Come in from the cold, wind turbines. All is forgiven under the Turnbull government.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott and treasurer Joe Hockey led a campaign to limit wind farms as an energy source, with Mr Hockey complaining they blighted his view on his drives into Canberra.
But now it seems new life has been breathed into the industry, with Environment Minister Greg Hunt saying outrage over turbines had been limited to “views expressed by particular individuals”.
Mr Hunt made it clear those views were not represented in his strongly push for renewables under new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
He said “indeed there are no excuses for not investing and not moving forward” in the industry.
In 2014, Australia invested $240 million in renewable energy, compared to $310 billion globally. And Mr Abbott was accused to restricting growth in the industry.
Mr Hunt’s comments indicate a public change in emphasis on the importance of renewables following the change in Prime Minister. And this might be a hint the renewed championing of renewables will be followed by a less strident backing of the coal industry.
Mr Hunt indicated he was a fan of wind turbines when asked of their future on ABC radio.
He said that along with other providers of renewable energy, wind farmers could invest in confidence.
“Well, I’ve been asked about this on many occasions and expressed my view that renewables are not only a fundamental part of our energy mix now and increasingly in the future but also that I find them and have always found them an appropriate part of Australia’s energy,” he said.
When again pressed on wind farms he said: “Look, there may have been views expressed by particular individuals but the policy of course was for a doubling of renewables at the large scale level between now and 2020.
“And that will be a challenge but I believe it can be done, and similarly for a doubling of small scale solar. The solar PV that we see on our households and through the Solar Towns program in communities around Australia.”
The tone was different back in June when the new renewable energy target was going through Parliament.
Mr Abbott said at the time of turbines: “When I’ve been up close to these things, not only are they visually awful, but they make a lot of noise.”
He said: “What we did recently in the Senate was to reduce … capital R-E-D-U-C-E, the number of these things that we are going to get in the future … I frankly would have likely to have reduced the number a lot more but we got the best deal we could out of the Senate and if we hadn’t had a deal, Alan, we would have been stuck with even more of these things.”
And in May, just before delivering a Budget which cut funding for renewables, Mr Hockey made his views clear.
“If I can be a little indulgent please, I drive to Canberra to go to Parliament, I drive myself and I must say I find those wind turbines around Lake George to be utterly offensive,” he said.
“I think they’re just a blight on the landscape.”
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