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Monday, 21 May 2012
Page: 4837


Mr O'DOWD (Flynn) (20:50): I rise to support the Solar Hot Water Rebate Bill 2012 [No. 2]. The government's decision to rip the funding out of the hot water rebate scheme is appalling, dishonest and hypocritical. No credibility for this government when they keep changing their minds and decisions equates to no confidence for small business. Businesses do not do their planning on a day-to-day basis. They plan six months, 12 months or five years ahead—sometimes 10 years. In the case of big industry it is 20 years planning. You cannot change stream from doing a backstroke to a breaststroke halfway down the pool, but this is what this government expects industry to do. If you want some more examples, the superannuation fund is being tinkered with again, eroding people's confidence in the superannuation fund. The pink batts scheme was another example. The government brought that situation on overnight. All hardware stores in Australia did not have the number of pink batts they required to do the jobs, so it was all put on hold until the pink batts were imported from China into Australia. No locally made batts went into that program.

With respect to Building the Education Revolution, Reed Constructions, a big company in New South Wales, was given a lot of these projects. The projects were way overpriced—$4,300 per square metre, when the job could have been done for $1,500 per square metre. These are the sorts of things that happen with these rush decisions and stop-go policies of the government. Sadly, Reed Constructions is now in administration and $100 million is owed to contractors and subcontractors.

That is what happens when you do not have continuing and reliable policies and when you have changes to the system all the time. The people in my electorate of Flynn are fed up with seeing promise after promise being broken by Labor. This is why there is no confidence out there. I do not care what electorate you come from: there is no confidence in small business or in the mums and dads of this world, because they do not know what move the government will make next. The solar hot water industry is a vital part of our economy and it could be a positive contributor to real efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions. I believe this bill must be supported to ensure the security of jobs in the industry and to allow people the opportunity to access solar hot water systems that are affordable and that are good for the environment.

There is no mention in this budget of the underspend of $44.7 million from the program, which was left over in surplus. So the solar hot water system policy has just died on the vine. If the government were fair dinkum they would have put $44.7 million into the budget to be spent on future solar programs. Families are being starved of opportunities for real moves towards reducing their greenhouse emissions. This was a way out for them. They felt happy about it. They thought: 'We're not going to have solar energy run our power stations, run our electricity business or run the aluminium industry or the cement industry in Gladstone, but it would help run our homes.' It would be a part they could play in conserving energy and reducing emissions. But now that opportunity has been chopped off. Not only does it remove practical means for families to become greener but it also costs jobs.

The member for Swan said that it will affect jobs in his electorate. No wonder he is very concerned. The Clean Energy Council claims that 1,200 manufacturing jobs are at risk and 6,000 installations, sales and administration jobs are also under threat. That is why he is concerned and he has good reasons to be concerned as he cannot justify giving people who lose their jobs some sort of credit or some sort of job on windmills or in other energy programs.

The government promised $63.5 million for the program in 2011 and $24.5 million in 2012. The government actually spent $42.8 million in 2011 and just half a million dollars in 2012. (Time expired)