Kimberley Needs Ignored with Horizon Staff Cut

Thursday 18 September

Greens Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Robin Chapple MLC said he was outraged by the government’s attitude towards regional energy security after Horizon Power announced it would be cutting 12 staff, including five in Kununurra, four in Broom and three in Esperance, by the end of this year.

This initial cut is part of the governments larger Strategic Review Program designed to reduce Horizon Power’s subsidy, and which could cut as many as 61.5 staff from the Kimberley, Midwest, Esperance, and Northwest regions by the end of 2016.

Mr Chapple has labelled the program as insulting to regional power customers, who already pay higher premiums for what is often a diminished service.

“It is precisely these regions where the government should be looking to improve power delivery to its customers,” he said.

“I don’t see how they’re going to do that with 60 less staff.”

A table provided by the Minister for Energy lists more than 170 outages in Kununurra over the last two years with an average of 327 minutes per outage, or more than 5 hours, however the Network Quality and Reliability of Supply Code states there should be no more than 16 outages per year of greater than one minute.

The data from Kununurra is greater than the prescribed standards by 1,100% in the frequency and 32,700% in the duration of power outages.

Mr Chapple said Kununurra had the least reliable power supply in Western Australia and the decision by Horizon Power to cut more staff was despicable.

“The community of Kununurra has been short-changed by this government,” he said.

“Nobody wants to pay for a service that is so dodgy it regularly cuts out for hours at a time.

“In some instances residents were without power for more than twenty hours.

“Yet the Strategic Review Program has outlined a total of 14.5 staff cuts that will be made in the Kimberley region by the end of 2016.

“I think it can be safely said that this government cares little for the present, or future, energy needs of Kimberley residents.”

For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255.

Karratha Health Campus a Recipe for Disaster

Wednesday 17 September

Greens Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Robin Chapple MLC has criticised the planned location for the new Karratha Health Campus, at which earthworks have already begun, as irresponsible and totally ignorant of climate facts.

Mr Chapple said it was irresponsible to base the safety of the site on 500-year storm surge data as this system did not take into account climate change.

“This is fundamentally a bad site to build a hospital,” he said.

“We have seen, and will continue to see, an exponential increase in climatic events throughout Western Australia.

“These climatic events are changing swiftly in their nature, becoming more extreme and less predictable.

“In the case of an extreme weather event the hospital, the lifeline for all those people affected, will be the first building to be wiped out; it’s completely exposed.”

Mr Chapple said the government should be taking every precaution with new infrastructure in Karratha if it wanted to maintain the long-term sustainability of the city.

“Just 2000 years ago this whole North side of town, all the way to the hills, was completely under water,” he said.

“Climate change is fact, we will continue to see an increase in the frequency and severity of weather events in Northern Australia, and we will almost certainly see a rise in sea levels.

“Only when governments and councils acknowledge and properly address the rapidly approaching doom will we have any chance of managing and mitigating its effects.”

Mr Chapple also said the site’s location was worrying because of its proximity to the ill-fated Pelago towers.

“There is speculation about the stability of the ground at the site,” he said.

“In particular, we are trying to ascertain whether the Pelago towers 1 and 2 are settling and what effects this could have on both the towers themselves and any new infrastructure, such as the proposed health campus.”

A report released today by The Climate Council, titled ‘Counting the Costs: Climate Change and Coastal Flooding’, has outlined more clearly than ever before the potential fiscal impacts of climate change on coastal populations.

For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255.

WA Greens Call for Public Inquiry into Deaths in Custody

Friday, 29 August

Greens Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Robin Chapple MLC has joined calls for a public inquiry into the death in custody of 22-year old Yamatji woman Julieka Dhu.

Ms Dhu was arrested on August 2 for unpaid fines and transferred to the South Hedland watch-house where despite vomiting, worsening pain and two hospital visits she remained incarcerated for more than two days until she was taken to Hedland Health Campus for a third time and pronounced dead on August 4.

Mr Chapple said the government should be doing everything in their power to figure out why this tragedy happened, and why similar tragedies continue to happen across our state.

“My deepest condolences go out to the family of Julieka Dhu, and the greater Yamatji community, for this heartbreaking loss,” he said.

“The account given by Ms Dhu’s partner in the days leading up to her death is simply horrifying; the police officers and medical staff involved have a lot to answer for.

“Whatever happened to duty of care? Primarily both of these services exist in the interest of public safety so clearly there is a very serious flaw in the system.”

Mr Chapple said a public inquiry was only the first step in resolving a long-standing, and deepening, mistrust between Aboriginal communities and state services.

“Now, more than ever, we need to make sure that this sort of thing never happens again,” he said.

“We need to take another serious look at those recommendations that have come out of other incidents such as this, especially the death of John Pat 30 years ago in Roebourne at the hands of five officers and more recently the tragic death of Mr Ward in the back of a prison van.

“More importantly, we actually need to implement a significant number of these recommendations and get some change happening in the way we treat Aboriginal people in this state.

“Incarcerating Aboriginal people, and indeed anyone, for such minor offences as an unpaid fine solves absolutely nothing, and generally costs more than the fine itself is worth; it should be a last resort option.”

For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255.





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