daintree conspiracy
Daintree Conspiracy

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An online archive of historical facts and figures, documents, media articles, letters and stories
documenting the conspiracy against the Daintree Community, and events in the Douglas Shire..
Prepare to be amazed! Read about discrimination, hypocrisy, pollution, misfeasance and conspiracy!

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The ARENA Powering Daintree Report - The AUSTROP response - The response to the AUSTROP response


The Fight For Daintree Power

daintree power

You would think it's a no-brainer that a grid is cleaner and greener than hundreds of generators and everybody would prefer to see a clean energy supply instead of third world pollution, but no... There is a group of people against elecctricity supply....

On 14 April 2017 Federal Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg joined Warren Entsch for a trip to the Daintree, met with locals, saw the diesel generators running and smoking, and decided this Third World pollution scenario was not acceptable in the 21st century.
He instructed ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) to do something about this, a study was commissioned and the report delivered early 2018 (see link at top of page).
A bit later even the Queensland State Government committed to working together with ARENA and announced one million dollars in the 2018 budget for this.
Normally government and opposition disagree on everything, the opposition was in support of this commitment, as Shadow Energy Minister Michael Hart has been to the Daintree several times about this issue, and also visited the Daintree Conspiracy Museum.

Early 2019 the Sunverge / ARENA report was released and out of five options they had chosen the most practical; a micro grid that connects all properties so they can share excess renewable energy, with a central backup, which was initially gas and later improved to hydrogen created by solar.

So everyone agreed that it was a great idea to finally make the Daintree a genuine eco-tourism destination by changing from hundreds of diesel generators to a cleaner greener grid, but then the protests started.....

The Douglas Shire Sustainability Group, with only 70 members out of a 12000 shire population, decided to start protesting against ARENA's grid proposal, because they say it will lead to over-development of the Daintree. They want to keep all Daintree homes and businesses to remain on standalone renewable energy systems, which means in a rainforest with shading trees and 4.2 metre annual rainfall, that little will change and the generators will keep on roaring.
DSSG works together with Low Isles Preservation Society (LIPS), Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC), The Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO), Queensland Conservation Council (QCC), Rainforest Rescue, The Wilderness Society (TWS), the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), Greenpeace, Getup, and of course Douglas Shire Council.

This "sustainability" group includes:

- ex-DSC mayor Mike Berwick who has fought against grid power in the Daintree ever since he lived in his grid connected house on Forest Creek road in the 1990s. Ironically it is his own 2006 town plan that he even won an award for that is now protecting the Daintree, and he is worried that a grid will bring overdevelopment..
- current DSC mayor Julia Leu and councillor David Carey who have obligations under the Local Government Act to act in the public interest of the community, not the environment as first priority, or pursuing personal agendas. Being members of a group against a Daintree grid is NOT in the public interest of the Daintree community and creates a serious conflict of interest.
- Hugh Spencer who is locally infamous for illegally poisoning coconut trees, claims that standalone solar power works fine, even in the rain. He has registered himself as the officious name AUSTROP in an attempt to give more credibility to his opinions, and he disputes the best option provided by ARENA and Sunverge who have succesfully completed billions of dollars of renewable energy projects, while he himself has only put some solar panels on his own place, while he had an extension lead to his neighbour's diesel generator for many years.

This must have been not long after the farm unplugged him

At the top of the page we reported the announcement from Queensland government to work with ARENA but after the ARENA report was released and Mike Berwick had lobbied the Queensland government they changed their stance and 11 months after the million dollars was annnounced in the July 2018budget decided to quickly spend it before the year was over and hired KPMG to do yet another study (while the issue had already been resolved by federal governmentt) and they organised a meeting in the Mossman Bowls Club.
Representatives at this meeting included Douglas Shire Council,, Wet Tropics, ARENA, DNRME, Daintree Renewable nergy Inc., Daintree Marketing Cooperative, DSSG, and for some reason Hugh Spencer and his partner were there too.
The whole meeting was sort of comical as the ARENA study had been finalised, the federal government had committed money to take it to the next stage to be shovel ready early 2012, and the entire afternoon was spent brainstorming and discussing a solution as if the whole federal sponsored micro grid project did not exist.
We were all told not to "talk out of school", to keep everything secret, but in reality nothng was said this day that was riveting or even remotely worth reporting, and the usual suspects repeating their usual nonsense that electricity will bring overdevelopment and a bridge and destroy the Daintree. It all sounded like a do nothing mission to me.

