Hamish Cumming: Victorian Government engaged in “Fraud on a Grand Scale”

hamish-cumming

The Cummings – what real environmentalists look like.

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There are few campaigners who can match Victorian Western District farmer and grazier, Hamish Cumming for courage and sheer determination.

Hamish is a true environmentalist – his love of endangered brolgas and his sterling efforts to prevent them being sliced and diced by giant fans, has made him a true Victorian legend.  Hamish has served it up to Green’s Senator, Die Nasty and his wind industry backers – who all seem to think that rank hypocrisy is the new “black” (see our post here).

And – for years – Hamish has been on the war path about endemic, institutional corruption within the Victorian Planning Department and – the grubbiest of them all – the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE).

In order to help their wind weasel buddies get planning applications over the line – this bunch of crooks have actively removed data detailing the numbers and nesting sites of the rare and endangered brolga from official records.

brolga112

Australian brolga: rare, endangered and under threat
from a combination of giant fans, corrupt pollies and bent officials.

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Whenever challenged by Hamish about the “mysterious” disappearance of data records – which took decades to gather – these boys have responded to a man with back-sliding, prevarication, obfuscation and downright lies.

Hamish – quite rightly fed up with their lies, treachery and deceit – has called the cops.  Victoria Police have referred the matter to Victoria’s corruption watchdog, the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC).  STT’s sure the shredders will be working overtime at DSE HQ – getting rid of “unhelpful” paper trails.  But – trashing evidence probably won’t save them – the disappearance of the Brolga records is – well, on the record – the only mystery is who ordered the disappearance.

The Victorian State government’s relationship with wind weasels gives rise to the kind of stench that’ll easily outlast religion.

Senator John “Marshall” Madigan tipped a bucket on State Planning Minister, Matthew Guy and his staffer, Andrew Tongue – who for wind weasels is Victoria’s “Mr Fixit” – over their systematic efforts to withhold documents and information that would – for example – sink non-compliant windfarms like Waubra (Acciona), Cape Bridgewater (Pac Hydro) and Macarthur (AGL) (see our post here).

Here’s The Australian’s take on the rotten little bunch that run cover and “grease” the wheels for wind weasels in Victoria.

Bird data ‘went missing’ during wind farm probe
The Australian
Pia Akerman
20 January 2014

THE beautiful native brolga is set to star in cover-up claims laid before the Victorian anti-corruption watchdog, after police referred allegations that brolga data went missing or was ignored when the state bureaucracy was considering permit applications for two wind farms.

The Chepstowe wind farm, a three-turbine project near Ballarat, and the 63-turbine Mt Gellibrand project near Colac, have persistently struck roadblocks in the years since they were first announced.

Now long-running allegations relating to environmental studies completed for their permit approvals have been handed to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission by Victoria Police detectives.

Hamish Cumming, a mechanical engineer and farmer whose Darlington property is near two other proposed wind farm projects, alleges incorrect information about the brolgas flocking and nesting near Chepstowe and Mt Gellibrand was knowingly provided to and accepted by the Department of Sustainability and Environment (now Department of Environment and Primary Industries), with staff gagged if they expressed concern.

Detective Senior Constable Wayne Ryan wrote to Mr Cumming last month to inform him the police would not investigate but had referred the case to IBAC. “The entire matter has been forwarded to IBAC for their opinion/investigation,” he said. “The authority that should have challenged the reports submitted to the planning authority is the DEPI.

“If there is corrupt activity being undertaken . . . then IBAC is the appropriate body to undertake that investigation.”

Detective Ryan said he had forwarded documentation provided by Mr Cumming to IBAC.

An IBAC spokeswoman said it would not comment on whether it would investigate because of “legal and operational reasons.”

A DEPI spokeswoman said the department would cooperate with any external investigation.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy approved the Chepstowe wind farm in 2011, three months after he used his powers to call it in from Victoria’s planning tribunal.

At the time, he said the decision responded to concerns raised about potential impacts on local brolgas. The Mt Gellibrand wind farm received approval for 116 turbines in 2006 but was later sold and a new permit granted for 63 turbines in 2012.

Birds have persistently proved problematic for Victorian wind farm developers, with an application for the Bald Hills wind farm temporarily stymied after the Howard government declared it would threaten the critically endangered orange-bellied parrot.

DSE guidelines specify wind turbines should be at least 3.2km from brolga nests and 5km from roosting sites. Mr Cumming said he believed senior bureaucrats had been pressured into overlooking the brolga information.

“We’ve got DSE by the short and curlies well and truly now because we’ve proved data has been removed, we’ve proved they’ve gagged staff,” he said. “I’ve had five (DSE) guys come to me and say they’ve been gagged.

