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Byron Shire
March 4, 2021

What hope for green energy with Hockey’s hot air?

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The wind farm near Canberra that treasurer Joe Hockey finds 'offensive'. The photo was taken two years ago from the Lake George lookout. Ed Russell/flickr.com
The wind farm at Lake George near Canberra that treasurer Joe Hockey finds ‘offensive’. The photo was taken two years ago from the Lake George lookout. Ed Russell/flickr.com

By Giles Parkinson

The prospects of a re-start of large scale renewable energy projects in Australia dimmed further on Friday when treasurer Joe Hockey described the sight of wind turbines as ‘utterly offensive’.

Hockey, speaking to ultra-conservative shock-jock Alan Jones on radio 2GB, said wind turbines were a ‘blight on the landscape’ and vowed to axe ‘the vast number’ of environmental agencies

Hockey’s comments were made after Jones asked him about the ‘nonsense’ of climate change, and renewable energy policies, and asked why – when the government had rejected support for SPC Admona and car makers – was it ‘chasing’ Thai and Chinese-made wind turbines.

This is the conversation from there:

Hockey: ’If I can be a little indulgent, I drive to Canberra to go to parliament and I must say I find those wind turbines around Lake George to be utterly offensive.’

Jones: ‘Correct.’

Hockey: ‘I think they’re just a blight on the landscape.’

Jones: ‘Correct. The people you are talking to are paying for them. When are you going to knock them off?’

Hockey: (chuckling) ‘Well, we can’t knock those ones off, they are into locked into a scheme. There is a certain contractual obligation, I’m told, associated with those things. But you will see in the  budget we will address the massive duplication that you have talked about, the vast number of agencies involved in the same thing. We have considered that very carefully. When I say we’ve seen the age of entitlement, that applies to business as much as it applies to the rest of us.’

Hockey also told Jones that the government would cut a swathe through environmental agencies, including, he said, the Clean Energy Regulator, which environment minister Greg Hunt says we need to manage and operate the emissions reduction fund in the ludicrous Direct Action scheme.

Hockey probably meant the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. Attention to detail has not been the government’s strong point, and it has been determined to dismantle any authority or scheme with the words ‘clean’ or ‘climate’ or ‘carbon’ in front of it – the carbon price, the Climate Commission, the Climate Change Authority – even the Cleantech awards had to be renamed.

The CEFC,  along with the Export Finance Investment Corporation, attracts private funds, and delivers a positive return to the government.

But even EFIC has been slated for closure in what the AFR’s Chanticleer columnist described as one of a series of ‘brain explosions’ from the Far Right revealed in the National Audit Commission.

The wind turbines around Lake George that Hockey finds so offensive are part of Infigen Energy’s Capital wind farm (pictured).

Neighbouring regions areas are a hot-bed of anti-wind farm activism, particularly from business leaders such as Maurice Newman, Abbott’s hand-picked head of his business advisory body.

Local state MP Pru Goward, the newly appointed  minister of planning for NSW, has described wind turbines as ‘hideous’, and federal MP Angus Taylor is one of the many fierce opponents of wind farms in the Coalition.

Amid all this, the ACT government is trying to commission 200MW of wind capacity as part of its plans to go 90 per cent renewable.

The federal government, on the other hand, appears comfortable with 90 per cent fossil fuels.

It has commissioned a review panel to assess the renewable energy target, and has chosen a team led by climate change denier Dick Warburton, who has said that nuclear energy is the only viable alternative to coal, to make a judgement on the scheme that is designed to bring in more wind and solar energy to the energy system.

The constant uncertainty about green energy policy has meant that no new large scale wind farms have been committed in Australia since 2012 – apart from some solar farms supported by other schemes, and the massive investment by Australian households in rooftop solar.

The emergence of solar, and soon enough storage, as a cost competitive alternative to energy delivered through expensive networks, is causing Australia’s major utilities to reassess their business models, and the way they deliver electricity.

However, they lament that politicians and regulators are looking to the past, rather than the future.

The fossil fuel industry, and other vested interests, have argued that all renewable support mechanisms should be dismantled, or at least vastly reduced, in order to protect the value of existing assets.

They have argued, as has Tony Abbott, that the renewables scheme is very expensive, even though regulators note that it adds only about three per cent to consumer bills.

The Clean Energy Council this week produced a report that suggested that the fall in wholesale prices caused by the influx of renewables would offset the cost of certificates and actually lead to cheaper bills for consumers in the medium to long term.

