Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Done like a dinner

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  • Euan Mason,

    Completely agree. The irony is that this government is probably history for this and other reasons like privatisation of our assets. It failed to appreciate that Rio Tinto handed it a golden opportunity to back away from privatisation, which is one of its most unpopular policies. By standing up to a multinational it could have won the next election, even with increases in tax for the rich that would have been required to make up for lost asset sales revenue.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Terry Baucher,

    Well said Russell. It really beggars belief how the asset sales programme has been allowed to progress so far without the resolution of such a fundament issue.

    "Quite where the current government derives its public reputation for stewardship is more of a mystery than ever" Indeed but they are masters of appearing competent, or at least sounding competent which apparently goes a long way.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2008 • 91 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    There are issues with transmitting all that extra power to where the usage is highest. However there are more strategic ways to use it than to just reduce the current wholesale cost across the board.

    Imagine New Zealand hosting a global data centre cluster in Dunedin, drawing on our cheap renewable energy, complementary timezone for Europe and the US, and our (unearned) green reputation. Attracting big players in a high-value forward-looking industry would keep young smart people here. (Not suggesting they would live in Invercargill, or that shaky Christchurch is a viable location for such facilities.)

    Imagine converting the South Island's transport systems to electric power, as a test case for natonwide rollout before rising oil prices kill off our current setup. Especially when a future government restores a functioning carbon policy.

    Or we could just behave like the craven boys in suits in our cabinet and sell the stuff even cheaper to the bigger lads who stole our lunch money. How they must laugh at us.

    Pointing out this government's woeful incompetence also seems a better political strategy than using the silly "hands-off" line.

    As Thursday turned increasingly madcap before the Easter break, it became difficult to reconcile National with the Opposition's caricature of a Government that had its hands off the wheel.

    National's hands weren't just on the wheel - they were hovering over the hand-brake, while the hazard lights blinked wildly.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    "No need for servility" says Herald editorial.

    Rio Tinto's position is the stronger in that it has made it clear that it wants to sell the smelter. If that is not possible, closure is an alternative response to the sagging world price for aluminium. Even so, there is no reason for the Government to start genuflecting. This country has already given successive Tiwai Pt operators very good deals since it built the Manapouri hydro station to power the smelter more than 40 years ago.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    Sacha has nicely addressed the point I was going to make above about it not being quite so simple as saying "great, more power down there, we can shut the stations down up here". Massive losses due to transmission, and not the capacity to move it northwards either apparently. Or so I've been told in the past when I've suggested the same thing.

    But Sacha also comes up with some good answers. And I'd LOVE to see Tim Shadbolt trying to gleefully explain what Invercargill's global data centre cluster is all about... :)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Damian Christie,

    Oh, for sure. I was trying not to over-emphasise that. But I gather that Meridian thinks recent upgrades in the transmission infrastructure give it more options.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston,

    Seems there is a complete lack of imagination from govt or meridian. We have this huge renewable power resource in Manapouri and all we can come up with is sell it's power really cheap to a large multinational who in addition, pays no tax. Duh.
    Sacha has suggested one idea , there must be others.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 509 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Maybe National will just pass a law saying criticism of it’s corporate welfare program constitutes recklessly interfering with a corporations rights to go about their business, with up to 12 months’ jail or a $50,000 to $100,000 fine depending on whether the criticism came from an individual or body corporate…

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2213 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    Pointing out this government’s woeful incompetence also seems a better political strategy than using the silly “hands-off” line.

    Exactly. What a stupid line in the circumstances.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Thrash Cardiom,

    Not to rain on anyone's parade but would anybody seriously consider placing a major data centre in the South Island with the Alpine fault ready to rumble at any time?

    CHB • Since Nov 2006 • 54 posts Report Reply

  • slarty, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Back in the day there was allegedly a clause that meant Rio would have to pay to connect Manapouri to the grid if they ever left (as consideration for the taxpayer subsidy that it has received since it was built).

    I suspect the tragedy is that this has gone too.

    I long for the day when we had a PM with testicles. Clark stared down SQ and BRY over AirNZ... if only that story were better understood.

