Albert Koenig, Office of Energy Safety director, told the Tenterden bushfire inquest his office did not have the power to compel Western Power to undertake the survey or to look at other issues of concern with the power utility, such as communication issues.
The inquest was convened to look into the deaths of two women in Tenterden in December 2003 from a fire allegedly caused by clashing Western Power transmission lines.
Koenig said the survey issue indicated there was a systemic failure at Western Power and the utility should have responded quicker after the 2000 Mt Barker fire.
The state coroner, Alastair Hope, was reported as saying “Isn’t the case the response time was not only disappointing but a factor in the deaths?”
“It is very highly probable the fire wouldn’t have taken place if … remedial action had taken place on a timely basis,” Koenig was quoted in reply.
Western Power’s technical regulations manager, Laurie Seddon, also gave evidence at the Albany inquest.
He said Western Power had found both Mt Barker fires were caused by poor maintenance and there was no proof of a systemic problem.
The inquest is continuing.