Vote Gabe

I missed Gabe on the senate paper, way down past the Pedo & Roomba Party, but his slogan is “Breaking the Australian Drought one Bottle at a Time”. Rendered in an unreadable kernalicious running writing font. And there’s a curious vibe to the scene. Well, better than Emo Simpkins no?  

About AHC McDonald

Comedian, artist, photographer and critic. From 2007 to 2017 ran the culture and satire site The Worst of Perth
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19 Responses to Vote Gabe

  1. rottobloggo says:

    Awesome! Location? It has a Stirling vibe.


  2. Zuben says:

    Love the tie … It matches his shirt .

    Also love the honesty in politics : he s shown drinking and asleep instead of smiling in generic camo gear with wife and bub .


  3. Shreiking Wombat Ninja says:

    What does Andrew Bolt think?


  4. PeteF says:

    Magnificent work, as a worst and by Gabe.


  5. On politics, MYNing sends this in reminding us a what a useless dud retiring Labor seatwarmer Gary Gray was. MyNing says…
    Thank God the Prick is Going

    By My Ning

    There was some good news for Western Australia voters back in mid-February when the Labor member for the Federal seat of Brand with the anagrammatic name – Gary Gray – announced he was quitting politics.

    Misleadingly described by Tey Worst as “a formidable champion of WA and the resources sector” (February 17), Gray turned out to be nothing more than an insufferable windbag.

    Certainly he seemed to enjoy dishing out redundant blather, judging from some of the stuff he’s had published in the rag over the past two or so years.

    A former employee of Woodside Petroleum, Gray was the shadow minister for resources, having held the frontbench version of this portfolio briefly after inheriting it from Martin Ferguson, the erstwhile member for the Victorian seat of Batman who stood down from the position following his part in the ill-fated Kevin Rudd coup-that-never-happened back in early 2013.

    Back then Gazza’s performance in the top job wasn’t memorable in any meaningful way. Like his tough talking predecessor – who did pretty much nothing except officially open things, make impressive-sounding speeches and verbally promote Australia’s massive potential as a major industrial force – he openly championed the Rudd-Gillard Government’s resources rent tax, effectively sticking a knife into the collective back of the many miners who lived and worked in his home state.

    Furthermore, his promise at the time that the impost would replace multiple royalty regimes which “do not optimise investment” (as he suggested during the Australian Mines and Metals national conference in 2010) no doubt sent a shiver up the spine of the Colin Barnett-led WA Government as it concocted its massive spending program under the misguided (or should that be misleading?) assumption it was going to continue receiving generous iron ore royalties for some years to come.

    Looking back at all of this, it’s kind of surprising that Gray has managed to hold onto his seat given he has proven himself to be no friend of WA. Given it belonged to former Federal Labor leader Kim Beazley for many years, maybe it’s mostly remnant good will that has carried him through until now. (It’s also important to note he is married to the daughter of the now-gone Hawke Government minister Peter Walsh, suggesting a bit of nepotism might have had something to do with it.)

    As seen in his ramblings published by the local rag, Gazza’s stint in the Opposition wilderness obviously provided him some time to think about the so-called exciting opportunities that purportedly lie in wait for mineral developers in WA.

    Unfortunately he didn’t have much new to say, with a good portion of his copy either concentrating on recycled ideas or directly tying itself with the interests of one of his former employers (Woodside).

    Take, for example, a piece Tey Worst ran on May 19, 2014, when Gray banged on about the virtues of WA’s Mid West.

    In an article misleadingly called “Opportunity knocks for Mid West magnetite (misleading because magnetite is only mentioned twice – in the third and second last paragraphs in what looks like a 700 word piece), Gray highlighted the three key elements needed to help this predominantly agricultural and fishing region “take advantage” of an “expanding market” which, predictably, was identified as China and India.

    Firstly, he said, the area (and the rest of WA for that matter) needed more natural gas. To do this, Gazza believed, the state should get rid of its domestic gas reservation policy. This, in turn, would “free up the market, increase competition and put downward pressure on prices”.

