Australian Politics 2022-10-06 10:05:00


Concentrated solar thermal power touted as part of Queensland's clean energy future

LOL. What's old is new again. Solar thermal is an old idea that has often been tried but always disappoints. The best known example was the huge Ivanpah project (from 2013) in the Mojave desert.

You don't hear much about it now as it never functioned anywhere near its capacity and produced very expensive electricity. And there has NEVER been any return on the couple of billion spent constructing it.

The most amusing thing about it is that it used vast amounts of natural gas to get itself going in the morning and when it was cloudy. There was at one stage a proposal to reclassify it as a gas-powered power station because on many occasions more of its output came from burning gas than from its solar furnaces

The thing such plants are best at is chewing up subsidies from deluded governments

The most comparable previous project to the one described below was the Tonopah project in the Nevdada desert. In it, more than 10,000 mirrors were to focus the sun’s heat on a tower to produce steam and heat a tank containing molten salt that would generate power at night. However, the technology proved unreliable and expensive to build and operate.

Since it began operating in 2015, repeated leaks from its molten salt tank resulted in the power plant going off-line repeatedly. Unable to solve that and other problems at the facility, the power plant ceased all operations in April 2019.

Super-heated NaCl (salt) is a very hard substance to handle and that generates big costs and losses

An Australian company says its technology can help solve the problem of around-the-clock clean energy as Queensland gears up to become a renewable energy powerhouse.

A chronic issue for the most common renewable energy sources — such as solar panels and wind farms — is an inability to store power, which forces the national grid to rely on coal-fired power overnight.

Vast Solar has been developing new technology for concentrated solar thermal power, a renewable energy source that powers more than 7 per cent of the Spanish national grid, and in which China is heavily investing.

Chief executive Craig Wood said the company had been developing concentrated solar power (CSP) technology for 13 years and was ready to scale up its prototypes — manufactured and tested in Goodna, near Ipswich — to contribute to the national grid.

"It's a direct replacement for the overnight energy that is provided by coal-fired power stations," he said.

"And importantly the technology uses the same skill sets that are currently used in those thermal power stations, just in a renewable context."

The technology uses large mirrors, or heliostats, to beam sunlight into an array on a tall tower.

Molten sodium is then pumped through the array and heated to more than 500 degrees Celsius.

That heated sodium can then be stored and used to generate steam to spin a turbine and drive electricity into the national grid — or as a clean energy source for large industry.

CSIRO head of solar research Greg Wilson said the technology could be located alongside a traditional photovoltaic solar farm, with the grid using solar panel energy during the day and switching to stored power at night.

"After hours when the batteries are all flat, and people want to continue with their air conditioner, or large industry wants to continue to work, that 12 hours of storage that the CSP plant provides allows us to have 24-hour renewable energy," Dr Wilson said.

The CSIRO has been working with Vast Solar on developing and testing its newest research in the field.

Mr Wood said CSP was now cheaper than coal or gas and emitted almost no carbon dioxide when deployed in a full-scale facility.

Released last week, Queensland's $62 billion renewable transition plan makes no mention of CSP technology but emphasises the role of solar power in its seven-year plan.

Mr Wood said the plan was "hugely exciting" and one in which CSP could play a role, "allowing us to use existing transmission infrastructure while providing new jobs for power plant workers".

Energy Minister Mick de Brenni said in a statement there would be "ample opportunities" for industry to work with the state government on the plan, "including proposals like CSP".

Vast Solar is developing a 30-megawatt test plant in Port Augusta, in South Australia, to demonstrate to government and investors that the technology can effectively contribute to the national grid.

The project has $110 million in federal concessional funding and once it has the go-ahead, could be up and running in three years, with a life span of three decades.

"We're working on securing the grid connection for that project," Mr Wood said.


My faith is not tolerated or permitted: Essendon boss Andrew Thorburn quits

Former banking boss Andrew Thorburn believes his “personal Christian faith is not tolerated or permitted in the public square” after his 30-hour stint as chief executive of the AFL’s Essendon football club came crashing down.

In a statement to The Australian, the former NAB CEO said he was forced to step down from ­Essendon because of his role as a church chairman. “I was being ­required to compromise beyond a level that my conscience ­allowed,” he said.

