Continuing our plan to be a Renewable Energy Powerhouse Guy Barnett,Minister for EnergyToday’s release of the Tasmanian Renewable Energy Action Plan (TREAP) is an important milestone for our State and will cement our reputation as the renewable energy powerhouse of Australia.The TREAP clearly outlines how Tasmania will achieve our immense renewable energy potential, setting clear targets and actions that will build on Tasmania’s natural competitive advantages, attract large scale investment and significantly grow and expand Tasmania’s renewable energy sector into the future.We have already made significant progress in driving our renewable energy future since our draft action plan was released earlier this year.Tasmania is now 100 per cent self-sufficient in renewable energy, and we have legislated our world leading target to double our renewable generation to 200 per cent of our current needs by 2040.The Project Marinus and Battery of the Nation Memorandum of Understanding, signed with the Australian Government earlier this month, is another major milestone on Tasmania’s journey to being the renewable energy powerhouse of Australia.We have also completed the initial funding round of our $50 million Renewable Hydrogen Industry support package and commenced the rollout of the $16 million Energising Tasmania skills and training initiative, supporting the development of the skilled workforce our renewable energy future will need.As well as guiding our ongoing targets and renewable projects, the Action plan also includes:Establishing “Renewables Tasmania” to better plan, coordinate and promote the development of renewable energy and continue to oversee the management and regulation of our energy sector to deliver affordable, reliable and secure energy supplies;Developing a Tasmanian policy framework to coordinate the renewable energy growth required to achieve the Tasmanian Renewable Energy Targets and to support Tasmanian large-scale renewable energy projects;Developing a Tasmanian Renewable Energy Centre for Excellence with the potential to establish a world class centre for innovative research, training and collaboration required to support growth in the renewable energy sector;Developing an “Energy Customer Empowerment Blueprint” to ensure Tasmanian customers are empowered to manage their energy needs and take advantage of new technology and market offerings;A commitment to maximise the local Tasmanian business and employment opportunities from renewable projects as well as renewable development opportunities for the Antarctic.The Plan also includes our firm commitment to achieving the lowest regulated electricity prices in Australia for residential and small business customers by 2022. We are well on track to achieve this target, but we can and will do more.The Tasmanian Renewable Energy Action Plan will establish the platform to transform Tasmania from being Australia’s renewable energy powerhouse into a world leading provider of clean, reliable and affordable energy.The Tasmanian Renewable Energy Action Plan can be found here: www.renewablestasmania.tas.gov.au/TREAP /Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here. Why?Well, unlike many news organisations, we have no sponsors, no corporate or ideological interests. We don’t put up a paywall – we believe in free access to information of public interest. Media ownership in Australia is one of the most concentrated in the world (Learn more). Since the trend of consolidation is and has historically been upward, fewer and fewer individuals or organizations control increasing shares of the mass media in our country. According to independent assessment, about 98% of the media sector is held by three conglomerates. This tendency is not only totally unacceptable, but also to a degree frightening). Learn more hereWe endeavour to provide the community with real-time access to true unfiltered news firsthand from primary sources. It is a bumpy road with all sorties of difficulties. We can only achieve this goal together. Our website is open to any citizen journalists and organizations who want to contribute, publish high-quality insights or send media releases to improve public access to impartial information. You and we have the right to know, learn, read, hear what and how we deem appropriate.Your support is greatly appreciated. All donations are kept completely private and confidential.Thank you in advance!Tags:AusPol, Australia, Australian, Australian Government, business, electricity, employment, empowerment, Government, Investment, Minister, regulation, renewable, renewable energy, TAS, Tasmania, Tassie, technology
