Investment

Obama vs Trump – Gallup Poll

Gallup has released the following poll which compares America at the end of the Obama-Biden second term to the Trump-Pence presidency to date.

Under Trump-Pence, the economy is better (+22 points), the country is more secure against terrorism (+18), the military is stronger (+15), the streets are safer (+9 points).

Race relations advanced 14 points, from 22% at the end of the Obama administration to 36% this month. Blacks and other minorities are recorded 9 points better off under Trump than Obama.

Decreased satisfaction vs Obama for the Trump team was as follows:

Abortion -7%

Immigration -6%

Environment -6%

All in all, the net satisfaction of the 27 categories saw the highest number since 2005.

As all politicians know, “it’s the economy, stupid!

The survey was conducted across 1,014 people. How representative of 330 million? What needs to be pointed out is that the survey is consistent in the number polled over the years. The numbers are so strong that some might question whether there was a large Republican bias.

If the poll is remotely accurate, the Democrats must question how they tackle the mood over the coming 10 months given the impeachment saga and a field of disjointed candidates.

Greyhounded into submission by striking school kids

When will Australian authorities realize that allowing the intimidation of corporates who are running legitimate businesses must stop? If we allow activists to bully companies into bending to a socialist ideology, will we be the least bit surprised when foreign investment dries up in the future? Because that will be the outcome.

It isn’t enough that activist environmental departments wrap businesses up in so much red tape in order to get approvals. We have to tolerate a small band of student protestors too.

Bus company, Greyhound Australia (GA), is the latest company to fold to activist pressure. It has rejected a contract to ferry workers to construct the Adani mine after being all for it.

SchoolStrike4Climate launched a campaign to boycott travel with GA until it publicly ruled out working on the mine. So now we have brainwashed teenagers dictating school transport policy even though they don’t pay a cent to fund it.

We’re somewhat surprised these kids aren’t dictating the school curriculum while they’re at it. Seriously, where are the schools in their quest to teach discipline? We already saw what happened to Newington College which proudly wilted to student pressure. Note it’s 2019 HSC rank fell from 98th to 176th. No connection, surely?

What our continued PISA education ranking slump tells us is that the teaching faculties have a lot to answer for to surrender to this garbage. It only suggests they’re willing accomplices rather than disciplinarians.

It is bad enough when adults push agendas. It is worse when they manipulate children to do their bidding for them.

Going back to GA, Had these children and teachers done their homework they would have realized that this wasn’t the first time the company has had ties with fossil fuel companies. Had their laser quick smartphone skills led them to the history page of Greyhound Australia they would have learned that,

in conjunction with the Shell Company, undertook a survey of the route from Adelaide to Perth – a distance of over 3,200 Kilometres – in 1957.

How could they have let this company transport them in the first place?!? It should have never been on the list. Common sense would prevail that the school only opened the yellow pages to hire a bus charter company. At no stage did the school demand a full audit on corporate carbon footprints.

Had it occurred to these kids that these buses that ferry them on school excursions run on diesel? While the per passenger carbon footprint might be smaller than alternative modes of transport, these kids should demand that the schools ban them outright, or doesn’t that count when they are having fun? Maybe the lesson should be that they don’t get to go on excursions to save the planet and will now have to walk or cycle to school instead of hitching a ride in mum’s SUV.

Although GA does list a pretty pithy section on lowering emissions

Limit the size of your luggage by packing only what you need – the more a bus or plane weighs, the more carbon emissions it produces. Enjoy local food and drink which haven’t been imported from far away – not only will you help the environment, you’ll also experience new flavours (and maybe find a new favourite). And finally, avoid plastic bags and bottled water – take your own reusable shopping bags to the local farmers markets, and refill your bottles throughout the day. Every little bit helps!

Had GA truly believed in this garbage, they would have never bothered to entertain the Adani contract in the first place.

Looking forward to seeing the private bus company that steps up to fill the void for Adani. Surely the same Queenslanders that voted for Adani’s go ahead in the last federal election will back GA’s replacement to transport workers, many of whom probably have kids at school.

