Daniel Wild Discussing North Central Victoria Regional Tour Credlin Sky News Australia – 9 April 2024

Written by:
9 April 2024
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The Institute of Public Affairs’ Daniel Wild was on Credlin Sky News Australia to discuss the IPA’s research into the agricultural land use required for renewable energy projects.

All media posted onto the IPA website are directly related to the promotion and dissemination of IPA research.

Below is a transcript of the interview.

Peta Credlin:

Welcome back. Still to come, concern mounts for the NDIS workers soon to have to work with a notorious sex offender involved in one of Australia’s most horrific rape and murder cases once he’s released from prison.

But first, we’ve spoken often about how the renewables rollout in regional Australia is being opposed by many locals who are worried about the impacts for their farmers and their country communities. My next guest is the Deputy Executive Director at the Institute of Public Affairs, Daniel Wild, who comes to us tonight from Saint Arnaud, three hours west of Melbourne in Victoria’s Wimmera, and is there talking to concerned locals.

Daniel, we’ve discussed this before, but since you were there last time, the government’s announced an overhaul of the state’s planning laws removing third party appeals in an effort to fast-track the renewables rollout. What are the main concerns of the local community with these planning approval changes?

Daniel Wild:

Well, thanks, Peta, and a credit to you for following this critically important story that’s happening here and also in many other parts of Australia. Earlier today, we were in Marnoo, which is just out of Saint Arnaud, talking to local farmers and landowners about these changes. And the basic feedback was that these changes, which will greatly reduce the amount of time that is needed for a renewables project to be approved from two years down to four months, are designed to shut out the local community from having their say on this issue. It will limit their ability to appeal decisions that are made, and it’s being done without any consultation with the locals that will be affected.

The key issue here is you’ve got a government and big business and the Australian energy market operator that are acting without any social licence. They are intruding on private farmland, they’re not including the community with them, and this will severely undermine the capacity of this part of the world, and this state, to produce the food and fibre for our nation and around the world.

Peta Credlin:

There are issues too, so people understand this, with large-scale renewable rollouts, in terms of not just the transmission lines across farms and the inability to use aerial firefighting, let’s say, or spraying, or an augur, which has got a large sort of top to it, or large headers, of course. That’s a big issue out there in the Wimmera. But also, the degradation of the soil underneath a solar farm that might be there for 25 years, the runoff changes that will cause.

And when I was in Wycheproof, not far from Saint Arnaud, of course, a local said to me, “We are sick to death of being told what to do by greenies in Melbourne and Canberra.” They said to me that they were going to fight it absolutely as hard as they can. What’s the mood where you are?

Daniel Wild:

Well, the mood is exactly that. It’s one of resolve and resilience. This is a very tough community, a very tight-knit community, and they’ve made it clear that, as is currently planned, these proposals will not go ahead without their consent on their private farmland, because to do so would simply be un-Australian. I mean, this should not be happening in our country, when you have government operators coming onto private farmland without any permission.

We also know, Peta, that this is not just a local issue, whether you’re in Mudgee, whether you’re in Rockhampton or any other part of the country which is slated for these renewables projects. There are dozens of communities that are going through this issue, and we know it’s not just local. It’s about food security. These net-zero renewables policies of the federal government is going to turn Australia from a net exporter of food to a net importer of food, because you cannot operate farmland and wind turbines and solar panels and high-transmission lines at the same time.

Peta Credlin:

Let’s go to a related issue, and this is one of insurance, because this is the myriad of problems that come with a poorly thought through rollout process. Farmers who adjoin a property in the King Valley area, so this is northeast Victoria, there’s a $750 million solar farm planned to go in. It’s proposed at this stage. And farmers that sit around this property say federal and state governments haven’t listened enough to them. They are concerned about insurance. Their properties will be uninsurable if this goes ahead, due to the extreme cost of covering accidental fires.

Now, we know this is also an issue I’ve spoken to farmers about, in relation to insuring their wind farms due to the proximity of wind farms, again, that point I made before about aerial firefighting near them. Now, if you can’t insure your farm and your home, that’s unacceptable.

Daniel Wild:

It is unacceptable, and you’re right to point this out. There’s a couple of things, Peta. Firstly, these are the kinds of realities and practicalities of running a farm that the inner city ideologues just do not understand.

