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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

"Because of the privacy act" rears head again

The tragic result of a power company cutting off supply to a house in which a woman was dependent on an oxygen machine, and her subsequent death, has been a major issue in New Zealand over the last week.

The electricity provider said it couldn't provide details about the amount outstanding to family members, because of the privacy act, as the account was in her name, and couldn't reconnect supply until the outstanding account - $34 - had been paid in full.

Prime Minister Clark, reflecting nationwide criticism of the company, said reconnection policy was callous; the jobs of the Chairwoman and Chief Executive of the publicly owned power company are under a cloud and the NZ Electricity Commission has published new guidelines on disconnections and arrangements to help those on low incomes and are vulnerable to pay their bills.

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