Posts filed under 'Canberra Stories'

Could Warragamba be the next Cotter Dam budget blowout?

It seems that, in the light of how much people liked the federal Coalition’s plan for dams across Australia, primarily in the north, Julia Gillard has taken notice of how much people like dams because they supply potable water, can supply electricity, and help to prevent flooding, and has decided that she needs a dam plan of her own…and seeing as she’s taking in the sights of western Sydney, it might as well be a plan for a dam which affects Sydney.

Enter Warragamba Dam. This dam provides the majority of Sydney’s drinking water, and helps to prevent flooding along the Napean River in the far-west of Sydney.

About 20 years ago there was a report which said that Warragamba Dam might fail in a really really bad flood and doom Sydney’s far-west. Well, good news, Julia has a plan.

Simon Benson, with a Daily Telegraph exclusive:

INSURANCE premiums for tens of thousands of western Sydney homeowners will be slashed under a federal government plan to finally raise Warragamba dam and prevent a potential $8 billion flood disaster.
Almost 20 years since the first warnings were given to the state government that Sydney’s primary water storage dam could fail in a major flood, the Commonwealth will provide the first funding to get it started.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard will announce $50 million a year in federal government terrorism re-insurance premiums will be diverted to flood protection across the country, with the plan to raise Warragamba dam by 23m listed as the major priority.

That, I’m afraid, is where the good news ends. That $50 million is just the tip of the iceberg and, as usual, Julia wants the states to do her bidding at their own expense.

The Commonwealth would initially provide $50 million to begin work and then provide increased funding over time if the O’Farrell government will also commit to the $500 million project which its own infrastructure agency has already identified as critical to the NSW economy.

(h/t Simon Benson. See more of Simon’s article in today’s Daily Telegraph at:

This plan requires, in order federal government to be involved (and undoubtedly run it on their own terms), the New South Wales state government to cough up an unspecified amount which could very well be $400 million before the federal government even considers tipping in more money.

The federal government is broke because of Julia Gillard and her government. The New South Wales government is walking a tightrope to fix the budgetary mess left by over a decade of state Labor incompetence. Neither of them have the money to spare for this, and yet with federal Labor’s amazing track record of wasteful, untargetted spending (economic stimulus, Building the Education Revolution, coffee machines for National Broadband Network staff, etc), inability to even come close to balancing the budget, and difficulty delivering things on time (Building the Education Revolution again, and the National Broadband Network), one has to conclude that the phrase “increased funding over time” is accurate simply because this project will almost certainly turn out like everything else federal Labor has attempted while in government.

In fact, I think we can look at a similar ACT Labor project to see how this would turn out. The Cotter Dam expansion started in 2009 and, as ACT Senator Kate Lundy pointed out at the time, was supposed to take two years and cost $363 million.

The cost estimate is approximately $363 million for the dam and associated works, which includes construction, commissioning and alliance costs of $299 million, environmental and recreation mitigation costs amounting to $13 million and owner’s costs to ACTEW for project inception, planning, design, approvals and costs from now until completion of $51 million. It is expected to take two years to build.

(Kate Lundy press release “Cotter Dam extension starts”, November 23, 2009)

Delay after delay. Cost blowout after cost blowout. Only three days ago, on the 25th of February, 2013, was construction at a stage where it was safe to allow water to flow in to the expanded dam. A year and two months behind schedule…even more if you include the removal of the extensive amount of construction equipment. The last update on the cost of the project came in April last year when Actew Water said it would be $405 million, an announcement which came after a series of other intermittent cost blowouts.

It is good that Julia Gillard is giving serious thought to projects which could actually benefit people, although given the track record of Labor governments in recent times of having great difficulty in getting things done on time and on budget, I’m not sure that I would really want to entrust this to them, especially seeing as the $500 million expansion of Warragamba Dam was included in the Coalition’s plan:

Included in the list of dam projects, which the Coalition will consider, is a $500 million plan to raise Warragamba Dam in Sydney


I know who, when I’m faced with a choice of Labor or the Liberal/National Coalition, I would trust to get this done on time and on budget, and it certainly isn’t Labor.

