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Weekend reflections

August 23rd, 2009

It’s time again for weekend reflections, which makes space for longer than usual comments on any topic. As always, civilised discussion and no coarse language.

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  1. Rationalist
    August 23rd, 2009 at 11:45 | #1

    On the Gorgon gas project, it is all well and good and I welcome the investment.

    $50 billion over 25 years is very substantial however keep one thing in mind, east coast coal ports export over $15 billion worth of black coal each year. Certain ports are expecting to double within 6 or so years.

  2. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 23rd, 2009 at 11:58 | #2

    John, don’t you love it when all the pundits who keep attacking Rees about his leadership and how poor the polls are and so on are in fact all talk and no action. The reality is their is no leadership contest as no one has the balls to contest it and secondly Rees is doing a pretty good job considering those who are stirring the pot were the ones who stuffed NSW. Thumbs up Rees for its only a matter of time that the polls will vindicate all the good hard work your doing.

  3. Rationalist
    August 23rd, 2009 at 12:06 | #3

    Michael, I am a resident of NSW in a formerly safe Labor seat which will likely fall at the next election. I don’t hate Rees, I honestly appreciate what he is trying to do but I feel it is time for a change.

  4. philip travers
    August 23rd, 2009 at 13:11 | #4

    I looked at the SMH online and The Age. In Victoria the new billing for electricity seems unfair in some way,it is a wonder it hasn’t been scrutinised for that across all relevant sections of Acts.And a quickie solution to transport needs in Sydney seems the logical thimg to do.

  5. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 23rd, 2009 at 13:43 | #5

    Rationalist, whilst there is a lot of catchup to be done Rees is producing the goods and voters should not be perturbed by the nonsensical fiction put forward by the pundits but instead assess Rees’s performance come 2011.

  6. Ikonoclast
    August 23rd, 2009 at 13:55 | #6

    Rationalist’s post on the Gorgon project and expected expansion in Queensland coal exports begs a question.

    When are we going to ramp down fossil fuels and ramp up renewables? The tenth of Never?

  7. Alice
    August 23rd, 2009 at 14:00 | #7

    @Michael of Summer Hill
    If you call traffic gridlock after years of NSW Labor (and liberal) mismanagement pursuing nonsense privatisations that have not delivered a sound steady plan… a nonsensical fiction… Moshie..what can I say? I would say you are indeed a sad pro NSW labor pundit. Rees is just a prop put up by the real powerbrokers in the party. The leftie prop fall guy for his right wing minders…who still hold the reigns of power.
    They need to start working on rail (not plans and feasability studies and cute documents and media spin with barely a clod of earth turned). Where will this city be in the future when oil gets expensive and the population grows even more? People need, as a first priority, to be able to get to work efficiently and smoothly and businesses need that to happen too. No vision, no vision, non vision. Plenty of petty politicking but no vision at all.

  8. Alice
    August 23rd, 2009 at 14:02 | #8

    And Moshie…that means PUBLIC rail transport. Not private rickshaws.

  9. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 23rd, 2009 at 14:17 | #9

    Alice, one could argue that Sydney’s traffic problems is the result of past governments dawdling rather than implementing 1948 Cumberland County Council policies.

  10. Alice
    August 23rd, 2009 at 15:48 | #10

    @Michael of Summer Hill

    Past AND present Michael. We dont need a city token. We need REAL public transport options. We need RAIL.

  11. Alice
    August 23rd, 2009 at 15:53 | #11

    @Michael of Summer Hill
    So Michael – wake me up when the present majors GET OFF the privatisation bandwagon and decide to pull their fingers out because Im voting Green who believe in PUBLIC transport. Ill say it and say it loudly because we need that sort of investment and Im not ashamed of it and Ive given up on their paltry fail more often than not (and deliver tidbits at great expense) private sector experiments in major transport needs of or largest city. Dopey.

  12. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 23rd, 2009 at 16:48 | #12

    Alice, you seem to be a bit confused about Rees. And as for snapping your fingers to get things moving is not the way bureaucracies work for projects take a long time from an original idea to inception to completion and along the way their are numerous obstacles. But given the mess Rees inherited I must say he is doing the best he can. Thumbs up Rees.

