auspol

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

ACF hires alarmist MCCCRH to sledge Cricket Australia for inaction on climate change

A Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub (MCCCRH) study commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), urged Cricket Australia (CA) to use its popularity to push for greater climate action and do more to look after player and spectator welfare. Hardly an impartial voice to undertake a study when MCCCRH states that it “conducts social research and leads impact focused projects to build media and policy infrastructure that adequately addresses climate change in Australia.”

The ACF campaign director, Paul Sinclair, said, “Cricket Australia should stop being silent and being a spectator on climate change. It should get in the game and be a climate champion for action to cut pollution from coal and to get onto clean energy.

Can the ACF tell FNF Media how many fans think about climate change as they head out to watch a game? It would seem by the sheer length of the beer snakes produced in Bay 13 at ‘The G’ that fans know how to keep well hydrated during play.

Perhaps the ACF should encourage CA to admonish the likes of Steve Smith who carries 10 cricket bats in his kit. Surely allowing New Balance to fell so many willow trees to enable Smith to indulge such a privilege is in direct violation of the UN Sports and Climate Action Initiative (UNSCAI) to reduce the carbon footprint in sports. Note CA has not signed up to this UN compact.

Perhaps ACF should request the air travel intensive Big Bash League (BBL) be banned to save the planet?

Perhaps Kookaburra needs to stop using leather in cricket balls? What do we make the stumps from? Plastic, aluminum? No good. Bamboo?

The ACF couldn’t resist a sledge at CA for having fossil fuel company, Alinta Energy, as a prime sponsor. ACF gave CA stick for having Marsh & Lloyds as commercial partners given they have plans to insure the proposed Adani coal mine. Why hasn’t the ACF slammed Rugby Australia for having Qantas and Land Rover as sponsors for the Wallabies?

In addition to its failings for not signing up to UNSCAI, CA was also criticized for declining to answer with respect to supporting Australia to be a net zero GHG polluter by 2050. It also failed to answer whether it supported turning Australia 100% renewable or whether CA had plans to transition to 100% renewable power itself. CA even copped flak for not recording the number of days abandoned due to extreme heat. Probably because the number is so minuscule, if any that no such records need keeping.

Which begs the question, if the science is so settled, why is it imperative for the ACF to shame CA for non compliance to their religion? We have already seen bodies with absolutely no climate scientific pedigree sign up and make public statements about the dangers of inaction on climate change. Based on what exactly? Is this how consensus is formed? Through group think based shaming which is disproven by the data?

The Australian Medical Association (AMA). It has little professional clue about the climate yet it pushes the narrative even though the far bigger worry should be the percentage of doctors abandoning the organization in droves because of the stance. Our Reserve Bank as well as regulators APRA and ASIC are on board pontificating about global warming, despite corporate Australia, by their own studies, showing less commitment. Such is the trend against climate alarmism by listed corporations, it seems regulators feel the need to dial up legislation to force adoption so it can get more funding to play Big Brother.

The ACF’s true colors come out in the pull quote on p. 18,

It is conceivable that directors who fail to consider the impacts of climate change risk for their business, now, could be found liable for breaching their statutory duty of due diligence going forwards.”

There you have it folks. Lobby for a change in the Australian Corporations Act. Let’s make sure that CA directors can be hauled over coals (no pun intended) for not using a carbon neutral yacht to transport players to the next Ashes series in the UK.

Don’t laugh, the International Olympic Committee and UN argue that, “Sport is not just a victim of climate change; it is also a contributor, through greenhouse gas emissions.

C’mon CA! Ban all merchandise. Tell off KFC for giving fans paper buckets to put on their heads every game. Think of all that virgin pulp that will end up in landfill. No more interstate or international games unless players can be carbon neutral. No more day/night matches unless the light towers are 100% renewable. Players can only have two bats to share between them.

In closing we should cast great doubt over Monash University’s ability to be impartial. The institution’s alarmist climate credentials are well documented.

Recall Monash University made up c.20% of the academics who signed an open letter in support of the lunatics of the Extinction Rebellion. We showed that most of those academics came from fields such as stand up comedy, poetry, arts/education, sports management, archaeology, LatAm studies, sex, health and society, social services, veterinary biology, culture, gender and racism. Few from actual climate science fields. We even proved that Matthew Flinders, who died in 1814, was a signatory to the same open letter, proving once again that alarmists are very poor at policing things that damage credibility. It is all about the number that sign, regardless of background.

