Labor in office: time to take stock
The Spectator, 28 September 2023
The Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Energy Minister were supposedly somewhat trained as economists, but all three fail to grasp the discipline’s basic principles.
Energy Minister Bowen claims that his renewables program will create 60,000 jobs by replacing ‘legacy’ coal plants with wind and solar facilities plus the increase in power lines and batteries that replacement will entail.
While increases in jobs (and/or income levels) may result from the services stemming from government spending, Mr Bowen’s numbers refer to the gross jobs involved in the construction activities ..... Read online .....pdf
The Spectator, 17 September 2023
Manipulated estimates of Levelised Cost of Energy tables showing wind and solar to be the cheapest supplies of energy are contradicted by the trends on actual electricity costs and inter-country comparisons.
The readily available data by country for the wind and solar renewables share and price of electricity show a high share of renewables is concomitant with high electricity costs. The cheapest electricity is found in the nations with the lowest renewable energy share: Saudi Arabia, Russia, India, UAE and Korea. Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy have high prices and high renewables shares. ..... Read online .....pdf
The RBA’s Cock and Bullock Climate Myth
Quadrant Online, 8 September 2023
In recent years, getting promoted to the most senior ranks of the bureaucracy has been conditional upon the candidate being either immersed in the ruling polity’s ideology or proving willing to subordinate “frank and fearless” advice to political pragmatism. Those climbing to the top in economic or environmental policy areas have had to assure their political masters they are on board with human-induced catastrophic climate change and that wind/solar (and the hydrogen fantasy) are the only antidotes.
Michele Bullock showed this in titling her first speech as governor-designate as, “Climate change and central banks”. Her previous public statements made no mention of the issue. These included this before the Senate and this in June (when she had her hat in the ring), ..... Read online
Spinning the myth of Global Warming for corporate gain
The Spectator, 25 August 2023
Although in 2011, the Commonwealth Budget papers compiled all the measures that were being implemented to foster renewable energy, that assembly ceased, presumably, because it was recognised as being antipathetic to the notion that wind and solar were cheaper than the fossil fuels that they were destined to supplant.
The myth of human-induced global warming has always been a mixture of scientific chicanery and businesses, seeking to leverage a competitive advantage over their rivals.
For scientists – at least those in the public sector – global warming provided the opportunity to be listened to by politicians and the public, to attend international gatherings, and be shown the respect they felt was previously lacking. ..... Read online .....pdf
The onset of bankruptcy: from green to red
The Spectator, 13 August 2023
CSIRO'S GenCost analysis, which gives cover to Ministerial actions to replace coal and gas with wind and solar, has been revealed as a series of factoids that make wind and solar energy appear cheap because the infrastructure required to transport it, the storage required to firm it and its subsidies are all just assumed to be costlessly in place.
here are also growing grassroots concerns about the collateral land use and environmental damage to rural and suburban communities from the wind and solar farms and their associated transmission lines.
Energy Minister Chris Bowen has plans to increase regulatory imposts on energy and extend them to Industry, the Built Environment, Agriculture and Land, Transport, and Resources. ..... Read online .....pdf
Global Boiling: Net Zero hysteria catches fire while Greens meltdown
The Spectator, 3 August 2023
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has declared ‘the era of global boiling has arrived’. Australia’s Teals and Greens no doubt eagerly grasped at the ‘terrifying’ words.
Greens Senator Nick McKim went into a state of peak catastrophism when he said, ‘Shut your mouth! People are dying because of … sociopaths like you.’ It was a comment directed toward Matt Canavan. He was swiftly asked to withdraw the remarks. ‘I withdraw, and I’m not going to cop interjections from sociopaths like Senator Canavan. I will not cop it and I won’t…’
The $10 billion cabal of renewable subsidies killing coal
The Spectator, 24 July 2023
A t this time, the attack on fossil fuels, particularly coal, is at a crescendo. In North America with the dishonestly named Inflation Reduction Act and the European Union with its Green Deal, key government institutions are doubling their efforts to subsidise renewable energy and force the closure of coal.
In Australia, we are seeing similar trends spearheaded by Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen, a man whose political conceit is only exceeded by his apparent incompetence in the role. Bowen was the man who, as Immigration Minister in the Gillard government, announced that stopping boats bringing illegal immigrants to Australia was impossible. He remained unchastened when the Abbott ..... Read online ..... pdf
Treasury’s Warmists Chill the Prospects for Growth
Quadrant Online, 18 July 2023
W e have seen big government and woke financiers working hand in glove over recent years to advance the cause of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG). Superannuation funds have been increasingly orientating their investments towards ESG. The governance part involves avoiding firms with boards and senior executives containing too many white males and, therefore, inadequate ‘diversity’. The environmental and social parts once meant avoiding firms in the defence and tobacco industries, but the pariahs in our modern woke world are avoiding hydrocarbons – coal, gas, and oil.
When the Bank of England released its support package for firms facing difficulties due to the Ukraine war, it insisted that firms ..... Read online
Why Dutton needs coal not renewables or nuclear
The Spectator, 8 July 2023
Y esterday, Opposition leader Peter Dutton called for Australia to embrace nuclear power to secure a clean, cost-effective, consistent electricity supply.
Dutton is right to be concerned that the government’s policy of replacing coal-fired plants with renewables will end in a disastrous shortage of power.
Dutton’s proposal is to replace coal-fired plants with small modular reactors that are on the drawing board in the US, UK, and elsewhere. By locating the new nuclear reactors in existing coal-fired plants, they can tap into existing transmission lines.
