Peter Brohier*, Retired Australian Lawyer Activist and Lobbyist. First published April 30
01.05.16 4:15 am
On the 28th of April 2016, the Prime Minister’s office confirmed that the Federal Government is not considering further changes to the operation of the Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme (BSPVES). Also, it was meeting that day with the Tasmanian Government to discuss a joint approach to Tasmania’s economic future and that the Tasmanian Government have not raised the BSPVES as an issue or priority. The Federal Government is currently running a media campaign demonstrating the importance of the billions spent on national infrastructure. Road and rail are covered. Ferries are not. This year is the 20th anniversary of a major federal scheme that was aimed at delivering a national highway connection to and from Tasmania, using ferries. The attached opinion piece demonstrates the failure of this scheme and its social, economic and national implications. This issue is timely, of national importance and involves four Prime Ministers. The matter has currently reached the Prime Minister’s office …
John Lawrence, http://tasfintalk.blogspot.com.au/ Pic* First published April 28
30.04.16 5:00 am
The big danger in the aftermath of the Basslink debacle is the search for someone to blame will divert attention from finding the best solution.
The pattern has been replicated with Tas Networks. Between them they have enough debt to choke a hippopotamus and are not ideally placed for the future. We will no doubt be reminded at Budget time how the general government is free of debt. That unfortunately masks the reality of the broader government sector. The model of regulated competition is designed for private rent seekers to own and operate infrastructure. When government mimic their private colleagues the result is the mess that confronts us …
• Mike Bolan in Comments: Excellent work from J.L. again that opens the curtains on our fiscal situation. Why we need such a byzantine system of accounts is anyone’s guess but deception has got to be a high probability …
• Luigi in Comments: … This government has learnt nothing from this crisis. It’s therefore arguably incapable of learning anything ever …
• Mercury: Aurora Energy flags price hikes if fees are cut STATE-owned power retailer Aurora Energy has flagged price rises if its allowances to cover bad debts and retail market competition – despite being non-existent for residential customers – are cut. And the company has questioned its ability to remain sustainable should competition eventuate and its customer-paid allowances be reduced to about $26 million, as proposed by the economic regulator …
• Luigi in Comments: … Aurora will have been told it has to step up to the mark to replace the Hydro as a dividend payer to our pathetic, wasteful government.
• ABC: Tasmania’s energy crisis: Hydro hires extra media help to answer questions Tasmania’s state-owned power company has spent thousands of dollars on temporary media and communications staff during the state’s ongoing energy crisis. Right to Information documents obtained by the ABC show Hydro Tasmania spent almost $3,500 in March on extra staff to help answer questions as it grappled with low dam levels and the continuing Bass Strait power cable outage.
Kim Peart. Graphic* First published April 30
30.04.16 4:00 am
As Australia grinds into the longest election campaign in history, we may feel like convicts at sea on an endless voyage to Van Diemen’s Land.
Christopher Nagle, writing.com . Pic* First published April 30
30.04.16 3:45 am
In my last article ( HERE ) on the phenomenon of Donald Trump, I introduced the idea that his rather crude attacks on liberals and liberalism reflect a very widespread dissatisfaction with the status quo, of which liberal ‘Establishments’ are very much an integral part.
Anton Clever* First published April 30
30.04.16 3:34 am
Dear Chilliwops, About two thousand years ago the Greek philosopher, Epictetus, said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
30.04.16 3:00 am
Warning: This article may contain traces of satire. Only one skyscraper in history has ever collapsed completely due to fire. Fires are fairly common in skyscrapers but even the worst fires usually leave the building’s supporting structure intact. The four recent skyscraper fires in Dubai were spectacular but the buildings have all been repaired and reopened. Several floors of Moscow’s half-completed Federation Tower East blazed in 2012, but construction resumed in 2014.
