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Sorry, Joe Hockey – Canberra is Australia’s home of wind farms

We now know that Treasurer Joe Hockey is not a fan of wind farms, on aesthetic grounds at least. On Friday he told Macquarie Radio’s Alan Jones he finds the view “utterly offensive” and “a blight on the…

Lake George, complete with “offensive” wind turbines. Expect more views like this around Canberra soon. Darcyj/Wikimedia Commons

We now know that Treasurer Joe Hockey is not a fan of wind farms, on aesthetic grounds at least. On Friday he told Macquarie Radio’s Alan Jones he finds the view “utterly offensive” and “a blight on the landscape”.

The vista that has so irked Mr Hockey can be seen while driving along the Federal Highway on the western side of Lake George. Across the water, dotted along the lake’s eastern shore, are turbines belonging to the Capital Wind Farm, the largest of six wind farms now operating to the north and northeast of Canberra.

Not a fan: Joe Hockey doesn’t like looking at wind turbines. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

The bad news for the Treasurer is that the Australian Capital Territory is one of the few places where wind farms are a growth industry, and are set to remain so regardless of what happens to the federal Renewable Energy Target.

Windy city

The area north of Canberra has some of the best wind resources anywhere in Australia. Since it was commissioned in 2011, the Gunning Wind Farm, about 70 km north of the capital, has consistently achieved a capacity factor (the ratio of power generated, relative to the facility’s theoretical maximum) of 40%, making it one of the best-performing wind farms in the country and, indeed, the world.

Unsurprisingly, there are several more wind farms planned for the area around Canberra – some quite advanced in the planning process. The total capacity of these projects is more than 1,000 megawatts. For comparison, the total capacity of operating wind farms currently supplying the National Electricity Market is just over 2,300 MW.

Power and certainty

However, like many wind farm projects at a similar stage of development around Australia, most of the projects in the Canberra region, including some which have received planning approval, are yet to sign a power purchase agreement with an electricity retailer or other party. This means that they do not have the financial certainty needed to start construction.

The main purchasers of wind-generated electricity are electricity retailers which, until now, have been legally required to buy a specified (and increasing) quantity of renewable electricity each year up to 2020 under the Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme. Most retailers already have contracts in place for all the renewable electricity they need now and for at least the next year. In normal circumstances, retailers would be signing up new supplies of renewable electricity to cover their growing obligations from 2016 onwards.

Circumstances, however, are not normal. The RET scheme is undergoing its second review in two years, and several ministers – including Mr Hockey – have expressed what can only be described as extreme scepticism about the scheme’s merits. Many backbenchers and influential advisers are openly hostile to it.

ACT embracing wind power

Perhaps Mr Hockey thinks that winding back the RET scheme will ensure that no more wind farms appear to blight the view from his car. But unfortunately for him, the one area where new wind farms may continue to be built, even if the RET is scrapped, is around Canberra.

Earlier this year, the ACT government called for tenders to supply 200 MW of wind generation, as a major step towards its target of sourcing 90% of the territory’s electricity use from renewable sources.

The electricity generated by the contracted wind farms would not be supplied explicitly to the ACT. It will be fed into the National Electricity Market (NEM), where it will displace other sources that would otherwise be required to meet the territory’s power demand. But the ACT wind contracts will not be registered under the RET scheme because the territory’s government is aiming to make extra reductions in overall emissions, even if the nationwide RET scheme survives in something like its present form.

The tender documents state that the selected wind farm(s) may be located anywhere within the NEM, but also that tenderers will have to deliver economic benefits to the ACT. The territory government clearly expects that successful bidders will have projects close to Canberra.

Powering into the future

The ACT government has said that it will eventually commission about 382 MW of wind and 91 MW of solar generation, which, together with some smaller renewable sources, should be sufficient to achieve the 90% target. This target is a core element of the territory’s legislated plan to cut greenhouse emissions, including from power stations supplying the ACT with electricity, by 40% relative to 2000 levels by 2020.

This makes the ACT unique among Australia’s state, territory and federal governments. It is the only one with a legislated emissions-reduction target and a credible plan to make it happen.

Unlike the rest of Australia, the ACT has negligible emissions from industry, agriculture, forestry and land use changes – the majority of its emissions come from from electricity generation and transport. The government has concluded that it will be hard to make major reductions in emissions from transport fuels by 2020, but much easier to cut electricity-generation emissions. So making deep cuts in electricity emissions would be the cheapest way to hit the overall emissions target.

Royalla Solar Farm - just a short drive from Canberra Grahamec/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY

While the current tender is the first for wind generation, the ACT government has already contracted 40 MW of large-scale solar power. The first contracted project, the 20 MW Royalla Solar Farm, is almost finished and will soon be up and running. It’s about 20 km south of Canberra along the Monaro Highway, and is easy to spot from a car.

Let’s hope, if Mr Hockey drives that way, that he prefers looking at solar panels rather than wind turbines.

Join the conversation

190 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

    1. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Dave Bradley

      Dear Treasurer Joe, has a private club he's set up connected to his office, $21,000.00, and yr in... You can have his ear.
      It strikes me that the liberals have well and truly skewered the market with their slush fund abilities.
      How dare he think that aesthetics is a valid criteria to do away with wind technology.
      We all know Maurice Newman and wifey are actively lobbying against them. But who is a member of this private lobbying club, and why in a democracy should the opinions of money 'bags' be a criteria for the treasurer listening.