Turnbull proves to us that he still can’t see what everyone else does

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has written an opinion piece in The Guardian and proved beyond all doubt the reasons why he no longer holds the privileged post and how blind the Liberal Party faction that supported him managed to bury their judgment.

Turnbull’s first few paragraphs flush this out. He opined,

Have we now reached the point where at last our response to global warming will be driven by engineering and economics rather than ideology and idiocy?

Ideology? Surely you jest, sir? Do climate skeptics push 17yo pig-tailed truants to peddle their warming religion? Did 31,000 climate skeptics,who question the governance behind the science, fly into COP25 to tell the rest us all how to behave?

Idiocy? One just needs to examine the utter hypocrisy of the climate protestors who can often be seen gorging on fast food made by evil corporations that reinvented single use packaging. Easier still, just follow Hollywood stars who think they can offset their enormous carbon footprints via regular use of private jets, stretched limos and lavish dozen room mansions by eating vegan and sacrificing fashion choice to one tuxedo for a season of gala dinners.

Let us start with the optics before the content.

Turnbull will go down in history as one of the only conservative party politicians to avoid conservative media outlets like the plague. If he looked in the mirror, how far off the Liberal reservation must he have been to have to limit himself to the left-leaning mainstream media even when he was PM?

To choose the climate alarmist Guardian as his platform speaks volumes. Where else would he find an audience that would would be so soft and stroke his ego?

The content of his op ed wasted little time heaping lashings of self-praise on his own record at the top, which frankly is not much to write home about.

We need to plan this carefully – we have to keep energy affordable and reliable as we make the transition. My government’s policy for a national energy guarantee (Neg) integrated emissions reduction and reliability, and would have enabled us to continue to make the switch to renewables without compromising the reliability of the electricity network…if ever there was a crisis not to waste, it is this one. Morrison has the chance now to reinstate the Neg with higher targets. Both he and Josh Frydenberg were among its strongest supporters when I was PM. They abandoned it in the lead-up to an election, to pacify the right wing of the Coalition that sabotaged it in the first place.”

Mr Turnbull, we are a bit curious. How was it Morrison managed to win the election by backing coal in the lead up? Pacifying the right wing or realizing that the real base of the party would never have backed you in 2019 still favour economic wellbeing to virtue signalling? The answer is obvious.

The thought of all these new green jobs. We think you ought to check the ABS for the latest statistics on those wonderful employment opportunities that just don’t exist in green jobs. Turnbull wrote,

The children in Muswellbrook and Singleton will not have to breathe in coal dust and sulphur dioxide from the mines and power stations, and their parents will have jobs in industries that thrive with cheap, green power…We can demonstrate that abundant zero emission energy will create thousands of new jobs that will vastly exceed those lost as coal burning comes to an end.

Annual direct FTE employment in renewable energy activities in Australia was estimated at 17,740 jobs in 2017-18 according to the ABS, a number below that of 2011-12.

Mining, according to the latest ABS stats, employs around 220,000. Electricity, gas and water approximately 131,000.

If we examine Turnbull’s “priority this decade should be our own green new deal in which we generate, as soon as possible, all of our electricity from zero emission sources. If we do, Australia will become a leader in the fight against global warming. And we can do it...” comment one assumes that we don’t have any coal fired generation.

Does Turnbull honestly believe the same amount of power generation could occur if “the degraded landscape of old mines could be covered with solar panels”? And at lower cost?

This is the trend of Australian energy price inflation and manufacturing jobs over the last two decades. Notice anything? A correlation of about 90%. Energy prices go up, manufacturing comes down. We have shed 250,000 manufacturing jobs in the last two decades. 

Germany gives us a wonderful case study on how a renewables based energy system has backfired spectacularly.

In 2007, Germany forecasted that 2020 residential electricity prices would be approximately 16 Eurocents with the shift to renewables away from nuclear. Today they trade at c.31 Eurocents. Der Spiegel, a normally left-leaning journal wrote in a two-part series. 

