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Another sandpit

January 26th, 2013

Another sandpit for long side discussions, idees fixes and so on – the old one is still going strong.

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  1. January 26th, 2013 at 10:37 | #1

    I’ve been thinking about feed-in tariffs for rooftop solar and how high they should be. Many Australians installing new solar now only get a feed-in of tariff of eights cents for each kilowatt-hour they provide to the grid. As this is only a cent or two above the price of wholesale electricity during the day, and solar doesn’t have the negative externalities or transmission costs associated with burning fossil fuels, this seems low to me.

    I’m wondering if anyone has any thoughts on what feed-in tariffs should be. Perhaps they should consist of three components: The wholesale cost of electricity, a component to reflect transmission costs avoided, and a component that represents savings in health costs and environmental damage avoided as health externalites are not currently paid for by fossil fuel generators and the cost of greenhouse gas emissions are not fully covered by the carbon price.

    And possibly feed-in tariffs should be fairly high, say two thirds or more of the retail price of electricity, in order to prevent people installing home and business energy storage. High feed-in tariffs will keep energy storage on the grid and help preserve the current business model of electricity generators and distributers. They’ll have to adapt, but it could stop them from being pretty much wiped out if people start installing their own energy storage and potentially going off grid.

  2. Jim Rose
    January 26th, 2013 at 10:42 | #2

    Penn and Teller in their ‘Bullshit’ TV show put forward this argument:
    1. 96% of the population of prisons are male
    2. women are fall less likely to commit crimes or kill others with guns
    3. issue a gun to every women
    4. require the gun to be pink so that macho types are reluctant to carry it
    5. assume that only 50% of women actually carry this pink gun with them

    If there is 50% chance that a female potential victim of crime is armed, what would happen to crime rates against women?

  3. quokka
    January 26th, 2013 at 11:32 | #3

    Since when does roof top PV reduce transmission system costs or avoid transmission system costs? It probably increases them. There is little doubt that in Germany PV and wind increase transmission system costs.

    External costs of fossil fuels should not be “accounted for” by subsidizing PV. Just have a proper price on carbon and a level playing field.

  4. January 26th, 2013 at 11:56 | #4

    Quokka, since I’ve already gone into this with you, I’ll wait and see if anyone else wants to chime in on the subject before I answer your question.

  5. Hermit
    January 26th, 2013 at 13:49 | #5

    Supply and demand suggest the PV export price should be lower on a cool sunny day. That is high supply low demand. As the sun sets on a hot day with heavy aircon use the price should be higher. I suggest the price should follow the hourly NEM spot price which for Queensland recently (if I recall correctly) was $12,000 per Mwh or $12 per kwh. OK maybe there should be price ceilings. I can confirm this for 2/7/12

    A sufficiently smart meter that can handle time-of-use export pricing could be programmed to turn off appliances when the price is high. Conversely the freezer and washing machine could run harder on a day when the export price is low i.e. use it or lose it. The problem is who is going to pay for all this hardware and software. Do the frail elderly without PV keep the aircons on when it is 45C and power is dollars not cents per kwh?

  6. Ikonoclast
    January 26th, 2013 at 14:11 | #6

    @Ronald Brak

    I had conctractors install a 5.5 kW (nameplate capacity) solar PV system just before the high feed-in tariff cutoff. Plus I had an evacutated tube split-system solar hot water system installed. Basically we make enough power for our house (4 adults, plenty of mod cons, no pool but a biocycle waste system pump) and another house that would use about 3/4 of our power. Clearly, the grid is my “free battery system”. I feed in in the daytime and take power whenever I want.

    This whole area gets very emotive. I have had people telling me I am free-riding and that they pay more for power because of people like me. Often those complaining about free riding are the same ones who took all the water tank subsidies and insulation batt subsidies (which I did not actually) when they were in vogue. They also tend to be first in line to get seniors’ cards and other freebies. There is a lot of hypocrisy about when accusations of “free-riding” are made. Other people simply say, “smart move, I wish I had done it.” or “I did it too.”

    I agree that the subsidy and the rules favour homeowners against non-homeowners and those who “got in” in time against those who did not. The subsidy field needs to be levelled. I would only agree that solar subsidies be removed entirely when all fossil fuel subsidies are removed and these are still massive and dwarf renewable subsidies.

    A “fair price” is always subject to debate. The market alone cannot sort out a fair price when fossil fuel negative externalities are uncosted or undercosted and when fossil fuels still get more subsidies than renewables.

    Principles of fairness would dictate;

    (a) the rules and feed-in prices should be the same for everyone who runs a household.
    (b) if the assistance is worth x dollars p.a. on average to home owners then non-homeowners should get an equivalent energy allowance (like and in addition to their rent allowance).

    A fair price might take some calculation but I would settle for one-for-one on own use and wholesale price for excess if any is fed in over the billing period. Generators should carry the fee-in grid costs and add it to the retail price. A simple and arguably fair set-up.


    (a) In the daytime I feed in say 40 kWh (quite possible in summer)
    (b) I use 15 kWh during the day and another 15 kWh at night.
    (c) I get the above power “free” (one for one) except for my capital and interest costs.
    (d) the extra 10 kWh is sold for wholsale price to the generator.
    (e) I pay a normal connection fee like any other user.

    I get to use the grid as a “storage” for apparently for free but this can be recouped by the generator in higher fees.

    And BTW I would compulsorily re-nationalise the entire power grid and pay any private shareholder millionaries in generation only 50 c in the dollar for their shares. If they demur or shift capital, hit the rich with a super-tax. It’s time to re-nationalise and re-socialise our economy.

  7. January 26th, 2013 at 14:15 | #7

    Hermit, I doubt we will get smart meters with smart feedback throughout Australia anytime soon, but if they are available they could certainly take into account the spot price of electricity. At the moment with our current meter stock and quarterly readings we’ll probably have to settle for a flat feed-in tariff for most rooftop solar. There could be seasonal adjustments in the tariff, but they’d be fairly rough as meters aren’t all read at the same time and the information is instead collected over months.

  8. Fran Barlow
    January 26th, 2013 at 14:22 | #8

    @Ronald Brak

    Personally, I’d think it apt if the feed-in tariff was exactly the same as the feed-out tariff, less a percentage for network “handling” charge. It’s apt that at least some of the extra costs associated with handling “uploaded” power and retailing it to others be borne by the seller. Or you could look it as “a commission”. If I sell someone else’s goods surely that’s worth something to the “wholesaler” — in this case, the operator of the PV system.

    Depending on the circumstances, a “commission” or “handling fee” of say, 20% might be justifiable. Thus, if at the time of sale, an identical property would be paying $0.32 per kWh then the FiT would be $0.24 * 0.8 (i.e $0.24). This would encourage the householder (or a business with lots of roof space) both to capitalise (and to minimise demand especially during the peak, using their own power at the lower cost). If the operator could find a storage solution that cost less than the network charge, they’d be tempted to adopt it.

    I understand the costs of PV are continuing to decline, and recently saw that some thin film technologies have become as photo conversion efficient as crystalline. If the peak could be knocked off demand then a lot of coal will be forced to get more out of the late-afternoon/shoulder period, which will in turn drive more solar, in a virtuous circle as coal is edged to the margin, Sumo style and then out of the ring or at best into a narrow corner.

    As wind also become more efficient, (and perhaps wave technology too) or better grid-based storage solutions arise, even the evening will be lost to fossil HC and eventually, they will be set aside as power of last resort. When that occurs, the big complaint against electric vehicles — that they use dirty power as well, will evaporate.

  9. January 26th, 2013 at 15:09 | #9

    Ikonoclast, on the topic of “free-riding” I would point out to detractors that the Small Scale Technology Certificates, which are the Renewable Energy Certificates for solar, only comprise 0.5% of household electricity bills and that feed-in tariffs are only 0.85% of household electricity bills. Then I would mention that solar power reduces wholesale electricity prices for everyone and that South Australians with non bastardly electricity retailers received an 8.1% cut in electricity prices at the start of this year, partially due to South Australia have the most solar per capita in Australia. (AGL has ads in the papers saying they are cutting standing rates by 9.1%)

    Because all Australians benefit from reduced electricity prices, reduced medical costs and increased average lifespance due to a reduction in fossil fuel pollution, and a safer environment due to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, I’m not sure roofless Australians need to be compensated as a result of feed-in tariffs for rooftop solar. However, I can’t be sure if there is a good case or not without looking into the actual numbers. But I do think that Australians might need protection from being taken advantage of by monopoly power. Currently home owning neighbour Joe might be quite willing to sell electricity at a reasonable rate to home renting neighbour Jane, but at the moment legally can’t. The middle-men (middle people?) who Joe is not permitted to sack might be tempted to run the grid for the benefit of a few rather than for the benefit of Australia.

  10. Hermit
    January 26th, 2013 at 15:23 | #10

    Even if the capex of realtime PV doesn’t reduce any further we need a cost breakthrough on safe longlife batteries. There has been talk of recycling 13 kwh Chevrolet Volt batteries for home use
    Rather than a shed full of clunky lead acid batteries these ex-traction batteries could reside in a wall mounted cabinet. There may be limits to this weight reduction as we see with battery meltdowns in Boeing Dreamliner aircraft.

    The problem is after a rainy week and the batteries are flat we’ll need the despised fossil fuel or nuclear to make the electricity. This seems to have gotten out of hand in cloudy Germany with at one time 25 GW of installed PV that gets a guaranteed feed-in tariff. Hence the Germans are building 8 GW of new coal fired plant while retiring 1.5 GW. I spent $20k on PV in 2005 and I’m not so starry eyed.

  11. January 26th, 2013 at 15:25 | #11

    Fran, personally I’d be interested to see what the price of electricity exported from rooftop solar would be if we ran a computer simulation of a “free” market where all electricity produced was auctioned off with rooftop solar only paying local distribution costs and not parying for the long distance transmission and electrical substations that it does not use. I suspect that it’s value would average well above eight cents a kilowatt-hour. Currently I pay about 11 cents for distribution for each kilowatt-hour I buy from the grid. As a complete guess, if rooftop solar saved five cents of that, with a wholesale electricity cost of around seven cents during the day, electricity from rooftop solar should be worth about 11 cents. Of course this does not mean a reasonable case can’t be made for a higher feed-in tariff, particularly when other factors are taken into account.

  12. January 26th, 2013 at 17:09 | #12

    Or even 12 cents if you subscribe to the theory of addition.

  13. Hermit
    January 26th, 2013 at 17:21 | #13

    I guess the electrical grid (ie poles and wires) is a natural monopoly in the sense it would be daft to have multiple transmission lines side by side. Some might like that however to separate water from mountain dams and water from processed effluent. Grid tied PV owners happily pay around $1 daily connection fee to have the despised grid bail them out when the sun goes down. They can’t even console themselves with the thought that wind is always taking up the slack. On a still frosty night neither wind nor solar are of much help. The truly green will of course content themselves with a small fire of yak dung on such nights rather than turn on a gas or electric heater.

  14. Ikonoclast
    January 26th, 2013 at 17:45 | #14


    On a still, frosty night heat from concentrating solar power stored in a molen salt storage tank can be converted back to electrical power.

    On a still, frosty night thermal convection towers still produce power due to the temperature differential between the surface and the top of the tower. Every hundred metres you go up from the surface, the ambient temperature drops by about 1 degree (except in conditions of temperature inversion).

    On a still frosty night other heat needs can come from local heat storage. Solar hot water is heat storage. There a number of other ways of collecting day time for night heating. I would be using these before yak dung.

