Oceans could supply 10 percent power – in Australia

By Lieu Thi Pham | August 8, 2012, 2:30 AM PDT

MELBOURNE — A new study by the CSIRO (the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization), revealed that Australia’s oceans could supply 10 percent of the country’s electricity by 2050. This is the equivalent of powering a city the size of Melbourne, which has a population of around four million.
The Australian science agency study investigated the potential of harnessing the energy of the oceans — from waves, tides, currents and thermal energy — to power the country’s electricity from 2015 to 2050.
Their report, Ocean Renewable Energy: 2015-2050, showed that there are tremendous energy resources in Australia’s southern oceans, in particular near the west coast of Tasmania, the southern ocean in Victoria, and the south-west ocean of Western Australia.
This is the first time in Australia that ocean-based renewable energy has been assessed from resource to market development. Dr Susan Wijffels, a spokesperson for the CSIRO, said that the findings showed that wave power could be integral to Australia’s renewable energy plan.
“The idea [of ocean power] has been around for a very long time,” Dr Wijffels said. “It’s getting attention now because some countries are currently looking at how viable some of these technologies are. I suspect it has to do with the policy setting in an energy market.”
There are at least 200 wave energy converter (WEC) devices that extract the energy from either the surface motion of the waves or the pressure fluctuations below the surface. The range of this energy capture varies between devices and to differing degree of success.Some companies are currently conducting pilot tests and commercial demonstrations.
There are three main classes of WEC devices that can be loaded in various depths: Point absorber (a float that is free to follow the movement of the wave and gather wave energy from any direction); linear attenuator (a float aligned in the direction of the wave); and terminator (a device that faces the wave directly to collect the energy).
The fact that around 80 percent of Australia’s population live in coastal areas, suggests that wave power will play a very significant part in the country’s energy future.
Dr Wijffels claims that wave power holds many key advantages over solar and wind power, including its consistency (waves are generated both day and night), and predictability as an energy resource.
Solar and wind are subjected to sudden changes in weather, whereas wave power comes from the momentum of an ocean storm that can often take days to reach our shores.
“If you get a longer lead time, then you know that wave plant will give you power. The people that manage our electricity supply in the future will want to know when and how much renewable energy is coming in and how it will fit in to the grid,” she said.
“The other big challenge we have is getting the grid ready. How to shift power across the country very cheaply, quickly and in large volumes,” Dr Wijffels said.
She contends that the technology has the potential to be cost-effective, but this will largely be dependent on overcoming engineering challenges such as creating efficient energy farms and harvesters.
“Water is really heavy. When water is moving, it gets moved by either tidal forces or waves, and that’s a lot of momentum. The energy density, as a resource, is much higher than wind. If we can get the turbines to work efficiency, we’re using less real estate for more power. If we can build really efficient extractors that can be made cheap enough to maintain, then that advantage could be realised,” she says.
The CSIRO are careful to point out that there are many economic, technological, environmental and societal challenges that will determine wave energy’s place in Australia’s future energy mix. These include investigating the wider impacts of the technology as it relates to issues such as as marine life and aquaculture.
The CSIRO hopes that their report will encourage the renewable energy industry, government and the public to think seriously about the opportunities, as well as the challenges, for ocean technology in Australia.
Photo: WHL Travel/Flickr
Extract from:

2012 July Forum 2 on future of Bellarine

2012 Bellarine 2050,


Forum 2 on the future of the Bellarine Peninsula


A BLUEPRINT for the future development of the Bellarine Peninsula will move a step closer to completion this week.

A forum on Friday, 4th July 2012 at the Clifton Springs Golf Club, hosted by the Committee for Bellarine, is the second phase in the drafting of the Bellarine 2050 Masterplan.

 DSC_0813-smlMLC Western Victoria: Simon Ramsay


Tom O'Connor Working For Coryule

Tom O’Connor


Committee executive director Tom O’Connor said forecasts of a population explosion on the Bellarine has added urgency to the drafting of a master plan.

The plan will detail a wide range of complex social, industrial and administrative challenges associated with the effects of future growth.

He said Bureau of Statistics projections show 140,000 people almost treble the current number will call the Peninsula home by 2050. The masterplan will examine how the various residential, industrial, education and recreational issues should be identified and dealt with.

Those attending the forum will include business and community leaders, local councillors, police and emergency services and members of community organisations.

Mr O’Connor said his group would also meet with experts from Marcus Oldham College to discuss future employment strategies.