The failure of forced transition despite public lust for green energy
The Spectator, 1 July 2023
T hroughout history, interactions of supply and demand have driven ‘transitions’ – think horses to cars and trains; whale oil to paraffin; transistors, resistors, capacitors to microchips. Uniquely, the much-flaunted energy transition from coal, oil, and gas to wind and solar and perhaps to green hydrogen is politically propelled, resting on a supposed link of climate change from burning hydrocarbons.
In Australia, as in the US with its so-called Inflation Reduction Act and the EU with its European Green Plan, expelling hydrocarbons from the energy supply has become the central dimension of politics itself.
Jumpin’ Jack Flash: gas joins the ‘lexicon of evil’
The Spectator, 26 June 2023
I n 1990, at the dawn of climate alarmism, it was welcomed as a bridge to the zero-carbon fantasy that was to avert a fruitless search for a ‘Planet B’ – billed as the only alternative to decarbonising. Per unit of energy, gas, after all, has only half the carbon dioxide emissions of coal.
But a political Group-Think by all major Western leaders (post-Trump) favours net neutral emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases between 2030 and 2050. This has raised the ambition of the leading cadres and is impacting on politicians. New vistas for closing off the use of hydrocarbons are being probed. Gas has become no longer half-way acceptable. ..... Read online ..... pdf
World Bank woes
The Spectator, 19 June 2023
T he World Bank has a great cosmopolitan air to its name – not like one of those parochial institutions like the US Federal Reserve or the European Central Bank. This is the world organisation.
However, the World Bank turns out to be just another Woke UN institution. Its original rationale was to provide long-term loans to foster infrastructure in third-world countries. Water, energy, and health were major disbursement areas.
Nowadays any energy funding would exclude hydrocarbons. Indeed ‘sustainable development’ and ‘transition’ are key objectives – both are, of course, code for replacing fossil fuels with renewables. Nuclear is excised from the Bank’s vocabulary. ..... Read online ..... pdf
Slowing down environmental craziness
Spectator, 10 June 2023
P ressure to replace controllable and low-cost coal and gas with an intermittent and high-cost wind and solar alternative continues, but there are increasing signs of unease with this policy. Some of this may stem from a growing recognition of the implausibility of the government’s claims that the ‘transition’ to wind and solar will be both smooth and cost less when finished.
For many, a compromise that will give a secure electricity supply without carbon emissions is nuclear. This, though far more expensive than coal as a source of electricity, is safe and, being controllable, is cheaper than wind and solar.
The Rise and Riches of the Rentrepreneurs
Quadrant Online, 5 June 2023
C WP Renewables Pty Ltd presents as a story of successful entrepreneurship for which its owners have been rewarded with fantastic profits. But that outcome has been accompanied by a huge cost to the community.
The company, established in 2007, has been mainly involved in wind farm developments with giant Swiss holding company Partners Group, which also contributed a chunk of equity capital. Aside from some potential ‘blue sky‘ projects involving solar, wind and batteries, CWP’s main assets were five windfarms with 257 turbines erected between 2016 and 2020 at a cost of $1.72 billion. The turbines were financed by the Commonwealth’s CEFC green energy bank ($233 million), and Partners Group ..... Read online
Political and corporate defeatism
The Spectator, 26 May 2023
C harles Mackay’s 1841, titled Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds has enduringly served to refute claims of collective wisdom. He described events like Dutch tulip mania and the 1711-22 South Sea Bubble as frenzies of collective investment hysteria.
In the modern era, every decade or so we have seen more such investment delirium, including the build-up to the 1929 Wall Street crash with lesser events like the 1970s Poseidon mining boom/bust and the 2007 collapse of US leveraged housing funds.
In all cases, investment frenzies ramped up share prices to stratospheric levels. Lessons have not been learned. The next debacle will centre on
Upshots from politicians delivering more free stuff and regulations
The Spectator, 24 May 2023
T he forerunner of democracy – a post-medieval one-man-one-vote – was propelled by radicals seeking greater freedom of trade, speech, and religion in the face of vested interests and intolerance.
Building upon gains in these areas, radicals promoted greater equality – first of incomes (by compulsory takings from the better-off) and subsequently augmenting this with regulatory measures on economic activities. At a later stage, some special privileges were extended to previously disfavoured racial groups. In this latter respect, people, at least in Western nations, are probably more accepting of non-mainstream race, religious, and sexual preferences than in any previous era.
.... Read online ..... pdf
Recessions are bad news for super funds
The Spectator, 11 May 2023
T he Commonwealth budget surplus stems from the nation’s resource assets, and to a lesser degree its agricultural strengths. But, rather than fostering these advantages, Australian governments are focused on negating them.
For agriculture, this is seen in ever-mounting land-use restrictions and in the Commonwealth’s intent on stopping the live sheep and beef trade.
The resources industry faces even greater environmental-based curbs on new proposals.
Energy: drowning in subsidies
The Spectator, 6 May 2023
P aul Broad, the former head of Snowy Hydro, resigned amid, according to the Australian Financial Review, an escalation of tensions with Energy Minister Chris Bowen. Broad did not comment on his reasons for resigning. In a recent interview with 2GB, he said ‘it will take 80 years not 8’ to transition to renewables. He seems to claim we need this transition, but I do not believe we do. Most political leaders are deaf to such views, which swim against a tide of activist enmity and businesses searching for subsidies.
