Ben Courtice

GLW author Ben Courtice

South Australia renewables frame-up covers for fossil fuels electricity prices heist

Hysterical anti-renewable headlines aren’t necessarily a surprise from the Australian and other News Ltd publications. But the cynicism of the attack on South Australia’s renewable energy industry in their pages is still astonishing.

On July 25, the Australian published Matthew Warren of the Australian Energy Council — a peak body for “major electricity and downstream natural gas businesses” — blaming renewables for “higher costs and increased risks around reliability” in South Australia.

Toyota's way? Sack unionists

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) and Electrical Trades Union (ETU) have established an ongoing protest embassy outside the front office of Toyota's Altona assembly plant to protest the dismissal of AMWU delegate Tony Carvalho.

Carvalho was dismissed for allegedly bullying two employees who are currently on stress leave. The charges from the two complainants were drafted by a prominent law firm and were directed at Toyota. But Toyota management suspended Carvalho during an investigation, and ultimately sacked him on May 3.

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'Citizen scientists' force VicForests to halt logging

Volunteer conservationists forced a last minute stay of execution for a section of forest near Toolangi that they had shown was home to the critically endangered Leadbeater's possum, which VicForests contractors were due to clearfell within days.

Despite finding evidence of the possum in mid-April, posted as a video on facebook, “citizen scientists” monitoring logging operations were alarmed on May 4 to find the Imperium logging coupe where the possum was found was due to commence logging any day.

Greed is also behind Tasmanian power crisis

The fault in the out-of-service Basslink power cable connecting Tasmania to mainland Australia has reportedly been found, and repairs are expected to be completed by June. Meanwhile, a battery of diesel generators has been deployed and a mothballed gas power station re-opened to supplement the state's dwindling hydro-electric dams which are below 14% capacity.

Capital strike brings renewable energy to its knees

Australia's large energy companies appear to prefer to accept fines for not building renewable energy rather than build it and weaken their investments in coal and gas generation.

When the Tony Abbott government passed legislation to reduce the Renewable Energy Target (RET) by about 20% in June 2015, some supporters of renewables hoped that an end to policy uncertainty would free up finance for investment and get planned projects into the construction phase.

Will Senate reform crash the micro party?

Why is the government so keen to reform Senate voting with the threat of a double dissolution election hanging in the air?

The government and the Greens are supporting legislation to enact some recommendations of a parliamentary committee into the 2013 election while Labor and most small parties and independents are opposing them.

Ecosocialist takes a look at economic paths away from capitalism

Economics After Capitalism: A Guide to the Ruins & a Road to the Future
By Derek Wall
Pluto Press, 2015

Derek Wall, ecosocialist activist and international coordinator of the Green Party of England and Wales, has written a primer on the main strands of economic critique of globalised capitalism.

It is a short and easily readable book, well suited to someone looking for a starting place. For those already embedded in one of these strands, it provides a welcome introduction to some of the others.

Melbourne's western grasslands: going, going…

Although about 99% of Victoria's volcanic plains grasslands have been destroyed by development, some outstanding remnants of this unique ecosystem persist, especially on the western fringes of Melbourne.

The grasslands ecosystem was listed by the federal government as critically endangered in 2008. But at the same time, the then-Labor government of Victoria was initiating an expansion of Melbourne's Urban Growth Boundary that would severely impact some of its best remaining areas.

What are native grasslands?

The geologically recent volcanic activity across western Victoria created a landscape with rich, but often shallow, soils, that supported a unique grassland ecosystem.

Climate, soil, herbivory and fire history, among other factors, have combined to maintain tussock grasses, such as kangaroo grass, as a dominant species, with small herbs including diverse orchids, daisies and lilies growing in the spaces between tussocks and few or no trees over large areas.

Where to after the successful climate marches?

More than 2000 People's Climate Marches were held over the weekend of November 27 to 29. In Australia more than 140,000 people took to the streets to show they care, passionately, about climate change. They are also angry at government inaction, as illustrated by the many homemade placards and props.

These marches were the biggest national anti-government mobilisations for many years. The Melbourne march — a huge 60,000 people — was the biggest street march there since the anti-Work Choices protests of 2005.

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