The speech was delivered by John Madigan of the left-wing Democratic Labour Party. Madigan is concerned about people who live near Australia's growing number of wind turbines. As a metropolitan socialist (who makes fun of Madigan's working class roots), Simon Chapman is naturally happy to see wind turbines spring up everywhere regardless of their effect on rural people which, at the very least, amounts to a form of Chinese water torture.
Despite having no relevant qualifications (no change there), Chapman glibly dismisses all complaints of psychological and physical ill health that are reported. His contribution to the debate has been (a) mocking those who say they have been affected, and (b) scouring the internet for any claim anywhere about the effects of wind turbines. He then compiles them in a list which he puts out as a PDF so he can say 'Ha! They say there are an unfeasibly large number of problems caused by wind turbines - what a bunch of loonies!' This is a trick that could be applied to almost any problem, not least the secondhand smoke that Simple Simon has spent a lifetime obsessing over. Scholars of logic will know that the existence of bogus claims does not prove the absence of legitimate claims.
Senator Madigan has grown tired of Chapman's nonsense and launched into a magnificent tirade in parliament on Tuesday. Aside from the long overdue check on Simple Si's credentials, it was amusing to see that, after years of making ad hominem attacks against those who he imagines to be funded by 'industry', he now finds himself accused—rightly or wrongly—of being in the pay of 'Big Wind'.
You can watch it all here, but these are the highlights.
This academic [Chapman] has a track record of making fun of people in regional and rural communities who are sick. He trades in scuttlebutt. He makes consistent attacks on anyone who makes a complaint against his network of corporate buddies. This academic has become the poster boy for an industry which has a reputation for dishonesty and for bullying.... The wind industry is about one thing in this country: it exists to make people rich at the expense of many rural and regional Australians, their lives and their communities. My investigation shows it does not decrease carbon dioxide, it does not reduce power costs, it does not improve the environment. And this academic in question stands shoulder to shoulder with the wind industry companies and their colourful—and I use that term deliberately—executives. He promotes their products. He attacks their critics. He attends their conferences. He rubs shoulders with their henchmen. He is, in the words of the former member for Hume, Alby Schultz—who was a great campaigner on this issue, I might add—devoid of any decency and courage.... So when I spoke with Alan Jones onto 2GB on 27 March, I made one simple point. I told Mr Jones we need to be careful about people who profess to be experts in this area. For the benefit of the Senate I repeat what I said in that interview:
'when we talk about people, using the title, using a title, such as Professor, let us be clear crystal clear here Alan. Most people in the community assume that when you use the title Professor, that you are trained in the discipline of which you speak. And I ask people, look and check. What is the person making these proclamations about other people’s health? What is the discipline they are trained in of which they speak? Because most people in the public assume when you speak of an issue of health, that you are trained in the discipline of which you speak, and there are people making pronouncements and denigrating people who are not trained in human health.'
I stand by this statement. It is fair and reasonable to encourage people to look behind the blatant campaigning done by people like Professor Chapman of the University of Sydney.But it is the statement that has prompted him to threaten me, utilising a law firm that was instrumental in the set-up of Hepburn Wind. He has threatened to sue me for libel over this statement unless I pay him $40,000 plus costs. He has threatened to sue me for libel unless I organise an apology on the website of 2GB and an anti-wind farm website called Stop These Things. He has threatened me with contempt of parliament and a breach of parliamentary privilege if I raise these matters in the Senate. This reaction by Professor Chapman is something that my more experienced parliamentary colleagues have labelled a blatant try-on. It is another attempt by the wind industry to silence me, to scare me off and to intimidate me. It is a case of a Sydney university academic firing shots across the bow of the blacksmith from Ballarat. This is something he has done before now, tweeting about my position on this issue, always in the context of my background as a blacksmith—a background, I add, that I am enormously proud of. I remain one of the wind industry’s most stubborn and outspoken critics. I will not be silenced. I will not give up on the injustice inflicted on people who claim to be impacted by living near turbines. I will not stop. My comments to Alan Jones were a series of rhetorical statements or questions about the assumptions members of the public should be entitled to make when somebody professes to be qualified to speak about an issue of public health. In other words, I was asking people to check that so-called experts on this issue are relevantly trained and qualified. It is a reasonable request. Our media and the internet are crawling with self-appointed experts. Daily we operate in a cacophony of opinion presented as fact.Professor Chapman has been an outspoken critic of those who have dared to question the wind farm orthodoxy. But is Professor Chapman a medical doctor? Is he legally entitled to examine and treat patients? Is he qualified in acoustics or any other aspect of audiology? Is he a sleep specialist? Does he hold any qualifications in bioacoustics or physiology or neuroscience? How many wind farm victims has he interviewed directly? How many wind farm impacted homes has he visited? Professor Chapman claims to receive no payment from the wind industry. How many wind industry conferences, seminars and events has he spoken at? How many wind industry events has he attended? Writing on the Crikey website in November 2011, Professor Chapman lamented how many conferences do not pay speaker’s fees, and, when one conference organiser refused to pay his hotel bill, he withdrew. This is the same Professor Chapman who was photographed at a campaign launch in Melbourne by the Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas. Did Vestas pay your hotel bill and other costs, Professor Chapman? These are reasonable questions—they put in context his actions.... As a public health academic, Professor Chapman displays a lack of compassion for people who claim to be suffering debilitating effects from pervasive wind turbine noise. Professor Chapman’s undergraduate qualifications were in sociology. His PhD looked into the relationship between cigarette smoke and advertising. I question his expertise, I question his qualifications and I question his unbridled motivation to promote and support the wind industry at the cost of people’s lives, homes and communities. I question Professor Chapman’s lack of interest in speaking with wind industry victims. Professor Chapman has a record of public denigration of victims. I refer to his tweet in February this year about ‘wind farm wing nuts’.... If Professor Chapman proceeds with this action, I look forward to having him answer in court those questions I have raised here tonight—questions about his qualifications, his expertise and his links with the wind industry financial or otherwise. I look forward to his cross-examination under oath as equally as I look forward to mine. I say this: his action, if it proceeds, is doomed in a legal setting or elsewhere for one reason; it is not based on the truth.
I don't know about you, dear reader, but I really hope this goes to court.