Ideally, if this project is to go ahead, I would like to see one level of government take responsibility for it in its entirety so as to not have excessive inter-governmental red-tape get in the way, but given the way government budgets are placed, it probably will have to happen with input from the federal and New South Wales governments if it is to happen in the short term. That said, this seems like a low priority job compared to the benefits of building dams in northern Australia, so I hope it is not used as an election sweetener by both parties for votes in western Sydney, and that it is put on the backburner until government budgets are in a better position instead.

Besides which, one of the stated aims of the Warragamba project is to allow for the release of more land in western Sydney for residential development. Building dams in the north is supposed to, in part, alleviate the need to continue to expand Sydney at a rate of knots. It would be somewhat contradictory to run both projects at once.


February 28th, 2013 at 07:44am

Some valuable thoughts for Canberrans in the long lead-up to the federal election

Today I intend to present you with some interesting information put together by people other than myself, which I have come across in recent days.

First up today, a video from John Moulis examining the current state of the federal election in the ACT’s electorates. John makes the very important point that, now that the Liberal Party’s preselections are completed, it is important that the Party gets behind the candidates so as to maximise their chances of winning seats and, even more importantly, ensuring that the Greens do not win a seat.

Without wanting to summarise everything John talks about, he makes the interesting point that regardless of what people might think of the Liberal Party, as they are almost certain to form government and probably hold it for multiple terms, Canberra would be best served by having at least one Liberal senator and at least one Liberal MP, so that Canberrans have direct representation in the government.

I found the video to be very interesting and to make some very important points. I hope you’ll take the few minutes to watch it.


February 27th, 2013 at 06:34am

SGS News Alert: Elizabeth Lee wins Fraser preselection

More breaking news from the Liberal Party preselection meeting.

Elizabeth Lee has won preselection to be the Liberal Party’s candidate for the federal seat of Fraser in the upcoming federal election.

Elizabeth Lee during the 2012 ACT election campaign
Elizabeth Lee during the ACT election campaign

Congratulations Elizabeth. I look forward to working with you again.


February 23rd, 2013 at 02:22pm

Breaking: Congratulations to Zed Seselja

It has just been announced that Zed Seselja has won preselection for the number 1 spot on the Liberal Party’s ACT senate ticket.

I look forward to working with him on the campaign trail.

Earlier, Tom Sefton was preselected for the federal seat of Canberra.

Fraser has not been decided yet.

Update 1:12pm: I beat the Canberra Times to this by one minute (more if you count my Facebook activity) and now need to correct them. Contrary to CT claims, both candidates in the Senate battle, Zed Seselja and Gary Humphries vowed to respect the process and not challenge the outcome. End update

Update 2:14pm: I see that the Canberra Times have updated their story’s wording to clarify that any challenge to the outcome will come from a meeting of party members, not the candidates. End Update


February 23rd, 2013 at 01:07pm

Replacement of Watson suburb sign

One of the things which seems to be happening throughout Canberra, presumably as part of the centenary celebrations, is the replacement of old signs identifying suburbs with new ones containing details about the suburb or the person after whom the suburb is named.

Today, in a case of “right place, right time” I passed by the sign identifying Watson at the corner of Antill and Knox Streets as the contractors were taking it down. They kindly paused, after they had cut the sign’s posts, as they were about to remove the sign, to allow me to get a photo for historical purposes.

Watson sign at the corner of Knox and Antill Streets

I’ll get a photo if the replacement sign when I get a chance.


February 21st, 2013 at 01:02pm

What could the National Broadband Network possibly have to do with multiculturalism?

For one reason or another, the National Broadband Network Company has a stall at Canberra’s Multicultural Festival.

