A what?!… Industry responds to Abbott’s wind farm commissioner proposal

Print Friendly

Another week of Australian politics has drawn to a close and instead of delivering a watered down, but legislated, Renewable Energy Target to an industry in desperate need of investment certainty, it has delivered yet more uncertainty, wrapped in red tape.

As we reported yesterday, a leaked draft letter from the federal environment minister to anti-wind cross-bench Senators has proposed the appointment of a “windfarm commissioner” to handle complaints about turbine noise, as well as a new scientific committee to investigate, again, their alleged impacts on human health; as well as to promote start-up grants for solar and to encourage the CEFC to favour solar over wind energy.

Talks are now expected to continue through the weekend, with Fairfax media today quoting one of those anti-wind cross-benchers, Senator David Leyonhjelm, as saying components of the leaked draft letter had since changed – and that he and some other anti-wind senators were not convinced the government’s proposed measures to strangle wind energy development went far enough. There is still talk of tighter rules and even a “cap” on wind, and of more delays to the RET.

As well as inspiring a new thread of Twitter satire (see below or search #allthecommissioners), the Abbott government anti-wind proposals have stunned, angered and disappointed the renewables industry and its supporters in equal measure.

Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 11.02.57 am

Here is a round-up of some of the responses:

“It’s disappointing that there is a move to introduce further red tape on an industry that is already heavily regulated,” said Clean Energy Council CEO Kane Thornton. “This is clearly politically motivated and without any scientific basis. “The wind energy sector has undergone nine reviews or inquiries over the past five years. While the industry is open to a reasonable level of public scrutiny, it is clear that the level of scrutiny and inquiry being directed at wind power is entirely disproportionate compared to other kinds of energy generation. Wind energy is among the safest forms of electricity generation available globally.”

“The commitments made by Minister Hunt in this deal kowtows to anti-wind interests and will add fuel to the scare campaign against wind energy,” said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth‘s renewable energy spokesperson. “It’s astonishing that the minister responsible for our national response to climate change is complicit in efforts to demonise wind farms. The NHMRC, Victorian Department of Health, and Australian Medical Association have already given wind energy a clean bill of health. The public health impacts of coal are well-documented, yet the Abbott government is proposing to regulate clean and safe wind energy on health grounds. It’s the stuff of satire.

“The government can promise to take the senate wind inquiry seriously, yet the community will reject it. The inquiry is failing to compare wind energy to fossil fuels, or consider its contribution to job creation and tackling global warming.”


“If you are really worried about the health impacts of energy generation, where is the coal mining commissioner?” asked Greens Senator and environment spokesperson Larissa Waters. “Why do we have a wind farm commissioner rather than a coal mining commissioner to look at the health impacts of what is genuinely a damaging fossil fuel? …Unfortunately this is more of what can be expected from the Government’s tin foil hat brigade.”


“This is a bone which has been thrown to the independent senators, some of whom are frankly just obsessed by this issue,” said Professor of public health at Sydney University, Simon Chapman. “They have had 25 reviews which have said there is no direct affect of wind farms on health. Their heads are spinning with that [and] they just want one more, and Abbott’s given them one more.”


“I think its just going to be another annoyance factor,” said Labor climate spokesman Mark Butler. “The Labor Party will not be distracted from the main game which is getting legislation through the Parliament which will restore investor confidence.
…[Tony Abbott] does seem hell bent still on playing footsies with people who have purely ideological opposition to renewable energy. These are tokenistic gestures, they are a sideshow to the main game.”


“(This will) make a terrible deal even worse,” said Greens leader Richard di Natale. “Not only are we killing jobs and reducing renewable energy investment that’s good for our economy and good for the environment … we’re now introducing this pseudo-science that seems to be a feature of this government.

“We don’t have evidence of alien abduction – should we be spending public funds looking into it? No, we shouldn’t. Is there a credible, plausible mechanism through which wind farms might adversely impact on people’s health in the way that some of these extreme views might indicate? No there’s not.”

Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 9.56.47 am


RenewEconomy Free Daily Newsletter

Share this:

  • Chris Fraser

    Mr Butler’s relegation of wind commissioner to an annoyance may be right. While i can understand there will be crazy things getting tossed around in the zealous crossbenching anti-windfest, what is the Commissioner ultimately meant to do ? Be a good shoulder to lean on ? What powers will he/she have when the turbine-siting State planning laws are already pretty well established ?