A representative of a major financial industry lobbying organization posed what seemed to be a simple question about complex products to a Securities and Exchange Commission official at an online event a few weeks ago. The answer he received provides insight into regulatory ambiguity — one of the most potent tools deployed by the SEC, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the Department of Labor and other agencies to police the financial markets.The topic was Regulation Best Interest, the broker investment advice standard that went into force last June. In the first few months after implementation, the agency said it was looking for “good-faith” efforts by brokerage firms to comply with the rule, which prohibits brokers from putting their interests ahead of their customers’ interests.But late last year, the SEC warned that it would be getting tougher on examinations and, presumably, starting enforcement of the measure in coming months. With that as the backdrop, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association held an online compliance webinar in late February.The SEC has indicated that one of the areas it will review to determine whether brokerages are complying with Reg BI is how they handle sales of complex products. Those transactions can be a danger zone for conflicts of interest and potential investor harm.But complex products also generate considerable revenue for registered representatives and financial firms. So, it’s natural that SIFMA would be curious about what kind of impact Reg BI will have in the area. Kevin Carroll, SIFMA managing director and associate general counsel, noted that Reg BI doesn’t define complex products. So, he asked John Polise, associate director of the SEC’s Division of Examinations, to explain what the SEC considers a complex product.Polise pointed to the 770-page Reg BI rule text and noted that inverse and leveraged exchange-traded products are mentioned. But he acknowledged that the measure does not provide specifics as to what constitutes a complex product. That’s what regulatory ambiguity is all about. It keeps a question in the back of your mind and helps ensure that you stay on your toes and within the law. It also provides the SEC with the leverage to crack down wherever it sees a problem and the latitude to define a regulatory violation.Are your reps selling investments that they wouldn’t be able to explain to their grandparents? You may not know for sure whether the SEC considers them complex products, but it’s probably best that you back off promoting them — just to be safe. You never know when the SEC might come knocking on your door.Securities regulators take a page out of Henry Kissinger’s book. The secretary of state in the Nixon and Ford administrations, Kissinger extolled the virtues of strategic ambiguity. In order for the United States to exert the most influence on the world stage, it’s best if our enemies — and our allies — don’t know exactly why we made a recent move or what we’re going to do next.It’s kind of the same when it comes to financial rules. Regulators urge firms to establish a culture of compliance. That kind of attitude works best if it results in a firm following both the letter and spirit of securities law. If requirements were spelled out in too much specificity, it might be easier to cut corners — letting the spirit suffer while the letter is satisfied. Regulators want to keep the industry at least a little off balance.This brings us to principles-based regulations. Reg BI and the new adviser marketing regulation fall into that category. They’re not filled with detailed rules to follow. In fact, Reg BI is the league leader in lack of guidance, despite its ocean of text. It doesn’t define “best interest” nor does it explain how brokers should mitigate conflicts of interest.Maybe soon-to-be-Senate-confirmed SEC Chairman Gary Gensler and the Democratic-majority SEC will revisit Reg BI and add more specificity to Reg BI. But it will still be principles-based and somewhat ambiguous. The best way to ensure compliance is to do the right thing and act in the best interests of your customers. There’s no ambiguity in that. “So, while there is no set definition, I think we often look to as a proxy for that whether the [registered] rep can explain [the product] in the first instance and also whether there are higher costs associated with it,” Polise said.Carroll pondered that answer for a moment and then asked whether variable annuities and options are considered complex products.Polise said VAs “certainly are” complex products as well as “derivatives generally.” Within options, there may be some wiggle room. For instance, covered calls and zero-cost collars can be in a customer’s best interest. But butterfly straddles probably aren’t.Got it? You’re still not certain exactly what a complex product is? It’s in the SEC’s best interest that you’re not sure.
