$75m taxpayer burden avoids $1.75b liability, says Treasurer

The first state-owned power station put up for sale by the O’Farrell government, Eraring Energy, has been sold for $50 million in a deal that also releases the state from a $1.75 billion obligation to supply it with cheap coal from a new mine at Cobbora, near Mudgee.
Nanjing Night Net

But NSW taxpayers will end up $75 million out of pocket as the decision to break the coal supply contract means millions of dollars in compensation has to be paid to Eraring’s new owner, Origin Energy.

NSW Treasurer Mike Baird announced the sale of Eraring Energy to Origin Energy on Monday, saying it was ”above retention value”.

Under the deal, which is expected to be completed by August 1, the government has agreed to pay Origin $300 million compensation for the right to break a contract guaranteeing Eraring cheap coal supplied from the Cobbora mine.

The contract was signed as part of the previous government’s sale of electricity trading rights, under which Eraring’s electricity output was sold to Origin shortly before the 2011 state election.

As part of that sale, Eraring was guaranteed cheap coal supplied by the planned Cobbora mine, which was to be built by the state government, in an attempt to boost the value of its generation rights.

But a recent review of the Cobbora deal by the former Treasury official Kerry Schott found Cobbora would cost ”at least” $1.4 billion to develop – money that would never be recovered by the sale of its coal because the contracted supply prices were ”well below cost”.

Dr Schott is advising the O’Farrell government on its sale of the state-owned generation companies Eraring Energy, Macquarie Generation and Delta Electricity, from which it anticipates proceeds of up to $3 billion.

Mr Baird said the former government’s sale, known as the gentrader transaction, was ”a shocker”. He said the sale of Eraring and cancellation of the Cobbora contract was ”a fantastic financial result for the state”.

”What the state has avoided, effectively for a payment of $75 million, is a $1.75 billion liability,” he said. ”That’s what was left behind by the former transaction done in the dying days of the Keneally government”.

Mr Baird said the $1.75 billion liability was comprised of the estimated $1.5 billion cost of building the Cobbora mine and $250 million in ”liquidated damages” expected to be payable to Origin Energy.

Under the terms of the gentrader transaction, liquidated damages were payable by the state-owned power stations when they were unable to supply the contracted amount of electricity to the new owners of the trading rights.

Mr Baird said after ”residual cash” held by Eraring was retained by the state, taxpayers were out of pocket by $75 million.

The Cobbora coal contracts with Macquarie Generation and Delta Electricity had also been ”terminated”, Mr Baird said, as the companies had been able to source ”alternative supply”.

He said falling coal prices and excess supply meant the government could source the coal at similar cost to that promised in the Cobbora coal contracts. Despite this, Mr Baird said the government would proceed with the Cobbora mine because, without the contracts, it was ”now a commercial entity”. Planning approval was expected by the end of the year.

The government remains in negotiations with TruEnergy over the sale of Delta West power station, whose generation rights it purchased in the gentrader transaction but without a coal supply contract with Cobbora.

BusinessDay- Page 23

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Lions chief aims for growth

HARMONY and garnering new members are the aims of the incoming George Town Lions Club president.
Nanjing Night Net

Margaret Gibbons formally took over the role at the club’s change- over dinner on Saturday night.

Mrs Gibbons has been a member of the club since 2010.

“I joined because we had the time now – when you are younger you are focused on your children, your family, your work, but we just found that we had the time to give something back,” she said.

“I had heard a fair bit about it as the club does a lot of work in the community.”

Mrs Gibbons said she would like to see the demographic of the group expand.

However, she said she wouldn’t be a tough leader.

“I’m not going to go in with a heavy hand; harmony in the club is the most important thing in my mind,” she said.

“Raising money is important but not to forget that people are limited with what they can do.”

Mrs Gibbons said she looked forward to working with other groups and organisations in the municipality.

“I would like to work more closely with the Rotary Club and the George Town Council,” she said.

“The new president of the Rotary Club has also said that she wants the same thing, so hopefully we will be able to do that.”

Mrs Gibbons moved to the township from Launceston 29 years ago with her husband, Harvey, of Longford.

“I love small towns. We get to know everybody and I love the beach – even though I’m not a swimmer. It’s the fresh seaside air,” she said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Foragers find bush flavours to tantalise city’s palate

Harvest: Bartenders Christopher Thomas and Byron Woolfrey pick grevillea garnishes in Potts Point for cocktails at Trolley’d. Photo: Marco Del GrandeDanish chef Rene Redzepi, possibly the world’s most famous forager, says he still craves the Australian bush foods he ate in the company of the Iga Warta and Wardandi indigenous people three years ago.
Nanjing Night Net

”They blow my mind and still stand out. [They gave me] some of the most interesting food experiences of my career,” he said. ”So many new delicious flavours, so much forgotten wisdom to be relearned.”

