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Australia & New Zealand - June 30

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


EB founder quoted in Australian House debate

Stephen Gibbons, Hansard

National Fuelwatch (Empowering Consumers) Bill 2008; National Fuelwatch (Empowering Consumers) (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2008
Second Reading

Stephen Gibbons (Bendigo, Australian Labor Party):

... The Fuelwatch proposal seems to have everyone’s support except the current Liberal-National federal opposition, who are only interested in a cheap and very dubious political fix by wiping out completely the $22 billion dollar surplus provided in the May budget. Of the surplus, $8 billion will be eroded completely by the reduction in excise promised by the opposition and the rest will be eroded by their opposition to a number of other budget initiatives announced by Labor. So much for their dubious reputation of being `fiscal geniuses’!

Some experts have indicated that the days of fuel prices at around $1 per litre may well have gone forever. The Australian editor of EnergyBulletin, Mr Adam Grubb, and former oil, coal and gas industry executive Mr Ian Dunlop were recently asked:

Have we entered a new energy era of high-priced oil?

And-

Are the days of $1/litre petrol gone for good?

Mr Grubb responded by saying:

We - that is, Australia - appear to have reached the peak in oil production. Global conventional oil production peaked in May 2005. Australia as a net importing nation is particularly vulnerable. Our internal oil production peaked in 2000,

Mr Ian Dunlop answered:

There is little doubt we are now in a new high-price energy era. On the demand side, the rapid growth of world population, all understandably aspiring to higher standards of living and consumption, is putting enormous strain on the global environment, to the point that we are probably reaching the ‘Limits to Growth’ forecast long ago.

They were also asked:

... as a policy response, how useful is lowering the fuel excise in combating the rising price of oil, both in the short and long term?

Mr Dunlop responded by saying:

It is completely futile. Prices are determined by the international market and there is nothing our government can do about that. Five cents per litre is irrelevant to a market where prices may fluctuate by several dollars.

Mr Grubb said:

Of course there may be some short term relief for struggling families. However we need to face the reality that oil is never going to be as cheap again as it was in the late eighties and nineties. As global oil exports continue to fall, prices will continue to rise in real terms. So we would merely be delaying the inevitable, while reducing government revenue which might be better spent helping those in need with more long term strategies and preparing the country for a leaner, and greener, future.

He went on to say:

Peak oil and climate change present us with an unprecedented challenge: how to begin consuming radically less fossil fuels while maintaining dignified lifestyles and essential services.

Clearly we need to look further than the current arrangements to secure an appropriate source of energy for our needs in the future. There are several options that would assist in this process but none are likely to provide any assistance over the short term.
(5 June 2008)
Adam Grubb is the founder of Energy Bulletin and an editor emeritus. -BA



Police warned Varanus plant: report

AAP, The Age
West Australian police repeatedly warned the operator of the Varanus Island gas plant that it needed a contingency plan to ensure it could operate in the event of a disaster, it has been reported.

Retired police superintendent Dave Parkinson, who between 2003 and 2005 led the police unit responsible for protecting critical infrastructure, told The West Australian newspaper that US-based Apache Energy had first been warned in 1993 that it needed a contingency plan for a terrorist attack or industrial disaster.

Apache operates the Varanus Island facility, which has been shut down since a June 3 pipeline explosion which cut off 30 per cent of WA's domestic gas supplies.

The gas shortage, which could affect WA supplies for another six months, has already cost business hundreds of millions of US dollars and has led to the laying-off or sacking of hundreds of workers.
(29 June 2008)
Contributor shane writes:
Related story: Coal-fired power station failed days before gas crisis

Verve Energy has admitted its flagship Collie A coal-fired power station shattered its turbines less than a week before the June 3 pipeline explosion at Apache Energy's gas processing facility knocked out 30 per cent of the state's gas supply.

The loss of the Collie power station at the end of last month increased the state's already heavy dependence on gas in the days leading up to the explosion.


The energy crisis needs a clear head

Kenneth Davidson, The Age
... The Liberals quoted a joint CSIRO-Climate Institute study released last week that predicted that low-income households would need between $50 and $185 a year compensation in the short term, rising to as much as $500 by 2025, and petrol prices would rise by 10%-50%.

It sounds like a horror story. It isn't. In fact it is quite the opposite. What the study showed was that in most cases increases in wages and and incomes would offset the higher energy prices.

The key findings were that (1) affordability of energy is likely to improve substantially over coming years, notwithstanding the introduction of emissions trading and their associated increase in energy prices; (2) there is some chance that emission trading could result in deterioration of energy affordabilty in the short to medium term for low-income households; and

(3) there is a range of efficiency measures and public transport alternatives that will offset rising energy prices.

Further, as the study points out, the higher the price for carbon and therefore the more money available for compensation for those whose real disposable incomes are cut as a result of higher energy prices.

The Government has a coherent story to sell providing it can keep its nerve.

Oil is a finite resource. Globally, we are either at or close to the peak oil tipping point where new discoveries can't keep pace with growing demand.
(30 June 2008)



Nandor Says Farewell
(video)
Nándor Tánczos, Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

BA: A rather astonishing farewell speech by Nándor Tánczos, a Green Party member of the New Zealand Parliament since 1999. He delivers some pointed criticism at the institutions of parliament and the press, before speaking about climate change and peak oil (at about 2/3 of the way through his speech). He wears a purple turban to hold in place hs ankle-length dreadlocks (he is a Rastrafarian). For a finale, he took out a watch and smashed it with a hammer:

"So today I remove that shackle, because when I look at the state of our rivers, our atmosphere and our people I don't need a watch to tell me what time it is.

(27 June 2008)
Suggested by Bill Henderson.
New Zealand Herald: Nandor shatters shackles of time
Wikipedia on Nándor Tánczos



The legacy of Nandor

Martin Kay, The Dominion Post (New Zealand)
Nine years after his colourful entrance to Parliament, Nandor Tanczos today farewells his colleagues. Martin Kay talks to the MP who, if nothing else, proved you should never judge a book by its cover.

He has dreadlocks down to his ankles, regularly uses cannabis and cut his political teeth in the world of environmental activism and cruise missile protest camps.

His maiden speech to Parliament began with greetings in the name of the Creator, the Most High Jah Ras Tafari, he was stomped on by Melbourne cops during an anti-globalisation protest a few months later, and he is probably the only New Zealand MP investigated by police for drugs.

But beyond the turban and the wispy Bob Marley-style beard, the hemp suits and the skateboard, he has proved to be more earnest and bookish than the radical rabble-rouser many stereotyped him as. More bespectacled than wild-eyed, pensive rather than raving, Nandor Tanczos has turned out to be . . . well, a bit nerdy, really.

Nine years after he came into Parliament on the Greens' list, New Zealand's first Rastafarian MP will farewell his colleagues today and head to the trees to ponder where to next.

Even those who most despised and feared his nonconformity - he came to Parliament strongly advocating cannabis law reform and direct-action protests - would have to concede he leaves behind a mild, even sensible, legacy.
(26 June 2008)
Most of the other press coverage was superficial and silly. It brings to mind Nandor's comments about the press in his farewell speech:

"The buzzards who sit watching us up there, waiting for the next political corpse to pick over ... They will always report a fight, but stand to talk about anything real and most of them flap their wings and fly away."

True to form, no press account covered Nandor's cogent remarks on climate change and peak oil. -BA

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