Australian Politics 2022-07-04 08:09:00


Time’s up: Labor can no longer have it both ways on coal

The Queensland Government is trapped between contempt for coalmining and the massive royalties it brings, writes Peter Gleeson.

One of the great ironies of the Queensland Labor Government is its disdain and contempt for the coal industry, the one fiscal sector that is propping up the Budget.

Because cabinet and caucus is dominated by the dopey Left faction, they are wedded to phasing out coalmining.

Unfortunately for Queensland, they haven’t quite worked out how they will fill the fiscal gap in unemployment and coal royalties, but hey, they’re not worried about the $100 billion debt, so who cares about jobs and revenue?

This financial year, coal royalties will account for about $8 billion, up $1.4 billion off the back of a new tax imposed by Treasurer Cameron Dick.

This is the same bloke who said 26 times before the last election there’d be no new taxes.

That’s a lot of hospitals and schools. The new coal royalties tax is the highest in the world, and it represents a danger to regional communities as coal companies cut their cloth.

It is also a risk to foreign investors, many of whom now see Queensland as a risky place to do business, as governments change the goalposts without warning.

Coal companies now pay 7 per cent of revenue for prices up to $100 per tonne and 15 per cent for prices above $150 per tonne.

Three new progressive royalty tiers will now come into effect on top of the existing royalty. The new tiers are 20 per cent for prices above $175 per tonne, 30 per cent for prices above $225 per tonne and 40 per cent for prices above $300 per tonne.

Coal companies argue that this large hike in royalties will negatively affect investment appetite for future mining projects in Queensland.

Executive chairman of the Bowen Coking Coal company, known as Ballymore Resources, Nick Jorss said: “We are extremely disappointed in the way this massive royalty hike has been implemented without any consultation upon an industry that already pays billions of dollars annually in taxes and royalties to fund schools, hospitals and services for all Queenslanders.

“Bowen is a local Queensland business built from scratch, not an international mining house.

“We are creating over 500 Central Queensland jobs as we open three metallurgical coal mines this year to supply the global steel industry.

“This proposed tax grab would permanently bake in Queensland as the regime with the highest royalties in the world, ostensibly to solve a near term Government funding issue.

“This raises substantial risks to further investment in Queensland mining and regional Queensland jobs.’’

This massive tax sting is par for the course for a Government addicted to royalties but keen to shut down the industry.

Let’s not forget the black-throated finch would have stopped the Adani coalmine in 2019 had Bill Shortenwon the federal election.

Now the State Government is using another weapon to derail a project that will create hundreds of jobs on the Darling Downs. It’s called silence.

Despite saying it will abide by the court process, there is little sign that the Government intends to approve the third stage of the New Acland mine.

Last week we saw the granting of the environmental approval for the third stage of the project, yet another court hurdle overcome.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has always maintained that once the court and environmental regulations are satisfied the mine would proceed.

Ms Palaszczuk must now honour her word and grant the necessary ­approvals, including the mining lease and the associated water ­licence, so hundreds of workers who were stood down in December can get back to work.

They have simply run out of excuses. The jobs and livelihoods of hundreds of workers are at stake.

The mine’s closure six months ago due to the State Government’s years of inaction was a devastating blow for the workers, their families and the communities of the Darling Downs.

Ms Palaszczuk and he Mines Minister Scott Stewart have blamed their inaction on the court process. But the time is now up.


Political "advisers"

What an extraordinary turn of events. After years of Liberal party waste and profligacy in government spending, we might just have stumbled on the ALP as a government that will genuinely cut waste and extravagance – if it carries through on its surprisingly good start. Anthony Albanese is absolutely right to cut the number of so-called advisers for independent and crossbench MPs and senators from four to one. Their present entitlement is four electorate officers to help them with the crushing burden of handing out flags and writing to ministers on immigration and pension cases for constituents. On top of that, they have these four policy advisers – each! The whole package, provided of course by the big spenders and big failures, Turnbull, Morrison and Frydenberg, is grossly extravagant, obscenely expensive, produces no return on investment and is little more than a powerhouse for empire building. If there were ever an area of government spending that cried out to be decimated, this is it.

