Squiz Today / 15 March 2017
Squiz Today – Wednesday 15 March
SA PLANS TO POWER UP
We’ll try to make this as painless as possible. South Australian Premier Jay Wetherill yesterday announced funding of $550 million to try to keep the state’s power on. There were power outages in SA last year that focused attention on the state's ability to maintain power when supply via Victoria goes down. So setting up a state-owned gas-fired generator and an Elon Musk/Tesla style battery arrangement are measures the SA government believe will help secure reliable local supply. Problem is SA is part of the national electricity grid so there's issues with them going it alone.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
Big question. We’ve simplified it into three P’s for you:
1. A Policy Problem – this goes back over the last decade with federal political leaders unable to agree on a price on carbon.
2. A Planning Problem – not agreeing on a carbon price has stopped the market from investing in new coal and gas-fired power generation because the market likes certainty. The imminent closure of Victoria's Hazlewood coal-fired generator, which required a big investment to keep it going, is one example. As a result, the energy market operator last week warned we should expect power outages in Summer 18/19 if more power isn’t added to the grid.
3. A Political Problem – Voters don’t like blackouts and the SA election is in March 2018 with a federal poll sometime in 2019. Aside from the real issues of economic and standard of living losses if we don’t have enough electricity, it could leave some politicians out in the dark without a job if this issue isn't sorted toot sweet.
SO WHAT’S NEXT?
Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenburg didn’t have much good to say about SA's plan. In fact, he’s consulting the lawyers on whether they can go it alone, breaking a national agreement. He has previously talked about the impact of the SA government’s target to derive 50% supply from renewables while allowing local coal-fired stations to close and yesterday asked about the cost consumers. PM Malcolm Turnbull is today meeting with east coast gas companies to discover what they might do to deliver more supply to the domestic market, a difficult issue given the strong export market for liquefied natural gas. See, that wasn’t so bad, was it? Think of it like bran: not all that appealing, but ultimately good for you.
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AUSSIE KIDS GOOD AT MUCKING UP
Two education reports out today that leave room for improvement. One puts our kids the equivalent of 1.5 years behind Singapore students in science, and 2.5 years behind in maths. It says our teachers do not get regular enough professional development in those areas. The other report puts Australian kids below the average for behaviour in the classroom. Kids from Hong Kong were worse while Finland children recorded very impressive scores, probably because Santa lives close by.
UK ONE STEP CLOSER TO BREXIT, BATS BACK SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE VOTE
A historic day for the UK with legislation passing parliament allowing the exit from the European Union. PM Theresa May said ‘Article 50' will be triggered at the end of March – that's the formal process required for the government to negotiate the exit. If that wasn't enough, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced her intention to hold a referendum on Scottish independence before the deal to leave the EU is complete (ie towards the end of 2018 to early 2019). May said no way, Jose – it will happen after Brexit, thank you very much. As the song says, breaking up is hard to do.
MARKS AND SPENCER PULLS OUT OF CHINA
M&S have become the latest Western retailer to be defeated by China. Experts cite ‘low brand awareness' as the main reason why their Chinese venture didn’t work. Others say they didn’t understand the Chinese consumer well enough or identify a key market and go after it. M&S joins a list of retailers who have struggled setting up stores in China, including Tesco and Walmart.
MALAYSIA’S GAY CONCERNS OVER BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Disney has received a lot of good PR for casting a gay character in its latest iteration of the tale as old as time, Beauty and the Beast. But things went off piste in Malaysia, a majority Muslim nation. Even after cutting the ‘gay moment’ from the film (said to be one short scene), and despite the P13 classification, the country’s largest cinema chains are saying the film has been "postponed until further notice." Which is Malay for "never going to make it to the screens." Russia has also put a 16+ restricted rating on the film. Who would have thought a Disney film would have a black market audience?
SQUIZ THE DAY
PM Malcolm Turnbull meeting with east coast gas company CEOs
12.30pm - Greens leader Senator Richard Di Natale address to the National Press Club, Canberra
ABS data releases on lending finance and new motor vehicle sales
Polls open for the Dutch General Elections
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