Minister still keen to talk after hurt by wind farm protesters

By Jared Lynch and Everard Himmelreich
Updated November 7 2012 - 2:08pm, first published August 28 2009 - 11:50am
Some of the more passive demonstrators outside yesterday's Colac forum. 090829EH03 Picture: EVERARD HIMMELREICH

POLICE were yesterday called in to shut down the most violent protest in Energy and Resources Minister Peter Batchelor's career.Mr Batchelor's leg was deliberately slammed in his car's door as he attempted to flee an angry mob, protesting at a community forum in Colac against wind farms.The minister last night told The Standard he was shaken by the violence but still willing to deal with the protesters' concerns.``It takes a lot to unsettle me. I was jostled and chested as I attempted to leave (the forum),'' Mr Batchelor said.``As I entered the car someone deliberately slammed by leg in the door. It was obviously a deliberate act to shatter my fingers and quite dangerous.``But the door is open for productive dialogue (with the protesters).''Mr Batchelor said he was prepared to accept the demonstrators' concerns in writing at the forum but they refused.He said it was the most violent protest in his ministerial career and hoped the incident wouldn't mar Colac's reputation.``These protesters were from out of town. The people of Colac are good people and I hope this incident doesn't put a stain on their town because they don't deserve it.``People have a right to demonstrate peacefully, but farmers with good wind resources on their properties are also entitled to put clean, renewable energy on their land through wind turbines we need to get the balance right.''Some of the 40 demonstrators banged on windows at the Colac Bowls Club where the forum was held.The forum was convened by Federal Member for Corangamite Darren Cheeseman to promote opportunities that wind energy presented.