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  1. John Newlands

    tree changer

    Why not have the wind farms inside the ACT itself? Say on Black Mountain or Mt Majura. I suspect there is an element of NIMBYism here. I'm not sure how the ACT can claim to be mostly renewable powered. It would require the wind farms and the Uriarra solar farm to be connected differently to the NEM grid which is mainly coal powered. Think of a reserved parking space well these NSW wind farms will need a sign 'electricity reserved for the ACT'.

    Until we replace coal generally across the NEM then the ACT's claim to be high renewables is suspect. At least South Australia and Tasmania can point to high renewables generation within their borders but both need coal power imports at crucial times If anything the ACT is a celebration of the fossil fuel economy with politicians constantly flying in and out on kerosene burners.

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    1. Michael Bartlett

      PhD Candidate at ANU

      In reply to John Newlands

      It's definitely NIMBYism, John.

      Take the Royalla Solar Farm: a couple of months ago the CT ran a story about some lady complaining that the glare from the solar panels ruined her daily ritual of a glass of wine on the terrace.

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    2. Richard Farrell

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to John Newlands

      The ACT through its feed in tariffs are causing the investment in new renerwables and therefore can rightly make the claim.

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    3. Mark Schneider

      Freelance coypwriter

      In reply to Michael Bartlett

      I can see it now - hot on the heels of wind turbine syndrome we'll have solar panel syndrome!

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    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Michael Bartlett

      So, Michael, one person has displayed NIMBYism in one instance (and you don't mention what the official response was) and from this you conclude that not building turbines on, say Black Mountain is 'definitely' NIMBYism - as opposed, say, to site selection based on rational engineering decisions.

      What are you doing your PhD in, Michael, adbvanced jumping to conclusions?

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    5. Tim Benham

      Student of Statistics

      In reply to Michael Bartlett

      > a couple of months ago the CT ran a story about some lady complaining that the glare from the solar panels ruined her daily ritual of a glass of wine on the terrace.

      Why isn't that a legitimate complaint?

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    6. Michael Bartlett

      PhD Candidate at ANU

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Calm down, it was merely an amusing anecdote that relates to the topic. I'm not planning to use it in a grant application or anything.

      I was more generally responding to the notion of why they haven't built anything inside the ACT rather than commenting on specific sites.

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    7. Suzy Gneist
      Suzy Gneist is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Multi-tasker at Graphic Design & Montville Coffee

      In reply to Tim Benham

      Hi Tim. Although it may be a legitimate complaint, it may be worth considering that a personal ritual is adaptable and because the angle of the sun changes throughout the year, the glare will not be visible at the same time each day hence it will not disrupt her ritual 365 days a year, only a percentage of these days and there are remedies she can adjust, changing the time or using plantings or shade structures to adjust the vies.
      How often do people have to deal with a change in view? Like a new building/structure/tree where none were before?
      All these people - who have their views during daily rituals adjusted - have the right to complain about it - they just don't have the right to expect that their concerns will win out in the end.

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    8. Susan Nolan

      retired

      In reply to Suzy Gneist

      Or, more cheaply, she could change the position of the chair she sits in so that she's not actually facing the "glare"; or she could put her sunglasses on.

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    9. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Michael Bartlett

      Yeah, but silly rumours start this way and 'NIMBY' is a pejorative that gets used far too loosely - cheap and easy way to discredit the reasonable concerns of a citizen by blurring them with silly and selfish stuff...

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    10. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Michael Bartlett

      Some of the turbines should be cited as close to the parliamentary buildings as possible to take advantage of the incessant quantities of hot air emanating from that place:)

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    11. John Bromhead

      logged in via email @netspeed.com.au

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      There are a number of constraints.Among them are the capacity of the interconnecting transmission lines between the states. There are also intra-state constraints. The amount of generating capacity that will be able to be built with any area may be constrained by the transmission network within states.

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    12. Rob Morgan

      Corporate IT guy and ex-engineer

      In reply to John Bromhead

      "The amount of generating capacity that will be able to be built with any area may be constrained by the transmission network within states."

      Very true. Let's be a bit more precise: The generating capacity of any region will be constrained by the transmission network needed to get the energy to corresponding regions of consumers. Good so far?

      Now, for very large, concentrated generators, such as large coal-fired generators, this capacity issue is very important, and power distribution lines…

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    13. John Bromhead

      logged in via email @netspeed.com.au

      In reply to Rob Morgan

      "The key 330 kV connections between Yass and Lower Tumut/Upper Tumut, and Yass and Bannaby/Marulan have known capacity constraints. The 132 kV sub-transmission or distribution network is expected to have available capacity for the connection of generation facilities; however, connecting to this network is typically limited to medium and small scale wind farms. It is expected that with the existing grid infrastructure, the estimated wind energy capacity of 13,135 MW (Tier One and Tier Two) would not be fully achievable however the target of 583 MW should be achievable (between the transmission and distribution network) depending on the specific wind farm’s characteristics such as capacity and grid connection location".

      I image that AECOM employed electrical engineers to write this for the ACT Government contained in the report of October 2013 titled
      "Pathways to Windpower Development in the Australian Capital Region".

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    1. Eric Thacker

      Viticultural Contractor

      In reply to Geoff Anderson

      Thank you Geoff. From now on, when I hit the mute button as soon as Abbott opens his mouth, I'll sing 'and tony doesn't understand it' to myself instead of swearing at the TV...

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to John Newton

      John - nice idea, though I thought Joe was more Sancho Panzo to the PM's Sir Pository

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    2. Susan Nolan

      retired

      In reply to John Newton

      Hi John,

      Yep.

      Joe Hockey is tilting at windmills.

      Should have been the title of the article.

