Scrapping the RET is just good Horse Sense


Leonie and Erwin Thaller – breeding campdraft champions.


A while back we covered the disgraceful decision by SA’s Labor Planning Minister, Johnny “Rotten” Rau to allow Union Heavy, Gary Weaven’s, Pac Hydro to spear 42 giant fans into the heart of the peaceful little community at Keyneton – which sits just over the hill to the east of the iconic Barossa Valley.

For nearly 40 years, Keyneton locals, Leonie and Erwin Thaller have been breeding top-quality horseflesh of the kind used for the unique Australian sport of “campdrafting”.

The campdraft involves a lone rider who sets out to “cut” a single beast from a larger mob – and to then control that animal through a figure-8 course; using his or her wits and the phenomenal skill and agility of their mount.  The sport is huge in Western Queensland, attracting top-notch riders and horses from all over the Country.  The Thallers have been breeding some of the best horses used in the competition for years – the best of them selling for over $80,000. Here’s a video of the best of the best in action:



Little wonder then that the Thallers would rather pack up and leave, than subject their prized ponies to incessant low-frequency noise and infra-sound from the giant fans Pac Hydro plans to lob right next to their home and property.

Horses have far more sensitive hearing than humans so – if the noise from giant turbines is bad enough to drive dozens of Australian families from their homes (11 homes have been abandoned at Waubra, alone) – you’d think that it just might bother a flighty young filly.

Michelle Edwards is an Irish thoroughbred horse trainer who operates from her property right next to Origin’s Cullerin windfarm, NSW.  Where 15 RePower MM82 and MM92 turbines have been driving her and her horses nuts since 2009.  Her horses are quite apparently bothered by noise from operating turbines (located on the range behind their property) and, in response to it, graze the paddocks they roam in as far away from the fans as possible – whenever they’re running.

Michelle Edwards

Thoroughbred Trainer – Michelle Edwards.


Horses are often spooked by loud noises (police horses are trained to remain calm during crowd control duties by repeatedly exposing them to noises like fireworks and sirens) so it’s little wonder that Michelle fears for her safety when working her racing horses next to operating turbines (for a taste of what Michelle’s horses have to put up with – listen to the video in this post).

Having worked with horses all her life (first in Ireland, and now, Australia) Michelle knows a thing or two about horse psychology and behaviour.

Trying to work thoroughbred horses in the acoustic hell created by 15 giant fans has been a nightmare – with a serious impact on her ability to safely train winners, as Michelle put it: “I can’t have track work riders ride either because under occupational health and safety, I have to ensure that the environment that people are riding in, is safe.”  Michelle features in this ABC 7.30 Report video at the 2:45 mark.

From Michelle’s experience, the Thaller’s fears for their specialist horse breeding operation are entirely justified.  Here’s The Australian’s take on another case of unnecessary turbine terror.

Renewable review gives horse breeder hope
The Australian
Mark Schliebs
27 December 2013

ERWIN Thaller’s livelihood – breeding internationally renowned horses – hinges on the Abbott government’s review of the renewable energy target.

A proposed 42-turbine wind farm that will hem in his hilltop property near South Australia’s Barossa Valley wine region has won state government approval, but the company behind it won’t proceed until the Coalition reviews the RET next year.

If the Pacific Hydro project goes ahead, Thaller believes he will have no choice but to sell his “cutting” horses – bred for rodeo competitions where riders try to separate a cow from a herd – rather than subject them to the low-frequency noise caused by the turbines.

The flickering of sunlight due to the huge arms on each turbine also worries the 60-year-old, who says he would be unable to sell the property he has owned for about 40 years and relocate elsewhere because of an expected drop in property values.

The sale price of a horse ranges from $8000 to $80,000 and Thaller, who with wife Leonie raised six children at the Wyandah Paint & Quarter Horse Stud, has 40 horses in his paddocks at any given time.

“As an animal lover and a horseman, it doesn’t sit comfortably with me to put my horses through it,” he says.

“I can’t afford to sell the place, because who would buy it? It kind of shuts everything down for me – it robs you of that choice.”

But he does have some cause for optimism, with Tony Abbott already indicating that next year’s review of the RET would examine the “pretty significant price pressures” it has put on electricity.

“If this carbon tax goes and these RETs go down, that’s like music to my ears,” Thaller says. “That shows how much they (wind farm operators) care about renewable energy or saving the planet, because they won’t go ahead with it.

“What will happen is that there’ll be no money in it for them.”

The electricity industry is already preparing for widespread changes to the scheme.

The RET mandates that 20 per cent of electricity generation will be from renewable sources by 2020. A fall would probably result in less investment in wind farms and other forms of renewable energy.

Pacific Hydro says the feasibility of the $240 million project would be “directly affected by the outcome of the scheduled review”.

“We’ll continue to work on contractual arrangements and that sort of thing, leading up to and during the RET review,” a spokesman said.
The Australian

Erwin Thaller is spot on in identifying the Coalition’s plans to scrap the Renewable Energy Target as the salvation for the Thallers, their horses and their horse breeding operation.

