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pollution and energy poverty in the daintree

Progress on the issue

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The main goal of Daintree Hour is to:

Get rid of the outdated law that prohibits grid electricity. (achieved December 2012!!)
Get grid electricity installed to residents of the Daintree.
Lift Daintree residents out of energy poverty and improve their lives, revitalize struggling communities and make businesses more commercially viable.
End the waste of energy and pollution from CO2, engine oil and old batteries.
energy poverty and pollution in the daintree Make the Daintree a true ecotourism destination, and not a pretend one.

The journey from a life of energy poverty and pollution to a decent life on affordable cleaner energy will be a long one of many steps, but some steps are already taken;

Step 1. On the 24th of March 2012 one important first step was taken;
Anna Bligh's Labor government that preferred to see the hundreds of generators running in the Daintree has been completely obliterated by the Liberal National Party!
Promises had been made by the LNP to remove legislation stopping grid power within a 100 days of taking office, so that meant 3 July. It has taken longer than that, but assurances have been given that it will happen the first week of November 2012.

The LNP has not yet made any promises to actually install electricity grids yet but in a country that is going more and more green and reducing pollution it is only logical that the LNP should take steps to end the pollution, and the energy poverty that results from it, as the Australian government is obliged to do as a member of the International Energy Agency , read more here.

19 June 2012: A letter from Campbell Newman arrived to assure us that the issue is being worked on, but he encourages all of us to support this cause by writing to the federal government for financial assistance for project costs to deliver electricity.
And considering Julia Gillard's concern about pollution (that was her excuse for the carbon tax) she should be more than happy to finance a solution that will cut pollution in the Daintree....
Click here to send Julia an email

letter from QLD govt on Daintree power issue

26 September 2012: things have gone a bit quiet, enquiries have been made wtih Warren Entsch about progress of the issue, it has been over 180 days now, is the issue gathering dust in a filing cabinet at Mines and Energy?

Early October; Warren Entsch has phoned with assurances that the policy should be overturned in the first week of November, and that work is currently being done on planning best practice ideas on how set up three nodes; Cow Bay, Diwan and Cape Tribulation.

Mid-November: David Kempton's office has advised that on Thursday 22 November there will be an official announcement on the issue.

22 November: Now they claim that an announcement on 22 November was never promised, and they have no further news.
McArdle's office advised that the minister will be in FNQ in another two weeks time and then we may hear something.

23 November: I have just been advised that that the LNP will be organizing a BBQ somewhere in the Daintree on 8 December. This sounds exciting, it coincides with the Energy Minister's planned visit, and if he is travelling all the way up here to bring some news it will most likely be good news to us, if it was bad news we would hear about it through the newspapers...

26 November: Looks like I was too optimistic! I have been invited to a LNP BBQ on 8 December, I have been told that significant announcements are on the way, and I was also told last week that Mark McArdle would be up north in two weeks time.
But no matter how the timing of these three seems to fit so perfectly together, it now appears that Mark will not be attending this BBQ. Also the QLD Govt website does not mention anything to do with Daintree or electricity for this week's sitting of Parliament, and the next sitting is not until February.
I am seriously starting to wonder why I voted LNP.....

27 November: David Kempton rang to say the issue is being worked on, and that changes are imminent, news will come soon, and he expects me to be pleased with the contents of the news.

6 December: A media release from Energy Minister Mark McArdle's office:


Minister for Energy and Water Supply
The Honourable Mark McArdle

New energy supply options for the Daintree

The repeal of the Queensland Government’s Daintree Policy on electricity will deliver new options for household and business electricity supply, a better lifestyle for locals and a boost for the region’s ecotourism industry.

Energy Minister Mark McArdle today announced the Newman Government’s decision to end the 12 year-old Daintree policy on electricity supply while ensuring the environmental protection of the area.

“Red tape has been hindering ecotourism in the Daintree for more than a decade and this government is slashing that tape to drive growth,” Mr McArdle said.

“From now on, residents and businesses will be allowed to install their own isolated networks that can be used by more than one home or building.

“This type of energy supply will be far more efficient and economical than the previous policy, which required every business and household to use their own generator.

“In 2003, a consortium of Cape Tribulation residents developed a proposal to install an isolated network, but the plan could not proceed due to the Daintree Policy.

“But only after approval from the Queensland Energy Regulator will power opportunities like these go ahead to provide a more economic power supply option and, in turn, support ecotourism.”