Mr Redzepi, chef at the world’s No.2 restaurant, Noma in Denmark, will return to Sydney in October for the relaunch of Good Food Month, Australia’s biggest festival of food, talented cooks and notable restaurants created 15 years ago.

His passion for foraging and using native ingredients not only placed Noma on the map but triggered a small culinary revolution. The initial ignorance he displayed towards Australian bush food did ruffle a few industry feathers but he came around in the end and still kicked off a trend.

Since then, the buzz around bush foods has not died down. Chefs Neil Perry and Kylie Kwong continue to develop popular dishes using native ingredients. In the past three months, two beverage businesses have opened, wholly focused on native ingredients.

Bartenders Byron Woolfrey and Christopher Thomas started Trolley’d in April, using a fleet of old Ansett trolleys converted into mobile cocktail bars. Mr Woolfrey said Mr Redzepi’s philosophy inspired them to serve every cocktail with ”a native twist”.

”I appreciate how Rene Redzepi made these native foods so available,” he said. ”It’s helped people understand there is a whole world around us we can thrive off.”

As urban foragers, picking riberries off lilly pilly trees – ”before the birds get them or before they hit the ground” – and small edible violets is a normal part of their working day.

”There are native gingers in parklands and lemon myrtle growing on our balconies,” Mr Woolfrey said. ”Our lemon myrtle punch with aniseed myrtle tea, lemon and gin is really popular.”

Camilla Strang experimented with native flavours in Orange for a year before releasing two cordial drinks in April.

She will be selling lemon cordial flavoured with lemon myrtle and Kakadu plum, and an apple cordial blended with native ginger and rosella flower at the Pyrmont growers market on Saturday.

”People have been so happy to see a product utilising our Australian plants,” said Ms Strang, director of Millamolong Australia, maker of Milla Cordial. ”These foods have been used for healing and cooking for hundreds of years.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Thieves make off with safe from hotel

BRAZEN thieves made off with a safe weighing more than 200 kilograms from the Deloraine Hotel early yesterday morning.
Nanjing Night Net

The safe, which contained a large amount of cash, was stolen about 2am.

Deloraine Police acting Inspector Craig Fox said CCTV footage had confirmed at least two offenders broke into the hotel in the early hours of Monday and removed the safe with the use of a trolley found at the premises.

It is believed the weekend’s takings were in the safe at the time of the break-in.

Acting Inspector Fox said police were investigating all avenues of inquiry in relation to the incident, but said they couldn’t rule out that the thieves were targeting the safe in particular or that they had prior knowledge of the premises.

Police have called for any members of the community who may have witnessed the incident or witnessed a vehicle, likely a flat-tray or a vehicle towing a trailer, leaving the premises about 2am on Monday to contact Deloraine police on 131444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800333000.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Traditional male choir to perform

The Bunbury Men of Song are set to hit Tasmania.ORFORD can look forward to musical treats as a West Australian choir prepares to serenade the East Coast on Monday.
Nanjing Night Net

The Bunbury Men of Song are visiting the state on their tour of community concerts.

They will also feature at Hobart’s Festival of Voices.

The Glamorgan-Spring Bay Council said the concert would be a “wonderful opportunity for our community to enjoy a high- calibre musical performance’.

Established in 1998, the Bunbury Men of Song have been regularly performing for Western Australian audiences for many years.

The 42 men range in age from late teens to “early octogenarian” and sing in the classic male choral tradition.

Yesterday in Western Australia they performed as a farewell to their community before heading to Tasmania.

The Orford concert will feature songs from the group specially prepared for a Tasmanian audience.

It will be held at Orford Hall on Monday, July 8 at 2pm.Admission is $5 with afternoon tea included.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Refugees set to join teen on hunger strike

MORE asylum seekers could join in a hunger strike at Pontville detention centre unless they are lifted from the “bureaucratic nightmare” of uncertain detention, a Tasmanian refugee advocate has said.
Nanjing Night Net

A 16-year-old Afghani boy at the centre has been on a hunger strike since Friday.

The boy told the ABC on Sunday he was acting in protest against being held in detention for seven months because he believed some people he travelled to Australia with had been released.

It is the first reported hunger strike at the centre and comes just two weeks after six detainees were hospitalised in a brawl over a game of pool.

That incident was just a week after a detainee and a detention centre worker were injured in another reported fight.