The response by Pac Hydro to the RET review says it all, really: the feasibility of the $240 million project would be “directly affected by the outcome of the scheduled [RET] review.”

So, hold the phone?

Wasn’t wind power supposed to be the technology that became cheaper over time?

Isn’t the wind supposed to be “free”, such that wind power will naturally cause retail power prices to plummet (eventually)?

Aren’t outfits like Pac Hydro and Infigen ALL about “saving the planet” by powering millions of homes with wonderful “clean, green, free” wind energy?  Seriously, go and have a look at their websites!

Doesn’t the Clean Energy Council spruik (endlessly) about the cost of wind power already being competitive with fossil fuel generators?

Haven’t the Greens and the greentard bloggers – like the Climate Speculator, yes2ruining-us and ruin-economy – been waxing lyrical about how wind power is a REAL substitute for base-load generation sources?  And that wind power doesn’t really need taxpayer/power consumer subsidies at all?

What’s that American saying about talk being cheap and cash making the world go round?  Oh that’s right, “money talks and bullshit walks”.

The great Australian wind power fraud is entirely dependent upon the mandatory Renewable Energy Target and the steady stream of Renewable Energy Certificates (pocketed by outfits like Pac Hydro) that – combined – have added more than $8 billion to power bills since the RET started in 2001 (see our post here).

As soon as the RET goes, the whole wind power fiasco will come to a screaming, shuddering halt.  You can bank on it.

STT hears that the inside running among Coalition ranks is to opt for a Renewable Energy Target set at 10%.  Which, happily, Australia has already met.  The thinking is that those with existing investments shouldn’t automatically lose their shirts, but that, with a 10% target already met, there will be no encouragement for any further investment in wind power.

STT thinks that – thanks to Tony Abbott’s attitude towards the RET – the Thallers will be happily producing campdrafting champions at Keyneton for many years to come – without the acoustic insult threatened by Pac Hydro and its giant fans.

Campdraft horse

What’s that Trigger? Kill the RET and save the Thaller’s ponies.
Just sounds like horse sense to STT.

About stopthesethings

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


  1. Keith Staff says:

    Isn’t it about time we all make more “noise”, than the noise from wind turbines?
    Stop paying your council rates.
    Demand that your local MP visit your community – or no votes for them at your next local elections!
    Banners and placards placed everywhere in your locality.
    Become a real “activist”
    — It’s time —

  2. MELISSA WARE says:

    How dare the construction of these useless monstrosities near people and valuable animals continue.

    Does anyone know what the birdstrike numbers are across Pacific hydros Portland wind energy ‘project’?
    How many people already being impacted by Pacific hydro’s projects?

    Our money, the banks money, superannuation should not be shoring up these projects. Is there no common sense? What we, our children and animals endure living next to turbines in a wind facility, for years on end, is torturous. Not only enduring the neverending noise and disturbance, we’re enduring the huge silences and sidestepping from our Government bodies, Ministers and MP’s supposed to be working for the Australian people and not only the corporations.

    Where are the supporters, (in Parliament) of Senator Madigan? Motherlands are waking up to this un-natural disaster, about time we just rebelliously pull the plug and show the rest of the world how to do it. Stop feeding electricity into the turbines, stop feeding money in and stop supporting the biggest fabrication of all time. No, I’m not against jobs, Portland, just the fallacy.

  3. Not quite 2 years ago I happened to be present at a meeting held at North Terrace, Adelaide, to hear submissions to the SA DAC on the impacts of wind farms on communities forced to live too close.

    After listening to Erwin Thaller’s submission I was reduced to tears. I thought, how can a supposedly democratic country like Australia, allow such havoc and destruction be thrust on good people like Erwin and Leonie?

    I have had first hand experience of the severe negative impact of being too close to industrial wind turbines suffered by my family members and neighbours. I was appalled to think that the people sitting on this DAC panel were far more concerned about preserving Mike Rann’s mad rush to make SA the wind power capital of Australia, than how many lives and businesses these developments were going to destroy.

    Shame DAC! Shame Ex Premier Rann, Premier Weatherill and not to forget, shame on you Johnny Rotten Rau!

  4. David Mortimer says:

    A renewable energy target set at 10% won’t address the issue of those of us who are already impacted severely by the current wind farms.

    So the wind weasels lose their shirts…tuff bikkies – we are losing our lives and livelihoods because of their actions and existence.

  5. Jackie Rovenksy says:

    Let’s hope the sound of horses trotting about the fields continues and is not stopped and replaced with the whirling madness of noise from an industrial nightmare claiming to be an environmental saviour.


  1. […] The wind industry will fold in a heartbeat as soon as the RET is scrapped.  In the absence of $billions in REC tax (a direct transfer from power consumers to wind power generators) there would be no wind industry at all (see our post here). […]

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