Senator John Madigan Skewers Simon Chapman

Victorian Senator, John Madigan delivered an utterly brilliant speech in the Commonwealth Senate this week. See the video below; Hansard (transcript) follows.

As to the Senator, John Madigan provides a salient example of what can happen when decency, integrity and courage all combine in defence of the weak and vulnerable among us; and in pursuit of the truth. The man is made of fearless stuff; and, in our view, stands as one of the Parliamentary Greats: William Wilberforce and his 26 year campaign to end slavery readily springs to mind. The passion with which he delivers this speech is, self evidently, the product of the man’s compassion and empathy; as he says: “every life matters and every life is important”. Hear, hear!

As to the speech, it can be covered in two words: “truly wonderful”.

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COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA
SENATE
Hansard
TUESDAY, 17 JUNE 2014
BY AUTHORITY OF THE SENATE
PROOF

Senator MADIGAN (Victoria) (23:20): I rise to speak tonight on the privilege of this parliament to operate without fear or favour. Members and senators have the right to undertake their duties freely to represent their constituents — it is the reason we are here. Any attempt to gag a senator or member of parliament, any attempt to exert influence by means of threat or intimidation is a breach of parliamentary privilege. This could incur the most serious penalties. Tonight I will speak of such an attempt by a high-profile Australian academic. This academic has a track record of making fun of people in regional and rural communities who are sick. He trades in scuttlebutt. He makes consistent attacks on anyone who makes a complaint against his network of corporate buddies. This academic has become the poster boy for an industry which has a reputation for dishonesty and for bullying.

I have a policy of playing the issue, not the man. Policies should always go before personalities. It is a personal credo, one I have practised all my life and specifically in my professional duties since my election in 2010. But since I have been investigating matters related to wind turbines for almost 10 years now I have recorded a consistent track record of vilification, denigration and attack by those on the other side of this debate. This is an industry that sucks hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies from the public purse. This industrial power generation sector is an industry that masquerades under a false veneer of ‘saving the environment’.

The wind industry is about one thing in this country: it exists to make people rich at the expense of many rural and regional Australians, their lives and their communities. My investigation shows it does not decrease carbon dioxide, it does not reduce power costs, it does not improve the environment. And this academic in question stands shoulder to shoulder with the wind industry companies and their colourful — and I use that term deliberately — executives. He promotes their products. He attacks their critics. He attends their conferences. He rubs shoulders with their henchmen. He is, in the words of the former member for Hume, Alby Schultz — who was a great campaigner on this issue, I might add — devoid of any decency and courage.

But, first, some background. My party, the Democratic Labour Party, has a long tradition of standing up for principle in the face of enormous opposition. My party was born in conflict and forged in sacrifice. No other political party in Australia can boast that its parliamentary founders — 51 in total, including 14 ministers and a state Premier — were prepared to sacrifice promising political careers to uphold the belief dedicated to freedom from undue and corrupt influence. The DLP was the first Australian political party to promote the vote for 18-year-olds. We were the first political party to call for equal pay for equal work and equity in education funding. We were the first political party to call for an end to the White Australia policy. And when our veterans returned from Vietnam, bloody but unbowed, DLP parliamentarians marched in their ranks while the rest of Australia turned their backs.

The DLP is a party of principle. We respect the dignity and the sanctity of life. From the womb to the grave, from the primary school to the factory floor, we see every life as unique and having intrinsic value. This is the cornerstone of the DLP; this is the foundation upon which I place every vote. That is why my attention has been turned to the wind industry for almost a decade now, even before my election to the Senate. I have seen firsthand the devastation it has caused communities. I have listened firsthand to the stories of wrecked families’ lives: family farms destroyed and small outback areas torn apart. I have seen the empty homes in Victoria at Waubra, Macarthur, Cape Bridgewater and Leonards Hill. I have listened to country people tell me stories of corporate bullying and deceit, and of corporate fraud in matters of compliance. I have repeatedly called for one thing on this issue: independent Australian research into the health problems that wind farms apparently cause. That is all — independent research. It is a question of justice. It is about getting to the bottom of this issue.

