Australian Politics 2020-11-05 15:58:00


One of the world’s largest batteries to store renewable energy is set to be built in Victoria

This is just a boondoggle. It is the size of a small power station, but, unlike a small power station, it will not be able to run indefinitely. At a claimed 300 MW/450 MWh it will discharge at full pelt only for 90 minutes. And that will decay by about 5% every year. In dollars per MWH it has to be hugely expensive

The Victorian government on Thursday announced the 300 megawatt Tesla lithium-ion battery would be installed near the Moorabool Terminal Station, just outside Geelong, and would be ready by the 2021-22 summer.

Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said it would be the largest lithium-ion battery in the southern hemisphere.

She said an independent analysis had showed the battery would deliver more than $2 in benefits to Victorian households and businesses for every $1 invested.

She said consumers would pay for the use of the battery through their power bills, but the reduction in wholesale energy prices delivered by the battery would mean Victorians paid less for power.

The battery will help reduce wholesale prices by storing renewable energy at a time when the weather makes it plentiful and at its cheapest and then discharging it into the grid when power is needed the most, such as on a 40C day.

The state government said the battery would also reserve a portion of its capacity to increase the power flow through the Victoria-New South Wales Interconnector by up to 250 megawatts to help reduce the chances of unscheduled power outages in peak summer months.

Global renewable energy company Neoen will pay for the construction of the battery and for its ongoing operation and maintenance.

Construction of the battery was expected to create more than 85 jobs, the state government said.

Ms D’Ambrosio announced on Thursday she had directed the Australian Energy Market Operator to sign a contract with Neoen to deliver the new Tesla battery.

“What we want to proof against is that lack of reliability when we’re in the middle of summer, when businesses need that power to keep running and Victorians need that power at home when they crank up their air conditioners to keep cool and to keep healthy,” she said.

AusNet Services executive general manager of regulation and external affairs, Alistair Parker, said it was a “terrific idea”. AusNet will be responsible for connecting the battery into the electricity transmission network that they own and operate.

“The particularly smart feature of this battery is the way it enables more capacity around the network day in, day out,” he said.

Ms D’Ambrosio said the service was an 11-year contract worth $84 million, and the Victorian battery would be double the size of the one already installed at Hornsdale wind farm in South Australia.

NSW Education Department: 2394 teachers leave, 321 sacked for abandoning students

A record number of dud teachers have finally been put out to pasture this year following a Department of Education review into its human resources practices.

A total of 321 teachers have been terminated so far this year after the “Workforce Transition team” undertook a review of staff who had effectively deserted their positions.

“This review resulted in a large number of staff being deemed as having abandoned their employment and were terminated as a result,” a note accompanying the data said.

By comparison, last year only 10 teachers were terminated by the Department of Education.

Parent groups welcomed the surge in sackings of teachers who were in a kind of education purgatory -- no longer teaching in classrooms nor officially fired-- saying it will free up space for enthusiastic young teachers to secure a permanent job.

This year a total of 2394 teachers left the job including those who were terminated, along with 850 public school teachers who resigned so far this year, 1,152 who retired, 44 who were medically retired and 26 who died while still employed as a teacher.

NSW P and C Federation president Tim Spencer said the highly unionised workforce meant it was difficult to get rid of dud teachers and welcomed the push which would clear the decks and give young enthusiastic teachers the opportunity to get a permanent job.

“It is challenging for a principal to deal with staff who either just don’t turn up to work or go on prolonged stress leave, they have to replace them with casuals,” he said.

“(There) has to be a reasonable and rational discussion as to why that person is not performing their role just like it would be in any other workplace and dealing with it appropriately.”

Central Coast P and C president Sharryn Brownlee said the move could save thousands for the Education Department if the teachers had been still getting paid while on leave, at the same time principals had to pay another casual teacher to take their classes.

“It is long overdue… dragging things out for long periods of time is stressful for the individual and the school,” she said.

Secondary Principals’ Council president Craig Petersen said some teachers simply would never return from annual leave and the Department of Education had no mechanism to fire them. “These are people we haven’t seen for months and terms and in extreme cases, years,” he said.

A Department spokesman said they wrote to the teachers seeking explanation for their unauthorised absence this year. “The teachers who did not respond, or did not provide a valid reason for their absence, were terminated,” he said.

