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March 9, 2021

Flood victims get no help to reconnect electricity

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Shadow minister for north coast Walt Secord . Photo AAP Image/Mark Graham

Shadow Minister for the North Coast Walt Secord has labelled NSW Energy Minister Don Harwin as ‘heartless’ – after he refused to provide financial help to North Coast flood victims re-connecting electricity.

In State Parliament, Mr Harwin said flood-affected families should pay themselves or try their insurance companies. He was responding to a question without notice from Labor which said:

My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Resources, Minister for Energy and Utilities, and Minister for the Arts. Given that North Coast customers whose switchboards were affected by floodwater have been forced to contact and pay for an electrician to assess and test them before they could have their power reconnected by Essential Energy, will the Government now reimburse those affected families?

Energy Minister Don Harwin’s full response to the NSW Parliament can be viewed here

On April 2, Essential Energy advised North Coast residents that they were responsible for arranging their own electricians to undertake switchboard and other electrical system repairs after flood waters receded.

Last week (May 4) in the NSW Legislative Council, State Energy Minister Don Harwin confirmed that the State Government would not be reimbursing any local residents who were financially burdened by the cost of restoring their electricity supply – after the floods.

In response to Labor’s questioning during question time, Mr Harwin declared that ‘the cost of these repairs may be claimable under the customer’s insurance policy’ and ‘any defects found in private wiring must be repaired, as always, by a licensed electrician at the customer’s expense’.

In his answer, Mr Harwin made no mention of Essential Energy’s April 2 instruction for flood victims to seek out their own electricians for switchboard assessments.

Mr Secord said that North Coast residents, many of whom did not have adequate access to insurance have had their suffering compounded by the State Government’s heartless approach.

NSW Labor renewed their calls for the Berejiklian Government to adopt Labor’s non-partisan 11 point flood package.  State Labor’s proposed flood package can be viewed here.

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