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Garrett challenged to reverse the solar means test, preserve the solar rebate.

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Media Release The Hon Greg Hunt MP Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Urban Water 2 August 2008 Garrett Challenged to Reverse the Solar Means Test, Preserve the Solar Rebate Peter Garrett must reverse the solar panel rebate means test and ensure Australian home owners have continued access to the $8,000 solar rebate. The Minister is today ignoring all the reports of solar companies describing losses of between 50 and 80 per cent of their contracts following the introduction of the $100,000 means test. Jobs were lost and millions of dollars in contracts were cancelled. The introduction of the means test has been roundly criticised by solar companies, union leaders and Labor Party figures such as ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope. Only Mr Garrett thinks his means test is good for the solar industry. But no one has been saying that to the Save Our Solar Senate inquiry which is currently taking evidence around Australia. The fact remains that a couple each earning just over $50,000 will now have to pay an extra $8,000 to install solar in their house. Mr Garrett should apologise for making it harder for families to reduce their carbon emissions. The Minister must reverse his means test and confirm that the $8,000 solar rebate will be maintained. Under the Coalition Government, the rebate was never designed to be a welfare payment. It was an environmental incentive for all. We introduced it to encourage and support the solar industry in Australia. Indeed, Prime Minister Howard said that the solar rebate: “… is a demand-driven program. So as many households as want it, can have it … (and) if it turns out to be more popular, well, more money will be made available.” (Prime Minister John Howard, Sunrise, 9 May 2007) If Mr Garrett was so confident about how well his solar panel rebate system was going, why did he gag his officers from attending a Senate inquiry into this issue last week? He must now allow these officers to appear before the inquiry and enable proper scrutiny of the figures he has produced. Mr Garrett must scrap his ill-conceived means test on the solar industry and preserve the solar rebate. Media contact: John Deller on 0400 496 596