Today’s disruption of one of Victoria’s key power facilities by protestors raises serious concerns about the adequacy of the state government’s arrangements to protect vital state infrastructure from terrorist attack.
Victoria is fortunate that today’s invasion of the Loy Yang Power Station by protestors, who chained themselves to a coal conveyor belt, was not an attack by terrorists.
Even the disruption caused by the protestors could have led to power shortages or blackouts if it had occurred during a time of peak summer demand for power.
Under the Terrorism (Community Protection) Act 2003, the state government has responsibility for ensuring that risk management plans to protect against terrorism are prepared for essential services, including transport, fuel, light, power, water and sewerage. The Minister has the power to require operators to provide the government with copies of their risk management plans, and to give directions to operators.
In introducing the legislation to Parliament, the then Premier, Mr Bracks, said:
The government regards the security of Victoria’s essential services as a matter of the highest priority.
Terrorist attacks targeted at these services may cause serious injury or loss of life, and have the potential to impact on the social and economic wellbeing of the state. & the government recognises that it has a role in working with private industry to ensure that appropriate plans are in place to prevent and respond to and recover from acts of terrorism&
Victoria Police and relevant government agencies will assist owners and operators of essential service infrastructure in developing their risk management plans. Victoria Police will supervise the training exercises developed by operators to test the plans. The police and other relevant government agencies will provide important advice to essential service operators in this respect, and their role is fundamental to the cooperative basis which is necessary to ensure that adequate risk management initiatives are in place.
Today’s events must be a wake-up call to the Brumby Government. We cannot afford to have our essential services left vulnerable to disruption or violent terrorist attack.
The government needs to explain just what it has been doing to protect our facilities over the past four years, and it needs to act quickly to ensure adequate protections are in place for all essential services now that a serious weakness has been exposed by today’s events.
Media: Robert Clark (pager) 9625 1396