Occident Prone

Welcome to Australia’s wild West

Posts Tagged ‘Gas crisis’

Mysteries, mass media and mixed metaphors

Posted by occidentprone on August 6, 2008

It’s like the Twilight Zone here at the moment with the missing and mysterious filling the pages of the paper and websites this morning.

An inquest into the disappeared Kaz II crew is sitting in Townsville his week and has heard how three Yunderup men went missing off the Queensland coast last year. The catamaran has been called a ghost ship, with reporters yanking descriptives from their Mary Celeste imagery grab bag. But from inquest evidence in the last few days, it seems there were technical issues and nervous preparation before they set off.

One of two brothers fishing off Walpole is also missing this morning. The 82-year-old Manjimup man was fishing in Broke Inlet with his younger brother on Monday when they were swept out to sea. The 75-year-old swam to shore and searchers resumed the search for his brother this morning.

There has been a search of a different kind at a Chittering property for drug dealer Frank La Rosa who, with his wife Kim, is missing.

Frank La Rosa spent 12 years in jail for his part in a clandestine amphetamine factory and was due in court on further drug trafficking charges in July.

Police are treating his disappearance as suspicious, but have stopped short of describing the inquiry as a homicide investigation.

The property being searched today was once owned by La Rosa. (Source: ABC)

Elswhere, new Liberal leader Colin Barnett is missing the days of loyalty to the party, Varanus Island gas is back online but we are still longing for full gas, which won’t be back to pre-crisis levels till Christmas time, and we are all saying a teary farewell to our privacy as Street View is launched in Australia.

The media has been so outraged at Google’s latest venture that they’ve had to spell out exactly what sensitive landmarks will be exposed – Swanbourne Barracks, the WA police training centre, the PM’s house – to guarantee a free kick to Google and voyerism.

Posted in Diversions, Media, Perth, Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Plus ca change …

Posted by occidentprone on July 3, 2008

After a week at Promises Promises rehab learning anger management and gas minimisation techniques, I am back in action. There was lots of group where we shared our feelings and chanted “this is not my fault” and “someone else is to blame”  but no internet or newstainment.

So imagine my surprise to find Belinda Neal still drawing attention to herself on the news sites and more oxygen used on Apache developments. It’s enough to make you hit the bottle.

On the news news front:

Schapelle Corby has collapsed after an outing to a beautician. I’ve heard waxing can have that affect – and don’t get me started on electrolysis of facial hair. Actually someone with sensitive cuticles – and Schapelle is a delicate flower – can find pedicure a painful thing. Now, what to do with all the sick pedicurists lingering in Australian jails?

Channel 31 has found its white knight, a businessman who has stumped up dosh to keep community telly alive in Perth. “The station’s board believes the money will be enough to keep the station afloat for another 18 months, by which time it expects the Federal Government will be ready to switch it to the digital spectrum.” (Source: ABC)

WA Police allege that chasing Cabinet leaks is a low priority compared with … say … child abuse. According to The Australian: 

Police have been criticised over the April 30 raid on Perth’s Sunday Times newspaper, which was prompted by a complaint from the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

The raid, which at its peak involved more than 25 police officers, was recently labelled a “considerable overreaction” by Premier Alan Carpenter’s chief of staff Keiran Murphy in evidence to a parliamentary inquiry. It has also sparked friction between police and the Corruption and Crime Commission about the roles and responsibilities of both crime-fighting bodies.

Mr O’Callaghan said that following the high level of public debate over the raid, investigating cabinet leaks would probably no longer be a police priority.

“My view is that we probably should not have got involved in it in the first place,” he told the ABC.

“Now this whole thing has come to a head, and has been the subject of much public debate, in hindsight it looks like police would be better off not doing this sort of work at all.

“We will certainly triage it and prioritise whether it is something we will put at the top of our list or whether there are more important things to do.

“For argument’s sake, there are many child abuse cases to be investigated in Western Australia at the moment, and I think the community would rather us go after the perpetrators of those offences than try to track down leaks out of parliament or cabinet.”

Major Fraud Squad officers executed a search warrant on the newspaper after journalist Paul Lampathakis revealed a request from Treasurer Eric Ripper for $16 million to pay for campaign advertising.

Now that’s sobering.

Posted in Diversions, Media, Perth, Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

7 ways to survive WA’s gas crisis

Posted by occidentprone on June 24, 2008

The state government tells us the gas crisis will last another six months. As winter gives way to spring, and then summer we will all still be ignoring pleas to ease back on energy use. But if you do want to do your bit and halve energy consumption between now and December, as suggested by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, here are some tips to help you on your way. 

