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Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
Interview - ABC, Melbourne
Jon Faine program
4 August 2006
Senator Campbell, good morning. Rob Hulls says that this just shows that you're not just a lame duck but a dead duck for thinking that the Parrot as endangered is a good enough grounds for stopping this wind farm?
Well, what's a bit scary John is that, and I've only heard it second-hand, but it sounds like you know more about the law than the Attorney-General of Victoria. As I understand your remarks put it, the proponent and the Commonwealth have both agreed that it would be better to have this out of court. The only real winners having it in the court are in fact the lawyers. The proponents came to me last week and said look, we would like to get this out of court; we would like to have the chance to review the paperwork that the Commonwealth has put forward and we would like to make a further submission to you. And I said that's entirely reasonable and we're happy to consent to that and the court's agreed to that agreement between the two parties. It makes no reflection at all on my decision.
Minister, I was a litigator 20 years ago but I did learn that the reason you consent to orders is usually because you fear that the outcome from the court will be worse for you so you agree to something to avoid an outcome that you don't want. Have you agreed to reconsider this rather than be ruled by the court to have improperly decided it?
No, that's not what it's my mind. It was the proponents who came to us. We were happily going along defending my decision and the process but much of the court's consideration of this Jon is in relation to the process and one of the key elements was that the proponents said that they had not been given the opportunity to look at the key report that I relied upon.
The report that said that you should not stop this farm going ahead because of the Orange-bellied Parrot but you publicly said that's why you did do it?
No, the report from Biosis which was recommended by my Department that looked at the cumulative impact of wind turbine development along that coast and it came to the same conclusion that the Victorian Government's own department did. And that is that the cumulative impact of massively expanding the number of rotor blades along that coast would have a significant effect on the Orange-bellied Parrot and their own report said that and perhaps next time Mr Hulls is on the program you'd ask him to say, why doesn't he release that report.
The bottom line here is Minister you're being asked to reconsider the approval….
No, I'm not Jon. Mr Hulls again has misled you.
Well, what are you agreeing to do?
We have basically agreed to the proponents' suggestion that they go away and have some time to consider all of the information that they've now got at their disposal - and quite frankly they would have had at their disposal had they not forced me to make a decision ahead of time but, and I have agreed to receive any submissions they may make to me. That's the beginning and end of it. I'm happy to do that. I want to make sure every Australian, every Australian company gets fair process and that's what we've agreed between the two parties. If Mr Hulls wants to play politics with it well you'd expect that but you'd think he should understand the law a little bit better.
You're not embarrassed by the Federal Court consent orders?
Well, I actually helped negotiate them and agreed to them. I'm very happy with them. I think it's a good outcome for the taxpayers and a good outcome for the environment.