Member for Cook David Kempton said this was the first step to fulfilling an electoral promise to lift the burden from residents of the Daintree coast which was imposed by the former government.

“The cost of running inefficient individual generators has been a huge burden on the residents and businesses north of the river,” Mr Kempton said.

“This is an important step in the right direction and I will continue to work closely with the community to find an affordable long-term solution.”

Mr McArdle said he wanted to be clear on two points regarding the change.

“First, it needs to be understood that this change does not mean the government will be paying for a new energy supply in the region,” he said.

“Second, this is a process that will take time. Proper planning is essential to protect the Daintree’s environment.

“What we’re doing is giving Daintree residents and businesses an opportunity to improve their own market-driven power supply that was previously banned.

“Further, any new power supply in the Daintree will be built in an environmentally sensitive manner - we will not allow poles and wires to be swinging through the rainforest.

“Far stronger development controls are now in place to manage growth compared with those that existed when the Daintree Policy was enacted in 2000.”

Mr McArdle said Daintree residents had long been divided over the most appropriate energy supply for the region with a split between a preference to connect to Ergon’s electricity grid and a preference to remain unconnected.

“The Daintree will remain excluded from Ergon’s network delivery area while residents decide for themselves just which type of energy supply they can fund and which option best suits their needs and specific location,” he said.

“The cost to supply an Ergon energy network in the Daintree is estimated at $39 million, which is unworkable given the government’s commitment to reducing waste, tackling electricity price rises and balancing the budget.

“Before including a Daintree area in Ergon’s Distribution Authority, the State Government would have to carefully consider the impact on the budget and the fact the Daintree is isolated, similar to many other locations in Queensland such as Green and Fitzroy Islands.”

Mr McArdle said some areas of the Daintree were far more economical for Ergon to supply than others.

“The changes announced today will give residents the opportunity to fund the energy option that best suits them,” he said.

“This is a fair and balanced solution that considers the needs of all Daintree residents and businesses along with the rest of Queensland.”

[ENDS] 6 December 2012

Media contact: Minister’s Office 07 3896 3690 /0417 277 905

Nice of them to allow the community to " fund its own options that best suit them", but how do they expect residents and business and the whole community that has already been driven to the brink of bankruptcy after decades of paying for fuel and generators, to fund the grids that the Government says it can not afford?
Why do we pay taxes? Are we also supposed to create our own police force, and build our own roads and hospitals? This is just total BS, where else in Australia do people have to fund and build their own infrastructure?
And what to think about: "The cost to supply an Ergon energy network in the Daintree is estimated at $39 million, which is unworkable given the government’s commitment to reducing waste, tackling electricity price rises and balancing the budget."
Reducing waste? Is money spent on infrastructure to lift a suffering community out of energy poverty with a basic service everyone else takes for granted a waste?

9 December 2012: We had the LNP BBQ in Diwan yesterday where David Kempton and Warren Entsch had much more positive news than the media release above, which sounded like it was entirely up to residents to organise and fund their infrastructure.
They announced that energy minister Mark McArdle will be up to meet with residents (unfortunately not straight away but in February 2013) and the first steps to take now are residents of all areas (Cow Bay, Diwan, Cape Trib etc.) to get together with their little community first, to agree on what energy option they think is best for their small area, and then one rep of each area to sit down with the energy minister in February.
They said there was no cash ready in the bank now, but once decisions were made on what to build then all options would be explored to find the funding for the projects, Federal Government should be chipping in as they had declared the World Heritage Area which makes the whole project harder and more expensive, and comparisons were made with remote indigenous communities who are supplied by Ergon grid or standalone systems and our community should be entitled to the same.

18 December 2012:

Ups and downs. First the media release that didn't sound too encouraging, then the BBQ where more positive news was heard, and now the QLD Government website says:

Daintree Policy repealed
December 2012

Queensland Government repeals Daintree Policy
On Thursday 6 December, the Queensland Government announced it has repealed the Daintree Policy.

The announcement ends a 12 year old policy that prevents energy networks being built in the Daintree.

Why the government has done this
By providing more energy supply options for local residents and businesses, repealing the Daintree Policy will work to support ecotourism and improve the lifestyle of locals.

What it means for local residents and businesses
Repealing the Daintree Policy means that residents and businesses are now allowed, with approval from the Queensland Energy Regulator, to install their own isolated networks - power generators that can be used by more than one premises.

This type of energy supply is more efficient and economical than the previous structure which required every business and household to use their own generator.