    On a still frosty night electrical power from wind can come from other regions. Rarely or never is a state or country windless over its whole extent.

  15. January 26th, 2013 at 18:07 | #15

    Hermit, I susptect the $1 a day grid connection fee will need to be scrapped. This is because $365 in savings a year may make it worthwhile for people with battery storage to buy a small generator and go off grid. Obviously this needs to be avoided as each person who disconnects is a person not feeding their surplus rooftop solar electricity into the grid, and from the point of view of the grid it is one less customer they can sell electricity to.

  16. Fran Barlow
    January 26th, 2013 at 18:50 | #16

    @Ronald Brak

    I read somewhere a couple of years back that a significant problem in waste management was lead acid batteries from cars. I also read that the possibility of reconditioning these batteries at reasonable cost — not for cars but potentially as storage was very near.

    It seems to me at least notionally possible that some sort of “community storage hub” run by a local co-op might fund a storage hub from reconditioned lead acid and lithium ion batteries (there should be a lot coming on line). People could in theory sell their rooftop power to the co-op and then “buy” it back at a discount when they needed it.

    This might be more feasible (and probably safer) than everyone having their own homebased storage.

  17. January 26th, 2013 at 19:16 | #17

    Fran, I have wondered about something like this community energy storage being done in Australia, but not by surburban neighbourhoods, but by local councils in rural areas. Western Australia appears to have realized that solar can save a heap of money in supplying grid power to remote areas and while a new PV system in Perth might only get an 8 cent feed-in tariff, in some remote areas in WA it can be 50 cents a kilowatt-hour. I suspect that once enough solar capacity is built local energy storage will be installed (if locals haven’t already installed enough of their own) and a small local generator will be added. Then the high voltage transmission line to the area will be rolled up and sold for scrap.

    I don’t think recondtioned lead batteries will catch on. Different chemistry batteries being produced now are economically superior. While lead has a low upfront cost the new batteries win on lifespan, lack of maintenance, and high safety.

    And I doubt we will follow a cooperative model in Australia. There are several reasons why I think this, but one is the cooperative model is a big target that is easier for opponents to block and throw spanners in the works of. By the time community energy storage gets under way one in ten houses might have individual home energy storage, which will hurt the economics of community storage and reduce support for it. But I could be completely wrong. I do think Germany and Italy will be the places to watch to see what is likely to happen.

    But I doubt this will happen outside of rural Australia because of competition from individual home and business energy storage, which I think won’t take long to come down in price. The latest batteries being produced are economically superior than to due to their long life, lack of maintenance, and lack of acid and lead.

  18. January 26th, 2013 at 19:17 | #18

    Sorry, meant to edit out that last paragraph in the post above.

  19. Fran Barlow
    January 26th, 2013 at 20:45 | #19

    @Ronald Brak

    It occurred to me that in some areas, community energy storage coops might buy energy wholesale at off peak rates from the grid and store it along with what else they had, retailing it as needed during the peak. They could thus be an energy retailer.

  20. quokka
    January 26th, 2013 at 21:18 | #20

    @Ronald Brak

    Be that as it may, you are simply making stuff up and offer no supporting evidence.

    The reason intermittent generators cannot reduce transmission and distribution costs is that they are err… intermittent. The transmission and distribution infrastructure must be capable of dealing with the times they are AWOL. The peak load it must be able to carry is not reduced even if it’s average load may be. In fact the reality is that transmission systems need to be longer (eg north to south of Germany) and and of higher capacity to deal with peak loads from low capacity factor generators.

    Here is the German reality:

    “Germany’s energy agency has called on the government to allow power grid companies to raise tariffs to provide a greater incentive for the billions of euros of infrastructure investment needed to support the shift to renewable energy.”


  21. January 26th, 2013 at 22:08 | #21

    Fran, the coop could do that and they could pay spot prices for electricity they import and recieve spot prices for electricity they export, which is a lot more profitable for energy storage than just normal peak and off peak prices.

  22. Salient Green
    January 27th, 2013 at 07:07 | #22

    I receive a $0.54c FIT and have been told it ends in 2015. I paid $3999 for my system in Sept 2011 and since then both the FIT and Government subsidies have dropped markedly YET, I can buy the same system for around $2500 now.
    Early movers were paid a higher FIT but also paid a higher price for their systems.

    [email protected] #9, The Germans are building only those coal plants which were in construction or planned at the time of fukishima.
    The new plants are highly efficient and designed for quick startup for load following of renewable power.
    There are sure to be dirtier coal plants retired as more renewables come on line, including Geothermal power down the track a bit.

  23. Salient Green
    January 27th, 2013 at 07:13 | #23

    If rooftop solar reduces power use, and it does, then it must reduce transmission costs.
    http://www.ies.unsw.edu.au/docs/GridParity.pdf Page 4

  24. Hermit
    January 27th, 2013 at 09:03 | #24

    @Salient Green
    If I recall from last year Hazelwood was to be retired in 2032 and Yallourn in 2031. I suspect that has since been fudged. The coal plants that have closed (Playford, Collinsville, soon Brix) were small and clapped out. I don’t think there has been an official net emissions figure yet announced for 2012. It was around the 550 Mt mark in 1990 and I suspect the new figure will be similar unless some kind of numerical swiftie is used.

    As for geothermal a few years back it was going to supply 25% of Australia’s baseload. Now Geodynamics appear struggling to get an 11 MW demo plant running in the outback far from any transmission. You’d think by now some reality would come to the debate.

  25. Ikonoclast
    January 27th, 2013 at 09:03 | #25

    Fossil fuels still produce about 80% of all our energy use. After tackling coal (25%) we still have to tackle oil 35% and gas 20%. The task is enormous. Even if we lick the stationary electrical energy generation problem and retire coal that would leave 55% of our energy coming from fossil fuels. Virtually our entire transport fleet has to be retired and replaced by electrical vehicles, mass transit, bicycles and pedestrianism.

  26. Fran Barlow
    January 27th, 2013 at 09:13 | #26


    If I recall from last year Hazelwood was to be retired in 2032 and Yallourn in 2031.

    Yes, wasn’t that an absolutely fabulous ALP policy. In the unlikely event that Hazelwood is still trading in 2031, it will be 66 years old.

  27. Jim Rose
    January 27th, 2013 at 09:27 | #27

    @Ikonoclast “Replaced by electrical vehicles, mass transit, bicycles and pedestrianism.”

    • Electric vehicles are pointless if the grid uses coal. They still take hours to recharge and are aluminium death-traps.

    • Mass transit is there to take the middle class to their jobs in the CBD. employment is more and more decentralising especially manufacturing and service jobs of the working class. These jobs require point to point transport for which even buses are hopeless.

    • Bicycles and pedestrianism – tell that to single mothers and pensioners in an ageing society.

  28. Ikonoclast
    January 27th, 2013 at 09:50 | #28

    @Jim Rose

    1. Thus I presume you agree electrical vehicles have a point of the electrical recharge energy is renewable? (Solar power, wind power etc.)

    2. Look at the gridlock in Brisbane (or Sydney or Melbourne). Are you telling me extra trunk route and feeder route mass transit in trhose cities would not reduce car use and energy use?

    3. There are still plenty of healthy (and even otherwise healthy but somewhat overweight people like me) who would benefit from more use of bicycles and shanks’s pony.

    None of your objections are really obstacles at all. They are essentially objections people raise when they don’t want to change. However, the facts are we will be forced to change our energy profligate ways whether we want to or not. This will be dictated to us by the laws of thermodynamics. Useable energy (energy available for useful work) will get scarcer as easy to exploit eneergy sources run out and/or a phase out is forces as climate change becomes undeniable. A combination of a switch to renewables plus much greater energy efficiency and energy saving will be required to survive.

    The age of ‘voluntarism and cornucopianism’ * is behind us. The age of consequences and the re-establishment of man’s intrinsic subjection to natural laws and limits is now upon us whether we will it or no.

    * Note : crudely interpreted as “man can do whatever he wants and have whatever he wants”.

  29. quokka
    January 27th, 2013 at 11:22 | #29

    Salient Green :
    If rooftop solar reduces power use, and it does, then it must reduce transmission costs.

    No, as I stated above even if average power carried by the network is decreased, there is no guarantee at all that peak power is decreased.

    Even your reference makes no such claim. What it does say is this:

    CSIRO also modelled the impacts of PV systems on the transmission network. It was found that carefully sited PV systems can reduce congestion on transmission networks and reduce the average price of electricity.

    However, if there is one thing that rooftop PV is not, that is “carefully sited”. It’s an unplanned mish mash. There is zero system planning. Throw some subsidies at PV capacity and hope the major operators can sort out the associated system issues – supposedly for free. This kind of works up to a point and then things start to get a bit sticky. See Germany.

    Furthermore there is no CSIRO “smart grid” that the claim was based on. There is really no experience at all of any such thing having been achieved in practice.

  30. Fran Barlow
    January 27th, 2013 at 11:32 | #30


    It’s so tiring to here these memes repeated by the Rose troll.

    1. Electric vehicles, including those using a grid that is 80% coal fired, produce fewer emissions per unit of distance than an equivalently powered ICE vehicle. That’s because they use the energy they draw down more efficiently than comparably sized ICE vehicles do, most of the time.

    2. Plug-in EVs can make use of renewables, where ICEs cannot. Not only that, but the ability to function as quick ramp supply for the network makes networks for flexible and can reduce redundancy requirements. This would reduce the need for fossil thermal redundancy.

    3. Overnight charging of EVs from the grid is likely to make use of existing under-used capacity, meaning that the demand is likely to have a low marginal cost as the efficiency of plants is approached.

    4. As the grid is decarbonised, EVs will become even more relatively CO2-efficient. Having a substantial EV fleet improves the CO2 abatement return on closing coal and other fossil thermal plants, because the vehicles automatically become cleaner without further innovation.

    5. Electric vehicles, by moving emissions from the city to the fossil thermal plant will inevitably lead to lower levels of airborne contaminants in the palces where population is most dense. Assuming the government cares about pollution, the cost of cleaning up the emissions is sharply cut and the proces rendered far simpler.

    6. While it is true that the infirm will not be riding bicycles or doing so much walking, it’s a mistake to assume old = infirm. I’m not sure of “Jim” ‘s age but those of us born in the late 1950s became used to seeing people in their seventies as frail. One of the reasons our population is ageing (apart from declining birth rates and a tightening of immigration) is that older people are living longer and in better health. We have had nearly three decades of public health campaigns on smoking. Working hours have shortened. Occupational Health & Safety has improved. The health system has also improved, including in the care of older people. I regularly see people who are surely 70+ riding bicycles and walking unaided by frames without apparent discomfort.

    In any event it’s a poor argument to find someone who is an anomaly in order to show that a whole system cannot work. We certainly need to reconfigure our urban areas to make public transport far more feasible for more people. When EVs and better designed cities intersect, we will radically reduce the human footprint and yet have better quality of life.

  31. Fran Barlow
    January 27th, 2013 at 11:33 | #31

    Oops {hear these memes}

  32. January 27th, 2013 at 11:45 | #32

    Japan is a good place to see plenty of octagenarians riding bicycles.

  33. Ikonoclast
    January 27th, 2013 at 12:05 | #33

    @Fran Barlow

    Yes, to all those points about an electrical economy. I think the target should be to have a near 100% electrical economy. It would be far more energy efficient.

    The elephant in the room is subsidies to fossil fuels.