Part 1 – Germany Failure on the Road to a Renewable Future

“But the sweeping idea has become bogged down in the details of German reality. The so-called Energiewende, the shift away from nuclear in favour of renewables, the greatest political project undertaken here since Germany’s reunification, is facing failure. In the eight years since Fukushima, none of Germany’s leaders in Berlin have fully thrown themselves into the project, not least the chancellor. Lawmakers have introduced laws, decrees and guidelines, but there is nobody to coordinate the Energiewende, much less speed it up. And all of them are terrified of resistance from the voters, whenever a wind turbine needs to be erected or a new high-voltage transmission line needs to be laid out.”

Germany’s Federal Court of Auditors is even more forthright about the failures. The shift to renewables, the federal auditors say, has cost at least 160 billion euros in the last five years. Meanwhile, the expenditures “are in extreme disproportion to the results, Federal Court of Auditors President Kay Scheller said last fall, although his assessment went largely unheard in the political arena. Scheller is even concerned that voters could soon lose all faith in the government because of this massive failure.

There is also such an irony when these mad green schemes encounter scourge from animal rights groups. Former Green’s leader Bob Brown knows the feeling,

“The bird of prey [red kite], with its elegantly forked tail, enjoys strict protection in Germany…Red kites are migratory, returning from the south in the spring, but they don’t return reliably every year. The mayor would have been happy if the bird had shown up quickly so its flight patterns could be analyzed and plans for the wind park adjusted accordingly. It would have been expensive, but at least construction of the project could finally get underway.

But if the bird doesn’t return, the project must be suspended. Spies has to wait a minimum of five years to see if the creature has plans for the nest after all. Which means the wind park could finally be built in 2024, fully 12 years after the project got underway.”

Part 2 – German Failure on the Road to a Renewable Future

An additional factor exacerbating the renewables crisis is the fact that two decades after the enactment of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), 20-year guaranteed feed-in tariffs will begin expiring next year for the first wind, solar and biomass facilities. Some of those who installed solar panels back then — often farmers and homeowners — are still receiving 50 cents for every kilowatt-hour they feed into the grid. Today, larger facilities receive just 5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The state has redistributed gigantic sums of money, with the EEG directing more than 25 billion euros each year to the operators of renewable energy facilities. But without the subsidies, operating wind turbines and solar parks will hardly be worth it anymore. As is so often the case with such subsidies: They trigger an artificial boom that burns fast and leaves nothing but scorched earth in their wake.

That doesn’t include the 360,000 German households in energy poverty. That is those people who can’t afford their electricity bills and have power to their homes cut off. Australia already has 42,000 in energy poverty,

Our electricity prices are among the highest in the world but Mr Turnbull believes he has the solution by getting rid of reliable coal-fired baseload in favour of solar panels, wind farms and battery storage, all heavily reliant on the very fossil fuels he wants to be terminated.

Yet Mr Turnbull believes that we can ditch coal because it is going out of fashion.

But above all we have to face this fact; coal is on the way out. It is, as we are seeing today, a matter of life and death. Whether we like it or not, demand for our export coal is going to decline and expire.

The world must, and I believe will, stop burning coal if we are to avoid the worst consequences of global warming. And the sooner the better. The good news is that thanks to technology we can have abundant energy which is both green and cheap.

Is it on the way out? Is that why China has 300-500 new coal-fired power plants in the works with a further 17 coal mines to be opened? Is that why India is keen to build out Adani? Even Germany is backtracking on coal fired power plant closures because it knows its grid can’t cope without it.

He closed with,

But the lies of the deniers have to be rejected. This is a time for truth telling, not obfuscation and gaslighting. Climate change is real…our response must be real too – a resilient, competitive, net zero emission economy – as we work to make our nation, and our planet, safe for our children and grandchildren.

