A lawyer who worked to secure millions of dollars of compensation for bushfire victims says the fine issued to Powercor over the St Patrick's Day blaze is nothing more than a token gesture.
The charge related to cashing conductors at pole No. 3 near the Terang electrical substation which led to molten metal falling to the ground and sparking the devastating bushfire in March 2018.
The maximum penalty for the charge is $237,855.
Principal of Maddens Lawyers' class action department Kathryn Emeny said she was "shocked" by the fine.
"There were in excess of 200 people impacted by the Terang/Cobden fire, many of whom lost both their home and their livelihood in the blaze," she said.
"If you break it down, the fine seems like nothing more than a token gesture and of course none of it goes towards the community members that have suffered such significant loss."
Ms Emeny said she knew of a number of people who rushed to provide victim impact statements for the court to consider prior to handing down the sentence.
"There was very little notice given and the outcome must feel like a kick in the guts," she said.
Ms Emeny said the result highlighted the importance of the class action proceedings advanced by Maddens Lawyers on behalf of those that suffered loss following the Garvoc and Terang/Cobden bushfires.
"It is not easy to hold large corporations to account," she said.
"The outcome from ESV's attempt to do so highlights how complex and difficult it can be. There was a lot of criticism about the class actions in the early days but the results speak for themselves - $22.5million was paid by Powercor to the victims of the Terang/Cobden and Garvoc bushfires.
"It is the courage and commitment of the lead plaintiffs, Tony Lenehan and Andrew Francis, as well as each of the group members that participated in the class actions, that has really held Powercor to account."
Distributions of compensation to those participating in the Terang/Cobden and Garvoc bushfire class actions were made in 2020, with final distributions received by some participants in the first half of this year.
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