Monday Message Board

Back again with another Monday Message Board.

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page

32 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Two thoughts.

    1. The West has Failed.

    I fully concur with this assessment.

    2. The Penchant for “Hail Mary” future techno-fixes while existing methods of addressing problems are ignored.

    The above article refers to this in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. In summary it talks about the pursuit of a vaccine cure-all while ignoring or under-utilizing (in most Western countries) all the tried and proven methods fore dealing with pandemics (lock-downs, quarantines, travel restrcitions, contact tracing, face masks and other techniques.

    We have seen the same thing play out with climate change. The main promotion has been techno-fixes for the future, from CCS to carbon draw-down and geo-engineering. In the meantime available fixes were largely ignored, namely greater energy efficiency, renewable energy which was already cost-efficient, improved public transport, electric cars where the technology was mature enough, effective carbon pricing, by tax or ETS, and so on.

    We need to ponder why available, multiple, eclectic and synergistic approaches to these problems were and are largely ignored. They were largely ignored and preference was given to promoting non-mature technologies, technologies which might never work, and old technologies re-fitted which were energeticlly and safety-wise never going to work even after the refit (CCS and nuclear).

    What’s happening when this kind of thing happens? I think it is;

    1. Vested interests biases for existing major processes and business as usual.
    2. Inability to contemplate something which might change business and the way we live now.
    3. Preference to bet on long-shot solutions out in the never-never so we don’t have to do anything now and then presume the long-shot solutions will eventuate and work extremely well.

    Instead of investing in a bunch of sure-fire initiatives with individually modest near-term returns but which will add up to something substantial, the preference was for one or a few future magical hail-Mary fixes. Every time we see this happening we can presume that the powers that be don’t want to change anything and don’t want to meet the challenge. It’s a strangely sclerotic system (neoliberal capitalism) which does not want to change, refuses to change and fights change. It’s a head-in-the sand approach of pure denial. They say “Climate change? It’s not happening. COVID-19 pandemic? It’s not real.” The answer is always “Do nothing. The auto-correcting market will fix everything.”

    What this approach leads to is a lack of change. Indeed, it leads to a system incapable of change and incapable of responding to crises. When something won’t bend, flow round or adapt then it is brittle and it breaks. Apparently, our system has to be completely broken before people realize something is wrong with it. It feels strange and frankly morbid to have to cheer for catastrophic collapse as the only lesson apparently severe enough to teach the purblind elites and the dumbed-down masses that radical change is required to save our ossified neoliberal capitalist system.

  2. Ikonoclast,
    You state: “Apparently, our system has to be completely broken before people realize something is wrong with it.”

    People usually must die before change occurs. Sometimes it requires many, many deaths – smoking, lack of seatbelts, drink-driving…

    The standards we take for granted today are a consequence of past deaths.

    Humanity has to learn the hard way every time.

  3. I’ve had the pleasure of reading some of Glenn Greenwalds’ tweets over the last few days. I’m not a lefty, but I thought Glenn was. Is this still the case, or has he switched sides? Hard to keep up these days. Just today:

    “Throughout the Trump era, mainstream liberal media outlets elevated the most deranged, neurotic and ridiculous people as “experts” to scare the shit out of everyone. Well beyond NYT putting *Louise Mensch* on its op-ed page about Russia, look at what this person is *still* doing:”

    and (talking about Trump)

    “Look at how they’re still terrorizing people even as they know their grift is soon going to be up. HE’LL USE NUKES FOR REAL THIS TIME ON HIS WAY OUT. Here’s my Patreon link. Watch me on Joy Reid’s show warning about this!!!!

    They f****d with people’s mental health for years:”

    Also: (talking about Sarah Cooper)

    “From Lenny Bruce and George Carlin devoting their careers to fighting every form of censorship to Trump-era comics begging for it: what a sorry decline.

    Liberals like this are utter authoritarians who beg Silicon Valley overlords to decide Truth for us & silence those they hate”

  4. Posted today at P&I is a piece by Cameron Rimington headlined “The escalating risk to Australia’s vehicle fleet. Australia applies the brakes again and again.” It finishes with:

    “A fuel efficiency standard is not about Australia leading the clean vehicle transition – we already missed our chance. It is not even about catching up – we are already too far behind. It is now simply a question of not coming last, of not condemning Australian motorists to dirty, expensive, third-rate vehicles that nobody else wants.”

