Open mind, changed mind, changed world

Some time ago, it may have been last year, it may have been the year before, we attended one of DLP Senator John Madigan’s community wind farm forums.

The wind farm issue is no longer new. For many of us, it’s become so much a part of the fabric of our lives, the timing is irrelevant.

But like all of Madigan’s meetings, this was an outpouring of grief and anger and frustration at what this industry is doing to rural and regional lives, to families and to communities.

We recall Madigan being very still throughout most of it (an unusual thing for the Senator), but also listening intently.

benBut what we also remember is a brief address by a bloke from Friends of the Earth. He introduced himself as Ben Courtice (left).

There was a bit of jeering, the audience may have been hostile, but Madigan called for quiet and Courtice was allowed to speak.

To many of us, his name is well known. Courtice is at the forefront of the renewable energy campaign in Australia, a frequent blogger and user of social media. He spoke about the usual stuff, human-induced global warming, the need to abate carbon emissions, the necessity of wind energy.

Part of us admired his courage. He turned up, he spoke his piece. And then, and this is the important point – and the most regrettable – he left.

He wasn’t there to engage, or to listen or to interact. He was there to preach, to deliver the green wisdom to the slow and stupid country people. If we only listened to him we would see the error of our ways and embrace the fundamentalism of renewable energy.

But what happened after he slipped away was profound and heartfelt.

Person after person spoke about how their lives, their families and their health had been affected by the advent of wind energy in this country.

They spoke about the dishonesty of the industry, how wind industry executives told lies and bullied people and fudged noise monitoring results. And they told how, since the turbines began operation near their homes, they had gotten sick.

And like many of us associated with this issue, they spoke about how they were initially supporters of green energy, supporters of their often hard-pressed farming neighbours making a few extra bob by having turbines on their land.

Unfortunately, Courtice’s quick escape from truth is common. The Greens party, the lobby groups and the academics don’t want to engage or listen. Why? Because they know.

dan tehanWe contrast this with Liberal Member for Wannon, Dan Tehan (left).

Tehan has been the object of people campaigning against wind farms since he took office in 2010. Those writing to him and calling his office said they have had virtually no response from him at all – until now.

He recently agreed to meet with people living near Macarthur wind farm in western Victoria. He spent three hours listening to their stories of pressure in the ears, headaches and sleep disturbance from AGL’s 140 turbines.

Those at the meeting pressed him on why the Coalition was wanting to water down the Madigan/Xenophon bill, why it would support the push by Shadow Minister for Energy and Resource Ian McFarlane to remove any financial penalties for non-compliant wind farms.

In robust language, Tehan was told if wind farms were breaking the law why should they continue to receive RECs, why should they not be fined?

Here’s are comments from an STT member who sat in on the meeting:

Dan told us he’d been contacted and met with a couple living near the Glenthompson, the wife being very badly impacted.  I suppose that may have initially triggered his response, but he has been receiving letters saying “Dan, where are you – we’re becoming desperate here and nobody’s doing anything for us – you were elected to look after us … ”.
 
He has done an about turn from his initial position, particularly pre the vote to separate the RECs in Fed parliament which literally opened the flood gates with money. 

Prior to that Dan was reported in the paper bemoaning the fact that there wasn’t enough money for big wind projects, with AGL and Origin squealing continually. 

He was sympathetic with Keppel Prince who are the tower manufacturers in Portland, saying the jobs would disappear if the federal government didn’t allocate more money for the Macarthur wind farm. 

He was pictured leaning on a gate, frowning next to and agreeing fully with Hamish Officer, one of the large, wealthy turbine hosts who was very disturbed that the wind farm may not be constructed on his property.
 
However, he is recognising the impact that wind farms at Glenthompson, Macarthur and Cape Bridgewater are already having on the health of so many of his constituents, and he realises that many, many more wind farms have been approved or are pending permits within his large electorate.
 
The organisers of the meeting were unsure how many would turn up. On the morning it was scheduled they received four apologies so feared not many would attend. To their surprise the cars kept rolling in and around 20 affected and concerned residents attended.  This included one farmer who admitted he’d initially signed up for turbines for the Macarthur wind farm but had missed out, and now it’s all operating, he’s strongly opposed, being impacted as so many others are.
 
Dan wanted to hear directly from the people who were affected, so he spent three hours listening to the stories as each person around the room told him of their shocking experiences, whether it be sleepless nights, constant loud roaring of turbines, severe head pressure, earache, tinnitus, nausea, heart palpitations, and chest pains.
 
