Angry Wind Farmer Challenges Joe Hockey to Bull Fight
7 May 2014
The Bungendore farmer hosting wind turbines that Joe Hockey says are utterly offensive is challenging the Treasurer to a bull fight. Luke Osborne says George, his prized Angus bull, who has lived peacefully under the turbines for years, will travel to Mr Hockey’s North Sydney electorate for a match up.
“Yeah, the challenge is out,” Mr Osborne said.
“If Joe wants to take up the challenge, we will bring George. We are imagining Joe at one end of Miller Street, North Sydney, and George at the other end.
“Perhaps we will get the Governor [of NSW] to start the fight.”
George, who weighs more than 800 kilograms, is named after the lake that separates the property from the Federal Highway. He represents the Osborne family who are hopping mad at having their property called a blight on the landscape.
As Mr Osborne challenged Mr Hockey in front of the photographer, George began kicking into the dirt, flicking showers of dust over his flank and bellowing loudly, showing he was ready to fight. Prized bull George is quite peaceful under the wind turbines, says farmer Luke Osborne.
“He is actually pretty cranky,” Mr Osborne said, keeping an eye over his shoulder.
Since Friday’s radio outburst, social media had carried a strong reaction to Mr Hockey’s comments. A Facebook page, “Things That are More Offensive than Wind Turbines”, sprung up and quickly gathered followers.
Some people turned to poetry on Twitter.
Mr Osborne said the Capital Wind Farm took up no farming country, employed 270 people during construction and now employed 17 people to keep it operating.
“It pumps $3 million into the local economy every year in wages, land-owner payments, fencing and agricultural contracts,” Mr Osborne said. “It supports many community events and has allowed land owners to plant tens of thousands of trees, protect and expand rare ecosystems on the site and better manage erosion.”
Mr Osborne said it was frustrating wind turbines, which achieved so much for the environment, had attracted opposition. He believed their divisiveness in small communities could be easily fixed.
“Neighbours [as well as farmers hosting the turbines] should share the benefits,” he said. Mr Osborne worked on a wind farm in Victoria where neighbours became shareholders, which avoided opposition.
“Our neighbours are supportive, even though some would prefer they [the turbines] were not here,” he said.
He said more than 1,500 tourists had called to see the wind farm since the 80 metre-high turbines were commissioned in 2008. Mr Hockey’s outburst surprised him.
“You normally don’t get a senior government official saying things like that,” Mr Osborne said.
“We have been inundated with people sharing that [Facebook] site, a lot of emails and calls and notes on social media.”
Mr Osborne said he hoped the Renewable Energy Target was not amended.
“Since that policy was introduced, we have seen a lot of renewable plants built,” he said.
“We’ve got a Treasurer saying he wished he could tear up those contracts and tear the turbines down. It is a little concerning, but I hope that it’s just an ill-thought-out, off-the-cuff remark.”
“It is the responsibility of the government to govern for all Australians and indeed for the future generations.
“Last year, 870 megawatts of coal [generators] were closed. Are we proposing to reopen those power stations now and shut down renewables?”