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Farmers accept gift of free solar panels that Tony Abbott rejected

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A farming family from the Liverpool Plains – the rich farming region threatened by the giant Shenhua coal mine proposal – have accepted the gift of free solar panels that were rejected by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

The free solar panels were offered as a Christmas gift to Abbott last year by Christian justice group Common Grace. But they were rejected on the basis that they would be “too costly to clean” and were a “security risk.”

solar panels farmers

Seeing as new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull already has rooftop solar on his Point Piper mansion – a 3.5kW system installed more than 15 years ago – the 12 panels destined for Kirribilli House will today be presented to 2014 Farmers of the Year Derek and Kirrily Blomfield, based in New South Wales’ Liverpool Planes.

Common Grace campaigner Jody Lightfoot said the panels had been offered to the Blomfields, who are strong advocates for sustainable farming practices.

“Hundreds of Australians donated money towards the cost of these panels and supported calls for the former Prime Minister to install them on his official residence. We’ve been waiting nine months to deliver the panels so we’re all excited to finally see them going to a worthy home,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

“Derek and Kirrily are doing a wonderful job teaching young farmers how sustainable agriculture can be part of the solution to climate change. That reflects our faith and belief in supporting healthy food and a healthy world.”

Kirrily Blomfeld said there are huge opportunities in renewable energy for farmers who have the acreage to support large scale solar.

“It helps build resiliency in our businesses. There would be benefits for whole regional communities. It’s extremely generous and wonderful for us, from our point of view. We will have them on the roof of our home. They will be reducing our use of fossil fuel.”

   

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  • John Bromhead

    Abbott couldn’t accept the panels personally without paying for them so they wouldn’t be free. Maybe he simply didn’t want them on his roof, a perfectly good attitude for anyone to have. Abbott is obviously not as committed to the rapid installation of renewables to the cost of Australia’s poor and neither should Common Grace. In most situations in Australia, solar is still being subsidised by non-solar electricity consumers and won’t there be a stink if appropriate electricity tariff structures are put in place it remove the distortions that are allowing this to happen. It’s a pity the Abbott government didn’t address the tax free status of this organisation. Doesn’t seem like Abbott is a charitable case.
    Why would Parkinson even expect Abbott to have taken part in this particular stunt.

    • Barri Mundee

      Why could he not accept them? Kirrabilli house is not his, he only had tenure whilst PM and did not even live in it. (certainly not now that he has transitioned from rooster to feather-duster).

      The panels would have helped defray the cost of maintaining Kirrabilli too.

      Your concern for the poor is touching.

    • Jacob

      The Feed in Tariffs are a pittance now.

      Joe said the poor do not drive and then Abbott refused to build public transport.

      Abbott was a total nutter stuck in the 1950s.

    • Ian

      are you insane? the long term cost to everyone, poor included, is undeniable when it comes to refuting immediate divestment in fossil fuels…

      • John Bromhead

        No, it is insane to suggest that the world can immediately divest from fossil fuels.

        • Barri Mundee

          I agree we can’t divest from FF “immediately” but it sure can and must over the next 20 years.

        • Ian

          yep. you’re insane. 1.3 trillion has been divested in the past year. the world IS divesting, so I don’t even understand what you’re claiming

        • Ali2044

          Oh well if we can’t do it immediately, then let’s not do anything at all!

    • G Bell

      They were not destined for his own residence, but Kirribilli house, which belongs to the Australian public.

      • John Bromhead

        I’ll accept that I didn’t understand that these were to be installed on the heritage listed Kirribilli house as a promotion for the solar industry rather than, as the article suggested, a gift to Tony Abbott. Given the nature of the installation on a historic public building, this ad for the organisation and the technology would have cost the Australian public multiple times the value of the panels in safeguards and approvals alone.

        • Alex Nicolson

          Rubbish. Improvements to the Lodge, Kirribilli and the GG’s residences (the Official Residences) are controlled by an APS committee, chaired by PM&C, called the Official Establishments Committee. I can see no real reason why the PV collectors should not have been installed, except that the then PM was against them. The Committee is very sensitive to the PM’s wishes (obviously). Mrs Hawke, for example, asked for the restoration of the veggie garden at the Lodge and Mrs Fraser planted fruit trees.

          • John Bromhead

            Neither woman painted an ad on the slate roof of a 160 year old heritage building. The whole thing was a stunt and if Common Grace tried to get Turnbull to daub this building with soar panels, (which of course they wouldn’t), they would be unlikely get permission.

          • Alex Nicolson

            It should be possible to mount quite a large array in a way that was invisible, except from the air. Part of the current sensor array however is very visible from the road and pavement but I would not regard either as a stunt, if advertising is your concern. My point was that changes to the Official Residences are technically outside the PM’s personal control although the committee is very sensitive to the PM’s wishes. Any panels in the ACT would have to be approved by ACTPLA and ACTEWAGL but the cost until recently was negligible.

          • Chris Fraser

            This is a crazy line of discussion. In the case of Kirribilli, John may prefer to think they wouldn’t get permission from the Office of Heritage and Environment. As if they’d refuse panels – being concerned with environment. Sort of like a wishful ‘PV defeat device’.

          • Alex Nicolson

            See above. National Trust is represented on the committee, as is AFP, Defence, Finance and uncle Tom Cobbley and all. I doubt the committee would have disapproved invisible panels but would certainly not have over-ridden the PM’s wishes on such a matter (he doesn’t pay for power either!). It has over-ridden the PM’s wishes on other occasions eg on security, heritage or aesthetic grounds but only on trivial matters

        • Dave

          I like your logic processes, therefore I think the existing power lines should be disconnected from Kirribilli House because as it stands they are a promotion for the fossil fuel industry.

    • Alen T

      You have the cross-subsidy the wrong way around. It is the solar households subsidising the non-soar homes. The depressing effect renewables have in general on wholesale prices (merit-order effect), coupled with the decreasing need to upgrade poles & wires (by a large margin the biggest fraction in your typical power bill) due to the distributed nature of solar PV, and the environmental, health and thus social benefits of burning less coal…my investment is having positive spillovers and benefitting my neighbours

    • crazy biologist

      Australian taxpayers actually subsidise fossil fuels by $4 billion every year in the form of direct spending and tax breaks.

    • Fuzz

      “Abbott couldn’t accept the panels personally without paying for them so they wouldn’t be free. Maybe he simply didn’t want them on his roof” – Then why didn’t he say so instead of citing “Kirribilli’s heritage listing, ongoing costs of cleaning and maintenance, and security concerns”?