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Cowboys with Chainsaws hit Bingara

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Was it cowboys with chainsaws, or was it just a lack of instruction
Deputy Mayor BSC Catherine Egan makes a stance on the contact worker from Essential Energy and the trimming of Bingara's beautiful trees.

Cowboys with Chainsaws hit Bingara

Was it cowboys with chainsaws, or was it just a lack of instruction?

These are the questions posed following recent tree hits.

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Contractors for Essential Energy pruned trees in Keera and Junction Streets to keep the electricity lines clear.

This is certainly a necessary action.

And, it might be argued the chainsaw contractors were simply obeying orders.

But, oh, what a sight these trees are now!

Photos damning

Bingara cares about its town

People value their gardens, their parks, their homes and all public areas.

The photos of the trees decimated by chainsaws are damming.

And, Deputy Mayor of Gwydir Shire Council, Catherine Egan decided to take action.

Gwydir Shire Council – Action taken

The report said:

‘An Essential Energy contractor in Bingara has severely and unreasonably damaged many street trees in Bingara.’

Action decided:

‘To seek the advice of an appropriately qualified arborist to rectify, where possible, the damage that has been inflicted.

As well as express the Council’s concern to Essential Energy about the lack of competence displayed in the pruning.’

But, this is a situation that should never have arisen.

Essential Energy – lip service?

The sad part of this affair is the inconsistency with Essential Energy’s policy.

It suggested lip service when society demands accountability.

Gwydir Shire in their letter to the company reminded them of their promised social responsibilities.

Council wrote:

‘On the 9th June 2021 Essential Energy wrote to Council to advise it of the recent changes to vegetation management contracts. In your correspondence it was stated:

“Essential Energy has listened to landowner concerns.

We are taking a proactive approach to vegetation management and consistency across our service area.

Customers can generally expect to see greater retention of natural tree crown shape near low-voltage wires, along with increased consultation on the removal of unhealthy or unsafe trees in urban areas and a heightened focus on bushfire safety in rural areas.

We will continue to pursue positive relationships between ourselves, council, and our vegetation management service providers.”

On the basis of the above commitment, Gwydir Shire Council will seek reimbursement of remedial work.

Getting back to the original question where to apportion the blame, this is an open question.

In other words, what is the chain of responsibility?

Social responsibility -Communication

The crux of the matter is probably lack of active communication.

The communication by Essential Energy of its social responsibility policy to all those contracted to act on its behalf.

One must question whether this occurred.

For example, it’s all very well to include important policy conditions in contracts, but, it is certainly another thing to actually carefully explain what they are.

Generally speaking, big business is expert at the former; they load-up all the possible conditions in contracts, and then belt the contractor over the head with them, if stuff-ups occur.

Is this legal, yes, is this ethical, no, it certainly is not.

If Essential Energy is fair dinkum about social responsibility, it would be up front in all contract negotiations. This may or may not have occurred.

Blaming contractors for stuff-up, such as the trees in Bingara, just does not meet their own standards.

However, speculating where problem occurred is only relevant for Essential Energy. 

The main thing is to have the problems rectified and Gwydir Shire Council recognised this.

Gwydir Shire Council – Commitment to well being

Finally, it is appropriate to acknowledge that the Gwydir Shire Councillors and the staff have continually demonstrated their commitment to the wellbeing of their people.

This is the real plus of living in a small shire.

And, when things go off the rails, proactive action corrects the situation.

Surely the next time a team calls to attend to line maintenance, they will do so with full knowledge of the scope of the work.

We can only hope.

Author: Rodney King.

SOURCEDep. Mayor Bingara Shire Council Catherine Egan
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