Hopefully CA has a jolly good laugh and tells the ACF that it will happily comply as long as the ACF guarantees to offset any lost predicted revenues due to the ACF’s dud prophecies. Perhaps CA should simply ask the ACF why the IPCC admits within its own research (not the summaries written by politicians that hypes the panic and fear mongering) that 98% of the models it uses grossly overestimate warming.

Why the WEF’s 2020 gender gap report rankings are utterly meaningless

The most glaringly obvious anomaly in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF)’s 2020 Gender Gap report is that Syrian women are supposedly luckier to have a higher health and survival ‘gender gap’ score even though they live 15 years shorter than Aussie women. Go figure?!?

Await the media parroting headlines based on the WEF’s executive summary of the latest 371-page 2020 report on gender equality without any context. Australia slipped in the rankings, so don’t be surprised to see our media slam us without analysing the data behind the claims. Because within the data, it is marginal. Moreover, the basis of the data collection is frankly ridiculous.

We should remind ourselves that the WEF is an organisation that prides itself on rank hypocrisy. It wasn’t so long ago that 1,500 private jets landed in Davos to debate the number one concern at the WEF conference – climate change. As there is no airport at Davos, some took helicopters from Zurich Airport to the summit.

The WEF believes that the economic gender gap will take 257 years to close, up from 202 years in 2018. Technological change is driving a disproportionate effect, with women more highly represented in roles hit hardest by AI (e.g. retail). What’s more, not enough women are entering professions where wage growth is fastest. It is most likely the old white male patriarchy that forced women to go into retail rather than of their own volition.

It would be all too easy to chastise Australia for falling from 39th to 44th position, but the reality is that we improved our overall score versus 2018. Before the luvvies lavish praise on New Zealand, which climbed two places to 6th but saw its aggregate score decline, Australia is only 8.5% below NZ. So is that worth beating ourselves up for?

In the subcategory of Economic Participation and Opportunity, Australia ranks 49th vs NZ at 27th. Even though there is only a 4% difference. Liberal heads will explode to know that Trump’s America ranks above NZ.

In terms of educational attainment, Australia ranks =1st, despite the quality of our education system leaving much to be desired. Although it is a bit disingenuous as 38 countries are equal first. We just happen to benefit from alphabetical ordering.

Australia ranks 104th in health & survival but it is less than 1% difference to the 39 first placed countries (which include Angola and Syria). Although if we take Syria as a reference market, the average healthy life expectancy for women is 59.5 years vs 52.5 for men meaning that the gender gap helps score the war-torn country higher than Australia. Australia is 74.1 and 71.3 years respectively. Still,  FNF Media is sure Syrian men and women would gladly trade places with Australians even if, in this instance, the gender gap narrowed on this metric.

Note that even last placed China is less than 4% off the top spot in the health and survival gender gap subcategory. Precious little insight.

Political empowerment is where Australia gets smashed with a paltry rank of 57th. Presumably, if Australia had more female politicians then perhaps our rank would catapult. Should the voting public be admonished if Dr Keryn Phelps was beaten by Dave Sharma? Do voters select candidates on ability or genitalia?

Of interest, all one need do is a simple weighted average of the four subcategories to come up with the aggregated ranking scores provided by WEF.

If we stripped out political empowerment, Australia is within 1% of NZ and 4% of where #1 ranked Iceland is. Hardly anything to feel triggered by. Our score would be 0.898 vs the 0.731 awarded. NZ would be 90.8% vs 0.799 awarded. Iceland would be 93.5% vs 87.7%. Why haven’t the media done their homework?

In short, the supposed gap WEF thinks will take 99.5 years to close won’t be anything near that for Australia.

Which stands to reason, shouldn’t some categories be weighted higher than others in terms of closing a gender gap? Surely women in one part of the world might rank economic participation at 50% as opposed to 25%. Given health is so close across 153 countries measured, is it worth ditching that as a metric?

Between countries, maybe Zambian women place 100% emphasis in their struggle on economic wellbeing but Icelandic women 100% on political empowerment. If that was so, Zambian women would rank 0.831 vs Icelandic women at 0.701. The most value that could be added by the WEF would be to ask women in each country what was important to them. That way we wouldn’t have to standardise rules and regulations. Because this report effectively says that we should all aspire to be Iceland even if ambitious women in Botswana don’t wish to seek a career in politics.