You can’t. And the truth is, we need this transition. If it ever occurs, it will take 80 years, not eight. So there’s massive changes need to occur. And I’m deeply concerned about the rush. The notion that somehow .... Read online ..... pdf
Australian productivity growth lowest in 60 years
The Spectator, 25 April 2023
L ast month the Productivity Commission (PC) revealed that Australian productivity growth on the decade to 2020 was the lowest in 60 years. Mining and agriculture were the most efficient sectors, though productivity gains in some services – like medicine and digital services – may be hidden because of improved quality.
To avoid antagonising the dominant political ideology, with masterly understatement, the PC opines, ‘…abatement efforts could, in many instances, increase the cost of production and could put downward pressure on measured productivity, at least in the short term.’ The PC makes stacks of recommendations for improvement, including some that could raise productivity by freeing up investment .... Read online ..... pdf
Two cheers for democracy!?
The Spectator, 19 April 2023
T wo cheers for democracy! So wrote E.M. Forster speaking for the Bloomsbury set, the affluent intellectuals who were the leading ‘Wokes’ of the 1930s. ‘Two cheers’ was a half-hearted acclamation of a political outcome that, at least in the England in which they lived, had neither delivered government shorn of Victorian traditionalism nor advanced sufficiently along a socialistic path.
The Bloomsbury set would be more pleased with ‘diversity equity inclusiveness’ slogans that have been adopted by today’s professional elites and become omnipresent in all but a handful of democracies and in nations where Islamic politics dominates. .... Read online ..... pdf
Australia’s ‘green energy’ chimera
The Spectator, 12 April 2023
T he government has asked the Joint Committee on Trade and Investment Growth to inquire into ‘Australia’s transition to a green energy superpower’. It wants ideas on how to accelerate growth in sectors covering renewable energy, batteries, electric vehicles, and so on.
The inquiry attracted 125 submissions. A few submissions, like that of the Australian Environment Foundation (AEF), pointed out that the proposal rests on the case for reducing human-induced emissions of carbon dioxide but that there is no scientific proof that this would have any significant effect on our climate. And, the non-Western world is not going down that same path, with the consequence that the de-carbonising economic suicide into which the West is sleepwalking, can .... Read online ..... pdf
The unsafe Safeguard Mechanism
The Spectator, 28 March 2023
A nd so, the Greens have joined the ALP in imposing additional carbon taxes on the top 215 greenhouse gas emitting firms. In passing the so-called Safeguard Mechanism, the voluntary program that the Coalition originally introduced is converted into a requirement on the nation’s top mining and industrial firms to reduce their emissions by 30 per cent by 2030. Those emissions are said to be 137 million tonnes a year. Their curtailment builds up to constitute 40 million tonnes a year. This is in addition to abatement measures already in place, which confer a subsidy on wind and solar, that has enabled those energy sources to displace a quarter of the supply formerly provided by coal.
Slow rolling crisis or banking wildfire?
The Spectator, 23 March 2023
The world’s leading funds manager, BlackRock, has argued the collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) may start a ‘slow rolling crisis’. This may be so but, at this point, bank share prices have stabilised (Chinese banks have even seen their share prices increase).
SVB was only sixteenth in terms of size within the United States. Yet it, and the smaller Signature Bank, were bailed out by the Biden Administration, ostensibly on the basis that their failure would cause contagion across the system. Perhaps, as many have conjectured, other factors, including SVB’s important role as a lender and bag-holder to the speculative tech industry, may have helped its path to salvation. ..... Read online ..... pdf
Silicon Valley Bank: doomed to fail?
The Spectator, 15 March 2023
The basic question to ask about the collapse of the $200 billion Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) is, why did it take so long for such a collapse to occur?
The root cause of the bankruptcy is the vast increase in US government spending, which, like that of other governments, was not accompanied by matching increases in taxation. Inevitably, the outcome of that is an increasing money supply monetary policy. And the corollary of that will always be an increase in inflation.
Australia: suffocated by regulation and raided by greedy politicians The Spectator, 8 March 2023
Gary Banks in The Australian notes how government regulatory measures are destroying our vital comparative advantage in energy supply and promoting inefficient labour relations practices, while spending splurges have brought no improvement in outcomes, especially in health and education.
Years of over-regulation and excessive spending have been pushed even higher by Labor. The Commonwealth Government has to maintain the momentum of carbon abatement by massive new regulatory impositions on the major carbon dioxide emitting firms and forcing consumers to fund new spending in the transmission lines for wind and solar.
..... Read online ..... pdf
Climate change: short on proof, drowning in nonsense
The Spectator, 27 February 2023
The environmentalist creed in context
Environmentalism, more particularly its prevalent global warming strain, dominates politics. It is the fourth such banner raised by the disgruntled that has conditioned politics since Medieval times.
Earlier eras saw politics underpinned by a struggle against government taxation which in the anglosphere can be marked by Magna Carta (1215), the English Civil War, and the American War of Independence. France experienced the ‘Fronde’ in 1648, which placed restraints on the king’s ability to levy new taxes, eventuating in the French Revolution a hundred and forty years later when the king was forced to convene a Parliament to seek ..... Read online ..... pdf
Is coal making a comeback? Australian mining’s uphill battle The Spectator, 19 February 2023
Coal supplies a quarter of the world’s energy, oil and gas account for a half, and renewables – in spite of vast subsidies everywhere they are built – comprise just 7 per cent.