This assessment was rejected by Hunt this week.

And in a further sign of the government’s, and the panel’s hard-line attitude to renewables, Warburton said a complete dismantling of the renewable energy target could not be ruled out, even though this would lead to billions of dollars in losses, and to the removal of the ‘contractual obligation’ that Hockey appeared to lament.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency is also in danger of having its funding stripped and of being absorbed back into a government department.

 


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9 COMMENTS

  1. Tony Abbott’s own wind generators (his ears) aren’t the best looking things either but we don’t call them offensive.

  2. Strange that Hockey doesn’t like wind turbines. The wind turbines said they liked the look of Joe, very much. “Great big windbag” was one of the compliments they used.

  3. Mr Hockey,
    perhaps you would prefer a coal fired power plant, or a nuclear power station next to Government House? Lake Burley Griffin would be a wonderful heat sink for such a power station, & the positive would be that Canberra residents could swim all year round in the heated water!
    I doubt the populace actually voted for the total dismantling of all the alternative energy that is being employed or proposed for Australia. I note that America now is installing Alternative energy systems at a huge rate, including Mr Hockey’s hated Wind farms.
    We cannot afford to pollute our world any longer. We only have one planet: It is time this crisis was treated as such. Our children deserve this.

    regards Doug

  4. Well they are hideous and not only to business people who love fossil fuels but also to people who love birds, raptors and bats. They are also life-threatening to the people who live within a few kms of them and suffer from the debilitating impacts of infrasound. Nuclear is not the answer either!!! We simply have to come up with some truly viable technologies that are environmentally friendly (which turbines are not).

  5. Reading the Hockey/Alan Jones interview is like reading a Nightmare.
    Thank goodness hoodwinked Australians who voted for this bunch of unintelligentsia, who won Govt on false pretences, are seeing them for what they are !

    All out of their depth; all without a clue how to govern, and certainly not understanding how to put PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT. Maybe that’s a blessing .. if they keep going the way they are, they will be a one-term disaster for the Country – and AUSTRALIA WILL BE THE WINNER.

  6. Yes Yes I know like sky hooks, They’d be environmentally friendly & so on, where does the stupidity end? “Infrasound” It never ends, (good liberal voter). I’m afraid Abbot, hockey, Hunt, Morrison & so on in the current team aren’t cutting the ice with me, they never will, they’re all the wrong colour. The sycophants& Dills in parliament state & Federal make me quite ill, NSW parliament has been shown to be full of crooks & raqeteers & I hope jail time follows. The federal sphere is more complicated but none the less insidious, That’s where the real decisions are made as above with Hockey sprouting to his mouthpiece Jones about his dislike for wind generators, Does this mean he likes mining (Has he ever been in a coal mine, has he ever seen one?) Really it’s quite sickening to read this garbage & realize that his target is the ‘Ret’ & renewable energy in general………………………………..

  7. What hope for green energy in democrazys hot air more like it. Let’s look at the alive bigoted hot air 1. some of the most endangered species are numerous small bird species not the sexy whales and these are mincing machines on a sci fi scale. 2 Many forget as does Hockey, that Howard turbo charged the wind industry.Google it. 3 Labor massively upgraded the already biggest coal loading port in the world, Newcastle along with leasing much of NSW to CSG miners w hile telling us our emissions were trending down? While other green bigots berated the science deniers and indulged in dunecare on dunes that would be under the sea in several decades and supported the ongoing tourism emissions of a million or so carbon bigfoot tourists that visit here each year. The only discernable science was a reduction in electricity demand from gold plated inflated prices and yes a subsidised high up take of solar panels by the mainly middle class. Hockey can change the ongoing hijacking by lobbyists but Aussie carbon bigfoots and science deniers whether we are green or redneck need to get off our delusional hobby horses too.. Only a cartoonist could make any sense of these cultish behaviours.

  8. Mr Hockey,
    I personally made a trip to the wind farms of America last year and was blown away by their beauty. Birds peacefully flying around them, cows grazing in the same fields and very little noise coming from these wonderful giants making power for us miserable, complaining humans.
    Sounds like you would prefer a coal fired power plant, or a nuclear power station next to Government House.
    Please get your facts right before making inane comments – it’s painful for us the poor public to read the stuff.
    Start being visiting a wind farm!

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