Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, has told the Queensland Parliament that Ergon cut the power supply to the Tully Coast Guard’s radio installation on top of Mount Mackay, east of Tully, in December last year, leaving Cassowary Coast boaties without access to Channel 80.
Mr Cripps said Channel 80 and the emergency Channel 16 stopped working on 17 December 2016, causing huge problems for the Tully Coast Guard and the boating public and severely compromising marine safety in the Cassowary Coast Region for the last five months.
“The Tully Coast Guard was unable to secure a contractor to visit the site to determine why both channels were not operational until 29 April 2017, at which time it was reported to them that Ergon had cut the power supply to its radio installation on Mount Mackay” said Mr Cripps.
“The Tully Coast Guard secured the agreement of Marine Safety Queensland, which also has radio equipment at this Mount Mackay site, to access a temporary power supply and re-established emergency Channel 16, but sadly, it was not possible to restore Channel 80” he said.
“We know Ergon was working on Mount Mackay on 17 December 2016 and that other government agencies, which have radio infrastructure at this site, also had problems with their radio communications at that time – this is an extraordinary and unacceptable action by Ergon”.
Mr Cripps said the difference between life and death at sea can be access to effective and reliable communications with other vessels, or to relevant emergency services and for the availability of that lifeline to have been cut off by Ergon is a dangerous act of gross negligence.
“In February this year I tabled a petition in the Queensland Parliament regarding the Tully Coast Guard’s radio installation, drawing attention to Ergon’s attempts to try and charge more than $40,000 to keep its radio installation on top of Mount Mackay, for just three years”
“We have since received a response from the Energy Minister, advising the first $10,000 contribution demanded by Ergon would be covered by a government agency, to allow negotiations to continue, but we have no resolution on the matter, just a temporary reprieve”.
Mr Cripps said the Energy Minister needed to smarten Ergon up and direct it to lay-off the volunteers at the Tully Coast Guard, as it was absurd and insulting for Ergon to charge the Tully Coast Guard fees to co-locate its radio infrastructure on top of Mount Mackay.