He even suggests a world where we’re all driving EVs. While we aren’t sure whether Mr Turnbull owns a Tesla himself, he should know that the energy that goes to make the batteries is equivalent to the car doing 150,000km of CO2-e emissions before it leaves the showroom floor. Don’t forget the stress on the grid to charge all these cars. Who needs the reality of EV infrastructure rollouts across the Nullarbor which are powered by diesel gen sets? Mr Turnbull, any ideas? Run a cable from Snowy 2.0?

It is sad to see a former leader still feel he has a voice on a subject matter his party rejected based on economics. We already spend a fortune on green energy. We are pulling our weight as a Top 3 per capita nation on energy spend. In real terms we spent 2x more than France in 2019. We can only hope PM Morrison doesn’t fold from the poor media advice during the bushfires and see Turnbull’s endorsement as a sign to do the exact opposite.

Our Sandy Hook moment?

You have to hand it to the editors of The Guardian. In what world can anyone draw an equivalence between action on climate change and a crazed gunman who murdered 27 people, mostly kindergarten kids? Who wouldn’t think the two are interchangeable?

The Guardian columnist Brigid Delaney wants us to believe the connection. At the very least this article proves once again why the paper still asks for charity at the bottom of each article because the content doesn’t warrant a high enough value that ordinary people are willing to shell out for it. Sometimes, content IS the problem.

Her column takes similar cues from the recent NY Times article on ‘Australia committing climate suicide.‘ The Man Booker prize-winning author of the opinion piece, Richard Flanagan, is a novelist, not a climate expert. 

As Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, once observed, the collapse of the Soviet Union began with the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in 1986. In the wake of that catastrophe, “the system as we knew it became untenable,” he wrote in 2006. Could it be that the immense, still-unfolding tragedy of the Australian fires may yet prove to be the Chernobyl of the climate crisis?

Such dramatic language may well have inspired Delaney,

Sandy Hook was the rock bottom moment – where things are so bad you know they can no longer continue as is. After rock bottom, there is a choice: stasis and misery or growth and transformation…This apocalyptic-seeming Australian summer is our Sandy Hook moment. We have to seize it and change our thinking, our priorities and our politics. In doing so we can change our country, our future, and transform ourselves into global leaders on climate change.

Delaney might reflect on the facts surrounding gun violence in the US. 95% of firearm-related murders in the US are committed with handguns, not automatic weapons. So despite the constant fixation on automatic rifles, statistically American lawmakers would be better off banning sales of pistols. Deaths from mass-shootings are less than 0.6% of the total. Horrible yes, but a handgun ownership culture moment would have been more apt given that almost 40,000 that perish at the wrong end of a trigger every year. 

According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, murders in the US appear to be very concentrated: 54% of US counties (representing 11% of the population) in 2014 had zero murders, 2% of counties made up 51% of the murders, ironically in states with the strictest gun controls – Illinois, NY and California. 

Who needs facts when it is much easier to put the blame at the feet of 5 million law-abiding citizens who happen to be NRA members. Perhaps Americans don’t view gun massacres as ‘rock bottom’ moments when it comes to defending their amendment rights. Mark Robinson gave a perfect example of why Americans are fed up with being punished for the actions of others. Obama had control of both houses in his first term. Spoke about 2A. Didn’t do anything about it. Plenty of gun massacres in his first term including Fort Hood.

Moving on from Sandy Hook and guns, allow us to indulge her commentary on The Guardian’s pet topic of climate change. Let us not forget that the newspaper implores its journalists to crank up the alarmist rhetoric. If only as much effort went into investigating the numbers behind the claims.

Transformation is recognising the facts: Australia is a climate vandal, led by wreckers. We are ranked the worst of 57 countries on climate policy.

Delaney has probably never read the entire CCPI report which ranked us 57th. If she had (like we did), she might have found the following,

The CCPI measures the emissions, renewable energy share and climate policies of 57 countries and the European Union. It released the document at the COP25 summit to bathe in the spotlight with alarmists pals. Where was the journalistic rigour? Of course, it was non-existent.

Who were the Aussie based “experts” (activists) the CCPI relied on to provide really in-depth qualitative opinions on our climate policy evaluation?

