The Warburton RET Review: Why we walked…

RET MeetingIn Melbourne today, Friends of the Earth met with the Warburton review of the Renewable Energy Target. We attended the meeting in good faith to raise concerns regarding the review process.

Based on the responses, we can only conclude that the Warburton review is not credible. It is deeply compromised.

Friends of the Earth have a track record of engaging constructively with governments in the policy process, even when the odds are stacked against good outcomes for our environment. In this case, it appears the review is leading to a predetermined outcome to weaken the Renewable Energy Target.

The review is led by climate change sceptic Dick Warburton and panel members with close connections to the fossil fuel sector. There is no renewable energy sector representation. The review is only modeling a scenario that assumes no carbon pricing or equivalent mechanism will be in effect between now and 2030.

As a matter of principle, we could not take part in a box ticking exercise when peoples’ jobs and action on climate change are on the line.

Friends of the Earth, who are undertaking an 11-stop fact-finding RET Review Road Trip to get a real understanding of how energy policy affects communities, say today’s meeting confirms public skepticism about the process.

We’ve heard directly from community members that the Warburton review of the Renewable Energy Target lacks credibility.

The Warburton review has been referred to as ‘ideologically driven’ and a ‘witch hunt.’ It is fair and accurate to say, that for many in the community, the review lacks public confidence.

The Abbott government has no other choice but to disregard the findings of the Warburton Review and instruct the Climate Change Authority to commence their own investigation, as required by legislation.

Below is a statement, questions, and concluding remark that was presented to the Warburton Review panel in Melbourne this morning.

Statement to the Warburton Review:

The Review of the Renewable Energy Target is about Australia’s energy future. The outcome the review will have impacts for communities across Australia.

What’s at stake are peoples’ jobs, their health, and their aspirations. It also impacts billions of dollars worth of investment and the development of new industries.

The fact that this review is occurring has already affected investment in renewable energy.

Most importantly, the reviews risks weakening Australia’s most effective climate change mitigation policy.

Since April, Friends of the Earth have visited seven communities around Victoria—places that have a positive story to tell about renewable energy or have been adversely affected by fossil fuel pollution. This has taken us to Hepburn, Morwell, Portland, Ararat, Hoppers Crossing, Anglesea and Brighton.

We’ve sought to put on the ground community engagement at the centre of our investigation into energy policy as a counterpoint to the limited community consultation options available in the Warburton Review of the Renewable Energy Target.

What we’ve heard is overwhelming support for the Renewable Energy Target from a range of stakeholders.

On one hand, the mayors of Ararat Rural City and Northern Grampians Shire who joined us in Ararat see renewable energy as a huge economic opportunity. A proposed wind farm in their region will create jobs, investment and drought-proof income—but only if the RET remains unchanged.

On the other hand, on the literal coalface, we met with residents of Morwell and Anglesea who continue to endure the worst impacts of fossil fuel pollution.

As part of Friends of the Earth’s work in rural Victoria, we’ve heard that people don’t want to see unconventional gas industries in their communities, with seven towns already declaring themselves gasfield-free with almost unanimous support in community surveys.

We have also heard directly form community members that this review of the Renewable Energy Target lacks credibility. The review has been referred to as ‘ideologically driven’ and a ‘witch hunt.’ It is fair and accurate to say, that for many in the community, this review lacks public confidence.

We’re here today to present some of these concerns.

Questions for the Warburton Review:

  • We know that in February ministers MacFarlane and Hunt announced this review of the RET and its membership. Can you please provide more information about the basis for selecting the panel members?
  • We note that a carbon price has been supported by every federal leader of both major parties since 2007, including John Howard Malcolm Turnbull, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Bill Shorter, with the exception of course being our current Prime Minister. In other words, support for a carbon price has been government policy for six of the last seven years. Yet modelling commissioned by the RET Review is based on the assumption that no carbon price or other equivalent mechanisms will be in place between now and 2030. Does the panel believe that this assumption is justifiable?
  • As part of transparency of this process, will the panel make the modeling be made publicly available once it is completed, presuming this occurs prior to the completion of the review?