• The Independent: Saudi Arabia, 9/11, and the secret papers that could ignite a diplomatic war Twenty-eight secret pages of a report locked away in a room in the Capitol in Washington lie in the centre of a crisis between America and Saudi Arabia which threatens to have severe and widespread repercussions. The US Congress is considering legislation which would enable the families of victims of the September 11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia, presented by the West as its most valuable ally in the Middle East, over alleged links with al-Qaeda terrorists who carried out the attacks on New York and Washington. The issue had cast a long shadow over the recent visit of President Barack Obama to Riyadh, with the Saudis threatening to sell off $750bn of American assets they hold if the bill is passed by Congress …
Elizabeth Fleetwood* Pic* First published April 25
29.04.16 4:29 am
I recently attended, along with several hundred others, the Bill McKibben lecture on climate change at the University, thinking that I would learn something useful from such a distinguished scholar, world-renowned author and journalist on global warming, tireless activist, founder of 350.org, and winner of the Gandhi Peace Prize ( TT HERE ).
• Mike Bolan in Comments: Excellent material ... but what to do? Here are a few thoughts ... There is a lot that we can do, the first of which is to try to protect ourselves so that we are in a better position to help others …
• John Coombes in Comments: One of the best articles ever on TT. That a bunch of serious-minded, intelligent people can devote their time to reading and discussing such a gloomy topic is cause for celebration, if not for optimism. There may be some cause for optimism in recalling the way that nations of the free world, in response to the outbreak of WW2, completely and rapidly reorganised their economies and societies to deal with the very real threat to their existence. It wasn’t pretty (“blood, toil, tears and sweat”) but it worked.
• ABC: CSIRO to set up climate research centre in Hobart The CSIRO has announced it will establish a national climate research centre based in Hobart, which will employ 40 full-time scientists. The research centre aims to guarantee Hobart as a climate research hub for the next decade …
• ABC: Leading scientists urge UK newspaper The Times to improve ‘sub-standard’ climate reporting Some of the world’s most eminent scientists have written to the editor of UK newspaper The Times to complain about its coverage of climate science. They suggest the newspaper may be unduly influenced by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which, despite its name, denies humans are causing climate change. Baron John Krebs, a highly decorated biologist is behind the push, writing that the newspaper has become a “laughing stock” for publishing poor quality science …
John Martinkus. Pic: of Peter Dutton from his website ...
29.04.16 3:26 am
In Australia, we thought we had found a “solution” to asylum seekers with our own tropical concentration camp on Manus. Not so, says that country’s Supreme Court. Freelance journalist John Martinkus reports.
Kelly O’Shanassy, Australian Conservation Foundation
29.04.16 3:20 am
Even as Australia’s most eminent Reef scientists lament the worst ever outbreak of bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef – the Queensland government has granted a mining licence for Adani to dig Australia’s biggest ever coal mine.
John Martinkus, Crikey. Pic: by Stephen Dupont. First published April 27
29.04.16 3:15 am
Since Australian troops left, Afghanistan has become even more dangerous, writes former foreign correspondent John Martinkus. … The reason I had got back in touch with Bilal and Aleem was to write a story about Uruzgan, about how Australia’s 15-year involvement in that war in that country had meant something. It was Anzac Day. That was the hook to write about this. What did it mean? Forty-one dead Australians, more than 280 wounded, mainly securing the province of Uruzgan, in Afghanistan’s south. I first went to that province in 2006 in a local taxi …
ABC. Pic* First published April 26
28.04.16 5:15 am
THURSDAY April 28 ...
WEDNESDAY April 27 ...
• Brisbanetimes: Punitive, immoral and now illegal: the verdict on Manus Island The PNG Supreme Court has given Malcolm Turnbull cover to do the right thing and, not a moment too soon, end the inhumanity of indefinite detention of vulnerable and damaged people on Manus Island. His administration was not part of these proceedings but, with the PNG government, it has been found guilty of a flagrant violation of the most fundamental right enshrined in the PNG constitution – the right to liberty. Both governments have been ordered to “take all steps necessary to cease and prevent the continued unconstitutional and illegal detention of the asylum seekers” and the ongoing breach of their human rights. Both will now be scrambling to find some way to circumvent the decision and continue a policy that seeks to deter boat arrivals by subjecting those who have already come to ongoing punishment, harm and misery.