What, I ask you, could NBN Co possibly have to do with multicultural issues? Certainly nothing which justifies the expense of taxpayer funds.


How very bizarre.

Update: Quick footnote. There’s a police recruitment stand at the multicultural festival too. I think that is equally out of place and inappropriate. End Update


2 comments February 9th, 2013 at 10:32am

Moving federal government departments from Canberra to regional areas

The following is, for the most part, a copy of a comment I posted on The RiotACT in response to the story about a discussion paper from the Federal Liberal Party about having lower taxes in, and moving bits of the federal public service to, regional areas and specifically northern Australia. The comment seemed substantial enough to warrant a blog post of its own here.

Once upon a time it made sense to have a bureaucracy which was centralised to the place where parliament was located. These days, in the age of electronic communications, there really is no need to have so much of the public service located in one place.

Yes, moving large parts of the public service out of Canberra may have detrimental short-term effects on Canberra’s economy, but the public service does not exist to keep Canberra economy ticking over, rather it exists to serve the interest of all Australians and, as such, should be willing to serve Australia’s interests in whatever location is of most benefit. That said, given that the federal government is largely responsible for Canberra’s economy having such reliance on the public service, the federal government should give due consideration to Canberra when planning changes which would impact on Canberra’s economy. Canberra’s interests should not be the only consideration, but they should at least be considered.

I do firmly believe that the nation’s interests are best served by a distributed public service. We have large populations in coastal areas which are, in some cases, overpopulated and under-served by infrastructure, while we also have massive sections of the country which are either underpopulated or uninhabited, but could very easily cater to the needs of part of our population, and should probably be built-up now if we are to expand in to them as the population grows so as to avoid further stretching the resources of existing overpopulated areas.

It would be silly to expect the private sector to build these areas up on their own. Economic incentives will help to attract the private sector, but the whole process will be much faster and much smoother if some public servants move in to these areas as well, and increase the market demand in the areas in the process. I would see no problem with granting public servants in these areas the same economic incentives (tax cuts etc) as private sector people/businesses who set up in these areas.

Some parts of the public service probably should keep a presence in Canberra, but hypothetically speaking (and without figuring out which acronym the various departments use as names this week) it does seem silly to base Immigration and Customs so far from a coastline; Indigenous Affairs so far away from the majority of their clients; Air Services Australia and CASA so far away from major airports (with apologies to Stephen Byron whose airport serves a purpose but is not as big as our major coastal airports) etc.

Apart from the idea of basing some departments in locations which are closer to the people with which they work the most, it seems logical to me to not have a centralised public service simply for cultural reasons. It happens in every industry that if the majority of your time is spent dealing with people in your industry, your mindset becomes based around your industry. A centralised public service lends itself to this in that, by having so many public servants and departments in one place, it is easy to think more about government than about the people whom the government is supposed to serve. Having a less centralised public service would, in my view, make it easier for the public service to work in a more efficient manner for the benefit of the general population.

It also strikes me as ironic that by decentralising the public service, the NBN would be an even less necessary proposition than it already is, as the extra population in regional areas combined with departmental data needs would result in a demand for high-speed internet services in regional areas which would be very attractive to the private sector.

Admittedly the whole idea would inconvenience some public servants, and the costs of moving people may be difficult in the short-term given the government’s current financial state, but the long-term benefits would far outweigh the short-term costs, and surely the long-term benefit of the nation is what our public servants should embrace.


4 comments February 8th, 2013 at 10:29am

Samuel’s ACT Election prediction

I’m a little rushed so I’ll make this brief. Going in to this election the Legislative Assembly has seven Labor MLAs, six Liberal MLAs, and four Green MLAs.