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the Department had done a great job reviewing unauthorised absences. “Freeing these positions allows our principals to fill permanent roles with high quality teachers,” she said.

Shadow Education spokeswoman Prue Car said more needed to be done to keep good teachers in schools following the resignation of 850 teachers this year. “It’s concerning there is no proper plan to keep our best and brightest teachers in our schools,” Ms Car said.

Revealed: The new values statement immigrants have to sign before they are granted any Australian visa - and it sends an important message to non-English speakers

Immigrants applying for permanent, provisional or temporary visas now have to sign an updated Australian Values Statement before being allowed into the country.

The Australian Values Statement was first introduced in 2007 but has not been substantially updated until October 30, when the new statement came into effect.

Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said the new statement has 'a greater focus on values like freedom, respect, equality and the rule of law'.

Immigrants must now read a 'Life in Australia' booklet available in 41 languages to educate themselves on Australian history, culture and society.

After completing the required reading, immigrants can then sign the Australian Values Statement.

The Values Statement itself requires immigrants to confirm they have read or had explained the provided materials and that they understand Australian society values.

All immigrants must accept respect freedom in all forms, commitment to the rule of law, parliamentary democracy, equality of opportunity for all people, a 'fair go' for all and the English language as the national language as part of the statement.

Permanent visa applicants sign the same statement with two additional pledges.

They must make reasonable efforts to learn English if it is not their native language and an understanding they will need to pledge their loyalty to Australia if they become an Australian citizen in the future.

​The declaration that Australian citizenship applicants sign as part of their application has also been updated to mirror the wording of the Australian Values Statement.

Mr Tudge said: 'The updated statement better reflects the importance we place on these values.

'There will now be one statement for both temporary and permanent visa applicants that confirms they understand and will conduct themselves in line with our values and our laws.

'Those who want to settle in Australia permanently will also commit to make reasonable efforts to learn English, so they can fully participate in the community and have the best possible chance to get a job.

'There is no new test or threshold associated with this change.'

The changes are part of the Morrison Government’s $62.8 million investment in creating social cohesion, which builds on the $71 million social cohesion package announced in March 2019.

A new Australian Citizenship Test​ with a stronger focus on Australian values will also come into effect on November 15.

Adani mine to rebrand to Bravus Mining & Resources

MEGA miner Adani will change the name of its Australian mining operations as part of a major rebranding exercise, but the company insists it’s not because of relentless protesting.

Adani Mining, which is delivering the contentious Carmichael Coal Mine in the Galilee Basin, will today announce it is changing its name to Bravus Mining & Resources.

It comes as the miner marks its 10-year anniversary of operations in Australia.

Bravus Mining & Resources CEO David Boshoff said the name change was not motivated by protesting but rather the company felt it was the right time as the mine progressed into its operational stage.

“We feel if we were motivated by protesters … the height of that was in 2019, we are on track to deliver coal by 2021 and we feel nothing stands between us and that,” he said.

“Certainly if we were motivated by the protesters it would have made sense to do that 12 to 18 months ago.”

Mr Boshoff said “bravus” to the company meant “courage” in Latin. “We believe it took a lot of courage for us to where we are,” he said. “Our 10 years in Australia has been a journey that has tested the resilience, skills and determination of our people and has confirmed the depth of our commitment to regional Queensland.

“We have made a significant investment in Queensland and we will be here for the long haul employing local people and doing business in Australia.”

The CEO said Bravus was an Australian company, operating under Australian laws and would pay taxes and royalties.

He would not say how much the rebranding was costing but said the transition would take place over coming months.

While the company’s mining and resources operations will undergo a name change, Adani’s other operations across Australia will remain the same.

Adani was granted approvals for its scaled-back $2 billion mine by the State Government in June last year.

More than 1,500 people are currently employed on the mine and rail project and more than $1.5 billion worth of contracts have been awarded.

Mr Boshoff said 88 per cent of that work was being conducted in Queensland.

“The Stop Adani movement has tried unsuccessfully to prevent our business from operating in Australia, but the fact is there is ongoing demand for thermal coal in Asia and India,” he said.

“We have already secured the market for the 10 million tonnes per annum of coal produced at the Carmichael Mine, which is focused on India and Asia.”

Mr Boshoff said the coal market was predicted to recover from COVID-19 lockdowns next year.