Victoria’s Minister for Water evades questions about smart water meters

Stop Smart Meters Australia (SSMA) raised concerns last year about the rollout of smart water meters in Victoria in a letter to the Hon Lisa Neville, Minister for Water.  SSMA also posed a number of questions, on behalf of members and followers, to the Minister.

The Minister asked an Executive Director at the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to reply on her behalf.  The response was emailed to SSMA on the eve of the 2018 Victorian State election.

The government’s reply fails to explain its role in the rollout of water smart meters, other than to state that “Victorian Government approval is required prior to any broad introduction of new digital water metering technology” and that the “Victorian Government is regularly briefed on the progress of digital meter trials, including customer feedback and business case considerations”.

This hands-off approach appears to be another case of déjà vu for long-suffering Victorian utility customers.

If the government had done its due diligence in the first place, Victorians would NEVER have been subjected to the mandated rollout of electricity smart meters to every household and small business (as opposed to the due diligence conducted by other states). The cost-benefit justification for the rollout of electricity smart meters turned out to be little more than a Victorian Labor Government thought bubble.

Instead, Victorians have been burdened with increased costs as a result of the transition to electricity smart meters.  As reported in Deloitte’s 2011 report titled Advanced metering infrastructure cost benefit analysis, “Over 2008-28, the Victorian AMI Program will result in net costs to customers of $319 million [in 2008 dollars]”.  SSMA asks how much greater would these net costs be if the impact of adverse health effects arising from the rollout of smart meters were included?  And how much more would the net costs be if the benefits which were supposed to accrue as a result of the rollout (and, often, didn’t!) were to be revisited and verified?

The Victorian Auditor-General’s 2009 report slammed the government department overseeing Victoria’s ill-fated multibillion-dollar rollout of smart meters.  The report stated that “Given the significant uncertainty about the cost of AMI [advanced metering infrastructure] to both industry and consumers, as well as the nature and scale of the market intervention, the project always warranted much stronger departmental governance and central oversight”.

Are Victorians now to have water smart meters foisted upon them again as a result of a lack of adequate government oversight?  Worryingly, if we wanted more information, SSMA was referred to a person listed as being an employee at one of the water corporations. Is this another case of the Victorian Labor Government being asleep at the wheel?

View SSMA’s letter to the Minister for Water, and the questions that we posed, here.
View the government’s response here.

Please note, at the request of the government, its response has been redacted. Specifically, the government, in a reply sent on Christmas Eve in response to an email from SSMA asking permission to publish its letter, stated “Please remove all personal details in the letter including all names, position titles and signatures before any [sic] publishing it on your website”.

Previous posts that SSMA has done on the rollout of water smart meters include:
Look out Victorian water customers – your utility may be rolling out smart meters!
Water authorities rolling out wireless smart meters!
Smart water meter “trials” have commenced!

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NSW, QLD, SA, Tas and ACT electricity customers allowed to have communications on ALREADY-INSTALLED smart meters TURNED OFF

The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has made a final rule to allow metering coordinators to deactivate the communications on already-installed smart meters.

The AEMC’s Competition in Metering Rule, which started in December 2017, stipulates that all new and replacement meters must be an advanced ‘type 4’ meter unless a customer makes a request not to have a type 4 meter at the time a new meter is installed or if there isn’t a telecommunications network in the area to support a type 4 meter.  Type 4 meters host wireless communications that emit pulsed radiofrequency radiation in the microwave range 24/7.  In instances of customer refusal, an advanced non-communicating meter, known as a type 4A meter, is provided.  If instead a customer has an existing ‘working’ meter, and doesn’t require a new meter, opt-out provisions are available.

However, there was no provision in the rule for the meter’s communications to be deactivated if a customer moves into a house or business premise that already has a type 4 meter installed.

The final rule allows metering coordinators, at their discretion, to deactivate the remote communications in response to customer objection.  Deactivation may be achieved by a variety of means (for example, cease polling/collection, remote deactivation, or physical removal of the meter’s communication facilities).  Metering coordinators may only accept a request for deactivation if they have evidence that the retailer has advised the customer about upfront charges associated with a type 4A meter and similarities and differences between a type 4 and a type 4A meter.

