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Groom Suns Himself During Energy Crisis

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Tags: Renewable Energy, Basslink, Right to Information

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader

State Growth Minister, Matthew Groom, had egg on his face in Budget Estimates today after Right to Information documents obtained by the Greens confirmed he went on holiday three days after Basslink broke.

While nobody begrudges the Minister spending time with his family over the break, he was clearly missing in action for more than two weeks after the cable went down and did not have his first sit down meeting with a major industrial until more than a month after the cable failed.

The Minister’s office made every effort to avoid having to provide details of the Minister’s movements after Basslink’s failure, taking 78 days to provide a response to the Greens’ RTI request and then providing a jumbled schedule with multiple redactions and no detail.  A Minister’s diary should be a publicly accessible document. 

We lodged the Right to Information request because we wanted to understand why the Minister’s response to the crisis was so sluggish.  He fronted the media, and therefore the people, two days after the cable failed and then disappeared from public view.

It is staggering that Mr Groom waited for more than a month to meet a representative from one of the State’s major employers, given the significant impact of the crisis on the bottom line of companies like Bell Bay Aluminium and Norske Skog. 

While the Minister was evasive about his meetings with the major employers, it looks like he waited almost two more weeks after that first meeting to meet a representative from another of the major industrials. 

Heavily redacted although it is, the schedule of the Minister’s diary tells a worrying story of a Minister who failed to understand the seriousness of the Basslink breakdown, left all the hard work and planning to Hydro Tasmania, left major industrial power users in the dark for weeks and let Tasmanians believe there was no crisis.

In doing so, Matthew Groom let the whole State down.