ROUNDTABLE talks aimed at saving Portland’s renewable energy industry have got off to a bad start with a spat developing between the government and organisers.
Organisers have snubbed Liberal MP Simon Ramsay, hand-picked by Premier and South West Coast MP Denis Napthine, who was unable to attend the event.
Speakers at tomorrow’s forum include former Liberal Party leader Dr John Hewson, Labor energy spokeswoman Lily D’Ambrosio, Greens leader Greg Barber and managers from Portland wind tower maker Keppel Prince.
Mr Ramsay told The Standard he was “offended” after organisers apparently told Dr Napthine’s electoral office that they did not want Mr Ramsay in attendance.
“As I understand it there was a request made for the Premier to attend and he was only given two dates, understandingly he is the Premier and was busy. He (Dr Napthine) asked me if I could represent him and I said I would be happy to do that,” Mr Ramsay said.
“I got an indirect email through the Premier’s office saying organisers were not happy I was going.
“I was a little offended by the whole thing.”
Mr Ramsay has a patchy history with wind farms, campaigning against and then for the wind industry.
In 2012 he faced conflict of interest claims in his involvement against a wind farm near his property at Birregurra when voting on tough new wind planning legislation.
He has also backed calls for noise testing of wind farms.
Mr Ramsay said he would still attend the meeting as an audience member and would discuss renewable policies “in good faith”.
Australian Wind Alliance co-ordinator Andrew Bray said only that talks were continuing.
Both wind and solar sectors are anxiously awaiting the release of the government’s renewable energy target review, expected to recommend slashing the country’s 20 per cent green energy target by 2020.