The Age has an “Investigations Unit” that has sometimes referred to itself as an “Investigative Unit”. It’s a complete indulgence in the minds of most journo patriots in News Ltd and elsewhere because you’d like to think all journalists capable of investigation. The theory at The Aged goes that the Investigation Unit crew would be free to pursue long investigations into certain issues that might not yield stories immediately but when they did they could be spectacular.
In practice, as illustrated by today’s Age newspaper, their investigations are often a bit of a joke. Millar’s repeated and yawning attacks on the Geelong council revealed no wrongdoing, with his primary targets for excoriation all being re-elected emphatically last year. Some think that if popular local hero Councillor and PR wizard David Saunderson grows any more loved by his local community that he will almost certainly be honoured by means of large bronze statue.
Yesterday, media insiders explain that Millar was given the “drop” on a media release that was sent out today. In today’s Age, the release appears, barely amended and yet under Royce Millar “Age Investigations Unit” by-line. Fair enough for the media unit to give it to The Age, its dwindling number of inner-urban readers love the idea of taxpayers paying for solar energy.
But no investigation occurred.
It was the barest and lightest of paraphrases that would have taken him ten minutes (two hours in Age time) at the most, with a quick rehashing previous mung-bean fuelled articles he’d written about alternative energy in his capacity as uber-investigator.
Who does he think he’s fooling? He even used the same quotes as appeared in the release.
Here’s the article. And the release:
The State Government will provide up to $100 million to develop a new large-scale solar power station in Victoria, Premier John Brumby announced today.
â€œOur Government is taking action to change Victoriaâ€™s energy mix and promote renewable energy and we will be seeking proposals for a solar power station which can produce about 330GWh of electricity per year or enough power to run 50,000 homes,â€ Mr Brumby said.
â€œAlternately, this would be enough power to run all Victorian Government departments and agencies, including public schools, police stations, VicRoads and even the Melbourne Zoo.
â€œSolar has huge potential in Victoria and large-scale solar is the most economical form of solar energy generation which is why we are providing this funding.
â€œThis project is expected to drive investment and create jobs in regional Victoria.
â€œExpressions of interest will be called for immediately and the aim will be to have the plant operating by 2015.â€
Mr Brumby said the Victorian Government funding would be subject to the project receiving matching funding from the Federal Government.
â€œWe have fast-tracked this project so companies can tap into the Federal Governmentâ€™s funding available under the Renewable Energy Demonstration Program,â€ he said.
â€œSolar power generation is expensive because the solar industry is still in its infancy. The way to drive down the cost is to speed up development of solar plants which is why the Victorian Government will provide funding for a new solar power station.â€
Mr Brumby said the funding was just one of many Victorian Government initiatives designed to increase renewable energy sources such as solar energy.
â€œThis Government is supporting the full spectrum of solar generation and has provided a $6 million grant for the Organic Solar R&D project and $50 million through our Energy Technology Innovation Strategy for the Solar Systems 154MW large-scale solar plant near Mildura,â€ he said.
â€œOur Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) has already attracted $2 billion in renewable energy investment and will create more than 2000 jobs, and we have invested $5 million to install solar power infrastructure in 500 schools and community buildings.â€
Energy and Resources Minister Peter Batchelor said the latest proposal would provide a massive boost to large-scale solar development in Victoria and would help diversify the stateâ€™s renewable energy mix.
â€œThese projects coupled with the announcement today represent more than $1 billion worth of investment in solar projects in Victoria,â€ Mr Batchelor said.
â€œIt will be the second large-scale solar project in Victoria and will make us the most solar friendly-government in Australia.â€
The large-scale investment will be complemented by a Bill introduced into Parliament today to support Victorian households to invest in solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.
Mr Batchelor said the feed-in tariff scheme was about increasing the number of Victorian households with solar panels by making them more affordable.
â€œUnder the Bill, Victorian households with solar PV systems will be eligible to receive a credit of 60 cents per kilowatt for energy they feed back into the grid,â€ he said.
â€œThe premium feed-in tariff scheme is capped at 3.2kW, which is about the maximum size system for a large house.
â€œThe Brumby Government recognises the importance of assisting individual households prepared to act on climate change and this scheme encourages households to be energy efficient, as the more power they save the higher their payments.
â€œOur scheme strikes a balance between helping households implement solar technology and minimising the cost imposed on all Victorian residential electricity customers.
â€œThis premium feed-in tariff scheme will run for 15 years, be available to new and existing small scale systems and will allow up to 100,000 households to participate.â€
Environment Minister Gavin Jennings said the Victorian Governmentâ€™s broad support for solar generation, from households to large-scale, would help ensure solar was established as an affordable and integral part of Victoriaâ€™s energy mix.
â€œWe want to help Victorians do their bit to reduce their carbon footprint, but for those unable to afford solar panels we want to continue to encourage investment in large scale solar so everybody can access cleaner, greener energy.â€