“We need to develop job opportunities linked to the many strengths of the Bellarine,” Mr O’Connor said.

“It is important we recognise and preserve the natural resources of the peninsula and the offshore potential.”

He said the employment potential of the equine, agriculture and aquaculture sectors would be high on the agenda.

The committee is also due to meet with Planning Minister Matthew Guy later this week.

“We will be looking at the urban design framework as it applies to the various towns on the Bellarine,” Mr O’Connor said.

“The future requirements for retail and service industries, public transport and roads will form the basis of that discussion.”


CfB 2050 Seminar 6-7-2012

Director, Material Thinking: Professor Paul Carter


Among the expert key note speakers due to address the forum is urban design consultant Professor Paul Carter.

CfB 2050 Seminar 6-7-2012

CEO Avalon Airport: Justin Giddings


CfB 2050 Seminar 6-7-2012

Chairman Elms Partners: Laurence Elms


CfB 2050 Seminar 6-7-2012

Acting MC: John Rae


CfB 2050 Seminar 6-7-2012

MLC Western Victoria: Simon Ramsay


CfB 2050 Seminar 6-7-2012

Head of Deakin, School of Architecture & Building: Professor Hisham Elkadi

CfB 2050 Seminar 6-7-2012


CfB 2050 Seminar 6-7-2012

CfB 2050 Seminar 6-7-2012

CfB 2050 Seminar 6-7-2012



 CfB 2050 Seminar 6-7-2012

CfB 2050 Seminar 6-7-2012



Business welcomes simpler zoning ….. open for comment

Date July 23, 2012 Philip Hopkins

Extract from:


Changing the city: Five business zones would become two commercial zones. Photo: Courtsey Savills

THE Baillieu government’s sweeping changes to the state’s planning zones have been welcomed by business groups, with the Property Council of Australia warning that local councils should not get in the way of the proposals.

The Victorian Executive Director of the Property Council, Jennifer Cunich, said the proposed reforms would re-energise the capital city zone and breathe new life into Victoria’s other retail and commercial hubs. ”This is exactly what the doctor would order to revive a slowing economy,” she said.

Ms Cunich said reducing excessive planning regulations would help revitalise Victoria’s commercial, industrial and retail dead zones, freeing up development opportunities.

However, the government should not adopt a passive approach to local councils in regard to these reforms.

”Too often good state-wide planning reform has been frustrated by councils which do not share its planning vision,” she said. ”The Baillieu government should consider providing incentives to those councils which readily embrace its planning agenda.”

The Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the plans to consolidate the existing multitude of residential and commercial zones into fewer categories was a positive step.

VECCI chief executive Mark Stone said the planning reforms simplified arrangements and allowed a broader range of activities to be considered in the planning process.

The Master Builders Association applauded the proposed reforms, saying they would create greater planning certainty and thus foster growth and jobs. Victorian executive director Brian Welch said the new commercial zones would encourage the construction of workplaces, retail precincts and offices across the suburbs.

Under the proposals, the commercial 1 zone amalgamates the existing business 1, business 2 and business 5 zones.

The proposed commercial 2 zone amalgamates the existing business 3 and business 4 zones.

The Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, said the current five business zones created confusion, market barriers and unnecessary burdens, such as the need to rezone land.

”Reducing the number of zones and broadening the range of uses permitted in particular areas will reduce prescription, increase ‘as-of-right’ business investment opportunities and provide greater business flexibility,” he said.

Mr Guy said the existing industrial zones had a floor space limit of 500 square metres of office space, which was based on a traditional industrial building. ”New and emerging industry requires a larger scale and greater mixture of industry and office. These current floor space caps restrict the ability to develop modern and more innovative industry,” he said.

Mr Guy said the industrial zone reforms would support business investment by removing the floor space caps for an office.

”These reforms will be complemented by changes to the industrial 3 zone, which will allow small supermarkets with supporting shops,” he said.


Regional Victoria would also benefit from changes to rural zones that would foster agriculture, remove restrictions on complementary business uses in some zones, and cut permit restrictions on tourism, he said.

Public comments on the proposals are open until September 21. The reforms are expected to be introduced by the Victorian Government in October.

Read more:

Bellarine’s way of tomorrow …… perhaps.

Worldwide Cycle Superhighways raise the bar

By Rachel James | July 19, 2012, 10:15 AM PDT


New York City, photo by Jason Yung

Copenhagen is at it again. The city’s new “cycle superhighway” makes the rest of us look like chumps.

