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
- 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 http://www.independentaustralia.net and has been reproduced and extensively re edited with permission.