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    3. Ross Barrell

      Aikido Student

      In reply to Jennifer Gow

      Hi Jennifer

      "It would have been good if Hockey's "brain fart" was more asinine than usual. Unfortunately it is on a par with the mentality of the current clowns supposed to be running the country."

      Yep. And apparently Oz is a country now run by grown-ups. What a laugh.

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    4. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Jennifer Gow

      "The irony was so palpable"

      You just couldn't make up stories like that.

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    5. Murray Shaw

      Farmer

      In reply to Jennifer Gow

      Jennifer,
      Re Spain and its rush to renewables, all those Turbines caused the crash of the Spanish economy. Unemployment currently at 28%, with youth unemployment at 48%. It was all done on borrowed money in the expectation that industry would flow from the other EU countries, trouble was that they were unreliable delivering single digit efficiency. Germany is another case in point, the "Green" experiment there is over, after shutting down its Nuclear power stations and installing Solar Panels by…

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    6. Blair Donaldson
      Blair Donaldson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Researcher & Skeptic

      In reply to Murray Shaw

      You couldn't be more wrong Jennifer. The Spanish economy is much larger than wind farm development. Spain was in troutle a long while before wind energy was being seriously developed there.

      You appear to have been reading Joe Hockey's alternative history guide.

      The rest of your rant is pure propaganda. Evidently science and evidence do not sit well with you.

      Or you're trolling…
      In either case, you are demonstrating the same sort of ignorance and selectivity as Joe Hockey does with aesthetics.

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    7. Jennifer Gow

      Retired lecturer in Social Sciences, jewellery artist

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Are you referring to my argument or that of Murray Shaw -- if the latter I agree, if the former I'm utterly perplexed.

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    8. John Newton

      Author Journalist

      In reply to Susan Nolan

      Then you would have deprived me of a comment! Thank you for the article BTW

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    9. Rob Morgan

      Corporate IT guy and ex-engineer

      In reply to Murray Shaw

      "The absolute certainty displayed by "warmists" is worrying after all this time."

      Oh, hi there Murray!

      Are you ok, in that big empty room, shouting about "warmists"? You're fairly lonely in there, and there really aren't any actual 'warmists', except in your imagination.

      The rest of us are watching the evidence, making judgements and taking action based on fact, not belief.

      You're listening to a story told by others who support your beliefs (which, I'm guessing, you hold with something approaching absolute certainty).

      We're not your real problem - reality is, and it will make itself inconveniently obvious, given time. Try not to shout at it when it does.

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    1. Ross Barrell

      Aikido Student

      In reply to Liam Hanlon

      I hope they remember it in 2 more years - er, when is the next election?

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    1. Daniel Verberne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ben Marshall

      Ben Marshall writes "...Even if you think climate change is 'absolute crap', we need new sources of energy production, and we need workers employed to run them...."

      I can't agree more with this!

      The issue at the heart is that of sustainability and new energy sources are the key.

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    2. Murray Shaw

      Farmer

      In reply to Ben Marshall

      Ben,
      The current RET scheme is a crime against the poor in this country. We see the govt scheme subsidising the wealthy to install Panels and Turbines and then charging the cost to those least able to afford it. The poor heat their homes with electricity, the wealthy avoid this increased power tax by installing ducted gas. In the main the cost is falling on the poor.
      I have installed panels under the scheme, that will be paid for by receiving 60c a KW as a feed in tariff, and buy it back at 37c. That pays for the installation in four and a half years, then we are in the black. So every time you see a rooftop panel array you should say there is someone taking advantage of the poor.
      Yes I am one of them, but whilst people keep voting for the Green/ALP governments I feel I Am taking out insurance against the day these people take us to Greece

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    3. David Pearn

      Follower

      In reply to Murray Shaw

      This planet is certainly on borrowed time if endless growth, non-renewable energy consumption and an exploding population is seen as a sustainable path to happiness for all.

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    4. Ben Marshall
      Ben Marshall is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Writer

      In reply to Murray Shaw

      Hi Murray,

      For us, we didn't install 15K worth of solar power to screw people over or make a profit. We simply hoped to a/ do our bit re. climate change by putting our money where our mouth is and b/ try to minimise our power bills into the foreseeable future. I object to being vilified for doing so, and reject the assertion I'm screwing the poor - not least because my wife and I are a great example of the working poor.

      Blaming the RET scheme, or any other Labour attempt to address the…

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    5. Chris Owens

      Professional

      In reply to Murray Shaw

      Murray in Victoria the current feed in tarrif on installations is 8c per kwh whereas retail is in the order of 25 - 30c. Australia-wide the type of scheme you refer to is long since gone.

      Given the RET was introduced by the Howard govt, to suggest the ALP/Greens are sending us broke exposes your bias.

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    6. wilma western

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Murray Shaw

      Don't you love it when people claim that renewables are a "crime against the poor"?

      At the same time fossil fuel companies are complaining that renewable power ( usually from wind) drives down the spot price of electricity under the "merit order" system in their submissions to the Energy inquiry.

      As for impacts on the poor of coal-fired power - think about the Latrobe Valley where so many single mums and new migrants were housed....and have the benefit of the asthma- causing emissions from the old power generators there. And think about the impacts of recent open-cut disasters - especially the fire in the open cut at Morwell---people still unable to get their houses properly cleaned unless they have the right sort of insurance. Government help has been limited to the use of powerful vacuums and power washes which are not recommended for houses clad in asbestos cement sheeting.

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    7. Rob Morgan

      Corporate IT guy and ex-engineer

      In reply to Murray Shaw

      "The current RET scheme is a crime against the poor in this country".

      Murray, the RET scheme has only a few percent price impact.

