I worked in government long enough to know how they operate.
Nothing is an accident.
Everything is planned or stage-managed.
It is especially so before a new, and particularly controversial initiative is to be announced. It’s always good for the government to get a ‘feel’ of how the announcement will be received. Conversely, if there are indications that the announcement would be in the face of public disapproval then it’s just as good for the government to say and do nothing. “It was just all speculation”. “It will blow over and soon be forgotten”.
And so it was when yesterday we learned that:
A national wind farm commissioner to investigate complaints about wind turbines will be appointed by the Abbott government as anti-wind energy senators move to curb the industry’s growth.
This government knows just who to turn to.
Talk around the water cooler suggests that most people see this as a swift response inspired by Tony Abbott’s much public complaint to Alan Jones that wind farms could represent health risks, and of course, his much lampooned comment about them being noisy:
“Well Alan look, I do take your point about the potential health impact of these things,” Mr Abbott said.
“When I’ve been up close to these wind farms, there’s no doubt, not only are they visually awful, they make a lot of noise.
I beg to differ to the water cooler consensus. Experience in government tells me it was the other way around.
The government wants to appoint a national wind farm commissioner and was dangling its toe in the pool of public opinion first.
That’s where Alan Jones steps in – who else?
It was all stage-managed.
Conveniently Jones wanted to talk about wind farms and instead of being met with Tony Abbott’s customary responses that are littered with hesitant words the Prime Minister spoke quite fluently. It was not the Tony Abbott who is always lost for words when confronted with an off-the-cuff question.
Everything fell into place. Let’s run through them:
- The government wants to appoint a national wind farm commissioner. It is a controversial decision given the world’s move towards cleaner energy.
- The government ’employs’ Alan Jones to interview the Prime Minister about – among other things – wind farms.
- The Prime Minister puts it out there that there are potential health concerns with wind farms, and of course they look ugly and are noisy.
- The Murdoch media publish stories that support the Prime Minister. Public support has been mustered.
- Bingo, government announces (conveniently through a leaked letter) that it wants to appoint a national wind farm commissioner.
The wind farm debate was no accident.
There are times when Tony Abbott knows exactly what he is doing.