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And so the lies and madness continue . . .

At the Clean Energy Week Conference in July 2013, South Australian Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham made the following pledge:

“The Coalition remains committed to the 20 per cent Renewable Energy Target. It is a position we have re-stated on multiple occasions and following the last review conducted by the Climate Change Authority.

It has been interesting to note the claims being made about what the Coalition will or won’t do. All of it is simply conjecture. The Coalition supports the current system, including the 41,000 giga-watt hours target.

We know and appreciate that the industry wants certainty and I assure you that any review will be conducted in an open and transparent way, guided by experts, with all parties encouraged to make submissions. There are no hidden agendas in this process, just a determination to ensure the Renewable Energy Target is operating as effectively as it can.

There is no doubt that renewable energy will play an important and growing role in delivering the future energy needs of Australia.

Modelling demonstrates that the RET is the primary driver of change in electricity generation in the period to 2020. The investment decisions which have driven the investment in wind farms and solar were made irrespective of the Carbon Tax and started well before it. Those investment decisions will continue if the Carbon Tax is removed.

The RET will be a key driver of change under the Coalition, complementing our direct action initiatives.

We also know there is a role for research and development and so have given our support to the role of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

A significant part of our Direct Action Plan is support for solar power.

Despite the constant changes to policy settings over recent years around small scale schemes, one million roofs across Australia now have a solar system installed. It is an important milestone and an indication of the Australian community’s support for solar.

While Australia has now hit the one million mark, we still believe there is opportunity to cautiously support the market as it expands in a sustainable way. This includes providing a greater focus on solar hot water, which was hit hard by the Government last year suddenly scrapping its rebate scheme, and encouraging greater uptake among low income households.

The Coalition has a strong track record on the environment and in its support for renewable energy through the Renewable Energy Target. What we want to be able to deliver, if elected, is a policy that provides sustainability and a long-term future for the industry, without constant chopping and changing.

We want the clean energy industries to have a strong future and I close today by assuring you that we believe our policy settings can help you to achieve that strong future and we look forward to working with you to achieve that shared goal. I wish you all a very successful Clean Energy Week.”

In November 2013, Environment Minister Greg Hunt announced to the Clean Energy Council industry gathering that the Coalition was committed to its $500 million “one million solar roofs” program.

Mr Hunt described the flagship solar program – which provided $500 rebates for installing one million rooftop solar energy systems over the next 10 years – as a “shining beacon” of the Abbott government’s Direct Action climate policy.

He added a further $50 million each would be given to the solar towns and solar schools programs.

“Each of these three new programs is being prepared for implementation and will commence in the 2014-15 financial year,” he said.

As the budget drew closer, Mr Hunt continued to assure industry figures that the solar policies would proceed.

As has become the habit, all but $2 million of Hunt’s $600 million in promised policies was abandoned.

The 2014-15 budget allocated no money for solar roofs and nothing for solar schools. Just $2.1 million was given to the solar towns policy despite Mr Hunt promising $50 million in November.

“The budget speech delivered by the Treasurer Joe Hockey confirmed that the government would move to abolish the primary renewable energy agency, the $3.1 billion Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), cut the planned “one million solar roofs program, and cast doubt on the future of the Renewable Energy Target (RET).

ARENA will have the funds to support 181 projects, worth about $1 billion, that have already been contracted since its creation in 2012, but will get just $15 million over each of the next two years for new projects.”

Similarly the coalition promised to maintain Landcare funding but instead $484 million was cut from Landcare and the Caring for Our Country programs.

WWF-Australia National Manager Climate Change Kellie Caught said, “The government could reduce debt, invest in renewables and tackle climate change if it kept the carbon price and cut the $3 billion to $5 billion a year in fossil fuel subsides.”

“The big end of town’s diesel fuel subsidies cost every taxpayer around $300 a year,” Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Kelly O’Shanassy said. “While other motorists continue to pay 32c a litre now and more each year on fuel, companies like Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton pay no tax on the diesel they use. And because the fuel excise will increase every year, big corporations will get an increased subsidy every year.”

John Grimes, Chief Executive of the Australian Solar Council, said “Whilst the government defends billions of dollars of fuel subsidies for wealthy miners, it has abolished our world-leading solar research.”

In July, Treasurer Joe Hockey and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann wrote to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) directing it to change its investment mandate, banning new funding for wind projects.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said “It is our policy to abolish the CEFC, because we think that if the projects stack up economically, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be supported in the usual way. While the CEFC exists, what we believe it should be doing is investing in new and emerging technologies, certainly not existing wind farms.”

