Deputy Opposition Leader and Member for Roe Peter Rundle has slammed the embattled Energy Minister for his condescending attitude towards Esperance gas customers left stranded by his deal.
A last-minute deal struck by the Energy Minister with the Esperance Gas Distribution Company (EGDC) to maintain gas supply to 380 customers ends on March 31.
During Parliament this week, Mr Rundle sought assurance from the Minister that his electorate won’t be out of gas after the turn-off date.
Mr Rundle said almost 40 businesses and two large commercial grain drying facilities have been impacted, as well as the Esperance Hospital and the Esperance Senior High School.
“Locals have raised concerns with me about whether they will still have gas supply after the March 31 date, if they haven’t yet found alternative energy sources,” Mr Rundle said.
“When I asked Minister Johnston about the future of the gas supply post-deadline, he refused to provide any reassurance to the community.
“Instead, he arrogantly claimed there were only two businesses that had not yet transitioned and a small number of residential customers waiting on delayed customised electrical appliances.”
Mr Rundle said the Minister had been asleep at the wheel on this issue since it first began more than two years ago.
“In 2021, the McGowan Labor Government was forced to renegotiate with EGDC for a 12-month extension, at great expense to taxpayers, to allow impacted consumers time to transition,” he said.
“Taxpayers have also footed the bill for the new electrical appliances being issued free of charge to these customers so the McGowan Labor Government can do away with gas.
“Rather than supporting Esperance residents and businesses with this transition, the Minister has also left local suppliers and tradespeople on their own to accommodate the additional workload.
“These locals have done a tremendous job, but there needs to be assurance for customers who are yet to be transitioned.
“The Esperance community deserves a line of sight from the Minister, who needs to provide a solid guarantee all households and businesses will have energy supply after March 31.”