  1. Pull on a jumper, turn off unused lights, don’t leave appliances plugged in, all that stuff.
  2. Throw off the electric blanket and switch off the heater: Ask a colleague for a threesome. Although not official government policy, it is endorsed by the Energy Minister who would if he could.
  3. Fill your car up with petrol then realise the “gas crisis” isn’t the worst thing to happen this year.
  4. Come summer there are a whole lot of other problems that come with keeping cool. In extreme heat tempers fray so we can all be charitable by lifting a colleague’s top for a little temporary (light) relief. 
  5. Sort your Apache Energy blasts from your Apache Indian’s boom shak alak. Easily confused, but no, dodgy sub-continent hip hop is not responsible for this crisis. Maybe in India he has a lot to answer for but we are blaming the American gas company for this.
  6. Leave the house and use someone else’s energy. If you are in any position of power you could get a lobbyist to take you to lunch, but only if you can stomach an hour of staring into the sweaty, puffy face of the ugly side of business. Life is full of such trade-offs.
  7. Stay home, turn off the lights, computer and telly and curl into the foetal position. Accept that we are stuffed. Uncurl only to vote at the next state election.

Posted in Perth, Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Gas worker tells Crikey all

Posted by occidentprone on June 19, 2008

A whistleblower tells Crikey what he knows about the gas explosion at Varanus Island:

Too much pressure, too many idiots, and money, money, money — it could have been prevented!

We had 166 people on the island, and lucky enough not one was injured. But fark, we ran for our lives as it was really, really, really scary.

Go to the Crikey website www.crikey.com.au  (highly recommended) for more details.

Posted in Perth, Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Libs want some Ruddy help

Posted by occidentprone on June 19, 2008

WA Libs are accusing the prime minister of not doing enough to aid WA in its hour of cold and darkness, says ABC. Fair call.

Liberal Senator David Johnson has accused both the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Western Australian Premier Alan Carpenter of inaction over the crisis.

Senator Johnson says Mr Rudd should confirm if the Government has the constitutional authority to enact the Liquid Fuels and Emergency Act.

“If we’re on solid ground there should be an emergency declared,” he said.

The Senators and MPs also called for the price of diesel to be stabilised to ease demand for gas and for gas energy users to be switched to diesel so gas can be freed up for small and medium business use.

I  haven’t read all of the Liquid Fuels and Emergency Act, I got confused with all the roman numerals, so I’m not sure what it means for us.  But Kevin Rudd doesn’t have time to be worrying about boring old gas crises and something-or-other Act, now that he’s started packing for the Olympics. Much more important stuff on the horizon.

The Australian reports on Rudd’s perspective:

The concerns of business were echoed in Canberra yesterday, with Kevin Rudd saying: “Given WA’s crucial significance to the overall performance of the Australian economy, there will be wash-through for us all on this over time, but in WA right now it’s being felt directly.”

… Carpenter said yesterday he had briefed the Prime Minister and was confident Mr Rudd was prepared to assist.

Mr Carpenter said his first priority was getting federal support for people who were put out of work but did not normally qualify for Centrelink assistance.

He gave no details of changes being put in place.

The pair discussed the national strategic fuel supplies stored at Garden Island, south of Perth, but Mr Carpenter said it was not yet necessary to seek access to them.

“We have to make sure we don’t do that pre-emptively or unnecessarily, because those fuel supplies are exactly as they are described – they are strategic national fuel supplies normally there because of disaster or a complete breakdown in the liquid fuel supply,” he said.

Mr Rudd said the Defence Minister had the power to make available extra diesel supplies for power stations in the west.

“We will invoke the provisions of the Liquid Fuel Emergency Act if required,” he told parliament yesterday. “This act provides the Australian Government with the authority to prepare for and manage a national liquid fuel supply emergency.

“During such a situation, the Minister for Resources and Energy can control the production, transfer and stock levels of crude and liquid fuel.

“We … are advised by the (WA) Premier that action involving the invocation of that act is not required at this time.”



A postscript to Carpenter’s power appealathon the other day. If we are all cutting our power reduction, why did he appear on TV? He should have had a letterbox drop. Or posted notices on all those soon-to-be redundant power poles. 

Posted in Australian politics, Perth, Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

WA, the State of Emergency

Posted by occidentprone on June 17, 2008

“If you are watching this video I am dead, or you are dead (or at least very very cold).”

