Power Play

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An over-investment in poles and wires means that ‘network charges’ on Australian electricity bills are among the highest in the world. But by charging these high prices, have the networks created conditions that will lead them to be undercut by new solar technologies?

Yesterday’s Background BriefingThe Big Disconnect – was ABC investigative journalism at its best.

I listened, as I am sure many of us here did, with interest to a program that summarised the idiotic “decision-making” of Australia’s dinosaur power network companies over the past couple of decades – the gold-plated poles etc., – a story well-known to many of us.

(For those who haven’t caught up with the program yet, try the link of your choice: Audio; Full Transcript)

So, why am I bothering to highlight a well-made, engaging Sunday morning radio program on a topic that’s fairly familiar?

Okay, it was this part – almost at the end – that made my jaw drop:

Jess Hill: As the networks try to create certainty in a world where increasingly there is none, one new strategy they’re dreaming up is to charge people, whether they are connected or not. Rob Murray-Leach from the Energy Efficiency Council:

Rob Murray-Leach: I can’t think of a single other industry, even telecoms, where people said, ‘Well, you know what, I know that you don’t have a mobile phone or a land line anymore, but we’re still going to charge you as if you had one because we built this stuff a while ago on the hopes that you’d use it.’ So that’s a really big political question. I think it’s going to be a very, very big debate in the next 5 to 10 years.

Jess Hill: It’s the companies that should be responsible for their own bad decisions, says Tosh Szatow.

Tosh Szatow: It’s a dangerous game for them to play, because network businesses are responsible for efficient planning and investment in their assets. So there is no case to be made for consumers being left to pick up the bill if stranded assets emerge. It should be the investors that have made those poor investment decisions over the last five years that are going to be left picking up the tab.

(My emphasis.)

Why did I immediately start thinking about protection rackets?

Why would I not be surprised if the present Federal government gave them the green light?

Move over, Mafiosi – here’s a real power play.

303 thoughts on “Power Play

  1. Border Force has confirmed Christmas Island detainees have had their phones confiscated. No more calls to journalists— Callum Denness (@CalBD) November 12, 2015


    Also says it's helping detainees contact families but families I've spoken to have had no contact from detainees, don't know where they are— Callum Denness (@CalBD) November 12, 2015


    Seriously: Border Force now prevents people reporting brutality, rape, sexual abuse in immigration detention. Are we sliding into fascism?— Julian Burnside (@JulianBurnside) November 12, 2015


  2. At times, Burnside is a waste of space.

    When he has decent (!) material to work with he is great.

  3. I dunno, I just dunno. What is this country coming to? Not that there’s much competition, but watching the grass grow is more informative.

    Insiders is now TV’s highest rating morning show

    ABC’s Barrie Cassidy has something to crow about.

    “This year for the first time Insiders is the highest-rated morning programme any day of the week,” he declares.

    “We have 361,000 viewers and Sunrise is in the low 350,000s and we’re well ahead of Today.”


  4. Leone,

    There’s a lot of talk about shifts between generations.

    In my opinion, that is a nonsense: one generation doesn’t just die and another happen.

    Charles Darwin got it right with his evolution (and I damn the bastards who misinterpret that to their own ends). All the newbies (born) have their parents’ genes. That’s the nature bit. Then they “adapt” to their circumstances (the nurture bit)

    Once the kiddies are forced into an environment apart from that of their parents then nurture sets in.

    To get back to your point: the viewers of Insiders are children of nurture.

    Mind you, it just could be that 1000 or so just happened on the program and forgot to turn off the TV.

  5. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/saudiarabia/11989106/Revealed-Saudi-Arabias-manifesto-for-change-in-the-face-of-rumours-of-coup-plots.html





    http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2015/11/09/4347946.htm a good listen

  6. A very good first half of the football: no one writhed in perfected pain.

    There was a lot of talk about the surface not being up to the job. The way the players are going, that is a nonsense.

  7. Was there a QT today? Not that I mind missing Malcayman Lord Fauntelroy Royal Purple Velveteen Ballcup of The House of Turnips in full glasses-waving flight.

  8. erica could probably sire the odd sprog or three; mesma less likely. In the unfortunate event of my being wrong, the progeny would resemble this:

  9. The Things you learn watching ABC News. Coverage of Truffle’s visit to Indonesia was pretty much as per usual and then came this gem. What was it that screwed Tones’ plan to be focused on Jakarta rather than Geneva ? Give up ? Not our NE and now EXpm according to ABC News, NE was a mere victim off “Circumstances cruelled Tony Abbott’s best efforts to build foreign policy around.. …” .

