Raising the BARR – Week ending 6 April 2018

Raising the Barr

Mad as Hell About Liddell

It’s like a Monty Python sketch that goes something like this – Coalition Government insists on selling all assets to privates, Coalition Government give away, for free, a coal fired power station called Liddell, Coalition Government complains that the new owner won’t do what they are told by previous owner (Government).

Here are a few very annoying facts about the Liddell issue that keep on being over-looked by the ignorant few. Liddell has been planned to close in 2022 for many years.  As such, maintenance, repairs and replacement of parts has been kept to a minimum.  The truth is that Liddell has been running like a clapped out second hand lawn mower for some years now.  Everyone with even a vague knowledge of Liddell knows this – except, obviously, the PM and his various Stooges.

The reason that coal-fired power is currently the cheapest is because the power stations had all of the money (capital) tipped in to the places decades ago, and all of that money has now been recouped, so they literally make electricity to simply cover costs and make a profit.  However, and this is a big however, if you start to put more new money into the power station to do things like repair and replace parts to extend the life, not to mention the cost of buying the power station, then that new money has to be recovered by increasing the cost of the power being supplied.  So, any new investment in Liddell means that it will no longer be the cheapest power in town.  In fact, research clearly shows that for new money invested in electricity production, wind and solar provides far cheaper power – even the PM and his team know this to be true.

Let’s imagine that a private investor bought Liddell for $750M.  And then let’s accept that they would need to spend $250M on the repairs to make the plant last an extra 5 years.  This adds up to $1000M just upfront.  And then let’s acknowledge that the private investor wanted to make a profit – say a very modest 8% p.a.  This would be 40% over 5 years.  So the “debt” that would need to be paid back to the private investor would be $1400M all to be paid in a very short 5 year period – all to be paid for by the user; you and me!

And if that’s not enough to have you hopping mad, then please remember that Liddell was given away “free” to AGL, its new owner.  AGL Shareholders were told in August 2014, after signing the deal with Baird/Berejiklian, that “we see it as a free option”.  What a wonderful windfall for those shareholders, and an incredible loss that borders on Stadiums Policy ridiculous for the NSW Government, that Liddell, after being given away for free, now has a value of $1000M!

The Great NBN Hoax

I received a letter from my phone provider, Telstra, the other day.  It read, in part, “Times running out to move your home phone and broadband on to the NBN network.  It’s important you contact us, as your home phone and broadband will be disconnected if you don’t move to the NBN network soon”.

I was alarmed.  Oh my gosh, I thought, the phone is about to get cut off.  “Times running out” and “disconnected” are powerful words.  So I rang the number and asked the simple question of when.  February 2019 I was told!

I am disgusted by this misleading and unnecessarily alarming language used in the letter.  I have referred my letter off to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.  If you receive something similar, that causes you alarm, can I suggest you ring and ask how long you have to make the change, and, if you believe the length of time to be not as urgent as the letter suggests, then also refer your matter off to the Ombudsman.