Yes, New York City has a (painstakingly) established bike infrastructure. The city already boasts over 300 miles of bike lanes across all five boroughs. But the new bikesharing program, privately funded Citi Bike, looks like child’s play compared to Copenhagen’s.

Firstly, in New York City it will cost $9.95 to use a Citi Bike for half an hour.

In Copenhagen? A whopping $0. You guessed it, their bike sharing program is free.

clip_image003Matt Kroneberger of The City Fix writes, “Though there are many different visions for cycling infrastructure, Copenhagen is adding the cycle superhighway to an extensive suite of biking options, including existing urban bike lanes and a free bike share system.”

I don’t mean to condemn efforts made to support urban cycling. I just have a hard time understanding why the rewards for cyclists are not greater in traffic heavy cities like New York.

As London gears up for the stress of the 2012 Olympic Games, The Barclays Bank-sponsored cycle superhighway is expanding an additional eight routes. At 9 miles long each, these new routes will connect many of London’s outer boroughs to the city center.

“The availability of bikeways and bike share is expected to increase overall bike traffic well above the 107 percent increase in biking that has already occurred in London since 2000,” writes Kroneberger.

Back in Copenhagen, where over one-third of the work force already commutes by bike, there is no doubt the new 13 mile path will enjoy many a wheel.

This route, from the western suburb of Albertslund into downtown Copenhagen, is the first of 26 planned routes. That’s 186 new miles of cyclist heaven.

[via: The City Fix]



Why a campaign now?

As you may know, local people have been calling for a Drysdale bypass for some years now, but it doesn’t appear to be any nearer to being built. However, a concerted campaign now is likely to succeed for several reasons:

1. The 2104 state election. The state government funds bypasses, so its support is crucial. In the next election, the seat of Bellarine – which includes Drysdale & Clifton Springs – is likely to be a marginal seat. (In the 2010 state election, Ms Lisa Neville [ALP] held the seat by just 2.74% after preferences.) Consequently, the major parties will want to promise voters they’ll get what they need – including a Drysdale bypass.

2. Traffic numbers. Vic Roads would build the Drysdale bypass and it already owns about 50% of the land required. Vic Roads have stated that the traffic capacity of Drysdale High Street is 24,000 vehicles a day – at which point a bypass becomes a necessity. In mid-2011, Vic Roads found that 18,000 vehicles a day use the High Street. In other words, a year ago, Drysdale had 2/3 of the traffic ‘needed’ for a bypass. Since then, the local population has increased and it will continue to do so.

3. The 2012 council election. Council support for a Drysdale bypass – while not essential – would boost the campaign. In September or October, DCSCA will hold a public forum at which candidates for election to our local wards – Cheetham and Coryule – can say whether and how they will support the bypass campaign

How can I help the campaign?

The Drysdale bypass will be built if sufficient public pressure is placed on the relevant decision-makers. You can help the campaign by becoming part of that public pressure. Attached to this letter is a list of those decision-makers’ names and addresses and I urge you to write to as many of them as you can. The list includes some arguments about the bypass that may help you to decide what you want to say.

Could you please send a copy of your letter/s to DCSCA (P.O. Box 581, Drysdale 3222), so that we can show just how much support there is for the bypass.

If you received this letter in the post, could you please tell us your e-mail address if you have one – it makes it easier and cheaper for us to contact you. (Our e-mail address is We won’t divulge your details without asking you.

Finally, DCSCA posts details of the campaign online ( – you might like to visit it occasionally to keep up to date.
Thanks again for your interest in the campaign for a Drysdale bypass.
Patrick Hughes
Secretary, DCSCA Inc.20 June 2012

(Incorporation No. A0046568H)

Post: P.O. Box 581, Drysdale, Victoria 3222

E-mail: Online:




Ask each of them to tell state politicians how the bypass fits-in with broader local transport strategies (e.g. the ring road, the Portarlington ferry) and how it will boost the local economy by improving transport links with Geelong & Melbourne.
Federal MP for Corio (including Drysdale & Clifton Springs)
Hon. Richard Marles
P.O. Box 6022, House of Representatives, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600
Tel.: (02) 6277 4330 Fax: (02) 6277 8488
State MP for Bellarine (including Drysdale & Clifton Springs)
Hon. Lisa Neville
Shop 1, Centro Newcombe, 71 Bellarine Highway, Newcombe 3219
Tel.: 5248 3462 Fax: 5248 5294
Local councillors
City of Greater Geelong, P.O. Box 104, Geelong 3220
Cr. John Doull Cr. Rod Macdonald
Coriyule Ward Cheetham Ward
Tel. 0448 560 897 Tel. 0458 509 994
E-mail: E-mail:
If you’re unsure which ward you’re in, ask at the CoGG Customer Information Centre or go to CoGG’s website: (Click on ‘Council’, then ‘Mayor & councillors’). You could write to both councillors, because the bypass affects people in both wards.


