Saturday, October 26, 2013

In King Coal's Kingdom - 360documentaries - ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

In King Coal's Kingdom - 360documentaries - ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

For many of us, the Hunter Valley conjures up a glass of Semillon or Shiraz. It might surprise you to learn that the Hunter is also one of the top thoroughbred horse breeding areas in the world, home to billion dollar investments from horse fanciers like Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai.
But the real ruler of the Hunter Valley is King Coal. Along with his fluoro soldiers he is marching up the Valley. Sixty-four per cent of the Upper Hunter is now under exploration licences for coal mining and winemakers, horse breeders, local residents and even some mine workers think the coal industry is out of control.


  1. Isabel Lucas honours the Kimberley

    She may be working with Hollywood hot shots Christian Bale, Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett but Aussie actress, environmental activist and the face of luxury WA jewellery label Linneys, Isabel Lucas, is keeping her feet firmly on the ground.

    The 28-year-old co-stars with the Oscar-winning trio in Knight of Cups, one of the most eagerly awaited cinematic releases of 2014 from acclaimed American auteur Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life, To the Wonder).

    The tightly guarded film is said to be about a man, temptations, celebrity and excess and shot in an improvised style, without a script.


    ..........Born in Melbourne to a Swiss mother and Australian father, Lucas enjoyed an itinerant childhood with stints in Cairns, Switzerland and Kakadu in the Northern Territory.

    It is this diverse upbringing which might help explain her strong sense of environmental and cultural awareness (she made headlines in 2007 by joining activists, including American actress Hayden Panettiere and prominent surfers, in a protest against dolphin hunting in Japan).

    It also led her to collaborate with Linneys on the recently shot WA campaign for its new Cote d'Azur collection valued at more than $2.5 million, and create a Kimberley-inspired bespoke piece - a South Sea Australian pearl and diamond pendant using textured 18ct rose gold - for a national online auction which launches next Friday with all proceeds going to Lucas' chosen charity, the World Wide Fund for Nature.


    "I was delighted to hear it was honouring the Kimberley region because I've been quite passionate about protesting against the gas hub that was proposed there and it really shocked and saddened me that it would be right in the middle of the largest humpback whale nursing and breeding ground in the world, not to mention being such a historical, sacred Aboriginal site," she says.

    "We have so much to learn from the wisdom of the people who have been here for thousands of years before us and just how important it is to care for what we have and treat it in a way that is going to be sustainable. You can't drive a car on an empty tank; it just won't continue. We need to let our conscience kick in and be guided by that."


    As for her burgeoning film career, Lucas is surging ahead with three other US films due for release next year - including a thriller alongside *Nick Jonas *- and an Australian production that has her tight-lipped on the details.
    "I can say I'm filming the movie in December in Sydney and I'm really excited but I'm not allowed to say what it is just yet," she says.

  2. Gorgon's Barrow land grab

    The Gorgon LNG joint venture partners are using 60 per cent more Barrow Island land than allocated by the WA Government, a revelation that highlights the struggle faced by Chevron and its partners in operating on the A-class nature reserve.

    Chevron confirmed yesterday it was using up to 175 hectares of already-cleared land on the island in addition to the 300ha footprint granted by the Government for Gorgon's construction.

    It is understood much of the additional land used by the Gorgon venture for lay-down and storage purposes is assigned to the Barrow Island Oil joint venture, which is also run by Chevron and has been in operation since 1967.

    Access to the oil joint venture land is on top of the 32ha of uncleared land Chevron has this week applied for approval to use.

    The Barrow Island Amendment Bill 2013, to expand Gorgon's footprint to 332ha, was introduced into Parliament on Wednesday and Government sources say its passage will be fast-tracked. It would allow Chevron to access more than 500ha of the island for Gorgon, or 67 per cent more than foreseen in 2009 when it and partners ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell signed off on the project's development.

    It is unclear if Gorgon's incursion on the oil joint venture is affecting the operation and profitability of what remains Australia's biggest onshore oil field.

    Since they were discovered in 1964, Barrow Island oil fields have produced more than 300 million barrels of oil and, according to Chevron, delivered $1 billion in revenue to the WA community.

    Santos, the only partner in the oil joint venture which does not have a stake in Gorgon, declined to comment, including to the question of whether it was receiving compensation from the Gorgon JV for agreeing to the land access.

    A Chevron spokesman said the 175ha of additional, cleared land being used for Gorgon purposes included the island's airport and existing roads.