    In an inevitable post- ‘peak oil’ world these “dirty, expensive, third-rate vehicles that nobody else wants” will also become useless without adequate, affordable fuel.

  5. Too many Swedish dead. Where to now?

    The King of Sweden’s 17th November Instagram “Hold on tight!” post in google translation:

    kungahuset’s profile picture
    the royal house

    Drottningholm Castle

    kungahuset’s profile picture
    the royal house
    Statement by H.M. The King on November 17, 2020:

    “We must all take our responsibility and continue the joint efforts and efforts to stop the spread of infection.

    Hold on. Hold on! ”




  6. Scummo narrowly frames it thus:

    However, expand the frame a little and Blind Freddy can see that it’s capitalism of the crony, oligarchic, corporatist, rentier neoliberal form that has made the public health system sick.

    Meanwhile, will taxpayers be slugged another $25M for the retired no-hoper Mathias Conman’s chasing after an OECD lucrative and tax free job whilst living high on the hog and gadding about in an RAAF jet held on standby all over Europe?

    It’s quite some loyalty fly-buys reward that Cormann has scored there for disengaging from a Dutton Challenge round 2.

  7. It wasnt long before Covid that Morrison spoke out forcefully against supranational organisation in what looked like it was designed to be a kind of landmark statement .Seemingly spurred on by Trump he hit all the right wing populist notes . I am starting to wonder what Morrison believes in ,there may be nothing beyond prosperity gospel and retaining power. This pandemic response in Australia should be recognised as a great success for the power of government ,state govt mainly .It wasnt Reinhardt ,Forrest ,the IPA, the Business Council ,Murdoch ,or the Minerals Council that saved us. People working with good leadership won out despite years of neoliberal erosion of government apparatus ,personnel, and institutions. The Australian vaccine has big links to the university system ,even after what has been done to it.

  8. For the record…

    “Data from 45 countries show containing COVID vs saving the economy is a false dichotomy

    “… there has been a tendency to consider the problem as a trade-off between health and economic costs

    “Effects on GDP per capita
    Our first chart plots nations’ deaths per million from COVID-19 against the percentage change in per capita GDP during the second quarter of 2020.

    “If suppressing the virus, thereby leading to fewer deaths per million, resulted in worse national economic downturns, then the “slope” in figure 1 would be positive. But the opposite is true, with the overall correlation being -0.412.

    “The two outliers are China, in the upper-left corner, with a positive change in GDP per capita, and India at the bottom. China imposed successful hard lockdowns and containment procedures that meant economic effects were limited. India imposed an early hard lockdown but its measures since have been far less effective. Removing both from our data leaves a correlation of -0.464.

  9. KT2, of course this was easy to predict for any science literate person. John Quiggin predicted it. Harry Clarke predicted it. Heck, even I predicted it. I am sure many other commentators on this blog predicted it. The great majority of epidemiologists predicted it, except for that fool in Sweden. The economic and epidemiological math and logic were well nigh irrefutable. Empirical outcomes are bearing it out. Change in GDP is actually a poor measure of the impact. All the damage control spending is holding up GDP in many countries. The true opportunity cost (other needed production and productive lives lost) is much, much higher.

    If it was so easy to predict, one wonders why most of the West got lost in lies, myths and obfuscations about the pandemic. The West is now in its post-science era. Most people ignore science. This can be turned around, it’s not unrecoverable. However, so far I see no sign that the US and Europe are making the changes necessary to recognise and implement the necessary science-based measures. If this goes on too long, the West collapses. I would say there is a 50% overall that the West will collapse significantly (at least as Russia did after the fall of the Berlin Wall). For the USA, the chances are higher. maybe 66.6%.

    Personally, I don’t see the West climbing out of this. The bulk of the populace have been dumbed down too far and trained by neoliberalism and consumerism to be almost completely blind and selfish. In the West, community-wide cooperation outside of Oceania looks to be in terminal decline.


    Ah yes, “this is great and should be applied to all vehicles. But I support applying it only to the vehicles we need to encourage because… {mumble}? But for now, let’s tax the ones we want and keep not taxing the ones we don’t want”.

