Wednesday, 1 March 2017
Select Committee on Statewide Electricity Blackout and Subsequent Power Outages
The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: Thank you, Mr Acting President. Sincere apologies for the delay and thank you to the council for its indulgence. The Dignity Party will support the motion, including the Hon. Mr Parnell’s amendments. We would also like to raise some additional points for the select committee to consider under the banner, potentially, of ‘any other relevant matters’. These points are, I am sure, unsurprising to members, as we have been raising them with the government both in meetings and in person, and also through the media.
They include the impact of statewide blackouts and blackouts lasting many days on people reliant on electricity for life-saving and life-sustaining equipment—such as ventilators for breathing and therefore to stay alive—and emergency planning for these people, including standing instructions on what to do in these circumstances. We are particularly concerned about the apparent inconsistent information that was being given out between local government and state government as to exactly where people should go if they needed backup electricity for something like a ventilator or an electric wheelchair, for example.
They also include the impact on people with sensory disabilities reliant on television or film or video rather than radio, due to being deaf or hard of hearing, and also on people at the other end of the spectrum who might be reliant on radio broadcasts rather than television, due to a visual impairment, to know what is happening during emergencies and electricity blackouts. More broadly, they include the impact on people with disabilities or people with health conditions who need electricity to operate not only life-sustaining equipment but other disability or medical related equipment, such as hoists to get in and out of bed, on and off the toilet, or in and out of an armchair, for example, or even to power a blender to allow for PEG feeding.
We certainly support the motion. We understand that power blackouts are not convenient or good for anyone when it comes to personal lifestyle or business in this state, but I also want to highlight that there is a section of the community that has particular needs that are not always fully understood or remembered, so we would love to see those on the agenda as well. With those few words, I indicate our support for the motion as amended by the Hon. Mr Parnell.