The whole notion that these bottom-feeders are qualified by knowledge or experience to ‘advise’ MPs is ludicrous. Your average adviser is wet behind the ears with not the slightest experience of the real world. If they land a job as an adviser, it will probably be the first job they have had since leaving school. They will have a diploma in smoking ceremonies, transgender activism or the evils of logging in old-growth forests from some third-rate college that takes anyone they can find to keep their student numbers up. As an alternative qualification, they will have had a stellar twelve months’ career as a community organiser in stakeholder relations at the local refugee centre. So, they have little if any qualification for advising anyone on anything and certainly not if they are doing it at our expense. Yet, here they are, with an all-expenses-paid job and the lofty title of ‘adviser’ as if they were up there with the Delphic Oracle. It is ludicrous.

And what exactly is it that advisers do, once ensconced in the hallowed office of a member or senator and acquainted with how to order a government car and fudge the overtime chit and the expense allowance? It is easier to note what they do not do. First, they do not advise at all, as MP soon learn that the last thing they should do is follow the advice of an adviser, unless they want to ruin their careers and make themselves the laughing stock of the press gallery. Roman senators asked ‘Who will guard us from our guardians?’ Australian politicians ask, ‘Who will advise us how to ignore advice from our advisers?’

But if they are not advising, what do they actually do? Well, they spend most of their time scheming, schmoozing up to the tee-shirt-and-sneakers brigade in the business world, leaking, doing hatchet jobs on their rivals and enemies, more leaking, promoting their lacklustre masters to the media and still more leaking. If they have any time left from these weighty tasks, they spend it on advancing themselves, with one eye on future pre-selections or cushy jobs with a government relations consultant or investment banker and the other on showing they are at the centre of power and decision-making. Even dropping the word ‘adviser’ at the pub or a party implies they are privy to inside knowledge on every imminent government decision from invading China to stopping the sea from rising. Then, of course, they trade on the myth that is being promoted in independent, teal, reform and progressive quarters, namely that new MPs need advisers to explain legislation to them. As to this, you might well ask: can’t they read? Can’t they use a computer like everyone else?

There is, of course, a lot of labyrinthine gobbledegook in legislation, and the seasoned adviser is likely to pick up the jargon quickly. But the result of an adviser advising what a law means, does no more than replace one set of mumbo-jumbo incantations with another. (I became an expert myself on the meaning of the word ‘leer’ in sexual harassment complaints and that was a great contribution to human wisdom, I assure you). But if advisers spend any time on legislation, it is on drawing amendments to expand dubious government schemes like the carpark and sports club rorts. And this shows, I think, the real genius of what Albanese has done. He knows that advisers, like royal commissions and government inquiries, need new causes to promote if they are to survive and justify their otherwise useless existence. Like nature, they abhor a vacuum and cannot leave well alone.

They will discover previously unknown pits of human misery, urgent needs for handouts and grants for everyone from failed companies to unpublished poets and will always go for the tear-jerking expansion of anything on the government teat. Their bosses pick up the cry and make the same demands for more government spending. But Albo knows: cut the advisers and you cut the pressure on government to spend more money. Cut the empire builders and you will cut the empire.

But he should not stop there. Next target should be the electorate staff of all MPs and senators which, if possible, are deeper pig-troughs than the advisers’ ones. Some of them are relatives of the MP or simply party hacks. Now, I do not want to harp on the good old days, but when I was there, and electorates were bigger, we had one electorate secretary and that was enough. Today, our lawmakers have computers and every invention of technology known to mankind. That is enough of a burden for the long-suffering taxpayer to bear. Giving four extra electorate staff to MPs and senators, as well, is unprincipled extravagance.

So, surprisingly, Albanese is off to a good start and he should not give in. Winning this one, with the entire woke establishment against him, will make future cuts so much easier to achieve.


Europe looks to Australia for green hydrogen amid energy crisis

The global warming belief seems set to be with us for some time yet so Australia might as well profit from it.  I had a shower in hydrogen this morning. The hydrogen was linked with oxygen.  We call it water.  So hydrogen is all around us.  Why do we put it in ships and cart it about?  

It is because extracting hydrogen from water takes energy, electricity.  And where that electriciity comes from matters to Greenies and their followers.  It must come from "renewable" sources.  

And electricity from solar panels fills that bill.  And Australia has vast open spaces that are almost always sunny, ideal for solar panels.  So Australia can in theory produce almost any amount of renewable electricity -- which can be used in various ways.  And one way is to crack open water and store the resulting hydrogen.

So what we are shipping around the world is actually Australian sunlight  -- in the form of a product from it.

Rotterdam: Europe’s biggest hydrogen project is stepping up its search for Australian imports to help quadruple supplies of clean energy and cut the continent’s reliance on natural gas in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Seeking millions of tonnes of hydrogen imports, the Port of Rotterdam wants to scale up the supply of Australian hydrogen in one of the world’s biggest projects to import and generate the clean and transportable fuel.