  • SM

    Wind farms require large licks of money to finance their construction. With all this negativity and uncertainty banks won’t fund and investors will look for safer places park their money.

    • martin

      Exactly, and thank goodness for some commonsense.
      Wind doesn’t work, full stop.
      it is not feasible without huge subsidies.
      All business receives subsidies, but coal is baseload and produces the vast majority of our power.
      Wind never, ever will.
      Solar, perhaps and likely to be significant.
      The whole argument about renewables is a furphy, as all the parasites care about and where all the vast monies to be made from the consumer are in wind. All of you know that.
      If we are going to waste 50 billion subsidising wind for the next 15 years lets put it all into R&D for potential baseload renewables.
      C’mon, argue the point , but you know you can’t.

      Oh, and by the way Ewbank are you still feeding the lightweight labor senator from tassie all of her questions at the inquiry.

      I was sitting next to you at portland.

      • nakedChimp

        you should make a trip to Europe – Scotland, Denmark and Germany in particular and tell them that their Wind doesn’t work.

      • Colin Nicholson
    • Blair Donaldson

      In reality, windfarms pay for themselves within the first 18 months of operation. Despite Martin’s denial, windfarms do work well as South Australia demonstrates. And while he is banging on about subsidies, he doesn’t seem to mind the huge subsidies going to the fossil fuel industry to pollute land, water and air. Time you caught up with the facts Martin.

  • Troppo Thom

    The reason for this is obvious–the climate change refuseniks are planning to put the kibosh on wind farms by strangling the operators in red tape. Presumably when any whingeing cockie within a cooee of a wind farm complains that one of his lambs has a wind farm induced tooth ache the Commissioner will shut down the operation and conduct a two year long investigation.

  • BsrKr11

    grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!! the anger grows and festers at these outrageous f*%^#ing idiots!!!

  • Blair Donaldson

    Surely a commissioner for people smuggling, lies and backflips is more important?

  • Les Johnston

    Instead of a wind commissioner, why not an independent commissioner against corruption?

  • johnnewton

    It is hard to understand why the whole country doesn’t rise up and cvhuck these morons into Lake Goerge.

  • Jacob

    How about a pothole commissioner. Some of the roads in MEL are horrendous.

    The road maintenance contracts should be transparent.

  • James Moylan


    We must ensure that the 129 complaints by Australians that they have been attacked by a unicorn must be investigated by someone who is likely to believe these poor people!

    Yes it is true that 90% of these complaints have only come to light after the intervention of anti-unicorn activists – but that simply demonstrates that there is an underlying problem that is being ignored by all the people who make a living investigating (so-called) ‘reality’.

    Yes, while it is true that all of the scientists and doctors say that Unicorns don’t exist, lots and lots of Aussies (at least 0.001%) believeotherwise. To ignore these people just because science and healthcare cannot establish the existence of unicorns is plain inhumane!

    Yes, it is true that the National Health and Medical Research Commissionhas ruled out the existence of unicorns but this (research) commission has also said that we need more research! So (this utterly damning fact that a research commission is advocating on behalf of research) indicates that we have to do a lot more research on unicorns and any possible relatives of unicorns (like the tooth fairy and Santa) – whilst also informing the whole of the Australian population that they must be fearful of unicorns (just in case)!

    Yes it is true that no overseas government has admitted to the existence of unicorns but these governments are probably just being sucked-in by the ‘anti-unicorn’ bleating that seems to be coming out of the mouths of a lot of unelected scientists and doctors!

    Appointing a unicorn commissioner will finally get to the bottom of this vitally significant issue for the future of Australian health in a way that mere science and
    doctoring cannot!

    Of course we need a unicorn commissioner! Otherwise there is a chance that RENEWABLE ENERGY WILL KILL EVERYONE IS AUSTRALIA.

    Remember: Renewable Energy = more Unicorns attacking and eating your children. We must continue to use oil, gas, and coal for the sake of the health of our children!

    yours sincerely:
    the federal cabinet of Australia

    PS: This is not a scare campaign.
    PPS: This is most certainly not a scare campaign being waged on behalf of the biggest donors to our political party!
    PPPS: Be scared! Be very very scared!

  • Leigh Ryan

    What we really need is a Independent Commissioner for competent Government paid only through a bonus system where at each election the voting public decide whether or not the Commissioner has acted responsibly and within the guidelines and without undue influence, a NO vote means NO PAY.

  • disqus_3PLIicDhUu

    The comish for mafia lobbying.