Hmm – in defence of the nation, or simply in …

Comment on Does non-citizen travel ban apply to US personnel at Pine Gap? by Alex Nelson.

Hmm – in defence of the nation, or simply in defence of Defence? Whatever fence Defence is straddling, one hopes it isn’t topped with security mesh or barbed wire.

Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Convention ignored in vote on Opposition
I’m instantly reminded of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four in which the state determines what we can believe, giving the example that 2+2=5. When the Party controls all perceptions, whatever it chooses to be the rule becomes a fact.
In 2011 I wrote this limerick:
In 1948 Eric Blair wrote his finest final story
About a regime of deception, so premonitory
Better known as George Orwell
His “1984” did foretell
The contemporary history of the Northern Territory.


Gunner government to hide fiscal facts
It’s difficult to see that the Gunner Government’s behaviour will afford it any advantage when the NT election campaign is underway.


Work on six storey accommodation complex to start in May
@ Charlie Carter (Posted March 20, 2020 at 5:27 pm): Regardless of whether due process and opportunity for public input has occurred, recent history shows such development applications are invariably a fait accompli irrespective of which political party holds office.
It’s only changing circumstances that catch government and developers out; for example, the vacant lots of Melanka, the Aboriginal Art and Culture Centre (next door to KFC), and – for a time – Lizzie Milnes’s home in Bath Street which was an empty lot for several years until the Green Well office complex was built.
This was only after the NT Government guaranteed renting the new building (leaving vacant other office space across town).
The latest example is the demolition of the former Anzac Hill High School; given current circumstances, don’t hold our collective breath over anything being developed on this site for many years (if at all) and long after the current miserable excuse posing as a Northern Territory Government has been consigned to the rubbish dump of history.


Work on six storey accommodation complex to start in May
For several years I’ve pointed out the apparent correlation between privately funded proposals or construction of high rise developments above three storeys in Alice Springs and the onset of major economic downturns.
I did so in 2015 (see my two comments), noted it again in 2017 (see my early comment), and yet again last year.
I’ve also stated my observations a number of times on local ABC radio.
Given current circumstances it appears to me that Alice Springs remains as strong a barometer for economic turmoil as it has demonstrated on several occasions for nearly half a century.
However, confirmation of the go-ahead for a major six-storey development seems to herald a far worse situation unfolding around the world.
The ABC’s business editor, Ian Verrender, has posted a stark warning of a far more worrying development that has been masked by our pre-occupation with the coronavirus emergency and sharp decline of stock markets.
If this warning holds true, we don’t just face the prospect of an economic recession; rather it is an economic depression that now looms ahead of us.
It looks to me that we are confronted with an epochal turning point of history, the like of which hasn’t been experienced since the commencement of the Great Depression 90 years ago.


Sun Cable to power on despite virus uncertainty
My observations below were first made in response to an article about the Sun Cable project published on The Conversation on February 26. Here’s a little bit of history.
1. In June 1992 I wrote to NT Chief Minister Marshall Perron inquiring about the feasibility of linking the Top End’s power system with Timor.
This was when the electricity grids of the southeast states were being connected as a micro-economic reform measure.
The Northern Territory economy was badly impacted by the recession of the early 1990s, and I wondered if a similar micro-economic reform measure could be achieved by joining the Top End’s small power grid with our nearest international neighbour.
My idea was examined by the NT Power and Water Authority but was found impractical for several technical reasons – the amount of power to be transmitted was too small (about 10 megawatts), the capital cost alone would range from $210m to 250m, transmission losses could reach 20% of the power transmitted, and that Indonesia (under whose control East Timor was then) was a net exporter of oil and could supply energy requirements at a much cheaper cost.
2. In the NT election campaign of June 2005, the major policy plank of the Country Liberal Party was a project to link the Top End with a DC cable via Mt Isa to the National Electricity Grid of the eastern Australian states.
Touted as “the biggest infrastructure project since the CLP built the Alice Springs-Darwin rail link” (completed under Labor the previous year), the privately financed scheme would feature a “proposed power line, one of the world’s longest” comprised of “masts with a single pole, a cross arm and two bundles of up to four cables as thick as your fist” that “would have a life of up to 50 years” (Alice Springs News, June 8, 2005).
The capital investment of the project was $1 billion. Although development of offshore gas fields in the Timor Sea was well underway, the CLP claimed that “every molecule of it … is spoken for and will be exported to Japan” (Ibid).
This was denied by the NT Labor Government, which shortly afterwards won a crushing election victory, taking 19 out of the 25 seat NT Legislative Assembly. The overland power cable project vanished out of contention.
3. In June 2013 (something about this month of the year!) the Environment Centre NT hosted a workshop on the concept of providing “green energy” from the NT to southeast Asia: “The Territory’s power grid could one day be connected to Asia through undersea cables that transfer renewable energy to East Timor and Indonesia. A workshop will be held in Darwin … so experts can discuss the ambitious project”.
The Environment Centre NT’s director “said it was likely that Australia’s power grid would one day be connected to Asia. He said he hoped it would be used to distribute renewable energies including solar, geothermal or wind power and reduce our focus on resources such as gas” (NT News, June 25, 2013).
Solar power transmitted from the Northern Territory to southeast Asia? As the old saying goes, “there ain’t nothing new under the sun”.
Further to this (and quite apart from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic), it could be that new Australian technology may prove to render the Sun Cable project unviable.
I’m referring to Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactors that convert waste plastics, using water as a “change agent”, into synthetic oil, able again to be used for fuel and chemicals.
There are few (if any) regions in the world groaning louder under the weight of discarded waste plastics than southeast Asia; and indeed it looks like Timor-Leste will be the first country in the world to take up this new technology.
I suspect the Sun Cable project will go the same way as my suggestion of an undersea power cable to Timor that I made almost three decades ago.


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