Concluding statement:

Mr Warburton, skepticism in anthropogenic global warming is a fringe viewpoint, not accepted by any government in the world or scientific agency. Of course you are personally entitled to hold these views, but it does call into question your ability to objectively evaluate evidence, and therefore, your appropriateness to head the review of Australia’s flagship climate change mitigation policy.

In light of your position and the inadequate responses that we’ve heard today, Friends of the Earth can only conclude that this review is not credible. It is compromised.

With respect to the other organisations who are here today in good faith, Friends of the Earth will not be a party to a flawed process. Please excuse us.


  • If you support more renewable energy for Australia, sign our petition calling on PM Tony Abbott to protect the Renewable Energy Target.
  • Support the Protect the RET petition in your community. A printable version is available here so you can get family, friends, colleagues and community members to sign on. 
  • Volunteer with Yes 2 Renewables and support our RET Review Road Trip. Contact us here to express interest.

42 thoughts on “The Warburton RET Review: Why we walked…

  1. I find it extraordinary that it is being assumed that there will be no price on carbon up to 2030. There is still a price on carbon in Australia now (which is good) and even if it is removed (which would be silly) the international community is most unlikely to sit back and let Australia engage in profligate polluting until 2030. If this is indeed an assumption that is being made then it seems to me that the whole premise that the inquiry is based on is flawed.

    1. You know the old saying Andrew, never hold an enquiry unless you have the outcome predetermined. Sadly for Sir Pository, some of his handpicked enquirers have contradicted his assertions that the RET is raising prices. Nevertheless it doesn’t stop him pedalling convenient lies. The real kicker will be those countries promoting renewables raising tariffs against polluting countries who don’t have RET’s and/or carbon taxes. Listen to the screaming start then.

  2. Talk about throwing the toys out!!!!!.When the boot is on the other foot you guys walk out.Ive sat through wind farm hearings that are that stacked with pro wind people its not funny and had to suck it up.What about the thousands of generic submissions you sent in from people that cant think for themselves.Did that not work either.You needed to take Blair Donaldson with you he would have talked Warbuton around.

  3. It will be amazing if the RET review will make any findings based on evidence when the jury is stacked with climate change denialists, fossil fuel flunkies and conspiracy theorists. Evidence is an anathema to them.

    Just like the muppets who have posted above, Warburton isn’t interested in facts, long-term jobs in new, clean technologies and industries or a healthy environment. Shortsighted self-interest is the only thing the review panel is interested in.

    We shouldn’t really expect anything less considering the panel members were handpicked by another climate change denialist.

    1. I have always been amazed how greenies (probably decent folk but just naive) have been sucked in by the wind industry snake oil salesmen to believe that wind turbines are actually useful. Another thing is that they are prepared to sacrifice the aesthetic beauty of the landscape to turbines with the usual caveat that they not be anywhere where they live. Blair look in the mirror you might just see who the muppet is if you remove the rose coloured glasses.

  4. Some of the replies above are silly. Obviously Yes 2 Renewables would not have left the hearing without a very good reason. People who think that a clean wind turbine is offensive should come down to Anglesea to see the high-sulphur brown coal mine and power plant that we have right next to the township. Australia has to get its electricity from somewhere and in this day and age appropriately located clean renewable power together with the investment and jobs that it brings is a no-brainer.

    1. I agree with what you say about appropriate placement. But wind energy in Victoria has always been about politics not the generation of electricity that’s why turbines were placed at inland sites where the wind resource is not as good as the coast – there are less votes to lose. It is also the reason why turbines will never be placed in Port Phillip Bay by a Labor Government it would be the quickest way to have a mass movement against wind energy. We know that VRETS were created by state Labor to help the union movement through union run super funds and Pac Hydro. As far as Yes2Renewables walking out it is petulant political stunt – we have seen it all before on both sides of politics.

    2. Well said Andrew, the resident muppet resorts to all sorts of excuses including aesthetic values while conveniently ignoring the fact that the land on which windfarms are constructed has already been cleared and/or modified for other purposes. A minor factor that has apparently escaped his notice. He doesn’t care that people have to live next to a coalmine, he evidently believes coal is benign. Pollution from coal mining and burning is irrelevant in his tiny mind.