“People are just covering their backsides. It’s fraud on a grand scale,” Mr Cumming said.
The Australian

STT has reported on the shenanigans engaged in by DSE and the wind weasels’ consultants who routinely pull their punches in order to get projects approved. The “sharpest” of them all – according to a series of Victorian Planning Panels – is Brett Lane – who apparently ain’t afraid to gild the lily to help his clients earn their rubber stamps – numerous Panels have been highly critical of his work by reason of sloppiness and (careless?) omissions (see our post here).

Brett has made an enormous pile of cash by telling it precisely the way his clients pay him to – so, like any good mercenary, he’s got an excuse.

Not so, the so-called “Greens”.

Once upon a time these warm, fuzzy tree-huggers would have died in a ditch to prevent any threat to our feathered friends – and especially so, if those creating the threat were companies (of any description) who were – heaven forbid – out to make a profit.

These days – they couldn’t care less about Australia’s rare and endangered critters – even if the companies engaged in wanton slaughter are foreign multinationals, like Acciona – provided their weapon of choice is a fleet of giant fans.

eagle 1

No contest really – giant fan 1: majestic bird of prey NIL.

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Make no mistake – the Greens are now fully paid-up advocates for wind weasels. At the last Federal election Vestas & Co threw close to $1 million into the campaign to save Sarah Hanson-Young from electoral oblivion – and in a futile effort to knock off STT Champion and SA’s favourite Greek, Senator Nick Xenophon (see our post here).

Nick has been pestering them for months to spill the beans on who (ie which wind outfit) it was that funded a very, very slick television advertising campaign in SA – but the Green’s politburo is staying schtum on where the coin came from.  No doubt, in an effort to appear like paragons of Marxist “virtue”.  Funny about that.

Not content with calling the cops and getting IBAC to root out systematic corruption within the Victorian Planning Department and the DSE (now known as the Department of Environment and Primary Industries) – Hamish has taken a swipe at Victorian State Green, Greg Barber for his particular brand of “green” hypocrisy.

Open letter to Greg Barber.
Parliamentary Leader of the Victorian Greens.
23 December 2013

Dear Greg,

You would have seen the news last week, where NSW ICAC investigated mining leases being issued in a corrupt manner, and have indicated the leases may now be revoked, the monies earned confiscated, and affected parties compensated.

As a Greens leader, I am sure you would support this investigation and the outcome because it is to do with mining. However, a similarly corrupt activity is happening right here in Victoria in an industry that has the absolute support of the Greens: wind farming.

Ironically, the Greens’ ideological support for these projects is not diminished by the fraudulent behaviour of the state government agencies, wind farm companies and their consultants, who are evading their environmental responsibilities such as the protection of Brolga.

Despite my raising concerns about fraud and corruption in specific wind farm projects with you, you seem totally happy to continue your support for wind farm approvals in areas that are known high-density Brolga areas.

You seem happy to accept the word of agencies and wind farm consultants who say there are no Brolgas present and who are clearly acting to facilitate the approval of projects rather than avoiding serious harm to vulnerable Brolga populations. If consultants were producing such dodgy environmental reports for the mining industry, the Greens would make it their business to stop their activities in their tracks. It would only take you two seconds to find enough material to cry foul.

Agencies are also up to their necks in this dodgy activity.

I have written to you on numerous occasions about large datasets of known Brolga flocking, nesting and observation sites that have been “mysteriously” removed from DSE databases used by developers to identify areas of environmental sensitivity when planning wind farms. These datasets include more than a thousand records submitted by experts within DSE, as well as those recorded by the community over many years.

The missing data sets “mysteriously” also happen to be in areas where wind farms are proposed. You still continue to support wind farms despite knowing that the information being used by developers is plain wrong. DSE and local and state planning authorities know full well this data is missing, with its absence helping facilitate the approval of wind farms in high Brolga density areas. Your support for these projects will endanger significant proportions of the southern Brolga population in Victoria.

I have also written to you, telling you of the statements made to me by wind farm company employees that allegations of fraud will not be investigated because they had paid off people in shire councils, senior DSE and DPI staff, politicians and even police. I asked you to categorically deny that you or other Greens were on the take and to deny that you were involved with the tampering of my email and telephone systems. You instead chose not to deny or comment.

I ask you now to look at attachments gained from recent FOI requests. The attached are just a few of the hundreds of documents we now have supporting the allegations.

Both Chepstowe and Mt Gellibrand wind farm permits have been approved after critical Brolga data was removed from the Atlas of Victorian Wildlife. DSE staff were gagged to prevent them from speaking out at the panel hearings and DSE staff were not allowed to return the removed data. The consultants then presented reports with critical data omitted and claimed Brolga did not have any home range where the turbines were proposed and the projects were subsequently approved.

The consultants have, however, made two critical mistakes.

The first mistake was writing to thank a DSE regional staff member for all his data and his assistance with the Brolga records for Mt Gellibrand wind farm (the majority of which he still failed to use). This was prior to the data being erased off the Atlas.