    “The IEA, within the framework of the World Energy Outlook, has been measuring fossil-fuel subsidies in a systematic and regular fashion for more than a decade. Its analysis is aimed at demonstrating the impact of fossil-fuel subsidy removal for energy markets, climate change and government budgets. The IEA’s latest estimates indicate that fossil-fuel consumption subsidies worldwide amounted to $523 billion in 2011, up from $412 billion in 2010, with subsidies to oil products representing over half of the total. Changes in international fuel prices are chiefly responsible for differences in subsidy costs from year to year. The increase in the global amount of subsidy in 2011 closely tracked the sharp rise in international fuel prices.” – IEA Energy Subsidies summary.

    I have seen other estimates of up to $1 trillion if you widen the transfers and externalities costing framework. Add in the gulf wars 1 & 2 (which is a fossil fuel subsidy in many ways) and what number would one get?

    It’s funny but I NEVER hear the free marketeers say “remove all fossil fuel subsidies” (outside of the energy policy wonks in the IEA and OECD). The neoliberal belief in “free” markets is very selective. Actually, they mean a market where they are free to do what they like including successfully lobbying govt. for big subsidies.

  34. Fran Barlow
    January 27th, 2013 at 14:17 | #34

    @Ronald Brak

    I heard a few years back that in Sardinia, they’ve a chap of 113 who still rides his bike to work. It could be one of those stories one likes to think is true, but apparently, the place does pretty well on avoiding degenerative disease.

  35. BilB
    January 27th, 2013 at 14:34 | #35

    It is just so easy make sweeping statements on electrification, when the reality is that it is moving at a snails pace. There are 2 reasons for this.

    One is that battery technology is close, but not there yet. Not there yet to the extent that the US government (directed by Barak Obama) is to fund a $200 million “back to the drawing board” battery technology project with the funds spread over 5 universities. The current grounding of 787’s highlights the problem.

    The second impediment is with our government’s, more bureaucratic obstructionism than political incompetence, failure to recognise the importance of this transition and develop management structures to fast track electrification. A classic case is with electric cycles which have been pinned at a 200 watt power level for decades. Recently the cycle associations put a case to the Victorian government to allow a power level of 250 watts where the power could only be accessed through pedalling, ie no power with pedals idling. The whole argument was that people would be encouraged to become fit, rather than transported. What a magnificent concession from the bureacrats who with one hat allow only a 25% increase in power level, equivalent to a dim light bulb, for efficient transport, while with another hat applaud V8 super cars with power levels, both Holden and Ford, of around 650 hp, where the only exercise the user gets is applying pressure on the brake pedal.

    There is supposed to be a review of low powered vehicles in NSW this quarter, though where Stuart Ayres has promised to inform me of the announcement of this review, I have heard nothing yet. The point here is that it does not take many bureaucrats to stonewall an issue to favour their own interests. Anyone who has sat on a committee will appreciate that with a spread of opinions or interests the outcome can only ever be a luke warm representation of what is actually necessary (the whole climate “debate” being a prime example).

    So where there is an opportunity to involve a very large section of the population with the advantages of electric transport (eBikes) at minimal cost to the consumer/user, with no cost to the government, and while giving a very significant section of our manufacturing industry the green light to develop products that people will actually buy, it only takes one or two smug self interested bureaucrats to blockade eVehicle development for another 30 years.

    The Victorian legislation (accommodation) was allowed citing the Swiss eBike standards. This is how the process works. Scan the world for a standard that gives little but appears to be totally reasonable. When you examine this you quickly see that European standards on bicycle use are completely inappropriate for Australia. Throughout Europe distances travelled are short, villages are very close together, roads are narrow, and footpaths are scarce. Furthermore population to land area gives each European less that on third of a hectare per person. In Australia distances travelled are greater, roads are wider, and we have footpaths as standard nearly everwhere. Australian’s also enjoy 28 hectares per person. In Europe helmet use is not a requirement, the bureaucrats take only the standards that suit their purposes.

    The US powered cycle standard would have been far more applicable for Australia. Our roads are similar, distances travelled are similar and our population density is sparcer but similarly arranged. So the US 750 watt power level for eBikes would be most appropriate. Only it does not suite those with hidden agendas, and absolutely no direct answerability to the public at all.

    Another technology that will have to wait a decade or more is our GenIIPV system which has the ability to dramatically accelerate uptake of rooftop solar while significantly boosting Australian manufacturing, and that is despite the technology upon which it is based increasing its conversion efficiency from 40.5% a few years ago to over 50% just recently. With this increase taking the GenIIPV overall efficiency to well over 60%. We could not even get a discussion with government to demonstrate how this works, and there is a reason for that.

    Go to the CSIRO’s eFuture “explore future scenario’s” website (hat tip to Barry Brooke’s BNC thingy) and see if you can make this modeller give any result other than a thin line for rooftop solar PV 50 years into the future. Further you have to specifically exclude Nuclear to get anything other than a future entirely powered by Nuclear.

    If this is the best advice being given to government it clearly explains the “we’ve got this covered” fob off reply I got from Greg Combet’s office where we had requested a 10 minute phone conversation to discuss how GenIIPV technology had the ability to rescue our failing automotives componentry industry (GenIIPV has a large mechanical element), and the employment in creates.

    Even the CSIRO are not familiar with the full field of established solar technologies on the one hand, but have a very thorough handle on nuclear technology that we do not use in this country, and are only likely to be skewered with if the Coalition ever get their hands on the reins of federal government again, a prospect which I suspect Campbell Newman is shooting down right now aided by another round of climate “fluctuation”.

    In other news thin flexible solar PV panels have achieved an efficiency of 20%. This is important for aviation, automotive, and a broad array of agricultural solar users.

    This will be a frustrating transition to our all electric energy future. But that is the future, no doubt at all. In between I am committed to have as my next vehicle the VW XL1 100 klm per litre 2 seat hybride which should be in production some time this year. Hopefully by the time production has progressed to the point where one is available for me to buy they will have increased the battery capacity to where it can perform most local tasks with more electric component than (bio) diesel.

  36. Ikonoclast
    January 27th, 2013 at 14:39 | #36

    I suppose many Qld people who blog here are currently (2:30 pm 27/01/2013) preoccupied with local flooding issues and household security from wind and water.

    I took a long inclement walk to look along the South Pine River before it enters Cash’s Crossing, Albany Creek. An eye-level check at about 1:00 pm confirmed for me that the South Pine River is well up and only about 2 vertical meters below its January 2011 flood peak. I note on the news Bundaberg is experiencing worse flooding than 2010-2011 and Grantham is being severely flooded again. No doubt much other flooding news is coming in.

    This supports the contention that parts of towns and suburbs severely flooded on a regular basis now need to be moved lock, stock and barrel to higher ground developments. I guess an economist or actuary (or both) could do the numbers but there must be a calculus which suggests that moving a chronically flooding area’s buildings and infrastructure to higher ground is cheaper than endless rebuilding once flooding frequency rises above a flood every x years.

  37. Ikonoclast
    January 27th, 2013 at 14:56 | #37


    “An interesting screed, written you have, Jedi BilB.” – Yoda.

    You refer to “bureaucrats… (who) stonewall an issue to favour their own interests”. I am sure you wrote that blogging quickly but the real causal chain I think is;

    Capitalists’ interests determine Politician’s interests detemine bureaucrats’ interests. We need to go to the top of the chain and look at why entrenched corporate capitalists are opposing change. In Australia, it is clear that mining magnates, especially but not only coal and gas interests, are in control of Australian politics. To change anything we will have to change the influence mining capital has in distorting Australian politics and getting what it wants rather the people getting the policies they need.

    It’s a tough ask. The first step is to stop voting for Labour, Liberal, National and Country politicians whose campaigns are all in pay from the mining industry via the disgracefully legal corporate donations system. The mining industry donates to both sides to buy influence and to always have the threat available of withdrawing donations if policies affect their interests.

    The main obstacle to the renewable energy, low fossil fuel economy is the fossil fuel industry. Eventually these people will have to be arraigned as climate criminals.

  38. January 27th, 2013 at 16:02 | #38

    Fran, I have no trouble believing a 113 year old rides a bike. Generally speaking the very long lived are in pretty good nick right up the end or close to it. Those without the ability to stay in reasonably good shape for 95+ years usually don’t have the legs to make to 100+.

  39. Fran Barlow
    January 27th, 2013 at 16:44 | #39


    In other news thin flexible solar PV panels have achieved an efficiency of 20%. This is important for aviation, automotive, and a broad array of agricultural solar users.

    IIRC is was 23.7% just tipping out crystalline by 0.1% … This was significant because the improvement from about 14% has occurred quite quickly — over the last five years.

  40. BilB
    January 27th, 2013 at 17:19 | #40

    Sorry, Ikonoclast, creating a revolution just to have a different way of being employed is now proven to be a really, really bad idea (think Egypt here). You might be thinking Marx, but the Quinkans are thinking Islamic Jihad, and as they are prepared to blow themselves up and everyone else nearby to get what their religion wants, they will win given the chance.

    Rule one. Know when you are well off. Please point to any where in the world where Marxism has worked and actually prospered, and the “people” have enjoyed a higher minimum wage than our $15 per hour.

    Rule two. Cut through the crap.

    The eBike is an interesting subject because the only way that there will be any real change is if the Federal government department responsible orders a wide ranging review of the subject. That portfolio falls under Anthony Albanese’s clutch. Now this is the guy who a year ago in Perth when Julia Gillard was opening something or announcing something, chose to raise the “very important issue that must be resolved and the Labour Government is the only government that can get on with the job” of Sydney’s second airport. Since then there has been nothing but side stepping. Meanwhile the options are steadilly being shutout or built over. The cause of the delay is bureaucratic bungling on the one hand, and political ineptitude on the other. (Now here I have to wonder why you think that a Marxist anti capitalist economy would be devoid of this kind of farting about when all evidence is to the contrary). As the decision gets dragged out it becomes increasingly more entangled with other issues, the latest being a high speed rail. Should we build a high speed rail link between Sydney and Melbourne and have an international airport at Canberra?

    What is needed here is a method for stepping back and looking at the real issues.

    Let me give you a not unrelated example. When Sydney’s second runway was under construction a consultancy had been given the task for siting the radar that would serve the new installation. They had been on the task for 18 months at a cost of 10,000 a month and where not within site of a solution. My MBA brother who had been management review for the department of defense for a lot of years happened to be in an office where the manage of the runway project was complaining about the delays in siting the radar. So brother took the opportunity and said to the manager would he pay 10,000 dollars to have the matter resolved immediately. Even though he is an accountant he had considerable technical exposure with Defence, apart from being a good problem solver. So he collected the criteria, bought a basic design package and layed out the primary considerations. So even though there were endless technicalities the primary considerations to do with radiation exposure and local populations limited the siting of the radar to just one spot. Brother presented this to the manager with the proof, while pointing ou that this location was in between the two runways and out in the bay. To this the manager said good work, paid the money, issued a directive to the dredging contractor requesting that “from time to time we need a reserve of material for various sub projects, please place dredged material here”. An island quickly appeared, and that is where the radar for the second runway is to this day.

    Applying rule two to the second airport should eliminate the fast rail complication straight away. If in the middle of the best economic period Australia has enjoyed, the early noughties, we could not commit to high speed rail, and if later in the middle of a mining boom we still cannot easily commit to such a project, then it is never going to happen. Get on with job, name a sight for the Sydney’s second airport and build the dam thing. No matter where it goes someone is going to be disadvantaged (or rather believe that they are so).

