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Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Tea Party - Anarchists try out a new label

What anarchists see, and what anarchists don't see, when it comes to government services, regulations and taxes.

Anarchists try out a new label - "The Tea Party"

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The tragedy of short-sighted LNP Governments

Menzies era 'lost a lead in technology'

The Menzies' Government was responsible for Australia's dependency on imported computer technology, according to the Federal Opposition spokesman on science and technology, Mr Barry Jones.

He said that government made a "conscious political decision not to develop" an Australian computer industry.

Mr Jones made the comments to delegates attending the Institute of Engineers' conference on computers, held in Melbourne last week.

“The tragedy was that short-sightedness by the Menzies' Government (stopped Australia) . . . from taking a leading role in the development of the computer industry," he said.

"Even worse, it has forced Australia into total dependence on overseas computer suppliers, mostly from the United States and Japan."

To make his point, Mr Jones cited import figures: "Australia spends $13.60 on computer imports for every dollar spent locally.

"The next greatest imbalance between imports and local production is in Spain; the equivalent of $5.90 for every dollar."

He warned that even Britain, so often written off in high technology areas, still managed to strike an even balance

And the pity of it all, he said, was that in the 1940s Australia was a pioneer in computer hardware.

"'Australia produced one of the earliest first-generation computers, originally called CSIRO Mark 1 Automatic Computer, and later renamed CSIRAC.

"It was probably the fourth or fifth stored-programme computer in the world."

CSIRAC was designed in 1947 by Maston Beard and Trevor Pearcey, who worked in the CSIRO's radiophysics division in Sydney.

Mr Jones accused the computer industry of preoccupying itself with gadgetry, without thinking about the consequences.

"Your 'gee-whiz' enthusiasm for the hardware produced by your industry is infectious, but you ought to devote a few moments of thought . . . to these questions: Who are the beneficiaries? Who pays the social price?"

He blamed technologists for being more preoccupied with the medium, than the message.

"I would like to think that you purveyors of information technology were interested in information for its own sake; for ideas and concepts which are the substance of the Western intellectual tradition . . . rather than the technology.

"I see no evidence that you are.

And Mr Jones berated them, adding: "Where are the thinkers among you?"

He warned that the control of information technology could divide society into two groups: the "information rich", who would take an active role in dominating the business world, and the "information poor", those who played a passive programmed role. "Australia already has the heaviest concentration of media ownership of any Western nation," Mr Jones said.

"And after the ABC is dismembered, this concentration will grow even tighter."

And apart from the attendant stress induced by the "knowledge explosion" — the inability to keep up with it all — there was little indication that this knowledge was filtering through all sectors of society.

An education study tabled last year, revealed that 49 per cent of 15-year-olds in NSW had a reading comprehension level below the competence "required for a fully literate adult life."

"The possession of a large data base is no guarantee that the quality of public understanding, debate or decision making will be any better," Mr Jones said.

Finally, he warned the engineers that a pre-occupation with the present — in the sense that only the latest information was relevant, and that old data may be misleading — was emotionally destructive.

This attitude disrupted our personal sense of history, damaging both our individual and collective view of life.

Source: The Age, Tuesday 8 September 1981, page 37

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Missing Environment Minister Greg Hunt's article - "Government Steals 24.5 million in Solar Hot Water Money"

The following is an article Greg Hunt linked to in a tweet on 29 February 2012.
At the time it was at url ""
The following copy was retrieved on 20 August 2014 from
url ""

The Prime Minister must explain whether she has been willing to sacrifice the solar hot water industry in desperate attempt to deliver a budget surplus.

The industry is in shock, workers' jobs are now at risk and families considering installing a solar hot water system have been abandoned.
The Prime Minister has today been caught out in Question Time.

The Prime Minister told the Australian Parliament that the solar hot water scheme was due to end on 30 June this year.

This is plainly untrue.

The Portfolio Additional Estimates for the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency released by the Minister this month make it absolutely clear that the Prime Minister's statement was false.

At Page 26, of the Estimates under Program 1.2 Improving Australia's Energy Efficiency, there is a clear provision of $24.5 million for the Solar Hot Water Initiative for the financial year 2012-13.

This contradicts the Government's supposed justification for scrapping the scheme because it had run out of money.

Either there has been complete incompetence in the management of the scheme or the government is not being honest with the Australian people and has stolen the money out of the solar hot water scheme to prop up its budget.

The Prime Minister must explain whether she has been willing to sacrifice the solar hot water industry in desperate attempt to deliver a budget surplus.

Labor suddenly shut down the scheme last night after the shop doors had closed, to prevent any further claims for the solar hot water rebate.

The industry is in shock, workers' jobs are now at risk and families considering installing a solar hot water system have been abandoned.

This follows the same appalling pattern of behaviour when the government similarly wound up rebates for solar panels, pink batts, cash for clunkers and green loans.

Labor appears more interested in the photo opportunities and launches for campaigns, but completely incompetent when it comes to delivering the programs.

Solar hot water is a real and practical way that families can reduce their greenhouse emissions and cut their power bills ahead of the Carbon Tax on 1 July.

It shows the contradiction of the Government which is happy to slug families with a Carbon Tax but takes away a valuable solar program.

