Archive for March, 2022

What’s The Best Electric Vehicle For Me?

March 29, 2022

Pictured: Hundai Ioniq

So, you’re thinking about whether to get an electric car.  You’re worried about the cost of fuel, and you know you should be concerned for the environment.  Will it be practical for you?

Are you single, or have a partner but no kids, and live and work in the south-east of Queensland, or one of the other metropolitan areas of Australia?  If so, then you may take advantage of state subsidies and choose from a range of smaller EVs that may suit.

You have no doubt heard about the latest Queensland subsidy scheme:

“Queensland offers $3,000 subsidy to EVs priced under $58,000, excludes Tesla”

Unfortunately this policy is pure political window dressing, and is deliberately aimed at metropolitan voters (not necessarily drivers), as the only cars that can theoretically be of practical use outside Brisbane are outside the scheme.  Unlike other states, Tesla, the car best suited to roads outside the suburbs, is specifically excluded.

The Queensland government said that cars that will qualify for the rebate include the Nissan Leaf, the MG ZS EV, the Hyundai Ioniq, the Hyundai Kona, the new Atto 3 model being released by BYD, and the Renault Kangoo.

Never mind, I’ll attempt to list the pros and cons of a range of vehicles, including Tesla.

Car Base priceClaimed Range
Hyundai Ioniq$49,970311km
Hyundai Kona$54,500305km
Nissan Leaf   $49,990270km
MG ZS EV  $40,990263km
Renault Kangoo $50,290?
Atto 3  N/AN/A
Not subsidized in Qld
Tesla Model 3$59,900491km
Tesla Model S$162,559652km
Kia EV6$62,990484km

Remember that these prices do not include on-road costs.  However, with the subsidy taking $3,000 off the base price of the smaller ones, they are within reach of many people.

If you are serious, you should check reviews at reputable sites such as carsguide. Here most are described as, for example, “easy-going, comfortable, and has plenty of range to work with for city drivers, so charging doesn’t become much of an inconvenience…” (the Nissan Leaf).  They are nice small cars, ideal for the city.  Except the Kangoo.  It’s a van.

If you sometimes escape the city, for example to the Sunny Coast, beware.  The range shown above may not be achieved in practice.  You will need to plan your trip very carefully including possible recharging stops.  At a 50 kW DC charger, you will need from 45 minutes to just over an hour to charge from 20% to 80% of battery capacity.  Well, I suppose you could have lunch while you wait, but the Cooroy train station with its one 50 kW chargepoint might not be your desired destination.  And why 20% to 80%? Apart from not wanting to be stranded with a flat battery (“range anxiety”) you should be aware that lithium ion batteries degrade if the charge is allowed to be above or below these levels too often or too long.  So to protect your battery, the vehicles able to get the subsidy will have a range between charging of from 180km (the MG) to 290km (the Kona)- maximum.  Keep your wits about you.

You can also recharge at home of course, where charging times can be from 6 hours for the Kona, to 25 hours for the MG, to “up to 60% overnight” for the Leaf.  Oops.

If you have a family, or if you live outside the south-east corner of Queensland or other metropolitan area, or if you would like to take a road trip from time to time, none of these vehicles are for you.  They are too small for a family, have limited luggage space, and limited range.  No subsidy for you.

The cheapest EV option would be the Tesla Model 3, at $59,900, plus on road costs.  For that you get a beautiful car that will fit a small family, with a range of 491km (or 296km if you want to protect your battery). More options will cost $84,900, for a range of 614km (or 368km if you want to protect your battery).  It will take 60 minutes to charge at a fast charger, but if you charge at home the quoted figure is “10km per hour”.  And at the moment in Queensland Tesla has superchargers at Brisbane, Gold Coast, Maroochydore, Toowoomba, and Gympie.  One is planned for Rockhampton- but you might not get to Rockhampton from Gympie (467km).    Wider travel in regional areas is out of the question unless you use much slower recharging stations.

If you have a spare $162,559 plus on road costs you could buy a Tesla Model S, with a range of from 637km to 652km which means you could get from Brisbane to Rockhampton in one go (theoretically) if you started out with 100% charge.  But you should know that an EV performs worse on the highway, and the stated range is the upper limit on a full charge on average- so I would still recharge at Gympie, taking from 40 to 60 minutes.