The Queensland Government will not be paying for a new energy supply in the region. The Daintree will remain excluded from Ergon's network delivery area allowing residents to decide which type of energy supply is appropriate and cost-effective for the community.

The decision provides residents and businesses an opportunity to improve power supply themselves.

Any new power supply in the Daintree will be built in an environmentally sensitive manner with consultation from both the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and the Wet Tropics Management Authority.

Great! The above is total BS for several reasons:

1. Residents have to fund their own infrastructure, nowhere else in Australia do people have to do this, why do we pay taxes?
2. Residents and businesses are invited to share power supplies, this will inevitably lead to conflicts and unreliable power supplies.
3. Even if people would agree on a private network, it would still have to be approved by the Queensland Energy Regulator, Dept. of Environment, and Wet Tropics, which will make anything unlikely to happen in the next decade.
4. The above is pure discrimination, why are Daintree residents not entitled to the same services as other Australians, who enjoy grid power anywhere from the big cities to remote indigenous communities.

MEETING WITH THE MINISTER

The Daintree Energy Committee has had two meetings and produced a report with four options, and on Tuesday 5 February they had a meeting with Energy Minister Mark McArdle who traveled up to the Daintree to discuss the best way forward from here.
He spoke to the Committee and toured several sites, such as the generator shed at the Cow Bay Hotel, and said he had not realized how people were suffering here and that the visit was an eye opener. He is heading back to Brisbane with determination to do something about this issue.

COMMUNITY MEETING

On Saturday February 9 a very successful meeting held at the Cow Bay where over 70 residents attended.
The Daintree Rainforest Power Committee Chairman Russell O'Doherty gave a presentation of the options that the committee presented to Mark McArdle the Energy & Water Minister on Tuesday 5th Feb 2013.Russell Explained to the residents the options and took questions from the floor, it was a very positive meeting and everyone went away with a more positive attitude and a smile on their faces.We will post another update after a phone link up with the Minister this week. Copies of the energy proposal were available at the meeting and you can click here to download from this website.

MEDIA RELEASE BY THE MINISTER

18 February 2013: Following his recent visit to the Daintree, the Energy Minister just sent out a media release, of similar unhelpfulness level to his previous one.
While he expressed understanding and sympathy face to face with residents during his visit to the Daintree, back in his office in Brisbane he wrote the media release below, repeating previous statements that if people want a grid they can pay for it, and the Qld Govt will not.

Minister discusses power supply options with Daintree locals


Power supply in the Daintree has been discussed in a teleconference between Energy Minister Mack McArdle, Member for Cook, David Kempton and Russell O’Doherty, Chair of the Daintree Power Committee, in a bid to improve services in the region.

Mr McArdle said it followed a recent visit to the Daintree where he promised to meet with Mr O’Doherty and Mr Kempton to further discuss options for the region.

“New power supply choices can be presented to boost vital industries, like ecotourism, as a result of the Newman Government’s repeal of the previous Daintree Power Policy,” Mr McArdle said.

Mr McArdle said the opportunity is there to provide local residents and businesses with the ability to improve their own market-driven power supply that was previously banned under Labor.

“This is a process of engagement with Daintree residents, who have long been divided over whether to connect to Ergon’s electricity grid or to remain unconnected,” he said.

“The process of proper planning will be lengthy to ensure that the Daintree’s environment remains protected, which means we don’t want poles and wires swinging through the rainforest.

“Exploring options for the region does not mean the Government will be paying for a new energy supply in the region.”

Mr Kempton said that the Newman Government’s ongoing discussions with the Daintree Power Committee were vital.

“It is through open discussion that we can achieve the right outcomes for the region,” Mr Kempton said.

Mr O’Doherty said that locals were mindful of the length of the process but enthusiastic that progress is being made.

“After the Minister’s visit to the Daintree with Mr Kempton we really felt that he understood the challenges for locals and we are pleased that at long last someone is listening,” Mr O’Doherty said.

Mr McArdle said he planned to discuss power options with all levels of Government in order to get the best outcome for the Daintree region.

[ENDS] 18 February 2013

Media Contact: Minister’s Office – (07) 3896 3691

In other words, unlike anywhere else in Australia, or probably in the world, Daintree residents have to pay for their own infrastructure!

