An Auckland woman, Folole Muliaga (44), died not long after Mercury Power disconnected her power supply and cut off her power to her home oxygen machine on Tuesday (May 29).

Despite protestations from Ms Muliaga's family that Mercury were putting her life at risk by disconnecting the power, Mercury went ahead with the disconnection.

Shortly after Ms Muliaga became faint, had difficulty breathing, and collapsed.

An ambulance was called but the officers were unable to revive Ms Muliaga. She died within two hours of the power being cut off.

Ms Muliaga had been an early childhood teacher but had been unable to work since February since her illness. Her husband, a chef's assistant, had been forced to reduce his work hours in order to look after his wife and their four children (aged five to eighteen years).

But are Mercury Energy taking responsibility? Not likely - not with the police looking into the death, the Government demanding answers, and the possibility of being sued looming on the horizon.

Spokesman James Moulder while offering 'condolences' to the family was quick to say that the power wouldn't have been cut off had Mercury been 'made aware' of the situation.

But - hold on- weren't they made 'aware' of the 'situation when the Mercury contractor arrived to disconnect the power?

In that case it's time to shift the blame on to the contractor. Moulder told the media that Mercury hired 'independent contractors' and they were 'working' to find out whop the individual was who disconnected the power.

Mercury Energy was the power company that plunged Auckland into darkness in 1998 when crippling power failures effectively crippled the city.

At the time Mercury were accused of neglecting proper maintenance of the power cables in the pursuit of profits.

Mercury Energy is the retail outlet of Mighty River Power. Last year it showed the biggest jump in profits of all the state power companies. It's profits jumped a big $20 million to approximately $74 million.

Ms Muliaga is the victim of neo-liberal policies that have seen the goal of a reliable, affordable and universal electricity service replaced by one that operates on the basis of 'efficiency' and 'profit'.

These state power companies, which the government refuses to do anything about, are orientated towards maximising profits rather than providing an essential public service.

Mercury Power have left four children without a mother.

But will anyone held responsibility? Don't hold you're breath.

If you were one of the few who were listening to James Coleman on Radio Live on the morning after Ms Muliaga's death at the hands of Mercury Power, you would have got an entirely different take on Ms Muliaga's demise.

Coleman, a man of no talent and less intelligence, chose to wield the big stick - but it wasn't aimed at Mercury Energy.

Radio Live presenters such as Michael Laws and Paul Henry regularly bash the victims of our predatory economic system. On a benefit? Well, you must be a bludger. Can't buy any groceries? You must be spending your benefit at the pub. It's a familiar right wing refrain that the struggling Radio Live employs all the time.

But Coleman took the victim-bashing to a new low. In this case, the victim was actually dead! Good one, James - kick the corpse!

Why was her power cut off? asked the fearless Coleman. What was she was doing with her money?

Coleman answered his own questions. Ms Muliaga, who had been off work because of ill-health since February, had apparently been spending her money on 'smokes'!

People have to take responsibility for their lives, thundered Coleman, thumbing through his booklet of '101 Right Wing Cliches'.

Coleman incidentally, has no background in journalism. He used to work on pop stations. In fact he still does a show on another Canwest station, Kiwi FM.

Perhaps this explains his failure to do some journalistic research before opening his big mouth.

But's probably more likely that Coleman doesn't let the facts get in the way of his right-wing bigotry.


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