Another option is the Kia EV6 ($62,990 to $82,990) with a range from 484km to 528km (290km to 317km if battery saving), but you will still need recharging stops of over 70 minutes.  Fortunately there are charging stations at Cooroy, Gympie, Maryborough, Childers, Miriam Vale, and Rockhampton (and all the way to Cairns).   If you wish to go west they are at Gatton and Toowoomba.  Another 18 are planned in the inland.

Existing and planned charging stations in southern Qld

I drive a Hyundai Tucson.  I can easily drive between Rockhampton and Brisbane (621km) on one tank, with 100km of range to spare.  With rest stops it usually takes well under 8 hours.  If we do choose to refuel on the way it takes about 15 minutes.  The 2022 price is $36,500 plus on road costs.  That is still $1,490 cheaper than the smallest of the subsidized vehicles (the MG- which would need three or four recharging stops, and is still $16,000 dearer than the petrol MG, even with the subsidy.) At my average economy of 7.5 litres/100km, petrol at $2.10 a litre, and including service charges it would take 4 years and 4 months for the cheaper Tesla 3 to be better value than a Tuscon- and it would need at least two recharges to go 621km .

Now, about emissions.  The only benefit to the environment of an EV is less exhaust fumes in the city.   Unless you are completely off grid with solar panels and batteries, no matter where or when you recharge your emissions will be no less and no more than the whole electricity grid- and if you recharge at night there is no solar.  An EV is just another (expensive) electrical appliance.

Your choice (for now).  But I won’t be going electric.

Is Australia Getting Harder To Live In?

March 23, 2022

Update: see link below kindly supplied by Big M

According to Scomo it is.

And are natural disasters becoming worse and more frequent?

If you listen to or look at commentary in the mass media and social media, largely fuelled by politicians and journalists with no contact with nature and no life experience, you might think so.

The Conversation says:

It’s too soon to say whether the current floods are directly linked to climate change. But we know such disasters are becoming more frequent and severe as the climate heats up.

Time for a reality check.

Flood and fire and famine are the three great normals of Australia, as so well expressed by Dorothea McKellar in My Country, and we in the north also have cyclones.   

First, floods.  Brisbane was hit hard by floods last month.  Figure 1 is from a previous post, showing historic floods in the Brisbane River with the 2022 flood inserted.  No cause for alarm there.

Figure 1: Historic Brisbane Flood heights 

What about fatalities?  Figure 2 shows the 2022 floods compared with some historic floods from all over Australia.  Fatalities are totalled if several floods occurred in one year.

Figure 2:  Death tolls of flooding events

Are flood disasters getting deadlier? No.

Fatalities and housing damage are the result of people living in flood prone areas- or from being trapped in vehicles in rising waters.   After the 1916 flood, the people of Clermont in Queensland moved their town to higher ground- without any government assistance.  This photo from Bonzle shows the Commercial Hotel being moved on log rollers by a steam traction engine.  The Commercial is still standing- I’ve had a few coldies there.

Figure 3: Moving the Commercial Hotel to higher ground

And no one asked where Billy Hughes was.

What about fires?

Figure 4 shows the area of land burnt by bushfires by notable fires across Australia.  I have marked some fires that are fairly well known- but does anyone mention the fires of the 1960s and 1970s?  These were in largely savannah country of WA, Queensland, and the NT.

Figure 4:  Area Burnt by Bushfires

Figure 5 shows fatalities due to bushfires.

Figure 5:  Bushfire Fatalities 1920-2020

Despite the terrible 2009 fires, fatalities due to bushfires in the last 100 years have been trending down.  Lessons must be learned from these tragic events.  We should remember that fire is part of the Australian bush.  Many fatalities occur where housing is surrounded by bushland, with poor escape routes.

The downtrend in fire fatalities is even more apparent when you consider Australia’s population has grown enormously since 1920.  The following plot shows how the risk of death by bushfire has changed.

Figure 6:  Bushfire Fatalities per 1,000 people 1920-2020

No, by no measure are bushfires getting worse, or making Australia harder to live in.