    Getting back to eBikes, if Anthony Abanese cannot make a simple decision on the siting of a new airport for Sydney, then the tough decision of allowing people to have electric bikes with suitable power for Australian conditions is just way beyond him, and the Labour government, and any other government for that matter, as they have failed to achieve any realistic thought on this subject for my entire life. And I don’t see why the dramatic advancements in electric motor technology, battery technology, electronic control technology, the sevenfold increase in Australia’s population, the vast improvements in roads including the addition of cycling lanes, or the global need to conserve fossil fuels and reduce CO2 emissions,….. that have occurred over my lifetime would make the slightest difference to the evaluation process on power levels for eBikes, because these things had absolutely no influence on the Victorian government bureaucrats last year when they brushed aside the needs of the public with a power level increase barely sufficient to power an electric toothbrush.

    Rule three. Make the most of what you have got, and try to enjoy life. That does not mean buckle under to knucklehead politicians, or bureaucrats. Put up your best arguments and sometimes you will make a difference.

  41. BilB
    January 27th, 2013 at 17:23 | #41


    Good on you for being knitpicky and completely missing the point.

  42. Salient Green
    January 27th, 2013 at 17:47 | #42

    In regards to coal plant closures and Geothermal power I was still talking about the Germans. No one needs to lecture me on the Australian experience. As well as your examples of failure to shut down coal power, Australian governments have put more money into failed CCS projects than Geothermal efforts.
    If, and it seems likely, when the Germans commit themselves to Geothermal power you can guarantee they won’t piss-fart around like our governments have.

  43. BilB
    January 27th, 2013 at 18:08 | #43

    Your right, SG. Australia’s piss-farting around with geothermal is both disgraceful and has been an incredible waste of money. By not properly funding the initiatives failure has been guaranteed for a project where success should have been the outcome. CCS was a failure guaranteed project for so many reasons.

    Meanwhile the CCS term is getting a greenover with a change of focus now to Carbon Capture from Seawater.

    I would expect that the political disruption across the top of Africa, Mali most recently, which threatens the stability of the Desertec programme will divert focus for the present towards other technologies. Geothermal would be a good candidate.

  44. Chris Warren
    January 27th, 2013 at 19:07 | #44


    This is so fatuous, I don’t know where to start.

    the “people” have enjoyed a higher minimum wage than our $15 per hour.

    Wages do not consist of an amount of money. No where in the world is the minimum wage A$15. To judge a wage you have to look at what commodities it buys.

    Australian $15 buys a basket of goods that are based on freetrade with rancid capo regimes where, often enough, there are paltry minimum wages. In Amerika, the minimum wage is half the rate as in Australia.

    The worth of a minimum wage is not measured by its level, but by the living standard it purchases. So in a capitalist country you will always need a higher minimum wage because housing and other vital services are priced at capitalist prices and include GST at varying rates.

    If you want to look at capitalist minimum wages – try Bangladesh.

    There is nothing stopping a socialist economy paying higher minimum wages, provided the economy is not a victim of economic warfare from the West. The Mondragon enterprise demonstrates this principle.

    Why would you wave minimum wages, when the system paying those wages can be destroyed simply by a Howard-type politician appointing a Harper-like fool to head a fake Fair Pay Commission?

  45. Ernestine Gross
    January 27th, 2013 at 19:50 | #45

    BilB @39, I assume you mean the ‘third’ runway at Sydney Airport when you write ‘second’ runway.

    If I may say, your example of an MBA graduate finding a suitable solution for the location of the radar quicker than a committee is a good one to illustrate how essentially trivial problems are solved efficiently in the process of creating a much bigger problem.

    The expansion of KSA (Kingsford Smith Airport) by means of the third runway is a planning disaster. The airport is difficult to access by any form of transport other than planes. There was a substantial cost overrun and special levies had to be introduced to cover noise insulation costs for the inner west. The noise insulation entails more CO2 emission because of artificial ventilation. The so-called flight management plan had to be reworked under the Howard government because there was a revolution under way. People from as far north as Hornsby down to Sutherland went to protest marches. Hornsby is about 35 km to the north of KSA. There was a Senate Select Committee on Aircraft Noise in Sydney, which produced a report with the apt title “Falling on Deaf Ears”. The so-called noise sharing plan introduced by the Howard government never worked well – it was merely a measure to give people ‘respite’. I am talking about more than 250 000 people who, according to the planning document – the Environmental Impact Statement – were not affected by aircraft noise. These people are still paying a cost which does not enter an accountant’s records because ‘property rights’ apparently exist only for the owners of airports, airlines and associated industries but not for the acoustic environment within residential houses . Now, how is it that more than 250 000 people were overlooked while the propaganda was that the building of the third run way would reduce the number of people ‘seriously affected’ (there is a report which makes this term precise)? Easy. You don’t see what you don’t want to know. Specifically, the authors of the Environmental Impact Statement used data collected from areas extending less than half way of the approach path from the north and they didn’t bother to check for land elevations and they dismissed the comments from local residents. KSA is now an expansive shopping mall (local monopoly) with horrific parking fees. (The profitability of KSA as ‘an airport’ is sensitive to these commercial fees. If environmental costs – noise and air pollution – would be counted, KSA would be a monumental economic loss manufacturing business.

    This planning disaster was not the bureaucrats’ fault, if I may say. Australia had a first class environmental protection (noise and air) system in place when so-called bureaucrats were working as professionals in an independent public service system. This planning disaster happened during the time when the public sector was corporatised. The Environmental Impact Statement was written by a private consulting company. The method of ‘project evaluation’ was straight out of an introductory corporate finance text. This document (several in fact) introduced me to a language and a ‘communications strategy’ which, I later learned, had been successfully used by the tobacco industry (and taught in some MBA schools). It is a way of writing which flows and sounds comforting. The give away is, when the reader asks him or herself a few questions of details then he or she finds that the answers are nowhere. Another give away is that false histories are created to deflect complaints.

    A few years before the KSA planning disaster started, the then Prime Minister, Mr Hawke, announced there will be no expansion of KSA. The reversal of the Hawke government’s decision to not expand KSA (Kingsford Smith Airport) took place with the collaboration of the Greiner (MBA) State government.

    I agree with you, good old Karl Marx is quite irrelevant to the contemporary issue of corporatism.

  46. BilB
    January 27th, 2013 at 20:25 | #46

    C’mon Chris,

    “You can’t handle the truth!!!”

    …is what I’m watching at the moment. I’m laughing, and agreeing. Most of us can’t handle reality.

    Yes 15 is just a number. It is not the number itself that matters, but what you do with it. That number multiplied by another number gives you yet another number that defines ones options, for that week. If the number is not satisfactory then one has options to change their future. I can handle that kind of truth.

    Let’s consider your co-operative truth. No numbers. Sleep over there and you will be provided for, all you have to do is work all day,…for the good of everyone else. It is a bit hard to multiply that one out. Impossible to predict or change ones future.

    I wonder how many Australians would be able to handle that truth?

  47. BilB
    January 27th, 2013 at 21:32 | #47

    ……and it all ended with an old Slovenian proverb, Ernestine G.

    “Speak the truth! Then leave immediately afterwards”

    In 1970 I lived for a year in a little house in Newtown. On a main bus route, right beside the railway (ten tracks wide there if I recall), and directly under the flight path to the KSA main runway (before noise sharing). I chose to live there, and barely noticed the noise becasue it was part of the place. I worked for several years as a lift mechanic. In that job you spend a lot of time on the tops of the buildings in a city. You don’t realise how a city throbs with noise until you hear it from above. Yet people chose to live there. In other cities near the airport is a prestigious area to live. It all depends. Last week I was standing in the water near a little jetty in Hunters Hill enjoying the ambience, several planes flew over, no big noise yet I’ve heard those wingers moan on, and on about the noise. Yet everyone of them fly 10 to 1 to the rest of Sydneysiders. How they suffer. I was on a headland in the mid coast on Friday, the sea breeze in the trees was very loud, that would be very hard to take. The cicadas in the west can drive a person quite nutty, and it goes on for months.

    It is not the truth that we can’t handle,…it is the reality of our own decisions.

    Stop moaning I say, if it bothers a person that much, move somewhere else. In this country you have that choice.

    ….uh..uh let me guess, you’re going to talk now about stamp duty and real estate charges.

    I’m outa here.

  48. January 27th, 2013 at 21:40 | #48

    Ikonoclast, with regards to people who say those with rooftop solar are free riding on those without, I might also point out that while solar received subsidies in the past, new solar may now be subsidising the rest of the grid. A lot of people now only get an eight cent feed-in tariff, which I doubt covers the actual value of electricity exported from home PV systems once savings in transmission costs, health, and so on are added in. And while solar still receives Renewable Energy Certificates, the solar multiplier has been cut short and the Renewable Energy Certificates that remain will fall in value as solar becomes cheaper and will of course eventually disappear.

    You might also want to ask detractors if they own an air conditioner as currently the largest free riders in Australia with regards to grid electricity are probably those with air conditioning compared to those without. Air conditioners increase peak demand which pushes up generatring costs and requires a lot of expensive infrastructure expansion. Since everyone pays the increased electricity rates that result, households without air conditioners apparently pay an average of $330 a year as a subsidy to those who do. People with rooftop solar are of course heroes as their solar lets them reduce their own demand during peak times, or better yet export electricity at these times. The true heroes are those with rooftop solar and no airconditioning.

  49. BilB
    January 28th, 2013 at 02:00 | #49

    Ernestine G,

    Yes you are right it was the third runway, the second main runway that was built into Botany Bay. It was a team of consultant engineers that was displaced for failing to realise the obvious. It was an MBA who studied for 17 years to complete his degrees and masters in night classes while working supporting a family, and at the time was a seasoned professional public servant whose role in management review was to perpetually prune back the expansion of government departments while also being deft at avoiding IBM sales men who wanted to install million dollars mainframes into every public office space.

    Frankly I have no sympathy for those noise affected by KSA. It is a feature of Sydney established when this area was considered to be remote to the city. The area was for decades heavily industrial of the most noxious industries such as tanneries. The runway directions were set in 1933 and have not changed since.

    You should be venting your anger at Anthony Albanese for not resolving the second airport issue in his five years on the front bench. But also at Howard and Abbott for failing in the previous eleven years. Sydney’s noise problem will only get worse until there is a second airport and it will be many years after a site is announced before there will be any relief.

  50. Fran Barlow
    January 28th, 2013 at 07:37 | #50


    If there must be “a second airport” I can’t see why it shouldn’t be a large floating airport, placed perhaps in the waters just off Sydney Heads.

    There’d be no land to acquire, a radically simpler EIS process, the possibility of moduralisation of the build, capacity to build to conservative scale and add as required so a more maintainable solution, improved security, proximity to CBD, minimisation of noise impacts, capacity for renewable energy (wave power; wind) …

  51. January 28th, 2013 at 08:11 | #51

    How about a mag lev bullet train between Melbourne and Sydney to cut down on air congestion? Of course, since Sydney can’t even manage to lay badly needed rail to get freight to its port it will probably need to be suspended in the air from balloons or something. Or maybe if the train was moving fast enough it could do a jump over Sydney and splash down in the harbour?

  52. Chris Warren
    January 28th, 2013 at 08:26 | #52


    Is this really your level of understanding?

    Yes 15 is just a number. It is not the number itself that matters, but what you do with it. That number multiplied by another number gives you yet another number that defines ones options, for that week. If the number is not satisfactory then one has options to change their future. I can handle that kind of truth.