  13. GC of MELBOURNE
    August 23rd, 2009 at 17:33 | #13

    You guys in NSW need a tram service. Preferably one that hasn’t been privatised… Having lived in most of the Eastern states I have to say Melbourne’s trams are so much better than anything anywhere else I’ve encountered elsewhere. Every few minutes there’s a tram. Mind you the ticketing system is crap, and privatisation was a disaster, but at least you can get around on public transport.

  14. Rationalist
    August 23rd, 2009 at 17:52 | #14

    @Ikonoclast
    QLD and NSW coal ports, you mean.

    I think you are a bit confused, you are talking about renewables and whatnot for (I suppose) domestic use. This coal export expansion is for export to markets in Asia. It is not for us to get between producer and customer. If you support renewables, you only have the right to proclaim them upon the Australian domestic market rather than forcing an energy policy onto the world.

  15. Alice
    August 23rd, 2009 at 17:55 | #15

    @Michael of Summer Hill
    The NSW state govts have had A LONG TIME (yes and it “appears to be a long time – such a long long long long time before the dawn” Michael to get things moving and they havent…. Meanwhile I dont even want to think about how hopeless NSW govts have been so its time for one of the prettiest songs Ive ever heard instead…

  16. Hermit
    August 23rd, 2009 at 18:00 | #16

    The thing about both natural gas and coal is that they burn to form CO2, with gas less emissions intensive for the same heat energy. I seem to recall Kevin07 pledged to reduce Australia’s contribution to global CO2. Perhaps foreign coal buyers can have gas instead so less Australian carbon that was underground for millions of years will find its way into the atmosphere. Rather I suspect they will get more gas and more coal. Gas in particular we will need for decades to come here in Australia; for fertiliser, CNG diesel replacement and to balance wind and solar.

    Pretending to implement a probably unachievable target for domestic clean energy while increasing carbon exports is breathtaking hypocrisy. The only hope for CO2 reductions is a general economic slowdown, not deliberate government policy. What an abysmal disappointment Rudd has been for those who take carbon reduction seriously.

  17. Rationalist
    August 23rd, 2009 at 18:49 | #17

    @Hermit
    China increases its coal fired electricity capacity by an amount equal to ALL of Australia’s coal fired capacity in a time measured in months.

    No policy of Australia will influence this. If we don’t export coal to Asia they will get lower quality (higher polluting) coal elsewhere mined with poorer practices which pay workers less and have a higher injury and fatality rate.

  18. Alice
    August 23rd, 2009 at 19:08 | #18

    @Rationalist
    We cant control China except by what we export Rationalist and ti suggest they will export from someone else anyway..is just a cop out..big time. China has a responsibility of its own. We have ours. Sometimes its best to meet ours and take the consequences and not use what China does or doesnt do as a COP OUT (because thats what it is).

  19. Alice
    August 23rd, 2009 at 19:13 | #19

    @Rationalist
    Further Rationalist, Im almost of the view that we IGNORE the global economy, break up the concentrated anti competitive industries in this country (foreign and local), improve public investment, mind our own business and started moving away from being a one export focused economy (coal) to some focus on small business and other sectors HERE.
    I have had enough of Australia being considered a major shovelling (coal stoking) nation responsible for climate change (and we are)…we have a filthy reputation in the global economy (and we are getting a filthy reputation at home from Australian citizens).

  20. Rationalist
    August 23rd, 2009 at 19:28 | #20

    @Alice

    Forecasts don’t see any export contraction occurring. The NSW and QLD state governments are putting copious amounts of money into coal chain capacity increases. The Rudd federal government has put billions into ARTC who is spending almost a billion in the Hunter Valley. Total capacity is set to be increased from 95 MT/year to over 200 MT/year within 6 years. Substantial upgrades are happening in QLD too. These are cold, hard facts, like it or not. There is no politics with the previous statements nor any opinion.

    The most beneficial thing we can do W.R.T our exports to China and greater Asia is ensure we continue to produce plenty of Uranium for the world. We cannot do anything about coal exports, it is something between customer and supplier. It isn’t our responsibility with what customers do with our commodities.

  21. Salient Green
    August 23rd, 2009 at 21:37 | #21

    Alice #10 welcome aboard. You have the high values of the Green movement and I hope you will become a financial member some day. You are a highly skilled blogger and given the resource constraints of the Greens, blogging is a very efficient way to get the message out.

