Squiz Today / 10 March 2017
Squiz Today – Friday, 10 March
RUNNING OUT OF GAS
The Australian Energy Market Operator released an explosive report yesterday predicting significant electricity and gas shortages by the end of next year unless something changes. While Australia is set to be the largest liquefied natural gas producer in the world by 2020, most is slated for export where companies are getting top dollar. But to keep the lights on here, we’re going to have to find some gas for domestic use.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
How did we get here indeed. How does a country blessed with large uranium, coal and gas deposits, hydro schemes, sun and wind come to face an energy crisis? There’s a long backstory to this that’s interwoven with the carbon price debate that has impacted the political careers of all the federal Liberal and Labor leaders of the last decade. But let’s stay focused. Very simply, Victoria’s Hazelwood coal-fired electricity generator is set to close soon, and at this point there is no new significant generator to replace it. Gas-powered electricity generation is said to be the ideal way to go forward, hence the need to find the gas to put towards it.
SO WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
PM Malcolm Turnbull yesterday said he’ll have an urgent meeting with the east coast gas companies (think Shell, Santos, ExxonMobil, Origin) to talk about what they can do to head off the predicted electricity shortages and price increases. One idea kicking around is that the government should mandate a gas ‘reserve’, ie some gas has to stay in Australia for domestic use. WA already does this. Another possibility is state governments allow more fracking activity but many communities are not gonna love that. Two other things to watch: how much will gas and electricity costs rise for consumers and can the politicians put hyper-partisan politics on the backburner to find a solution.
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WARNING: ECONOMY CHAT ALERT
While out and about yesterday, PM Turnbull spoke about the impending federal budget and agreed that our taxes are high. We’ll be polite and simply concur. But don’t expect them to come down anytime soon: our federal finances won’t allow for that. Solace, however, should be found in Turnbull's indication that they won’t be going up either. Reports say Turnbull will be talking about these sorts of issues in a series of speeches leading up to the May budget to give shape to the government’s priorities. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
FORMER LABOR MINISTER KATE ELLIS TO LEAVE POLITICS TO SPEND TIME WITH SON
Mirroring the dilemma of working mothers across the country, Adelaide-based MP Kate Ellis yesterday announced she would not contest the next election. She cited the unusually cruel situation federal MPs (and their staff) face by having to spend 20-ish weeks a year away from home to attend parliament in Canberra: something she said she did not want to do when her child reaches school age in a couple of years time. Ellis was a Minister in the last Labor government and led positive body image initiatives involving health, sport and the publishing industries.
TRUMP STYLE MOVEMENT IN AUSTRALIA?
With One Nation having a moment, Cory Bernardi splitting from the Liberals, and the major parties attempting to read the left/right/centre tea leaves, one question prevails: could a Trump-style movement really happen here in Oz? Well, our system of government makes it a lot more difficult than in the US. But if US media reports are to be believed, uber-conservative website Breitbart is eyeing Australia as a place to launch an outpost. Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon is responsible for the US iteration. That would really stir a few things up. It could well put Andrew Bolt out of a job.
ILLEGAL US BORDER CROSSINGS DRAMATICALLY DOWN
While we’re on Trump, new figures out in the US show that apprehensions from illegal border crossings from Mexico are down 40% since Trump took office. February averaged 835 people caught a day, down from 1,370 a day in January. We don’t think it’s because Border Control officers aren’t trying as hard.
BAD WEEK FOR BACKPACKERS
Geez. Just when you thought we’d had our fill of stories about violent crimes against backpackers this week, South Australia lobs one into the mix. A court in SA yesterday commenced proceedings against a 60yo man who attacked two female backpackers – a Brazilian and a German - in February last year. The man answered a Gumtree ad to give the women a lift from Adelaide to Melbourne. The trio drove to Salt Creek on the coast south of Victor Harbor to camp for the night. During a series of alleged events that night, the Brazilian woman was tied up and sexually assaulted, the German woman was hit on the head with a hammer and repeatedly run over by his 4WD and, miraculously, they escaped separately. Salt Creek? Sounds like Wolf Creek to us.
SAUDI KING VISITS BALI: BLANCHES AT NUDE STATUES
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman visited Indonesia this week to strengthen economic and cultural ties as part of a month-long tour of Asia. You would think that it was the 1,500 strong entourage (including 572 to deal with the hundreds of tonnes of luggage alone) that sparked comment, but no: it was Bali’s decision not to cover up the semi-naked statues of Hindu deities for his visit to Australian’s favourite holiday island. Local authorities didn’t see the need, saying it's a feature of the light-and-breezy Bali approach. Decidedly less breezy were the security officials who stopped a 41yo woman intruder from getting to the King. She wanted to give him 500 pages of poetry she had written. Seriously. Work trips are the worst.
SQUIZ THE DAY
ABS Housing Finance data release
7.30pm - Adele takes the stage in Sydney, ANZ Stadium
Moomba Festival cultural and sporting festival kicks off in Melbourne
WOMADELAIDE world music festival kicks off in Adelaide
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