Mr BURGESS (Hastings) (09:47:03) — On 22 September I met with a group of Western Port residents regarding their concerns about potential power outages across Victoria this summer. The residents raised their concerns about the effect on them personally of power outages caused by the forced closure of Hazelwood power station in March of this year. They were most concerned, however, about what outages would mean for people dependent on electricity for survival and wellbeing.
One 76‑year‑old constituent stated that she is the sole carer for her husband, who was paralysed down one side after a stroke and requires an electric bed to raise his head, shoulders and feet to prevent him from choking. Another resident was concerned about the soaring cost of power to customers of her employer, with one customer who is on life support having his power cut off when he could not pay an $18 000 power bill.
Another resident, who is a polio survivor, said that air conditioning is essential for polio sufferers during summer months as the virus destroys the body’s thermostat, making them heat and cold intolerant. She also said that many people with polio use electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters as well as breathing machines day and night for respiratory support.
When the Andrews government forced the closure of Hazelwood, it cut 22 per cent out of the baseload power, causing these problems for my constituents. This government’s policies are driving energy prices to the point where Victorians can no longer afford them as well as putting vulnerable lives at risk.