    "The State Agreement expressly requires the Gorgon joint venturers to make provision as far as practicable for the use and sharing of services, facilities and infrastructure on Barrow Island to minimise environmental disturbance and the impact on conservation values on Barrow Island," he said.
    Industry insiders have always regarded the 300ha allowable footprint as too small. But they say Chevron, as Gorgon's operator, would have been mindful of the need to aim for the smallest possible footprint to convince the then-Labor government to approve the construction of Gorgon in the first place.

  3. UK universities urged to pull cash from fossil fuel giants

    Anti-carbon divestment campaign targets £5bn of British funds

    An international campaign to urge large institutions to dump fossil fuel investments reaches the UK this week, following rapid success in the US.

    The year-old divestment campaign, Fossil Free, has grown even faster than similar efforts that once targeted apartheid, tobacco and arms manufacturers. It now aims to focus attention on the £5bn invested in coal, oil and gas by the endowment funds of UK universities. The move comes as financial giants such as HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs are starting to take seriously the prospect that global action to reduce carbon emissions could leave two-thirds of the world's proven fossil fuel reserves unburnable and worthless.

    "The divestment campaign will start politically to bankrupt the fossil fuel industry and throw into stronger relief that it is a rogue industry, committed to burning more carbon than any government on Earth thinks it would be safe to burn," said Bill McKibben, a prominent US climate campaigner and figurehead of the Fossil Free campaign. "One reason we are losing the battle against climate change – the most important challenge humans have faced – is the power of the fossil fuel industry to block change," he told the Observer. "It is the richest industry in the history of human enterprise."

    The US campaign has already led to more than 40 institutions, including the city of Seattle, universities and churches, pulling out of fossil fuel investments. Addressing the political debate in the UK over rising energy bills, McKibben said: "England has been burning fossil fuels since James Watt: there is no way you get to transition [to low-carbon energy] for free. But as economist Lord Nicholas Stern has said over and over again, the cost of not doing it is orders of magnitude higher than doing it."

    Student divestment campaigns have sprung up at 20 UK universities, including the three with the largest investments: Cambridge, Oxford and Edinburgh. UK universities have more than £5bn – £2,000 per student – invested in fossil fuels, according to student group People & Planet and the campaign, which McKibben co-founded.

  4. Fighting the fuel giants for a fully renewable future

    Tackling the world’s most powerful corporations, whose interest it is to continue consuming fossil fuels, is a formidable but essential task

    Antony Loewenstein, Friday 25 October 2013

    The viability of a fossil fuel future is rarely connected to the human rights abuses required to sustain it. How often do we think about where oil and gas is obtained? Are the Europeans or Americans any more aware? This deliberate depoliticisation of our energy present, by the vast majority of politicians, journalists and self-described public intellectuals, is leading to an environment that is both unsustainable and dangerous for the planet.

    But don’t worry, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says climate change has nothing to do with bush fires. Move along. Remain relaxed, comfortable and consume skewers of chewy coal and grisly yellow cake with a touch of BBQ sauce.

    One might question why there is such resistance to transitioning to renewable energy and which entrenched interests are at stake.

    Buried in the heart of New York Times best-selling author Steve Coll’s 2012 book, Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power, are fascinating insights into one of the most powerful companies on the planet.

    Scientists working for the corporation examined ways that climate change could affect ocean and surface trends and allow the firm to source new oil and gas. “Don’t believe for a minute that ExxonMobil doesn’t think climate change is real,” a former manager tells the author. “They were using climate change as a source of insight into exploration.”

    By 2004 ExxonMobil, both internally and externally, were forecasting that there was little to no chance of a global response to warming temperatures in the coming decades. Former CEO Lee Raymond publicly dismissed the seriousness of the problem.

    ExxonMobil and Walmart trade spots year to year as America’s biggest company and this explains why both of them are so reluctant to do anything that they perceive to affect their bottom line. Acting on climate change was not a priority while continuing business as usual was so profitable.

    But Exxon wasn’t blind to the changing agenda. Coll succinctly outlines the dilemma faced by the company’s forecasters: “The issue here was not whether the world had the technologies to forswear oil; it was whether governments, panicked by climate change, would intervene to change price incentives to favour clean energy, knowing that such an intervention might curtail overall economic growth, at least for a time.”