While Germany is being ridiculed for re-opening coal mines, even tearing down a wind farm to do so, it is claiming this is only a temporary departure from its decarbonisation transition.
Such assurances are not being given by the fastest-growing developing nations.
Indeed, Bloomberg reports, regretfully, that coal is making a comeback
Climate ruminations: the markets reject Chalmers
The Spectator, 13 February 2023
Combatting the perceived incidence of global warming is driving government policies. In Australia this has been obvious for many years, but for the ALP it was clarified by the publication in the Monthly of the Treasurer’s philosophy on the need to remake capitalism. Jim Chalmers claims this is necessary because energy policy cannot be left to genuine market forces when we need to combat the effects on the Earth’s atmosphere by the combustion of fossil fuels.
That rests on the theoretic construct that a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere, which is likely to take place in the next 50 years, is causing about a 1 to 1.5°C warming and Australia, with 1 per cent of emissions, can be instrumental in stopping this. Most experts ..... Read online ..... pdf
"Chalming" no-one: Labor rommances communism
The Spectator, 29 January 2023
Jim Chalmers is proving to be the most iconoclastic Treasurer since the Whitlam government’s Jim Cairns, a man who only joined the Labor Party after his application to join the Communist Party was rejected. Cairns spearheaded a previous assault on conventional capitalist economic theory and, like Chalmers, sought to borrow, spend, and regulate the nation into prosperity with fairness. Both Chalmers and Cairns came into politics with doctorates in economic history – that of Chalmers was a hagiography of Paul Keating, whose policies he now wants to reverse.
Like Cairns, Chalmers faced a budget crisis but was unable or unwilling to make the expenditure reductions necessary to rectify this.
Energy chaos: the shape of things to come
The Spectator, 25 January 2023
Australian governments have made energy policies focused on achieving higher shares of renewable energy that they claim is the cheapest source of power. The Commonwealth government is planning for renewables to reach 82 per cent of supply by 2030, while the Liberal Party’s plan is for 85 per cent by 2050 and 61 per cent by 2030. State governments have additional plans. In pursuit of these goals, governments around Australia are being sucked into a vortex requiring ever-increasing controls, while seeing mounting cost increases.
Subsidies that amount to $6.9 billion per year have propelled wind and solar, which had virtually no market presence 20 years ago, to their current market share of 27 per cent. The CSIRO and other ..... Read online ..... pdf
Inquiry into Australia's transition to a green energy superpower
Submitted 22 November 2022
The inquiry seeks advice on how Australia can “transition to a green energy superpower”.
The Inquiry mentions a number of areas in respect to the “transition”, including:
• where trade and investment activities are already having a positive impact; and
• emerging and possible future trends.
It further seeks advice on how government agencies can assist in identifying opportunities and in assisting and subsidising new investment. It has particular interest in how activities can be assisted in areas the government has determined to be prospective. These, it says, include renewable energy, battery storage, energy supply and infrastructure, electric vehicle industry, infrastructure; advanced manufacturing, and services and technology.
The Australian Environment Foundation notes multiple failures where industries designated by governments as being highly prospective have received favourable treatment from tariffs or support through financial assistance. None have succeeded. Some of these have been in the areas now, with little supporting evidence, once again being re-affirmed as worthy of support. ..... Read the submission here
The Old Man’s Tale
by Viv Forbes
The council man was adamant:
“The Law must have its way,
The shed you built is not approved
It must come down today.”
“No doubt the shed is safe and strong
And no one has complained,
But plans and rules must bind us all
Or anarchy will reign.”
The old man clenched his horny hands,
He gripped the planner’s arm,
Then changed his mind and led him out
To look around the farm.
“You see that shed” the old man said,“With shingle roof and wattle wall,With no advice from coots like youMy Grandpa built it all.”
“He came out here from Birmingham
With no help from the Crown,
Without a passport or a card
He sailed to Sydney town.”
“He got himself a riding horse
Bought cows and found a dray,
But sought no travel permits
As he left for Moreton Bay.”
“There were no maps to guide him
Once he left the city blocks,
And flooding of the Richmond
Cost him half his mob of stock.”
“But when he got to Moreton Bay
A sickness swept the place,
So Grandpa saddled up again
To see a safer base.”
“For weeks he struggled northwards
Thru the bush and hostile blacks,
Until he reached a mighty stream
Which stopped him in his tracks.”
“The soil was deep and fertile
And the flats were green and lush,
So Grandad thought he’d squat a while
He had no need to rush.”
“He cleared the scrub and dug a well
And found himself a wife,
He brought her to that wattle shed
To start their married life.”
“Then rangers tried to take his land
(For squatters rights were spurned.)
My folks were forced to sell their stock
To buy the land they’d earned.”
“My Pa was born in that old shed
He worked to earn his land
‘Twas he who built the homestead
And no planner lent a hand.”
“The sweat of generations
Feeds parasites like you,
And now you tell us builders:
‘This shed will never do.’
“With subtlety and cunning
You have nibbled at our rights,
You’ve taxed away our substance
So now we cannot fight.”
“But this is where I draw the line
And I won’t be alone,
So if you try to smash my shed
I’ll fight for what I own.”
“So clear off or I’ll clout you
Do not bother us again,
Take all your forms and files and fees
And shove them up the drain.”
The planner started shouting
But old Nigger bit his leg.
He cleared the fence, and yelled a threat:
“When next I come you’ll beg.”
The wreckers came next morning
But the neighbours got there first.
They stood six deep across the gate
And bid them do their worst.