The WEF concluded the 371-page report with,

The Global Gender Gap Report 2020 provides a comprehensive overview of the current state of the global gender gap and of efforts and insights to close it. The index offers a benchmarking tool to track progress and to reveal best practices across countries and subjects. This year the report finds that the gender gap has closed slightly since last year, yet it will still require 99.5 years to achieve full parity at the current pace.”

Unfortunately if one flips through to the country profiles, there are so many statistical gaps in certain categories making meaningful comparisons even more meaningless than they already are.

Therein lies the fatal flaw in this doorstopper. Data can be used in ways to paint a picture. It is so easy to put Australia in a negative light but in most metrics, while our rank may have fallen our raw scores have improved. But don’t be surprised if the media just tells you how bad we are. Narratives are easy to draw from a document that proves the adage of “garbage in, garbage out!” Yet don’t be surprised to see politicians making hay over the findings, if we can even call them that!

F’king hell mate

Follow the data, people. Apologies for the amount of climate change related posts of late. It is the climate alarmist silly season. The video above shows how easy it is to manipulate mindsets. Good to see that our PM Scott Morrison was thinking about smart drive-thrus. After all, as we showed, kids love McDonald’s ahead of climate strikes so merging technologies and fast food should connect the next generation. Uber should be looking to develop their rideshare app to go via fast-food chains. ScoMo has his finger on the pulse.

Atlassian billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes doesn’t agree although he did reveal what an expensive Bellevue Hill private boy school education does for teaching how to respect the highest public office in Australia. ScoMo was dead right not to attend a summit where the organizers deliberately banned those from coal-related nations from speaking whilst demanding their cash. No need to join a summit where most of the attendees are from nations with high levels of corruption and have a sole purpose to cash in on the guilt of weak-willed western nations.

Maybe MC-B should reflect on what the UN summit does to cause children to meltdown thanks to irresponsible adults feeding them with unfounded scaremongering. That is where the anger should have been placed in that room. Who needs to show up? Then again behaving like children is a bit of a theme at climate summits. Profanity too.

Being a successful software developer doesn’t always extend to being an axe in other fields. CM also made reference to why MC-B should be supporting the Minerals Council of Austalia as so much of his business actually relies on it.

Open letter to Lisa Wilkinson

Dear Lisa,

Oscar Wilde once said that, “the only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.”

Your open letter to Australian PM Scott Morrison effectively pleads for him to ignore the election result and adopt the policies that cost Bill Shorten his job. Labor’s platform was repudiated by the Australian people.

What is it with the left that is so preoccupied with Jacinda Ardern? Her domestic policy track record is awful. Copying Australia’s gun ban does not absolve her of failures elsewhere. Yes, she is young and progressive but it would have been nice for her to understand the cultural significance of donning the hijab rather than thinking it’s just a garment to augment her virtue signaling. Maybe you should talk to Rita Panahi to get a proper perspective on what it means to wear one.

Do you really think the PM will call his counterpart across the ditch if he needs to reach out? Morrison would seemingly have the answers to win an election within 9 months of taking over the leadership after Turnbull had trashed the Liberal brand. That is what his new party is for. He has their loyalty.

Your request to push for stable government is not lost on Mr Morrison. CM hates to tell you that the Prime Minister almost single-handedly won against all the odds and that has absolutely cemented his leadership. Do not forget the cabal of duplicitous leftists (Turnbull, Pyne, Bishop, Banks etc) within the party are thankfully all gone. The LNP can now be healed under his leadership. Did you honestly miss the significance of his win?

It wouldn’t be a letter from a host of The Project if climate change wasn’t on the menu! CM is pretty sure you voted for Zali Steggall in Warringah. Her sole policy platform is climate change. She emphatically said it in her victory speech.

Sadly, the Australian people rejected foolhardy renewable targets that Steggall wants to pursue. The Labor Party can’t risk running a climate change agenda again. Steggall’s targets are more extreme than Labor. Aussies at the coal face know better than Mosmanites at the Avenue Road Cafe how their financial livelihoods could be irrevocably damaged by Labor/Green climate policies. It is now a dead issue.

Did you know that Australia contributes 0.0000156% of global CO2? That means even if we went 100% renewable our impact is zip. Nada. Zero. Your husband’s Tesla has already travelled 150,000km in CO2 terms before it left Elon Musk’s factory.

CM advises you to watch the Sir David Attenborough documentary, Climate Change: The Facts, and note it is almost completely devoid of hard numbers. Many heart string pulling pictures but it is best you put faith in the PM to hit emission targets without trashing our economy in the process. Mr Shorten couldn’t put a price on climate change and paid a huge penalty because of it.

