Turbine Hosts Line Up to Tip a Bucket on Wind Power Outfits, as Senate Submissions Deadline Extended to 23 March 2015
The Australian Senate is about to rip into the greatest fraud of all time, with a Select Committee Inquiry into wind farms. Chaired by Victorian Senator, John Madigan, and set to kick off in March, it will operate under wide-ranging terms of reference, as its brief says:
(1) That a select committee, to be known as the Select Committee onWind Turbines be established to inquire into and report on the application of regulatory governance and economic impact of wind turbines by 24 June 2015, with particular reference to:
(a) the effect on household power prices, particularly households which receive no benefit from rooftop solar panels, and the merits of consumer subsidies for operators;
(b) how effective the Clean Energy Regulator is in performing its legislative responsibilities and whether there is a need to broaden those responsibilities;
(c) the role and capacity of the National Health and MedicalResearch Council in providing guidance to state and territory authorities;
(d) the implementation of planning processes in relation to wind farms, including the level of information available to prospective wind farm hosts;
(e) the adequacy of monitoring and compliance governance of wind farms;
(f) the application and integrity of national wind farm guidelines;
(g) the effect that wind towers have on fauna and aerial operations around turbines, including firefighting and crop management;
(h) the energy and emission input and output equations from whole-of-life operation of wind turbines; and
(i) any related matter.
Last week, the deadline for submissions to the Inquiry was extended to 23 March 2015 (for more information see Parliament’s website here).
So, if you’re still working on your submissions, take your time to polish them up; if you have already submitted, but have something to add, drop in a supplementary submission; and, if you haven’t started, then there’s no time like the present to get cracking.
For some inspiration see our posts here:
As to the Inquiry, term of reference 1(d) opens the door to an issue that the wind industry dreads most, and works its hardest to suppress.
Since STT popped up this little post – Unwilling Turbine Hosts Set to Revolt, as NSW Planning Minister – Pru Goward – Slams Spanish Fan Plans at Yass – the number of very angry turbine hosts (ie, those farmers contracted with wind power outfits to permit them to spear giant fans all over their properties) presenting themselves to the Senators sitting on the Inquiry, is growing by the day.
Their fast-filling ranks include those with turbines which have been operating (in some cases, for many years), as well as those desperately hoping to avoid that prospect altogether.
STT hears that these people – many from New South Wales, South Australia, as well as Victoria – have had, as Australians say “a gutful” of the deception, thuggery and bullying dished out by the goons employed by wind power outfits, such as Infigen (see our post here) and RATCH (see our posts here and here and here). No surprises there.
After years of being shunned by former friends and neighbours for introducing turbines into their communities (or signing up for that to happen in future), many turbine hosts are keen to wind the clock back and make amends. Community division, angry former friends and hostile neighbours are just one aspect of what’s encouraging actual and potential turbine hosts to speak to the Senators involved in the Inquiry. For a taste of what real farmers, from real communities, think about wind farms, check out this cracking little video:
One of the constant threats made by wind power outfits, is that if their actual or potential turbine hosts were to utter so much as a “peep” about the company’s malfeasance and misconduct, they will be breaching the Draconian confidentiality provisions of their contracts.
These threats have, until now, fuelled fears by turbine hosts that have usually prevented them from speaking to anyone; let alone in a public forum, such as a Senate Inquiry.
Fortunately, there can be no right of action for a breach of confidentiality agreements against anybody giving evidence (whether in the form of documents or oral evidence) to their Parliament. Indeed, it’s been that way since 1688. In relation to a previous Senate Inquiry into wind farms and confidentiality agreements, the Clerk of the Senate, Rosemary Laing gave this advice:
I understand that there have been inquiries from potential witnesses who have signed confidentiality agreements with the wind farm operators and who are concerned to establish whether their evidence to the committee would be protected by parliamentary privilege.