Have a look at the map below, Ergon operates 33 remote area standalone power stations around Queensland, mainly in indigenous communities.
Why is there unlimited money available to supply power to all these people, while Daintree residents are expected to build and pay for their own infrastructure?
Who would need power more? People in the 33 communities below where the majority of the town is being supported by Centrelink, or in the Daintree where hard working people try to keep their businesses afloat against horrendous energy costs?

remote area power stations

1 June 2013: The Daintree Energy Committee became disillusioned with Energy Minister Mark McArdle's (lack of) commitment and wrote to Premier Campbell Newman. He replied with a letter in which he acknowledges that the lack of a grid destroys business but he also makes it clear he wants nothing to do with this and he encourages Daintree residents to keep talking to politicians. A totally meaningless reply considering all the talking has already been done and it is now crystal clear what the solution should be. A meeting with Warren Entsch and David Kempton is being scheduled to take the next step on the long road to a solution.

28 June 2013: We had a meeting with Energy Minister Mark McArdle in Diwan on Tuesday, in which it was revealed that while we thought work was progressing nothing had actually been done. Several residents and business owners made it very clear to the minister how deep the crisis runs, quite a few people are near broke and could face bankruptcy. The meeting ended with a promise from the minister to get in touch with Canberra to try to get some funding commitments to get things underway.
We met with the minister again Tuesday night at the Mossman Bowls Club and made some more progress in making him gain an understanding of how badly the whole community is affected by energy poverty and that action needs to be taken.
While no firm promises were made, more and more high level politicians are now talking to eachother about this issue as they all understand something needs to happen.

15 August: the Power committee has met with David Kempton to discus how we move forward on the power issue.
The 5 points for action that we agreed to are
1 That Ergon be reinstated as the power provider
2 Ergon undertake costings and feasibility
3 That Ergon provide options
4 That the community will accept responsibility for connection fees
5 That the State Government approach the Federal Government to contribute the additional cost resulting from the World Heritage listing.

EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST INVITED BY ERGON ENERGY

ERGON have been in consultation with the Queensland Government regarding power for the Daintree Area.
ERGON have requested that the Daintree Power Committee provide them an expression of interest; a list of all businesses and property owners that wish to be connected to the grid.
There was a well attended Public Meeting on August 24th at 10am at Diwan centre (cricket ground).
Everyone is urged to get in touch with any absentee landowners they may know to contact the Daintree Power Committee via phone (40989216) or email for their expression of interest. Include contact details, and very importantly lot number and RP number (see your rates notice).
Council has provided us with a listing of all properties north of the Daintree river and we will work through the entire list before submitting the expressions of interest to Ergon.

meeting

FEDERAL ELECTIONS RESULTS

Until now the Queensland LNP Government has claimed that they do not have money to build the grid in the Daintree and need federal funding.
Well, thanks to yesterday's election the Labor Party will be gone and the LNP will take over, and also our long time ally Warren Entsch has held on to his seat for Leichardt so this is all great news for Daintree residents, another step on the long road to the end of energy poverty and pollution!

MEETING WITH MINISTERS 13/09/2013

This morning David Kempton with two carloads of Qld Ministers and their staff travelled through our area on a FNQ tour and they called in to Daintree Mountainview Retreat for a brief meeting to discuss the best way forward with the electricity issue.
It is encouraging to see a growing number of politicians becoming aware that this crisis does need a solution and they are working on it.

MEETING

MEDIA STATEMENT FROM QLD GOVERNMENT

When the Energy Minister visits the Daintree to see first hand how deep the crisis is he returns to Brisbane to make unhelpful statements that Daintree residents can pay for it if they want a grid but in other areas with more voters it is a different story. This is from a media statement released by the Qld Govt on 25 September:

Electricity and water issues were the focus of a meeting held today between Energy and Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle and Scenic Rim Regional Council Mayor John Brent. Mark McArdle told people there that:

“Providing safe, reliable and affordable energy and water supply is vital to meeting the basic needs of communities and for the future development of Queensland.”