    The truth remains that the free market will not solve the climate change problem. Hoping and presuming that a carbon tax or emissions trading scheme will ameliorate steadily worsening pollution, as too many Australians who should know better have claimed for years, is missing the point. With global energy markets currently in flux – witness the possible end to the domination of Arab hegemony and subsequent shift in Middle East geopolitics, thanks in part to America’s pushing of shale gas deposits – old assumptions are ripe for ditching.

    A new book, The Oil Road: Journeys from the Caspian Sea to the City of London, details the brutal realities of how comfortable Europeans consume without thought as to how the their cars are fueled. The multinational BP operates the main pipeline that goes through Georgia, Turkey and despotic Azerbaijan. This has become a key geostrategic struggle between Russia, China, Iran and America for domination of the energy market. A growing rift between Washington and Saudi Arabia, affectively known as a “protection racket” relationship, remains unpredictable.

  5. Fighting the fuel giants for a fully renewable future


    One of the master illusions of the modern age is how governments and the media so rarely discuss the ways in which our energy needs are sourced. It’s a problem that understandably angers the voiceless, including Indonesians in Aceh, suing Exxon for allegedly supporting Indonesian troops committing human rights abuses while protecting the highly lucrative natural gas pipeline and processing facility at Arun, a claim that Exxon denies.

    The debate in Australia over fossil fuels is staid and separated from a global debate. What happens here does affect the world, as environmentalist Bill McKibben correctly said on his recently sold-out tour of Australia in reference to mooted expanded coal plans in Queensland. Such plans literally threaten global temperatures.

    Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, when demanding Abbott approve massive coal expansion, simply said that he must be allowed to “take the state forward economically”. The miners’ lobbyists have done their work effectively. What should be discussed is the need not to burn fossil fuels and leave carbon in the ground forever.

    Research released in April by the Carbon Tracker Initiative and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics found that, “despite fossil fuel reserves already far exceeding the carbon budget to avoid global warming of more than 2°C, $674bn was spent last year finding and developing new potentially stranded assets. If this continues for the next decade, economies will see over $6tr in wasted capital.” Convincing companies such as Exxon not to exploit the resources under their control will take economic and political pressure.

    A campaign this month sees dozens of global investors, managing over $3tr of assets, writing to the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies asking them to assess, before annual shareholders meetings in 2014, how the real cost of changes in price and demand could affect their business plans. Craig Mackenzie, head of sustainability at Scottish Widows, one of Europe’s largest asset management firms, says that, “companies must plan properly for the risk of falling demand by stress-testing new investments to minimise the risk our clients’ capital is wasted on non-performing projects.”

    Embracing a fully renewable future isn’t a technological problem; it’s a political fix that will only come with a massive fight. Scandinavia is leading the world in examples of divesting from fossil fuel companies. Oxford University recently found that these campaigns are growing in strength globally. It must be considered in Australia, with the worst polluters facing financial pain – the only message they’ll understand – for continuing with business as usual. Rio Tinto, I’m looking at you (amongst others).

  6. Fighting the fuel giants for a fully renewable future


    Vast research has been undertaken in the last years that reveals the possibility of moving to a sustainable and cost-effective energy future. Clean energy reports are being issued constantly and the Greens party have provided a realistic roadmap.

    Even the World Bank, that bastion of neo-liberal “reform”, is warning about the dangers of a four-degrees warmer world, causing increased risk of natural disasters and sea-level rises. The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change rationally explains the dangers without immediate action. The United Nations Environment Program released a 2012 report that outlined the required cuts to global emissions to avoid catastrophic climate change in both the developed and developing world. Australia’s Beyond Zero Emissions have a zero carbon plan.

    Tackling the world’s most powerful corporations, whose interest it is to continue consuming and burning fossil fuels, will take nothing short of a soft revolution. I’ve long argued against climate activists who use cataclysmic language when discussing climate change; this alienates the vast bulk of a population that needs to believe in the importance of changing habits and mindsets. But this doesn’t mean that hoping and praying for polluting companies to realise they need to reform or die won’t take massive public pressure, divestment and new opportunities.

    Uncontrolled capitalism is sold as the best system to ensure global prosperity. In reality its strongest advocates, with help from its political and media mates, is ruining the chances of a healthy globe for all its citizens, not just the wealthy in the London, New York and Sydney bubble. Climate justice, for the silenced in our corporate media, is just the beginning.

  7. RIP Lou Reed

    Reed embodied New York cool and the downtown culture of the 1960s and ‘70s. His influence — first, with the seminal art-rock band the Velvet Underground (inducted into the Rock and Roll of Fame in 1996), and then in a series of solo albums — can not be underestimated.