    Since Nov 2006 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Thrash Cardiom,

    Not to rain on anyone’s parade but would anybody seriously consider placing a major data centre in the South Island with the Alpine fault ready to rumble at any time?

    Yes. I think that's probably the biggest issue with the idea.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Thrash Cardiom,

    What's the projected impact on Dunedin?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • David Russell,

    Another idea - play the dirty corporate game - put the price of electricity up, let them sell the place, and buy it at fire-sale price... a new profitable SOE

    Whitianga • Since Apr 2013 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Jarrod Baker,

    Would closing the smelter create at least 1.21 jigawatts of additional capacity? If so then perhaps the South Island could become an international hub for research into time travel.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 32 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to David Russell,

    a new profitable SOE

    which ideology will insist can't possibly be properly profitable until it is sold to the private sector.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    I long for the day when we had a PM with testicles. Clark stared down SQ and BRY over AirNZ... if only that story were better understood.

    I quite liked the one we had with ovaries, personally.

    Would closing the smelter create at least 1.21 jigawatts of additional capacity? If so then perhaps the South Island could become an international hub for research into time travel.

    We've already gone back to the 90s. But if we're going to go full speed, ordinary fuels won't do it. Unfortunately it requires something with a little more kick: plutonium. Once this is discovered in our national parks, we'll have the ability to enter any decade we want, at will.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Brislen,

    The Alpine fault may preclude a data centre in that particular corner of the world but the model still holds. We have cheap power, it's mostly green, we're remote, our land is cheap and our political system is stable. We have the capability but two technical issues stand in our way: lack of choice in international capacity (not capacity itself mind you) and latency.

    International capacity is the chicken and egg issue - if we had a data centre we would export data therefore another fibre link to the world would be a no-brainer. But we can't get that fibre link without increasing the need for capacity. This kind of issue can be broken but only by a government I would suggest.

    The second problem is trickier - latency. It's a long way to the world from here and in internet time, latency means that first few seconds spent watching the hourglass/bouncy ball/icon of your choice is a killer.

    However, latency only really impacts on real-time applications (such as games and voice/video calling) and doesn't matter a jot when it comes to file locker apps like Dropbox or even Mega.

    With HTML5 (sorry) comes multi-threaded downloads (again, sorry about that). Instead of connecting to a server, opening one connection and downloading the whole thing on one stream, HTML5 allows the server to deliver multiple threads of data to the customer. By the time they've watched/stored the first chunk, the rest is past the point of worrying about latency and on its way.

    Unfortunately we have no vision for ICT beyond "yeah, we'd better have a policy" and that means even though we have an industry that could rival dairy farming in terms of input to GDP, we'll never take advantage of it because computers and the internet are just for geeks.

    rant over.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Thrash Cardiom, in reply to Sacha,

    What's the projected impact on Dunedin?

    Some structural damage but I was thinking more of the continuity of the power supply.

    CHB • Since Nov 2006 • 54 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Thrash Cardiom,

    good point, yes

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Paul Brislen,

    Unfortunately we have no vision for ICT

    I'm sure someone wrote about that recently.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to Thrash Cardiom,

    Not to rain on anyone's parade but would anybody seriously consider placing a major data centre in the South Island with the Alpine fault ready to rumble at any time?

    It didn't seem to stop people building Silicon Valley in the Hayward Fault Zone

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 580 posts Report Reply

  • Quentin Davies,

    @Jarrod

    perhaps the South Island could become an international hub for research into time travel

    Aren't we there already - I see shades of Muldoon in the Key government

    Blenheim • Since Feb 2009 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to Quentin Davies,

    That's not time travel. That's a temporal loop. But either way it sucks.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    A couple of years ago, I really though asset sales were going to hurt the National government. But somehow we've entered a time where discourse that involves hurt and pain only makes them more popular. So long as someone somewhere is getting screwed by National, then they must be doing a good job. It's what strong leaders do in tough times, they screw people to make the hard calls. Lost in that discourse is that weak ineffective leaders can also do that, that you can screw people over to no good effect for the public weal at all.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

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