At the last election the Greens got this many MLAs primarily as a result of a protest vote against both Labor and Liberal parties. Unfortunately for the Greens, their partnership with Labor has annoyed Labor and Liberal supporters and has not been overly successful for Green supporters who have been hoodwinked in to supporting many a Labor plan. I expect the Green protest vote to dissipate and for the Greens’ vote to return to levels which reflect their true level of support in Canberra.
(Greens -2. Labor/Liberal +1 each)
(Labor 8. Liberal 7. Green 2)

From there I expect that the Liberals will pick up at least one more seat. There is definitely a swing towards supporting the Liberals on the ground and it seems to me that a decent proportion of late deciders are late deciders because they are sick of the status quo and are contemplating giving their vote to the Liberals for a change…and it has to be said that the Canberra Times releasing a junk poll and Federal Labor trying to bribe ACT residents in the last few days has really not helped the Labor cause.
I expect from this a swing of at least one seat from Labor to Liberal.
(Labor -1. Liberal +1)
(Liberal 8. Labor 7. Green 2.)

I think this is a likely outcome, and it would result in minority Labor/Green government with reduced numbers.

That said, all it takes is for me to have underestimated ever so slightly the swing as 9-7-1 or 9-6-2, or even less likely 10-6-1.

I’m going to pick Liberal 9, Labor 7, Green 1 as the most likely outcome, based on stronger dissatisfaction with the Greens than I have accounted for, and Liberal 8, Labor 7, Green 2 as my second choice option.

Happy voting!


October 20th, 2012 at 04:37am

Samuel’s ACT Election How-To-Vote Guide

With the ACT election now only a day away, the time has come for me to issue my how-to-vote blog post. As usual, this is not endorsed or authorised by any party or candidate. I should also note that, as I live in the electorate of Molongolo, I am focussing on Molongolo, however I do have some advice for people in other areas.

At the most simple level, I believe that the Labor/Greens government in the ACT has been a disaster. Much of this is down to the ongoing waste and bumbling which is inherent in ACT Labor, but a fair amount of blame must also be heaped on to the Greens who have managed to get their bizarre enviro-statist socialist ways on more than a few occasions, not that Labor have really made any sort of reasonable effort to oppose them.

The ACT Government no longer focuses on core local issues and services, and instead seeks to extend its reach to all manner of other things at the expense of ACT rate payers. This needs to stop. The Canberra Liberals have shown that they have a sane and sensible plan to return the focus of the ACT Government to those services for which it should be responsible such as roads, rates, rubbish (yep, I had to get that phrase in there), health, local ovals and the like.

It is for this reason, and for the reason that Labor has a strong following in Canberra, that I support the message of “vote all Liberal and only Liberal” as it will take a concerted effort to get the current horrid bunch out of power, and those of us who believe in limited, targeted government are going to have to vote carefully to make it happen.

In Molongolo I see four candidates who I would very much like to see win or retain a seat. In alphabetical order they are Steve Doszpot, Jeremy Hanson, Giulia Jones, and Elizabeth Lee. My advice is to rank these four in your order of preference from 1 to 4.

The way I voted for these four, and why:

1. Elizabeth Lee – I have had the great pleasure of getting to know and work with Elizabeth. She has shown great organizational skills and an ability to surround herself with people with whom she works well and can achieve a lot. She is also very passionate about core local services and understands that the ACT Government’s role is a local one with a few state-like responsibilities thrown in. I suspect that we disagree on a few national political issues, but as Elizabeth understands that these are things which should not enter the realm of local politics (something which Labor and the Greens clearly do not understand), I am proud to be able to support Elizabeth.

2. Jeremy Hanson – An incumbent MLA who has demonstrated a great understanding of what is wrong with the ACT Government and how to fix it, especially in the health sector. I gladly gave Jeremy my first preference in 2008 and have been very impressed with his work. I believe that it is important to have one of the “experienced hands” in my top two, and Jeremy is someone I have absolutely no reservation in supporting.

3. Giulia Jones – I have been impressed by Giulia’s energy and enthusiasm over the course of a few campaigns. We have a basic ideological agreement on the role of government and the problems in the current government, along with similar ideological views on things which are and are not within the remit of local government. Giulia also cares about delivering local services efficiently and well. I strongly hope that Giulia finally gets a seat in the Legislative Assembly and helps to shape a sane direction for the ACT Government. I have the utmost confidence that she will.