Please do not be concerned with the hot temperatures. It was hotter in the 1890s and early 1900s. Our Bureau of Meteorology has already been in quite a bit of trouble for fiddling the temperature figures. Feel more sorry for iguanas in Florida that fell out of trees due to the bitter cold and snowfalls.

As far as poverty goes, Australia has some of the lowest rates among 1st world nations. Spare a thought for the 118mn Europeans that live below the poverty line, over twice the rate of Australia. 23.5% of Europeans live below the poverty line and 330,000 German households had their electricity cut off because they couldn’t afford to pay for the record high power prices thanks to renewable energy policies. By the way 42,000 Aussies suffered the same fate last year.

Please quit with the “gender pay gap” nonsense. If companies could hire women at 14.1% less than men for the same job then there would be no point hiring men. Your pay packet is superior to many of your Project co-stars so you’re hardly oppressed by the gender pay gap. Choice of industry has a greater bearing on pay than gender.

Childcare is an issue which is being addressed. Domestic violence is way too high but do not ignore the statistics which show female violence against men. It just goes unreported.

While your sentiments are no doubt well intentioned, Jacinda could learn far more from ScoMo on how to win an election given the NZ PM has never achieved it in her own right.

Yours sincerely,

M. Newman, Contrarian Marketplace

Aussies pay more tax than Japanese and Shorten wants to raise them higher!

CM is repulsed by the confetti blowing promises being made ahead of May 18. This election is about cost of living to be sure. It is not about climate change and not about resettling refugees. Yet there has to be a limit on the free give away with a growing deficit. Where is the fiscal responsibility? Do politicians run their own household budgets like this? Not in a million years.

Our federal tax receipts are A$430bn this year. Did you know Japan collects $A750bn at the national level? So Aus is 1/5th the population and raises 1/2 the coin of Japan. Having said that the Japanese government must raise A$500bn EVERY YEAR to plug the national deficit! That’s what happens with poor fiscal management. So doing the math including the debt financing, we still raise 31% the revenues than the Japanese on 20% of the population. We might argue our economy is 1/4 Japan’s but we’re following an unsustainable trajectory. It’s insane. How can we tax people more? Yet that is what Shorten will do.

We can debate til the cows come home about how GST is funneled back to the states from federal coffers but we need to wake up to our relative costs! Our budget deficit is c.$600bn yet here we see Labor throw confetti promises around everywhere. $1.18bn in new aid to foreign countries over the next 4 years. PNG spent our aid money on 40 new Maseratis. Shorten pledged $1bn to acquire land to put the VFT in place. Surely the private sector can deal with that. $2bn for a Melbourne metro. We can go on and on.

Everyone seems like a winner until everyone becomes a loser. The sad fact is that we must wake people up to reality. We need to spend smarter, not chuck more money and hope it has impact. Neither government will see a surplus. Take it to the bank. The economic growth projections aren’t there. No matter who wins this election, the global economy is slowing and either party will be handed a basket case of economy controlled by external forces which includes a slowing US and China. It won’t be pretty. The question is who can best manage that? Not Labor. Climate change will be so irrelevant in this downturn.

It gets worse. The Reserve Bank and APRA are asleep at the wheel. Instead of navigating sensible policies to thwart the largest recession we will face in almost 30 years which will decimate housing, both are discussing climate change compliance reporting by corporates. Seriously? It is so telling they are focusing on the wrong message. Have they seen that the world’s central banks have printed $140 trillion in extra debt since 2008 and got $20 trillion extra in GDP. Shockingly poor returns. $7 of debt gets us $1 of GDP.

Yet our political system has only one pair of rose tinted spectacles where the prescription is 27 years out of date. They are equally as oblivious to the oncoming onslaught where our Aussie banks face a real risk of part of whole nationalization. Their position is as bad as the Japanese ahead of the collapse of their bubble.

Do not be fooled. CM personally believes that the Coalition is not deserved of government but the alternative is even worse. The last thing we need is to rest on that old Aussie saying of “time to give the others a go!” because this is a time when we can least afford change. It will be buyer’s remorse + alpha.

$14bn shock for Shorten. Not $100m

Image result for bill shorten ev

Let’s face it, pre-election budget boasting is a beauty contest we can do without. Fanciful promises guarantee we will not end up in surplus. Shorten’s speech was loaded with mistakes. Let’s cut through some numbers.

