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Nationals pledge to scrap Illawarra Wind Farms if elected

The Bugle App

John Stapleton

17 June 2024, 12:03 AM

Nationals pledge to scrap Illawarra Wind Farms if elected Federal Leader of the National Party, David Littleproud & National Senator Ross Cadell, surveying the Illawarra coastline.

The South Coast has suddenly become the focal point for some of the country’s most senior politicians, including Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen, who has just come to the region to formally announce the formation of the multi-billion dollar Illawarra Offshore Wind Zone.

This week it is the turn of the Federal leader of the National Party David Littleproud, who has declared that the government’s proposal to build 300 wind turbines off the Illawarra will be scrapped if the conservatives are returned to power.

Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton is also rumoured to be visiting the South Coast shortly. He has already visited Port Stephens, where swathes of the local community are equally as opposed to the wind farms as many South Coast residents.

The white hot community backlash against the wind farm proposals has opened up a pathway for the Liberal and National Party Coalition to regain power after their devastating defeat in 2022.

In a private meeting Mr Littleproud told The Bugle he believed a number of electorates are now in play, including, most surprisingly, the traditional Labor stronghold of Whitlam, which encompasses the rapidly gentrifying areas of Shellcove and Shellharbour.

The seat of Gilmore, which stretches south from Kiama and is currently held by Labor’s Fiona Phillips, is already expected to fall to Liberal stalwart Andrew Constance, with the wind farm backlash propelling him across the line.

Mr Littleproud said the only reason the wind farms were being built off the Illawarra coast was because the region stretching from Kiama to the outskirts of Sydney was regarded as Labor strongholds and the government believed they could survive the community backlash.

“The projects are not necessary,” Littleproud said. “Australians are sick of billionaires telling them how to live. The wind farms will destroy our economy and our sovereign capability. The only way to stop the wind farms is to not vote Labor. We have a very short window of opportunity to stop this.

“Labor has sold the people a pipe dream that we are going to have an environmental utopia.

What we have is a catastrophe.

“We say there is a clear difference. The Nationals won’t be supporting offshore wind farms.

We don’t intend to support big industrial renewables.

“This goes to the very heart of what determines elections, testing the politicians on how they are going to represent their people. If Stephen Jones was doing his job he would have walked out and stopped this, instead of looking for promotion within the Labor Party.”

What makes the political equation even more complex is the Australian Electoral Commission’s recently proposed redistribution.

Stephen Jones, who won the last election for the seat of Whitlam on a 60%, will see his notional win down to 58% as the boundaries are stretched into the neighbouring inland seat of Hume, currently held by Shadow Treasurer and senior Liberal figure Angus Taylor.

These changes have made the seat of Whitlam within striking distance for the Opposition. “Stephen Jones is taking one for the Labor team,” Mr Littleproud said. “He doesn't care about the human or environmental cost. People can see the amenity that is being taken

away from them.”

He said the seats he believes are in play as a result of the wind farm backlash are Gilmore, likely to fall to the Liberals, Whitlam, now within striking distance and Eden-Monaro, which stretches south of the seat of Gilmore to the Victorian border and is currently held by Labor’s Infrastructure Minister Kristy McBain.

Also in play is the seat of Paterson, currently held by Labor’s Meryl Swanson on 53 percent and one of the few seats to see a drift to the Liberals at the last election. The seat encompasses Port Stephens north of Newcastle, where community backlash against the wind farms has been as intense as on the South Coast.

Mr Littleproud said he also wouldn’t write off the inner-city Teal seats, with their constituents now more concerned with the cost of living than climate change.

Even the seat of Cunningham, which stretches from the northern suburbs of Wollongong up to the southern suburbs of Sydney and never held by the conservatives, could be in play. It is currently held by Labor’s Alison Byrnes on a comfortable margin.