Renfrey Clarke

Close to 1000 people gathered outside Parliament House in Adelaide on November 3 to protest against federal government plans to build a national radioactive waste dump in South Australia.

How much bigger has Australia’s economy become since 1994? The answer, per head of population, seems to be: close to 50%. That’s not in current dollars, but adjusted for inflation. So can “Australia” (read: the big end of town) afford to raise the rate of Newstart payments — currently at a base rate of $273 a week for a single person — for the unemployed?

South Australia’s Liberal government gave final approval for Leigh Creek Energy to begin a three-month trial of an underground coal gasification (UCG) process, despite UCG technology being banned in other states due to its devastating impacts on the environment.

The Liberals 'National Energy Guarantee' — which is a wholesale rejection of climate science — is also a sophisticated political ruse. It must be rejected.

The Newstart Allowance received by Australia’s jobless (if they are lucky enough to get it) stands at $273 a week. The last time it was raised, relative to the Consumer Price Index, was in 1994. Last year, the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research calculated the poverty line for a single adult was at around $510 a week (including housing costs). That corresponds to a present figure of about $521. This means Newstart is now $248 a week below that miserably low poverty line.

Who would you rather vote for in a state election?

A candidate from a leafy-suburbs party that has not been able to quell its factional squabbling for long enough to win office since before the turn of the century? Or a know-nothing roped in a few weeks earlier to stand on behalf of a political opportunist, who bases his appeal on childish stunts?

If South Australia were a country, its citizens since July 1 would have been paying the highest residential electricity prices of any nation in the world, edging out Denmark.

Throughout most of Australia, the new financial year brought spiralling energy charges. For an average Canberra household without rooftop solar, the combined cost of electricity and gas over 2017–18 will rise by $580.

There is no genuine reason why Australia cannot have 100% renewable electricity in less than a decade, at sharply reduced prices.

In May a vice-president of Sempra Energy, one of the largest utility firms in the US, caused a stir by stating flatly that there was no longer any technical obstacle to powering California with 100% renewables.

In public policy, there are many dog’s breakfasts presented as considered initiatives. Rarely, though, are we served up such a self-contradictory, irrational and generally talentless a dish as the new “energy intervention” announced by South Australia’s Labor government on March 14.

Aimed at side-stepping conservative attacks over recent power cuts, the government’s plan makes some provision for storage back-up to underpin wind and solar. But mainly, the $550 million scheme consists of large-scale concessions to fossil fuel interests — in this case, the gas industry.

Right-wing politicians have blown hard on the anti-renewables dog-whistle since February 8, when extreme temperatures in South Australia were followed by rolling electricity blackouts.

Late that afternoon, power demand in the state spiked to near-record levels. From about 6pm, 100 megawatts — roughly 3% of the state’s total demand — was shed for about half an hour.

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