South Australia leading the Nation

Or Old Ideologies v’s the Future.  I’m starting this post with a fascinating live link to the energy sources powering Australia at the moment:

The next installment of the Perfect Storm II began earlier this week when our Premier, Jay Weatherill, announced South Australia was taking control of its own energy needs.  This came after constant sniping from the Federal Liberal National Government over our blackouts the last few months.

Some history to the blackouts

South Australia wasn’t the only state experiencing blackouts over summer, but the other states are powered mostly by coal.  The Federal Government has an unusual obsession with coal.  Against majority international scientific opinion, they regard coal as the future, and do everything they can to ensure Australia’s main energy source is coal.

After each blackout the Federal Government would blame our high uptake of renewable energy.  In every case, this wasn’t the cause.  In contrast there was silence when the other states experienced blackouts.

The last coal fired power station in South Australia and the Leigh Creek coal mine closed last year.  This was due to economic reasons.  The Victorian Hazelwood brown coal fired power station is also going to close this year.

In contrast, the Queensland Government with assistance from the Federal Government, is in the process of allowing Adani to open the biggest coal mine in Australia, and is attempting to push through amendments to the Native Title Act to over-ride any opposition from the First Nation peoples.  The Adani CEO was responsible for a major environmental disaster in South Africa, and here are some more reasons why the mine shouldn’t go ahead:

The Announcement

As part of our state taking control of its energy needs, our Premier announced we would install a 100mWh battery storage system, after visiting Tesla boss Elon Musk offered to solve our blackouts by installing a 100mWh system in 100 days or it would be free*.  Tesla has already installed a 80mWh system in California.  Germany is also aiming to increase their storage from 60mWh to 200mWh this year.

The announcement included increasing our gas extraction (we are assured it doesn’t including fracking) and also building a new government owned gas fired power station to ensure (cheaper?) reliable energy supply.

We are told gas is a bridge between coal and 100% renewable energy for our state.  Port Augusta is very keen on building a solar thermal plant, and the Government is due to make a decision on this by June.  Many renewables supporters think we should stop investing in gas and put all the money into renewable energy sources only.  As more money is invested, the cheaper renewable energy becomes.

The fact is, the power purchase solar panels on our roof have generated an average of 23kWhs/day from October to January, and with battery storage we could have easily powered our household and put energy back in the grid.  There are many roofs without solar panels in SA.

Like most other Australian states and territories, there is massive land space in South Australia for wind, solar thermal, and solar panels.  With battery storage, we have the weather to power South Australia and further afield.  Our Federal Government has removed incentives for renewable energy and recently talked about using the clean energy fund to finance a ‘clean coal’ power station, to the disgust of many.  it is extremely frustrating watching the Government bypass opportunities to support renewable energy based on old ideologies.

Our Premier’s announcement sparked a panicked policy announcement by Prime Minister Turnbull to increase the size of the Snowy Mountains hydro scheme by 50%.  Along with the newly elected Labor Government in Western Australia, hopefully this is the beginning of a turnaround towards renewable energy.

*The SA system is going out to tender so one or a multiple of companies can bid for the project.

The Perfect Storm

During the storms in South Australia last week, two tornadoes flattened twenty-three transmission towers, which resulted in a state-wide blackout for three hours. Power was out in some parts of the state for several days.

“A preliminary report into the mass three-day power outage has been released by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). The report says it remains unknown what role wind power played.”

“Renewables were supplying 70 per cent of generation in South Australia at the time of the incident and we know that they work differently to conventional thermal generation,” ”

Clearly  wind power via the tornadoes played a large part in the blackout, but politicians were quick to blame green energy in the state for the outage, long before knowing any facts.

The first reaction was from Independent Senator Nick Xenaphon, who instantly blamed SA’s high take up of renewable energy.  “Mr Xenophon said while he supported the renewable energy target – 40 per cent of South Australia’s energy supply comes from renewable energy – the transition had been “reckless” and heads should roll over the blackout.”  He was soon joined by Liberal and National Party  politicians, including the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who questioned the speed of the take up of renewable energy:

“Now, I regret to say that a number of the state Labor Governments have over the years set priorities and renewable targets that are extremely aggressive, extremely unrealistic, and have paid little or no attention to energy security.”

Paul Gilding in The Great Disruption, says we have done too little too late to avoid catastrophic climate change events.  He also argues that once we see the effects of climate change we will act fast to radically reduce carbon emissions.  We obviously haven’t reached the point of peak stupid. (My observation, not Paul Gilding’s).

“NASA’s data showed that each month in 2016 was the warmest respective month globally in the modern temperature record, which dates to 1880. This trend suggests 2016 will surpass 2015 as the hottest year on record, NASA said.Jul 20, 2016″

I’m astounded that with a consensus of scientific opinion around the world, that politicians still can’t get their head around the urgency in reducing carbon emissions.  Do they think they are reflecting the will of  the people?  Our former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, was voted in on a platform of scrapping the Carbon Tax.  At present, the Right of the Coalition wields power over a Prime Minister who was previously passionate about addressing climate change.  The present Government is also funded by powerful coal interests.

