Fundamentally incorrect government statements

This seems very direct.

Lying is native to politics. If you did not realise it before watching the inquiry into Victorian Labor’s disastrous COVID-19 quarantine scheme, you will now. The Victorian government led by Daniel Andrews is so mired in lies that truth is a distant memory….

We heard the lie by omission, the half-truth, blame-shifting, obfuscation, red herrings, selective memory and collective amnesia. The Premier claims not to know who made the decision to hire private security staff to guard people in hotel quarantine. Labor ministers have followed suit, though most peppered their feigned ignorance with a generous serving of selective amnesia….

On August 8, the Premier told a parliamentary committee: “I think it is fundamentally incorrect to assert that there was (sic) hundreds of ADF staff on offer and somehow someone said no. That’s not, in my judgment, accurate.” However, Sky News and others reported that Prime Minister Scott Morrison personally wrote letters to the Victorian Premier urging him to accept the help of Australian Defence Force personnel in July as the number of COVID cases surged in Victoria. It was reported that the PM sent letters to Andrews on July 4, 6 and 11. In the final correspondence, the PM offered about 1000 defence personnel to work alongside Victoria Police to ensure the virus was contained, affected suburbs were locked down and contact tracing was undertaken….

When Defence Minister Linda Reynolds noted the Victorian government had rejected commonwealth offers of ADF help with hotel quarantine, the Premier framed it as playing politics. He supported the alternative version of events authored by Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp, who said he neither sought nor was offered ADF assistance with hotel quarantine in meetings on March 27-28. However, Defence records showed that from late March the offer stood. The Victorian government authorities rejected at least half a dozen offers of assistance.

And then there is this from Maurice Neuman: Nostalgia won’t protect Snowy white elephant.

Paul Broad, the chief executive officer of Snowy Hydro, has provided a solid rebuttal (The Snowy 2.0 project will pay its way) to an open letter (On every count, Snowy 2.0 is a disaster in the making), published on this page on September 18. The letter’s 37 authors cannot be easily dismissed. All have relevant expertise in energy markets, engineering and the environment.

That said, Broad is adamant that Snowy 2.0 is “underpinned by a strong business case”. He alleges that “critics have run with every falsehood under the sun” and that most arguments are “flimsy” and not warranting a response….

The project’s announcement bears many of the hallmarks of the National Broadband Network, which was a dream brought to life on the back of a drinks coaster. As predicted, it is a technological and commercial white elephant.

While there were no drinks coasters, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Snowy Hydro 2.0 announcement in 2017 was widely viewed as a cynically timed thought bubble. Like the NBN, it had no business case but was still acclaimed as an “electricity game-changer”. Turnbull boasted, “it will increase the generation of the Snowy Hydro scheme by 50 per cent, adding 2000 megawatts of renewable energy to the national electricity market”. He made no reference to cost. However, Broad later told a Senate estimates hearing that a “very rough, top-level estimate”, was $2bn.

Rough it was. Two years later, a construction contract was let for $5.1bn….

All in all, and without allowing for cost overruns, the final investment for the entire project could well sit at about $14bn or, seven times the original indicative figure….

Whatever the reality, Australians are getting the impression that Snowy Hydro 2.0 is yet another “trust me” project where the business case has been written to reflect the announcement. It will take time for the truth to be known but, sadly, history is not on the government’s side.

The sad part is that we still live in a kind of fantasy theoretical economic environment in which government waste is believed to be good for the economy. It may well be good for those on the receiving end of all this money, but for the rest of us, it is a straightforward loss that keeps us much poorer than we would otherwise have been.

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18 Responses to Fundamentally incorrect government statements

  1. Anonandon

    This is endemic to government projects where costs are understated and benefits are overstated. It is called strategic misrepresentation. If they told the truth they would only spend a fraction of what they actually do on major infrastructure projects. Everyone like to build, no-one likes to maintain.

  2. stackja

    Plenty of OPM. As long as someone else pays. Voters keep electing leftists to government expecting a different result.

  3. DaveR

    The Federal Coalition is still hampered by the naive, idealistic decisions hammered through the government by Turnbull and his (then) supporters, and both Liberals and Nationals seem unable or unwilling to reform them. This is the foundation for a future split between Liberals and Conservatives with Nationals likely to report on either side.

    The whole energy strategy including renewables in now totally unsustainable in the face of the COVID-19 economic disaster. In one fell swoop, by cutting renewable subsidies and halving power prices the Coalition could provide the solid economic basis needed for recovery by industry and households. Leftists cannot manage businesses. But Australians expect Liberals to be able to.

  4. John A

    That said, Broad is adamant that Snowy 2.0 is “underpinned by a strong business case”. He alleges that “critics have run with every falsehood under the sun” and that most arguments are “flimsy” and not warranting a response….

    Such hyperbole usually hides a flimsy response, a lazy inability to actually set out any substantive reply.

