Nationals
knights shouldn’t go tilting at windmills, so it seems.

Peter McGauran
has looked as bright as his brother since Crikey drew his wonderful words on wind
farms from the Warrnambool – they’re a
“complete fraud” that “only exist on taxpayer subsidies” – to national
attention yesterday.

“Unfortunately many of Minister McGauran’s
comments regarding wind energy were quite simply incorrect,” Auswind president Andrew
Richards
said yesterday. “Many of Minister McGauran’s own parliamentary
colleagues, including local member, David Hawker, Federal Environment Minister,
Senator Ian Campbell and Prime Minister John Howard have stated that
alternative forms of energy, including wind, must play a part in Australia’s
future energy mix.”

As Richard’s points out, “Senator Campbell
describes wind as ‘an excellent source of renewable energy’, and just last
Friday spoke about making sure that ‘wind has a big future in Australia
and that’s what the Commonwealth Government seeks to achieve’.”

Indeed.

As we reported yesterday, McGauran’s
comments were Nationals’ narkiness. They were a go at local Liberal MP David
Hawker for his support of wind farms – and his support for Liberal over
National candidates for the Victorian state parliament.

The Speaker, however, knows something about
wind farms. He was part of a delegation to Denmark
and Sweden last October, along with Democrat Senator Andrew Murray and
Tasmanian Liberal Guy Barnett that studied wind farms and toured the
Vestas Wind Systems manufacturing plant in Viberg, Denmark.

Hawker represents a regional electorate,
and the two Senators keep an eye on the many small and isolated communities in
their home states.

They know that there is no one size fits
all solution to local energy needs. Indeed, in debating future energy
generation, most informed participants point to a need for a mix of sources.

Wind farms might “generate next to no electricity,
for heaven’s sake, when the wind is not blowing,” as McGauran said. It can be
also argued that “it can’t be stored and their contribution to the electricity
grid is so small that it is hard to even measure.”

But that doesn’t mean that wind cannot be a
useful power source or part of practical energy generation mix, particularly in
isolated communities in regional areas.

And they’re exactly the sort of place where
Peter McGauran is trying to scrape up votes for the Nationals.

No wonder he’s not succeeding when he’s off
tilting at windmills.

Peter Fray

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