    I wonder whether the hidden argument is that if we beat back this tax something worse might replace it? Or am I missing something subtle about incentives? Because to my mind the suggestion in the article “don’t lobby against this tax, lobby the manufacturers of EVs to lower their prices” is insane.

  11. Moz,

    the States are getting in before the Feds with a tax grab on this. It’s a tiny tax but will grow. it won’t ever pay the full costs of cars on roads – walkers are liable to income tax part of which goes straight to roads for cars, and everyone contributes tax towards subsidising fossil fuel vested interests. There already are much larger taxes on cars than fossil fuel excise or 2.5c/km/EV that contribute more towards road costs, but as it’s never been enough we pay the difference in other taxes. I’m not factually sure of Martin’s comment on the article you linked, but it sounds about right:

  12. Like you I think Martin’s numbers are plausible. I used to have all that stuff to hand but I’ve stopped doing media events so don’t need it. There’s also some really soft numbers, like whether we count pollution deaths and if so which sorts of pollution and that feeds into a whole discussion of what your comparison point is (200,000 people living in an agrarian society, like they did before the British conquered the place?) But just at a raw “where does the money for roadworks come from” the answer is “general taxation”, including council rates. The classic is the cost of car registration, which is roughly administration + insurance, the end.

    In principle I like the idea of more tax going directly to the states, but I am not confident that this approach is that. It could easily cost more to implement than it raises, especially if it’s anything more complicated than an odometer tax. The article wibbles a bit about GPS tracking and so on but the debate on the proposed law isn’t talking about that, it’s only commentators like the article I linked.

    But I’m more thinking about the optics of it. There seems to be a random mix of “this is cost recovery and it should be applied to all vehicles but for now let’s focus on those that pay nothing rather than those that pay a token amount” with a whole lot of “electric cars are luxury items or hair-shirt environmentalist claptrap and the owners must be punished”. I’m all for the former but the latter scares me. At best it’s placating the nihilists, at worst it’s the start of a slippery slope of taxing environmental efforts.

    One of the partners at work spontaneously mentioned it to me the other day (my third visit to the office since February and he brings this up?) He likes it, mostly to add to his list of reasons not to buy an electric car. He’s one of the “I drive 200km a day, and no electric car can go that far on a charge and anyway they take days to recharge and the idea is just stupid it wouldn’t work for me” types who can spend a week grinding spreadsheets and fighting the last 0.1% discount but give him the five key numbers that describe an electric car and he says “dur mafs too hard” then goes back to his fantasy-land of 1900’s EV’s.

  13. There are other ways of doing and paying for environmentally friendly large scale road transport systems that don’t require heavy metals. Not even gold! This might well be back to a future by 2100 – if anyone is still around:

    “…The story of the Chinese wheelbarrow also teaches us an obvious lesson for the future. While many of us today are not even prepared to change their limousine for a small car, let alone their automobile for a bicycle, we forget that neither one of these vehicles can function without suited roads. Building and maintaining roads is very hard work, and history shows that it is far from evident to keep up with it.

    In this regard, it is important to keep in mind that we won’t be as lucky as the medieval Europeans who inherited one of the best and most durable road networks in the world (Roman roads). Our road infrastructure – mostly based on asphalt – is more similar to that of the Ancient Chinese and will disintegrate at a much faster rate if we lose our ability to maintain it. The Chinese wheelbarrow – and with it many other forgotten low-tech transportation options – might one day come in very handy again.”

    That and the bicycle, as mentioned, are wonderful innovative land transport solutions. First, do least harm.

  14. These days you can even buy ISO787 bicycle wheels which are going on a metre high once you put a wide tyre on them. Hopefully the MTB kids will keep buying them because they make a proper wheelbarrow much easier to build, because right now finding a tyre, any tyre, is a bit of a pain. Not as much as if you DIY the whole wheel, but still a pain. For complete DIY that might be where the problem of used car tyres comes in… cut them up, attach them to the rim of your metre-high wheel, off you go. For a bit of a laugh cut funny shapes out of car tyre segments so you leave lion prints behind 🙂

    The great thing about those is that they just work in most of Australia, you don’t need a road you just clear a clear space. If we get back to the “greatest estate” style landscape it’ll only be stuff like the Blue Mountains where you need to actually know where you’re going.