TUESDAY April 26 ...
Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court has ruled Australia’s detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island is illegal.
• Bob Hawkins in Comments: On Monday, Australia remembered the ANZACs. On Tuesday, yet again displaying our modern-day cowardice, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, in his best bull-dog pose — reacting to the PNG Supreme Court’s decision to declare detention of asylum seekers illegal — asserted that Canberra’s immigration policy would not change. And, as if to doubly confirm Australia’s gutlessness, he declared the court’s decision was a problem for PNG to sort. It is to our lasting shame that Australians are still enthusiastically commemorating the bravery of Gallipoli yet miserably failing to manifest the same courage and humanity that earned us that reputation. Hypocrisy? We’ve got lots of it.
ABC. Pic: Gregor Salmon, ABC. First published April 28
28.04.16 4:25 am
Hundreds of people are expected to attend a memorial service honouring victims of the Port Arthur massacre, 20 years to the day since 35 innocent people were gunned down.
• Paul Carter for the BBC in Hobart: The town of Port Arthur wants to forget killer Martin Bryant … Tasmania Times news website editor Lindsay Tuffin said Tasmanians wanted Bryant excised from memory. “There is no doubt that they do not want to even ponder it,” he said. “They just wish he never existed.” … Hobart Mercury editor Matt Deighton said local media approached the topic in a completely different way to mainland publications. “It’s as sensitive an issue as I’ve experienced in 26 years of journalism,” he said …
EARLIER on Tasmanian Times ...
28.04.16 4:23 am
Norfolk Island People for Democracy Limited (NIPD) spokesperson Andre Nobbs Media Release First pub: April 28
28.04.16 4:00 am
A throng of Norfolk Islanders have occupied the island’s former Parliament grounds on the eve of the 227th Anniversary of the mutiny on the Bounty - the most fabled event in the island’s history.
Joe Brewer*, medium.com Pic*
26.04.16 4:30 am
It can be very confusing to know that you won’t find a decent job, pay off student loans or put in a down payment on a house in the next few years — even though you may have graduated from a top-tier university or secured glowing references from all those unpaid internships that got you to where you are today.
ABC. Pic: Supplied. Diesel pic: Ellen Coulter ABC. First pub: April 19
26.04.16 4:15 am
TUESDAY April 26 ...
• Tasmania Talks with Brian Carlton: Investigating Tasmania’s power crisis, includes the comparative Widget (and it’s a great site) ... • HERE is the REneweconomy site where there is a fascinating comparison with power use in other states ...
• Luigi in Comments: And the latest water energy in storage figure has been released: 12.8% and falling, down from 13.4% last week. There will be a fair bit of breast-beating about this. It’s a biggish drop and reflects an increase in energy use with the onset of colder weather, the very late start-up of the rent-a-diesels, continued poor rainfalls (no surprise!), and unforeseen maintenance needs at Tamar Valley Power Station.
WEDNESDAY April 20 ...
• Nick Clark, Mercury: Basslink risks raised by Hydro Tasmania committee before failure
ONLY days before Basslink crashed, Hydro Tasmania’s risk management committee questioned whether the organisation had appropriately assessed the “catastrophic” risk of an extended outage, right-to-information documents show. The committee, led by prominent economist Saul Eslake, met on December 15 — five days before the December 20 Basslink outage. “The committee questioned whether the risk relating to an unplanned outage of Basslink for 60 days or longer was appropriately assessed in light of Tasmania’s increased reliance on importing electricity from Victoria,” the committee’s minutes show. “[Redacted name] advised that Hydro Tasmania was adequately positioned to respond to Basslink being unavailable past 60 days … ” More HERE
TUESDAY April 19 ...