ARTICLE IN MOSSMAN GAZETTE

daintree power scare
Click to enlarge

Mark McArdle has once again made unhelpful statements repeating the guesswork amount of $40 million for a grid and said that this is too expensive and it is not going to happen.
Meanwhile there are numerous other politicians doing better work looking for funding and Ergon is doing calculation based on the expression of interest they have been handed by the Daintree Energy Committee.
Daintree residents can rest assured that we will never never give up on a solution to this crisis.
This article was in the Gazette the following week:

daintree power back on agenda

INTERESTING DOCUMENT FOUND

This fax from a few years ago was sent to me, in which Jeff Seeney, Shadow Minister for Mines and Energy at the time, stated that;
- The Daintree Energy Policy that outlaws grids "callously denies many people already living on freehold land the basic infrastructure of mains power that most other Queenslanders take for granted"
- It is nonsensical to argue that the extension of mains power to people already living in the area would automatically destroy the environmental values of the area.
- It is unfair and unjust to deny basic rights such as mains power to people who already live in the area especially when some of them including the local Mayor already have access to mains power.
- The Coalition will be continuing to develop proposals to extend the electricity supply that already exists north of the Daintree river in a manner that recognises the environmental sensitivity of the area but also meets the fundamental right of people already living there to basic infrastructure.
- The people of the Daintree area can be assured that the Coalition Government will not abandon our responsibility to them to provide basic infrastructure and nor will we abandon our responsibiliity to protect the environmental values of the area.
Read the fax here.

MORE DOCUMENTS FOUND

daintree power line study

Those negative people who keep on claiming that a grid in the Daintree was never meant to happen, please have a look at the above picture.
FNQEB was ready to build a grid, and in both 1991 and 1998 did studies on what the best way was to build the grid. But thanks to a few people who saw electricity denial as a tactic to stop development this was blocked.
It was a short sighted and ineffective tactic. Fuel was cheap in those days so people kept building anyway and just ran generators, and so Douglas Shire Council had to hit the Daintree with a building moratorium in 2004 to stop development that continued.
Electricity denial did not stop development but it has led to a massive amount of unnecessary pollution.
Greenies responsible for polluting the planet!

February 2014

The current situation (20/02/2014) is that Ergon Energy has been given a list of land owners interested in connection to grid, and end of 2013 did calculations and costings.
This landed on the Energy Minister's desk the day before Xmas and was examined when everyone got back to work in January 2014.
It took until mid February for news to be released and it was not good; costs have been inflated all the way up to $40 million and still the Energy Minister insists on keeping the Daintree excluded from Ergon's distribution area. They claim to have no money for such a project and tell Daintree residents that they should sit down and unite and find a private contractor and pay him $40 million to build a grid.
A RIDICULOUS proposal for many reasons:

1. Nowhere else in Australia have people had to organise and pay their own infrastructure at a cost of $180 000 to $350 000 per household, this is why we pay taxes and have a government. When this news was released media articles appeared saying "Daintree residents want Govt to open public purse". This is nothing new, all infrastructure and electricity grid was built from public money, if public money could not be used for electricity grid then most of Australia would still be in the dark.
2. The claim that there is no money for the Daintree is rubbish, there is money for the power stations above, and Ergon makes a $434 million dollar after tax profit in a year.


Copied from Ergon website

3. It only takes a stroke of the pen to bring the Daintree back in to Ergon's distribution area, right now there are properties on Forest Creek road only metres away from the grid which could be connected at minimal cost, but Ergon is not permitted by law to connect them.
Keeping the Daintree excluded from Ergon's distribution area means that even if Daintree residents could get a grid built at astronomical cost by a private contractor, then they will not be able to get electricity at the same rate as all other Queenslanders, they could be paying $2.- per kwh while the rest of the State pays 30 cents!

A public meeting was held at the Cow Bay Hotel on 22 March 2014 where the proposals from the Minster were flatly rejected as unacceptable and resolutions drawn up to go back to Ergon and the Energy Minister to discuss more realistic options.

 

Media releases:

Media release 25 September 2013, McArdle tells Scenic Rim Regional Council Mayor John Brent : “Providing safe, reliable and affordable energy and water supply is vital to meeting the basic needs of communities and for the future development of Queensland.”

Media release 18 February 2014: McArdle welcomes RET Review
The Newman Government has enthusiastically welcomed the announcement today of a review of the Renewable Energy Target by the Federal Government.
Energy and Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle said the days of Queenslanders subsidising energy sources that were not commercially viable should be declared over by the expert panel.

In the Daintree people have no choice, renewable energy is all they have, and their energy minister has now declared that it is commercially unviable and it is not acceptable for Queenslanders to pay for this. If it is not accaptable for other Queenslanders why is it acceptable for Daintree residents?
Many people believe it is part of a secret green conspiracy to drive us off our land through economic sanctions.

THE LATEST

The 2014 LNP Convention passed this motion;

LNP convention

Various politicians over the years have made commitments and promises over the years, including Jefff Seeney, see his fax here.

 

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