      1. Name calling again Blair and putting words in other peoples is your usual form. You always ignore any relevant arguments and purposely deflect any significant points with inflammatory statements. Please read what I have said “…..wind energy in Victoria has always been about politics not the generation of electricity that’s why turbines were placed at inland sites where the wind resource is not as good as the coast – there are less votes to lose. It is also the reason why turbines will never be placed in Port Phillip Bay by a Labor Government it would be the quickest way to have a mass movement against wind energy. We know that VRETS were created by state Labor to help the union movement through union run super funds and Pac Hydro” Your tactics are a sign that you either lack the intelligence to mount an argument or that you enjoy being combative to make up for your inadequasies – you prefer to trade in insults rather than dealing with a point of view unless it is a view that agrees with yours.

  5. I have a strong feeling he gets paid to comment on sites like this gerard.Why else would someone be such an idiot.There is no reasoning with him.No intelligent conversation just name calling and personal insults.He is like a cult leader with no followers.

  6. its amazing that the same old dills are still peddling this rot
    yes2renwables a scam front for big corporate wind!

    1. The sun can be relied on Blair unlike your beloved wind turbines. This is particularly true in inland areas where you have clear sunny, windless days. Still name calling Blair you think you would have grown out of that childish habit.

      1. So please tell us all how much electricity is produced by solar panels at night time? When it comes to renewable energy, you just don’t get it – but your inane, ill informed comments suggest you don’t want to learn. You’re only interested in yourself.

      2. The article was mainly about solar panels – or didn’t you read it. How much electricity is produced by your beloved turbines on a windless day, of which there are many at inland sites. You really are a goose Blair.

      3. So you really think proponents of renewable energy don’t recognise the obvious weaknesses of wind and solar technology? That says a lot about your choice to remain uninformed about solar and wind technology, it highlights your arrogance and failure to see the obvious weaknesses of coal-fired and nuclear generated electricity. As usual, you provide no credible, viable alternative, you just criticise, harangue and demonstrate how ill informed you really are.

        Your apology points to your double standards and lacks any sincerity given your earlier comments. You clearly aren’t sorry at all.

        So long as you keep practising denial and double standards along with your embarrassing self-interest, why should anybody waste time trying to have a rational discussion with you?

        When you are prepared to be honest with yourself and the rest of us, do some basic homework on the relative strengths and weaknesses of all generating technologies, and stop being so obsessed with yourself, we can have a conversation.

  7. I guess Stanwell know the weakness of wind very well that’s why they only built the one wind farm. We will be relying on coal for a very long time yet. Unfortunately you seem to be blinded by faith and do not recognise the weaknesses in your own arguments. Delusional is word that comes to mind.

    1. See if you can find anywhere where I have stated we can do without coal tomorrow, this year or for the foreseeable future? Your straw man fabrications show that you happily resort to lies to try and make a cheap point. Evidently don’t know much about Stanwell Corporation either. I’m still waiting for you to post anything remotely honest, relevant or dealing with alternatives to fossil fuels? The only one under any illusions is yourself.

      1. Read the article Blair – Stanwell have only 1 wind farm in Qld. I know quite a bit about Stanwell having fought their proposal in Baynton before they sold out to Transfield. They lost a fair bit of interest when Vrets were replaced by the less favourable Mrets. Wind is not as effective on inland sites however politically wind farms are more likely there than on the coast because there are less votes to lose. Wind farms in inland Victoria are poltically positioned to pretend the former Labor government was doing something to address climate change and to shift money from the public purse to union superannuation funds and the likes of PAC Hydro. Blair your selective in your arguments and you remain delusional.

      2. Of course you would fight a windfarm, you’re selfish and ill informed. I have forgotten more about wind farms then you will likely ever know. You really don’t need to tell me about Stanwell Corporation and their various investments and divestments. The corporation constructed and commissioned the Toora wind farm, not far from where I live – still reliably producing electricity into its second decade.