daintree fight
Article in the local Gazette 28 June 2018, click to enlarge

WHY EVEN HAVE A FIGHT? Who could possibly object to the Daintree getting a cleaner power supply?
Due to an amendment in the Electricity Act in 2000, Daintree businesses and residents have so far been denied grid power, and in a rainforest where solar power is not very viable, hydro power would need dams, and windpower is banned by the state (on request by DSC) , we have had to rely on generators for decades.
Studies have established that the Daintree community of 800 people burn between three and four million litres of fuel per year in hundreds of generators, contributing an estimated annual 10,000 tonnes of CO2 to the climate change that affects our planet, not to mention all the sumpoil, worn out lead acid batteries and other equipment.
In 2017 Josh Frydenberg came to the Daintree, decided that this third world pollution scenario was not acceptable, and instructed ARENA to act on this.
Recently their report was released and the federal and state government committed to cooperate.
It is totally bizarre that now local "green" group Douglas Shire Sustainability Group objects to this proposal to clean up the Daintree with a 21st century power supply. They want to keep every property on standalone power, which will mean the generators will keep on going for ever. They published ideas to go to music festivals to recruit hippies for Save The Daintree protests.

energy experts
The energy experts of DSSG, disputing the the best practise recommendations of ARENA and Sunverge,
who have succesfully completed hundreds of millions of dollars of renewable energy projects.

Look at some of the people in this group;

Mike Berwick, who has fought against power in the Daintree since the 1990’s, while he actually lived in a grid power house in the Daintree at the time, he was mayor of the shire when he negotiated the Thee Point Plan (1. buyback 2. restrictive townplan 3. power) and it is his 2006 townplan for which he won an award that now protects the Daintree from overdevelopment, but today he still claims reticulated power will cause overdevelopment.

Hugh Spencer, a one man band hiding behind the officious AUSTROP name, whose only achievement is some solar panels on his own place, but he disputes the reports of ARENA and Sunverge, organisations who have successfully completed billions of dollars of renewable energy projects.
DSC councillors Julia Leu and David Carey, who have obligations under the Local Government Act to act in the public interest, and even though power supply is a state responsibility, how much advocacy have they done for Daintree power compared to their efforts for dog shelters, school crossings, boat wreck cleanups etc?
Acting in the public interest (of the Daintree community) means advocating for a clean affordable power supply that will support viable businesses and ease the burden on household budgets to keep the lights on in the family home. Not writing to state government to ban windpower near world heritage, or being part of DSSG that fights against a normal clean power supply, or putting a solar farm in South Douglas instead of North Douglas.
DSSG screams the current proposal includes a fossil fuel generator, but isn’t one central gas generator much better for the environment than hundreds of old diesel and petrol generators? And when the grid is in, then households with excess solar and hydro can share this with others, and renewable sources such as a solar farm can be added to the supply, as is being done in remote indigenous communities.
And are the seventy DSSG members living in off-grid houses? Or are they living in houses connected to a grid, powered by mostly coal, at best with some symbolical solar panels on their roofs?
It is crystal clear that their agenda is economic sabotage, making business economically unviable, making life as hard as possible for the Daintree community, to discourage settlement, and in the hope that one day they will all go away, and the buyback organisations can keep buying land for peanuts, there is no genuine environmental logic behind fighting a change from diesel generators to a normal grid.