    Let’s consider your co-operative truth. No numbers. Sleep over there and you will be provided for, all you have to do is work all day,…for the good of everyone else. It is a bit hard to multiply that one out. Impossible to predict or change ones future.

  53. BilB
    January 28th, 2013 at 08:29 | #53

    They’re all good thoughts, Fran, but think about some of the projects that have been done and how the cost has streched the economy. To make an airport four or five times the basic on land cost just because of noise is an unlikely starter. And that is before you consider whose beach you will park it off and how people get too and from it.

    One major advantage would be with fuel management if aviation fuel came by tanker directly.

    The nearest equivalent to this notion from which could be measured some of the operational requirements is the airport for the Maldives. Take a look. It is one of my favourites.

    I was just thinking through some of the bouyancy issues and stress loadings of having 500 tonnes land on a floating structure and role along it. I think tyou would be requiring up to ten times the amount of concrete that is required for a regular runway. That is a lot of extra cost.

    The second airport will be at Badgeries Creek. We will all get used to its noise and profit from its presence.

    To my thinking, far worse than living in the proximity of an airport is living next to a motor way. The noise pressure from highspeed traffic is oppressive and constant.

  54. Chris Warren
    January 28th, 2013 at 08:47 | #54

    @Ernestine Gross

    I am not sure whether this is just a naive prejudice:

    I agree with you, good old Karl Marx is quite irrelevant to the contemporary issue of corporatism.

    or whether you have a useful argument underpinning such gaffes.

    Under capitalism, corporations arise from 1) concentration of capital, 2) intensified competition 3) gains, for itself, through efficiencies of scale 4) market and political power and 5) gains, for itself, through degrees of monopolisation.

    This process is inherently exploitative and unsustainable.

    Under socialism, things are different but as there will still be corporations, you need to understand Marx to realise how and why?

  55. BilB
    January 28th, 2013 at 09:16 | #55

    Chris Warren,

    It is you who has the perception problem.

    And your problem is that your Utopia requires a universally accepted philosophy of acceptance for it to work.

    The nearest situation to your model that has occurred in our part of the world (that I am aware and actually experienced) was in New Zealand during Robert Muldoon’s fortress economy and “think big” national project years, and particularly near the end when a national freeze on prices and wages was applied.

    Up to that time incomes were fairly flat across the economy and product retail markups were modest. The country had an aging fleet of vehicles that were lovingly maintained and there was a strong sense of community.

    BUT……..it was voted out,…by the people.

    Next came the Labour leftwingers….who were actually ultra right wingers, and smashed it all apart. It was the nearest thing that you might expect from a capitalist coup de tat. One of the ring leaders Richard Prebble as minister for most things was responsible for sacking more people from NZ Rail (24,000) than there were people in his electorate at the time. The people brought that on themselves by voting in David Lange and Roger Douglas. The wanted a change, and they got it. The whole argument was “is the cost of maintaining the fortress too great?”

    The point that I am making is that if you have to enslave the minds of the people in order to achieve some fancifully different economic system, then you are have failed at the outset because it is just not sustainable.

  56. Ernestine Gross
    January 28th, 2013 at 09:25 | #56


    It seems to me you are not familiar with the history of KSA and the history of old Sydney suburbs such as Pymble and Gordon.

    Pymble and Gordon are two suburbs in the north of Sydney with established residential areas going back to before Federation. At that time there was no airport in Sydney.

    In 1933, the year you claim the runway directions have been determined, there was only gravel runways. The first runway was the East-West runway, which is now hardly used at all. There was so little aviation traffic that there was a railway line crossing the runway and there is a historical event of a plane crashing with a train.

    The north-south runway was extended some time in the 1960s. The ‘third runway’ refers to the noth-south parallel runway which was opened in late 1994. Only the parallel runway operation can cope with high volume aircraft movement. You claim amounts to nothing having changed in terms of runway alignments since 1933 is a perpetuation of the myths generated to deflect public criticism of the expansion of KSA (third runway) is a planning disaster for several reasons, one of them being the deceptio of residents living far way from KSA to the north of KSA regarding aircraft noise.

    The wiki site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_Airport is not quite adequate in the description of the history of KSA but it is good enough as a reference to refut your glib statementments.

    You are wrong about me wishing to vent anger at either Albanese or Howard. The Howard government had to pick up where the Hawke-Keating (Brereton) government left off – it was quite obvious that not much could be done in the short term. Albanese has to pick up from the planning disaster – not easy either.

    There was a lengthy and detailed site selection process for a second airport in the 1980s which reported in 1985. Wilton and Badgery’s Creek were selected as the most suitable middle distance airports. The systematic process of decision making was sabotaged a few years later when the decision to not expand KSA was reversed. This is the point in time I am talking about.

    If you were to agree the operation of KSA is restricted to Herrier Jump Jets, , I would concur with you not having sympathy with aircraft noise affected residents at Mascot. Otherwise I would say you do not understand the difference between economic rationalism and rational economic analysis.


  57. Chris Warren
    January 28th, 2013 at 09:58 | #57


    Using schizophrenia terms such as “utopia” and “enslave the minds” does not build confidence in your argument.

    I do not understand your linkage to New Zealand as a relevant model. The regimes running capitalist governments regularly change all over the world. NZ had to smash its fortress because this was the only way NZ capitalism could survive for a few more decades.

    NZ products sold in Australia are now made in China – eg Masport lawnmowers.

    So what do you think happens when Chinese wages equal New Zealand wages?

  58. BilB
    January 28th, 2013 at 11:02 | #58

    NZ is relevent because the NZ “experience”, actually being there, was the nearest thing to what you aspire to achieve in terms of community outcome.

    However, NZ went wobbly because the markets it had specialised to service since the end of WW2 with meat wool and butter had accumulated unsustainably high stock levels of all of those commodities. There were exchange rate issues which led to people feeling trapped within their economy, unable to travel and unable to sell their property and relocate. And yet they were in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

    That is why Muldoon’s (in effect) socialist government was voted out.

    Your problem, Chris, is that you are trapped in this Marxist dogma that only you and a handful of other people could be bothered learning about, because it is totally irrelevent. There will be economic collapses in the future, but they will not lead to the formation of a socialist state as Marx envisaged. Even in Russia communism only barely got a foot hold. It wasn’t driven by mass demand, it was instigated through mass self interest by a handful of people who utilised political instability during a period of change to seize power for their ideology.

    The Marxist dream is dead, Chris. Tell your buddies BilB said so.

  59. Chris Warren
    January 28th, 2013 at 11:21 | #59


    You seem to be demonstrating “trapped in dogma” than anyone else.

    What socialist state did Marx envisage? He mentioned 10 points in the famous “Communist Manifesto”. Which of these are totally irrelevant?

    Or is it the case that you have no idea what you are talking about?

    Specifically what “dream” are you talking about? Where is it sourced in Marx?

    If you are going to use “socialist” to apply to both Muldoon and Marx, then you need learn the difference between national projects (to benefit capital) and socialist projects (to benefit society).

    If there is an economic collapse in the future – and this depends on whether countervailing tendencies are still viable – then the future had better be based on the analysis provided by Karl Marx because the only alternative is the thug-rule of a few.

  60. Ernestine Gross
    January 28th, 2013 at 11:56 | #60

    @Chris Warren

    I am telling you no knowledge of Karl Marx’s writing is required to reach the conclusion that the expansion of KSA (third runway) is a planning disaster and this happened during the period of corporatising the public sector.

    It seems to me any practical problem with economic content is seen by you as an opportunity to transform or weave it into a 1940s type of discussion. Other people read Karl Marx in historical context and may still draw some insights from his writing. But this surely is different from your style of argument.

  61. Chris Warren
    January 28th, 2013 at 12:13 | #61

    Ernestine Gross :

    I am telling you no knowledge of Karl Marx’s writing is required to reach the conclusion that the expansion of KSA (third runway) is a planning disaster and this happened during the period of corporatising the public sector.

    Correct – so why did you invoke Marx?

    It seems to me any practical problem with economic content is seen by you as an opportunity to transform or weave it into a 1940s type of discussion. Other people read Karl Marx in historical context and may still draw some insights from his writing. But this surely is different from your style of argument.

    Actually the economic content goes back to the Nineteenth Century. The historical context is the history of the form wage-labour and of surplus value.

    I know capitalists like to think they have ended history, but the old context continues even today. So if you read Marx in a historical context you are also reading Marx ion today’s context, unless you can demonstrate that wage labour and the capitalist mode of accumulation from history does not exist today.

  62. BilB
    January 28th, 2013 at 12:14 | #62

    You are compleltely deluded about the reality of socialism, Chris. National socialism does not get started or survive without the “thug-rule of a few”. USSR has had a whole procession of thug rulers. In fact any artificially suppresed population (this is what your socialist society becomes) is a furtile feeding ground for psychopaths and sociopaths.

    Marx’s 10 points? WOW, you’ve got to be joking. Items 2 and most of 10 are the only points that I would subscribe to out of that denudation of individuality.

    If you subscribe to them all then you have been living in a fantasy land of false expectation.

  63. Ernestine Gross
    January 28th, 2013 at 13:14 | #63


    “The second airport will be at Badgeries Creek.” [BilB]. Is this an example of you having insider knowledge or are you trying to influence public expectations? (I understand, the Minister, Mr Albanese, had commissioned a scoping study for Wilton.)

    “We will all get used to its noise and profit from its presence.” [BilB]. Oh dear, this sounds awfully like Stalinist Communist propaganda.

    There is no evidence I know of that people get used to aircraft noise. Aircraft noise, as distinct from aircraft sound, is, by definition, unwanted sound. I am aware of a few isolated psycho-studies (eg Job), which claim that people’s responses to aircraft noise are ‘modified’ by their attitudes toward the aviation industry. A study by Gross and Sim (1997) does not support this hypothesis for areas to the north of KSA, which had litte or no aircraft sound exposure prior to the planning disaster of KSA (third runway). That is, people in areas with little aircraft sound exposure (overflights) had relatively more favourable ‘attitudes’ to the ‘aviation industry’ than people who had relatively heavy aircraft sound exposure. There may well be a few individuals ‘everywhere’ who have an ‘attitude’ toward the ‘aviation industry’. But the great majority of people seem to develop ‘an attitude’ toward the ‘aviation industry’ after they are exposed to aircraft sound in doses that interfers with their lives.

    Incidentally, the only economic (as distinct from corporate finance) analysis of the options available at the Environmental Impact Statement stage, a cost benefit analysis, reached the conclusion that the construction of the third runway at KSA is not the best. (If this economic analysis had been taken note of, then the location of the radar, which you mentioned as an illustration of the relative efficiency of decision making, would not have been a problem requiring a solution.)

    PS: One of my posts is in moderation, perhaps because of links (or a few too many spelling errors or whatever.)

  64. Ernestine Gross
    January 28th, 2013 at 13:18 | #64

    @Chris Warren

    My answer to your question is contained in my second paragraph.

  65. BilB
    January 28th, 2013 at 13:25 | #65

    OK. We are talking socialism, so I had a look at the Socialist Alternative, a site that Chris Warren’s name seemed to lead me.

    On the subject of socialism and individualism, one Liam Byrne, after a very long screed on how capitalism denudes one of individuality (?), writes….

    “Human beings would labour for the replenishing of a society over which they had ownership and control. Work would gain a new meaning, and be liberated from the profit motive. Under such a state of affairs the human potential for individual expression would be limitless”

    …it would be better to have read a summary of the communist manifesto 10 point pathway to freedom from oppression.

