachers to permanently protect the staffing entitlement for existing schools.

In Education Quarterly Online, Mr Rajendra said: “The issues raised by Council are in addition to the staffing cuts that will result when the schools are amalgamated. Primary school provision will, at a minimum, lose a classroom teacher, up to two assistant principal positions, a principal position and a reduction in teacher-librarian staffing.

The situation is far worse for high school staffing. It is predicted that at least 16 positions – 20 per cent of the teaching staffing entitlement – will be cut, including classroom, head teacher, teacher-librarian, careers adviser and principal positions,” Mr Rajendra said.

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

So what will the timetables be for introducing national anti-corruption commission legislation and a new religious discrimination bill?

Australia is only on Day 23 of the new Albanese Labor Government, but some timetables are emerging when it comes to promised reforms.

Attorney-General’s Department, Media Centre, ABC Radio National – Breakfast with Patricia Karvelas, Interview with Australian Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC MP, Subjects: National Anti-Corruption Commission; Bernard Collaery; Religious Discrimination Legislation, 8 June 2022, transcript excerpt:

PATRICIA KARVELAS: There's little detail on what your anti-corruption commission will look like. Will you be starting from scratch or will you use independent MP Helen Haines' template?

MARK DREYFUS: My department swung into action, Patricia, as soon as the election result was clear. We've now got a task force of senior officials headed by a Deputy Secretary completely devoted to ensuring that we will legislate a national anti-corruption commission this year. And the full resources of the department are now directed to drafting the very best bill that we can bring to the Australian Parliament.

PATRICIA KARVELAS: You say that because the Commonwealth is the last to legislate an anti-corruption commission you can pick and choose the best from the states and territories. Can you give me an idea on what you see as best practice?

MARK DREYFUS: There's a whole range of features that have been obviously discussed over the last three years, a lot of it in response to the inadequate model that the former government put forward. The commission is going to be independent, it's going to be powerful, it's going to have the powers of a Royal Commission. And some of the contentious matters that we've looked at are the scope of the commission. It's going to deal with serious and systemic corruption, it's going to be able to receive allegations from a whole range of sources, it's going to be able to, at its discretion, hold public hearings and all of those are important features and, of course, important differences from the former government's model. And it'll be able to look into the past. That's another deficiency of the former government's proposal. We think that it's completely inappropriate to suggest that an anti-corruption commission, once set up, would only be able to look at matters that arose after it was set up. That can't be right. None of the state and territory anti-corruption commissions function on that basis. They've all been able to look back into the past at their discretion when they think it's appropriate.

PATRICIA KARVELAS: Okay, so two questions on this; how far back into the past?

MARK DREYFUS: That's going to be a matter for the commission.

PATRICIA KARVELAS: What's your view?

MARK DREYFUS: No, I'm not going to express a view. It's not for us, as the Government, to direct this commission…..

MARK DREYFUS: ... and I'm not going to set limits on this commission. It's independent. That's the key to it. It's not there to accept instructions from the government of the day. It's there to be independent.

PATRICIA KARVELAS: You say most of the hearings would be held in private. What would justify a public hearing in your view? How will that be articulated in the legislation for when the threshold is met for a public hearing?

MARK DREYFUS: There will be circumstances in which it is clearly in the public interest for a public hearing to take place. The experience of the state and territory commissions - because almost all of them have got the power to hold public hearings - is that they are sparing in the holding of those public hearings. They can, potentially, be very useful. A number of the anti-corruption commissioners around Australia with whom I've spoken about this have pointed out to me that it's a way of building confidence in the activities of the commission, if people can see it in operation. It's a way of showing how the commission is going about its work. And very often the holding of public hearings, some commissioners have told me, is something that prompts others to come forward. It brings out evidence if people hear of the investigation because the public hearing is being reported on. But overwhelmingly the work of these commissions is conducted by private hearings. They're sparing in their use of the public hearings…..

PATRICIA KARVELAS: When will the full design of the commission be announced?

MARK DREYFUS: We're going to bring a bill to the Parliament. And I'm going to be consulting before we do that, I'm certainly going to be consulting with the crossbench. As you said, in your introduction, the election of many independent members of the Parliament who campaigned on integrity issues tells us about the level of public support for this anti-corruption commission. It's a nation building reform. We're treating it extremely seriously. It's, as I've said, a paramount objective for the Government. I'm looking forward to consulting right across the Parliament on the details of this.

PATRICIA KARVELAS: So, if you have it legislated by the end of the year Attorney-General, does that mean it could be operational by next year?

MARK DREYFUS: We are going to legislate to create this anti-corruption commission, put the legislation in place, by the end of this year. That is the most clear commitment that we've given during the course of the campaign when it might be operational. If the legislation is passed by the end of this year it'll be a matter, as always for the establishment of a Commonwealth agency, of finding premises, finding staff appointing the commissioners, and then then it can get up and running.

PATRICIA KARVELAS: And what sort of timeframe might that might that look like?

MARK DREYFUS: I'd be hoping around the middle of 2023…..

PATRICIA KARVELAS: Just finally, prior to the election Labor said it would seek to legislate a Religious Discrimination Act and scrap the ability of schools to expel gay and transgender students at the same time. But a timeline hasn't been given. Are you still committed to religious discrimination legislation? And when would you do it?

