Abbott promises to Do Something about wind turbines | RenewEconomy

Abbott promises to Do Something about wind turbines

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Fate of Austalia’s RET in balance once again as Abbott vows to appoint wind commissioner, listen to Senate inquiry, and have CEFC push big solar.

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The fate of Australia’s renewable energy target – and the wind industry in particular – is once again in the balance, after Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised anti-wind cross-bench Senators that he would take action to restrict or monitor wind farms.

Legislation cutting the RET to 33,000GWh from 41,000GWh had been expected to pass the Senate this week, finally giving the industry some certainty to invest, albeit in a much reduced target.

But Abbott’s refusal to cut a deal with Labor over the controversial issue of native wood waste has seen him turn instead – as predicted two days ago – to the senators who have already decided – like Abbott – that wind farms are ugly, dangerous to health, not very effective, and possibly constitute an act of treason.

Abbott – whose opinions on wind farms have been shaped by advisors who do not accept the science of climate change and his one encounter with a single turbine on Rottnest Island – met with Senator David Leyonhjelm (below) and other cross-benchers this week.

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He  told the environment minister Greg Hunt – who told a radio station this week that “I know what you mean” when told that a single turbine in his electorate was “ugly” – to draft a letter to the cross benchers, outlining his commitments to get tough on wind farms.

The letter, according the The Guardian, includes a promise to appoint a wind-farm “commissioner” to monitor and act on complaints, an “independent” scientific committee (perhaps like the Warburton RET review) to liase with the Senate inquiry, and an undertaking to act on the Senate inquiry’s recommendations.

Abbott has also promised, as reported in RenewEconomy last week, to ask the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, to direct funding to encourage the construction of more large scale solar farms.

In effect, it is a commitment from a government committed to the removal of red and green tape to add more red and green tape to the operation and development of wind farms in Australia, a commitment to ask an institution it wants to abolish to support big solar, and to implement the recommendations of an inquiry into wind farms that has already made up its mind about the impact of wind farms.

It seems to be the case of the mad right wagging the tail of the ultra conservative dog on energy policies. Senators Madigan, Lambie and Leyonhjelm all hold controversial views about climate science and wind farms – all being advised by noted long-term anti-wind activists.

Leyonjhelm, the self-styled prince of small government, wants a new government department to monitor wind farms; Madigan wants new legislation that would effectively stop wind farm workers working at wind farms. And Lambie’s proposal that anyone thinking that renewable energy can help the planet should be charged with treason could mean that one-quarter of Australia’s population runs the risk of being locked in prison, or sent in a boat to Bali and beyond.

To push their argument, the cross-bench Senators were due to release a rushed interim report of their Senate inquiry into wind farms later on Thursday – although most of them have said they have seen quite enough evidence to confirm their prejudices, including the wind turbine-challenged Sudoku player and the dog that can’t jump.

The only cross bench Senators making any sense in the debate have been Glenn Lazarus and Ricky Muir. Like the Greens, they noted there was no justification in cutting the RET. Muir pointed to the benefits for regional economies, and Lazarus pushed through an amendment to reserve a significant amount for large-scale solar.

All this will matter little in a government so utterly obsessed with removing any legacy of Greens policy – leaving aside the fact that it was the Howard government that introduced a renewables target in the first place – that it will not listen to rhyme nor reason.

It would be funny if it weren’t so terrifying. International investors, already frustrated by nearly two years of policy uncertainty, remain appalled. The Abbott government’s policies remain a running joke at international conferences.

At least households can take matters into their own hands. Rooftop solar capacity is now tipped to overtake that of coal-fired generation within the next decade, and in South Australia rooftop solar is expected to provide 100% of grid demand within a decade.

So, sanity might not prevail, but solar will. Here’s hoping that Abbott’s morning bike rides don’t take him past any solar panels.

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15 Comments
  1. Beat Odermatt 5 years ago

    Wind commissioner? Will he have a fartgun to defend Abbott and to fight windmills?

    • Chris Fraser 5 years ago

      Possibly, if they are a paid-for public servant. On the other hand we’re aware that Dick and Maurice get pretty windy on their own.

  2. jeanne ackermann 5 years ago

    what do the
    anti wind turbine brigade think of our overhead powerlines.

    • Peter Campbell 5 years ago

      Don’t laugh. My anti-wind turbine neighbour is just as worried about electromagnetic fields from power lines and, especially mobile phones, wifi and, worst of all, ‘smart meters’.

  3. Alastair Leith 5 years ago

    “So, sanity might not prevail, but solar will.” and so we give thanks. There’s a saying in Asia ‘good government, bad people; bad government, good people’. This is one hell of a bad government.

  4. Ron Horgan 5 years ago

    This is entirely predictable. Abbott will use every tactic possible to delay and destroy anything that is against his interests. “By hook or by crook” is the mantra and every low trick in the book will be used. No point in complaining that it isn’t fair, its not supposed to be. Just Sir Anthony Abbott esquire in all his finery.

  5. Chris Fraser 5 years ago

    We wait with baited breath to see what the Commissioner approves of, and what they don’t. Either way, I don’t anticipate a role for science, or the Department of Health.

  6. John McKeon 5 years ago

    In trying to comprehend the situation we are in, I thought of Lewis Carol’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ [a mad but enjoyable fantasy] and then tried to come up with its antithesis – perhaps ‘Jacqui in Oblivious’ or ‘Abbott in Madland’. Please excuse me, I’m struggling to take it all in.

    Such are the terrible political fruits of the desperate fossil interests.

    • John McKeon 5 years ago

      ‘Abbott in Madderland’ ??

      • John McKeon 5 years ago

        ‘Abbott in Wonkyland’ ??

  7. jim shaw 5 years ago

    Will this pass the senate? Doesn’t he need 6 cross-benchers to vote for it to pass if Labor and the Greens oppose – so in addition to Lambie, Leyonhjelm, Madigan and Day, he needs two of Wang, Lazarus, Muir and Xenophon – have they declared?

  8. Coley 5 years ago

    Good photo, never actually seen a swivel eyed loon before now.

  9. john 5 years ago

    So we have a report from these Senators who have qualifications in what exactly?
    Which one has done any study?
    So we now have voodoo science running the country I feel.
    How may times must I repeat Infrasound is totally saturating the environment we live in.
    Especially with the industrial outputs we have put in place over the last 100 years.
    Here is the basic problem we have people with very poor understanding of science making decisions for which they are ill equipped to judge.
    This is the same as going to a soothsayer to find out if your going to have a heart attack.
    Every finding in every country has found the same result physiological perception of supposed effects.
    Your motor vehicle you drive is putting out well over 100 DB of sound in the infrasound range how come you do not exhibit horrendous effects ?
    This is puerile and so annoying that our society is going to go along with this rubbish and say yes these wind turbines are “awful”, “dangerous” or what every other rubbish low level language can be used.
    Have we honestly got to a stage in our society where the lowest common stupid idea is to run the country?
    If this is so then I feel that the only outcome will be a paranoid society that discards science and embraces stupid.

  10. Leigh Ryan 5 years ago

    Infrasound levels inside Aircraft are slightly higher than those detected from wind turbines being from 80 to 100 DB, i envision massive compensation claims against Air Carriers if Abbott has his way, trucks on our highways put out 80 to 140 Db, in excess of 100DB from a railway carriage, a passenger in a car is exposed to levels up to 120DB, oh the lawyers are going to have a field day forget any judgements on real criminal cases our courts will be booked solid for years to come.

  11. Alan S 5 years ago

    It’s the War Against Wind. Come on – join Tony’s latest Crusade but don’t tell the Pope.

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