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Overwhelming power outage survey response

Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (15:48): I rise today to talk, once again in this place, about the impact of the significant power outage of last month on the electorate of Flinders. Much of Eyre Peninsula found itself without power and, even more importantly, communications for two, three and even up to four days, sometimes (in the case of landlines) even longer.
In relation to the power outage, I decided to correspond with my entire electorate and sent out a letter and survey addressed to the householder talking about my take on the situation and also inviting constituents to return a survey on the back, either to a reply-paid address or via email. I gave them that option. I kept the survey quite simple, asking just four questions:
1. How did the outage affect your household or business?
2. Did you apply for the loss of power grant? That required a yes or no answer.
3. Have you been able to find out information about the blackout and subsequent relief easily?
In the fourth question, I gave constituents the opportunity to put down their thoughts with regard to what action needs to occur to ensure our future energy reliability.
I have been overwhelmed by the response, to say the least. Only rarely does an MP have such extensive communication with the electorate. The office is receiving around 50 or 60 replies a day, and we have around 500 responses so far as of this morning. Those responses are still coming in; in fact, they are coming from all over the electorate of Flinders, which extends from Port Lincoln to Cowell to Ceduna and beyond, all the way to the Western Australian border. I would urge constituents to take part in the survey. The opportunity is still there. If constituents did not get a survey form or would like to access another one, they can contact my Ceduna or Port Lincoln offices. Alternatively, they can access a form on my website.
Many issues were raised. Particularly concerning were the issues raised by the elderly, who really felt that some of their health issues were brought to the forefront regarding having no power supply and no communications.
The landlines and mobile phone towers went out. After a period of hours, generally about six to eight hours, the battery supply runs out, so much of Eyre Peninsula was left without telephone communication. Of course, with that often goes internet access via phones or home computers, so there was very little opportunity for authorities to get good information out.
People were not receiving good, timely and reliable information and felt vulnerable as a result.
The uptake of the government grants that were made available was significant. There were around 6,000 in the Port Lincoln area and close to a thousand near Ceduna.
Of course, there is a vast area of some 400 kilometres in between, where people were stuck unless they were able to transport themselves. Also, of course, there was very little petrol or fuel supplies available because fuel stations rely on power supply. So, things were compounding and a lot of people did not get the opportunity to lodge the claim form.
However, I understand that, for those who did, payments are being made as we speak; so those who were found to be in hardship or need will receive those payments.
There were some interesting ideas about what we could do in the future. We have two wind farms already on Eyre Peninsula: at Cathedral Rocks, west of Port Lincoln, and at Mount Millar near Cleve. Many constituents suggested that we make better use of those wind farms. That is contingent on a better transmission line being put in place, which would have the double effect of being able to make better use of existing generation supplies and also securing our connection to the national grid. There was some talk about reopening the Port Augusta power station, either as coal or natural gas, for our government to subsidise battery storage or generators for homes and, of course, most importantly, increase maintenance of generators and the grid. There were lots of ideas and lots of good information feeding back. We have not even started on the price of power, but that will be significant for households and businesses as well.

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