4. Steve Doszpot – Another incumbent MLA. Steve has a large amount of executive experience and understands what needs to change in the ACT Government. I have a great deal of respect for Steve and his part in shaping the Canberra Liberals plan for Canberra. I hope to see him in charge of a department or two after the election.

I have split my top four and following three for a couple reasons. Firstly, the people mentioned above have my strongest support. Secondly, under the Hare-Clark system which is used in ACT elections, your vote is likely to help your first three or four choices. Beyond that, it may still have some impact, but it will be negligible. As such, I suggest placing the above candidates on whatever of the first four positions you like, and then placing the next three in 5th to 7th, once again in your preferred order.

How I placed them:

5. James Milligan – James has a great deal of private sector experience which is fantastic for a politician as it brings a mindset of efficiency and working within one’s means while still striving to do the best job possible. The fact that James is still willing to serve the local community after not winning a grueling battle for a federal seat tops it off by showing me that he is persistent in achieving things which he sets out to achieve.

I then had a hard time splitting the next two but ended up with:

6. Tom Sefton – Tom seems to be strongly committed to local services and has a good track record of helping the community in various ways.

7. Murray Gordon – Murray seems like a very capable candidate, but his experience seems to be more suited to international policy than local policy from what I have seen. I’m sure that, if elected, he would do a great job, but I would much rather see him run for federal seat.

In the other electorates, I highly recommend the following candidates followed by the rest of the Liberal candidates.


1. Zed Seselja – The party leader who has the vision and leadership skills to provide ACT residents with the stability, sanity and solid planning that they deserve from a Chief Minister.

2. Val Jeffery – If anyone in the ACT cares more about the delivery of local services, especially to the communities which are often forgotten by the ACT Government, than Val does, I’m yet to meet them.

3. Brendan Smyth – Brendan is definitely an old hand and knows the ACT Government inside out, especially “Urban Services” (I still call it that, even if Labor do not). Brendan is one of the people who should be able to diffuse any obstructionism from the ACT Publuc Service.


In no particular order Alistair Coe and Vicki Dunne. Vicki has a long track record of helping people with problems with all manner of government services, and Alistair has proven himself to be a very capable and effective MLA.

If you’ve noticed that I’ve referred to the fact that I have voted, it’s because I have. I pre-polled earlier in the week in the knowledge that I will be busy on election day…very busy indeed. Hopefully after the day is done, election night will be a cause for celebration.

I hope that this summary of my thoughts on the candidates helps you to make a wise choice on election day, and helps the ACT to gain a useful government.


2 comments October 19th, 2012 at 12:51am

ACT Election polling

An email to 2GB’s Ray Hadley

G’day Ray,

I’d believe the Canberra Times poll about the ACT Election if it said anything other than the status quo. The idea that there won’t be any change in the numbers in the Legislative Assembly is crazy.

I expect the Liberals to pick up at least one or two seats, but even if it said Labor would gain seats, I’d be willing to believe that the poll is legitimate. Both Labor and Liberals are annoyed with the Greens, so at the very least the Greens should lose a seat or two.

The poll saying nothing will change sounds like someone set out to produce a particular result with this poll. It just doesn’t ring true with what’s happening on the ground.

Glad your health is OK. Best of luck with all of the follow-up appointments.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart

October 18th, 2012 at 09:45am

In today’s Canberra Times supporting Elizabeth Lee

As long-time readers of this blog would know, I’m not a huge fan of The Canberra Times as I prefer publications such as The Australian and The Daily Telegraph, however it does on occasion have something of genuine interest to me.