During the meeting Dan admitted and apologised several times that he had “got it wrong” and he expressed his desire to learn and hopefully to make AGL accountable for potential non-compliance.
 
His idea was to impose a fine, which he suggested would be far easier to administer than suspending the RECS.
 
This was reluctantly agreed to by most but one farmer, in particular, resisted saying they would have to stop payment of the RECs, until AGL  and the Macarthur wind farm complied. 

After all, he said, this was our money which they are receiving, at the same time as they are  destroying our health, our businesses, not to mention treating us all with contempt.  He was adamant that if a fine were to be imposed, it would have to be a hefty one, possibly around $500,000 plus.
 
Dan seemed quite staggered and moved by what he heard, and as he left he assured us he would do what he could to help us.  

So there you have it. A man with an open mind. A man prepared to listen.

We salute Dan Tehan. We welcome him aboard our campaign and we wish him well in Canberra. He has our support.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Its a shame Joe “Helpless Helper didnt have the same open minded approach, How many people around Waubra and throughout his electorate contacted him to speak about this issue, but got nothing but a pigheaded arrogant response?

  2. Grant Winberg says:

    Good on you Dan Tehan for having the courage to listen, understand and act to bring justice to those wrongfully condemned to suffer the detrimental human health impacts of inappropriately placed turbines; and to hold the managers of the turbines accountable – compliance and enforcement.

  3. ex Green now Milne is in charge says:

    I am reminded of the remarkable Richard Flanagan and his address to the Melbourne writers festival in 2011 on The Decline of Love and the Rise of Non-Freedom.
    http://www.themonthly.com.au/decline-love-and-rise-non-freedom-richard-flanagan-4339

    Flanagan’s profound eloquence could equally apply to the evolving Green version of politics (looking more like the ‘Green Tea’ party every day) and their being “ desensitised to the suffering of others” and “empathy eroded” in their stance on wind turbines and their adverse impacts in rural communities.
    Flanagan was commenting in particular against a backdrop of Australia’s appalling treatment of asylum seekers, the coal and fracking industries and more. He might consider turbine refugees in future?

    He went on to comment on the:
    “..new conformity at the heart of Australian life, for what we have witnessed is the very real corrosion of the idea of truth and respect for those whose views differ from that of power…”

    It seems that the “..cocaine rush of turbo capitalism” (and turbine capitalism) has sucked Milne’s Greens into its vortex. Their “Non Freedom” view of saving the earth and promoting industrial wind turbines deserves to be exposed for the corrosion it is, and the price paid at the next election. The political death of the Greens could then become an installation at David Walsh’s MONA, preserved in a patch of Tasmanian wilderness forever, or until the sea level rises, the ultimate end for a corrupted Green dream.

  4. Jackie Rovensky says:

    The sad thing is most politicians automatically accept the views of industry and its supporter before the real life experiences of the people. It can take a lot of effort and misery before some wake up a begin to listen.
    Renewable energy is a great idea BUT why didn’t they insist on research into possible disadvantages to the environment and people from these INDUSTRIAL turbines BEFORE they were allowed to be installed. Yes the engineering shows they can produce some energy BUT why did the certification process end there?

  5. Two years ago when I first got involved against wind turbines I was under the false illusion that the opinions of the local MP Alby Schultz were reflective of Coalition policy on wind farms.

    However, when I first investigated the claims of ill health, through the eye of a health professional, I realised that we have virtual sonic/EMF torture camps approved and sanctioned by governments, and a miserable suffering rural minority who are treated with contempt and ridicule by almost everyone for simply complaining about deprived of the right to live in a safe environment. My greatest thoughts went for some elderly ladies who I met at Crookwell who were literally defenceless, financially incapable of moving out of their homes, and condemned to quietly rot away and die.

    How could this be going on in “democratic Australia”? It then become bitterly apparent that no political force was against wind energy – just some shades of grey. It was also a shock that no health authority showed the slightest degree of alarm at what was going on.

    The only way of people waking up to this reality is personal investigation. Words and pictures, diagrams of noise, etc, can not give one a full comprehension of the problem. Once they do comprehend the seriousness of the issue they have two choices: act like a caring and concerned human, or go into an initial state of denial and then whatever…

    I congratulate Dan Tehan for investigating for himself the issues confronting rural Australia. I hope many more politicians of all political parties will do the same, particularly Senator Milne who needs a big wake up call that her spinning tri-bladed idols are demons and not gods, and those that impose them should face up to the reality of acting no differently to those condemned by the Nuremberg trials.

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