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Government vetos wind farm development -

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(generated from captions) Welcome to the program. for the next fortnight Maxine McKew with you takes a break. while Kerry O'Brien to a story that sounds like First tonight, from a Monty Python skit - it might have sprung $200 million development at stake, but with the future of a it's no laughing matter. Ian Campbell's decision Federal Environment Minister to veto a major wind farm project the Victorian Government, already approved by has sent feathers flying. Senator Campbell says endangered orange-bellied parrot. the move will help protect the the decision as ludicrous. But critics have branded developments across the country, It has implications for other major quick to cite where environmentalists have been other endangered species. to stop a $500 million road project Today saw reports of legal action and NSW, on the border of Queensland the habitat of a tiny frog. over concerns for world for industry to navigate? So is this a brave, new, greener than parrots? Or is it more about politics Mary Gearin reports.

High in the sky somewhere over

southern Victoria and Tasmania,

there are about 140 small birds

don't know just how much they've there are about 140 small birds that

changed and lay of the land below.

This is the creature in question -

the orange bell yod parrot. It's a

pity that it's named orange-bellied

parrot. It sounds like something

Monty Python would come up with to

take the Mickey out of birdwatchers.

It's aify Nicky name. If they

called it the Princess Mary parrot,

I'm sure a lot more people would

care about it. Writer and author

Sean Dooley is one of many avid

lovers who care deeply, but its Sean Dooley is one of many avid bird

greatest fan seems to be the

environmental minister. Senator greatest fan seems to be the Federal

Campbell stepped in to scupper a environmental minister. Senator Ian

Federal Government approved $220

million wind farm development in

Bald Hills on the south-eastern

coast. He says it was to protect

the rare remaining parrots from

being crushed by turbines. That's

despite no recorded sightings of

orange-bellied parrots within 10 despite no recorded sightings of the

kilometres of the site. I'm

under the law to put in place a kilometres of the site. I'm required

recovery plan to make sure this

does not go extinct. The Victorian recovery plan to make sure this bird

Government has said in its own

propaganda that they share that

view. The decision was based on a

report saying about one parrot

be killed each year. Not just by report saying about one parrot might

this development, but by all 23

proposed and current wind farms in

the region. And the Victorian

Government has told the 7.30 Report,

its new departmental analysis

up even longer odds. When you its new departmental analysis throws

actually bring that down to Bald

Hills, there is a potential for one

dead parrot every 1,000 years,

1,000 years. The Victorian dead parrot every 1,000 years, every

Government has in place a recovery

plan for the orange-bellied parrot

that has seen residential

developments, marina proposals,

harbour proposals, chemical plants

all of these things stopped or harbour proposals, chemical plants -

radically relocated to try to save

the orange-bellied parrot. We're

concerned and very confuse confused

about how that report enabled the

minister to arrive at the decision

that he did. Really, the minister

a disgrace. He's not the Minister that he did. Really, the minister is

for the Environment, he's the

minister against the environment.

Critics of the decision like the

Australia Institute's Clive

point to the fact that Bald Hills Australia Institute's Clive Hamilton

just happens to lie in what was an

ALP marginal federal seat won by

Liberals in the last election after ALP marginal federal seat won by the

an anti-wind farm campaign. Many

locals are happy with the decision

to ban the turbines, even if it's

thanks to a parrot they've never

laid eyes on. I don't think the

parrot really made a difference. I

don't think we want them anyway.

Are people happy that the

orange-bellied parrot will be

protected? I've never seen one.

What sensible parrot is going to

into a building of any sort anyway, What sensible parrot is going to run

really. For all sides of the debate,

this is not just about one bird,

it's about how it will affect wind

energy investment across the

and whether birds as well as the energy investment across the country

environment will get sucked into

political turbines far from this

Bald Hills site. The one rare bird

has raised and stakes in a flock of

anti-development claims. Unless

orange-bellied parrot and brolgas anti-development claims. Unless the

were likely to stymie two proposed

wind farms in Victoria. And in yet

other cases the swift parrot, the

legless lizard and the golden sun

moth entered the political arena as

potential major players. The

problem for any development across

the nation that needs the

green light is that the Bald Hills the nation that needs the minister's

decision has raised the bar to an

unprecedented height, surprising

even supporters of the decision.

Certainly it sets a very high

standard in terms of what we would

perceive as an acceptable risk to

the orange-bellied parrot and on

that basis it's then going to be

interesting to see how that

translates consistently into other

development applications, be they

wind farms or other coastal

development that might affect the

salt marshes. What baffles us is

that the Federal Government sat on

its hands when other wind farm

proposals were approved and were

built in western Victoria right

established orange-bellied parrot built in western Victoria right near

habitat. It's going to cause

long-term damage, long-term damage

to renewable energy, long-term

damage to investment confidence.

Not just in Victoria, but in this

country generally. And that's why

the PM has to show some leadership

and overturn this ludicrous

decision. The Federal minister says

every case is different, and that

might mean a very different

is made regarding a proposed might mean a very different decision

development on Tasmania's west

as early as this week. There, the development on Tasmania's west coast

turbines might be further apart

helping the birds fly through.

We generally and I think in over

cases in recent years we've put We generally and I think in over 150

strict conditions on developments cases in recent years we've put very

proposals that have been put in

place to protect Australia's

environment, our wildlife and our

unique flora. That is the more

usual course. The Australia

Institute's Clive Hamilton argues

the greenhouse benefits of wind

farms far outweigh the threat to

this bird. The Government trumpeted

its legislation as a brave new

of environmental protection, but in its legislation as a brave new world

fact, this new legislation which

been operating for five or six fact, this new legislation which has

been operating for five or six years is a farce. It's been applied only

three times in hundreds of

three times in hundreds of potential cases. Well, you can't have it both

ways. I can't be criticised for

using my powers to protect a rare

and endangered Australian bird and

then be criticised for not

protecting them enough. The Federal

minister can count among his

supporters Andrew Chapman, a

long-time advocate of the Bald

long-time advocate of the Bald Hills wetlands. He says the decision was

sensibly cautious. The science of

how birds will avoid the turbines

how birds will avoid the turbines or not just isn't that advanced. As I

say, there's only a small number of

wind farms of a small number of

turbines in Australia. We do not

have the skill level to be able to

predict low kill rates from

turbines. What worries the wind

energy companies is just how many

developments will now be stymied by

what appears to be a new

environmental standard when they

were already struggling to get more subsidies from the Federal

Government. The Federal Government

made a very good start with the

introduction of the mandatory

introduction of the mandatory energy renewable target, but that market

that that policy created is all but

subscribed. But Senator Campbell

said the cost of extending the

subsidy is too high and the

Government is better off

Government is better off encouraging other low emission technologies.

The issue has sparked a tit for tat

war over planning power. The

Federal minister has pointed to a

previous Victorian decision to ban

previous Victorian decision to ban a wind farm for the sake of the eagle,

saying the decision is inconsistent.

Each of the cases is judged

independently on its own merits.

Senator Campbell is keen to rangle

Senator Campbell is keen to rangle a unified approach to wind farms.

I will be taking that forward at a

meeting in the next few weeks. I

look forward to cooperating with

those States who want to ensure

those States who want to ensure that local communities are empowered.

Meanwhile bird lovers can only hope

to one day track down the illusive

character that tracked down this

affair. I knew it was a parrot.

That was a budgie that's escaped

from somebody's cage. You can laugh

along with some aspects of all

along with some aspects of all jokes but at some stage you have to say

this is actually very serious and

the loss of species is not funny