Waubra Foundation

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

The Waubra Foundation is a front or astroturf group created by Peter Mitchell on March 1, 2010 to oppose wind farming in Australia. It was registered with Business Affairs as an incorporated body on that date but later deregistered on July 13, 2011. Ref1 Ref2

The Waubra Foundation claims to be an independent organisation but it has direct links to the Australian Landscape Guardians, the Liberal Party of Australia and mining interests who in turn have inks with the right wing thinktank, Institute of Public Affairs, (IPA).

The Waubra Foundation does not exist in any physical sense, there is no building, just a post office box. The address, Box No.1136, South Melbourne, Victoria 3205, is shared by Sarah Laurie, the Australian Landscape Guardians and Lowell Resources, a mining investment company owned by Peter Mitchell.

Sarah Laurie, the Waubra Foundation's “medical director" and now CEO, promotes unfounded health concerns and an unrecognised condition called “Wind Turbine Syndrome", allegedly caused by wind farms despite her lack of any recognised, peer-reviewed evidence that could possibly support such claims. She has a medical degree but is not a practising doctor, has no medical research qualifications, nor does she have any recognised qualifications relating to acoustics or physics. She claims wind turbines can cause ill-health up to 10 km away but relies only on untested anecdotes and a poor understanding of the physics of sound. [1]

Sarah Laurie frequently references the work of Dr Nina Pierpoint who has published a book called “Wind Turbine Syndrome" even though she is unqualified in the field of acoustics and/or any health effects resulting from infra-sound. An accurate critique of Pierpoint's very unscientific claims can be found here. [2] Briefly, Pierpoint is relies on skewed data, an extremely small sample size, fails to use a control group for comparison, resorts to anecdotal evidence and has not had her work peer-reviewed.

The Australian Landscape Guardians profess concern for the landscape and amenity, yet they are consistently silent on issues such as coal seam gas developments, expansion of opencut coal mining, mineral and property development in sensitive areas. The Australian Landscape Guardians are well-known climate sceptics with links to the Liberal Party of Australia and the Institute of Public Affairs.

The Waubra Foundation's links with these other groups directly conflicts with the listed objectives of the foundation…

No 12: At all times to establish and maintain complete independence from government, industry and advocacy groups, for or against wind turbines.

Despite claims of holding a balanced view on wind energy, not one member of the Waubra Foundation is pro-wind energy but all are known to vehemently oppose it. They all have direct or indirect links to any combination of the following, Conservative politicians, mining interests and assorted anti-wind Guardian groups. Several members are climate change denialists.

What's the real agenda of the Waubra Foundation?

Name Residence (Postcode) Km from Waubra
Peter Mitchell Portarlington (3223) 122
Sarah Laurie Crystal Brook (5523) 668
Tony Hodgson Mosman (2088) 793
Kathy Russell Barwon Heads (3227) 127
Michael Wooldridge Surrey Hills (3127) 141
Clive Tadgell Malvern (3144) 135
Charlie Arnott Boorowa (2586) 560
Alexandra Nicol Canberra (2600) 550
Alby Schultz Goulburn (2580) 625
Why are members of the Waubra Foundation not residents of Waubra?

Because the Waubra Foundation has nothing to do with concerns about any local wind farm, its members are pro-mining advocates, climate change denialists and have links with conservative politics and right wing think tanks. The Waubra Foundation is an anti-renewables, astroturf group.

Key identities associated with the Waubra Foundation:

  • Peter Mitchell:Founder and chair of the Waubra Foundation, Founding chairman of Moonie Oil Company Limited, Chairman or a Director of related companies including Clyde Petroleum Plc, Avalon Energy Inc, North Flinders Mines Ltd, Paringa Mining & Exploration Plc (most now delisted on the ASX), Director of Lowell Resources Funds Management Ltd. Investment interests include gold, copper, rare earths, natural gas, uranium, iron ore and coal, Spokesman for the Western Plains Landscape Guardians.
  • Sarah Laurie: A non-practising, unregistered doctor living in South Australia. According to her submission to the NSW inquiry she's now CEO of the Waubra Foundation. [3]
  • Clive Tadgell: Retired judge. [4]
  • Dr. Michael Wooldridge: The former Howard minister is also listed as a Director. [5]
  • Kathy Russell: Director, is Vice-President of the Australian Landscape Guardians, Vice-President of the Victorian Landscape Guardians and spokesperson for the Western Plains, Mount Pollock Landscape Guardians and the Barrabool Hills Landscape Guardians. [6]
  • Tony Hodgson: Helped fund the campaign against the Collector wind farm in New South Wales, also linked with the Booroowa Landscape Guardians. [7]
  • Randall Bell: President of Victorian Landscape Guardians, climate change sceptic, conspiracy theorist.
  • Paul Miskelly: Worked for Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

New directors

Contact details:

Box No.1136
South Melbourne
Victoria 3205

Website: waubrafoundation.org.au

External Links - Media


Further Reading