Joyce, Price and Littleproud make ‘false and exaggerated claims’ at anti-renewables rally

Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs Barnaby Joyce speaks during a rally against renewable energy at Parliament House.

Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs Barnaby Joyce speaks during a rally against renewable energy at Parliament House. Photo: AAP

Coalition politicians including Barnaby Joyce, David Littleproud and Jacinta Nampijinpa Price used an anti-renewables rally at Parliament House to make several “false and exaggerated claims” about wind turbines and renewable energy.

The three joined at least 11 other state and federal politicians at the ‘reckless renewables’ rally on Tuesday that a few hundred people attended.

Joyce called for continued focus on “fighting renewables”, Littleproud said the Nationals wouldn’t “spend a cent” on hydro projects and Price questioned the reliability of wind turbines when speaking at the rally.

In a post-rally press conference, Nationals leader Littleproud claimed –without evidence – that offshore wind turbines would destroy local fishing businesses and drive up prices at the supermarket.

“There’s going to be towers across his fishing zone. He can’t fish there any more,” Littleproud said.

“So there goes your food security, there goes your prices at the checkout up.”

Dr Mark Diesendorf, a sustainable energy expert at the University of New South Wales, told The New Daily that claiming wind turbines aren’t reliable and offshore wind farms could harm marine life and destroy fishing businesses is incorrect.

“Denmark has three-quarters of its electricity coming from renewables, with 50 per cent coming from wind, and it’s one of the most reliable electricity systems in the whole of Europe,” he said.

“There’s some disturbance when installing wind farms when the foundations go in, but what they do is actually improve the fishing because the wind turbine foundations provide a shelter for schools of fish.”

He said the people and politicians making the claims have vested interests.

“They’re supporters of fossil fuels and many are nuclear proponents,” he said.

“These people galvanise and stir up local populations with a lot of false and exaggerated claims.”

False and exaggerated claims

Price, shadow minister for Indigenous affairs, claimed at the rally that wind turbines “don’t produce reliable energy,” and only work when the wind blows.

“I drove to Broken Hill and through to Coober Pedy and nothing angered me more than the sight of wind turbines,” Price said.

“Especially after hearing from regional Australians about what it means to clear their land, what it means to have to dispose of these horrible eyesores.”

One of those regional Australians, however, disagrees with Price’s characterisation of the issue.

Susan Findlay Tickner is a Horsham farmer with four wind turbines and 5.5 kilometres of transmission lines on her property.

She said the people who oppose “majestic”-looking wind turbines, either for visual or ideological reasons, have spread misinformation.

“There are certain myths that people have perpetrated, such as that you can’t fight fires around the turbines,” Findlay Tickner said.

“There’s certainly a lot of claiming that you can’t farm under transmission lines or operate machinery, but we regard farming around it the same way as farming around trees.”

Findlay Tickner and her husband receive compensation for having wind turbines on their property. Photo: Susan Findlay Tickner.

Findlay Tickner said her wind turbines belong to a nearby wind farm, which has benefitted the local community.

“There is a fund that gives grants to community groups to undertake projects that otherwise wouldn’t meet funding requirements,” she said.

“There are approximately 14 jobs at the wind farm and we know they are local people being employed.”

Renewable future

New figures from the government’s State of the Regions report predict the renewable energy industry will employ an extra 213,000 people by 2023, potentially becoming one of the biggest employers throughout regional Australia.

Diesendorf said 100 per cent renewable energy production is achievable in the next 15 years.

“When I look at these protests, the people who are pushing them are people who hate the environment pretending to be environmentalists, like Barnaby Joyce,” he said.

“It’s a political purpose to slow down the development of renewable energy, which is going gangbusters, and to stick to fossil fuels as long as possible so the owners of coal and gas plants can make as much money as possible.”

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