    “Without more gas, sophisticated minerals processing and value adding in the region will be constrained,” he wrote.

    Given he’s an erstwhile Woodside stooge, none of this should surprise anyone seeing that the dismantling of the gas reservation policy would probably suit his former employer (although it would no doubt piss off the WA Government).

    However, his logic ignores one vital point – there is simply no need for an expansion of gas capacity in the Mid West as the demand from heavy industry just isn’t there. And why isn’t the demand there?

    Well, to be honest, the mineral deposits in the region aren’t exactly world class. In fact, to be totally candid, most of the ones that have been pursued by miners in recent years have been a wee bit problematic and only marginally economic at best.

    Judging by its performance in recent years, the Mid West still has a long way to go before extra energy needs should be considered, particularly as the Barnett Government – during March last year – officially opened a $406 million 330,000 volt transmission powerline that transports electricity 190 kilometres from Perth to the region (effectively increasing capacity by 500 megawatts).

    The idea for providing more natural gas to the area was all the rage some 20 years ago, when both Kingstream Steel and Asia Iron were looking to build massive iron ore processing plants near Geraldton, while the first incarnation of the Windimurra vanadium project was just about to be developed.

    Things, however, did not go to plan – nor did the proponents behind these undertakings come close to fulfilling their individual aspirations.

    The Kingstream project – which absorbed its fair share of planning energies from both local councils and the WA Government alike – went belly up in the early 2000s, with its iron ore tenements eventually being dished out to a number of other junior players (a few of which had Chinese backing).

    In the 13 or so years since the company’s insolvency, these deposits have either been mined out (such as Tallering Peak, which was closed down by Mt Gibson Iron in 2014), dug out before being deemed uneconomic (like Blue Hills, which was being mined by China’s Sinosteel before the company pulled the pin on it in April last year), sized up but abandoned (the enigmatic Weld Range, another Sinosteel undertaking) or developed against some very stiff odds (namely Gindabie Metal’s Karara magnetite/hematite project, for which a 70 km powerline was provided by the state as part of its above-mentioned recent energy upgrade).

    Meanwhile, mining at another Mid West iron ore deposit – Jack Hills – was also put on hold after its Japanese backer, Mitsubishi, withdrew its support as its main Australian partner, Murchison Metals, went into receivership. The project has since been “advanced” by Crosslands Resources. As it stands this junior was hoping to increase Jack Hills’ former production rate of 1.8 million tonnes per annum of direct shipping ore to 20 mtpa – an ambitious target given the proposed jump in output is an arguably unrealistic 200%.

    As for Karara – which is now 52.18% owned by China Inc – it has only survived because it’s had hundreds of millions of Chinese dollars thrown at it. Furthermore, Ansteel, the majority owner of the project since March 2014, inherited problems almost immediately after the acquisition when it was found that the processing plant would have to be re-engineered to the tune of $123.6 million, while there were “identified problems in the crushing circuit because of the unexpectedly hard and abrasive material” found in the ore (Tey Worst, 1/4/14).

    The project, which made its first shipment of magnetite product in 2013 and is now under the control of a joint venture called Karara Mining, saw a 2.8% decrease in the production of magnetite concentrate in the March 2016 quarter from the corresponding December 2015 period (when it was 1.839 million wet metric tonnes).

    More tellingly, the proponents have since taken on more debt, this time in the form of a $200 million loan from the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, to help keep the whole thing going.

    Also, it’s interesting to note that at one point Karara was importing 1.5 mtpa of Blue Hills iron ore (the latter’s total annual output when it was shut down) to “mitigate some of its losses on its disastrous take-or pay rail deal in the Mid West” (Tey Worst, 15/4/15). If anything, this suggests the foundations of the undertaking are still a little shaky.
    As part of his spiel, Gray argued that the Mid West needed a culture of innovation that “supports minerals processing as a sophisticated value-adding industrial activity”.

    “Electrometallurgy, pyrometallurgy and hydrometallurgy, and value adding to minerals, are the way of the future,” he wrote.

