Adjournment – Severe Weather Event

Mr D O’BRIEN (Gippsland South) (17:18): (5949) My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, and the action I seek is for the minister to review the circumstances surrounding the recent storm and power outages. We all understand that this was an unprecedented event almost—certainly in terms of the number of call-outs for the SES and the like. But we did have many people—and indeed we still do have many people—without power some 2½ weeks later. I think there is never a circumstance that we cannot learn from, and it is important that the government actually reviews the current regulatory framework. As I understand it, the transmission and distribution companies, such as AusNet Services, have licences from the Victorian government, and perhaps reviewing that current framework would be worthwhile.

Certainly from my own electorate’s perspective—where we have still a couple people off, but where we had 6000 people without power at one stage, many of them for more than a few days and over a week, and obviously it is now 2½ weeks—people were okay with it for a couple of days. They appreciated it was a storm, it was an act of God, if you like, and it was beyond the control of AusNet or the government or anyone. But once we got to a week—to eight, nine, 10 days—that really started to put a financial, mental health and social strain on people without power, particularly those who live in the hills and are reasonably isolated at the best of times.

I am not suggesting anyone has done anything wrong. I certainly appreciate the work done by AusNet Services and the collaboration I have had with them as the local MP trying to ensure that they were aware of the people that were still disconnected and that they did their best. I am also very conscious that any additional regulatory burden or conditions on a licence are only going to add to costs for all of us. But as I said earlier, I do not think there is an event that we cannot learn from, and I request the minister to review the circumstances to ensure that we do learn from it and, as best as possible, can avoid people being cut off from power for a number of weeks in the future.

Following matter incorporated in accordance with resolution of house of 22 June:

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