AFL’s CEO – Gillon McLachlan Hammers the ‘Desecration of his Country’ & the ‘Extreme Community Division’ Caused by Wind Farms

flinders ranges

Australia: a land that can’t simply be owned; it owns you right back.


To Australian Aboriginals, the term ‘Country’ is not merely a reference simpliciter to ‘land’.

It’s a far broader concept that embodies eternal time, space, spirit and ancestry – an amalgam of all these things – that describes the links between Australia’s first peoples and this beautiful Country. Those links may have been shaken by European settlement, but they will never be broken.

When an aboriginal man takes you to his ancestral and spiritual home, he speaks of “walking in his grandfather’s Country”: a place for him, where knowledge of self and history resides.

As a modern ceremony of recognition, the ‘welcome to Country’ is a nod to that relationship. The language employed eschews the definite article, limiting the reference to ‘Country’ – with a deliberate dropping of the possessive and definite ‘the’. Thus, further explaining a concept, not of possession of the land, but one of abiding care and custodianship – in which the humans walking upon its face ‘belong’ to it, just as much as the land ‘belongs’ to them.

shane mortimer

STT Champion, Ngambri man Shane Mortimer
walking his grandmother’s country near Canberra.


But this concept of temporal and spiritual custodianship is not one limited to Australia’s first inhabitants. Perhaps something to do with its testing climate, raw beauty and the terror and awe that both inspire – that same deep connection exists between Australia’s farmers and the land that they care for. And all the more so when farming and grazing families can trace themselves and their history back to the original pioneers.

Of course, the modern concept of care for Country means managing the land, such that it might produce a profitable harvest of food and fibre. However, it was always thus: the success and survival of traditional aboriginal groups depended on everything that the natural landscape could offer them by way of food, clothing and shelter.

In both the ancient and modern concepts of care for, and custodianship of, the land sits a form of enduring respect.

And it’s that theme that’s picked up in many of the hundreds of submissions delivered in opposition to a proposal by New Zealand’s Trustpower to destroy the communities that nestle among and against South Australia’s Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges, near Palmer.

Trustpower are the same band of heavy-handed thugs that set upon a 79 year-old pensioner and a disabled farmer, during one of their recent propaganda ‘love-ins’ at Rye Park in NSW:

Wind Industry Belting its ‘Message’ Home: Trustpower’s Thugs Assault 79-Year-Old Pensioner & Disabled Farmer

The submissions in response to the threat to Palmer and its surrounding communities (numbering in the hundreds) are almost all couched in terms of bitter opposition. One slab of 32 such submissions is available here: Book 3 – Third Party Representations_resized

But, from that thumping selection, it’s submission number 56 that really grabbed STT’s attention.


Gillon McLachlan is the CEO of the Australian Football League; and stands not only as a master administrator of Australia’s defining football code, but also as a representative of Australian culture and values.

Gillon’s commanding media profile and presence are the product of his status as a top sports administrator, as well as his stature as an accomplished football player, equestrian and, dare we say it, his deep ancestral connection to Country.

gillon mclachlan

Gillon McLachlan: SA farm boy conquers the Big League.


Gillon hails from one of South Australia’s original pioneering grazing families, which traces its history on his grandmother’s side to Sir John Melrose, whose father George took up Rosebank, situated on the Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges back in 1843.

From the mid-19th Century on, the Melrose family built a substantial rural empire; and were trailblazers in sheep breeding and rangeland grazing management.

Sir John, who lost his sight at the age of 41, was referred to as the “Blind Squatter”; but despite his handicap went on to successfully manage Rosebank and a number of other top-notch Melrose properties, which included Ulooloo; the combination of two stations, Kadlunga and Wookongarie (see this article for more). No doubt, some of Sir John’s tenacity and strength of character has trickled down the family line to rest with Gillon.

Gillon quite rightly calls for the proposed wind farm to be blocked on grounds that clearly emanate from his deep ancestral bonds with his Country, the community that nurtured him and the environment in which his exemplary character was forged – one which has allowed him to rise from a lad cleaning up fly-blown sheep (see this article) – one of the less pleasant, but necessary sheep-man’s tasks – to become Australia’s top sports executive; and the polished media performer that he most certainly is.


