Kalgoorlie-Boulder at the End of the Line

Published on Wednesday, 16 February 2022 at 4:34:42 PM

There was a time, before the bean-counters took over, that the provision of essential services such as power and water were not seen as a cash-cow for the government.

Government utilities were expected to at least break even so they were not an impost on the taxpayer and any profit was only used to maintain or expand services.

That has changed and the problem for Kalgoorlie-Boulder, being at the end of extremely long services, we pay a disproportionate price.

In the case of water, we have the most expensive water in Australia.

Of course, those same bean-counters now in charge of these monopolies such as Water Corporation, quickly point out that the lower end of residential charges is well below what it costs. The trouble is I have obtained inside information on what it really costs the Government and that’s after excessive administrative charges, depreciation of C. Y. O’Connor’s pipeline after we have paid for it countless times before and an unrealistic profit margin on an investment paid for by previous generations.

In fact, the real cost of getting water to Mt Charlotte is about a third of the figure put forward by Water Corporation.

I admit that the same cannot be said for power costs in the Goldfields, with residential and industry users paying much the same as in Perth.

However, as we sweltered in 40-degree temperatures last Sunday, the Goldfields could be justified in thinking they were being treated as second-class citizens as compared to those in the metropolitan area.

The extended blackout was the third since I have been Mayor and every time Western Power make excuses and promises to bring down the time it takes to generate back-up power.

Former member for Kalgoorlie Ian Taylor says that when the reserve generators were installed at West Kalgoorlie decades ago it took about 10 to 15 minutes to provide power to residents. That same generator now takes hours. On Sunday, five to six hours.

We must have a quick and reliable back-up generator when we are at the end of one of the world’s longest power lines. Problems such as storms and bushfires, like those on Sunday, will always occur. Which brings me to another point that when the bushfire first threatened the power line why didn’t Western Power start the West Kalgoorlie generators as a precaution?

As well as West Kalgoorlie there is spare capacity in the gas turbines at Parkston yet because of a lack of investment in switching equipment and power lines, they could not be used.

It is little wonder I was not alone in being frustrated and angry and that is why I have called for an independent (I don’t want Western Power investigating themselves) inquiry into the fiasco.

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