    “The first Velvet Underground record sold 30,000 copies in the first five years,” producer and musician Brian Eno once said. “I think everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band!”

    Reed’s body of work defined rock and roll for generations, with his music imitated and idolized by bands played on the left and the right of the radio dial. It’s easy to draw a direct line from the music created by Reed and the Velvets in the ’60s to the punk, New Wave and alternative rock movements of the 1970s, ‘80s, ‘90s and the indie rock of today. Rock fans of all ilk are indebted to Reed for the music that fills their iPods and record players.

    While Reed’s legacy is most closely identified with the Velvet Underground, some of the music he created on his own in a series of diverse and brilliant albums were the equal of the Velvets and, occasionally, even better.

    From 1972′s David Bowie-produced Transformer through 1989′s New York, Reed knew how to craft a memorable song whether it was based on a melancholic melody or a hard-grinding edge. Even when an album was almost universally disliked, such as his 2011 collaboration with Metallica, Lulu, Reed knew how to get people talking about his music. At the time of his death, we take a look back at the legendary rocker’s best moments from The Velvet Underground and beyond.

  8. Calling a Spade a Spade - and a N***** a N*****

    The debate rages in Oz and the US



    .........Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said this week that our country needs to start “calling a spade a spade”.

    And that means his department will no longer be using the term ‘asylum seekers’ to refer to those who try and come to Australia by boat, fleeing persecution in their home countries.

    Instead, these people will be called ‘illegals’.

    Well, Minister Morrison, we think we’ll join you in this “calling a spade a spade” caper and say this:

    You sir, are wrong.

    As we all know too well, it is not illegal to seek asylum in Australia. Australia is a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention and that means refugees have a right to enter our country without authorisation for the purpose of seeking asylum.

    Our country’s signature on that document means that behaviour that would normally be ‘illegal’ is permitted. Permitted as in legal. As in, okay by us. As in, within the bounds of the law. As in, not ‘illegal’ at all.

    But Mr Morrison hasn’t just got it wrong legally, but also morally.


    The US.............

    ................A Republican who resigned Thursday after making a series of racist remarks on Wednesday's edition of "The Daily Show" is not backing down from those comments.

    North Carolina GOP precinct official Don Yelton participated in a segment on the state's controversial voter ID law -- legislation which he argued was not racist. He also criticized "lazy black people that want the government to give them everything."

    "Now you have a black person using the term, "N***** this and n***** that, and it's OK for them to do it," Yelton added.

    In a follow-up interview with on Friday, Yelton did not relent on language of that nature, standing by his assertions. When asked if his comments were racist, Yelton invoked the word that got him in trouble in the first place.

    “When a n***** can use the word n***** and it not be considered racist, that’s the utmost racism in the world, and it’s hypocrisy,” Yelton said.

    The Buncombe County Republican Party distanced itself from Yelton Thursday, calling his comments "offensive, uniformed, and unacceptable of any member within the Republican Party."


    Wonder what Lou would have said?


  9. Cheney still has his eyes on Iran..........

    Dick Cheney: Military Action In Iran Likely

    Military action in Iran is likely unavoidable, Dick Cheney said on Sunday.

    On ABC's 'This Week', host George Stephanopoulous asked Cheney about the effectiveness of diplomatic talks in Iran.

    "Is military action against Iran inevitable?" he said.

    "I have trouble seeing how we're going to achieve our objective short of that," Cheney said. "And I doubt very much that the diplomacy will be effective if there's not the prospect that, if diplomacy fails, that we will, in fact, resort to military force."

    Cheney has long taken a hardline stance against Iran. As Vice President, he repeatedly pushed President Bush to pursue military action. In 2011, he urged President Obama to strike Iran to recover a drone.


    Well there's a sh*tload of oil and gas in Iran - and let's call a spade a spade here - these "Rag*****" don't deserve it - Halliburton there.


    IF the Rag****** don't get it on then maybe the doggone Slo***
    and Ch**** will - son of a bit** !!! Damn !!!!


    The rhetoric between Asia's two superpowers is becoming more belligerent with China warning that if Japan carries out a threat to shoot down foreign drones, it would be an act of war.

    Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe has issued his own warning, saying Tokyo is prepared to be more assertive towards Beijing, while also telling China not to use force to try to change the regional balance of power.