Attached is this thank you letter from the consultant and the earlier letters from the DSE staff member to his superiors (before he was gagged) expressing outrage that the consultant’s report was seriously deficient and omitted most of the known and documented data.

Also attached is the final DSE advice and recommendation to the Minister of Planning saying there are no issues and that Brolga may only sometimes fly over the site. Three-hundred DSE Brolga nesting and flocking records from within the wind farm footprint and immediately beside the wind farm were removed from the Atlas, and still have not been returned to this day, even after repeated promises have been made for their return by senior DSE staff and the former DSE Regional Director.

The second mistake occurred when the same consultant was employed by the Mt Gellibrand community to fight a mine permit right next to the wind farm site. The consultant used much of the previously omitted Brolga data to defeat the mine permit application. He used the data even though it was still absent from the Atlas at the time.

The VCAT tapes are available which show the VCAT bench asking the consultant why they chose to use the data for the mine, but not the wind farm. The consultant’s answer was basically that the wind farm would not have been given approval if he had.

A meeting was held on 18 November 2013 with the new DEPI Regional Director and Biodiversity Manager and five community members from Macarthur, Penshurst, Dundonnell, Chepstowe and Mortlake South wind farm project areas. The meeting was recorded and a full transcript is available. All these projects had the same consultants involved. And all had the same data omission and DSE gagging issues.

The Victorian Ombudsman prompted a meeting to be called for DSE to answer 12 action points from a meeting 9 months earlier (where they had agreed to answer the action points within two weeks, but had not). The action points were all related to Brolga data omission or data removal issues to do with the above-mentioned wind farms.

DEPI came to the meeting; the new Director and Biodiversity Manager acknowledged concerns about what had happened in the past, but claimed that they would run a straight line from now on. DEPI stated they would revisit the Chepstowe and Mt Gellibrand permits and environmental reports only if Mathew Guy asked Ryan Smith to do so. The Director, however, said she was aware Victoria Police had been asked to investigate the Chepstowe and Mt Gellibrand projects and stated that it was entirely appropriate for the Victoria Police to investigate the consultant and to internally investigate DEPI holistically.

I have a letter from Victoria Police this week stating that they have referred the matter to IBAC (Independent Broad Based Anti Corruption Commission) and if IBAC reveal that the consultants have engaged in illegal activity, a criminal investigation of the consultants can then be undertaken.

So Greg, what I am asking of you is to look beyond your ideology about wind farms and, take the information seriously. You need to demand Matthew Guy have DEPI revisit the Chepstowe and Mt Gellibrand permits and ask him to revoke both permits on the grounds that if the full Brolga data had been used and DSE staff had not been gagged, then the permits would never have been approved in the first place.

You have an opportunity here to help prevent a major environmental disaster for Brolga and other important birds. Look past the fact that these are wind farms, and hold the government and wind farm companies to account on the environment, just as you would a mining company. If you choose to continue to ignore the issue, the Greens will be seen to be entirely complicit if findings of corruption and fraudulent activity are ultimately made.

I urge you to demand the permits are cancelled and protect the Brolga!

Regards,
Hamish Cumming.
Mechanical Engineer, Farmer and Brolga Conservationist.

Fair call, Hamish.

But don’t expect any action from Barber and his fellow band of faux green acolytes anytime soon.  You see, Brolgas don’t carry fat cheque books – whereas Vestas and Acciona do.  The Australian Greens are so impossibly compromised by their connections with big wind the real environment will never get a look in.

The modern Greens have effectively said to hell with people, birds and animals – and the environment that they all once happily lived in.  These days it’s all about money: lots and lots of money – all purloined from unwitting power punters.  Money is power and the Greens are hungry for it.

What’s that they say about “singing for your supper”?

Expect to see loads more lies, treachery and deceit from the likes of Barber and his comrades – all aimed at keeping the great wind power fraud alive – at least until Vesta’s money runs out, that is.

Greg wind turbine near portland_0

What a faux environmentalist looks like. Greg Barber with brolga
slicing, bat chomping friend – at least until Vesta’s money runs out.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Does everybody realise that green is green because it is waste radiation from photosynthesis? Chlorophyll cannot use that range of frequencies.
    “Photosynthetic radiation waste”.

  2. As a hard core liberal and lifelong environmentalist, old enough and socialist enough to consider Aneurin Bevan a better man than Winston Churchill, I offer this link to the real clean new Terran biosphere:
    http://transatomicpower.com ,
    which is the brainchild of two young MIT students, Leslie Dewan and Mark Massie.It is safe, meltdown immune, very low waste, zero CO2, and quite possibly its turbines can be as responsive as methane gas turbines. By my reckoning, in the USA, 1800 of their 520 MW model would take case of peak summer demand in the USA, provide enough hydrogen and battery vehicle power for fleets of vehicles, and at twice the estimated cost per reactor and half the expected production factor, undercut the price per kWh of coal, gas, and all the solar “unreliables” to put them out of business

  3. I object to how the term “wind weasel” derogates the life style of that admirable mustelid. May I suggest instead “wind vermin” or “wind parasites”?

