Save Search

Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Page: 2306

Renewable Energy


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:00): My question is to the Prime Minister. If the government cannot successfully run a solar hot water scheme, how can it be trusted to implement the world's biggest carbon tax?


Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:00): I presume the Leader of the Opposition is referring to the closure of the solar hot water rebate scheme. This scheme was always due to close on 30 June this year. What has been announced by the government is that, to be eligible for the rebate before the scheme closes, systems must be installed and ordered (and a deposit paid) or purchased on or before 28 February 2012.

Mr Pyne interjecting

The SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sturt will remain silent for the balance of the Prime Minister's answer.

Ms GILLARD: During the period of this rebate scheme, which was always due to close on 30 June this year, the hot water industry has benefited from over $320 million in support provided through rebates under the program. It supported 250,000 installations, that is 25,000 more than were promised when the Howard government announced this scheme, because it does stem from the days of the Howard government. When it was announced by the—

Mr Abbott: Mr Speaker, my point of order goes to relevance. The point of the question was if she cannot run this successfully, how can she be trusted to run a carbon tax?

Government members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! Honourable members on my right will remain entirely silent for the duration of the period the Leader of the Opposition takes to make his point of order. The Leader of the Opposition has the call for his point of order and he will start again.

Mr Abbott: On direct relevance, my point is that the Prime Minister was asked very simply: if she cannot be trusted to do this successfully, how could she be trusted to run the world's biggest carbon tax?

The SPEAKER: I call the Prime Minister.

Ms GILLARD: I presume hidden in that mouthful of abuse there is actually a question about the management of the program, and I am going to the management of the program. On the management of the program, this program was first announced by the member for Wentworth in 2007. It was stated then that it would close in 2012. Even when the member for Wentworth announced it when he was Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, he was on the public record at that time as saying, 'Once you have a carbon price, you do not need specific policies to support solar hot water.' I think the member for Wentworth is recognising that statement.

After the closure of this scheme from 1 July, there will be a number of ways in which solar hot water purchases are supported. First and foremost, obviously under carbon pricing there is an incentive for change; second, under the renewable energy scheme, households installing the typical solar water system will still receive between $800 and $1,000 in renewable energy certificates; and then, of course, under the carbon pricing scheme through the Low Carbon Communities Program there is assistance available, particularly to enable low-income communities to make the transition to carbon pricing—so of course consideration can be made to the use of solar energy for hot water in that context.

In answer to the Leader of the Opposition's question, the scheme was always due for closure on 30 June this year, an announcement made yesterday by the relevant parliamentary secretary about the time by which people would need to have effected their purchase in order to be eligible for the rebate.

Mr Schultz: They are not in the car industry, so the jobs don't matter.

The SPEAKER: Under the provisions of the standing order 94(a), the honourable member for Hume will leave the chamber for one hour.

The member for Hume then left the chamber.











Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:04): Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question for the Prime Minister.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The House will return to silence so that the House and I, as the chair, can listen to the supplementary question.

Mr ABBOTT: How can the Prime Minister say that this scheme was always due to close on 30 June this year when this document from the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency clearly shows that the scheme was funded into the next financial year to the tune of $24½ million? Caught out, Prime Minister—caught out yet again.




Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:05): The scheme was always due to close on 30 June this year. Some provision was made in the forward estimates, I would assume, because, like other subsidy programs, some provision is made for claims that are effected after 30 June. As is now evident, the government has decided to manage claims in the lead-up to 30 June through the announcement that the Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency made yesterday.

On ongoing support for the solar hot water industry, it is an important industry and it is employing Australians, and so, of course, like all Australian jobs, they are very important to us. After 30 June, the solar hot water industry will be supported by the very fact there is a carbon price. It will be supported by the renewable energy certificate system. As I have indicated, it is also possible under the Low Carbon Communities Program for solar hot water to be one of the measures that is supported in order to make low-income communities better able to make the transition to a lower carbon future.