So when I spoke with Alan Jones onto 2GB on 27 March, I made one simple point. I told Mr Jones we need to be careful about people who profess to be experts in this area. For the benefit of the Senate I repeat what I said in
that interview:

… when we talk about people, using the title, using a title, such as Professor, let us be clear crystal clear here Alan. Most people in the community assume that when you use the title Professor, that you are trained in the discipline of which you speak. And I ask people, look and check. What is the person making these proclamations about other people’s health? What is the discipline they are trained in of which they speak? Because most people in the public assume when you speak of an issue of health, that you are trained in the discipline of which you speak, and there are people making pronouncements and denigrating people who are not trained in human health.

I stand by this statement. It is fair and reasonable to encourage people to look behind the blatant campaigning done by people like Professor Chapman of the University of Sydney.

But it is the statement that has prompted him to threaten me, utilising a law firm that was instrumental in the set-up of Hepburn Wind. He has threatened to sue me for libel over this statement unless I pay him $40,000 plus costs. He has threatened to sue me for libel unless I organise an apology on the website of 2GB and an anti-wind farm website called Stop These Things. He has threatened me with contempt of parliament and a breach of parliamentary privilege if I raise these matters in the Senate. This reaction by Professor Chapman is something that my more experienced parliamentary colleagues have labelled a blatant try-on. It is another attempt by the wind industry to silence me, to scare me off and to intimidate me. It is a case of a Sydney university academic firing shots across the bow of the blacksmith from Ballarat.

This is something he has done before now, tweeting about my position on this issue, always in the context of my background as a blacksmith — a background, I add, that I am enormously proud of. I remain one of the wind industry’s most stubborn and outspoken critics. I will not be silenced. I will not give up on the injustice inflicted on people who claim to be impacted by living near turbines. I will not stop. My comments to Alan Jones were a series of rhetorical statements or questions about the assumptions members of the public should be entitled to make when somebody professes to be qualified to speak about an issue of public health. In other words, I was asking people to check that so-called experts on this issue are relevantly trained and qualified. It is a reasonable request. Our media and the internet are crawling with self-appointed experts. Daily we operate in a cacophony of opinion presented as fact.

Professor Chapman has been an outspoken critic of those who have dared to question the wind farm orthodoxy. But is Professor Chapman a medical doctor? Is he legally entitled to examine and treat patients? Is he qualified in acoustics or any other aspect of audiology? Is he a sleep specialist? Does he hold any qualifications in bioacoustics or physiology or neuroscience? How many wind farm victims has he interviewed directly? How many wind farm impacted homes has he visited? Professor Chapman claims to receive no payment from the wind industry. How many wind industry conferences, seminars and events has he spoken at? How many wind industry events has he attended? Writing on the Crikey website in November 2011, Professor Chapman lamented how many conferences do not pay speaker’s fees, and, when one conference organiser refused to pay his hotel bill, he withdrew. This is the same Professor Chapman who was photographed at a campaign launch in Melbourne by the Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas. Did Vestas pay your hotel bill and other costs, Professor Chapman? These are reasonable questions — they put in context his actions.

I take this opportunity to draw the attention of the Senate to the discovery of a 2004 PowerPoint presentation by Vestas employee Erik Sloth to the former Australian Wind Energy Association, now the Clean Energy Council. This demonstrated Vestas knew a decade ago that safer buffers are required to protect neighbours from noise. Vestas knew their preconstruction noise models were not accurate. I draw the attention of the Senate to a quote from the presentation that Vestas knew then that ‘noise from wind turbines sometimes annoys people even if the noise is below noise limits.’ This is confirmation that the global wind industry have known for more than a decade that their turbines impact on nearby residents. How can Professor Chapman reconcile his ridicule of the reasons numerous people have been forced to abandon their homes with the knowledge that the company initiating this campaign he attended knew a decade ago there were problems?