    “Not warranting a response” can only be valid if the reasonable man (legal expression) would have no trouble dismissing a case, or if the proposition is so absurdly laughable that no-one would even bother with a pub test/bbq test.

    The quote properly belongs to the side arguing against Snowy 2.0 since the proposal assumes that more energy can be created than existed in the first place. I call as my first witness Mr. Antoine Lavoisier. A second witness should not be required but Mr Albert Einstein is also available to testify, Your Honour.

  5. shady

    The only money Government has is from taxpayers. Government says spending all this money on “x” is an investment. If an investment fails to make a return then taxpayers should be able to claim a loss against their income. Maybe this might make Governments more judicious about their decisions or at least stop claiming everything is an investment.

  6. RobK

    I’ve put this comment up in the past. For those who missed it-
    Here is an extract from a 2013 article in der Spiegel:
    https://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/high-costs-and-errors-of-german-transition-to-renewable-energy-a-920288.html

    RTWT.

    The Storage Conundrum

    The Cossebaude reservoir is Dresden’s largest and most popular open-air pool. On summer days, up to 8,000 sunbathers lounge on its sandy beach or cool off in the 10,000-square-meter (2.5-acre) lake.

    Cossebaude is also part of the enormous Niederwartha pumped storage hydroelectric plant. At night or on weekends, when there is plenty of available power, lake water is pumped electrically through big pipes into a second reservoir 140 meters above the main reservoir. At noon, when electricity is scarce, the water is released from the higher-elevation reservoir, spinning giant turbines as it descends. The system generates electricity when the cost is high and consumes it when the cost is low. Plant operator Vattenfall makes its profit on the difference. When the plant was connected to the grid in November 1929, it was considered the technology of the future.

    Now the power plant, along with the recreational lake attached to it, could soon be gone. The company plans to shut down the energy storage facility within the next two years. This is bad news for Dresden’s swimmers, but it’s especially detrimental to Germany’s energy transition, which depends on backup power plants like the Niederwartha facility.

    When the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing, gas-fired power plants and pumped storage stations are supposed to fill the gap. A key formula behind the Energiewende is that the more green energy is produced, the more reserves are needed to avert bottlenecks.

    This is true in theory, but not in practice. On the contrary, an ironic result of the green energy expansion is that many of the reliable pumped storage stations could be forced out of the market. There are roughly 20 of these power plants in Germany, with Vattenfall being the most important operator. The plants were very profitable for utilities for decades, but now the business has become highly unreliable. Dresden is a case in point.

    When it’s sunny and people are most likely to head to the lake, solar power is abundant and electricity prices drop. This means the pumped storage station earns less money, so the power plant is shut off. In 2009, for example, the turbines in Niederwartha were in operation for 2,784 hours. Last year, Vattenfall ran the facility for only 277 hours. “Price peaks that last only a few hours aren’t enough to utilize the plant to full capacity,” says Gunnar Groebler, head of Vattenfall’s German hydro division.

    No Incentives for Storage

    Not surprisingly, the company invests very little in its pumped storage plants today. In Niederwartha, the buildings are filled with the musty smell of earlier floods, the paint is peeling from the walls and the reservoir leaks.

    It would cost Vattenfall €150 million to modernize the plant. But company executives are hesitant, fearing they won’t recoup that money with future profits. Vattenfall has also hit the brakes elsewhere, like in Hamburg suburb of Geesthacht. Plans to increase the capacity of the existing reservoir there have been put on hold. Instead, the plant is used only as a backup.

    Meanwhile, competitors RWE and EnBW have also shelved plans to build a large pumped storage power station in the southern Black Forest. Trianel, an association of about 100 municipal utilities, withdrew from a similar project at Rursee Lake in the western Eifel Mountains in late June.

    All this gives credence to the claim that Germany’s energy reform is its own worst enemy. Despite the erratic expansion of wind and solar projects, the backup power capacity those projects require is lacking. One study found that Germany’s expansion of renewable energy will require additional storage capacity for 20 to 30 billion kilowatt-hours by 2050. So far the storage capacity has grown by little more than 70 million kilowatt-hours. And hardly anyone is interested in maintaining the existing storage facilities.

    At least that isn’t the case in Dresden, where a grassroots movement is working to keep the old pumped storage facility open — partly because of the popular swimming lake.

    The Germans struggle to keep existing infrastructure profitable so we will show them how to do it.
    Id prefer the government didn’t underwrite that.

  7. Roger

    “I think it is fundamentally incorrect to assert that there was (sic) hundreds of ADF staff on offer and somehow someone said no. That’s not, in my judgment, accurate.”

    Soldiers at Simpson Barracks in northern Melbourne were put on standby for a local deployment assisting police.

    Then they were told the deployment was not happening.

    Who in the Vic state government said no and why?

  8. liliana

    “Not warranting a response” That’s because they haven’t got one.

