Helen Pow

Jan 15, 2012

Sunday Telegraph advocates taking NSW back, in its words, to “the Dark Ages”


Pure Poison IconAs expected, today’s Sunday Telegraph runs with a beatup about electricity prices in NSW.

But it’s actually a somewhat confusing one.

To see how absurd it is, before looking at the main story, let’s have a look at the paper’s editorial position on the issue (my bolding):

The reality is, as outlined by Mr Sims, that a combination of unwieldy green schemes and an over-emphasis on avoiding blackouts at all costs has blown energy bills out of all proportion

Of course we want a steady, reliable power supply. A blackout is an infuriating inconvenience. But is it worth seeing your bill doubled to eliminate one or two blackouts a year?

The power infrastructure has been upgraded, and upgraded again, over the past few years as companies improve their “poles and wires”.

Mr Sims sees this as unnecessary, while sceptical consumers suspect much of this work is being carried out to make the companies look better to potential buyers.

Okay, so the action to prevent blackouts isn’t, in the view of the Sunday Telegraph, worth the extra costs.

Which makes the headline they ran with rather odd:


So if electricity prices increase because of upgrading infrastructure to avoid blackouts, then it’s not worth it. And if the action to avoid blackouts is halted to decrease electricity prices, then it’s THE DARK AGES.

Well, they don’t know what they want, but they do know that whatever happens it’s something we should all be furious about. Particularly when it’s something strongly related in voters’ minds with the “carbon tax”, even though that has nothing to do with it…

Oh, and if you were anxiously waiting to see the “gorgeous” family “outraged” about “skyrocketing” electricity prices sought by their ad, meet the Guildord family:

The 30-year-old single mother-of-six cried when her latest electricity bill dropped through the letter box.

“I’d never had a bill more than $320 but the last one was $1400,” she said. “It is such a big difference. I was like ‘you can’t be serious’! I did a double take and then just cried.”

That does sound extraordinary. I wonder how much of that increase was due to increased prices, and how much was due to increased usage. I don’t know, because that critical detail is not in the story. If Helen Pow did do her job and did find that out, and then included it in her original copy, then what legitimate reason would the subeditors have for excluding it? Space considerations? On the internet?

In either case, without that detail the complaint is completely meaningless and impossible for a sensible reader to evaluate on its merits. The only way to accept the overall attack in that story is for the reader to switch off his or her critical faculties and just go mindlessly with the flow.

Actually, if you do that, I suspect reading The Sunday Telegraph is much more enjoyable in general.

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12 thoughts on “Sunday Telegraph advocates taking NSW back, in its words, to “the Dark Ages”

  1. whitton lilly

    i am quiet disgusted with some of the comments here about single mothers i am also a single mum of two children with disability my last electricity bill was 800 dollars and i have a combustion stove i can not afford to use a heater , so get over it we struggle out here while most of you drive nice cars eat out regularly and go on holidays ect we can not afford those things you all take for granted so the next time you are walking past a homeless person give them a hand as it might be you sleeping on the streets next and then lets see how funny it is when the shoe is on the other foot so to speak

  2. joe2

    liliwyt, actually, it is closer to the truth to say that those of us without air conditioners, of the heavy power pulling variety, are doing the subsidising. When the power goes out it is invariably because the system cannot cope with that demand.

    Power companies pay extra bucks for generated power during those peaks and we are all expected to pay for the infrastructure to cover for future cooling demands that only comes into use for a few critical summer days.

    Tell hubby the people who have forked out for the panels are doing us all a favour by cutting back on pollution and wallet wise, in the long run.

  3. liliwyt

    joe2 @9 – I’m interested in where this meme of “those who don’t have solar panels are subsidising those that do” has come from.

    My husband says it every time he sees a solar panel array and my tongue is covered in bite marks from not rising to the bait.

  4. joe2

    [Yes, we would all love to see solar power more widely adopted. But why should the poorest families subsidise solar panels for the well-off?]

    It’s pretty simple if you used your brain to think it out, Sunday Daily Terror.

    People have spent money installing solar and are providing extra power at points of peak power demand.

    When the air conditioners are buzzing, panels are feeding them with the power that might otherwise be gained by building large, costly, standby power generators belching carbon emissions.

    Who is actually subsidising who?

  5. calyptorhynchus

    Finding inconstancies in the yellow press… as easy as shooting fish in a barrel, but surprisingly enjoyable.

  6. zoot

    Aren’t single mothers with six kids all ripping off the taxpayer and therefore not to be trusted?

  7. Aliar Jones

    [Sounds a lot like that bunch of CBD campers from a few weeks back.]

    You must be deaf, a little income equality and less welfare for the rich is a pretty clear message.

  8. AR

    It’s gotta be the fault of the (Federal) Gillard gov, wot with electricity being one of the well milked cash cows of those state govs that didn’t sell them off in the mad 80/90s, but NSW is doing its best/worst to make the same mistake.
    Facts don’t matter when the gutter press want to make a point, however mendacious & plain stoopid.
    The readers will swallow it, after all they PAID for the crap sheet in the first instance.
    And it’s not as if they have any decent comics any more. Ancient History query – anyone remember Charlie Chuckles on the electric wireless?

  9. haines

    “Well, they don’t know what they want, but they do know that whatever happens it’s something we should all be furious about.”

    Sounds a lot like that bunch of CBD campers from a few weeks back.


  10. Aliar Jones

    6 Kids? If any of them are older than 7 or 8 and there’s two parents, I’m surprised it’s that incredibly low…

    What planet do this people the Tele dredges up come from?

  11. Matthew of Canberra

    UPSs are surprisingly cheap, folks. This machine runs off one – it doesn’t need to keep things running long. We had a bad run of brownouts at odd times of the night last year and I decided that enough was enough.

    I also decided a couple of years ago that I was too old to freeze (this being a fairly poorly-designed house in canberra, where most houses are fairly poorly designed). So my winter bill is spectacular these days (summer’s cheap, though). It’s a bit over half that $1400, though – and I’m downright wasteful with the heaters in winter. So I’m inclined to wonder if somebody’s started refining aluminium in her spare room. I’m not sure I COULD use $1400 worth of electricity in a quarter.

  12. SHV

    “I changed my billing cycle from monthly to quarterly, and Julia Gillard and Bob Brown and the fraudulent billionaire climate scam ‘scientists’ just sent me an enormous bill. I just cried and cried and now I don’t feel gorgeous anymore.”

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