A defiant Moyne Shire councillor angered his fellow councillors but delighted the wind farm critics during a heated exchange in the council chambers this week.
A large gallery of wind farm critics cheered on Jim Doukas when he criticised the council’s response to complaints about noise issues relating to the giant Macarthur wind farm.
Cr Doukas was the only councillor to oppose the passing of a report approving the council’s handling of the complaints.
Cr Doukas claimed the report was biased and weak and brought into question the council’s relationship with wind farm owner AGL.
“The report is so light on information and facts it seems like it is bias. Is AGL doing something for us we don’t know about, because it looks that way.”
This comment brought an indignant response from mayor James Purcell.
“I may have misheard your representation, it appeared you were insinuating that this council, the integrity of councillors, was at risk here,” Cr Purcell said.
“This council has the highest integrity of any council any where in the world,” the mayor said.
Cr Doukas denied he had questioned the integrity of his fellow councillors but remained strong in his attack of the report.
He said council should do the right thing by the community and revisit this issue by conducting another investigation to come up with an “unbiased” outcome.
“It is not treating the people being affected fairly and not treating the other residents of the Moyne Shire fairly, because it’s the rate money we are going to have to spend when it goes to court.
“It’s all very well for us to sit here and act tough because we have ratepayers’ money, but if we had to defend ourselves with our own money maybe we’d have a different outlook.”
Earlier in the meeting Macarthur resident Jan Hetherington addressed the councillors, warning them of dire consequences should they approve the report.
“It is the opinion of the residents you may put yourselves in a position where you may be held accountable under the Australian Criminal Act,” Ms Hetherington said.
“Of which you have been made fully aware and in which case you most probably will not be covered by Moyne Shire’s insurance policies.”
She labelled information from the council’s solicitors that noise from the wind farm is not substantial and unreasonable as “utter rubbish” and said council should be ashamed of itself if it accepts such a poorly presented report.
“Should you approve of this report and its totally wrong conclusion you, through your continual ignorance and seeming willingness to hide and ignore all the evidence of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, will be knowingly allowing ongoing torture in the form of sleep deprivation.”
Cr Ralph Leutton caused a stir in his address supporting the report when he put forward his own scenario to Cr Doukas’ suggestion that wind farms should be turned off at night time.
He asked Moyne CEO David Madden if he could turn off the waves crashing on the beach in Port Fairy at night if that noise was causing a lack of sleep for residents.
A member of the gallery injected loudly that she had not chosen to live next to wind farms and that councillors had no idea of what residents are going through.