Doctors for the Environment Australia
Australian Conservation Foundation 
Oxfam
The Australian Institute

All climate activists. Precious little objectivity there. It is isn’t hard to work out why Australia scored a 0.0 on climate policy. Even worse, any think tank with the remotest thirst for integrity in reporting and sensible data collection should have questioned a zero score. CCPI didn’t.

Yet Delaney went in all guns blazing to bash Australia’s lack of climate-friendly credentials, citing this farce of a study as gospel. It is so bad it actually makes the IPCC climate bibles look good and that takes some doing given many scientists slammed the processes which were documented in the internal feedback study. We summarised the outcomes of that 678-page document here.

Is Delaney aware that according to Bloomberg NEF, an organisation owned by an individual with heavy green credentials, Australia has the 3rd highest clean energy spend per capita! We spent twice as much in real dollar terms as France yet these climate alarmists marked us down to zero “because our democracy supported Adani.”

Sorry Ms. Delaney, we are finding it hard to reconcile how Australia spending  11x the global average on renewables makes us climate vandals? What level would you suggest we lead? We await your data-rich analysis. 

Is this the takeaway from your rich climate expertise?

What might our transformation look like? It might look like a simple acknowledgement of causation between climate change and this summer’s fires.

OK, so we just get ScoMo to declare a climate emergency? Job done!

Presumably, if we follow alarmist logic, had we legislated to accelerate renewables by not having a democratically elected carbon-loving prime minister, supported by the Murdoch media and fossil fuel industry“, these dreadful bushfires, many lit by arsonists taking advantage of poorly managed fuel loads, wouldn’t have happened, right?

It couldn’t have been the lax fire service management of the forests and the closed shop mentality of our emergency services?  Did Delaney know that Greg Mullins, the leader of the 29 former fire chiefs, barely mentioned climate change in the last five years of FR NSW annual reports under his leadership? If it is such a huge issue in retirement, why didn’t he mention it when in a position to prosecute the case? Mullins would have sounded far more credible were his alarmist fears documented in black and white. They weren’t. Go figure. 

If we indulged Delaney’s the painful lessons of this summer could be transformative, if we allow them to be. Australia – having experienced the pointy end of the climate catastrophe – could become a leader in the global fight to reduce emissions.” for a moment, does she honestly believe that spending billions more on renewables in Australia and terminating coal exports would put a dent in our already minuscule 0.0000134% contribution to human-caused global CO2, much less the world’s? Can she make a case in data?

Will she stand in Tiananmen Square and shake her fist at China, which is building between 300 and 500 new coal-fired power plants out to 2030? Or rant to President Xi that China will spew one full year of Australian emissions every week by that date vs every two weeks as it stands today? Just easier to hitch to the media wagon and heap scorn on ScoMo. 

“Senior management of the Fire Services act like a Mafia”

We have been lucky to speak to one of the brave volunteers (pseudonym Fred, a 25yr veteran in the RFS) who has spoken out about the utter incompetence of the administration within fire services HQ. You should be furious after reading this. You are being lied to and the media is complicit by failing to do basic investigative journalism.

Instead of all of the glowing praise being heaped on the senior management of the fire services, here are some brutal comments that contradict the current media narrative.

What you will read are some of the direct quotes from our conversation which throw more light on some of our earlier suspicions.

FNF Media has been questioning the competence of senior management in the HQs. We have been demanding that the fire services are thoroughly investigated when this is all over. At the moment senior fire management teams are being deified in ways that almost seek to make them exempt from any wrongdoing. If there is nothing to hide, they should welcome the clean bill of health that would arise from an audit.

Putting it down to climate change, as some of our former chiefs suggest, is just way too convenient a scapegoat to cover up for what looks more and more like poor management practice.

We noted last week that budgets and salaries have been rising at NSWRFS, but equipment levels falling. How is that that with $140mn extra dollars last fiscal year, a 78% jump on 2014/15 levels, can this be? Fred mentioned,

there has been a massive effort in restricting bushfire hazard reduction burning by the fire services. Also, the senior management of the fire services act like a mafia. I don’t know how they get away with it.