    For anyone interested… I don’t think they’re imported to Australia now, and the one I built would be ~$1000 as a commercial product ex manufacturer because the wheel and tyre are still pricey. Looking at Aliexpress you might be better off with a 29er fat bike with 4″ tyre because those are much more readily available. But 622 to 787 rim diameter is a big jump.

  15. Solar desalination and purification
    A Dutch startup, Desolenator, has developed a hybrid solar thermal / solar photovoltaic system for water desalination and purification. The have a contract with the philanthropic arm of the Carlsberg brewing company for a desalination system meeting the needs of a town of 4,000 in the Sundarbans in Bangladesh. This looks like working technology. Unfortunately they have a poor website with lots of fine words and no technical or financial details.

  16. “Unfortunately they have a poor website with lots of fine words and no technical or financial details.”

    Well that should ring some alarm bells. Don’t pass due diligence.

  17. Iko: Carlsberg make a decent beer at scale. I thought an actual project contract with them outweighed the fluff. There are no claims of secret breakthroughs, just a misunderstanding of the function of a corporate website.

  18. On the China trade issue. It is high time for Australia to impose a 200% import duty on ALL Chinese goods. There is no product which we could not source elsewhere. Last time I checked, the USA, the EU, Japan, S. Korea, India, Mexico, etc. still made (and bought) a lot of stuff. There is no absolute need for Australia to trade with China. Equally, we can find other markets and the adjustment pain will be worth it in the long run. China is no longer to be trusted in any shape or form.

    It is clear that China is becoming an egregious trade bully and expansionist authoritarian power. It is plain that fair trade or even any form of fair and reciprocal interaction with China is being rendered completely impossible by China’s actions. Any relationship with China becomes an abusive relationship as soon China does not get its own way 100%. The only way to deal with an abusive relationship it to leave it, completely. Treating with, trading with and appeasing dictatorships has never ended well. “Peace for our time” soon ends up with jackboots in friendly countries and very possibly in your own country. Appeasement and trade emboldens tyrants and bullies and must be avoided at all costs.

  19. China? Abusive relationships?

    Cripes, give me a break.

    Which country is allied to a second warmonger country that first ringed a third country with tens of military bases and hundreds of missiles? Which country first had a second warmonger country’s warfighting, spying, space operations command, control and relay hub in it’s centre directed principally against a third country? Which country first began hosting frequent regular routine refueling, maintenance and flight crew changeover stopovers of a second warmonger country’s strategic bombers that armed with nuclear bombs and nuclear warhead equipped cruise missiles circle a third country? Which country first similarly hosted a second warmongering country’s fleet of nuclear armed submarines that again are mostly actively deployed against said third country?

    Yes there are other markets for most products though nowhere near as big for Australian iron ore which is going to be sourced elsewhere by China soon in any event. But if you think it’s all about markets and not some other nasty repeat offending bully warmonger’s bombs and greed, think again.

    “The only way to deal with an abusive relationship it to leave it, completely.”

    Too bloody right.

  20. Svante,

    It’s about the balance of power. Authoritarian China has now indicated that it wants to dominate the entire world; that it wants to dictate unilateral outcomes to all other nations. It is currently the most authoritarian, the most expansionist and most belligerent of all the major powers. It is also a far greater power now than any other single country, including the crumbling USA. Only a global alliance of all democratic powers can contain China. Containment is the correct strategy. The only alternative is to let China take all of the South China Sea, Taiwan, parts of East Russia, parts of central Asia and parts of India… and then keep on going. All of which it is endeavoring to do. Where would you draw the line against Chinese expansionism? Or should we let it continue swallowing territories and countries (Tibet, outer Xin Jiang etc. etc.) and turning them into satrapies and tributary vassals, including eventually Australia? That apparently is your preferred option. None of the options are good but capitulation to dictatorial regimes is always the worst idea.

    Whatever the USA’s failings it did just stave off the attempt of an intending dictator (the incompetent Donald Trump) to take over. China did not fare so well. It permitted the dicatator-for-life Xi Jinping to take over and begin his campaign for global domination.

