PM so­lu­tion shorts out

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

THE Clive Palmer saga is a na­tional em­bar­rass­ment and Townsville, un­for­tu­nately, is at the cen­tre of it.

While the larger- than- life for­mer bil­lion­aire has been en­joy­ing hol­i­days in Europe with his fam­ily, more than 800 Townsville fam­i­lies have been left in the wake of the clo­sure of Mr Palmer’s Yab­ulu nickel re­fin­ery, which was then the city’s largest pri­vate em­ployer.

Al­most 18 months later, the sorry- look­ing plant re­mains in shut- down mode de­spite con­tin­ual prom­ises by Mr Palmer that it would re­open this year.

Mr Palmer has re­peat­edly de­nied any re­spon­si­bil­ity for the plant’s clo­sure and has at­tacked the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment and Queens­land Nickel’s ad­min­is­tra­tors for what he main­tains is a po­lit­i­cally driven witch hunt.

Whether he is at fault for the calamity at Yab­ulu is a mat­ter for the courts to de­cide, but even that has had its twists and turns, as we have seen play out in re­cent times.

One week a trim- look­ing Mr Palmer ap­peared on week­end tele­vi­sion talk­ing about how fit he felt, then days later the same man, di­shev­elled and clutch­ing a sick bag, claimed he was too sick to an­swer ques­tions about Queens­land Nickel.

Then last month Mr Palmer was spied catch­ing a plane with up to 20 of his clos­est rel­a­tives and head­ing off on a Euro­pean trip.

Mean­while, his nephew Clive Mensink, whom it is claimed was solely re­spon­si­ble for the man­age­ment of Queens­land Nickel, has been miss­ing in ac­tion on an in­def­i­nite over­seas hol­i­day that shows no signs of end­ing any time soon, de­spite there hav­ing been two ar­rest war­rants is­sued to com­pel him to an­swer ques­tions about the com­pany’s deal­ings.

Now liq­uida­tor PPB Ad­vi­sory has launched a law­suit against both Queens­land Nickel Clives, seek­ing al­most half a bil­lion dol­lars over al­leged breaches of their du­ties as di­rec­tors and al­leged in­sol­vent trad­ing.

The claim has been lodged with the Supreme Court and also seeks to claw back Queens­land Nickel funds from Mr Palmer’s other com­pa­nies, Mr Mensink and two mys­tery women in Hong Kong and Kyr­gyzs­tan.

A scriptwriter would strug­gle to write a more dra­matic thriller, but it ap­pears that at least for Townsville, the end­ing will be sad.

The de­te­ri­o­rat­ing plant at Yab­ulu will be a cold re­minder to Townsville res­i­dents and es­pe­cially work­ers of the tragedy that be­fell one of the North’s big­gest com­pa­nies.

For the sake of Townsville’s job­less and its rep­u­ta­tion, hope­fully an­other com­pany will take over the plant and get it go­ing again. I AM a re­tired engi­neer with a long- time pro­fes­sional ex­pe­ri­ence in the gen­er­a­tion of elec­tric­ity from all con­ven­tional means – steam/ gas/ diesel/ hy­dro, all of which can cover for re­new­able en­ergy from so­lar and wind in­clud­ing bat­tery stor­age when th­ese can­not de­liver es­pe­cially at times of high in­dus­trial de­mands, and to counter bal­ance the in­sta­bil­ity of green power.

It is time that the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment ex­plains to the peo­ple of Aus­tralia, based on the Finkel re­port in clear terms, what ac­tion it will take to re­solve our na­tional elec­tric­ity cri­sis, in the short and long term to avoid the loss of Aus­tralian in­dus­try and its as­so­ci­ated work­force, and stop the ever- es­ca­lat­ing cost of elec­tric­ity for the gen­eral peo­ple.

It is noted that one of our Prime Min­is­ter’s long- term so­lu­tions is to spend $ 2 bil­lion to es­tab­lish a hy­dro pump stor­age sys­tem as part of the ex­ist­ing Snowy Moun­tains com­plex. There is al­ready in the pipe­line in North Queens­land at the old Kid­ston gold mine and as­so­ci­ated wa­ter dam, a pro­posed so­lar farm and as­so­ci­ated hy­dro pump stor­age.

In this case, the so­lar farm will pro­vide dur­ing the day the elec­tric­ity to pump the wa­ter back up to the top reser­voir, in prepa­ra­tion for the sys­tem to con­trib­ute elec­tric­ity back into the grid when the so­lar is not avail­able to meet de­mand.

How­ever in the case of the pro­posed Snowy sys­tem, where are they go­ing to ob­tain the spare elec­tric­ity to power the pumps to pump the wa­ter back up to the top reser­voir in prepa­ra­tion for the sys­tem to con­trib­ute elec­tric­ity back into the grid?

This scheme has prob­lems.

1. Ob­jec­tions from the peo­ple down­stream of the ex­ist­ing dams, should wa­ter be wasted.

2. Where will the spare elec­tric­ity to power the pumps come from?

Gone are the days of plenty of two ma­jor avail­able cheap coal- fired power sta­tions to pro­vide elec­tric­ity dur­ing the low power de­mand to re­plen­ish the top reser­voir for hy­dro power to gen­er­ate back to meet grid power peak de­mand.

It would seem to me that our Prime Min­is­ter will bloat our na­tional debt by an ad­di­tional $ 2 bil­lion purely for pol­i­tics. S. BRISCHETTO,


SNOWY DILEMMA: The ques­tion of spare elec­tric­ity needed to power the pumps needs to be an­swered.

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