The Coalition is committed to the solar industry and as part of its Direct Action Plan has a one million solar roofs policy including the installation of solar hot water systems.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt backflips on solar

Backflip: Greg Hunt Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Sunday, August 17, 2014

High priced natural gas from bargain priced coal

GreatPoint Energy produces clean, low cost natural gas from coal, petroleum coke, and biomass utilizing its bluegas™ catalytic hydromethanation process.

Carbon plus water producing methane plus carbon dioxide
Carbon plus water producing methane plus carbon dioxide
GreatPoint Energy's coal gasification technology appeals to China because it allows them to keep using cheap domestic coal, but in a much cleaner manner.

In 2012, GreatPoint announced a $1.25 billion deal to build the first of 34 coal gasification plants in a remote, coal-rich part of China.

The total project will cost an estimated $20 - 25 billion and will supply one trillion cubic feet of natural gas a year.

This represents a massive leap in the scale of domestic production for China, which last year produced only 107 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

The deal includes an equity investment of $420 million, the largest ever by a Chinese corporation into a venture-capital-funded U.S. company.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Maurice Newman caught changing the facts

Maurice Newman is the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s most senior economic advisor.

Tony Abbott appointed him to chair the government's Business Advisory Council.

In an article published by The Australian today Maurice Newman misquotes a research paper in a blatant attack on climate science.

We’re ill-prepared if the iceman cometh

What if the warmth the world has enjoyed for the past 50 years [emphasis added] is the result of solar activity, not man-made CO2?

In a letter to the editor of Astronomy & Astrophysics, IG Usoskin et al produced the “first fully ­adjustment-free physical reconstruction of solar activity”. They found that during the past 3000 years the modern grand maxima, which occurred between 1959 and 2009 [emphasis added], was a rare event both in magnitude and duration. This research adds to growing evidence that climate change is determined by the sun, not humans.

Maurice Newman's statement that the warmth the world has "enjoyed" (sic) for the past 50 years is coincidentally the same period climate science has in its sights. A NASA web page "How Do We Know The Climate is Changing?" says of this period that "Earth has warmed twice as fast in the last 50 years as in the 50 years before that."

Maurice Newman claims a letter to the editor of Astronomy & Astrophysics found a record of solar activity had a grand maxima which occurred between 1959 and 2009 was a rare event both in magnitude and duration.

This is not correct.

The "evidence" Maurice Newman incorrectly quotes actually refers to a 60 year period of high solar activity that began in 1950 and NOT in 1959.

Maurice Newman's error that happens to show a 50 year period for unusually high solar activity - 1959 to 2009 - is more likely to be deliberate rather than his inattention to detail.

Maurice Newman undoubtedly wanted to avoid trying to explain his theory that "the warmth of the earth" from 1959 is the result of solar activity and yet this solar activity did not produce warming from 1950 to 1959.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Reviewing a renewable energy target

The Abbott Government recently announced a review of Australia's Renewable Energy Target.

A briefing paper contains a mind-boggling fact:
Coal in Australia is worth about $1.50 per gigajoule.
Natural gas is worth about $9.00 per gigajoule.
See -
RET Review
Modelling assumptions workshop ACIL Allen Consulting
Stakeholder workshop
Presenters: Paul Hyslop / Owen Kelp / Guy Dundas
Date: 23 April 2014
  1. Why burn coal when it can be increased six-fold in value by converting it to natural gas?
  2. Why drill coal seam gas wells all over the place when you can make natural gas from coal worth about one-sixth of the value of natural gas?
The ACIL Allen Consulting figures under-estimate the cost of coal. This biases the RET review in favour of coal.

The estimate of $2 per gigajoule of thermal coal in NSW (about 25 gigajoules per tonne) requires a price of just $50 per tonne. The current price of NSW thermal coal however is closer to $80 per tonne or $3.20 per gigajoule.

Gas and coal prices

Natural gas and coal prices used in 2013 emissions projections work

ACIL Allen Consulting, Electricity Sector Emissions:
Modelling of the Australian Electricity Generation Sector, September 2013

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pitiful sob story by head of World Coal Association

Milton Catelin, Chief Executive of the World Coal Association, told Power Engineering International that leaders are wrong not to give more consideration to investment in clean coal technology.
Power Engineering international
Catelin went on to claim -
“We don’t ‘push’ particular clean coal technologies over others.”

“Coal refining could remove other impurities such as mercury and sulphur,” he added. “However, the best earliest action on mitigation that could be undertaken now with off-the-shelf technology would be to raise the global average efficiency at coal power plants from their current 34 per cent to 40 per cent.”
Milton Catelin pleads for world leaders to give coal another chance
Milton Catelin pleads for world leaders to give coal another chance

In reality the coal industry had its chance to develop clean coal as a viable energy resource, and, upon realising that this would reduce demand for coal, turned its back on it.

The head of the World Coal Association is now pushing a pathetic case for coal power plants that achieve only 40 per cent thermal efficiency, feeling safe in the belief that political leaders are so stupid they will throw good money into smoky power plants spewing toxic chemicals into the air and that waste most of the coal poured into their furnaces.