Y2k – South Australia Announces Contingency Plans
With just 39 days to go before the new Millennium, South Australia is one of the first State's to announce its contingency plans in case computers cause disruptions. John Howard reports.
Water tankers with a capacity of 25,000 litres will be on standby and plans for petrol rationing have been prepared in case the Millennium "computer bug" causes widespread disruption in South Australia.
The water tankers would be used to supply emergency drinking water to suburbs where water cannot be gravity fed.
Petrol rationing would come into force in the event of pumps failing and supplies becoming low. The rationing would work on an odds and evens system.
Mitsubishi has asked suppliers to have five days worth of extra stock on hand and more electricity generators will be operated by the electricity supply industry in case of blackouts.
If computer disruptions lead to widespread disaster, the State Disaster Act will be invoked. This will see the police, health and other government agencies combining to tackle the problem.
Year 2000 Compliance Minister, Wayne Matthew, who has been responsible for safeguarding against computer malfunctions said, " All of the contingency that's in place is for people to revert to pre-technology methods."
Contingency plans include;
Medical staff physically monitoring critically ill patients' conditions if computerised equipment fails. Heart monitoring equipment worth A$750,000 has also been replaced.
More electricity turbines operating at lower-than-normal capacity in case interstate supplies fail.
Emergency services have backup petrol supplies in case pumps fail.
Police have several backup communications sites in case their headquarters is affected.
Supermarkets expect one-quarter of shoppers will stockpile canned food, water and other essential items.
Banks will have supplies of extra cash.
Mr Matthew said many companies exporting to regions considered to be under-prepared for the bug - including Asia, the Middle East and Russia - were sending goods early to avoid problems with unloading equipment.
Some were demanding payment before the New Year, in case financial records in the destination country were damaged.
He warned that people travelling overseas over the New Year may not be covered by their insurance if their flights were delayed by computer problems.
The electricity and water industry will have extra staff at key locations with others on standby. Police have prepared 32 contingency plans for different bug scenarios.
The Government has offered the more than 4,000 rostered public servants a minimum 200 percent pay rise to work between 6pm on Friday, December 31 and 6am on Saturday, January 1 2000. The extra money will be paid on top of exisiting penalty rates and the cost to taxpayers will be A$1.5 million.
The offer at least doubles the wages to be paid to police, firefighters, nurses, hospital workers and other public servants rostered to work.
Computer analyst's remain worried that despite the size of an organisations' computers and no matter when they started fixing problems, they are all claiming they will be ready on exactly the same date. They say that is an impossibility and realistically warn people to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.