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Who is the Waubra Foundation really? 11

Author: Sandi Keane Categories: Issues, Stories, Environment, Health You are in:Home > Stories > Issues

Who is the Waubra Foundation really?

The Waubra Foundation has no physical address in Waubra and, indeed, appears to have no local Waubra resident on its board. It boasts a "medical director", Sarah Laurie, living in Crystal Book, South Australia. The same address as that of the Australian Landscape Guardians and Peter Mitchell, Founder and Chair of the Waubra Foundation.

Mitchell certainly has interests in the fossil fuel industry, these include founding chairman of the Moonie Oil Company Ltd. and chairman or a director of related companies including Clyde Petroleum plc, Avalon Energy Inc, North Flinders Mines Ltd, Paringa Mining & Exploration plc (most now delisted on the ASX).

The Waubra Foundation is not the "independent" organisation it claims to be. Le'ts meet the board members:

  • Kathy Russell:  Vice President of the Australian Landscape Guardians; Vice President of the Victorian Landscape Guardians; spokeswoman for the Western Plains
  • Mt. Pollock:  Landscape Guardians and the Barrabool Hills Landscape Guardians.
  • Tony Hodgson: helped fund the anti-collector-wind-farm campaign in NSW (currently in the planning system) and is involved with the Booroowa Landscape Guardians to stop a $300 million wind farm proposed near Rugby and Booroowa, in NSW’s south.
  • Dr Michael Wooldridge: former Howard minister and is also listed as a director.

Three Directors, all knee-deep in Landscape Guardian activities. The “Landscape Guardians” are well-known climate sceptics with links to the Liberal Party and the Institute of Public Affairs(IPA).

Why would the Landscape Guardians (LG) and the IPA contrive to fool the public into thinking that the Waubra Foundation was an independent organisation; an important-sounding “Foundation” no less?. Becasue the IPA is funded by and works in the interest of:

  • BHP Billiton
  • Western Mining
  • Caltex
  • Esso Australia (a subsidiary of Exxon)
  • Shell and Woodside Petroleum
  • The Murdoch Press: News Ltd.

Waubra Foundation's strategic aim is to undermine green energy projects by:

  • Gaining a place at the table amongst the “medical experts” whenever there is a public debate on health issues relating to wind farms.
  • Running an aggressive campaign to convince locals they have “Wind Turbine Syndrome”.
  • Preventing competition in the energy sector by undermining State Government project approval

Liberal whistleblower and one-time ministerial adviser to the Howard Government, Dr Guy Pearse, revealed that millions of dollars from Big Carbon were laundered through trusts like the Cormack Foundation to buy Howard’s climate action agenda.

The Institute of Public Affairs has been spinning the facts on climate change for decades now on behalf of the carbon industry, it's links to the Liberal Party are beginning to frustrate some.

Former Liberal leader, Malcolm Turnbull, advocate for the environment and now labeled as an embarrassment to his party, urged Liberal MPs to stop listening to climate change deniers, calling on members to defend the science of climate change and pledge to reduce Australia’s emissions.

Delivering the Virginia Chadwick memorial lecture in Sydney last Thursday night, he said a war was being waged on scientists by “those opposed to taking action to cut emissions, many because it does not suit their own financial interests”.

Climate scepticism (usually translated into “support for Big Carbon”) is a monotonous litany of the Guardians.
Randall Bell, President of the Victorian Landscape Guardians, was clear about his scepticism in an article in The Age 3rd July, 2010:

“…claims the Earth is warming are scientifically unreliable, and the idea of man-made climate change is headed for the “Y2K dustbin”.

A striking example of the phony environmental “front” of the Guardians is their professed concern for the landscape. The Australian Landscape Guardian’s website claims that, as custodians of the landscape:

“…we have a responsibility to conserve and manage it wisely, protecting it from inappropriate development, so that it will enrich the lives of our children and successive generations.” 

What hogwash!  We don’t see the Landscape Guardians campaigning alongside Lock the Gate, the NSW Farmers Federation and the Greens to halt the destruction of some of the best agricultural land in NSW and Queensland by coal seam gas miners. Why not?

