SP Ausnet to Black Saturday to dollars

Around this time last year, I wrote a post about the houses lost to fire here in Warrandyte, and the possible role SP Ausnet had played in those losses.

marysville fire picAt the time, even I felt as if I was doing a bit of conspiracy theorizing. Today, however, I know I was spot on the money because it was just announced on the media that the third, Black Saturday compensation claim against SP Ausnet has been settled out of court. This particular compensation case referred to the township of Marysville [see photo to the left].

Apparently all three Black Saturday compensation cases concerned some kind of equipment failure. The equipment was/is owned by SP Ausnet, and the utilities company has denied all liability. BUT. Counting the three, separate compensation cases, the company has agreed to a total of $648 million dollars in out of court compensation payments.

At some point I expect to hear that the families involved in last year’s Warrandyte fire will also receive hush money from SP Ausnet.

To be honest, I consider that $648 million to be cheap. The survivors whose lives were smashed by the Black Saturday fires will receive approximately 60% compensation for their losses. 60%. Think about that. Where is the compensation for living the rest of your life with nightmares?

And what of the rest of us? If the worst bushfire in Victorian history was caused by equipment failure, and possible negligence, then what hope do we have that the same perfect storm of events will not happen again?

I’m not optimistic. Even people around Warrandyte have become complacent, and that is likely to get worse as the years go by. People forget, perhaps because it’s easier to live out here if you bury your head in the sand.

The only sign of optimism I can see is that the insurance companies that underwrite companies such as SP Ausnet will not be happy. They may demand an investment in safeguards that the victims themselves can never achieve.

I hope so, because with no legal liability recorded against them, SP Ausnet is under no legal obligation to lift its game. Think about that.


About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

15 responses to “SP Ausnet to Black Saturday to dollars

  • Michelle

    Hi Meeka, do you know if the report on last year’s fires is available yet?


  • anne54

    It’s a weird world when a company can deny liability but pay $648m in compensation. Is SP Ausnet trying to convince us that they paid that money out of the generosity of their corporate heart (that’s assuming that they have anything I’ve a heart :(. ) My hope is that the people who have brought this action can now feel that they have done all they can to get redress; to settle down into a new life.
    Good on you for writing about this Meeks.


    • acflory

      Yes, it almost beggars belief doesn’t it? What does it say about a corporation that’s prepared to gamble almost 3/4 of billion dollars on the chance that being found guilty would cost them even more….


  • davidprosser

    Because of their liability cover the Insurance Company(ies) will have to insist on some safeguards at the expense of AUSNET or they’re liable to cancel he insurance, Too bad it had to be after the sad events of Black Saturday.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx


  • EllaDee

    Deny liability but make out of court compensation payments… Yup. Mitigates risk of extent of further claims. And that won’t be their only cost, they’ll have thrown millions in legal fees at it also.
    There is always going to be an element of error in any human enterprise but that’s different to negligence. The more incentives-imperatives, financial, moral, otherwise any provider has to act safely the better.


    • acflory

      Absolutely, and in this case it looks as if market forces will do the job. I just hope something does do it. I feel almost nostalgic for the days when utilities were owned and run by the state.


  • Candy Korman

    The second to the last paragraph of your post is key. it’s time to put in place the safeguards that are needed and the way to achieve that is to make the money people (the insurance underwriters) see SAFETY as a profitable thing to do.

    It’s sad but true, but the profit motive directs people, organizations and institutions to good or away from it. Let’s point them in the right direction.

    Bravo on your post!


    • acflory

      Thanks Candy. Part of me feels cheated that the law won’t judge this case, but I’m not one of the victims, and it’s their well being that really counts here. Nonetheless, I do hope self interest works to out advantage in this.


  • Yvonne Hertzberger

    Just one word for that. Yikes!


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