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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 5 Hansard (29 May) . . Page.. 1107..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

where it has come from, how much it is costing, et cetera. I will provide that as soon as I can.

Electricity—blackouts

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Chief Minister and Treasurer. ActewAGL has spoken of rolling blackouts in Canberra suburbs in coming summers if there are problems with electricity supply caused by the drought. A number of people rely on a constant supply of electricity for life-sustaining medical equipment such as home kidney dialysis machines and continuous ventilation devices. What planning has the ACT government done to ensure that people in this situation will be catered for in any planned rolling blackouts?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Mr Smyth for the question, which is about a very important issue. There is a prospect or a possibility that there will be a need for load sharing, as it is euphemistically called, in either the coming summer or perhaps the summer after if the drought persists. There has been a significant reduction in generating capacity within the Snowy and particularly within Queensland as a result of a lack of water. That has impacted on price. At very high load points, particularly in summer, particularly in northern regions where there is a very heavy use of air conditioners, involving system overloading, that is a possibility. At this stage, the view of Mr Mackay of ActewAGL is that he believes that that is not a particularly strong possibility in the coming summer but it is a possibility. Of course, there has been detailed planning for those scenarios.

The issue which Mr Smyth raises is, of course, an issue to which attention has been given. There are currently in place arrangements, even were there some other incident not associated with blackouts relating to the drought, but if there were some other cause of a blackout and there were significant blackouts in the ACT, there is in place now a regime. I do not know the technical details, but I have been assured that it is in place, that there is a regime that has identified all of those people dependent on electricity in the circumstance that Mr Smyth describes, of life-sustaining treatment or equipment, to ensure that their needs will be met. It is a priority, Mr Smyth. I understand that the planning has been done. I do not know the details of exactly how the identification is arranged or the circumstance. I am more than happy to provide that, Mr Smyth. It is a very important issue. It is an issue of which we are aware and it is an issue in relation to which I have been assured the planning has been done.

MR SPEAKER: Do you have a supplementary question, Mr Smyth?

MR SMYTH: Yes, thank you. Chief Minister, why haven't you been briefed on these arrangements? Given that you have now informed the Assembly that you have not, will you seek such a briefing to satisfy yourself and will you come back to the Assembly and assure us that you are confident that all avenues are covered to ensure the safety of Canberrans who rely on electricity for life support machines?

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, I did not say that I had not been briefed. I just said that I had asked for and received assurances. That is a briefing. Once again, we now have Mr Seselja, Mrs Dunne and Mr Smyth. I did not say that I had not been briefed. I in fact asked for an assurance that this exact circumstance—


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