      What has been established as fact is the very substantial impact of 'gold-plated' distribution capacity increases, a result of industry price regulation that rewarded endless capital expenditure on distribution infrastructure, whether it was warranted or not.

      And we haven't really seen the potentially much larger energy cost impact as a result of east coast gas exports, which will link our gas pricing to international markets (hint: they pay a lot more - around double).

      By all means get angry about energy costs and price increases, but do yourself a favour and focus on the real causes, instead of the very small impact arising from RET. Or do you just believe and echo the anger of your ignorant shock-jock? Just curious.

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  2. John Newlands

    tree changer

    My earlier point seems to have been lost, namely that NSW windfarms are actually peeing into the pool of the NEM and can't be said to be dedicated to the ACT. Here's another tack... split up the 26,100 PV panels to be installed at Uriarra and install 10 panels apiece in 2,610 Canberra homes. With a good financing deal for installation and inverters the panels will at least reverse the meter on retail power bills.

    As the article points out if the RET is cancelled the big wind farms builds elsewhere (eg King Island 600 MW) will not go ahead. The ACT decision to confer NSW the honour of building 'their' wind farms is the one bright spot for the industry at present.

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to John Newlands

      John, it doesn't matter WHERE within a connected grid a particulat relectron is set in motion - renewables are renewables within a grid and, due to merit order effect any wind-generated electricity will almost certainly crowd out non-renewable.

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    2. John Newlands

      tree changer

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      It will be interesting to see how this claimed preference for wind power holds up when/if the RET goes. The LGC subsidy is now about $30 per Mwh and the shortfall charge for noncompliance is $65. If wind supporters would renounce subsidies and quotas we'd see what people are really prepared to pay for.

      OTOH the ACT could set itself a CO2 target that should properly include motor vehicle use. A couple of years ago the UK concluded that windpower displaced 0.42 tonnes of CO2 per Mwh. Thus the ACT should build generate about 2.4X as many Mwh of new (ie additional) windpower as tonnes of CO2 it wants to cut.

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    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to John Newlands

      John, when you talk 'subsidies' for renewables but ignore subsidies for fossil fuels (much less the rising cost of nuclear) I pretty much lose interest.

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    4. Rob Morgan

      Corporate IT guy and ex-engineer

      In reply to John Newlands

      Ok, let's try one last time. Grid-connected generators always feed their power into the grid, where it flows to loads (consumers) according to the laws of physics, not the laws of commerce.

      But, in contrast, the consumers who contract an amount of power generation, or even a particular (eg wind) form of power generation, can legitimately claim whatever benefits that brings. Even if they happen to consume mainly coal-fired power - the wind power they've contracted will displace somebody else's coal-fired power. It's a closed, zero-sum system.

      It's the same outcome, regardless of whether they're connected directly to the source, or separated by 100s of km of distribution grid. It's the net effect that matters, if that makes sense.

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  3. Paul Prociv

    ex medical academic; botanical engineer at University of Queensland

    So, a very complex and globally-important issue all boils down to one philistine's personal sense of aesthetics. What a sad reflection on the intellectual capacity of our government, and its attitude to us. I for one love those windmills -- I will never forget their effect on me and my kids on our first encounter, while travelling through the countryside of southern Spain in 1997: there were hundreds of them, stretching to the horizon, providing an absolutely awesome and spellbinding sight.

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    1. Jennifer Gow

      Retired lecturer in Social Sciences, jewellery artist

      In reply to Paul Prociv

      I felt the same in the north of Spain. I'm sory I didn't have to time to visit southern Spain including the solar thermal power stations near Granada

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  4. Jenny Goldie

    population and climate activist

    Bravo Hugh for sticking it to Hockey who I hope one day will regret his stupid comment about the Capital wind farm on the edge of Lake George. The comment illustrates Hockey's head in the sand attitude to climate change. Pity, because unless other jurisdictions follow the ACT's fine example in aiming for 90% of its power from renewable energy sources by 2020, we'll use up our carbon budget way ahead of time and be heading for runaway warming.

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  5. Daniel Verberne

    logged in via Facebook

    I thought Joe Hockey was fairly likeable until I heard his comments about Wind Farms.

    I grew up in the Latrobe Valley, in a town very close to Coal-fire power stations, open-cut mines and the associated heavy industry. I haven't heard Hockey complain about that sort of infrastructure and surely on any reasonable standard, wind farms are far more attractive than a Coal-fired industry!

    I can only assume the guy is not just a right-wing ideologue, but perhaps even pushing back against the Renewable Energy Target.

    When can we vote again?!

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    1. Lynn Luck

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Daniel Verberne

      We ve put up with electricity pylons for decades ,it seems a bit precious to complain about a few windmills

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    2. Kate Smith

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Daniel Verberne

      Agree. I also had almost come to think he was a reasonable human being, but when I read the SMH story my jaw dropped. How could he be so blatantly against renewable energy? Does he gaze lovingly at coal fired power stations such as Morewell and Yallourn? Pandering to the 'anti-Green' lobby. It beggars belief!

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  6. David Pearn

    Follower

    Outside of the rusted-on, religious elderly, I can't envision who would vote for this mob.
    How long before the education minister presses for more RE at the expense of science class time.

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    1. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Kenneth Mazzarol

      I never imagined that it would be possible to find a more neanderthal mob ---- with apologises to to the Neanderthals! --- than Howard and his cronies. Clearly I was wrong.

      What there ought to be is encouragement for, and some limited finance available to develop alternative sources of energy. There are a number of options out there, some that in my view are potentially more viable than either wind farms or roof top solar.