    “This leads easily to a consideration of magnetite and its environmental appeal in modern China; we need innovation to drive down costs in magnetite and to deliver logistics that would support a substantially expanded magnetite sector.”

    Given what’s happened to the Mid West’s iron ore sector over the past few years, it’s difficult to take these suggestions seriously, particularly from an individual whose party had introduced a carbon tax – an impost that was set to deleteriously affect the bottom line of any new downstream processing project before it was eventually scrapped by the Tony Abbott-led Federal Coalition after its ascension to power in 2013.

    At the end of the day, all politicians who champion this region as a potential iron ore producer seem to conveniently ignore the fact that pretty much all of the economic material in the area was high-graded by Western Mining (WMC) when it operated in the Mid West circa 1965-1974, leaving nothing behind but problematic dirt. Getting large scale downstream processing operations up and running in the region won’t just require more support from Canberra – it will take a metallurgical miracle.

    And the glum news for mineral developers in the Mid West doesn’t stop at iron ore.

    Both the region’s gold and mineral sands production – which accounted for 26.65% and 9.59% of the region’s economic activity in 1994/95 – have also taken a serious nosedive over the past decade.

    During this time a number of gold mines (Wiluna, Nimary, Jundee, Bluebird, Fortnum, Youanmi and Sandstone) have either closed or became too marginal (read uneconomic) thanks to diminishing grades, while Iluka Resources’ zircon-rich heavy minerals operation in Eneabba finally ran out of economic ore.

    As a result, one of the region’s longest running downstream processing assets – Iluka’s synthetic rutile plant at Narngulu just outside of Geraldton – was only running at 50% capacity in the March 2015 quarter, treating ore from the company’s Jacinth-Ambrosia ore body in South Australia and its Tutunup deposit in WA’s south west.

    Finally there’s Windimurra, the vanadium deposit that was once touted as market-proof by one of its original owners (Precious Metals Australia), but which suffered one of the biggest falls from grace in modern Australian mining history when it was practically destroyed by bankroller Glencore/Xstrata after its metallurgy proved to be way too problematic.

    Indeed, so excited was the Richard Court–led WA Coalition about this downstream processing opportunity back in 1998 that it sponsored a spur link from the Dampier to Bunbury natural gas pipeline to the operation near Mt Magnet to the tune of $40-60 million taxpayers’ dollars. It was officially opened in 2000, but deemed dead in the water by the Swiss multinational during 2004.

    Taking this long list of failures into account, one can only reach a simple conclusion – Gray’s claim that WA needs “an innovation culture that supports minerals processing as a sophisticated value-adding industrial activity” just simply does not apply to the Mid West. The appropriate mineral endowment simply doesn’t exist there, and no amount of cheap gas is going to change that simple fact.

    Moving on to the second point of his redundant brainstorm in Tey Worst, Gray maintained “it is important that we have government alignment” in order to see the Mid West thrive.

    “I believe that internal alignment of governments and their departments can provide impetus and positive innovation in regulation,” he wrote.

    Really? How long has this old chestnut been kicking around?

    In trying to find answers to these questions, it’s interesting to look back at a document called Towards 2010, which was issued by the Mid West Development Commission (a WA government body that also specialises in blather) during the second half of the 1990s.

    In it, the authors suggest “integrating and co-ordinating economic development by encouraging communication and co-operation amongst the community, shires and government agencies.”

    “The challenge will be to foster a positive business climate to attract investment, develop appropriate infrastructure and ensure that as many opportunities as possible become a reality within a sustainable framework,” it said.

    Sound familiar? It should – this has been one of the tenants of bureaucratic reform since the printing press was created. And, in all that time, no one has managed to tackle it. Another time wasting and redundant brain fart.

    Finally, Gazza suggested the Mid West needs a “robust and predictable environmental regulation and approval process” – a suggestion which is directly related to his number two objective.

