Federation Chamber PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS Wind Turbines

Mr HUSIC (Chifley—Government Whip) (19:44): Let me to say to the member for Pearce that when I first saw this motion I had to confess to feeling a degree of surprise. I did not necessarily expect it, but as with most things the member for Pearce does she applies a great deal of thought and consideration to the framing of this motion, and I certainly welcome the chance to speak. But I do not welcome the opportunity of listening to some of the hysterical rants that we heard a few moments ago that suggest that, because wind turbines may affect wildlife, we should stop wind turbines from being built. By that logic the member for Hughes should not be driving down the Hume Highway and going past carcasses of wombats and kangaroos that are equally affected, probably on a daily basis, by the types of accidents that occur. Whenever you endeavour to do something to meet human needs you expect that there will be things that need to be done to minimise the impact. We need to find new ways in which to operate in terms of production and in terms of the energy used in that production. The type of logic that was argued a few moments ago does this chamber no credit, but I understand that the climate change sceptics, who are very forceful within the coalition, use these types of debates to promote a view that would, in effect, have us continue to use resources in the way that we do and continue to have the impact on climate that they do.


In making my comments, I totally respect the fact that local communities should have a good say in what happens in their local area. I understand there are communities, particularly in the member for Hume's patch, that have concerns. I respect that entirely. I sit on the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communication. We have just dealt with a proposal by the member for Denison to change the consultation provisions that exist around the establishment of mobile phone transmitters, not the full towers but low-impact transmitters. The industry, way back, received stacks of complaints. The former Howard government had to respond to that, as did the former Labor government that preceded it, as concern was rife about where these facilities were being put up. It is eminently sensible for communities to have input into what is happening with the placement of certain infrastructure, and I certainly appreciate that. But, at the same time, to ramp up the sort of rhetoric we have heard does not necessarily allow us to get to a point where we can calmly determine the best way of balancing the two things. One is a concern about how to use our resources—which I do not look at as just a Greens issue; I look at it as more of an economic way to use our resources—


Mr Schultz: Spoken like a true urban based member.


Mr HUSIC: and at the same time ensure that communities have an input into the way things are done.


Mr Schultz: Rural communities, mate.


Mr HUSIC: I understand that, member for Hume; I appreciate that. I understand that this debate would take a different dimension—and I think you and I would agree on this—if we were setting up wind turbines in an urban environment. That is why I say that I respect the concerns that exist. At the same time, while there is anecdotal evidence about the health effects of wind farms, I think it would be a bit over the top to describe it as significant. Certainly the National Health and Medical Research Council conducted a rather rapid but comprehensive review of scientific literature to determine whether there was a link between wind turbines and adverse health effects, and at the time of writing there was no published scientific evidence to positively link wind turbines with adverse health effects.


In July 2010, again, the council released the public statements entitled 'Wind turbines and health' and 'Wind turbines and health: A rapid review of the evidence' and, following a Senate inquiry and scientific forum, they have conducted further literature reviews to see if there is any more scientific evidence. The results will inform future decisions about any work required. At the same time, I think it is important that we calmly deal with the facts and ensure the community has a say.

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Ed Husic MP
Federal Labor Member for Chifley


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