    Rationalist #19 “It isn’t our responsibility with what customers do with our commodities”
    Well, it is. We are wearing, and will continue to wear, increasingly, the consequences of supplying other countries with fossil fuels. Their emissions affect us, less directly and because we are a wealthy nation, less devastatingly than if we were a poor, low lying area, but we are on the same planet and our fossil fuel exports need to be counted in our effect on the planet.

    China and other developing nations deserve the right to the real benefits of our modern society. I don’t have a problem with supplying China with energy and resources at the moment because they are more committed to sustainability than we are. They have a one child policy, they have huge renewble energy projects on the go and most importantly, their per capita emissions are far below ours.

    We, and the rest of the developed world, need to reduce our personal emissions, nation by nation, if we are to be taken seriously by the developing world.

    Our energy and food exports enable other countries to overpopulate, over-fish the oceans, over produce, over consume and supply us with the goods we over consume.
    This is so wrong. I’m not going to get ideological for a change and blame anything but I will say again, it is wrong and has to change.

  22. Ken
    August 23rd, 2009 at 21:57 | #22

    The disconnection between the acknowledged need to reduce global emissions and ramping up fossil fuel exports grows wider. The kick in the tail is our kids and grandkids paying the price. And theirs and theirs etc. No more Great Barrier Reef. A decimated SE Australian agricultural sector. The average summer as hot as the heatwaves that fueled last summer’s firestorms and future heatwaves something outside our experience. Crop failures, famines, mass refugee migrations, wars.

    I think that when people understand the seriousness of the consequences of failure to stabilise climate change they can understand why energy costs should reflect such external costs. I also suspect that the rest of the world may not agree that the seller of stuff with known serious long term side effects is absolved of all responsibility or liability for trafficking and profiting from it.

    I think we will come to see this issue taken with the seriousness it’s due but not nearly soon enough to do Australia vast long term harm. Still,the novelty of hearing a Liberal Senator talk about climate change like it was actually real may one day not be so novel. I watched the recent Lateline interview with him with some interest. I’m not sure Bill Heffernan’s acceptance of the reality of AGW will translate into urgency to change the way we make and use energy part, particularly not if that means policies that actually impact Australia’s export income from fossil fuels. Still, I’d been beginning to wonder if anyone on that side of politics actually takes climate change – and ultimately Sustainability on a finite world – seriously.

  23. Ken
    August 23rd, 2009 at 22:03 | #23

    Oops, the first sentence of last paragraph should read -”but too late to prevent vast long term harm”.

  24. Rationalist
    August 24th, 2009 at 06:28 | #24

    Climate change is cute and all but I feel in many ways it has simply been politicised by the environmentalists (the former hard left) who have been in despair ever since they lost the cold war. It is the only issue in 20 years in which they have managed to get some traction but as always, in real terms, on the ground, society is always slow to react to a new fad.

    Remember, it was global cooling in the 70s.

  25. jquiggin
    August 24th, 2009 at 06:48 | #25

    “Remember, it was global cooling in the 70s.”

    This is a standard delusionist myth, based mainly on a single article in Newsweek. The previous para is similarly delusionist. You should get better informed before commenting again on this topic.

  26. Rationalist
    August 24th, 2009 at 07:09 | #26

    John, in your credit, I agree I do not know the details of (nor care much for) climate science. I am not a scientist at all and I suppose I am asking for trouble when I start talking about it.

    The rest of what I say which is closer to my skill area (energy policy, infrastructure) is good and sound, even though it may be hard to take.

  27. BilB
    August 24th, 2009 at 07:32 | #27

    MoSH @ 2,

    That is my feeling as well, not that I am well informed on the subject. Rees has stepped into one of the toughest jobs in the country. Certainly his performance requires scrutiny but a regular changing of guards is the formula for certain regime change. Crying out for more public transport is not the way forward. NSW is a planning mess that began scores of years ago. The failure to maintain a greenbelt philosophy was the principle cause. Greenbelt pressure provides planners the correct trigger to build properly placed satelite cities. The alternative is the strangling pressure of urban sprawl.

    The other lockout problem is a very simple one that could be fixed in a week, and that is the powered vehicle power level of 200watts under which vehicles do not require lisencing an over which they do. In most other countries this is nearer 700 watts. 200 watts is useless as a motive power to move an adult human. consequently there is no other option than a car to move any non leg powered appreciable distance. This is a national limit which is abysmal in this day and age. If the problem is over speed then this is a simple matter to build into vehicle power systems in todays electronic world. Wake up you stupid people people in Canberra.

