Thursday, 9 February 2023


Powerline replacement grants

Powerline replacement grants

Renee HEATH (Eastern Victoria) (17:44): (33) My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Emergency Services. The issue that I wish to bring forward is the object and eligibility of the private overhead electrical line, or POEL, replacement grant. The grants were established to assist in the recovery of the areas affected by the 2019–20 summer bushfires and to increase community safety by reducing the risk posed by bare wire powerlines. The grant covers 100 per cent of the cost of the powerline undergrounding and replacement works, including contractors, suppliers and planning approvals. However, the eligibility criteria for the grants restrict their accessibility to only designated sets of local government areas in the eastern and western regions of Victoria.

Despite facing the same risk and exposure to bushfires, many properties in my region are not included in this program’s eligibility. I was approached by a local family in Gembrook whose property was issued a defect notice by AusNet, entirely shutting down the power supply to their property. This occurred after one of their private overhead electrical lines began to spark and presented itself as a fire hazard. The property has since been without power for over a month. The family was issued an emergency notice during the 2019–20 fires. This family meets all of the requirements to receive the grant other than the property being situated in the wrong LGA; it sits just outside of an LGA that is allowed to have the funding.

As we know, bushfires do not discriminate one LGA from another. In October 2021 the POEL scheme was extended into an additional 10 surrounding LGAs with high powerline bushfire risk, yet this expansion did not include these areas. It is imperative that this government takes action to address the issue and makes the POEL replacement grant accessible to all people that are facing the same risk from and exposure to bushfires. Many properties in the Cardinia shire were issued warnings in March 2019 in relation to multiple out-of-control bushfires near the Bunyip State Park.

The action that I seek is that the minister extend the eligibility criteria for the POEL replacement grant to include properties in the Cardinia Shire Council area and other areas that were issued with urgency warnings during the 2019–20 fires. Can the grant immediately be made available to the family in Gembrook who received an emergency warning on 2 March 2019 and who have now been without power and see no resolution in sight?