  21. Nothing in the greedy expansionist US imperium changed very much with Trump outside of Israeli interests and most of that has little substance.. Every single thing you incorrectly ascribe to China goes double and correctly for the US who did it all from long ago and continues to do it with bells on. Global alliance of ‘democratic’ powers? You mean US controlled 5-Eyes, Quad, and NATO – give us a break! The EU report last year listed Australia as the most authoritarian surveilled state in the world, worse even than China! That is all done for US interests! If you think those SE Asian countries share your belligerent US views on China, think again. Best thing is to cut loose and be free of both. China has not swallowed any territories nor countries – unlike the US. No, you again merely repeat yank ruling elite, deep state, msm, and pwned Australian msm rubbish. 89% of Chinese are quite happy with their government. What other ‘democratic’ country comes close to a rating like that?

    It is way past time that Australia attended to things at home, and ceased being a cringeworthy lapdog. There are other better ways to have alliances.

  22. Svante,
    You state: “China has not swallowed any territories nor countries…”

    What about the Spratly Islands?

    150 hectares of Nepal recently.
    Tibet after WW2.

    And there are ongoing disputes over territories with various countries including Afghanistan, Bhutan, Brunei, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Tajikistan, and Vietnam. There are also claims on Hawaii, Australia, the Americas.

    What a harmonious neighbour to have, eh?

    You state: “89% of Chinese are quite happy with their government.”

    But don’t mention anything about the Uighurs, the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, Hong Kong protests…

    It’s amazing what state-controlled propaganda and tight information control can do to the perceptions of the population, eh?

    You make China seem so attractive, Svante. When are you moving there, eh?

  23. There you go again unable to comprehend even that which you quote. So whataboutit the Spratly Islands?
    “Some of the islands have civilian settlements, but of the approximately 45 islands, cays, reefs and shoals that are occupied, all contain structures that are occupied by military forces from Malaysia, Taiwan (ROC), China (PRC), the Philippines or Vietnam. Additionally, Brunei has claimed an exclusive economic zone in the southeastern part of the Spratly Islands, which includes the uninhabited Louisa Reef.” – wiki.

    All Spratly Islands claims are as old as the hills, and are no way and nowhere near business of Australia’s. If you meant the 2016 PCA Tribunal ruling under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, then only client states of the US called for support of the ‘decision’. The US is not even a signatory to the UN convention as it is not to most such conventions nor does it recognise them unless it wants to propagandise about something or other to hypocritically suit itself. And the Philippines does not call for either the upholding nor any implementation of the ‘decision’. What a joke.

    Border disputes? You are crazy. China has more shared borders than any other country on earth. The lines drawn on maps by colonial powers, not without their own border disputes at home, lines drawn by racist imperial colonial powers from the other side of the world during the past several hundreds of years are in dispute all over the globe on every continent, but hey, Chinahh! What a joke.

    BTW why not Hawaii? Hawaiians reject their current illegitimate occupation. What a joke.

    China claims on Australia? Don’t make me laugh. You fail to mention Australia and the attempted takeover of Vietnam, armed campaigns to pick winners and project power into Cambodia, Indonesia, Bouganville, Malaysia, West Papua, and theft of Timor-Leste’s oil, to mention a few close to home but mostly done for yank interests. What a joke.

    What is there to mention about Hong Kong, the Uighurs, or Tiananmen Square that has not already been said? You forgot to throw a whatabout in on Tibet. What about the Mau Mau, or Eureka? Whataboutanother joke?

  24. China claims on Australia? Don’t make me laugh. You clearly don’t understand why Australia has and will again stupidly have a certain type of submarine. Small submarines with shoal water first strike capabilities of the sort that keep surface fleets in harbour. Capabilities the yanks don’t have. Australian subs are not for Australian waters they are purely for the Taiwan Straights and are aimed at Chinahhh by the yanks and for the yanks.

