Sunday, 10 March 2013

Randall Bell's Call to Arms

It seems that there are several basic rules of discourse, that most people seem to be intuitively in sync with. For instance, if someone says "I'm going to be late to your party", you don't reply with "I hate you more than I can possibly describe". When we encounter someone who is utterly unaware of these unspoken guidelines, it's odd, and unnerving.

Recently, Victoria's premier Ted Ballieu resigned in an odd, frothy maelstrom of subterfuge, betrayal and cunning - a stark and concerning reminder of the occasional nastiness of political life. His legacy, a set of pointedly anti-wind and anti-renewable planning laws, including the infamous two kilometre setback, now sits on unstable ground. His replacement, Denis Napthine, was recently petitioned to revoke the oddly stringent planning legislation for wind farms. The issue was covered in a brief article in the Herald Sun, over the weekend:



Yes, you read that second last sentence correctly. "If Dr Napthine reneges on that policy, I'll break his arms."

Randall Bell is a registered lawyer in Victoria, head of the Victorian Landscape Guardians, and good friends with Ted Ballieu. The context for their hostility towards wind energy is well covered in this fantastic article in the Global Mail, written by Mike Seccombe, along with the afore-linked piece by Oliver Wagg, in Renew Economy.  

Violence, vandalism and threats seem to arise with regularity, as far as anti-wind lobbying is concerned. For instance
"An axe was taken to Acciona's 120-metre-high meteorological mast used to measure wind patterns at Waubra. A misspelt warning was left scrawled near the felled $150,000 machinery: ''no turbins''." 
Horribly, a man had his property trashed, and vandalised with slogans like 'Wind turbines suck".  - simply because he was approached by a wind developer, five years prior to the vandalism. He does not host any wind turbines on his land. The hashtag #turbinessuck has recently been co-opted by several anti-wind Twitter feeds. 


Tom Hamilton's property, vandalised by an anti-wind group. Source: Peter Pickering, Ararat Advertiser
Bell's comment may have been an unfortunate turn of phrase, or a poorly-considered joke. It's almost impossible that Bell would follow through and actually seek out and injure a state premier. Yet, the savagery lies in the words, rather than the possibility of actual violence - the strange feeling in our stomach as we watch the standard of discourse plummet deep into the depths of empty, intemperate threats and weirdly misplaced phraseology. 

Unfortunately, this sort of thing is likely to grow in severity, as the tactics of the anti-wind lobby stray further into anti-vaccination-esque pseudoscience. As their deficiencies in evidence and logic grow more clear, I suspect their only refuge will be higher amplitudes of aggression, threat and emotion. 

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