- JoNova - https://www.joannenova.com.au -

Is your snout in the trough yet?

While cancer patients will have to pay more or wait longer for treatment, the Department To Fix The Weather handed out nearly 1 billion dollars in 2010-2011, some* of which was used to “educate” people about energy efficiency and the benefits of government policies.

*UPDATE: While there are a lot of “education” grants in 2012, there are some research grants going to the CSIRO (eg in 2012 at least $13m of the $40m that year was for research at CSIRO). In 2010 (the big dollar grant year) many more of the grants were for “strategies”, for IPCC matters, for universities and the CSIRO — though none of the grants I’ve seen on a random sample add up to anything like the total outgoing.)

Is this advertising by any other name? Instead of running an ALP campaign advert, they award money to groups which promote their policies and get disguised third party ads by NGOs who collect donations and are seemingly the voice of the community (what percentage of these non-profits comes voluntarily from the community and what percentage comes via forced payment from tax?).

“Do Something” picked up $800,000 to become a type of GONGO and run a website that will apparently duplicate many of the messages taxpayers are already paying for on government sites. Other grants go for “efficient” lighting, which obviously isn’t economically efficient, or it wouldn’t need a government grant. Why are taxpayers in Roma, say, paying for hot water systems for councils in Glen Eira? Don’t the residents of Glen Eira pay for that in their rates? These layers of cross payments between different levels of governments and to allow seemingly “independent” groups to become disguised wings of government are a burden on Western Civilization. Every step that makes the payee more distant from the outcome makes it less likely money will be used wisely.

– Jo

Guest Post: Geoff Sherrington

The ARC (Australian Research Council) is not the only Australian government body to fund science research. The Department of Climate Change & Energy Efficiency also funds climate related projects.

Here is a table showing some spending and estimates of future spending on grants, a little old but still indicative.

Table 3.2.10: Schedule of budgeted administered cash flows (for the period ended 30 June)
Actual 2009-10 Revised budget 2010-11 Forward estimate 2011-12 Forward estimate 2012-13 Forward estimate 2013-14
Cash received
    Appropriation receipts 370,713,000 1,166,194,000 532,354,000 56,177,000 38,959,000
Total cash received 370,713,000 1,166,194,000 532,354,000 56,177,000 38,959,000
Cash used
    Grant payments 323,376,000 918,770,000 495,512,000 53,172,000 37,959,000
    Suppliers 41,303,000 247,424,000 36,842,000 3,005,000 1,000,000
    Net GST paid 2,416,000
    Employees 12
    Other 3,447,000
Total cash used 370,554,000 1,166,194,000 532,354,000 56,177,000 38,959,000


What does a Department of Climate Change etc do with nearly a billion dollars a year? Why, it gives it away. I wonder how much income it earned, as opposed to was allocated.

Accountants can make better use of this than I can, but look at the annual grant payments 0f $919 million and $496 million. The lower spending in future times means little. It might simply represent a ‘saving’ that the Government can claim before its next election. It’s easy to make it bigger, later.

My interest was increased by Jo Nova’s article ‘300,000 dollars and three years to produce a paper that lasted three weeks: Gergis’.  As Dr Joelle Gergis said in June 2009, she had a project approved to study climate variability in S-E Australia. ‘The project, funded by the Australian Research Council’s Linkage scheme, is worth a total of $950,000 and will run from mid-2009 to mid-2012. It gives me a job for three years and money to bring a PhD student, research assistant and part time project manager on board.’

A linkage grant is called such, because it grants money to a group that has a funding link from another source. Much of the funding came from this & related departments. Co-author David Karoly also received a handsome sum to use to carry out his work. Professors are paid good salaries by their Universities, but apparently they need far, far more sometimes. Many people now know that the Gergis and Karoly paper was withdrawn.

This raises the broader question of who does the quality control on grants from the Dept of Climate Change?

Here are some examples of other recent grants. Did Australians get value for money? Were these wise grants, did they go to top quality researchers and did they have real benefits?

Dept of Climate Change Grants. You can find more here.

Recipient: Australian Council of Trade Unions Grant
Purpose: To raise awareness of activity that is reducing carbon pollution and helping to build a clean energy future via a series of interactive seminars for union officials and organisers in capital cities and in regional areas with carbon intensive industries. $93,000
Recipient: Environment Victoria Inc
Purpose: To raise awareness of activity that is reducing carbon pollution and helping to build a clean energy future via a leadership, training and education program among multicultural communities and faith groups in Victoria. $213,125
Recipient: Australian Conservation Foundation
Purpose: The Climate Project – Australia: Community education on climate change science, impacts and solutions. $398,421.75
Recipient: Government of Kiribati
Purpose: Grant for the purposes of conducting a national consultation on the Kiribati National Climate Change Framework $250,000
Recipient: University of Melbourne
Purpose: Provide extended estimates of regional scale climate variables (temperature and rainfall) to reduce uncertainties about climate change and its potential impacts in the Australasian region over the past 500-2,000 years. $123,035 (GST inclusive)

While those above are supposed to be scientific/institutional, there are community ones as well.

Recipient: Glen Eira City Council Grant:
Purpose: Funds will be used to upgrade lighting, hot water systems, window draught proofing and IT energy saving measures. $54,318.00

And grants for non-profits that appeal to the government:

Recipient: Do Something!
Purpose: Do Something! will disseminate advice and energy efficiency information to over 15,000 community groups and 565 local councils nationwide. This includes developing a web portal, best practice guides, case studies and tip sheets, videos, eBooks, PowerPoint presentations, energy efficiency guides and providing access to an energy cost calculator. 4 Sept 2012 for 33 months. $871,490.00

Do let us know what you think of these. Like, if you have been to Nhulunbuy (Gove), below, have you seen the LED lights? Or have you seen any light from these programs at all? (Note that Nhulunbuy has a huge alumina mine, with private generators paid for by the operator.)

Recipient: East Arnhem Shire Council Nhulunbuy NT
Purpose: Council is replacing existing street lights with energy efficient LED lights. $217,027.80
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