Yesterday, after having helped Liberal candidate for Molongolo Elizabeth Lee with her campaigning at the Ainslie Shops, I was helping out with sorting her pamphlets at her office in Civic when the Canberra Times turned up, wanting to put together a profile story about Elizabeth. Today, that story appeared in the paper. I’m pleased about two things about this article. Firstly, it seems to be a fair article. There were some questions asked which made me wonder about the agenda of the journalist, however the article turned out to be quite fair. Secondly, the group photo of all the people who had gathered in Elizabeth’s office on a Sunday afternoon appeared in the paper not once, but twice, with Elizabeth’s personal photo being used on the front page of the Canberra Times’ website.

Here is the front page of today’s Canberra Times.

The front page of The Canberra Times, October 8, 2012
(Click image to enlarge)

The article itself is on page two, however there is a very brief tease for the article on the front page, under the headline on the left of the page.

Excerpt of the front page of The Canberra Times, October 8, 2012

The article on page two is accompanied by a large photo. The photo and headline take up most of the space above the fold, with the body of the article mostly being below the fold.

The second page of The Canberra Times, October 8, 2012
(Click image to enlarge)

Here is a closer shot of the article.

Article about Elizabeth Lee on page two of The Canberra Times, October 8, 2012
(Click image to enlarge)

And with a very large tip of the hat to The Canberra Times, journalist Noel Towell and photographer Rohan Thomson, here is the article as printed in the paper and on The Canberra Times’ website. One should note that different photographs have been used in the article on the website and the article in the paper.

Family the key to Liberal’s aspirations

Noel Towell

Elizabeth Lee prepares election material with her team at her office in the city. Back, from left: David Lee, John Lee (father), Elizabeth Lee, Cecilia Lee (mother), Front, from left: Candice Burch, Samuel Gordon-Stewart, Rosa Lee (sister), and Kim Lee. Photo: Rohan Thomson. Source: The Canberra Times, October 8, 2012
(Click image to enlarge)

Elizabeth Lee prepares election material with her team at her office in the city. Back, from left: David Lee, John Lee (father), Elizabeth Lee, Cecilia Lee (mother), Front, from left: Candice Burch, Samuel Gordon-Stewart, Rosa Lee (sister), and Kim Lee. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Elizabeth Lee reckons family is the key.

The surprise-package Liberal has been running what is probably the highest profile – and best financed – campaign by a non-incumbent candidate for the October 20 election, becoming a familiar face on the streets of Canberra in the process.

Speaking at her campaign office in Civic yesterday, the Australian National University law lecturer said her Sydney-based Korean-Australian parents were one of the driving forces in her bid for election.

”The key is family support,” Ms Lee said.

”My parents live in Sydney and from April they would come down every single weekend, starting at 4.30 in the morning, drive down and campaign all weekend.

”Dad is here full-time, Mum is now here full-time and the support I get, not just the physical support but the emotional support, is absolutely phenomenal.”

Despite her campaign being bathed in Canberra Liberals colours, the lawyer has been with the party for only two years, and she did not take the decision to join lightly.

”I’ll be the first to say that I was probably a swing voter more than anything else,” she said.

”I joined the Liberal Party in 2010 after giving it quite a lot of thought, after sitting down and really asking what my core belief was.

”I did a lot of research but at the end of the day, the thing that really stood out about the Liberal Party for me was the whole idea of freedom and responsibility and I think we all have a responsibility to make a positive contribution to society.”

Ms Lee believes that her background in legal politics would be good preparation for the real thing.

”I’d been involved in legal politics for a while, with young lawyers of ACT and Australia and ultimately, I really enjoyed doing that kind of stuff, working with different people,” she said.

”I’ve had pretty good opportunities, a good education, great family support.

”It wasn’t a single issue for me, but I’ve always enjoyed doing this sort of work.

”When I was chairing the young lawyers group, and people would ask me what my dream job would be, I’d tell them I’d love to do this.”

As The Canberra Times own this story and accompanying photos, I have deliberately avoided posting this blog post until 6pm so that The Canberra Times gets a fair first run with it. I also linked to the article earlier today so that traffic for the article would go to them in the first instance.

