Aug 4, 2006

Campbell humiliated by parrot

Campbell humiliated by parrot

MEDIA RELEASE – ANTHONY ALBANESE MP

4 August 2006

Environment Minister Ian Campbell has been humiliated by the decision of the Federal Court today requiring him to reconsider “according to law” his intervention to block the Bald Hills wind farm in Gippsland, Victoria.

Today’s Federal Court Order has severely compromised Senator Campbell.

Senator Campbell’s decision in April 2006 to stop the Bald Hills wind farm project because one orange bellied parrot was threatened every 1000 years was all about politics and not about parrots.

To potentially protect one theoretical parrot every 1000 years, the Minister stopped a $220 million project that would have reduced greenhouse emissions by 435,000 tonnes a year. That’s the same as taking 100,000 cars off the road every year.

This absolute humiliation has exposed the failure of the Government to consider renewable energy on its merits.

To avoid dangerous climate change, Australia needs a Minister and a Government committed to renewable energy.

Senator Campbell set a dangerous precedent for arbitrary, political interference in infrastructure development.

Instead of blocking clean energy projects, the Howard Government should seize the economic opportunities of the worldwide push to clean, renewable energy.

The Bald Hills project was supported by the Minister’s Department for environmental and scientific reasons, but then blocked by the Minister for political reasons.

If the Minister is using his powers under Commonwealth environmental law, he has to use environmental criteria – not political prejudice.

The Department of Environment and Heritage told Minister Campbell on 10 March 2006 there did "not appear to be direct evidence of any impact on the orange-bellied parrot" from the Bald Hills wind farm. The Department’s advice recommends the Minister approve the wind farm subject to a range of standard conditions, as previous Environment Ministers had done for five other wind farms.

Clean renewable energy offers Australia a real opportunity to expand employment in manufacturing industry, particularly in regional Australia.