Before the planners could react
Before the police could call
The old man’s son, a barrister,
Restrained them with the law.
He quoted laws and precedents,
He combed the ancient books,
He tied the council up for months
In writs and counter suits.
By then there were elections
And the old man led a team;
They sent the planners packing
And restored the builder’s dreams.
Once more a man could build a shed
Without a planner’s chit
And no one could invade his home
Unless he had a writ.
The planner got an honest job
The red tape was undone,
The Old Man got a Knighthood
His mighty fight was won.
Collapse of the $35 billion Sun Cable
The Spectator, 16 January 2023
Last week saw the collapse of Sun Cable, a pie-in-the-sky $35 billion plan by alternative energy enthusiasts, Andrew Forrest and Mike Cannon-Brookes, to generate solar energy and transport it by cable 4,200 kilometres to Singapore. The taxpayer provided $14 million for the project’s solar system, Australian-developed 5B. But major spending, which amounted to $210 million before Andrew Forrest pulled the plug, came from the two entrepreneurs.
Last week also saw Energy Minister Chris Bowen release his consultation for the disarmingly named Powering the Regions Fund. A centrepiece of this was weaponising the ‘Safeguard Mechanism’ from the emission reporting requirement that the Coalition ..... Read online ..... pdf
The Spectator, 11 January 2023
Recent years have seen a strengthening dominance of politics over individual and commercial decision-making. This is readily evident in the growth of regulations and government spending increasing from under 20 per cent of the economy a century ago to around (and over) 50 per cent today.
Within democracies, these developments are due to electorates demanding income redistributions and tolerating increased national debt – oblivious to the adverse effects on their own future living standards. There are very few political leaders of stature like Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, Margaret Thatcher, or Donald Trump who seek to persuade voters of the folly of such demands. Most opt for. ..... Read online ..... pdf
Batteries not included
The Spectator, 29 December 2022
Renewable energy battery farms threaten to cripple the economy with cyclic costs
The replacement of fossil fuels (and nuclear) by wind and solar is said to be a ‘transition’ implying, like that from sail to steam and horse to motor power, that this is being inexorably pushed by consumers adopting a lower cost technology. In fact, the ‘transition’, wherever it is taking place, is due to government subsidies and regulations. Not one significant unit of wind or solar power generation anywhere in the world has been installed without such assistance
Chris Bowen’s rendezvous with bad ideas
The Spectator, 22 December 2022
Back in July 2022, Chris Bowen the Minister for Climate Change and Energy, launched the latest CSIRO electricity costs report which says wind and solar are the cheapest forms of electricity supply. He said, ‘This underlines the need for Australia and the world to invest heavily in renewable energy sources to put downward pressure on power prices.’
He continues to call for eliminating coal and gas in Australia, claiming this is necessary to prevent harmful climate change. Climate change was the focus of his September address to the American Australian Association. He said 80 years ago, ‘Curtin and Roosevelt had a rendezvous with destiny. Our job is to avoid a rendezvous with ..... Read online ..... pdf
Energy collapse: it all begins with a market cap
The Spectator, 14 December 2022
Thousands of years of experience – from the ancient Babylonians and Roman Emperor Diocletian, through to modern times – have demonstrated how price controls prevent the allocation of scarce goods to their most valuable uses, lower short-term production, and cause investment to seize up.
The inevitability of such outcomes is lost on Australia’s political class. Politicians, egged on by self-interested and socialists, are once more embracing price controls that were abandoned in the 1980s when the Hawke-Keating government accepted market prices stemming from supply and demand as the most efficient means of running the economy
ESG: climate virtue bleeding super dry
The Spectator, 7 December 2022
B usiness, where the profit motive is explicitly dominant and where the hundreds of millions of direct and indirect owners want to see it remain the crowned ruler, might be expected to reject spending that syphons off profits to political causes… And yet, nearly every firm funnels funding to politically acceptable causes, in the main involving those of a social and environmental nature.
Sometimes, pressured by governmental regulatory stances, like the soon-to-be mandatory reductions on the top Australian emitters, a growing number of firms also engage in expenditure that replace fossil fuel derived energy with more expensive wind and solar. Also important is the avoidance by superannuation fund managers of ..... Read online ..... pdf
Dan enters the pantheon of ‘great’ leaders
The Spectator, 28 November 2022
N ow the hurley burley’s done, and Dan Andrews is in the pantheon of the state’s great leaders, it’s time to see what Victorians voted for.
Like other electorates in the Western world, Victorians proved themselves to have a large appetite for government spending. The Lib-Nats joined Labor (and, of course the Greens) in proposing big increases in hand-outs. For Labor, these included subsidies for electricity, travel, kindergartens, and ‘infrastructure’.
But, reflecting voter preferences for free stuff, Labor was reticent in approving tax increases to cover these increases. These election gifts therefore (as did the Liberals’ offerings) add to the ..... Read online ..... pdf
Victoria’s looming energy disaster
The Spectator, 23 November 2022
A centrepiece of Victorian Premier Dan Andrews’ campaign is to renationalise Victoria’s privately owned electricity businesses. He claims that the private owners have scammed ‘$23 billion in profits off pensioners, families, and businesses’.
The state’s electricity assets, previously managed by the State Electricity Commission of Victoria (SECV) were sold under the Kennett government in the 1990s. Kennett inherited a near-bankrupt state.