As a public health academic, Professor Chapman displays a lack of compassion for people who claim to be suffering debilitating effects from pervasive wind turbine noise. Professor Chapman’s undergraduate qualifications were in sociology. His PhD looked into the relationship between cigarette smoke and advertising. I question his expertise, I question his qualifications and I question his unbridled motivation to promote and support the wind industry at the cost of people’s lives, homes and communities. I question Professor Chapman’s lack of interest in speaking with wind industry victims. Professor Chapman has a record of public denigration of victims. I refer to his tweet in February this year about ‘wind farm wing nuts’.

One of the important things about this fight that is going on across rural Australia is that it is country women who are in the front line. Farmers’ wives are running hard, fighting to save their families, fighting to save their homes, fighting to save their communities. It is often these women who suffer the most denigration. It is a roll call of honour — people like Mary Morris of South Australia; Dr Andja Mitric Andjic in Victoria; Sonia Trist, Joanne Kermond and Melissa Ware at Cape Bridgewater; Colleen Watts in New South Wales; and, of course, the extraordinary Sarah Laurie in South Australia.

One more example: Annie Gardner and her husband, Gus, have lived and worked happily and healthfully for 34 years on their farming property in south-west Victoria. This came to a sudden halt in October 2012 when the first 15 turbines of the Macarthur wind farm began operation. In a recent letter to the AMA Annie said she is now able to get only two or three hours sleep each night in her own home. She writes: ‘At the time of writing this letter, I am suffering terribly from the infrasound emitted by the 140 turbines located far too close to our property. I have a bad headache. I have very strong pains shooting up through the back of my neck and into my head. I have extremely sore and blocked ears and very painful pressure in my nose. I have pressure in my jaws and my teeth. My heart is pounding. I can feel the vibration going through my body through the chair like an electric charge. The infrasound in our bedroom was appalling. I could feel the vibration through the mattress and the pillow like an electric charge through my body. My head felt as if a brick was on it, and the pressure and pain in my nose was extreme.’

Annie Gardner would be what Professor Chapman would call a ‘wind farm wing nut’. Writing on a green movement website earlier this year, Professor Chapman said protesting against wind farms is a fringe activity as if to suggest that the hundreds of people who attended and spoke at anti-wind farm forums I have held across my home state of Victoria and interstate are simply collateral damage. I cannot live with such a utilitarian view. As I said, even putting aside the highly questionable environmental, social and economic benefits of wind farms, every life matters and every life is important. I have sat in people’s homes and kitchens. I know firsthand the suffering they experience from these industrial developments. Professor Chapman’s attempts to gag me are the same as his attempts to silence those who object to the great wind farm scam. It is part of a greater attempt to silence open and transparent debate on this issue. It does no service to academia or to science already under much attack. It does nothing to advance discussion or progress.

Surely the big businesses behind this attempt — the entities who are funding it, like Bleyer Lawyers, who have worked for Hepburn Wind — should remember cases such as McDonald’s and Gunns. For the environmental movement to attempt this shallow legal shooting of a mere messenger is poor judgement in my view. Bullies corporate or otherwise never get far. Surely it is apparent that companies that use the courts to silence opposition lose out in the court of public opinion. To borrow words from the great human rights campaigner Malcolm X:

I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against.

If Professor Chapman proceeds with this action, I look forward to having him answer in court those questions I have raised here tonight — questions about his qualifications, his expertise and his links with the wind industry financial or otherwise. I look forward to his cross-examination under oath as equally as I look forward to mine. I say this: his action, if it proceeds, is doomed in a legal setting or elsewhere for one reason; it is not based on the truth.
Senator Madigan 

One phrase sums up the Senator’s attitude and approach to the wind industry’s vast (and, as he puts it, “colourful”) cast of bullies and thugs: Sic semper tyrannis – “thus always to tyrants.” More power to John Madigan.

John Madigan

John Madigan, rightly proud to be a Blacksmith from Ballarat. Living proof that empathy, compassion and courage are forged on the “anvil” of life.

