Update on Victoria’s Energy Safety Framework Review

November 27, 2017

On 19 January 2017, the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change announced an independent review of Victoria’s Electricity Network Safety Framework, to be chaired by Dr Paul Grimes. On 5 May 2017, the Minister announced an expansion to the Review's Terms of Reference to include Victoria’s gas network safety framework.

The interim report was released in October and can be viewed at: https://engage.vic.gov.au/application/files/6915/0942/0613/Interim_Report_-_Review_of_Victorias_Electricity_and_Gas_Network_Safety_Framework.pdf

R2A provided submissions for both gas and electrical safety which have previously been blogged at:

From R2A’s reading of the interim report, the primary recommendation is that there should be a single piece of energy safety legislation that covers electricity, gas and pipelines, all to be administered by a single agency, Energy Safe Victoria.

Pleasingly, from R2A’s perspective, the decision making criteria for safety should be consistent with that of the 2004 OHS act, that is, a precautionary approach that uses the SFAIRP principle rather than an ALARP principle using target levels of risk.

In coming to this view Dr Grimes comments favourably on the R2A understanding of issues involved. He notes that R2A in its submission to the Review expressed a view that there needs to be clarity and consistency around the question of what constitutes “ reasonably practicable ” and, in addition, the language that is adopted to express the objective of the safety framework.

Nevertheless, the methodological distinction between the target risk and a precaution based approaches, and the other important practical implications identified by R2A, are highly relevant to the Review’s consideration and have helped inform its assessment of leading practice. (footnote on page 72)

Dr Grimes concludes that:

The Review is persuaded by the arguments that a pure target risk approach, while having some theoretical elegance, is less robust in practice than a precaution - based approach…(page 73) … the Review is proposing a draft recommendation that this definition be formally adopted for electricity and gas network safety.

The R2A Board considers the adoption of the precaution based approach to be an outstanding outcome and congratulates Dr Grimes on his acuity.

The cutoff date for comment on the interim report of the Review of Victoria’s Electricity and Gas Network Safety Framework is the 27th November.

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