Category: Environment

Time for a new agriculture R&D model

Australian agricultural production reached AUD $60B in the 2017/18 financial year and directly employs some 370,000 people across 120,000 individual businesses. Over the past forty years the industry has gone through significant structural change including amalgamation of smaller holdings, reduction of tariffs, increased Free Trade Agreements and the emergence of large corporate production enterprises. Still, approximately 94% of the industry is family owned and operated.

Over this same period the level of innovation driven by education, production systems advancements and technology has increased exponentially. Agriculture production has always been a business first, however the demands from the downstream supply chain have placed extraordinary pressure on producers to be more efficient.

The agricultural industry in Australia is very fragmented, therefore adaption and adoption of new technology, systems and practices has historically been slow. However, this has certainly changed in the past fifteen years especially in cotton, grain and horticulture where change … Read the rest

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Intervention will NOT solve our energy crisis

The Liberal cabinet have officially dumped the contentious National Energy Guarantee (NEG), but Scott Morrison and new Energy Minister Angus Taylor are now faced with a policy vacuum which they urgently need to address.

The combination of modest wages growth and higher electricity prices are hurting Australian households, who have been forced to endure a 56 per cent increase in real terms on their electricity bills over the last decade. The NEG, formulated to address the “energy trilemma” of security, reliability and affordability on a national scale (excluding WA and the NT), was the Turnbull government’s answer to the crisis, but ultimately sparked  its demise.

In their rejection of the defunct NEG, the new Ministry stressed that emissions reductions have been stripped away from the energy portfolio. Taylor instead has revealed a renewed focus on affordability for households and businesses, and hopes to be recognised as “the Minister for reducing Read the rest

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Bootleggers, Baptists and baggage: who benefits from plastic bag bans?

The State of Queensland recently instituted a ban on single-use plastic bags at retail outlets. Woolworths is a first mover in removing all plastic bags from its own shops. Unsurprisingly many Queenslanders are frustrated with this move, and yet few Queenslanders are surprised that the State government has done yet another stupid thing.

But why do things like this happen in the first place? Why do widely unpopular, stupid regulations seem to get through the political process that is meant to represent the populace at large?

The first thing that must be noted is that many of these regulations impose diffuse costs (a small cost on absolutely everyone) yet have concentrated benefits (a few big winners). This means that there is less incentive for individuals who have to bear the costs to lobby against such regulations, and more incentive for those few big winners to lobby for them.

But Read the rest

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Rothbard explains the proper response to climate change

Author: Curtis Williams

In 1982, Murray Rothbard published a lengthy article titled “Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution” which laid out a free-market, private-property-based approach to environmental issues. Discussing air pollution Rothbard concluded:

If A is causing pollution of B’s air, and this can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, then this is aggression and it should be enjoined and damages paid.

In his view, the legal system, not government regulation, is responsible for solving environmental issues because:

In libertarian theory, it is only permissible to proceed coercively against someone if he is a proven aggressor, and that aggression must be proven in court (or in arbitration) beyond a reasonable doubt. Any statute or administrative regulation necessarily makes actions illegal that are not overt initiations of crimes or torts.

In reality, there is no such thing as “environmental issues.” There is only human conflict over the use of … Read the rest

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Why do you hate the environment?

Whenever I object to the government banning plastic bags or tripling my electricity bill, I’m always asked, “Why do you hate the environment?” The truth is: I don’t. What I do hate is environmentalism. I hate its eco-austerity, its quasi-religious demands for penance and its anti-human rejection of progress. I love the environment, its eco-diversity, clean air and its beauty. What I’m not prepared to do is give up on human progress and economic development for some vision of an environmental nirvana.

Last year, I travelled to Sydney for the Australian Libertarian Society’s Friedman Conference. My original Airbnb cancelled last minute and as a last resort I booked a room in “Sydney’s sustainability house”. The Ultimo terrace house was completely off the grid, it generated its own solar electricity and stored it in batteries. The house used rainwater that my host informed me was cleaner than Sydney’s tap water. Read the rest

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Australia: open the door to atomic innovation

Energy and in particular electricity has become a topical issue in Australia. This is because of high retail electricity prices but also because of issues with reliability. It is in that context that Senator Cory Bernardi has put before the Australian Senate a bill to end the prohibition on nuclear power in Australia.

But, is nuclear power really the answer? Isn’t nuclear power dangerous and expensive? A tired old technology promoted by tired old conservative politicians with some strange sort of tired old axe to grind? Certainly these propositions are promoted by opponents.

However, I contend that the nuclear energy sector is entering a period of not just rapid but radical technological change. This innovation is still mostly on paper and won’t be visible for several more years but it is certainly coming. As a nation we need to be both open to it, and ready to embrace the exciting … Read the rest

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How to turn cheap power back on

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg claims that renewable energy is a disruptive force in the energy market in the same way as the iPhone was to landlines and cameras.  There is, however, a major difference: iPhones, like Uber, Kindle and eBay have disrupted previous commercial systems by force of technology.  Renewables everywhere in the world have required government subsidies.   

Electricity prices in Australia, having been perhaps the world’s lowest at the turn of the present century, are now among the highest.   

This is a national catastrophe which has been forged solely by political interference.  Subsidies to intermittent renewables, mainly wind and solar, have been the chief cause.  Those subsidies are currently around $85 per MWh.  And even if they fall to $50 per MWh, as forecast by Minister Frydenberg, this compares with the average total price of electricity, prevailing until 2015, of around $40 per MWh.  That price has now doubled … Read the rest

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Australia’s deindustrialisation

High energy prices are causing Australia to deindustrialise. Last week the Australian reported that mining giant Glencore’s chief Peter Freyberg called for the abolishment of the renewable energy target, stating, “If heavy industry is to continue operating in Australia, it will have to be exempted as it is currently bearing the brunt of the crisis given the high percentage of energy within its overall cost structure,” Over the last Australia’s energy prices have gone from being one the cheapest in world to one the highest. This is unfortunate since many of Australia’s competitive export industries are dependent on cheap energy.

At present Australia has a renewable energy target (RET)  of 24% to be achieved by 2025. The recent Finkel report recommended this be increased to 42% by 2030. Australia generates 14% of its electricity through renewable energy and already consumers have seen energy prices increase dramatically. This has has Read the rest

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The Greens energy policy is eco-Marxism

Do you live in Queensland?
Do you suffer from high power bills?
Never fear, The Greens are here!

Like a knight in shining green armour, they’re riding over the energy landscape on a policy steed to save you ‘up to’ $370 per year. This is great because viewing my power bill every quarter the first thing I think to myself is, ‘what would The Greens do about this’? Yes indeed, when it comes to economic management The Greens are the first people society looks to for answers.
In April they launched their energy retailing policy for Queensland called Power for the People. For those interested in seeing the videos promoting the policy you can see them here. Michael Berkman, the candidate for Maiwar and Amy MacMahon the candidate for South Brisbane, feature in the videos which give a basic outline of the ‘problem’ with energy retailers and their ‘solution’ … Read the rest

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