Bill Shorten Accuses The PM Of 'Cheap Politics' Over A Natural Disaster

The Labor Leader blames the weather for the blackout, not wind power

29/09/2016 3:33 PM AEST | Updated 29/09/2016 4:55 PM AEST

CANBERRA -- Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has accused the Turnbull Government of playing "cheap politics" over South Australia's state wide blackout, insisting a super storm is responsible for the outage, not any government policy.

While power is still being restored after "once in 50-year" storms and 80,000 lightning strikes hit Wednesday afternoon, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull highlighted fragility in the state's reliance on "intermittent" renewable energy like wind and solar, saying it post "real challenges."

He also criticised state Labor governments over their renewable energy targets saying they are "extremely aggressive, extremely unrealistic, and have paid little or no attention to energy security".

Other federal politicians, including Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, also blamed South Australia's wind farms for the state's catastrophic blackout.

But renewable energy experts have denied wind power is to blame, and the Labor Leader is insisting a "super storm" is responsible.

"Here we have the conservatives trying to play politics about renewable energy when this is a storm, it is the weather blowing over towers," Mr Shorten told reporters in Canberra.

"80,000 lightning strikes has nothing to do with a State Renewable Energy Target."

"This government will do anything to politicise an issue, a disaster."

Twenty-three power transmission towers were ripped out of the ground and have been destroyed, causing a cascade effect and tripping national safeguards which shut down the power supply to the state.

More than 40 percent of the state's power comes from wind generation and wind turbines cannot run in severe weather when the winds are too strong.

The South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has also accused federal politicians of playing politics with the blackout, including Mr Joyce who he said was conducting a "jihad" against wind farms.

"When there is a crisis people pull out their agendas," he said.

"You have got these essentially ignorant remarks being made by Barnaby Joyce because he hates wind farms and he decided to play politics with a crisis."

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg will chair an emergency meeting of state and territory energy ministers in the next few days, saying there may be "changes that we can make to strengthen the resilience of the system."

Power has been restored to 90 percent of the state and the Premier says 75,000 households are still without power.

About 30,000 homes are expected to have power restored by the end of the day, but Mr Weatherill says properties on the remote Eyre Peninsula may have to contend with the blackout for a few more days.

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