Erwin: The ALP’s media arm (also known as the ABC) …

Comment on Debt-ridden govt wrests control of debt-free Transport Hall by James Barlow.

Erwin: The ALP’s media arm (also known as the ABC) has run a very bland piece on this issue.
The tone is gently supportive of the NT Government, noting “financial irregularities” of the historical society being to blame.
Rather than the obstinance and amateurism of our political betters – as the bulk of the electorate are seeing it as.

Recent Comments by James Barlow

Aboriginal royalties: A golden deal?
The figures Jon Altman provides are roughly correct.
As a former manager of the Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA) I found the lack of transparency I had to work with significant, and of great concern.
The ABA was then overseen by FaHCSIA (Dept of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs).
FaHCSIA’s finance and legal teams at head office in Canberra regularly refused to provide advice or information when requested.
For example, I wished to review the ABA’s accounts over a five year period. My departmental “colleagues” obstructed my request for months (I could only wonder what they were trying to hide).
Effective reporting, governance and assurance was largely non-existent.
The ABA Committee members (14 senior appointees from the NT’s four land councils) who we met with regularly, provided me with significant support and expertise – but in return were not given clear and consistent updates on the projects and programs the ABA were funding.
An external consultant was brought in to review our operations (unnecessary, but one of our managers wanted to throw a bit of money at a former colleague now operating in the “private” sector).
I made a detailed presentation of the challenges the ABA faced.
These were ignored (including my concerns about FaHCSIA’s bad habit of trying to access ABA funds to prop up whatever policy thought bubble it was entertaining that week).
Separate to this, and having failed to access effective advice from our national legal team, I spoke with the Solicitor General’s Office, and the Australian Public Service Commission around a number of governance issues. (The SLG were marginally useful, the APSC refused all requests for assistance.)
There had been a particular case of the then SIHIP Housing Alliance promising a community organisation (within the NLC’s area of responsibility) ABA funding for a particular project.
The funding was not provided, the ABA Committee did not recommend the request, and the Minister accepted the Committee’s advice.
I was rung by the head of the community organisation who promised to “run the Minister through with a spear when their plane touches down for a visit next week”.
In the short term I managed to have the funding provided (out-of-sitting, a process the ABA Committee had a reasonable dislike for) before the Minister’s visit.
All things being equal it is not helpful to drop Ministers in trouble.
In the long term I discovered the Housing Alliance actually had the funds available itself but that it was just seeing, “if we could get it out of the ABA”.
I raised the issue with my manager who laughed it off, noting, “Ha ha ha, who cares, it was only xxx million dollars!”
This highlighted the general ignorance of the Canberra bureaucracy for what the ABA represented (a little bit of autonomy for Land Council leaders), and the way in which they misunderstood how we should treat those leaders (with a bit of respect).
Anyone who knows me is aware I’m no bleeding heart.
But it beggars belief the ABA is run out of Canberra by a group of bureaucrats (these days PM and C).
In previous conversations with the then chair of the NLC (Mr W), the current chair of the NLC (Mr B-B), and also Mr Ryan, a proposal for rebasing the ABA in the NT was discussed.
This would include some kind of prescribed agency arrangement for the ABA, offices in Darwin and Alice Springs, self-funding through a 5% levy on all provided grants, and commonsense up-to-date reporting for committee members so they could see where the money they were approving was going (on an ongoing basis).
I realise this information is only slightly relevant to the issues raised by Miss Blunden, but clarity seems to be a missing element in this space.
It helps no-one, but is disrespectful to all.


NT is biggest loser in nation’s renewable energy race
The ACT Government buys in most of its power from interstate, at a heavy premium. (A premium made even higher at the retail end due the convoluted legals in place to make the ‘100% renewable’ model a ‘reality.’) It’s virtue signalling, not effective utility supply.


‘Catastrophic’ drop in construction work
Governments are addicted to outsourcing this kind of basic policy advice.
It gives the Government a veneer of competence, while avoiding the possibility of being held accountable for something.
However, once upon a time NT Treasury was more than capable of producing advice in this area – and likely still is.
Perhaps the line of questioning on this could be expanded at the next committee sitting. As in: “Why is Mr Gunner wasting money on something his own Treasury is able to do?”


Government accused of unfair competition
It does appear Minister Lawler was happy to use her authority to make a decision, but now alerted to the negative consequences private operators are facing as a result, wants to handball responsibility to the Development Consent Authority.
Not really what we elect our local members for.


NT should be the sun, wind powerhouse
Some points to consider: In terms of a “pollutant emissions output / energy cost input” over the life of an energy generating system, so-called renewables remain hideously expensive and inefficient, and create more waste than traditional generators.
Two points about wind turbines, over and above the terrible impact they have on local communities, and wildlife: A wind turbine has in effect to be linked to a gas turbine for when the wind doesn’t blow, and the manufacturing process for building turbines creates around a cubic tonne of highly toxic waste.
Beyond Zero Emissions are in many ways just another organised, taxpayer-soaking cult seeking to direct how we live our lives contrary to science, and the basic tenets of modern standards of living.
Carbon is a building block of life. CO2 content in the earth’s atmosphere is around .04%. Australia’s CO2 output is about 3% of the .04% total – that is so small as to be unmeasurable. All sides of this “debate” have at least previously noted. Nothing Australia does in this space will have a global impact.
A research area within CDU has previously flagged an idea to pump water from the Ord uphill during the day using solar-powered pumps.
At night the water would then run downhill driving power generators.
The power would be cabled undersea to Indonesia.
There are a few issues with this “plan”: No mention was made of where the water would be stored once pumped uphill, and when questioned the CDU team could not provide an answer.
And the cost of cabling power to Indonesia would be very, very high.
The idea to export the power was an assumption and not done on the basis of actually consulting with the Indonesians. Why our neighbours would choose to buy more expensive “renewable” power might be worth asking.
And in the week this idea was flagged the Indonesian Government announced plans to build three additional nuclear power generators. As is always the case, the researchers felt “if we could just get some more funding” they would be able to finish their work.
The nation-level investment in renewables in countries like Germany and Spain has had a range of negative impacts.
Economic costs: Building Spain’s solar and wind infrastructure came close to bankrupting the country.
There are much higher energy costs for consumers, and the resultant energy poverty for those to whom the cost is largely shifted.
In the UK there have been policy announcements over the past year about a shift to 100% renewables.
The engineering consequence of this would be a required increase in battery storage capacity of close to 1000%.
The energy production costs of this would make worthless any reduction in pollutant emissions. There have been some substantial renewable project failures in Australia, involving large multi-nationals. Worth looking into.
As always the end point is, why not nuclear?
I don’t have anything against renewables apart from that they are inefficient, expensive and have a far more negative environmental impact than is willingly discussed.
Nuclear on the other hand is about as clean as you can get.
And before I hear the words Three Mile or Chernobyl let’s remember modern nuclear reactors are safe and stable, and technically in a different era.
BZE are just grabbing for more government cash.
And like the sheep we are we’re once again looking to the cargo cult of Government to deliver us some goodies.


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