    They don’t want get dragged into justifying a project that can’t be justified (well not until they have written the ‘businesses case’).

  9. herodotus

    Snowy 2.0 (pumped hydro) is and always was a desperate move to try and give CPR to a renewables (mainly wind) scam that is running out of time to prove it’s of any use at all except in remote off-grid applications.

  10. Nob

    If I’m reading the thoughts of my DanFan family and friends in Melbourne correctly, they think the problem with the hotel fiasco is all because “private sector”.

    That’s the phrase that keeps jumping out of their complaints.

    Also how awful and “vitriolic” politics has become when we should all be pulling together.

    I presume that this is because their man is finally copping some public criticism. And, inexplicably to them, not just from MurdocKKK.

  11. Roger

    If I’m reading the thoughts of my DanFan family and friends in Melbourne correctly, they think the problem with the hotel fiasco is all because “private sector”.

    Yes, after the fact.

    But it doesn’t change the fact that they preferred private security firms over the ADF.

    It was a deadly mixture of corruption & incompetence.

  12. TPL001

    It appears that the inquiry has found Dan and co. are “to blame”:

    “In light of the epidemiological, genomic sequencing, positive case data and mortality rates, the failure by the hotel quarantine program to contain this virus is, as at today‘s date, responsible for the deaths of 768 people and the infection of some 18,418 others.

    “One only needs to pause and reflect on those figures to appreciate the full scope of devastation and despair occasioned as result of the outbreaks.

    “The board will comfortably find the hotel quarantine program failed to meet its primary objectives.”

    Will he walk the plank?

  13. Arnost

    That Governments (and particularly Left Leaning Governments) get away with:

    lies by omission, the half-truths, blame-shifting, obfuscation, red herrings, selective memory and collective amnesia.

    Is squarely to be laid at the foot of a similarly left leaning or otherwise sycophantic media. Fake News is such an apt name for that which is presented as news. Disgusting. The MSM’s [GAG!!!] demise is not just driven by disruption and competition – it is driven by loss of credibility and trust.

    We are I think not too far away from a paradigm shift wrt to MSM. It’s days are numbered. It can not recover from this loss…

    Case in point: I just hope that the Government realises that there is like ZERO reason to publicly fund the ABC to the tune of $Bio+ p.a. It is almost the worst in ” news through: lies by omission, half-truths, obfuscation, and red herrings”. It is so far left that even if the Govt is Labor the ABC will be against it!!!

  14. pbw

    The enquiry seems to have been set up to clear the Dear Leader. It looks as though Eccles is going to take the fall. Poor Eccles. I wonder if he received a superannuation guarantee?

  15. Mick

    “I think it is fundamentally incorrect to assert that there was (sic) hundreds of ADF staff on offer and somehow someone said no. That’s not, in my judgment, accurate.”

    If Dan Andrews did not know who made the decision how can he be certainly that someone did not say no?

  16. Hay Stockard

    Politicians and Public Servants aren’t terribly astute. If they were we would be in real strife.

  17. John NOBEL

    Hmmm.

    OPM, and campaign finance means more from unions/ lobbyists than voters.
    There should be a federal ICAC.
    Useful FoI.
    Mandatory and binding referendums for anything over x dollars, y people, z levels of gov not part of a published election program.

    $65 for a WSA Big Mac?

    On early business cases, often divide by three in terms of benefits, and times three in terms of costs has often worked for me as a rule of thumb …

    Say the transition from narrowband to broadband, say Opel Networks ($1B each), or Nbnco ($4.7B, became … $57B/ 75% of premises 500+ Mbps, …valuation by PBO $9B recently, investment bank $20B, PwC $26B?)

  18. Gilas

    Mick
    #3600347, posted on September 28, 2020 at 6:56 pm

    “I think it is fundamentally incorrect to assert that there was (sic) hundreds of ADF staff on offer and somehow someone said no. That’s not, in my judgment, accurate.”

    If Dan Andrews did not know who made the decision how can he be certainly that someone did not say no?

    A million % correct!

    Also, is the enquiry expected to believe that ScoMo NEVER ONCE mentioned ADF availability verbally, in person or through Zoom, to XiDan during one or more of the weekly National Cabinet Meetings that allegedly saved us?

    Not even once?
    Just wrote four letters to the VicNazi?

    And the enquiry doesn’t even explore this? Or asks plausible, relevant questions? You know, like a true enquiry should?

    Two facts are clear:

    1) Plausible deniability is now a mainstream political dissembling tool (learnt from corporate senior management) that no one in power even pretends to care about admitting or denying.

    2) The enquiry is a cynical sham, (I know.. I know.. who could have believed otherwise, right?) that only compliant, placid, disarmed, stupid sheeples would meekly accept.

    Our political class’ contempt for the stupid masses, The Australian Political Playbook, in a nutshell.

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