How a minister buckled in the face of a mob of locals

by Andrew Macintosh in The Canberra Times
Originally published in The Canberra Times on April 10, 2006

The Howard Government has made a mockery of the environment and heritage portfolio, turning it into little more than a pork-barrel buffet. But who would have thought that things would stoop to the level where the federal Environment Minister would use environment laws against the environment. This is precisely what occurred on Wednesday when the minister announced that he was using the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to block a wind-farm development at Bald Hills in Victoria’s South Gippsland, supposedly on the grounds that the wind turbines would threaten the survival of the endangered orange-bellied parrot. The Government’s own study on the impacts of wind farms on the species says that stopping these developments would have “extremely limited beneficial value to conservation of the parrot without addressing very much greater adverse effects that are currently operating against it”.

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