Local tourism association

Tell them that a bypass will increase the north Bellarine’s attractiveness as a destination by improving traffic flow and ‘releasing’ Drysdale town centre for more leisurely movement. Ask them to contact councillors and state politicians.

Geelong Otway Tourism, Level 1, 48 Brougham St., Geelong 3220
Tel.: 5223 2588 Fax: 5223 2069
Local businesses

Explain how a bypass can benefit them (e.g. by making Drysdale a more attractive destination) and ask each one to contact councillors and state politicians.


Smartphone retailing … the way of the future.

Why (and how) retailers should embrace ’showrooming’

By Heather Clancy | June 28, 2012, 5:45 AM PDT

Extract from:

More evidence emerged this week suggesting the power of smartphones to reshape how retailers stock, merchandise and track purchasing habits in-store.

New research from Deloitte suggests that more than 5 percent of store sales during 2012 will be influenced by smartphones. For the purposes of the survey, Deloitte defined “influence” to include activities such as product research conducted by shoppers with their mobile device, price comparisons and other mobile application usage. By 2016, that influence will grow to 19 percent of sales, or $689 billion, the Deloitte research suggests.

This phenomenon is rather disconcerting for the retail industry, and some retailers have actually banned Wi-Fi in their stores in an effort to prevent the activity and lock in customers. But a growing number, such as The Home Depot, are viewing mobile technology as a new way to inspire customer loyalty and accelerate the purchasing process. Those retailers are embracing ’showrooming’ with technology of their own.

Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and retail & distribution sector leader, commented on the trend:

“Consumers’ store-related mobile activities are contributing to — not taking away from — in-store sales, and our research indicates that smartphone shoppers are 14 percent more likely to convert and make a purchase in the store than non-smartphone users. This means that mobile is an important tool for retailers to incrementally drive traditional in-store sales, strengthening the relationship between retailer and consumer to increase engagement and loyalty.”

Smartphone Users Are More Frequent Shoppers

Deloitte’s research suggests that smartphone users aren’t only becoming more common, they are more likely to make a purchase than those who aren’t using them. For example, 48 percent of smartphone users said what they saw on a mobile application affected an in-store purchase decision. Approximately 72 percent of them made a purchase on that day.

The other thing to consider is that smartphones aren’t just influential in-store. More than half of the smartphone users surveyed by Deloitte said they started doing research on the way to the store. (I’m hoping they weren’t driving while they were doing that, but that’s a whole other story.)

Here’s some more perspective from Deloitte consultant Kasey Lobaugh:

“Retailers that do not engage shoppers through specialized mobile applications or targeted smartphone-based promotions leave the door open for competitors to reach a customer who is standing in the retailer’s store and at the point of purchase. To make the connection with consumers, retailers need to understand how mobile shoppers are willing to interact with their specific store category, format and merchandise, both inside and outside the store, and customize their mobile strategy around the shopper’s needs and experience.”

No Shortage of Emerging Technologies

Last week, Motorola announced a major mobile technology push intended to help retailers become more savvy about showrooming and to help them develop applications that embrace, rather than discourage, mobile technology usage in their stores.

Microsoft is also hoping to benefit from the phenomenon. Its Microsoft Tag mobile scanning technology supports both 2D barcode formats (including QR Codes and the Tag format) as well as Near Field Communications. This month, Procter & Gamble are running a month-long test in the Chicago and New York areas of “pop-up stores,” where consumers can buy household items. The idea is to help urban shoppers avoid having to lug heavy purchases on subways.

Other technology companies are explicitly positioning their technologies as a way to help retailers embrace and benefit from the usage of mobile technologies in the store.

For example, Mirror Image Internet is using geolocation to help retailers get smarter with mobile advertising, allowing them to serve up coupons for items that customers might be near in an aisle, said Martin Hayward, director of marketing.  ”We can help our customers serve up content to people while they are at the store or even while they are at home to get them into the store,” Hayward said.

