Minister must rectify deficient Midwest power

Opposition Leader and Leader of The Nationals WA Shane Love has called out the Energy Minister’s management of the Midwest power network, labelling it deficient.

Mr Love used Parliament this week to highlight the summer of woe residents from Dongara had once again experienced as a result of the deficient network.

“Residents are fed up to the back teeth with the excuses and promises of improvement, and a Minister who believes that if someone lives in the Midwest, they choose to have unreliable power,” Mr Love said.

“Of the top 10 local government areas in WA impacted by power outages, the top five shires are in my electorate, as evidence by the Network Reliability tab on the Western Power website.

“Outages in the Shire of Irwin have increase from seven in 2020-21 to 16 in 2021-22, with an average time without power of 63 hours and 38 minutes in the same year.

“Nothing has changed – the experience in Dongara this summer has been even more woeful than the last.”

Mr Love said may communities in his electorate have such regular interruption in their connection that it has been normalised by the McGowan Labor Government.

“One member of the Legislative Council arrogantly suggested business owners buy a generator if they want to de-risk their power supply, he said.

“That Member of Parliament may have forgotten that it is the Government’s role to supply the network.

“This lapsed understanding is not surprising from a team led by a Premier who attempted to cut the community resource network because people have mobile phones these days.”

Mr Love said the issue was further exacerbated as residents dealt with not only frequent, but lengthy, outages due to Western Power’s reluctance to restore power during a Total Fire Ban.

“This is a matter I’ve raised countless times in Parliament, and it is time the government ensured that Western Power and DFES adopted a sensible and collaborative approach,” he said.

Mr Love labelled the energy network deficient, adding the Energy Minister had failed to address very real safety concerns and barriers that are stopping further development.

“As recommended in Michelle Shepherd’s ‘Independent Review of Christmas 2021 Outages’, Western Power need to consider improved ways to prepare for and manage outages, including batteries, microgrids and standalone power systems,” Mr Love said.

“The government has been sitting on budget surpluses of $13bn in the past three years, it is time they put their hand in their pocket and fixed the Mid West energy network.

“Households and businesses are paying good money for a deficient network – they deserve better.