POLITICS

It Took No Time At All For The South Australian Blackout To Become A Political Issue

'We need answers. This is a disgrace.'

28/09/2016 9:46 PM AEST | Updated 28/09/2016 10:57 PM AEST
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Nick Xenophon took no time at all to call for an inquiry.

Authorities reported that power for the entire state of South Australia was knocked out at 3.48pm local time. Within an hour, Senator Nick Xenophon was on the front foot.

Shortly after posting this tweet, Xenophon was on ABC 24 declaring the statewide emergency a political disaster. He blamed the state's focus on renewable energy as the key source of the power failure.

"How did this happen, how did an entire state black out?" Xenophon said on ABC News 24.

"This is unprecedented in this nation. We need answers. We need an independent inquiry because this is a disgrace."

South Australia is heavily reliant on renewable energy, with 40 percent of the state's power coming from wind generation. Wind turbines cannot run in severe weather when the winds are too strong.

"We've relied too much on wind. This is a problem of the failure of the interconnector (with Victoria), clearly failures of transmission," Xenophon continued.

"The great fear I have is that you will have people who need oxygen overnight who won't be able to get oxygen. What happens if people are in surgery, in the middle of delicate and life critical surgery? I don't know."

South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill and Police Commissioner Grant Stevens told a press conference that hospitals and other emergency services would have enough power to continue operating.

The Port Augusta power station was shut down this year as the Government turned to an increased reliance on renewable energy sources.

But Weatherill denied that it was to blame for Wednesday's statewide outage and lashed out at figures trying to politicise the emergency.

"For people to be saying those things without actually being apprised of all the facts demonstrates that people are using this to play politics, rather than responding to what is a state emergency," Weatherill said.

"It's regrettable that people would lead to a political criticism at this time."

A huge spike in electricity prices in July led to a report from the Grattan Institute published this week, warning of a 'canary in the coalmine' risk for South Australia's power infrastructure.

"The intermittent nature of wind -- which now generates about 40 percent of South Australia's electricity -- creates challenges for the price and reliability of power generation in the state," the report warned.

S.A. Opposition Leader Steven Marshall also took aim at Weatherill, issuing him a 'please explain' in the midst of the outage.

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