But Australia is in a race with other countries to generate hydrogen from solar and wind at enough scale to export energy in vast quantities to meet a European Union goal of using 20 million tonnes of hydrogen each year by 2030, up from a target of only 5 million before the energy crisis.

Shell will commit to the biggest hydrogen generation scheme in Europe on Wednesday when Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte announces the project with the energy giant’s executives at the Port of Rotterdam, aiming to provide stored energy from wind power in the North Sea.

The Port of Rotterdam runs the hydrogen project, and its president Allard Castelein said his team had looked at more than a dozen countries and concluded Australia could produce hydrogen at a competitive price due to the cost profile of its renewable energy sources, even after adding the cost of shipping to the Netherlands.

“If you look at the energy demands in north-west Europe, it’s inconceivable that we will be self-sufficient in energy,” he said.

“We could put all the windmills offshore, they could become bigger and more powerful than they currently are, but still we would run out of space. So we will always need to be a net importer.

“And from our assessments, it appears that Australia is in a very strong position to be one of the supply sources. Not the only supply source, to be honest. But there is a lot of confirmation that Australia is a very efficient area to produce green hydrogen.”

In a test of the model, Australia supplied liquid hydrogen by ship to Japan in January from Victoria’s Port of Hastings under a $500 million scheme using brown coal to produce the gas.

A cheaper way to ship the fuel could be by using hydrogen to create liquid ammonia, which has a much higher energy density by volume when stored at minus 33 degrees. The Rotterdam project involves ammonia as well as hydrogen import terminals.

Castelein said Australia was in a “good and strong position” to supply the fuel at a time when the war in Ukraine highlighted Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and the need for renewable alternatives.

“Europe will have a very, very hard time dealing with an abrupt supply disruption, which is not unlikely to materialise,” he said.

“Europe as a continent will not be able to replace gas for gas.”

The Rotterdam LNG import terminal is running at full capacity and the only other terminals nearby are at Zeebrugge and Dunkirk, while Germany is leasing floating import terminals. The International Energy Agency says the European Union imported 155 billion cubic metres of natural gas from Russia last year and that alternative suppliers might only provide 30 billion cubic metres within a year.

“The magnitude of the challenge is enormous, not in the least because 2030 is around the corner,” Castelein said of the targets for commercial hydrogen.

“That’s why those countries that have assertive development plans, which are conducive to allowing new businesses to start up and having the materials and the people and the permits readily available, will be able to become a major supply source.”

The Port of Rotterdam is the transfer point for 13 per cent of Europe’s fossil fuel imports – oil, coal and LNG – but is moving rapidly to clean energy with a mix of hydrogen imports and domestic generation.

It wants to achieve commercial production and imports of hydrogen from 2025 so it can scale this up to 4.6 million tonnes each year from 2030, about one-quarter of the forecast for the EU.

The EU plan assumes half the hydrogen will come from imports, highlighting the opportunity for Australia when countries such as Chile, Uruguay and Iceland are also planning hydrogen projects and Saudi Arabia wants to become a major hydrogen producer after decades of dominance in oil.

The Port of Rotterdam has early agreements with Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania but the most advanced appears to be with South Australia, where Premier Peter Malinauskas has plans for a $593m hydrogen plant, triggering warnings about the financial risk.

Castelein said one advantage for Australia was its history in fuel exports while the other was its ability to produce hydrogen at about one-third of the cost of north-west Europe, the result of better solar and wind power, given the differences in climate.

Green hydrogen is produced by electrolysis when water is split into hydrogen and oxygen using electricity from renewable sources, creating a clean fuel that can be transported and stored.

Most hydrogen produced in the world is “grey” hydrogen created by combining high-pressure steam with natural gas, a process that creates 0.8 million tonnes of hydrogen in the Netherlands but generates 12.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions, according to the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, the TNO.

Burying the emissions would create “blue” hydrogen, which the TNO says could be done using carbon capture and storage in the North Sea in the biggest project of its kind in the world.

“We believe there’s a clear case for blue hydrogen,” said Castelein, who has run the world’s tenth-biggest port since 2014 and was previously vice-president for environment at Shell.

“But green is clearly the aspirational goal. We see blue as only having a role as a temporary source and not necessarily in the lead of the transition. Green shall lead the transition, blue will be part of the equation but phase out over time.”