  4. Noel Dean. says:

    The corruption also involves the Victorian Department of Health. In a letter from the CEO of the Pyrenees Shire, to the Department of Health, a request was made for a health impact assessment for the Waubra Windfarm in Dec 2011.

    A response was received from Dr Rosemary Lester, the Acting Director, Health Protection and Acting Chief Health Officer, dated 8 Feb 2012. It reads, “you may be aware that the NMHRC has conducted a review of the evidence of any alleged effects of windfarms and has concluded there is NO evidence to support these claims.”

    A letter I received from the NHMRC about 6 months ago that confirmed that her comments are not true. In the letter to me NHMRC concluded that, given the paucity of evidence, the NHMRC’s 2010 public statement recommended that a precautionary approach should be taken by relevant planning and development authorities and that research outcomes should continue to be monitored. Further any individuals experiencing health problems were urged to promptly consult their General Practitioner.

    Given that paucity of evidence, which means only very small amounts of evidence and that the then Victorian Health Minister was in possession of 20 Statuary declarations from people adversely health affected by the operation of wind farm turbines at windfarms in Victoria, at least 4 weeks prior to the release of the NHMRC report, this too must be included as part of known fraud in Victoria. Fraud that has been aided by Government departments given that many windfarm developments have been approved based on false and deceptive information by the Victorian Health Department.

  5. Keith Staff says:

    I have had a F.O.I. request being processed for several weeks, asking for all emails and correspondence between proponents, consultants and the DSE, field officers, …brolga data for the Penshurst area [One of the most important brolga sites in the whole of South West Victoria].

    Guess what, there is always some excuse as to why this data is being “delayed”! it would appear that Brett Lane is now dictating to the DEPI [DSE] about guidelines for the protection of this iconic bird.

    The proponents consultants for our IWEF proposal are using the weasel words “we are adopting a new methodology for brolga in the Penshurst area.”

    What a joke, they treat people and the environment with contempt.

    Corruption is an understatement.

    Keith Staff.

  6. Jackie Rovenksy says:

    Corruption emanates from the core of this industry; it entangles the weak and greedy.

    This corruption is now being untangled by a few very special people who know the environment.

    A very swift stop to it can be made if a moratorium was called and every avenue of government financing curtailed immediately.

    Ideology is one thing – idiocy is another. The Greens have fallen into the latter. An ideology of wanting a clean future for us all is one thing, but it is idiocy to accept pay-offs to support something that can never achieve the ideology they assert to achieve.

    There is nothing wrong with the ideology, I would say there are many who have the same desire, but you need to be circumspect when offered a way forward that requires lies, deceit and corruption to achieve it. The Greens and others need to take their tinted glasses off and look wider than their tunnelled vision.

  7. Jeffs' Last Goodbye says:

    STT,
    It is seldom we get a strong enough easterly, here on Yorke peninsula to blow across the musings, from Brolga country, the great intellect, integrity, wisdom and courage that Hamish shows.
    When the wise easterly prevails it speaks of this man having to live with threats to his existence through arsonists burning his haystacks and sheds. We hear of illegal shootings of the Brolga , to possibly, literally shred his argument. Perhaps even threats to his life.
    This man is taking it to streets, taking it to the politicians, taking it to the easily bought bureaucrats, and possibly making all who thought they were on a sure thing feel as though their chair is squirming beneath them.
    It is a tragedy, the lack of intellect/integrity that we have in all of planning processes through all levels of governance, quite possibly and more than likely because of fear. That’s it folks, FEAR.
    Fear, that someone higher up will be upset, and that person being afraid of the same thing and then further up to the relevant minister.
    Therefore there is never a confidence in ones’ significance and feeling of natural justice and autonomy.

  8. 24 hr surveillance cameras, with a zoom lens and infra-red capabilities, will do the job. You can’t let the windweasels monitor their own offences. A home near the birdchoppers would be an ideal location to do the monitoring.

  9. Well, well, well – the Greens have a lot to answer for. Christine Milne would be a good place to start. Then right down through them all and see how rotten they all are. GREEN not so GREEN after all.

  10. Terry Conn says:

    Under the present system there is $80 billion to be stolen from the Australian people via indirect subsidies to build and operate wind farms and according to the CSIRO, another mere $240 billion by 2030 to ‘try’ and make them and other renewables work (see CSIRO news articles on its website). So, with that sort of money for ‘free’, just imagine how deep the corruption will be!! Well done Hamish Cumming for creating a ‘brolga sore’. Who’s going to unearth the big bickies?

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