What about a campaign in Victoria following Premier Baillieu’s announcement to re-open Victoria to brown coal mining?  Farmers in the most prized agricultural land in Victoria’s Gippsland now face losing their farms to brown coal miners. Is an ugly open cut coalmine preferable to a wind farm where vital food production can continue? There are plenty of photos of contented cows grazing under turbines.

The secrecy of the Waubra Foundation

Like the Landscape Guardians, the Waubra Foundation is highly secretive. There is no information about its funding or sponsorship.

Shining a light on the Waubra Foundation's & the Landscape Guardians' murky funding pool is a challenge. As incorporated bodies, they are required to submit an annual audited financial statement. Having checked several of these, I can vouch that they claim zero income and zero expenditure. However money seems to be no object: slick websites, full time campaigners, an advertising budget, traveling expenses and a media monitoring service. A genuine community group is proud of its fundraising activities and gives prominence to their sponsors on their websites, along with minutes of meetings and contact details.

Why the cover up? Are they hiding the fact that many of these supposedly independent groups around the countryside are "bogus" community groups hatched in some office in Gaurdians' headquarters, to create the impression of a widespread community uprising?

There are around 26 listed Guardian "groups" in Australia having spread from Victoria to NSW, then Queensland and now South Australia. What a little cross referencing will reveal is that there is a core cabal of people whose names pop up time and time again as office bearer or representative of either the "Molongo", "McHarg", Spa Country" or "NSW" Landscape Guardians and so on.

The trick with astroturfers is to create a large number of so-called community groups to gain disproportionate media attention. Further investigation often finds these to be "phantom" organisations of just one person with often the same person representing multiple groups - as, indeed, we have already seen. Whether they are all run from a central office is hard to tell since no-one has discovered the whereabouts of the Guardians' bunker.

The LG’s ugly and aggressive MO

The Guardians’ modus operandi is simple and devastatingly effective. At the mere sniff of a proposed wind farm, media releases go out from “local” Landscape Guardian groups. Paid advertisements call for public meetings. At these, the forces behind the climate sceptic movement in Australia, such as the Institute of Public Affairs’ Australian Environment Foundation, call on the by now familiar list of Guardians and its plentiful supporters amongst the Lavoisier Group, the Liberal Party and other sceptic groups to be bussed in. With the emphasis on silencing any pro-wind supporters at a meeting, these undoubtedly include some of the uglier mobster element we saw at the anti-carbon rally in Canberra.

The recent Yass meeting was a good example. As public meetings went, it was a “set up”. No industry representatives were invited or anyone to speak “for” wind farms. The draw card was Sarah Laurie with her scary medical “evidence” swallowed by credulous members of the public because of her GP “badge of authority”. Unfairly, no mention was made that Dr. Laurie is neither a practicing nor registered GP and, as such, has no obligation to observe the GP’s medical code of ethics. Unsurprisingly, again, it appears that the “locals” were outnumbered 3 to 1 by trucked-in anti-wind Guardians and their fellow climate sceptics.

Last year, Family First’s own climate sceptic (and believer in Creationism: see video below) Senator Steve Fielding initiated a Senate enquiry into so-called ‘turbine sickness’. The report was released last month.

During the evidence to the Senate by Chairman of Hepburn Wind, Simon Holmes a Court, he told of his invitation by the Moorabool council to talk at a town meeting on two wind farm proposals. He was one of the four who spoke in favour of wind energy, amongst an aggressive crowd of more than 200.

Whilst moved by the negative experiences of the few who came with genuine concerns, he was disgusted by the thuggish behaviour of those who verbally and physically intimated those identified and pointed out as “windies”. It reminded him of the Salem witch trials.

According to Kate Redwood, a Director of Hepburn Wind, most of the protestors who turned up at the groundbreaking ceremony for Hepburn Wind were from outside the area.

Extremists in the sceptic’s movement in Australia have sunk to an all time low. Friends in Europe and the UK believe our isolation from the civilised world is a factor. The increasingly nasty underbelly of the sceptic movement is starting to mirror the Tea Party. Climate scientists getting death threats along with politicians. Sceptic shock jocks like Alan Jones calling for Prime Minister Gillard and Bob Brown to be thrown out to sea in chaff bags. What happened to civilised debate in this country? At the Waubra protests, former energy minister Peter Batchelor had his leg slammed in a car door and property was damaged. Everywhere the Landscape Guardians and their supporters go, the scene turns ugly. People are too scared to voice an alternative opinion.

