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29 January 2014 Fallen power lines will be all too common this year – ETU Government cuts will

have impact as storm season ramps up The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) warned all far northerners to beware of fallen power lines and to be prepared for longerthan-usual outage times as the first strong wind gusts of the season approach the coast. Local far northern ETU Organiser, Michael Haire, said massive reductions in staffing levels and vegetation clearing budgets would exacerbate the effects of heavy rain and high winds. “We’ve seen massive staff cuts at Ergon and supporting contractors in the far north since this State Government ramped up its attack on the industry. Maintenance and vegetation management budgets have been slashed and unfortunately this year we’re going to see more power lines bought down by trees and more time taken to put them back up and get the power back on.” “We’ve been fighting these cuts because we know they are nothing more than short sighted monetary gains at the longer term expense of the community. We’ve lost close to 200 experienced power industry workers out of our region alone, with around 1600 across the state’s electricity sector overall. Who does Newman think repairs the lines and restores the power?” Jobs have been slashed from Ergon Energy as well many local employers forced to lay workers off throughout last year as budget cuts hit home. With the storm season now upon us, the ETU has asked people to remember who made these decisions. Last night’s weather was pretty mild compared to what may be in store and even those light gusts brought down trees across power lines in more than one area. “We’re asking people to be patient with the remaining workers as they try to do the same work with fewer colleagues at their side and direct their questions and frustration to their local members of State Parliament.” The ETU has been drawing attention to these cuts for over 12 months in what it calls a relentless push to ready the business for privatisation. “We’ve seen power prices go up in an industry which already returns about 1 billion dollars per year to state revenue. We’ve seen the vegetation management budget decimated, putting workers responsible for keeping the trees out of power lines on the unemployment line and we’ve seen front line staff numbers slashed. These are the very workers who go out and restore the power after a storm. It’s disgraceful and now it’s not just the industry workers who will feel the pain of these short sighted and foolish decisions, the public are going to feel some of the pain too.” The Union has asked the public to be mindful that fallen lines can still be alive and sends a warning to everyone not to touch or even approach a fallen power line. “The voltages in these lines can kill before you even make contact with them and we urge everyone to leave it to the industry professionals to deal with these potentially fatal situations. Talk to your kids about it, make sure they understand how dangerous these ‘wires’ are.”

“What really frustrates us is the fact that the local MPs of this government have gone missing when it comes to standing up for their communities and their constituents. What has Gavin King, David Kempton, Michael Trout and Andrew Cripps done as their Premier haphazardly tears away the flesh and bones of the industry? What have they done as hundreds of experienced industry workers have been pushed out the door? What have they done to ensure the people they are supposed to represent are best placed to deal with the dangers a cyclone or flooding can cause to their electrical infrastructure? They have done nothing and unfortunately it’s everyone who’s going to pay in the long run.” For comment please contact Michael Haire 0430 072 049 Andrew Irvine0448 633 858