The Australian Energy Council (AEC), which represents 23 major electricity businesses, requested the rule change. The AEC anticipated that their proposal would “reduce the number of complaints customers make to retailers and jurisdictional ombudsmen, therefore reducing administrative costs whilst simultaneously improving customer’s experience”.

In response, the AEMC concurred that there was a need for a process to deactivate remote communications at the lowest cost. This was in recognition of the fact that “a small cohort of customers holds strong views regarding the use of advanced meter communication at their premises, as stated in AGL and EnergyAustralia’s submissions”.

The AEMC may only make a rule if it is satisfied that the rule will, or is likely to, contribute to the achievement of the national electricity objective (NEO).  Although factors to be considered in the NEO include safety and security of supply of electricity, the AEMC’s decision was solely on the basis that allowing deactivation will lead to cost reductions in respect of customers insistent on having a non-communicating meter.  The AEC had pointed out that the costs associated with deactivation are three to five times lower than replacing the meter entirely (as well as not requiring an interruption to the customer’s supply of electricity).  Prior to this final rule, a meter swap was the only means by which customers moving into premises with an existing communicating smart meter might obtain a type 4A meter.

The final rule commences on 1 July 2019 in the jurisdictions which have adopted the National Electricity Rules (NER). These jurisdictions are NSW, QLD, SA, Tas and the ACT.

The Northern Territory has only adopted certain parts of the NER which do not include parts related to the final rule.  The Competition in Metering Rule does not currently apply in Victoria as a result of Victorian Ministerial Order.  Western Australia continues to be subject to a State-based regulatory framework.

Customers who have a type 4A meter must continue to shop around retailers, if they want to obtain the best deal and avoid being gouged for manual meter reading fees.  Although the Australian Energy Regulator sets the maximum fee for manually reading meters, there is NO obligation on retailers to charge this fee.

SSMA commends the AEC for proposing this rule and the AEMC for overseeing its formulation.  This final rule represents a step in the right direction.  However, when one takes into account safety and security of supply issues, SSMA considers that the NEO would be better served by eliminating wireless transmissions from ALL meters.   

For previous posts on this issue, see:

Residents of NSW, QLD, SA, Tas and ACT: It’s time to say NO!

Victoria delays implementation of national arrangements for metering competition

Power distributors advocate optional smart meters in Victoria – But will the Victorian Labor Government listen?

 Smart meters by stealth

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Emeritus Professor Martin Pall slams ARPANSA response

The Minister for Health (The Hon Greg Hunt MP) and the Minister for Environment (The Hon Melissa Price MP) referred a letter from a member of Stop 5G Perth and Australia wide to the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) for a response.  The letter sought information about the role of ARPANSA and the health impacts of millimetre wave (5G) technology.

ARPANSA replied in its usual vein, downplaying any possible cause for alarm.

Martin Pall PhD, Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences, Washington State University, was asked by Stop 5G Perth and Australia wide to respond to ARPANSA’s (unsigned) letter.

Professor Martin Pall’s 28-page forensic analysis of ARPANSA’s letter, which includes reference to his own document on the risks of 5G and other EMF, is a chilling indictment of the competence, professionalism and independence of ARPANSA.  ARPANSA is the organisation that supposedly monitors and identifies radiation risks to Australians!

Pall notes that ARPANSA provided “not one iota of evidence that its exposure standard is based on scientific research or that it protects us from any, let alone all harmful effects nor that it protects people of all ages and health status against all known adverse effects of RF (the word they are using for microwave frequency) exposures”.  Professor Pall pointed out that by ignoring 158 bodies of evidence ARPANSA completely fails in its responsibility to protect the health of Australians.  He goes on to say that, in general, “ARPANSA makes grandiose claims that are both undocumented and found to be false or, at best highly questionable when one examines the scientific literature”.

Professor Pall raised a number of questions for ARPANSA in his response.  He asked ARPANSA to provide answers to these questions within three weeks of receiving his letter.

The public of Australia awaits ARPANSA’s response…….


Documents referred to in Prof Pall’s letter to ARPANSA:

  1. 41 statements of high concern
  2. 5G: Great risk for EU, U.S. and International Health!  Access Dr Pall’s 90-page document here.
  3. Response to 2018 ICNIRP Draft Guidelines
  4. Biological effect of millimeter radiowaves
  5. Examples of the Effects on Humans (mm Waves)
  6. ARPANSA letter 18 Dec 2018
  7. Prof Pall Response to ARPANSA letter 4 March 2019
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EMR Sanctuary – new website!