Droughts are also in decline across most of Australia.  The following plots use BOM data.

Figure 7:  Percentage of Land in Severe Drought (lowest 10% of rainfall)

Even though 2019 was an extremely dry year, over 120 years the area of land in drought is decreasing at the rate of 0.23% per decade.

The only areas where drought has increased are Southwestern Western Australia, Victoria, and southern South Australia. 

In southern Australia as a whole, there is no trend in droughts, even with the 2018-2019 drought.

Decadal averages are an excellent way of showing long term patterns.  In southern Australia the worst period of long lasting dry years was the 60 years from 1920 to 1980.

Figure 8:  Percentage of Land in Severe Drought- Decadal Averages Southern Australia

But are dry periods getting drier, and wet periods wetter?  And are dry areas getting drier, and wet areas wetter?  Here are long term rainfall records for Sydney, Cairns (very wet) and Alice Springs (very dry), and Adelaide (drying trend) again with decadal means.  Values are anomalies from months of overlap of weather stations, in millimetres of rain.

Figure 9:  Decadal Mean Rainfall- Sydney

The three major droughts stand out, as does the major reset of the 1950s.  Note the decreasing values to the 1940s, and again from the 1960s.  There is no indication of wet periods getting wetter and dry periods drier.

Figure 10:  Decadal Mean Rainfall- Cairns

Figure 11:  Decadal Mean Rainfall- Alice Springs

It seems that dry periods are getting wetter at Cairns and Alice Springs, and apart from the 1970s-1980s, wet periods show no great difference.

Figure 12:  Decadal Mean Rainfall- Adelaide

Here we see the gradual fall off in rainfall in southern SA, gradually since the 1930s but more rapidly since the 1970s.  The shift in the Southern Annular Mode has caused drying in southern parts of the continent.  It is too early to draw any conclusions from that.

The alternately wet – dry feature of Australian climate is obvious from all the above plots.  However, wet periods are not getting wetter, and dry periods are not getting drier.

What about cyclones?  Here is a plot straight from the Bureau:

Figure 13:  Tropical Cyclones 1970-2021

Cyclones are NOT becoming more frequent or more severe.  The trend is clearly downwards.

Finally, heatwaves.  In reality we have no idea, as the temperature record managed by the Bureau is so bastardised- as shown here, here, here, here, here, and here.  We just don’t know, no matter what they claim.

Those who live in the cities, who have little contact with nature, and who have no knowledge of the history of Australia’s climate, will accept whatever they’re told about natural disasters as gospel.  The truth is different.

Scomo has nothing to worry about (apart from the next election).  Australia is NOT getting harder to live in: floods, fires, droughts, and cyclones are NOT getting worse or more frequent. 

UPDATE: Big M has kindly supplied this link, which I missed.

The 1760s WA drought seems to match data from the Barrier Reef showing a 30 year drought in NQ.

Why Is Business Investment Sluggish: An Alternative View to Alan Kohler

March 8, 2022

On ABC News on Sunday night, Alan Kohler in his regular spot showed how business investment, especially in plant and equipment, has  been sluggish for the past several years.  Despite acknowledging a number of theories, of course he blamed it on the lack of a coherent bi-partisan climate policy- his favourite hobby-horse.

Time for a reality check.

Firstly, Figure 1 shows the Australian All Ordinaries Index with the key dates of proposal, adoption, deferral, re-proposal, and eventual scrapping of all versions of carbon tax, with the 2014 and 2019 elections when Labor’s climate dreams were roundly rejected.  It is important to realise that various Federal and State renewable energy incentives have also been introduced during this time.

Figure 1:  All Ordinaries Index 2007-2022 (per Westpac)

The share market seems to have been largely oblivious to climate policy.  What about business investment?

I checked the recently released ABS data, here and here.

Alan Kohler used 3 data points (decadal annual growth rates).  I looked at the 124 quarterly values of private investment in 2021 dollar values, from March 1991 to December 2021.

Figure 2:  Quarterly Private Capital Investment, 1991-2021

While Construction boomed from 2011 to 2015, it is true that investment in plant, equipment, and machinery has barely moved since 2010.