“People should be able to hold different views on complex personal and moral matters, and be able to live and work together, even with those differences, and always with respect. Behaviour is the key. This is an important part of a tolerant and diverse society.”

A day after he was appointed to run the club he supported since childhood, Mr Thorburn resigned after it emerged he was chairman of a church that preached views on homosexuality and abortion.

Essendon president Dave Barham said the club acted swiftly to review revelations that the City on a Hill church posted a 2013 sermon to its website that said acting on same-sex ­attraction was “a sin” and another ­likening abortion to concentration camps.

Mr Thorburn said: “Let me be clear – I love all people, and have always promoted and lived an inclusive, diverse, respectful and supportive workplace – where ­people are welcomed regardless of their culture, religious beliefs, and sexual orientation.”

He said within hours of his ­appointment on Monday, it became “clear that my Christian faith and my association with a church are unacceptable in our culture if you wish to hold a leadership position in society”.

“This grieves me greatly - though not just for myself, but for society overall. I believe we are poorer for the loss of our great freedoms of thought, conscience and belief that made for a truly ­diverse, just and respectful ­community.”

Mr Thorburn said he had been a Christian for 20 years and indicated he didn’t agree with all statements made by the church he runs.

“As it happens, I do sometimes disagree with things I hear in church - but I believe strongly in the right of people to say them, especially when taken in context,” he said.

“Reducing complex matters to a sentence is dangerous.

“Australia has a long tradition of diversity and religious freedom, and that must include preserving space for religious people to be able to express religious beliefs.”

Mr Barham said: “As soon as the comments relating to a 2013 sermon from a pastor at the City of the Hill church came to light this ­morning, we acted immediately to clarify the publicly espoused views on the organisation’s ­official website, which are in ­direct contradiction to our values as a club.

“The board made clear that despite these not being views that Andrew Thorburn has expressed personally and that were also made prior to him taking up his role as chairman, he could not continue to serve in his dual roles at the Essendon Football Club and as chairman of City on the Hill. I want to stress that neither the board nor Andrew was aware of the comments from the 2013 sermon until we read about them this morning.

“I also want to stress that this is not about vilifying anyone for their personal religious beliefs, but about a clear conflict of interest with an organisation whose views do not align at all with our values as a safe, inclusive, diverse and welcoming club for our staff, our players, our members, our fans, our partners and the wider community.” Earlier, Victorian Premier and Bombers supporter Daniel Andrews denounced the views as “absolutely appalling” but said he would renew his membership to the club next season.

“There are many reasons to be a disappointed Essendon supporter,” Mr Andrews said.

“I don’t want to make light of this but I don’t appoint the CEO of the Essendon footy club or the CEO of any footy club, that’s a matter for the board.”

The views expressed by the church “are absolutely appalling,” he said. “I don’t support that kind of intolerance, that kind of hatred, bigotry. It is just wrong. To dress that up as anything other than bigotry is just obviously false.”

Mr Thorburn said his faith had not previously led to any ­issues with his leading large and diverse companies.

“I understand that some of these views … are offensive to ­people and upset people, and I ­really respect that,” he told SEN Radio. “Firstly, my faith is a very personal thing. I think my faith has helped me become a better leader because at the centre of my faith is the belief you should create a community and care for people, and help people be safe and respect them as humans.

“Second is I’ve been a CEO for 13 years – this is my third CEO job. “I was CEO of a bank that had 5000 people, I was a CEO of a bank that had 35,000 people – now I’m going to a ­different organisation but in all those, there’s a diversity of ­people.”

Mr Thorburn said some of his views were different from his church. “Look at my actions, look at my words as a leader and the organisations I’ve created to enable safe, diverse, inclusive workplaces … that’s my record I want people to look at and have confidence in.”


Australian Vaccinologist Opens Up mRNA Vaccine Safety Record in Systematic Literature & Date Review

What’s the real track record of the mRNA-based vaccines developed at a historic rate during the Operation Warp Speed initiative set up by previous President Donald Trump during the first year of the pandemic?

Significant claims were made with a near-selling-like fervor emanating from key federal government agencies in the United States and most other developed nations. The mainstream media overwhelmingly touts only the positive attributes of these products, which are countermeasures to a national declared emergency, America.