      Abbott and Hockey appear to have not yet moved into the '50's --- Howard had at least reached 1/4 acre blocks and white picket fences --- which of course in fact never existed!

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      You're right Peter - the poor old Neanderthals deserve better - I think more 'Dalek' than 'Neanderthal' in this instance...

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    3. Jennifer Gow

      Retired lecturer in Social Sciences, jewellery artist

      In reply to Ross Barrell

      I was thinking Vogons for those who are familiar with The Hitchhiker's to the Universe

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  7. Matt James

    logged in via Facebook

    This man, absurd. He's just doing a Murdoch for political reasons. Who votes for these con men? Never trust a man who dumps support for his own people just like he did to refugees.

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  8. Roger Young

    Manufacturing business owner

    Have just read through the 30 or so comments on this article. Every one from a neutral or leftist perspective. The Conversation is becoming politically partisan, rather than a forum for intelligent discussion.

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    1. Adam Gilbert

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Roger Young

      Perhaps you'd be so kind as to offer your non-neutral/leftist perspective?

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    2. Edwina Laginestra
      Edwina Laginestra is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Jack of all trades

      In reply to Roger Young

      Hi Roger
      TC IS a forum for intelligent discussion. Whether more intelligence seems to be coming from what you think is neutral or leftist does not mean there cannot be other comments disagreeing with those stances. You must admit tho' that Hockey's comment was at best infantile. This surely could not be the public discussion we need about renewable energy.

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    3. In reply to Roger Young

      Comment removed by moderator.

    4. Suzy Gneist
      Suzy Gneist is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Multi-tasker at Graphic Design & Montville Coffee

      In reply to Roger Young

      I think you confuse the readership, or more correctly the commentators, with the publication.
      A forum can only reflect the views of those who care to comment - maybe there is just a lack of interest and/or relevant argument on the side of those who exclude themselves?
      If you have a different view and intelligent comment to make, feel free to contribute.

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    5. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Roger Young

      "Every one from a neutral or leftist perspective."

      Thank you for your ad hominem argument.

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    6. Ross Barrell

      Aikido Student

      In reply to Roger Young

      Hi Roger

      I would welcome a rational, intellectually honest conservative argument backed up by real evidence. have yet to see on on these pages. Could be mistaken, but I don't think so.

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    7. Susan Nolan

      retired

      In reply to Roger Young

      "... comments ... Every one from a neutral ... perspective. The Conversation is becoming politically partisan ... "

      Please explain.

      How can a comment from a neutral perspective be viewed as being politically partisan?

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    8. Janice Russell

      retired

      In reply to Roger Young

      Roger, just because you call yourself an "executive director" doesn't mean you are the only one capable of thinking straight. Perhaps if you looked more to your left you would find many straight thinkers, just not people who believe the lies that ceaselessly come from the LNP.
      Those who are neutral, or even dare I suggest leftist, are often more capable of seeing the big picture as they do not live in ivory towers. They live in the real world where they have to physically work for a living, not just collect an exec. salary for turning up

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    9. Rob Morgan

      Corporate IT guy and ex-engineer

      In reply to Roger Young

      Roger, I like intelligent LNP governments, as well as intelligent Labor governments. But how can anyone defend such a stupid, unnecessary and downright retrograde comment as this? Very few, and that's why the appearance of bias in the comments.

      What does it say about the bias of a key government minister? If your answer is "nothing", well, there's the problem.

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  9. Brad Farrant

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    It is about time that the other state and territory governments followed the ACT’s lead and took their responsibilities to us and the kids of today and tomorrow seriously by setting meaningful fair share emission reduction targets of their own!

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  10. Dorothy Button

    logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

    I too think Joe Hockey is surprisingly immature to make this comment about wind farms.

    Is he now just playing games with the likes of Alan Jones to see the extent of his new found power and the media cover he is able to attract.

    What would possess a senior minister to comment like this. He is smirking his way through this term. Power has got him completely out of control already. He is a political child.

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    1. David Pearn

      Follower

      In reply to Dorothy Button

      To me, there seems to be a formulaic Sydney shock-jock fawning mentality that infects those who represent (not exclusively) that city's conservative electorates.
      Do they seriously think that pandering to populism is something to be proud of or is it a case of 'when on a good thing, stick to it'?

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  11. Murray Shaw

    Farmer

    Those contributing here romanticising the visual amenity of wind farms might just wait awhile.
    I forecast that one hot dry windy day, one will malfunction, as they are want to do, starting a bushfire that will raze Canberra and its surrounds. Several states in the US have banned them for this reason.

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    1. Mark Schneider

      Freelance coypwriter

      In reply to Murray Shaw

      Murray that is utter nonsense. A total of 158 fires have been caused by wind turbines over 40 years of operation. With over 100,000 now operating worldwide that amounts to an incidence of 4 per 100,000 per year. That's a minute risk and most of those fires were caused by redundant technology anyway. The Victorian Country Fire Authority has noted that the potential of fires from wind turbines is inherently low.

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    2. Blair Donaldson
      Blair Donaldson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Researcher & Skeptic

      In reply to Murray Shaw

      There no US states that have banned windfarms. Some US legislators have banned imported wind farm equipment made in China. You appear to have missed the subtle difference.

      Where is your concern for the thousands of people in the Latrobe Valley who had to put up with over a month of serious pollution from an open cut coal mine? The fire is still smouldering months later but you, like Joe Hockey appear unconcerned about such trivial details.

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    3. Edwina Laginestra
      Edwina Laginestra is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Jack of all trades

      In reply to Murray Shaw

      sorry Murray - but what was that whole kerfuffle down in Morwell last month caused by? Pretty sure it was a coal mine, and the toxicity was meant to be pretty bad. The number of fires started by power lines is pretty high too.