Scarily we’re told that no resources are being refused. Unfortunately, we have evidence to the contrary. Fred said,

Premier, Minister and Commissioner all lied when they said that all resources were being used and no offers of assistance were ever refused.

Fred has asked FNF Media to withhold the proof of the conversation with RFS and it is damning, to say the least. It is toxic.

Recall our post which discussed the frustration within the Volunteer Fire Fighters Association (VFFA) with respect to restricted burning. The VFFA said,

“Hazard reduction is the only proven management tool rural firefighters have to reduce the intensity and spread of bushfires and this has been recognised in numerous bushfire enquires since the Stretton enquiry into the 1939 Victorian Bushfires…The amount of ‘green tape’ we have to go through to get a burn approved is beyond frustrating; says Peter Cannon. The VFFA is calling on the NSW State Government to reduce the amount of green tape involved in planning and conducting hazard reductions so that our Volunteer Firefighters can get on with the job of conducting fire prevention works in the cooler months to prevent the inevitable summer bushfire disasters…Remember that it’s far more cost-effective, say around 66 to 100 times more cost-efficient, to prevent wildfires through hazard reduction than it is to have reactionary fire response, which is what we have at the moment. With the great number of lost homes and decreasing property values through these wildfires, what then will the total fiscal amount be…when it could have all been prevented by effective Hazard reduction!”

Fred’s comments with us sing the same tune.

They spend such huge amounts of money on tech, equipment and salaries and yet achieve bugger all bushfire hazard reduction works. If I had half the budget of the FRNSW Bushfire Section I could do at least 4 times more burning. They are so inefficient.

My volunteer brigade did Zero burning last 12 months…volunteers are having to purchase their own uniforms and PPE… RFS senior management lies constantly and the media go along with them.

In the most recent fires, Fred commented,

The state government, RFS and FRNSW all declined our assistance, even as homes burned down with no trucks to save them.

The back burn on Bells Line of Road SW of Mt Wilson. It ended of pushing East and took out Mt Wilson and then went into the Blue Mountains National Park. Media reported that fire as part of Gospers Mountain but it was a wholly separate fire lit by RFS in exactly the wrong spot.

This is commentary from an experienced veteran volunteer with a quarter-century of under his belt, not some rookie with a garden hose who will just get in harm’s way. Yet Fred’s well-trained services were refused. Period. We have the evidence. He went further,

Very poor use of available volunteers. 70,000 are on the books but less than 7,000 are being used????

They [management] should be investigated and sacked. Not given medals and bigger budgets.

I am hoping I will be a witness in the inquiries or Royal Commission after…This all needs to come out.”

I have emails from RFS and FRNSW already shared with the Minister and Premier. They are well aware of the problem. But the RFS Commissioner is like Santa at Christmas right now.

Will our mainstream media going out of its way to ask probing questions instead of having the likes of Karl Stefanovic rant on morning TV about the PM’s shortcomings while blowing wind up the backside of the fire chief? Apparently not. Too simple to report on easy clickbait, devoid of any facts.

Let us pray that when all the fires have died down, the post-mortem avoids arse covering and blame-shifting. Although we know that is exactly what will happen.

Remember climate change is an irrelevant argument as we pointed out in our study here. FR NSW mentions the word ‘climate change‘ once in the last 6 years of annual reports. Even then it was in reference to fire stations voluntarily switching off non-essential lighting for Earth Hour. Hardly pointing to detailed statistics derived from their own experience. On the flip side, the Victorian CFA mentions ‘inclusion‘ 56 times in the last 6 years of annual reports. Priorities don’t seem to lie where the core business lies.

Money does not seem to be the major problem even though a further $2bn is being committed for relief. It is increasingly looking like mismanagement. If the volunteers, who do it without compensation, are screaming at the desk jockeys who orchestrate the controlled burn-offs (or lack thereof) doesn’t it make one curious as to why the fires got so ridiculously out of control?