As challenges were introduced, from vaccine durability issues to the ongoing mutations---predicted by plenty of scientists who understand RNA viruses such as influenza or HIV/AIDS--the media seemingly presented ready-made talking points that positioned the products overwhelmingly positive. Afterall, billions of taxpayer funds were allocated into not only the early research, clinical development, and manufacturing of the vaccines, but also the heretofore not seen federally sponsored vaccination campaign which served as a marketing support for the primary companies of both Pfizer and Moderna.

Certainly, the products have helped soften the deadly, sharp edge of the COVID-19 pandemic, but what were the cost externalities as measured in human safety, loss productivity, and other costs to society with centralized government overreach of medical activity? Was the safety record claimed what manifested in reality? While the whole world now knows the mRNA vaccines, just like the flu vaccines, couldn’t control the pathogen’s spread in totality (however, there are cases where the vaccine has served to help control the pandemic), how effective are the vaccine products in the real world at controlling the pandemic?

How about staving off more serious disease and death in high-risk populations—the groups that most benefit from such products? An Australian scientist that leads a national and international reference laboratory for respiratory bacterial pathogens involving the identification, serotyping, genotyping, sequencing, and antimicrobial sensitivity testing for both veterinary and pharmaceutical clients, along with a colleague released a sharp critique of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr. Conny Turni and colleague Astrid Lefringhausen explore the above topics in “COVID-19 Vaccines—An Australian Review” published in the Journal of Clinical & Experimental Immunology.

No Lightweight Prose

With expertise in vaccines and topics such as antibiotic sensitivity for determining optimal sample sites for collecting pathogens as well as understanding the connections of different pathogens with disease, the development of animal infection models, and classification of bacteria and epidemiology of pathogens, Dr. Turni is no lightweight.

Profound Questions

Why have hundreds of millions worldwide needed to be vaccinated as many as four times within a twelve-month period? What are the effects of this ongoing countermeasure-driven medical endeavor on the human body? The clinical trial basis of the authorization was based only on a primary series of mRNA-based vaccines (two doses). Taking an Australian perspective, which TrialSite has followed, this demonstrates that double the number of persons died Down Under in the first three months of 2022 than all of 2020 and 2021 despite an already very high vaccination rate by the start of the year.

What were the promises and predictions from Australian authorities versus the actual facts on the ground? How about the safety and efficacy? Is there a substantial delta between what was promoted versus actuals? Just how safe, or unsafe are the countermeasures? What are the long-term side effects and how do these impact risk-benefit analyses?

Conducting a systematic literature and government data review, the authors establish the situation that merits investigation—the intensive push by the government for nearly everyone (including children as young as five and pregnant women) to get vaccinated. Yet, clinical research in all reality was ongoing. With a fourth booster dose administered in the elderly and other at-risk persons in just over a year from the first primary series, the long-term externalities as measured in human health cannot be known.

Crisis-driven Innovation

Vaccines often take many years to develop due to the difficulty associated with the development of this class of medical intervention—typically, a biological preparation that offers the human host active acquired immunity to a particular infectious pathogen. The vaccine usually contains an agent (like a weakened virus) that stimulates the human body’s immune system to not only recognize but also destroy the specific threat.

Vaccines are powerful medicinal interventions, and along with public health infrastructure breakthroughs over a century ago, helped transform developed economies. Some vaccines all but prevent the disease; they have served to control what were once horrific diseases such as polio. Others are used more as a therapeutic agent prophylactically to reduce the probability of the health threat such as with the influenza vaccine. While during the development and the authorization the COVID-19 vaccines were promoted like the former, in reality they perform like the latter scenario.

mRNA, developed over the last couple decades, introduced a new genetic way of inducing the human immune system’s ability to fight and overtake viruses. The onset of COVID-19 was the event fully exploited by the pharmaceutical industry and government research agencies to leverage public resources and assets to rapidly advance this promising technology. With COVID-19 came the intervention needed to achieve a faster, more economical, and adept way to produce vaccines. Done under national and global emergency, the countermeasures had to be safe and effective.

A Tenuous Foundation

First, in the “Initial Information” section of this literature review, Dr. Turni and Ms. Lefringhausen point out that the producers of the vaccines, government health agencies, and medical societies all declared that the “mRNA vaccines were supposed to remain at the injection site and be taken up by the lymphatic system.” This, and other basic premises represented a vital covenant with the public.