    Another simple solution to transport problems is in the form of breaking down our internal isolation.

    http://larvatusprodeo.net/2009/08/19/a-big-dumb-number-approach-to-hazard-reduction-burning/#comment-820959

    Elise, here, talks about a system used in Norway to provide individual security through community immersion. This is a brilliant idea that would substantially reduce the number of cars and busses required to move children to and from school daily.

    Rees has his hands bound by so many competing ties it is a wonder that he can make any progress at all. He certainly has my support.

  28. BilB
    August 24th, 2009 at 07:41 | #28

    Rationalist 26,

    In the 70′s our understanding of climate mechanisms was neglible. Hand held calculators had only just become available, and big computers had a whopping 8000 bytes of random access memory. The weather in the seventies was also subject to fluctuations from vulcanism and other slow feedback mechanisms that were still adjusting from effects from the second world war (dust, massive fluctuations in CO2 release, reforestation).

  29. August 24th, 2009 at 08:07 | #29

    BilB @ 27 I don’t understand why you reject public transport as a future option. Transport infrastructure is surely fundamental to any urban plan. It would seem obvious for example, to say that new suburbs are impossible to conceive of without roads. But roads imply cars and consume land area in the process. Arguably we simply cannot continue to the suburban land grab but like the issue of global warming the consequences of our actions fall to next generations. Alternative private transport is a possibility, in a lot of cases the only power you need to move a human is a human. A functional mass public transport system in conjunction with low powered local transport is a working model.

  30. BilB
    August 24th, 2009 at 08:45 | #30

    Public transport is important but will not be a primary salvation for Sydney for a lot of reasons. For starters busses cost as much as a million dollars a pop. Rail infrastructure is horrendously expensive and relatively unexpandable. The bulk of Sydneys transport is hub and spoke. There is very little grid structure. Our suburbs are laid out for car transport primarily.

    The very first step to improving the situation is to look at our industrial and commercial layout in conjuction with the demography of localities and their placement with the existing rail system (this was the general thrust of the western light rail thingy). Getting people to travel shorter distances for work is an essential. making it so that they can do it with smaller lighter eventually electric vehicles is the next step. Promoting satelite cities and stalling the further growth of Sydney is the next step. There are dozens of important steps to be taken to get our population ready for the coming climate changes, with some being more cost effective than others.

    More of the same………is no solution. At all.

  31. BilB
    August 24th, 2009 at 08:50 | #31

    Scotland Island would be a very valuable community study.

  32. Alice
    August 24th, 2009 at 09:39 | #32

    @Rationalist
    I cannot imagine a greater sense of irresponsibility than this comment when it comes to Australia’s ugly imagen as the coal stoking nation for climate change..

    “It isn’t our responsibility with what customers do with our commodities.”

    It is our responsibility, because it affects us, our kids and our grandkids Rationalist. To add further “fuels” to the growing fire you suggest we continue to pour uranium into the world economy as well. This logic doesnt give me much hope that the open slather “sell anything anywhere and be damned” free marketeers have learned much lately…

  33. Alice
    August 24th, 2009 at 09:48 | #33

    @BilB
    Scotland Island is an outpost of lifestyle luxury most people cant afford BilB and they still travel to the “mainland” to access the benefits of production. In what possible sense would Scotland Island be a very valuable “community” study unless you are referring to some sort of recycling program of rubbish?

  34. BilB
    August 24th, 2009 at 10:03 | #34

    Of course it is a special case, Alice, but it is a large enough body of people from a reasonable range of incomes to form a new understanding of what is possible in a near zero vehiclular community. Your view that it is a “luxury” community is, I suspect, false.

  35. Alice
    August 24th, 2009 at 10:35 | #35

    @BilB
    Compared to average house prices is what I meant BilB. That doesnt mean everyone there bought lately though so Ill qualify that. It is a lack of vehicular community agreed BUT they do mostly commute after the short boat ride to the mainland so in that sense its not really a true lack of vehicle community.
    They just have an aqueous driveway!