      I think if we were looking at side effects, some of the renewable energy sources would rank much lower than some of our current accepted sources of energy. Not saying at all that we should ignore potential problems, but this example doesn't seem to be much of a reason to reject it.

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    4. Chris Owens

      Professional

      In reply to Murray Shaw

      Murray, come down to Victoria and have a look at the Hazelwood coal mine which burnt for 45 days causing residents to have to move out of their homes or breathe a toxic cocktail of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter.

      This is on top of the standard pollution from power generation from the regions three coal fired power stations.

      Why do you not post about that?

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    5. In reply to Chris Owens

      Comment removed by moderator.

    6. Dennis Alexander

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Murray Shaw

      Murray, provide a link to these States that have banned windfarms. The ban in Connecticut boils down to a dispute between the legislature and the statutory siting authority. So, I think at this point you either don't know or won't say which states for what reasons.

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    7. In reply to Chris Owens

      Comment removed by moderator.

    8. In reply to David Pearn

      Comment removed by moderator.

    9. wilma western

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Murray Shaw

      Golly Murray's now really worried about extremely low fire risk....I thought his real worry was otherwise?

      That big fire in Canberra early this millennium was finally put out and was far bigger and more feropcious than a single turbine fire could ever be.

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    10. David Osmond
      David Osmond is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Wind Engineer

      In reply to George Papadopoulos

      George, the qualitative analysis comparing the noise from ocean waves and wind turbine has been done. The following report from Sonus indicates that at nearly all infrasound frequencies, the noise from the wind turbine was comparable to that from ocean waves.

      So in your analogy of glass A vs glass B, not only are they the same volume, but they have the same chemical composition.

      http://www.pacifichydro.com.au/files/2011/10/Sonus-Report.pdf

      Likewise, this report from the Sth Australian EPA indicates that at all frequencies, there's not much difference between noise levels when the turbines are operational, and when they are shut-down. And both cases are a long way below hearing thresholds in the infrasound region.

      http://www.epa.sa.gov.au/xstd_files/Noise/Report/Waterloo_wind_farm_report.pdf

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    11. In reply to Paul Prociv

      Comment removed by moderator.

    12. Mark Schneider

      Freelance coypwriter

      In reply to George Papadopoulos

      The only scientific papers published on wind turbine infrasound have concluded that there are no ill effects from it.

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    13. In reply to Rob Morgan

      Comment removed by moderator.

    14. In reply to Rob Morgan

      Comment removed by moderator.

  12. Sandor von Kontz

    farmer

    " Let’s hope, if Mr Hockey drives that way, that he prefers looking at solar panels rather than wind turbines."
    No he will not. Both these forms of renewable energy have one thing in common: They are highly vixible and their size is directly related to output. So in the final analysys the blight om the landscape is not the windfarm but our use of energy. He does not want to be reminded of that as a growth fetischist.
    Interestingly heoes not complain about the big black holes in the ground being the coal mines, and the smokestacks of the caol fired power station....

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    1. Janice Russell

      retired

      In reply to Sandor von Kontz

      I suggest that Joe Hockey takes a drive along that back roads of the Hunter region if he wants to see some thing really "utterly offensive".
      There it is a moon-scape of open-cut mines, and pile upon pile of spoil around them. This to me is utterly offensive.
      The so-called rehabilitation of the area is hopeless. The piles of rocky spoil are just sewn with grass seeds that struggle to germinate because of the poor soil. All this in an area that used to be a fertile valley that was farmed successfully for over a century before coal mines took over
      But these and the attendant dust, coal-trains spreading dust all along the route are fine by JH as they are feeding the pockets of his mates in the mining industry.
      Wind farms are a clean form of renewable energy,. Maybe not the most beautiful for those who live close by, but certainly far better to look at than open-cut mines and their dirt.
      I know which I would like to see developed near me.

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  13. Alex Cannara

    logged in via LinkedIn

    I must agree with the beleaguered Joe. We know wind farms are not only ugly, kill species and consume vast resources per average Watt delivered, they're miserably low in power density and high in maintenance and even worker injuries...
    http://tinyurl.com/b7uboqe
    http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/1/015021/ (video, note graph axes)

    Aw, but what do Harvard folks know, eh?

    And, we all do know things like...
    www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/accidents.pdf
    http://docs.wind-watch.org/Larwood-bladethrow-presentation.pdf

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    1. Edwina Laginestra
      Edwina Laginestra is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Jack of all trades

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Hi Alex - the reason Joe is "beleaguered" is because he offered a pretty trite statement to support what is possibly a major policy decision. He offered no evidence other than they are a "blight on the landscape". That is an opinion and does not in any way address some of the major policy issues and real concerns we have.

      You, on the other hand, have offered evidence to support some reasons why you don't think much of windfarms. That is good and allows a discussion to start, but please none…

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  14. George Papadopoulos

    logged in via LinkedIn

    "Canberra is Australia’s home of wind farms"

    Really? I thought it was rural NSW...

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  15. wilma western

    logged in via email @bigpond.com

    Pathetic comment from Joe sucking up to A Jones who is one of the most prominent anti-wind anti climate change science campaigners.

    Joe does not need to grovel to Jones to get a hearing the media.