The Climate Council provides some evidence based research

Australia has some of the best renewable energy resources in the world, particularly in wind and solar (Geoscience Australia and ABARE 2010).

In fact, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO 2013) Australia has more than enough renewable energy resources to power all our electricity needs. AEMO (2013) modeled scenarios for providing 100 percent of Australia’s electricity from renewable energy, and found potential renewable generation to be about 500 times greater than demand in the National Electricity Market (NEM).

However despite having world-class renewable energy resources, particularly in wind and solar, Australia has a low share of renewable electricity generation – seventh lowest among 28 member countries of the International Energy Agency (Australian Energy Regulator 2012). According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, uncertainty over the RE T in Australia has resulted in a 70% slump in investment in renewable energy over the past year (The Guardian 2014).

As well as providing low or no emissions energy, renewables attract investment and create jobs, particularly in regional Australia. Twenty one thousand people are already employed in the renewable energy industry in Australia (Clean Energy Council 2014a) and modelling by the Climate Institute (2011) estimated that nearly 32,000 renewable energy jobs (including over 6,800 new permanent jobs) could be created in Australia by 2030 with strong and consistent climate policies.

Farmers and landowners in regional areas who lease their land for wind turbines also benefit through annual lease payments which provide a reliable, alternative source of income and help to “drought-proof” farms (Chapman 2013). Around $16.4 million is paid annually in lease payments for hosting wind turbines (Epuron 2014; Clean Energy Council 2014a).

Solar and wind provide clean energy and consequently also have additional benefits of reducing the pollution from other energy sources. Coal, the dominant fuel for electricity in Australia produces pollutants that damage human health through mining, transportation, combustion and the disposal of waste (Epstein et al 2011). In Australia, it is estimated that the adverse impacts from pollutants produced from coal-fired electricity generation costs A$ 2.6 billion annually (ATSE 2009).

Instead of taking heed of this mountain of evidence, the Coalition, urged on by cross bench Senators, prefers to listen to Sarah Laurie who heads the anti-wind-farm Waubra Foundation.

She claims that wind turbines can make people’s lips vibrate “as from a distance of 10km away” and that turbines can “perceptibly rock stationary cars even further than a kilometre away from the nearest wind turbine.”

Last December, Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal refused her standing as an expert witness in a case, arguing that she had no training in research, but was seeking to provide expert interpretation of research. They also noted that as an unregistered doctor, she was not allowed to diagnose health problems, but that this was precisely what much of her proposed evidence involved her doing. The judgment states that Laurie has agreed to stop calling herself Dr Laurie.

That did not stop our government accepting her “expert testimony” to the Senate Committee on Wind Turbines who quote her extensively in their findings.

2.8 Dr Sarah Laurie told the committee:

The human cost of the failure to protect people from excessive noise pollution, especially at night, is terrible. I have personally helped to prevent a number of suicides of people who were utterly desperate because of the consequences of excessive noise pollution and who reached out for help…[3]

From my experience there is a subset of people who are terribly impacted very early on. Those people are the ones who tend to present with acute vestibular disorder type of symptoms—dizziness and motion sickness, which can be accompanied by extreme anxiety. Those people often just cannot last very long, and they move if they can.[4]

However when Professor Simon Chapman AO, Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney, gave his evidence the committee were damning.

2.21 The committee highlights the fact that Professor Chapman is not a qualified, registered nor experienced medical practitioner, psychiatrist, psychologist, acoustician, audiologist, physicist or engineer. Accordingly:

  • he has not medically assessed a single person suffering adverse health impacts from wind turbines;
  • his research work has been mainly—and perhaps solely—from an academic perspective without field studies;
  • his views have been heavily criticised by several independent medical and acoustic experts in the international community; and
  • many of his assertions do not withstand fact check analyses.


2.22 Professor Chapman has made several claims which are contrary to the evidence gathered by this committee. First, he argues that the majority of Australia’s wind turbines have never received a single complaint.[19] There are various problems with this statement:

i.wind turbines located significant distances from residents will not generate complaints;

ii.many residents suffering adverse health effects were not aware of any nexus between their health and the impact of wind turbines in order to make a complaint;

iii. just because residents do not lodge a formal complaint does not mean they are not suffering adverse health effects;

iv.data obtained by Professor Chapman from wind farm operators of the numbers of complaints lodged cannot be relied upon; and

v.the use of non-disclosure clauses and ‘good neighbour agreements’ legally restricts people from making adverse public statements or complaints.

And so the madness continues . . .