    Again, around 18 years ago, this notion was already being kicked around when the Towards 2010 authors said that there was a need to:

    • Encourage the co-ordination and integration of land use planning and economic development;

    • Foster collaboration between government, industry and community groups involved with land use planning and economic development;

    • Provide timely and accurate information on economic development and land use planning issues, and;

    • Encourage and facilitate the establishment of a formal regional planning action group (if this group was ever established, I wonder what remains of it now – ed).

    So there’s nothing new or original here – it’s just the recycling of some motherhood statements by a man who, at the time, was assuming he would again be Australia’s resources minister.

    Gray’s opinions continued to flow into 2015 when, in an article published by Tey Worst on May 12, he threw his hat into the controversial fracking debate, asking an all important question that suggested WA’s agricultural sector is either ignorant, superstitious, or both: “How can … science-based farming be so opposed to the science that underpins gas extraction from deep underground?” he put to his readers before providing some of the answers himself.

    Fracking, he explained, is a process of injecting a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and a “small amount” of fracking fluids down petroleum wells into the rock, creating fractures that allow gas to flow out of the surface.

    In general, he said, “… the risks of fracking are similar to those associated with conventional gas drilling and gas production fields, or geothermal renewable energy”.

    An arguable point perhaps, but not one that everyone agrees with.

    The US-based National Association of Geoscience Teachers, for example, includes the contamination of groundwater, methane pollution and its impact on climate change, air pollution impacts, exposure to toxic chemicals, blowouts due to gas explosions, waste disposal, large volume water use in water-deficient regions, fracking-induced earthquakes, workplace safety and infrastructure degradation as some of the risks and hazards associated with this method of extraction.

    “Chemical additives are used in the drilling mud, slurries and fluids required for the fracking process,” it said.

    “Each well produces millions of gallons of toxic fluid containing not only the added chemicals, but other naturally occurring radioactive material, liquid hydrocarbons, brine water and heavy metals. Fissures created by the fracking process can also create underground pathways for gases, chemicals and radioactive material.”
    It is possible that some Mid West farmers might like the idea of making a bit of money from the exploration companies who choose to use this hideous-sounding extraction technique. After all, broad-acre farming in the area hasn’t been getting any easier thanks to the weather.

    However, judging from recent history, these same companies may not receive the same sort of welcome if they decide to look further south.

    In October 2014, just after the WA Government was looking to reopen some land between Bunbury and Busselton for exploration involving fracking, the Conservation Council of WA was quick to point out that the targeted area was home to some of WA’s “most valuable dairy, cattle and horticultural farmland” and included communities like Donnybrook, Capel and Dardanup (Tey Worst, October 13, 2014).

    It also said under current legislation, farmers and landowners would not be able to stop oil and gas companies coming onto their properties”.

    Interestingly, the sullen-faced Ferguson – another blabbermouth par excellence – later told an APPEA Conference in WA that it was time to stop pandering to “sectional interests and scaremongers with anti-development agendas” (Tey Worst, 21/5/15).

    Not embracing fracking, he suggested, could lead to a repeat of the “isolationism and protectionism in the 1890s”.

    No doubt he – like Gray – was aiming part of his message at the science –adverse farmers who simply don’t want to face the risk of contaminating their local water tables with fracking fluids.


    • GivDBird says:

      Aint got all day

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for that piece of scholarship MyNing. A few references and a small amount of editing and this is a Wikipedia entry on Mining in the Mid West. The long form is rare practised on TWOP these days , it being beyond most commentators. Excellent take down of those two frontispieces for certain elements of the mining industry : Marn Ferson and Gray Gray. I would only disagree with you about the methods of taxing the mining industry , but that is a technical question , better left to another day. Colon Barney has had a role in blather about the Mid West.


    • Reign of Error says:

      Interesting overview MyNing. Having been involved in a minor role with exploration at both Jundee and Bogada Bore back in the Creasy / Gutnick era, I find the ebb and flow of WA’s mining fortunes a topic of interest both from a nostalgia standpoint, as well as its hefty contribution to Worsting within our fair city.

      How about doing a Readers Digest condensed version of the HBI saga?