We have every right to be angry. We should settle for nothing less. FNF Media is astonished at the generosity of the $40m in donations raised for bushfire relief. However, we worry that the fire services don’t appear to have a lot of skill in allocating vital funds where needed if volunteers like Fred are to be believed and as we wrote in previous discussions. Given we have the proof, he should be and the cover-up will be found out.

NSW Rural Fire Service statistics – where your tax dollars go

NSWRFS Budget.png

The media has been quick to pick on the calls for our government to spend more on our fire services. We thought it a good idea to look at the facts gleaned from the annual reports of the NSW RFS, available here. We will go through state by state in the coming days and look at the totals to work out where our money has gone. What you are about to read may surprise you.

The first chart denotes the NSW RFS budget. The 2018-19 budget was $554mn, up from $311mn 5 years prior, or a 78% increase. One would expect that money would be spent on shiny new toys to help fight fires.

NSWRFS FT.png

As we can see, the number of fire trucks in service has trended down. From a peak of 4,385 in 2014/15 to 3,883 in 2018/19 or down 11%. There could be an argument made for replacements to more efficient equipment but in order to put out blazes, sheer numbers should help

NSWRFS WP.png

Water Pumper numbers have fallen from 71 to 63, or -11%. Water carriers have fallen from a peak of 64 to 53, or -17%.

NSWRFS WC.png

When looking at the number of grass or bushfires that were dealt with the trend looks as follows.

NSWRFS Bushfires

When assessing controlled burns, the total area in hectares by year that was conducted is as follows.

NSWRFS CB.png

However, when dividing by the number of controlled burns conducted by year, we see that the average slid from 259ha per burn to 74ha. This is not proof of efficacy.

NSWRFS CB PC.png

How has the trend of the brave and selfless volunteers at the NSW RFS progressed?

RFS Voluntee.png

Employed staff at the NSW RFS has increased from 846 in 2012/13 to 936 in 2018/19.

NSW RFS FT Emp.png

With that, average salaries have crept up from $114,285 in 2012/13 to $131,908 in the latest filing. In no way is FNF Media casting aspersions on the value of those full-time employees.

NSWRFS FTE Salary Avg.png

Although the growth in the Chief Commissioner’s total remuneration has grown from $292,450 in 2012/13 to $439,015 in 2018/19 or a 50% increase over that period.

NSW RFS CC Salary.png

Running the RFS is no simple task. Hiring good people to run the operation shouldn’t be done on the cheap.

The reason FNF Media has suggested that the fire services need a thorough audit is to work out whether tax dollars are being spent wisely. Since 2012/13, $2.75bn has been spent on the NSW RFS. Are we right to question why a rising budget has led to a drift in equipment and a fall-off in volunteers? Can we link the reduced average burns in some way to the very high level of fuel loads that many volunteers have pointed to within all of the current political grandstanding of chucking more money at the problem instead of evaluating the efficacy of that spend?

Because to look at the data on a stand-alone basis, it would seem that the ball has been dropped somewhere. It doesn’t seem plausible that firefighters can be short of vital equipment when there was a $140mn extra spent last year. Only $15m went on extra salaries. Stands to reason that there might be a problem within the decision making processes in the senior management echelons of the fire service that warrants closer inspection.

That is a job for you Gladys Berejklian

ASIC climate change amateurs dictating terms to professionals

Non CC.png

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) is now seeking more oversight on corporates reporting on climate change. Since when did ASIC hold any sufficient expertise in climate science? Wouldn’t it be nice if ASIC placed more faith in capital markets to self-determine those risks instead of forcing ideologies into boardrooms via new regulations?

Don’t laugh. It is already happening. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) and ASIC  are “getting closer” to the action in boardrooms and the workplace. Already, boards have had visits from an organisational psychologist and company employees have received random calls from ASIC officers for “off-the-record” chats seeking “inside information” on the behaviour of their colleagues. APRA even want to sit in on board meetings to ensure governance oversight!

Climate change reporting is the next big thing ASIC is going after. Despite having no expertise in the field, ASIC wants to dictate terms. By its own admission, it has conducted studies with simplistic approaches which probably accurately assesses its amateur credentials.

