(OT?) Australia - Business angry at power havoc - power crisis update

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Business angry at power havoc
Friday 11 February 2000

Business and industry were again thrown into confusion yesterday after the 11th-hour reintroduction of power restrictions.

Employer groups were angry about the last-minute disruption to their businesses after many had planned days of normal productivity to compensate for lost opportunities this week.

The Premier, Mr Steve Bracks, reintroduced the restrictions early yesterday after an unexpected change in the weather, which reached five degrees above the original forecast.

Mr Bracks warned of the possible reintroduction of restrictions late on Wednesday, several hours after announcing they would be lifted.

The Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry said it was inundated with calls from businesses unsure of their obligations.

The general manager of workplace relations for VECCI, Mr David Gregory, said many businesses were in chaos between 10am and 2pm yesterday while they reassessed their routines.

Mr Gregory said thousands of city workers either didn't come in to work or left early to escape office "hot boxes" with no air-conditioning.

He attacked Mr Bracks for making a premature announcement on Wednesday.

"There was a sense we would be back to normal and employers were just shocked and surprised yesterday," he said.

Mr Gregory said yesterday's uncertainty could have cost the state up to $40million in lost productivity, with retailing hit particularly hard. Retail representatives claim they are losing $10million a day in turnover as power restrictions keep shoppers away and hit late-night trading.

Mr Gregory called for a rapid resolution to the dispute between Yallourn Energy and the unions and for the Government to guarantee power supplies next week.

"We cannot have the power supply used as a pawn in this game," he said. "We will be a national laughing stock if this situation goes into next week. This much disruption is just totally unacceptable."

The Electrical Trades Union state secretary, Mr Dean Mighell, said mediation talks under the guidance of the Industrial Relations Commission's vice-president, Mr Iain Ross, had made progress yesterday.

But he warned that if an agreement in principle was not struck by this afternoon workers were likely to vote to walk off the job: "We'll see if the Premier of Victoria wants to sue workers for fighting for their job in the La Trobe Valley".

The Opposition Leader, Dr Denis Napthine, accused Mr Bracks of a lack of leadership in the power crisis, describing his handling of the situation as "chaotic".

Dr Napthine said the Government should have acted a month ago to head off the Yallourn power station dispute before it posed a threat to electricity supplies.

Yallourn Energy's chief executive, Mr Mike Johnston, warned that if there was a walkout, Yallourn power station would shut down within two or three days.


Last night's late news and on TV 'Good Morning Australia' this morning evidence is coming forth that during the height of the Victorian power restrictions they were indeed selling off power to NSW & SA while denying local use. What's even more disconcerting is that NEWWCO had a surplus of 1000 Megawtts(?) idle in another sector that was unused. Is it any wonder than that we find this all so incredible?

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), February 10, 2000


Sorry spelling error. It's NEMMCO.

City low on energy - people likewise

A general interest story about the outage.


-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), February 10, 2000.

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