Australian power companies were holding a gun to the consumers’ heads. The Australian Energy Market Operator called their bluff

With temperatures dropping along the seaboard in Australia, demand for electricity surged. This placed pressure on electricity suppliers, most of whom run coal-fired power stations. In the normal course of events, the coal supply would be provided on long-term contracts.

With the increased demand for electricity, came increased demand for coal. Most of the available coal is sold overseas so immediate demand has to be purchased on the spot market where prices are subject to fluctuations in demand. The war in Ukraine has made the spot price for coal extremely volatile so meeting the supplier demands has become very expensive.

The electricity providers took the economically rational decision to stop supplying electricity to the grid thereby threatening to deny a significant proportion of the Australian population power supply during a very cold early winter period. No lights, no heating, no way of preparing food.

That is the ultimate meaning of privatising the electricity generating and delivery system in Australia.

Thank you, Jeff Kennett and Alan Stockdale.

However, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) took the dramatic step: suspending the entire market from trading power generation until further notice.

This is how it worked

An S at the end of the arrowhead means the variables move in the same direction, an O means a move in the opposite direction. You can work your way around the causal diagram and see the impact of the intervention of the regulator. The dynamics change as you go around the second time.

The situation is complex because the impact of the war in Ukraine has meant worldwide shortages of energy, particularly coal.

Australian energy companies have not maintained sufficient stockpiles to avoid purchasing coal on the spot market. This has had a devastating effect on their profitability. Hence their decision to withdraw from the market and not supply electricity to the grid and the Australian population. They were, of course, quite happy to reap windfall profits available to them from the surge in electricity prices as a result of increased demand as result of the cold snap. But when it lasted longer than expected and they had to buy coal at prices that made their operations of viable, they decided to withhold supply.

From THE AGE According to the Grattan Institute’s energy program director, Tony Wood, uncertainty dated back to Tony Abbott’s decision to scrap the former Labor government’s carbon tax in 2013, and then Scott Morrison’s decision to axe Malcolm Turnbull’s National Energy Guarantee in 2018.

Remember when Tony Abbott said that electricity prices are going to come down?

Well, this is the reality.

Since the last determination by the Australian Energy Regulator,  a year ago, wholesale electricity costs for retailers, who supply us all with our power, had surged by 41.4 per cent in NSW, 49.5 per cent in Queensland, and 11.8 per cent in South Australia, due to power plant shutdowns, higher coal and gas prices and slowing of investment in new capacity, among other things.

An Australian Grandfather writes a Requiem for the Grandchildren killed in US schools

In my mind’s eye, I confront him

Holding photos of you.

You had beauty that would have moved Botticelli, Renoir.

He remains blank, uncomprehending.

When you ran across the park towards me

A crowd of unruly angels jostled at your shoulder.

There were no angels jostling the AK-47.

“Papa, I love you to the moon and back,” you would say.

I would hold you close and say,

“I love you from my heart to your heart, wherever you may be.”

It proved to be not enough.

Yet, in the black chaos of grief,

This will prevail.

Why do people in America need to own semi-automatic assault rifles?

These weapons are designed for soldiers who are at war. They are designed to kill people. There is no reason why civilians should own them. There are now more guns in America than there are people. Many of these guns will be semiautomatic capable of killing many people in a very short period of time. The is significant proportion of the American public seems unconcerned about this situation.

There have also already been 233 mass shootings in the US this year alone, that’s two every three days. Many of them have been conducted by gunmen younger than 21.

The latest atrocity was conducted by a man who was unhappy with the outcome of his back surgery. So he purchased a semi-automating weapon, went to the hospital and shot his surgeon and three other people who got in the way.

A semi-automatic assault rifle which can fire 60 rounds a minute

It requires legislation to pass through Congress to limit the ownership of firearms or to change the Second Amendment, which guarantees the right of Americans to bear arms.

The founding fathers thought Americans should bear arms to avoid tyrannical governments not so that they could shoot doctors they were unhappy with.

Part of the reason that legislation cannot be pushed through the Congress and Senate is that the NRA funds Republican congressmen and Senators to vote down legislation restricting gun ownership. The Congress is evenly balanced and Republicans hold a majority in the Senate. This means legislation restricting any gun ownership is bound to fail.

Unless, unless at the next midterm elections, gun ownership becomes the central issue and the American population votes against Republican Congressmen and Senators who have voted against restricting gun ownership.

That will bring about change.

The tragedy of Uvalde must surely lay to rest the myth of the “good/bad guy with a gun”.

The National Rifle Association has long peddled the myth that “”The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,”

It is a massive over-simplification on both counts. For too long it has been the drumbeat to rally those marching to the cause of the right to bear arms.

It’s a cliché which is a massive over-simplification because they are not simply “bad guys”. They are “mad, bad, unstable, suicidal, psychopaths, armed with a semi-automatic assault rifles and a plentiful supply of ammunition prepared to kill everybody in sight”. That is why they should not be allowed to buy guns. The solution is not “a good guy with a gun” but not letting the bad guy have a gun.

The other myth that the tragedy of Uvalde must call into question is that of the “good guy with a gun”. This is the other over-simplification peddled by the NRA. It is becoming apparent that the good guys with guns are ordinary folk with families and friends and hamsters who expect them to come home alive at the end of the working day. This myth of the good guy with a gun is based somewhere deep in the psyche, history and folklore of America. It is not something that keeps the children of modern America safe.

US News “From white-hatted cowboys in movie Westerns to cigarette-smoking, trench-coated fictional private detectives, the gun-packing hero has been celebrated in American popular culture as the ultimate weapon in a central battle between good and evil.”

Clint Eastwood in one of his many roles as the “good guy with a gun”.

After the Uvalde shooting, Texas authorities this week were fielding accusations that people trained to respond to such incidents didn’t move quickly enough, possibly costing lives.

It didn’t work May 16 in Buffalo, where an armed, off-duty security guard and former police officer was unable to stop a shooter on an apparent racist rampage. The security guard, along with nine Black supermarket shoppers, was killed.

Americans do not seem to be able to make a choice about what they value most: the safety of their schoolchildren children or the right of 18-year-olds to carry semi-automatic assault rifles.