• ABC: Diesel spilled next to Hydro emergency generators …
Hydro Tasmania has blamed human error for a 500-litre diesel spill at its Meadowbank hydro-electric power station in the Central Highlands.
EARLIER on Tasmanian Times ...
• Luigi in Comments HERE: An update on gas and diesel generators: * The rent-a-diesels are now producing 80% of the 100MW which was promised by 30th March. But I’m sure 100% of it is “installed”, which is Matthew’s favoured weasel-word. 20% of it is just not producing anything. * The three Pratt & Whitney open cycle gas turbines at Tamar Valley Power Station - which should produce 105MW - also merit mention. They have been running at about 50% capacity for over a month, but are now down to 33%. I wonder if we’ll be told why. And I also wonder if the costs of operation of the entire Tamar Valley Power Station, which had been decommissioned in readiness for sale, will be added to Peter Gutwein’s “cost disclosure” agenda along with the rent-a-diesels. Or must we be content with partial disclosure?
• Get with the Widget HERE or HERE on REneweconomy where there is a fascinating comparison to other states. REneweconomy has fascinating stories on the next industrial revolution ... majoring this week on battery storage ...
• Saul Eslake in Comments: “Luigi” appears to be insinuating that I, or someone else on the Hydro Board, encouraged Nick Clark to make a ‘Right to Information’ request for the minutes of the December meeting of Hydro’s Board Risk Management Committee. To the best of my knowledge, that insinuation is utterly false. The first I heard that Mr Clark had a copy of this document was when he rang me, on Tuesday afternoon, asking for my comments on it. That’s the only reason I said anything about the matter at all - since it’s not part of my job description as a member of the Hydro Board to act as a spokesperson for Hydro Tasmania. Nor, as “Peter” suggests, am I “trying to wriggle out” of my responsibilities as a member of the Hydro Board. As Hydro’s CEO has said previously, Hydro Tasmania accepts that as a government owned enterprise, it is perfectly legitimate for its activities and performance to be subject to public scrutiny. The Board will respond appropriately to the two inquires into the circumstances leading up to the current energy supply situation, when it is called upon to do so. There is nothing in the law relating to the responsibilities of directors which obliges individual directors to respond to media queries, or to anonymous or pseudonymous internet posts.
• Greg James in Comments HERE: Do you wonder, ever wonder about the lack of change with the Hodgman government. Same old same old, they could reform but are just hamstrung by inertia and entropy. The bureaucracy will beat them Everytime. Imagine a reactionary Police force having to deal with this or policy changes, the work needed, the imagination and just exposing themselves to explaining themselves. Hodgman had 8 years as opposition leader, preparing himself for leading this state into change; instead we have impending water and electrical chaos, a severely damaged health system and institutional private monopolies creating havoc in poor communities with poker machines. It’s just so spineless.
Bob Burton. Pic* First published April 18
26.04.16 4:05 am
The Tasmanian Liberal Party is refusing to disclose the origin and nature of over $56,000 worth of ‘gifts-in-kind’ it has received over the last six years.
• Funding and Disclosure Inc. ( HERE ) in Comments: Thanks, Bob, for your valuable contribution … he who pays the Piper calls the tune …
• ABC: Arthur Sinodinos to be called before inquiry into political donations Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos will be required to appear before a new federal parliamentary inquiry into political donations. The inquiry into donations and associated entities will be established following a successful Labor motion in the Senate, passed by the Upper House this evening. … It follows a report issued by the NSW Electoral Commission last month, in which it announced it was withholding more than $4 million in public funding from the NSW division of the Liberal Party, unless it disclosed the identity of donors pushing funds through the party’s fundraising body.
