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Stupidity and Union Power




Power pole left in middle of road in roadworks fail

To quote a much-used meme from the interweb; mate, you had one job.

Such was the call of Newcastle locals near the intersection of Foundry and Albert streets in the inner suburb of Wickham, after Newcastle Council pressed ahead with street widening, along with a new footpath and curbing.

Once the work was complete, Wickham would be left with a power pole sitting in the intersection.

Naturally, a power pole in the road made for an interesting left turn from Foundry into Albert.

The reaction from locals was as you expect. “A bit stupid”, “bizarre”, “pretty funny”, and in possibly the understatement of the year, “not ideal”.

But while Newcastle Council is wearing a bit of pain for undertaking the work before the pole was moved, it says the culprit in this conundrum is electricity supplier Ausgrid.

They say the power company has shrugged its shoulders over the pole and its current placement, saying it can’t be moved at the moment.

Ausgrid says it is involved in a dispute with unions, over a fatality that occurred at a company site in recent months, and that union bans are preventing further work around “live” power lines.

Council requests to have power shut down in areas where they are planning work, is met with the response; “sorry, we can’t do it at the moment”.

Meanwhile, the council says it has tens of millions of dollars’ worth of similar local works needing to get underway, and Ausgrid’s refusal to help means that there would either no council construction, or council could progress with what it calls “stage” work, at least getting some elements of construction done and dusted.

As late as this afternoon, an Ausgrid employee was seen sheepishly inspecting the site, but there remains no indication of any time frame to return the pole to its rightful possie.

But the power pole remains free range, liberated from the gutters of Wickham, occupying a space where cars usually turn left from Foundry into Albert street. The lone pole sitting in a swatch of freshly laid bitumen, the stuff of which viral images are made.

If Newcastle Council has called Ausgrid’s bluff to push ahead with its work agenda, then in poker terms council has gone all in, with their reputation at stake. It will be interesting to see who will fold first, because for the moment, both look rather silly, as does the sight of a power pole in the middle of the road.


  1. The Council went ahead and did the work before knowing a key element, moving the pole, was completed. Does not say much for the road works supervisor either.

    How bloody stupid by all parties involved. Yet the salaries of the drongos will continue to be paid by the long suffering rate payers and power consumers of the area.

    Place is looking a bit tatty though. Buildings need some TLC.

    We should not laugh. It could easily happen here. Waste and incompetent action by local government is not unknown in New Zealand. Witness the reduction in an already small boat ramp manoeuvring area in Gisborne to widen a walkway for cruise ship passengers who appear now and again.



  2. This sort of mule-head stubbornness by unions will begin again in NZ if we allow Cindy and Labour’s union masters to take us back to 70’s style industrial relations where the unions have ultimate control.



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