In this Saturday, July 13, 2019 photo, a child is vaccinated against Ebola in Beni, Congo. Health experts agree the experimental Ebola vaccine has saved multitudes in Congo. But after nearly a year and some 171,000 doses given, the epidemic shows few signs of waning. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)BENI, Congo | Until his last breath, Salomon Nduhi Kambale insisted he had been poisoned by someone and that was the reason he was vomiting blood. The 30-year-old man wouldn’t give community health teams his phone number, and when they found it, he hung up on them.Health workers were desperate to persuade him to get vaccinated for Ebola after a friend fell ill with the lethal and highly contagious disease.But within days, Nduhi was dead. His widow and their four young children were given his positive Ebola test result and a chilling warning from a team of health workers: “If you don’t accept vaccination, you can prepare to die.”Deep distrust — along with political instability and deadly violence — has severely undermined efforts by public health authorities in Congo to curb the outbreak by tracing and vaccinating those who may have come into contact with infected people.Health experts agree the experimental Ebola vaccine has saved multitudes in Congo. But after nearly a year and some 171,000 doses given, the epidemic shows few signs of waning. The virus has killed more than 1,700 people and has now arrived in the region’s largest city, Goma. The World Health Organization last week declared the outbreak a global health emergency .During the 2014-16 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, which left more than 11,300 people dead, health workers could only dream of a vaccine with a 97.5 percent effectiveness rate that could improve the odds of survival even in those already infected.“We have it now and it’s not the miracle we wanted it to be,” said Dr. Joanne Liu, president of Doctors Without Borders. “The fact that we’ve used so much vaccine, and the epidemic hasn’t stopped, that shows us that contact tracing is not great.”WHO says as many as 90 percent of those eligible for vaccination have accepted it, but that figure only includes those who gave contact tracers enough information to be included on a list. The success rate excludes those who distrusted health workers and fled, or those who couldn’t be found in the first place.Health workers have been using what is known as a ring vaccination strategy: The vaccine is first given to those who were in close contact with a sick person. Then a second so-called ring is created by giving the vaccine to those who were in contact with those people.Because of the difficulties in making that strategy work, some people didn’t get vaccinated until they had already been infected with the virus, and they developed Ebola anyway. That increased doubts about the vaccine in communities where the public health campaigns led by outsiders already were viewed with suspicion and hostility.“The rumors were if you got vaccinated you would die,” said Liboke Kakule Muhingi, a 43-year-old farmer in Mangina, where the epidemic began last August.His mother was among the first to die. Then, one by one, six of his sisters who had cared for their ailing mother were killed by Ebola. Kakule accepted the vaccine and made sure his wife and eight children got it, too.“If I hadn’t, we’d all be dead,” he said.In some cases, health teams have been unable to reach certain areas because of violence or rebel activity. Earlier this month, the head of the Congolese health ministry’s response efforts in Beni was at one point unable to return from a field visit while the military battled ADF rebels, who are linked to the Islamic State.More often, though, contact lists have fallen apart simply because people have deliberately evaded health workers or did not understand they shouldn’t travel after being exposed. A pastor who became the first confirmed case in Goma had apparently put down fake names at health checkpoints to avoid detection. He had been sickened in the town of Butembo and then took a bus while ill.WHO and the Congolese health ministry have now switched tactics and are offering the vaccine to anyone who wants it.With Ebola’s arrival in Goma, a city of more than 2 million people, some wonder whether there will be enough of the vaccine if the outbreak continues.The vaccine’s manufacturer, Merck, said it has 245,000 1-millileter doses on hand and that could rise to 900,000 over the next 18 months. The dose in Congo also has been reduced to 0.5 mL, effectively doubling the supply.“Whether or not the available doses are sufficient to fulfill the demands depends on the evolution of the outbreak, the access to the communities and the successful expansion of the production of additional doses by Merck in early 2020,” WHO said.There is a second experimental vaccine, produced by Johnson & Johnson, but health officials in Congo have said it will not be used because it needs further testing and would cause too much confusion. It requires two doses given one month apart.It’s unclear how long the Merck vaccine will protect people. Scientists know from early studies that it lasts for at least a year, but the epidemic is approaching that limit. The only study to report longer vaccine durability tracked only a small number of healthy volunteers in Geneva for two years.The new strategy of giving shots to anyone who wants them involves setting up “pop-up” sites in the neighborhoods most affected. Last week a vaccination team headed to the neighborhood in Beni where Nduhi’s wife had stayed after he died.Outside the mud-brick home where his children still lived, a pickup truck full of plastic tables and chairs pulled over. Soon a tent was set up, and vaccination teams donned eye protection and yellow surgical gowns. Neighborhood children climbed the trees to watch.Baraka Kathembo Makasi, a 22-year-old motorbike taxi driver, brought his wife and two children with him.“At first I refused,” he said, “but I started seeing people die and decided to go.”Associated Press writers Al-Hadji Kudra Maliro in Beni, Congo; Lauran Neergaard in Washington; Maria Cheng in London; and Jamey Keaten in Geneva contributed to this report.