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The WA Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Economic Reform and Public Sector Management has proposed that power lines and poles on private properties should be inspected by an authorised body to avoid a repeat of the Hills bushfire disaster.

WA Labor Leader Mark McGowan said the current system that placed the safety burden on private property owners had failed with disastrous results.

Mr McGowan said most property owners were not qualified or able to make a professional appraisal of the condition of electricity infrastructure.

He suggests that Western Australia should follow the example of Victoria where changes were made after the Black Saturday bushfire disaster.

In Victoria, legislation requires electricity distributors to inspect private electricity infrastructure every three years. If needed, defect notices are issued for repairs to be carried out by a registered contractor.

“With around 200,000 power poles on private land throughout Perth and the South West, some 50 years old, qualified professionals should carry out inspections, not Mum and Dads.” Mr McGowan said.

“Landowners often do not have the necessary expertise or knowledge to undertake this role themselves.

“This cannot be put in the too-hard basket, if Victoria can do it then why can’t we do it in Western Australia?”

Mr McGowan said more needed to be done to replace state-owned power lines in at risk bushfire zones like the Perth Hills.

“Replacing old timber poles with new timber poles should be a last resort,” Mr McGowan said.

“Replacing timber poles with steel or concrete poles in areas of high fire risk or underground power should be the first option.

“The current system is a recipe for disaster; proper changes need to be implemented now.”

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