Australian Politics 2022-07-12 06:44:00

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CHO Dr John Gerrard: Take personal responsibility to save lives

This is a refreshingly moderate official warning but, even so, it is heavily faith-based. His faith in vaccines is surprising, given that there is no evidence that vaccines protect against Omicron. We are in fact largely at the mercy of how good our innate immune systems are. I seem to have born lucky in that -- even though I am well into the age-based high-risk group. I turn 79 this week but have had no hint of Covid

It has been 2½ years since I treated the state’s first coronavirus case.

In that time, more than 1330 people in Queensland have died with the virus and we’ve recorded more than 1.3 million Covid-19 cases.

We’ve endured two waves and a third is still at least a month away from peaking.

Our hospitals are under immense pressure – the number of Covid-19 patients has risen by 140 per cent just in the past month because of the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

It’s tragic how something so minuscule (a SARS-CoV-2 virion is roughly half the size of a light dust particle) can wreak so much devastation.

Despite the passage of time and our mighty fight to suppress this disease, Covid-19 is still a major health threat that requires us to remain cautious and sensible.

That said, public health directions and mandates have served their purpose.

They helped us keep cases to a minimum, slowed transmission, and allowed us to vaccinate as much of the population as possible.

There is still a need for some health directions to remain in place, mainly to protect vulnerable people such as the elderly and immunocompromised, but we are no longer dealing with a novel virus.

Now is the time to adjust our measures to reflect this, to responsibly transition away from mandates towards taking personal ­responsibility.

By now Queenslanders are accustomed to the precautions and measures that have protected them against Covid-19. We should all be well-versed in wearing masks when we need to, physically distancing in public, staying away from others when we’re ill, and self-testing.

I have every confidence in the ability of Queenslanders to do this.

Being responsible also means making sure you and your family are vaccinated. The latest ATAGI advice recommends that people aged 50 and older get the winter booster dose.

Sadly, 97 per cent of Queenslanders who have died with Covid-19 were over 50 years old. About 91 per cent were older than 65.

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Devil in the detail of Indigenous voice vote question

Giving one racial group special privileges is clearly racism but that seems to be OK to the Left. If they had any real principles they would see it as obnoxious. They are always zealous to condemn racism in other contexts. But that is not the only reason to be doubtful about the proposals for an "Indigenous Voice" in the federal parliament

Not the sharpest tool in the shed? A few sandwiches short of a picnic? Not the full bucket of chicken?

Don’t you worry about that because Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney is going to make things easy for simple-minded souls like you and me, if she has her way in the wording of the question to be put to the nation in the Indigenous voice referendum.

Ms Burney doesn’t want to burden us with the tiresome detail of what the proposed body would look like before the vote, which may be held as early as November.

She has said that she wants to avoid a repeat of the failed republic referendum when Australians were required to vote on a two-part question that asked how a president should be chosen.

“I think it’s really important that the question be about whether there should be a voice, not about what sort of voice it will be,” Ms Burney said. “I don’t know having a detailed model out there would lead to a clean question about what should be ­observed in the Constitution.”

This sounds suspiciously like: “Trust us, we’re politicians. No need for you to worry yourselves about how it will work. We’ll look after that. Just vote Yes and she’ll be sweet, mate.”

The unstated fear in this stance is that if Australians are given a look at what is actually being proposed, they will vote it down, for the devil, as ­always, will be in the detail.

Those pushing for a Yes vote are hoping that they can convince the electorate to just wave it through. There are, however, a few questions that go begging.

Who will determine what constitutes Indigenous status and how will they do so? Will it be enough to simply “identify” as Indigenous? How will it be funded? Who will oversee its finances?

For how long will its members be elected? Who will be eligible to nominate to sit on the voice? What will it cost? Can it be dissolved if it is found to be ineffective or corrupt or is it to be beyond the reach of parliament and exist in perpetuity?

Cut back to 2005 when the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, an elected Indigenous body, was scrapped for nepotism and corruption.

Former Indigenous Australians minister Ken Wyatt is among those who don’t want to bother the public with any detail.

He said the referendum question might be a set of words as simple as “the commonwealth shall establish and maintain an Indigenous national body”. Simple? Certainly. Disingenuous? Absolutely.