Our retreat from rational economics
The Spectator, 16 November 2022
In today’s world, government spending accounts for up to and (in the EU) over 50 per cent of GDP – Australia’s at 38 per cent may be understated due to it being a federation. In the 1920s, no significant government spent more than 20 per cent of its nation’s GDP (federal spending in America and Australia was 4 per cent 6 per cent respectively).
Sovereign debt is now well in excess of 100 per cent of GDP in most EU countries, America, and Japan – Australia’s is 57 per cent. Until 100 years ago no state went into debt except to combat an existential crisis – indeed few states had the creditworthiness to do so.
Greta and her green-communism
The Spectator, 8 November 2022
Many breathed a sigh of relief when Greta Thunberg announced she was not going to attend COP 27 Climate Change meeting which is now underway at Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt. The COP process is a ‘greenwashing scam’, she explained.
It seemed that the girl, although not even having reached the age of 20, had already emerged from the catharsis of teenage simplistic idealism. Was she having doubts about promoting a goal of dubious worth at a cost that is unknown but without a scientific breakthrough is incalculably high? Seemingly so, and that corroborated the notion that at a coming of age (historically at 21), she reached a maturity society expects of each emerging generation to take balanced judgements ..... Read online ..... pdf
Andrews’ Leninist approach to power
The Spectator, 24 October 2022
Last week, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews paraded his inner Lenin. He attacked Victoria’s privately owned coal generation businesses, claiming that they have taken ‘$23 billion in profits off pensioners, families and businesses’ and announced that they must be effectively driven out of business by state-owned alternatives.
Those facilities were sold to the private sector during the 1990s.
Dirty dependency: superannuation and ESG
The Spectator, 21 October 2022
Condemning those who have glued themselves to roads to create chaos, the (now former) UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman hit out at ‘the Guardian-reading, tofu-eating, Wokerati anti-growth coalition’. Her indignation about the economic damage caused by climate radicals is warranted, but she said nothing about the economic harm stemming from the fund-manager/governmental institutional wing of the anti-coal climate alarmists, which uses the Environment Social and Governance (ESG) pastiche as cover for its control aspirations.
Dead-weight drowning productivity
The Spectator, 14 October 2022
Productivity growth is the key to income growth – we can’t have the latter without the former. A matter that has troubled many economists in the Western world during recent decades is a slowdown in productivity growth.
Australia is typical. Multi-factor productivity – the overall return on labour and capital inputs combined – has been growing at only 0.3 per cent per year in recent years, while the more commonly understood, labour productivity, has also seen growth at only 0.9 per cent a year. These are half the levels seen in the 1990s.
The price of environmental activism
The Spectator, 7 October 2022
The environment social and governance (ESG) movement commenced life over 100 years ago with wowser investors avoiding shares in brewers and distillers. Embargoes on the merchants of sin, with gambling and smoking joining alcohol, have long ceased to be the primary target. The sin is now hydrocarbon energy (particularly coal), with gas and oil as secondary prey. That other bête noir of green agitators, nuclear, is considered an additional activity to be avoided and divested.
With this agenda, ESG investors have come to dominate stock exchanges, and their funds expected to total $50 trillion by 2025 which is over one-third of total global stocks. ..... Read online ..... pdf
Argentina’s socialist demons are coming for the West
The Spectator, 26 September 2022
How did we arrive at the position where, throughout the Western world, political decisions to undermine the cheapest and most reliable energy sources are bringing about economic stagnation and possibly collapse?
Notwithstanding evidence of this, why are policy settings intensifying the very measures that have created the breakdown?
Europe is seeing record energy prices and the America’s renewable subsidy-oriented Inflation Reduction Act portends a following of suit.
The sharp decline since Paris
The Spectator, 14 September 2022
Returning from the 2015 Paris Agreement, former Clinton Energy chief Joe Romm, proclaimed:
‘You know, change happens slowly, until it happens quickly.’
He was talking about climate ‘guru’ Michael Mann declaring that the Paris Agreement signalled the end of ‘the age of fossil fuels’.
Of course, there was a major speed bump along that road in the form of Donald Trump, who commenced dismantling the subsidies and regulations that were forcing this rapid change in the world’s biggest economy. And, to the ridicule of the German UN delegation including its Foreign Minister, Trump presciently urged Germany to. ..... Read online ..... pdf
Transition teething problem or permanent disaster?
The Spectator, 27 August 2022
Politicians, regulators, and subsidy-seekers portray the present difficulties in the energy market as being part of the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy – and perhaps to more exotic forms of energy derived from extracting hydrogen from water.
They go on to claim that transitions always involve teething problem difficulties.
This is false.
Dangerous energy politics
The Spectator, 02 September 2022
Electricity has properties that require supply and demand to always balance every few seconds.
This means, firstly, that there has to be a considerable surplus of supply in order to cope with swings in demand. Secondly, a large share of supply (and/or demand) has to be capable of rapidly switching on and off.
There is probably no other area of the economy with such time-sensitive complexity and an array of different providers with vastly dissimilar cost profiles.
An Open Letter Concerning AEMO’s 2022 Integrated System Plan
By Dr James Taylor PhD
Independent Engineers and Scientists ..... Read here
A mild case of split portfolio disorder
The Spectator, 18 August 2022
As a one-time senior public servant, I find the debate over Scott Morrison’s supposed power seizure of separate ministries to be based on somewhat unrealistic depictions of the powers of individual ministers.
