The Turnbull government’s controversial wind farm watchdog commissioner will earn more than $600,000 in the three-year, part-time role.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt named Andrew Dyer as National Wind Farm Commissioner last month but Fairfax Media has now obtained details of his contract.
Mr Dyer will be paid $205,000 a year for the three-year position, which involves monitoring the wind industry and responding to community complaints about turbine noise and health effects.
He will earn more than an average federal backbencher for a part-time role.
Mr Hunt agreed to establish the role as part of crossbench negotiations to pass the government’s revised Renewable Energy Target. Senators John Madigan and David Leyonhjelm were the main advocates for the role.
The agreement was reached under former prime minister Tony Abbott, who was notoriously hostile towards wind farms, calling them “visually awful”. Former treasurer Joe Hockey also labelled them “utterly offensive”.
The Turnbull government is considered much friendlier towards wind power but decided to proceed with the commissioner role rather than risk angering the crossbench. The government has also established an Independent Scientific Committee on Wind Farms.
It’s understood the commissioner position may be costing the government more than originally anticipated. Mr Hunt’s office previously said Mr Dyer was expected to be paid less than Labor’s climate change commissioner, Tim Flannery, who reportedly earned $180,000 a year.
Mr Dyer, who is based in Melbourne, will also get a small staff. Some may be allocated from the Department of Environment but he’s also expected to make some outside hires.
Labor’s environment spokesman Mark Butler accused the government of pandering to climate sceptics and wind farm conspiracy theorists.
“This is a shocking waste of taxpayers’ money by Malcolm Turnbull,” he said. “It says everything about the priorities of the Turnbull government that they have appointed a commissioner for wind farms but not a full-time disability discrimination commissioner.”
The Abbott government notoriously dumped Graeme Innes from the role of disability commissioner in 2014 after cutting the Human Rights Commission’s budget by $1.7 million.
The role was subsequently merged into another commissioner’s responsibilities. Mr Innes maintains it is wrong to appoint a wind farm commissioner while people with a disability lack a full-time advocate.
But Senator Leyonhjelm said he was confident the wind farm commissioner would be worthwhile. “We have seen compelling evidence that there has been very poor oversight of the big wind companies by the states and rights of individuals have been ignored,” he told Fairfax Media.
Mr Dyer is a former chairman for the Telecommunications Ombudsman Council and has a background as an executive, consultant and company director.
Mr Turnbull, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Greens leader Richard Di Natale are all descending on Paris this weekend for major climate change talks.
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