The Disappointing National Party

Waubra Wind Farm (Yes2Renewables)

letter in the Bairnsdale Advertiser (22.9)

In February this year I wrote congratulating the State Nationals on their support for the permanent ban on coal seam gas in parliament. But I warned against them joining the Federal government’s war on renewable energy. I then wrote:

“Without a shred of doubt all aspects of renewable energy including solar, wind, battery storage and micro-grids are beneficial to regional Victoria, country towns both large and small and to farmers, businesses and ordinary citizens.

“…the Waubra community north of Ballarat have drought proofed their farms and their community by earning $8000 per annum for each wind generator installed on their land. As there are 128 of them this adds an extra one million dollars to the community each year. The community also receives an annual return – enough to bring their local pub and other organisations back to life. Further there were 200 people employed in the manufacture (which could be done in Morwell or somewhere in Gippsland) and installation of the generators and 26 permanent onsite jobs. This keeps a large amount of money in the community and helps revive it. As well as providing renewable energy there is no pollution, greenhouse gases are saved, there is no big hole in the ground and farming continues with minimal disturbance.

“It is fairly obvious that there are large parts of Gippsland that are suitable for either wind or solar development and these are still compatible with current farming practices. Where conditions are not suited to wind solar may provide the answer like the recent project for a $20 million community solar farm at Wangaratta. Other types of renewable projects might be suitable for community adoption. For example tidal energy at Lakes Entrance or pumped hydro in the Latrobe Valley.

“As well as provide jobs many of these projects could be financed locally with our savings which currently are likely to be invested in the Adani coal mine (along with your tax dollars) or one in outer Baluchistan…Every dollar not spent on your electricity bill is a dollar that remains in the community. It is decentralisation in action – a policy mouthed by the political parties but rarely acted upon.

Now the Nationals are at it again with their recent motion against renewable energy at their Federal conference. Their recalcitrant attitude in state parliament towards renewable energy continues with their recent vote against the Victorian Renewable Energy Target and worse still their threat to repeal it when elected to government. Their promotion of coal in the face of a mountain of evidence – that with climate change our use of this energy source has to be phased out rapidly – is antediluvian. It has been obvious for years that country people are the most likely to suffer from the deleterious effects of climate change. They are also in the best position to benefit from the coming boom in renewable energy.

So now our representatives are not only not voting in regional Australia’s best interests they are actually voting and campaigning against them. It’s time for country people to consider changing our vote.