Snowy workers move on

A former Snowy Hydro worker who spent 20 years as a Cabramurra resident says the decision to remove the option of permanent living in the town prompted him to leave the company.

Snowy Hydro workers and their families at Cabramurra have a twelve month window to move out of town, Snowy Hydro CEO Paul Broad said on Thursday.

The site will instead become a drive-in drive-out operation, with the local school to close and other services to lose business.

The former employee, who wished to remain anonymous due to media constraints imposed by the company, worked for Snowy Hydro for over 40 years, before officially parting last year.

“The changes helped me make my decision to leave,” said the spokesperson.

“Being near retirement age I had other reasons to leave, but this was the final nail in the coffin.”

There are no private homes or overnight accommodations in Cabramurra for tourists and non-Snowy Hydro residents are not allowed to live there – but there is a general store, a post office, and a coffee shop, which will remain open.

The town was constructed in the fifties to house Snowy Scheme employees and has served that purpose ever since.

During peak construction of the Snowy Scheme it had a population of over 2000 but those numbers have dwindled since the boom days of the mid twentieth century.

Currently there are around 40-50 Snowy Hydro staff members in residence and only one family.

The spokesperson said that despite the reduced numbers, residency is still crucial to a large number of workers.

“Drive-in drive-out suits some people, but not others,” they said.

“It suits probably around 50 per cent of the workforce, those who have homes in places like Tumbarumba and Tumut.

“But for myself, along with others who live further away, we didn’t have that option, so we turned our Cabramurra house into our home.”

The former worker questioned Snowy Hydro’s management of the situation.

“This process was never handled properly by Snowy Hydro,” they said.

“It was like one big thought bubble developed when we got a new boss.

“Things changed and we all got told to just go and make it work.

“But it was never a good idea – they never got the subsidisation aspect of the drive-in drive-out operation correct and really never looked into it properly.”

Questions are now being raised regarding Snowy Hydro’s future recruitment.

“I think the changes are going to have an impact on the amount of young people the company are able to recruit in the future,” said the spokesperson.

“Working at Snowy Hydro used to be a huge draw for young parents as they could bring their family into the bush and enjoy a nice quiet life.

“Now this is not the case and as a result I think the appeal of working for Snowy Hydro has been damaged.”

Snowy Hydro believes the changes will have the opposite effect.

“The drive-in drive-out initiative has enabled Snowy Hydro to better attract personnel to the region as it is no longer a requirement that employees permanently reside in Cabramurra,” said a spokesperson.

The transition process began at the beginning of 2016 and is due to be completed by the end of 2018.

Snowy Hydro CEO Paul Broad has said the affected families have been given financial assistance to help them with their move.

A spokesperson for Snowy Hydro said the town will continue to house staff when they are rostered on.

“The town continues to be a critical operational site for Snowy Hydro’s operation and continues to house our staff and contractors working on our Upper Tumut assets,” said the spokesperson.

“Cabramurra also continues to remain open to the public to visit.”