Sunday 11 August 2013

The hard slog of fact checking the Greens

The electorate of Grayndler is not far from me - I ride through a chunk of it every day. The Greens are running a bloke called Hall Greenland against Labor's Anthony Albanese. I'm no fan of Albo - I think he is a horrible little slimebag. However, that doesn't give the Greens license to tell porkies.

Take this article on Hall's website. On my first read of it, I've already spotted three errors. Sorry, make that 4.

Error 1

he’s responsible for the government-owned Australian Rail Track Corporation that is now spending $4.7 billion of public money to upgrade the Hunter Valley freight lines to facilitate the doubling of the coal exports through Newcastle.
Wrong. The ARTC is not spending $4.7 billion dollars. The entire value of its rail assets totals $4.7 billion.

The ARTC has published a number of strategy papers on expanding capacity in the Hunter Valley. They released a series of draft papers and then a final paper on 29 June. Earlier drafts of the strategy listed $3.5 billion worth of upgrades over the next 10 years.

The final strategy divides investments into contracted volume and prospective volume. That is, the first investments are required based on the tonnages they have written contracts to cover, and prospective is what they might build if more contracts come along.

The estimated costs to cover the contracted volume investments is $711 million. Not $4.7 billion.

The estimated costs to cover the prospective volumes total $1708 million. If all the new coal mines and mine expansions go ahead, ARTC will invest $2.4 billion over the next 10 years. Not $4.7 billion.

My take - the Greens have no head for numbers.

Error 2

 spending $4.7 billion of public money
It's not public money, allocated from the budget and raised from taxpayers. The coal mines pay to run coal trains over the tracks, and the fees the mines pay for access funds the investment. The miners are paying for the upgrades, not the general public.

Error 3

As Bill McKibben pointed out, there are some days in summer in Germany – which is significantly further from the equator than Australia – when half the power generated comes from solar.
German solar output hit a new record recently when solar generated 40% of demand on Sunday 7 July. However, as this article points out, Germans don't work on Sunday, so offices and shops are closed, so it is not a day for high electricity demand. Sunday demand is 20% lower than a weekday. Furthermore, solar covered only 20% of the demand for the entire day. The 40% figure was peak output, which didn't last very long. Bill needs to explain where he got his "half the power generated from solar" statistics come from.

It costs German power consumers $18 billion per year to support the solar and wind industry - ie, $18 billion worth of high power bills.

And it has to be remembered that July 7 is the middle of summer for the Germans.

The Germans are getting rid of subsidies by 2018 by the way.

Berlin "has so far invested 216 billion euros ($A308.24 billion) in renewables and the biggest chunk went to solar, the technology which does least to ensure the power supply," said the head of industrial group Siemens, Peter Loescher, in an interview published in the business daily Handelsblatt on Monday.

Germany has seen a wave of solar company insolvencies and the number of people employed in the industry fell to 87,000 in 2012 from 110,900 a year earlier, while sales plummeted by 11.9 billion euros, according to government figures.

Funny number, number 1

Clearly that $4.7billion subsidy to coal expansion could be much better spent on catching up with Germany.

Size of German economy - $3.5 trillion.

Size of Australian economy - $1.3 trillion.

That makes the German economy 2.7 times larger than ours. If our government was to waste the same proportional amount on solar and wind as the krauts, it would total $114 billion. $4.7 billion wouldn't allow us to catch up very much at all.

Error number 4

Clearly that $4.7billion subsidy to coal expansion
As I pointed out before, the coal miners are paying for the investment. It is not a "subsidy". If you spend $100,000 of your own money renovating your house, you are not getting a "subsidy" from anyone, especially the government. You are spending your own cash. Just because the money is channeled via the ARTC doesn't make it a subsidy.

Bugger me, I could be here all day analysing these morons. One thing this shows is that we clearly have a problem with our education system if we're turning out such innumerate busybodies.


Richard said...

It's taken me a while, but I've come to realise that there's no point in discussing facts with greens. They're not interested. They have their view of the world and their talking points and you're not going to change that. No point in being rude. No point in correcting their lies. They just know that they are right about everything and they're too committed to think about alternatives.

Ignore them. Don't give them oxygen. I think it's probably alright to laugh at them.

dd said...

There very much is a point. If you stop fact checking then they get away with it.