An expert who has likened the wind industry’s tactics to Hitler and claims the Australian Medical Association’s support for wind power is “corrupt” is among those that Senate crossbenchers want appointed as government advisers on wind power.
The office of Environment Minister Greg Hunt has confirmed he still intends to appoint a scientific committee to advise on the alleged impact of wind turbines on human health, despite the government’s new embrace of renewable energy under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The government will also soon announce who will fill the role of national wind farm commissioner to investigate complaints about wind turbines, despite refusing to appoint a full-time disability commissioner.
The government struck a deal with crossbench senators in June to address “community concerns about wind farms”, including establishing the scientific committee and consulting anti-wind senators when choosing its members.
Senator David Leyonhjelm has suggested a number of candidates including Bruce Rapley, a New Zealand-based scientific consultant who strongly believes wind turbines negatively affect human health.
Dr Rapley’s position is at odds with findings by the National Health and Medical Research Council that there is no reliable or consistent evidence that wind farms directly cause health problems.
In a submission to a Senate inquiry on wind farms, Dr Rapley said the AMA’s support for the industry was “yet one more example of how corrupt the system has become”.
“It is hard to understand how a group of highly qualified medical professionals could act in such an unprofessional way,” he wrote.
Dr Rapley cited Adolf Hitler as saying “strength lies not in defence but in attack”, and described such beliefs as “evident in the wind industry’s modus operandi as they continue to attack anyone who would question their viewpoint”.
Government sources on Thursday said Mr Hunt was never considering appointing Dr Rapley to the committee.
Senator Leyonhjelm said he was not opposed to wind turbines in principle, but believed they were poorly regulated and are “making people sick”.
He said Dr Rapley was a suitable candidate for the committee because as a New Zealander he “has been out of the Australian environment”, has extensively studied impacts of infrasound on human health “and is a genuine scientist”.
Mr Hunt’s spokeswoman said the government was committed to the deal it made with the crossbench, including the scientific committee, and would announce the wind commissioner “in the next couple of weeks”.
Sources say the government is leaning towards a “sensible” commissioner who would not exacerbate the polarised wind industry debate.
Labor’s environment spokesman Mark Butler said the concept of a commissioner was driven by a political deal “rather than a genuine need of the Australian public”.
“Greg Hunt cannot be taken seriously on wind energy as long as he still intends to pander to climate sceptics and wind farm conspiracy theorists,” he said.
Australian Wind Alliance national coordinator Andrew Bray said the Turnbull government should “call an end to Tony Abbott’s war on wind” and abolish plans for the commissioner and the scientific panel, saying both would play roles already filled by other agencies including state ombudsmen, environmental regulators and the National Health and Medical Research Council.
However he said if the wind commissioner acted solely as a link between communities and those existing bodies “this may be a useful role”.
Former disability commissioner Graeme Innes has blasted the Abbott government’s plans to appoint a national wind farm commissioner when there is no full-time disability commissioner as “very hurtful” and damaging.
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