The company even allows for device detection, so that the format is correct for the mobile technology being used. And, conversely, it can help retails block offers that are not available in certain geographic areas.

RadialPoint is another company seeking to help retailers attach more value to their offers, making them more competitive if someone decides to price shop with their smartphone while shopping in a store. The company allows retailers to attach technical support and service offerings, like installation, to commodity items such as consumer electronics technologies, said Jordan Socran, vice president of business development.

There are even technologies emerging to help small local businesses. One example is Goodzer, a “local shopping” search engine that covers inventory from more than 500,000 stores in the United States.

Image: Courtesy of Microsoft

Is Australia & The Bellarine ready for the electric car ?

Charging station reflected in Holden Volt

MELBOURNE — Early this year, Victoria’s first solar-powered electric vehicle (EV) charging station was opened for public use at the CERES Community Centre.
By Lieu Thi Pham | June 27, 2012, 3:00 AM PDT
Extract from:
Charging station reflected in Holden Vault
The solar charging station, located in Melbourne’s north, is currently generating clean and renewable electricity to power the city’s EVs.
The initiative is a result of a collaboration between the Australian and Victorian governments, solar companies Q-CELLS Australia, who donated 12 Q.PROsolar photovoltaic (PV) modules, and Delta Energy Systems, who donated the solar inverter.
Over the past few years, the Australia Federal and Victorian governments have, to a degree, supported the renewable energy sector, particularly solar PV, through feed-in-tariffs and other rebates.
Given the importance of energy security, the launch of the solar charging station is a modest but significant milestone for Australia’s energy future.
“Australia is following a trend that has started in Europe”, Pfeiffer said. “The community is much more aware of the need to be more environmentally friendly. The Victorian Government is actively supporting this trend through its EV Trial of which the station at CERES forms part of.”
To date, EVs (and their hybrid cousins) have been met with some skepticism in Australia (despite the country’s abundance of solar energy). The nation’s slow adoption of EVs is centred on four sticking points; how efficient, expensive, capable (i.e. their range) and environmentally sustainable they are, in comparison to their petroleum-fuelled counterparts.
“Of course the idea of EVs is to curb our carbon footprint and to make our lives more sustainable,” Pfeiffer said. “Provided they run on electricity generated from renewables, electric cars do go some way toward addressing the issues of oil dependency and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as air and noise pollution from cars idling around densely populated cities.”
“But if they run on energy generated from coal-fired power, then they merely transfer pollution from Australia’s cities to rural locations and do nothing to reduce emissions. This is where solar PVs can greatly contribute,” Pfeiffer said.
Judy Glick, a CERES spokesperson, indicated that the CERES charging station is emission-free. “Our charge station is fitted with a 2.8KW PV system which is the size of a system needed to charge a standard vehicle. It is therefore possible to have no carbon emissions resulting from the use of an electric vehicle charged in this manner.

Solar modules donated by solar provider Q-Cells Australia capture energy from the sun to power greener electric vehicles.

Solar modules donated by solar provider Q-Cells Australia capture energy from the sun to power greener electric vehicles.

The CERES charge station is fitted with aChargePoint, which is the interface between the electricity source and the car charging apparatus.
The ChargePoint is compatible with all major electric vehicles on the market or about to come on the market.
According to research, electric cars have an average efficiency of 80%, which is much higher when compared to conventional gasoline engines that can effectively use only 15% of the fuel energy content, or diesel engines which can only achieve efficiencies of around 20% [Source: Shah, Saurin D. (2009). “2”. Plug-In Electric Vehicles: What Role for Washington? (1st ed.). The Brookings Institution. pp. 29, 37 and 43].
According to CERES, current electric vehicles will take around 5 hours to fully charge from a flat battery and costs about $3 compared to around $15-17 for petrol to get the equivalent distance of 100km. The ChargePoint is designed to deal with advances in vehicle and battery technology to enable faster charging in the future.
“To date, prices of EVs are still higher compared to conventional vehicles. However taking running and maintenance costs into consideration, EVs will become a viable option within the next few years,” Pfeiffer said.
“Sustainability and renewable energy in particular are still quite new concepts in Australia and have not yet received the same traction as in Europe and especially Germany. Public education about the benefits of sustainable transport options and its relative ease of implementation are issues that need to be tackled,” Pfeiffer said.
ChargePoint Chief Executive officer James Brown claimed that Australia’s late entry into the market has been an advantage. “Other countries have been ‘debugging’ the technology on our behalf and developing the appropriate charging solutions…” he said.
The high capital investment required to get EVs to market in an economically viable form has, to an extent, depended on the initial take up in larger markets such as the U.S., Europe and Japan.
In 2009 the global EV market was worth more than $26 billion. This market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.5% between 2010 and 2015, this will result in a $78 billion global market in 2015 [Source: the BCC].