The short answer to this question is yes. Section 16 of the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987 reasserts the application of Article 9 of the Bill of Rights 1688 to parliamentary proceedings and then goes on to explain what those proceedings include. Article 9 provides that the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place outside Parliament. The effect of this protection is that no action can be taken against any person on the basis of proceedings in Parliament and their participation in such proceedings is immune from suit in any court or tribunal. Examples are protected proceedings under section 16(2) of the Privileges Act include:
- the giving of evidence to a committee, and the evidence so given;
- the presentation or submission of a document to a committee; and
- the preparation of a document for the purposes of or incidental to the transacting of any such business.
If a person who is covered by a confidentiality provision in an agreement gave evidence to a parliamentary committee about the contents of that agreement, they could not be sued for breaching the confidentiality agreement. Furthermore, if they were subject to any penalty, threat or intimidation as a consequence of their having given evidence to a committee, Privilege Resolution 1(18) provides that a committee must enquire into the circumstances, ascertain the facts and, if those facts disclosed that a person may have been improperly influenced or subject to or threatened with penalty or injury in respect of the evidence, the committee shall report the matter to the Senate. The Senate may then deal with the matter as a potential contempt which may attract penalties including fines and imprisonment. The action may also be prosecuted as an offence under section 12 of the Privileges Act.
The full advice is available here.
So, for those farmers keen to help put things right in this fine Country of ours, you can feel assured that your Senators will protect you. Not only are you completely free to tell your Parliament about how you have been mistreated, lied to etc; if you face any further thuggery, threats or bullying (whether from lawyers or otherwise), those dishing it out will be squarely in the gun for prosecution for contempt of Parliament.
If you have any questions then STT suggests that you speak direct to the offices of Senators John Madigan, Chris Back, or David Leyonhjelm, whose friendly staff will happily guide you through the process. To contact their offices direct call: (03) 5331 2321 (for Senator Madigan); (089) 414 7288 (for Senator Back); and (02) 9719 1078 (for Senator Leyonhjelm).
No-one has to put up with the wind industry’s lies, treachery and deceit. Last time we looked, Australia was a place where people could speak openly and freely to anyone they liked; our elected representatives included.
For turbine hosts (actual and potential), this Inquiry may be the first and last time you will be able to speak openly in public; and with complete immunity.
As a disgruntled host, you will, however, not only be keen to tip a bucket on just how rotten this industry is, you will also be looking to extricate yourself from contracts that will well and truly outlive you; and continue to vex your children and grandchildren, for a generation or more.
Contracts will be set aside in precisely the circumstances in which you were misled by the developer into entering your contract in the first place.
A representation of a material fact made by a party offering a contract to another party in order to induce them to enter into that contract, which has that effect, and is a false statement, is a misrepresentation. To be actionable, the misrepresentation need only to have induced the contract and does not have to be a central or even important inducement.
Under section 52 of the Trade Practices Act (now see Chapter 2, Part 2-1 of the Australian Consumer Law) contracts will be set aside for misleading and deceptive conduct. This includes the situation where a person offering a contract makes representations (which are untrue at the time they are made) to the other party, which are relied on, and induce that party to enter a contract.
Under both the common law and the TPA and ACL the failure to disclose important facts will amount to a misrepresentation and/or misleading conduct; especially where the facts, if disclosed, would have resulted in a reasonable person in your position refusing to enter the contract being offered. And even more so, where you have asked specific questions about important facts and the developer has said nothing: eg, “are wind turbines noisy?”; or simply lied, by answering “no”. (click here for a discussion of what amounts to misleading and decepetive conduct by silence).
Pursuing your lawful right to have your contract set aside for misrepresentation and/or misleading and deceptive conduct will require some competent legal advice from hard-hitting commercial lawyers, with litigation experience; and, perhaps, a trip to a court of competent jurisdiction.
As to actions against developers pursued by turbine hosts, see our post here.
For friends and neighbours of turbine hosts, this is an opportunity to help people who were duped by a pack of lying hounds into entering contracts which will last for 75 years; destroy everybody’s ability to live in, use and enjoy their homes for miles around – including the hosts and their families; and, under which, the turbine hosts receive a piddling $10,000-$15,000 a year, for a turbine that will receive upwards of $800,000 a year in REC subsidies, alone (see our post here).
As the nervous preacher (always in fear of an actual response) says at weddings, “speak now, or forever hold your peace”.