Numbers down on last year in Tasmania

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With 320 delegates attending this year's AusWind 2004 conference event in Launceston, Tasmania, the numbers were down from last year's 350. The lower turnout, however, seemed more a reflection of the less accessible location, compared with venues such as Sydney and Adelaide, than of an uninterested wind industry. Even though no-frills airline Jetstar has been flying to and from Launceston on a daily basis since May, flights are limited. As a result, on the last day of the conference there was a rush for the midday flight and a starkly reduced audience for the final session, which included an address by opposition environment spokesman, Kelvin Thomson. Those still there to hear him heard him apologise for his delayed arrival, saying he had flown Jetstar and it was "a bit like visiting Soweto -- something you only want to experience once." Aside from the flight problems, Tasmania is a noticeably chilly place during the southern hemisphere winter. While the Japanese monkeys in City Park seemed happy enough, some delegates were seen sitting shivering in their overcoats during conference sessions. The Australian Wind Energy Association has vowed to find a warmer, more accessible, venue for 2005.

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