        Evidently you didn’t know that Pacific Hydro was originally a renewable energy company that was deemed to be such an excellent income earner and so well managed that union superannuation funds bought it lock stock and barrel?

        As for wind energy in Victoria, you don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re daft if you think all the windfarms in western Victoria were built for political reasons rather than because the region is a good wind resource. Do yourself a favour and visit the region and learn how wrong you are. But by all means, continue believing your fantasies.

        Your penchant for conspiracy theories doesn’t enhance your credibility.

        For somebody who gets all precious about insults, you don’t hold back dishing them out when it suits you.

  8. The old saying about a pot and kettle come to mind Blair. Your narcissistic personality is showing again. You really should see someone (professionally)

    1. Once again you only have insults and no alternatives. You need to learn how to hide your embarrassment each time you get caught out being ill informed, hypocritical and arrogant.

      With all due respect, you need a dictionary and to refrain from giving unqualified medical advice. Just as with wind farms, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  9. Expects to be recognized as superior and special, without superior accomplishments, believes others envy him, lacks the ability to empathize with the feelings or desires of others
    Is arrogant in attitudes and behaviour. Does this remind you of anybody. “I have forgotten more about wind farms than you will ever know”

    1. Translation: Gerard is embarrassed by being called out, has nothing of any value or consequence to say regarding the subject matter of the post so resorts to name-calling and cutting and pasting dictionary definitions for reasons known only to him.

      I can’t help it if I know more about wind farms than you do. Your criticisms demonstrate the point clearly. You are ill informed. You have however demonstrated you are far more knowledgeable about conspiracy theories than I am, they make up the bulk of your posts.

      Move on Gerard, you’re boring. Renewables will be here in the near future even if Luddites like yourself and Tony Abbott try to delay their development, it’s a matter of when, not if. Your denial is a testament to your inability to grasp reality.

  10. Gerard is not embarrassed at all, Blair’s response rather proves the diagnosis. It is not a conspiracy theory about transferring public funds to Union or Labor coffers look up Curtin house deals. Wind farms placement in Victoria is about not losing votes and sucking in naive greenies that they are doing something about climate change otherwise Port Phillip Bay would have been developed years ago. It will never happen because there are too many votes to lose.

    1. “Wind farms placement in Victoria is about not losing votes and sucking in naive greenies that they are doing something about climate change otherwise Port Phillip Bay would have been developed years ago.”

      The Labour Party losing the last state election and the conservative climate change denialists introducing anti-windfarm laws undermine your ridiculous claims. How inconvenient for you. But it does serve to provide yet mother example of your denial of reality.

      I won’t be at all surprised when a windfarm is eventually proposed for Port Phillip Bay. I expect it will happen at some stage in the future even if hypochondriacs and science denialists like yourself think you are a little too precious to have to look at a wind farm.

      Do us all a favour and get yourself acquainted with the facts, you could start by contacting this company: who, unlike you, actually know about ideal areas in Australia and elsewhere with good wind resources (like Western Victoria)

  11. I thought you knew it all! Have a look at Centenary House deal. Do not believe all you read and see only a fool doesn’t question. Are you a fool Blair?

  12. Same deal, but I thought with your high level of intelligence you would know that (sarc off). Blair nothing is absolute (sarc back on) unless of course you are Blair a true believer. It is easy to fool those that never question.

    1. Well you’re consistent Gerard. You never provide evidence, you only parrot anecdotes and every time you get caught out, you change the subject in a vain effort to cover your embarrassment, just as you have done this time.

      Stick with your sarcasm, it’s the only consistent thing about you. You’re devoid of any shred of honesty, objectivity or credibility and you are clearly incapable of thinking for yourself.

  13. Blair try to understand that I am not embarrassed, I know it one of your tactics to deflect an argument. This saga started due to your inability to read the article you quoted ( then to cover your embarrassment you went on one of your usual and not expected rants. I maintain that wind farms under the former Victorian Labor government were sited to ensure minimal vote loss. Unfortunately the religious like fervour in regards to wind turbines means that you cannot be objective or sensible in any discussion. I will leave you to your last word.

