The Shadow Minister for Disaster and Emergency Management, Senator Murray Watt, and the Shadow Minister for Communicstions, Michelle Rowland, appeared alongside Member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips in South Durras this morning (Tuesday May 3) to make a funding announcement.
Labor will commit $750,000 to protect Mount Wandera telecommunications, to prevent a repeat of the loss of communications the Eurobodalla Shire experienced during the Black Summer bushfires.
Mount Wandera is home to the most critical telecommunications in the whole Eurobodalla region, yet the resilience of the power supply and the care of the site is poor according to the Opposition.
The funding will replace the timber power poles with more resilient composite poles to better protect emergency services radio networks including 2EC and Power FM, ABC radio, television, mobile services and more.
Eurobodalla Shire Council called on the Government to take urgent action to improve the resilience of the shire’s most critical telecommunications infrastructure back in August 2021.
Eurobodalla Council’s infrastructure services director Warren Sharpe OAM, with the support of Eurobodalla’s Local Emergency Management Committee and Far South Coast Bushfire Management Committee, was one of those calling for urgent funding to replace the timber power poles with a more resilient composite poles, such as those that survived the intense bushfire in the Merricumbene Valley.
“Mount Wandera is home to the most critical telecommunications in the whole Eurobodalla region, yet the resilience of the power supply and the care of the site is poor,” Mr Sharpe said.
Mr Sharpe, who was Eurobodalla’s Local Emergency Management Officer throughout the Black Summer Bushfires, said the loss of telecommunications was one of the top issues raised by the community during and post fires.
“The damage this infrastructure sustained in the fires and the resulting loss of communications caused major stress in the community and significantly impacted response efforts."
Member for Gilmore, Ms Phillips said she will fight to ensure the Eurobodalla community was better prepared for future disasters.
"We need to be better prepared for the next bushfire season with improved power, communications, and facilities,” Ms Phillips said.
"Thank you to Eurobodalla Council, in particular Eurobodalla Council’s infrastructure services director Warren Sharpe OAM, with the support of Eurobodalla’s Local Emergency Management Committee and Far South Coast Bushfire Management Committee for outlining what must be done to protect Mount Wandera telecommunications.”
Labor also committed $220,000 to improve the resilience of power infrastructure into South Durras.
This funding would relocate power cables to the local NBN fixed-wireless tower underground, and also enable the replacement of thirty timber power poles between South Durras and the Princes Highway with composite fire-proof poles.
South Durras narrowly missed the 2019/20 bushfires which brought much devastation to communities along the South Coast.
That experience underscored the need to better prepare for future bushfires and take sensible mitigation measures where appropriate.
It has not been announced at this point in time if Liberal will match Labor’s pledged funding for Mount Wandera and South Durras in the area.
Image Credit: Eurobodalla Shire Council