  36. August 24th, 2009 at 10:46 | #36

    BilB I disagree. You claim that getting people travel shorter distances for work is the first step, yet by and large the distances people are required to travel is a function of where they can afford to live and where they have to work. The market failure isn’t that existing urban planning doesn’t meet the requirements of the individual looking for somewhere to live or return a suitable profit to investors, the market failure is that it does not account for the problems it creates. I think your confidence in some kind of gradual transition to a universal small eco-friendly electric vehicle simply presages more of the same.

    Australian cities generally are very vulnerable to any mobility issues that will arrive once oil runs out. Electric vehicles sound appealing in one sense until you question the source of the electricity. Maybe you also think we should have a shiny nuclear power plant to power the nice little electric cars so people can keep living 50 kilometres from where they have to work so the whole happy little picture can just keep rolling on.

  37. BilB
    August 24th, 2009 at 11:40 | #37

    David,

    In 1980 I moved to NZ saying that Sydney was on the road to ruin through over population. I moved to a city of 300,000. What a difference in life style. Still a city but travel runs in minutes not hours. From a business point of view I could do supplier or customer visit run of 10 businesses easily in half a day and feel refreshed enough to continue work on return. In Sydney it takes up to half a day to visit 1. I never experienced a material supply problem, in fact I felt that I had far greater flexibility of supply than here in Sydney. The customer base was smaller though. To travel from one side of the city to the other through the CBD took little over half an hour. I argue that a pattern of spaced apart cities with a fast interlink is far more efficient that one large aglomerated city.

    The failure to maintain green belts is a NSW planning failure. Regional development incentives were dropped like a hot rock in the Keating era (I believe) and there were no serious plans to expand other centres industrially and residentially to mitigate housing shortages and reduce pricing pressures. Consequently these centres have grown on a tourism basis rather than a balanced city basis. NSW has become a planning desert.

    On electric vehicles, I have to ask, have you just awoken from a long sleep? Australia has no option but to go to renewable energy sources at a rapid rate. By the time that there are enough electric vehicles to make a difference there will also be enough solar origin energy to back them up with clean energy. And the savings in running costs are phenominal. More than enough to balance into credit any increases in family household budgets caused by climate mitigation measures. This one fact has not been taken into account for all climate proposals to date.

    But then, David, you might be a climate denier. Are you?

  38. BilB
    August 24th, 2009 at 11:56 | #38

    Alice,

    I am looking at new community designs based on the Santorini model where house constructions are of a kind that will withstand extreme weather far more successfully (hail fire heat flood). With dwellings clustered in a more compact form reducing the need for vehicular travel and having near proximity to commercial and industrial space. This is something of a non road townhouse concept with large community recreational space rather than individual yard space. Scotland Island is a closish model from a residential community point of view.

  39. Alice
    August 24th, 2009 at 12:07 | #39

    @BilB
    BilB – if you can make the State Govt see sense….instead of dollars. Just across a suburb or so at Warriewood they are packing in developments like sardines BUT I cannot see the parks. I wonder where people are going to take their kids to play within walking distance…you see governments typically own the park space and this is one state govt hell bent on making as much from developers on the Northern Beaches as it can do. Parks arent popular with the current state govt or developers it would seem, let along having a strip shopping centre within walking distance either (not when the likes of the lowy family prefer people to be directed by car to their mega malls). End result, density housing but no relief on car use whatsoever. Planning for the future or climate change noticeably absent.

  40. BilB
    August 24th, 2009 at 12:43 | #40

    There are 2 development models that I prefer (at the moment). One is that which I have described above, the other is a style that I was designing in the 60′s (son of a government architect) was very similar to those dwellings of Malcolm B Wells of California, which are described as earth sheltered. A well designed earthsheltered housing development can take a 500 square metre block apply a 30 square dwelling with large central courtyard while still preserving 60% of the space for recreation. Such dwellings have better lighting and ventilation than most suburban houses are fire proof hail proof and thermally very efficient.

    It will be some time before people realise that the architectual satisfaction of a visual edifice style dwelling carries more vulnerabilities than the visual appeal is worth. It will take a few more fire catastrophies before people really start to wonder if there is another way.

    I developed the idea in reaction to the sea of red roof narrow buildings of the 50′s. Those buildings had very little architectual appeal to lose.

  41. BilB
    August 24th, 2009 at 13:22 | #41

    By the way, the sardine suburb programme is an outcome from the Carr government. There is requirement that councils have to provide for a population density increase to some figure. I remember the Mayor for Hunters Hill speaking defeatedly of this. The logic is to improve the efficiency of established infrastructure by increasing density rather than build new suburbs. You can thank Carr and Sartor for that little horror show.