These categories can be further broken down into Mining and all others except for mining:

Figure 3:  Capital Investment in Construction, Mining and Non-mining

That big bump was the mining boom, which also shows but to a lesser extent in investment in Plant and Equipment:

Figure 4:  Capital Investment in Plant & Equipment, Mining and Non-mining

Note that the total figure for Plant and equipment is nearly all from non-mining activity.  Note the peak was reached in the December quarter of 2009, before the big reduction brought about by the GFC of 2008 and 2009.

Rather than annual growth or actual quarterly investment, an alternative comparison is with GDP.

Figure 5:  Australia’s Gross Domestic product

Despite the sluggish early 1990s, the GFC and the pandemic, GDP has been growing at an increasing rate, especially in the last five years.

Figure 6:  Quarterly Private Capital Investment as a percentage of GDP, 1991-2021

Mining investment in construction has been huge, and the economy has been reaping the benefit since 2016. 

Figure 7 shows investment in plant and equipment (which Alan Kohler says has been flat since 2011 as a result of not having certainty in climate policy) outside the mining industry.  The dates from Figure 1 are shown.

Figure 7:  Quarterly Plant and Equipment Investment as a percentage of GDP, 1991-2021

Alan Kohler’s explanation is obviously wrong. Perhaps he could explain why plant and equipment expenditure relative to GDP has been steadily decreasing since 1996- well before any mention of climate policy.  That would seem to be a much more serious problem.

But I don’t think he will- there’s an election coming up.

How Unusual Is All This Rain We’ve Had?

March 3, 2022

Yesterday, 2nd March, ABC weather reporter Kate Doyle posed this question on the ABC website about the recent rain event in SE Queensland and Northern NSW.

Her answer to the above question was:

Very unusual.

The rainfall totals from this event have been staggering. 

From 9am Thursday to 9am Monday three stations recorded over a metre of rain:

– 1637mm at Mount Glorious, QLD 
– 1180mm at Pomona, QLD
– 1094mm at Bracken Ridge “

She goes on to say:  “South-east Queensland and northern NSW are historically flood prone and have certainly flooded before but this event is definitely different from those we have seen in the past.”  And of course climate change is involved.

Time for a reality check. 

My answer to Kate’s question:  Not very unusual at all.

I went looking at Climate Data Online for four day rainfall totals over one metre, to compare with the recent totals above at Mount Glorious, Pomona, and Bracken Ridge. 

For a start, Pomona’s BOM station has been closed for years, and Bracken Ridge is not listed at all, so those reports are from rain gauges external to the BOM network and can’t be checked. 

That’s OK.  In about half an hour I found the following four day rainfall records.

Tully Sugar Mill13/02/19271421.3mm
Dalrymple Heights6/04/19891141mm

1893 was a wet year!  Crohamhurst had 2023.8 in five days, and Brisbane had three floods in two weeks in February and another in June.

And there is no such thing as a “rain bomb”, a term invented to make it sound unprecedented.  This was an entirely natural and normal rain event.  Slow moving tropical lows drift south every few years in the wet season, producing a large proportion of Queensland’s average rainfall.

Floods have affected Brisbane and surrounds since before European settlement.  The Bureau has an excellent compilation of accounts of past floods at

It includes this graphic showing the height of known floods.  I have added an indication of the height of the 2022 flood.

Here are some notable Brisbane floods:

1825       a flood probably as high as the 1893 flood

1841       8.43m

1844       about1.2 metres lower than 1841

1864       ?

1887       ?

1889       ?

1890       ?

1893       8.35m

“              8.09m

“              ?

“              ?

1908       4.48m

1974       5.45m

2011       4.46m

2022       3.85m

Every flood is different- water backs up higher in unexpected places, or gets away faster, so for many people this flood was worse than 2011.  However it is beyond any doubt that this flood, heartbreaking as it was for many people, could have been much worse.  It was nowhere near as big as several in the past.  Wivenhoe Dam worked as planned this time, which greatly lessened the impact.

Another thing worth remembering:  floods were more frequent and higher in the 19th Century than they have been in the last 100 years.

ABC journalists need to do a lot more research.