    1. Poor old Gerard, you really love your conspiracy theories don’t you? By the way, I’m still waiting for evidence to support your last ridiculous claim (see above). Do you think you could provide some this time instead of changing the subject – yet again?

      They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I see you have copied my comments about you and your failure to provide credible evidence to support your claims, and tried to turn them back on me. You’re not very original are you?

      You can maintain whatever you like but unless you have the evidence to support your assertions – and you don’t – I still say you’re a deluded conspiracy theorist and your behaviour to date proves that point.

  14. Blair, it is difficult with an ego the size of yours to admit that you have been conned. Wind turbines do have a place but it is not to close to homes, but your nastiness and lack of empathy for others will not allow you see that. I know you need the last word to prove your superiority.

    1. Amazing, you bitch and whine about wind turbines but care nothing for people genuinely affected by coal mines and the pollution from burning coal. That says a lot about your lack of empathy and objectivity but it does highlight your unbelievable selfishness. Fortunately the majority of the population are a wake-up to the BS you believe in. It’s easy to see critical thinking isn’t your strong point.

      1. Lets transition to nuclear now. I do not like the pollution from coal fired power stations either (again you’re putting words into my mouth as is your habit) but we need a reliable source of base load power to run the life style we have all become accustomed too. Not your piddling unreliable but beloved wind turbines. (which perhaps represent something more to you than the rest of us know about).

      2. Concentrated solar thermal is still a pipe dream in Australia and so is large scale geothermal just ask Tim Flannery who wasted $90 million dollars of our money on a total failure. Diesendorf Only confirms that wind requires a backup supply “For large amounts of wind power connected to the grid from several geographically dispersed wind farms, total wind power generally varies smoothly and therefore cannot be described accurately as ‘intermittent’. Thus, the variability of large-scale dispersed wind power is unlike that of a single wind turbine. Nevertheless, it may require some additional back-up.”

        • As the penetration of wind power increases substantially, so do the additional costs of reserve plant and fuel used for balancing wind power variations. However, when wind power supplies up to 20% of electricity generation, these additional costs are still relatively small.” – A large high pressure system with no wind can last for days over Victoria, South Australia and Victoria we would be in trouble if we relied on turbines as a source of power in this scenario. Mills also goes down the solar thermal line which as I said is still a pipe dream – Blair show me where a country that has turned off their coal or nuclear generation and switched to what you have suggested. As Darryl Kerrigan says in the Castle: Tell ’em they’re dreamin’ You’re a fantasist Blair.

    2. Of course you are presuming that renewables will come mainly from wind energy when the true picture is a mix.

      There is no evidence to suggest that concentrated solar thermal is a pipe dream – that only your wishful thinking at work. The only thing lacking is the will to construct it. There are already a number of large plates working around the world with a new one coming online in California in a month or so.

      Still, it’s telling that you are prepared to nitpick renewables while consistently failing to address the obvious and real problems of coal-fired electricity.

      Your last request is little more than hollow rhetoric because we both know that renewables have only recently reached the point where they can compete with subsidised fossil fuel energy.

      It took a couple of decades for computers to appear in every household, for most people to own motor vehicles or travel on aircraft on a regular basis. Your lack of willingness to afford renewables the same comparable leeway even though they are probably exceeding the growth rate of the former technologies once again shows your lack of objectivity.

      And of course, South Australia continues to be a good Australian example of how wind energy can provide a large slab of reliable energy – and undermine your shortsighted claims.

      I am a realist, the fanaticism belongs to you because you cannot pull your head out of the sand. All the evidence contradicts you but you refuse to hear or understand.

      1. South Australia only works because it is backed up by the national grid. I fully support solar thermal, geothermal and biomass and I would like to reduce our reliance on coal, but at this point in time and in the foreseeable future we have no alternative because the aforementioned generation sources cannot produce the electricity we require. Wind really is an aberration and will never be reliable or major source of electricity generation. I am sure it was a freudian slip when you mentioned fanaticism – because that is what you are with your worship of the turbine.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s