MARK DREYFUS: Very much so and it's something that we will do, as we've said, in the course of this Parliament. Unlike the commitment on the National Anti-Corruption Commission where we've put a timeline on it by saying we are going to legislate by the end of this year, we haven't put such a timeline on the religious discrimination legislation that we will be bringing before the Parliament. But be assured, Patricia, we are bringing religious discrimination legislation before the Parliament. I have a very sharp memory of being interviewed by you at about 7:30 in the morning after an all night sitting for Federal Parliament earlier this year, when I think we'd sat to about 5 am in the morning. And one of the things I said to you in that interview was that, if we were successful at the upcoming election, we would be returning to this subject and bringing legislation to the Parliament on religious discrimination. That's why we voted for the government's bill, even after our amendments, only one of the amendments we supported, was successful. Because at its core, there is an appropriate, at the core even of the government's bill, there was an appropriate structure of anti-discrimination law, bringing in a prohibition on discriminating against people on the grounds of their religious beliefs. So I think we've made our position clear. It is a matter again of drafting legislation, which we will be doing and we will be bringing legislation to the Parliament…...

Monday, 13 June 2022

Native forest logging contracts extended across north east New South Wales by Perrottet Coalition Government

ABC News, 9 June 2022:

The NSW Agriculture Minister has signalled the government has no plans to phase out logging of native hardwood in state forests.

Key points:

  • All North Coast Wood Supply Agreements have been extended until 2028

  • The Agriculture Minister says selective harvesting of native forests is a renewable industry and does not plan to phase out the practice

  • Critics say the contracts are 'reckless' and unsustainable post-bushfires and further threaten the habitats of endangered animals

  • The state government announced a five-year extension of North Coast Wood Supply Agreements last week.

Minister Dugald Saunders said all agreements due to end next year had been renewed in order to provide "certainty" for the industry to "invest in their businesses".

The agreements cover the area spanning from the Mid North Coast to the Queensland border, and include state forests in Dorrigo, Wauchope, Kempsey, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Taree, Wingham, Gloucester, Glenn Innes and Casino.

Mr Saunders confirmed the main terms were unchanged, meaning Forestry Corporation would continue to supply existing quantities and species to timber companies in exchange for payment…..

North East Forest Alliancemedia release, 9 April 2022:

The NSW Government’s Koala Strategy released today will do little to turn around their extinction trajectory as it is not stopping logging and clearing of Koala habitat which, along with climate heating, are the main drivers of their demise.

The Strategy proposes nothing to redress the logging of Koala habitat on public lands where at best 5-10 small potential Koala feed trees per hectare need to be protected in core Koala habitat, with the only other requirement being to wait for a Koala to leave before cutting down its tree” NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.

We know that Koalas preferentially choose larger individuals of a limited variety of tree species for feeding, and losses of these trees will reduce populations. So protecting and restoring feed and roost trees is a prerequisite for allowing populations to grow on public lands.

The most important and extensive Koala habitat we know of in NSW is in the proposed Great Koala National Park, encompassing 175,000 hectares of State Forests south of Grafton and west of Coffs Harbour.

Similarly on the Richmond River lowlands the most important and extensive area known is the proposed Sandy Creek Koala Park, encompassing 7,000 ha of State Forests south of Casino.

These are public lands that we know are important Koala habitat that need to be protected from further degradation if we want to recover Koala populations. There are many other areas of important Koala habitat on State forests in need of identification and protection from logging.

The centrepiece of the NSW Koala Strategy is to spend $71 million on private lands, buying properties and implementing conservation agreements over up to 22,000 hectares.

This will not compensate for the Liberal’s promises to the Nationals, as peace terms in the 2020 Koala Wars, to remove the requirement to obtain permission before clearing core Koala habitat, to end the prohibition on logging core Koala habitat, to open up all environmental zones for logging, and to stop core Koala habitat being added to environmental zones.

Throwing money at piecemeal protection of private land, while allowing some of the best Koala habitat to be cleared and logged will not save Koalas

Similarly their strategy to spend $31.5 million to restore and plant new Koala habitat could help, but only if they first stopped clearing and logging existing Koala habitat.

Rather than the proposed piecemeal approach, what we need for private lands is for the Government to fund Councils to prepare Comprehensive Koala Plans of Management that identify where the core Koala habitat and important linkages are, and then to direct funding to best protecting those lands.

The NSW Koala Strategy is set to fail because it does not fulfill the most fundamental requirement of stopping existing Koala habitat from being cleared and degraded, and lacks a strategic approach to identify the highest priority lands for protection and revegetation” Mr. Pugh said.

Koala strategy:



These wet sclerophyll public native forest compartments are within the proposed GREAT KOALA NATIONAL PARK and were extensively burnt during the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires in November 2019. 

This short video clip is a time series of satellite images taken from 16 September 2018 through to 9 June 2022, showing the impacts of logging and bushfire on the local landscape. 

The forests here on the Dorrigo Plateau adjoin the NYMBOI-BINDERAY NATIONAL PARK and surround the Clouds Creek Pine Plantations in the southern end of Clarence Valley in northern NSW. 

They are managed by the Grafton office of NSW Forestry Corporation, Hardwood Division. 

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW OEH) has mapped the forests here as preferred koala habitat and the Clouds Creek state forest is recognised as a priority Koala Hub in need of protection to prevent NSW Koalas becoming extinct by 2050. 

The Chaelundi Bioregion is a higher elevation, biodiversity hotspot which lies within the north western bounds of the Great Koala National Park proposal and provides forest connectivity across the eastern ranges critical to providing climate adaptivity for a multitude of threatened species living in these old growth, subtropical and warm temperate rainforest and wet sclerophyll forest areas above 600 metres asl. 

Sign the Great Koala National Park Petition: 

Save Our Oldgrowth Trees 


IF YOU ARE A NSW RESIDENT - SIGN THE NSW e-Petition: End Public Native Forest Logging


Morrison & Co's post-election time bombs continue to explode

via @GrogsGamut

The full article can be found at: