West Court Oliver Innocente with an invoice for $300 and a disconnection notice From Ergon to reset a circuit breaker that tripped after ergon conducted power line work. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN
West Court Oliver Innocente with an invoice for $300 and a disconnection notice From Ergon to reset a circuit breaker that tripped after ergon conducted power line work. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN

Pensioner beats Ergon with a little help from his friends

FOR once David beat Goliath - if David was 84 years old and Goliath was Ergon.

The power company waived a call-out fee after the intercession of a city local MP and a state minister this week.

Oliver Innocente, 84, of Westcourt, was charged $300.66 for an Ergon call-out after line work on Buchan St in April caused his fuse box safety switch to trip.

Mr Innocente, a retired carpenter, JP and cane cutter on a fixed income, was at a loss about what some would consider an exorbitant fee when technicians took less than a minute to locate and solve the problem.

"I thought about how they could do that to a person who worked for nearly 50 years and paid his taxes and never took the dole for a week in his life in Australia," Mr Innocente said.

"I couldn't sleep for nights. "

His 'paisano' from Fruili-Venezia in Italy, Giovanni Bomben, asked member for Cairns Michael Healy for help when his friend faced disconnection this month.

Mr Healy's office sent a letter to Minister for Natural Resources Mines and Energy Dr Anthony Lynham to intercede on Mr Innocente's behalf.

"The bill has caused a lot of distress for my constituent and because of his limited English and his advanced age, I would like to request this account be forgiven," the letter, dated July 2, said.

Hours later, Mr Bomben and Mr Innocente were informed that the account was excused.

A spokesman for Ergon said Mr Innocente was advised of the fee and had accepted the charges before the call-out.

Mr Lynham and Mr Healy were asked for comment.



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