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Monday, 13 February 2012
Page: 985

Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (12:03): I rise to speak on the motion moved by the member for Melbourne. Due to the limited period of time that I have, I would like to concentrate on clause 1(e) of the motion, which states 'the Australian community strongly supports public funds being used to support the development of renewable technologies'. That assertion may have well been true in the past, as for almost two decades the Australian public has been bombarded daily with idyllic utopian images of polished white wind turbines rising from manicured green meadows against a pristine blue sky. But the public, not only in Australia but around the world, are beginning to wake up to this dangerous fallacy of using public funds to subsidise so-called renewable energy.

Firstly, wind turbines are a grossly inefficient way to generate electricity. In a sane world, no-one in their right mind would dream of building a wind turbine unless they were guaranteed a huge taxpayer subsidy. And the claim that industrial wind turbines are a renewable technology is a perversion of the language. Like all mechanical structures, wind turbines will eventually wear out. In 20 years time, if not before, our countryside will be littered with useless, rusting, broken wind turbines—a scar and a blight on our landscape, serving as a monument to a time when a generation took leave of logic and reason. Before we rush to spend more public funds on so-called renewable energy, we should take heed of the Spanish experiment, where the socialist government used public funds in an attempt to make that country a leader in renewable energy. The evidence from the Spanish experiment is in. It has proved nothing other than a national disaster and created an economic nightmare. By wasting billions on inefficient, so-called renewable energy Spain has created a vicious circle of declining prosperity and declining competitiveness. Spain now has 23 per cent unemployment, and its unemployment rate for people under 25 is a staggering 48 per cent. Social cohesion is collapsing in Spain. Poverty, homelessness and crime are all on the rise—as are depression, suicide rates and countless personal tragedies. As for the lowering of CO2 emissions—the very reason for handing out these subsidies in the first place—they have increased more than 30 per cent.

The message is clear: spending taxpayers' funds on inefficient so-called renewable energy, or on any other inefficient process of production, is a recipe for destroying jobs, damaging the economy and increasing poverty and hardship. At least the Spanish have woken up. Earlier this year they passed a decree halting subsidies for renewable energy projects. Likewise, Germany has announced that it is phasing out unaffordable solar subsidy regimes entirely by 2017. Last week, in the UK, more than 100 members from different parties wrote to their Prime Minister demanding cuts to the £500 million a year paid in subsidies. In the USA, a recent study has warned that the US government could lose $2.5 billion in loans given to so-called renewable energy projects. Australia must learn from these mistakes.

The greatest hypocrisy of renewable energy and wind turbines—even if you believe that we can and should reduce the temperature of the globe by reducing CO2 emissions—has been shown by two recent peer-reviewed studies which show that fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are increased, not reduced, by subsidising wind power. The report notes:

… energy users pay twice—

for power generated by wind—

once for the window-dressing of renewables, and again for the fossil fuels that the energy sector continues to rely on.

The second great hypocrisy is that, while our government seeks to prevent Australian coal being used in new, modern, efficient Australian coal fired power plants, we are willing to ship that coal to China for China to roll out a new coal fired power plant every week to use.

As an ex-prime minister once said, 'Global warming is the greatest moral challenge we face'. I say the greatest moral challenge we face is to use logic and reason, and to speak out about the lunacy of diverting our limited and precious resources into hopelessly inefficient forms of so-called renewable energy generation. Our challenge is in staring down those zealots currently engaged in a colossal and dangerous act of self-deception and who will resort to bullying, threats and intimidation against anyone who questions their reckless and wasteful expenditure of public funds.