One cold but brightening morning the first week, I went down to the beach to take photographs (Torquay Main Beach, below). It suddenly struck me: how would I ever endure not having glorious beaches on hand? There are lovely beaches in the British Isles and Europe, don't get me wrong, but they're much further and fewer between... or colder... or smaller yet more crowded... or parking is a nightmare. Here, there are so many long and beautiful expanses of near-perfect sand and crashing surf that I can't even begin to choose which are my favourites. (Apart from those at Byron, I mean.) The privilege of being able to drive along some of them – not on an organised tour – has been a uniquely Australian part of our adventure (Cooloola Beach, below but one).
The Airport Link opened, with little fanfare, while I was away. It's being well used already – it is toll-free until 22 August – and punters are impressed by the engineering feat that is this latest addition to Brisbane's infrastructure. Well, it was built by my friend. I returned from the airport in it (to the Campbell Street exit for Fortitude Valley), which was vastly preferable to endless traffic lights along Kingsford Smith Drive.
Campbell Newman has continued his massacre of environmental protection measures, this time promising to develop Cape York (pointy top bit of Queensland) by revoking the wild rivers declarations. A 'wild river' in Australia (and America and New Zealand) is a river system that has been designated by government to be protected in its natural state from all development. The Wild Rivers Act 2005 was introduced by State Premier Peter Beattie, and continued by Labor under Anna Bligh to include 13 river systems in Cape York, on Fraser Island and in the Channel Country in Queensland's remote southwest. Environmentalists fought long and hard for this legislation, but it was opposed by Aboriginal leaders who believe that it stifles their communities' economic development. How good to know that Newman and the LNP are fighting for Aboriginal rights... as well as smoothing the way for bauxite mining companies in the 'wild' Wenlock River catchment, of course.
Not surprisingly, there was an outcry from their customers, a major one of which happened to be the Queensland Government. Their threat to change supplier probably had more impact than my friend's strongly worded letter of complaint: ten days later a letter to customers explained that Origin had 'listened closely to our customers and decided to significantly reduce the previously advised increases' that would 'now match the current government [sic] regulated rates (Tariff 11)* for 2012/13. This change in rates supports the Queensland Government's [sic] initiative to "freeze" the regulated Tariff 11 excluding the impact of the carbon pricing scheme.' What this meant was that the kWh price increase is 11.5 per cent and the service fee is not increased. If Origin can afford this revision, just imagine how much profit they would have made out of the service fee hike.
Another energy company, AGL, don't seem to get carbon pricing either. I spotted this poster a few weeks ago. What Dennis should be doing, of course, is saving energy to save the planet.
* Tariff 11 is the residential rate (my note)