 

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Gary Vines says:

    Are there no other views available in this discussion? Scientific debate requires objective consideration of evidence, rather than emotive and subjective opinion. Given the clear harmful effects of burning coal (including particle pollution, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury, lead, cadmium, hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, arsenic, carbon monoxide, and trace amounts of uranium) and even leaving out the global warming debate entirely, a careful and considered assessment would weigh up the relative harm of various forms of energy production.

  2. Linda-Leee says:

    Simon Chapman’s behaviour reminds me of Monty Pythons ‘School Bully’! Well done Senator Madigan to stand up to his arrogance and intimidation, and to ‘call a spade a spade’ and confront the nocebo propaganda head on.

    Indeed the nocebo study trumpeted by Chapman is clearly lacking in external validity. One can only presume the peer reviewers were also intimidated by the ‘man in the mirror’.

  3. Thank you John Madigan for placing on the public record everything I’ve thought about Simon Chapman for several years. It’s not that he’s not entitled to argue in favour of wind power – it’s the loathesome way he puts down those who suffer the ill effects.

    • Francis says:

      I too thank the Australian Senator for confronting this flagrant abuse of power and academic privilege. Let the science prevail, without interference from corrupted industry ventriloquists.

  4. cornwallwindwatch says:

    Reblogged this on Cornwall Wind Watch and commented:
    Go Madigan! – power to your elbow from all those here in UK suffering with the affects of LFN.

  5. Bravo Senator Madigan for confronting the bullying and abuse of the wind industry and its propagandists.

    Thank goodness there are still elected representatives willing to speak with passion, integrity and truth, in defence of the well being of Australian rural communities against corporate wind thuggery and energy sector bribery and manipulation.

  6. Brilliant. Huge thanks to Madigan, wish more politicians had this much integrity.

  7. Noel Dean. says:

    Congratulations on such a great speech Senator Madigan. Your commitment to making the truth known gives us the strength to keep our chins up. We have been plagued with so much vilification since Simon Chapman began his nocebo rant.

    The Waubra wind farm has done so much damage to this local farming community. We have some people, who have not experienced the effects of badly placed turbines, poorly earthed EMF generating machines and structures, set against those of us who suffer. Yes we complain – but we know that this wind farm does not comply with those procedures that have been put in place to protect us from harm.

    On Tuesday of last week the local councilors and federal Member Dan Tehan gathered with Acciona staff including the CEO Mr Thomson, advertising the fact that the Waubra Windfarm were doing noise monitoring for eight weeks. We are concerned that this is a continuation of Acciona Fraud to keep getting subsidies without complying to the requirements of the planning scheme.

    Did Dan Tehan ask Mr Andrew Thomson of Acciona what the noise monitoring would consist of? As it turns out – testing consisted of 5 visits of 10 to 30 minutes over eights weeks to assess only 10 of all the complaints.

    Days were set for each Wednesday. Testing on last Wednesday night between 10.30pm and about 10.45pm, was useless as there was no wind blowing, so no turbines operating. They came back the following morning at about 11.30. They were seen with measuring equipment on a tripod. Interestingly, the testers were a different Company to what the planning department said Acciona had engaged. What were they really doing there?

    The type of testing was flawed too. Any assessment for low frequency noise was to be excluded. They were probably just collecting more spin in the wind for RET funding.

    Noel Dean.

  8. Jackie Rovenksy says:

    Why on earth would Chapman even think he could interfere with or dictate what Senators can and cannot say in Parliament? Is it a case that he thinks he is above everyone, that he can say and do what ever he wants? Is this because he has been ‘protected’ by some who think they have the clout to get their own way?
    What ever the reason he is very wrong.
    As stated by Senator Madigan, Chapman is not an expert or trained in any way in very significant aspects of what he condemns with respect to the industrial wind industry. He at times tries to explain his inadequacies by using terms such as ‘nocebo’ and ‘factoid’, but cannot explain why these terms can’t be used in relation to what he supports. He tries to prove those suffering are fools but only succeeds in proving he cannot prove what is not true.
    He criticises those who are experts in their fields who dare to show the industrial wind turbine industry is dangerous to human health, to the environment and those that live within it, has no ability to reduce CO2, is not capable of meeting it’s much promoted capabilities, cannot keep the noise levels in control and cannot reduce or keep within acceptable levels the cost of electrical energy to an acceptable level for the end user, and last but not least cannot stand on its own feet, but requires continued infusion of public funds that could be better spent elsewhere.

