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How to fix entitlements rorts

Crikey readers discuss yesterday's edition.

On clean coal

Global Lead Advocacy and Communications at Global CCS Institute Antonios Papaspiropoulos writes: Re. “The Australian’s clean coal magic trick” (yesterday). Claims made by John Quiggin which attempt to disregard carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a global warming mitigation technology contain a number of egregious errors. For the record, the facts are these:

  1. Mr Quiggin claims that the only version of CCS that is remotely commercial arises when CO₂ is pumped into exhausted oil wells.
    Wrong: CO₂ is not pumped into oil wells. In the process known as Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), CO₂ is pumped into dedicated injection wells. This is not the only commercial CCS application. CCS can also be applied to a raft of other CO₂ emission sources, including natural gas processing, gas-fired power generation, iron and steel production, ammonia/ fertiliser production, cement, paper, bio-ethanol, and hydrogen.
  2. Mr Quiggin claims that CCS works best with a pure source of CO₂, for example, from natural gas processing rather than a “messy mix of gases” from coal-fired power stations.
    Wrong: There are a broad range of industries in which CCS is commercially viable at large scale, all of which require separation and purification of waste CO₂, including natural gas processing.
  3. Mr Quiggin claims that CCS activity in Australia is now limited to research projects with a trickle of funding.
    Wrong: Australia will shortly boast its own large-scale CCS Project when Gorgon CCS begins operations in Western Australia. This will capture 3 million tonnes of CO₂ per year. Two other Australian projects are in development, one in the State of Victoria (the CarbonNet Project) and another in Western Australia (South West Hub). CarbonNet will provide a large scale transport and storage hub for prospective emission sources in Victoria’s La Trobe Valley, and South-West hub in Western Australia is a similar shared infrastructure project expected to capture around 2.5 million tonnes of CO₂ per year.
  4. Mr Quiggin claims that our website shows that CCS is not a viable option.
    Wrong: It certainly does not. There are now 15 large-scale CCS facilities operating globally with a further six being deployed this year. This clearly proves the economic viability of CCS
  5. Mr Quiggin claims that after decades of work, there is only one operational plant using CCS (Boundary Dam, in Canada).
    Wrong: The inference that the low number of coal-fired CCS projects in planning is a sign of CCS failure (or a reason to abandon it), ignores the many other CCS applications that are available. An alternative conclusion, and one aligned with public interest, is that Australia (and indeed the world) faces a substantial challenge in reducing emissions, and that all technologies (including CCS) should be given much more support by governments, industry and consumers. Without the full arsenal of mitigation technologies (the so-called “all of the above” strategy advocated by outgoing US President Obama) climate change targets will simply not be met. For the record, two new coal fired, CCS-retrofitted power plants in the United States are coming on-stream in the next few weeks – (Kemper in Mississippi, and Petra Nova in Texas).

We thank Mr Quiggin for the opportunity to rectify these inconsistencies. Climate change is a reality and the debate is important.

CCS technology has been around since the 1970s and is renowned as a proven, safe, and cost-effective technology.

Best available modelling by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the International Energy Agency (IEA) and a veritable army of global climate change experts, agree that it will be impossible to deliver Paris climate change targets, and at least cost, if CCS is not adopted as a key mitigation option.

Sisters are doing for themselves

Meredith Williams writes: Re. “Bronnie rotten on socialism, defends using the N-word” (yesterday). Bronwyn Bishop draws a long, shaky and injudicious bow in attacking socialists over an issue that has everything to do with misuse of privilege and misappropriation of taxpayer money, and nothing at all to do with free enterprise. Moreover, in comparing socialists to alcoholics she further discredits her own stance. Socialism is an adopted, reasoned ideology, whereas alcoholism is a disease that afflicts and destroyed lives indiscriminately. Deflecting from the real issue by victimising the vulnerable is not a good look, even in pearls.

Greg Poropat writes: There is a simple solution to the vexed issue of politicians’ travel entitlements. Eliminate ad hoc expense claims and grant all pollies a one-off increase in salaries to cover travel and electorate expense, the value determined according to individual positions (e.g. minister v. backbencher) and electorate location with the increase being taxable income. Then treat each politician as any other taxpayer is treated. If a politician wants to claim a travel or electorate expense as a deduction against their income let them do so via their taxation return and allow the ATO to determine the eligibility or otherwise of the expense, treating any disallowed expense with the same severity that any other taxpayer’s false claim is dealt with.

Play fair, Centrelink

Peter Schultz writes: Re. “Centrelink’s double standards” (yesterday). The Department of Human Services is being specious when it states: ‘if (a Centrelink) underpayment was identified, the payment is corrected and no further action is required’. Centrelink stuffs things up all the time, and the customer often does not even realise it due to the complexity of the system. If the customer is savvy enough to discover an underpayment and lucky enough to be able to somehow communicate that to the system, Centrelink may well correct the underpayment from that date on. But Centrelink will never backdate any arrears of underpayment if it takes the customer more than 13 weeks to discover it, even when the underpayment is due to Centrelink error. Sometimes underpayments have gone on for years before someone realised it.

 A few years ago a Welfare Rights Centre review into the system concluded that the only guarantee a Centrelink customer would receive their entitlements is if the customer knows the system better than the people working in Centrelink. This, of course, is hardly ever the case. I suspect Centrelink underpayments vastly exceed overpayments. But of course, the department conveniently does not collect the data and no-one cares about the problem.

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3 thoughts on “How to fix entitlements rorts

  1. Wayne Robinson

    Global CO2 emissions are at least 30 billion tonnes a year. It would require 10,000 three million tonne a year Gorgon CCS sized projects to cover the emissions, not including the extra emissions incurred as a result of the considerable amount of energy needed to power the CCS process.

    Are there any plans, or even the possibility, of having at least 1,000 and covering not even 10% of emissions?

  2. Roger Clifton

    Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) cannot possibly hide away such a vast quantity of waste as we emit. Instead the concept provides the PR illusion of net zero emissions, excuses for lying politicians, and a sink for guilt money on a scale that we do not want removed from our taxes.

    John Quiggin is not so emphatically “wrong” on all points as the CCS spokesman is shouting above. No doubt his rage is calling the faithful to rise up against the heretic, but he himself is wrong repeatedly. In particular, a planned scheme to capture and bury a measly 3 Mt/a is not a triumphant reduction, but an insult to the intelligence of anyone who thinks to compare it to the 40,000 Mt/a currently being emitted. That scheme (Gorgon) has the rare virtue of being injected under dry land, where our environmental scientists will be able to measure the rate at which the CO2 escapes back into the atmosphere.

  3. Juffy

    @Greg Poporat – genius. Put auditing of travel deductions in the hands of a department whose budget is determined by the people being audited.

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