The port authority, which is owned by the city of Rotterdam and the Netherlands government, runs the hydrogen project by signing deals with companies to build each part of the production chain. Shell and Air Liquide will produce hydrogen on site, while Air Products and Gunvor are planning a hydrogen import terminal. With fossil fuels expected to be part of the transition, the plan also forecasts the use of carbon capture and storage in depleted oil fields in the North Sea.

The Rotterdam terminals and hydrogen production facilities are expected to cost several hundred million euros each, while the pipeline being considered from Rotterdam to the industrial zone of the Rhine could cost 2.5 billion euros.

The wind farm in the North Sea is forecast to generate 7.4 GW. The biggest single wind farm in Australia, being built by Spanish company Acciona at Macintyre in Queensland, is forecast to generate 1 GW.

“These are tremendously aspirational timelines but, having said that, we will need a mindset that says it is necessary and thus makes it feasible.”


Shameful star chambers ruin men's lives

Bettina Arndt

In a recent judgment about a sexual misconduct case at Cornell University, the judge compared the campus disciplinary committees to the infamous English Star Chambers. He warned, ‘These threats to due process and academic freedom are matters of life and death for our great universities.’

We too should be regarding what’s happening at our universities with utmost seriousness.

Our universities have wrongly taken it upon themselves to set aside our criminal law system and put in its place their own star chambers where administrators make life-changing decisions about accused young men, derailing their education and publicly shaming them.

This is happening every week in Australia simply because our lily-livered universities are too afraid to stand up to the feminist bullies demanding action in response to the fake campaign claiming a rape culture on campus.

For two years now I have been helping a young man being persecuted by a New South Wales regional university. I’ll call him ‘Andrew’ to protect his privacy – critical now that he has finally received his degree and with great relief left the university to start a new job and a new life. He’s made a podcast with me, bravely deciding to tell his story as a cautionary tale to male students, warning of dangers awaiting them at our universities.

Note: Having witnessed the ruthless behaviour of our universities, I regretfully decided to delete the name of this institution from the podcast rather than hold back on my commentary for fear of legal attack.

For Andrew, it all started one night in March 2020, when he was a 22-year-old final year pharmacy student.

He was at a typical student gathering that involved a bunch of kids, including other pharmacy students, happily drinking together. But one female student, whom I will call ‘Fran’, went overboard and ended up vomiting and needing help to get back to her room at the college. A few students went with her, got her settled in bed, and then asked Andrew to keep an eye on her.

Andrew’s version of events, accepted by the court, was that when they were left alone, Fran suddenly became amorous, kissing Andrew, taking her pants off, and trying to undress him. He protested, telling her he had a girlfriend, but she persisted in pulling his pants down. That’s when the other students walked in on them. Fran’s friends quickly took control, demanding Andrew leave, despite Fran’s protest that he hadn’t done anything wrong and there was no need for him to go.

Despite this abrupt end to the evening initially, there seemed no negative repercussions, with Andrew having friendly social media exchanges with Fran where she showed no sign of any concern. What Andrew didn’t know was that Fran’s friends were at work, rewriting the history of the evening, and persuading Fran to make a complaint to the head of the college.

That happened, and the university leapt into action and started conducting its own investigation. Think about that. Here we have administration people – who not legally trained – blundering around, encouraging the young women to come up with their versions of events that evening. Suddenly there was the suggestion that Fran’s drink might have been spiked and that she was in and out of consciousness. Unsurprisingly, the whole scandal took on a life of its own and by the time the police were involved and sworn witness statements were taken, these colourful additions were part of the story.

It doesn’t take a lawyer to understand how that compromises the basic principles of police investigation. But that was just the beginning.

Andrew knew nothing about what was going on until two months later when he suddenly received a call from the university administration telling him he was excluded from the college and university campus until what was now a criminal matter was determined.

Andrew was no ordinary student. He was a hard-working kid on a scholarship doing honours in the final year of his pharmacy course. He was a resident fellow at the college, elected to the SRC, and a shining sports star. He was captain of various sporting teams, and had numerous leadership roles… All positions which he had to abandon when charged with a criminal offence.

When the shattered Andrew first contacted me, he was facing the frightening prospect of a criminal trial and the humiliation of finding excuses to withdraw from his numerous university positions, against the backdrop of malicious rumours about the allegations he was facing.

It was a tough year as we found local lawyers willing to represent him in the criminal case and brought in others to jump through the ludicrous hoops being erected by the university administrators. Boy, were these bureaucrats relishing in their power to torment this young man.

