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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

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April 7, 2006

Strange are the ways of politicians protecting the fossil fuel industry. Ian Campbell, the Federal Minister of the Environment, invoked the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act for only the fourth time to veto a $220 million wind farm proposal at Bald Hills in South Gippsland. He justifies his decision on the basis that, though the orange-bellied parrot has never actually been recorded there, one might turn up and it may get sliced by the spinning blades of the turbines.

Such concern for an iconic threatened species is touching considering that climate change caused by emissions from the fossil fuel industry will wipe out thousands of species of birds in Australia. However "potential' impact cannot be deemed a "significant impact" on the threatened species in the area, as required under the EPBC Act.


Campbell's decision directly confronts the support of the Bracks Government for the wind farm, as the latter had given the go ahead to the farm two years ago. Campbell's decision is interpreted to fulfill the Howard Government's pledge to stop the project during the 2004 federal election campaign so as to help the Liberal Party's Russell Broadbent take the seat of McMillan from Labor. MacMillian just happens to be in the LaTrobe Valley.

Broadbent opposes wind farms and the Liberal Party campaigned against wind farms at the last Federal election, with presumably such a policy in the LaTrobe Valley helped its local candidate Russell Broadbent wrest control of the seat of McMillan from Labor.

We will see if Campbell's logic should lead to him banning the Heemskerk wind farm on the west coast of Tasmania, which the orange-bellied parrot recovery team says is putting at risk the entire orange-bellied parrot population.
Update: 8 April
Strange are the ways of the federal enivornment Minister. The Age reports that Minister Campbell has recently approved five wind farms over the past five years frequented by larger numbers of an endangered parrot than the Victorian wind farm it has blocked. The areas were potential habitat and migration areas used by orange-bellied parrots.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:43 PM | | Comments (2)


What's impressive is the amount of spin he put on the report commissioned by his own department to justify the decision. Like Hercules throwing a Frisbee.

Campbell will probably be placed on the defensive over this.

I understand that the Victorian State Planning Minister Rob Hulls disagrees with the Minister Campbell's interpretation of the report. Hulls says

His [Campbell's] actual report says that not a single orange-bellied parrot was observed near the proposed Bald Hills wind farm. At best, scientists found a few historic records of sightings and a couple of potential foraging sites 10 to 35 kilometres away.

The Bracks' Government has little credibility here, given that it recently approved the expansion of the biggest(polluting fossil fuel-powered coal station in the industrialised world--- Hazelwood.