TO Her Majesty the Queen,
Many of us here Down Under thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful entertainment that your subjects provided for the platinum anniversary of your reign, to show their appreciation and thanks for your faithful service over the past 70 years. I loved your marching soldiers, who all still looked like humans and not at all robot-like. I especially enjoyed everything that involved your beautiful, well-trained horses. The palace concert was quite spectacular.
I don't want to hurt your feelings, but I do want to tell you that last Saturday afternoon I saw a performance that well and truly outshone any of your celebrations. It's called Star Struck. In June, for the past 30 years, public school children in the Hunter region, the south and north coasts and outback NSW have entertained us with their remarkable talents. It's a show that has everything.
You would know that Newcastle has a rich mining history. In one of the previous performances of Star Struck, some years ago, there was an unforgettable act that still brings me joyous memories. It was called The Miners' Tap. About six youngsters, dressed as miners complete with lit headlamps, tapped the most exhilarating, but far too short, routine on a raised platform in the dimly-lit entertainment centre. I think you would agree that it was a most suitable item for this area. On Saturday, it was a thrilling surprise to watch Tap City, another energetic tap routine.
But, Ma'am, at this latest Star Struck, the icing on the cake for me and her Grandpa, was seeing one of our lovely granddaughters from Charlestown South Public School take part in the lively dance Boogie Shoes with her friends and scores of other children. We are so happy to have had a grandchild perform in our favourite show. Thank you, children. Thank you, Your Majesty.
FAMILIES in regional NSW are feeling the pinch when it comes to their household budgets. The cost of living has been rapidly increasing. Input costs are crippling small businesses. Wages remain flat.
We've seen rises in the price of everyday goods and services, including fuel up 33 per cent, electricity up 18 per cent, transport up 12 per cent, childcare up 3.9 per cent, and food up 8 per cent On top of this, NSW is the highest taxing state - state and local taxes are up $4795 last year on average per person.
We need a government that recognises these challenges and takes steps to address them. This budget does not address the cost of living for those of us living in the regions. This budget has no plan to help families deal with the cost-of-living crisis that is engulfing this state and no plan to help boost high quality local jobs in this state.
The NSW Liberals have spent the last two weeks trying to make up for the last 12 years of waste and mismanagement. This isn't a budget about NSW's best interests, this is a budget about the best interests of the NSW Liberals and Nationals.
I'm as focused as ever with getting on with the job to ensure we continue to have a strong voice on the issues confronting local families and businesses.
THOSE that blame the three-week-old Labor government for all the current economic and energy woes need to park their bigotry for a moment. Most of our present malaise has grown from government, both state and federal, inactivity over at least 20 years. The sale of our power assets, perpetrated and supported by both Liberal and Labor administrations has proven to be a disaster.
The international component of our economic crisis would be largely cushioned if not for our unbridled enthusiasm for unregulated globalisation. Like all fads, globalisation has got out of control as successive governments have supported unabated digging up and selling everything underneath us. We sell iron ore and coal to the Japanese at $100 a tonne and Toyota sells it back to us at $50,000 a tonne. How clever is that? Deregulation has put best practice behind cheapest practice. Some have prospered and many have failed. Skills have disappeared offshore.
Professor O'Neil, ("Government incapacity; Nation's road to its winter of discontent", Opinion, 20/6), rightly apportioned the responsibility of current energy crisis to bad government. I think the professor could as easily blame the same bad government for the Murray Darling debacle, the disproportionate tax system, the feeble national transport system, the housing crisis, etc, etc.
THE Robodebt scheme initiated by the former Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and administered by his Liberal Party ally, Stuart Robert, was described as "controversial but now defunct", ("Wage growth not fuelling inflation: Burke", Herald, 20/6).
Robodebt was not simply controversial, it was unlawful. Morrison and his government were advised it was unlawful when they started it, but they went ahead anyway. And then they were told it was unlawful by Federal Court Justice Bernard Murphy after it had caused untold distress and trauma. By then hundreds of millions of dollars had to be repaid. Let's not gloss over this scheme as merely controversial after it was determined to be unlawful and described by Justice Murphy as "... a shameful chapter in the administration of the Commonwealth social security system and a massive failure of public administration".
THE new Labor government concedes the need for the Kurri Kurri gas plant on the premise it goes 30 per cent hydrogen ASAP and full hydrogen by 2030. The 1900-hectare site will be divided into industrial (11 per cent, including gas generator plant), residential (9.5 per cent), conservation (66 per cent) and the remainder rural.
The claim the plant will be hydrogen ready is not confirmed by Snowy Hydro. The 21-kilometre gas line from the main will be, but the storage system that supplies the power station is not due to the prohibitive costs and planning documents concluding the Sydney/Newcastle gas line's ability to carry hydrogen is so far off as to not be considered. The issue with 100 per cent hydrogen is metal embrittlement failure. I can't image Snowy Hydro digging up the 24km of 1m storage pipe once laid in ground - a ridiculous cost after a $860 million project cost for pipes and generation.
Estimates show over the 30-year life of the gas peaker, the total emissions are 0.36 megatons per year. Australia is aiming at a 43 per cent reduction on 2005 emissions by 2030, a cut of 18.2 megatons. Each time a gas peaker is added, that annual reduction increases two per cent. Total hydrogen as a replacement for natural gas by 2030 is a real pipe dream; the conversion of the gas distribution and supply pipe network up to your cooktop is a gargantuan task.
ANOTHER rate rise for Lake Macquarie after already getting slugged by the last staged 50 per cent increase. No infrastructure, road improvements, just overpriced play things and decor. Maybe all those that have voted for this can reflect while they plough through potholes and sit in daily gridlock.
THE rate rise in Port Stephens is good. Mayor Palmer can buy a recreational vehicle to go with his $86,000 car. I hope it rides nicely over potholes.
EMPLOYMENT minister Tony Burke says wage rises won't contribute to inflation. Could Mr Burke explain to a simple butcher, who might have some idea about running a business and can do maths, how a butchery for example could keep prices the same whilst the payroll increases by 5 per cent. To answer the question for Mr Burke, the owner of the business who has everything to lose takes a hit or cuts overtime and reduces casual hours. Mr Burke isn't qualified for his portfolio obviously.
THE NSW land tax reminds me of the old saying, the big print giveth and the small print taketh away.
I READ that a joint venture of Spanish and Malaysian companies will construct the Coffs Harbour bypass. I thought that we decided buying Australian was the way.
PLEASE tell me I didn't hear properly ... $25 million for a flagpole on the Harbour Bridge? Beggars belief. That money would have gone a long way to building a lot of housing for our homeless.
MY mate blind Freddie is an avid supporter of renewable energy and he cannot see any problems with having 100 per cent renewables for our electricity supply.
MARK Sheerin (Short Takes, 21/6) is apparently curious about Peter Dutton's eyebrows. Mr Dutton has a skin condition which causes hair loss and Tanya Plibersek recently made fun of his appearance without knowing about his affliction. However, Anthony Albanese encouraged her to apologise, which she promptly did.
YES, Andrew Whitbread-Brown, (Short Takes, 18/6), I am often shocked by the phone addiction seen in society today, and I am usually the only person in the waiting room not glued to a screen. Sad really, as I find other real humans are so interesting.
POOR Greg Hunt must have really got a bad dose of sour grapes, (Short Takes, 21/6). The Greens and Teals have not even met in parliament for their first session and they are being blamed for the current energy problems. Wouldn't it make more sense to point the finger at Angus Taylor?
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