  42. Alice
    August 24th, 2009 at 13:46 | #42

    @BilB
    It (medium density) was a noble idea at the time (except “affordable” didnt quite arrive) – its just a shame NSW State Govts got carried away with the enormous boon to revenues that came from the housing boom 1996 on, and then the developers fawning all over them = net result = lets rip up any shred of once public land we can get our hands on to flog to our developer mates and lets not build one new cycleway, let alone road in the process…and then when it all gets too crowded on existing roads we DO NOTHING because the budget has collapsed on us.

    It was a lovely party for them while it lasted wasnt it? Shame it wasnt so great for planning or residents.

  43. Alice
    August 24th, 2009 at 13:54 | #43

    Then it got much worse BilB – who needs common ground around a medium density development (ha!) when thedeveloper can make an extra few hundred grand by giving each unit a courtyard. Who needs washing lines when they came equipped with brand new shiny dryers…who really needs trees when you can have a Balinese inspired koi pond in your nicely paved courtyard?

  44. Alice
    August 24th, 2009 at 13:57 | #44

    and who needs local councils or neighbours objections when private certifiers and Sartor and Keneally and the land and Environment Court pass all anyway…and tell nobody nuffink.

  45. BilB
    August 24th, 2009 at 14:47 | #45

    I don’t think that you can say that you are suffering too much up there in the northern beaches. There is still plenty of open space and endless amounts of greenery. Your real problem is access. There are only 4 main roads that connect that entire area to the rest of Sydney and each on is a bottleneck. Now that would not matter if the northern beaches were a self contained city with sufficient commercial and industrial actvity to employ everyone within that area. But we all know that that is not the case.

    Something interesting to look up is “cargo trams” have a look at the VW tram.

  46. Alice
    August 24th, 2009 at 16:44 | #46

    @BilB
    I am not saying we are suffering (exceot we are – to get out) and there is one huge national park to Brooklyn and beyond…its just that the unit developments going up are ugly cramped and no parks are allocated within walking distance (no room for trees either)…kids need somewhere to play and even unit blocks should have room for trees…and some communal space. If whats going up around here cheek by jowl is any indicator then yes, things must be the same or worse elsewhere…but we really are gridlocked here on the Northern Beaches – its a joke how bad it really is to get out and get to work. One long slow two hour crawl to the city or Chatswood…they have shown it can be bike pedalled faster (to the city) – that is a ridiculous. A private sector operator offered to fund a road through Cammeray and State govt said no while they played media games over an extra lane on the Spit Bridge (didnt happen and would have contributed nothing anyway).

  47. Rationalist
    August 24th, 2009 at 17:55 | #47

    @Alice

    Fair enough, you are allowed to hold that opinion.
    Not sure if the governments will change the course though, if anything the O’Farrel Liberal government in NSW and the next LNP government in Queensland is going to be even more pro mining.

  48. August 24th, 2009 at 18:32 | #48

    BilB – I agree that a decentralised model of the type you refer to, spaced town centres linked by rapid transport links might work and that such a model seems more human friendly but my reservation is that these sort of models remain conceptual whilst we have an economic system predicated on ubiquitous personal motorised transport. Providing resources for people has now become a case of providing resources for people and their cars.

    The lack of substantial (read radical) political action to deal with the twin problems of transport and housing in a carbon constrained world seems to be a defacto acceptance that governments exist only to help the markets to make money. The electric car is an excellent example, instead of prioritising government money into producing an alternative to conventional cars the government chose instead to hand the money over to large scale established players who continue to offer virtually the same product that was on offer 10 years ago. Another example is the extent of government largess to the coal power industry. I would argue that while maintaining the economic status quo remains a government priority any plans for a more human friendly future will remain just that.

  49. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 24th, 2009 at 20:27 | #49

    John, there is accumulating evidence that noise in urban habitats is having a devestating effect on the behavior of animals and that traffic noise is ruining the sex lives of urban frogs by drowning out the seductive croaks of amorous males. And if this is correct, then planning authorities around Australia will have to take into account not only the ecology but also the seductive croaks of amorous males before giving the go ahead. No bull.

  50. August 24th, 2009 at 20:54 | #50

    The fight for pension reform – please contribute to the debate.