The purpose of the EMR Sanctuary website is to host a forum style online community dedicated to the growing segment of the world’s population affected by electro-sensitivity, also referred to as EHS. This condition manifests as a variety of health-related disorders attributed to bodily exposure to electromagnetic radiation (EMR), a type of energy commonly emitted by smart meters, mobile phones, Wi-Fi modems, telecommunication antennas and mains powered appliances.

This website will appeal to those who are electromagnetically hypersensitive, and there’s info there for those who want to inform themselves on the dangers of electromagnetic Radiation and how to protect themselves.

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Wireless Industry Confesses: “No Studies Show 5G is Safe”

Last week, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal grilled wireless industry representatives, who admitted the industry has done ZERO health & safety studies on 5G technology. Meanwhile, dozens of independent studies indicates that 5G is a risk to all biological life.

Blumenthal blasted the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—government agencies jointly-responsible for ensuring that cellphone technologies are safe to use—for failing to conduct any research into the safety of 5G technology, and instead, engaging in bureaucratic finger-pointing and deferring to industry.

In December 2018, Blumenthal and U.S. Representative Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) sent a letter to FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr seeking answers regarding potential health risks posed by new 5G wireless technology. At today’s hearing, Blumenthal criticized Carr for failing to provide answers, and instead, just echoing, “the general statements of the FDA, which shares regulatory responsibility for cell phones with the FCC.”  Blumenthal also decried the FDA’s statements as “pretty unsatisfactory.” 

During an exchange with wireless industry representatives, Blumenthal asked them whether they have supported research on the safety of 5G technology and potential links between radiofrequency and cancer, and the industry representatives conceded they have not.

Blumenthal stated:

“If you go to the FDA website, there basically is a cursory and superficial citation to existing scientific data saying ‘The FDA has urged the cell phone industry to take a number of steps, including support additional research on possible biological effects of radio frequency fields for the type of signals emitted by cell phones.’ I believe that Americans deserve to know what the health effects are, not to pre-judge what scientific studies may show, and they also deserve a commitment to do the research on outstanding questions.”

“So my question for you: How much money has the industry committed to supporting additional independent research—I stress independent—research? Is that independent research ongoing? Has any been completed? Where can consumers look for it? And we’re talking about research on the biological effects of this new technology.”

At the end of the exchange, Blumenthal concluded,

“So there really is no research ongoing.  We’re kind of flying blind here, as far as health and safety is concerned.”

In November 2018, the National Toxicology Program released the final results of the longest and most expensive study to date on cellphones and cancer. Those studies found “some evidence” of a link to cancer, at least in male rats. However, the study only focused on the risks associated with 2G and 3G cell phones.

The latest 5G wireless technology relies on the deployment of many more new antennas and transmitters that are clustered lower to the ground and closer to homes and schools. There has been even more limited research with respect to the health ramifications of 5G technology, and the FCC has thus far failed to adequately explain how they have determined 5G is safe.

Source: Take Back Your Power

Note: 5G (“5th Generation”) will be integrated with thousands of satellites to blanket the earth.

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Why the Australian government will not advise the public on wireless technologies’ risks to health – at least for now

In stark contrast to a recent Italian court ruling where three Italian government ministries have acknowledged that there is a need to raise public awareness on how to use mobile phones safely (see [Italian court orders public safety campaign] and Lennart Hardell’s blog) it is highly unlikely such concern for public safety will be issued from the Australian government, considering the pro-technology bias of the agencies and individuals who currently advise government ministers on telecommunications issues.

Captured Agencies

Whenever public concerns are raised with Australian government and opposition members over telecommunications issues (mobile phones, smart meters, 5G), the standard response is to unquestionably follow the advice of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) and the Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research (ACEBR). Both agencies steadfastly follow the Procrustean dictates of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) which do not allow for any deviation from ICNIRP’s dogma.

