Bush Fire Season 2013

Tasmanian bush fire season for 2013 has been one of the busiest that I’ve had the chance to assist with. The two fires that will be remembered are Inala road at Forcett and Dawson road at Lake Repulse. This was the first time (to my knowledge) that additional crews were sourced from interstate and New Zealand to assist with the TFS (Tasmanian Fire Service)

The main advantages of combined resourcing is learning how things are done in different ways from the interstate organisations that can be put in place to benefit local crews. One of the main areas of notice (for me) was flight following for aircraft being used on the fire ground. In past years there’s only ever been one or two aircraft in use so they generally liaised with ground crews but most of the coordination was done between the pilots.  This was changed this year as there was many more aircraft resources being used due to multiple active fire fronts. The role that I played in this was keeping track of aircraft movements and their general well being. This provided the operations manager and the air desk manager with a snap shot of how and where their resources were.

As much as I have enjoyed this volunteer work, I’d much prefer that the need wasn’t required! However, I’ve met and worked with some great people during these activations. So for me this has been a pleasure, but I realise that there are many others in the greater community that have lost all their livelihood as a result.

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Seriously You Are Kidding Me?

Seriously this is just a desperate vote grab given that there’s an election later on in the year.

THE State Government says power price hikes will be a thing of the past for 260,000 Tasmanian households and small businesses.

Deputy Premier Bryan Green said Aurora Energy’s customer base would be sold off to competing retailers, in a move expected to put an end to bill increases.

Legislation will be tabled in Parliament next month to remove Aurora’s monopoly, with the sale of its customer base starting mid-year.

The Energy Retailers Association of Australia said the move was a “win” for consumers.

Aurora’s customer base will be sold in two tranches to two retailers.

Customers will automatically be rolled over to one of the two retailers, which will control the market for the first three months.

“We think that it’s appropriate to give those retailers who are buying into Tasmania the opportunity to at least bed down their businesses,” Mr Green said.

From then, the sector will open to full retail competition.

“It’s really hard to say [how many retailers will target the state], but my expectation is that there will be many more retailers looking to get Tasmanian customers,” Mr Green said.

The Tasmanian Economic Regulator will be given more powers to set the wholesale price of electricity to encourage retailers to enter the market.

“The government will establish the model to determine regulated prices for electricity generated by Hydro Tasmania for the first five years of competition, providing retailers with certainty on entering the Tasmania market,” he said.

A fixed wholesale price and competition between retailers will help keep energy prices down.

AERA chief executive Cameron O’Reilly welcomed the move.

“Ultimately the customer will win,” he said.

“These reforms should see more electricity retailers enter the Tasmanian market which will give households and business new products and more choice.”

Mr Green said power prices should stagnate as a result, despite costly increases in other states.

He said power prices in Queensland and the Northern Territory had recently jumped 20-30 per cent.

“We believe that increases forecast will be below CPI, hopefully even negative going forward,” he said.

Mr Green said the State Government would be looking for the highest bidder when selecting the first two energy retailers to enter the market.

“Treasury have been very cautious about providing the government with any real information about what we might get because I’m not quite sure that they’re 100 per cent sure [what price it will fetch],” he said.

“There are figures around that you can sort of transpose to what an amount might be, but they haven’t provided us with any conclusive advice.”

Mr Green said the sale money would be used to finance energy reforms.

Sourced from The Mercury

So if Aurora’s customer database is to be sold off where’s the consultation with the customer and will there be an opt out should you not wish for your details to be sold. So watch this space as you can be assured that we (fellow Tasmanians) will simply be harassed by unsolicited door knocking or phone calls (right on dinner time!)

Or this could go the other way, no companies will bother because the venture won’t have the profits to make it viable! Either way this is bound to be a classic government stuff up that in the end only the government wins.

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Phone Line Shenanigans

All the trouble started around 10:45 on the 18th when a contractor working for the NBNCo managed to dig trough the phone cable about 200m down the road. So the obvious was immediate loss of DSL connection which also left me without a telephone. A quick call to my ISP (Internode) revealed that they had lost the signal to the line I’m on at about 200m short of my house! So I went for a stroll down the road to see if there was any obvious signs as to what had happened. When I rounded the corner there was an excavator on the back of a truck leaving the scene and a guy standing in the trench that had just been opened not looking too pleased. Here’s a picture of the damaged phone cable…

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Later in the day the site looked like this…

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Then the following day all was fixed and covered up…

aftermath

So did I have a connection once the cable was rejoined? I did for about half an hour then all was lost 🙁 So I rang my ISP to see if they were aware of the cable being fixed and to try and get them to do another line test but the guy who took my call clearly wasn’t Mr Helpful as he just kept telling me that my service won’t be looked at until the 28th (February) At this point I was getting rather frustrated with him and when I asked what my options are for getting either an alternate access or a credit for downtime he stated that I didn’t qualify for either and reminded me about the 28th (I was going in circles) so the conversation ended.

Skip forward to the 28th… I was of the opinion that this was to be the day that I’d get my phone/internet restored. Well no it wasn’t! I contacted my ISP around 1:30pm to get an update on how things were going to get a rather rude shock to be told that there wasn’t a job in the system for the checking/repair of my line. Now this is when I did my best not to become abusive! But I certainly got the point across of dissatisfaction because of being disconnected for a week and a half and the guy on the support line was doing all he could to see why the appointment was either cancelled or never booked (my speculation) then checked to see if they had any loan equipment (3G modem) available but due to the recent bush fires in the south (Forcett, Dunalley & Tasman Peninsula) all there gear was out on loan. So this is where the job was booked in for the 7th of March!

Well after sending an email to a friend to advise that my APRS iGate & T2 server will be still out of action until then (7th March) I get a phone call from his son (just happens to be a Telstra Tech) asking me if my line was still down and said that it will be fixed tomorrow morning! I got a call around 10:30am the following day and it was the Telstra guy who repaired the cable asking me a few questions about the whole situation and then rang back about 20 minutes later with the answer to the problem and said it would be fixed within the hour! 🙂

So it turns out that on the day that the cable was repaired some other technicians were doing line tests and had picked my line to test as it was not a phone line with a dial tone (DSL only) and they didn’t reconnect the line back. So this was the reason why I lost my internet/phone about half hour after the street cable was repaired (over a week earlier) So my line was restored to its original setup and I was reconnected to my ISP’s DSLAM and hey presto… Internet access restored 🙂

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