Recently retired Liberal MP Alby Schultz has pledged to lobby his former colleagues to place greater restrictions on wind energy, after being appointed the first patron of anti-wind group the Waubra Foundation.
Schultz, who stepped down from his NSW seat of Hume prior to the last election after being diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer, told Guardian Australia he was “disturbed” by the pro-wind attitudes of some state and federal politicians.
“I’m honoured to be the first patron of the Waubra Foundation and I’m looking forward to making a significant contribution,” he said. “I will be highlighting one of the greatest frauds ever perpetrated on the Australian people.
“Some sections of the media are blinded by the propaganda put out by those sympathetic to renewable energy. I’m disturbed by politicians at state and federal level for not undertaking their statutory duties. You’ll certainly be hearing more about that in the future.”
Schultz said he had not yet spoken to the government about wind power but will be doing it an “appropriate time”.
“It remains to be seen what the government will do, but they have made noises about the distribution of renewable energy certificates through the clean energy regulator, which I hope will be looked at,” he said. “I also have serious problems about the character assassination of Dr Sarah Laurie [Waubra Foundation’s chief executive] by so-called eminent people.”
The Waubra Foundation claims that wind turbines cause a multitude of physical ailments, including sleep disturbance, headaches, nausea, panic episodes and high blood pressure.
Michael Wooldridge, who was previously deputy leader of the Liberal party and a John Howard-era health minister, is already on the board of the pressure group.
Schultz has used parliamentary privilege to launch a series of attacks on the wind farm industry, attacking subsidies for the sector as “green bastardisation” of Australia’s national identity, adding: “This is government-sponsored fraud. All Australians, metropolitan and rural, are being sucker-punched by an industry ideology. The wind industry has squirrel-gripped this nation.”
Asked by Guardian Australia what scientific advice he has taken on the health impacts of wind turbines, Schultz said “practical examples I’ve heard about directly”.
Professor Simon Chapman, of the school of public health at the University of Sydney, recently published a list of 19 reviews of research into the effects of wind farms on health from around the world, none of which found a credible link.
A 2010 study by the Australian government’s National Health and Medical Research Council found that there was “no published scientific evidence to positively link wind turbines with adverse health effects”.
Despite this evidence, the Coalition has indicated that it will impose “real-time” noise monitoring of wind farms – a move the industry says will impose crippling costs upon it. Some state governments have already moved against wind energy, with Victoria banning the building of any turbine within 2km of a house.
The activities of the Waubra Foundation have recently come under the spotlight after a group of residents from the eponymous Victorian town calling for the group to change its name due to the damage it had done to Waubra’s reputation and the fear it causes to the town’s children.
The Waubra Foundation, which is based in Melbourne, was named after one of Australia’s largest wind farms at Waubra, completed in 2009.
Friends of the Earth say documents obtained under freedom of information show the Waubra Foundation’s founder has interests in fossil fuel industries, while its backers are largely comprised of people who object to wind turbines in their vicinity.
Leigh Ewbank, community co-ordinator at Friends of the Earth, told Guardian Australia that Schultz’s appointment was no surprise due to his vocal opposition to wind farms.
“The Waubra Foundation is a well-known anti-wind farm group claiming the technology causes a bizarre range of health impacts. The group continues to make these claims, ignoring the findings of the credible bodies such as the Victorian department of health who find wind farms are clean and safe.
“The appointment of a recently retired Liberal puts pressure on the government to distance itself from the anti-wind movement. Policies that are seen to reflect the wishes of anti-wind groups won’t go down well with the Australian public who largely support wind energy.”
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