Although Andrew could study online in the early months of 2020 during Covid lockdowns, he needed to get back on campus for a few days in October to attend an intensive practical course to complete his degree. Naturally, the university’s petty tyrants said no.

Lawyers’ letters flew back and forth and then we had a breakthrough. A friend at the university dug out a regulation stating that the, ‘University must take steps to ensure students are not academically disadvantaged while a matter is being determined.’ Whoopee! That was inserted into the next lawyer’s letter and finally did the trick. Andrew was allowed to complete his course work – but the university still decided to withhold his degree, awaiting the decision from the magistrate’s court.

Convicted felons are allowed to study at our universities. What gives any university the right to steal a student’s degree – an asset towards which he has devoted years of effort and spent tens of thousands of dollars? Our laws say nothing about withholding degrees as punishment for sex crimes. The universities have made this stuff up with no proper authority.

So here we have the university telling this hard-working student that they were withholding his degree, refusing to allow him to take his rightful place as a qualified pharmacist, derailing his pharmacy internship, and costing him between $30-60,000 in earnings that year. This situation left him in limbo for half a year until a local magistrate could make a decision, and then another eight months while their star chamber swung into action.

In June 2021, the case was heard and the magistrate very quickly dismissed the single charge of ‘sexual touching’ that Andrew was facing, saying Andrew’s version of events ‘may well be true’. Fran repeated in court that she did not feel Andrew had done anything wrong at the time and confirmed that she had objected to her friends making Andrew go, asking, ‘Why does he have to leave?’

So that was it. Smooth sailing after that, you might imagine. Not with this university in charge…

We had an amusing moment late last year when Andrew received an email congratulating him on his degree and inviting him to apply to have his degree sent to him. He quickly filled in the right form and hoped for the best. Sadly, no degree arrived through the post. The invitation turned out to be a mistake. The bumbling administration then announced there was still a misconduct charge to be determined and the university planned its own investigation.

Here we have our justice system deciding a young man was innocent, but that’s not good enough for this great university. They chose to have another go, conducting their investigation and decision-making process. The reason? This university, as is true of all similar institutions, have decided they are entitled to their own star chamber determining these matters using a lower standard of proof. So, if he gets off in the criminal system there remains another, easier way to nail him.

Sure enough, after months of delay whilst everyone awaited the transcript of the magistrate’s written judgment, the university set up its investigation and re-examined all the evidence that the magistrate had used to determine Andrew was completely innocent. They then grilled Andrew – denying him any legal support in the process.

Eventually, they found him guilty of ‘behavioural misconduct’ because he should have somehow resisted any contact with the drunk girl. That’s very different from the original ‘sexual touching’ charge where he was wrongly alleged to have done something wrong, behaving inappropriately towards the girl. The university decided he was guilty of not doing something, failing to resist or retreat quickly enough from a girl’s amorous advances.

Not only are males now to be held responsible for taking advantage of drunk women, they are in trouble for letting such a woman near them.

Andrew was officially reprimanded and told he wasn’t allowed back on campus for three years. The decision was issued by a brand-new Vice Chancellor, who was no doubt keen to throw a bone to the feminists that control the university, as they do in all such institutions. Andrew was naturally upset by this decision, but the punishment hardly mattered. He has no intention of going near this dastardly institution ever again.

This week Joe Biden’s government announced new regulations to wind back the meagre reforms to the American campus star chambers which the Trump administration had managed to push through. The Wall Street Journal pointed out that Biden’s new regulations will eliminate or weaken basic procedural protections for students accused of sexual misconduct:

‘The right to a live hearing? Erased. Cross-examination? Unrecognisable. The standard of proof to determine guilt? Weakened,’ sums up the correspondent, adding that this sets the Education Department on a collision course with the courts. As he explains, over the past decade in America, judges nationwide have issued more than 200 rulings favourable to students accused of sexual misconduct, chastising universities for ‘rushing to judgment in rigged proceedings designed to appease the federal government’.

Our Aussie rigged proceedings were designed by our universities not to appease the government, but to kowtow to the feminist mob. That’s why they attract absolutely no scrutiny from our legacy media which serves precisely the same master. How else can we explain why journalists happily bang on about trans athletes – an issue which impacts tiny numbers in our community – whilst ignoring the huge population of families whose sons are at risk of injustice at our universities?

Our society’s indifference to what’s happening here is a national disgrace.