    Over the weekend, Japan twice scrambled fighter jets to monitor Chinese military aircraft flying near Okinawa.

    Speaking at a military parade which looked very similar to the ones seen in North Korea, Mr Abe rallied Japanese troops.

    "Post-World War II, we have prospered and moved forward as a peaceful nation. This is something for us to be very proud of," Mr Abe said.

    "However, in order for us to continue protecting this peace into the future, we must be vigilant."


    G** dammit all to hell and back again !!!

    Makes me wanna open up a can of whupass !!!

  10. Now just to add fuel to the flames ..........

    Abbott has gone and called a Dick**** a Dick**** !!

    Disaster strikes Australian - US relations.

    ............Norman Ornstein, an author and political scientist with the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, said he ''winced'' when he read the interview in which Mr Abbott put the boot into the Rudd-Gillard government in unusually strong language for a foreign interview.

    ...........''Perhaps you can chalk it up to a rookie mistake. But it is a pretty big one.''

    Politicians around the world typically refrain from engaging in fierce domestic political argument when they are speaking to an overseas audience.

    Dr Ornstein, a resident scholar at the AEI - one of Washington's oldest think tanks - was one of Foreign Policy magazine's 100 ''top global thinkers'' in 2012.

    In the interview, Mr Abbott told The Washington Post that the former Labor government's conduct was ''a circus'' and was ''scandalously wasteful''.

    ''It was an embarrassing spectacle and I think Australians are relieved they are gone,'' he said.

    Asked about Labor's plan to extend fibre to every household under the national broadband network, Mr Abbott said: ''Welcome to the wonderful, wacko world of the former government.''


    Is Abbott a D******* ?

    Some may think so..........

    Leading economists have overwhelmingly rejected Tony Abbott's direct action climate change policy and backed carbon pricing.

    A Fairfax Media survey of 35 prominent university and business economists found only two believed direct action was the better way to limit Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. Thirty - or 86 per cent - favoured the existing carbon price scheme. Three rejected both schemes.

    Internationally renowned Australian economist Justin Wolfers, of the Washington-based Brookings Institution and the University of Michigan, said he was surprised that any economists would opt for direct action, under which the government will pay for emissions cuts by businesses and farmers from a budget worth $2.88 billion over four years.

    Professor Wolfers said direct action would involve more economic disruption but have a lesser environmental pay-off than an emissions trading scheme, under which big emitters must pay for their pollution.

    BT Financial's Dr Chris Caton said any economist who did not opt for emissions trading "should hand his degree back".

    Any economist who didn't opt for emissions trading "Should had his degree back: Chris Caton.
    Any economist who didn't opt for emissions trading "should hand his degree back", says Chris Caton. Photo: Tamara Voninski

    The survey comes as the Abbott government prepares to introduce legislation next month to repeal the carbon price scheme and as debate rages over whether climate change is linked to bushfires.

    Mr Abbott last week said he accepted climate change was real, but suggestions that it was linked to fires was "complete hogwash".

    In 2011, Mr Abbott took a swipe at some who had criticised the Coalition's scheme, saying "maybe that's a comment on the quality of our economists rather than on the merits of argument''.

    The extraordinary challenge of limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees - the level scientists consider necessary - was underlined by a new report by European consultants Ecofys that found Australia would have to cut emissions by at least 27 per cent by 2020 to play its part.

  11. Everyone engaged in the fracking debate is a Liar it seems......

    Fracking fears wrong: Marmion

    The State Government has thrown its full support behind the development of a fracking industry in WA despite environmental concerns about the use of the controversial technique to unlock billions of dollars worth of shale gas.

    Mining and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion gave the industry the strongest possible endorsement after a green group accused the Government of putting the Broome water supply at risk of contamination.

    Environs Kimberley raised the alarm after Goshawk Energy was issued a petroleum exploration permit for a vast area that includes the Broome water supply reserve and the site of a bitter protest over the James Price Point development.

    Mr Marmion said he was aware of community concerns about fracking and WA was working on the world's best regulatory standards.

    He said fracking provided a huge opportunity to create long-term jobs and economic activity, with significant commercial production just five to 10 years away.

    "I strongly believe we can achieve this without compromising the environment or safety," he said.

    Mr Marmion, a former environment minister, blasted sections of the environmental lobby for what he said were alarmist tactics and pseudo-science to argue against fracking.

    "They need to be honest and up-front about their real objective, it is not about fracking," he said. "It is to prevent natural gas becoming a major fuel source for the generation of energy as opposed to renewable energy."

