Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 February 2010) . . Page.. 674 ..
I think that, for all of those who want to see the expansion of green jobs and the expansion of policy initiatives like this, it is a sad day and it is a sorry event that we have seen unfolding over the last few weeks up on the hill. And there are many questions to be answered. But also this minister, the minister responsible, has some questions to answer here and it is time that the information became available to us.
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (8.05): I think that for the Liberal Party what is at the heart of this motion is scandal, controversy and the opportunity to take the government to task over the spillover effects of the failure of the federal government’s insulation program. And the ACT government does have an element of responsibility in this debate, which I will come back to, but for now I would like to focus on what I believe to be the most crucial issue at the heart of this motion.
The issue central to this motion is part of a much larger story about how the federal government has failed, in spite of its stated intention, to effectively roll out a green energy program across Australia over the past two years. While there is no doubt that there has been great human tragedy at the core of the debate occurring in the federal parliament, there has also been a great policy tragedy, because the failure of the insulation program is just the most obvious example of the string of policy failures that the Rudd government has to its name on green energy.
Not only has the largest rollout of energy efficiency measures at the national level gone belly up, its reputation in tatters, but the federal government has, in one way or another, messed with a range of other green energy programs and, sadly, rather than moving the cause forward, has set the cause back.
Why is this such a tragedy? It is because right now, more than ever, we need to advance the cause of all policies that reduce our energy consumption and drive our greenhouse emissions down, that drive up the generation of clean, renewable energy. Failure at this early hurdle does nothing for the cause of energy efficiency and clean energy. But there are useful lessons for all of us to learn from the failures of the federal government.
Let us start with the federal government’s green loans program. It was designed to provide Australian households with a free energy and water efficiency assessment and the government undertook to train assessors who would be accredited under the scheme. Assessors would visit homes and give information to the householders about what improvements they could make to reduce their energy consumption and their water usage. Householders were then eligible to apply for a loan of up to $10,000, which would be interest free for four years, to buy items such as energy efficient appliances, new curtains, solar panels or perhaps a household water tank.
Unfortunately, the green loans scheme has come unstuck. Thousands of assessors who paid $3,000 to do the training are now without work. These are people who left other work to take up this opportunity, and they are now being told they can only do five assessments a week. Now the green loans program offers assessments, but no loans! That is the latest incarnation announced by Minister Garrett. And even in the case of the assessments it has been found that the federal department has been fiddling with