The Coalition put forward the following on Tuesday.

What escaped many in the Frydenberg budget of Tuesday is that to fund the 16.8% jump in tax receipts on 2018/19, individual taxpayers will still see their pockets hit +18.4% in aggregate even after including the ‘generous’ rebates. Superannuation tax collections will jump 43% in 4 years time.

NDIS spending is targeted to be 92% higher by 2022/23 than last year. Medicare +24%, public hospital assistance to the states +21%, aged care services +27%. For all the celebrations of lowering pharmaceutical rebates for one wonder drug from $120,000 to $6.50, the reality is spending in this segment will fall 18.4% in total. The family tax benefit will squeak 4% higher in the next 4 years.

As written on Tuesday, the revenue projections of the government are unrealistic as we stare at a slowing world economy. German industrial production in March cratered to 44.1 and China’s auto sales continued a 7-month double-digit slump in February.

Analyzing the Labor response

Shorten claimed NDIS was cut A$1.6bn to get a surplus. Under Frydenberg’s budget, NDIS for 2019/20 will rise A$4.5bn. Out to 2022/23, it rises to over A$24bn.

The Opposition Leader also made reference to A$14bn in cuts to public schools. Note the funding to public schools on 2013/14 was A$4.8bn. In 2018/19 it was $7.7bn and projected in 2022/23 to be A$10.4bn. 

$200mn to renovate nursing campuses in Australia won’t achieve much. The John Curtin Medical Research School at the ANU cost $130mn alone.

Shorten made reference to bushfires being caused by climate change. Fire & Rescue NSW notes that 90% of fires are either deliberately or accidentally set. A Royal Commission after the horrible Black Saturday bushfires showed that policies which restricted backburning reduction targets were to blame for the larger spread of fires, not climate change. In 2013, Tasmania learned none of the lessons with similar policy restrictions preventing the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service to complete more than 4% of all the 2.6m hectares it manages. The reef is not being damaged by climate change and floods and drought are no more frequent or severe than a century ago.

While climate alarmists will relish the prospect of 50% electric vehicles (EV) and cut emissions 45% by 2030 to save the planet, a few truths need to be considered:

1) our own Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel, has admitted that no matter what Australia does to mitigate global warming our impact will be zero. Naught. Nada. Putting emotion to one side, is there any point in spending $10s of billions to drive electricity prices?

2) South Australia and Victoria have already beta tested what having a higher percentage of renewable energy does or rather doesn’t do for sustainable and reliable baseload power. Both states have not only the highest energy prices in Australia but the world. These stats are backed up in Europe. The EU member states with a higher percentage of renewables have steeper electricity prices than those with less. These are facts.

3) Consumption patterns matterLast year Aussies bought only 2,200 EVs. In 2008, SUVs made up 19% of the new car sales mix. Today they make up 43%.
In 2008, c.50m total passengers were carried on Australian domestic flights to over 61m today. The IATA expects passengers flown will double over the current level by 2030. These are hardly the actions of people panicked about cataclysmic climate change. Or if they are, they expect others to economize on their behalf.

Qantas boasts having the largest carbon offset program in place yet only 2% of miles are paid for, meaning 98% aren’t. 

4) Global EV production capacity is around 2.1m units. While rising, it is still a minor blip on 79 million cars sold worldwide. Add to that, auto parts suppliers and car makers are reluctant to expand capacity too fast in a global auto market that is slowing rapidly.

Car sales in China have fallen for 7 straight months. In Feb 2019, sales fell 13.8% on the back of January’s -15% print.  Dec 2018 (-13%), Nov 2018 (-13.9%) & Oct 2018 (-11.7%) according to the Chinese Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). The US and Australian car markets are under pressure too. 

5) So haphazard is the drive for EV legislation that there are over 200 cities in Europe with different regulations. In the rush for cities to outdo one another this problem will only get worse. Getting two city councils to compromise is one thing but 200 or more across country lines?

Without consistent regulations, it is hard for makers to build EVs that can accommodate all the variance in laws without sharply boosting production costs. 

6) Fuel excise tax – at the moment, 5% of our tax revenue comes from the bowser. $25bn! Will Mr. Shorten happily give this up or do we expect when we’ve been forced to buy EVs that we will be stung with an electricity tax on our cars?

7) Norway is a poor example to benchmark against. It is 5% of our land mass, 1/5th our population and new car sales around 12% of Australia. According to BITRE, Australia has 877,561km of road network which is 9x larger than Norway.