    John Madigan spared no anger and pulled no punches in his speech, he delivered a powerful moment in the Senate, one that those who were not in attendance should ensure they listen too.

    Simon Chapman chose the wrong person to challenge, his actions are those of someone who has nowhere else to go, who has been put in a corner and can’t find a way out. He’s brought this on himself by believing he can say and do whatever he wants – unchallenged.

  9. David Mortimer says:

    I have been personally mocked and denigrated and had the veracity of my statements questioned publicly by Chapman and his minions so I have no problem saying that I am prepared to put my neck on the line as well. It sickens me when people like Chapman publicly deride those of us who are affected by the Infra and Low frequency turbine produced noise pre nocebo and then hide behind a pseudonym to remain anonymous. That is pure cowardice.

    Go for it Senator, Chapman is only fluffing up his self opinionated feathers. I look forward to helping pluck them all in court as I am sure there are thousands more who would gladly do the same.

    The wind industry has had the same opportunity to sue me for my comments in the past (not that it would have got anywhere) but there has been a profound silence. This latest Chapman outburst is just another “try on” – just another self inflicted bullet in the foot.

  10. Magnificent. That is all.

  11. E Griffiths says:

    The windustry, government decision makers and their sycophants are all complicit in torture. Well spoken John Madigan and well done for standing up for your convictions.

    Tlhe windustry have known about the noise-health issue for at least 26 years – it’s why they don’t want low frequency noise & infrasound to be measured.

    They’ve taken so much rope they are able to hang themselves. Hanging day for the windustry can’t come soon enough.

  12. Neville Wright says:

    The fact that a senator from a minor party has the guts to speak out on the wind farm scam, just shows how gutless the major parties are in remaining silent, instead making motherhood statements about “renewables” just to save a few votes that cannot be saved in any case. “Climate change” and all it’s components in the scam need to be exposed and tossed out, the cost to this nation and the rest of the world must be in the trillions, all on an unproven probability.

  13. You have to laugh at Simon Chapman, on the numerous occasions ive tried to contact him and abused the S__t out of him, he has never tried to sue me! I wonder why??

  14. Good stuff. People like Simon Chapman need to be shown for what they are.
    Is the almost empty senate an indication of the ignorance or apathy of most of the senators about the wind industry?

  15. Reblogged this on Quixotes Last Stand.

  16. Ivan Chan says:

    Where other Parliamentarians fear the challenge, the sterling uncompromising Senator Madigan show us what loyalty to Australians especially rural folks means — to be courageous in exposing the filthy lies of the shameless, despicable scoundrels of the wind industry. The IWT agenda is clearly a subversive tool of a much larger nefarious design to sabotage Australia’s sovereignty. Through increasing the costs of electricity, destroying local industries and harming rural folks and communities. All this corrupt shenanigans on the back of useless wind technology and CO2 myth climate change fake science promoted in the mainstream media.

    To all those in government who can but do not act to stop the criminal wind industry and end the proliferation of IWT across this country immediately, the haunting wind would forever remind you of your treasonous cowardly complicit non-action betrayal.

  17. stand against wind says:

    Senator Madigan, I really hope you will share this message if you get an opportunity during your visit to Far North Queensland over the next few days. It is time people up here heard the real story about what is happening down south. Mount Emerald wind farm is a major disaster waiting to happen.

  18. Senator John Madigan the great. Let little simon take Senator Madigan on. Little simon hasn’t a foot or hand to stand on as he is a nothing.

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