MP calls for apology from Origin Energy

7th June 2019

Mr Piper spoke in parliament on Thursday about the closure in March, which came after Origin advised the Office of Sport of the risk to the centreshould Eraring power station's ash dam wall rupture in an earthquake.

Mr Piper said Origin CEO Frank Calabria should not "escape criticism".

"Origin had forecast to me some months earlier that they may need to look at relocating the tennis courts and swimming pool, but there was no indication that the so called 'nuclear option' was on the table," he said.

"Indeed, there was no further contact with my office ... no contact with Lake Macquarie City Council ... no contact with Roads and Maritime services ... no discussion with the Eraring power station community consultative committee ... and no reference to anyone about the devastation that would be done to the lake itself if such a loss of ash occurred.

"During the time Origin Energy was considering the risk to the integrity of this wall, they had before the Department of Planning an application to increase the ash holding capacity of the dam.

"They owe the community an apology for the handling of this matter."

Labor sport spokesperson Lynda Voltz said during the debate that before Origin bought the power station in 2013, a risk was already known. 

"The recreation centre was identified as a risk during the acquisition process," she said. 

"Treasury approached the department of sport with an offer to buy [Myuna Bay centre], however the Office of Sport did not agree.

"The reality is, when Origin purchased this site, they always wanted the sport and recreation camp. 

"They in fact, at the time of purchase, got Treasury to approach the Office of Sport to buy it."

Ms Voltz said there was a "huge range of skepticism" given the Office of Sport "had independently taken a decision" to close the centre "without any referral to the actual government agency that is empowered to ask questions, and by law to receive answers ... and decide on the safety of this dam." 

Sports Minister John Sidoti said "no further decisions will be made" until a review of Origin's engineering report is completed by the NSW Dams Safety Committee.

Charlestown MP Jodie Harrison questioned the process of the review. 

"Under the Dams Safety Act, the inquiry that has been announced should actually be held in public," she said.

"People really want to know the answers about why this has happened."

The handling of the closure, which occurred while the government was in caretaker mode, was widely slammed by politicians, the staff union and community.

Former Office of Sport CEO Matt Miller came under intense scrutiny for the agency's communication methods, and for failing to consult other government agencies before the closure. 

He left his position about a month later. 

"Mr Miller took a decision that upturned the life of employees, who in my opinion were treated disgracefully," Mr Piper said on Thursday. 

Website: Read original story here

<< Previous | Next >>