    Can anyone else see the huge credibility gap in this thinking?

    The whole Marx thing to my thinking is little more than a cult because it hinges on the faith based notion that having been denuded of all property, the individual owns everything, in common with everyone else.

    So the sun is going down, you are tired and hungry, in Marx’s world you can only eat what is provided for you and you can only sleep where everyone else allows you to sleep. To my thinking that is owning nothing, especially hope. Where is the individual voice when everyone is talking equally at the same time?

    As all property has been confiscated for the common good no doubt the get out of jail notion here is that you continue to live where you have always lived. But what if someone else wants my luxurious place and everyone else agrees, for the common good?

  66. Chris Warren
    January 28th, 2013 at 13:30 | #66


    Huh? How was Gorbachev a “thug”? Didn’t Yeltsin unleash the worse capitalist thugs in the form of the Russian mafia? How is Mondragon ruled by thugs? Are you saying that it got started or survives because of “thug-rule”.

    How was the Western wars of intervention not an attempt at anti-Soviet thuggery? Are you implying that Tsarist Russia was not ruled by thugs backed by Ochrana?

    How was the basis of American capitalism – in slave-owning – not “thuggery”?

    How was the basis of Australian capitalism, based on convict labour, extermination of native peoples, plus blackbirding Pacific Islanders – not “thuggery”.

    How do you explain the wealth of nineteenth century British capitalists if not by thuggery against Indian, African and Chinese peoples?

    How was Australia’s and American efforts to erect a regime of their own liking in Vietnam – not thuggery. What else can a F111 bombing civilians represent?

    How was the massacre of Allende’s regime and supporters not “thuggery”?

    So have the populations of Indonesia, Vietnam, Chile and etc, been subject to American back thuggery or not?

    You whole capitalist economy, your whole existance, including New Zealand, was built only on the most viscous, long-running thuggery imaginable.

    If you want to object to thugs in power – why not object to the a whole range of Islamic states being set up by Saudi oil-capitalists across north Africa and Middle east.

    Marx’s first point (abolition of private property in land) specifically did not concern personal property. Enclosures were one of the earliest forms of capitalist thugs suppressing the then British population – finally shipping thousands to labour camps in Africa and Australia right through into the nineteenth century. Enclosures separated, by thuggery, the masses from their traditional property rights.

    So if you want to look at a suppressed population just look at Georgian England.

  67. January 28th, 2013 at 13:33 | #67

    Well, I guess I may as well answer Quokka’s question about how does rooftop solar reduce transmission costs. I’ll try to keep things simple. Quokka, all else equal, which do you think will have lower transmission costs? A power plant 1,000 km from where the electricity is used or a power plant 10 km from where the electricity is used?

  68. Chris Warren
    January 28th, 2013 at 13:43 | #68


    For Pete’s sake please provide evidence for:

    in Marx’s world you can only eat what is provided for you and you can only sleep where everyone else allows you to sleep.

    You are fabricating your own strawman.

    Marx said the exact opposite to:

    hinges on the faith based notion that having been denuded of all property,

    It is the capitalist form of property that is transformed not all property.

    What is the point of:

    But what if someone else wants my luxurious place and everyone else agrees, for the common good?

    Usually your luxurious place is resumed if needed for an airport, or freeway. This is normal and happens all the time. Only in capitalist Israel is personal property and rights to services generally denied based on race and religion.

  69. BilB
    January 28th, 2013 at 13:56 | #69

    No special knowledge Ernestine, just a little bit of common sense. It is a distance thing. for every plane that takes off there will be up to 200 cars take their loved one to the airport to see them off on their adventure. Have a look at the map, the distances involved, the location of the M’s, and the location of the new Southern Sydney Freight line. Then think a little about the future probabilities on fuel prices and transport options.

    I don’t see how there was ever a doubt.

    There is a new drive in aviation to reduce fuel consumption, noise, and total travel times, by giving aircraft an unrestricted path from engine power up to exiting the airfield air space, and the reverse for landing. In other words aircraft do note start engines until they have a clear path to runway without delay.

    From Badgeries Creek most aircraft would be exiting the airspace towards Lake Burragorang and landing in a circuit over the same area providing minimal noise nuisance. The curved approach radar developed in Australia in the Badgeries creek area offers excellent scope for noise sharing. I think that it is a no brainer.

    The only thing that Wilton has to offer is no resistance.

  70. BilB
    January 28th, 2013 at 14:00 | #70


    The communist 10 points manifesto that you forced me to read says the exact opposite of what you claim. If it comes down to interpretation then the outcome would be a dogs breakfast of applied ideologies, as is exactly what happened in Russia. Mega fail.

  71. Fran Barlow
    January 28th, 2013 at 14:24 | #71

    @Chris Warren

    BilB certainly does love his strawmen …

    If there is a purpose to community, it is to meet the needs of its members. In complex societies, a division of labour is required so that these needs may be met most efficiently. If we are all ethical equals then it follows that all the burdens and benefits of labour should be settled with equity and efficiency in mind.

    Capitalism cannot do that as efficiently as can planned economy. While it may well be efficient and not inequitable for personal services and small scale distribution of consumer goods to be delivered on individual initiative, infrastructure, hevay industry, transport, communications, even light industrial ought to be the subject of plans spanning time frames from years to decades and that can attach suitable weight to the protection of the commons rather than the protection of the interests of equity holders.

    Governance must be inclusive, and that is, as we have seen, at odds with capitalism.

    This does not entail arguing that socialism will arise any time soon. Before we get anywhere near abundance we will need to have achieved inclusive governance and planned production therewith. That is foundational, IMO and we are a very long way from achieving that.

    If and when working people next perceive that capitalism has failed, it is this that we must point out — that societies based on the marginalisation of the many to serve the enrichment of the few must inevitably suffer collapse and a devaluation of their output, immiseration of small holders and workers, and that these processes are often attended by intra-communal violence and war. Only a society that holds its key assets in common trust can hope to resist the tendency of the system to self-destruct and just as importantly, lay the foundations for a dundamentally more just, rational and maintainable set of social arrangements.

  72. Fran Barlow
    January 28th, 2013 at 14:24 | #72

    oops fundamentally more just, rational

  73. BilB
    January 28th, 2013 at 14:28 | #73


    I don’t see how

    “At Mondragon, there are agreed-upon wage ratios between the worker-owners who do executive work and those who work in the field or factory and earn a minimum wage. These ratios range from 3:1 to 9:1 in different cooperatives and average 5:1. That is, the general manager of an average Mondragon cooperative earns 5 times as much as the theoretical minimum wage paid in his/her cooperative”

    …..fits your notion of equal return for the common good. The workers may “own” a share of the company for which they work, but when they leave they have nothing to take away. That means that they have no ownership at all. It fails the ownership test of being able to transport ones accruals. This is actually worse than capitalism as the “workers” cannot buy a share of the company for which they work, they only get the warm fuzzy notion of ownership while they are working. The summary that I read did not mention medical benefits or a retirement plan.

    Whereas I applaud this class of industrial organisation, I am sure that if I scan around I will be able to find plenty of family owned businesses that do as much or more for their workforce and enjoy every bit as much cooperation and loyalty.

  74. Ernestine Gross
    January 28th, 2013 at 14:39 | #74

    BilB, one of my earlier posts regarding KSA is still in moderation. That concerns the planning disaster of KSA (and important historical matters you have wrong).

    I don’t agree with your statement: “The only thing that Wilton has to offer is no resistance.”

    Firstly, it is not true. There is local resistance and I don’t know as yet how the planning bodies will deal with the issues raised by residents.

    Secondly, it is not true because Wilton is outside the air basin for Sydney, B.C. is inside. The western suburbs get a lot of air pollution from the rest of Sydney almost every night.

    Third, it is not true. Transport of aviation fuel is a distance and build-up environment matter, which you igore.

    It is not only the flight paths of a hypothetical B.C. ‘second airport’ that need to be considered but also the operation (flight paths) of all airports. I can assure you there is persistent resistance to the concentrated flight path at KSA and rightly so. People have been mislead at the planning stage. They have no budget feasible alternative to wearing the costs for other people’s benefits to an extent that is not considered unavoidable.

    I believe it would be more helpful if people would respond to the scoping study for Wilton, within the proper process, instead of asserting ‘common sense’.

  75. BilB
    January 28th, 2013 at 14:41 | #75


    Reading a little further,

    I am not saying that capitalism is not awash with thuggery, I am saying that socialism, communism is dripping with it as well.

    So socialism is not a pancea for the world’s ills, it is simply a different way of organising things, and not a very palatable one as any summation of populations economies and governments will attest.

    On the other hand it is not a total failure either. As I said originally, socialism is most successful at tribal level or situation specific level.

  76. Chris Warren
    January 28th, 2013 at 14:44 | #76



    Some may be anachronistic as the underlying issue can be handled differently eg: the English estates were broken up by taxes not direct abolition of all rights of inheritance. Many are now owned by the National Trust.

    Workers’ Cooperatives generally own their own factories, real estate, and inventories. All their surplus is used for their common purposes if not for the public at large. However in Yugoslavia, workers enterprises – BOALS – made constributions to public services.

    The new regime in Iraq, under American tutelage, has simply confiscated the property of all emigrants and rebels. Presumably the same has occurred in Libya. Every single land title in Australia was based on confiscated lands. Is there an exception? Maybe Arnhem land and the deserts of South Australia? Israel only occupies confiscated land and forced people to emigrate.

    Centralisation of credit in the hands of the State is long overdue, but if this is a capitalist state there is little point. Although with modern technology, if savings occur within a cooperative presumably credit can be managed here as well.

    We certainly need production by the State, particularly as State produced goods and services can be sold at cost – not cost-plus.

    Equal liability to labour is more than necessary but you cannot expect capitalist enterprises to produce the necessary opportunities.

    Certainly we need a better distribution of the population into rural areas.

    What is wrong with free education, including apprenticeships in the workplace?

    If everyone has a job, free education, affordable goods and services, and are not threatened by any anti-social power of capital, there will be no structural cause of crisis.

  77. BilB
    January 28th, 2013 at 15:07 | #77


    I am really not that interested in the airport siting issue sufficient to cause me to respond to the scoping study.

    On the resistance, I think that BC would have more relative to Wilton. Maybe I should have said less rather than no. Otherwise I would say that the Wilton area is a beautiful area which I would rather not have despoiled with an ill considered airfield.

    I did address the aviation fuel transport issue with the reference to southern freight rail line. Wilton could have the fuel pipe in from Woolongong, but so also can BC.

    Your most valid point is the pollution issue, and adding to that is the general air flows in the BC area. I know nothing about these items so would have to take advice of the experts.

    I don’t see an airspace clash between KSA and BC anymore than Wilton would have. But Camden would be impacted by BC. However Christchurch international airport had a club field right beside the main runway for decades. I had the spectacular experience once of land a Cessna right beside a 747 Jumbo. What a buzz. So there is not necessarily a clash there.

    The narrow flight path into KSA is an attribute of the twin runways. Aircraft need to line up more carefully when they are landing parrallel to another flight corridor. This problem could be eased with better radar on the northern approach side and installation of a HITS system which would allow aircraft to be seperated vertically (remember the staggered touchdown zones offer a higher approach for aircraft on the more eastern shorter runway). There is not a thousand feet in it but it could be enough to provide some flexibility with better control.

