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Monday, 8 February 2010
Page: 731

Mr RAMSEY (4:00 PM) —I take this short opportunity today to bring to the attention of the House contact with some of my constituents in relation to the Green Loans Program. I quote from a letter from Warren Lane:

Dear Mr Ramsey, I was recently contacted by your office in regards to passing on my contact details to some of your constituents for the purpose of Home Sustainability Assessments for the Australian Government Green Loans program. As an accredited assessor for this program, I wish to bring to your attention the poor management and potentially fraudulent behaviour by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts … I (and all the other independant assessors) have found the assessment booking system very difficult to deal with. It is basically a bit of a lottery when calling the programs hotline. I find it necessary to call at exactly 9-00am (EST)—

that is, Eastern Standard Time—

otherwise the call is automatically disconnected for the remainder of the day. Sometimes it is impossible to get through at all on any particular day. There appears to be an alternative process in place for FeildForce, a company employing a large number of assessors with the ability to input their assessments directly to the system without needing to contact the call centre. This is an unfair arrangement. The program was launched with the expectation to end in December 2012 but it has become obvious that it will probably end in the next few months. An original estimate of approximately 1,000 assessors Australia wide has blown out to more than 5,000 with possibly another 5,000 still waiting for their government contracts.

And it goes on. I might mention some other constituents who have contacted me, in particular those who live in the country, who are finding it impossible to access these loans. I read from an email to Mr Rudd:

Good morning Mr Rudd, I registered with the green loan assessment office in November 2009, confirmation received 30th November with all the correct details recorded. I wish to avail myself of the government program to receive from Satisfac Credit Union a 10,000 4 year interest free loan to finance solar panels on my home. It appears that, because I live in Port Lincoln, the country, there is no one to assess my residence, so because I live in the country, I cannot access the program. If I lived in Canberra, Sydney or Adelaide, it has been inferred by the people at the Green Loan assessment office, it would be about a 7 day wait.

I received another email from a constituent who applied for rainwater tanks, who lives in Crystal Brook. They said:

We contacted the Green Loans Assessment centre on 10 November 2009, lodged an enquiry and told there were currently no Assessors in our area. The operator informed us we should have someone to visit us by the end of the month (end of November), even if it was to be himself.

Having received no contact, we again telephoned the centre on 7 December 2009 and were informed there were still no assessors in our area. I had previously understood this to mean there were no assessors in the area available to visit …

And further: ‘The operator’s explanation confirmed that none existed in our area’ et cetera. I would point out, while I am speaking on the inefficiency of this scheme, that a staff member tried for two days to get through on the hotline and was unable on any occasion—(Time expired)