Time For Truth!

As a result of the Senate Inquiry, monitoring will be continued by public health authorities and the wind industry will continue to improve its modeling and community relations. That’s the deal supported by the wind industry and public health authorities.

The Guardians need to step back and consider the ethics of spreading unscientific mumbo jumbo and creating unfair hysteria in those communities which will benefit financially from wind farms. The bullyboy tactics and threats to the supporters of wind (including any journalist who dares write even a balanced article on wind) need to be seen for what it is:  un-Australian! Pseudo-Tea Party tactics will ultimately turn decent Australians off.

Facts have a way of emerging through the mud raked over by those who would bury them. People will wonder why with over 100,000 turbines around the world, there has been no World Health Organisation, no National Academy of Science, no recognized medical journal, not even a vet report supporting the Guardians’ views. They’ll also question the credibility of a small but powerful group who are the same people making preposterous claims about climate science.

Don’t forget to watch Four Corners’ story on wind farms this Monday night. Dare one hope for a more balanced analysis of the pros and cons of wind farming as we move to a sustainable energy future than we’ve seen from the media so far?

This story was originally published by and has been reproduced and extensively re edited with permission.



Some important points were made in last night's Four Corners program Against the Wind:

Professor Simon Chapman (referred to in original article)
on Dr.Laurie’s claims.
“People who cite that research are the same people who publish it so its like a “self citation”. It’s not recognised by mainstream medicine and the peole who are pushing it appear to be a fairly small circle of people.”

Professor Wittert (aso referred to in original article) – “I’d have to be very concerned with the quality of evidence that is masquerading as medicine and public health than is nothing more than activism notwithstanding the fact that some people are distressed.”

and later on the first independent study that found there is no connection between wind farms and sickness:

“We looked at 2 windfarm areas in Victoria. We looked at Waubra and Yumbuk in Victoria and Snowtown and Hallet in S.A. The total number of people we looked at was between 10-12,000 drawn from a 10km zone around the wind farm. This is the 10km that Dr. Laurie tells us is the danger zone.

“We thought that it would be reasonable to use data from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). We compared the number of prescriptions to people living within and outside the wind turbine zone.

“I can tell you that from a preliminary look, and we will send this to be peer reviewed as soon as it is analysed, there is no hint of an increased use of sleeping pills, blood pressure, or cardiovascular medication whatsoever.”

Randall Bell, President of the Victorian Landscape Guardians and well-known climate skeptic:
“It is always political and always going to be about votes.”
Andrew Fowler:
“so, it’s a political battle and you’ll use any weapon you can?”
Bell: “yeah”


I found this report a useful summary and a good way to check and verify facts through the links. This is what real skeptics do (climate skeptics and Monckton Junkies do not).

I have often wondered what was motivating the guardians. I think I have found answers.

As an engineer I have often been dismayed that a number of medical doctors from the Waubra Foundation have tried to portray themselves as an authority on infrasound. Pretty cheeky. I have measured myself and cannot find anything comparitively more worse than here in central Ballarat.

I was glad to see a former lecturer of mine present the same finding last night on Four Corners. And I was relieved to see Four Corners present in such a factual manner without pandering to the emotional ralliers at Waubra.

It was concerning to watch the community meeting in Western Sydney provide an engineered environment for people to emotionally whip themselves up in.

I suspect the Waubra Foundation is achieving little more than setting up precepts for our next generation to suffer turbine anxiety due to placebo effects. It needs to be stopped.

Gail Wilson

Come on guys, The Ballarat Independent is just a front for the Greens. Isn't this the pot calling the kettle black?


@Gail Wilson.

Awesome Gail, I've been waiting for some one to brings this up. I have put this website together along with around 20 others. I do happen to be a Greens member, I was the last Ballarat West candidate.
Jon Stanger who is our political writer has been a candidate in the past and was my campaign director. But that is where it stops. Jon is a Lefty - you can see that in his articles. But he does do a good job of keeping things in perspective, the politician profiles he is doing I think you will agree are very fair and level headed. It's been a shame that politicians from the Right in Ballarat have turned down our attempts for interview. And that repeated attempts to find a Right wing Political writer have failed.