The issue is far too important for Australians to leave it to politicians and pressure groups, for we will be asked whether we want a body separate to parliament enshrined in the Constitution on which only Indigenous people can sit and whose members can only be elected by Indigenous ­people.

In a world in which inclusiveness has become the Holy Grail, we will have a body advising parliament, the members of which will be elected by a process based purely on race, which excludes about 95 per cent of the population, which surely is racism by another name.

Malcolm Turnbull may not be everyone’s cup of chai latte, but he was on the money when he wrote: “Our democracy is built on the foundation of all Australian citizens having equal civic rights – all being able to vote for, stand for and serve in either of two chambers in our national parliament.

“A constitutionally enshrined additional representative assembly for which only Indigenous Australians could vote for or serve in is inconsistent with this fundamental principle.”

As is the nature of such things, enough is never enough and already Aboriginal leader Michael Mansell, chairman of the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania, has said that the proposed voice would be too limited in its reach and wants six seats in the Senate reserved for Indigenous people only, dismissing the voice as a “second grade” option that didn’t give Indigenous people enough power.

When the campaign gathers strength, it will be interesting to see if those people who oppose the move and who voice this opinion are subjected to social media vilification and denounced as racists.

It’s an easy smear to make and designed to intimidate and frighten people into silence. It may well, however, have the opposite effect and make people more determined to have their say come referendum day.

In the end, the people will decide which it is – as it should be.

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Strange censorship powers of the Qld. government

THE state opposition has accused the Palaszczuk government of “routinely” censoring their official communication material.

It comes after the opposition struggled to send a letter to Queenslanders ahead of the state budget last month, with Opposition Leader David Crisafulli claiming the Department of Premier and Cabinet took too long to approve it.

Mr Crisafulli is expected to reveal at the LNP’s state convention on Sunday that an LNP government would separate the Office of the Opposition from the state government and instead be answerable to the parliament.

Under that proposal, official communications would no longer be subject to the Code of Conduct and therefore not be vetted.

Official communication – which is taxpayer-funded – can include letters sent via the post and cannot be seen to be soliciting votes for a particular party.

Non-sponsored social media posts are not included.

In its letter to Queenslanders, the opposition wanted to outline the “parlous state of the Queensland health system and to provide the solutions we are fighting for to heal this crisis”.

“We submitted our one-page letter on May 17 in a bid to have it distributed weeks before the government’s budget,” Mr Crisafulli is expected to say in his speech on Sunday.

“The Premier’s Department took issue with the content of the letter and rejected multiple versions, including our statement of fact that a $400m efficiency dividend was in fact a cut in health funding.

“This was despite a Speaker’s ruling that the term ‘cut’ was common parlance when describing an efficiency dividend.”

Final approval for the letter was given on June 10 – 11 days before the budget.

The government of the day has long controlled the funding and financial approvals of the Office of the Opposition.

Currently, official communication from ministerial offices is not subject to the code.

But under Mr Crisafulli’s proposal, if the opposition of the day breached the code – such as, if material was too political – the money would need to be paid back.

“The Premier’s Department routinely censor our written communications based on the Queensland Government Advertising and Marketing Communication Code of Conduct,” Mr Crisafulli is expected to say.

“The fact the Premier’s Department has the power to do this is anti-democratic.”

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Subsidised Wind & Solar are the Root Cause of Every Power Pricing & Supply Crisis

Germany, Denmark, South Australia, California, the list of places that prove our headline grows by the day. The wind and solar cancer that saw South Australia suffer the country's only statewide blackout and end up suffering the world's highest power prices, bar none, quickly spread and has now taken hold across the entire Eastern Grid (which takes in Queensland, New Wales, Victoria and Tasmania as well as SA).

Wholesale power prices have more than doubled in the last six months; retail power prices are rising at double-digit rates each year - consumers face a minimum 18-20% jump in their power bills next month; and power rationing by postcode is the new normal, whenever the sun sets and/or calm weather sets in.

The last thing Australia needs is another MW of intermittent power generation, which means slashing subsidies to wind and solar, right now, re-engineering the electricity market and returning it to the condition it was in before subsidised wind and solar destroyed it.

