23 January 2022

Electrical Trades Union campaign targeting 'dangerously neglected' infrastructure

| Max O'Driscoll
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Burnt electricity pole and power lines

The Electrical Trades Union is demanding upgraded poles and wires to prevent future bushfires across Australia. Photo: Supplied.

Following $10 billion worth of budget cuts during the past decade, the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has become the target of a new national campaign courtesy of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU).

The ETU, which represents more than 15,000 electricians and electrical trades workers across the ACT and NSW, and more than 70,000 nationwide, has launched the campaign aiming to prevent further budget cuts to electrical maintenance, and help prevent bushfires and dangerous power outages.

ETU national secretary Allen Hicks said Australian lives are being put at risk by cost cutting that leaves the electrical grid “dangerously neglected”.

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“Without proactive maintenance, ageing poles and wires are a risk to everyone,” he said.

“Faulty powerlines caused five of the Black Saturday bushfires [in 2009], which killed 173 people.

“Ageing networks also put our workers at risk. They have no choice but to wait for the grid to fail, then work on unsafe infrastructure to restore it.

“This is a matter of life and death for communities and workers. We cannot wait until after a horrific bushfire for change.”

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The ETU is calling for federal and state energy ministers to stop the AER from making drastic cuts to preventative maintenance and network upgrades, and improve AER’s assessment of maintenance and upgrade proposals.

The union would also like to see an increase in job safety and security for power company employees, and let power workers fix problems that could lessen or prevent natural disasters, including bushfires, cyclones and storms.

Mr Hicks warned that delaying these actions could be devastating.

Original Article published by Max O’Driscoll on About Regional.

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