• Tim Thorne in Comments: If the unions mentioned in comment #7 are “lawless” why have they not been prosecuted under present legislation? Why the need to bring in the ABCC bill in order to prosecute them, unless as an admission that activities the government doesn’t approve of are actually perfectly legal? As a result of the Hayden Royal Commission, at great expense, the grand sum of three individuals have so far faced the courts. All have been acquitted. A vote against Damien Mantach’s and Erich Abetz’s party on July 2 will be a vote in the direction of reason, transparency and equity. Of course, electing a Shorten ALP government in itself is no automatic solution to any problem. Extra-parliamentary pressure will still be needed.
• Jake in Comments: In my own view, small donations should be exempt. A small businessperson, or a public servant, or anyone, who donates $100 to a campaign, has no reasonable expectation of undue access to government, and should not be inhibited from contributing to public discourse with some anonymity and freedom from rancour. Also, I don’t think we should demonise political finance. Competing for public office is bloody expensive, and good candidates need support, which is probably often beyond their own means or their preference to feed their families. It is the transparency thing.
Jose Ramos Horta*, Brisbane Times. Pic: of Jose Ramos Horta
26.04.16 4:00 am
The maritime border dispute between Timor-Leste (East Timor) and Australia dates back at least to the 1960s.
Andrew Wilkie, Independent MP for Denison Media Release
26.04.16 4:00 am
It’s good news CSIRO is establishing a new long-term climate change research centre in Hobart, says the Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie.
• MR in Comments: CSIRO job cuts cannot proceed
Leunig ... used with permission ... http://www.leunig.com.au/ First published April 24
26.04.16 3:45 am
Ramona Koval, The Saturday Paper. Pic: ABC of Gillian Triggs. First published April 24
26.04.16 3:30 am
The SATURDAY PAPER provides one free read a week ... Take your pick ...
• ‘I knew I could have destroyed them’ In an Abbott government attack Gillian Triggs was very publicly upbraided in a senate estimates hearing last year. But despite the battering, the Human Rights Commission president has vowed to stay true to her cause.
Lindsay Tuffin. First published April 24
26.04.16 3:15 am
ABC journalist Michael Atkin was named Journalist of the Year at the Tasmanian Media Awards 2016. Tasmanian Times Bob Burton was a finalist in the Best News Story category with three of his articles on political donations to the Tasmanian Liberal Party and the lack of enforcement of political donations law for political donors.
Geoffrey Robertson* First published April 23
26.04.16 3:05 am
Where in the world is “God Save the Queen” a revolutionary call to arms? In Norfolk Island, whose 2,200 citizens – half of them descended from Fletcher Christian’s HMS Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian partners – are resisting the forcible recolonisation of their homeland by Australia.
• Mike Bolan in Comments: Local peoples have no right to self-determination in Australia’s ‘democracy’, nor do they have the right to live in a manner which they prefer. Only the government has rights and they have the right to decide for everyone else. That’s not a right earned as a result of successful decisions, policies or practices. No, it’s a right that they have declared for themselves, like the declaration of terra nullius for Australia. Australian government copies the British Imperial overlords - they deem, they rule and they decide. Democracy and the idea of each determining their own destiny is nowhere in it. Only power and privilege to governments and responsibilities and compliance for the people. A horrible shock for Norfolk Island to have their rights of self determination taken away in the 21st century.
Dr Baljit Singh
26.04.16 3:00 am
They too used to diagnose
They too used to suggest
The only difference
There are more cars
Leading to pollution
This too is accordingly
Trevor Burdon* First published April 21
24.04.16 6:00 am
Thank you Peter Whish-Wilson for your pre-eminent role in calling the Senate inquiries into Financial Services and MIS Schemes ( TT HERE ). Tens of thousands of investors and all taxpayers should not have to accept the amoral behaviour of financial professionals and their institutions any longer.
• Mercury: Former Australian Greens leader Bob Brown calls for ban on autumn Forestry burns PARTS of Tasmania have recorded worse air pollution readings than London and Los Angeles as autumn regeneration, hazard reduction and private burn-offs blanketed parts of the state in thick haze during the past 48 hours. … In New Norfolk, the air quality index for particulate matter 10 micrometers or less in diameter, known as PM10, peaked at 117 in the 48 hours to 4pm yesterday, while in Huonville the index reached 52.
