Senator for Victoria Richard DiNatale (Australian Greens) has used his first speech since the 2013 election to hold the anti-wind farm lobby to account for spreading health fears, being subsidised by Australian taxpayers, and having links to fossil fuel investors.
Rather than distracting policy makers with spurious claims of a wind farm noise disease and wasting taxpayers money, Senator DiNatale suggests the anti-wind farm groups could campaign on the health impacts of poor air quality.
“We are seeing more people dying from poor air quality than we’re seeing die from the road toll. The mining and combustion and transport of coal is one of the reasons why that’s happening. But no, this group campaigns against a clean renewable form of energy, despite the fact that if we able to make the transition to cleaner renewable energy we mitigate against some of the most important health impacts…”
DiNatale takes aim at the Waubra Foundation and their status as a ‘health promotion charity,’
“The issue here is not that the Waubra Foundation should continue to spread the misinformation that it does. The issue here is that the Australian taxpayer should be subsidising that activity. [Australian taxpayers] are subsidising the work of the Waubra Foundation–that is, every person in this country makes a donation to the anti-wind activities of the Waubra Foundation.”
In his speech, DiNatale shines a light on the background of the founder and current chairman of the Waubra Foundation, Peter Mitchell. According to DiNatale, Mr Mitchell is a “current and former director of a number of coal, gas, and uranium related companies” as well as a background campaigning against wind farms:
“[Mitchell] is a director of Lowel Resources, who are basically the ultimate holding company of a resources fund, which are companies engaged entirely in mining and energy investment including oil, gas and uranium. He’s also the former director of the Australian Petroleum Institute Limited and Molopo Limited, a company entirely invested in oil and gas.”
Senator DiNatale has a track record of talking sense on the alleged health problems from wind energy. DiNatale made a cogent argument against an anti-wind farm bill put forward by Senator’s Madigan (DLP) and Xenophon’s (Ind) in March, 2013. Not only is The Greens senator’s position on wind energy and health informed by his credentials as a doctor and medical health specialist, but also by visits to wind farms.
The Greens Senators remarks come just a day after Prime Minister Tony Abbott made his first comments on wind farms and the Renewable Energy Target. The PM’s language around a “forrest” of wind farms “sprouting like mushrooms all over the fields of our country” sounds like dog-whistling to the radical anti-renewable energy fringe.
Political leadership is sorely needed on wind energy.
If the claims of anti-wind farm groups and renewable energy bashers go unanswered then Australia will miss out on jobs, drought-proof income for regional communities, and all importantly, action on climate change.
It’s time for political leaders to follow Senator DiNatale’s lead and stand up for wind farms and all the benefits they can deliver.