As I noted earlier, I am pleased to see that the article is fair. I have come to know and support Elizabeth in recent times and, although I expect we may disagree on some aspects of federal politics, the big reason I support Elizabeth locally is that she seems to be very committed to efficient local service delivery and recognises that the Legislative Assembly is not the place for federal politics. She has also shown great organisational skills during the campaign so far, which is one of the big things I look for in a candidate. It has been my pleasure to support Elizabeth…and it’s funny how one can become somewhat excited about being in a paper which one doesn’t hold in the highest regard, and how at the same time that paper can improve its standing in my mind with a fair article such as this one.


October 8th, 2012 at 06:00pm

ACT Labor are so out of touch, they can’t even identify Gungahlin

These pamphlets were dropped in letter boxes all over Braddon today.

Pamphlet in a letterbox on Donaldson St, Braddon

The only problem is that these start with “Dear Gungahlin Residents” and Braddon is nowhere near Gungahlin.

Braddon is a suburb of the inner-north, whereas Gungahlin as a suburb and as a town centre is much further north. Here, from my phone, is a quick map of the distance between the two, with the gap south and east of Mitchell being the approximate dividing line between the two town centres.


It’s rather concerning, but not surprising, that Canberra’s out-of-touch Labor government can’t even figure out where bits of Canberra are any more.

Update 5:42pm: ACT Labor have been in touch on Twitter to advise that they’re investigating what went wrong:
Hi @Samuel_SGS Some newsletters have been incorrectly delivered. Talking now with paid delivers trying to find out how this error occurred.

Hi @Samuel_SGS Some newsletters have been incorrectly delivered. Talking now with paid delivers trying to find out how this error occurred.

That will be an interesting discussion, I’m sure. If I was them, I’d be demanding a refund and/or free delivery of the correct material. They might also want to check the deliveries in Reid, as I have since discovered that Reid has received the same “Dear Gungahlin Residents” material.

End Update


October 3rd, 2012 at 04:52pm

When it comes to solar power, the Greens think it’s cheaper to be more expensive

It is not often that things uttered by The Greens astound me as I am quite used to them saying the most absurd things, but I have found myself in that position today, although to be fair, their comrades in the Labor Party have helped to produce my state of astoundment (yes, it’s a word, even if spellcheck doesn’t know it).

Yesterday the ACT Government announced that a large sun receptacle will be placed in Royalla, in Canberra’s deep south (I would normally call it the deep dark south, but that wouldn’t bode well for solar power now would it?). It will produce power which The Greens believe is lovely and cheap.

Royalla will produce 20 megawatts of power each day, enough to power about 4400 homes at a price of 18.6c per kilowatt-hour, about three times the cost of energy produced using coal-fired power.

(h/t Noel Towell, The Canberra Times)

“The reverse auction tariff price of 18.6c/kilowatt-hour also reflects just how quickly the price of solar energy is falling, and that the more we invest in renewable energy, the cheaper it becomes.” said Shane Rattenbury, ACT Greens Energy spokesperson.

(via ACT Greens who do not receive a tip of my hat, period.)

So, if three times the cost of good old reliable coal power is “cheaper”, how many more taxpayer dollars do we have to throw at this stuff before the cost at the retail side is something which won’t break the bank?

Speaking of taxpayer dollars, it looks like this 18.6c/kilowatt-hour price has been reached by throwing a significant taxpayer-funded subsidy at the project. Back to Simon Corbell in The Canberra Times:

Mr Corbell said the cost would be passed onto consumers and be capped at no more than $13 per year to each Canberra household.

So in other words, the more power you use, the more money this taxpayer subsidy will have to throw at the Spanish sun receptacle company so that your power bill doesn’t go up by more than $13 per year…and with the coast of the solar power being triple that of normal power, and with very few people (probably none, actually) having $6.50 annual electricity bills, the cost of this subsidy will blow out quickly. (Just an explanatory note about the math, if a bill is currently $6.50 and it triples, then it becomes $19.50 which is $13.00 more than the original $6.50 bill).