  10. Oh geez – Abbott has really lost the plot.

    Forget marriage equality, praise David Cameron for tough calls – Tony Abbott

    “In Australia, Cameron is mostly portrayed as the conservative who supports gay marriage and takes climate change seriously but his real strength has been successful social and economic reform,” he wrote.

    “So far, his government has transformed education by, in effect, privatising public schools; tackled the culture of welfare by ensuring that people are always better off in work than out of it; and halved the deficit inherited from Labour … Yet his government’s latest measure to rein in spending – reducing tax credits for the low income workers while increasing the minimum wage – has been rejected in the House of Lords. It shows how carefully even politically ascendant conservatives have to tread.”


    Speeches at Conservative dinners, articles in UK papers, praise for Cameron , lots of sucking-up – could this all mean Abbott has thought about his future in politics and decided that future is becoming a member of the British parliament? If the rumours are to be believed he is still a British citizen, it would be so easy to move back and ask his mate Cameron for a safe seat.

    We can only hope.

  11. KK:

    The Things you learn watching ABC News. Coverage of Truffle’s visit to Indonesia was pretty much as per usual and then came this gem. What was it that screwed Tones’ plan to be focused on Jakarta rather than Geneva ? Give up ? Not our NE and now EXpm according to ABC News, NE was a mere victim off “Circumstances cruelled Tony Abbott’s best efforts to build foreign policy around.. …” .

    As Andrew Elder would say, when a reporter uses the passive voice, they’re up to no good. They generalise like that when they’re unwilling to go into specifics.

  12. Tory grandees would consider the NE far too uncouth.The political party most suited to Tones is the BNP. Lefarge and Lord Monckton would make excellent bedfellows for Tones. .

  13. Australia – soon to become a retirement village for old, white, well-off conservative-voting layabouts?

    Charging for immigration could raise $7.6 billion, Productivity Commission finds

    Auctioning the right to come to Australia could raise $35,000 to $45,000 per immigrant, enough to boost the budget by $7.6 billion per year, a Productivity Commission analysis has found.
    But the commission has found against the idea in a draft report to be released on Friday, saying that stripping the government of the right to decide who comes to Australia could lead to unpredictable changes in the immigration program and cost it community support.
    The Coalition asked the Productivity Commission to examine the idea as part of a deal struck with Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm in return for his vote on the reintroduction of temporary protection visas for asylum seekers.
    The report finds that immigrants willing to bid to come to Australia are more likely to be old, wealthier than other immigrants, and as a result less likely to contribute to the economy


  14. I am at the Australian Services Union SA/NT conference at the Adelaide Zoo. Later we get a tour of the Panda display and a post conference function with Penny Wong. #asuzoo on Twitter.

  15. Greenland glacier sliding rapidly into ocean, raising sea levels: scientists

    A glacier in north-east Greenland with enough ice to raise world ocean levels by half a metre has begun to slide more quickly towards the sea, extending ice losses to all corners of the vast remote island, a US study shows.

    Because of warmer water temperatures, the end of the Zachariae Isstrom glacier floated free from a ridge of bedrock below sea level on which it had rested until 2012, the study, which was reported in the journal Science on Thursday, said.

  16. Hands up anyone who’s surprised. . . Anyone?
    Abbott office closely monitored Bill Shorten’s royal commission appearance

    Staff in Tony Abbott’s office closely monitored Bill Shorten’s two-day appearance before the trade union royal commission in July, despite the then prime minister repeatedly claiming the hearing was not a “political plaything” designed to target the Opposition Leader.

    Documents released under Freedom of Information laws reveal that on Wednesday, July 8, three staff members in the former prime minister’s office accessed the commission’s website home page a total of 19 times.

    On the following day, four staff members in the office accessed the commission’s website page another nine times.

    And one political staffer in the Abbott office appears to have been glued to their desk for two consecutive days watching the commission’s live video stream of Mr Shorten’s evidence to commission, accessing the website five times on the Wednesday and twice more on the Thursday.

  17. Need help. Sitting next to anti ALP Green at union conference. I mentioned 457 visas. She claimed alp voted with Lib to defeat adam bant bill to include engineers in workforce tests for 457s. So alp same as lnp. The enemy. Any truth to claim or is it just half the story?

  18. puffy

    Tell the ignoramus to get stuffed.

    If she is referring to the June 2013 bill then she has it all wrong. It was Labor’s bill, not Bandt’s. He put up some amendments which did not get up.

    The Greens were so sulky about the bill not including their amendments that they were considering voting against it, with the Coalition, in the senate, but they didn’t and the bill became law on 28 June 2013.


  19. Methinks the owl is a chick looking down from it’s nest and the photographer is looking directly upwards.

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