    Initial estimates are that WA holds up to 280 trillion cubic feet of natural gas within shale and tight rocks - enough to supply the State for about 500 years. By comparison, the North West Shelf project operated by Woodside Petroleum has remaining reserves of about 17tcf.

    Environs Kimberley executive director Martin Pritchard said a town's water supply was not the right place to experiment with this risky technology. He called on Premier Colin Barnett to intervene.

    The group is also seeking a moratorium on fracking in the entire Canning Basin until "comprehensive, rigorous and independent research has been conducted into the processes and their impacts on people, water and the environment".

    "Fracking is a relatively new technology in Australia," Mr Pritchard said. "It is being rushed into operation without adequate safeguards."
    Mr Marmion said Environs Kimberley had lifted one line out of a 290-page report that also said: "The likelihood of properly injected fracturing liquid reaching sources of drinking water through fractures is remote where there is more than 600m separation between the drinking water sources and the producing zone."


    They can't all be wrong.

  12. What is going on down in Collie?


    Cash woes, jobs fears at embattled Griffin

    Serious concerns are emerging that embattled Collie coal miner Griffin could collapse amid losses worth millions of dollars a month and major problems with its Indian parent company.

    Financial records lodged with the Indian stock exchange by Lanco Infratech show Griffin Coal lost almost $18 million in the three months to June 30 as revenue slumped on the previous quarter.

    The results are the latest bad news to hit the company, which has been spurned by aggrieved suppliers and bogged down in legal disputes with groups, including the Australian Taxation Office, over unpaid bills.

    They also raise fresh doubts over the security of Perth's electricity supplies going into summer given the strategic importance of Griffin coal.

    Griffin provides coal to the Japanese-owned Bluewaters power station, which supplies about 10 per cent of the electricity entering the South West grid.

    In a sign of its escalating troubles, Griffin's mine manager Graham Cleggett was shown the door last week.

    David Trench, Griffin's general manager of project development and corporate relations, acknowledged the miner had been losing money since it was bought in 2010 from the vestiges of Ric Stowe's collapsed business empire.

    But Mr Trench denied suggestions Griffin's workforce, which he said numbered about 450, needed to be dramatically pared back to bring costs closer into line with revenue.

    He insisted the miner's fortunes could be turned around in several ways, starting with an interim plan to ship coal in boxes to Asia through Bunbury by February. He said the move could generate up to $80 million a year.

    Longer term, he said, Griffin wanted to push ahead with bulk exports out of Bunbury, though he conceded this would be expensive and could take years.

    "Is it tough, absolutely," he said. "It's a tough business. The interim exports are critical and it has to happen because it's a simple process.

    "The only pathway to survival is to look for alternate markets, which is overseas.

    "But we've got more than one iron in the fire and my job is to make sure we've got options."

    Adding to Griffin's woes are the growing troubles at Lanco, which is trying to refinance billions of dollars in debt but has reportedly failed to pay hundreds of its staff for up to four months.

    Collie Labor MP Mick Murray said Griffin's situation was increasingly weighing on the town as people worried about the job prospects of staff employed at the mine.

    Mr Murray also said rumours were rife that Griffin was frequently unable to pay its invoices and that many suppliers, including some local small businesses, were refusing to deal with it.
    "At the moment they're virtually running the mine on cash on demand," Mr Murray said.

  13. Bigger carbon cuts needed, report says

    The gap between climate change commitments and what scientists say is necessary is underlined in a new report that estimates Australia would need to make emissions cuts of at least 27 per cent by 2020 and 82 per cent cut by 2030 to play its part in averting global warming.

    The report by European consultancy Ecofys comes as the Climate Change Authority prepares to release draft recommendations this week on how much and how quickly Australia should be cutting emissions.

    The authority, chaired by former Reserve Bank governor Bernie Fraser, will release the report despite the new Coalition government having pledged to abolish it as part of its dismantling of most Labor-period climate change policy.

    Economists such as Ross Garnaut and Frank Jotzo have recommended to the authority that Australia's 2020 greenhouse target should be strengthened from the minimum 5 per cent cut backed by both main parties to more than 15 per cent, based on assessments of what other countries are doing.

    The Ecofys report, commissioned by environmental group World Wildlife Fund, finds that Australia has already emitted at least two-thirds of what it could reasonably ever emit under a global ''carbon budget'' - the maximum emissions that can be released in coming decades to give the world a chance to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees.