    • you'll get wet says:

      For the record, Gray was no Woodside stooge. His role was far more important. Woodside began as a mercantilist tool of Perth [compare with WA Inc] but had the role snatched away by Canberra pursuing the National, not State interest. Gray was not the only Canberra stooge parachuted into Woodside. Symptoms of this divergence between State and National interest were evident in the Timor Sea and Browse. The lobbying of Wacky Bracky to get the leftwing of the ALP to change 40 years of bipartisan policy on the Timor Sea borders was a defeat for Canberra and Gray [and may have been why he retired] and was one of the biggest differences between the ALP and Coalition during the recent election. It was in the interest of neither to make it an issue, though an alert media should have.

      Gray’s role in wrecking Barnett’s plan for Browse has barely been touched by the msm, who have been content to follow Barnett’s narrative and blame it on the Greens. There are very few real Greens in Broome, let alone the NW, but they are a convenient scapegoat. The Greens in Broome are in fact McAlpinistas, who became wealthy investing with his vision and are now simply protecting the source of the capital. McAlpine was no Green. Barnett’s Perth -centric vision and the stupidity of the Liberal Party in general led them to fail to embrace non Perth centric right of centre visions. Instead of embracing and using the McAlpine legacy, Barnett sent in the cops like his hero Court. Charles I mean.

      Perhaps Thundelarra Matt the miners friend will replace Gray. At least the msm have begun to label him a ‘corporate lawyer’ rather than the lawyer who empathises with the poor workers. Transparency International my arse. Since when are Perth and Kal lawyers transparent about how they make dosh outta the mining industry? There’s a special dungeon in Hades for Labour types who claim to represent the little guy while shafting him. The West has got no investigative gutter rats left. Theyre all pinkos who went to the same schools as the pollies they aspire to become. WA Inc would never have been exposed by this lot. Return oh mighty Norm for a cameo, WA needs some Aisbett redux.

      btw with Diggers and Dealers coming up I like what I’m hearing about Neometals and Mt Marion.


  6. My Ning says:

    “There’s a special dungeon in Hades for Labour types who claim to represent the little guy without shafting him.”

    At least Gazza won’t end up there – who could forget his June 2 (2015) piece in Tey Worst when he proclaimed that he had changed his mind on “the profoundly important issue of marriage equality” – this while also saying it was paramount that “we protect the right of religious leaders to conduct marriage ceremonies in accordance with the tenets and beliefs of their own communities.”

    “Parliamentarians, regardless of political convictions, colour or creed, all enter politics to improve the lives of people,” he blathered while on the taxpayer’s generous dime.

    “For me, this means I work to the best of my ability to ensure every person I represent has an equal opportunity to participate fully in our society.”

    Interestingly, Gray also saw himself as a champion for WA’s oil and gas interests judging from another piece he spat out on March 4 of the same year in which he praised the Federal Government’s passing of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Bill.

    This, he claimed, would see WA’s interest in the Browse Basin increase from around 5% to a possible 50% – providing his home state with royalties of up to $5 billion over the field’s life.

    “WA, the Kimberley communities and Australia can no longer afford to have the Browse gas stalled,” Gray said.

    “It could support up to three floating LNG production facilities.”

    Wow – three of the fuckers! Sounds as good, if not better, than Gray’s plans for the Mid West.

    Speaking of which, I’m not sure I would put any bets on a Mid West lithium project unless the proponent performed some Rolls Royce metallurgical testwork.

    Also (and I’m going on some information I just picked up from the ever reliable web) the exposure for Neometals investors’ seems limited – it only owns 27% of the project with possible further dilution (to some 13%) if Chinese partner Ganfeng takes a bigger chunk of it.

    Also, lithium isn’t market proof – Galaxy’s Mt Cattlin lithium oxide operation in WA was placed on care and maintenance for around four years (2012-2016) due to subdued feedstock prices and unfavourable exchange rates.

    Happily for Australia’s miner’s the Aussie dollar has weakened since the heady days of parity with the US greenback. Nevertheless, the lithium price could remain on the leash if the market is hit with oversupply – and that’s not entirely out of the question.


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