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  1. Harquebus

    “There is no doubt that renewable energy will play an important and growing role in delivering the future energy needs of Australia.”
    This applies only to ignorant fools and dreamers. The pollution caused and consumption required to produce these inefficient devices far outweighs any benefits.
    The only reason governments support these renewable “schemes” is for political expediency and distraction.
    “And so the madness continues……..” Too bloody right!

  2. Kaye Lee

    What absolute rubbish Harquebus. There is NO question that solar and wind energy are preferable to coal and any assertion by you to the contrary is a load of crap. It is extremely important that the truth be told about this. Of course there will be some fossil fuels involved in the production and use of renewable energy. We are looking for improvements and I am sorry, I will not tolerate another pointless doom and destruction diatribe. Make a positive suggestion on an achievable way to REDUCE…repeat REDUCE…emissions if you wish. Otherwise, please allow those of us who are not ready to suck our thumbs in a corner, or begin forced sterilisations and abortions, to discuss ideas.

  3. Keitha Granville

    I have a picture in my head of the LNP sitting on a barren piece of rock, sometime in the not too distant future. The last piece of coal has been dug up, the last drop of oil has been sucked. There are no trees left. There is no water to drink, and they are all taking turns to breathe from an oxygen tank. They are trying to find a country that takes in boat people . . . . . . .

  4. Matters Not

    Note also:

    Canberra will be powered entirely by renewable energy by 2025, the ACT Government has announced.

    The ACT has already committed to a target of 90 per cent renewable energy within the next five years and has backed a series of large-scale wind and solar projects both locally and interstate.

    Environment Minister Simon Corbell said shifting the target to 100 per cent would make Canberra a leader both nationally and abroad.


    But think of the noise! The locals will all be dizzy. Sleep will be impossible. Blood pressure will rise. A new Death Cult will emerge.

    And so it goes.

  5. kerri

    The claims by “Dr” Laurie would make a third grader laugh!
    I live less than 10k from the turbines in Chadstone Victoria!
    My lips are not vibrating, nor do I feel dizzy or anxious!
    What a crock!

  6. Blinkyewok

    Great article Kaye. Handy info for election campaign.

  7. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    I have not mentioned coal and do not advocate it. As you know, my solution is population reduction which, one way or another is going to happen. Pursuing the unattainable dream of a renewable energy future only delays doing what is required.

    Amazing New Energy Source: Introducing TREES

  8. Kaye Lee

    You not mentioning coal is the whole point. Currently we get our power largely from coal. A move to renewables will reduce our emissions. Of course other things like reforestation must play a part. Educating and empowering women has been shown to curb population growth. As I have said to you many times before, you cannot start a journey at the destination.

  9. Matters Not

    Want some insights into who is leading this charge against ‘renewables’, particularly wind turbines. First there’s Helen Dale, oka Helen Demidenko, oka Helen Darville. She now works for Senator David Leyonhjelm who is advocate for ‘arming’ all Australians, among other ‘libertarian’ notions. Professor Chapman is therefore in his ‘sights’.

    As a public health advocate, Chapman supports gun control. Leyonhjelm is a former chairman of the Shooters Party. Chapman was a prime mover for stringent anti-smoking laws. Leyonhjelm supports smokers’ rights and the tobacco lobby substantially funds his Liberal Democratic Party. It took $35,000 from Philip Morris in 2013-14.

    But it was neither of those things that inspired Dale’s Facebook threat to mince the professor. It was his attitude to renewable energy. Specifically, to wind turbines.

    To put it bluntly, Chapman is of the opinion, the very well-informed, scientifically based opinion, that claims about wind turbines having negative health effects are a crock.

    Another Senator to the fore is Senator John Madigan who is advised by Max Rheese. Rheese was the long time head of the AEF (Australian Environment Foundation), an organisation that shares its postal address with the IPA.

    You can read much, much more here, penned by probably the best journalist in Australia.


  10. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    Reducing the population will reduce consumption and pollution. Renewable energy collectors will not.
    This argument will go on until one of us is proved correct so, I am going to do you a favor and leave it at that.

  11. jim

    Phew.. is there just no end to Abbotts lies and destruction ?.it is just breath taking, and whatever their on it must be better than sex ,it’s all too obvious that they working for the Fossil fuel corporations but I wonder just what the FFI are giving them, what on earth can it be FFS. Oh well what I said 2 years ago “another day another stupid statement by Abbott and the LNP.

  12. corvus boreus

    Regarding the possible validity in the stated health arguments against wind turbines, there has to be sense of wider perspective upon seriousness compared to other community environmental health concerns
    I acknowledge the credibility in some of the expressed concerns; people who tend to get easily seasick would also prob/possibly get queasy quite quickly living near big and obtrusive wind turbines, and, as a person who appreciates the sounds made by the wings of different birds, I can very easily see how the noisier ones could drive a person who values the quiet inutterably batshit (whoomp… whoomp…).