There are two issues in Prime Minister Morrison’s visits to the Governor-General. The first concerns the massive overreaction to Covid and the Prime Minister’s decision to formally appoint himself as several ministers as an insurance against his colleagues’ incapacitation and, astonishingly, doing so without informing those colleagues. The second was the insertion of himself as de facto Minister in the Department of Industry, Energy and Resources.
Labor’s Climate Bill is an economic precipice
The Spectator, 08 August 2022
In what The Australian called a ‘capitulation of the Greens’, the government’s Climate Bill has passed the House of Representatives. Its passage through the Senate is a formality.
With the Bill’s central requirement being that greenhouse gas emissions fall by 43 per cent (from the 2005 base), it amplifies the 28-30 per cent formal reduction level set by the previous Coalition government. In pursuit of decarbonisation to combat a mythical ‘climate crisis’, the Bill is designed to stymie the use of coal and gas. In doing so, it will increase the costs of mining, manufacturing, and other services; it will also increase costs in the farming sector – including by diverting the use of productive agricultural land into a carbon sink. ..... Read online ..... pdf
Wrecking a Nation One Electricity Bill at a Time
Quadrant Online, 29 July 2022
The first thing to recognise is that for many years now governments — Labor and Coalition alike — have been hard at work destroying the low-cost electricity market that Australian businesses and consumers once enjoyed . The second thing to note is that there is an actual undertone of energy realism — yes, really! –about the Albanese government, but it is no portend of good news: “You’ll know what we’re up against when your electricity bill arrives,” the Treasurer said on Thursday (July 28). That would be the bill we were assured during election season would fall by $275 once Labor waved its magic wand.
We can see the degeneration of Australia’s electricity security graphically presented in the chart below which tracks July electricity ..... Read online
Politicians destroy nuclear when the world needs it most
The Spectator, 25 July 2022
Human advancement has rested on harnessing increasingly dense sources of energy from non-human origins. Animal power, burning wood, wind technology, and water power were crucial in allowing early civilisations to develop.
The Industrial Revolution that gave humanity income levels 10-100 times higher than those of antiquity was driven by hydrocarbons which brought over 100 times the power density of wind.
Europeans punished by expensive renewables backed by Russian gas
The Spectator, 14 July 2022
Europeans are now paying heavily for their shift in abandoning coal and nuclear and adopting renewable energy supported by Russian gas.
Across the continent, coal generators have been closed as have nuclear facilities in a headlong pursuit of the ‘transition’ to renewables. Throughout the Western world, that transition has been touted as inevitable by the ‘experts’ now dominant within government and among their advisory detritus.
The (expensive) brave new world of ‘clean energy’
The Spectator, 09 July 2022
The market was working pretty well 20 years ago and is not expected to be much larger by 2030. It involved a capital asset base in terms of transmission at about $22 billion and for the electricity energy itself, in today’s dollars about $100 billion.
Climate Justice? Victoria’s fresh assault on businesses
The Spectator, 01 July 2022
Last week’s restoration of the electricity market, following the regulator assuming full control on June 15, means the energy crisis is apparently over. But spot prices remain at around $230 per megawatt hour – a mere sixfold their historical levels. As for gas, well that’s still price-controlled and consequent supply shortages are causing business closures.
Victoria has done his bit to create the crisis.
Premier Dan Andrews tripled the royalty tax on coal – the straw that broke the back of the Hazelwood Power Station, which produced a quarter of the state’s electricity. Then, as with South Australia’s .... Read online ...pdf
Climate Change's 'Pigouvian' tax
The Spectator, 27 June 2022
Rod Sims, formerly head of the ACCC, advocates a carbon tax as a ‘Pigouvian’ solution to the global damage which he says is being created as a result of burning coal, gas, and oil.
A ‘Pigouvian’ tax is set at a level where the damage from distorting the economy, which any tax inevitably causes, is offset by the rectification that it brings about. Such a tax is generally considered superior to having the government centrally determine measures to redress inadvertent damages resulting from production. This is because it incentivises firms to seek out the cheapest solutions and avoids governmental failures inherent in ‘winner picking’
Standard of living to fall sharply
The Spectator, 24 June 2022
In the pre-Covid days, strike activity was fast disappearing. In Europe, the average days lost from strikes more than halved.
In Australia, the fall was even more dramatic – from over 500 strike days per 1,000 workers in the 1970s, to just 14 in the decade to 2020.
Suddenly, in Europe a spate of strikes is underway. They are in England and threatened in France, Spain, Italy, and even Germany. These are taking place ‘amid spiralling increases in the cost of living’ which describes EU annual wage increases averaging 2 per cent compared to price increases of 8.8 per cent. ..... Read online .....pdf
Albo's war against Capitalism
The Spectator, 21 June 2022
Seeking to disabuse critics of the notion that his interest and expertise in economics were Whitlamesque, Anthony Albanese released a couple of pages of an undergraduate essay on economics he wrote nearly 40 years ago. The material was replete with supply and demand curves to burnish his credentials on any sceptic.
Mr Albanese’s economics degree was from the ‘political economy’ school of Sydney University – which had a strongly Marxian focus – stressing on how the economy should best be managed by those who consider themselves well able to understand and manipulate it. The university mentors favoured central direction rather than what they perceived as the anarchy and heartlessness of the market system. ..... Read online .....pdf
Politicians have sabotaged the energy market
The Spectator, 13 June 2022
'After a decade of denial and delay, Australia deserves a better future – one with cheaper power, more jobs, and less emissions,’ said Energy Minister Chris Bowen, in his last media release prior to gaining government.