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  16. John Bromhead

    logged in via email @netspeed.com.au

    I have concerns about the ACT's plan to get to 90% renewable electricity by 2020. One reason is that I can't get the plan to add up. Perhaps Professor Saddler has access to some of the costings including assumptions for the expected demand and the capacity factors for the waste bio-generator of 17MW and the "new generation solar"of 50MW. The front cover of the information sheet about this obscure aspect of the plan has a picture of CST troughs.
    382MW of wind turbines are to provide 45% of the ACT's…

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  17. David Goodfield

    Uni Researcher

    Perhaps the Hon Treasurer could have the same visionary view of road building as far as visual amenity is concerned, never mind the environmental impact of such social necessities.
    Nimby seems to be the rule with this Government - wind farms, internment camps, carbon pricing, car manufacture, and so on. What's next? Of course, encouraging the sale of the remaing utiliites to overseas corporations to reduce debt.

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  18. Jennifer Gow

    Retired lecturer in Social Sciences, jewellery artist

    There seems to a whole lot of censorship going on here ;(

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    1. Mark Schneider

      Freelance coypwriter

      In reply to Jennifer Gow

      Yes, It reminds me of Yossarian in Catch 22's efforts at censoring letters, where the recipient of the letter was left with nothing but:

      Dear

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    2. Cory Zanoni

      Community Manager at The Conversation

      In reply to George Papadopoulos

      The posts were removed for being off topic. This article isn't about wind farm noise and alleged health ramifications.

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    3. Mark Schneider

      Freelance coypwriter

      In reply to Cory Zanoni

      Cory I think the only thing that George and I would agree on is that that's ridiculous.

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    4. Cory Zanoni

      Community Manager at The Conversation

      In reply to Mark Schneider
    5. Jennifer Gow

      Retired lecturer in Social Sciences, jewellery artist

      In reply to Cory Zanoni

      I disagree with your evaluation. Hockey's comment was deliberate "dog whistle" to a particular set of beliefs within the community about wind turbines based on a range of debatable to dubious propositions about energy security, impact on wildlife and impacts on health (the so called "wind turbine syndrome")
      The material you chose to remove was a robust debate that had not degenerated into personal attacks but rather focused on the provenance and credibility of a body of knowledge to which Hockey's dog whistle was invoking. As such it is relevant to the topic.
      I notice you didn't remove the material on the impact on wildlife. Was this because this topic didn't engender robust debate?

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    6. David Pearn

      Follower

      In reply to Jennifer Gow

      Consistent with the Waubra Foundation in that conservatives have a group think mental block when it comes to renewables founded presumably in AGW denial.

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    7. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Jennifer Gow

      Jennifer I regret to say that some of the comments directed towards me (that were removed) were examples of bullying and intimidation from people who don't like my contribution and that add little to nothing to any intelligent debate - just the same old repetition of claims and assertions, hence I wouldn't even bother to post link to research papers.

      Many thanks to Cory for doing a great job in removing such comments.

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    8. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to David Pearn

      David, I would think that Cory would do a good job in removing this comment also - just one more poor example of discussion with any relevance.

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    9. Blair Donaldson
      Blair Donaldson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Researcher & Skeptic

      In reply to George Papadopoulos

      George, the point you have consistently missed is that this article relates to Joe Hockey's ridiculous comments about wind farms and the inconvenient facts which undermine his unfounded opinions.

      It was you who introduced irrelevancies. It is you who mirrors the sentiments of Hockey. It's you who shows no concern for people genuinely affected by coalmine fires or other genuinely detrimental environmental conditions. It's you alone who professes superhuman qualities that defy science.

      Calling out BS is not intimidation or bullying, it's merely correcting the record.

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    10. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Blair, the "irrelevance" of my comment related to the selective focus on Hockey's comments - irrelevance hey?

      The main discussion in the Alan Jones interview was those relating to the RET review and the negative economic impacts of unreliable intermittant energy.

      Hockey's comments on the wind farm eye sore is nothing original - he isn't the first human being to feel that way.

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    11. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      No Chris, I really meant that - the comments removed were reflective of anything but discussion of educated mature adults...

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    12. Mark Schneider

      Freelance coypwriter

      In reply to George Papadopoulos

      As opposed to your practical common sense view that we can just continue pumping carbon into the atmosphere forever because the world is not getting hotter, Australia is not experiencing record breaking droughts and sea levels aren't rising.

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    13. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Mark Schneider

      Mark, your comment displays a little naivety.

      Anti-wind doesn't equate to pro-carbon, just like pro-wind fanaticism doesn't equate to push for a healthier environment.

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    14. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Mark Schneider

      So Mark, where do I get funding for my anti-wind activities? And where is your evidence that the coal industry is funding the "anti-wind turbine" campaign.

      I am well aware that one of the WF founders has interests in several mining industries, CSG, coal etc, and his family have interests in wind energy. But that doesn't make him the "coal industry"...

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    15. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Mark Schneider

      Of course! They offend their highly developed sense of aesthetics.

      Haven't you ever stood and wondered at the glory of belching coal fired power station's smoke stacks?

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    16. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      Peter, compare one coal fired station with several thousand wind turbines that would notionally replace it if wind wasn't so unreliable.

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    17. Mark Schneider

      Freelance coypwriter

      In reply to George Papadopoulos

      George the Waubra Foundation and the Landscape Guardians, both anti-windfarm groups share a post office box with Lowell Resources which is owned by Peter Mitchell, a wealthy mining an oil investor. What a remarkable coincidence that is. Similarly the Institute of Public Affairs, another anti climate change group opposing wind turbines, receives funding from BHP Billtion, Caltex, Exxon and Shell.
      I have no idea where you get your funding for your anti-wind activities. If you're doing it for nothing then perhaps you should start invoicing Mr Mitchell.

