Energy Minister admits Western Power partially responsible for Mandurah boy’s electric shock

ENERGY Minister Mike Nahan admitted in Parliament, that Western Power was partially responsible for a teenage boy and his friend receiving electric shocks from a light pole.

Western Power chief executive Paul Italiano said he was disappointed in their role in the incident.

“Unfortunately, on the evidence before us, it appears that one of the contributing factors to the incident was that a Western Power employee mistakenly re- energised the streetlights incorrectly, and that there were steps that Western Power could have taken to prevent the incident,” he said.

Tariq Rowles and Chevaunne Bussola both received shocks from the light pole on March 16. The teenagers were on their way to school when they came in contact with the pole.

While Chevaunne was released from hospital with minor injuries, Tariq was admitted to Princess Margaret Hospital and remained comatose for nearly a week.

“I, and everyone at Western Power, take the safety of the community and our employees very seriously,” Mr Italiano said.

“As such, I am always concerned when people are involved in an incident like this, and I am relieved that Tariq Rowles and Chevaunne Bussola are both on their way to a full recovery.”

Mr Italiano said Western Power had completed its internal investigation into the incident and would present a report to EnergySafety on the incident shortly.

“Importantly, our investigation did not find a systemic failure.

“However, we have taken steps to immediately review processes and work practices,” he said.

“We have also examined similar cases of damaged streetlights in the past five years and confirmed that none pose a potential electrical safety issue.”

Mandurah chief executive Mark Newman said he was pleased with the preliminary investigation findings.

“This substantiates the City’s previous statements in relation to how the pole was reenergised. The City’s thoughts continue to be with the teenagers affected by this incident, during their recovery,” he said.

Opposition energy spokesman Bill Johnston said the City of Mandurah was absolved of responsibility for the accident.

He said Dr Nahan’s admission last week showed his response the day Tariq was electrocuted was false and called for an apology.

“Everybody knows that only Western Power can turn the power on and off for a street pole,” Mr Johnston said.

“Dr Nahan’s deliberate attempt to blame the City of Mandurah is completely inexcusable.

“The Minister must personally apologise for misleading Western Australians.”