Mr D O’BRIEN (Gippsland South) (17:20): (6364) 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 undertake a genuine community engagement process for the electricity distribution network resilience review, which was announced in August last year or was begun in August last year—it actually has not been announced terribly well. This is largely in relation to the huge events we had in June and October of last year when massive storms came through Victoria and wiped out power in some cases in my electorate for more than two weeks for certain communities. I was calling for some time for a review of the electricity transmission distribution system given those particular failings.
Those storms were extreme and they did cause unprecedented outages and damage to the network, but there are many people throughout my electorate, particularly in the Strzelecki Ranges in the South Gippsland hills, that experienced outages that were more than what we should have to accept. Generally people were okay. The power was going to be off for one, two, three days, and that was fine; people understood that. But when it became four, five, six days and, as I said, over two weeks in some cases, that was not good enough. As I said, this review was instigated in August of last year but basically not announced and certainly not publicised. For a long time the website energy.vic.gov.au has had frequently asked questions, one of which is:
How can people have their say on the review?
And there is a line there that says:
More information will soon be available at www.energy.vic.gov.au.
They are consulting with various communities and consumer representatives, but there has been no process provided for members of the public to have their say. I continue to get contacted. As recently as two weeks ago I met with some constituents at Mount Best who had power out for a couple of weeks and have had ongoing issues since. They were saying, ‘How can we get the message to AusNet and to the government that this is a serious issue that needs addressing?’.
While I welcomed the review at the time—I think the review is important, particularly if it actually leads to some better resilience in our system—the government does need to let the community have their say. So far it seems to be a very closed review. There has been no announcement from the minister, and there has been very little publicity. At the very least the government should provide the opportunity through a website or through an email address for people to have their say, share their experiences and share where things went wrong; learn from the experiences of those two severe events; and make sure that the people of Gippsland and indeed the people of Victoria have some more resilience in their electricity distribution network going forward.