Tasmanian Asylum Seeker Support founder Emily Conolan said all the incidents could be traced to the uncertainty caused by longer periods in detention, after funding to community detention programs was cut.

Ms Conolan said everyone she visited at the centre said they could cope better if they knew how long they would be detained for and could look to the future.

Ms Conolan said tensions at Pontville had been mounting in recent weeks and she would not be surprised if other residents joined in the hunger strike.

“It’s an act of desperation and a cry for help of people that feel that they have no other option to express themselves but self-harm,” she said.

A spokesman from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship said the boy was being closely monitored.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Rogers, Watson to open in Test

Chris Rogers will finally shed the one-Test wonder tag when he opens the batting for Australia in the Ashes, leaving Ed Cowan to scrap for another spot in the order.
Nanjing Night Net

New coach Darren Lehmann announced in his typically direct way that Rogers would strike a new opening combination with Shane Watson at Trent Bridge from July 10.

”They’ll play the first Test,” Lehmann said after training in Worcester, where Cowan will have one last chance to seize a spot down the order in the tour game starting on Tuesday.

“We’ll wait and see with the rest,” Lehmann said in regard to Cowan. “All the rest are in the frame. But Rogers has obviously been picked for a reason from the previous selection panel and we’re really comfortable with that. He’s had a great summer here with Middlesex and got two big hundreds.”

The news is a long-awaited reward for Rogers’ phenomenal scoring in both Australia and England over the past decade. He has amassed almost 20,000 first-class runs, half of them in county cricket, and is coming off an exceptional season as captain of Middlesex, with 790 run at 65.83

Since playing a solitary Test as a replacement for the injured Matthew Hayden against India at the WACA Ground in 2008 – a disorienting experience in the immediate aftermath of the infamous “Monkeygate” Test – Rogers had been ignored by the selection panel led by Andrew Hilditch. A phone call from his successor John Inverarity in England last winter gave him reason to hope that he might not be finished as an international player.

“I’m naturally excited. It’s a huge thrill,” he said after Lehmann gave him the news. “Anyone who has been selected doesn’t want to be a one-Test wonder. I had probably given up hope at times but I guess with the new selection committee and retirements of Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey it gave me a bit of hope that they would pick an older head.

“I can just enjoy it and really see that there is nothing to lose. I didn’t expect this opportunity and hopefully I can play well. If that happens hopefully we can win a few games as well.”

Rogers said his experience of batting in England should help him set a platform for the middle order, while the right-handed Watson could be the more aggressive partner. “I’ve been playing well and have been selected to score runs. At the top maybe that’s a combination that Boof wants but my job is to score runs now and make that position my own,” Rogers said.

“I was fortunate enough that the [Ashes tour] selection happened a couple of months ago. Every time I have gone out to bat I have been putting myself under as much pressure as I can, trying to lift the intensity because I remember what it was like in that first Test and it’s far different to what you experience in domestic cricket. I know that is going to be as big a challenge as anything.

“The thing I try to do as a captain [of Middlesex] is lead from the front and that is the role as an opener anyway, but if I can do that for Australia hopefully I can set the game up for the middle order who can play expansive games and take the game away from the opposition. For that to happen, we need a solid start.”

Cowan needs to make runs against Worcestershire to play at Trent Bridge and No.3 seems the most natural alternative for the left-hander, who last made a first-class century against South Africa in November.

Suspended batsman David Warner is in contention to bat in the middle order in the Test team, and Lehmann said Usman Khawaja was not out of the reckoning despite being left out for the tour match at New Road.

“I wouldn’t be reading too much into the tour game,” Lehmann said. “It’s a case of giving everyone in our squad a chance to impress for the first Test and make sure everyone in the squad is available. We can’t pick Davey but the other 17 will be given a chance to play some cricket so I wouldn’t read too much into it.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Children inspired to put pencil to paper

Award-winning children’s book illustrator Peter Gouldthorpe with the subject of his sketch, Scottsdale Primary School pupil Zoe Cairns.SCOTTSDALE Primary School pupils have learnt to sketch from one of the best.
Nanjing Night Net

The school received a visit from award-winning children’s book illustrator Peter Gouldthorpe last Tuesday as its prize for winning the illustrator for a day competition in the Premier’s Reading Challenge.

Gouldthorpe, who is shortlisted for a children’s book Council of Australia Award for his illustrations in Lyrebird by Jackie Kerin, spent the day working with pupils from grades 2-4, teaching them the process of creating a book and demonstrating how to make a good sketch.

He also set up his easel in the school yard during lunch and sketched grade4 pupil Zoe Cairns.