Norway has around 8,000 chargers countrywide. Installation of fast chargers runs around A$60,000 per unit on top of the $100,000 preparation of each station for the high load 480V transformer setup to cope with the increased loads.

Norway state enterprise, Enova, said it would install fast chargers every 50km of 7,500km worth of main road/highway.

Australia has 234,820km of highways/main roads. Fast chargers at every 50km like the Norwegians would require a minimum of 4,700 charging stations across Australia. Norway commits to a minimum of 2 fast chargers and 2 standard chargers per station.

The problem is our plan for 570,000 cars per annum is 10x the number of EVs sold in Norway, requiring 10x the infrastructure.

While it is safe to assume that Norway’s stock of electric cars grows, our cumulative sales on Shorten’s plan would require far greater numbers. So let’s do the maths (note this doesn’t take into account the infrastructure issues of rural areas):

14,700 stations x $100,000 per station to = $1,470,000,000

4,700 stations x 20 fast chargers @ A$60,000 = $5,640,000,000 (rural)

4,700 stations x 20 slow chargers @ A$9,000 = $846,000,000 (rural)

10,000 stations x 5 fast chargers @ A$60,000 = $3,000,000,000 (urban)

570,000 home charging stations @ $5,500 per set = $3,135,000,000 (this is just for 2030)

Grand Total: A$14,091,000,000

Note that Shorten pledged $100m to EV charging stations around Australia to meet his goals. Even if he was to skimp on 2 fast and 2 slow chargers per stand, Aussies taxpayers will need to shell out $6.5bn. At least he could technically cover that with repealing $6bn in franking credits.

Norway’s privately run charging companies bill users at NOK2.50 (A$0.42c) per minute for fast charging. Norway’s electricity prices are around NOK 0.55 (A$0.05c) per kWh to households.  In South Australia, that price is 43c/kWh. So will Shorten subsidize an EV owner charging in Adelaide at the mark up a private retailer might charge? 

What about subsidies to EV buyers? If we go off Shorten’s assumptions of $3,400 per EV at 570,000 EVs per annum, the tax payer will fork out $1.94bn a year.

Will there be a cash-for-clunkers scheme?  If the plan is to drive internal combustion powertrains off the road, existing owners may not be emboldened with the decimation in the value of their existing cars. Let’s assume buyers are irrational and accept $3,000 per car (Gillard offered $2,000 back in 2010) trade-in under the scheme. That would amount to $1.73bn.

8) Making our own batteries! While it is true Australia is home to all of the relevant resources, sadly we do not have enough cobalt to make enough of them.

Australia is home to only 4% (5,100t) of the world’s cobalt. 60% of the world’s cobalt comes from DR Congo which has less than satisfactory labour laws surrounding children. If we want cheap EVs, we have to bear that cross of sacrificing children to save the planet. It can’t be done any other way.

Li-ion batteries consume around 42% of the globe’s cobalt supplies. Cars are 40% of that. The rest being computers, mobile phones, etc.

9) Automakers have set up their own battery capacity to supply internal production. Given our terrible history in automotives, we should not expect them to line up to buy our batteries.

Nissan spent around A$770m on a battery plant in Sunderland. Panasonic plowed $2.8bn into the battery plant that supplies Tesla.

10) Australia has no real homegrown industrial scale EV battery technology. If we bought in a technical license, that will only make our production costs prohibitive on a global scale. Our high wage costs would add to the improbability of it being a sensible venture.

All in, Shorten’s EV plans could cost Australians well over $20bn with c.$4bn in subsidies ongoing.

11) Green jobs – according to the ABS, jobs in the renewable sector have fallen from the peak of 19,000 in 2011/12 to 14,920 in 2016/17. The upshot is that green jobs in the renewable sector are not sustainable.

In short, Mr. Shorten’s budget reply was extremely thin on detail. Especially with respect to climate change. The LNP has plenty of ammunition to prosecute the case on his wild costing inaccuracies (as outlined above) yet will they have the gumption to fight on those lines. Saving the planet is one thing.

Loading a stretched grid with EVs and increasing the proportion of less reliable power sources looks like a recipe for disaster. We need only look at consumption patterns to get a true sense of how ‘woke’ people when it comes to global warming. South Australians and Victorians are already living the nightmare of renewables.

This election is about one thing – individual pocketbooks. The electorate needs working solutions, not electric dreams.