Yet according to the authors, “this assumption proved to be wrong.” They point to an autopsy of a person that unfortunately died as a result of the mRNA vaccination: “It was found that the vaccine disperses rapidly from the injection site and can be found in nearly all parts of the body.”

TrialSite has tracked numerous studies, mostly case series based on one death that evidence temporary wide distribution of the spike protein throughout the body for some short period of time.

The Australian literature review authors point out that although positioned to the contrary, the vaccine payload could cross both the blood-brain barrier and the blood-placenta barrier which is referenced in a European Medicines Agency assessment report targeting Moderna’s vaccine. They note, “mRNA could be detected in the brain following intramuscular administration at about 2% of the level found in plasma.” See the report on page 47: assessment-report/spikevax-previously-covid-19-vaccine [1]moderna-epar-public-assessment-report_en.pdf (the EMA has taken the report down).

The authors also point to 2021, when Japanese researchers found “a disproportionately high mortality due to cerebral venous sinus thrombosis and intracranial hemorrhaging,” but this causal link couldn’t be proven. Yet authorities didn’t bother to do autopsies. Again, TrialSite has reported on many dozens of examples of post-vaccine injury studies mostly in the form of summaries of case series.

What about the claim “that the mRNA will degrade quickly?” While mRNA is supposed to break down within a few minutes to hours, writes the authors, the COVID-19 vaccines is “nucleoside-modified to reduce potential innate immune recognition, and it has been shown that production of the spike protein in some vaccines is kept up for an extraordinary long time.”

The Australians point to studies such as Röltgen et al, for examples showing that the mRNA vaccine may persist in the human body for up to 60 days. In fact, the 60 days was the endpoint so the duration could be longer. The authors declare, “It is thus unknown and impossible to define how much of the spike protein is actually produced in the vaccinated.” How about how much antigen is associated with each dose injection? Dr. Turni and Ms. Lefringhausen point out that:

“For a ‘so-called’ vaccine that is using the human body as the production facility, there is no possible quantification of antigen. This is highly variable and dependent on the amount and stability of nanoparticles in the injection, age, and fitness of the vaccinee, their immune status, and the injection technique—if a blood vessel is directly injected, the nanoparticles will travel in minutes to all major organs including the brain. It is therefore impossible to assess how much spike protein any individual vaccinee produces following an inoculation.”


Domestic violence inquiry has exposed toxic culture in Queensland police force

For all the tea in China, I wouldn’t be a cop. Dealing with the dregs of society, going to work each day with the possibility of being killed, working shifts that affect sleep patterns … the list of drawbacks is endless.

But there’s a darker, more sinister side to being a police officer in Queensland – especially if you’re a woman.

The revelations emerging from a police inquiry into the service’s responses to domestic violence have exposed a deeper malaise.

This is a cohort of people who have lost their way. They’ve lost their identity. They are a police service lacking leadership, where the modern realisations of a safe workplace are colliding with the seedy traditions of yesteryear.

Reading the evidence is like watching an episode of Mad Men, where the misogynistic ways of men in the 1960s are laid bare. Women are merely seen as sex objects.

The Queensland police service is facing a cultural tsunami and the so-called Old Guard are being decapitated, one by one.

The question that the good folk of Queensland need to be asking today is – if certain male police officers treat their female counterparts in this oafish and belligerent way, what hope does the citizen in the street have against such poor behaviour?

If a cop has no regard for his colleagues, how does he handle law-abiding citizens?

When Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll took over the top job three years ago, she knew there would be difficult days.

Yet this inquiry is a long-running horror movie. The Commission of Inquiry has unearthed our worst fears. It has revealed a police service that has not kept pace with the morals and ethics required of a 21st century organisation.

The toxic culture and lack of manners among some of the mostly male officers is embarrassing, and deeply divisive.

It does nothing to instil confidence and it hurts those who treat the job seriously, and who behave responsibly. It seems for every good cop, there’s a bad cop.

Ms Carroll is dealing with a culture among the men towards female officers that has flourished and been entrenched for decades.

The cover-ups and lack of transparency and accountability are a damning indictment on a police service that has lost touch with reality.