Alan Carpenter is taking his message of conserving power to the public in a video that uses all his old skills as 7.30pm Report presenter to give WA the bad news. It made him remember what a cushy gig being an ABC pitbull was compared with running WA, the State of Emergency. (State of Excitement was a good slogan but this is more accurate.)

Offices, the public service and industry are telling staff to conserve electricity and gas: Use minimum lighting; turn computers off at the end of the day; don’t turn on unnecessary printers, faxes; non-essential hot water turned off; tell staff to wear winter woollies to work because the heat is being turned off.

Which makes you think – until now have we really been doing all we can to stave off global warming and fossil fuel depletion or was it all hot air?


If you got a kick out of the Premier’s video, check out even more interesting political videos, satires and mashups (including footage of Belinda Neal’s bizarre devil spawn comment) on Australian Politics TV. And if you’re into democracy you can vote for your favourite video.


Posted in Media, Perth, Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Power to the people

Posted by occidentprone on June 16, 2008

The most recent developments in the gas crisis are that WA unions are appealing for help for workers laid off because of the debacle and that shopping centres are meeting to discuss ways to cut power. 

I can see these lines meeting in the distance should you continue their logic to the horizon: More people lose their jobs, fewer people go shopping, then most people hurt directly or indirectly because of the power fiasco and no people go shopping. Problems solved.

Apache Energy, which owns the plant that exploded on June 2 — causing the gas crisis — said the resumption of any supplies from Varanus Island were still a couple of months away.

The explosion wiped out a third of WA’s gas supply, in turn cutting electricity supplies. It has also reduced the production of ammonia, from which carbon dioxide is refined.

Apache managing director Tim Wall said the company had the piping material needed for the repairs and more than 140 people would be working on repairs by next week. (Source: The West Australian)

Fairfax’s WA Today reports that the WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry estimates 14% of 83 companies it has surveyed may shut down or will be shutting down soon.

WA Premier, Alan Carpenter, said businesses which switched from gas-fired electricity to diesel fired electricity will face far higher electricity costs. “Diesel-fired electricity is far more expensive than gas-fired electricity, so businesses will be making the decision as to whether the increased cost they are going to have to pay for energy warrants them shutting down for a while, or scaling down their production for a while, or standing down their staff for a while,” he said.

… “It’s taken a while for the impact to wash through, but it’s really coming upon us now, economically. This week, I think will be very difficult.”

(Notice Carpenter’s own energiser bunny Fran Logan seems to be pushed from the stage and the premier is the spokesman on all things gassy.)

The upshot is when will we consumers see the upshot? There are various economic calculations which use the words ‘trickle’ and other tricky theories but my guess is in a few months, prices go up – simple as that.

Posted in Perth, Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Will the last one out please turn off the lights?

Posted by occidentprone on June 16, 2008

Over the last few days, Troy Buswell has demoted John McGrath and Rob Johnson and given Graham Jacobs a stern talking to. At this rate the Liberal front bench will be just Troy and a bunch of empty seats. A chair sniffer’s delight.

Buswell has some real problems with discipline in his party. Do they really want to be in government? Surely not. Maybe they have some psychological problems with winning, like the Dockers did before the weekend. Because any party with a heartbeat could have beaten Labor a month back – and then we had a gas crisis and the state is cactus. 

And still the opposition doesn’t have a chance.

To the Libs: Will the last one out please turn off the lights – if they haven’t already gone out due to lack of power.


Posted in Perth, Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Desperate Liberals

Posted by occidentprone on June 13, 2008

Tonight’s episode of Desperate Liberals sees Rob, Wisteria Lane’s silver-haired troublemaker, threaten to leave in a snit over favouritism between friends.  Hapless Troy, whose personal problems have almost brought undone him in the past, is caught between doing the right thing and getting rid of the neighbourhood nuisance. Troy has heard such threats before, from mentor-gone-mental Paul O. And Paul O. finally gets a spine, even though his own threats to run away sound like a broken record.

John Mc, who took a gamble on baddie Burkie, awaits bad-girl-with-a-heart-of-gold Troy’s proposal.


Meanwhile, on CSI Varanus, the sexy-geek team looks at fingerprints to a bass heavy Who soundtrack to find the cause of the minor explosion that has brought Perth Vegas to a halt. A pig abattoir is washed free from gore as shrinking gas supplies give the little porkers a reprieve.

Fran boasts of his private energy publicly but wants to keep his ministerial energy business private, a problem for firm-but-fair boss Carps: “Logan, my office, NOW”. 

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