• John Hayward in Comments: The Mercury underplayed Tassie’s stature, with the ABC reporting this morning that the pollution levels in the Derwent Valley matched those in the notorious parts of India and China. Tasmania’s “green” brand may need an asterisk explaining that it refers to the gills of residents. And this is after FT claimed that it has a zero net contribution to climate change emissions.
• Share (Cradle) with the World ...
Ben Johnston President, Hobart Northern Suburbs Rail Action Group Media Release
24.04.16 4:35 am
Rail Action Group writes to Prime Minister Hobart’s Rail Action Group has released its second Fact Sheet illustrating capital costs for various infrastructure projects around greater Hobart. The Action Group’s President Ben Johnston says, “without question, passenger rail gives the ‘best bang for infrastructure buck’ since we already have a rail corridor, which parallels corridors of traffic!”
Chris Clarke, Examiner
23.04.16 6:40 am
TASMANIA Police will conduct “further inquiries” into allegations of corruption in the former state government’s Fox Taskforce.
Kym Goodes, CEO TasCOSS Media Release. Pic: Brett Whiteley in parliament
23.04.16 6:35 am
Following Brett Whiteley’s attack on Tasmanian youth, single mums and other battlers today ( Advocate HERE ), TasCOSS calls on all Tasmanian politicians and candidates to show leadership and take a respectful stance on social issues while campaigning during the long election race ahead.
… “I believe Tasmanians are heartily sick of politics that turns our communities and neighbours against each other as if their lack of opportunity, rather than a lack of strong leadership, is to blame,” Ms Goodes said. “If that sort of divisive politics is how this campaign starts, the next 10 weeks will do nothing to improve Federal leadership in our State.
Geoffrey Swan, Lonnavale. First published April 16
23.04.16 6:33 am
Sue Clark, Principal/Director of TPR Property Group decided to say her piece in this week’s Huon News, page 8, Wednesday April 13th 2016.
EARLIER on Tasmanian Times ...
• Geoffrey Swan: It’s an exciting time to be a local council ... … Given this information, I have suggested to Council there is an immediate and urgent opportunity to investigate their legal and opportunistic options to increase the Huon Valley’s much-needed revenue stream. Based on the charge of $360 per megalitre, this equates to an annual fee to the Huon Aquaculture Company of $3,416,400 and a fee to the Snowy Range Hatchery of $2,759,400 per annum. And let us remember that HAC floated in November 2014 for around $430 million – which makes $3m+ little more than spare change in the bottom drawer. … Based on these two rivers alone, not counting the other rivers where aquaculture companies are taking huge amounts of fresh water, this is a staggering $6,175,800 per annum. It would certainly ease the pain of the $4m dollars lost by the Huon Valley Council during the global financial crisis and would greatly assist our local Community …
… Heard from GM of 101.7FM today ... apparently at the instigation of the GM following my letter of complaint Newell apologised on radio on Wednesday.. I have requested an audio file and/or transcript. Stay tuned.
• Sleepless in Franklin in Comments: #8 Been busy but (also having audio skills) finally had a chance to put the audio of “Huon Valley Residents chat with Mick” through a decent forensics tool (iZotope RX4). Yes, heavily edited, as it sounds. Of course it would have to be edited to a certain extent, but the question is how - and was there any intent to deceive or exaggerate using truncated or out-of-context responses. More thoughts on the edits later after a bit more work. Spectrograms show at least two (possibly more) different background signatures. IMO the first and last grabs have at least indoor (if not studio) ambience.
Fossil Free UTAS Spokesperson: Maggie Edwards Media Release. Pic* First pub: April 21
23.04.16 6:30 am
HOBART, 12.00pm, Thursday 21 April university students and members of Fossil Free UTAS join other university divestment groups to Flood the Campus.