Federal Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change hears locals concerns over offshore wind

Liberal Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Ted O’Brien. Photo: Marian Sampson.

IN a packed community meeting last week, Federal Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change Ted O’Brien met with members of the Port Stephens community to discuss offshore wind farm development off the Hunter coast, with a particular focus on the consultation period. 

In a juxtaposition to the closed meeting which Minister for Energy and Climate Change Chris Bowen held on the same day, Mr O’Brien’s meeting was open to all those holding concerns.

“We are taking as a coalition an all and the above approach to our energy and climate policy.

“What we cannot have is just this one sided view that it must be a particular type of technology and by hell or high water we are going to steam roll our way through.

“The irony of that approach is that it ain’t gonna work.

“Australians don’t cop that – Australians have never copped it.”

This is not a new position for the Liberals, with the party opposing the wind zone in Port Stephens when raised during the last Federal Election.

The pivotal concern for many at the meeting was the perceived failure to effectively consult with the community ahead of the declaration of the wind zone.

“On the topic of the consultation engagement process, what I am hearing is that very few people received communication that there was a public consultation taking place, let alone participate,” Mr O’Brien said.

“A very open and transparent process was very important.”

Community members present expressed the opinion that insufficient research had been completed into the proposal and its impacts on the region and its environment.

“In the event of there being a major piece of infrastructure there needs to be sufficient research done specific to the area,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Evidence based assessments – evidence that is analysed and accessed.”

Mr O’Brien said the visual impacts need to be very carefully considered.

“This is what the world loves about this part of the world, and this is what gives you (Port Stephens) a natural competitive advantage that you don’t want to lose for your own sakes.

“This is what brings people here.

“The social impact needs to be assessed.

“What will the social impact be, especially for young people?”

He also expressed the need for “a cost benefit analysis” that puts the “community at the centre”, rather than developers.

O’Brien encouraged the community to keep up the fight.

“Keep hounding your members of parliament.

“I am the Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change but my primary job is for my patch, that’s where it starts…no one should be let off the hook.

“I would ask you to make submissions, I am making representations on your behalf about the issues raised today.

“I hear you and I hear you on behalf of Peter Dutton,” he said.


A crowded Newcastle and Port Stephens Game Fish Club in Shoal Bay was testament to how many locals are concerned about the wind farm proposal. Photo: Marian Sampson.

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