Adjournment – Renewable Energy

Labor is forcing regional Australia and Australians to simply be the repositories of wind turbines and solar panels with its renewables-only energy policies. In my electorate, my communities certainly don’t support Labor’s proposal for a massive offshore wind farm in Geographe Bay—and I say ‘massive’ because it is. It is 7,674 square kilometres and it will power 20 gigawatts of renewable energy; that’s what the proposal is. That’s at least, when you sit down and look at it, a thousand wind turbines. The height to tip height is 268 metres. That is in the most amazing part of not just Western Australia but, we think, Australia—in Geographe Bay, from Cape Naturaliste right through to Mandurah.

I had a look at some of the other largest offshore wind farms. In the UK the largest one is 3.6 gigawatts, not 20 gigawatts like the plan here. The UK version is at Dogger Bank. It will only have 277 turbines when it’s completed. What’s being planned here, the 7,674 square kilometres offshore at Geographe Bay, is almost the total size on land of my whole electorate. That’s what’s being planned for the south-west of Western Australia. Geographe Bay is an iconic part of Western Australia. It is certainly the wrong place for this massive wind factory, as I call it. My communities are definitely not supportive of this, and they are certainly not supportive of being the repository for Labor ‘s renewables-only energy policies.

When we look at what’s being proposed, there was a terrible process used. It was supposed to be consultation. It was anything but. And the community has reacted really badly to that. When we look at what is actually happening in Geographe Bay—as I said, it’s iconic and it is just beautiful. It is the place where both domestic and international visitors come for holidays. It’s where locals and visitors alike enjoy diving, fishing, camping, recreational and commercial fishing, and boating. It’s a resting ground for whales before migration north and south. It’s a nursery habitat for many shelf species such as the dusky whaler shark and our western rock lobsters. And we’re going to see an enormous amount of aquatic environmental damage during construction, and, of course, the impact of electromagnetic fields in both the construction and operation. There will undoubtedly be an impact on birdlife.

We’re told by the department that we won’t even know how many wind turbines there will be in total; the area will simply be declared, and then it’ll develop from there. We’re told that they don’t even know what the exclusion zones will be. They could range from 50 metres to 500 metres around each turbine. We won’t know what these are. The community will have this foisted on them. And we won’t know what the exclusion zones are for at least 10 to 12 years, after the approvals have been put in place—too late. This will certainly affect recreational boating and fishing and commercial fishing.

The social licence issue here—the consultation process has been absolutely appalling. But what we fear most is simply being rolled over—that Labor will be determined to steamroll us in the south-west and simply wave this through because it is a renewable energy project, without considering the damage that will occur in our local environment. Geographe Bay is pristine. As I said, we get people from all over the world. I would say that it is one of the most visited areas by domestic and overseas visitors not only in Western Australia but in Australia, and it’s over 7,600 square kilometres. That’s a number that I want people to consider with the sheer number and volume of wind turbines in Geographe Bay. Of course, the heights alone really need to be seriously considered when looking at this—we are talking about them being close to 300 metres in height—and the effect on our natural environment.