I have put in a lot of work trying to get a Business Columnist, Conservative Columnist, hell even a Ballarat version of Andrew Bolt. I've been unsuccessful. I really want TBI to be a "conversation" here, views that are responsibly put will get a hearing. Out editorial policy (we do have one) states that we will publish! The only good reason not to, is when it's defamatory, involves bad language or is commercially motivated.

Gail, for the record, we pay our writers to write. If you or some one with a different point of view would like to write on a regular basis we'll pay you for your stories, as long as they're published.


What about Peter Mitchell's personal interest in oil and gas exploration..?

Gail Wilson

Thanks for reply Leon. Then shouldn't your website declare your writers' political affiliations and memberships on the bottom of each their articles so we can accurately place their opinions in context? Isn't that the fair thing to do?

Gail Wilson

Also, I just reread your article above. You say The Waubra Foundation has "slick websites". I have just looked at The Waubra Foundation's website (it only has one website as far as I can tell). It certainly isn't as slick as your website, and could be put together by my 12-year-old son in an hour.


@Gail Wilson.

As mentioned, there are two Greens members on this website (my self and Jon). All other writers are, to my knowledge, not affiliated with political parties. Sandi Kean does write for and declares a political affiliation in her profile. See her bio

Since running as a candidate last November I have had no contact with anyone from the Greens. No funding from the Greens have come to TBI. No advice From the Greens has been sought or received by the TBI.

Jon Stanger is a Greens member and if you read his profile it states he clearly writes form a Left Wing perspective.

We are desperate for a Right or moderate perspective on the TBI. We are independent and will publish stories from any political perspective. You may even write a story with your views so we can publish it.

If I was to "really" declare a conflict of interest, I would have to say that I work for a digital advertising agency. The biggest trouble I have is stopping my self from selling TBI advertising to my clients during work hours. So far I have managed not to.

You must have a very talented son, I'd like to see his work. Ascet Interactive is hiring:

Gail, I'd like to thank you for the good questions. This is the sort of robust discussion we want on TBI. That's what TBI is about, keep em coming.

Gail Wilson

Yes all very well, but can the writer of the above piece point me to the Waubra Foundation's other websites. I'm keen to see the web product resulting from the deep pockets of the dark forces written about. There are many accusations in this article, but it's importsnt to stick to the facts, don't you think?


As the holder of the invites issued to the three Wind Developers in the Yass region I would be very interested to learn on what basis you report that the developers where not invited. Of the three invites issued, two (Suzlon and Wind Prospect) declined to attend whilst the other (Epuron) declined to respond to the invite. Is it too hard to believe that local residents may have valid concerns and deserve answers before their communitites are literally torn apart?

Mark Swindale

I first came across Sarah Laurie and the Waubra Foundation through a report in the Scottish Sunday Post dated Nov.27 2011. Here she was quoted as warning that wind turbines should be sited no nearer than 10km to human habitation. The Post, which is a long running Scottish Sunday newspaper, ran an entirely uncritical article, with Laurie saying the problems caused by noise and vibration are "real, serious and at times life-threatening". It also quoted a 'retired Consultant in Sleep Medicine' Dr. Chris Hanning, who said a limit of 10km would "certainly prevent any harm while further investigations are being carried out". There was a supporting article about two Scottish families who said their health was being ruined by the nearby windfarm. Robert Baldwin and Kay Siddell both said that their health was adversely affected by the windfarm. They failed to produce any independent medical support for this however, and the article was heavily weighted, referring to "bleary eyed locals" being subjected to "shadow flicker". Baldwin was quoted as saying "we don't know what health effects this noise is having on people." Struan Stevenson, Conservative Member of the Scottish Parliament picked up the baton, saying "The constant noise, vibration and flicker-effect have caused extreme stress, nausea, migraine and panic attacks in people living within a 10km zone". No other newspapers picked up this story however and it was extremely interesting to learn about Dr. Sarah Laurie's other connections. I somehow thought that she might be connected with the oil industry. Here in Scotland we are pressing ahead with wind farms, given that wind is something we have a lot of, but there is a lot of opposition and we could do without Australians spreading scare stories like this.