School teacher librarian Jill van den Bosch said the visit was great to get the kids thinking creatively.

“He gave them some hints about not being worried about getting it right the first time because you can often hide the mistakes later,” Mrs van den Bosch said.

“The grade 2s went back and said they were very inspired and spent the rest of the afternoon sketching.

“So it’s definitely been worthwhile.”

Gouldthorpe, of Hobart, left four sketches at the school which will be framed and hung in the library.

The Premier’s Reading Challenge is about encouraging children to develop a love of reading to improve literacy standards.

It runs until August 18 and involves 167 schools.

Premier Lara Giddings said during the challenge she hoped children would read 10 books in 10 weeks.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Council cooking up school holiday fun

Lachlan Harris, 12, of Beaconsfield, participates in the Masterchef school holiday program. Picture: supplied.THE West Tamar Council’s school holiday program is open for registrations.
Nanjing Night Net

The program is open to West Tamar residents aged 10 to 16 and offers four activities throughout the two-week break: Laser tag at Zone 3 Laser, a skateboarding workshop, a trip to Village Cinema in Launceston and a Masterchef-style challenge at the Tailrace Centre.

West Tamar Council youth development officer Stewart Bell said the program attracted interest from a diverse range of young people throughout the municipality.

“We are always planning new and exciting things and often ask young people what they want to do and then try and facilitate this,” Mr Bell said.

“Activities are fully supervised and subsidised by council. The program takes pressure off parents and allows young people to hang out with their friends and have fun in a safe environment.

“The activities are always a lot of fun and provide an opportunity to do something you haven’t tried before or make some new friends.”

Mr Bell encouraged those interested to book early as spaces are limited.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

US reacting typically to Snowden’s leaks

THE story has everything except the shaken martini.
Nanjing Night Net

A massive security breach, an international escape and chase, a betrayed girlfriend and plenty of political intrigue.

You can even throw in a bit of Moscow-Washington Cold War tension for the good old days.

No – it’s not the next Bond film, this is the incredible true story of American whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Mr Snowden collaborated with top global newspapers to leak classified American intelligence showing unprecedented surveillance of American and foreign citizens.

While denied by American authorities, a leaked presentation suggests the National Security Agency has accessed the servers of Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, AOL, Skype and YouTube to “datamine” information.

That would mean your data – what you say, who you’ve said it to, what you’ve seen online – is sitting on a US government computer, ready to be accessed if they should ever need to.

How comfortable are you with that prospect?

The revelations keep coming as Mr Snowden, believed to be hiding out in a Moscow airport en route to legal sanctuary, drip feeds the media with new leaks.

Mr Snowden’s justification is simple, telling The Guardian, “I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things”.

The NSA counters with the security line; it stops crime and terrorism in its tracks.

NSA director Keith Alexander said the surveillance programs had helped prevent more than 50 “potential terrorist incidents” including plots on the New York stock exchange and subway.

In the US, the issue has dominated domestic politics, as representatives grapple with an age-old question; to what extent should our civil liberties be wound back in the name of national security?

Mr Snowden is a traitor to some, a whistleblower to others.

The US government has been unequivocal, laying three charges of theft and unauthorised communication of classified intelligence, each carrying a penalty of a decade’s jail, and calling for Mr Snowden’s immediate return to US soil.

A decade ago, Australian law enforcement was kinder on intelligence whistleblower and now Denison MHR Andrew Wilkie, who exposed trumped up claims on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, calling the war “not ethical, not necessary and not legal”.

Mr Wilkie resigned his job and was cut off by fellow spooks, despite two decades’ service to the infantry and intelligence community.

He believes Mr Snowden’s actions are for the best, but he should have known what to expect.

“I think Edward Snowden acted in the public interest,” Mr Wilkie said.

“But in the absence of any effective whistle-blower protection in the US Mr Snowden should have understood that he’d need to deal with the legal ramifications of his actions.”

Mr Wilkie said the US’s actions to conduct surveillance on foreigners, including Australians, should not shock, and were justified as long as “appropriate privacy protection regimes are in place”.

A proposal to retain every Australian’s telephone and internet data for up to two years, described as the most significant expansion of the Australian intelligence community’s powers since the September 11 attacks, was last week recommended against by a Parliamentary committee.

Australians might argue we get the balance between privacy and security right, but how are we able to make that choice if intelligence programs are hidden, denied and obscured?

To quote Timothy Garton Ash, “In a democracy it is for us to judge where to place the balance between security and privacy, safety and liberty”.

Traitorous or not, Mr Snowden’s actions have given Americans a better place to gauge whether they have that balance right.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.