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Schools lose water funding under Garrett plan.

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Media Release The Hon Greg Hunt MP Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Urban Water 22 July 2008 SCHOOLS LOSE WATER FUNDING UNDER GARRETT PLAN Australian schools will effectively lose $20,000 from water-saving projects under a Rudd Government scheme promoted today by Peter Garrett. The Environment Minister was trying to talk up his National Solar Schools Program in Sydney. The scheme replaces (from July) the Coalition’s Green Vouchers for Schools program which allowed schools to apply for grants of up to $50,000 for rainwater tanks or solar hot water systems. But under Mr Garrett’s program, schools can now only apply for grants of up to $30,000 for water-saving systems. This is an effective $20,000 cut for schools that could previously have applied for $50,000 grants. That could dramatically reduce the amount of water which schools could harvest and use to save ovals and playgrounds over the hot summer months ahead. At a time when so much focus is on the ailing River Murray, it is extraordinary that Mr Garrett can keep a straight face while effectively reducing funding for water saving systems. The Minister also spent today trying to defend his decision to impose a means test on the solar panel rebate scheme. His decision means that a couple on a modest income of just over $50,000 each will now have to pay an extra $8,000 after tax to install solar panels in their homes. Mr Garrett today again failed to present a substantive case to defend the means test. Instead he fell into line with Treasurer Wayne Swan and Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner who previously questioned whether claimed losses by solar companies were “true or not”. GARRETT: Well look, in the early stages of this debate, some portions of the industry were making the claim that they were affected by the decision that the Government made to have a particular means test for solar panels. But we have not seen those comments significantly increase since that time. (Garrett doorstop, 22 July 2008.) Mr Garrett isn’t responsible for much these days. But in a short time we have seen him pull the plug from the solar industry and water grants for schools. The man who was once an environmental activist is now an environmental apologist. Media contact: John Deller on 0400 496 596