Page 2256 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 22 June 2011

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properties and install solar hot water systems as well as energy-efficient appliances in properties rented by community housing organisations. This program showed some stunning results. Indeed, per household, savings of over $150 a year in the average household’s electricity bill were achieved as a result of this outreach program. For this reason, the government is moving to significantly expand the program.

The services that were brokered in the trial program include the Belconnen Community Service, Communities@Work, the Northside Community Service and the Society of St Vincent de Paul. These organisations were critical in identifying those low income households that were struggling with their electricity bills. What did they receive as a result of this program? What they received was assistance not just with the things that we would normally expect, such as insulation and draught-sealing and so on, but also direct financial assistance to purchase new, energy-efficient appliances that are able to significantly reduce these households’ energy bills.

For example, through a group such as, say, the Northside Community Service, we were able to identify households that were running very old fridges in their homes, fridges that did not work properly, fridges that did not keep food cold in summer, and because of the circumstances of these families, they simply could not afford to replace these appliances. With the help of the outreach program, we were able to purchase new energy-efficient appliances for these households—a new fridge, for example, for one family was highlighted to me. They have got a fridge now that works; it keeps their food safe and clean and cold in summer, but it also significantly reduces their energy costs.

These are the types of programs that the government have put in place as we reach out to those low income households, as we reach out to disadvantaged households in our community and say to them, “You are our priority as a government. As a government, we are going to provide you with assistance to help you with the rising costs of utility bills”—energy, water, gas. That is a very, very significant contribution that we will continue to make. Indeed, the government are expanding this program in the forthcoming financial year.

MR SPEAKER: Supplementary, Mr Hargreaves?

MR HARGREAVES: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Would the minister please provide the Assembly with some information around the impact of that outreach program on the lives of those low income earners?

MR CORBELL: I thank Mr Hargreaves for the question again. The impact will be significant because we will now reach out in the expanded program that has been announced in the most recent budget—a $4.4 million program now over the next four years. We will reach 4,000 low income households as a result of that program. That program will provide free home energy efficiency assessment, education sessions, retrofitting of the types of improvements I was mentioning earlier and the continued ability to purchase new energy-efficient appliances to reduce electricity costs for those households.

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