The CERES charging station is part of the Victorian Electric Vehicle Trial, a government initiative that will help to roll out much more efficient transport options, to improve air quality in our cities and above all, to create new job opportunities for Australians.
Victoria is one of only 15 places worldwide where a car can be taken from design through to the showroom floor [Source: Victorian EV Trial website].
This Victorian EV Trial will run until mid-2014 with vehicle participants such as Holden, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Blade Electric Vehicles, and EDay, all on aboard. The general public can take part in the trial by registering their interest to drive an electric powered vehicle for three months.
In 2011, the top-selling EV (the Mitsubishi i-MiEV) in Australia sold only 30 vehicles [Source: Drive]. Despite this low figure, Brown remained positive about Australia’s uptake of the EV in the coming years. ”Ten years down the track the expectation is that up to 20% of all new vehicles sold in Australia will be EVs,” he said.
Of course, the big oil companies claim that electric cars will never outnumber gasoline and diesel models. [Source: Reuters].
However, the Australian Government is confident that EVs will make up 20% of new car sales in Australia by the end of the decade and 45% by 2030.
The public release of the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV (soon to be followed by the Holden Volt and the Renault Fluence) in Australia, seems to suggest that the country is ready for the electric car — but it still remains unclear just how quickly and successful this uptake will be.
Photo: © GM, courtesy of Holden Australia (main), CERES (insert).

Planes, trains and automobiles: the importance of infrastructure.

Tim Mazzarol -Winthrop Professor, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Marketing and Strategy at University of Western Australia.

16 June 2012, 9.12pm AEST
Extract from

Infrastructure is one of those unusual words that have many meanings.