Labor's Energy Minister, Chris Bowen, however, apparently didn't get the memo. Instead, he's determined to exterminate every last vestige of reliable power generation in this country.

We now give a little insight into how Australia's electricity market was corrupted by rent-seekers profiteering from subsidised wind and solar. We look at the hows and whys that have led to Australians suffering routine power rationing and continually rocketing power prices, notwithstanding the abundance of coal, gas and uranium under their feet.

This country's shortest route to solving its immediate power pricing and supply calamity is to fix the power market dispatch rules, which give preference to intermittent wind and solar.

Once upon a time, those rules required electricity generators to tell the grid manager when and how much power they intended to deliver, and over what time-frame.

Demand was forecast in advance, based on seasonal variations, time-of-day and day of the week, with allowances made for extreme weather conditions, when the use of air conditioners (either for heating or cooling) would lead to spikes in demand. Supply was organised according to schedules to match forecast demand.

Generators hoping to participate in the National Electricity Market were required to offer power according to scheduled demand, in a manner that would satisfy all power consumer's needs.

Then, along came wind power. With their output determined by the weather, wind power generators determined to rewrite the rules, they could never satisfy.

The Genesis of the disaster occurred in 2000 when the Liberal/National Coalition headed by PM, John Howard introduced Federal legislation dictating the purchase of wind power on a mandated basis, with subsidies paid to an eager band of rent seekers; Babcock & Brown headed the queue.

Initially, the target was modest, but the die had been cast. For a full breakdown on the origins of the RET see this article by Ray Evans and Tom Quirk: The High Price of PC Power from March 2009.

After Kevin Rudd's Labor government took power in 2007, the Renewable Energy Target was jacked up ten-fold to 45,000 GWh: 41,000 GWh of wind and large-scale solar (LRET) and 4,000 GWh of domestic rooftop solar (SRES).

Under the dispatch rules that then existed, wind power was designated "non-scheduled", which meant that wind and large-scale solar power outfits had no right to dispatch power to the NEM, unless the grid manager, the National Electricity Market Management Company (NEMMCO) permitted them to do so. The alternative was to try and meet the requirements set by the definition for "scheduled" generators: namely, guaranteeing delivery of set volumes of power, over a pre-determined time-frame. Obviously, the fickleness of Mother Nature meant wind and solar generators could never satisfy that definition.

Moreover, the grid manager hits "scheduled" generators with substantial financial penalties, in the event that they fail to deliver power according to the pre-ordained schedule.

Unable to satisfy the dispatch rules, the wind lobby did the next most obvious thing: it rewrote them.

The Australian Energy Market Commission was inundated with complaints about how unfair it was that wind power outfits were unable to 'compete' in a market where customers had this pesky habit of demanding power as and when they needed it, rather than having it delivered at crazy, random intervals.

If a wind power outfit wanted to guarantee regular participation in the NEM, it effectively had to build an equivalent capacity in fast-start up gas (Open Cycle Gas Turbines) or diesel generation to match whatever wind power capacity it built.

AGL did just that back in 2001, when it built its Hallett Power Station (200 MW of OCGTs that it runs on diesel), in order to match the wind power capacity, it was then planning to build between Jamestown and Hallett.

The cost of building utterly unreliable wind power capacity - as well as being forced to build additional reliable plant to compensate for the inherent intermittency and unreliability of weather-dependent wind - was viewed with contempt: operators like AGL determined that it was much fairer to pass the true cost of intermittent wind power generation to somebody else; namely, Australian power consumers.

The AEMC (packed with Big Wind friendlies) willingly obliged: under its Rule Determination issued in May 2008 it created an all-new category of generator defined as "semi-scheduled", tailored to suit the chaotic delivery of wind and solar. Masters of the English language might scratch their heads at a linguistic concept that sounds a lot like the idea of being half pregnant.

The new dispatch rule came into force in January 2009 and the rest, as they say, is history: from that point forward, thousands of turbines with a combined capacity of 9,854 MW were speared across four states and connected to the Eastern Grid.

Over the last six years, plenty of large-scale solar has been rolled out across SA, southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, enjoying the same care-free classification: "semi-scheduled".