The other point is that, on a recent trip we had to the western districts of Victoria, we spoke with a CFA official who was raising these exact issues, also in relation to the transmission lines and the towers. I mean, these are massive towers. Anyone that’s driven past these towers know how big they are. And what he put to us was that the firefighters would not be able to go in and fight a fire, were it taking place in or around these massive transmission towers.

Now, this is a huge fire risk in a part of the country that is bushfire prone, and heaven forbid anything happened, but we have to operate on the assumption that something will happen. These kind of practicalities just are not being taken into consideration. So, in addition to being a massive food security problem, it is also a bushfire risk problem, where we’re just not going to be able to get on top of these fires and they could cause a lot of damage.

Peta Credlin:

Mm-hmm. Now, people know I’ve got family on the land in Victoria, and I’d heard all this anecdotal talk over the Christmas period about farmers they knew in their area that had to basically fire sale livestock, because they looked at the weather forecast from the Bureau of Meteorology back in October. It was going to be a terrible summer. There wouldn’t be enough feed around, possibly not even enough water. So, everything went off to the sale yards and they got rock-bottom prices. Well, that was just anecdotal.

Today, we’ve got data out from Elders, the big agribusiness player, that’s revealed the BOM, the Bureau of Meteorology’s mistaken prediction of El Niño significantly impacted their earnings. Of course, as I say, that we had a whole lot of farmers panic, sell livestock, and the price of beef fell and other farm products fell as well. Surely when you look at this, when you get this empirical, fact-based data, Daniel, there’s got to now be a proper review of the Bureau and their forecasting out of this.

Daniel Wild:

Well, of course there should be, Peta. There’s that issue that you identify, there’s also the issue with what’s called homogenization of historical temperature data, which basically has the effect of creating the impression that temperatures have risen faster and are higher than what may actually be the case. We also know, Peta, that of course, everybody makes mistakes. But there is a component of the Bureau which appears to be driven by ideology and by politics, rather than by the facts on the ground.

Australians should be able to have trust in the Bureau. It’s been historically a critically important institution for our nation, especially for regions and for farmers. And I think a lot of people just don’t understand that when there is a bad prediction, as you pointed out, it does have real-world consequences, sometimes dramatic consequences for farmers and those on the ground, and often those in the inner cities just don’t understand that.

Peta Credlin:

What about this stuff out today from the Climate Council? So, they don’t just want the government to ban the sale of petrol cars and diesel cars in Australia by 2035, they don’t just want us to drive electric vehicles only. They actually want us to throw away all cars, even including electric cars. They want to get us walking and cycling and using public transport, and they basically want to drive out vehicles altogether. Now, they’re influential, they’ve got the Europe government. What do you think about this, Daniel Wild?

Daniel Wild:

Well, they’ve got an all-access pass to Chris Bowen’s office, I’m sure about that, and to Anthony Albanese, and this is concerning. And it’s just another example of the attacks on the Australian way of life. You have these inner city ideologues. They go to Europe, they go to Amsterdam, and they say, “Oh, Australia should be like that.” Well, we’re not built like that. We’re a different country. And it’s an example of how they are imposing more intrusion on us. This is all what net-zero looks like in practise, Peta.

We’re talking about the transmission lines and the wind turbines and the solar panels. It’s the cars that you’re allowed to drive, the food that you’re allowed to eat, the houses you’re allowed to live in, the extent to which you’re allowed to travel on planes and go on holidays. This is what net-zero does. It greatly empowers the central bureaucracy to make decisions about your life and about what you can do, and look, it just ignores any practical reality. Try being a plumber and getting from one job site to another on a bike or on a train. It just doesn’t work. But unfortunately, like I say, they’ve got an all-access pass straight into the top of government.

Peta Credlin:

Well, good on you for getting out of Melbourne, getting out to Saint Arnaud and talking to real people, because this is where the rubber hits the road. This, in part, is why the polling shows that people are willing, even if they’re not in love with the idea of nuclear, they are willing and wanting to have a rational national debate to avoid all the stuff you’ve just discussed. Daniel Wild, thank you. Catch up with you soon.

This transcript from Credlin Sky News Australia from 9 April 2024 has been edited for clarity.

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