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    18. David Pearn

      Follower

      In reply to Mark Schneider

      I seem to recall reading of a current senior Victorian state govt minister and partner being members of the Waubra Foundation which would explain why this Victorian govt has fallen into line with the coal industry's strategy.

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    19. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Mark Schneider

      Mark, so where is the evidence that "anti-wind activities" are funded by the coal industry?

      You do realise that these same companies have a variety of interests including renewables?

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    20. Jennifer Gow

      Retired lecturer in Social Sciences, jewellery artist

      In reply to George Papadopoulos

      I think the duck test applies here. .If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck .........

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    21. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Mark Schneider

      Mark if that is your logic, then we can also conclude that wind industry has infiltrated the AMA, CAHA, PHAA etc etc.

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    22. Mark Schneider

      Freelance coypwriter

      In reply to George Papadopoulos

      George I've decided I've really got better things to do than respond to your inane nonsense and bizarre conspiracy theories.

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    23. Blair Donaldson
      Blair Donaldson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Researcher & Skeptic

      In reply to David Pearn

      David, I think you are referring to Mary and Michael Wooldridge. Michael Wooldridge is (or was) on the board of the Waubra Foundation. Mary Wooldridge has made her contempt for wind energy well-known. I'd be interested to know if Joe Hockey has any links with wind farm opposition groups.

      It's odd that conservative politicians who espouse private enterprise and job creation so readily condemn renewable energy technologies to a degree that is in inverse proportion to their knowledge of those same technologies.

      Maybe there is something about the look of opencut coal mines that makes Joe and Tony come over all unnecessary?

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    24. Blair Donaldson
      Blair Donaldson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Researcher & Skeptic

      In reply to George Papadopoulos

      George, why don't you stick with the subject matter of this page rather than invoke conspiracy theories which are in fact, your domain?

      Joe Hockey has stated an opinion which has provoked many to question his objectivity and understanding of the subject. Whether you like it or not, opposition to renewables, wind energy in particular comes primarily from conservative bodies and/or individuals with interests in fossil fuels, nuclear energy and ideological opposition to the established fact of AGW. Reason and honesty doesn't get a look in.

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    25. Janice Russell

      retired

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      You will find that very few of Joe's and Tony's political cohorts have much knowledge of science hence their lack of/cutting funding to many science projects...
      Their ideas for job creation a.re not in the realm of renewable energy technologies, after you can't dig it out and sell it overseas.
      Besides I'm of the feeling that a good slice of their funding comes from the operators of the opencut mines so why wouldn't they support them.
      I'm sure Joe et al have never seen the blight on the landscape that opencut mines are, as they are not on the road to Canberra like the wind farms are.
      I know which I find to be totally offensive to look at or breathe the by-product of.

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    26. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Blair, by the same logic one could say that many others don't display much objectivity to coal mining or global warming, because they don't like the idea of hill vanishing from the landscape and black powder settling in the area...

      Perhaps you and others need to stop drawing the lines between coal industry and the so called "anti-wind" movement and start focussing on the fact that the complaints of low frequency noise related symptoms are rather consistent, found at an international level and backed by research.

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    27. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Janice Russell

      Janice, its pretty difficult to not see wind farms when driving to Canberra from Sydney. One sees them when driving to Goulburn, then there is more after you pass Goulburn.Then there are more as you are getting close to Canberra.

      And if the madness of the industry prevails, you will see wind farms everywhere from the minute you hit the Southern Highlands till you reach the ACT border, or continue driving to Melbourne all the way to Gundagai.

      How is the for an eye sore?

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    28. Blair Donaldson
      Blair Donaldson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Researcher & Skeptic

      In reply to Janice Russell

      "Besides I'm of the feeling that a good slice of their funding comes from the operators of the opencut mines so why wouldn't they support them."

      That certainly seems to be the case judging by the shenanigans going on in New South Wales and Queensland.

      No wonder Joe and co- want to keep the golden goose on life support.

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    29. Janice Russell

      retired

      In reply to George Papadopoulos

      I happen to like the look of the stately windmills. They show that some people care about our atmosphere.
      I take it you don.t often areas where there are opencut coal mines with the attendant dust, total lack of vegetation, and destruction of prime farm land.
      None of these are noticeable around wind farms and you can breathe safely all the time.
      Joe Hockey was pandering to AJ's audience of the misinformed, continuing to misinform them because all of the above have limited scientific knowledge but very strident voices.
      I often notice that those who make the most noise have limited knowledge of the subject. In science this includes many of the LNP

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    30. Blair Donaldson
      Blair Donaldson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Researcher & Skeptic

      In reply to George Papadopoulos

      You should be writing copy for Joe Hockey – or maybe you do. You both make asinine comments on the subject.

      George, hills don't vanish under a windfarm. Farming or any other activity continues quite happily with a wind farm. You know that but you petulantly choose to ignore the bleeding obvious because it undermines your conspiracy theories.

      An opencut coal mine destroys huge areas of productive farmland, native bushland, watercourses et cetera. along with any habitat occupied by domestic or native animals. And then there is the ongoing problem of direct detrimental health concerns because of the dust from the coal and the serious problem of fire prevention. Something Morwell and the Latrobe Valley continue to experience – not that you care.

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    31. Cory Zanoni

      Community Manager at The Conversation

      In reply to Jennifer Gow

      "The material you chose to remove was a robust debate that had not degenerated into personal attacks but rather focused on the provenance and credibility of a body of knowledge to which Hockey's dog whistle was invoking. As such it is relevant to the topic."

      A debate's "robustness" has little bearing on whether or not we remove it. Our standards are clear: we require discussion to be on-topic, not tangentially related (especially when said debate has been repeated almost word for word across numerous…

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