Despite significant efforts in recent weeks by the Moorabool and Central Highlands Power Alliance (MCHPA) and landholders to negotiate suitable access arrangements with AusNet, and in light of MCHPA’s concerns about the validity and limitations of AusNet’s Section 93 powers under the Electricity Industry Act (EI Act) of compulsory access and the restrictions imposed by Covid regulations, AusNet has forcibly accessed several properties in Melton and Toolern Vale without landowner’s consent.
AusNet’s has imposed an aggressive timeline that has resulted in weeks of bullying and harassment of landholders. Landholders have been hounded by many phone calls and unsolicited visits.
To highlight the disturbing nature of this activity MCHPA has been advised of a physical altercation that allegedly resulted in an assault. We understand this matter is currently being investigated by the Melton Police Department.
We have been advised that AusNet staff accessing properties have scaled fences, left gates open, and allowed horses and livestock to run free.
MCHPA is very concerned that until resolution and agreement of AusNet’s rights to compulsorily enter private property, the company stands in potential violation of Section 93 of the Electricity Industry Act and of trespass and violation of the landowners’ rights and privacy.
It is of extreme concern to MCHPA that AusNet continues to ignore and defy the communities’ desires, whilst discussions are still ongoing with our respective lawyers and while legal uncertainty surrounds AusNet’s access to private properties.