Senator MADIGAN (Victoria) (18:20): I rise to speak as the former Chair of the Senate Select Committee
on Wind Turbines. It is nearly 30 years since Australia’s first wind farm was built—that was in Esperance in
Western Australia. Currently, there are 82 wind farms accredited under the Renewable Energy (Electricity)
Act 2000. They consist of 2,077 wind turbines with a total installed capacity of 4,180 megawatts. Among
renewables wind is a major player in Australia. It has benefited significantly from the financial incentives of the
Renewable Energy Target. The committee report represents a substantial body of evidence. Undoubtedly it is
the most complete inquiry into wind farms in Australian history, receiving nearly 500 submissions, 39 pieces of
additional information, 82 responses to questions taken on notice, 46 tabled documents and significant additional
correspondence from all over the world. Additionally the committee held hearings in Canberra on three occasions
as well as sitting in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Cairns and Portland. We heard testimony from hundreds of
As a Ballarat-based senator for Victoria, I have long been aware that many people residing near western Victorian
wind farms have reported noise nuisance, ill effects and sleep deprivation due to their proximity to wind farms.
In fact, in June 2010, up to 20 residents from the Waubra and Cape Bridgewater areas alone sent the former
health minister and current Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews statutory declarations reporting that their health
and wellbeing were being seriously compromised by the operation of wind turbines. This small group hoped the
Victorian government would not turn its back on them. They did not have much luck. They gave their stat decs to
the same premier who has told the wind industry that Victoria is open for business. They then halved the setback
distance from two kilometres to one kilometre to prove the point.
In my view, clean energy can be a dirty business. The unimaginable injustice of what I have seen—decent rural
people done over by big business in the name of saving the planet—is what inspires me to keep asking one
question. Why is the wind industry exempt from appropriate regulatory practices that apply to other industries?
In my home state of Victoria, for example, the EPA plays no role in the assessment of wind farm noise. These
matters are left to paid consultants—guns for hire, really—who write the report the wind farm operator needs to
appear compliant. The wind industry is in fact regulating itself in Victoria and elsewhere, riding roughshod over
country people. This is what drives me to keep shining light in dark corners.