Did Privitization kill 121 people on Black Saturday? The power line implicated in the deadliest blaze of the day was faulty. It was checked by a linesman working for the contractors UAM, who worked for the Singaporean private power wholesaler SP Austnet. The fragmentation of knowledge, skills and responsibility under privitization, combined with the drive for cost reduction may have helped kill people on Black Saturday.
The Royal Commission into the Black Saturday Bushfire's heard this week about how the most deadly fire on February 7th 2009, the Kilmore blaze that killed 121 people, was started by a rusted electricity power line. The line had been checked in the previous year but according to expert testimony the rusty power lines had been faulty for more than a year, indicating sloppy maintenance.
Before privitization of Victoria's power, the production and distribution of power was all done by the SECV. The corporate knowledge and skills of employees were built up over generations. All responsibility for maintenance rested with the SECV. Now under privitization, customers buy electricity of a retailer, who purchases it off a wholesaler, who outsourced maintenance to another company. The electricity itself is generated by another set of private companies. At each step of the way, there is a drive to cut costs and maximise profits for shareholders.
Given this inefficiences of running a private system is it any surprise that a private company has been implicated in shoddy maintenance leading to a deadly bushfire. A class action has been launched again SP Ausnet for the Feb 7th fire resulted from its powerlines. Funnily enough the media would rather people focus on individual arsonists rather than corporate arsonists, or blame greenies for not letting people chop down a few trees. Meanwhile the private companies continue to make billions in profits.