For example, we hear people talking of “hard” and “soft” infrastructure, with the first being a reference to roads and bridges.
By contrast the latter term refers to organisations such as the education or financial systems.
During a recent overseas trip I came face to face with the realities of just how important infrastructure is to a national economy. The road traffic to the airport was heavily congested and there was anxiety over whether the flight would be missed due to delays. The taxi driver commented that the traffic was getting worse each year, too many cars and not enough roads. He suggested that more public transport would solve the problem.
Once at the airport there was congested parking, a crowded entry hall and then flight delays as the aircraft were forced to circle until landing spots or gate access was available. When trying to use the internet at the air terminal there was both high cost and a patchy wireless coverage.
So where was this place? Well it could have been New Delhi, Manila or any number of other developing countries where infrastructure is inadequate. Yet it was actually Perth, at the heart of the booming WA economy. For many years now the WA economy has been caught in a game of catch up as each successive resources boom sees significant increases in population and pressure on road, rail, air and sea port networks.
Such congestion and delay serves as a ball and chain around an economy’s ankles. It frustrates business travellers and deters all but the most intrepid tourists. Infrastructure generally takes a long time to build and failing to get such infrastructure projects planned well in advance ultimately impacts in a negative way on the overall economic growth rate.
Infrastructure bottlenecks
In a recent article by Geoffrey Thomas published in Australian Aviation (June Edition) the nature of our infrastructure bottleneck problem was highlighted. According to Thomas Perth Airport’s annual passenger growth is likely to quadruple over the next 17 years. The overall growth in passenger numbers transiting through Perth Airport in the past five years has increased by 9.2%, with an outlook of around 40 million passengers by 2030. Much of this rapid growth is attributed to the expansion of the Fly-In-Fly-Out (FIFO) workforce operations used by the mining and energy sector in WA.
However, the overall level of planning for future growth being undertaken by the Perth Airport management was questioned. For example, Perth Airport CEO Brad Geatches was reported as having denied this forecast growth in passenger numbers. Apparently the Perth Airport is adhering to a plan developed in 2009 that predicted much less demand. However, senior airline officials were quoted in the article suggesting that the past history of resource-booms in WA as far back as the 1970s had seen the airport infrastructure constantly playing catch up.
The article also reported that the Perth Airport had originally promised a major upgrade of facilities to make it one of the best airports in Asia within the next 5 to 7 years. This vision would have seen the airport have a terminal with around 40 gates and aerobridges able to accommodate the new A380 Airbus fleet. However, this is now not taking place and the new terminal will have only 25 gates and aerobridges. This would make Perth Airport little better than Adelaide’s new terminal, despite WA being the fastest growing economy in the country.
By contrast Singapore’s new Terminal 3 has 28 aerobridges and was built at a labour cost estimated to be 30% lower than for an equivalent Australian project. Singapore Airport is truly world class because that country knows that if it does not maintain its infrastructure it will eventually lose its international competitiveness.
Other countries recognise similar challenges to invest in infrastructure to ensure that their economies are internationally competitive. Even the oil & gas rich states of the UAE know this. For example, over in Dubai they have constructed a 5 runway Aero-City that aims to be a major air transport hub for much of world’s air traffic linking Europe to Asia and the Pacific. Meanwhile, Perth Airport will only be a “Class C” facility even after its new upgrades. This is only of “minimum standard” and may not be enough to cope with future demands.
Similar patterns of investment to the UAE can be found in other parts of the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has invested significantly in the development of two large industrial cities of Jubail and Yanbu. The first is located on the east coast adjacent the main oil fields, while Yanbu is on the Red Sea adjacent the Suez Canal. Both are being connected to major water supply, transportation links, and high speed telecommunications, as well as provided with housing, schools and hospitals in order attract both foreign investment and foreign skilled labour.
Around the world similar levels of investment are taking place, particularly in those countries that Australia sees as its key export markets. Yet the infrastructure bottleneck illustrated by the Perth Airport case is not just unique to boom-town Perth. In 2011 a report by Infrastructure Australia to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) it was acknowledged that Australians are experiencing major problems caused by poor infrastructure planning. Road and port congestion, poor quality of water supplies and rising costs of power are all signals of this lack of investment in infrastructure. As noted in the report’s Executive Summary:
“In short, there is a sense that our infrastructure networks are barely adequate for current needs, and that they are beginning to impose significant, long-term costs. We need the courage to take difficult and decisive steps if our infrastructure networks are to continue to serve our needs and equip us to deal with significant economic, environmental and social challenges.”
Why does infrastructure matter?
The role played by infrastructure in the enhancement of a nation’s economic growth is significant, but often underestimated. Without efficient road, rail, sea and airport infrastructure it is more costly for trade exposed industries to operate. Even telecommunications can play a critical role.
This was highlighted in a study published in The Economic Journal in 2011 by Nina Czernich, Oliver Falck, Tobias Kretschmer and Ludger Woessmann at the University of Munich. Their analysis suggests that a 10% increase in broadband network access increases annual per capita growth by as much as 1.5%. Yet our politicians continue to argue over whether the National Broadband Network (NBN) is a worthwhile investment.
Infrastructure – whether hard or soft – matters to how efficiently business can operate and this is a critical factor in determining how internationally competitive the Australian economy is. The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report2011-2012 ranks Australia 20th out of a total of 142 nations. While this is not terrible, we are well behind Switzerland in first place, followed by the other top-5 countries, which in turn are Singapore, Sweden, Finland and the United States. Further, this was a fall of four places over the previous year’s ranking caused not by Australia backsliding, but by other countries moving rapidly forward with infrastructure investment while we remained stalled.
According to the World Economic Forum’s report while the Australian economy has much strength, particularly our banking and finance sector, our economic competitiveness is constrained by poor infrastructure. As the report noted:
“Finally, because of intensifying trade in commodities, the country’s transport infrastructure, particularly seaports, has been increasingly strained in recent years and it lags behind the world’s best.”
Other infrastructure areas of the Australian economy that were not highly ranked were roads, rail, electricity and telecommunications.
Australia in the global economy
The overall quality of our infrastructure matters because Australia is a trading nation that is positioned on the periphery of the world. Although our mining and energy sectors are major exporters, they are often located in remote areas and require substantial road, rail and port infrastructure to efficiently extract the minerals or oil and gas for shipment to overseas markets.
However, Australia is also a major food exporter and has an important services economy that is also dependent on good infrastructure. Tourism cannot operate effectively without well designed and efficient transport systems. Growth in our domestic air traffic is fuelled in large part by the FIFO work force of the mining and energy sector. Yet our tourism sector and much of its infrastructure has not enjoyed such growth.
When we look out beyond the short term to the middle of this century the forecast growth in our region will be significant. By 2020 the population of China is expected to grow by over 94 million and there will be similar growth in India. By 2020 the 10 largest cities in China and India will each have over 3 million people living in them. Shanghai is expected to have around 13 million while Beijing will have around 9 million and Guangzhou over 8 million inhabitants. Over in India Mumbai will be home to over 17.5 million people and New Delhi over 16 million.
These mega cities will be major hubs for trade and other commerce. They will influence the flow of goods, services and people into and out from these growing economies. Their infrastructure will be put under significant stress, but unless they are able to meet this challenge they will struggle to maintain economic growth.
The major corporations that dominate the world’s industries will seek to exploit these mega cities. They will need to develop their global supply chains to feed trade to and from these places and the shift in economic power from the west to the east will accelerate. For a country like Australia it will be very important for us to maintain our infrastructure, both hard and soft, if we are to avoid being bypassed by these economic trends.
According to the World Economic Forum, Australia’s international competitiveness is its banking sector, which ranked 4th at a global level. Our health and education sectors are also ranked favourably. However, we should not take it for granted that Australia will always be internationally competitive in these areas.
We must continue to invest in our hard and soft infrastructure. Whether it is our education system, water supply and power systems or our road, rail, sea and airports there must be a continuous investment. Failure to maintain international best practice will hobble our economic growth and lead to Australia becoming bypassed by the rapidly growing trade that will become a feature of the Asia-Pacific over the next decade.

Tim Mazzarol -Winthrop Professor, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Marketing and Strategy at University of Western Australia.

Major projects unveiled for Portarlington

Tom Bennett   |  May 7th, 2012

PORTARLINGTON is on the brink of a major investment and construction boom.

Three major projects worth an estimated $50 million have been unveiled by the town’s Business Development Association this week.

clip_image002The projects have the potential to create hundreds of jobs during the construction phase and will attract 200 new residents into the area when complete.
Association President John Rae described the projects as a vital boost to the local economy. “These projects have our full support, we are behind them a 100 per cent,” he said.
“They are important to the provision of services and the creation of employment opportunities in our town.”
The largest project involves the building of a 100-home retirement village on a 6ha site at the eastern end of Newcombe St.
The $40 million development is the largest single residential investment yet undertaken in the small bayside community. Road building and drainage works will begin in October and the first houses will be ready for occupancy late next year.
Developer Derek McLaughlan said organising the project had been a complex and protracted process.                                                                                                                                      “It has been a long and winding road and it has taken us 10 years to get to this stage,” he said. “It has been a battle but we are about to win the war.”   The village will include a community centre, billiard room, gymnasium and rooms for visiting personal service providers such as hairdressers and podiatrists.
Mr McLaughlan, whose company, Lifestyle Properties, will also manage the village, said the homes would come in various two- and three-bedroom designs.
“I see it as more of a life extension centre rather than a retirement village in the traditional sense,” he said. “It is an opportunity for people to acquire a better lifestyle in a town with all that Portarlington has to offer.”
The second major project involves Portarlington getting its long-awaited petrol station, which will be situated at a new $9 million industrial park to be built near the intersection of Tower Rd and the Queenscliff-Portarlington Rd.
The town has been without a petrol outlet for four years; the nearest fuel supply is in Drysdale, 15km away. “We have just done a deal with BP and got them on board,” developer John Lascaris said. “The service station will have six pumps and a four-bay car wash.”
Mr Lascaris said he was in the process of attracting other automotive businesses to the new estate, such as an Ultra Tune or similar operation and a major tyre retailer. He said the industrial estate would have large showrooms, offices and 26 warehouses. Mr Lascaris said he expected to begin marketing and construction in November, with the project expected to take about 12 months to complete.
“I have faith in the future of Portarlington,” he said. “This estate is a very exciting project and a great opportunity to create jobs growth.”
The recent meeting at which the projects were unveiled also heard details of a $1 million self-storage centre in Rajah Court.
Developer Clair Yates said three large structures would be built, containing about 80 storage units. “We expect building works to start later this year,” he said. “All being well, we should be operational by early next year.”

Invitation to Black Rock Bike Path opening! – 9.30am, Tuesday 15 May 2012

Invitation to Black Rock Bike Path opening!


You are all invited to the opening of the Black Rock Bike Path – 9.30am, Tuesday 15 May 2012.

It will be at the Black Rock Rd and Thirteenth Beach Rd intersection (opposite the windmill).

We need a good turn up (like last time) to show we want more infrastructure like this.
Turn up with your bikes and Bike Safe tops if you have one! It has been worth the wait…