    More valid variations upon the same concerns also apply to people living under or around high-voltage power lines (zzzzz-ap-zzzzz-ap-) and jet-engine flight-paths (!!!), which, in addition, manifestly increase incidence of cancer and other health problems (high-end E/M disruption and petro-chemical emissions).

    Meanwhile, families living around CSG wells are suffering chronic migraines and nosebleeds, as their groundwater, and the very air that they need to breathe, turns flammable and toxic, with nary an inquiry raised.

  13. Kaye Lee

    What about people who live near roads or railways. Or like me who listen to the sound of waves crashing. And can I say, kookaburras and black cockatoos going off are a tad noisier than the whooshing of wings. What about new parents who purposely have white noise on so their baby won’t get startled? It astonishes me that Xenophon lent his name to this debacle. He loses credibility in my eyes. The others are known loons and sell outs but I had hoped for better from him.

  14. Kaye Lee

    the risk of premature death for people living within 50 kilometres of coal-burning power plants can be as much as three to four times that of people living at a greater distance (Epstein et al 2010). In the US, 50,000 deaths each year have been attributed to air pollution from coal‑fired power generation (Lockwood et al 2009). Globally, air pollution from coal combustion accounts for over 200,000 deaths per year (Burt et al 2013). US economists have estimated the health impacts of coal-fired power stations in the US to be between one and six times its value added (Parkinson 2014).


    25 March 2014 | Geneva – In new estimates released today, WHO reports that in 2012 around 7 million people died – one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure.

    Regionally, low- and middle-income countries in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions had the largest air pollution-related burden in 2012, with a total of 3.3 million deaths linked to indoor air pollution and 2.6 million deaths related to outdoor air pollution.

    “Excessive air pollution is often a by-product of unsustainable policies in sectors such as transport, energy, waste management and industry. In most cases, healthier strategies will also be more economical in the long term due to health-care cost savings as well as climate gains,” says Dr Carlos Dora, WHO Coordinator for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health.


  15. brickbob

    Yes the madness continues and will do so till we sack the chief madman and his equally mad folowers.””

  16. corvus boreus

    Kaye Lee,
    Have you heard any detailed/definitive statements on the reported proposals for a law defining geographical parameters (based upon proximity of habitation to the site of a project) from within which protesters are to be permitted to originate (the talk of a law to ban all but NIMBY protests)?

  17. Möbius Ecko

    Yet another promise broken. The roll out of NDIS delayed yet again. Their promise was to roll out NDIS in full and on the original schedule.

    And what is the right wingers answer to the constant stream of major lies, backflips and broken promises by this government and their Janus-faced leader? “Labor”

  18. lizzieconnor

    Harquebus, the rate of the global population ‘explosion’ is already decreasing because fertility rates have halved since the 1950s. But population numbers will continue to rise because of the youth of so many people in underdeveloped countries, and the fall in fertility rates takes a long time to show up as a subsequent fall in birth rates.

    The only ways we can decrease it much more quickly will cost quite a lot of money from people in developed countries, e.g. to increase the education of the women, to spread family planning education and contraception (often in countries where the main religion is against it), to begin sterilising or killing these young women (or by allowing them to die). Which of these methods do you recommend? And how do you intend to get the money to do what you recommend. NB I know what I recommend, but my hopes for funding it have all but vanished as Australia and other countries reduce their aid so drastically.

    Link here: http://www.ozy.com/acumen/world-population-decline/4357

  19. Kaye Lee


    All I have found so far….

    Under the current laws, anyone “adversely affected” by a decision or a failure to make a decision has the legal right to challenge it.

    This includes any Australian citizens and residents who have acted “for protection or conservation of or research into the environment” any time in the two years before the decision was made.

    The changes proposed will mean that legal challenges can only be made by people directly affected by a development, such as a land holder.

    Senator Brandis said on Tuesday Australia’s environment laws provided a “red carpet” for activists that had a political, but not a legal, interest in projects.

    “The government has decided to protect Australian jobs by removing from the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) the provision that allows radical green activists to engage in vigilante litigation to stop important economic projects,” he said.

    Section 487 does not advocate “open standing”, whereby anyone can bring an action for review, but it does authorise “representative standing”, in which groups can act on behalf of an affected community.

    Removing section 487 and abolishing this extended standing will effectively preclude environmental groups from acting on behalf of affected communities and from performing their important function as a watchdog.