    Dear friends,

    This Monday evening (Aug 24th) I have posted a new paper on pension reform in Australia – including the case for a public lifetime annuity scheme. With a rising cost of living in areas such as energy, water, rent and transport – we need more generous pensions now.

    See: http://leftfocus.blogspot.com/

    The same paper is being published tomorrow (Tuesday August 25th) at
    On Line Opinion.

    See: http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/

    Your comments there would be greatly appreciated.

    Not only is the aim of the paper to generate debate – more discussion will most likely also attract more people to read the article and consider the arguments for pension reform.

    Please feel welcome to comment at Left Focus, at On Line Opinion – or both.

    Most sincerely,

    Tristan Ewins (Editor: Left Focus)

  51. Rationalist
    August 24th, 2009 at 21:39 | #51

    @Tristan Ewins
    But we can’t afford it? Rudd will be raising the pension age and I wouldn’t be surprised if further pension age increases to 70 years is on the cards.

  52. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 25th, 2009 at 08:28 | #52

    Crikey John, now a minister claims Malcolm Turnbull is the political doppelgänger of Kevin Rudd. Not sure how the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs would take it if the same minister claimed Abbott was the political doppelgänger of Macklin.

  53. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 25th, 2009 at 14:55 | #53

    John, I have to agree with Geoff Corrigan that Premier Rees should call the bluff of those wright whingers that keep destabalising NSW Labor.

  54. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 25th, 2009 at 20:11 | #54

    John, it looks like the coal industry will be as happy as little vegemites when India’s Union Minister of State Coal Sriprakash Jaiswal steps on our shores for he is desperate to get his hands on all the coal he can get to make up the expected 70 million tonnes shortfall next year.

  55. Rationalist
    August 26th, 2009 at 06:39 | #55

    @Michael of Summer Hill
    Doubling capacity within 6 years I think I said earlier, deals like that will ensure capacity will be utilised very well.

  56. August 26th, 2009 at 09:13 | #56

    “Rudd will be raising the pension age and I wouldn’t be surprised if further pension age increases to 70 years is on the cards.”

    About time.

  57. Alice
    August 26th, 2009 at 10:41 | #57

    Moshie – I hate to be the one to break the bad news but it appears the puppet masters in the mates states have stuffed Rees in a box somewhere and are probably disposing of him as we speak…keep it up boys (Obeid and co)…another “mate” bites the dust. They are pallbearers at their own funeral.

  58. Alice
    August 26th, 2009 at 10:42 | #58

    Moshie – I hate to be the one to break the bad news but it appears the puppet masters in the mates state have stuffed Rees in a box somewhere and are probably disposing of him as we speak…keep it up boys (Obeid and co)…another “mate” bites the dust. They are pallbearers at their own funeral.

  59. Alice
    August 26th, 2009 at 10:45 | #59

    oops – a double yoker

  60. Ken
    August 26th, 2009 at 11:28 | #60

    Rationalist, you say ‘my skill area (energy policy, infrastructure) is good and sound’ and yet you appear profoundly ignorant about climate change. I don’t see how you can have ‘good and sound’ knowledge on energy and not be aware of the projected costs and consequences of climate change; we aren’t talking about extreme green spin here, but the current best science from the world’s leading scientific agencies. In light of what we know about climate anyone who isn’t deeply concerned over massive expansion of the use of fossil fuels can’t have good and sound knowledge of the issues around energy and infrastructure. If your views are based on belief that climate change is cute, a fad, an extreme left-green beat-up and not updated since the popular press misrepresented the science of the 70′s I’d easily go as far as calling them irrational. Such views indicate to me a wilful disregard for what is known about climate.

  61. Rationalist
    August 26th, 2009 at 13:12 | #61

    @Ken
    Climate change, so that is what happens when I change the settings on my air conditioner? :P

    The fact of the matter is, not much is changing and what is changing is doing so very slowly. There are various schemes around the world and in Australia to cut emissions but in the countries that matter to us, ie. China, US, Australia, etc etc, the schemes are what I would describe as a “gradual stroll towards the goal of maybe having lower emissions some time in the future”, and that doesn’t include China which are increasing their coal generating capacity by the size of Australia’s coal generating capacity every few months.

  62. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 27th, 2009 at 13:26 | #62

    Update, Update, Update, Premier Rees’s leadership is safe. Pundits tall stories were all bulldust.

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