  78. Chris Warren
    January 28th, 2013 at 15:31 | #78


    Where on earth does …

    …..fits your notion of equal return for the common good.

    come from?

    You are simply making stuff up – why?

    If you work for a company and leave – you only take your clothes with you. If you live in public housing, if you leave, you do not take the house with you. If you rent from a capitalist landlord – they are not going to give you part of the house either.

    If you resign from Australia’s University Coop bookshop – you get your entry fee back, and people are happy with this.

    There is nothing within cooperatives that prevents various conditions for entry and exit. There is nothing that prevents establishing medical and retirement benefits. Cooperatives can be set up just to provide medical and retirement services.

    Who said socialism is the panacea for all the world’s ills.

    Again you consistently just make stuff up.

    Socialism is the panacea for economic crisis. It also provides opportunities for solving many social ills and for all – not just in nations at one pole of global political economy. It also does so permanently – not just a few decades while crisis tendencies build up into catastrophes.

  79. BilB
    January 28th, 2013 at 15:48 | #79

    Years ago when I worked for a LendLease company after 12 months I received 100 shares in the company. A year later I received another parcel of shares. I was paid above award wages.

    Those shares which were quite valuable were very handy some years later.

    In Capitalist Australia workers receive 9% of their wage (or is it 12% now) applied towards their retirement. We get weekends off and public holidays with pay.

    Please explain the dark side of all of that.

  80. Fran Barlow
    January 28th, 2013 at 16:23 | #80

    @Ronald Brak

    The cost of a 1000km maglev would be huge. I imagine it would also have a pretty serious ecological footprint with all the earthworks. Cost recovery would probably make the tickets on it considerably larger than air tickets — even assuming one fully priced in the ecological cost of both. I also imagine the land acquisitions in Melbourne and Sydney (and the tunnelling here and there) would add a lot per KM. It cost a billion dollars or so for a short conventional freight train bypass from Macarthur to Birrong. I doubt we would get it done inside 25 years. By then, we might actually have aircraft that were near carbon neutral. Indeed, it’s conceivable by then that air travel per capita may fall as we have more virtual conferencing.

    And unless you could get up to jet speed, it would still take longer than an aircraft.

    I do think we need to keep in mind the relationship between dollars spent on carbon abatement and the extent of abatement. There remain far better things on which to spend money from this pool. Separating passenger and freight rail, moving long haul freight off roads, redesigning urban areas to make mass transit more feasible, converting most motor vehicles to draw from the grid, cleaning up the grid itself, building more sustainable buildings … it’s all better than high speed maglev rail — much as I love the idea in aesthetic terms.

  81. Chris Warren
    January 28th, 2013 at 16:38 | #81

    BilB :
    Years ago when I worked for a LendLease company after 12 months I received 100 shares in the company. A year later I received another parcel of shares. I was paid above award wages.
    Those shares which were quite valuable were very handy some years later.
    In Capitalist Australia workers receive 9% of their wage (or is it 12% now) applied towards their retirement. We get weekends off and public holidays with pay.
    Please explain the dark side of all of that.

    The darkside is that a capitalist country paying 5% towards retirement, and giving less public holidays with pay, will sell the same products cheaper on the global market. Under free trade, this renders your benefit unsustainable.

    The darkside is if your retirement benefit is based on returns from international investment funds, and when these fail, you end up in penury.

    The darkside is that the retirement and working conditions Australian’s had in the past are not being passed on to future generations. New entrants into Australia’s workforce have nothing like the education and superannuation opportunities I had.

    The darkside is that provision of retirement benefits on a capitalist basis is contingent on a continually growing population.

    The darkside is that all such conditions are eliminated when a sizeable economic crisis breaks out.

    The darkside is that your conditions are not shared for all workers under capitalism – certainly not those making your clothes, books, electrical goods, and supermarket items.

  82. BilB
    January 28th, 2013 at 17:06 | #82


    Yes you have a good point on the funds failure item. That is why I have argued for people to be more easily allowed to apply those funds to payout their family home faster, at which point they then switch to accruing more form their concluded mortgage payment amount towards the cash part of their retirement funds. That way at least if your fund turns out to be managed by Christopher Skasse you do not end up with nothing. You’ve at least got a house.

    The 5% issue does not hold up as products are rarely that finely tuned on cost for such a marginal item to be pivotal in marketing competition.

    The education issue not a starter, I think my kids are getting a better education than I had. At the end of your education it is how you use it not so much about the specific content. I don’t see an issue on the superannuation front unless you are talking about public servants.

    Economic crisis, I don’t have an opinion on that one being self employed I have not been affected. So far.

    The last point is that is a matter for the governments of those countries. Japan brought its population up to world standard. China is showing an increasing preparedness to protect the well being of its people. Still plenty of injustice, but change too.

    On the population item. Australia’s population will grow steadily for hte foreseeable future from Climate Change population displacement alone.

    On that socialism is the backstop to economic collapse, I think we covered that talking to Seth Ackeman’s socialised capital didn’t we? I recal not being at all enthralled with that idea.

  83. BilB
    January 28th, 2013 at 17:15 | #83


    I think that Albanese should announce the site of the new airport right away and make that the focus of the election battle. I think that BC would draw more votes than it would cost particularly where there is a determination to reduce KSA northern approach noise.

    But somehow I don’t think that would appeal to you? Which area are you in?

  84. Ernestine Gross
    January 28th, 2013 at 17:28 | #84


    “The narrow flight path into KSA is an attribute of the twin runways.”

    Almost exactly (approach path rather than flight path). This is why I talk about the expansion of KSA by means of building ‘third runway’ (parallel to the north-south runway existing in or around 1985) as a planning disaster. More than 250 000 people north of Drummoyne have been assumed to not exist! Many of these people live at elevations up to 200 m above sea level, in areas with a background noise of 35dB(A) and they were assured they will not be aircraft noise affected. People are now waiting for this verbal assurance to happen in reality.

    Has anybody calculated the loss in labour productivity due to aircraft noise disturbances, the health effects on shift workers, etc, etc?

    Promises of easing the problem by means of control systems are not credible. The fact is that if weather conditions require landing from the north then the ‘easing’ is set off by the atmospheric conditions amplifying the sound on the ground. Furthermore, it is known by now that high volume aircraft movements require parallel runway usage.

    The ‘common sense’ solution to the planning disaster that is KSA (third runway) is to close down the third runway such that approach paths can be spread, using existing technologies or improved technologies, to conform with the assumptions in the Environmental Impact Statement. Alternatively put, the volume of traffic has to be reduced substantially such that ‘noise sharing’ is feasible.

    Sydney does not need a ‘second airport’, it needs an international airport with KSA being phased down to a domestic airport – over time – such that the curfew hours can be increased and nothing heavier than a B767 flies in or out of the place and at much lower frequencies with aircraft sound being not concentrated except over the areas ‘in the vicinity of the airport’ where residential houses have been noise insulated.

    The private initiative ‘Sydney Airport link’ is also a planning disaster. You can read up on this PPP at http://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/publications/files/Review_of_Major_Infrastructure_Delivery_PWC.pdf

    Wilton is close to the existing train line to Woolongong (with a stump of a railway line toward Wilton).

    As you said, the aviation fuel could be provided from Woolongong.

    Christchurch, NZ is a pretty town (when it is not too windy). But the airport at this location cannot possibly be used as a model for Sydney; it might do for Canberra in terms of volume of air traffic. I do believe there are enough knowledgeable people in Australia to solve the problem from first principle instead of looking elsewhere.

    Has anybody calculated risk scenarios for KSA due to sea level rises?

    I suspect it is clear to you by now that, contrary to your assertion, I did not vent my frustration with the Minister, Mr Albanese, or the former Prime Minister, Mr Howard. I did object to you trivialising the difficulties these two politicians faced or face now.

  85. January 28th, 2013 at 17:29 | #85

    Very good points, Fran, except trains are faster than planes. Well, yes, okay, planes are faster than trains, but they are only faster than bullet trains in the strictly technical sense that they cover a much greater distance in a unit of time than a bullet train. But as far as the passengers are concerned, bullet trains are faster. This is because planes don’t take people to where they actually want to go. They take them to airports.

  86. Fran Barlow
    January 28th, 2013 at 17:41 | #86

    @Ronald Brak

    This is because planes don’t take people to where they actually want to go. They take them to airports.

    It would make more sense to build fast train links from airports to stations then. Sydney has one — not sure about Tullamarine. Avalon only has a bus — so that’s an obvious opportunity.

  87. January 28th, 2013 at 18:13 | #87

    Fran, are we talking about the same thing? When I say airport, I mean an extra-legal, quasi-sentient, immense, bloated, civilization parasite that will stop at nothing to extract monopoly profits from those poor fools that pass through it gates. Or at least, that’s what Brisbane airport is. Adelaide airport has free wifi, so it’s not quite so bad. Anyway, airports will make use of the fact that people are pretty much stuck there and price gouge when it comes to train tickets and bus tickets and even manage to make taxis pay to come and take away their customers.

    Now of course we could actually change things so that airports actually become part of a system for making Australia a better place to travel in, but what are the chances of that happening when so many people who hold monopoly power still believe that Gordon Geko was right when he said, “Extra-legal, quasi-sentient, immense, bloated parasites on civilization is good.”

  88. Jordan
    January 29th, 2013 at 00:42 | #88

    This is what WIki says about Marx and i heard that from many Marxists:

    “It presents an analytical approach to the class struggle (historical and present) and the problems of capitalism, rather than a prediction of communism’s potential future forms.[”

    Marx barely presented how post capitalism should look like, he mostly wrote about how capitalism will unravel and slowly dissapear on its own due to inherent contradictions within it.

    Allow for another 50 years with robotization and resource limits and capitalism will dissapear on its own. If you could somehow give ideas to population that they need democracy at the workplace too that would be done in 10 years. All that would be left will be market just as it was before capitalism.

    Major malfunction in your critique of socialism comes from idea that Soviet socialism is and was the only one in the world. That is totaly wrong, please read about Yugoslavia’s socialism.
    The real problem for Soviets was that they destroyed market as free exchange, which is neccesary to keep people satisfied. Yugoslavia had prety free market after initial rationing post WWII.

    Future will be socialism with free market, workers democracy with available credit from banks managed by state. Fractional reserve banking is neccesary for developement of new, better businesses and bankruptcy of bad ones and technologies.

    I would like to write again about system of retirement, this will give you idea what a retiremet system is and how it is done in real terms.

    Imagine a world where every human have a great retirement savings, but there were no newborns for last 65 years.
    Can these old people retire and enjoy their savings? No, they can’t, there is no production and services they need to enjoy retirement.

    This shows that retirement savings is just a system of transfering products of new generations onto old. It is a support system by savings as accounting mean, just as you shared your production (real assets) to old generation by saving. Get it?

    Now imagine that the last generation spend their savings to develop robots and automatized production. Now the productions and services are operationaly free, but they do not have any savings. Can they decide to retire and declare distribution of basics to be free per needs? yes, why not it is just about organizing it that way. There is no need for savings to retire, just some accounting way to distribute as somene needs.

    This is future by robotics and socialism/ social conventions.

    We can do this without robots too, you know. Maybe with livable minimum wage and unemployment benefit, universal healthcare, free education. Ah, yes that is the way, LOL.
    Money and saving is just accounting way to get real values, not real wealth by itself. And government is there to organise best distribution possible. Is that socialism that you were talking about Bilb, or we are talking about? LOL

    Well, it is better with Job Guarantee with decent wages instead of unemployment benefits.