    This would take Australia’s national environmental legislation all the way back to its 1974 predecessor, a piece of legislation that was expressly designed to minimise judicial review by environmental groups.

  20. philgorman2014

    How do these people get elected? At the very least the worst psychopaths need to be screened out of the electoral processes in this country. There is urgent need to introduce some basic tests for those intending to stand for public office. These should include screening for personality disorders and standardised tests of general knowledge and education to at least grade eight levels.

  21. Wally

    @Harquebus the little island to the east called New Zealand that we often (jokingly) refer to as being backward has left Australia well behind in the renewable energy stakes. I believe I read somewhere recently that they have already reached the 90% target.

    In 2010, 74% of the electricity generated in New Zealand came from renewable sources, a ratio that has been falling for decades while load growth has been met primarily by natural gas-fired power stations. In September 2007, former Prime Minister Helen Clark announced a national target of 90 percent renewable electricity by 2025, with wind energy to make up much of that increase.[


  22. Harquebus

    When factoring the resources consumed, the environmental costs in production, future maintenance and disposal of renewable products, it doesn’t look so rosy. As non renewable resources dwindle, wind turbines will lay idle and solar panels will leach toxic materials in land fills for generations to come.

  23. Divergent

    Environmental cost of extracting neodymium for turbine magnets.
    Neodymium magnets have replaced alnico and ferrite magnets in many of the myriad applications in modern technology where strong permanent magnets are required, because their greater strength allows the use of smaller, lighter magnets for a given application.
    Snowy hydro uses self excitation induction generators
    http://www.snowyhydro.com.au/energy/hydro/how-the-scheme-works/ because there are limits to the size of permanent magnet generators. But the trade off is weight, however, as these turbines are typically mounted on the ground it isn’t such a problem. This would apply to geothermal and tidal turbines as well. NZ produces far more energy from geothermal than it does from wind turbines. Geothermal generators typically use self excitation induction generators which don’t need permanent magnets.

  24. Wally


    You cannot put all wind turbines in the same category and the so called facts in many articles I read are very dubious, in many cases such as your comment “Snowy hydro uses self excitation induction generators” are factually wrong. The Snowy Hydro produces AC power so the devices referred to as generators are actually alternators and yes the source of your information is factually incorrect. Most wind generators produce AC power as well so technically they are also alternators but often referred to as synchronous generators – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permanent_magnet_synchronous_generator

    The Siemens literature at the link below clearly states that geared turbines do not use permanent magnet generators, unsure if this refers only to Siemens products or geared units in general.

    http://www.energy.siemens.com/hq/pool/hq/power-generation/renewables/wind-power/platform%20brochures/D3%20Onshore%20brochure_ENGLISH_Apr2014_WEB.pdf – Siemens has opted for a permanent magnet generator for improved efficiency. Unlike an electrically excited machine with a gearbox, a permanent magnet-excited machine does not expend any energy on the excitation itself.

    http://www.energy.siemens.com/hq/en/renewable-energy/wind-power/platforms/d3-platform/wind-turbine-swt-3-3-130.htm – The generator is a air-cooled synchronous generator with permanent magnet excitation.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_farm#Environmental_impact – The energy consumed to manufacture and transport the materials used to build a wind power plant is equal to the new energy produced by the plant within a few months.

    I do not deny the pollution problem in China due to manufacturing permanent magnet but the magnets are used in many DC devices as well as motors, the page you linked to at wiki has a list of common uses – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neodymium_magnet#Existing_magnet_applications

    We need to stop the pollution from manufacturing the magnets (and many other things) but stopping the production of wind turbines will have little effect. The anti wind farm lobby need to take their blinkers off.

  25. Divergent

    http://www.snowyhydro.com.au/energy/hydro/how-the-scheme-works/ They may well be alternators but they call them generators. I was just trying to keep it simple. “In its simplest form, electricity is generated by rotating a magnet inside a wire coil. In a power station, this process is enhanced; the magnet is an electro-magnet or “rotor” spinning inside the fixed coils or “stator” of the generator”
    My point is that Neodymium is rare and its production toxic. This needs to be factored in when looking at an overall generation mix.

  26. Wally


    “My point is that Neodymium is rare and its production toxic. This needs to be factored in when looking at an overall generation mix.”

    When you consider Neodymium is only used in some wind turbines not all of them and Neodymium is used in computer hard drives, printer motors and battery drills I don’t think blaming the pollution created from producing Neodymium on wind turbines is appropriate.

    “They may well be alternators”

    When I did trade school 40 years ago they were alternators unless they had a commutator and nothing has changed except for more Americanisation.

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