    If emissions remain at their current level, Australia's estimated long-term budget of 18 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide would be used up in about a decade.

    It estimates Australia would need to cut emissions by between 27 and 34 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020, and between 82 and 100 per cent by 2030. By 2050 it is likely Australia would be expected to have zero emissions and to be drawing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

    WWF Australia's Kellie Caught said the country had nearly blown its carbon budget and should make at least a 25 per cent cut - the top end of the range backed by the Coalition and Labor - if it was serious about tackling the problem.

    ''Just as we need a stable plan for our economic bottom line, we also need a stable long-term approach to our carbon budget,'' she said.

    The Climate Change Authority is taking a different approach to Ecofys to assessing what Australia's climate target should be. While the consultants looked just at Australia's share of the cut needed, the authority recommendation is based on an assessment of climate science, what other countries have promised to do and the economic and social implications of the proposed cut.

    The authority will call for public submissions before making its final recommendation in February, if it survives that long

  14. Economists remain convinced carbon tax or ETS is the way forward

    Years of bitter political combat over climate change policy has left the economics profession unmoved.

    The crowd most attuned to free markets is least attuned to the free market solution

    Despite Prime Minister Tony Abbott's plans to rid Australia of what he calls the "toxic" carbon tax, the poll by Fairfax Media shows there is near-unanimity among economists that a market-based solution, such as a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme, is the best policy option to reduce carbon pollution. This echoes similar surveys taken in past years.

    Economists are convinced that carbon pricing will yield the greatest environmental bang-for-buck at the lowest economic cost.

    Justin Wolfers, an Australian professor at the University of Michigan, says: "Abbott's plan doesn't effectively harness market forces; it relies instead on the government handing out cheques.

    ''One problem is that we'll end up subsidising a lot of abatement that would have occurred anyway. Another is that the plan imposes extra costs because it uses scarce tax dollars … All told, Direct Action involves more economic disruption for less of an environmental payoff."

    Melbourne University professor John Freebairn said he favoured a carbon price because it encouraged millions of businesses and households to shift their production and consumption choices to lower pollution, lower price alternatives.

    Under the Direct Action plan, however, the government will have to choose just some of the millions of different possible ways to reduce pollution while households and businesses will "receive no signals or incentives to change their decisions".

    The apparent ideological role reversals evident in Australian climate change policy also caught the attention of the economists surveyed. Some expressed surprise at the prominent role bureaucrats will have in the Direct Action plan.

    "The crowd most attuned to free markets is least attuned to the free market solution. It's a rather odd contradiction," AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver said.

    Professor Wolfers said there was an odd irony in Australian climate change politics.

    "Historically, it was left-wing parties that were in favour of direct government intervention, while right-wing parties were suspicious that governments could pick winners, and so they preferred to rely on market forces. At least these were the old political dividing lines.

    ''Over time, the left has learned to harness market forces to meet their policy goals. What's happening on the right is that Abbott is confounding pro-market policies with pro-business policies. Pro-market policies are about using market pressures to enlarge our economic pie; pro-business policies are about grabbing a bigger slice of that pie for friends in the business community."

    The overwhelming support for carbon pricing among the independent economists surveyed by Fairfax Media raises an intriguing question: how many policy experts inside government still prefer carbon pricing to Abbott's alternative?

  15. Electricity industry must open its eyes to benefits of homes installing solar panels

    Solar panels are revolutionising the Australian electricity market. The pace of change is faster than official projections, and the effects on customers and energy companies are profound and irreversible.

    Australian homes and businesses have installed almost three gigawatts of rooftop solar photovoltaics - one of the highest rates in the world.

    Solar panels have moved from being a fringe technology to a disruptive technology, challenging the way energy businesses operate. As with every revolution, the solar revolution is facing a reactionary response by the established order.

    Last week the body charged with the development and maintenance of the national electricity market, the Australian Energy Market Commission, set out its priorities for developing the electricity market.

    One sentence in the report grabbed my attention in particular: "Stakeholders are concerned that network costs of consumers with solar are cross-subsidised by other consumers, due to current inefficiencies in network tariffs.''

    In other words, energy companies want households with solar panels to pay more to access the electricity grid than customers without solar. The idea is that because electricity pricing reflects the total volume of energy taken from the grid, households generating some energy are not paying their fair share of the cost of being connected to the network, and should therefore compensate those who buy more electricity.

