Chairman:  Elias Lebbos.
Guests:  Guest speaker Paul Scerri.
  • Stuart Ellis reminded members that this year’s Paul Harris Breakfast will be on November 24, with a cost of $65 per person.  He also commented that he had recently offered full time employment to Anna, a student originally placed with his organisation as an intern.
  • Peter Duras announced that a fund raiser for Community Service projects, entitled “Lights and Bites” will be held at the Penthouse, Victoria Tower on Saturday, October 17.  Cost: $50 per person.
President’s announcements:
  • President George advised that he would be attending a meeting of RC Docklands that evening.  RC Docklands is struggling and George is looking for ways to assist.
  • George told members that the club meeting on September 29 will take the form of a Club Forum.  There will be no guest speaker.  Instead, George will be seeking feedback from members on how the club can meet all its aspirations, as identified at the Club Visioning activity on July 26.  He urged all members to attend this important meeting, to ensure that everybody’s voice is heard.
Director’s Report:
International Service Director, Rob Hines provided a brief update on the international projects being managed by his committee.  He particularly mentioned that Frank O’Brien and Peter Duras had arranged collection of an unsolicited gift (18 cartons of shoes and clothes) for DIK. 
He also commented that this year more effort will go into building our sister club relationships, with the thought that RC Osaka Midosuji Hommachi might be interested in supporting our Laos projects.  The fifth of these Ban Bou Aor School will be formally handed over when Roy Garrett takes a group of 16 Rotarians and friends there in March next year.
Member bio – Bruce McBain:
Bruce provided an update on his numerous activities, some paid, some pro bono, since he left The Age in 2004.  In paid work, he has been chair of a superannuation trustee and still fills the role of Executive Secretary of an employer superannuation fund.
In pro bono work, Bruce is the Company Secretary of White Lion, an organisation that works with youths at risk, and is the Chair of Fitzroy Legal Services, where he works as a legal volunteer on a Wednesday evening.  He commented that community legal services were under increasing pressure for funds, especially from the Commonwealth Government, at a time when advocacy for legal changes was desperately important.  No longer do FLS staff “wear battle fatigues and smoke pot but they still behave like hippies and continue the vital role of providing access to justice.”
As a hobby Bruce is writing, in conjunction with a young English researcher, a history of the Inchcape Group in Australia which is part of a global trading organisation that dates back to 1839 when the Hunter River Steam Navigation Company started with three paddle steamers.  This grew to become the Australian United Steam Navigation Company with 88 ships and was ultimately absorbed by P&O, which by then was controlled by James Lyle McKay, the First Earl of Inchcape.  In the 1960s Inchcape sold out of P&O and became involved in numerous ventures including the largest film studio in the southern hemisphere.  Now Inchcape Australia is a major motor distributor.
Guest Speaker:
Chairman Elias introduced guest speaker Paul Scerri, Director of the Australian Solar Council, who addressed the question “Is it Solar Energy's Time to Shine?”
Paul’s talk concentrated on energy storage, which he said is on the verge of a huge expansion.  In the industrial space large companies such as AGL are now finding that investing in storage of solar energy for use after dark is viable and more cost effective than gold plating power lines.
On the domestic front Paul quoted statistics from the Australian Energy Market operator that showed forecasts for rooftop photo-voltaics growing each year.  And, now that storage is becoming affordable, householders can install batteries to avoid peak load tariffs which exist in Victoria and are likely to become commonplace elsewhere in Australia.
Paul stressed that because energy storage is new there are still no Australia-wide standards, so purchasers need to stick to brands that that can be trusted and installation companies that will back up warranties.  He listed the following reliable brands: SMA, Sony, Bosch (the Rolls Royce of storage), Samsung and Teslar.  Teslar’s Powerwall is so well priced that it is sold out until 2017.
In response to questions, Paul asserted that in NSW solar power is now viable without subsidy.  Battery technology is also developing.  Most batteries being offered today are lithium ion, with a battery life of about 5 years, but a salt water system is being developed in Sweden.
President George’s closing:
George closed the meeting at 8:45am.