Nurs­ery seeks $2.5m from TasNet­works

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWS - LORETTA LOHBERGER Court Re­porter

A LEAD­ING whole­sale nurs­ery based in Tas­ma­nia is con­tin­u­ing a le­gal fight for $2.5 mil­lion in compensati­on from the state’s elec­tric­ity dis­trib­u­tor.

Brock­lands, a whole­sale nurs­ery north­west of Launceston, has claimed that through TasNet­works’ neg­li­gence, a high-volt­age power surge in De­cem­ber 2010 dam­aged its pot­ting ma­chine.

The case was heard over 14 days be­tween March and June last year in the Supreme Court in Ho­bart and Jus­tice Gre­gory Gea­son sub­se­quently dis­missed the case Brock­lands brought against TasNet­works.

Jus­tice Gea­son said Brock­lands had not es­tab­lished that there was a high-volt­age surge event that dam­aged the pot­ting ma­chine, or that the con­fig­u­ra­tion of the pole was a nec­es­sary el­e­ment of harm to the ma­chine.

Brock­lands has ap­pealed against that de­ci­sion and the Full Court yes­ter­day be­gan hear­ing the ap­peal.

Brock­lands’ bar­ris­ter Ken Read, SC, said the dam­age to the pot­ting ma­chine – which was able to au­to­mat­i­cally trans­fer small plants into pots – would not have oc­curred if a power pole that brought elec­tric­ity to the prop­erty had been in­stalled cor­rectly.

Mr Read said the pole, in­stalled by the Hy­dro Elec­tric Com­mis­sion in 1987, did not meet the rel­e­vant Aus­tralian stan­dard at the time.

He said that be­cause of the pole’s con­fig­u­ra­tion, it was “not as able to di­rect the cur­rent where it ought to have gone”.

Mr Read said a Ca­ble PI de­vice, which de­tects elec­tri­cal faults, and a set of scales were also dam­aged in the house at the prop­erty at the same time the pot­ting ma­chine was dam­aged.

TasNet­works’ bar­ris­ter Bruce McTag­gart said Jus­tice Gea­son, in his de­ci­sion, “pre­ferred the ex­pert, sci­en­tific ev­i­dence over what is in ef­fect anec­do­tal ev­i­dence”.

The ap­peal hear­ing, be­fore Chief Jus­tice Alan Blow, Jus­tice Stephen Est­court and Jus­tice Robert Pearce, con­tin­ues to­day.

Brock­lands pro­duces roses, or­na­men­tal plants and berries, and sup­plies them to com­mer­cial mar­kets.

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