Tony Abbott has launched another attack on “ugly”, “noisy” wind turbines, and it appears a trip to an island off Perth contributed to his dislike of the renewable energy generators.
The Prime Minister caused a stir yesterday when he described wind farms as “visually awful”.
Today, when asked if he had ever visited one, he replied he had cycled past the wind turbine on Rottnest Island, off the coast of Perth.
“Up close, they’re ugly, they’re noisy and they may have all sorts of other impacts,” Mr Abbott said.
“It’s right and proper that we’re having an inquiry into the health impacts of these things,” he said, referring to a current parliamentary inquiry initiated by crossbench Senators.
Western Australia built the Rottnest Island wind turbine in a $4 million partnership with the Howard government, of which Mr Abbott was a senior member.
When it was put into operation, the Government expected the turbine to save about $500,000 a year in fuel costs and predicted it would provide about 40 per cent of the island’s power generation.
But Mr Abbott is clearly not a fan of the visual impact.
“Frankly it’s right and proper we’ve reduced the Renewable Energy Target because as things stood there was going to be an explosion of these things right around our country,” Mr Abbott said.
“There will still be some growth but it will be much less than it would otherwise have been thanks to measures this Government has taken.”
Renewable energy lobby groups, Labor and the Greens have condemned the Prime Minister’s “backwards”, “stunning” comments.
Joyce backs PM, Labor ridicules ‘reckless’ comments
But Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce this morning said the PM had a point.
“I hate to say it, but I agree”, he said, speaking on ABC local radio in Tamworth.
“Wind farms are one of those things that everybody likes as long as it’s not in their backyard.
“Once your next door neighbour decides you’re going to have a wind farm you’ll have more calls to your radio station saying that they wish to express their discontent with that than anything else.”
The comments echo those of Treasurer Joe Hockey, who last year described wind turbines as “utterly offensive”.
Earlier this year, the Coalition did a deal with Labor to reduce the 2020 Renewable Energy Target from 41,000 to 33,000 gigawatt hours of electricity.
But some members of the Government wanted the target reduced by more or even scrapped.
Labor’s environment spokesman Mark Butler said it was hard to believe Mr Abbott “could find a less sophisticated argument against renewable energy than the one he offered yesterday”.
“He must have had nightmares last night about that one wind turbine on Rottnest Island,” he said.
“This is more than a joke, Tony Abbott is actively campaigning against an industry that employs thousands of Australians, attracts billions in investment and reduces Australia’s carbon pollution.
“No other world leader would show such recklessness towards one of their own industries.”
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