Part-time King Island resident, David Looker, despairs of what he calls “collateral damage” as TasWind engages with residents in a battle to win support for its $2 billion proposal to build Australia’s biggest wind farm.
KING ISLAND sits at the western end of Bass Strait and is bisected by the 40th degree of latitude, which puts the lower half of the island literally in the Roaring Forties. The weather may be fine and windy, wet and windy, cloudy and windy — but it will be windy.
These are generalisations, as people straddle both camps, but there is truth in the basis of argument.
What is mostly missing from the debate on the Island is a sense of the broader picture. Climate change, global warming and the 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020 that both political parties have to achieve rarely get a mention and are certainly not prioritised.
The anti-wind group is fiercely parochial and regard it as particularly offensive that the power to be generated on Island will be "exported” to the mainland. Not even to Tasmania!
This view thrives despite the fact that the mainland buys the produce of King Island and that King Island – indeed the whole of Tasmania – is heavily subsidised by the extra share of GST it gets.
It also ignores the fact that the Tasmanian Government, in 2011-2012, paid Hydro Tasmania $8 million to met the extra costs of "Community Service Obligations" to the Bass Strait Islands, which includes King Island.
A victory is pending for the national and international anti-wind groups – who are almost certainly funded by the fossil fuel lobby – which will have collateral damage to the quest for the 20 per cent target set for Australia.
And the divisiveness of the discussion is already inflicting collateral damage on the previously tightly knit community.
(Deputy editor's note: In less than a fortnight, the small community of King Island will vote on whether a crucial part of Australia's clean energy future should proceed to the next stage. But the islanders are divided, after claims by the Waubra Foundation and their controversial CEO Dr Sarah Laurie. Don't miss Sarah Dingle's investigation on ABC's Background Briefing broadcast Sunday 26 May 2013, as she combs through the facts and tests all the claims by the anti-wind forces.)