A Procrustean Approach

The following is the standard response from the current federal government to any members of parliament who dare raise questions on the safety of telecommunications technology.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) provides expert advice on radiation protection and nuclear safety matters to the Coalition Government. In order to provide the best advice on the protection of the Australian public from the effects of radiation, ARPANSA undertakes its own research and reviews the relevant scientific research. . . The Australian Communications and Media Authority’s regulatory arrangements require wireless devices to comply with the exposure limits in ARPANSA’s Radiation Protection Standard for Maximum Exposure Levels to Radiofrequency Fields – 3 kHz to 300 GHz (the ARPANSA RF standard). The ARPANSA RF Standard is designed to protect people of all ages and health status against all known adverse health effects from exposure to RF EME. The ARPANSA RF Standard is based on scientific research that shows the levels at which harmful effects occur and it sets limits, based on international guidelines [ICNIRP], well below these harmful levels.

So, whenever a politician from any party is contacted by members of their electorate with concerns over “RF EME” [radiofrequency electromagnetic energy] that politician will understandably ask for expert opinion from the government’s own expert agencies: ARPANSA and/or ACEBR. These agencies will in response send a variation of the above, and perhaps even the heavily criticized analysis led by Ken Karipidis from ARPANSA and Rodney Croft from ACEBR. The ARPANSA/ACEBR paper claims that there is no link between the use of mobile phones and brain cancer. Karipidis even claimed that “People say mobile phones can cause cancer but our study showed this was not the case”. It has been pointed out, however, that this claim was apparently made only by excluding inconvenient data from their analysis. For example, Joel Moskowitz of the University of California, Berkeley called it a “biased study” and Australian neurosurgeon Vini Khurana called the use of selected data “quite bizarre and unnecessary” [SSMA emphasis]. Read the Microwave News analysis here.

With the coming rollout of 5G soon to hit Australia, it is inevitable that there will be ever increasing public concerns expressed to local and state and federal politicians as a consequence of the many thousands of small antennas which will be placed in close proximity to homes and in workplaces. The 5G Appeal certainly gives credence to these concerns. Also see the report by the European investigative team, “Investigate Europe”: “The 5G Mass Experiment: Big Promises, Unknown Risks“, and the recent (Jan 7, 2019) ABC News item: “Huawei-made ‘small cell’ boxes hit suburban Sydney, as residents raise health concerns” and the commentary from Dariusz Leszczynski here.

So, how will Australian politicians respond to the public’s concerns?   Continue reading

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Australian residents and councils raise health concerns about “small cell” installations

The ABC reported earlier this month that residents in NSW have petitioned for the removal of small cell boxes.  “In a move that experts say will become more common as Australia prepares itself for the 5G rollout, TPG, in conjunction with China’s Huawei, has begun placing the transmitters — roughly the size of two shoe boxes — on power poles across the suburb of Ryde, in Sydney’s north-west.”

PHOTO: The small cell boxes that have begun popping up in Sydney. (ABC News)

The transmitters will initially be used to boost 4G in suburban areas.  Small cell installations are also essential to paving the way for the rollout of 5G.  Residents were not given a say in the matter.

In addition to concerns about health effects, security issues are being raised. “Huawei, which is building the small cell boxes on the 4G network for TPG, is banned from taking part in the rollout of 5G mobile infrastructure over national security concerns.”  It seems ironic that Huawei will, however, already have a foot in the door!

Community concern about small cell deployments is also being voiced in Victoria.

Moonee Valley City Council, in the inner and middle north-western suburbs of Melbourne, unanimously passed a resolution at its October 2018 meeting that calls for the cumulative impacts of microwave frequency technologies to be assessed.  Other items to be actioned included a request that TPG provide written confirmation that it has applied the Precautionary Principle.  See page 8 of the Ordinary Council Meeting Minutes for the full details of its TPG Small Cell Installations resolution.

The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), the peak body for Victoria’s 79 councils, also passed a resolution in October regarding small cell installations.  Victorian council representatives at the twice-yearly meeting approved a motion that the “MAV call upon the State Government to lead a review of the cumulative impacts of ‘small cell installations’ on the residential community and, in light of the findings of this review, re-consider the appropriate planning referral process for the installation of small cells.”

If, like SSMA, the rollout of wireless transmitters mounted on power poles appals you, make sure that you raise this with your local council, as well as with Federal authorities.

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