October 6th 2018

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Bank plan a sure bet to build up PNG and our Pacific neighbours

VICTORIA Infrastructure fiasco clogs Melbourne roads

CANBERRA OBSERVED Ex Lib leaders seldom follow the rule that silence is golden

THE ECONOMY A shower of cold facts may counter coal phobia

POWER AND ENERGY SECURITY Not the moment to hit the snooze button, Australia

LIFE ISSUES Abortion grief: a restoration of honour

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Drought: just one element in a bigger climate picture

FREEDOM OF SPEECH Former High Court chief defends free speech on campuses

EUTHANASIA Seeking peace in a poisoned chalice

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Migration numbers: a new discussion begins

OPINION Victorian election 2018: How will you vote

FICTION A gentle dying

MUSIC Amy Winehouse: A natural jazz talent

CINEMA Searching: Digital window on the soul

BOOK REVIEW Biological realities v social constructs

BOOK REVIEW A little application of common sense

CHINA Social Credit System gives complete control of every citizen

LIFE ISSUES Bowing to the goddess of abortion law reform: the pseudo-religion of radical feminism

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Not the moment to hit the snooze button, Australia

by Neil Eagle

News Weekly, October 6, 2018

In the last edition of News Weekly, Neil Eagle focused on the crisis in water allocation and food security. This time he examines two other areas of national urgency: reliable and affordable power; and energy security.

Our elected leaders, bureaucrats and left-wing media have failed to focus on the real issues relating to the delivery of reliable power at the lowest cost possible. They have preferred instead virtue signalling and vote chasing.

The issues should be dealt with logically, step by step.

Climate change is real. The climate has always been changing from warmer to cooler to warmer and wetter to drier to wetter over long cycles, measured in the hundreds of years. Recent human activity may have had a slight effect; though that is still subject to debate and verification. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant but actually enhances plant growth.

The world’s major emitters (such as China, the United States and India) have not agreed to any reductions, but are in fact increasing their emissions and represent over 75 per cent of global emissions.

Thus our signing of the Paris Agreement is futile, as we represent slightly over 1 per cent of the world’s emissions. If we stop all activity in Australia, we will have no impact on world emissions, a fact that Australia’s Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel, has recently confirmed.

While we are progressively closing down our coal-fired power stations, which produce low-cost reliable power, we are selling coal, uranium and gas at low cost to the major world emitters (China, India, Japan etc), and these countries are rapidly commissioning new low-emissions coal-fired power stations in large numbers.

Coal produces by far the greater amount of the world’s electricity and will continue to do so. Renewable sources (wind and solar) produce only a small percentage.

Australia’s massive subsidies for renewables (wind and solar) of $214 per megawatt per hour and $74 per MW/hr respectively, compared with 40¢ per MW/hr for coal, have a twofold effect: they prevent Australia from enjoying close to the world’s cheapest power, making it close to the world’s most expensive, and reduce it from reliable to unreliable; and they stress households and put at risk the viability of our industries.

To make matters worse, renewables have priority to deliver power to the grid, thus further eroding the viability of our reliable coal-fired generators.

Over the past couple of years, South Australia has closed coal-fired power stations and, furthermore, made them unable to be reactivated; and Victoria increased the royalty on coal by 300 per cent, rendering Hazelwood unviable and leading to its closure. Now Victoria has proposed to subsidise household solar panels; an insult to sanity, as they caused the price increase and unreliability in the first place.

In NSW, AGL plans to close down Liddell and has refused to sell the facility (which the NSW Government had virtually given to it) as it wants to maximise its returns with inflated power prices.

Governments must act to prevent disaster.

Realise: without massive taxpayer subsidies there would be no wind turbines and very few solar panels, such as are now littering our landscape and alienating valuable farming land.

Realise: China is a major supplier of wind turbines and solar panels to us, killing our cheap coal-fired power generation; while at the same time rapidly expanding the number of its low-emissions coal-fired power stations and buying coal from the United States.

The basic issue is that Australia needs cheap reliable power, which can only be delivered by coal, gas and hydro. However, gas has been priced out due to government policy decisions: and Snowy Hydro 2 is just a distraction as the cost benefit has not been properly evaluated and it will not come on line until well into the future, at least not before 2024–25.

Australia’s fuel reserves

In The Australian on April 16, 2018, Senator Jim Molan exposed that fact that Australia has, at best, 21 days of reserve but most likely much less. It is accepted policy worldwide that nations have at least 90 days’ reserve.

We have what are called “Purchasing Tickets” for a tiny 400 kilotonnes to be delivered on call, which would be impossible if there is any sort of trade disruption. Imagine our country with no fuel.

We have dismantled our manufacturing capabilities to service our essential needs in the event of any trade disruption. This must be reversed. The same applies to our food-producing sector, now witnessing the dismantling of our previously efficient and productive irrigation industry in the Murray-Daring Basin. This too must be reversed or we will end up being importers of food (unless trade is disrupted altogether and we experience food shortages).

It’s long past time that Australia faced up to the fact that we desperately need new dams to drought-proof our nation. The six just proposed for northern Australia would be a good start. We capture only 5 per cent of the rainfall on our continent, as stated before our last major dam was constructed 40 years ago. We have 500 significant dams – I understand China has 22,000. It is developing rapidly. We are asleep at the wheel.

Hopefully the changes at the Federal Government level on August 24 will trigger a reappraisal and effective responses to what I consider to be the most urgent issues confronting our nation.

Neil Eagle AO has been involved in agriculture and water issues for over 50 years.

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