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Thursday, 21 June 2007
Page: 130


Mr VASTA (9:51 AM) —As part of the 2007-08 budget, the Howard government has committed an additional $150 million to solar technology. As a result, more households, schools and community groups in Bonner will now be able to install solar panels to bring their electricity costs down as well as contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I commend my colleague the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, for recently having announced additional funding for the transformation of the government’s popular Photovoltaic Rebate Program.

Since 1996, the Howard government has invested $2.8 billion to develop practical responses to climate change. An important part of this has been helping local residents to make a difference at a local level. For example, I note that the additional funding will support a doubling of the rebate for solar panels on homes so that residents can claim up to $8,000 of the cost. The new competitive grants scheme for schools and communities will also encourage the installation of solar panels by offering grants of up to 50 per cent of the cost of the solar power system. This represents a great opportunity for the local residents and organisations in Bonner and I will be urging the community to take full advantage of this important initiative.

Many Australians are eager to protect their environment and reduce the impact of climate change, and the Photovoltaic Rebate Program will help those who are concerned about climate change to take their own action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The program is expected to more than double the number of rooftop solar panel systems installed throughout the country over the next five years. Furthermore, it is expected that around 14,000 households will be able to access rebates through the scheme. To help meet the extra demand for solar power systems, the government will also provide training and accreditation to more installers, which is vital to the success of this expanded program.

I believe that low-emission energy technologies such as solar power are an extremely important part of Australia’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I offer my full support to the transformed program, as it will not only encourage more people to use low-emission solar photovoltaic technologies but also stimulate the solar industry and research community in their ongoing efforts to improve the effectiveness of the technologies and to bring the costs down. The many and varied community organisations and schools in Bonner have shown an active interest in better protecting our environment and I am committed to working with local residents and community representatives to encourage a greater use of renewable energy technologies.