If Paul Gilding is correct, and we have left the move too late to avoid catastrophic weather events, then I hope we have a better attitude to accepting climate refugees.  Given our current acceptance of off-shore detention and refusal to settle refugee boat arrivals in Australia, we need to reflect on our future as global citizens.  The irony is, Australia may be one of the countries most effected by climate change, and do we expect our neighbours to show more humanity towards us than we have towards them?  What goes around comes around.

Paul Gilding, The Great Disruption

To end on a more positive note, this is from Paul Gilding’s book:

“Apart from the lack of CO2, the extraordinary amount of solar energy arriving on the planet means renewables make intuitive sense.  Consider this: Every hour an amount of energy equivalent to what all of humanity uses in a year hits the earth’s surface from the sun.  Even after allowing for the limits in accessibility and converting this into useful energy, a year’s supply arrives every week.

Another “annual supply” of energy is available from the wind every month and another one again each month from geothermal.  Then there is the hydro from rivers and energy in the waves and tides.  So there is just so much energy available, it is implausible that we cannot access it effectively and at a reasonable price if we put our minds to the task.”



Negative Gearing and All that Tax

This post is dedicated to my late Grandfather, State Liberal MP, Horace (Race) Hogben.

My Grandfather spent most of his time as a Liberal MP in the 1930’s working on a plan to bring affordable housing to South Australians, that became the Housing Trust.  “Concerned about housing problems during the Depression, in 1934 he and (Sir) Keith Wilson (the president of the Y.L.L.) formed a committee to examine the ‘shortage of low-price houses and the concomitant of rising rents’. Hogben undertook the research, at the expense of much of his accountancy practice and income.”

He then spent time on the Board of the Savings Bank of South Australia and believed the central role of the bank was to offer low interest loans for housing.

How the Liberal Party came from that point to where it is today I don’t know, but my Grand-father would roll in his grave over the policies on negative gearing and the effect it has had on pushing up the price of housing, especially over the last fifteen years.

Housing in Australia is up to twelve times the average income.  After 9/11 when fear was created in investing internationally, many Australians decided to invest in domestic housing.  The policy of Negative Gearing allows investors to write off costs or losses against their income.

Negative gearing as a policy covers many areas of investment but the question is, should it include the essential need of housing?  The GST (Goods and Services Tax) in Australia doesn’t apply to food, so I’m not sure why we would allow any investment tax breaks on housing when the obvious outcome would be to push up the price of housing.

Our State Government is phasing out Stamp Duty on transfers of non-residential and non-primary production real property, while it will still apply on residential properties.  Does this mean a property purchased as non-residential for the investor is exempt?

Somebody pays for all tax breaks and exemptions and it is inevitably low income earners who pay a higher ratio of tax per income and/or rent to allow higher income earners to get tax breaks and accrue more assets.

Using essential services such as housing as a tax break should never have been part of the negative gearing policy.  It has forced a generation into renting and removed their ability to build up an asset to pass to future generations.  The Federal Government has acknowledged the family home is an individual’s biggest asset and at the same time ensures that current and future generations will be unable to afford that asset unless they have substantial financial assistance from their family (assuming that family already owns property).

Negative Gearing for housing ensures home owners are able to buy more houses or units and renters stay in rental accommodation for future generations, widening the gap between the ‘haves and have nots’.

Other articles:  Almost 20,000 Canberrans unable to afford essentials due to housing costs, survey finds




Best Adelaide Food Experiences

I thought it was time to update the food section of this blog, so have added this post to the Pages section so it can be found easily.

When we travel anywhere, a favourite part of the trip is a great food experience.  Not based on a high priced restaurant meal in an expensive location, but delicious food in an interesting location.  So for any visitors or locals to Adelaide, here are some of my favourite places based on the quality of the food for the price and the uniqueness of the experience in Adelaide.

Piccadilly Kitchen

Just the other side of the hills you can see from the Adelaide CBD, to the east of Mount Lofty, is the picturesque township of Piccadilly.  The valley is a patchwork of market gardens, vineyards, and native bushland.  It is pretty all year round, especially autumn with the abundance of autumn leaves including the nearby Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens.  Piccadilly Kitchen is part of the one set of shops on the main road.

Piccadilly Kitchen

The décor is comfortable-collectable-rustic, and the food is all freshly house made.  The lunch menu is short and to the point and the chicken pot pie is worth the trip alone.  This time we came for hot chocolate and apple cake with fresh cream.

Piccadilly Kitchen

Piccadilly Kitchen

Piccadilly Kitchen is only open Fridays for lunch.  Every fortnight on a Sunday the Piccadilly Garden and Produce Bazaar is open in the community hall across the road.  Piccadilly Kitchen is open for coffee and cake but not lunch during market hours.  Piccadilly Kitchen


Also at the Campbelltown end of town (so add Mercato to your list when visiting Elbio) is the great hall of Italian produce with everything from pasta to cheeses and an extensive sweets and deli section. Mercato houses a teaching kitchen, and Bar Mercato is open to the public for lunch and coffee daily.





Roasted eggplant and potato, and Margherita pizza with iced chocolate and a latte.



Fresh fruit tart.