A new survey says, yes! – just one, lonely member among a majority of fence-sitters, dog-whistlers, and out and out naysayers.
How many wind farm supporters would you find in the ranks of the Coalition?
It might sound like the start of a bad joke, but actually, Crikey went looking… and could only find one (and perhaps another couple sitting on the fence).
In a survey of sitting MPs, Crikey says it found just one senior Liberal, Leichhardt’s Warren Entsch, who had “explicitly campaigned for more turbines.”
It’s not exactly news, but the Abbott-led federal government – which has promised to review the RET in 2014, and shut down the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation (aka “green hedge fund”); and whose most senior members have described climate change as a “myth” and the science as “crap” – is not overflowing with support for Australia’s cheapest renewable energy resource.
Indeed, as we wrote earlier this month, Australia’s wind energy sector is probably the biggest and most immediate loser from the election of the Coalition. “It has been at a virtual standstill for months because utilities who write contracts, and the bankers who finance the projects, were mindful of a likely Coalition win, and yet another review of the large-scale renewable energy target (LRET)”
Worse, the election has delivered a number of new, strongly anti-wind members to the Coalition, such as Angus Taylor in Hume and Peter Hendy in the neighbouring seat of Monaro. As we have already noted, Taylor is the author of an ill-informed document on wind energy, and Hendy was an advisor to Brendan Nelson when he made his fateful change of position on climate policies, and is also a former CEO of the anti-carbon price, anti-renewables Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
And worse still, the Senate looks potentially hostile to wind energy, with the presence of avowed anti-wind senators like John Madigan, and Nick Xenophon presenting a formidable – and potentially unchallenged – problem.
Meanwhile, in regional Victoria, says Crikey, “voters are set to narrowly avoid the prospect of former Coalition Victorian upper house MP and wind critic Donna Petrovich representing their interests, with the ALP’s Rob Mitchell in the lead, according to latest counting. Petrovich was a keen supporter of government moves in Victoria to amend planning legislation to wrap turbines up in reams of red tape. Fellow rural Liberal Dan Tehan told Crikey last month that he too was concerned about the ‘health impacts’ of the Waubra wind farm at the eastern fringe of his electorate.”
Here’s what else the Crikey survey (subscription) found:
Those in favour…
Warren Entsch: Crikey notes that Entsch went in to bat for a wind farm proposed in his electorate, arguing it would bring investment to the region, while also stabilising rising power prices. And he said this: “It is time to start dealing in facts and the fact is that wind generated power is a hugely viable, largely untapped resource in this area that would provide us with a stable, viable energy solution.” Entsch has also argued that claims noise from wind farms caused health problems were ‘‘unsubstantiated”.
On the fence …
Greg Hunt: Crikey says the federal Environment Minister has been diplomatic about the claims wind farms cause ill health effects, declaring it “right and proper” for government to sponsor an “independent science-based study using primary sources of actual testing.”
Ian Macfarlane: The Resources Minister has reportedly been “open minded” about wind turbine health impacts.
Shows promise, could try harder …
Retired pro-wind energy Liberals …
Peter Rae: Liberal senator for Tasmania (1968-86), was vice president of the World Wind Energy Association (now honorary VP), and represented Hepburn Wind with an international award at Parliament House in Canberra last year.
Judith Troeth: Crikey says the former MP launched a plan for 100% renewable energy in Parliament in 2010, calling for the rollout of 48MW equivalent of wind energy.
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