Western Australia: Renewable Energy

The Labor government is proposing—and, from what I’m seeing, is absolutely determined—to build a massive 7,500-square-kilometre offshore wind farm in Geographe Bay, in the waters off the south-west of WA. To put this in perspective, my entire electorate covers 8,000 square kilometres, from Yarloop in the north to Augusta in the south. That will be the size of this. The wind zone stretches from west of Mandurah through to Geographe Bay, beyond Cape Naturaliste, and further out into the Indian Ocean. In an area that we all know and love as one of the most beautiful parts of the world, the government is planning to produce 20 gigawatts of wind turbine energy from towers estimated to be up to 330 metres tall, from base to blade tip. This is wholly and solely driven by the Labor government’s carbon emissions policies—which are forcing companies to reduce their emissions by five per cent, year on year to 2030, under the safeguard mechanism— and its ‘renewable energy only’ policies.

This week the Labor government sent the department to brief communities affected by this decision. What we got was a sham drop-in session, a process that has further angered and frustrated the community. Given the community already believes that the Labor government is determined to do this, irrespective of what the community says, the sham community consultation process has simply added to that belief. I went to a briefing in Binningup on Saturday–mostly local fishermen—and I was back in the electorate on Tuesday to get to the Bunbury sessions.

There was no presentation. Local people came along to hear exactly what the government is planning to do, to listen to the questions and concerns of others, to better understand what the impacts will be and to have their own questions answered. Instead, the crowds of local people had to queue endlessly, compete with each other and repeatedly line up as they moved from one information area to another to ask questions. Many left angry and frustrated when they saw that it was a sham process. Perhaps, in retrospect, this was the deliberate intent of the process the government was using. That’s what they believe. For those who stayed, I spent time listening to the questions they were asking and what they were concerned about. I had conversations with many of them.

Yesterday, I was getting phone calls from people in Busselton who were still in the queue, waiting to get in. They were beyond angry and frustrated. It is no wonder the community doesn’t have any confidence in what the Labor government is doing. And they’re being told to accept this proposal now when it’s going to take at least 10 years before we know the actual details of the towers and exclusion zones. They’re asking people to accept this right now, in this circumstance. This is a sham process.