Rounding up some of Rosebank’s food and fibre star performers.


In case you have trouble picking up those grounds from our imperfect copy of his submission, here they are again:

  1. I have substantial property interests adjacent to the proposed wind farm which will suffer significant capital decrease.
  2. It will cause significant environmental damage to the land, the vegetation, the fauna as well as create noise pollution.
  3. Desecration of the natural beauty of the district & region.
  4. Destruction of potential tourism opportunities (and other development opp’s);
  5. It will cause extreme division in the community.

In a recorded video submission, Gillon delivered a properly passionate plea to the Palmer planning panel in support of his written submission – extracts of which can be seen in this Channel 7 News broadcast: Seven News 15.12.15

When this young man talks about ‘desecration of the natural beauty of the district & region’, in his mind he’s walking through his grandfather’s country; clearly touched by, and wedded to, his formative memories of it.

Gillon’s passionate plea is not just about his relationship to that magnificent country, but about the communities which are sustained by, and thrive upon, that precious land.

Gillon carries the virtuous gift of true compassion; that driven by empathy for others, which allows those in a position of strength to see that those without, suffer no harm at the hands of the merciless and the mighty.

More power to Gillon McLachlan.

His conduct and character brings to mind the adage about calling tyrants to an early and final account.

It’s a sorry fact of life that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

With good men like Gillon McLachlan on Palmer’s side, Trustpower’s threatened tyranny will not go unnoticed; and it will not go unchecked.

No, good men like Gillon McLachlan make it certain that all of Australia’s rural communities will prevail.

About stopthesethings

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


  1. The agenda to map the resources of the planet and allow corporations to ‘mine’ these assets for their profit, is an assault that must be stopped. In the case of industrial wind turbines, the wind itself is the asset. With this greed driven agenda, nothing is sacred.
    I stand firmly beside Gillon McLachlan.
    We all must.

  2. This wonderful article has evoked so much emotion in me. I envision the turbines turned off and dismantled everywhere. We can do better than having these oppressive monsters desecrating the countrysides of the world.
    In Ontario, in Huron County, which is prime agricultural land, a wind company was allowed to site the largest substation in the province, a switching yard and about a dozen turbines, all surrounding a 4th generation farmer’s home. Personally, I’ve never seen anything in my life that is this insensitive to a person’s sense of place and heritage.
    I stand with Gillon McLachlan firmly in this battle until these horrors are stopped and removed. I pray that all damage done by these wind companies and the paid and elected ‘leaders’ who ushered them in, can be healed.

  3. Jackie Rovenksy says:

    South Australia was first settled in Late 1836, the first settlers moved from the area’s of Glenelg and Adelaide shortly after to move into the unknown, they faced many hurdles but those who survived were stronger for it. Those descendants such as Gillon McLachlan are cut from the same cloth, and hopefully there are more who will stand up to the destructive onslaught of the Industrial Wind Turbines industry. They will recognise the dangers these Industrial intrusions will pose to what their ancestors worked so hard for, no matter where the
    descendants now live.
    This country is one of magnitude and honesty, it doesn’t deceive, it is what you see, but these intrusions will change it forever. Yes over the years the environment has changed, but the regional areas have not been destroyed, even amongst the waving corn or grazing cattle and sheep it is still possible to see the strength of the environment and its honesty. These massive industrial machines will become such an intrusion the honesty of the environment will change forever. You cannot invade the environment with such industrial machinery across such large areas without destroying and changing it forever. Roads, farms and small towns have changed things but they are still apart of the environment – these machines will be the same as putting in a large subdivision, not of homes but of Industry and an industry which produces almost nothing most of the time and when it does produce it is at erratic levels and times, yet the noise from them, the churning of the air and the tonnes of concrete, roads and structures are intrusive and without any empathy for the place they take over. Their value is minimal, they will last for a moment in time, but will leave behind nothing but a waste land with no people and few creatures – the areas they invade will become deserts devoid of humanity and meaning and no heart.

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