State Member for Wallsend, Ms Sonia Hornery MP, has criticised the NSW Government for failing to support a Notice of Motion calling for more Ausgrid linesmen, on the eve of the anniversary of the Pasha Bulker storm.
On Thursday last week, a debate over a Notice of Motion, given by Ms Hornery, saw the Government vote down it down and refuse to explain why the number of Ausgrid linesmen had been cut from 100 in 2007 to just 17 in 2020.
The Motion was narrowly defeated 41 votes to 37.
“Not only did the Government vote down the Motion, but the Minister for Energy refused to even speak on it,” said Ms Hornery.
“Instead, he sent down two MPs whose electorates didn’t even have a footprint in the Ausgrid Network to argue that Ausgrid have more than enough staff to deal with the aftermath of storms such as the Pasha Bulker and 2015 East Coast Low.
“As part of the privatisation deal in 2016, the Government committed that Ausgrid and the other Government-owned electricity companies to be sold would have a guaranteed minimum number of employees up until 30 June 2020.”
Ms Hornery called on the Government to explain how, with so few Ausgrid linesmen left in the Hunter and with dangerous weather events becoming more and more frequent, can the residents and business owners in the Wallsend Electorate really trust that such a diminished workforce can cope.
“The Minister seems to forget it was the Ausgrid linesmen from the Hunter who travelled to help repair downed lines and poles in January following bushfires in the northern suburbs of Sydney and then again in February following major storms,” said Ms Hornery.
“We saw Ausgrid plead with the Government for assistance from the Army following the storms in February, because they had less than a fifth of the capacity they did in 2007.
“Ausgrid has cut 1,300 jobs from its workforce since 2015, and 3,000 since this Government took office.
“They would have been able to clear storm debris faster, make safe and reconnect homes to power much quicker if it had the number of employees the Government promised it would have.
“The Government should be ashamed of the way it has turned its back on Ausgrid workers,” said Ms Hornery.