Money distorts,
but a lot of money distorts
in an ugly way.

Untrue accusations, misdirected inuendo and wrongful threats ...

What motivates this behaviour and why is it happening?

In recent weeks there have been developments that remind me of how much is at stake with renewable projects. After posting a video about the potential asset and legal risks when signing a wind farm lease, we have been subjected to baseless bullying centred on a fanciful fabrication of events. A completely fictitious version of a phone call was shared to us with a letter of threat, prior to this being shared to the community – with no other purpose than to smear. Suffice to say, this has no legal merit, truth, nor logic. Voice for Walcha have also been accused, in writing, of making death threats to a Winterbourne Wind landholder. We have been accused of defamation. We have been accused of trespassing, keying cars and more. All unverified and fabricated. If a small group repeats such stories enough to themselves, they probably don’t know themselves what is truth, and what is fiction.

Why? Are we hitting a nerve? Are there real difficulties with the Winterbourne project, and perhaps Ruby Hills? Is this an attempt to distract us from our activities? All the above?

This seems a desperate act, but it is also an indication of a loss of integrity and, sadly, decency.

What is happening to our community where people are making these personal attacks? It is certainly not because there is any truth or merit in any of these accusations.

Murray Schaffer’s letter drop on the 5th of June, has justified and necessitated this response from Voice for Walcha to explain the deterioration of behaviour behind the scenes that we have been exposed to, and why it is occurring. We are aware that this mail drop was enthusiastically supported and facilitated by other shareholders within WalchaWind Pty Ltd. People talk, they have and always will. We knew it was happening.

Interestingly, although the letter drop was presented as a letter written to Cameron, it is a heavily edited version of the original, with threats from the original letter removed.

Murray’s complaint that we exposed his personal business is the reason we decided to remove the video. We dispute this impact, or association, but respected his view. Murray then, ironically, decided to mail drop this issue to everyone in Walcha, detailing his affairs. Why? One has to ask, was this really about the hurt from exposing personal business, or was it about distracting and trying to discredit Voice for Walcha to protect their shareholding and other interests. Moreover, it has been made personal and vindictive.

There is a lot at stake for those with financial involvement. We are not talking about land hosts, but shareholders in WalchaWind Pty Ltd, local shareholders with a 5% stake in Winterbourne Wind. This is publicly available information (ASIC company search) and helps explain why some locals are so adamant this project must proceed at all costs. It helps explain why they feel the need to discredit anyone who criticizes their project.

Does that financial stake, and the risk of losing it, excuse this type of behaviour? Of course not. But, sadly, it might explain it. Just follow the money – isn’t that what they say?

Our integrity is being attacked in an engineered attempt to discredit us, and we stand in firm defiance of these accusations and rumours. We will put our integrity to the test against these accusations, and accusers, any day, any time. We have nothing to gain from our position and efforts, except community fairness.

At all times, when sharing project information, we have been adamant about fact checking, and have been respectful to landholders. If we see wrongdoing by a developer however, we are comfortable to point this out, and do not make an apology for doing so. This is important to us, and our role in the community. We have shared information so that our community is informed. This is a threat to a developer who prefers a naive community. Consequently, we understand why we are a target, but that doesn’t excuse the type of behaviour that is occurring, and it is a sad reality of what money can do.

We steadfastly maintain our charter of sharing information to our community, about the developments in our region. This event merely highlights the importance of community awareness of how developers, and shareholders, operate.

We would prefer that the supporters of the project, and particularly those financially benefiting from it, or from WalchaWind Pty Ltd shareholding, speak about the benefits of the projects to our community. If it is so good for Walcha, tell us why.

A debate on merits of the project is fair, and we see no reason to apologise for our activities in this space. We have always encouraged this discussion, in a respectful manner.

We would also ask anyone in the community to verify information before making a judgement, to question the source and to scrutinise the motives.

But more importantly, let’s not forget how to be decent people.

Now, back to business. Don't forget to have your say on the draft Winterbourne Wind VPA by making a submission to Walcha Council by the 12th June. Read more here...

Cameron Greig

Voice for Walcha

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