Saturday, October 6, 2007

Question Time 2

Ok, so this next question time that I have listened to was actually held in the Senate. It was actually quite an interesting meeting! The first topic on the agenda was a discussion of the suggestion to sell Uranium to India. At first I was a little confused by this as I was unsure what the NPT was. After a quick consultation with a housemate, I was back on track! India has not signed the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty), and there are growing concerns that if Australia DOES sell the uranium to India, there may in fact be an arms race between India and neighbours Pakistan. The liberal party have tried to ease concerns by stating that they would only supply the uranium to India for "peaceful purposes" and that in the past, India have not made any actions to suggest that they will use the uranium for negative purposes. In my opinion, I think that India should sign the treaty, so that Australia would have less reservation in supplying the nation with uranium. Although the uranium will provide India with reducing the amount of greenshouse emissions, I'm not sure that Australia should provide the uranium without India signing the NPT.

Keeping in with this theme of greenhouse emissions, discussions of renewable energy were brought up a number of times throughout the question time meeting. The Liberal party seemed to want to really highlight the fact that they have spent a lot of money on solar energy and how this is of great benefit to consumers, but in my opinion, there is still A LOT that needs to be done so the renewable energy becomes the prefferred and more effective form of energy.

The discussion then moved onto the internet safety filters that the government have installed to ensure the safety of Australian families. More than $189 million was spent on these filters which in my opinion is very excessive. There is a point where parents must step in and monitor what their children are doing online. There are already many programs such as "Net Nanny" which parents can buy to ensure their children are safe online. The government could have put a large proportion of that money into something more in need of funding, such as the health care or education system. After a second consultation with my housemate, I learnt that apparently there was a young boy who cracked the filter within 20min of its installation! As soon as the crack had occurred, the professionals made a new version of the crack, in which the boy took 40min to crack. A huge waste of money!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Committee Hearing - 20 June 2007

The federal committee hearing which I have reviewed here was held on the morning of Wednesday the 20th of June 2007. The topic of the committee meeting was geothermal energy used as a renewable energy source. It was the 2nd public hearing related to the topic. The case study was referred to the committee by the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, the Hon. Ian Macfarlane. The committee invited 2 guests to join the meeting, Professor Jefferson Tester and Mr. Barry Goldstein from the Australian Geothermal Energy Group. These 2 men gave an overview of the research being conducted in the field of geothermal energy, and then opened the floor to any questions or comments which the committee members had to offer.

Geothermal energy is the process of drilling into the earth’s core and harnesses the energy from the heat and movement from below the earth’s crust. It can be described as stored thermal energy content of the rocks and fluids underlying landmasses that are accessible by drilling. There are some 70 countries around the world that have begun to utilise and research this renewable energy source. One of the most noted and interesting experiments taking place at the moment is being held in Australia in Cooper Basin.

After an assessment of the United States’ potential, it was noted that widespread deployment of geothermal in the US would have a very positive impact on energy security, on the environment and on economic health. Based on Professor Tester’s observations of Australia, Tester believes that similar statements could be made about the potential of geothermal energy here.

After the Tester and Goldstein gave their summary of the geothermal energy industry and gave an overview of the research which has been happening throughout the world, the committee members were invited to ask the men any questions they had about the concept. One of the initial questions was related to why there is little data for the inner two-thirds of Australia. Goldstein replied with a short reason, which is that for data to exist there must be holes already drilled – either for oil or some other reason – which there are none in that region.

There were many references to Yellowstone National Park in the US in which an immense caldera blew 650,000 years ago, however, it is still a very active region. Mr. Hatton, asked the men why people have not been looking in this region to further their understanding of geothermal energy. Tester replied “Yellowstone is an area that provides the kind of information that we need to understand the regional geology, but the margins outside of Yellowstone are enormously high grade”.

I felt that the committee hearing was very civil and settled compared to the environment of question time in Parliament. It seemed to be quite orderly with people speaking in turn and following the formal structure of the meeting. The meeting seemed to run with a welcome, a “run-down” of the itinerary, a summary from the 2 visitors and then time for a Q&A. After reading transcripts of other committee meetings, it seems that the majority of meetings run in a similar fashion. Although these meetings are not as “action-packed” and entertaining as question time, they still provide a forum for politicians to speak about many different topics concerning the future of Australia.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Question Time

I watched some of question time the other day on the ABC. I have watched question time before in bits and pieces, but never for long. I never realised how feisty and entertaining it gets! Although I found it a little bit hard to follow with all of the politicians yelling and talking over each other!

There was a lot of talk about the Workplace Relations system, which really got most of them really fired up!

I'm not really sure that question time is the best way to get things done in parliament as it just seems to be a whole lot of yelling, however, it has been working thus far!

Until my next post....