Wednesday, 31 October 2012

but its not corruption

According to the Sydney Morning Herald today:

STRICT guidelines for determining when private proposals to the NSW government can bypass a competitive tender process were watered down shortly before James Packer put forward his plan for a $1 billion hotel and casino at Barangaroo.


seems to not have changed since colonial days when the wealthy made deals with

The change was made on August 17, a week after the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, met Mr Packer to discuss his proposal.
funny stuff if it wasn't so pathetic

Monday, 6 August 2012

Australian "business as usual"

A recent commenter over at "the conversation" wrote what I happen to think represents a pretyy good summary of Australian Big Business attitudes.

So we slap a few PV panels on our open-cut mining equipment and maybe run our coal trains on recycled chip oil ... we know what we do here ... we dig stuff up and flog it overseas. The waggons leave full and come back empty. It's what we've always done.

We strip-mine the place - top-soil, water, forests ... you name it - it's all for sale. We improve nothing, we build nothing we live on what we've found. Our commitment to being clever peaked and faded after the triumph of the Victa lawnmower and the Hills hoist.

Our addiction to the myth of endless cheap power is the only reality we know. It's lasted a century. It must be eternal. We cannot imagine any life without cars of some sort, without switches and flying in our jet-lagged kiwifruit from Italy.

So we will blanket our landscape in CSG pipes and wind turbines. We will do whatever it takes to be comfortable and have some machine do all our work for us, to keep on consuming everything and producing nothing until, like a larger version of Nauru, all the stuff we've found here has been flogged off.

You have found small to medium businesses in Tasmania willing to invest in new technology, in new power, in making stuff? Really? Here in Australia? We don't do that here mate. It's like asking locusts to leave something for their kiddies.

Not saying we can't. Just that we won't
.


He made further clarification on some points here:


That living "in the bush" is not a viable alternative option. Not for everyone. Not for their entire lives. People get old and tired and need to be closer to the towns. And the actual costs of going it alone - even as a group - are prohibitive, ecologically and financially.

I have learned that many older "hippies" had set aside the permaculture adventures of their youth and were living essentially suburban lives on 1,000 hectare community titles.

That they burned just as much diesel as the local farmers and were dependent on an income from work, commuting 30ks each way (sound familiar?), that their verandahs were covered with enough lead acid batteries to sink an aircraft carrier and their fading utopia was drowning under the weight of lantana, their escaped garden plants and Bell-bird associated die-back.

The other thing - perhaps the underlying driver for a lot of this - is that while the kids and grandkids of these "hippies" often came back for visits - they all wanted to live somewhere else - in town, at jobs, and also leading very suburban lives. There was a diminished pool of fit strong labour - hence the increasing use of diesel.

But also the PV systems - which were HUGE and State of the ART - would hop the fence after 3 days of grey skies. No grid. So on goes the Genny... pop pop pop all along the valley.

Now 40 or so households all had $20,000 worth of gadetry slapped on their roof - and all up they had a total of three days worth of power. Absurd economics when you add it up.

A lot of the problem is that they half-did stuff right at the start. They paddled their own canoes. The available technology was not designed for more community-based notions of energy supply. It still isn't by and large. But also there were limits on the extent to which they would - or could - live in a "community" - they all wanted their own bush hideaway, or that's how it has ended up after 40 years.

So to summarise, the notion of going it alone is not in fact sustainable - not physically, not socially and certainly not economically. That doesn't mean we don't do things differently and better, but alternatives need to be more than just youthful adventures. Long-term, stable, as self sufficient and productive as possible, and somewhere where diesel is forever banned. Oh yes and learn to manage the bloody landscape while it's still there.

The one thing I have taken away from the bush is that small regional towns are a far more interesting prospect when it comes to building medium scale, long term alternatives. I'm still learning how to do that.

Incidentally the Carbon Price and subsequent trading system is very clever... probably too little too late for mine ... but very very much an Australian approach - not an import at all. And clever. Just not big and hard enough to effect enough change in enough time to avoid anything ... but let's see
.


Well worth reading is this bit of information about bell bird dieback.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Who buys this rubbish?

Seriously?

Australia seems to be some sort of dumping ground for rubbish fashion that won't sell in asia

Bleh

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Cold inside the house

One of the mysteries of life in Australia is that while its not typically cold here we tend to be cold inside our homes, despite pouring a few kilowatts of electricity into the home.

I can only assume that its a tradition we have followed from the English who also manage to make pathetic houses from the insulation perspective.

Academics ponder the issue but builders keep churning out the same designs and foolish Aussies keep buying them.

They then sit around inside complaining about how cold it is. Strange how its often actually warmer outside ...

Why don't we laugh at Australian chimney and fireplace design next

:-)

Sunday, 3 June 2012

our limited scope of vision

Reading the SMH this morning and amid this blatant bit of advertising was the important quote from a Chinese steel operator:
 "If we die, you die." 

Reading the article revealed that there was not much in there about how much wealth is brought to Australia (or even how Australia really benefits long term from this), only a message how we've tied ourselves to something and how much we've over extended ourselves to get this to China.

I would like to see just how much of the money from the mining boom stays in Australia VS how much we blow in gearing up for handling the volumes. I would worry that as we all know this won't last forever what happens when it stops?

I guess we'll be left holding the debts on the infrastructure we paid for to get some of that stuff out. Of course some of that is paid for by the mines, but not all of it.

Naturally people will cry out that we need foreign investment to make the country big and strong. But do we and how much? A thought provolking article on this can be read over at Macrobusiness here.

From where I sit I only see us ruining our long term for some gain in the short term which isn't even really much gain for us. Something worth considering is the WA Gas Shortage and that during the Great Famine of Ireland Ireland remained a net food exporter.

 Meaning they had enough to feed themselves but were unable to afford it themselves.

History goes in cycles.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

the disconnection from reality

This newspaper article seems to say pretty much the same thing I've been saying here.
If you live in the city and haven't ventured to the country yet, there's a one-in-five chance you never will

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

industry self regulation

Just like mobile phone charging scams schemes it seems that industry self regulation here is a pathetic joke when compared to (say) European regulation standards. For example the "egg industry" wishes to have a standard of free range production standard enshrined in law to allow 2 chickens per square meter and call that free range (as discussed here)
The Australian Egg Corporation, which represents most egg farmers, this week sent new draft standards to producers, which would allow a free-range egg farm to run as many as 20,000 chickens per hectare. The industry's current model code, which is not legally enforceable, allows 1500 chickens per hectare.

With a hectare being 10,000 square meters - 20,000 chickens would be 2 chickens in a square meter (so a yard by a yard more or less) repeated over quite an amount of area. So this still represents quite tight storage for chickens.

So corporate nastiness is actually equal in treating both the human population and our stock animals as just a resource to rack and pack