  25. Set bigger climate goals in economic recovery: Business tells government in national survey

    Monday November 30: Australia’s COVID-19 economic recovery plans don’t do enough to integrate climate action and Australia should have a 2050 net-zero emissions target, say Australian business respondents in the 2020 Australian Climate Policy Survey, released today.
    ..The survey found support is increasing among the business and investment community for a net zero emissions by 2050 target, with 88% of respondents saying Australia should set a target, up from 83% last year.
    ..The survey further reflected growing corporate concern of climate change, finding that:
    87% report recognition at board and executive level of the material financial and strategic risks posed by climate change (up from 77% in 2019)
    57% state that their organisation has faced increased shareholder action/resolutions regarding climate change (42% in 2019)
    ..Other results from the survey include:
    88% of respondents are expecting Australia to have by 2030 at least an implicit carbon price of over $20, 55% expect that price to be over $30
    75% of those using internal carbon pricing now apply over $20 (up from 63% in 2019)
    84% agree Australia should have mandatory reporting of carbon risks
    83% believe baselines allocated under the Safeguard Mechanism should be set to reduce over time in line with the trajectory of Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction target
    78% believe Australia’s current 2030 target of 26-28% reductions is an inadequate contribution towards the Paris Agreement goal and should be increased…

  26. Powering regional and remote Australia with renewable hydrogen
    NOVEMBER 27, 2020

    On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has today announced $2.6 million in funding to Horizon Power to build Australia’s first remote microgrid using renewable hydrogen generation in Denham, Western Australia.
    The project will be a first-of-its-kind demonstration that will utilise solar and renewable hydrogen generation and storage to provide 526 MWh of dispatchable renewable electricity, enough to power the equivalent of 100 residential homes.

    The plant will consist of a 348 kW hydrogen electrolyser with accompanying compression and storage and 100 kW fuel cell, alongside 704 kW of solar that will power the electrolyser to produce hydrogen for storage which can later be used in the fuel cell to deliver electricity when it is needed. The plant will be connected to the Denham hybrid power station system.

    If the project is successful, Horizon Power will look to scale up the solution with increased hydrogen and solar penetration and replicate the technology in other remote power systems across its portfolio. It will also provide a reference case for remote power systems in other states and territories including Queensland and the Northern Territory.

    …“This plant will demonstrate how hydrogen can reliably produce power for our towns currently dependent on diesel fuel power systems and allow us to transition our network away from higher emission generating sources and meet our target of no new diesel generation systems from 2025,” Ms Unwin said.

    “This technology has the potential to be an environmental game changer for many remote towns in Western Australia and other similar locations around Australia, and allow greater uptake of reliable cleaner, greener renewable energy sources in the future….”

  27. Of 80 organisations present the usual old fossil Super funds are absent from this new heavy hitter financial grouping – no surprise there. Some green Super funds and other green financial institutions are present. Unsurprising is the heavy presence of insurers. But what to make of the big four banks representation and committee placements? See the list of who is who from page 81 under “Acknowledgements” at the full Roadmap pdf report below. Oh, another Prof Quiggin (from UTS) has a significant role in this:

    Bold plan to reshape Australia’s financial system

    The Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative (ASFI) – comprising 80 organisations across major banks, insurers, super funds, civil society, and stakeholders – released its Roadmap this week, setting out a bold plan to align Australia’s financial system to support a thriving Australian society, a healthy environment and a strong and prosperous economy.

    The Roadmap calls for financial system participants to embed sustainability into their organisation’s purpose, strategy and leadership, and to support the transition of the economy to net zero emissions by 2050, consistent with international conventions including the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals…

    Click to access Australian+Sustainable+Finance+Roadmap+%E2%80%93+Executive+Summary.pdf

    Click to access Australian+Sustainable+Finance+Roadmap.pdf

  28. The Minerals Council of Australia and the Victorian division like this “science and fact”:

    Business NOVEMBER 27, 2020
    Real-world nuclear power benefits outlined in Vic Parliament report

    …The MCA looks forward to contributing to the continuing discussion in Australia about nuclear power as SMRs move through the final stages of development over the next few years.

    MCA Victoria also acknowledges the efforts of David Limbrick MLC and all other members of the Committee to apply analysis based on science and fact to the outdated legislation banning nuclear power in Victoria.

  29. Svante,
    I think Mirage News is aptly named in reference to the Nov 27 piece titled “Real-world nuclear power benefits outlined in Vic Parliament report” that you linked to.