  89. BilB
    January 29th, 2013 at 02:12 | #89


    Rather than get worked up into a lather of condemnation a little research might be a good idea. Apparently curved approaches to parallel runways are readily achieveable, and there is a good body of information on theis subject. Then someone needs to convince CASA that it is a good idea.

    Frankly, though, I feel that you are over inflating the noise problem for this area. I’ve worked in Hunters Hill for several years and I never found the passing aircraft to be particularly noticeable. John Howard himself lived in the area for years and found no reason to make an issue of the noise.

    TheChristchurch airport comment was about club fields coexisting with international airports, re Camden and Badgeries Creek. The airport link operators did themselves by not offering airport staff a concession train fare. They lost a lot of business in that one decision. KSA runway is 6 M above sea level, which should give it another 100 years.

  90. Jim Rose
    January 29th, 2013 at 05:48 | #90

    @Jordan when the Berlin wall fell, were you cheering or booing?

    Nozick pointed out that six per cent is the maximum proportion of any population who would voluntarily choose to live in a socialist community. More recently, 2.6% of the Israeli population live on a kibbutz.

  91. Ikonoclast
    January 29th, 2013 at 07:17 | #91

    @Jim Rose

    Jim, statistics like that are meaningless. They depend on how the question is asked. They also depend on definitions and category simplifications. For example; “Would you like to live in a socialist country like the Former Soviet Union?” For a start this presumes that the FSU was a socialist country. By definition it was not. It was a state capitalist, one party dicatatorship.

    Australia is still a partly socialist country despite the inroads of neoliberalism. We have socialised medicine (free public hospitals and Medicare) running alongside privatised medicine. Welfare is essentially a socialist measure as are all other subsdies for the poor, elderly, infirm etcetera. Democracy itself is essentially a socialist feature. It socialises power (spreads power through society thus socialising it as a common right).

    If you are so against socialism I hope you have never voted (democracy is socialised power) and never taken government assistance or subsidy of any kind. So depending on your country of residence I hope you have never accepted;

    (a) free medical care;
    (b) a government pension, benefit or allowance;
    (c) a business subsidy;
    (d) preferential government assistance;
    (e) emergency government assistance for flood or natural disaster;
    (f) rescue or assistance from government emergency or military services or assets;
    (g) a tax write-off or tax deduction;
    (h) mortgage assistance (USA);
    (i) negative gearing offsets (Aust.);
    (j) enduring national peace obtained via govt military personnel, assets and spending.

    I hope you haven’t accepted any of these socialist benefits Jim or that would render you inconsistent at the very least.

  92. Chris Warren
    January 29th, 2013 at 08:24 | #92

    @Jim Rose

    So what are you doing to bring down the wall between USA and Mexico?

    So what are you doing to bring down the wall between Israel and Palestinians?

  93. Ernestine Gross
    January 29th, 2013 at 08:28 | #93


    I appreciate you may have feelings on the basis of which you form opinions and then reach the conclusion that others get ‘worked up about something’ and you give advice on what they should do instead.

    I’d like you to consider the possibility that on this ocasion you assumptions about reality are totally wrong. My comments regarding the planning disaster of the expansion of KSA (third runway) are based on extensive research on the economic decision making models (1994)on empirical sound measurements in various areas, carried out by qualified acoustics engineers, and one by the ASA which corroborated the findings and surveys of people’s reaction.

    Furthermore, aircraft noise (and the deception associated) is only one of the problems I have mentioned. Others are land transport problems around KSA, the PPP Airport Rail Link, the monopolistic shopping mall, the parking fines and the methodological point (cost-benefit vs corporate finance decision making).

    (If you were to research curved approach paths you might find your advice is not a solution to the planning disaster.)

    It was I who acknowledged the difficulties inherited by the former Prime Minister, John Howard, and the difficulties inherited by the present Minister, Mr Albanese.

    No fobbing off, please. The KSA planning disaster is an example of NSW Inc (and the associated corporatisation of the public sector). You may not like to hear this. But this doesn’t change the reality of the problems generated.


  94. Jordan
    January 29th, 2013 at 08:47 | #94

    @Jim Rose
    I was about 18 at the time. I did not even notice fall of Berlin Wall. AT the time i was noticing only booze, girls, drugs and music.
    I am happy that Berlin wall fell for former communist countries besides FSU which is about on the same level of prosperity as before. Other countries are better off.
    But when Berlin Wall fell it did contribute and opened up Yugoslavia for capitalist powers to destroy it trough war. Right after the Wall fell, IMF (which is a USA pupet) conditioned further crediting only to individual republics, not to federation as a whole, which strengthened separatist movements already felt because of inaction of bureaocracy to organise developement and inovation.
    You see, Yugoslavia was the most succesfull country closest to full socialist utopia and as such it was a real threat to capitalist dogma. There is a memo by Reagan in 1984

    “Despite Belgrade’s non-alignment stance and its extensive trading relations with the European Community and the U.S., the Reagan administration targeted the Yugoslav economy in a 1984 National Security Decision Directive (NSDD 133) classified as Secret Sensitive, titled U.S. Policy towards Yugoslavia. A censored version declassified in 1990 elaborated on NSDD 54 issued in 1982 which dealt with Eastern Europe. The latter advocated “expanded efforts to promote a ‘quiet revolution’ to overthrow Communist governments and parties,” while reintegrating the countries of Eastern Europe into a market-oriented economy.[26]”


    Today, people are slowly realising that we got benefits of capitalism only from astounding ammount of borrowing, meny people are looking back at what it was as better and more just.
    I just lately started to learn about what it really was and how it came to be manipulated into war. IMF used tensions allready present in Yugoslavia and enforced them to cause the war.

    Milosevic Slobodan was working with support of Bush sr. and CIA educated manipulation while on the other side German Chancelor Kohl and Vatican were supporting Croatian’s Tudjman promising new credit and acceptance of new country. While at the same time when war broke out, the USA put embargo on arms deals to Yugoslav area knowing full well that Milosevic had all of Yugoslavian weapons and army while croatians had only police to defend civilians which were ethnicaly cleansed, masacred, raped, looted.
    I was watching with disbelief when embargo was anounced. They could not know. This is why i started investigating suspicions about bigger plans of world powers on YU.
    Naomi Clain’s Shock Docktrine was applied on Yugoslavia after Berlin Wall fell.

  95. Jordan
    January 29th, 2013 at 09:07 | #95

    @Jim Rose
    My comment is stuck in moderation. I will add some more.
    After Berlin Wall fell, it allowed for USA to implement Shock Doctrine on Yugoslavia. AFter the war, Bechtel and Enron took over a lot of rebuilding and power distribution. Probably they would have more of it if that plane with US Comerce Secretary Brown and other business executives in 1996 did not crash. You can search on Wiki by 1996 Croatia USAF CT-43 crash.

    There is no doubt in me that the war in Yu was planned by USA and capitalist powers to destroy the most succesfull Marxist implementation, and then got rich by implementing Shock Doctrine. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is a monopoly owner of telecomunications in Kosovo, former Yu region. Former US ambasador in Belgrade William Dale Montgomery is underground boss today in Belgrade and multibillionare with many businesses in Serbia.

  96. BilB
    January 29th, 2013 at 09:51 | #96


    You can’t change a planning disaster after it has been implemented and 20 years further on, all you can do is move forward and fix the problems created. The fact is that the runway cannot be “shut down”. For starters it services approaches from the south regularly, and most of its departures are to the south. Add the curve approach which allows a variety of approaches which share the load and a large part of your concerns are addressed

    The land access issue is a planning mistake that goes back to the 60’s when the state government announced the establishment of a ring road to break up the hub and spoke structure of Sydneys roads. The mistake was that they did not prevent the many councils form approving frontages onto this road so it became a congested mess and failed to achieve its purpose. So it had to be done again decades in the making and that is the m2/m7/m5/Southern Cross Drive/Cahill Expressway harbour Tunnel/Bradfield Highway/Gorehill freeway, with other associated tunnels. And that now works finally. The last major missing part is the Cumberland Highway/Pennant Hills road.

    The terminal management is certainly something that should be addressed forcefully. I’m sure that you are aware that it is now impossible to pick people up from the international terminal without incurring either a parking fee or a fine. I make a point of lugging my gear around to the Customs access road and being picked up from there. I think that there would be a good case for taking the terminal management to court for their oppressive profiteering.

    The problem with the rail link goes all the way back to the removal of trams. The issue is the rail gage and the vehicle profile. The London Tube was successful largely because the tunnel profile is much smaller and requires less than a half the material to be remove for the same functional result. The building cost is far less than our standard gage suburban trains which run on the freight weighted rails. This is the fundamental stumbling block preventing Sydney from having a world standard electrified public transport system. There just is not the money to rebuild everything. So we are stuck with half a system that can never be economic. That problem is an old which goes way back.

    One of Sydney’s most disastrous planning failures, which goes back to the 30’s is the Keith Road/Rickety road/Canal road bottle neck. This road should have become an inner ring thoroughfare which joined through to Sydenham road to West St and finally onto Parramatta Road to form an outer bypass around the main rail hub at Redfern and Central. That is the road failure that someone should spend some time costing out. The cost of that roading disfunction is in the billions of dollars.

  97. BilB
    January 29th, 2013 at 10:39 | #97

    The way to fixup Sydney’s public transport is to take an approach that Christchurch NZ used to eliminate power poles. The council initiated a 50 year $3 million per year programme to dispose of all of the overhead power cables. It came a little unstuck when a series of horrendous earthquakes damage a lot of this, but the principle was sound.

    What Sydney should do is commit to a $200 million dollars per year tunnelling programe for the next 30 years to bore a London Tube sized ring rail system to service all of Sydney. Contractors could tender periodically for the work on the basis of achieveable tunnel length. The amount is sufficient to encourage innovation in machinery and techniques. Rolling stock could be bought from any number of successful systems around the world initially and later improved locally. By making this a fixed amount that can be easily accommodated rather than a multi billion dollar amount for fixed projects a far more cost effective result will be achieved in a reasonable number of years, and continually extended over time.

  98. BilB
    January 29th, 2013 at 11:20 | #98

    When I think about it you could get quite an effective system in place fairly quickly by inititially boring a single tunnel line with stations every 2 kilometres. Trains would pass at the stations and all progress a section at a time with every second station having a train at each platform with none alternately at the inbetween station. Later you go back and bore the second tunnel in the heavier traffic sections as required and as the system became increasingly more commercial. The trains could be designed to operate in the open as well where the power was drwn from a third rail in the tunnel and an overhead cateniary in the open linking with the expanding tram system, or not. Trains would be single or dual carriage to promote higher frequency. Station building could be linked in with above ground commercial developments and paid for by those developers who benefit from the commuter traffic flow. Ticketing is done by debit card of various kiinds thereby avoiding the need to provide ticketing sales structures.

  99. Ernestine Gross
    January 29th, 2013 at 11:24 | #99


    The way to approach the problems is to close down NSW Inc, direct all interest groups (eg Sydney Airport Corp, Tourism Lobby, … BilB) to participate in the public consultation process on equal footing with residents with the aim of strengthening representative parliamentary government and an independent public service.

    The NSW Inc approach (under a different name) no longer works, although they seem to carry on as if their ‘strategy’ is a natural law. It is not. People have learned about the PR machinery of the Incs.

  100. BilB
    January 29th, 2013 at 12:50 | #100

    This is an interesting site on tube rail. It adds understanding to the relationship between population density and tube diameter.


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