Back in September 2018, ASIC released a report where it stated the following,

We undertook a high-level review of the prevalence of climate risk and climate-change-related content in annual reports for all listed companies for the calendar years 2011 to 2017 (inclusive). We searched approximately 15,000 reports and analysed the aggregated results across listed companies over time and by market capitalisation. We defined ‘climate change content’ as a reference to any of the following key terms: climate change, global warming, carbon emission, greenhouse gas, climate risk or carbon riskThis is a relatively simplistic approach which did not involve assessing the context within which our key terms were used. Our analysis was not designed to produce qualitative conclusions but rather to provide high-level insight into the prevalence of express disclosure on climate-change related topics in listed company annual reports.”

The unfortunate result for ASIC was the chart above. It fell from 22% to 14% over 5 years, during a time alarmists warned things were getting worse. Non-ASX300 companies reporting climate change fell from 18% to 10% of the total. How could that be? Maybe 90% of the ASX knows better than ASIC about the effects of climate change on their businesses?

Easier for ASIC to lean on a KPMG study that said 48% of CEOs surveyed saw climate change as a risk despite 58% being more worried about technological disruption and 54% concerned about territorialism. Or in other words, 52% of CEOs don’t see climate change is an issue and a whole band in the 48% that did probably felt pressured by their internal PR departments to comply with ESG malarkey, save getting caught out straying from the corporate realpolitik.

Will we see companies feel pressured to hire Chief Climate Change Officers (CCCOs) approved by the Climate Council run by Tim Flannery to appease ASIC? Will they determine the strategic direction of Harvey Norman? Or will shareholders prefer Gerry Harvey and Katie Page to lead that charge?

What constitutes compliance? How will ASIC aggregate the corporate climate change related information it garners in a way that produces qualitative results? Will the positioning of three new potplants in the boardroom be counted as sufficient reporting in climate abatement disclosure as affixing solar panels to the factory roof or switching the CEO’s car to an electric vehicle? Will the mere mentioning of the word “climate change” in an annual report suffice? Will ASIC get a warm fuzzy feeling if it conducts another 15,000 ‘CTRL F’ searches for words where 100% of corporates measure it? Job done? Will “name & shame” tables be produced to bash a mining company for having higher emissions than a tech start up?

It was only last week we were told that banks, insurers and super funds would be put through tough new climate change “stress tests” to be run by the  (APRA). We weren’t aware that APRA’s expertise extended to climate change either.

APRA should look at the 29% growth in assets within the 600,000 self-managed super funds (SMSF) which invest as much money as the very industry funds who lobby it to change the rules to force such disclosures as a guide. It probably says that more Aussies want to manage their own affairs instead of having nanny state rules that limit the scope of what they can invest in. Shouldn’t investors have a right to invest in tobacco, mining or gambling stocks if they see compelling value which assists the ultimate aim of putting more savings into retirement?

We pointed out that the industry funds collect the highest fees from those socially responsible (SRI) portfolios, even though they chronically underperform the market. If we look at YTD, 1 or 10-year performance all of the SRI portfolios as indicated by published performance (listed on their websites) of local Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) members, they have “underperformed” the benchmark index.

ACSI is behind this push for SRI. It even extends to pushing companies to have gender quotas, despite over half the members of ACSI failing to meet their own requirements. You can’t make this stuff up.

ASIC should promote free markets. It should rightly punish those companies that break laws. However, it should be up to shareholders to correctly assess risks. If climate change is a big deal then they can ask for their monies to be deposited into ACSI members’ SRI funds. The future growth of SMSFs will be a telling factor.  It will reveal those individuals looking to escape the grasp of limited investment options provided by rent-seeking industry funds looking to push their members into higher fee-paying products on the notion of saving the planet. Isn’t that just the type of red-flag the regulators should be looking to crack down on? Or does climate change grant get out of jail free cards? We all know the answer to that.

It is a disgrace. Amateurs dictating terms to professionals!