    This is a really bad idea. First, it is unfair. In the past few years, more than 1 million households have installed solar panels on the understanding that they would pay the same amount for electricity they buy as everyone else.

    Second, it is discriminatory. Solar panel users are not the only electricity customers having an impact on the electricity grid. The installation of cheap, imported airconditioning units in hundreds of thousands of households in recent years is a big contributor to the rise in capital spending by networks to enable them to meet peak demand.

    However, I cannot imagine anyone seriously arguing that households with airconditioners should pay more network costs than other customers.

    So, why is solar energy being targeted? Perhaps because solar-powered households buy less electricity than non-solar households with airconditioning?

    While solar might disrupt the way in which the electricity grid operates, rooftop solar in the right locations can actually help to defray network upgrades by supplying energy in constrained areas of the grid to meet demand spikes. The hot, sunny weather that induces people to buy airconditioning also generates lots of photovoltaic electricity.

    A strategic approach to solar panels can lessen the need to bolster the grid, the main contributor to higher electricity prices.

    Finally, the idea of slugging solar households for extra network costs is bad politics. Already 1 million households have solar panels and the government plans to support installation for another million.

    Rather than seeking to target and penalise households that are taking advantage of renewable energy technology to lower their bills and environmental impact, it is time for energy businesses to change their thinking to embrace innovation, rather than thinking up ways to stop it.

  16. Lou Reed Dirty Blvd.

    Pedro lives out of the Wilshire Hotel
    he looks out a window without glass
    The walls are made of cardboard, newspapers on his feet
    his father beats him 'cause he's too tired to beg

    He's got 9 brothers and sisters
    they're brought up on their knees
    it's hard to run when a coat hanger beats you on the thighs
    Pedro dreams of being older and killing the old man
    but that's a slim chance he's going to the boulevard

    He's going to end up, on the dirty boulevard
    he's going out, to the dirty boulevard
    He's going down, to the dirty boulevard

    This room cost 2,000 dollars a month
    you can believe it man it's true
    somewhere a landlord's laughing till he wets his pants
    No one here dreams of being a doctor or a lawyer or anything
    they dream of dealing on the dirty boulevard

    Give me your hungry, your tired your poor I'll piss on 'em
    that's what the Statue of Bigotry says
    Your poor huddled masses, let's club 'em to death
    and get it over with and just dump 'em on the boulevard

    Get to end up, on the dirty boulevard
    going out, to the dirty boulevard
    He's going down, on the dirty boulevard
    going out

    Outside it's a bright night
    there's an opera at Lincoln Center
    movie stars arrive by limousine
    The klieg lights shoot up over the skyline of Manhattan
    but the lights are out on the Mean Streets

    A small kid stands by the Lincoln Tunnel
    he's selling plastic roses for a buck
    The traffic's backed up to 39th street
    the TV whores are calling the cops out for a suck

    And back at the Wilshire, Pedro sits there dreaming
    he's found a book on magic in a garbage can
    He looks at the pictures and stares at the cracked ceiling
    "At the count of 3" he says, "I hope I can disappear"

    And fly fly away, from this dirty boulevard
    I want to fly, from dirty boulevard
    I want to fly, from dirty boulevard
    I want to fly-fly-fly-fly, from dirty boulevard

    I want to fly away
    I want to fly
    Fly, fly away
    I want to fly
    Fly-fly away (Fly a-)
    fly-fly-fly (-way, ooohhh...)
    Fly-fly away (I want to fly-fly away)
    fly away (I want to fly, wow-woh, no, fly away)

  17. Lou Reed Satellite Of Love

    Satellite's gone
    up to the skies
    Thing like that drive me
    out of my mind

    I watched it for a little while
    I like to watch things on TV

    Satellite of love
    satellite of love
    Satellite of love
    satellite of

    Satellite's gone
    way up to Mars
    Soon it will be filled
    with parking cars

    I watch it for a little while
    I love to watch things on TV

    Satellite of love
    satellite of love
    Satellite of love
    satellite of

    I've been told that you've been bold
    with Harry, Mark and John
    Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday to Thursday
    with Harry, Mark and John

    Satellite's gone
    up to the skies
    Thing like that drive me
    out of my mind

    I watched it for a little while
    I love to watch things on TV

    Satellite of love
    satellite of love
    Satellite of love
    satellite of

    Satellite of love
    Satellite of love
    Satellite of love
    Satellite of love
    Satellite of love
    Satellite of love