Mr Bowen advocated replacing coal generators with wind and solar, with their shares of electricity supply to increase from 30 per cent to 82 per cent by 2030. To facilitate this, he proposed spending $80 billion on transmission, thereby quadrupling its present costs.
Customers won't like the new energy game
The Spectator, 3 June 2022
Right now in Australia, we are seeing some smaller electricity retailers being forced out of the market and voluntarily shedding customers. One example came this week, when ReAmped Energy told customers they should leave because bills were set to double.
These sorts of retailers have gained a few percent of the overall market by offering cheap prices via wholesale purchases on the electricity spot market, which is usually cheaper than arranging supplies through long-term contracts with generators.
This is worse than we thought
The Spectator, 24 May 2022
It’s much worse than we thought.
The ALP will govern in its own right, but will be forced into extreme positions by a Green-left Senate.
The first thing to recognise is that the result demonstrates a new consensus.
There are some differences between the ALP, the Coalition, the Teals, and the Greens. To placate its funders within the union movement the ALP will seek to abolish the ‘gig’ economy and promote a 5 per cent wage rise, something the Greens would also support. But that apart, the consensus represents a goal of abandoning the fossil fuel ..... Read online .....pdf
The Seinfeld election: a show about nothing
The Spectator, 17 May 2022
With the virus abating, and with the confected anger over supposed government inadequacies for compensation owed to those harmed by adverse weather conditions losing topicality – the issues that should be dominating the present election campaign are taxation, spending, energy costs, industry policy, and defence.
The Coalition and the ALP have tried to minimise their differences on these matters.
For its part, the Coalition has little alternative after five years of clothing itself in the ALP policies it claims to oppose. It has been spending in Whitlam-esque proportions since its MPs ..... Read more .....pdf
Build More Dams
Letter to the Editor, Regulation Economics (from Viv Forbes) - 12 May 2022
Since the days of Joseph in ancient Egypt, droughts have periodically rationed water and food supplies for humans and wildlife. Sensible peoples store water, but it is about 40 years since Australians built a big dam – young Aussie engineers have no damn experience.
Even beavers build dams and weirs to provide long-term wetlands and food supplies along rivers. Dams also moderate floods downstream.
See here for pictorial comment (right):
Foolish children and Green politicians think that floods are caused by carbon dioxide, but farmers know that it is La Nina that brings flooding rains to Eastern Australia ..... Read more
The politics of an energy dystopia
The Spectator, 10 May 2022
We are seeing unprecedented prices in the Australian gas and electricity wholesale markets.
The first five days of May saw electricity prices average over $400 per MWh in Queensland and NSW, and over $150 per MWh in Victoria and South Australia. Compare this with the historical average daily prices of $40-$80 per MWh.
Forward electricity prices for 2023 averaged 122 per cent higher than in 2021.
Stoking the fires of energy policy
The Spectator, 26 April 2022
Stung from previous election losses, the ALP is at pains to deny that it will introduce a carbon tax. The Coalition is trying to claim a Labor government would do so.
That aside, both sides are seeking to marginalise environmental issues and their all-important impact on the economy. Many on the government side believe the Matt Kean dogma that there is an inevitable ‘transition’ away from coal, while others feel obliged to murmur assent in the face of popular support for that same view, funded as it is by subsidy-dependent renewable energy interests.
Scomo, Albo, and their fantasy Net Zero policies
The Spectator, 15 April 2022
Both the ALP and the Coalition have the same Net Zero goal for 2050, but that time frame is, at best, aspirational and is contingent upon technological breakthroughs many of which verge on the fantasy.
A 2030 time-horizon is a more realistic means of comparing the two sides of politics.
For 2030, the Coalition has a goal of a 26 per cent reduction in emissions compared to the base year of 2005 and hopes to achieve a 35 per cent reduction with its present policies.
Renewables subsidies: $22 billion by 2030
The Spectator, 5 April 2022
Energy Minister Angus Taylor noted that the Commonwealth Budget added $1.3 billion to assist uneconomic renewable energy, bringing the total support to $22 billion by 2030. Added to direct budget support are the regulatory subsidies that force consumers to pay for otherwise unviable wind and solar energy as well as the networks that have to be built to bring their energy to market.
Green energy enthusiasts and vested interests fraudulently claim wind and solar are cheaper than coal-generated electricity. Some also concoct data purporting to prove that fossil fuels benefit from enormous subsidies.
You can't save the world with Net Zero
The Spectator, 24 March 2022
Ever since socialism’s credibility collapsed in 1990, environmentalism has increasingly dominated the political agenda. Central to this was the global warming scare and its implications for energy supply and economic activities in general.
Environmentalists’ pressures ensured that this agenda was widely embraced. Every Western country agreed to pursue ‘Net Zero’ carbon emissions, replacing hydrocarbons with wind, solar, and prospectively hydrogen as power sources. In most countries, this was combined with rejecting another environmentalist bogeyman – nuclear power.
Will war end the climate alarmist zeal of the central banks?
The Spectator, 21 March 2022
Faced with implacable opposition from the Senate, Sarah Bloom Raskin, President Biden’s pick for supervising banks within the Federal Reserve (Fed), has withdrawn her candidature. During the Obama administration, she was one of the Fed’s seven governors and a Treasury deputy secretary.
Her rejection by the Senate was a result of her expressed intent ‘to incentivise a rapid, orderly, and just transition from fossil fuels and other high-emission investments’.
Not so long ago, that opinion would have not been a barrier to the job – indeed her appointments under Obama faced