Selling the farm


There was a very sad editorial in the Newcastle Herald today: ‘Export parity in coal prices’.Call me an eejit, but I have tried and failed to find a link to it online today. So here is the gist of it:

‘Until 2002 the NSW government mined its own coal to run its own power stations, providing energy to the state on the advantageous terms that might be expected in a state with massive reserves of high-quality steaming coal.

‘In 2002 the government sold its mines to Centennial Coal, for $331 million. Centennial took on long-term fixed-price  contracts to supply coal to power stations, in the meantime expanding its interests into the highly profitable export field.

‘Now Centennial seems set to change hands, for a share price that values the company at $2.5 billion…

‘…when present contracts – negotiated years ago when coal prices were low – expire,  power generators may be required to pay export-equivalent prices for their fuel…

‘The state’s power consumers may yet rue the day their government sold its public coalmines.’

Isn’t that one of the most appalling things you ever heard? Our reliance on coal is bad enough, but to miss out on enormous profits for a non-renewable resource is dreadful and to be slugged higher prices for something we used to own…

Section 94 contributions by developers are contributions made to councils to fund community infrastructure. These have been capped by the state government at $20000 per dwelling.

The idea behind this was supposedly to increase housing affordability by reducing the amount developers have to pay councils and therefore reduce the cost of the dwelling. It’s hard to imagine this will eventuate: can you see the cost of housing going down?

Most councils are going to experience a shortfall in the  funding available to do all the things we and the state government expect them to do.

The local government association said,

‘Councils in… growth areas are facing massive shortfalls in infrastructure funding running into the billions of dollars”  – the President of the Local Government Association Cr Genia McCaffery.Cr McCaffery said the decision to cap developer levies will result in “dramatic” rate rises and deferral or cancellation of local infrastructure projects.  She said that revoking the decision is not an “unreasonable ask” and that a failure to revoke the decision will result in councils “undertaking a very aggressive media campaign’.

‘The calls came today in a meeting of the Local Government and Shires Association of NSW (LGSA) and mayors, general managers and planning staff from high growth councils across the state, including Blacktown, Camden, The Hills Shire, Hawkesbury, Campbelltown, Holroyd, Pittwater, Ku-ring-gai, Penrith, Wollongong, Lake Macquarie, Liverpool, Wyong, Maitland and Leichhardt.’ – quoted here from Urbanalyst

These decisions remind me of an interview I saw with a former police commissioner who said that in all his years of dealing with government ministers he’d never seen a statesman, only politicians. Some can only be called self-serving and short-sighted.

I put in an FOI request to council yesterday for information about how the fig trees in Laman Street were assessed after the Pasha Bulker storm. I would like to know what information was gathered before so many were chopped down. Here are two photos sent to be Sharon healy from Hunter photobank of felling trees after the Pasha Bulker storm: cheers.    Home


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