Trial over 2014 Parkerville bushfire to be live streamed in WA first

Perth Magistrates Court.
Perth Magistrates Court.

A CLASS action trial over a Perth bushfire that destroyed dozens of homes will be live streamed on the internet and accessible by the general public in a WA first.

A rotten and termite-ridden power pole outside a Parkerville home fell over in January 2014, sparking a blaze that razed 57 homes, seven outbuildings and about 392 hectares of bushland.

Six homes were partly damaged.

While the power pole was privately-owned, EnergySafety found termite deposits near the top of the pole would have been visible to a Western Power contractor connecting a cable to it in July 2013.

Under Western Power’s work practice standards, point-of-attachment poles are the responsibility of the consumer, EnergySafety noted in its December 2014 report.

But the same standards also state the utility has a responsibility to notify the customer if the pole is in an unsafe condition and to make the site safe.

Residents pursued the class action after the EnergySafety report was released.

Chief Justice Wayne Martin said web streaming was a great way to improve public access to the courts.

“I have long held the view that the courts should use technology which is now available to bring a real courtroom experience to many people in the community via the internet,” he said.

“This case has been selected to be the first trial to be streamed as it involves multiple plaintiffs, many of whom live in the Hills region.

“By streaming the case, those individuals and other interested parties will be able to view the trial without having to attend court in Perth.”

Chief Justice Martin will retire after 12 years in the role later this month and his push to increase transparency of the judicial system has included publishing sentencing remarks online and allowing journalists to use electronic devices in court.

The trial will commence at 10.30am in Court 43 at the David Malcolm Justice Centre, 28 Barrack St, Perth, before Justice Le Miere.

The Supreme Court of WA livestream is now available at this address and can be shared on websites and social media: