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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6394

Mr SIMPKINS (9:39 AM) —Today I would like to take the opportunity to speak on the solar rebate. Clearly there is concern about this element of the suite of renewable energies that we all want to see progressed. The solar rebate has a history in Australia. The former coalition government had a strong record of demonstrable action regarding solar, as evidenced by the establishment of the solar rebate. Indeed the Rudd Labor government campaigned on solar rebates but then means tested that support to Australian families—one thing said before the election and another afterwards.

With this point I set the scene of a history of unreliability from the minister concerned. I will not talk about everything he has said he would do and then has not done; rather, I will just concentrate on the solar rebate matter. Not only have the 2008 and 2009 budgets twice disappointed the solar panel industry and those Australian families who wanted to participate; after the recent budget, the industry and potential participants were told that different arrangements would apply from 1 July 2009. As disappointing as the reduced support arrangements were, the government promised a smooth transition. Yet, in recent days, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts and the government killed off the rebate immediately, some 2½ weeks early.

The question is: how did the government lose control of the budget so quickly? The government certainly will not admit this stuff-up but, as with all these decisions, these unexpected changes will have a human impact. I have been contacted by constituents to express their views. Vicki Bligh, of Alexander Heights, called my office last Friday to express her ‘deep disgust and disappointment’ with the government’s early closure of the rebate. I note her advocacy for solar power and renewable energy in the northern suburbs over many years. I understand that she was highly supportive of the rebates when the former coalition government introduced them in 2007. I also note that Mr Roland Bradford called, extremely angry about the government having broken a commitment it had made to the Australian people. Mr Bradford said that the government’s decision would affect his mortgage payments. John and Wendy Faulkner said:

We were recently proceeding with an application for the Solar Power Rebate Scheme. We have already paid the deposit of $2900.00 and were gathering the paperwork to be sent in the next 2 days, in order to meet the June 30 deadline, only to be told this morning—

this was several days ago—

at 11 am that we had until 2 pm today Tuesday 9/6/09 to get the paperwork (originals) to Melbourne as it had been stopped short of the promised end date. As we are in Perth we had no way of completing this task and therefore have missed out!

I would appreciate it if our dissatisfaction and concerns regarding this could be put to the Prime Minister as we really now feel quite let-down and we were trying to do our bit for our environment, our children and of course our pockets in these tough economic times.

This should be— (Time expired)