DSSG claims to represent the shire on environmental issues, but it is believed that it is only a registered group to push the interests of a small core of people with extreme views. They certainly seemed to have problems finding people to run this organisation, and an invite in July 2019 for members and supporters to come to the park to discuss threats to the Daintree (what threats, a cleaner electricity supply?) resulted in only 13 people turning up, which includes the usual core of the leaders.

From the 2015 annual report

From the 2017 annual report

They are very proud of the Daintree Campaign; lobbying politicians to deny the Daintree community a cleaner and more affordable electritity supply, no wonder the hard core gets little support from many members and almost nobody turned up for this meeting.

How can this DSSG claim a grid will cause over development when their member Mike Berwick got an award for their 2006 Planning Scheme that protects the Daintree? Even on the DSC website you can find that they acknowledge the risk of overdevelopment has been mitigated thanks to the buyback and planning scheme.


daintree safe
The controversial 2006 Planning Scheme
voted in to law, protecting the Daintree



And look at this March 2013 letter from Mike Berwick in the local Gazette, he certainly likes to change his mind...

letter to editor
Letter in the Gazette March 2013

Let's compare what the two different options would mean;

(Option 1)

(Option 5)

Directional boring for cables, no trees harmed

Every household needs to destroy nearly a hectare of rain forest for sufficient sun on solar panels

Sharing of excess renewable energy

Energy wasted when batteries are full

No more generators!

Every property still needs a generator for the many wet times

One clean efficient central backup power supply

Hundreds of "backup" generators, still burning diesel

Affordable electricity at the same rate as the rest of the state

Electricity costing a multiple of what the rest of the state pays

Reliable electricity for vital telecommunications

Continued failing of telecommunications due to standalone power system failures

Telstra will upgrade their network for phone and NBN Telstra's ancient copper network willl continue to fail, and the internet satellite dishes stop during rain
The school can have normal internet for kids education The school will continue to suffer internet outages and phone problems

The Daintree will be an eco-tourism destination to be proud of

The Daintree continues to be an embarrassing
pretend eco-tourism destination

A permanent solution

A temporary band aid, RAPS systems components will need to be replaced when they start to wear after a few years

End of energy poverty for the Daintree community,
a predictable power bill every three months at a fraction of the cost of running standalone power

Continuation of energy poverty for the Daintree community.
keep paying fuel bills and be hit with blows of $5,000 to $30,000 when batteries or generators need replacing

End of Third World pollution contributing to climate change

Continuation of pollution contributing to climate change

The renewable micro grid is a great tourism marketing tool Diesel generators will continue to surprise and shock tourists



Most of the residential properties in the Daintree are only one or two hectares, when you keep the trees 50 metres away from your house to get enough sun on your solar panels this means 100 by 100 metres, which is one hectare. This means clearing your entire block if you live on one hectar,e or clearing half you block if you live on two hectares. Why does a "sustainability" group think this is better than an underground cable?

The real reason they prefer to keep the polluting standalone systems going and they are against a grid is that they are concerned it may affect the land prices in the Daintree, which would be inconvenient for the never ending buyback.

landprice concern
CAFNEC article from 2013

land price concern
Rainforest4 article 1 May 2019

It is no wonder that people in the Daintree feel like they are not wanted and there is a conspiracy to drive them out, when their councillors are closely connected to the people who obstruct their basic infrastructure are doing this for the purpose of being able to buy up land for peanuts and talking of closing roads....

closing Daintree roads

closing Daintree roads

closing road in the Daintree

They love closing roads and nothing would make them happier than closing all roads in the Daintree.


Click pic to read full article

The more progress is made to changing the Daintree from expensive standalone diesel/solar to a cleaner micro grid, the more individuals and their organisations come out of the shadows to protest against this, providing the evidence to support the long held Conspiracy Theories that there is an agenda out there trying to undermine the Daintree community and drive them off their land through economic sabotage.