SPEECH ON ENERGY LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (VICTORIAN DEFAULT OFFER) BILL 2019

I rise to speak on this bill tonight, and in doing so I support my colleague Mr Rich-Phillips, who has made a great contribution. I totally agree with him that the energy issue is about supply and demand. If you reduce supply and increase demand, with about 140 000 people coming into Melbourne each year, you are going to have a supply problem and in doing so you will have a price problem.

I also want to talk about the monitoring ability of this government because we have got a situation where we have unsafe power infrastructure in this state. Part of the responsibility of a government is to ensure that we have safe, reliable, affordable and available power.

Today in my electorate, a brand-new piece of power infrastructure fell over. The powerline hit the ground on a roadside near where a fire occurred during the St Patrick’s Day fires. It fell onto long grass, which was a factor in the St Patrick’s Day fires last year, and why? It is because this is a powerline connecting wind towers. It is brand-new infrastructure but it is cheap, imported product, and clearly this government does not monitor any of their power infrastructure, either old or new.

We have got over 600 000 power poles in Victoria. Only about 1100 were replaced in 2017. At this rate the auditing, the monitoring and the replacement of our power poles will happen well after we have all left this place, and we will all be looking to more fires. I am sure they will be caused by old and redundant and unsafe wooden power poles. I doubt there are enough trees in this country to even replace the power poles if we are going to make them out of wood. The 2009 royal commission into bushfires suggested that powerline provision should be aerial cabled or placed underground. I totally support that all new power infrastructure should go underground. It should not be above ground. We have now got powerlines criss-crossing my electorate down narrow roads very close to the road, totally in an unsafe situation, which is totally unacceptable to the local community.

You would not believe this, but there are actually no regulations involved in powerline infrastructure. It is extraordinary to think that anybody can put a powerline up of a certain megawattage without having to get a permit from local government, from a regulating authority or from anybody else. So we need a monitoring system. We certainly need a monitoring system, but we need it to monitor this government’s ability to ensure that power infrastructure is safe.

I do not want any more fires in my electorate caused by power infrastructure. So yes, we need monitoring, but please monitor the infrastructure.

21 March 2019