And yes, that’s right, the company building the sun station is Spanish, so I do have to wonder who gets the carbon credits if the ridiculous carbon dioxide tax stays in place?

And then there’s the other bizarre part of this whole thing. This power plant can power 4,400 homes. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2011 census, Canberra has 145,229 homes, so this power plant can only power 3% of Canberra’s homes and yet all of them are going to pay for it whether they receive power from the plant or not. This means that 97% of Canberra’s homes are going to be subsidising the power supply for that 3%. Based on that, to give you a better indication of how much more this solar power will cost, if only that 3% were paying for the solar power and the $13 cap over the 100% was adjusted so as to receive the same revenue from just the 3%, then it would be an annual cap of $433.33 extra per household per year, and even then it would be subsidised by the taxpayer for an unknown amount.

It is truly astounding that the ACT Government is forcing people to pay extra through both their power bills and their taxes for an unnecessary and uncompetitive solar power plant, all in the name of reducing carbon dioxide emissions which they incorrectly believe are warming the planet. It’s ludicrous, but I can see why the Spanish folks are coming all this way…it’s a giant cash cow and it’s not their taxpayers that have to foot the bill.

Simply astounding.


September 6th, 2012 at 05:33pm

Watson IGA becoming Watson Supabarn

On May 28, the supermarket in Watson will change allegiances, breaking its ties with the Independent Grocers of Australia chain, to become a member of the Supabarn group.

The store will, consequently, change name from SupaIGA (the branding used for larger IGA stores) to SupaExpress (denoting smaller Supabarn stores).

Watson IGA with half of its external branding changed)

None of the internal branding has changed yet, and it is unlikely that much of the product range will change later on as both IGA and Supabarn use Black & Gold as their generic brand. There is, however, a notice at the checkouts informing customers of the change, noting specifically that the staff will not change, but the IGA catalogue which is delivered to households in the area will no longer be applicable in the store.

It is not currently known whether the Supabarn catalogue, which is also distributed in the area, will apply to a SupaExpress branded store or if a separate catalogue will apply.

One thing which is certain though is that the little yellow price tag stickers will not all need to be changed as Supabarn has used the same style of price tags for many years.

The expansion of Supabarn in to smaller suburban supermarkets continues a recent trend of expansion of the main Supabarn brand in to Sydney, which came after most Supabarn stores were taken over by Woolworths in the 1990s.


3 comments May 17th, 2012 at 05:23pm

The view from the lawns of Parliament House

The media have descended on the lawns of Parliament house, from their Sydney abodes. Here is the view.



Sky News on the right, Sunrise on the left.


Sunrise hosts on the left, interview a politician on the right. Why not just bring him in to the tent?


Sunrise hosts Melissa Doyle and David Koch


Rob Oakeshott being interviewed by Ten, whose hosts are back in the studio.


The Today Show’s Karl Stefanovic with someone (Update: it’s former advisor to Kevin Rudd, Lachlan Harris).


It’s almost a tent embassy of its own.


I can’t see the ABC, but I’m sure they’re here somewhere.

I think it’s a radio stunt as this person appeared to come from the general direction of the Mix 106.3 car, and was giving an interview to someone on the phone, but it looks like Karl Stefanovic gets at least one vote to become the next Prime Minister.



Update: Here’s Kevin


Update: Tony Abbott has arrived, and looks set to appear on Sunrise after Kevin.


Another update: Look at the media swarming around the Sunrise tent with Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott there.


And my goodness, aren’t they excited when he tries to get to his waiting car.


A final observation: After Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott appeared on Sunrise from out the front of Parliament House, Kevin Rudd was driven to Parliament in a government car, but Tony Abbott walked. Remind me who was supposedly more environmentally friendly?


February 27th, 2012 at 07:37am

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