From 2009, semi-scheduled wind and solar were then, and thereafter, entitled to dispatch electricity to the NEM, whenever the wind and sun permitted.

Critically, the failure of a semi-scheduled generator to deliver power to the grid has no consequences at all for the wind or solar power outfit concerned. Consistent with their general manner of operation, it was all care and no responsibility for the wind and solar industries, from then on.

The conventional generators (coal, gas and hydro) are still designated "scheduled" generators: a failure to deliver according to the agreed schedule results in the imposition of very substantial financial penalties. True it is that their operation isn't dependent on the time-of-day or whether the wind is blowing, which makes them unlikely to be hit by those penalties. However, they still need to schedule, well in advance, if they wish to participate in the market, at all.

Once a coal or gas-fired plant is scheduled to deliver, that plant must remain online at all times, irrespective of whether it's able to dispatch power to the grid.

When the wind is blowing and the sun is up, wind and large-scale solar generators use the value of their Renewable Energy Certificates - they receive one REC for every MWh dispatched, with a REC currently worth $50 and at times up to $89 - to undercut coal and gas generators. Those generators (forced to remain online because they're scheduled and would face penalties if they didn't) continue to burn fuel, pay wages and overheads, but are unable to dispatch electricity and earn revenue.

So, the scheduling rules that need immediate attention involve a double whammy for conventional generators: they suffer financial penalties imposed by the grid manager if they fail to deliver power according to the grid manager's pre-ordained schedule; and they suffer financial losses because they can't deliver power when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, even though they continue to burn coal and gas and run up other costs. Hence, the increasing number of breakdowns of coal-fired generating units, that require urgent repairs, due to a lack of scheduled maintenance. Which the MSM refers to as "coal outages".

If anyone studying the operation of markets is looking for an example of an unequal playing field, Australia's electricity market is it.

While there's been plenty of talk from Liberal and National backbenchers over the years about refurbishing Australia's existing fleet of coal-fired power plants and building new High-Efficiency Low Emissions coal-fired plants, unless and until the dispatch rules are returned to what they were in 2008, conventional generators will suffer the same disadvantage that's making them unprofitable, now; and which has done so, since 2009.

The first and most obvious step towards restoring reliability to Australia's power grid and affordable power to Australian power consumers, is redefining wind and large-scale solar as non-scheduled generators. By that definition, wind and solar power outfits would no longer be able to participate in the NEM, without the permission of the grid manager. Scheduled generators, on the other hand, would be able to dispatch electricity according to the schedule, without interference from chaotically intermittent and heavily subsidised wind and solar.

The alternative is to classify all generators as "scheduled" generators; thereby requiring wind and solar power generators to actually compete in the power market and to suffer the same financial penalties that apply to every other generator in the market. Either way, the characters who keep claiming that wind and solar are truly competitive would get the opportunity that they fear the most: a head-to-head with coal, gas and hydro.

If Labor PM, Anthony Albanese ever wants to meet his promise to cut power prices, his other target must be an immediate end to the subsidies directed to wind and solar (currently worth more than $7 billion a year) that created the mess, in the first place.

The direct cost of those subsidies is added to every Australian power bill; namely the cost to retailers of purchasing the mandated number of Renewable Energy Certificates each year: the mandated requirement hit 33 million in 2020, with that number needed each year until 2031. The alternative for retailers is paying the shortfall penalty, a $65 per MWh fine imposed for failing to meet the LRET's mandated targets, set by the Federal government's Renewable Energy (Electricity)(Large-Scale Generation Shortfall) Act 2000.

The indirect costs of intermittent wind and solar are also born by power consumers, totally unnecessary costs which include: power market gaming around wind and solar output collapses, that send the spot price all the way to the regulated market cap of $15,500 per MWh, for power that - before the destruction coal-fired generator's ability to dispatch power in lockstep with demand - cost those generators less than $50 to deliver to the grid; and escalating distribution costs, the result of building networks to take spurts of 'occasional' wind and solar power from hundreds of increasingly remote locations.

Not that any of the above will signify with the current energy intelligentsia. But we thought it worthwhile throwing a little light on the subject, as an antidote to the ingrained ignorance and practised delusion that currently prevails among politicos and the MSM.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

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