    Meanwhile, the Victorian Parliament Legislative Council Environment and Planning Committee published its report of its inquiry into nuclear prohibition last month (25 Nov 2020) with findings including:

    “FINDING 1: Regardless of technology development, priority should be given to the security, stability and accessibility of energy supply and the need to lower carbon emissions due to climate change and to ensure affordable energy.” (p58)

    “FINDING 2: Current estimates of the cost of nuclear energy in Australia are unreliable and accurately costing the full cost is not possible without a detailed business case being undertaken.” (p72)

    “FINDING 3: Notwithstanding the ambiguities of the costings, the Committee received substantial evidence that nuclear power is significantly more expensive than other forms of power generation and it is recognised that, currently, nuclear is at the high end of the cost range across all technologies.” (p72)

    “FINDING 4: A business case is unlikely to be undertaken, given its costs and resources required, while a prohibition of nuclear energy activities remains and there is not likelihood of a plant being able to be built.” (p72)

    “FINDING 5: Without subsidisation a nuclear power industry will remain economically unviable in Australia for now.” (p72)

    “FINDING 6: Discussion about Victorian participation in the nuclear fuel cycle is entirely theoretical while the Commonwealth prohibitions remain in place.” (p84)

    “FINDING 7: Until there is a change in the Commonwealth position, detailed discussions about emerging technologies in Victoria related to the nuclear fuel cycle and power generation are unlikely to advance.” (p106)

    “FINDING 8: The success of any radioactive waste strategy relies on a level of acceptance and confidence across government, industry and the broader community of its legitimacy, effectiveness and integrity in its ability to deal with all facets of waste management, storage and disposal, including the long-term health and safety of workers, affected communities, particularly First Nations Peoples, and the environment.” (p159)

    “FINDING 9: Those who propose a policy shift have not presented any argument, data or proof in support of their position that cannot be nullified by those arguing against. Any advantages are speculative in nature, and do not outweigh the identified and proven risks.” (p159)

    “FINDING 10: The nuclear medicine industry is not hindered significantly by the current prohibitions against uranium or thorium exploration and mining. Current legislative prohibitions only prohibit mining and the construction or operation of certain nuclear facilities, such as nuclear reactors. This does exclude Victoria from hosting a nuclear research reactor or other nuclear facilities which could be used to increase supply of radioisotopes for medical or industrial purposes. The Committee notes that if Victoria did seek to establish a research reactor, Victorian and Commonwealth prohibitions would need to be repealed to allow this to happen. Therefore, a repeal of just Victorian legislation would not be sufficient to expand
    our involvement in nuclear medicine beyond what is currently permissible.” (p196)

    “FINDING 11: The current market for this material is receiving enough supply from international import and the OPAL reactor at Lucas Heights. The Committee does not believe that fully repealing the Nuclear Activities (Prohibitions) Act 1983 would have a material influence on the nuclear medicine sector, as it is unlikely Victoria’s involvement would increase beyond its current capacity.” (p197)

    “FINDING 12: The Committee is not convinced that thorium exploration and mining is economically or technologically viable.” (p198)

    It seems to me the MCA is living in an alternate reality.

    Despite all the overwhelming evidence presented and findings made, it seems to me some of the committee members have refused to accept it. The minority reports included:

    1) Jeff Bourman, MLC – Eastern Victoria (Shooters, Fishers & Farmers Party):

    “Recommendation 1
    That an investigation into exactly what restrictions would need to be relaxed to ensure that a
    business case can be raised, be conducted as soon as possible and a report be prepared and
    presented to the Parliament of Victoria for consideration.” (p230)

    2) David Limbrick MP – VIC Member for South Eastern Metropolitan (Liberal Democrats);
    Beverley Macarthur MP – VIC Member for Western Victoria (Liberal Party);
    Dr Matthew Bach MP – VIC Member for Eastern Metropolitan (Liberal Party):

    “Recommendation 1: Repeal the Nuclear Activities (Prohibitions) Act 1983.

    Recommendation 2: Continue to work with federal and state counterparts to follow developments in nuclear technologies.

    Recommendation 3: Government should make representations to COAG Energy Council for AEMO to consider the addition of nuclear modelling into the Integrated System Plan.”

    3) Nina Taylor, MLC – Southern Metropolitan (ALP):

    “(1) investigate the potential for Victoria to contribute to global low carbon dioxide energy production through enabling exploration and production of uranium and thorium;

    (2) identify economic, environmental and social benefits for Victoria, including those related to medicine, scientific research, exploration and mining;

    (3) identify opportunities for Victoria to participate in the nuclear fuel cycle; and

    (4) identify any barriers to participation, including limitations caused by federal or local laws and regulations.”

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