Labor’s botched attempt at fixing power line fires fails

Daniel Andrews has forced taxpayers in regional and rural Victoria to spend over a billion dollars on failed technology designed to fix power line fires which clearly does not work.

Reports today show power line fires have gone up, not down, due to Labor’s botched solutions.

There were 434 power line fires in the 12 months prior to the 2019-20 fire season, rising from just 305 similar fires in 2016-17 and 425 in 2017-18, an increase from 2016 of 42 per cent.

Each fire carries with it the potential to wreak havoc, destroy property and, tragically, take lives.

In total, 159 out of the 173 who perished on Black Saturday died because of power line fires, illustrating the true cost of a failing to stop power line fires.

Labor’s response to this issue has been the installation of Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiters (REFCL), which have large questions marks hanging over them when it comes to their ability to prevent these devastating fires.

Originally, it was estimated in 2015 that the REFCL program would cost $151 million. By September 2019, program costs had ballooned to over $1 billion.

This is despite experts highlighting the deficiencies of REFCLs to the Labor Government. Dr David Sweeting stated in July 2018:

‘I have found that conductors clashing is the major cause of the bushfires I have investigated and REFCL will do nothing to stop those fires.

I suspect the REFCL system is not worth what is being spent on it, especially if the cost is going to blow out from $150 million to now far more than that.’

By September 2019 reports showed even Dr Paul Grimes, then Daniel Andrews’ handpicked Victorian Public Sector Commissioner, advised Labor that the program costs ‘[h]ad blown out to a point where they outweighed the benefits.’

Comments attributable to the Shadow Minister for Resources, Ryan Smith:

“Here is the truth. Power line fires have risen by over 43 per cent in just 3 years. This is despite Labor spending over $1 billion dollars on a project that is massively over budget and behind schedule.

“Labor’s REFCL program will not lead to fewer fires. They were warned of this before they implemented it. That fact has now been proven. All it took was a wasted $1 billion.

“Victorians are now less safe from fires and substantially poorer because of Labor’s failed policies to combat power line fires.”

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